My Cup Runneth Over

My Cup Runneth Over

I absolutely LOVE the movie “Hope Floats” with Sandra Bullock (playing Birdee) and Harry Connick Jr (as Justin Matisse). The first time my sister and I watched it, we got angry. “What the HECK!? How much more can go wrong for this girl!?” But in the end she pulls through and she walks off into happily ever after with cowboy version of HCJ. Birdee’s mother, Ramona (played by Gena Rowlands), is an absolute rock throughout all of Birdee’s trials. There’s one scene where she’s having a special moment with her granddaughter, Bernice, and says, “My Cup Runneth Over.” Later at the end, sweet Bernice, who’d gone through everything alongside her mama, also says reflects on how absolutely loved she feels with the same phrase. I was lucky enough to catch this flick last night and the line stuck with me.

I’d like to think I walk around constantly throwing confetti and making everyone’s day better, but sometimes even pink-loving PartyBFF feels blue. I’m a pretty bubbly girl. We all know this, and it didn’t take long for my pals to notice that I’d gone flat. Work is stressful and growing old isn’t fun, but all it takes sometimes is a sweet treat from a friend and a good conversation with your hubby to pick you back up to glitter-tossing status. A series of events brought the pep back into my step. One of my pals stopped by work with an early birthday gift and a sweet treat. I came home to one of the SWEETEST cards from another friend. I was overwhelmed with love from family and friends this morning and only have more to look forward to with all of the sweet surprises my husband has planned for this weekend.

My cup does runneth over and I’m so lucky to have everyone remind me so. Birthdays or any celebration remind us of how lucky we are to have what we do. From my girls who know exactly which sweet treat picks me up, to my in-laws who don’t let thousands of miles stop them from showing their love, to my family who is constantly on the run with me making me laugh (my grandpa actually interrupted my writing with his fabulous opera rendition of “Happy Birthday!”). I am a lucky girl.

Life is a celebration. Sometimes it’s the prep. Sometimes it’s the cleanup, and sometimes someone we dislike crashes the party. But you have to simply grab a cocktail, clink to a toast and celebrate the wonderful things you have.

Cheers!

-Vanessa

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Cinco De Mayo – A Formula for a True Mexican Celebration

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This weekend will be raging with mustaches, sombreros and tequila. Yes this American holiday created to stereotype Mexican culture is one of my favorites. (When I think about it though… The Mexican men in my family mostly do all have mustaches, and we DO love tequila. So I guess we’re just off with the sombreros!? I digress!)

As a Mexican-American, I consider myself an expert here and am giving you the formula for a true and special Mexican celebration. Here you go!

1. Family must be present – If you’re having a Cinco de Mayo party and there’s no family around, you’re not embracing true Mexican spirit. And keep in mind, family doesn’t only mean “relatives.” Invite everyone you love and if they bring friends, that’s fine – We’re all family! We welcome strangers and gringos with open arms. We love hosting people and celebrating, and if we run out of drinks or food, don’t worry we’ll send your primo out to get more.

2. Food – Chips and salsa do not count. Ask any of the white boys who’ve dated the “Flores girls,” you don’t enter a Mexican household and not eat a real meal!

3. Drinks – A “frozen margarita machine” is fun, but that’s more Senor Frog’s on the beach, than it is Mexicano. Tequila, coke, sprite, lemonade, water, Corona and Dos Equis! Don’t forget the limes.

4. Music & Dancing – Yes, there’s no party without dancing; you don’t have to stick with the stereotypical mariachi album. Those are definitely fun, but mix in some Juanes, Gypsy Kings and Sonora Dynamita and you’ve got yourself a baile on the horizon.

5. That stick up your butt, leave it at the door – My theory on why this stereotypical holiday has come about, is because Mexicans are FUN and people want to partake in our joyous celebrations (have you ever been to a quincenera or a bautizo??). The reason we’re fun, is because we aren’t all only about the decorations and the food. We focus on everyone having a good time. Dad walks around with a tequila bottle and your boyfriend’s cousin who came along, is dancing with your grandma before you know it. So if you’re going to celebrate the Mexican way, you’re going to forget about what everyone thinks and you’re going to have a good time.

My Tio (uncle) Martin once said, “Come and enjoy us!” instead of “come and join us” and we’ve fully adopted the playful phrase . It’s the truth. When you’re at a Mexican celebration, you’re there to enjoy yourself and all those there celebrating with you.

There you go… it’s as simple as that!

Happy Cinco de Mayo my friends. Party hard and be safe.

Flores5deMayo

Flores girls on Cinco de Mayo, 2013

 

 

Google Drive is my BFF

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So PartyBFF has a lot of bff’s. There are my sisters, Priscilla and Melissa; my niece Vida; my bubbly blonde bestie, Kristin; my smart lawyer friends Angela and Cynthia, my girl who always keeps it real, Alice, and many others. But let’s face it, none of these relationships come close to the ones I have with the tools that get me through my projects and events (ok I’m kidding they do come close ;). Let’s talk about these pals of mine…

1. My Silhouette Cameo – it cuts small shapes to a perfection that I never could (and ask Alice, I am an intricate trimmer!). Hello cake toppers, gift tags, cards, confetti and more!

