Valentine's Day Gift Ideas

Oh Valentine's Day! We love any excuse to celebrate love!

You certainly don't need to give a material gift to show someone you love them. But, if you're in the market, here are some of our favorite jewelry gift ideas (because I love jewelry - oh and because diamonds are a girl's best friend.)

These pieces are unique, have tons of personality and are of the highest quality. Feel free to drop hints, ladies!

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You know I'm a sucker for antique stones! These old cut stones are bead set in platinum octagon plates - a gorgeous and unique shape. The fine milgrain along the edges of the plates is a lovely detail. Jewels by Erica Grace is owned and operated by two ladies (Erica and Grace) who are experts in old stones and extremely reputable. Let us know if you want to be introduced!

(Langs is located in Union Square, SF)

This silver cuff bracelet is constructed in the classic Victorian style popular during that era. It is sweetly engraved in a simple floral design. I love substantial pieces and you could wear this special cuff every day, and dress it up or down.

(49% off!)

Rose gold plated silver earrings with a hammered disc and faceted moonstones. I love how these are sweet and edgy at the same time. Can be worn day or night!

(price is for setting only, select diamond from BG's diamond inventory)

Hand-made bezel pendant with 16" fine cable chain for cushion cut diamonds. I adore bezels and you don't see them paired with cushion cut stones every day! Brian Gavin's craftsmanship is exceptional.

Chinese New Year Decorations

Chinese New Year is one of my favorite holidays! When I lived in Hong Kong, I loved going to the huge New Year flower markets, visiting family, and eating all the delicious food my mom and aunties made!

Since I don't have family in SF, I decorate my home festively to get my in the CNY spirit!

Here are some decoration ideas with a modern twist. Full disclaimer these are NOT traditional, but it is how I've adapted them for my home!

Photo credit:
Created by Kelly Oshiro from Santa Barbara Wedding Chic and photographed by Halberg Photographers. Ruffled Blog

These photos inspired me to hang red packets, gold coins, mini red lanterns and yellow mums from pussy willow branches in a large glass vase. You could also use manzanita branches. So elegant!

Photo credit: Billy Ball Centerpieces shot by James Carson on Ruffled

Yellow or gold is a traditional Chinese New Year color so I have big vases of yellow flowers all over my home. My favorite flowers to use are billy balls, tulips, mums and ranunculus.

I always have a big bowl of clementines or satsumas on my coffee table for guests to enjoy during Chinese New Year. "Gum" symbolize prosperity!

Happy Chinese New Year!
- H x

Wedding Table Decoration Ideas - The Lab Event

Hi honeys! We've missed you! It's been a while since we've posted but we're back from the wonderful Holidays and ready to rumble into 2013.

We couldn't be more excited to be planning for many beautiful couples this year! To get inspired, we attended The Lab in Sonoma this past weekend. What a wonderful event! If you are a bride-to-be (or soon bride-to-be!) you should definitely plan to check it out next year.

Here are some wonderful wedding table decorations to feast your eyes on!

Happy Honey & Twine Tuesday!
- Hannah

Congratulations Catherine & Jay!

Update: Emily Scott with Gem Photo just posted a sneak peek shot from Catherine & Jay's wedding day on Facebook!

On Saturday, December 15 we had the pleasure and honor of coordinating Catherine & Jay's wedding! Their love-filled ceremony took place at the breathtaking Stanford Memorial Church and was followed by a chill, but seriously fun (I mean, really fun... their friends know how to party!) reception at Gravity Bistro and Wine Bar. Even though it rained, nothing could dampen the spirits of this gorgeous couple.
Congratulations Catherine & Jay! We couldn't be more happy for you!
UPDATE: Sneak peek wedding photo from Gem Photo!
The beautiful couple. Amazing photo by Gem Photo.

Sneak peek of their ceremony from the organ loft. Apologies for my crappy cell phone photo!

