December 31, 2009

December and 2009 Reads

I've just read the 40th and final book on my list for 2009. 40 may seem like a decent number to some; I consider it somewhat feeble but a valiant effort all the same, and at the very least, an improvement on last year's total of 35 books. Always a silver lining, folks. My final read of 2009 is A. S. Byatt's Possession. Next to Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, I found it to be the most challenging book I read this year, and like Hundred, I'm very glad I stuck with it. It's the sort of book that is layered with meaning (a book about writers from a writer herself and the interesting framing device that entails) and begs several readings for all those layers to unfurl and make sense (and I'm counting on future readings to back me up on this). When I finished the novel, I sort of felt as though I had finally put together the disparate pieces of an intricately-designed puzzle that, incidentally, I'm still trying to sort out and analyze. It's the perfect book for rumination and I have a feeling it will stay with me for some time. However gratifying it feels to have completed the book, getting there took an unforeseen amount of determination and effort on my part, especially since I was told that I would absolutely adore this book. But I found it hard to adore, more like really admire and I also couldn't help but feel frustrated from time to time. Often I felt like casting the book aside for something at once more agreeable and palatable, but I still persevered because I really wanted to like the book and learn something from it. Not to mention, I have this weird compulsion to finish the books I start. Masochistic? Perhaps. But rarely do I regret persisting with a book, and Possession is no exception.

Possession is the story of a pair of contemporary scholars whose study of two Victorian poets brings them together. A thrilling discovery is made that could change the course of their study, and together the scholars unearth the Victorians' letters, journal entries, and poems to ascertain more clues. The book raises questions about scholarship and the past and whether we as a public have a right to the private thoughts of others, no matter if those thoughts emerge from buried past more than a century ago. Chock full of poems and literary allusions to other poems that delighted my inner English literature dork, this book seems entirely like my cup of tea. And it is, but I found it more dense and difficult to get through than I had otherwise expected of a book of this nature. At 555 pages, it's definitely not for the faint of heart, either. This is a serious, rigorous literary novel and I probably wouldn't recommend it to most people I know. Nevertheless, I am so glad I persevered, because I felt so gratified by the time I finished and instantly had the urge to go back and re-read certain passages, as only a book that makes an indelible impression does.

Looking back, I can say that I've really enjoyed the books I read this year. I was entertained, delighted, stimulated, and inspired. The following five books were among the most memorable for me in 2009:

One Hundred Years of Solitude--The first of a few difficult, yet rewarding books I've read this year.

Memoirs of a Geisha--This one also took awhile for me to warm up to, but I ended up being completely spellbound by it.

The Omnivore's Dilemma
--Probably one of the most important books I've read and again, took some time plodding through the difficult parts.
I'm noticing a theme here; apparently, I quite like a good reading challenge.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society--Loved from start to finish and just delightful all around.

Loving Frank--Thoroughly enjoyed this one and fell in love with the flawed main character, whom I found wholly sympathetic and fascinating. This might just be my favorite book I've read this year.

And because I cheated, Possession by A. S. Byatt makes six.
I really look forward to discussing it with my book club in the weeks to come.

I'm also super excited about my reading for 2010. In spite of the increase in visits to my local library this year, I still somehow managed to purchase more books than I care to admit. This just means I have more browsing through my own bookshelf to look forward to. Wishing you all the happiest of new years! See you in 2010!

December 29, 2009

It's Complicated (otherwise known as lifestyle porn)

I dragged the boyfriend to see It's Complicated the other night and for two full hours sat in my seat, completely agog at the gorgeous set design. Writer/director/producer Nancy Meyers is known for the stunning and plush homes she showcases in her films (they're referred to as 'lifestyle porn' for a reason) and in her most recent film, she did not disappoint. As much as I love watching the antics of Meryl Streep, John Krasinksi, and Steve Martin play out on the big screen, I have to admit that for me, the sprawling Santa Barbara home that's featured in It's Complicated takes center stage. It's my favorite character.

{Photos via Remodelista and Traditional Home}

{Painting as featured in the living room in Photo #3 by Mitchell Johnson}

December 24, 2009

One more sleep till Christmas

There's magic in the air this evening. Have you noticed? Kermit can tell you all about it. Wishing you a warm and merry Christmas Eve!

