When the hair and makeup is done, you know it's real

Wedding hair
I don’t style my hair or wear makeup on the regular. Once in a while (for special occasions), I’ll blow-dry my hair (and I get annoyed when it takes more than 5 minutes) and haphazardly spritz some hairspray. On really special occasions, I’ll dust on some sheer powder, curl my eyelashes with the same curler I’ve had for almost a decade, and put on some mascara that’s probably crusty and well past its expiration date. While I have the utmost respect for women who put real effort into their hair and makeup, I just don’t have the patience for it.
So, when I say that I just finished a weekend that contained visits to both a hair salon AND a giant cosmetics store to get the full, dolled-up treatment, you might understand how unusual that is. The purpose of both these visits, aside from finding out just how little I know about basic beauty routines, was to be prepared for August 17th – since, while I don’t incorporate hair/makeup practices on a daily basis, I understand the importance of looking particularly nice on your own wedding day.
I started with a trip to 17 Jewels in Oakland on Saturday for a trial run. I picked the location because it’s a short distance from the Emeryville hotel where we’ll be staying and getting ready for the wedding, and it turned out to be a lovely space in Oakland’s thriving Temescal neighborhood. Since I’m the bride (bridezilla! . . . or not), the salon booked me with the owner, Julie, and she could not have been nicer or easier to work with. She looked at some photos of hairstyles that I’d pinned on Pinterest (side note: I sort of hate Pinterest, but have actually found it helpful for certain wedding inspiration) and knew immediately how to guide me and create something that I’d love. And I loved it! It was so fun just to see my hair do, well, anything, for once.
And today, I braved the Union Square hullabaloo to visit Sephora with my dear friend and bridesmaid Allie to do a makeup consultation. To be totally fair, I’m more freaked out by makeup than hair styling. Anything beyond the basic application of moisturizer/powder/mascara has always felt foreign on my face, and the last thing I wanted was to be totally overdone and look completely unnatural on my wedding day. Thankfully, the reps at Sephora listened intently to my needs and concerns, and did up my makeup in a way that elevated my look while remaining relatively subtle. There may be one or two things I will change, but overall, I feel pretty darn good about having the Sephora folks in Emeryville (conveniently within walking distance of the hotel) do my makeup for the wedding.
Next on the blogging trajectory: Visitor’s Guide! Karaoke Guide! The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy! (one out of those three will not actually be featured on this blog – I’ll let you guess which one.)


99 days to go!

Photo from Studio Choo
I had a grand plan when Jeffrey first launched this site, wherein I would write many updates over the course of the planning process and keep up a steady flow of information. That clearly has not happened, and for that I apologize. At the same time, maybe these things are best done in bursts. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
So, here are the latest updates!

  1. I believe I noted in my last update that we were going to schedule a tasting with Sift Cupcakes. Well, we scheduled it, and we’ve booked them to provide dessert! YAY! Seriously, I am super excited for this. Dessert is the best part, and Sift makes some damn good dessert. At our tasting, we tried a few cupcake flavors, as well as a whoopie pie, a macaron, and what Sift calls a “cruffle” (a cake truffle). All were delicious, and it looks like we’ll be doing a combination of cupcakes, macarons, and cruffles. The hard part will be choosing flavors, since I kinda sorta want ALL OF THE FLAVORS, but I understand how this is an unrealistic venture (please attempt to convince me otherwise).

  2. We’ve decided to go with Small Stump and Studio Choo for our flowers! They create beautifully rustic arrangements and I’m really excited to see what they create for our wedding. You can see more of their wedding arrangements in their wedding photo album.

  3. We sent out invitations yesterday (May 9th)! Jeffrey drew and designed the whole invitation, and worked carefully with Hyegraph to print the invites and envelopes. Our needs were a bit more complicated than usual, since we have unique RSVP codes for all of our invitees that needed to be printed on each invitation. Thankfully, Hyegraph was up to the task and the invitations look beautiful. On that note, if you have any trouble using your RSVP code, please feel free to contact us directly! And remember to add the names of your guest and dietary restrictions, if applicable.

