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.

the holidays are upon us

Black Friday is almost a full week behind us and Cyber Monday was over days ago, but I still feel like I’m unburying myself from the deluge of emails and deals. Not that I don’t like a sale {who am I kidding, I live for deals!} but it seems a bit over-the-top this year. I’m subscribed to a fair number of branded emails, but each one had to have sent multiple deals — Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Cyber Monday extended, Surprise! We’re Still On Sale! Instead of getting me excited, it mostly made me tune out. Can you relate?

It has reminded me, though, that Christmas is just 20 days away. Say what?!? How did that happen? I guess Thanksgiving fell a week later than normal and that’s thrown the whole thing off. I even put up our tree before we ate turkey.

ChristmasTree2013

People, that’s huge. I enforce a strict “post turkey” policy for all things Christmas for myself and those around me. But, when I realized the holiday bliss that is Christmas music, mug-fulls of peppermint hot chocolate, and general merrymaking would only last 3 weeks, I made an exception — a pretty big one if you ask me. Owning a new house that I was itching to decorate might’ve had something to do with it, too.

But, before I get all kinds of Christmas-y on you {don’t worry, it’s coming}, I thought I’d share just a few snapshots from the past week. With my parents in town, I tried my best to revel in the quiet time and put my phone down while we took on a couple of fun adventures…

We visited the historic mountain town of Georgetown.

Georgetown-CO-Maxwell-House

Apparently my parents have a soft spot for it because we had a photo of this adorable, pink house in our own house while I was growing up. The town is known for its train ride and antique shops but over a delicious Caramel Gingerbread Latte, we educated ourselves a bit more {gotta make your iPhone useful for more than texting on occasion}. Turns out, it was one of the most progressive and successful silver-mining towns in the country — they even had a telephone line in 1879, just a few years after it was invented and well before most cities in America had one. Crazy little history lesson for ya there, huh?

We also became proud new owners of the fanciest ladder I may’ve ever seen and promptly used it to hang Christmas lights. Ta-da!

Christmas-Lights-at-Shoshone

This was post-turkey, though, so it’s okay…

Of course, there was the requisite cooking, as well…

PumpkinPie

T-man has honed is Pumpkin Pie making skills and it gave us an excuse to use our ruffled pie dish, another fun registry gift. I tried my hand at Apple Cider Caramel cookies — they tasted great, but admittedly were not pretty nor blog-worthy. Hoping to attempt round 2 for Christmas, though!

And funny enough, as a housewarming gift, my parents brought us coordinating table decorations so on Thanksgiving morning we switched up the original tablescape. It turned out to be just as festive and a touch cozier. Plus, editing down allowed much more space for food — which is really the most important part of Thanksgiving, right?

ThanksgivingTable2013

ThanksgivingTablev2

The great thing is our original mixed metals table will play well throughout the rest of the winter so you better believe it’s back on display now!

So that’s where I’ve been, what about you?

Oh and those stunning Michigan engagement photos I told you about… they’re coming!

i’ve never been to michigan

One of the first girlfriends I made upon moving to Colorado got engaged earlier this year and is now planning her own wedding for August 2014 in Michigan. How lucky for me to have stumbled upon such a wonderful, new friend {at the office, of all places} and to get to keep the wedding planning fun alive through her process!

As a fellow blogger, she’s incredibly talented and creative but asked for my input on prepping for her engagement photo shoot. I was honored {and okay, over the moon!} to help and consulted a bit on outfit selection for her and her man, as well as poses and locations to help when they made their way home to Michigan for a fall engagement session.

Engagement Photo Mood Board for Patty & Kyle | by jessalayne.comYou know when you have one of those shopping trips where you’re just finding everything exactly as you wanted — and it all fits? Well, Patty and I had one of those moments when shopping for her engagement outfits at H&M of all places. I quickly learned that it’s a perfect place for simple basics that hang nicely, even if they aren’t the highest quality {read: expensive} fabrics.

The bride-to-be opted for two awesome outfits to suit two incredible locations. These pieces aren’t her exact outfits, but they’re close {and you can buy these items now versus two months ago — another downside to disposable fashion}.

Michigan Engagement Photo Outfits and Locations | jessalayne.com

sources: aquinas college | blush top | navy skirt | lake michigan beach | skinny cordssweater

I think what I love most about these outfits is that they so perfectly capture who this bride is. She’s classy and classic yet has a relaxed vibe and likes to have fun. And, I think that’s what any bride wants her engagement {and wedding} photos to capture — her as her best self.

It’s been nearly impossible to narrow down to a handful favorites from their engagement photos, but I’ve got some goodies ready to share with you. Who knew a beach in the fall at sunset could be so dreamy and romantic?

Need a little teaser? Yeah… I’m dying to get to Michigan in the fall now, too.

Patty and Kyle Engagement Teaser | Photo by Meg Van Kampenphoto credit: Meg Van Kampen

our thanksgiving table

This year marks not only our first married holiday, but also the first time we’re truly hosting a big holiday meal ourselves. It’s really only a “big” meal in the scale of the cooking — we’re only hosting my parents who are flying in from out of town. But I couldn’t be more excited! Buying a house gave me an excuse to finally invest a reclaimed wood dining room table that I can’t wait to share many meals over, but, hosting has given me the perfect excuse to go overboard on my table decorating.