In case you experience technical difficulties with the video above, you can watch Kermit in all his Christmas glory here.

December 21, 2009

The darkest evening of the year

Happy Winter Solstice! In celebration, I've been chanting the following Robert Frost poem over and over in my head today. Right now in California, the sun is dipping below the horizon and casting the most magnificent rosy glow across the sky, and the briskness of evening is settling in. May you have candles aplenty to light you on this dark, dark night.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep

{Image via

December 20, 2009

What made my week

One night this week I arrived home to discover a package waiting for me on my doorstep. Intrigued, I tore open the box to find inside a charming letterpress 2010 calendar from Delphine Press. But I hadn't the faintest clue as to who had sent it. It wasn't until later that I learned that it was from T. It was so unexpected and lovely and it absolutely made my week. Thanks, T!

December 13, 2009

Origins Recyling Program

So we all know that makeup has a shelf life, but do you know that there's a better way of discarding the old containers than just tossing them in the trash? Instead, drop them off at your local Origins counter, where they will gladly accept empty, cleaned-out cosmetics containers, regardless of the brand. Plus, they'll even offer a free sample from their skincare range as a thank you. Now how sweet is that? Go to the Origins website for more information on their recycling program.

December 6, 2009

My latest obsession

Lately I cannot get enough of Rishi Tea. It all started with the earl grey. I saw it sitting prettily on the shelf at Whole Foods and decided to give it a whirl; it was the best earl grey I've ever tasted. I've since branched out and tried a few more varieties and haven't been disappointed (I especially like the silver needle and white peony white teas and the jade cloud green tea). Their award-winning loose-leaf teas and herbal tea blends are delicious, flavorful, and really refreshing. Additionally, Rishi Tea is committed to organic, fair trade practices and promoting education opportunities and community development in the places where their tea derives. They currently have ongoing one-day sales on their website, perfect for the tea-lover on your holiday gift list.

December 4, 2009

More photos from Santa Barbara

As promised, here are some more photos of T's birthday sojourn in Santa Barbara. The entire trip was all about sun, sea, and relaxation, with a little sparkling wine thrown in for good measure. I even got to try something completely new for me (but not for T, apparently he's a pro): horseback riding! I can't believe they let such a neophyte on a live animal. But I got the hang of it. Eventually. And I even enjoyed it and would do it again. Yay!

Now here I am little bit more in my element: lounging ocean-side at the Coral Casino, a membership-only health club open to Four Seasons guests. Except where did I place my book and glass of bubbly?

The path leading up to our tucked away, cottage-like room at The Four Seasons, our home away from home (I wish).

When can I go back?

December 1, 2009

Good Tidings

It never fails. December 1st rolls around and *all of a sudden I am overcome with the holiday spirit. Case in point: I just purchased these adorable Egg Press holiday cards which I plan on sending out to family and friends this year (I especially love that they're green in more ways than one). I'm so looking forward to taking some time to sit down and pen my holiday missives of good tidings and cheer, all while listening to some classic Vince Guaraldi and swigging a mug of hot cocoa. Does that sound like a raging good time, or what?!

*I say "all of a sudden" because as of, oh, a day ago, I just didn't feel ready for Christmas. Which is typically my state of mind throughout the month of November. Does anyone else really resent the fact that the autumn season gets hijacked by Christmas immediately after the Halloween festivities are over? Or is it just me?

November 30, 2009

November Reads

I'm blaming T's birthday extravaganza and Thanksgiving travel for getting through only two books this November. And I'm not ashamed to admit it!

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. This book breaks my heart. It raises some very probing questions about life and its value and whether there's a point to it all. We live, we learn, we suffer, we love, we fail, we succeed and for what? For Kathy H., life is pretty idyllic at the boarding school where she and her friends live in the English countryside. It is there that she and her fellow students are educated, told they are special and are perfectly nourished and sheltered from the outside world. But they are not like the people on the outside. They are brought into this world for a specific purpose, one that could change the course of human history and science and the world as we know it. The premise is startlingly fascinating, and even though I was initially thrown off by the colloquial narration and the incessant shifts in time, my mind was reeling by the time I turned the last page. I imagine it would do well in a heated book club discussion.