Wedding Budget Advice

Today, we're tackling budgets. Do you know "Mo Money Mo Problems" is one of my favorite songs? I digress...

While this isn't the most glamorous part of wedding planning, it's certainly one of the most important. I received this email from a friend recently:

"I'm trying to come up with a budget... I looked quickly at some venues but those prices vary A LOT from place to place. I know there's food / drink costs involved. The dress. The photographer. Arghh! That's when i started to panic because I really have no idea where to start..."

Here are some of my top tips.

1) Prioritize and be flexible: When you begin the budgeting process, all couples (no matter how big or small your budget) should sit down together and place the following list into three categories: "Very Important," "Negotiable," and "Not Important At All." By laying this out on the table, you can agree ahead of time that you won't mind spending more on important items if it means cutting back on others.

  • Venue
  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • Live music
  • DJ
  • Other guest entertainment
  • Wedding gown
  • Bride’s accessories
  • Hair and makeup
  • Groom’s attire
  • Groom’s accessories
  • Bridal party flowers (bouquet, boutonnieres)
  • Flowers / centerpieces
  • Ceremony decorations
  • Reception decorations
  • Lighting (lanterns, candles, monograms)
  • Cake / Dessert
  • Stationery (invitations, table signs, programs)
  • Transportation
  • Favors

2) Venue Shopping: Your venue is going to be one of the biggest contributing factors to the look and feel of your wedding. Coincidentally, it is going to be one of your biggest costs. Start shopping and doing price comparisons early. Consider location, amenities and complimentary benefits. If you are set on getting married at a winery but have a limited budget, consider Livermore instead of Napa. If you want a ballroom wedding, look for hotels that include a honeymoon suite in the wedding package.

The Palace Hotel, San Francisco

3) Keep an Eye on the Guest List: Keep in mind that some costs are fixed (your photographer and dress will cost the same no matter how many people you invite) and others are charged "per guest" like food and beverage (F&B). When it comes to "per guest" costs, a growing guest list can really put you over budget.

For example, say I have $10,000 to spend on F&B. I invite 100 guests and sign a contract for a catering package at $100 per person. If my guest list grows by only 10 people, I'm already $1,000 over budget!

While it can be difficult, it's important to be strict with your guest list!

Courtesy of Martha Stewart
4) Budget for "hidden" costs: Many couples forget to include sales tax, delivery charges, and service charges in their budget estimates, which can be automatically added to your bill. With 8.5% sales tax in San Francisco and 20% service charge, that's almost 30% more than the original price tag!

We hope you find this helpful, honeys! Feel free to ask questions in the comments section.

Happy planning!
- H x

How to Plan Thanksgiving Dinner

Happy Turkey week! It's time to dig out your stretchy pants!

I moved to the US in 2002 and immediately fell in love with Thanksgiving. The food, the family and friends... the food.

Ever since then, I look forward to this Holiday all year. People ask me how I plan Thanksgiving dinner without breaking a sweat. The secret? Just like planning a wedding, the key to a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner is organization and preparation.

This is my foolproof plan.

Tria and I setting Thanksgiving dinner table last year

2 - 1.5 weeks ahead - Menu Planning / Reserve Your Turkey

Write out your menu. Tip #1: keep it simple! People won't have a better time if you have 20 dishes. My menu is:
- Turkey
- Stuffing
- 2 starch sides - mashed potatoes and candied yams
- 1 vegetable side - my fav is green bean casserole
- Gravy (yes!)
- Cranberry sauce
- 2 Pies - pecan and apple (Tip #2: if you have locals coming for dinner, ask them to bring pie! Less work for you, all the same deliciousness)

That's it! I always make cornbread stuffing but this year I think I'll try this variation with pancetta, apples and mushrooms.

Also reserve your turkey. I usually buy a fresh, range grown, organic turkey. Tip #3: Allow 3/4 pound per person. Schedule pick-up for the Monday before Thanksgiving.

