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  • 5 trendy wedding registry gift ideas for casual lifestyles

    While your wedding should be the happiest day of your life, it can also be the happiest day for your kitchen. With a well-planned registry, you’ll be enjoying the fun, creativity and bonding of cooking together at home for years to come - from leisurely weekend breakfasts to romantic dinners and toasts to cap off the day.

    A wedding registry should reflect how you really live. Not everyone focuses their social life on formal dinner parties with the kind of fine china, silverware and crystal found on traditional wedding gift lists. Today’s registries reflect current lifestyles with new twists and trends.

    “Wedding registries are trending toward more casual, hip and high-tech kitchenware, such as nonstick woks instead of chafing dishes and iced tea makers instead of tea pots,” says Peter Giannetti, editor-in-chief of HomeWorld Business. “Also, registries are not as bride-centric as they used to be. With both brides and grooms involved, gifts such as high-tech coffee centers and growlers for craft beer are becoming more popular.”

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    Selecting gifts at a variety of price points is both good etiquette and good strategy. Big-ticket items give guests the opportunity for a grand gesture, and they also make great group gifts. Be sure to include moderately priced items that are appealing and distinctive, so that everyone can feel good about what they give. For many, it is more satisfying to give something that’s special and specific, rather than one small piece for a set.

    On-trend wedding registry gift ideas

    ★ 1. The growler is becoming a new must-have for those who love locally brewed craft beer, while also wanting to lead eco-friendly lifestyles that avoid the waste of excess disposable packaging. Created for filling with craft beer, the Reduce Vacuum Growler features double wall insulation that protects the beverage for full flavor enjoyment at just the right temperature.

    ★ 2. Teatime is now cool, because 85 percent of the tea consumed in America is iced, according to The Tea Association of the USA. One to consider is an iced tea maker that offers a fully customizable iced tea brewing experience from either loose tea or tea bags. The Capresso Iced Tea Maker lets you adjust to taste from regular to extra strong, and it brews into a beautiful 80-ounce glass pitcher.

    ★ 3. Pepper and salt mills are focal points on the counter or the table, in addition to being everyday essentials. A unique choice that ties into popular décor trends is the Collection Antique from Peugeot, which combines iconic shapes with rustic aged beech wood. Designed and produced in France, these are keepsake mills with a lifetime warranty on the mechanisms.

    ★ 4. The wok has evolved into a versatile everyday pan for quickly prepared meals with delicious, fresh ingredients. You should look for a high quality nonstick wok engineered to professional grade standards. The Kyocera 12.5-inch Nonstick Wok with Lid features an exclusive ceramic nonstick coating and can be used for braising, pan-frying, roasting, searing and stir-frying.

    ★ 5. Coffee lovers appreciate a true bean-to-cup experience and who wouldn’t want a professional-style coffee bar in their own home? The JURA IMPRESSA C60 produces specialty coffee beverages in a flash. A high-performance conical burr grinder and fine foam technology for feather-like milk foam help make this machine the choice for happy couples who would rather sip their java at home versus the coffee shop.

    Read more: Beach Bridesmaid Dresses

  • Modern organic style featured at holiday pop-up shop

    In a city bursting with creativity, Molly Wood's holiday pop-up shop, which opened in Laguna Beach this month and closes in mid-February, stands out.

    Shoppers will find a selection of organic holiday decor, greenery and plants in equal parts modern and exotic.

    The modern organic style, Wood said, is a mix of natural materials, interesting textures and clean lines, like that of the shop's woven rugs, handmade bowls and succulents — items that can instantly add character to a room.

    Wood, who has owned and operated Molly Wood Garden Design in Costa Mesa for seven years, has custom designed more than 500 outdoor spaces throughout Orange County, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Diego. She's expanded from specializing in landscape work to carrying a collection of furniture, pottery, plants and accessories in her Costa Mesa showroom.

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    After years of curating her finds from gift shows and flea markets, Wood wanted to do something a little different — sell organic holiday decor, plants and gifts at a temporary holiday boutique.

    "I love Laguna," Wood said as she held a topiary at the new rented store on North Coast Highway. "Opening another store helps me edit my process to make it more of a collection."

