Friday, October 31, 2008

Cutest Dog Costumes for the Cutest Dog Ever

Happy Halloween! Hope everyone has fun today! As most of you know today is the day I create my dog's annual Halloween costume. I'll be heading out to the craft store in just a bit to get going on that.

It was a year ago today that we were flown out to NYC to be guests on the TODAY Show with Kitai sporting his Dog Whisperer costume. He didn't win but we had such a blast. You can read all about it on his press page on his website Cutest Dog Ever.com.

Not going to tell you what he's going to be this year. I'll post a photo over the weekend to share with the world. 

Here is a brief photo gallery of his past costumes...

2004 - Spider Bait

2005 - Sake Nigiri (sushi)

2006 - The Dog Whisperer

2007 - Pupcorn

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Martini Madness at Mist Ultra Lounge • San Francisco

Love this picture of the Bay Bridge! Taken out the car window while on my way to a Martini Madness event earlier this week.

Because Martini Madness is a networking only event, I always go to dinner first. I LOVE dining in San Francisco. That night my friend and colleague Carl Mindling and I went to one of my all time favorite restaurants: Basil. It's a really great Thai restaurant on Folsom that was just a few blocks from our destination. I had the Gai Prik Khing with tofu (crispy sliced tofu & string beans wok tossed with sweet kaffir prik khing chili)...

Carl had the Porpia Sod (fresh rolls of vegetables & tofu served with crushed peanuts, chili, lime vinaigrette) both were fantastic! They do serve all kinds of meat dishes too.... We just didn't order any of them.

After dinner we headed over to Mist located in the South of Market district. You know it's a cool place when there's no sign out front...

Because of the low light conditions this evening was the perfect opportunity to learn more about using the manual settings on my camera's flash. A special thanks to Rebecca. Your advice (showing me how to adjust the settings) was extremely helpful and I'm now practicing taking more pictures in low light to improve my skills. Yesterdays ketchup pictures were an example of my practicing.

The Lounge

Gabby (Cake Coquette) and Lea McIntosh (The Wedding Chat)

Karen and Carl on the upstairs, transparent, dance floor...

Here's a hot picture of that upstairs transparent dance floor taken by my friend Chung Li who also gave me some great night shooting pointers with my camera.

That's Christine Torrington, Duncan Reyes and Jasmine Wang. As always a HUGE thanks to Duncan. Without him there would be no Martini Madness. No getting together in the coolest of the cool places up in the city and the south bay. Thanks for all you do to help the rest of us have such a great way to network, meeting new people, visiting with old friends, all while having a total blast!

I'll have a brief follow up to this post in a day or two regarding a terribly embarrassing thing I did at MIST. And I wasn't even drinking so I can't even say I was *tipsy* and that's why I committed a faux pas :P

A Blogging Guest Speaker... Who me?

So, tonight I carpooled up to SF with Lea McIntosh and Diane Phillips to attend a Bay Area Wedding Network meeting. Tonight's BAWN was special... I was more then an attendee, I was one of the featured guest speakers. My topic: Blogging.

If you want to start a blog or need some blogging tutorials please visit www.BestWeddingBlogs.com

The event was held at the Flood Mansion. For those unfamiliar with the neighborhood some of the steepest hills in the city are adjacent to the mansion. We arrived early and wanted to go to Union Street to grab a nibble and just hang out until the meeting began... But the steep hills and Lea's shoes were not a good mix, so the only solution to get us down the hill and back up again?

You got it. Lea called for a cab. LOL I couldn't believe we were taking a cab for 3 blocks.

We first went  to Spuntino, a small Italian cheese and specialty food shop. The staff was warm and friendly and the cheese? Oh my gosh! The Cave Aged Marisa was phenomenal. Seriously my new favorite cheese! We got some drinks and crackers to go with. I will definitely go back again the next time I'm in town.

Next we stopped in at La Boulange for some Macarons de Paris. I got a few, ok 5, to test. 