Literacy and Longing in L.A. by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack. I came upon this book at the exact time when I felt like indulging in something a little lighter than what I've currently been into. I wish I could say I enjoyed it, but unfortunately it left me feeling very much disappointed. A book-obsessed female living in west Los Angeles leans on her towering piles of books for comfort when times are tough and embarks on a sort of literary odyssey to get her through it. Sounds like my cup of tea. But that's where the book should have ended. At about page 24. Because after that an aimless, uninteresting plot and poorly-developed characters I couldn't care less about take center stage, and I found myself finding joy only in the odd sentence or two where the protagonist offers an opinion (and one I usually don't agree with: how could you NOT like Jane Austen!?)
on a book I've either already read or haven't read that makes me subsequently want to read it. Even if you're a self-professed book FREAK, don't bother.

I'm plugging through a few challenging books at the moment that I quite ambitiously aim to finish before 2009 is over. Famous last words....

November 22, 2009

Santa Barbara Sunsets

Here are a few snapshots from T's birthday getaway. We drove up the California coast to spend a few nights at the stunning Four Seasons in Santa Barbara. As is evident in these photos, we drank in many a sunset, as well as quite a few flutes of sparkling wine.

More to come in a later post....

November 16, 2009

"The sweet serenity of books"

I came across this really interesting article from the Guardian (via the always enlightening perfume blog Now Smell This) about the mustiness of old books, why they smell so fantastic, and how the complex chemicals in a book's scent can aid the efforts of conservation. Pretty cool.

In case you're curious, the title of this post comes from a Longfellow quote I happen to cherish: "The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, and all the sweet serenity of books."

{Photo and article via the Guardian}

November 12, 2009

Birthday Getaway

Today is T's birthday and in celebration we're heading up the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Barbara for a few days. We both are in dire need of a little rest & relaxation and, perhaps, an opportunity to try something entirely new....

It's always an adventure with you, T. Happy Birthday!

November 11, 2009


Thinking about all the brave men and women who served their countries and sacrificed their lives this Rememberance Day (or Veteran's Day or Poppy Day or whatever incarnation you use), and listening to the podcast featuring Tim O'Brien's incredibly poignant The Things They Carried. Listen here.

When I lived in England a few years ago, I noticed that men and women would wear poppies on their lapel or coat on this day in a beautiful tribute to members of the armed forces. A very simple, albeit powerful, gesture.

November 1, 2009

Lazy Sunday

I stayed home all day doing an assortment of things: reading in bed, doing some laundry, vacuuming (oh, the glamour), baking pumpkin and chocolate chip muffins (pretty fab they were), and writing. All while wearing my pajamas--God bless the end of Daylight Savings Time and that extra hour of sleep! I finally caved in around 6 and made myself decent for an impromptu date night with T. We started off with oysters and sparkling wine, followed by some tapas and Spanish red wine, and ended with an apple tart and cappuccino (at three different venues, no less). Alas, I didn't have my camera with me, so I had to make do with my blackberry camera. Still, not a bad way to conclude the weekend.

October 31, 2009

October Reads

Another month flies by and another stack of books are devoured. Here are the four books I’ve read this October:

Netherland by Joseph O'Neill. I think I can safely ascribe my ever picking up this book to an all-too-common case of book-hype. I’ve seen the novel on a slew of "best books of the year" lists, it’s been compared to The Great Gatsby, and even President Obama himself had read and praised it, so I figured I should see what all the fuss is about. Evidently, not much. The book takes place in post 9/11 New York and is told from the point of view of a wealthy Dutch financial analyst who, currently estranged from his wife and little boy, wanders about Manhattan like a ghost, haunting the city spots that remind him of happier days in his marriage. He strikes up a friendship with a savvy businessman named Chuck with whom he bonds over a shared love of cricket. And that’s it, really; there isn't a whole lot of action in the story. Although the author writes eloquently and thoughtfully on relationships and even includes a bit of historical geographical trivia, I can't say that his writing really drew me in or succeeded in making me care about the characters. I found myself growing bored whenever he drifted into childhood recollections or waxed lyrical about the beauty of cricket. Which is to say I was bored quite often. What most held my interest were the paragraphs devoted to his relationship with his wife and the dissolution and eventual reconciliation of their marriage, but even that was a little depressing. After finishing it, I came across several comments on GoodReads which suggest that you have to be a New Yorker to truly appreciate the book. Although I don’t necessarily agree with that statement (I’ve been to the city several times, so am somewhat attuned to its neighborhoods and cultural insights), being from New York probably wouldn’t hurt, either. This non-New Yorker isn’t a fan.

