Monday, December 9, 2013

New Years in Los Angeles - Bring on 2014!

New Year's is a time for reflections of the past and celebration of the future but can oftentimes be stressful when planning what to do. You want a balance; the right people, food, activity to commemorate the previous year and ring in the new one.

Here are some suggestions when planning; from a quiet night at home with the family to a progressive dinner with friends.

Night in with the Family:
Great for adults and entertaining kids alike.
Food: sliders, french fries, smores
Drinks: apple cider for the kids and champagne for the adults 
Games: Make it simple - invite other families over and each one has to bring their family's favorite game. 

Another idea is to have a different game or activity to play every hour. 

Night in with Friends:
Who doesn't love a themed dress up party? Even if it is just themed Black & White, adults love to dress up or costume dress and show off their inner child/creative side.

Black & White
Roaring 20s - Great Gatsby
60s - Mad Men
Vegas - Casino Game Night
Time for a Change (decades)
Around the World

If you have a lot of friends in close proximity, within walking distance because finding a cab on New Years Eve is nearly impossible, you can turn your night in with friends into a progressive dinner. Pick three houses - one host appetizers, another a main course and the final dessert. This could work well with the decades theme or around the world and each house be decorated to match a subcategory of the overall theme. You can even apply the different activity for every hour idea as well and do one per house. 

No matter what you decide to do, having a little extra something for the stroke of midnight is always a hit. Grab some sparklers, poppers, silly string, champagne, etc but know your audience.
Have fun & happy 2014!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

New Year - New Adventures! Round Three: San Diego

San Diego, California is a gorgeous place to visit. Whether you take a quick trip from Los Angeles or come from out of state San Diego has a lot to see and do. 

Itinerary for a 2 day, one night stay:

1:05pm: Catch an afternoon Padres Game at Petco Park in the heart of downtown. Although I am a die hard San Francisco Giants fan, Petco Park might be my favorite ballpark. They have a huge grass field just behind the outfield and you can buy $5-$15 tickets (depending on the game) and throw a picnic. They even have a mini baseball diamond for the young ones to play. 

5:00pm: Check-in to the hotel, maybe enjoy a quick nap before heading back out for night festivities. I'd highly recommend the Bristol Hotel - they were in a very central location, walking distance from everything and a great price. 

7:30pm: Head out in Gaslamp for a nice dinner, drinks and dancing. 

10:00am: Mimosa brunch at St. Tropez Bakery & Bistro 
They have incredible food and a great mimosa brunch deal.

San Diego is also home to a lot of street art fairs. Before heading home check what's happening around an go for a quick walk through the streets of a fair or walk on the beach to complete your San Diego experience. 

Other fun things in San Diego if you have a little more time:
San Diego Zoo
Chargers Game 
SDSU Basketball Game 

xo, Chels

New Year - New Adventures! Round Two: Cabo San Lucas

My brother and I are getting older and unfortunately aren't able to make it home as often to see our parents in the Bay Area. Family time is valuable to us all and this year instead of traditional presents for Christmas we decided to take a family vacation. Our mother picked Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and we stayed at the all inclusive Riu Palace. Based off of our trip, here's my Cabo recommendations for a 7 day relaxed stay. 

Friday: Arrival in Cabo San Lucas from San Diego, CA
We flew in and since the resort was all inclusive decided to just hang at the hotel and explore. We got dinner at the buffet and hung out at the main bar that was open 24 hours a day and served everything you could imagine. (Except Pacifico and Corona, which was my only complaint about the entire trip) 

Saturday: Hotel day
We decided to take advantage of all the activities our resort had to offer - laid by the pool and on our private beach. My mother and I enjoyed a hilarious water aerobics class and my brother and father entered a dart tournament. We also used today to plan at least one tourist activity a day for the rest of our trip. 

Riu Palace was enormous in itself but was also connected to two other resorts within walking distance. Santa Fe was one of the hotels connected to our resort and was more tailored to the spring break crowd. They had their own night club, Pacha and my brother and I spent the first night dancing away and meeting other vacationers. 

Sunday: Water Adventures

A Cabo must is snorkeling. We also opted to book a tour that included paddle boarding and kayaking as well and even saw a gray whale on our boat ride! 

Monday: Private Fishing Tour

Although we didn't catch anything we were very lucky to see dolphins, more whales and then some very friendly sea lions we fed our leftover bait to.

Tuesday: ATV Ride & Exploring the town 

Our ATV ride was arguably my favorite activity we did. We had amazing tour guides and it was a great activity for all ages and skill levels.

After our ATV ride we went into town and went bar hopping. First stop was the Giggling Marlin - they hang you upside down and feed you a tequila shot.

Next we went to the famous Cabo Wabo - they had the best burritos we had all trip. We ended our day drinking at Mango. They had great drink specials and karaoke. 

