the cutest candy shop ever.

Over Memorial Day weekend, T-man and I took a mini-vacation to California. It’s hard to believe we’ve lived just a short two-hour plane ride away for two years and yet, I’ve never visited any part of California as an adult. It was about time!

Santa Monica Pier - by JessAlayne.com

We took the first flight out on Saturday morning in order to make the most of the weekend and used the better part of the day to see the sights — Santa Monica Pier, Pacific Coast Highway, Rodeo Drive, the Hollywood Sign, the Chinese Theater and the Walk of Fame, and yes… even the outside of the Playboy Mansion. We just had to!

California Palm Trees - by JessAlayne.com

Santa Monica Beach - by JessAlayne.com

You’ll have to excuse the iPhone photos — I’ll blame the 6am flight for making me blank on bringing my DSLR camera.

We had a blast exploring and being uber-touristy before heading out to Rancho Mirage in our rented convertible for a close friend’s beautiful law school graduation party.

California Mini Vacation - by JessAlayneCalifornia Mini Vacation - by JessAlayne.com

But, before we left LA, we spotted the absolute cutest boutique candy shop, called Sugarfina.

The shop is right off Rodeo Drive, so that might help you imagine the vibe. However, we were greeted warmly, offered some samples {always say yes to samples!} and told a bit about the background of the store.

It was created by a couple who scoured the world {no, really} for innovative, high-quality candy recipes and they started selling them online back in DailyCandy days {circa 2012}. They got a lot of attention for their clever and witty gift and bento boxes, things like the Mini Martini set complete with chocolate covered martini almonds and the “Men are Pigs” and “More Fish in the Sea” break-up gummy sets.

Sugarfina in LA - by JessAlayne.com

About 6 months ago, they secured their coveted boutique location right off Rodeo Drive and I can only imagine how well they are doing.

The store is filled with so many types of candy from all over the world — Germany, Sweden, Greece and more. Many of the recipes are apparently hundreds of year old family recipes and Sugarfina is now the only international importer of some of them. Things like Champagne Bubbles that would be a perfect party favor. Fuji Apple and Mint Chocolate Chip Caramels that melt in your mouth. And even Chocolate Licorice Pandas, although I didn’t have a chance to sample those.

Plus… can we talk about these gift box sets? They have thank you’s, romance, congratulations, and of course this “Will you be my bridesmaid” set {those are Champagne Bubbles on the far right}!

Bridesmaids Gift at Sugarfina Sugarfina Review - JessAlayne.com

As if that weren’t enough, they also stock Bando products and Sugar Paper and Smock paper goods — several designs that I haven’t seen elsewhere {so of course I stocked up on those, too!}.

Sugar Paper cards at Sugarfina in LA

For those not traveling to LA on any mini vacations, the great news is that many of their wares are available online! But if you ever find yourself in LA, I highly suggest an in-person visit! Although fair warning, you’ll likely walk out with an incredibly cute bag of goodies!

link love | may fifteenth

 

Thursday has arrived! Hope it’s been a fabulous one for you and yours. Here’s a quick snippet of things I’m loving around the web.Links I Love | May 2014 | jessalayne.com{ dress your tech } I believe changing up your phone and computer wallpaper can be incredibly refreshing, so I just love this series from Design Love Fest. With summer in our sights, I’ve just updated my own desktop to feature some tasty treat illustrations.

{ blog life } Did you hear that the lovely ladies of A Beautiful Mess just launched a new e-course called Blog Life? After some hesitation, I’ve signed up! Can’t wait to learn from their geniusness – anyone else joining me for this ride?

{ this gallery wall } Ever since I saw it, I’ve been contemplating whether I could do a floor to ceiling gallery wall in my house… Impractical, maybe? But, I die over it every time I see it.

{ purewow’s posing tips } In a world of endless selfies, I could definitely use a few posing tips and these seem realistically easy to remember.

{ do not open } As a true lover of snail mail, I really wish I had a legitimate reason to get one of the 250 custom-designed envelopes involved in this beautiful art project.

Cheers to Friday!

 

DIY bridal shower bingo

If you’ve been following along, you know that I recently hosted a Happy Hour Bridal Shower, a new theme I’m hoping makes its way into more and more bridal showers.

