Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Choosing Applique Shapes

I LOVE to applique. On pretty much anything. Ever since I learned how to do it, I've been unstoppable.

What I love most about applique is that it's so versatile. You can applique on almost anything and you can applique almost any shape. You don't need to buy special books in order to find the shapes - you can find applique shapes just by googling.

What you're looking for are clip art designs that have pieces that you can dissect into an applique shape.  If you look closely at the animal faces on this quilt, you'll see that I started with the largest piece on the bottom, and then added the smaller pieces layer by later to form the animal. On the blue zebra, for example, I started with the "body" piece, which is the medium blue, Then, the light blue nose piece was added, and finally, the dark blue hair (?) part and the nostrils. I embroidered the eyes last.

To find applique shapes:

  1. Search for clip art images that relate to the shape you want to applique.
  2. Choose a design that is SIMPLE and has parts that you can easily trace.
  3. Mirror the image before you print it!!
  4. Follow your normal applique technique steps.

When I made the peace sign onesie, I just searched for "peace sign clip art" in Google Images. I found this:

Some of those will make great applique shapes - some won't. Remember, you always want the most basic shape. The first shape is good, but the lines are pretty thin. Ultimately, I ended up using this one.

You can choose whichever one makes the most sense for your project, but the thicker the lines, the easier it will be.

You can do this with more complicated shapes, too. Say you want to applique a puppy.

You have a lot of options here, and almost all of them will work. Remember that you want to look at the shape like layers. On any of these, you'd first applique what is at the back (like the ears), and then layer the face and nose on top.

Does that help make sense of choosing applique designs? I'm not an expert, but hopefully this clarifies the process a bit and makes you want to tackle some applique designs yourself!

Monday, January 30, 2012


I have a lot of cousins - and a lot of them have been having babies recently! My cousin Kristen is next in line, and she's having a baby girl next month. I wanted to send her a gift before things got too crazy, so I went with one of my favorite baby projects.

The peace sign is close to my family's heart. The PEACE OUTside Campus Foundation was founded in honor of my cousin Lindsey, and I wanted to make something for the new baby that would embody Lindsey's spirit.

I used a clip art shape to create the peace sign, and followed the steps I outlined here in the applique tote bag tutorial. I just love the funky stripe fabric for this sweet onesie!

And note to self - taking decent pictures before mailing gifts. Sorry for the iPhone versions.

Because this precious baby is a girl, I couldn't resist a finishing touch on the back...

Are the butt ruffles not to die for?? I made them before I got my new serger (which I still don't know how to use) so I just zig zagged the edges. I did use my new ruffling foot to make them, though. As a helpful hint, jelly roll strips are the perfect width for making these sweet ruffles, and they're extra great because the strips are so long.

I used this tutorial to learn how to make the ruffles, but it's pretty easy.

This little tag blanket is one of my favorites. I just love all of the bright, crazy colors. Perfect for little baby chomping on!

This has become my go-to baby gift because you can personalize it so easily, it's fun to make, and people seem to love them! 

Oh - and I had a little help.

What baby gifts are you giving to people that are a huge hit? Peace out!

Click HERE to see the blog parties where I'm linking!

Friday, January 27, 2012


Boy, if this is love well then I'm in it. My friend Joe had this conversation with Zac. Joe is green, and Zac is the grey color.


PIP means picture in picture, if you were confused. Swoon. Major husband points, probably second only to the time that he cried during our wedding vows. I'm that big of a sap (and nerd).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Couch To 5K Progress Report

With two weeks left to go in December, I decided to start the Couch to 5 K program. If you haven't heard of it, it's basically an 8 week program of workouts that gradually works you up to running a 5 K.

I tried it for two weeks in July, at which point it became almost 100 degrees at 6:00 AM and I gave up. Plus, at that point, Derby wasn't big enough to come with me. All of that has now changed.

Let me interject here with an embarrassing tidbit. This isn't my first time at the party. I was a runner in high school. I ran cross country and long distance track. I have six varsity letters for running sports. I even ran at the State Championship meet once.

I tell you that not so you think I'm awesome (if you think I'm awesome for 10 year old accomplishments, I have more I can tell you about!), but so that you can get some perspective. I used to be able to run a mile in under 6 minutes. And I needed to start again with walk one minute, run one minute. And that was hard for me.

I haven't seriously run since high school, actually. I enjoyed running then because I was good at it and I liked being part of a team. The day I ran my last track meet was the day I last really ran. I just didn't enjoy it outside of the organized team aspect.

