Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Simple DIY Stitched Placecards

While I've been saying over and over that we're doing everything that we can to keep our wedding plans simple, I do believe quite strongly that when we decide to include an element, we should do it in a way that we love. Case in point, placecards. We need them for the small family/close friends dinner that we're having after our ceremony and since the restaurant has a very strong sense of self in terms of decor, I knew that they couldn't be too much of one thing or another. And, I didn't want them to seem out of place since my personal style and the general style of the wedding is a little softer than the style of the restaurant (which I am otherwise entirely fine with!).

So after seeing this template from Martha Stewart for escort cards, and batting around a few ideas with my friends at Ephemera, I decided to make them a little subtle, a little pretty, and filled with elements I love—stitching and lovely fabric. 

I picked up basic white placecards from Michael's and a 3/4 inch circle punch. I punched out circles on the left side of the front of the card, then used embroidery floss (left over from my sister's dress) to stitch on a square of fabric to the card. The back side of the cards definitely says "handmade" but I sort of love that. There are two colorways—the one shown here is for guests having the fish, and there's a rosier pink version for guests having the beef, which I hope will be helpful to the wait staff. I'm hoping that my good friend Katherine, who has the loveliest handwriting, will take care of writing the names when she gets here during the week before our wedding.

They were incredibly easy to put together in just a few hours on the porch over the weekend and I just love the way that they turned out. Plus, it's a small way to carry the theme of hand stitching through to another aspect of the wedding.

Friday, May 27, 2011

In Leiu of Engagement Photos...


It never really occurred to me to have engagement photos taken even though I certainly understand the appeal of having nice non-wedding clothing pictures of ourselves. Luckily, we are included in a story on new homeowners in the very new issue of ReadyMade, which meant that we sort of wound up with some engagement photos anyway! (Nice job perk, right?)

Each of the 7 homeowners in the story has a house project featured (ours is the new flooring that you can see in the stairway) and even though I work for the magazine, and have worked on stories like these for years and years, it was an entirely different experience to be in front of the camera. The photographer, John Frances Peters, made it really easy to relax and I think we did pretty well despite it being our first time. I figure that it was good practice for the wedding, and it's a cool way for family and friend who are coming to the wedding in about a month (!) to get a little preview of our house.

To read the story and to see more pictures of our place, click here. And while you're over there, take a look at the homes of my good friends Virginia and Bethany, who are also included in the story.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bridal Shower by the Beach

 This past weekend was filled to the brim with love, laughter, and a very real feeling that our wedding is finally, really getting close. It started with dinner with friends on Friday, then we headed south to my parents house at the Jersey shore for my shower, where the weather was a perfect 76 and sunny.

 My mom and sister did an incredible job of planning the day and they included some of my favorite things like embroidery/quilting—we all stitched quotes that will be put together into a quilt for me (well for Josh and I, but I say me because it's very pink, which we know I love!)—the most amazing scrapbook (which I'll tell you about in a separate post because it deserves it!), and an impressive spread of food. I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon hours when we sat around and sewed because I got to share something that I love so deeply (stitching) with many of the most important women in my life. And I'll have their work, and a reminder of that day, in my house for years and years to come.

 The favors were salt water taffy from Shrivers, a treat that I've been eating and enjoying for my entire life. They are a boardwalk staple in our town! I very much enjoy the use of glassine bags and doilies!

 My mom went out of her way to make me gluten free versions of all of the food she made, which meant that I got my very own gf lemon curd cupcakes, which were heavenly. They were made in the style of my grandmother, with little "hats" on top (little cones cut out of the top of the cupcake, the space filled with lemon curd, then the cut out piece put back on top), which made me very happy.

My parents went over to my aunt and uncles for dinner, leaving just the younger ladies, so we spent the evening with antics at the beach, enjoying s'mores in a fire pit that my friends drove down from ny, and many many rounds of raucous laughter. It was a total joy. Oh! And, I got to see my sister modeling the dress that I embroidered for her and it fits her perfectly. So hooray all around!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Preparing to be Bridal Showered...

I'm on the East Coast again for a bit of work and play, which mostly involves my bridal shower which is happening at my parents house tomorrow. For me, this is a big moment because it means that the wedding is getting Really Close! Hooray for that! And, I will get to have many of my favorite ladies in the same room for an entire day, which is just thrilling—especially since not all of them have met each other before. And even though I don't know any of the details of what's happening, I am quite sure it's going to be a lovely and meaningful way to spend the day.
Thinking about this occasion is making me feel really grateful for my family and friends who are helping us to prepare for our marriage. And despite some of the popular wedding advice out there (I'm not going to name names!) that talks about the loss of your single self when marriage approaches, I feel not a loss, but an enormous gain. I still love my single friends, I still love my married friends and I value each for the individuals that they are. I feel like I have gained a seriously amazing support system by joining forces with the man I plan to marry and to me, I am closer with my friends simply because I am a better version of myself—nothing about that is a loss. And I, not for one second, mourn the time when I was alone. My life is so much fuller and richer now, in all regards.