  4. This piece might not be as exciting to everyone else, but it’s exciting to us: we hired a wedding coordinator! Marche51 came recommended from a friend of mine, and we’re really pleased to have her (Kelly) on board. She’ll be our coordinator the day of the wedding, a service much needed by both us and the venue.

  5. And lastly: our registry should be all up to date! We’ve registered primarily with Crate and Barrel, but since we decided to include some external items (like dinners, charities, and other miscellaneous items not found at C&B), we decided to use a service called RegistryLove, which will collect all of these pieces for you into one big registry. Here is our RegistryLove page – be sure to click “Load all gifts” to see them all! Let us know if you experience any issues with the service. You can also find our RegistryLove link when you click “Events” and then the “Registry” tab.

Otherwise, we’re slowily and steadily clicking along, making plans for the overall event layout and similarly important details. Once we have our guest list, we can start making other important plans (such as the menu and transportation plans), so be sure to RSVP as soon as possible!
For now, it’s time for another gym visit so I can look stunning in my wedding dress. Until later!


One year "Engagement Anniversary" and looking ahead to 2013

On the evening of December 31st, 2012, we walked into our friends’ house on Treasure Island for their yearly New Year’s Eve party. As soon as we entered, our friend Jimmy announced loudly to everyone: “these two got ENGAGED at last year’s party!”
It’s true. It’s been one year since we got engaged. And while we waited a bit before embarking on any sort of wedding planning (around 8-9 months, I believe – I guess I was too busy showing off my sparkly ring), much has happened since then, and much will continue to happen in 2013.
Obviously, we’ve set a date, picked a venue and hotels, and Jeffrey made this fantastic website. But what else have we accomplished?

  1. I got a dress! This has been the most exciting part for me thus far (for obvious reasons). My mom convinced me to go shopping over Thanksgiving, emphasizing that we just needed to look, there was no need to make any decisions yet. I think she could tell how intimidated I was by the whole process.

    Thankfully, my wonderful band of wedding dress helpers (my mom, my friend Allie, my sister and her friend and their two babies) plus the excellent staff at Wine Country Bride made the process exciting and easy. I tried on about a dozen dresses, and lo and behold, the last one I tried on was perfect. There’s really not much else I should say, lest I spoil the surprise – but let’s just say that the whole process was 100% more pleasant than I ever expected.

  2. We decided on catering! We’re going to go with the catering provided by the Winery, where we are getting married. We attended a tasting provided by the venue, which was a very nice touch – they gave us our own little table with linens and everything, brought out the courses in order, and even gave us some wine tastings to accompany the food. The food was tasty and will be a great fit for our particular event.

  3. I am (almost) decided on dresses for my bridesmaids and for Jeffrey’s sister and female friend in his wedding party. My sister (my matron of honor) and I returned to Wine Country Bride with our mom over the holiday break to check out the bridesmaid selection, and I think we’ve found a couple of great choices that will go well with my dress and compliment all of the ladies who will be wearing them. I just have to check out the color options again in person – looking at swatches and colors on the designer’s website just doesn’t cut it.

    Ultimately, I’m pleased that I’ve been able to wade through the many, many bridesmaid options and find some choices that everyone will (hopefully) like. But man, it’s tough trying to decide on styles and colors for other people. The last thing I’d want is a wedding party not happy with what they’ve been chosen to wear.

  4. We booked a DJ! This is actually sort of huge and amazing and I can’t believe I only just thought to include it now. Drumroll please . . . we booked DJ PURPLE! For those unfamiliar, DJ Purple is a local karaoke DJ who puts on amazing karaoke dance parties. He has an extremely well-curated song book, and he plays saxophone during the song interludes. And he’s well-versed in providing his talents for weddings. If we haven’t yet mentioned this, our wedding reception is going to be a big giant party. Enough said.