2. My Macbook Pro – Email, Photoshop, Word and even the software for the Silhouette mentioned above are only available through this portable robotic thinking device.

3. My iPhone – No explanation needed here, Goldie and I go way back.

4. My circle punch – I’ve used this guy SO MUCH!!! For everything from favor tags and straw tags, to cupcake toppers, and mailing labels.

and last but not least…

4. GOOGLE DRIVE (Formerly known as Google Docs)

Ladies, (and any gentlemen if they happen to be here!?) you do not know how these tools can help organize the life of a crafter, event planner, mom, single woman, job seeker or plain person on this fast-paced planet!

I was first introduced to Google docs when I started my current job. At the time, we were still a small company with a startup mindset. No fancy networks needed, we all used Google Docs to share and store the appropriate work documents. I then realized the potential of this amazing tool, used it for my wedding, and have incorporated it into almost every aspect of my life. I use Google drive for everything from budgeting and finances, to photo and file storage and of course, every aspect of event planning.

I’ll focus here on how you can use it to ease the troubles of your party planning adventures.

How do you get access? Well, my friends if you have a gmail account, you already do! If you don’t then simply create one. If you already have a Gmail account, then log in to it, and click on the little square with a bunch of littler squares in it in the upper righthand corner.

GDriveOptions

Upon clicking this you’ll see a ton of different tools that Google provides, but right now, we want that recycle-looking thing that says “Drive” in the middle of the bottom row.

Click on that and you’ll open a new window with a whole new world of organization and sharing. You’ll see two important buttons in the left upper right corner, “Create” and “Upload” (yes, that’s what the line with the up arrow means!).

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Clicking on “create” will provide options to create a slew of document types. It’s basically Google’s version of Microsoft Office. You can do Word-like docs, Powerpoint-like presentations, Excel-like spreadsheets, forms (one of the coolest) and drawings apparently (Yeah, I’ve never used this one!).

Clicking on the “upload” button allows you to upload non-google docs files to “store” in your personal drive. Think photos, event layouts, vendor contracts and more. You can create a folder for your event and throw everything in there that you need. This is a whole lot easier that digging through your email each time you need to look up what time you can enter the venue, AND you can have access to these files anywhere so long as you have internet. When I say anywhere, I do mean anywhere. I have the Google drive app installed on my phone and pull up my finance sheet whenever  I need to remember what bills are due when!

Ok that’s not even the best part. Get ready for it. You can take a Google doc, or a drive folder and SHARE IT so that you can collaborate with others! You simply create the doc, then click on the “share” button in the top right corner. This opens a window and you enter the email address of the person you want to share it with. You can even edit the permission levels of the people you share it with, so that you can edits things, and they can see them, but they can’t change and mess it up.

“Why is this such a great tool?” You might ask.

Ummm, well think about a baby shower. The mama-to-be opens up a google doc and imports the list of people she wants to invite. She shares it with you and you can easily download it into an excel sheet and make labels. Well you could have done this if she’d just emailed you an Excel doc, right? Wait – I’m not finished!  You’ve made your labels, go back into the Google sheet and add another column – RSVP status! Yes, then you and your mama-to-be can both see live results of the RSVP’s you’re getting. “Oh my mom texted me that she’s coming!” Well thanks darling, let’s just put that in the sheet and we both won’t forget!! Need to note whether it’s chicken or steak? Easy peasy, just add another column! After the shower, create another column or tab and write in the gifts. Then mama can track which thank you notes are still to be sent and has the info right in there with the addresses. You’ll have one LIVING document making your life so much easier. From RSVP’s to budgets (planning as a group? everyone write in what they’ve spent and keep a live tally!), the possibilities are endless.

Same with the document function. I love this for notes we take, or ideas to keep-in-mind. Think a group pinboard that doesn’t require the use of a photo. Just drop in the link!

You gals are all smart ladies (and gents, to be safe!) so I won’t go into much more detail on the other doc types, but I do want to go over forms, because this is a cool one!

A form is just that – an online form. I’ve used them at work for information forms that we need filled out from various groups of people, but I’ve received them in the past as RSVP forms. It’s literally your own little survey tool. Create a form to send to your bridal party. You create the questions and pick the answer format (paragraph, multiple choice, etc.). Ask everyone for their measurements and shoe size with one quick email. They click a link and fill it out. DONE! You don’t have to sift through all of your email chains and create your own spreadsheet, the form dumps everything into a spreadsheet that you have access to. I love this for online RSVP’s a la Paperless Post and Evite, but instead of having to log into their system, you have it with all of your other items. The forms even come in pre-designed templates, some of which are obviously wedding-themed. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t BEAUTIFUL, but they are useful if you need to poll everyone on something quickly. Song suggestions? Need a quick poll on the menu options?