1.5 - 1 week(s) ahead - Make a Shopping List / Go Shopping, Review Serveware

Make a grocery list of everything you'll need including quantities. I like to go shopping 1.5 weeks ahead of Thanksgiving. You could go the weekend before, but the grocery store will be CHAOS. I avoid it like the plague.

But will everything stay fresh, you ask? Keep celery crisp by wrapping in aluminum foil. Everything else should keep just fine.

Tip #3: Pull out all your serveware and use sticky notes to map out which dishes will go in what. If you are short on anything, you still have time to go buy it!

1 week ahead - Make Food Ahead of Time

Tip #4: Break cooking into stages. It's reduces so much stress! Make a list and check things off as you go. This is my schedule.

5 days ahead - Make pecan pie and pate brisee for apple pie. Pecan pie keeps very well if you wrap in plastic wrap and store in fridge. Make 2 pate brisee discs, wrap tightly and store in fridge. Active prep: 1 hour.

4 days ahead - Make cranberry sauce. This is an easy do-ahead. Store in an air-tight container. Active prep: 20 mins.

3 days ahead - Pick-up and prepare turkey. Brine or marinade (whatever your recipe calls for) and store on bottom shelf of fridge. Use neck to make turkey stock. Store in air-tight container. Make mushroom béchamel for green bean casserole. Store in air-tight container. Active prep: 1 hour.

2 days ahead - Trim/peel/cut all vegetables. Assemble green bean casserole, place in casserole dish and refrigerate. Store rest of veggies in individual air-tight containers. Cut potatoes and yams into cubes, cover in water and refrigerate separately. Dice bread for stuffing. Bread can sit on counter overnight to dry out. Active prep: 30 mins.

1 day ahead - Make stuffing using vegetables you pre-cut day before, place in casserole dish and refrigerate. Make apple pie using 2 pate brisee discs you made ahead of time. Once cooled, cover lightly with plastic wrap or cake dome. Active prep: 1 hour.

The Big Day!

5 hours before dinner - Take turkey out of fridge and let come to room temperature for 45 mins. Set the table.

4 hours before dinner - Put turkey in oven! A 12-14 pound turkey will take 3 - 3 3/4 hours to cook. Take pecan pie out of fridge and let come to room temperature.

3 hours before dinner - Cook potatoes and yams. Mash (or whatever your recipe calls for) and keep warm over low heat.

2 hours before dinner - Make gravy using turkey stock. Keep in thermos until ready to eat. 

1 hour before dinner - Take turkey out of oven and let rest for 20 mins. Put stuffing and green bean casserole in oven to heat. Transfer yams to casserole dish and place marshmallows on top.

20-30 mins before dinner - Broil marshmallow topping on candied yams casserole. Pour gravy into gravy boat. Put cranberry sauce into serving dish. Take stuffing, candied yams and green bean casserole out of oven. Put mashed potatoes into serving bowl. And carve the turkey!

Tip #5: Don't forget to enjoy yourself and be thankful! I'm thankful for a wonderful year, my amazing husband, my family and friends, our amazing couples, and of course, my wonderful business partner, Tria.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Planning!
- Hannah x

Photos courtesy of,,,,,,,

Recipe: Cream-less Pasta Primavera

During the six months leading up to my wedding, I watched my diet like a hawk. But I love to eat, so there were inevitably days when I craved a big bowl of creamy pasta.

For all the brides (and grooms) out there watching their figures – who I’m sure feel the same way – this is my version of cream-less pasta primavera, adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Spring Vegetable Pasta recipe.

What’s amazing about this recipe is that there is no cream in the sauce, but it still has a rich creamy texture because you cook the pasta like risotto (genius!) It’s also packed with tons of vegetables.

So yes, it’s true - you can have your cake and eat it too!

