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Posted on May 20, 2013 in Uncategorized | 4 comments

Ben & Taylor Wedding Preview

I was going to do a little mini-recap of the wedding now that Ben and Taylor’s photographer has posted some photos on her blog, but I decided it would probably be best if you guys just headed over there to see the beautiful pictures! I’m definitely still planning on recapping my big brother’s most special day (there may or may not be some videos of me performing involved…) but for now, check out Kate Ignatowsky’s post!


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Posted on May 16, 2013 in Dear Diary, Food | 7 comments

Ben & Taylor’s Rehearsal Dinner

Or, that time my family went all MEGA CHINESE on everyone, and also we ate an entire pig.

I kinda like that second title better, don’t you?

So a LOT OF STUFF WENT DOWN this past weekend! And though I wish I could jump straight into recapping my brother’s (and new sister-in-law’s) wedding, alas, I have only a handful of meager Instagram photos from the actual event. And since I want to do the entire thing justice (since, seriously, it was SO amazing you guys. And you know how seriously I take weddings, so don’t think I say that lightly, haha), I think I’ll wait ’til I at least get some teaser shots back from the wedding photographer. (I was a bridesmaid, which is why I didn’t take any actual photos of my own.)

However, I *did* get to play photographer (or, more specifically, was commanded–very nicely!–by my mother) at the rehearsal dinner, which was an affair all its own.

For my sister’s wedding back in 2008, and now Ben’s wedding, my family has participated in a traditional Chinese tea ceremony as part of the rehearsal dinner festivities. This is a Chinese custom where the couple to be married offer tea to all their elders, who then give the couple hong bao (red packets) with money, as well as their well-wishes/advice for their impending marriage.

I do actually think it’s a really cool and special tradition, and hope that I get to participate in one when my day comes too (though I don’t think that’s really in jeopardy — my mom would never allow me NOT to, I’m pretty sure). So my dad helped explain what was a-goin’ on to the guests who were less well-versed in Chinese customs, and then they got to it! First my parents…

Then Taylor’s mom and pops…

And her grandparents…

My (last remaining) grandmother isn’t able to travel, so in July, the newlyweds, my parents, and I will be heading down to Houston to perform the tea ceremony for her there.

But that isn’t to say that the Ho Family wasn’t well-represented at the blessed event! In fact, almost all of my aunts and uncles, as well as all of Taylor’s extended family, were present at the rehearsal dinner. So Ben and Tay did the tea ceremony with them as well. I’m sure you guys don’t particularly care to see those pics though (they’re really just a lot more of the same), so I’ll skip right ahead to this one:

See? I told you we ate a whole pig. They served it Peking-style, with the pork replacing what would traditionally be duck (and we would’ve had to have A LOT of ducks to feed that many people, so in the end I think it was a good choice. Sandwiched into a pancake with some hoisin sauce and spring onion, you could barely even tell the difference! Even the more squeamish of guests really seemed to enjoy the “pork tacos” (as they referred to them, haha) once they got over the whole, y’know, head thing.

And in case you were wondering, there was a ton of other food, too, of course! Noodles and shrimp fried rice and spring rolls… It was a real Chinese banquet! Other than the random lasagna that they had as a vegetarian option, that is. That dish was not so much, hahahaha.

But just in case the other pictures of food weren’t enough to help transition away from the fact that there was an ENTIRE PIG SERVED AT THE REHEARSAL DINNER (clearly I’m not really even over it yet), I have something else for you:

Yes, my perfect little niece Mia was there too, looking cute as all get out in her ladybug outfit. I almost hate that I’m so obsessed with my niece now. I swore I wouldn’t be that guy! Oh wel, whatcha gonna do? It’s not MY fault she’s so cute — blame my sister and her hubster for that (though a lot of my aunts do say that she looks a lot like me! Heeeeee!)

Mia was actually on pretty amazing behavior for a not-quite-8-weeks-old baby, both during the rehearsal dinner AND during the wedding! Except when I started taking pictures with the flash. That she did not like so much.


Can you believe *I’m* the baby of the family? From smallest to tallest…

So yes! The entire event was really nice, and very special for both families, I think. I loved that Tay’s family seemed to really embrace it all–just like my sister’s husband’s family did when they all experienced it!

Taylor’s mom even wore a cheongsam–the traditional Chinese dress that she and Taylor are wearing. Fun fact: the red dress Taylor is wearing is actually my mother’s wedding dress!