A pink Happy Hour Bridal Shower for Patty | jessalayne.com

When it comes to showers, for better or for worse, I believe in honoring the tradition of opening your gifts during the party.  Some people may like the limelight, but I’ve always felt a bit awkward opening gifts in front of people and having to emote on the spot about each and every gift. Because I’m nutty like that, I always recommend creating some sort of distraction for the guests while gifts are being opened.

In the past, I’ve used a He Said/She Said game {more on that here}, but it didn’t seem to fit with the Happy Hour and lingerie theme. In this case, all the ladies of course wanted to “Oooohh” and “Aaahhh” over the sexy lingerie gifts, but since the bride would literally be blushing, I wanted to lighten the mood with a fun game of BINGO.

Bridal Shower Bingo - perfect to entertain guests while presents are opened

To create this game, I brainstormed words the bride might say while opening lingerie. I included obvious things like sexy, cute, and her husband-to-be’s name but also threw in some funny, off-the-wall things to keep it challenging.

Since you want a different BINGO board for each guest, I used an online bingo card automator {like this one} — yes this really exists and it does 90% of the work for you! How fabulous! Once you’ve got your word list, just type them in and hit go. To dress things up and tie it back to the party theme, I plopped each BINGO board onto a custom header/title design. I admit, this meant I had to create, save, and print 16 different JPEGs but I’ll do just about anything in the spirit of preserving a party theme. Who’s with me?

Minus the printing, this is an easy peasy way to keep things fresh at a party or shower of any kind! Plus, you’d be surprised just how competitive your guests may get when you introduce a simple game.

Bridal Shower Bingo - perfect for keeping guests entertained!

DIY Bridal Shower Bingo | jessalayne.com

 

A great way to entertain party guests - Bridal Shower BINGO!

Cheers to many more parties!

i like, i like to party

Have I mentioned how much I like Instagram? I won’t admit just how often I check it during the day, but I will let you in on one of my tips. A lot of the cool things I discover, blogs I read, products I buy, etc. are all found on Instagram.

T-man often comments on how many “brands” I follow, but it’s largely because I use brands and other bloggers to make connections with things like Etsy artist, artisans, and things that I might not otherwise have discovered. I spend a good chunk of my time on Instagram not just browsing my direct feed, but clicking through to other accounts that are tagged or mentioned and exploring hashtags {not just for contests}. Has anybody else tried this?

On one of my recent “Instagram-dives,” as I’ll call it, I discovered a brand that is so totally up my ally, I’m not sure how I didn’t find them earlier…

The Flair Exchange | jessalayne.com

What is The Flair Exchange, you say? Well, let me explain. It’s both a blog and online shop created by Carmen that helps all of us party DIY-ers really rock it!

The shop is filled with incredibly on-trend and colorful party products. We’re talking tassel garlands, confetti-filled balloons, and other wonderful things that’ll make any party POP {okay, not literally – their balloons are very sturdy and not prone to actual popping, but you catch my drift…}!

The Flair Exchange Spring Party Box | Jessalayne.comCarmen taps some pretty fabulous contributors to fill the brand’s blog with all sorts of fun party tips and inspiration, too. This means she’s got everything from yummy recipes to simple DIYs and even free printables {love!}. I can’t get enough of it!

So, when The Flair Exchange posted on Instagram that they were looking for brand ambassadors, you better believe I was all over that. I adore writing about parties, planning parties {even pretend ones I make up in my head}, and hosting parties so I figured I’d be a prime candidate. Luckily, The Flair Exchange agreed!

So, for the next few months, I’ll be receiving some of The Flair Exchange’s newest products in exchange for my honest reviews and feedback — plus some pretty sweet Instagram posts that’ll hopefully help my followers discover a truly great, new brand, too!

Sound good?

For now, I’ll leave you with some snapshots of what I received in the April box. At first glance, I was impressed by the unique spring colors — not your typical pastels or brights for spring. Plus, I’ve literally never seen a confetti-filled balloon in action so I can’t wait to try it!

The Flair Exchange Spring Party Box | jessalayne.com

I’m looking at this cheerful box as the perfect excuse to throw a “Welcome to Spring!” party… although I’ve got to get on that. Before we know it, summer will be here!

