I love those cupcakes like McAdams loves Gosling.

Let me make this clear. I looove cupcakes. I live cupcakes. I'd like to be reincarnated as a cupcake.

(Um, how sweet are these cupcake cars from the Maker's Faire
With matching cupcake helmets?  I'd trade my wheels for these anyday.)

NYC has Magnolia's, which does have all da bomb frostins (and even better banana pudding). Boston has Kick Ass Cupcakes, which has a mojito cupcake that is dreamy.  Our wedding, however, is in LA, so while I was out there this week I had the task of finding a delicious cupcakery to provide the baked goodies for our wedding.  It was hard work, but someone had to do it.

This is how my mom and me ended with this heavenly view: a dozen delectable "cupcake babies" from Vanilla Bake Shop.  Out of the dozen, we chose four flavors for our cupcake tower: the banana chocolate chip, which has the moistest, yummiest cake; the meyer lemon raspberry, which has a tart lemon curd filling; the red velvet, with a cream cheese icing that is to die for; and a classic vanilla, which will have purple sprinkles to go with our wedding colors.

LA has a ton of cupcakeries, including the big players Sprinkles, Crumbs, and Susiecakes.  But what I love about Vanilla Bake Shop is that along with the quality baked goods you get quality, highly personalized service.  How cute is owner and baker Amy Berman?!

And if cupcakes and cakes aren't your thing (what's wrong with you?!), VBS also makes French macarons, cookies and tarts, and their signature "icebox dessert shots."  Drool.

What's your favorite cupcake flavor?  And will you be doing special desserts for your wedding?


Trials and tribulations

The last time I had my hair and makeup done was at my aunt's wedding twelve years ago.  The stylist (a s0-called "pro" from Neiman Marcus's salon) spackled on a jar's worth of foundation three shades too light for my skin tone (I think she didn't get the "I'm Asian" memo), put a shade of lipstick on me that only a Bratz doll could love, and gave me a hairdo that was a lopsided hairdon't.  (Those caterpillars above my eyes, however, are entirely my fault; I don't think I understood the concept of tweezing yet.)

I looked pretty hot . . . for a hairy drag queen.

I was therefore somewhat anxious about my makeup and hair trial with Lin Breller and Rachelle Luczynski of Joyce Luck Style, though I probably wasn't as anxious as Lin and Rachelle must have been when I rolled into Lin's place after a two-hour typical LA-morning traffic nightmare looking like this:

Oy gevalt.  You can put a week's worth of groceries in those bags under my eyes.

I'm pretty low maintenance about makeup (I'm a lots of moisturizer and Bare Minerals kind of gal), so I had no requirements for my style beyond a request for Lin to make it look natural. Okay, I also might have pined out loud for her to make me look like a supermodel sans makeup.  Hey, a girl's gotta dream, right?

A light sweep of foundation with the airbrush and a soft dusting of fairy dust (or whatever is in Lin's crate of makeup goodies) later, I emerged from Lin's chair looking like . . . well, a blushing bride.

The makeup looked impressively natural photographed both indoors and outdoors, and I really appreciated the fact that I looked like myself, just softer, glowier.  (Of course, Mr. HC will still probably think the makeup is too heavy.  He hates makeup with a passion: I had to train him over the course of many years that it's not okay to wipe off my makeup with his fingers after I'd spent a ton of time primping in front of a mirror!)

While Lin was working her magic, Rachelle gave me bouncy, loose, romantic curls, which I'll wear off on the side (as in the photos above) for the ceremony and take down for the reception.  My hair is pretty thick and tends not to hold a curl well, so I was shocked that it lasted all day . . . and looked pretty darn saucy the next day too.

Joyce Luck Style also recently styled Mrs. Bee and Weddingbee Pro Angel Swanson, both of whom gave glowing reviews.  I'm definitely with them.  To be completely frank, JLS's services don't come cheap, but given my past experience with so-called "professional wedding hair and makeup," I am willing to trade a few weeks of eating ramen for the assurance of not looking like I sashayed off the trailer to Paris is Burning.  

Do you have any wedding makeup/hair horror stories?  Come on, tell me.  After all, I showed you my caterpillar brows!


Reluctantly in favor of . . .favors

Wedding favors.  Just invoking the words makes the hair on my beastie arms stand up on end. I have emerged from many a Chinese wedding with doodads that I didn't know what to do with but felt bad for chucking: a small gold paperweight with the bride and groom's names, wallet-sized pics of the happy couple, an acrylic medallion etched with the couple's likeness . . . . Chinese weddings are a veritable crap-bag -- I mean, grab-bag -- of useless tchotchkes. 
An example of a typical Chinese wedding favor. 
Haven't you always wanted an acrylic swan mini sculpture?