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro. Ishiguro’s latest is a compilation of five short stories threaded together by the ever-cohesive theme of music. “Come Rain or Come Shine”, is, to me, the true standout of the bunch. Unhappy and aimless Raymond is invited to the home of a married couple with whom he has been friends for many years. It’s not until he has arrived that he discovers that the couple’s relationship is in trouble and the husband has invited him over for the sole purpose of helping him fix his marriage. As it happens, Raymond later learns that the role he is to play in reconciling his long-time friends is insulting at best, and the antics that ensue are cringe-inducing and absolutely hilarious. I think it might just be one of the best short stories I’ve ever read.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. This book starts off with a killer (pun actually not intended!) opening line: "There was a knife in the darkness, and it held a knife." Pretty creepy stuff for children, no? It’s much creepier than I would have come to expect from a young adult fiction author. Echoing Kipling's The Jungle Book, The Graveyard Book is the story of Nobody Owens who flees the clutches of the man Jack who has just killed his entire family (and we don’t know why, not until the very end) one soft October night. The small toddler wanders into a graveyard and is taken in by the shadowy ghosts who inhabit the place. Years pass and the boy is accepted into the ghostly community as their very own, and eventually little Bod (short for Nobody) learns such supernatural tricks as Fading, Dreamwalking, Seeing as the dead see, and even engendering Fear, and thus embarks on a host of adventures with ghosts, ghouls, and even a vampire and werewolf. I recommend giving the audiobook version a whirl; the author himself narrates and supplies the necessary voices and pauses you would expect to find, and is highly entertaining. Interestingly enough, Gaiman mentions fellow Gothic lover and other author I’ve read this month, Audrey Niffenegger, on the acknowledgments page. Turns out these two authors and their respective books have something in common…

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. Niffenegger’s latest book is an ode to the Gothic English tradition. Twins Julia and Valentina move to London in the dead of winter after inheriting their deceased aunt’s London flat which borders the famous Highgate cemetery. The girls encounter the odd inhabitants of their apartment building and one, in particular, whose spectral presence is made known to the twins over the course of the novel. I found the choices some of the characters made foolhardy and stupid, yet was eager to read more and learn how their plans fared, however much I disapproved of them. Her Fearful Symmetry (the title comes from a William Blake poem) raises a lot of questions about our perceptions of the afterlife and the price and value of personal happiness, and would make for a great book group discussion. Although I really enjoyed the book, I couldn’t help feeling sort of bereft and pensive after turning the final page; I suppose I'm still trying to piece together all the thoughts and questions swimming in my own head. Finally, this book helped set the perfect autumnal mood in the week leading up to Halloween, and at 400 pages, was a surprisingly quick read. P.S. I keep stumbling across reviews that compare this book to Niffenegger’s hugely beloved The Time Traveler’s Wife, and my advice to you is don't compare the two. Take each book for what it is and enjoy!

I think I'll finish out this spine-chilling month with even more spooky reads as a sort of tribute to this eve of all hallows: a little classic M.R. James (writer of some of some of best-loved 20th Century ghost stories) and my personal favorite, Washington Irving’s, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. It’s a Halloween tradition.

October 24, 2009

Turning 4

My twin nieces turned four years old this week. I remember the day they were born and how tiny they once were (the above shot is from their baptism when they were two months old).

Not so tiny anymore. They're growing up so fast (didn't adults always tell you that when you were little? I'm such a boring grown-up now!) and will soon surpass their aunt in height, which isn't exactly saying much. Happy Birthday, Alex and Stephanie!