Mixed metals holiday table inspiration | jessalayne.com

It all started while browsing West Elm for our new sofa {more to come on that} when I stumbled upon a gold and silver table runner that was too die for! The perfect mix of festive, classy, elegant and fun {sadly it’s not available online}. From there, the inspiration flew easily.

To compliment the runner, I immediately thought of creating placecards in gold. These would obviously be more useful in a large dinner party where few people know each other but I thought “what the heck!”, even a table for four can be a little over-the-top and fun. Throw practicality out the window for the sake of design? Why not!

I found four simple pears from the Dollar Store and brought them home to see what a little spray paint could do.

DIY Pear Place Cards - Krylon spray paint

On a late night Amazon binge, I ordered what I think may now be my favorite spray paint color: Krylon Champagne Nouveau. It gave the nicest, soft finish and metallic color somewhere between gold and brushed nickel. I just love it!

I’m not the most skilled spray painter and find rounded/circular objects to be pretty tough. I’ll admit to dousing these in at least 3 coats of spray paint…

DIY Pear Place Cards - Step 2

A few patient hours later, I was ready to add them to the table I’d set out. They are really the perfect little toppers. And, since the runner started the mixed metals theme, the Champagne Nouveau color really merges the silvers, golds, and everything in between.

DIY Pear Place Cards

The finished pear sits atop Target napkins that have metallic hints in them and my Vera Wang Flirt china that I was lucky enough to receive through our wedding registry.

Of course, there’s a whole table to show you, so let me take one big step back.

Gold & silver Thanksgiving table setting | jessalayne.com

I normally wouldn’t think to combine tall, gold candlesticks with mercury glass tea lights and mosaic hurricane vases, but in this case, the varied textures and metallic finishes work nicely together.

Mixed metals holiday table - gold, silver, and mercury glass

One little unexpected addition was the spikey Christmas ornaments from Crate & Barrel {they really do have some of the best ornament choices I’ve seen}. They came in silver and an almost rosey gold and add a fun modern twist to the table, don’t you think?

Crate & Barrel ornament for holiday tablescape

I can’t help but grin goofily every morning when I walk out of my bedroom and am greeted by this cheerful table.

A holiday table in gold and silver | jessalayne.com

{Yes, that is totally a mercury glass just waiting for it’s tea light candle… didn’t break that out in time for the photo shoot!}

I hope you find or create something just as fun and joyful to put you in the holiday mood in time for Thanksgiving, too. Cheers!

signed, sealed delivered ~ wedding thank you’s

With all the house buying craziness, I ended up being quite delayed on our wedding thank you’s. As a lover of paper goods and a believer in written correspondence, this was a thorn in my side for several weeks, but I’m pleased to finally say they’re all done and mailed!

Send a Letter Poster | credit Mandy Lynne{via}

I would’ve liked to DIY the thank you’s like the rest of our wedding stationary, but that felt like an impossible task coming off the wedding. Instead, I went with Wedding Paper Divas who I’ve written about a few times. I’m constantly impressed by their design options but I hadn’t had a reason to do a full-blown order from them until now.

From the more than 1,000 options, we went with the “Well of Love” design because the font and layout seemed to match the mix of rustic & modern we used through our own designs. I also liked the idea of using a post card to mimic our RSVP cards.

The customization process through Wedding Paper Divas is incredibly easy, loads quickly, and generally just worked flawlessly. I really loved that you could not only upload a specific image from your computer, but you could also pull from several photo sites with one click.

Wedding Paper Divas file upload process | jessalayne.com

TIP: We needed four photos and didn’t plan out a specific “thank you” shot from our wedding so I had to beg a favor to get a few early shots from the photographers. Luckily they obliged, but if you have a wedding video, you could pull screen grabs from the hi-res version. It worked in our design because of the small size of some of the images, but I wouldn’t recommend it for your main image.

I wouldn’t say the customization options are endless, but I don’t think they need to be. The drag & drop function is very user-friendly, it really allows you the ease and flexibility to play around until your design is just right. You can zoom, tilt, and adjust each image to your heart’s content and even add a filter.

Photo Customization at Wedding Paper Divas

TIP: If you’d like to see one of your professional photographs in black & white or sepia, see if your photographer will do the change. The conversion can get tricky and will look best if they do it. If you’re in a bind, or you’re converting a friend’s image, the Wedding Paper Divas tool is great!

Their free “Designer Review” service adds about 1 day to your processing time, but allows you to review a digital proof that’s also gone through their experts. Definitely worth the tiny bit of wait, if you ask me.

We were both pleased with the paper weight and print quality, as well. For squeezing four photos into a pretty small space, they all had a surprising amount of detail and color. Then came the fun part…

Final Thank You Cards | jessalayne.com

We managed to not lose the beautifully printed and plastic-wrapped thank you’s through our cross-town move, and dedicated a few hours one afternoon to writing them out.

TIP: If you can involve your new husband, but he’s not the most eloquent writer, try writing the message portion and then allowing him to check-off your list, write out the address and stamp them. T-man and I did this and imagine our guests noticing the two different handwritings and appreciating that we partnered on one of our first married projects. Maybe they won’t care or notice, but I still think it’s a nice gesture.

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Wedding Paper Divas compensated me for this review, but all opinions about the process and design selection are my own.

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