Well, one of her wedding dresses, at any rate. (During a Chinese wedding, the bride actually changes outfits like four times, hahaha.)

It was a really special way to kick Ben and Taylor’s final day of non-wedded life. Their final, super duper Asian day, hahahaha. πŸ™‚

Gan bei!

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Posted on Apr 9, 2013 in Dear Diary | 9 comments

Bridesday Weekend, Part II


Happy Tuesday to you all. I’m back with another installment of Bridesday Weekend, the weekend in which I used all 3 days to attend three separate bridal events for my dear friends. And also in which my brain (and ring finger) exploded. Poor Sean.

So as you learned yesterday, my Saturday was spent at Aileen’s amazing Mad Hatter bridal shower (she posted her own recap on her blog, btw, which is much, much funnier than mine, so you should check it out). But Friday and Sunday were reserved for Taylor, my soon-to-be sister-in-law (wow, that’s a lot of hyphenation)!

Friday was spent all all sorts of bachelorette activities… of which I will NOT be showing you photos. This is a family-friendly blog, after all. But Sunday was my second bridal shower of the weekend, and while not Mad Hatter-themed, was still absolutely, positively wonderful. Yet again, I fulfilled my roll as unofficial event photographer, so FEAST YOUR EYES!






Mother & daughter πŸ™‚

Present overload!

Present overload!


Taylor, her twin sister, Kate, and their Mom.




Mini pecan pies… SO DELICIOUS.


There were actually like 100 more photos, but I’m sparing your corneas and just showing you a li’l snippet. πŸ™‚ It’s a little hard to believe that my big brother is getting MARRIED in a little over one month. And then there will be one… heheh.

Whew! So that pretty much wraps up my weekend! So much fun, so exhausting. And there’s no rest for the wicked, since this upcoming weekend is going to be JUST AS AWESOME. I haven’t been doing my customary birthday countdown (what is happening to me?!) but my big 2-5 is this Thursday (as in, the day after tomorrow, squeeee!) and I’ve got activities planned up and out the wazoo!! Allow me to ‘splain:

It all starts with my actual birthday, when Sean is allegedly taking me somewhere he will only refer to as “Taco Bell” whenever I ask him where we’re going. Which, I mean, if he DOES end up taking me to Taco Bell for my birthday… actually, I wouldn’t be that upset. I’ve really been wanting to try the new Cool Ranch Doritos taco.

Friday will be legen–wait for it–DAIRY, because my wonderful friend Ai Rei is coming back to visit me. And the “dairy” is NOT, in fact, a typo, because that night we’re meeting Aileen at The Melting Pot. Worlds will collide with melted cheese present and it shall be glorious!

And then Saturday, of course, is my Quarter Quell: my Hunger Games-themed birthday party. You have been warned.

Bridal stuff. Birthday. Friends. Cheese. Hunger Games. Yep, pretty sure this is the best week ever.

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Posted on Oct 14, 2012 in Dear Diary | 22 comments

F(Anne)tasy Wedding

Holy schmoly. You guys. This wedding.

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It was amazing, surreal, beautiful… oh gosh. I don’t even know how to properly describe it. I don’t even know where to begin!

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But I’ll try. (Warning: your eyeballs may implode from the sheer number of photos you are about to see. Not that you’re shocked at this point, I’m sure. But still.)

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So, as some of you already knew from previous posts, I spent the weekend celebrating the wedding (and, you know, subsequent marriage) of my friend Anne and her now-husband Matt! Some of you may know her as Anne P., blogger extraordinaire, but long before she started fANNEtastic Food — and before she and I became friends in our own right — she was simply my older sister’s BFF(FFFFF).

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The two of them were so inseparable during high school that they were collectively known as “Janny” (Anne + Jenny). Fortunately, as I’ve grown up and out of the “annoying younger sister” phase, Anne and I have grown quite close. We were both bridesmaids in my sister’s wedding, where I was the MOH, and my sister was Anne’s MOH this past weekend. Full circle!

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Anne’s wedding was a true family affair for us. Not only was Jenny her maid (er, matron?) of honor, but my brother Ben and his fiancee Taylor were the photographers AND I did the makeup for the bridesmaids! And as if that weren’t enough of a Powell overload, my parents were also in attendance. It was so much fun for all of us to get to celebrate Anne and Matt’s big day together!