October 17, 2009

Blog Love

When I saw this wedding program of Joanna's (from the marvelous blog A Cup of Jo), I shrieked with joy. It is, quite simply, the coolest wedding program I have ever seen. I get such a kick out of the British nautical theme (it tickles the fancy of this anglophile right here) and the quirky and beautiful hand-painted illustrations (not to mention the fact that my name and birthday are on there, interestingly enough!). I love that it's custom tailored for the happy couple and even includes an excerpt from Nicole Kraus's The History of Love, which if you have ever read Joanna's blog, you know she adores. All these things are what make it so personal and original and utterly charming. Who knew a wedding program could make me so happy? I highly recommend you visiting her blog to look at more delightful details of the big day.

{Photo via A Cup of Jo}

October 10, 2009

Color Inspiration

I'm in love with this Venice Beach, California bungalow. I applaud the owner's use of rich, saturated color. I've been obsessively perusing paint colors online (especially loving the names they come up with and the images they evoke) and dreaming of painting my own apartment. A dreamy color palette such as this would make my place even that more cozy.

{Photo via Apartment Therapy}

October 9, 2009

Movies to watch

How creepy, yet eerily bewitching, is this movie tie-in book cover of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones? I read and loved and sobbed over this book years ago, but methinks a re-read is in order, especially considering the film comes out very soon (read: December). The director is the super talented Peter Jackson and the cast is pretty stellar, too: Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Mark Wahlberg, Saoirse Ronan (she is definitely one to watch; you might remember her from Atonement), and a disturbing Stanley Tucci. You can view the trailer here.

I'm also itching to see Coco Before Chanel and Bright Star. Having a bounty of interesting, well-made films to choose from is yet another reason why I adore this time of year!

October 4, 2009

Hermione all grown up

My favorite look during all of London Fashion Week has got to be the adorable Emma Watson, pictured here at the Burberry Prorsum Spring 2010 show. She looked so modern and age-appropriate and as this picture indicates, has bloomed into a lovely young lady. She looks ever-so-fierce as a Burberry model in their latest ad campaign, as well. You can see all the fabulous shots from the Spring 2010 show here.

I'm suddenly all of 12 in my love for this girl, but I can't help but also include
these Teen Vogue images of Emma as the quintessential English rose. She's such a smart role model for girls everywhere (case in point: she's taking a hiatus from acting to attend university here in the states) and, therefore, worthy of praise.

{Photos via and Teen Vogue}

October 1, 2009

September Reads

Whew, that was fast. September came and went and I've three books to show for it.

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I now know more about corn than I ever thought possible (a little hint: it's in almost everything we eat). Pollan poses the seemingly simple question--"What should we have for dinner?"--with a staggeringly complicated answer about where our food really comes from. Eye-opening, riveting, and incredibly timely, Pollan's book should be read by anyone hungry (weak pun intended) to learn about what we're really eating and how to break the long-established habit of favoring what's convenient (McDonald's chicken McNuggets or a pre-packed meal) over what is infinitely healthier and more sustainable: frequenting your local farmers' markets, dining at restaurants who support said local farmers, tending a garden patch of your own. It's an eater's manifesto and seriously life-changing.

Emma by Jane Austen. It had been years since I last read this book and I had forgotten how insufferable Emma could be. Snobbish, presumptuous, pig-headed, and utterly deluded, Emma unconcernedly busies herself with fixing the lives of her small social circle while quietly wreaking havoc on them. Yet even though her misguided attempts at creating happiness for others goes woefully wrong, I can't help but feel smitten with Emma, for it is her flawed nature that makes her truly human, and therefore, relatable. Austen herself admitted that Emma is "a heroine whom no one but myself will much like." That makes two of us, Jane. And did I mention how funny this book is? It's the only one of Austen's that I remember making me laugh out loud.

Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee. Disgrace tells the story of an aging, Casanova-esque professor who, after resigning from his university post following a scandalous affair with a student, seeks refuge at his daughter's South African farm. Father and daughter struggle to understand one another, especially when an act of terrible violence is inflicted on both. There is an underlying hostility that pervades this novel between humans and animals, natives and interlopers, black and white. One of the characters makes a life choice that I simply cannot understand nor reconcile, which left me feeling very uncomfortable, yet completely enthralled. A gripping read which won the Booker Prize and earned the author a Nobel prize in Literature in 2003.

