Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tipping Suggestions: Part 2

My previous post about what not to give your professionals as a tip or gift stunned more then a few people. Several asked me if it was true. They just couldn't believe anyone would give pot as a gratuity. My answer is yes, it is a 100% true story.

So why would you tip an event professional? As a token of appreciation for a job well done or for providing exemplary service that went above and beyond what was called for in the contract.

Every professional I've ever talked to about this subject for over a decade has said that tips are never expected, but mean a lot when they do receive them because it means they did they did their job well, and their their efforts were noticed and appreciated.

I'll be the first to admit that tipping anywhere other then a restaurant can often be confusing. So when you're trying to figure out what to tip an event professional here are a few suggestion you might find helpful:

1. Word of mouth recommendations of their products or services to other people you know who are planning a similar event.
2. A heartfelt thank you note or card, especially when hand written may be a better option then a modest cash tip. Nobody should ever feel obligated to give more then they can afford, but it may be worth it to note that a small dollar amount for a cash tip may accidentally be misunderstood as a sign of dissatisfaction, similar to under tipping at a restaurant.
3. Offer to write a post for them in your blog if you have one. A well deserved rave is always appreciated, especially if it includes a link to their website.
4. If your toasts are going to be short, acknowledging them by name during the toasts as a thank you would be a wonderful surprise to most professionals.

More traditional ideas of course include cash or a gift. I know a few people who have received tips of a thousand dollars or more. One was offered free limo service to and from the airport for a year. Sweet! Others were treated to dinners, trips and tickets to shows. One colleague told me they once received a $1000 gift certificate to Gucci. Gotta love that!

Things to avoid:

1. Street drugs. LOL

2. Re-gifted items, especially gift cards or certificates to specialty stores that may not be of any interest to the recipient.. If you feel your vendor sincerely gave you 100% of their attention and expertise? Why not do the same when choosing an appropriate way to express your gratitude?

One vendor I know once received a $25 gift certificate to Casa De Fruta that required a 100 mile round trip to redeem. I'm sure some would have found such a gift less then ideal. But being a good sport the recipient thought it was a great and made the 2 hour trek down to Hollister and back to San Jose for some dried fruits and nuts. A few years ago I can see where it might not have been a big deal. With today's gas prices? Proximity to redeeming a gift certificate might be worth some consideration. LOL

Tipping an event professional isn't like tipping a waiter or waitress. It's not a set percentage expected after each event. After taking a poll amongst some of my industry colleagues it would seem that tipping is a very fluid gesture that knows no boundaries. While some professionals receive tips 80% to 90% of the time, others receive them as infrequently as 10% of the time.

Personally I've had clients that surprised me with a tip or gift in the past and it didn't matter if it was a thank you note with a photo from the wedding, a box of chocolates (they'd read my blog lol), a plant for my garden, or cash. I was always kind of surprised, because as an accessory designer I would fall into the less then 10% of the time category. Over the years I've had several clients who invited me to their weddings as a guest. That meant a lot. The gesture always reaffirmed that I'd done a good job and my efforts were appreciated.

For my own wedding we paid more for our professionals to receive the same meal as our guests instead of a cold, brown bag sandwich. I also helped a couple of them customize their blog templates and am planning to send all of them something special on our first anniversary. Shhhhhh if you know them don't tell them. And if you're one of them act surprised ok? LOL

Sunday, May 25, 2008

NACE 50th Anniversary • Palo Alto Hills Country Club

By Creative Ice Studio

While I have attended a National Association of Catering Executives (NACE) meeting before, I'd never been to the Palo Alto Hills Country Club in Palo Alto, CA. It was a very fun evening.

Locating it was a piece of cake. Coming from San Jose it was a left off the Pagemill exit, driving straight a bit then a right and another right and I was there.

This gorgeous view is from the patio where the cocktail hour was held. It's part of the golf course. Something you may not know about the club, I was told it is the only Country Club in this area where you don't need a sponsor to have your wedding there. That's right, you don't have to be a member, and you don't have to know a member to be able to rent the venue for your wedding and reception.

The tables were beautifully set with linens from BBJ Linens, flowers by Asiel Design and the chair covers by Creative Coverings.

What a treat from Satura Cakes

These adorable cupcakes were made by Cake Coquette. Because details count, the color of the teal icing matched the napkins and chair cover sashes perfectly.

When it comes to sheer novelty I really got a kick out of this "Screen Booth." A fusion of a traditional guestbook and photo booth, this high tech device with a camera at the top, is a screen that gives you three options in place of a traditional guest book.