I was thus determined not to have favors.  Maybe a candy or cookie buffet, but no tchotchkes. But when I revealed this awesome cost-savings plan to my mom, she balked. Given my mom's reaction, one would think that sending guests home tchotchke-free was like asking them to pay for their own meal.  

So, I did what any bride in the last two months of her wedding planning would do: I folded, like a cheap umbrella.  Behold our wedding tchotchkes: pairs of keychains.  I have to admit that while I'm still a little horrified by the idea of having favors, I actually find the keychains kind of cute.  The bride has tres adorable pigtails, the groom is wearing the traditional Chinese character for "double happiness," and when you put the two together, they "kiss" (by means of a magnet that attaches one to the other).

Of course, the best thing about these keychains is their price.  We were able to order these from a company in Hong Kong for less than $1.25 per pair, which is a pretty sweet deal.

Are you going to give out wedding favors?  What's the most useless/awkward favor you've ever received?


In the Moo'd

Ahhhh . . . MOO mini-cards.  They are so darn . . . cute.  And printed on the silkiest, most delectable cardstock.  (I am typing this with a straight face because it's true.) 

After months of pining over them, I finally figured out a way to use them!  

Mr. HC and I have worked really hard on our wedding website, which is now brimming with info about us and our Chewish wedding.  But we realized that because many of our local guests never received a save the date, they never got the link to our site.  We also suspect that many of our friends and family have probably already tossed our save the dates and thus could also use a reminder of our wedding website.  

So I decided to have Moo mini-cards printed with our wedding website info.  On the photo side of the cards, I used a few of my favorite engagement photos from our session with photographer extraordinaire and Weddingbee Pro Leigh Miller.  (The awesome thing about MOO is that you can use a different picture for each card.)  On the text side, I printed the following message in purple ink: "For more information about the festivities, including details about travel and accommodations, please visit our wedding webpage at ____."  

I love the way they turned out, so much so that I really couldn't bare to part with them.  Alas, Mr. HC finally managed to pry them from my sticky little hands, and we tossed one in each of our invitations.

Are you using MOO mini-cards?  Want to?  Use discount code 2RB2CK to get 15% off your first order.


Three drinks and a grain

On Sunday, there was a snow storm that blanketed Boston in a foot of wet, clumpy, hard-to-shovel snow.  But not even a blizzard could keep me from meeting up with Mrs. Margarita and Mrs. Corn to see "Bride Snores" -- I mean, "Bride Wars."  Miss Latte, the newest of the Boston Bees, joined us afterward for (what else?) coffee.  Poor Mrs. Toucan was sick, and her presence was missed by all.

[L to R: Margarita, Hot Cocoa, Corn, and Latte]

It was such a pleasure to meet such a smart, creative, and fun group of ladies in person.  I don't know if you can see the sign above us, but it says "Sweets and Treats."  Indeed. 

Did you go see "Bride Wars"?  Did you find yourself drooling over the Jolly Walrus Cookie Bouquet?  Oohing and aahing over Kate Hudson's Vera Wang?  Or were you too enraged by all of the stereotypes about brides/women in the movie to notice?


My Bat-chelorette Shower-Mitzvah! - Part III:

A quick synopsis: I had a shower.  I had a bat-chelorette mitzvah.  

And then I had a partay.

For the evening portion of the event, my fab bridal party, a.k.a.
(can you tell I just watched "Love Guru"?  I'm trademarking everything!), organized a dinner at Tapeo, a tapas restaurant in Boston.  (An aside: I don't speak English with an accent, but somehow whenever I say "tapas," someone hears "topless."  What's up with that?  And it's clearly not wishful thinking on their part, since I don't got much to show up there.)  While we're totally off topic, let me assure you that this post is totally safe for work; my bachelorette party was 100% penis-free!

One of my friends, who wasn't able to make it to Boston for the event, had a bottle of champagne sent to the table.  Classy, huh?  But then the waiter poured it into this phallic "communal" vessel.  I feign modesty and ask, "What am I supposed to do with this?"

Oh, who am I fooling?!  I have devil horns on, for goodness sake; I know exactly what to do with this . . . 

pour champagne all over my face and in my eye!  D'oh.

Friend-of-honor B prepared a newlywed-type game in which she asked Mr. HC a number of questions and I had to guess what he'd say.  First question: "When does Miss HC look her best?"  Mr. HC's response: "She'll say I'd say [deleted for inappropriate content].  The truth: When she's not wearing any makeup, wearing glasses, in her red pajamas . . . ."  I get both answers right!  Woo hoo!  It turns out I rock at the newlywed game!

My friends are smiling here because a) they are proud of how well Mr. HC and I know each other, b) they are attempting to mask the horror of knowing way too much info about my relationship with Mr. HC, c) they are delirious from too much sangria, or d) all of the above.