    In other words, shoppers may find items at the Laguna pop-up that they won't find in her Costa Mesa outlet.

    Marble cheese platters, dishes formed in the shape of a peace sign, vintage garden ornaments like glass fishing floats, handmade driftwood stars and carved Tibetan offering bowls have been selected specifically for the pop-up store.

    Lush offerings of wreaths artfully arranged in a selection of driftwood, boxwood and seashells can work for harvest, holiday and anytime decorating.

    Pine cones are aligned in garlands for buyers to create a rustic elegance and natural beauty on a mantle or table for fall and winter decorating.

    Metal chicken-feed troughs can suffice as tabletop planters.

    Wood, who grew up in Ashland Ore., said her childhood was spent climbing trees, relaxing by a creek or attempting to grow moss and plants.

    After high school, she traveled and worked in Europe, where she became fascinated with the beauty of parks and their plants.

    When she returned to the U.S. in her early 20s, Wood studied art and design at the Academy of the Arts in San Francisco before moving to Laguna Beach. She worked at Laguna Nursery and then founded her landscape design business in 1995.

    The garden retail showroom in Costa Mesa opened 13 years later.

    "My personal style has always been functional," Wood said. "I call it California Garden, where it's easy to create a garden."

    Throughout the Laguna space, Wood has positioned hemp rugs and rope chairs near succulent table-top topiaries that could be embellished with geodes.

    A display of handmade Nigerian wedding baskets that are adorned with Yoruba Cowrie Shells held plants. It is customary in that country for guests to fill the wedding basket with fruit, seeds and fabric for a new couple's future.

    When buying pieces for the pop-up store, Wood said she seeks out looks that fall under three categories: classic, contemporary organic, and fresh and light. The categories can be combined, making it easy for a customer to mix and match within similar themes, she said.

    She also focuses on a price range that can fit all budgets.

    A roll of vintage red ribbon is $12, decorative plants run from $15 to $46 and macrame light fixtures are $120.

    Christmas ornaments made from felt and wood, unicorns and more holiday decor will be placed on shelves and tables in early November.

    Wood said she would like to host plant-decorating workshops in the Laguna Beach store, but space is limited. A wreath-making workshop is available at the Costa Mesa store.

    Both locations will offer custom-order and ready-made live plant arrangements.

    The pop-up shop will host a grand opening from 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 12, when guests can shop and snack on appetizers. A percentage of sales will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach.

    "I just want to share nature with people," Wood said. "I want people to go into gardening with ease."

    If You Go

    What: Molly Wood Garden Design Holiday Pop-Up

    When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, until mid-February

    Where: 1290 N. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach

    Also see: cheap wedding dresses

  • Is this the UK's first waste food wedding?

    According to Love Food, Hate Waste, an organisation that aims to raise awareness about the need to reduce food waste, around 15 million tonnes of food are thrown away every year in the UK. This is undoubtedly a shocking and worrying statistic, but how many of us would really be prepared to reduce it by reusing that waste food? Perhaps not many. Yet one couple from Brixton, south London, decided they wanted to take a real stand against this problem by serving only waste food at their wedding.

    Paul Maxwell-Rose, 29, who runs the Christian International Peace Service (CHIPS), met his wife-to-be Katherine, 36, a writer and blogger for the Christian charity Tearfund, at the Greenbelt faith festival in August 2013. They got married this summer, and decided to have an entirely ethical wedding. We spoke to them to find out more about this fascinating and somewhat radical decision.

    Paul and Katherine Maxwell-Rose, who served only leftover food at their wedding

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    Q: What gave you the idea of serving waste food at your wedding?

    Paul: There’s a volunteer group in Brixton called Brixton People’s Kitchen, which collects food from local businesses that might be throwing it out (particularly from the Covent Garden Market in Vauxhall). They bring the food to the park where they have a mobile kitchen set up on the back of a bicycle, then cook it up and serve it to whoever comes past. I initially approached them to cater our wedding as we wanted to support them, but it was too big a project so they put us in touch with the people who run the Save the Date Café, in Dalston. They became our caterers!

    Q: A lot of people might think that waste food is unhygienic or unsafe to eat in some way. Is that true?