Wednesday: Swimming with Dolphins 

Our last tourist activity was swimming with dolphins. Our mom really wanted to go and although I was a little skeptical at first must admit it was really fun.  

Thursday: Departure

Although we were leaving we still had time for one last round of mimosas and a lovely brunch at our hotel.

Cabo San Lucas was a beautiful destination with plenty of activities for family members of all ages; active nightlife and relaxing day excursions. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Best Mimosa Brunches in Santa Monica, CA

Santa Monica is home to many fantastic restaurants - expensive or casual, spanning all food genres, chain restaurants and local favorites. As a newcomer, or someone who doesn't eat out often, choosing a restaurant can be overwhelming because there are so many options. Well, if you're looking for a mimosa brunch - I've made it very simple for you :)  My friends and I ... we love to brunch. 

Here are our favorites due to a combination of great food for a decent price and amazing mimosas, perfect for that cheeky Saturday or Sunday morning. 

1. Charleston: 
2. Border Grill: 
3. Brick & Mortar:
  • Main Street
  • Cool outside patio (weather permitting) or t.v.'s to watch football
  • Menu:
  • 10 am - 3 pm 
  • Bottomless mimosas $15 with purchase of an entree 
4. Sonoma Wine Garden: 
5. Zengo:
Let me know if I've left off your favorite spot!

XO and happy brunching, 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

California Yacht Club Wedding: Ilsa & Steve

The Wedding of Ilsa & Stephen
June 8th, 2013 
California Yacht Club
Marina Del Rey, CA

This beautiful, summer wedding took place on the waterfront in Marina Del Rey and played host to over 120 guests from all over the world. 

Ilsa and Stephen, the bride and groom, met and currently live in China. Ilsa is originally from the California Bay Area but moved to Dallas, TX for high school and then attended UCLA. Steve was born and went to school in Ohio. Needless to say, they had family and friends scattered across the United States and the world. They decided the middle ground would have to be the LA area. We searched for venues from Santa Barbara to Malibu, the greater Los Angeles area to Palm Springs. We looked at hotels, barnyards, private homes, restaurants, wineries - you name it. 

It was especially challenging because Ilsa and Steve were only in the area for three days to look at all their potential venues. With a stroke of luck, the California Yacht Club in Marina del Rey fell into place. 

When I first met with Ilsa, she emphasized she really was "digging the wood theme" and wanted to compliment it with light pink, light green and bold gold colors. Since the venue (a yacht club) had a natural nautical theme, we were faced with the challenge of creating the 'Garden of Eden' setting. My favorite florists, Christine and Sharon of Bespoke Florals, were up to the challenge. They created a beautiful Chuppah with branches hanging off the corners and used bamboo poles to further emphasize the "wood" theme. In addition to the wood, we really wanted to emphasize the 'gold'. Not pictured here: Bespoke Florals also accented the white ceremony chairs with gold ribbon to highlight the inside aisle.  
We picked out wood vases to use for the centerpieces. They alternated in height to add depth to the reception tent. Pictured is an example of the shorter vase. The taller one can be seen in the picture of the wedding favor table. 

Another way to add gold was by putting the table numbers in gold frames. Ilsa and Steve had an engagement photoshoot in China and in Venice Beach, so they had a lot of pictures they wanted to incorporate. This was an easy tie-in and a very personal, lively touch.

I think the most important thing, nowadays, is to make sure your wedding represents who you are - as individuals and as a couple. 

For example, Ilsa loved pizookies (a pizza-like cookie famous in southern California) and Steve likes cheesecake. Therefore, they had a mini dessert-bar instead of a full cake. We still purchased a cake for ceremonial purposes but guests indulged on specialty desserts instead.

We also created a very personal wedding favor table. The wedding favors were tea cups from China, where the couple currently lives. To go with the teacups, they brought back various tea samples so their guests could fill a tea bag to take home. The table featured prayers for and facts about China.  

(Here's the taller version of the birch centerpieces) 

Here's some more highlight pictures from the wedding:

Dance floor and tables set. 

Table cards


To Ilsa and Steve, 

Thank you so much for letting me be a part of this momentous and special day. I feel so honored and blessed to get to know you throughout your engagement and thank you for trusting me to help plan your once-in-a-lifetime wedding! You two are an inspiration to me and it truly made me happy to help out knowing how in love you both are. Finally, I feel very thankful to have gotten to know both of you. Both of you individually are incredible people with such bright futures.
 - Chelsea Martell

Finally, a huge shout out to the vendors who made this possible:

Venue: California Yacht Club, Marina Del Rey
Photography: Hom Photography, Los Angeles
Ceremony Musicians: Jonathan Gibo and Goodwin Deng
DJ: Jason Chu, Los Angeles
Florist: Bespoke Florals, Los Angeles
Calligrapher: Calligraphy by Katrina 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Easter Cocktails: Egg-celent Drinks For Adults

Throwing an Easter party? While the kids are away (hunting eggs perhaps?) the adults will play.