Looking forward, there is obviously much still to do, but here’s a list that’s currently at the forefront of my mind:

  • Book photographer. Do you have a recommendation for a wedding photographer? Send it along!
  • Choose suit/tux options for Jeffrey and his groomsmen. Oh boy.
  • Decide on overall wedding colors and a theme. Hmm. This has been difficult. There are so many colors and ideas! How does one choose?!?
  • Decide on a florist. I’ve collected some great recommendations from one of my sister’s friends and am looking forward to choosing once we have a better idea of what we want.
  • Schedule a tasting and move forward with Sift Cupcakes for our dessert. CUPCAKES. YES.


Welcome to our new joint website! We hope you’re having a fun time hopping through the different sections. Follow this section in the coming months (or subscribe if you’re savvy) to keep up to date with us and our upcoming wedding, currently planned for late 2013.
If you’d like to learn more about this site from a technical standpoint, head over to Jeffrey’s blog. Otherwise, we encourage you to read through the About Us section, which we just finished writing today. Have a good one!



We went to Vancouver for no reason! We stayed at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre which provided a fabulous view, and got around using only public transit. Internet-wise, not having phone data reception, we pretty much got by with what we did in Europe. Here’s the day play-by-play:


We bought the 5-line ticket for Grouse Mountain, which included 5 zipline runs, a scenic ride up the mountain, a trip up to the hub of a wind turbine with a 360° view of the surrounding area, and various shows like lumberjack contests and bird demonstrations and bears. Very much worth it.

Getting there was as simple as taking the free shuttle from Canada Place… getting back meant taking a bus then transferring to the SeaBus, which brought us across the Burrard Inlet.
We had dinner at an Italian place, Campagnolo, where we ordered far too much pizza. Was delicious, though, and provided leftovers for the morning.


After an early lunch of savory waffle sandwiches and a wasabi vanilla shake (delish) at Miura, we walked up West End toward the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park. Saw sea mammals, parrots, sloths, marmosets, and a really crappy “4D” nature show, which was just a shortened episode of BBC’s Life with David Attenborough with elements unrealistically popping out (like a shark and its surrounding splashes hovering 5 feet above the water) and water being sprayed in our faces at random moments. Pretty fun!

On the way back we had even more waffles at Nero, a new place along Robson Street. We then traveled to Gastown, the original Vancouver neighborhood, had some nice drinks and chow at Pourhouse, and finished the night off with a viewing of Moonrise Kingdom. Wes Anderson perpetuates the twee culture which I find hideous, but he’s also an amazing filmmaker so I’ll let it slide.


Granville Island was our first stop. It’s got a pretty awesome public market with some serious goodies (Nanaimo bars, elk paté, cake pops and maple candies among some of the highlights). We headed back to Chinatown for Phnom Penh, a Cambodian/Vietnamese joint. Anna had noodles and beef in a tomato broth; I had a big plate of fried frog legs.

We rented cruiser bikes and rode around the perimeter of Stanley Park, taking in some amazing views. We then proceeded to bike around the downtown perimeter and back through the park, riding along some fun forest trails.

Headed back, got some bubble tea along the way, and after taking a break at the pool back at our hotel, we went out to Kaide, a casual sushi place.


We beat the lines at Deacon’s Corner with a quick breakfast (I had pulled pork on a gigantic pancake), and it was back to the airport via SkyTrain.

Der Voyage Vacations

Berlin photos

The last 1/3 of our trip was spent in Berlin and Amsterdam, a significant transition from our tour de Italia. For one thing, the drivers in Berlin didn’t try to constantly run us over like in Rome.

Also, Berlin is a much more modern city in comparison to Florence and Rome. Technically, it’s old in years, but considering that the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, it’s still quite a young city. You can feel the new energy of the city when you’re there – tons of interesting street art, up-and-coming neighborhoods, hip restaurants and shops.

