Monday, December 21, 2009

one true christmas {wish}

Getting married in 2010 and work for a charitable non-profit? If so, then you MUST check out this amazing prize being offered by tracey l heppner photography and studio jeanie. Nominate yourself or the future Mr. & Mrs for complimentary wedding day photography! Hurry up... the lucky couple will be contacted Christmas morning!

This is such an incredible opportunity offered by two incredible photographers with hearts of gold. Tracey's work for NILMDTS first introduced me to this wonderful lady, and this only further solidifies the compassion that many of my peers share! Please spread the word, as there's only 5 days left!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmastime Caffeine

Nothing says Chistmas quite like a hot, pepperminty mocha in a red Starbucks cup. It's just missing one thing: crushed candy cane on top! The chocolate curls are devine... but they just don't seal the deal. As an ammature barista myself ( Santa gave me an espresso machine last Christmas), I think I've gone and created that perfect holiday drink. Mmm, mmm good. As I sip on this tasty treat I thought a fitting blog post would be to share this heavenly creation. Ok, it's really not that hard to create, but it's tasty and doesn't require any fancy ingredients or syrups that you need to purchase.

To make one steaming delicious mug of Jen's Candy Cane Mocha Latte:

1. Prep your favourite Christmas mug with 1 tblsp of chocolate sauce (hershey's, nesquik...whatever you've got), a teaspoon of splenda or sugar (if you like your lattes sweet), and a couple drops of peppermint extract (the little clear bottles with the orange cap that most extracts come in). Turn your espresso maker on so it can heat up while you're doing this.

2. Put a full unwrapped candy cane into a ziplock bag. Use the flat side of a meat tenderizer to crush the candy cane in the bag.

3. Brew yourself a double shot of espresso (if you don't have an espresso machine, you could try this with hot chocolate or coffee). Add your espresso to your Christmas cup, and stir to mix in the chocolate sauce, splenda and extract.

4. Steam your milk. Make lots of foam for the top. Pour your steamed frothy milk over your mixture in your Christmas cup. Using the ziplock bag, sprinkle the enitre candy cane onto your latte. Yes, that's right, the whole thing. Why? Because candy canes are delicious and you can never have enough. This way some of the pieces will sink to the bottom and give you a little surprise when you sip your last sip. For an extra exciting touch, toss a hershey's kiss in the bottom, and top with whipped cream. Enjoy by the fire, and try not to think about the calorie content. It is Christmas, so calories don't count...right?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hello Bella at The Kitty Card Christmas Party

When Lexie of The Kitty Card asked me to provide a treats table for their Christmas party, I was more than happy to oblige. Designing treat tables (or candy buffets/candy bars/ dessert tables) is probably one of my most favourite things to do. It is more than just my penchant for sweets (although that is a major factor), but it is the collective visual and sensory impact that can be made by bringing all the pieces together. From mini cupcakes to custom labels and dazzling decor, my "Merry Kitty Christmas" table was fun, fabulous and flirty (if I do say so myself).

Since The Kitty Card colours are pink and black, I thought a pink and black Christmas theme would still pay homage to the holidays while keeping the mood girly and cute. Framed by twinkling black Christmas trees and finished with a sparkling curly willow centerpiece, the decor showcased the tempting treats and nibblies . Instead of using one of my many cupcake stands to hold the bite sized cakes, I opted for a creative Christmas twist. I wrapped some boxes in pretty wrapping paper (pink and black striped paper that I had to design and print myself because apprantly it's impossible to find such coloured wrapping around Christmas time!) and used them to create a stack of presents that would also hold the cupcakes. Since all of the fabulous Kitties enjoy a good cocktail party, I kept the candy glassware fun and kitschy, using oversized martini glasses and snifters. Scoops and tongs were hand wrapped in pretty pink satin ribbons, and black baggies were available for those wanting to take some home for a midnight snack!

Among the goodies supplied were: candycane kitty cakes, glam city (cotton candy) cupcakes, pink cherry kisses, peppermint pretzels, pink cinnamon ribbon candy, pink mints, bubblegum candycanes, and pink chocolate covered fortune cookies.