Here are some great Easter themed cocktails:
  1. The Blue Cottontail:
Here’s a bright and springy drink that will leave your guests begging for the recipe.
Ingredients Per Cocktail:
1-1/2 ounces vodka
½ ounce triple sec
¼ ounce blue Curacao
Flamed orange peel (for garnish)
Shake all ingredients well, serve chilled with the flamed orange peel over the glass.


  1. Pink Bonnet:
This drink not only includes an egg white in honor of the Easter spirit but also is pastel pink and perfect.
Ingredients Per Cocktail:
1-1/2 ounces gin
½ ounce simple syrup
¾ ounce lemon juice
2 dashes of crème de framboise or grenadine (this give it the beautiful color)
White of a small egg (you can use a pasteurized egg or two tablespoons of egg white substitute- the egg attributes to the cloudy coloring)
Shake all ingredients before adding ice to break up the egg white and create the cloudy color of the drink. Add ice and shake again. Serve with mint leaves if desired.

  1. The White Chocolate Easter-tini:
Ingredients Per Cocktail:
1 ounce vanilla vodka
1 ounce cream
1 ounce white chocolate liqueur
2 ounces eggnog
Shake well, serve chilled. To add the illusion of Easter eggs in your drink thrown in a few jellybeans!

  1. The Easter Egg: One egg you won’t want to hide!
Ingredients Per Cocktail:
2 ounce blue Curacao
2 ounce white crème de cacao
A splash of half and half
Fill a glass half full with ice and pour the Curacao and crème de cacao on top. Last add the splash of half and half.

  1. The Easter Bunny: The Myth becomes a reality with this festive drink!

Ingredients Per Cocktail:
1-1/2 ounces crème de cacao
½ ounce vodka
1 teaspoon chocolate syrup
1 teaspoon cherry brandy
Shake the crème de cacao and vodka with ice. Layer the top with chocolate syrup and cherry brandy.


Easter Basket Inspiration

Trying to save a little money this Easter but want to still give quality gifts? For children and adults alike, get a little creative and use a themed multipurpose basket! Here's how:

General Tips for Saving Money on Easter:
1)    Assemble your own themed basket instead of buying a pre-made one.
2)    Buy general things such as baskets, fake grass, or plastic eggs right after Easter to save for next year. They are more likely to be on sale!
3)    Reuse old Easter baskets or buy a “multipurpose” basket such as a lunchbox or beach bucket.
4)    Shop at thrift shops, $1 stores and the beloved Ebay.
5)    Make your own treats instead of buying candy. *This can also be a healthier option*
6)    Buy one thing they really want instead of a bunch of little, cheap toys that will break or soon be forgotten.

Themed Basket Ideas for Younger Children:
For Fun in the Sun: If you live by the beach, try using a beach bag or wrap everything in a beach towel. If you want to prep for summer, you can buy a blow up wading pool and fill it with shared things for all your children and have buckets or pails with goodies for each child. Items could include beach toys (shovels, buckets, beach balls, etc), flip-flops, swimsuit and sunscreen. If you have older children or teens, a nice pair of sunglasses or a gift certificate to buy a new swimsuit are great suggestions. All these gifts are fun yet practical and will last a lot longer than candy and treats.

For the Gardener: You can easily create a fun garden themed basket using a watering can or flower pot and including various tools from the $1 dollar store and seeds. Turn this into a fun family project by starting a garden!

For the Girls: For a little girl, put together a doll themed basket. You can get a doll playhouse from a thrift store or garage sale and fill it with things for the doll and child. You can even sew your own clothes for the doll. Another great idea is getting a dress-up box and filling it with dress-up clothes and/or make-up. Spark the imagination with the typical princess costume but also search around garage sales and thrift stores for fun and inexpensive items.

For the Active Child: For a basket tailored to an active child or to promote activity, theme it around sports. No matter what your child is involved in (swimming, baseball, football, dance) fill it with things they’d need to practice with anyways. You can even substitute all the Easter candy with power bars and Gatorade. Other healthy snacks could include: goldfish, granola, fruit and nuts.


Themed Basket Ideas for Teens and Adults:
For the Chef or Baker: Use a giant mixing bowl as your Easter basket and put in a cook book! To make it really special, personalize it and scrapbook your own family recipes. You can also include an apron, ingredients for your child’s favorite thing to bake, or a gift certificate to a grocery store. This is perfect for anyone who loves cooking or baking, or even that child that just moved out and is learning to be on his or her own. Again, practical and fun!!

