Visiting Downton:

Today I wanted to share some images of Downton Abbey with you guys from our trip to England! When I learned you could actually visit the Castle they film at in Downton Abbey, I was elated! I googled the directions from where we were staying, it was about a 2 hour drive. so it was set. We rented a car and headed there on the 2nd day of our trip. I had no idea it’d be so amazing and incredible in person. The castle is actually called Highclere Castle, they often tours during the seasons they’re open. It was amazing!

Front entrance! Holy smokes! We weren’t allowed to take any pics of the inside so these are just outside shots. Inside was amazing. We saw the main entrance room, the library, dining room, stairway, and some of the bedrooms! They film the downstairs servant area/kitchen and some of the rooms on another location, so it was a little different but still amazing to see most of it! The rooms are actually so much smaller in person, they make it seems so huge on tv!

Tip: If you ever take a visit to Highclere Castle, go toward the end of the day! We went around 3:00, it closed at 5:00 but they stop letting people in at 4:00. The last of the tour buses was just about leaving when we got there and it was not crowded at all! We could see the rooms inside quite easily and we got plenty of photos without big tour buses blocking the castle. Also, if you are able to rent a car during your trip, definitely drive to the castle. We looked up tours with a group and it was quite expensive, I think $100 per person or something, as they take you on the bus. The entry cost to the castle was around £13 for the gardens, castle, and exhibitions – very reasonable! Plus it’s just nice to be on your own schedule. If we ever go again, I am going to spend all day here 😉

We had tea & scones in their tea room. Nick & I sat and enjoyed the scenery – hands down the best part of the trip. So peaceful, the scones and clotted cream/jam were so good.

They had really pretty gardens, it was so fun to walk around and explore.

Here are some photos from my instagram feed too!

We weren’t allowed to take photos on the inside (sad!!) but I kind of snuck one of the hallway. I came home and watched a couple episodes and it’s exactly how it looks in the show! 

I have to say, now when I watch the show, I get pretty excited that I’ve actually been here now. It’s amazing. I highly recommend it to any fans of the show, if you ever get the opportunity to go. 

Collection / Letters, Part 2:

For the 2nd part of the letter’s collection, I thought I’d post some really lovely + pretty letters that have really been sent. Seriously, I probably spent about 3 or 4 hours just looking at letters. There are so many amazing bloggers who blog about the letters they send and receive. It’s really quite inspiring. I am ready to start a penpal club. Anyone want to join in? 😉

via mae mae paperie

isn’t this lovely? via hello sandwich

via omiyage blogs

via merissa-cherie

via donovan beeson – whoa, if you want mail inspiration, check out her letter set here!!

via our paper shop
seems to be closed down now but i sent this package as part of a mail exchange! 😉

via send more mail – here, here, and here!

Click Read More below to see more photos! Continue reading “Collection / Letters, Part 2:”

hello diy / encouragement business cards:

I created this post for the Alt Summit blog. In case you missed it, I am posting it here at the blog. You guys know I like business cards 😉 So here’s a very simple business card DIY for you!


– 1″ round punch
– Pre-cut business cards
– 1 sheet of label/sticker paper
– Information stamp (I got mine from vistaprint – they have some free stamp designs

available or you can pay $2-$3 or something to upload your own design!)
– Scratch-off stickers (I got mine at ebay


Stamp your cards with your information. Note: You don’t have to use a rubber stamp or purchase pre-cut business cards, I just did to save time. You can buy plain paper & cut it to the size you want, print directly onto the cards, whatever you prefer!

For this part, you’ll need some kind of drawing software to create your circles. Some free versions out there are inkscape or you can try using Aviary – I made 1″ yellow circles and typed out encouraging phrases. If you don’t mind the same phrases as mine, it can be downloaded here :) I included a couple different colored circles too. Just fill in your own coupon phrases in the blank area.

You could also do fortunes or even coupons if you have a shop. One you have them made, print them out on the white label paper. Cut them out with your punch.

Since they were printed on the white label/sticker paper, they are really easy to just stick onto the card. You don’t have to mess with glue or anything.

Then take the scratch-off stickers and place them directly over your round stickers.

and you’re done! You can also hand write a little note with arrow saying “scratch” so people know or just tell them as you hand them out.

I think these would be fun and memorable because they involve some effort on the receivers part to see the secret message underneath. Once their fortune or coupon or whatever message is revealed, they may hold on to it and always remember your information!