1. You can pose for a photo.

2. You can pose for a photo and type in a message to accompany it.

3. You can create a short video clip and leave your message as an audio greeting.

OK, just how cool is that?

The upper picture is the camera taking a picture of me taking a picture of the Screen Booth. The lower picture of me is the picture I had just posed for and was giving me the option of either approving it or posing for a new picture if I didn't like the first one.


I did buy $5 worth of raffle tickets and won this fancy bottle of champagne! Only problem is that I don't drink alcohol. Those of you who have already read my Wine Sanctuary post already knew that. At my table to my right was flirty florist Karen Hsu of Grandiflora. I'd noticed at dinner the two of us were both drinking water. To my left was Gabby from Cake Coquette who I had noticed did enjoy wine with her dinner. So I gave the champagne to her. LOL she forgot it but I saw her two days later so I took it and gave it to her again. I figured it was the least I could do. The cupcake was that good.

The first person I ran into upon my arrival was DJ Carl Mindling. Other Flirty peeps were Robbie Schlosser of the Magnolia Jazz Band who is on the board of the Silicon Valley NACE chapter and videographer David Ethridge.

If you're interested in learning more about NACE here is a brief description from their website: "NACE offers members, partners, and the public a variety of rich resources that support, promote and enhance the catering and special events industries. We invite you to explore and enjoy the many offerings of our association."

With both San Francisco and Silicon Valley chapters it's easy to attend a meeting in the South Bay or the city.

Please, Don't Give Me Marijuana!

Gifts and Tips • Part 1: What Not to Give

You're wedding or event was a huge success. Everything was great. And much to your delight you noticed that some of the professionals you hired rose to the occasion exceeding your expectations helping to make your event everything you had hoped for and more.

To acknowledge their efforts you've decided to give them a tip or gift... But what?

Well for starters, don't give a gift that could wind them up in the slammer.

I know, right now you're thinking "She has GOT to be kidding!"

Incredibly, I'm not.

Suffice to say I personally know a wedding professional who did such a wonderful job that their client gave them a gift as a token of appreciation. While driving home the professional noticed a strange odor in their car. *Sniff sniff* what was that smell? Finally it dawned on them that it must be "the gift." They opened it up and lo and behold there inside was marijuana! That's right! I'm talkin' pot, grass, weed, hash, Mary Jane, dope, reefer, Maui-Wowie.. OK I don't know if it came from Hawaii but I'm not real hip on drug lingo and that was one name I remembered hearing years ago.

Had this person been in the habit of smoking "weed" they might have thought "cooooool" when they saw their "tip." Instead they proceeded to freak out about "what if" the police were to pull them over for a moving violation? Would the cops believe that they were an innocent mule who was unwittingly transporting an illegal substance and committing a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail along with a $500 fine? Probably not, would be my guess.

At the first opportunity they pulled into a gas station and tossed the "gift" into a garbage can. I know some of you are thinking "what a waste" but I would have done the same thing.

Can you imagine if they had been pulled over? And the police asked where the "gift" came from? And they went to the venue and arrested a bride on her wedding day? Not good. Or what if the wedding professional was married to a cop? Or someone in their family was in law enforcement? You get my drift. So while this seems like a no brainer it bears saying that no matter how happy you are with the way your wedding or event turned out: Do not tip your professionals with street drugs that could land them, or yourself, in the pokey.

Oh and BTW, if you ever want to give me a tip? Please, don't give me marijuana. I prefer chocolate :P

The Price of Gas Went Up 8¢ While I Was Pumping!

While filling my tank the other day I noticed one of the gas station employees was raising the prices on the street sign by 8¢ a gallon, WHILE I WAS PUMPING! I even took a picture because I fear that tank of gas will be a momentous tank in my driving history as it will be the last time I see gas for under $4 a gallon for a very looooooooooong time.

*Sigh* I really hope I'm wrong. But I have a bad feeling I'm right.

By the time I was done pumping the price was $4.07 a gallon. Oh geeez.

On the bright side I don't own an SUV so to fill my tank still cost less then $40 the other day. The next time it will be over $40 but I'll savor that last tank of "cheap" $3.99 a gallon gas as a bittersweet memory of kinder, happier more economical days.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Four Seasons, Palo Alto

A few weeks back I was invited to attend a site tour of the Four Seasons in Palo Alto. I've driven past this impressive looking hotel many times as I zip back and forth to the city on HWY 101 but had never had an opportunity to look inside.