1 pound crimini mushrooms
2 leeks
1 pound asparagus
2 medium size zucchini or summer squash
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
3 cloves of garlic cloves
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
½ teaspoon lemon zest
Juice from ½ lemon
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound campanelle (or other short pasta)
1 cup white wine
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 cup (or more!) grated Parmesan cheese

I love to use my dutch oven for this recipe, but you can use whichever heavy-bottomed pot you have.

First, prep the vegetables:

Slice the crimini mushrooms. dice the light green and white parts of the leeks, slice spears into 1/2 inch pieces (don’t forget to snap the tough ends of the asparagus off and discard before dicing) and dice zucchini into 1/2 inch pieces.

Tip 1: to prepare leeks, cut off dark green tops and discard. My favorite way to wash leeks (and I’ve tried lots of different ways) is to halve them lengthwise, keeping bottoms in tact, and wash layers under running water.

Tip 2: if you’re good at chopping vegetables, chop while you cook to cut down on time! I’m not though… so I prep everything ahead :)

Cook mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until brown (about 5-7 mins.) Once the mushrooms are brown, add one clove of minced garlic and a pinch of salt; cook for 1 more min until fragrant. Transfer mushrooms to bowl and set aside.

Tip: don’t salt the mushrooms until the very end or they won’t brown!

Add one more tablespoon of oil to the pot. Add diced leeks and cook for 1-2 mins. Once they begin to brown, add asparagus spears and cook for 1-2 more mins. Then add zucchini and cook another 1-2 mins (4-6 mins total.)

Add two cloves of minced garlic and season with salt and pepper; cook 1 more min until fragrant.

Transfer vegetables to same bowl as mushrooms and set aside.

Wipe pot with paper towel. Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Once shimmering, add dry pasta and toast for 4-5 minutes until they begin to brown. It will smell deliciously toasty in your kitchen!

Add white wine (a good one you’d drink!) and cook, stirring constantly, until it’s all absorbed.  I failed to take a photo of the wine – so here’s a stock photo :) This is actually one of my favorite California white wines to cook with.

Once the wine is absorbed, add stock and water to the pot. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until most of the stock/water is absorbed (about 8-10 mins) – just like a risotto!

Tip: Taste the pasta when it’s close to done. If it’s not yet al dente, add 1/2 cup of hot water and keep stirring until absorbed and try again. Repeat if needed.

 While the pasta is cooking, mince mint leaves and zest lemon. Grab the peas and cheese – yum!

Once most of the liquid is absorbed (you’ll still want a little in the bottom of the pot because this is the sauce!), stir in the vegetables, peas, mint, lemon zest, the juice from half a lemon and the Parmesan – one cup is usually enough, but add as little or as much as you’d like. Add salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Sprinkle just a little more Parmesan on top before serving and ENJOY!!!

For family, I love to bring the whole pot of pasta to the table. There’s something homey and decadent about everyone tucking into one big pot.

When we have guests, I like to serve the pasta in a big white dish with a little lemon and mint garnish. It’s elegant, and perfect for company!

I’m a firm believer that you should make every recipe your own. Here are some variation ideas:

  • Make vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, or vegan by leaving out the cheese.
  • Add your own favorite vegetables – spinach, broccoli, or cherry tomatoes.
  • For crunch, add some pine nuts or slivered almonds.
  • For protein, add grilled chicken, shrimp or chickpeas.
Bon appetite!

Hannah x

What to do in Lyon, France

I LOVE to travel, and I adore visiting my best friend, Greg, and his wife in Lyon, France. Greg and I grew up together as teens in Hong Kong. He is half French and moved to Lyon after graduating high school.

It’s wonderful to have a friend in this beautiful city that I can visit every year! Here are some snapshots from my visit so far...

A visit to the Max Chaoul Couture boutique. My, oh my, this makes me want to have another wedding!

Wine tasting in the Beaujolais region. I know, seriously spoiled.

We visited Chateau de La Chaize, which makes the finest Brouilly wine. The estate was gifted to the original owner by Louis XIV.

They gave us the key to the gate! Whoppee, we’re moving in!

