Thursday, September 29, 2011

Something To Aspire To

Just the mere sight of this picture makes my heart happy. It’s a picture of my Grandparents shortly after they were married 65 years ago! They had a small civil ceremony in New York City, packed up their car and moved out to California the very next day.

This is a picture of them standing in front of their very first apartment on the UCLA campus where my grandfather as well as many other generations of my family attended school. I love this picture. They look proud, in love and full of optimism and zest for life.

Growing up, my Grandparent’s house was my favorite place in the world. We lived about an hour and a half away and as I little girl I remember thinking “as soon as I get my driver’s license, I’ll drive here every weekend so I can spend the night.”

I’m so lucky to have them in my life. I look forward to celebrating with them and my family in the near future to commemorate their 65 years of marriage!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wedding: Escort Cards

Wedding show and tell time!

About a year before the wedding, we started perusing antique fairs just to see what was out there. We started seeing lots of antique skeleton keys and we both loved them and wanted to incorporate them into the wedding.

We started collecting the keys until we had 125 of them! The next challenge was how to display them. I’m a junk yard lover and I first spotted the taller shutters shown above in December and I bought it on the spot. It was made from beautiful mahogany wood and had antique brass hardware.I bought the tags for the keys from Etsy and the twine came from divine twine. I printed on each of the tiny tags (a trick I’m not ready to share, but I make these for other brides/party’s if you’re interested). I made stickers for the back indicating the guests meal choice.

The week of the wedding, Christoph and his brother painted the first set of wood shutters and the second set that I had picked up at the junk yard.

Material Used:
- Skeleton Keys
- Wood Shutters
- Tags
- Divine Twine
- Paint

Top Images by the lovely: Jessamyn Harris

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lessons in Small Business Ownership

Oh, the things you learn in owning your own business. The more orders I take on the more and more I learn. While learning is invaluable, I’m hoping that at some point in the near future I will stop learning things the hard way.

Hello Cupcake is a one woman show. Undercharging on orders and money lost is literally money out of my pocket.

A few weeks ago I worked on a small order for a wedding up in Canada. The client ordered 24 of THESE over a month before their actual wedding date. Easy enough. Within the week I had the order finished and in the mail.

Since the order was shipping out of the country, I wasn’t able to track the shipment (which I do for any order over $10 in the US) but I did fill out a customs declaration form.

A week went by and the seller informed me that nothing had arrived. No problem, give it more time. Then another week and another week. Nothing. Ten days out from the wedding, a month since I had first shipped the item and still nothing.

I was at a cross road. There was still time to remake the order and get it in the mail, but at whose loss? Mine, the sellers or both?

After much consideration and talking to some friends who are Etsy buyers and of course my hubby, I decided to take the hit. Completely remake the order and ship it out again. I lost some money, but the client is happy.

Lesson Learned: Update my shipping policy for international orders and account for possible losses in the base price of the order.

What do you think? What would you have done if you were in my shoes?

Photo By:Christine Chang!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Be a Dear, Won’t You?

Hey! Did you know that Hello Cupcake has its own Facebook Page? That’s right! Get excited!It has been active for a while now but I recently went through and updated the albums with things that I’ve made over the last few months. It’s easy for content to get buried in the blog with new posts coming at you every week. The Facebook Page is a great way for those of you who are new to the blog to learn about some fun DIY’s and projects that have been completed.Won’t you be a dear and hop on over and “Like” the Hello Cupcake Facebook page?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Triple Digits

It was a long road with a few bumps in between but somehow I got here. Last month, after more than two years I hit a major milestone with Hello Cupcake. I reached 100 sales through my online Etsy shop!Of course this calls for a big celebration! In designing the invitations I wanted to tell a story. I needed something more than just “hey, my business is doing well and I want to celebrate with a party”.This is what I came up with! The text talks about how the business started and why we are getting together to celebrate. In a fun a creative way of course! Adding a little fun and suspense to the invitation also seemed like a no brainer. Who doesn’t love a good scratch off?The guests don’t learn the real reason for the party until after they uncover the scratch off!I’m so happy with how the invitations turned out and I’m really looking forward to celebrating this momentous occasion with my dearest friends next month.I wish I could invite everyone* but it just wasn’t in the cards (hello pun!). But I do want to celebrate with you, my online friends because you’ve truly helped to make this happen.To celebrate, I will be giving away a gift to one reader!A set of 12 Hello Cupcake bicycle stationery. The winner will be able to choose the bike and envelope color and decide if they want Thank You cards or personalized stationery.