Our destination was The James Leary Flood Mansion. A big thank you to Gwen Helbush and Marie Rios for inviting me to be on the panel of guest speakers. I love encouraging others to blog so this was a great opportunity for me to talk to a large group of people all at one time.

The Crowd

The Goodies

Cakes by True Confections & chocolates by Coco Delice Fine Chocolates

Cake Coquette meets DK Designs


A special thanks to MetMedia Creative Digital Video & Multimedia and Everything Audio/Visual for helping me to get set up with my presentation. Jonathan took the slide images I sent him and got them all set up into a power point presentation for me. And Everything Audio/Visual took care of the microphones we used during our presentations. Also a special thanks to Alan Helbush of, Where To Start, Inc. Technology Solutions, for running my slide presentation while I was talking so that I didn't have to :o)

During the Presentation

The topics for the evening were: websites, blogging and social networks. I talked for 15 minutes about why to blog and what a blog is. I hope the information was helpful. Several people told me after it was so that was good to hear. Among other things I tried to demystify blogging and tried to help the audience embrace that a blog is an opportunity to meet new people and to show them what you do, not an imposition that just takes time.

Afterwards we made a quick stop...

Ketchup, a study in light...

Always wanting to improve the quality of my blog pictures I have been learning how to manually adjust the lighting on my camera. Here the best image came from turning off the flash and overexposing the shot. Cool huh? Learning more about lighting while waiting for my grilled cheese sandwich. LOL

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vendor Chic

A chic and sexy video presented by filmmaker Andrew Hsu of Studio MSV for brides and grooms showcasing some of the San Francisco Bay Area's top wedding professionals and event designers.

Putting the "Wild" back in the "Wild West." A frontiersman, a city girl, watch and be inspired...

The Premiere of David Tutera's: My Fair Wedding

When I saw these images on international wedding photographer Critsey Rowe's blog I had to share them with you!

When Wanda and Bert decided they wanted a South Beach themed wedding (in New Jersey) who stepped in to make their dream wedding come true? David Tutera, that's right the ultra hip and trendsetting entertaining expert and host of "Get Married" a weekly television show on Lifetime TV.

The focus of "My Fair Wedding (Sundays at 10|9c on WE tv)" is David bringing his own expert "re"vision to a couple's vision. In the premiere episode his talent and expertise culminated in creating a wedding that was beyond what what Wanda and Bert could have even imagined. Heck I work in the industry and based on the initial concepts presented at the beginning of the show it was beyond what I even imagined. You have to see this episode, the before and after of the venue to truly appreciate the amazing job David did in transforming a nice venue into the knockout ultra lounge and dance club you see pictured here.

And who took these outrageous photos? Why Critsey Rowe, one of the best photographers I know who collaborated with photographer Thomas Geist of GG-Images to document Wanda and Bert's wedding. You can view more photos from this sensational event on Critsey's Blog. Just CLICK HERE.

Visit Critsey Rowe Photography on The Flirty Guide

Visit Critsey's Blog

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wine Tasting Without Wine?

So this was the online conversation I had with a few friends before heading out to meet with Julie Swanson from The Mountain Winery in Saratoga for what was offered as a wine tasting but due to my being a non-alcohol drinker became a bottled water tasting paired with fruit and cheese. My friends had pretty much made me aware, in no uncertain terms, that they found my going to a winery to drink water? Completely appalling and wrong.

K: Stacie, seeeeeriously................. you can't go to a wine tasting and not taste wine! You're not even supposed to really DRINK the wine... you just sniff it and sip it. Pleeeeease for my sake taste some wine!

D: Wine tasting without tasting the wine, shaking my head

H: I'm shaking my head with you. Too bad we couldn't be designated tasters, huh?

K: I think wine tastings shouldn't be wasted on the unappreciative

H: Stacie should have them send us all a bottle of wine so we can write a thorough review for her blog

W: STACIE drink some wine!!!! I would be tasting it all and then I might need to re-test some of the ones I liked.

Please note: In this exchange "K" is the same person who DID THIS to me a year ago.