I mention this because I find all of the talk about the transition to getting married fascinating. Maybe it's because I went through a lot of that when our relationship became really serious—making the choice to commit at the beginning felt like jumping off of a bridge. I had never done it before and I didn't have any idea whether I would be any good at it. It was scary. But I decided to trust us and I soon saw that we could do it, and that we were even really good at it. That has turned out to be the best decision that I have ever made.

So this weekend, I hope for laughter, time to reflect, talk and catch up, and maybe, if I'm lucky, a chance to sew with the women I love most.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Weekend Highlights: Flowers and Food

 Last week I spent a few days in nyc for work and the weather was absolutely perfect, which made me remember how lovely springtime can be in the city. My mom came up to visit too so I got to do a few things that I'd been wanting to do for a while—which included walking through the Union Square farmers market to see what was in season, like these gorgeous flowers.
 We also went to Eataly, which was as heavenly as you'd think it'd be. We got there in the early evening, just before the dinner rush, so we had some time to wander around and investigate everything. It was an interesting mix of imported and local products and I was delighted to purchase a jar of chestnut honey for myself as it was the very favorite thing that I brought home from my last trip to Tuscany a few years ago.

 On Saturday we braved the chilly Iowa weather and headed to our own farmers market and scooped up two bunches of asparagus, one of which I grilled on our stovetop grill/griddle with olive oil, salt and pepper and promptly ate for lunch. There wasn't too much available yet other than asparagus and spring onions, but we did get some overwintered carrots from our CSA farm, eggs, and a few more seedlings to add to our raised beds.

 And yesterday I made my best batch of gluten free muffins to date. I used the same recipe I did last time (the gluten free whole grain muffins recipe from the Gluten Free Girl) but I made these adjustments:
almond milk instead of buttermilk
handful of raisins instead of figs
handful of chocolate chips instead of walnuts
added 2 tbsp of cocoa powder
added 1/4 c shredded unsweetened coconut (since for some reason the batter seemed a little runny)

I also filled the muffin compartments up to the very tippy top which improved their shape. It was pretty shocking to me how well they turned out- they were just a lit crunchy on the outside, but the inside was perfect muffin consistency. 

With just 6 weeks to go to the wedding, we've officially (by my count anyway!) entered the home stretch. It's going to get pretty busy around these parts so I will be trying to set aside very deliberate time for relaxation on the weekends. Which means that if I seem a little more mia, I'm probably busy either stock piling the freezer for wedding week goodies or I'm working on wedding related crafts. I'll do my best to maintain my regular schedule but I thought I'd let you know!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Subtly Stunning Jewelry from Jen of Aubepine

 Yesterday when I was catching up on my blog reading, I saw Sherry's post on YHL about the earrings she was given for Mother's Day. Instantly, I clicked through to the etsy shop since the style of her earrings was so what I've been looking for to wear to the wedding. (I had looked on etsy, but it can be a little exhausting to page through the seemingly thousands of options.) And oh my, the prettiness that is the Aubepine shop!

Jen, who is based in Los Angeles, has a style that is very feminine, just enough sparkle, and standing right on the line between intricate and subtle—all of which will go just perfectly with my dress.
 So I've ordered one pair that was in the shop and have requested that Jen make me a pair very similar to ones that she had for sale, but with a different color stone. It sounds like I found the shop just in time to have them made and sent here in time for the big day, to which I say hooray! I'll show you the three options (I believe that I'll wind up wearing two, one at both of our events) when I have them all so that you can help me choose which to wear for the ceremony!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Weekend Highlights: Lilacs, Strawberries, Sewing and Sweets

 This weekend was rather delightful, with both days filled with sunshine and warm temperatures in the mid-70s. Nothing all that remarkable happened in these parts, which, with less than two months to the wedding, felt like the most remarkable thing of all. Here are some of the highlights, starting with one of our two lilac bushes which I like to go stand near (especially when it's windy) just so that I can inhale the sweet scent. 

 Our new strawberry plant started blooming, which makes me giddy with anticipation of the berries that will follow. This is the first year we've planted fruit (we also now have a rhubarb plant that we were lucky enough to get from a colleague who had grown tired of it) and I hope to expand with a few raspberry plants and blueberries.