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Things started on the early side for me Saturday, as I headed over to the estate where the wedding was taking place at around 10 AM. The wedding location was about an hour+ outside of Northern Virginia, and I had actually gone down Friday night since Anne’s parents hosted a post-rehearsal dinner reception. Since I was on makeup artist duty for the four bridesmaids, I came well equipped.

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Uh, yeah. The next time I complain about how I don’t have any money? Please remind me of this. Kthx.

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Things were already underway in terms of beautifying the bridal party, so I didn’t waste any time getting down to work.

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Can I just tell you how much fun it was to get my big sister, who didn’t start wearing mascara until like 6 months ago, into a makeup chair? Hehehe.

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Jenny, Turner, Jessica, and Kris!

My handiwork. What do you guys think? This was my first time doing “real” makeup for someone else. I think it turned out pretty great! Of course, it helped that I had some pretty great faces to work with in the first place. πŸ™‚

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Meanwhile, the bride was getting totally beautified herself, and the bro was there to capture it all on (official) camera. I may or may not have taken the time to do my own face up while I was waiting for the girls to finish with their hair, too. Hehehe.

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Before long, it was time to hightail it over to wardrobe so everyone could get dressed! I stuck around for a little while to be able to touch up makeup before bridal portraits began. It’s no secret that I absolutely, totally, completely LOVE weddings, so I really enjoyed getting to stick around for the “backstage” stuff.

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Anne was SUCH a beautiful bride. I know that everyone says that about all weddings, but seriously. Her dress was incredibly beautiful. Simple, but breathtaking. She looked classic and elegant, an absolute dream.

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After the dresses were fully on and the lip gloss was triple-checked, I made my way back to the hotel to meet up with Sean (who was bromancing it up with my brother-in-law by watching football in some pub far away from the dresses and makeup, hahaha) and get ready. We moseyed back to the wedding site and I took advantage of the fact that we were all fancied up to take some portraits of our own.

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And before you knew it, it was time for the ceremony! It was beautiful, funny, and moving. I’ll let the following pictures speak for themselves.

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Mr. & Mrs.!!!

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While the bride & groom were whisked away to take their newlywed photos together, the rest of us enjoyed cocktail hour and eventually made our way down to the tent where dinner was being served.

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Hello, lover.

Look who I found at our table! πŸ™‚

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I was seated with fellow bloggers Theodora, Meghann, and Heather! Ben and Taylor also got to take a few minutes to breathe and get a bite to eat at our table (since Anne didn’t particularly want photo after photo of her wedding guests stuffing their faces anyway, I’m assuming). As Anne put it, she was grouping all the cameras together, ahahaha.

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The food was, as I expected, specatular. Anne had blogged about the menu for the wedding quite some time ago, and I’d been salivating ever since! We all started out with a plated salad that included greens, cherry tomatoes, candied pecans, and an herbed goat cheese medallion. Absolutely tremendous.

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There was bread on the table (whole grain, of course) and dinner was served buffet style. I apologize for the definitely-doesn’t-do-it-justice photos. By this time, the sun had completely set and the uplighting inside the tent was blue so they lost a little something in editing. Still, rest assured that it was absolutely delicious!

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There was quinoa salad, a tofu & bean dish, roast chicken, and prime rib, as well as a whole slew of roasted veggies. The chicken and quinoa salad in particular were delectable. Love, love, loved it. I actually didn’t even get to eat as much as I probably would have otherwise, because I was saving myself (as I always do) for cake. Before we could dig into that frosted bad boy, though there were speeches to hear and dances to watch!

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My sister gave a moving and heartful homage to her friendship with Anne, as well as to how perfect Matt & Anne are for each other. It was beautiful, and I was a bit of a mess by the end. I wasn’t the only one, either! Of course, this can mostly be blamed on Jenny, who also started to cry before she finished her speech. C’mon, you can’t put a crying pregnant woman in front of a crowd and expect us to keep our eyes dry!

In addition to Jenny’s MOH speech and Matt’s brother’s Best Man speech, there was also a pre-recorded speech from Anne’s younger brother (who was also my middle school classmate!) because he wasn’t able to attend the wedding as he’s currently overseas. It was so touching and meaningful and I did not tear up and start crying all over again. Nope, definitely didn’t. Not one bit.

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Anne and Matt had a great first dance routine, too. Matt is QUITE the dancer! They were spinning and twirling all over the dance floor — it actually made it hard to get a photo, haha. It was such a great deviance from the standard slowly-turn-in-a-circle first dances that you usually see. Though I will admit, I did get a little misty during the father-daughter dance.