For the Photographer: Create a fun and unique gift basket themed around photography. Get a disposable camera and give your child a coupon to develop it on you. Include a photo frame or photo album. If you really want them to get creative, include scrapbooking materials such as construction paper, tape, glitter glue, and fancy edged scissors.

For a Date Night Out: Treat your Teen to a date night out! Use a popcorn tub as your basket and fill it with candy, popcorn, soda, and movie tickets. You can also include a gift certificate for dinner before hand or coupons to cook his or her favorite meal.


In any themed basket, throwing in a chocolate bunny will keep the Easter spirit alive.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

New Year - New Adventures! Round One: New York

 Live from New York, it’s Events by Chelsea!

Out of the many 2013 new years goals, or resolutions I made, the one I’m looking forward to the most is adopting my new motto, “New Year, New Adventures”. I spent New Year's in New York City, I’m headed to Cabo for Spring Break with my family, Chicago for the first time around summer and fingers crossed for Dubai next Fall/Winter to visit a college friend.

Planning a vacation is very similar to planning an event. You get recommendations from friends, do research on the Internet, make a budget, etc. I was extremely lucky because I had a great tour guide (a NYC resident) who was able to orchestrate seeing all of the sites without feeling rushed. Here's a look at our whirlwind itinerary:

Day 1.

This was by far our craziest day! We:

  • Walked Fifth Avenue
  • Saw the Macy’s Christmas Tree and Festive Windows
  • Took the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
  • Walked Wall Street
  • Got $1 Real Authentic New York Pizza
  • Saw Radio City and the 30 Rockefeller Christmas Tree, NBC Experience Store
  • Walked from 30 Rock to the Empire State Building
  • Went to the top of the Empire State Building
I’m a sucker for Christmas decorations, so I made a point to see as many trees as I could! The Macy’s windows were to die for.

Fun Fact: Macy’s Herald Square was built in 1902, it is the largest department store in the world, and it still has wooden escalators!

I highly recommend the Staten Island Ferry – it’s free (score!) and you get a picture-perfect view of the Statue of Liberty.

After the Ferry, we walked Wall Street and stumbled upon a great historical surprise – the monument marking the spot where George Washington was inaugurated!  The poli-sci nerd in me could hardly be contained.

Because I'm a DIE-HARD 30 Rock, The Office, SNL, and Parks and Rec fan, seeing the Rockefeller Center (the building, Christmas tree AND ice-skating rink) was a dream come true. As expected, due to the holidays, the whole area was teeming with excited tourists like myself.  However, no crowd could ruin that experience for me.  It was a top highlight of my trip, no question.  

My number one highlight, drumroll please, was going to the top of the Empire State Building. We had to wait for a solid 90 minutes in 32 degree weather. That was a trying experience for a California girl! But, after seeing the view, I would have waited twice as long. Seeing the skyline at night was breathtaking.  If you're going to brave the line, I highly recommend going at night - you won't regret it.

Fun Fact: The Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world for 40 years from 1931 to 1972. It's now  the 22nd tallest in the world and 3rd tallest in the U.S.

Here are some views from the top:

Day 2.

  • Saw FAO Schwartz
  • Walked through Central Park
  • Toured the Natural History Museum

I was really lucky to stay in a place that was centrally located. We were able to walk to Central Park! On the way, I got to view the underground Apple store – how chic of them… oh Apple, always outdoing themselves. I also saw FAO Schwartz aka Gimbles from my favorite Christmas movie, Elf.

Once I hit Central Park I decided to continue my walk and go all the way through to the Natural History Museum. I was amazed at how HUGE Central Park was! It was by far one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever walked through. There was a castle, a couple getting married, and a horse drawn carriage all creating a perfect, snow-covered Winter Wonderland.  It was nice have a day to just wander the city and Central Park - a good break from all the running around the previous day.

Next up: the Natural History Museum. I love art (don’t get me wrong) but when it came down to a choice between the Met and the Natural History Museum, NHM is going to win every time. Dinosaur bones. Space exhibit. Life size blue whale. Sign me up!

Walking through Central Park and the Natural History Museum are both very time consuming things. You definitely do not want to rush because there is so much to see!

Day 3.

  • Walked through the Chelsea Market
  • Walked the High Line
  • Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge

By the last day we were tired but I was dying to go to the Chelsea market, for obvious reasons. Nearby the market is the High Line – a raised railroad track that they turned into a park. It has some beautiful views, was a nice walk, and what a fascinating concept!

We finished the last day by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. It was an incredible sight to see and WOW, what a landmark! I guarantee that you’ve seen this bridge in a movie or tv show multiple times.

There are millions of variations for itineraries, but I hope mine helps if you are ever planning a trip! The Big Apple is most definitely a city that never sleeps. 

XO, Chelsea