The Flair Exchange Spring Party Box card insertSpecial thanks to Carmen for including me as one of your brand ambassadors!

pay it forward {the liebster award}

As a relative newbie to the blogging world, one of the things I’m constantly battling with is spam comments. I haven’t quite found the perfect spam filter {please send suggestions!}, so admittedly, I often go days … okay weeks… without fully reviewing and approving comments.

But, WOW! WOW! WOW! Did checking my spam filter last week pay off! I found the sweetest comment from Cammi who blogs over at From Nearly to Newly saying she wanted to nominate me for a Liebster Award. My first thought? I hope this is legit, because it’s exactly the encouragement and motivation this delinquent blogger needs!

Liebster Award - yay!

The great news? The Liebster Award is a real thing and the purpose it is to encourage new, smaller bloggers to “pay it forward” in the community. Now, I’ve heard just how wonderful partnerships, collaboration, and general support is in the blogging community but I haven’t truly experienced it myself… until now! When a blogger gets nominated, she is asked to (1) provide 10 facts about herself, (2) answer 10 questions that come from her nominee, and (3) select new bloggers to nominate and provide a new list of questions for them. I absolutely love the idea of taking a moment to learn more about our fellow bloggers and recognize all the hard work and passion that goes into even the smallest of blog.

So, here goes a marathon blog post…

Cammi’s Questions

1.  If you could have any career in the world [regardless of money and any skill you have] what would it be and why?
I think I’d be a party planner. Either that or a dolphin trainer. That was my dream when I was about 11 and there’s something so sweet and innocent about going back to childhood dreams {even though I did see Black Fish and highly recommend it…}

2.  If you could have lunch with any person [living or deceased], who would it be and what would you ask them?
Usually I’d say any US President but I just finished reading The Wolf of Wall Street and I’m pretty fascinated by Jordan Belfort. I’d love to ask him how honest he was in his book.

3.  If you could live in any city in the world, where would it be?
Except for the fact it’s on the other side of the world, I’ve love to try Sydney, Australia.

4.  What are your 5 favorite blogs to read?
Style Me Pretty Living
Glitter Guide
Jones Design Company
I Heart Organizing
Instagram — yes, I realize this is not a “blog” in the traditional sense of the word, but it’s largely how I keep up with bloggers I love and adore. I might not catch every post, but you better believe  I know what they are instagramming about :)

5.  Why did you start blogging?
Blogging was a creative outlet for me when I had hardly any free time while living in New York. As many of us do, I also wanted to be sure to document as much of our wedding planning process as I could. Over time, my life has changed and I’ve developed new interests and priorities so my blog reflects that.

6.  What’s one skill you wish you had?
To speak multiple languages.

7.  What’s your favorite recipe to make?
In the winter, I try to make a crockpot meal at least once a week because of what a time saver it is. This shredded pork & black beans is one of my favorites.

8.  What’s your favorite book/series?
Catcher in the Rye

9.  If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would it be and why?
One of the Today Show hosts, probably Ann Curry before she fell out of favor. I would hate waking up so early but think it would be incredible to experience their life/travel/jobs for one day.

10.  What’s your favorite topic to blog about?
Parties, hands down. I love planning, designing, styling, and even photographing a party. Sharing it on my blog is literally the icing on the party cake. It allows me to document and re-celebrate all the hard work that went into it!

10 Random Facts

  • I’m a really good speller.
  • I’ve never taken any formal graphic design classes but have a huge passion for it.
  • I’m obsessed with lyrics. I read into all of the lyrics in my favorite songs and really try to understand their meaning.
  • My childhood bedroom was a very pale shade of lilac.
  • My favorite chocolate is a white chocolate Lindt truffle.
  • I’ve been to Paris twice, loved it both times, but don’t have any desire to go back.
  • My interest in Greek mythology started in middle school and never really stopped.
  • It wasn’t until recently that I purchased a pair of jeans over $100 {so worth it!}.
  • My hair has been at least 5 different colors in my lifetime, including blue!
  • I played piano for almost 10 years and only memorized Fur Elise and Colors of the Wind {yes, from Pocahontas}

My Nominations
One of the coolest things about this nomination is that it made me realize how I haven’t fully developed a network of bloggers like myself. I spend a lot of my time reading the “big” blogs, but there’s a lot to be learned from those in the same stage of blog development. So, here’s a short list of blogs I’d love to recognize (some are probably bigger than others) with a total confession that I would LOVE to add to this list as I open the doors a bit to some of my fellow bloggers.