I think the biggest surprise to me was that the Hotel in incredibly quiet inside. One would think being all glass alongside a highway you would hear some of the traffic streaming by, at least a little bit. But honestly? You don't hear anything at all through the triple paned glass windows on the north side. Pretty amazing. At home I can hear my neighbors phone ringing from inside my house but couldn't hear a peep once inside the hotel.

I borrowed this photo from their website. It shows their beautiful outdoor reception area near the fountain. That evening they had set up a ceremony area by the fountain and the indoor banquet room for the reception. I think one of the nicest things about hotels is that it's sooooo easy for your guests to be able to attend the ceremony and reception in one location. It's a gesture even more appreciated f you have a lot of out-of-towners who don't know their way around.

And oh my gosh is this dessert buffet a dream come true or what??? And if you can believe it I hardly got to sample anything because I had to leave a bit early to go have dinner with friends. I did eat one macaroon on a stick just before I had to go. And I grabbed a raspberry tart and left it in the car while I went to dinner. I ate it on the way home. Yummmmm. How could I resist? I made sure my friends understood the depth of my sacrifice that I dined with them instead of staying at the Four Seasons by showing them these photos over dinner.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Bead Shops • Beads N Things

Ever wonder where I buy the beads I use to create my custom, couture, bridal accessories for The Flirty Bride? Well, some I find online and and others I purchase at local bead stores. If you've never been to a bead store you should go. Sure craft stores like Michaels and various fabric stores carry a selection of beads, but what they offer cannot compare with the sheer variety you will find in a specialty bead shop! From a multitude of glass seed beads to Swarovski Austrain crystal and pressed glass beads of every size, shape and color, a bead shop is a feast for the eyes. It's also an absolute necessity for those who are DIY jewelry designers, home decorating enthusiasts, and bridal accessory designers :o)

Original Design Swarovski Crystals and Glass Beaded Frog on Wire Frame

Original Design Seed Bead Flowers on Wire Comb

Original Design Beaded Dragonflies & Beaded Wire Flowers

Swarovski Crystal Heart Tiara

Close up of light Rose Crystal Heart

One of my favorite Bay Area bead stores is Peninsula Bead Supply better known as "Beads N Things" to the locals. They carry everything from glass, crystal, semi-precious, and freshwater pearl beads to tools, chain, sequins, books and more.

A Colorful Selection of Seed Beads

Blue Glass Beads

Tray of Swarovski Crystal Beads

Frostie Cherry Limeade Soda

Talk about yum! After spending my most recent surprise sushi night with my friend and colleague, Jewel Savadelis, we popped into Powell's Sweet Shoppe, a cute candy shop in downtown Los Gatos, where I spotted this very unusual bottle of soda. I couldn't resist and purchased a bottle to try later at home. If you loved cherry snow cones as a kid? Chances are you'll love this soda because that's exactly what it tasted like.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bridal Showcase at Nestldown

A Nestldown Vendor Showcase and The Flirty Guide will be there!

Brides & Grooms are Free of Charge

Additional guests $10 each payable upon arrival

Please Join Us!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

5:30 PM - 8:30 PM

For An Evening Of Wedding Planning !

The evening will begin with Hors D’oeuvres and exploration of the Nestldown property followed by a short discussion of the most commonly asked questions when planning a wedding.

We'll have cute new postcards and thank you cards in our Goodie Bags!

At the Showcase A Special Drawing Courtesy of Travel Quest!
Win a Romantic Two-Island Hawaiian Getaway at the
Waikiki Marriott Resort and Spa & Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club
Event Tags: Other
Nestldown , Santa Cruz

Friday, May 16, 2008

"Wish" by Michael J. Downey

I met Michael J. Downey on Myspace. Michael keeps in touch by dropping by my page to leave a greeting every now and then. I do the same but I have the added bonus of being able to listen to his music, either by visiting his page or on iTunes because I purchased a couple of his songs.

I love a good ballad, and his song "Wish" has become one of my favs. According to my iTunes, since purchasing the song in late February, I've already listened to it 53 times. The lyrics really speak to me. Though it was probably meant as a romantic love song, right now there are a few friends I've kind of lost touch with and when I hear the song I think of them.

"I wish you well, I wish you might

Think of me time to time, that’s alright

Tonight the stars, they shine so bright

Wish that you were with me, wish that you were with me tonight."

Click Here to Visit Michael J. Downey's Myspace page and listen to "Wish" and "Be Here Now." Though his song "America" is the one that went to #6 on the national adult contemporary charts, I'm hooked on his ballads :o)

Once the high-volume lead guitarist for Femme Fatale, Michael is now using his music and dedicating his time and talent to creating a cultural bridge between America, Japan, and South Korea through his recordings, performances, and his non-profit www.Hashi.org.