To enter, please leave a comment below and either a link to your blog/twitter/facebook/email so I can get in touch with you on October 3rd!Of course, thank you for your continued support. I look forward to reaching my next goal with you by my side!

*FYI-that’s not my real address/info

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Our Wedding on Style Me Pretty

To say that I’m excited or that I’m honored to have our wedding featured on Style Me Pretty would be a huge understatement.I’m without words to express how I feel because it’s just that awesome. I’m so happy to have the opportunity to share with you all of the little details that went into planning our dream wedding.

You can check out the full post right HERE.To the amazing team of individuals that helped make that day such a special one—thanks again for everything! Truly, the wedding dream team!

I look forward to finally being able to share all of the DIY goodness that I whipped up for our wedding right here on the blog. Stay tuned. In the mean time, check out our wedding right HERE and be sure to leave some love!

PS: There’s also a video by the talented team of Love Spun Handmade. Word on the street… might make you tear up.

Sink or Swim

Last Sunday it was sink or swim time for the Ginger Bear. I’m happy to report: She swam!

We took her out to Crissy Field for some fun in the sun. Seeing as how she’s so ball obsessed we started throwing the ball in the water to see if she’d go in after it. Not surprisingly, she was a bit scared at first having never been in water other than that of our kitchen sink.

After a little bit of coaxing (aka: me carrying her in) she was a swimming machine! Going in on her own and having a great time splashing around.

Seriously, we have the coolest “yorkie” in the world! Hope you were also able to enjoy the fantastic weather this past weekend.

*Not sure she’s 100% yorkie (I think she’s some sort of yorkie/silky mix)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sorry Red Lobster (Mine are better)

I know it’s a bit early to be thinking about it but I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year for the FIRST TIME EVER (eppppp!) so I’m already starting to test out possible dishes for the main event.This is a homemade biscuit recipe that I think is a pretty strong contender. Most likely you’ll have all of the items on hand with the exception of the fancy cheese. The recipe calls for parmigiano-reggiano which is insanely good but a little pricey ($18.00 a pound). You could try to swap it out for something else to save some money and I’m sure it will still be delish.I made the biscuits following this Food Network recipe exactly. They were easy to make and they came out so good!

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
• 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
• 1/2 cup diced parmigiano-reggiano cheese
• 1/4 cup finely grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
• 3/4 cup milk

You can find the directions: HEREWe paired the cheesy biscuits with pesto stuffed salmon, corn and tomoto salad and white wine. So, so good!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hunger Challenge Day 4 & 5...Boring!

This is a picture of what I’ve been eating. Three plates of boring.

I am so tired of bland and mediocre food I could……I don’t know. Be even more thankful that this is just one week of my life.

Basically for the last few days I’ve been eating oatmeal for breakfast, a granola snack, leftovers or some type of really unhealthy microwave meal for lunch and either scrambled eggs or a tuna melt for dinner.

Very, very little vegetables, lean meat and dairy. I am craving a gigantic salad. Crab Louie if you want to be specific. There’s absolutely no room in my budget for seafood and the salad that I had been eating is long gone.

I’m so blah that I don’t even feel like adding up what my daily meal costs have been for the last few days. Just know I’ve come it at or under budget.

Look At Ginger Go!

I must interrupt my planned Hunger Challenge post to bring you some very exciting news!

A certain little dog by the name of Ginger is in the running for a pet contest put on by 7 x 7 Magazine. She would sure appreciate your vote!Ginger posing in front of Lombard Street

Yep, she’s in another contest*: Vote HERE
She’s #10 You can cast your vote daily.In case you weren’t aware Ginger is a very involved San Francisco canine.

Check out her political campaign from when she was in the running for cutest dog in SF: HERE

*Oh-M-Gee! She’s so cute I just can’t resist myself!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hunger Challenge: Day 3 - The learning curve

A few things I’ve learned on Hunger Challenge Day 3:
1.) How to make “fried chicken”
2.) Strawberry cake mixes’ taste...well, like artificial strawberry (yuck)For me, breakfast has been impacted the least being on the Hunger Challenge. Just about every day starts out like this. Travel mug of coffee I made at home, oatmeal and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Lunch on the other hand. Normally I don’t plan ahead and I’ll pick up a chicken salad sandwich ($8.00) or a burrito ($7.00). Yum. Looking forward to reuniting with my favorite lunches next week. I’m really thankful that for me, the Hunger Challenge is just a week. For the 1 in 5 people in San Francisco that struggle to feed themselves and their family it’s a different story.For dinner I made fried chicken!!! Not the kind you’d enjoy from KFC or from a restaurant but decent considering I made it at home. I found the recipe HERE on the Aunt Jemima website and the recipe only called for: Pancake mix, chicken, salt, pepper and vegetable oil.