Managing conflict:

Sweet friends. I mentioned that Nick and I attended a couples retreat our friends invited us to in Costa Mesa this past weekend. When we arrived, we found out the topic was about conflict management, which we were pretty excited about because we’ve struggled with conflict ever since the start of our relationship. We’ve known each other for going on 6 years now, been married for over a year — and still haven’t even come close to figuring out how to resolve our conflict. It’s been a long journey.

Even though this may not be a topic pertaining to the blog world like “how to use twitter properly” or something like that, I thought I’d share some notes I took over the weekend because this is really kind of more important than knowing how to use twitter 😉 It’s real and deep life issues. and I’m sure we’ve all known and have had our own share of conflicts. We were really blessed by the retreat and the material we learned. Even if you’re not in a romantic relationship, I think this material can totally be applied to all relationships. (I was thinking of ways to apply it with my brother, whom I get in big arguments with sometimes) If you’re not big on reading a lot of content, I’ve included some pretty pictures in this post that you can look at too 😉

Is it normal to have conflict while you are married or in relationships? Sure. But it’s about how you argue and how you manage conflict together. They introduced this model called “The Reactive Cycle” which is basically that every couple has a cycle that keeps us stuck. Emotional buttons get pushed and we so react a certain way.

Update: Alison noted that she’s heard it called the crazy cycle,
which I kind of like better, haha 😉
Emotional buttons include feeling: unloved, unappreciated, disrespected, failure, inadequate, unimportant, disconnected, judged, not good enough, controlled, abandoned, worthless

Reactions can be: defensiveness, withdraw, escalate, belittle, blame, control, humor, indifference, sarcasm, rationalize, independence, anger or rage, criticize, isolate, exaggerate, withhold, emotionally shut down.

So we watched a video example about a wife and husband arguing about him watching tv. The fight isn’t really about him watching tv. Her emotional buttons that are getting pushed are that she feels ignored and unimportant so she reacts in anger. His emotional buttons are that he is feeling controlled so he reacts in humor and he rationalizes.

I actually came across this pdf of an entire list of buttons + reactions and meanings if you want to take a look to help you better identify your buttons + reactions during those conflicts.

This was a big eye opener for us. A lot of the time, I think the arguments between Nick and I are really silly and I sometimes wonder what is wrong with us or why we argue about such trivial things. But it helped us to realize it’s not really about that fight we had over McDonalds or buying the wrong item at the store. It’s feeling unvalued, unloved, disrespected, worthless and so we react with defensiveness, anger, isolation. and it’s a vicious cycle.

Ways to break the cycle. There were a lot of great ideas discussed to break the cycle including things I can do and things you can do together as a couple.
1) Create space. You may need to create physical or emotional space. It’s important to step away and figure out what is going on with your emotions and feelings.

2) Take personal responsibility. Sometimes it is so easy to think “my spouse needs to change” and if we remain in this thinking, ultimately we are powerless. Take time to open your heart and reflect. Call a time out. But it’s important that the person who calls the “time-out” needs to get you back together too. Otherwise no one will initiate and then you’ll just stay in conflict! (which has definitely happened to Nick and I before 😉

3) Pursue Truth. For me personally this was a big one because I really often buy into lies. Lies like “he doesn’t care/love me” and really silly stuff like that. Check your motives and heart. One of the couples were telling us about an argument they had about money they each received for a gift. The husband wanted to put it away and save it or use it toward bills and the wife wanted to spend it on something for the house. The husband said he would fall into this thinking that his wife was selfish and he had to step back and ask “Am I really thinking this about her??” because it was a total lie and we need to be careful of this.

Make sure your hearts are both open when you get back to talk. Listen to help your spouse feel understood and cared for. Real listening takes place when I am more concerned with understand what you are saying rather than you understanding what I am saying. Try to replace judgement with curiosity and be compassionate to understand what pain they are feeling.

photo by Henrik Bulow via Le Love

We really need to understand the emotional subtexts of our relationships – the hidden issues and hurt feelings that need to be surfaced. If we can learn to learn to manage our cycles of conflict, then we can make our marriages more emotionally safe. We can cultivate intimate marriages when we learn to soften our responses and better care for our spouse’s heart.

They asked the attendees what we thought the secret to a happy marriage was? Grace. Patience. Love. Forgiveness. All these words were thrown out. The answer was friendship.