    Paul: It’s actually a bit of a myth. The food is only waste because we declare it waste. We all have this fixed idea that we want the ‘newest’ or the ‘freshest’ food each day, although much of the food that gets thrown away from the markets and shops is actually perfectly edible. For our wedding, Save the Date Café worked with the Real Junk Food Project, a Leeds-based organisation that collaborates with caterers and activists to change the perception of food wastage. They basically intercept entirely edible food that gets thrown away and only use the food that is really healthy and really good quality. They were very excited to do a wedding so they could show off to large numbers of people how high quality this food could be.

    Katherine: It’s also true that supermarkets will often throw away food that simply doesn’t look nice because we’re such an aesthetically driven market. So actually, to create a real wedding feast where the food looks amazing and tastes great, really dispels the myth that waste food looks awful or tastes bad.

    Q: Did you tell any of your friends that you were going to serve this food before the wedding?

    Katherine: We did tell a few people. My mum is a trained chef and food has always been a very big thing in my family, so I was quite nervous about telling them but they were really excited and enthusiastic. They’d also seen a programme on TV about waste food and they thought it was an outrage, so they were very keen on this idea. I think overall people were excited - I don’t know if anyone was nervous about it.

    Paul: Yes, but we didn’t tell some people who we thought might be more nervous! We wanted them to eat it, enjoy it, and then realise. The big reveal came during my wedding speech, when I stood up and told everyone about what the caterers had done.

    Q: Were people shocked?

    Katherine: Yeah there was a bit of that, but a big round of applause!

    Q: So what food did you actually serve at the wedding?

    Katherine: We did actually have a hog which wasn’t waste, but it was an organic hog that had been roaming in the wild. But everything else was wasted products. We had a dish called Hunter’s chicken, some vegetable flans, a rice dish, wild mushroom goulash, char-grilled mixed vegetable skewers, fennel, spring onion and wild herb flan, tomato flan, sautéed potatoes, sweet and sour pomegranate rice, a summer salad and a mixed bean salad.

    Paul: The canapés were great because they were just vegetables, so they used slices of fennel with other things on top. We chose to have a buffet instead of getting the food served, because we wanted to have people going up and interacting while they were eating and seeing all the different food and speaking to the chefs.

    Q: Did it taste as good as other non-waste food that you’ve eaten?

    Katherine: Yes! People said it tasted it absolutely delicious.

    Paul: We had a lot of messages after the wedding saying how good it tasted, and even people with allergies said they could eat everything with no problems. The caterers were also very careful and the food was very good quality. A lot of the food that they get is organic because there is still a lot of waste in that industry, so they get really high quality vegetables. For example, they sourced the mushrooms from a special mushroom trader who provided organic waste mushrooms. We also had Rubies in the Rubble chutneys, which are made entirely from vegetables that would have otherwise been sent to landfills.

    Q: How much did it cost?

    Paul: We didn’t pay for the ingredients, but we paid the organisation for running the whole event. It was such good value compared to what it would have cost us for a caterer with non-waste food.

    Q: Do you think a lot more about the food you waste now?

    Katherine: Yes definitely. It’s still a challenge every day to make dinner and think about what I’m using and what I’m throwing away. I hope it also made the people who came to our wedding think about the food they’re consuming and the food they’re throwing away as well.

    Q: Did any other elements of the wedding have an ethical spin to them?

    Katherine: Yes, there were loads. For example, my aunt, Jane Bourvis, is a dressmaker with budget wedding dresses shop and she made my dress from 100 year old lace. Our wedding rings were made from Fair Trade gold and our wine was also Fair Trade. We had recycled glass bottles for the flowers as well as electric cars to take us to and from the church. We also chose a venue run by a local authority in one of the poorest boroughs of London. It was run as an art building and as I worked in the arts a lot, I was really happy that our wedding was able to support both a poor local borough and an art project at the same time.

    Paul: We tried to do as much as we could, that was part of the reason it took a lot longer to organise everything. We had to do a lot of research in order to find ethical solutions. It was hard to find a suit for me, but in the end we found a great company that works with a family business in Nepal and they made me one. It was really important that everything was ethical because we really wanted to show who we are. As Christians both working for Christian charities, our faith means that we want to ensure that what we buy and how we spend our money has a positive impact on the world.