In all honesty, I don’t think I’ll ever make it again. Christoph and I both thought it was good, but not great. The best part though was that it was not boring. Typically Hunger Challenge meals are a snooze fest of bland flavors and staples. For dessert I made strawberry cupcakes from a box with rainbow frosting. They’re fine. I’ll probably eat a total of 4 cupcakes out of the 16 that I made. Hopefully Christoph will help me out with the remaining dozen. Another thing I won’t be making again.

Day 3 Cost
Coffee: $0.54
Granola Bars (1): $0.30
Oatmeal: $0.20
Orange: $0.34
Grilled Cheese: $0.75
Salad: $0.70 ($3.50 for all ingredients / 5 servings)
Chicken: $3.57
Potato: $.44 ($1.32 for all ingredients / 6 servings)
Cupcakes: $0.40 ($3.19 for all ingredients / 16 servings)
Total: $6.90 (Budget for the Day: $7.22)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hunger Challenge: Day 1 & 2

Day one and day two of the Hunger Challenge down! On Sunday morning I made a delicious and cute to look at breakfast of banana pancakes, scrambled eggs and coffee for Christoph and me.We skipped lunch because we had a pretty late and large breakfast. For dinner, we had spaghetti, cheese toast and salad.

Day 1 Cost (For me and Christoph)
Coffee: $0.54
Eggs: $0.68
Pancakes: $1.00
Salad: $1.40 ($3.50 for all ingredients / 5 servings)
Pasta: $2.48 ($6.20 for all ingredients / 5 servings)
Toast: $0.22
Total: $6.32 (Budget for the Day: $9.44)

Day two was a bit more difficult. I had an extremely busy Monday morning so I only had time for a granola bar. I was hungry so I had an early lunch which consisted of a grilled cheese sandwich, an apple and a squirt of mustard. Pretty good.By around 4 PM, I was hungry once again so I had another granola bar then it was off to soccer practice.

Soccer practice lasted from 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM…….Three and a half hours of just about nonstop running! More than usual because I had a one on one with the coach before the team practice. By the time I was done I was exhausted and starving.

The second I got home I started boiling water for the spaghetti and I practically ate the whole meal standing up. The left over spaghetti tasted amazing. Much better than the day before, but that’s probably because I was so hungry.

Day 2 Cost
Coffee: $0.54
Granola Bars (2): $0.59
Apple: $0.34
Grilled Cheese: $0.75
Salad: $0.70 ($3.50 for all ingredients / 5 servings)
Pasta: $1.86 ($6.20 for all ingredients / 5 servings)
Toast: $0.11
Total: $4.89 (Budget for the Day: $4.72)

Hunger Challenge Shopping

I think it’s safe to assume that a lot of the people living on a food stamp budget don’t have hours to prepare for their grocery trip each week. Maybe they’re working two or three jobs have their hands full with kids or they aren’t well enough to do such intensive preparation before buying groceries.

Three hours! Three hours is how long it took me to prepare for my shipping trip, go to two stores and check out. Ridiculous, but I did get some great deals and what an exciting Friday night (sarcasm intended).

My budget: $42.76 (7 days on the challenge for me, 1 day and 2 dinners for Christoph)

Chicken Breast: $5.44
Ground Turkey: $3.00
Cheese: $2.28
Eggs (18): $2.99
Bread: $1.58
Ramen: $0.33
Cucumber: $0.50
Apples (3): $1.03
Bell Pepper: $0.33
Onion: $0.20
Potatoes (3): $1.17
Oranges (2): $0.83
Salad: $2.00
Frozen Personal Pizza: $0.88
Pretzels: $1.28
Coffee: $3.78
Granola Bars (6): $1.77
Tuna (2 Cans): $2.00
Bananas (4): $0.94
Cake Mix: $1.00
Frosting: $1.68
Aunt Jemima Mix: $0.80 ($1.68 for box, only using part of it)
Spaghetti Sauce: $2.00
Oatmeal: $1.00 ($2.50 for box, only using part of it)
Pasta: $1.00

Total Spent: $37.81
Remaining Amount: $2.95 (yeah!!!!!!!)