I totally would have chosen love or grace or something. But they explained that friendship is something established, a deep and abiding relationship. Friends that still enjoy the same thing, and spending time together. Makes sense!

via Kenzas

Edit: I forgot to add this from my notes but I think it’s really important. If you don’t resolve your conflict in a healthy way, be careful of the path you are heading down. The reactive cycle is so destructive because it sets you and your spouse up as adversaries and makes your relationship emotionally unsafe. When we feel emotionally unsafe, our hearts close and we disconnect. If this pattern continues overtime, you put yourself at risk to hardening and closing your heart to your spouse. Not good! :( also probably one of the most important points: Apologize! “I was wrong”, “I am sorry”, or “Please forgive me” are so huge. I’ve struggled with this my whole life, I have a lot of pride and it’s hard to say these words. But they are powerful and healing words.

I am really glad we went to this retreat. Initially I had a quick thought like “Nick and I have a great marriage, we don’t need to go to something like this” which is actually really terrible and dangerous thinking because there are always ways we can grow stronger and new things we can learn together as a couple. I really think a lot of the above information can be applied to anyone. For us personally, we will never be able to do it alone apart from God. A lot of the content also included aspects from the bible and a big one was prayer and seeking His will. Sometimes it’s hard for me personally to pray when I am sooooo angry, but it is so important to pray to get my heart right and allow His love back in. In a society where divorce is so prevalent and the word love and it’s feeling is so mismanaged, now more than ever we need to take a stand and be careful of allowing the devil to bring us down. he loves to spoil good things and rob us of our joy. But we have such a great hope and our relationship is rooted in Someone so much greater and stronger.

So what do you think? If you were able to read the content, I hope you are encouraged or blessed through it. It was actually great review for me to go through the notes and type key points out to share with you .. so thanks for letting me share! :)

Have you heard of this “reactive cycle” idea before?
Do you agree with this material? Disagree?
Would love to hear your thoughts and ways you’ve found to
manage conflict with your significant other!


Starting a new feature called ‘snapshots‘ which are just some random photos taken throughout my week of various things / life / etc. I hope you enjoy these photos and getting ‘snapshots’ into our lives! :)

more pretty flowers from Reinna’s wedding

decal-ed my phone with a message I often need 😉

These dishes are super special to me. Back in 2008, we had an opportunity to go to China with all my aunts and uncles and cousins and grandma. We got to visit her village and my grandfather’s village. There were still some bowls and things in the house he grew up in, so each of us got to take some. They currently sit in my kitchen and I’ll cherish these bowls always!

my husband rarely finds things he wants from antique markets but he found
a sword and this antique ax for only $10 bucks so we got it 😉

custom designed temporary tattoo..

various charms and findings for necklaces for my shop.

mustard crochet blanket gift from ruby! (she knows me so well) from good knits.

collections / downton abbey:

It rained here a couple days ago, on Monday. So I decided to put on Downtown Abbey in the background while I worked on my computer. Then I got sidetracked (as usual) and started watching Downtown youtube videos and interviews and then I did a huge search for Downtown Abbey graphics.. it was fun 😉
You may have already heard of Downton Abbey — everyone is talking about it 😉 They’ve been winning awards (well deserved) and some friends actually mentioned it at my period film collection post so I decided to check it out. (thanks Laura, Alyssa, & Tiffany!) I’m so obsessed with this show – love the actors, the costumes, the story. Such great writing.
Here is a round up of some fun images and ‘fan’ art graphics floating around the web. If you haven’t watched Downton Abbey yet, you absolutely must. Light a candle and have a girls night or snuggle up with a loved one. You can watch Downton online at netflix or if you have amazon prime!

Anyone else already watching and loving this new series?
Vogue UK, August 2011 via Tom + Lorenzo
Vanity Fair, December 2011. Photograph by Jason Bell
photos from lane-kent: here, here, and here.
maggie smith is brilliant. via it’s been a very..
beautiful dresses, via lady of the iron islands
love these sisters, via officer parker

grateful, 10 things challenge:

Yesterday we heard a message in church about being thankful. I considered myself a thankful person, but after hearing this, it really had me reflecting the state of my heart.
The pastor gave an example phrase that people often use: “if only i had ____ , then I’d be happy” Fill in the blank. A new car. A better job. A bigger house. A lot of money. Nick and I chuckled because I have totally said this exact phrase to him. If only I had a store, then I’d be happy. If only I could travel wherever/whenever I wanted, then I’d be happy. If only Nick & I could start a business together, then I’d be happy. Hmm. But would it ever be enough? Even if I got all those things I think would make me happy, would I truly be happy? Probably not. I’d probably want even more. A lot of it is related to being content. If I’m not truly content, I find myself complaining about things in life, which is silly because I have so much to be thankful for. I don’t want to be an ungrateful person or be someone who constantly compares and complains.
Anyway, he told us at the start of November, he writes down 10 things he is thankful for each day. a little challenge to himself, and none of them are repeated. 10 things a day! Hmm. I was kind of stumped because I thought to myself, that is a lot of things to come up with, hehe. But I was a little embarrassed and ashamed because surely there is so much to be grateful for in my life.
So for today and the rest of the week, I’m taking up the challenge and writing 10 different things I am thankful for. Feel free to join in, I’d love to hear the things you’re thankful for! Or post on your own blog. Here are my 10 things I am thankful for today. in no particular order.. :)
1) love
2) my husband
3) grace
4) my mom
5) my brother
6) education
7) health
8) laughter
9) oh, hello friend
10) life
Hm, my first list today may be a little general/cliche..but I am thankful for them. Well, this week I am really going to reflect on things I take for granted everyday. Things I should be truly grateful for. What are you thankful for today friend?
thanks to sixth & main for the beautiful graphic above!

1 year later:

September 25th! It’s been a year. I can’t believe it! We got our wedding video from my good friend Chaz yesterday. You may think a year was a long time to wait but I honestly hadn’t even thought to get in contact with Chaz sooner, the year passed by so unbelievably fast. Nick said it feels like only a month, haha. Nick & I were talking about how we didn’t even mind waiting to get our video because by the time we did get around to asking Chaz, it was something exciting and that we got to look forward to. We got experience that day all over again, through a different perspective. I loved seeing all our friends and family on camera. I can’t wait for you to see it. Thank you Chaz for such an amazing video. We loved it.
A whole year. Maybe you’ve been on this journey with us since the proposal. Maybe you’ve just joined in. But thanks for sharing in these moments with us. I love when friends would come up to us at craft shows and comment about Nick’s proposal. So sweet 😉
Nick said that he heard the 1st year of marriage was the hardest and if that’s the case, then marriage is going to be awesome because this 1st year was pretty great. Our love is built on a solid and firm foundation in Christ. Though conflicts and trials may come, our love cannot be shaken because it’s found in Someone greater. I see Christ’s love reflected through Nicholas all the time, and isn’t that how it should be? I am so humbled that God blessed me with someone like him, my mom & brother say all the time how ‘lucky’ I am 😉 Even as I type this at 6:30 in the morning, he is getting ready to help me at another show today… When I have shows on the weekends, we say he works 7 days a week, but that is my husband. Life is good. I continually acknowledge how good the Lord is to us, I can’t complain about anything. We have a great love, and our health. What more do we need?
Happy Sunday!
(& happy anniversary to my Nicholas, I hope we have a million more miles to go)

snap it pretty, follow-up:

(above 3 photo’s by Jennifer Young)
Last Saturday, 15 ladies came out to take our photography workshop. We called in the lovely Jen from i art u to teach us some skills and share her photography knowledge! Here are some shots I snapped, added with some of Jen’s beautiful photos as well!
It was our first event, even though we had been talking about it for a while. Ruby and I spent weeks preparing and had probably over 300 emails back and fourth figuring things out. We had the workshop at George Key Ranch, in Placentia. It’s a really nice area, they offer tours of an old historic house and lots of weddings are held here.
Lunch time! Sandwiches were catered from Rialto Cafe, in Fullerton. (I used them for my wedding!)
Delicious macarons flown in from Utah from Salt City Patisserie!
Yummy chocolate cake pops from local baker Pop Culture Desserts!
We tied up the sandwiches & chips in vintage fabric ..
and had a picnic style lunch!
(above photo’s by Jennifer Young)
Linda, totally proud of her point-and-shoot 😉
(one of our workshop helpers, could not have done it without her!)
RJ taking pics!
(our other workshop helper, she was so great!)
Gift boxes all wrapped up.
(gift box giveaway & sponsors coming soon!)
Our class! Some of the most sweetest ladies around!
Thanks to the ladies who attended: Cynthia, Tiffany, Katie, Kira, Brianna, Rebecca, Vivien, and to those without blogs too! 😉
Ruby & I brought a bunch of vintage stuff from around our houses, we set up stations and had the ladies style their own tables.. They did a fantastic job, the tables looked amazing!
Even though Ruby & I had hoped to take the workshop as well, we ended up doing things behind the scenes so we missed it. But we got to step in for a bit – I learned a bit about f-stop, aperture, and iso and that was worth a million bucks to me 😉 I never knew of those things before!
So that wraps it up! Lots more pretty events coming soon – we are already planning another photography workshop for those of you who couldn’t make it.. and Ruby & I have some other fun ideas in mind too!
A big thank you to Salt City Patisserie for the delicious macarons & Pop Culture Desserts for the cake pops! Thanks to Jen for coming down and being so awesome. & thanks once again to the ladies who took our workshop, we are so humbled + grateful!
PS: Ruby put together this sweeeet video so you can see everything in live action! 😉