We really enjoyed our time in Berlin, simply because it’s such an interesting and dynamic place to be. We went on two walking tours by SANDEMANs – one all-encompassing tour that including a lot of history and interesting tidbits, and one “alternative” tour, which focused on Berlin street art and culture. Both were highly enjoyable, and provided solid overviews of both old and new Berlin.

Overall, while I loved every city we visited, I’m inclined to say that Berlin was my overall favorite. It’s so interesting to think about all that the city has been through in the past 100 years, how it has managed to survive, and how it continues to exist to this day. We had good beer and good food, and met some really friendly and nice people. Also, our hostel, Pfefferbett Hostel, was arguably the nicest one that we stayed in – big bunk beds, in-room lockers that locked with our room keys, comfortable and modern lobby with lots of seating, fast wi-fi, a bar and decent food.

Fall in Berlin:

We saw these crows all over Europe, which caught our attention because of all the grey patches. We looked into it, and apparently they are known as hooded crows:

The Fernsehturm:

Brandenburg Gate:

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. This is a very interesting, subtle, thought-provoking memorial, taking up a whole square in Berlin:

More of the memorial:

This is a picture of an unkempt lawn, next to a basic parking lot, for cars that belong to residents of a nearby apartment complex. Why take a photo of this? Because it’s right above Hitler’s bunker, which is now flooded and of course not worth recovering. 

Interesting sidenote: during the World Cup in Germany in 2006, Berlin was flooded with tourists, and said tourists were constantly knocking on the nearby apartment doors, asking if this was really the location of Hitler’s bunker. The residents became so annoyed that they paid for a small sign to be placed nearby, which simply states that yes, this is the location of Hitler’s bunker.

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Underground memorial for all of the books burned during World War II (sort of tough to see, but it’s a big empty room of empty book shelves):

Burgermeister! Just because.

This was one of the few buildings that didn’t get totally demolished during the wars, but it still experienced some gun shot damage. All of the white boxes that you see are where the building was hit with bullets and later repaired.

Humboldt Universitaet, where all sorts of famous people have studied – and also where the big incident of Nazi book burning once occurred:

To help pay tribute to all the books that were burned, every day there are a bunch of books on sale in front of the University for half-price:

Jeffrey in one of the exhibits at the Jewish Museum:

One of the exhibits at the Museum – a bit of an oral history exhibit:

We heart you too, Berlin:

View of the Berlin Cathedral from one of the museums on Museum Island:

One of the floors of a big artist co-op in Berlin – tons of graffiti and open studio spaces. We went on a tour of Berlin street art, but it was raining throughout the whole tour, so this was pretty much the only good photo I managed to get.

Der Voyage Vacations

Crazy Jeffrey's Travel Tipz

If you’re planning a Europe trip, there are some things you should know!

Eurail travel passes are expensive and unnecessary. It is almost always better to buy tickets from individual rail service websites (SNCF, Trenitalia, DB Bahn – use Google Chrome to automatically translate these sites) or at the station on the day of your trip. Remember to validate your tickets if required (ugh)! The Man in Seat Sixty-One gives pretty solid advice.

Couchettes (sleeping cars) are uncomfortable. If you are a light sleeper, do not use. While it seems like a way to save time and money by combining sleep and travel, chances are you’ll require a nap the next day, offsetting your time savings. You might even spend less on a plane trip plus an extra night in a hostel.

Also, don’t be afraid to fly! Plane trips are competitive with train trips and definitely get you there faster (even counting the whole security song and dance). Airlines like easyJet let you purchase carbon offsets, if you’re a hippy.

We used OffMaps ($2) to download entire city maps to our iPhones. A few dollars more ($1 per city) and we could have also downloaded an index of all of the places in each city, but instead we bookmarked where we wanted to go with the help of our laptop at the beginning of each day.

