Weekend Warrior

I have to say, I’m pretty proud of my haul this weekend.  I did a lot of cleaning, grocery shopping, and playing video games, but I still managed to make a big dent in the wedding décor!  Specifically my faux mercury glass.  I took this fun shot with “Retro Cam” on my phone and thought it was worth sharing.  These are the votives, taped up and ready to paint!  I’ll detail more about the process and the results on Wednesday.

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Where there is potential

Nick and I are browsing regularly for housing now, with our impending wedding, and planning to purchase a house not long after we’re married (if all the cards fall correctly, anyway!).  It’s been an interesting search so far; we’ve gone from downtown lofts to outlaying almost-rural areas, to established urban neighborhood fixer-uppers.  We’re still in the deciding phase, but here is an example of something that sort of scares us regularly about purchasing an older, unrenovated home.

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This is my personal nightmare.  I hate this layout with a passion.  I have purposefully strayed away from some of these styles of homes because of this terrifying kitchen.  But maybe I’m wrong…

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WOAH!  Talk about impressed!  The combinations of wood, stainless, and brick are exactly what we were looking for in the loft-style homes we were originally after.  Also the sliding chalkboard, so fabulous!  This gives me a lot of hope for developing a great design even in a home that’s not (or even far from) perfect.  I didn’t realize there was this much potential in a kitchen like this!  Wow!  Makeover originally posted at Apartment Therapy.

What’s the most surprising transformation you’ve seen lately?

Eggs-cellent!

With Easter coming up this weekend, I’ve been seeing eggs and egg projects fly through my reader at an incredible pace!  Personally, I LOVE me some eggs: decorated, deviled, scrambled, baked in a pie (or a quiche, as it were).  Here are some fabulous options for your Easter or any egg-requiring celebration!

First of all make sure your hard boiled eggs – whether for coloring or deviling – are intact and delicious!  Alton Brown, the man I consider a guru for everything food, says the following in an interview:

“I put however many eggs I want to cook into a pot of cold water. I bring it to a boil, I cover the pan, I remove the pan from the heat, and I wait eight minutes. Peel immediately under cold running water. That will give you a slightly soft yolk. If you want a really hard yolk, go with twelve minutes.”

DON’T ASK, JUST DO IT.

Source: edbiado.blogspot.com

The good old classic Easter egg coloring event.  Create your own egg dyes using vinegar and food coloring, or grab one of the myriad packages of dye, many of which include glitter, wax for blocking colors, stickers, etc!  Fun for kids, but still fun for adults, too!

Source: sublimestitching.com/forostyukinna

These totally incredible cross-stitched eggs have been all over the blogosphere, they’re that amazing!

Source: myrecipes.com

My personal favorite, the deviled egg!  This recipe is a classic, but there are literally thousands of variations!  Like extra pickles?  Why not!  Need to add a little extra spice?  Go for it!

What’s your favorite eggy creation?

What am I saving for storage?

Now that I’m in full-on preparing-for-teaching mode, I’ve been saving all sorts of containers left and right.  Spice jars, pickle jars, peanut butter jars, you name it, I’ve got some!  I’m saving them for a number of purposes: to store small craft supplies, for pens and pencils, or even just because I like the look of them.  Here’s a few I have in stock!

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Spice jars!  These are the kind that typically come from the Simply Organic line at Target, and I love them because of their classic square shape and screw caps.  I’ve been collecting these with plans to keep them at home for small craft items like gems and buttons.

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Glass jelly jars are wonderful for so many things, even as cute drinking glasses!  Right now, this one is storing a few buttons and wrapped with a bit of leftover ribbon for some decoration.  These are also great for storing pens and brushes, even mixing paints and other raw materials.  Need them to have an even more distinctive look?  Try coating the inside with paint for a unique display (and to hide any messy stuff inside from view!)!

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Ah, the plastic peanut butter jar!  This I am planning to take to my classroom for storage of small items.  Unlike the glass jars, there’s no risk of breakage with this little guy, but you can still easily identify the contents.  Small items like dice, counters, pompoms, or pattern blocks will fit perfectly and safely into this container, even around the littlest of hands.

How are you repurposing your leftover containers?

The FREE Sign-In Book!

Yesterday Nick and I made a trip to Best Buy for a new router (I think we’re developing wireless for our entire zip code), and while waiting for Nick to finalize his purchase, I spied a little offer tag hanging there…  FREE 8×8 PHOTO BOOK.  Well, hell yes, I’ll take one!

Source I am style-ishIt appears you need a qualifying purchase, usually related to cameras, but our router purchase seems to have qualified (you need Internet to get there?), so I had the cashier ring up the card and lo and behold, when I got home, I had a code for a FREE photobook from shutterfly!

This was a great deal because I’d already been planning to purchase a shutterfly photobook as our custom sign-in book at the reception.  It’s a great deal at up to 20 pages, and with our (only slightly less than professional!) engagement photos completely under our control, reproducing them in this format is a great option for us!  What a great find!

Where have you found great unexpected deals that saved you nuptial funds?

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Help me create a wonderful place to learn!

Well, I’m just two weeks out from finishing student teaching and hopefully ending my job search!  Education is a tough business right now with very limited financial support, and I need all the help I can get to create a great learning environment in my future classroom.  And I would appreciate any help I can get!

source thesmarterwallet.comAn easy way to support my new classroom and students is to make purchases from my Amazon Teaching Wishlist.  I have a lot of badly needed items sorted by priority order, as well as some items that would really make my classroom unique and a wonderful place to be!  I’m striving to create a place where students feel welcome, safe, and happy, and anything you can give will help me to create that and support their success.

I need some basic things like pencils, markers, and storage, but also some additional items like attention-getters, books, and cleaning supplies.  All of these things will help me to create a supportive environment for my future students – who are of course our future leaders!