 I spend a few hours quilting on the porch and finished these two projects.
 There was a Sunday breakfast of wild blueberry cocoa pancakes (gluten free even, based on this recipe) topped with wild blueberry sauce...
 And Vegan Date-Sweetened Coconut Ice Cream that I felt obligated to top with chocolate sauce. I love the flavor of the ice cream, and the consistency provided that you let it thaw for about 20 minutes before trying to scoop it out since it freezes really hard. (I also used light coconut ice cream in place of the full fat since I learned I prefer my coconut ice cream that way last summer.) It was the perfect ending to a rather lovely weekend.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Tie is the Thing

We're in the home stretches of finishing up our wedding attire and I cannot wait for Josh's ties to arrive to us. I had seen the work of Anabela of fieldguided and approached her about making us a few custom ties using Liberty of London fabric. I sourced the fabric (from Purl, of course) to keep costs down (and also to make it easier on Anabela!) and we went with two that were fairly close to our color palette to give us a choice.

We're both pretty sure we'll be going with the one on the left on the big day since it's subtle, classy, with just a bit of whimsy and color. I like how the tan will pick up the undertones of my dress and that it will stand out on Josh's white shirt. Some of my favorite aspects of our wedding are the handmade touches, like my dress and my sister's dress,fie and I'm so glad that we were able to incorporate some of that uniqueness into Josh's ensemble.

Now if only I could find earrings (that look as lovely in person as they do online) and a clutch, we might be totally set!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Flocking to Felt

This week has been divinely sunny, and yet a little chilly. Which makes me think that sharing these upcycled and felted owls and birds is the perfect thing to do this week—it's like spring wrapped up in a warm wool sweater! These little guys are made by formydarling in Finland, and I love that you can get a sense of her country in her work. Here's a little bit from her on her creations (which also include upcycled bags):
"I have done handcraft ever since I was a teenager. I have worked with various materials, but during the years my affection was always the same; working with hands is a meaningful process, which not only gives a lots of positive energy but also harmonizes the entire person. To see, how something,which you only had in your mind gets it´s existence by your own hands, is very touching."
"I grew up in farmer family. My parents never had much money, so the only way to get something trendy to wear, was to do it myself. I remember how I at the age of fourteen made a new sweater out of a home-knitted pullover by cutting off the collar and sewing a zip in front. I was so proud of my achievement. The pleasure I got made me an addict at once."
 I can imagine these little guys hanging out on a shelf, or being made into a mobile to grace a baby's room (or um, my office!).

Monday, May 2, 2011

Officially on the Mend

 Just over a week ago, I had an episode with my lower back. It's never fun, and this one was especially surprising/upsetting since it had been about 9 months since my last major bout of spasms. I'd gotten stronger and more able and was generally feeling like my pre-disc-herniation self. And last weekend with the stress of work, the wedding, and general life on my mind, my only plan was to take things easy. Really! I had planned to spend Saturday sewing, and when I decided to take a little break to move a bit with some yoga, I didn't expect that I'd catch something in my back in exactly the wrong place and wind up with an afternoon visit to the ER.

The past week has been difficult, mostly because I seemed to forget how to be patient with myself. I was used to my routine of running and biking, gardening and cooking, and not being able to stand on my feet for very long was very disheartening. But by Wednesday I was back at work. By Thursday I was able to take a 2 mile walk and was off of all pain meds. By Sunday, I did 4 miles, and cooked a fantastic dinner. But for me it's not about the miles. It's about being able to do the things that I enjoy doing. It's about not letting a little back trouble mean that I've failed at something. It's about learning to recognize the boundaries of my own body and to trust myself enough to both listen to know when I need to spend the day on the couch before I push too far. It's knowing when and how to relax into healing, and when the healing needs to involve copious amounts of sleep, and when it means taking a walk.

All of this is particularly important to me right now as we've officially crossed the two month mark to the wedding. (Hooray!) Planning the wedding has been stressful, as these sorts of events often are, and even though I am completely focused on the goal of marriage, it's pretty impossible to not get caught up in some of the details and aesthetics. But I'm revowing to stick with my goal of just being the happiest that I can possibly be come July 1. Not the slimmest. Not the most organized. Not the best hostess ever. Because while it's an extremely momentous day (and we'll surely be surrounded by so many of our loved ones making their first visit to our hometown), it's not the only day that matters. All of the ones that come after it that will make up our marriage matter just as much.

So I'm going to hold onto the fact that I get to marry a man who held my hand in the hospital, made sure I ate regular meals even though I didn't want to, and bought me a strawberry plant yesterday because he knew that it would fill me with delight. (It did!) I'm going to look forward to getting to see my best friends and family at my shower in a few weeks, and allow myself to let go of any goals of perfection in planning and just settle for being content, happy, and excited.

I know that this is a blog about people who make things, but today I felt the need to share, so thank you for bearing with me. But just to show that I'm not totally ignoring the topic, those are two new sewing projects that I started this weekend using vintage quilt blocks—since I've finished my sister's dress (I'll show it to you soon!). We'll get back to our regularly scheduled content on Wednesday.