We also bought a Kindle 3G, which, while providing us with reading material for travel, also provided us with completely free Internet access everywhere. Sure, the screen’s grayscale and refreshes like a snail, but that’s a small price to pay for the ability to use a WebKit-based web browser wherever there’s a data signal. I don’t expect that this capability will be around forever, but this could even be helpful in the States, if for some reason you wanted to go without a mobile data plan for a while.

Almost everyone speaks English in every major European city. We never had any trouble finding our way through any situation. (We did come across a menu that was only in Dutch, but Google Translate on the Kindle helped us through). This isn’t to say that knowing another language doesn’t hurt – learn just one Romance language and you should be able to figure the others out relatively easily. English is half Germanic, half Romance, so we weren’t in the dark linguistically at any point.

Walking tours aren’t bad. There are definitely some tours you don’t need to take – ones that take you through a single monument like the Eiffel Tower or Colosseum, for instance – but many of them, especially the ones through SANDEMANs, are fun and insightful. We toured our way through Berlin and found that it was probably the best way to see the city in a short period of time.

Finding places to see is easy. Locals and guides will often tell you to visit the same monuments. Finding places to eat, though, is probably much more important. You’ll want to consult friends who have lived or traveled where you’re going, local food blogs, travel blogs (see below!), and review sites like YelpQype and TripAdvisor, but probably as a last resort. You’ll spend half of your day eating or going to eat, so it’s important that you choose wisely. You’ll find great new routes, neighborhoods, cuisines and customs if you eat off the beaten path.

About eating: there are different payment and tipping customs wherever you go. Don’t expect to be able to leave a tip after your card is charged. Some places don’t expect to receive tips regularly, since waitstaff often receive a living wage.

Der Voyage Vacations


We, uh, arrived home just fine. Not dead. Not us!

Berlin and Amsterdam photos will follow within the next few days. I know you’ve all been on pins and needles. Fear not, we do indeed have photos of those two places, as I know photos of Berlin and Amsterdam are very hard to find otherwise.

We arrived in San Francisco around 1AM on Saturday morning, after BART trains ceased service. Thankfully, we realized that SamTrans (you know, that bus service that serves the peninsula) has 24-hour service from SFO to the city… for 2 bucks… and takes around the same time as BART… and it drops us off right outside Anna’s apartment. Uh, wow. Who needs BART?

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Food We Ate

We received countless suggestions from countless sources on what to eat and where. Here’s a selection of the really notable ones, if you suddenly find yourself in one of these cities:


  • Monmouth Coffee – Great brew, better pastries.
  • Chillies – Great chicken tikka masala. Go for the food, put up with the street touting. Try to go when you’re sure other people are there, otherwise there’ll be a waiter pacing behind you the entire time.
  • Côte – A nice chain of French places, with tasty brunch. We went to the one in SoHo.


  • Pink Flamingo – Fun pizza place with unique topping arrangements and very nice people. I had the Gandhi (saag paneer and baba ganoush) and Anna had the Cantona (8 cheeses).
  • La Crêperie de Josselin – Amaaazing place with savory buckwheat crepes. This was my second time going – I went last year when visiting Hannah as well.
  • Ladurée – Fancy dessert chain with ridiculous desserts and extremely rich hot chocolate. We ended up buying way too many macarons on our way out.
  • Spirit Café – Also my second time going, this is a great Thai place with generous servings and lots of girly cocktails (my favorite).
  • Chez Prune – A cozy local bar in Oberkampf with mulled wine (we had a lot, to commemorate our last evening in Paris).

Manarola (Cinque Terre)

  • Il Porticciolo – Tasty pasta/seafood. I had some with pomodoro and half a lobster tail, and it was only 8. Anna’s salmon ravioli was similarly tasty and cheap.
  • Trattoria dal Billy – Another good pasta place with a good seafood selection. The restaurant itself was tucked away in the hills, although conveniently just up the little street from our hotel. The power went out on us a few times during the meal – it contributed toward the quaintness factor.