While the girlies enjoyed the Hello Bella treats tables, they were pampered with manicures, makeovers and massages by some of Van City's top beauty professionals. Andrea from Go Lucky Photography was also there to capture some stunning images of all the fun. I love the pictures she took of our treats table (featured above) as well as of the party happenings (found on the Kitty Card facebook album). All of the great vendors, including yours truly, are sponsors of the Kitty Card, which means you get exclusive deals and discounts if you're a Kitty Card member!

It was so much fun to be a part of it and to get to meet so many great new people! I will try and blog as much as I can over the holidays, but if my good intentions fail, then I wish you and yours a very Merry Kitty Christmas and a gloriously Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A few things you never knew you wanted to know about Hello Bella

I am always excited and inspired when I stumble upon a numbered selection of personal facts about someone- something I've seen on the "About" page on many a photographers website. Reading each one makes the person behind the lens, well, so much more of a person. I always enjoy reading them, and usually find I have a quite a lot in common with others in the creative fields. Although I would one day like to incorporate a comparable rap sheet to my own About page, for now I thought I would give you a little insight into myself and the company I created via the blog that I too often neglect.

10 Things About Jen and Hello Bella Events

1. I got my university degree from UBC and planned on following in my father's footsteps in financial planning. I later learned that there's a creative part of me that just wouldn't let go. I couldn't squash it, so I nurtured it and went back to BCIT for marketing and wedding planning.

2. When I was younger, I started many a small business. Here are a few:

Age 9: West Coast Hemp Creations: Hemp jewelry store run out of my bedroom. I had my own phone line that went direct to my room, and I advertised it on my flyers around the neighborhood. My little brother and his friend were my employees, and I was the president and lead designer.

Age 13: Jenna Moore Designs: Yes, I wanted to be a fasion designer, and since I didn't like my name, I changed it. I sketched many a horrid design (which I'm sure at the time were fashionable but now, just awful), and the only items that actually made it to production were halloween costumes.

Age 15: Horizon Learning: I was a nerd. I was academic, and I liked kids, so I set up my own tutoring company for elementary school kids. I wanted it to be a group class with different tutors for different subjects, but I had difficulty finding a free space to host it in. I ended up doing private tutoring instead. I made my first website for Horizon, which I was very proud of (I wish I could see what it looked like today... but alas it's lost in the internet netherland of trash).

3. Planning my own wedding was not what prompted me to start my own company. Planning incredibly detailed and fabulous parties and showers is what got me addicted, and a push from a few friends is what got me started.

4. Through Hello Bella, I have discovered even more new passions. I love love love stationery design and pretty printed materials (come on, we all know it's the little details that make the biggest impact). I think somewhere deep down there's a graphic designer wanting to come out to play. I plan on going back to school part-time for graphic design, pursuing it as more of a hobby, and will try and incorporate it into Hello Bella in a bigger way someday.

5. Before Hello Bella was Hello Bella, there were many names in the running. A few off the top of my head: Bella Luxe, Ciao Bella, Bella Blu, Bella by Jen, Luxe Couture Events, Bella Couture.

6. Where did the name Hello Bella come from? Well, I can try and deny any reference to Hello Kitty as much as I want, but really, I love Hello Kitty so I'm sure subconsciously it played a part. But mostly, I've always loved the moniker "bella" (yes, loooong before Twilight- and unfortunately I'm finding that the dawn of Twilight is leading to an overuse of MY business name- damn you Bella Swan!). My hubby is Italian, which makes it even more fitting, because he often calls me Bella ( or did I force him to call me that...hmm, not sure, can't remember). Anyhoo, at the end of the day, I wanted something that was cute, not overly wedding related (I love doing events almost as much as I do weddings), and something that was original. I also wanted it to feel good. And when I think of waking up, or walking down the aisle, or entering into a room, I can't imagine anything more "feel good" than having someone who loves you look you deep in your eyes and softly whisper into your ear " Hello, bella".