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As soon as the dances were done, plates of cake began making their way past me. I wasted NO TIME in snagging a slice in each flavor: lemon raspberry and napoleon! Sean and I shared our slices and they were a literally sweet ending to an even sweeter evening. We spent the rest of the night dancing and partying and photoboothing it up. Like I said, an amaaaaaazing wedding!

Anne & Matt are on their mini-moon right now, and I seriously wish them every happiness as they embark on this next phase of their relationship together. As my sister said in her speech: to love, laughter, and happily ever after!

Man, I love weddings.

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Posted on Aug 6, 2012 in Dear Diary, Food | 5 comments

A fANNEtastic Bridal Shower

Oh hai! I hope you all had fun and/or relaxing weekends. Mine was definitely a bit of both! My sister (who recently moved to Houston) was back in town to fulfill one of her sacred Maid of Honor duties for Anne: the bridal shower!

The bride making sure the details go on Instagram, hehe.

Anne and her bridesmaids

I’ve mentioned a few times that my older sister (in pink above) is BFFs with fellow healthy living/food blogger, Anne P. The two of them went to high school together, so I’ve actually known Anne for a huge chunk of my life! In fact, her blog is the very one that inspired me to create my own! Knowing her in real life is what led me to start reading her blog, and then I asked my older brother (who helped Anne set hers up in the beginning) to help me get one started too!

Flash forward a couple of years, and Anne and I have gotten close in our own right: we’ve gone to several blogging conferences together and will be both rocking the Healthy Living Summit together in a week and a half, too!

Me, Anne, and my sister!

The bridal shower was honestly one of the nicest ones I’ve ever been to. It was super classy and actually really fun, even though I only knew three other people who were there. It gave me a lot of confidence for my sister’s planning abilities when it comes to my own future, someday bridal shower. πŸ˜‰

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I was happy to volunteer as photographer for the day so that Anne could enjoy the festivities and not have to worry about getting photos in for her own blog. Be sure to check out her own recap post, too!

Antique china and tea set

Lara, Jenny, and Gena


The spread was awesome. The bridesmaids (plus Anne’s mom) did it like a fancy tea party, which meant finger sandwiches (love!), cheese plates, fruit, and tiny desserts.


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My personal favorites of the bunch were these:


Jenny and I made up these mini peach and cherry pies the night before the shower. Making things in miniature is definitely a lot more work, but the result is approximately 83% cuter so I think it’s worth it.


After we had all stuffed ourselves on teeny tiny sandwiches, it was time for PRESENTS!


The bridesmaids incorporated a couple of fun games into the present-opening. One of them was a game of Bridal Shower Bingo, where we were given blank bingo sheets and told to fill it out with all the gifts we THOUGHT Anne would receive. Then, we could cross them off as she opened them!


I guess I must have a knack for guessing housewares, because I won one of the two prizes!


I got these sweet reusable cup with a Starbucks giftcard tucked inside. Score!


The other game was a kind of play on the Newlyweds Game. The bridesmaids had asked Matt (the groom) a bunch of questions before the shower, and Anne had to guess what his answers were. For every answer she got wrong, she had to stuff a huge gumball in her mouth. In the photo above, she’s celebrating getting an answer right, but by the end she must have had 5 or 6 gumballs swirling around in there!

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Totally hilarious.

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I’m not going to lie, I was hit with a serious case of gift-envy as Anne opened her presents. Among them was a Vitamix (jealous!), adorable mugs from Anthropologie, and a gorgeous glass serving bowl from Tiffany! I can’t wait until I have my own reason for my friends to shower me with kitchenwares someday. You’d think that’s a sarcastic statement, but I’m 100% serious. I mean, you guys saw how I reacted when Sean got me a french oven for my birthday. Can you even imagine the sheer amount of glee that will spew forth when I’m in Anne’s position one day? Oh, the dream… πŸ˜€


No present could really top what the bridesmaids all went in on together for the bride-to-be, though. They crafted a cookbook for Anne out of all the recipes from her blog!

Picture from Anne

It’s so, so neat. The recipes are printed out with a photo from her blog, and are organized in sections. It is such a perfect and thoughtful present for her.

The brightest sisters EVER

Like I said, it was a really wonderful (dare I say, fANNEtastic? Hyuk, hyuk.) shower, and I was so happy to be able to be a part of it. Congratulations again, Anne!

Have a great Monday everyone!

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