The Wedding Post:

The wedding photos are here! Hope you enjoy what you see..

Lots more photos can be seen on design*sponge today,
head over there when you get a chance!

All photos by: Christian Cruz & Hope Feathers!

Isn’t my husband cute? I mean, seriously smokin’ handsome!

September 25th, 2010 was our day. It started off at my mom’s house, where we both got ready. It happened to be one of the hottest days of the year or something, it was crazy hot but I don’t think I could tell because, well, I was getting married 😉

I love these 2 perspectives of Nick & I.


We then headed off to the park. We chose the park because it was the place we went on our first date. Oh, and September 25th was our 5th year anniversary of dating.

This was the welcome table. We had fans, buttons, & programs to give away. We also had a polaroid guest book. I’m super bummed, no one got a picture of it but it was cool. I’ll share it with you another time.


We decided to do a picnic basket lunch, we had to get a ton of picnic baskets together! It was fun to go on the ‘hunt’ for them and exciting when we’d find one at a thrift store or at the flea market.


Since we had the wedding at a park, there was no seating or lighting when it got dark. We wanted to get married at sunset though. So we decided we’d switch around the schedule and have the reception first, then have the ceremony. We really liked the idea. It ended up flowing pretty well. Guests arrived and shared a picnic basket lunch. Having the schedule in reverse really seemed like it built up the anticipation of the ceremony too.

My favorite part in planning was getting to pick all the decorations for the wedding. I went to antique markets for months and it was a blast being able to buy awesome things for the wedding. We also rented vintage furniture from Jeni at Found! She has such a wonderful collection of vintage pieces. She’s amazing to work with and so sweet, I totally recommend her if you have an event.

My favorite decor pieces were probably these brass frame stands
and telescope magnifying glass stands.
You may remember the engagement ring that nick made me.
We put it out on display, along with the wood block he started with.
I love this little lounge area they set up.
We also had a little photo wall that my dad built for us which fit perfectly.

We went with simple silver wedding bands from etsy.

Ruby arranged all the flowers and made all the lace decorations.
She’s oh-so-talented and I was blessed to have her around that day.

Nick & I lounging before the ceremony.

(just got this photo today, photo by our videographer: chaz curry)

So I had to change before the ceremony – Linda & Ruby
built me a lovely fabric tent to change in. They’re the best!
Oh, and the dress is vintage and borrowed from Ruby.
What can I say, she was my wedding-godmother!

(photo above by chaz curry)


So then we started the ceremony at sunset, just like we wanted. It was perfect. I was able to just take a deep breath, look around the amazing view, take it all in, and thank Jesus.

Did I mention we had my older brother marry us? It was so special. I really admire my older brother. (He’s 11 years older than me) He always encouraged me when I was growing up and I couldn’t imagine having anyone else marrying us. (He is single by the way if you have someone you know, we could play cupid) Anyway, he did a great job. He cried too which was funny + sweet.

It was so emotional for us. A good emotional of course.

Then after the ceremony we just had a quick dessert reception
with cinnamon rolls, brownies, cookies, & mini doughnuts.


We gave mini bundt cakes for our favors. Found the perfect size box for them, designed the tags and tied it with fabric with a wood fork attached.

Here’s a list of links & resources:

Photography: Christian Cruz,
Hope Feathers,

Furniture: Jeni,

Dress: Vintage, borrowed from Ruby!
Cinnamon rolls, madeleines, brownies: Costco!
Decor/Picnic Baskets: Mostly vintage – borrowed, hunted, & purchased!
Lace/Fabric: Garment District in Los Angeles,
Calligraphy: Cathie,

Thanks for getting through this post and viewing our photos. For those who have been there from the beginning, from our engagement story to the engagement photos to our honeymoon – it really means a lot to have had your support, I wish I could hug each and every one of you.

If you didn’t see the wedding video Ruby put
together, you can see that here!