  • La Mangiatoia – Our first foray into Italian pizza. Baked in wood ovens, good ingredients, good price.
  • Trattoria Anita – Home of the awesome lunch special. We had three courses for only 8.
  • Pizzeria Toto’ – Another delicious pizza place in a casual setting (we ate at the counter with plastic utensils and bottled beers).
  • Gelateria dei Neri –  Our first gelato place. Great array of flavors. Look for the photo wall of gelato cups having their picture taken in locales around the world.
  • Grom – Probably even tastier gelato with an emphasis on organic ingredients and the like. And definitely the best drinking chocolate we’d ever had. We went back for seconds the next day.


  • Antica Enoteca – We dined on the patio of this place in the pedestrian area near the Spanish Steps. I had a plate of roast beef topped with arugula – I have a bad habit of only ordering hot meals, but this was one exception I was glad I chose. Our waiter was sort of odd and closed off, but made an excellent red wine recommendation.
  • Sora Margherita – A much-acclaimed hidden-away hole-in-the-wall place in the Jewish Ghetto. We let the waitstaff order food for us – we got a giant ball of mozzarella, fried artichokes, and two courses of pasta. We were absolutely stuffed and happy.
  • Ci Lin – Really cheap and really awesome Chinese place. We were sort of tired of eating pizza and pasta for every meal, so this was a very welcome change.
  • Dar Poeta – Our favorite pizza on the trip. I had the Superbufala, which had buffalo mozzarella, olives, artichokes, even more cheese… quite amazing. Go for lunch or you’ll never get in.


  • Malzcafe – All-you-can-eat brunch for €6.50 in Prenzlauer Berg! And great fruit juice, too.
  • Dolores – Click the link; we already covered this in-depth. Despite my whining, it is a good place to get a burrito.
  • Aufsturz – We happened upon this place while waiting for a tour. Great beer selection and nice quick lunch items. But most importantly, nice and warm during a rainstorm.
  • Schneeweiß – After walking around in the rain for hours, we finally made it to this fancy little place, where I had a giant leg of goose. That hit the spot.


  • Bazar – We stopped into this spacious spot on Albert Cuypstraat while the street market was in full effect. Tasty, inexpensive Middle Eastern fare for lunch.
  • Patisserie Holtkamp – Everything looked astounding in this pastry shop. We ended up having some delicious cream puffs and eating them on a bridge in probably the most sloppy, obnoxious way possible.
  • Me Naam Naan – Good food is scarce in the city center, but we found this Thai place that offered up a great prix fixe menu with awesome beef and duck dishes, plus house wine and fresh strawberry ice cream.
  • Greenwoods – Brunch spot in the city center with great eggs benedict and a ridiculous club sandwich with homemade soda bread, capped off with a homemade scone (served with jam and cream).
  • Cafe Welling – We stopped into this quiet, well-lit place for a quick pint. A great place to relax after a walk through the nearby Vondelpark.
  • Brouwerij ‘t IJ – A brewery situated in the closest windmill to the city center. They had 6 great brews on tap, and an impressive display of bottles lining the walls (we spotted some vintage bottles from Rogue, an Oregon favorite). They had little meat and cheese plates to go along with your drink, too.
Der Voyage Vacations

Time for airports!

We got up at 5:00 a.m. and checked out of our hostel. We made our way to Amsterdam Centraal, where we caught a train to the airport. Our 45-minute flight to London-Heathrow included smoked salmon and cream cheese breakfast sandwiches, still partially frozen.

We are currently at the Heathrow airport, awaiting our flight to JFK. This flight will take about eight hours, where we’ll likely entertain ourselves with in-flight movies (Despicable Me! Inception!) and books on my Kindle (Zeitoun! You should read it too. Very very very good).

Once we arrive in JFK, we’ll have another layover, then the standard 5-6 hour flight back to SFO. We gather that by the end of it all, we’ll have been awake (save for any winks caught on/between flights) for roughly 24 hours.

I’m already starting to develop some of that lovely traveler’s body odor. This does not bode well for Jeffrey and our fellow airline passengers.