I guess I see a parallel between Michael and his music and myself using my tiny origami cranes for the same purpose but geographically in reverse. By sharing a traditional Asian art form with America I hope to both bridge cultural gaps where they exist and create inner peace when people view my work.

I'm a bit envious because while Michael is out there doing right now my art is, at the moment, a side note that I hope to one day bring to center stage.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Beautiful Baskets that Make a Difference

I was reading the news this morning and came across a story inspiring on so many levels that I wanted to share it with all of you. These beautiful baskets are made in a country that is in a process of reconciliation and healing. It's citizens are learning to forgive, forget and move forward for the benefit of everyone.

These women are survivors of the genocide that took place in Rawanda back in 1994. Even though the victims were killed by the militia, their friends and neighbors, the survivors are now in a process of forgiveness and acceptance.

The victims: How to forgive those who in one hundred days, attacked and brutally killed somewhere around one million of their families, friends, and countrymen. Many of the survivors suffered losses, were attacked and maimed in ways unimaginable... So the act of forgiveness, especially of such magnitude, is one that probably defies comprehension for most of us.

The perpetrators: Have learned to ask for forgiveness from the survivors. Surprisingly many, not all, have found it within themselves to offer that forgiveness to heal themselves and their country.

Collectively they are creating peace.

Enter Noeleen Heyzer who helped to create the United Nations Development Fund for Women who in turn partnered with retail giant Macy's. Together they created an amazing opportunity for the women of Rawanda to not only rebuild their lives but is simultaneously helping the reconciliation process as those who were once torn apart by war are now becoming rejoined through entrepreneurship.

To those of us who live in the U.S., Rawanda might seem a world away. But now by purchasing a Path to Peace basket at Macy's we can help to encourage the process of peace and support a country that was overlooked and pushed aside in it's most desperate time of need.

Rawnda is setting an example that we can only hope, many other countries will someday follow.

For many of the women this is their first opportunity to earn money. And while the money the weavers earn, up to $14 a week, may not seem like much to us in the US, the article said that many people in Rawanda earn $1 per week. The program now employs thousands and impacts the lives of tens of thousands. So imagine for a moment the far reaching good the purchase of a single basket has on a country a world away.

I realize this topic isn't fun or flirty but it is so important that I wanted to include it here in my blog. If you don't know but want to learn more about what happened in Rawanda during the genocide, there is a HBO movie titled "Sometimes in April" that I rented from a video store. IMO It offers a wider perspective then the better known Hotel Rawanda.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Satura Cakes Opening Soon In Campbell California

This is the Satura Cakes in Palo Alto 5 minutes after they closed for the evening. I was so bummed. I don't make it out to Palo Alto very often and had hoped to pop in and pick up some yummies... I did do a blog post last year about my trip to this location. Yes I was disappointed but that's ok because soon I'll have a Satura Cakes right around the corner from my PO Box.

Now this is exciting. Seriously really big news. Satura Cakes is opening a new location in Downtown Campbell. This will be the closest shop to where I live meaning I'll be able to make a Satura run pretty much any time I want to... I predict it will become the new place I'll meet up with people. How could it not? Their desserts are FABULOUS! I'll have to find out when they are opening and be first in line on the big day!

They also have bakeries in Hawaii.

So if you're too impatient to wait for them to open in Campbell you can visit one of their other locations right now! Well that is as long as you get there before closing time. LOL

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Raspberry Mousse Cake, Oh YUM!

This is my favorite dessert along with my new second runner up when I visit Cocola Bakery. Some of the desserts are hit and miss but most I've had so far have been good. I highly recommend these two. If you don't like them you can always bring me the leftovers :P

This is my new second favorite...

Latest Flirty Event Ideas

Some very cool ideas for a fun and flirty wedding. Click on any of the images to view the corresponding idea page on The Flirty Guide.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Weddings at Thomas Fogarty Winery

It was a gorgeous day! Blue skies and a gentle warm breeze made my first trip to Fogarty Winery pure pleasure. Have you ever been up to their vineyards? It's sooooo pretty! This time of year the hills are covered with rows of grapevines just beginning to fill in with their first spring leaves. I'd been invited to attend a small, industry luncheon giving me the opportunity to tour this famous venue.

As I entered the property I stopped for this picture of the vineyards and a pond. When it comes to atmosphere I can tell you that the air is  sweeter, the mood calmer, and your psyche just lets out a big sigh of relief as you pull through their main gate. Well, mine did at least :o) Surrounded by natural beauty I could literally feel my cares drift away as I cleard my mind and left my worries behind and prepared to enjoy a wonderful afternoon! LOL I literally felt like that woman in the old Calgon bath commercials.