After dinner, we head out into a snowy Boston evening.  But no snow emergency was going to keep us away from the swanky bar at the newly opened Mandarin Oriental Hotel.  
Some bachelorettes have strippers.  Some have frat boys who wanna be strippers.  I got these suave gentlemen.  Turtleneck and navy blazer?  Hot.  Bow tie and wool cardigan?  Saucy.  One of the FOHs mentioned that the bar scene at the Mandarin Oriental looked like the type of place escorts went to pick up international businessmen.  Emboldened by my devil horns, I take it upon myself to ask these gentlemen whether they were international businessmen.  "Why yes," the one who looked like Thurston J. Howell, III says, "we are international businessmen!"  Such good sports, those two!

I also got points for certain "dares," like dancing with this guy.  He wasn't loving the attention at all.  No, not at all.  And he was working that boa like some sort of pro.
My last dare was to kiss the security guard on our way out.  It was total sexual harassment, and he did not enjoy it.  I think he thought I was the abominable snowwoman.  But how is one to wear a feather boa and a devil veil in 15-degree weather except over a giant snow parka and fleece hat?!  

Thanks ladies for braving a snow emergency to celebrate my bat-chelorette shower-mitzvah and to help me score some fiiiine international businessmen.  The event couldn't have been better planned or more "me"!  I feel lucky to have such a thoughtful and creative group of friends.

How did you dress for your bachelorette party?  Was your uber-sexy get-up foiled by the weather?


My Bat-chelorette Shower-Mitzvah! - Part II: Why is this night different from all other nights?

Once upon a time, there was a girl who grew up in the Valley.*  All the coolest kids in her class had rad bar and bat mitzvahs, and she was like totally jealous.  She too wanted to have a huge party, with an awesome theme like "Dance!" or "Hollywood," and to invite all the cute boys in her class to do the Electric Slide and drink Shirley Temples with her in a fancy ballroom. And she'd wear a super chic dress that was off-the-shoulder and made of taffeta and velvet.  Oh, and there was going to be this huge posterboard with her picture on it, on which everyone who was anyone was going to write their deepest, most sincere thoughts, like "Stay kool!" or "Friends 4-eva."  It was going to be soooooo awesome!

That girl, of course, was me.  I ended up getting the taffeta and velvet dress, which I wore to almost every one of the twenty or so bar and bat mitzvahs I attended.  But I never got the rad bat mitzvah of my dreams . . . 

until last weekend, when my bridal party threw me a Bat-chelorette Shower-Mitzvah, complete with a giant posterboard for the guests to write their deepest, most sincere thoughts!  I didn't have to read a Torah portion, but I did have to pass a test about Judaism delivered by Sister of Honor L, Groomswoman I, and our friend A.  Although I'd been studying hard in my conversion class, I still managed to miss an embarrassingly easy question about what goes on a seder plate.  D'oh.

I got enough right on the quiz to get some fab prizes, like these sexy underpants, which will help Mr. HC identify my best and largest asset in yiddish.

Since the shower portion of the event was craft-themed, my friends presented me with an array of crafty goodies, including stamps, decorative papers, and fancy stationery.  But I also received some bat-mitzvah-appropriate items, including this set of Hebrew letters cookie cutters from Friends-of-honor (FOH) A, L, and G, which will make studying Hebrew so much more delectable.

The funniest gift of the evening was from FOH B, who included with her gift a card that said: "On the day you become a Jewish woman, you join an illustrious line of matriarchs who from time immemorial have practiced the glorious and much-honored tradition of regifting."  LOL.  And in that tradition, she also presented me with the veil and boa I gave her at her bachelorette party a year and a half ago!

Above is a photo of FOH B and me at her bachelorette party.  I inherit the horns below.

Pretty hot, huh?  Once the devil veil and feather boa were on, all bets were off.  And, as you'll see in my next post, shenanigans ensued . . . .

Want to see incriminating pictures of those shenanigans?  Then share your ideas about fun shower games!

* That's the San Fernando Valley, for you non-Californians.


My Bat-chelorette Shower-Mitzvah! - Part I: Not a girl, not yet a woman

As I mentioned in my teaser post yesterday, my amazing bridal party threw me a fabulous Bat-chelorette Shower-Mitzvah.  Wonderful women from all parts of my life braved an impending snow emergency to travel from New York, Connecticut, and D.C. to Massachusetts to celebrate . . . me!  I was so touched and awed by the experience that I felt slightly out of body the whole afternoon/evening.