And please, if you have a recommendation, please drop it in the comments so we can all take a look and continue this beautiful pay-it-forward style recognition!

The Party Girl {discovered from my nominee’s list of nominations!}
Bedknobs and Baubles
Pretty Grounded
All Who Wander
Sarah Lederman Design Studio
Snapshots & My Thoughts
Simply Jessica Marie

My Questions

10 Liebster Award Questions for my nominations {jessalayne.com}Happy reading & blogging, ladies!

party preview: lingerie shower

From the looks of my Instagram feed, many people enjoyed a beautiful, spring weekend and hopefully you were one of them! Typically Colorado is the leader in those types of beautiful weather days, but my Sunday was full of sleeting rain and snow – brr!

Instead of pouting {which I think would be fair when it snows in April}, I cuddled up with Petey Mac in my newly redesigned office and got to work both for my full-time job and some fun blog content.

One of the things that helped me combat the gray weather? All the girly details from the Happy Hour Bridal Shower I hosted a few weeks ago! Remember the girly inspiration board?

Here are some fun sneak peeks at how it all came together…

Party Preview - Patty's Lingerie Bridal Shower | jessalayne.comGirly Lingerie Shower - a special chair for the bride | jessalayne.com Pink ranunculus for a bridal shower | jessalayne.com Pink Lingerie Bridal Shower with a Raspberry Cake | jessalayne.comEven though I pretty much hated pink until I was 25, I can’t get enough of these party photos! I couldn’t jam all this girly goodness into one post, so stay tuned for the bingo game we played, my first experience doing DIY flowers, the food & drink menu and more!

king of the mountain

One of the best perks of living in Denver is the access we have to the mountains. Not only are they a beautiful surrounding for the city, they also provide limitless exploration and activities throughout the year.

A successful day of skiing ~ JessAlayne.com{Breckenridge, Colorado, photo credit: JessAlayne.com}

Growing up on the East Coast, skiing was always a special “event” and something we did only once or twice per year. When I become a Coloradan, I loved the idea of being an avid skier and wanted so badly to make full use of the Colorado mountains during winter months. So, we bought the gear and looked the part…

But frankly, I was intimidated.

Two ski trips into this season, I wasn’t improving, I was constantly nervous, and I was ready to throw in the towel and accept my fate as a successful apres skier only. Luckily, a few {very patient!} friends encouraged me, gave me a few pointers and just a few trips later, I am proud to say I conquered several blue runs over the weekend. Not only that, I tackled them at a decent clip and without panicking!

I still have a long ways to go to keep up with true Coloradans, but I’m at least on my way.

While this post is a bit divergent from my normal topics, I believe strongly that every now and then, we should take time to recognize {and maybe even revel in} our victories, both big and small. Granted, I usually get a rush from pulling off a successful party or event, but in this case, it was a completely solo success that’s worth celebrating.

So that’s mine… what have you been succeeding at lately?

let’s get girly

I’m giddy with joy because it’s party time once again in the Live More Love More household!

This coming weekend, I’ll be co-hosting a Happy Hour Bridal Shower for my dear friend, Patty {you probably remember her stunning engagement photos} and couldn’t wait to share my party inspiration board with you.

In my experience, a brunch or lunch is the defacto choice for a shower of any type. But you see, Patty already had two other showers planned when her aunt and I colluded on this party. We figured she would already have enough pie plates, cooking utensils and generally useful gifts {which are wonderful, don’t get me wrong}. And so, we wanted to do something a little different. Enter: the lingerie shower!

Since it didn’t feel right to be opening lingerie over breakfast, we opted for a Happy Hour. We’ll have champagne and hors d’oeuvres as well as pink cocktails and fancy desserts.

Happy Hour Bridal Shower party theme from jessalayne.com

I’m not usually a girly girl, but I’m loving the lingerie shower idea because what wife-to-be is not in need of some fancy drawers {that must be said with a Southern accent} to wow her groom? Plus, every bride needs a little excuse to blush, right?

Truth be told, I was a little afraid this theme could  skew tacky or raunchy. To keep things classy, I’m sticking with a primarily pale pink color scheme with some simple black & white stripes and a few pops of bright pink. There won’t be a zebra print or feather boa in sight.