Out on a small bluff is the outdoor ceremony area. With a view of the valley (that I should have taken a better picture of) it's a gorgeous panorama just a hop-skip-and-a-jump from HWY 280. Yesterday it was set up in a whimsical flirty style! I've also seen photos of the bluff set up with a more traditional arch or gazebo swathed in white or yellow flowers. The option of which style is up to each bride to transform the space into the their perfect vision.

And get this... They are pet-friendly and ALLOW DOGS to be part of the ceremony! So if you're like me and want your dog to be the Mutt of Honor it can happen at Thomas Fogarty. After the ceremony your crated pooch can take a nice long nap in the quiet of the bride's room.

The Terrace is where lunch was served. Also with a view, the room was intimate and beautifully set up for us to enjoy a lunch prepared by Componere Fine Catering. More on the menu later when I play amateur food critic with a rave review... The Terrace, part of a larger building, is perfect for indoor events both personal and corporate.

The gorgeous centerpieces, some classic and romantic, others more artistic, had been provided by Amy Burke floral design.

The unusual horse tail reed in this centerpiece caught everyones attention.


OH DROOL!!! The lunch menu...

Both Ethan and Tisa Mantle of Componere Fine Catering were there. Ethan, the executive chef, and his talented staff treated us to an amazing lunch! I got to chat with Tisa a bit upon my arrival. They are a very kind and friendly couple who, like Chuck and Jewel Savadelis and Natalie and Jung Wi, prove that couples can be both life and work partners creating companies that are wildly successful because they share the same or similar passions.

"Oooops" I hadn't read the menu card and accidently ate a bite of this delicious appetizer filled with crab, which was bad only because I am allergic to shellfish. I figured one bite wouldn't hurt though. With deep regret I scraped out the delicious crab filling and ate the beets and greens which were also very good. I had a few little spots on my legs last night but nothing major. LOL Here are the details: 1st Course: Dungeness Crab with Fennel, Apple, Roasted Beet, Hydro Cress and Green Almonds ...paired with Thomas Fogarty's 2005 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay

Next came the main course. Now, those of you who read my Surprise Sushi Night post may remember that as a general rule I choose not to eat raw fish, pork or beef and I'm allergic to shellfish and mollusks. But when I had my first opportunity to try Componere's food several months ago raw ahi and tiny pork sandwiches were my choices, so I tried them. I just couldn't not sample them I'd heard such amazing things about their food. Well yesterday's lunch was probably the only time I'll be eating pork this year. And I have to tell you if you're going to break a self imposed food rule, dining on world class food is the only way to do it! 2nd Course: Hills Farm Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Onion Spatzle, Artichoke Puree, Asparagus and Crispy Sunchokes... paired with Thosmas Fogarty's 2005 Michaud Vineyard Pinot Noir

My final review of lunch is that I was not worthy. It was simply the most delicious meal I'd had all year. Each bite of each course was perfection. You may think I'm being generous in my comments but if anything they are understated. If you are ever fortunate enough to attend any event catered by Componere you'll see what I mean. And if you're ever seeking a caterer for an event you're hosting? They should definitely be on the short list you're considering. The final course, dessert, OMG it was so delicious! Chilled Strawberry Soup with Roasted Pineapple and Vanilla Bean Gelato with Crushed Pink Peppercorn... paired with Thomas Fogarty's 2003 Late Harvest Gewurztraminer

The crushed pink peppercorn to sprinkle on the dessert.

It's always fun to see friends and meet new people. Here are Michelle Barrionuevo-Mazzini from MB Design and Events, Pavan Kochar of Alia Designs, and Jubilee Lau. Pavan and I had met a year ago, only for an introduction, at an industry event. It was nice to be able to chat with her a bit to learn more about her luxury correspondence company Alia Designs.

Here is one of Pavan's beautiful invtations.

The outdoor Pavilion can be used for ceremonies, receptions and even a cocktail hour. Our luncheon began and ended in the Pavilion. 

Here, event coordinators Nicole D'Ambra, Jean Marks and Duncan Reyes posed for a quick pic in the Pavilion.

Later I had a great conversation chatting the afternoon away with florist Amy Burke and Harpist Krista Strader. It was the second time I'd heard Krista play her harp. The first was two weeks ago at the Una Bella Sera event. Her music is as beautiful as she is, and after talking to her yesterday, found out that she, like myself, is also an animal lover adopting her pets through rescue. *Insert warm fuzzy feeling here* Here is photo of her performing at Una Bella Sera.