Can you imagine living here?!

The chateau’s vegetable garden. I would love to host a cocktail party here.

Back in the winery building, the cellar where the wines are aged.

We were honored to receive a personal tasting from Marquise (duchess!) Caroline de Roussy de Sales. Her ancestors owned the chateau and built the winery, and she owns and operates it today.

A few other snapshots from my awesome time in Lyon!

The dessert selection at L’Epicerie Bistrot a Tartines. We had the chocolate and pear tart. Yum!!

Perouge, a beautiful medieval town that is still inhabited today.

The Rhone river in Lyon. Beautiful!

Happy and safe travels!

- Hannah x

How to Plan a Kid’s Birthday Party

My gorgeous nephew turned 2 last week! In true Wong fashion, my sister and I started planning his birthday party months ago - I mean, planning is fun, after all! We realized quickly that while there would be a few kids at the party, most of the guests would actually be adults - family, friends of my sister and her husband, the babysitter etc.

So we wanted to make sure we planned an event that was catered to children, but that was elegant and fun for adults too!

Here are a few tips…

1) Pick a theme and let it guide your food, decorations and favors. This makes planning easy and will even give your guests an idea of what kinds of gifts to bring (they’ll thank you!) Our theme: Planes, trains and automobiles!
“Wheel” lollipop favors for the kids. We made this into a little centerpiece
Plane and train pumpkins centerpieces
Homemade birthday cake. The plane, made by my talented sister, is carved rice crispy treats covered in fondant

2) Choose one brightly colored decoration you can use in multiple places for big impact.  We found automobile foam stickers and stuck them onto construction paper cutouts. They are super cute and you'll see we used them everywhere! We also made and hung paper chains from the ceiling.
Red and green jello "stoplights." To add pizazz to food, we glued the stickers and cutouts onto toothpicks

Paper chains and helium balloons make any party festive!
3) Offer foods both kids and adults will love. Everyone loves pigs in a blanket, but it’s nice to offer something just for the adults too, like a beautiful cheese plate. If you’re offering PB+J sandwiches for the kids, offer a more grown-up turkey club for the adults.
Pigs in a blanket served with mustard and ketchup
Cheese platter for the adults
Milk for the kids among beverages for the adults
4) Make three dishes; assemble and buy the rest. This will keep you sane and remember, your friends won’t have a better time if you make everything from scratch! We made: chocolate pudding, pigs in a blanket and jello stoplights. We assembled: vegetable crudité with hummus, PB+J sandwiches, a cheese platter, and fruit salad (using pre-cut fruit). We bought: sandwiches for the adults from the local deli. Easy and delicious!
PB+J sandwiches in airplane cutouts
5)  Get creative with presentation! Even something as homey as chocolate pudding and PB+J sandwiches can be food for a fancy occasion. We served the chocolate pudding in elegant individual cups (found at any party store) and made airplane cutouts from the PB+J sandwiches.
Individual chocolate pudding cups for kids and adults!
Your family and friends will have a blast and you will too!

Happy planning!
- Hannah

Idojour and Siri Bridesmaid Dress Giveaway!

Our favorite ladies at Idojour, the gorgeously curated online bridal boutique and local San Francisco designer Siri, are partnering to dress all your lovely bridesmaids!

Enter the giveaway on Idojour by October 5, here: Idojour and Siri Bridesmaid Dress Giveaway

Your bridesmaids will love you forever!

- Hannah x

10 Tips for Planning a Cross Cultural Wedding

We love the San Francisco Bay Area’s diversity. More and more couples today are multicultural – one in 10 married couples are now interracial, an increase of nearly 30% since 2000!

Courtesy of Tim Sohn Studios
A cross cultural wedding requires more planning and finesse than a single-culture wedding. Not only is it important to blend customs and traditions – it also requires a deeper understanding of cultural nuances such as family dynamics and what is considered appropriate (and inappropriate) behavior at weddings.