On the reading horizon: an Obama-endorsed book, a dystopian Britain, and ghost story compilations to celebrate the spooky month of October.

September 30, 2009

Blog Birthday

One year ago today I embarked on this little blogging adventure. In a way, I feel as though I've given birth. Maybe I haven't always been the most attentive of mothers (I'm not here every day, after all). But I try. I try juggling work, commuting, gym, boyfriend time, friend time, family time, reading time, me time and blog time. I'm still exploring and learning and having so much fun in the process. And along the way I've met some really cool, interesting, creative people via their own blogs. I can't wait to see where else this blog of mine takes me in the next year and beyond.

September 22, 2009

Autumnal Equinox

Dear Autumn,

Welcome back! It's been too long, really it has. I say 'welcome', but to be honest, it doesn't even feel like you're here. The neighboring hillsides are currently ablaze and the mighty sun seems quite happy to stay exactly where he's been all summer, hanging solo in the sky, unencumbered by any pesky cloud formations that might drift his way. Suffice it to say that you're a little wary of making yourself known just yet.
I understand that you tend to be shy, especially in southern California. I get it, Autumn. I've been in this situation before and I just want to let you know that I'm prepared to wait. After all, the best things in life are worth waiting for, no? Think of all the fun that lies in store for us: the scarf-wearing, leaf-peeping, apple-picking, pumpkin-carving, firewood-smelling, hot coco-sipping good times are ready for the taking, Autumn. That is, when you care to join me. Until then I remain patiently yours,

Joanna xoxo

September 19, 2009

East Coast Adventures

I've been back in Los Angeles for a few days now after spending a week on the east coast. T and I flew in for our friends' wedding in Connecticut and spent some time in Brooklyn before and after. I had been to Manhattan several times, but never to Brooklyn, so I was very curious to check it out, considering it's now the hip place to be. I was charmed by the brownstoned, leafy Park Slope neighborhood and by our friends' rooftop terrace from which we could admire a pretty a spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline and even the Statue of Liberty, way off in the distance. It was so peaceful up there on that roof and provided a refreshing respite from the frenzy of the city below.

I was also super excited to learn that my Brooklyn friends live two doors down from J.Crew creative director and style maven, Jenna Lyons. How awesome is that? My love for J.Crew has been made quite apparent before.

We had coffee here.

I bought paper here.

On another note, T and I were somewhat surprised and a little dismayed to discover that Brooklyn suffers from a shocking scarcity in taxi cabs. We ended up hoofing our way through Park Slope, Boerum Hill, and Cobble Hill more than we would have liked. The silver lining (there is always one, is there not?) is that we had some pretty incredible meals. And no trip to Brooklyn would be complete without checking out the Brooklyn Public Library. Check out those owls.

And crossing the magnificent Brooklyn Bridge.

And meeting bibliophile cats who get to lounge around amid books all day. Where can I sign up for that job?

The first thing I noticed about Connecticut (and New England, for that matter, for it was my first time for both) is that the air had a particularly fresh, clean quality to it. Everything was so green and lush and was tinged with that end-of-summer feeling. The leaves hadn't yet changed color completely, but if you looked closely you could see the first hints of autumn coloring the outlines of the leaves in that lovely golden hue.

The skies threatened rain throughout our visit and even made good with their threat by unleashing a bit of drizzle here and there. Thankfully, it remained blissfully dry during and after the wedding ceremony. The wedding itself took place at the Bellamy Ferriday house, which has been around since the 18th century (this sort of thing never ceases to amaze this Californian, who grew up in the sort of town where an "old" building is one that emanates from the 1920's).

The centerpieces at each table had freshly picked lavender and stones gathered from somewhere. I'm guessing a flower-strewn path from a nearby meadow (right?).

Twigs from branches formed a sort of wreath on top of the wedding cake. This completed the wood-nymph theme of the wedding, which I found utterly enchanting.

The happy couple.