Fast forward to now. I knew I needed to do something. I was getting sick of my exercise videos and needed something more routine. Plus, we now have a 50 pound puppy who needs exercise as much as I do.

We started this program the week of Christmas. This was actually a great time for me to start, because while the holidays are busy, they aren't normal life busy for me. I had time to run three times a week. By the time the new year came around and things got busy again, we were already two weeks in. It was already starting to feel like a routine.

We're now on Week 5, which is honestly further than I even hoped we would get. Right now we run at least three times a week, more than that if my schedule allows it (which has happened once). There are a few things that are different this time around for me, so I'll share them with you:
  1. I got a new phone, and downloaded the "Get Running" app. This was $2.99 well spent. Not only does it track when you do the runs, there is a sweet British lady who tells you when to run and when to walk. You can also stream music while the app is running. Which brings me to my next point...

  2. Find something you like to run to. For me, that's NPR. Don't judge - it's like someone's talking to you the whole time you're running but you don't have to talk back. I love listening to their news programs, and I don't have a ton of time during the day to hear them. I had a friend who downloaded audio books and only listened to them while exercising. Another friend does pump me up music. Find something that works for you and makes you look forward to running.
  3. Get an accountability partner. Mine happens to be a puppy. He loves running with me. When I get my tennis shoes out of the closet, he knows exactly what we're doing. The other perk? He pulls me along when I get tired and I run faster than I would on my own. Plus, I love him and I want him to be healthy, which means even when I don't feel like going, we usually go.
  4. Find somewhere you like to run. I hate running with Derby on the streets because there's so many people to dodge. We walk to a park by our house and then do the run there where there isn't as much traffic. I'd rather run loops around a field then dodge cars any day.

    My park!
  5. Reward yourself if you need to. Get a new pair of shoes, some new running pants, or a pedicure if you meet your workout goals. I don't actually do this, but now that I've thought about it I might start.
  6. STICK WITH IT FOR AT LEAST 4 WEEKS! My friend Katy ran her first half marathon last weekend (yay, Katy!) and she gave me this advice. It takes 4 weeks before you'll start to see changes in your body. It takes 8 before other people will notice them. Push to this 4 week mark. I wanted to see changes earlier than that (let's be honest - after one run), but it wasn't until last week that I began to see them for real. And once you get to that point, it's a whole lot easier to continue.
Do you have any tips that help you stick to an exercise routine? I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Random Thoughts of a Crazy Woman

My thoughts have been pretty random lately. None of these in and of themselves merit a full post, but hopefully they'll at least be entertaining.

  1. What is the difference between macaroons and whoopie pies? Is this an important distinction I need to know about to be a real grown up?
  2. I got a serger. More on this later. But can someone come to my house and show me how to use it? It's overwhelming to figure it out.
  3. My dog is so freaking cute that I can't stand it. But our next dog will be a non-shedding type, no matter how many thousands of dollars it costs.
  4. I cannot hold any more babies before we are ready to have our own, because they are making me crazy.
  5. My hair dresser styles my hair SO much better than I do. I wish I had her talents. Or a million dollars to pay her to do my hair every morning.
  6. Am I the only State of the Union watching junkie out there? I don't care who the President is, there's something so regal and awesome about the whole event.
  7. My new boss is awesome, and I'm learning so much from her.
That's it for now. I think. It's been a random kind of week. What random thing are you thinking about this week?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

This probably isn't a post that is very interesting to many of you, but I am so overwhelmed with gratitude and I just have to write it. Blame my recent gratitude kick, if you must.

Thank you to each and every single person who reads this blog. I am so humbled by how many of you there are, where you live (shout out to my friend from Saudi Arabia!), and the lovely comments you send me.

Thank you to everyone who pinned my pallet art, became a follower of my blog, or said sweet things about my flower quilt.

I like to blog for many reasons, but the love and community I've found here was unexpected and overwhelming. Your involvement in this blog has turned this from a record of my (somewhat boring) life for my parents to one of the highlights of my day.

You are fantastic -- thank you to all of you who humor me, think I'm at least a little bit funny, and enjoy the crazy things I make. You guys rock.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Tag Blanket Tutorial

Thanks for all your kind words about the tag blankets I made for my cousins! This is becoming my go-to baby gift... they're fun to make, they're a unique gift, and they go together pretty quickly.

The tag blanket I made using this tutorial is for my wedding photographer, who has become a friend of ours. Her first baby is due this spring, and how perfect is this for the son of a photographer??

I promise this is a simple project - and it's also very forgiving. If your squares aren't exactly the same size, it won't matter! You're basically making a pillow, and then turning it inside out.