7. I sometimes feel like a little girl dressing up in my mother's cloths in her closet. I have no doubt in my abilities, my creativity, or my talent, but truth be told- I'm a newbie. There are professionals who have been in this industry for 10, 20, 30 years, and that's something I can't compete with. I mean, 10 years ago I couldn't even drive let alone contemplate running a real life business. Being around seasoned professionals is at once both intimidating and inspiring. It's amazing to be around such company, of people I look up to and who are essentially celebrities in their lines of work (Erin Gilmore, I'm talking about you!), but I feel like more of an observer than a colleague. I want more than anything to be taken seriously, but sometimes time is equated with serious, and time is what I don't have. However, if time continues to fly by as it is currently, I'm sure this won't be a problem!

8. I don't worry about my competition. "What?" you say. Well, truth be told, I'm not trying to compete. I know that there are companies out there that I will never be. Countdown Events is by far one of the largest and most reputable wedding planning companies there is in Vancouver. Their business model is divine and their work is impeccable. I don't want to be them, however. And I don't want to be their competition. I have a vision for Hello Bella that doesn't really fit in with any other business model I've seen in Vancouver. I want to keep it small, personal, unique and hand-crafted. I want to be friends with my clients, not just the hired help. I want to design small and creative parties and showers for people who are hosting them (because we've all been to too many shindigs with red plastic cups and dollar store decorations). I want to change the way people see hosting (it's not about just gathering friends around, it's about showing them you care enough to put some effort in, to pay attention to details and really create a night out that they will enjoy and savour). I want people to know it's not about the money spent, but how you spend the money. Simple details such as pretty labels and fabrics that really don't cost much can go a long way. Coming from someone who doesn't really get out that much as a guest, we really do appreciate the little touches and conveniences that our hosts have planned out. The details will be remembered, and I am all about the details.

9. I'm a vegetarian, and so is Hello Bella. Wait, that doesn't make sense! Oh well. I also don't like mushrooms, or any imperfect produce. I spend WAY too much time in the grocery store inspecting my apples for bruises and my peppers for soft spots.

10. In 5 years, I see myself with a store front/boutique. Well, not really a store and not really a boutique. I guess I'll have to think of another word to describe my vision. A "bridal resource lounge" is more fitting. Ok, let's break it down: I want a pretty space, full of plush white lounge furniture, gorgeous crystal chandeliers and tons of pretty inspiration. A free, no-obligation place for clients (brides and hosts alike) to come and pull their event together over a glass of champagne. Clients can come in, chat with me, sift through magazines and portfolios of local wedding professionals and taste their cake all in one place. For many wedding vendors who might not have a store front (photographers, videographers, etc), the space will be the perfect place to meet their prospective clients for a consultation. In the back is a stylishly decorated room complete with bar set up, flat screen TV's and more delectable furniture. This room can be rented out for meetings, but will mostly be rented out to clients for small events (showers, birthdays, engagement parties). It will be pretty place that's as comfortable as your own home to host your friends and family, except with expert decorating and concierge service.

I can't tell you how excited I am about the future, and how grateful I am to have had the support I've received over the past year. I've had some incredible clients that really do affirm that I found my calling, and my friends and family (most specifically Mr. Hello Bella) have helped me so much in making this dream a reality. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Ciao, bella!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Cloud of Words

Above: Custom Text based around Hello Bella Key Words

I may or may not have wasted quite a long time on this site, but I feel like it was worth every second! How fun are these word clouds? Head on over to Wordel to make your very own... and prepare to be addicted!
Above: Bella Blogs Word Cloud

Copy and paste a link from a blog to make a word cloud of commonly used blogged words...the more times you've used a word, the larger it will appear. You can customize font, colour, and layout, creating your very own piece of art.
Above: Ally Redhead Word Cloud ( to read Ally's inspiring blog, check it out here!)

Alternatively, paste any body of text into the form and it will create a word cloud for you.

Above: My Favourite Things Cloud ( to read Chloe's awesome blog, check it out here!)

How FUN would it be to use your vows, a love letter, or a favourite short story to create a word cloud. Print it out and frame it, and voila- super easy and thoughtful Christmas gift!