In spite of all of my prep work I still had to make some on the spot changes that impacted my budget. First, they were out of the chicken I had planned to buy and second, pears were on sale for 4 lbs for $1……but below is all that I had to choose from. Disgusting right? All in all, I’m thrilled with how much I got for the price, but it felt like shopping in its self was a job.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Here I Go Again: Hunger Challenge

Either I’m crazy, passionate or I like a good challenge*. For the second year in a row, I’ve signed up to take part in the San Francisco Food Bank Hunger Challenge. I am going to living on a food stamp budget for one week (9/11-9/17). That’s just $4.72 a day for my entire food and drink budget which is the average amount that California food stamp recipients have to spend on food.Why am I doing this challenge you ask?
Because 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 5 kids here in San Francisco are at risk of hunger. Shocking right? The challenge is about walking in someone else's shoes for just a week. Gaining a better understanding as to why it’s important to help support those who can't feed themselves on a food stamp budget alone.

I plan to share my daily experiences, budget conscious recipes, thoughts and likely express my bad mood right here on my blog.

Think it’s going to be easy? Then sign upand try it yourself! I thought it would be a breeze last year and boy did I learn my lesson.

Read Up on My Experience from the 2010 Hunger Challenge:
Thoughts on the Challenge 2010
Shopping on a food stamp budget
Day 1: One Down & Six to go
Day 2: Reality Check
Day 3: A New Outlook
Day 4: I’m eating my words. They’re free. Unfortunately, they’re not filling.
Day 5: Temptation
Day 6/7: Ending on a sweet note

There are over 200 people signed up to participate in the Hunger Challenge, including some of my friends in the media world like Brock from the SFist, Juliette from CBS 5 and KGO news 810 AM. Be sure to tune in to see how they cope with living on a Food Stamp budget.

*Personally, I think I’m a little bit of all three.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

To A Great Pear

Part of what’s so great about making and designing my own cards is that I’m never unprepared for a birthday, occasion or life event.Today marks the four year anniversary of my brother and sister in laws marriage! They were high school sweethearts who after more than 10 years of dating got married. So technically they’ve been together for 15 plus years. Legally, they’ve been together just 4.To mark the occasion, I sent them this card. They are indeed a great pear…or pair! Cheers to the two of them. I wish them nothing but happiness and love. Today and always.This is Christoph and Me leaving their wedding. You can’t tell, but I was really celebrating. By that I mean this is one of very few pictures of me without drink in hand*.

*Most likely because the staff took it from me on my way out of the reception. But hey, I told them I would drink my money’s worth and I am a lady of my word.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On The Farm

Not quite country living considering we were just 30 minutes outside of San Francisco in Martinez, California but my oh my what a drastically different pace of life than what we’re currently living in the city.A few weeks ago we got together with some of Christoph’s co-workers for dinner. Before we got around to eating, we explored the grounds. Frolicked walked our way through a garden of pumpkins, tomatoes, pepper, lettuce, basil and sunflower seeds.I enjoyed the flowers while he played bocce ball. I gave the kids a run for their money on the zip line. Yeah, this young lady in 3 inch heals is not afraid to go swinging through the trees (twice) when the opportunity presents its self.Happened upon John Muir’s grave. Yes, John Muir the founder of the Sierra Club and most well-known wilderness preservationist.Then at dinner we also happened to be dining with John Muir’s great grandson while drinking Muir’s legacy wine. Come on, that’s pretty neat right? I thought so.We went home with all kinds of goodies from the garden which I used to make a very delicious breakfast the following morning.All in all, a very fun experience!

Monday, September 5, 2011

How To: Chalk Board Frame

I’m always looking for solutions that fit into my life. Because of our different schedules Christoph and I don’t get to eat dinner together every night. I’ll cook dinner, stick it in the fridge, go to bed, he gets home and eats a frozen meal because he didn’t know that I had made dinner.Solution! I made chalk board frames that are cute enough to have out all the time. I can change up what’s written based on what I’ve made for dinner. This way he’ll know to eat it!Material Needed:
- Chalk board contact paper (HERE)
- Frame
- ScissorsCut out a piece of the contact paper to fit the size of your frame. My frame was 5x7” and the back of the contact paper has ruler lines that you can follow for cutting.Either peel off the backing of the contact paper or fold back the four corners to expose the sticky part. I decided to only expose the corners to make it easier to apply the contact paper to the glass.Affix the contact paper to the glass and put the frame back together with the chalk board side facing out.Hang in your kitchen or wherever you’d like and enjoy!