Make an investment that’s sure to have a great return – invest in education!  Thank you for all your support!

The Big Question

No, not the proposal!  The question that as a seamstress and costumer I inevitably get…  “Why aren’t you making your own wedding dress?”

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‘Cause I’ve pretty much made them before, right?

My sister in particular asked this question after we purchased my Claire Pettibone dress.  It was indeed a question  I had given serious thought to, and even asked of other seamstressy brides.  I even know brides who have done it!  I even made my sister’s wedding gown!  But at the end of the day, it wasn’t what I wanted for me.

I’m not really superstitious, so the old adage of making your wedding dress makes your marriage a lot of work wasn’t phasing me.  And it wasn’t that I didn’t have enough time; with nearly 18 months before the wedding when we started planning, I would have had plenty of time.

In all honesty, it came down to wanting to be a little spoiled.  First, I didn’t want to have to do the work, I really did want that little bit of getting treated like a princess. Second – and this has a little more to do with the financial planning aspect – because I’m an experienced seamstress, I wanted something beautiful that I could be proud of.  I accepted the financial burden with this reasoning because I know as a commissioner how much work goes into really high quality sewing work.  I knew from the beginning that I was going to have to shell out the cash, but I knew it would be worth it.  I’m lucky that that’s an option for me!

Lord_of_Rimini_Beatrice_d'EsteAnd it was all true!  The experience of being surrounded with my girls while trying on the amazing dresses at Little White Dress – with the designer present! – was a completely magical experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  And I know that the beautiful dress that Claire Pettibone is creating JUST FOR ME is going to be a truly amazing work of art that I will treasure forever.

I am in awe of the brides who charge themselves with sewing their wedding gowns!  And I count myself among the ranks of brides who have made a carefully calculated decision about her dress… that’s pretty much all brides!  This is one of the most personal garments a person can ever wear, and all your reasons, as long as they’re true to you, are completely valid.

Besides… I think there will always be plenty of fancy dresses for sewing in my future!

What were your reasons for or against making your wedding gown?

To veil, or not to veil?

I’d originally thought that I’d wanted at birdcage veil.  I loved the cutie vintage look and the fun style, not to mention the potential for DiY!  But upon trying one on with my Clover, it was kind of a ‘meh.’  I think the look is so charming… just not with this particular dress.

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That’s when the fantastic Claire Pettibone approached with one of her beautiful chapel-length veils and perched it upon my head – that was it.  I was going to wear a veil.  A LONG veil!  The lovely dramatic elegance!  I’d had no idea!

If you’re Nick, please don’t click on the cut!

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And we’re off!

I took the opportunity over my spring break to test out some of my ideas regarding wedding decorations, favors, and centerpieces.  DSC00288Much of our décor is DiY, and I knew I’d need to test out my theories and create mockups to see if I actually like the look of what I’m envisioning.  Here’s my first try.

My dad was kind enough to give us this miter box with which to saw straight lines (HAHAHA).  Since I’ve opted to create centerpiece ‘vases’ from 4 and 5 inch diameter PVC pipe, we needed something that would help us cut the bottoms of each vase flat, so they would stand securely (this works out to much cheaper than buying glass vases, which run about $8-10 in the sizes we want.  A ten-foot section of PVC pipe was only $12 and will yield about 7 vases.  This of course only works because I’m covering them with paper).  We discovered how difficult cutting PVC by hand can be when we chopped the ten-foot pipes in half AT Home Depot in order to be able to take them home in the car.  Heh.  DSC00291It was a long process that resulted in a desperately ragged edge.  After that, we knew a miter box would be important to this process.

I also needed to paint the bamboo reeds something other than their original blonde color.  I opted to use the chocolate color from our palette, since it seemed more natural and we happened to have several cans of brown spray paint left from various projects.  I laid out several reeds to use for the test out on paper on the front patio and sprayed away!  I did it in two shots, one for each “side” of the reeds.  It seemed to go okay… until I picked them up to bring them in.  The spray paint was tacky to the touch and refused to stay stuck to the bamboo.  Yuck!  That really made me glad I did the initial test.  Even though the paint job was a failure, I continued on.

I kept going with an attempt to saw a section of the PVC alone.  This was a mistake, as it was too difficult for me to keep the saw straight AND hold down the heavy additional length of the PVC as it hung off the edge of the miter box.  Oops.  The results were rather amusing…

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Haha.  Miter fail.  I will employ Nick to do the sawing next time.

SO MUCH FAIL.  Even so, I had my first test piece pretty well complete, and I’d managed to learn several things NOT to do in the future, which was the point of the exercise after all.  I went ahead and used the sticky reeds in my original test piece vase, a purchased glass vase (nice, but not big enough!).  The look was rather nice, and seems to go alright with the faux mercury glass I’m also making.

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All in all, it’s not looking too bad!  I think a more natural stain will look a lot better on the bamboo reeds (and also be a lot less hassle than trying to spray them), but you can get the general idea of the look.  I really love the paper-covered vase, I think it’s a nice foil to the wood texture of the bamboo and it takes the edge off what could become way too much glass for the more soft, informal look we’re going for.  I’m really enjoying creating and learning as I delve into our DiY wedding projects!

What’s your favorite wedding DiY, yours or someone else’s?

Baby’s First…

My friend’s beautiful daughter just had her first birthday over the weekend.  She specifically asked for handmade gifts, and I was delighted to get the chance to create this fun little project that I saw recently over at Craftzine Blog.  I didn’t make mine into a game, but included instead several different options for a delicious sandwich: peanut butter, jelly, ham, and cheese, and two pieces of bread, of course!  Each piece was machine-stitched with the name of the item, as well.  The birthday girl loved it!

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