To start with, cut two squares out of any material. I like to use a soft minky fabric on the back to make it snuggly and add another texture. If you want to embroider or applique on one (or both) of the sides, now is the time to do it!

You can use any size squares. I generally use somewhere between 8" and 10", depending on the size of my fabrics. Any bigger than that and they'll be too large for a small baby to hold.

Next, cut your ribbons. You can use as many different colors as you want. I tend to alternate three. Three ribbons on each edge fit nicely without being too tight.

To achieve varied lengths, cut half the ribbons 4" long, and half 6" long. 

Fold your ribbons in half, and then pin them to the right side of one of your fabrics. Do this on all four sides.

Head to your sewing machine. Set your stitch slightly less than 1/4" from the edge so that the stitches will be hidden later. You can use any color thread here -- you'll never see it. Sew over the ribbon, then backstitch the entire ribbon. Sew over it one more time.

Ultimately, each ribbon will be sewn over 5 times, eliminating the potential choking hazard. Unless, of course, you let your baby play with the tag blanket and a seam ripper at the same time.

This is what they'll look like when you're finished.

Sewing the ribbons on all at once makes it easier to put the whole blanket together. Now's the time to cut any threads.

Put your squares together, right sides facing. Set your stitch for 1/4" from the edge, and stitch ALMOST all the way around the square. Leave about 2 inches on one side open so you can flip it.

This is what I mean about this project being forgiving. This doesn't matter. Love it.

Turn it inside out -- it's almost finished!

Head back to your sewing machine. Top stitch 1/4" from the edge around the whole square. If you're a really straight stitcher, contrasting thread would look fun. I'm not a super straight stitcher, so I use threads that blend in!

Make sure you fold the part you left open under while you're top stitching and sew it closed.

There you have it! A personalized baby gift that will be loved for a long time.

A closeup view for you.

And the back.

Good luck making many, many tag blankets for the babies in your life! Let me know if you have any questions -- happy sewing!

Click HERE to see the blog parties where I'm linking!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tag Blankets!

Two of my cousins (who are sisters) had babies this past fall (three of them, total!). I was way behind on sending baby gifts, but better late than never, right?

I decided to make tag blankets for each of the girls. They're really cute, fun to make, and I wanted to personalize them for each baby.

I made the first two for my cousin Molly's two baby girls -- Reese and Chloe.  Everything is cuter in two's, I think!

I embroidered their names on the minky side, and used cute fabric for the back.

A close up of the embroidery.

My cousin Kate had Cara a few weeks before Molly's twins were born.  How fun to have three girl cousins so close together in age??

This is the back of Cara's. I LOVE this fabric. I bought it as a fat quarter a long time ago, and decided this was a good reason to use it!

I wanted the twin's blankets to coordinate without being identical. Mission accomplished!

One of the best parts about these gifts is that they're lightweight, so they're easy to mail. I just rolled them, tied them with a silk ribbon, and sent them on their way!

I'm putting together a tutorial for next week, so stay tuned!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Most Delicious Chicken Salad Ever!

I pack my lunch almost every day. I don't work in a place that's very convenient for going out, and going out costs me money and time, neither of which I have unlimited supplies of. I also tend to eat a lot of crap when I go out to lunch, which means packing is a good option.

The downside of packing is that lunches get boring pretty quickly. I am a fairly picky eater (though so much better than I was as a child that I want to be patted on the back for that!) and I don't love eating the same sandwich every day.

I do pack a lot of leftovers, but there are some nights when we don't have any, or when what we have doesn't heat up well - like the quesadillas we had tonight. Delicious, but a soggy mess tomorrow at lunchtime. Believe me... that's experience talking.

Enter this chicken salad recipe. I like chicken salad, but it's never been my favorite. After trying this recipe, I have decided that most chicken salad is just too complicated for my taste buds. I don't need celery or walnuts or grapes or any of that other stuff. Chicken + salad is good enough for me. Or technically chicken + mayo. But that sounds gross.

I found this recipe on my friend Andi's lunch blog.This is definitely a blog you'll want to check out. She posts ideas for how to keep your lunches fun and interesting, and she has some great ideas.

Like my favorite chicken salad.

Without further ado... you can make it too! (That rhyme was unintentional but I'm leaving it because it's fun).

Dot's Chicken Salad
Source: Lunch It Punch It

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayo
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup pecan halves
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 cups cooked, shredded chicken OR 1 can of chicken
Beat sour cream with mayo, salt and lemon juice.
Toss chicken into dressing until moist.
Just before serving stir in nuts and bacon.