There you have it my friends. Google Drive is PartyBFF’s bff and it will be yours soon. And now I’m off to update my “upcoming blogs” Google spreadsheet; “Published – 4/30/2014”.

Have you used Google’s online tools in the past? Tell me about your triumphs and your frustrations. 

Wedding Invites via CostCo

Let’s face it. We ALL trust CostCo.

If something is suddenly available at CostCo, you automatically assume you’re getting a great deal. Forget trying to calculate price per ounce; you always trust that CostCo’s got your back. Well thrifty CostCo trusters, they have added new greeting card options to the photo center! I recently printed invites for my niece’s first birthday with them and was pretty pleased with the results. I thought the paper was a little thin, but for the price, and time it saves you from cutting thick paper yourself, it’s a pretty good deal.

My niece's party invite in final form (at the CostCo counter).

My niece’s party invite in final form (at the CostCo counter).

So today, as I was checking my email, amidst all of the junk, I saw this lovely little headline: “NEW 2014 Grad + Wedding Stationary.” Since I’m looking out for all of my bff brides, I click on it to check it out. (Like CostCo, PartyBFF has your back!)

They offer Save the Dates, bridal shower invites, engagement/wedding announcements and of course, thank you cards. My personal favorite is the “upload your own design,” which can be nice if you want to purchase a digital design on Etsy or from a talented friend (like the sample above). Like many of us who’ve attempted the DIY route, cutting paper gets old FAST! I once lost feeling in my thumb for a few days due to nerve damage from too much cutting. Doc’s instructions, “stop cutting and get better scissors!”

Not only can you save yourself the cutting time, but with the new designs you can also pick from some of their lovely options and save yourself the design time. Here are some of the designs that caught my eye:

Bridal Shower Floral Wreath

Bridal Shower Floral Wreath

Forever Chevron

Forever Chevron

Glitter Engagement

Glitter Engagement

Wedding Filigree

Wedding Filigree

They often partner with other paper goods stores, so check back often! Keep in mind they offer designs for all types of occasions, including birthday and birth announcements, and of course the “upload your own” is always a great option. They cost $17.25 for one set of 25 and come with pretty good quality envelopes in white. I’ve tried both VistaPrint and color printing and cutting myself before, which are pretty good options, this one is just easier. VistaPrint also does not offer rounded edges and CostCo does (that was the major bonus for me!).

One bummer is that there really isn’t much wiggle room with the shipping/processing time (approx 3-4 business days). So you do need to plan ahead.

I’m thinking a follow up post with ideas on how to jazz plain cards up a bit. Maybe attach the to fun backings or side punches? Ohhh let the wheels start spinning!

Ciao!

V

 

 

Why Party BFF?

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My life is a daily struggle between the profession that inspires me as a business woman (and Angeleno who likes sassy shoes on her feet and roof over her head) and the passion I have for making things pretty, especially things at social gatherings!

“You should do this for a living Vanessa!” people tell me when I arrive at a party with my box of DIY’d items or send out the latest invite I helped design. Truth is, I would LOVE to do this for a living. If I could stay home with paper, circle punches, glitter, glue guns and ribbon all day long, I’d be one HAPPY lady. But often, my response to the aforementioned compliment is, “do you know how many of these invitations I’d have to sell in one month to be able to pay my rent?”

Not to knock the wonderfully successful makers and party planners out there (I secretly yearn to be them – or a house flipper one day!) I’m just not in the place the give up a great career in TechPR just yet. BUT I do need to share this passion with all of you.

Whether it’s with a grand soiree, a walk for coffee  or even just a high five and a hug, every moment is something to celebrate. Hands down, I’m always there to help any friend with an upcoming event. From a bestie in a bridal shower planning crunch, to friends of friends who somehow got stuck with “making the name badges” for an upcoming high school reunion, and of course to my own familia who can never keep me from completely taking over any family function, I NEVER shy away from helping someone with a party.  That’s where you come in. Everyone who actively reads or happens to come across this blog is a friend who I will help with a party! (It will most likely be my friends and family who are supporting me with insurmountable love anyway 😉

A while back, I started a Facebook page called WeddingBFF that served as a place to share my thoughts for another passion, all things wedding. But as I move further and further away from the “newlywed” title (don’t remind me! I still haven’t even dry cleaned my dress – EEK!) my interests are encompassing more than just that one beautiful day of flowers and tulle. Don’t get me wrong, if I could plan a wedding every year ala Heidi and Seal, (that split still breaks my heart!) I would, but I’m also now reveling in helping with baby showers, 1-year-old birthdays, anniversaries, retirements, promotions and the little daily things things that deserve recognition. Life really is beautiful and every achievement deserves some confetti tossing (real or symbolic!).

Alas, Party BFF is born. A place to learn about the things I’ve made or put together for my friends’ and family, good ideas that I come across, steals and deals you can’t miss out on and even general thoughts with my very humble opinion on questions that you pose for your parties and weddings.

I hope I don’t let you down!!

Love,

Vanessa