The shower portion of the day was craft themed -- designed to inspire my inner Martha.  Of course, while my Martha is deep deep inside of me, my friends have no problems channeling their inner Martha.  Behold the chic, DIY details:

Friend-of-honor (FOH) L hosted the event in her beautiful home.  She repurposed her holiday wreath by dressing it up with a chic purple ribbon and put together little arrangements of flowers in cups from rescued from an old tool box.  FOH A created a darling garland of paper flowers to dress up the fireplace.

L, A, and FOH G made a gorgeous and delicious spread of tea-time goodies, including a delectable trifle, cheesey puffs (yummy in my tummy), quiche, cucumber and egg sandwiches, and the piece de resistance -- a "wish cake."  Check out the Martha-esque tissue poms hanging from the chandelier.

Here's a close up of the wish cake.  FOH A attached ribbons to tiny vellum envelopes.  A paper pom kept the wishes hidden.

Inside each vellum envelope was a lovely wish/fortune written by the always positive FOH A. Yay -- a positive change in my career!

And I think my new career will be as a paper flower maker!  The FOHs gave all of the guests a craft project.  They provided wire stems, craft scissors, floral tape, and small circles of paper.  Each of the attendees created a paper flower, and at the end of the shower, the flowers were tied together with a gorgeous amethyst ribbon and made into . . . 

a whimsical rehearsal bouquet!  Here is what I've affectionately named Team 愛-Vey (trademark pending!) -- my bridal party.  愛 is the Chinese character for love, and it's pronounced "oi."  Get it?!  Hahahaha.  I crack myself up.  Above, from left to right, are sister of honor (SOH) L, FOHs L and G, me, and FOHs A and B.

Up next: the bat mitzvah section of the evening.

Do you have a funny name for your bridesmaids or groomsmen?  Share!


My Bat-chelorette Shower-Mitzvah!

Here is me at the first bar mitzvah I ever attended (no, that's not a lampshade around my ass, that is what we in 1990 called "fashion"):

And here's me at my own bat-chelorette shower-mitzvah almost 19 years later:

This weekend my uber-fabulous sisters and friends of honor threw me a "Bat-chelorette Shower-Mitzvah" (trademark pending)!  What is a bat-chelorette shower-mitzvah?  Why, I'm glad you asked.  As their clever invitation explains:

For the shower portion of the program, please join us in the afternoon for tea and sweets. Bring a small craft-related gift (such as pretty paper, ribbon, rubber stamps, or cookie cutters) to nourish Miss Hot Cocoa's inner Martha.

And then . . . Miss Hot Cocoa never got the dance-slipper themed bat mitzvah of her dreams, but it's not too late! We're going to party like it's 1991 with dinner and drinks on the town for the soon-to-be Jewish bride. Wear your best NKOTB gear or Laura Ashley dress!

With an invitation like that and a snow emergency on the way, how could hijinks not ensue?  Want to see embarrassing pictures of all our shenanigans?  All in good time, bees, all in good time.  

Tell you what: I'll trade you embarrassing pictures for your comments below on what is your favorite shower or bachelorette party theme (real or imagined).

In the meantime, here's a teaser:

I call this thoroughly frightening get-up devil snow bunny bride (or "Bunnicula Returns: When Hell Freezes Over").


Help me choose!

While I've been lazing about during the holidays, eating, shopping, and generally being a non-productive member of society, the crafty Lo (of Etsy store LoBoheme) has been hard at work on a fabulous hairpiece for me to wear with my wedding qipao.  If you're not familiar with her store, Lo creates the most beautifully constructed vintage-inspired fascinators, floral and feather hairpieces, and headbands.  For me, she designed a piece in shades of mauve, violet, and aubergine.  And she's paired it with a number of different centerpieces that I'm hoping you'll help me decide between!

Option 1: Diamond-shaped Centerpiece
Option 2: V-Shaped Centerpiece
Option 3: Twelve-stone Round Centerpiece
Option 4: Leaf-shaped Centerpiece
Option 5: Fancypants Centerpiece
Option 6: Seven-stone Circle Centerpiece
There is an Option 7 (Mr. HC's Anticipated Response, i.e., "I don't get it -- aren't they all the same?"), but I'd have to hit you afterward, so I think it's best I leave it out.

And here's a teaser of my qipao -- it's silver lace over mauve satin.
What should I choose?

Option 1 (Diamond Shaped)
Option 2 (V Shaped)
Option 3 (Twelve Stone)
Option 4 (Leaf Shaped)
Option 5 (Fancypants)
Option 6 (Seven Stone)

One other question: do you like the piece more with the pale pink feathers, as in Option 6, or without, as in the other ones?  When I looked at the photos originally, the pink came off as white.  White is the color of mourning in Chinese culture, so I asked Lo to take out the feathers. But does the piece look incomplete without them?

Thanks for your help and advice!!


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