A few notes: I left out the bacon and nuts, because bacon would take awhile and I don't like nuts. And it was still delicious. I also ended up using 2 cans of chicken because it seemed a little runny otherwise. Probably because I left out the bacon and nuts.
This is seriously the yummiest chicken salad ever. I meant to post about it two weeks ago, but every time I packed my lunch I forgot to take a picture of it because I was just weirdly enjoying my chicken salad. 
Hop on over to Andi's blog and get some inspiration for your lunches. What do you pack in your lunches? I'm always looking for new ideas!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bedroom Makeover

While looking at my calendar last week, I noticed a small miracle. We had nothing planned from Friday afternoon until Monday morning. NOTHING. That literally never happens. Well, it literally happens once or twice a year. I frantically called Zac to see what home project he wanted to tackle.

We threw around the idea of the dining room, downstairs bathroom, painting the kitchen cabinets... but nothing seemed really exciting. We had been planning to do our bedroom last, like, way way years from now last, but Zac suggested we tackle it this weekend. We hadn't picked out bedding but we had a vague idea of what we wanted, so we went for it!

And we worked HARD. As in, painting ceilings and trim and doors and walls hard. Not putting down drop cloths and having to scrape paint off your laminate floors hard. But it was so so so so worth it.

Fast forward to picking out bedding. I accepted long ago that I would probably never again sleep under a printed duvet or quilt. There just aren't any that we both like. In fact, the following conversation occurred mid-bedding hunting:

Me: "Do you like this one?"
Zac: "No."
Me: "What about this one?"
Zac: "No."
Me: "This would be much easier if you didn't sleep in bed with me."
Zac: "Ditto."

He is a man of few words.

I'm not ready to show it to you quite yet because we don't have curtains or art hung yet, and we're waiting on our duvet cover, but I'll give you a small preview. This is the quilt we found that I adored and Zac thought was "fine." I didn't ask one single question after that. I just bought the damn thing.


It will have a white textured duvet on the bed, too. It's hard to see it here, but you can see better pictures if you visit the Pottery Barn website. The pictures really don't do it justice - I actually looked at it online but didn't think much of it. When I saw it in person, I was in love.

I had a friend ask why I didn't just make the quilt, but I didn't for a few reasons. One, I can't sleep under something I made every night. I'm too crazy and all I'd see would be uneven edges. I'm not proud of that. Secondly, it honestly isn't cost effective. It would have cost me way more money to make it than to just buy it. Finally, I wanted a solid looking quilt without a lot of piecing. I can't get giant fabric the way Pottery Barn is. And, it took me 20 minutes to buy it. If I made it, I wouldn't have had a new quilt for months.

I'll send you pictures as soon as we have the rest of it finished, which will hopefully be soon. In the meantime, does anyone know where I can find some affordable faux silk white curtains? You might remember my curtain rant from last year. I want these to look luxurious, but I want them to be cheap. Let me know if you find any!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A flowery baby quilt

Zac's cousin and his wife had a baby in September, and the whole family was thrilled when they found out the baby was a girl. Zac comes from a family of lots of boys, so Maddelyn is the first girl in a long time.

It was fun to make a girl quilt for a change, but I didn't want it to be too girly. Erin told me that they were planning a nursery with red accents that would be super pink, and when I saw this fabric, I knew it was perfect.

Maddelyn's older brother received one of the very first quilts I ever made. This is another favorite - it just turned out so cute!

I should point out that is my gramma's couch, not mine. No offense, Gramma. It's a nice couch!

I gave you a sneak peak of this baby quilt a few months ago, but I forgot to take pictures of it before I gave it away! Thankfully, I stole a few pictures when we saw them over the holiday.

Here's the quilt in progress at my gramma's house in the fall:

And here it is finished!

It looks really busy in this picture, but it isn't as crazy in person!

This gives you an idea of the size.

The back is a dot minky that is so soft. And you can see how pretty the quilting is!

I only quilted in the nine-patch squares, and left the flowers free. It made for a beautiful quilting design on the back of the quilt, too!

I found the idea in a book, but there's really no pattern. The nine-patch squares are made from jelly roll (2.5") strips, which makes cutting them a breeze. They are 2.5"x2.5" squares, and the flowers are appliqued on 6" squares.

This is one of my favorite quilts I've ever made... it was hard to give away. Hopefully Maddelyn loves it as much as I loved making it!

Click HERE to see the blog parties where I'm linking!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Breakfast + Pizza = Delicious

I have always been a fan of breakfast pizza. I honestly can't remember when I had it for the first time, but I love breakfast, and I love pizza, and I love breakfast pizza.