It’s not every day you get to have a girly cocktail party and I just can’t wait Stay tuned for more party details, DIYs, and photos.

the first step

They say the first step is the hardest, right?

Well, this has definitely been the case for me while I’ve been slacking off on blog posting. I won’t bore you with the details of the past several weeks {just the fun things!}, but suffice it to say that the holidays & work stress hit hard in December, and then it was honestly just easier not to post. And the longer I waited, the more awkward I felt coming back as if nothing had happened.

But… I’ve missed it so much, I’m throwing my discomfort aside and diving back in to writing and creating as much as I possibly can. Let’s just all hold hands, sing kumbaya and forget about the dark months of January and February, mmk?

And just like that, I feel better. So much better that I want to share all these fun things from around the web that I’ve been hoarding.

Link Love | March 3 | JessAlayne.com

{ Stitch Fix } Have you discovered this gem of a site yet? Admittedly, I’m a shopper {“hello my name is Jess and I have a problem”}. It’s nothing to be ashamed of but I know it’s not everyone’s jam. Me, on the other hand… well, throw me into a Nordstrom Rack or any mall and I won’t need a break for 6 hours. SO… I really thought the idea of having a stylist that shops FOR you might be upsetting but au contraire. I had so much fun with my first “Fix” and encourage you to give it a shot. Get the deets here.

Stitch Fix

*Disclaimer: this is a personal referral code and I would receive a credit if you choose to register.

{ Mixing Patterns } On a related note, the genius stylists over at Stitch Fix shared some tips last week for mixing patterns. The style-cheater in me usually just finds a detailed example of pattern mixing that I can imitate. But maybe now I can try my hand at something totally unique (**gasp**).

{ Best Acted & Dressed } I do love infographics in general, but this one is especially fun to get pumped for Oscars fashion this weekend!

{ Love You Every 10 Years } Was there ever any doubt that Jimmy Fallon would kill it on the Tonight Show? Plus, who wouldn’t want to revisit 50 First Dates?

{ Brow Tip!Is it weird to covet another woman’s eyebrows? Well if that person happens to share her eyebrow routine, then you best believe I’m listening.

While I was away, what fun things did you discover around the web?

patty & kyle ~ a michigan engagement

I know everyone is in full-on holiday mode at this point. I mean, Christmas is exactly 2 weeks away. We’ve decked our halls {more to come on that soon}, we’re watching our Christmas movies and eating lots of Christmas cookies. But, before we dive into all that, I promised to share some of the sweetest, most charming engagement photos that my friends recently took in Michigan.

You may want to grab a cup of hot cocoa and a few of those Christmas cookies you’ve been baking. Find a cozy spot and let yourself revel in the gorgeousness of this beautiful Michigan day and take in all the love between this couple! I’ve got plenty of photos to share!

Patty & Kyle Engagement | Meg Van Kampen

Yes, these two are the picture of adorable blonde-haired, blue-eyed wholesomeness. I love them more than words and think they are poised to take over the world {can’t you just see them in the White House??}.

Patty & Kyle's Engagement photos | Meg Van Kampen

Their photographer Meg Van Kampen followed them to two different locations and really helped bring about two unique moods and feels for each. The photos from the outdoor campus location are a bit more formal and mature {but you can totally still see the love between the two} while the ones on the beach are full of a relaxed, easy-going nature.

It just goes to show you how valuable an engagement session is — you get used to not only working with your photographer but also posing, smiling, and generally interacting with each other in front of a camera. That’s evidenced by how at ease these two looked as the day went on. I’m sure their very wise photographer planned that the lighting would also be absolutely killer around the same time  they both eased into the shoot.

Patty & Kyle Engagement | Meg Van Kampen

Admittedly, I saved some of my favorites for last. Aren’t these just epic?

Patty & Kyle Engagement | Meg Van Kampen

If you ask me, nothing… absolutely nothing beats a photo shoot on the beach {even a lake beach} at dusk. The camera loves the softness of the light and there always seems to be magic in the air.

Patty & Kyle's Engagement | Meg Van Kampen

So cheers to Patty & Kyle, may you be blessed with a lifetime of love and plenty more evenings spent on the beach while the sun sets.

———-
All photos courtesy of Meg Van Kampen Studios.

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