Thank goodness Julie was a better sport about my preference for water then my friends. Though I will say at the rate the medical community continues to post stories about the health benefits of drinking red wine I just might have to give it another try.

I can say the water, fruit and cheese were delicious and that more importantly I was thrilled to go up to the winery to see their new events building and their new concert venue.

I'd been to one concert at The Mountain Winery years ago. Like a lot of years ago. It's one of those really cool, small and more intimate venues that was recently upgraded with new seating and luxury boxes among other things.

So this is what it feels like to be onstage with everyone watching you! I'll leave that to the pros. I'd be much more comfortable sinking into one of the new seats to take in a show. I'm sure I'll attend at least one show here next year. I can't wait.

Here are two of the luxury box areas.

This photo provided by The Mountain Winery

This is what one of several patio areas looks like when set up for an outdoor wedding. There are two patios adjacent to each other where you could hold both an outdoor wedding ceremony followed by an outdoor reception. I really want more brides and corporate event planners to know about all of the recent and ongoing improvements being made to the property. There's a gorgeous view of the valley... at night it's a sea of darkness full of twinkling city lights. If I had a better camera I could have taken a photo to show you... But that's for a future post.

This photo provided by The Mountain Winery

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a wedding industry event at the winery. Here is what the winery building looked like set up for our evening reception. Imagine this room filled with flowers, wedding guests and a bride and groom. It's a perfect venue for couples that want a nice setting that isn't super formal.

A NACE Event
(National Association of Catering Executives)

That night we were treated to snappy music by The Magnolia Jazz Band.

Dinner and dessert (pumpkin cheesecake piped into a miniature chocolate grand piano) were excellent. After seeing the venue, twice, and sampling an actual dinner I would highly recommend The Mountain Winery as a place to consider if your dream wedding is a wine country or vineyard wedding.

Oh and if any California wineries ever need some out-of-state wine taste testing volunteers? I have several lined up and at the ready. Just let me know if they can be of any help :P

Visit The Magnolia Jazz Band on The Flirty Guide.

Friday, October 24, 2008

My name is Stacie and I am a cupcake-a-holic...

When I was a kid there were bakeries. Period. Now? Now there are cupcakeries. Have you heard of them? Shopped at one?

After two visits to Ghirardelli Square over the past two years I finally had the opportunity to visit Kara's Cupcakes during business hours! I was so excited to finally be able to buy some of their oh-so-cute cupcakes. I'm also looking forward to the opening of their shop in Santana Row sometime soon. Each week I walk by and take a peek to see if the boarding is down and the cupcakes are in but so far nadda. I guess I'll have to be patient.

To be honest I still don't know how they taste. They're sitting in my kitchen but I'm not going to sample them until later tonight. These were the flavors I chose starting at the top left and working clockwise: salted chocolate and caramel, sweet vanilla, pumpkin and Ghirardelli chocolate.

So many choices!

Plus it was my friend Stacie's birthday yesterday so I felt to honor her I should have cake even though she lives far away and can't have any with me. Let me know your birthdays too and I'll eat cupcakes on your birthdays. I'll be more then happy to mark them in my calendar. Oh and I'll send you an email reminder and a picture of the celebration cupcake I'll be eating in your name but that's about it. LOL

This is the one I'm most looking forward to trying... It's chocolate with salt crystals on the top and filled with caramel of some type. I can't remember the official name of it but I'm guessing it's going to be great. I'll post back later with a review but so far it looks fantastic!

OK it was as good as I'd hoped it would be. The next time I go back this is the only flavor I'm getting. I also ate the pumpkin cupcake but it didn't compare to this one. You can see how great it was. I only wish you could smell it! The frosting was like dark chocolate fudge and the cake was moist and tasty. The salt and caramel added just a bit of extra zing and pizzaz! I give it a thumbs up!

I gave the Ghiradelli chocolate and sweet vanilla to my friend Vicki so hopefully she'll be commenting with a review of them sometime soon.