Here are our top 10 tips!

Know that this is your wedding. Be confident in your decisions! You may not be able to make everyone 100% happy, but your families will appreciate your efforts and intentions. At the end of the day, they’ll be thrilled when they see you walking down the aisle!

Educate each other and your families on important cultural traditions, customs and what is considered appropriate behavior at weddings. Discuss expectations; communicate openly, respectfully and often. You may even want to consider pre-marital counseling to help you dive into this important area of your lives.

Make a short-list of customs and traditions that are meaningful to you, or that you think your family and guests would enjoy. Once this is done, it’s easier to think about how and when to incorporate them into your wedding.

Don’t try to incorporate too much at once. You don’t need to include every tradition from all the cultures in your family. If the cultures you’re combining are drastically different, consider incorporating one or the other into different parts of your wedding. To honor both South Asian and Hispanic cultures, for example, you could host a mehndi party after your rehearsal dinner and incorporate the lasso tradition in your ceremony.

Courtesy of  Capturing the Light
Photography (Toronto)
Consider honoring both ethnic and religious customs in your ceremony. Some officiants and religious leaders are open to conducting joint ceremonies. They can also work with you to incorporate ethnic customs. To honor Korean culture in a Catholic ceremony, for example, you could discuss incorporating elements of a kunbere, like sipping wine poured by the mother of the bride, with your priest.

Be creative in incorporating culture into your attire and food as these are two of the strongest sensory elements your guests will experience. To incorporate Japanese and Italian cultures, for example, a bride or groom may choose to wear a traditional wedding kimono during the ceremony and serve a family style Italian meal of their favorite dishes at the reception.

Consider a modern twist on old traditions to make it truly yours. A Chinese tea pouring ceremony is traditionally held at the home of the bride and groom’s parents prior to the ceremony. However, if it’s important for your guests to experience this tradition, why not incorporate it into your reception as an extension of your cake cutting?

Choose venues that will allow for the customs you’ve chosen to honor. You’ll want to ensure your venue can accommodate structures like a mandap or huppah if required for your ceremony. And if a traditional Greek Kalamatianos dance is a must at your reception, you’ll want to ensure the venue allows amplified music. Don’t forget that religious centers may even have specific rules and/or required classes.

Explain cultural traditions to your guests. If you’re having a multicultural wedding, chances are you’ll have guests who are familiar with one culture, but not the other, and guests who are not familiar with either culture. Consider explaining the significance of traditions in your programs, on your menus, or by asking your MC to make an announcement. Your guests will appreciate it and feel more involved.

Be yourself. Cultural traditions and customs are important, but don’t forget to let your personalities shine through. Wedding location, colors, specific food dishes, song selection and stationery are just a few of the simple ways you can personalize your wedding. It’s your big day so make sure it reflects you!

Happy planning!
Hannah & Tria / Honey & Twine

Things Hannah Loves

Jon and I at Chez Panisse in Berkeley
It’s hard to boil all the things I love down to one list! In life, I try (but um, don’t always succeed) to choose happiness, adventure, hard work, hard play, and good food.

Here is a sampling of the things I love...
  • My husband, Jon
  • My nephew, Thomas
  • A sunny day in San Francisco
  • Pink peonies
  • French bulldogs
  • Traveling and being in unfamiliar cultures
  • Fresh baked bread from Tartine Bakery
  • Online shopping – favorite sites: Zappos, Amazon, The Outnet, Fat Wallet. Recently discovered True&Co!
  • Thanksgiving dinner – turkey, yams and pie, oh my!
  • Diamonds and jewelry with meaning
  • Old photographs of family
  • Comfortable clothes – soft cotton, cashmere, broken in jeans

Video chatting with my nephew, Thomas (he lives in another city)

Pink peonies in my living room

My sister’s Frenchie, Milo (and little Thomas’ finger)

My sister and I in 1987!

The Parthenon in Athens, Greece!