Last night we were trying to decide what to have for dinner, and we were struggling to come up with something. It was one of those nights where we were missing one key ingredient from everything we could think of, nothing really sounded good, and it was cold and snowy, making going to the grocery store impossible.

I headed to my Pinterest "Eat It" board for inspiration, and that's when I saw it. Breakfast pizza.


We (who am I kidding? Zac) had already made something else from this blog, and it was awesome. Breakfast pizza for dinner it was.

And it was delicious. And then some. I love Stephanie's blog, Macaroni and Cheesecake, and I think you will too, if you visit. She has some really awesome recipes to steal.

If you want to make your own breakfast pizza, here's the recipe:

Breakfast Pizza
Your favorite pizza crust - we used a Betty Crocker Pizza Crust mix, and it was awesome. Tasted homemade. Don't judge. It was a weeknight.
1/4-1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese (enough to spread a thin layer over the crust)
6 eggs
1/4 cup milk
salt & pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 cup shredded 2 % monterrey jack cheese (We used cheddar).
1/8 -1/4 cup bacon crumbles
Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. In a small bowl, add eggs, milk, salt & pepper to taste. Whisk together to break up eggs. Pour egg mixture in skillet and scramble eggs. Once scrambled, allow to cool about 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Spray a round baking sheet with cooking spray and spread your pizza dough out into a circle about 12 inches or so. Spray dough with cooking spray and spread a thin layer of ricotta, leaving about an inch of dough on the outer edge.
Top with scrambled eggs, bacon crumbles, & shredded cheese.
Bake for approximately 13 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Stephanie, thanks for providing our dinner inspiration last night, and for letting me steal your recipe. Everyone else, check out her blog for more delicious inspiration!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What are you thankful for?

Wait - it's not November right? Isn't Thanksgiving the time of year we're supposed to be grateful? Yes... and no!

I have a new boss at work, and she's totally and utterly fantastic. One of the changes she's bringing to our organization is a focus on mindfulness and gratitude. Mindfulness means meditation and being present in the moment, which is a big challenge for me, as you know.


The newest academic research looks at gratitude as a science. I know - weird, right? But it's seriously a science. The results researchers are finding are incredible:

  • When your mind is focused on gratitude and what you're thankful for, it's physically impossible to think about what's bad in your life. Impossible.
  • By focusing on what they are grateful for, disadvantaged kids are able to retain more information when they study. Cool, right?
  • Keeping a gratitude journal reframes your day and can reduce frustration later in the day.
Are you on board yet? You should be.


I want to share some of the things I'm grateful for this week... and I want to hear some of yours!

  1. A surgery for my aunt and uncle that was incredibly successful, which means many more years for my uncle!
  2. An amazing new boss and a renewed energy and excitement about my work.
  3. A snuggly puppy. How can I not be grateful for that?
  4. A husband that I never get tired of. And who makes dinner every night. S.C.O.R.E.
  5. Feeling rested and renewed after the holiday break. Planning to ride it until May.
  6. Great graduate school friends who have gotten me through the past 18 months.
  7. An amazing internship supervisor who cares about my professional development and makes what could have been a painful experience fantastic.
  8. A warm, cozy house.
  9. An interest in sewing and DIY projects. Space to do them. Time to complete them. Joy after doing so.
  10. My friends and family. L-O-V-E them.
  11. Blogging and the community I've found here. Every single comment you leave makes me smile, and brings little pops of joy throughout my day.
  12. Sticking to my running routine long enough that I look forward to it at the end of the day now. And for a puppy who pulls me and makes me go faster.
  13. My husband. I didn't think I should put the dog twice and not him! 
Just listing those things makes me smile... because it reminds me that I'm so blessed. It's hardest for me to be grateful when I'm tired and overwhelmed, which is why I keep a small journal in my purse. For emergencies. Of which I have many.

I want to know what you're grateful for. You don't need to list 13, but please tell me at least one. Because I'm grateful for hearing from you!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

LASIK Update: 4 Months In

It's been almost four months since I had my LASIK surgery, and I wanted to give you an update. You can read about my surgery here.

Immediately after the surgery, my eyes were dry. Unbelievably dry. Eye drops multiple times an hour dry. Four months later, they're a lot better. I still use eye drops first thing in the morning, and by the end of the night, my eyes are pretty dry. They're more dry if I'm tired, but most days I forget to put drops in at all.

My vision was 20/15 the day after the surgery, and that's what it still is when the eye doctor tests it. The less dry my eyes are, the more clear my vision seems. The change in vision is unbelievable - I can see more clearly than I ever could with contacts.

My night vision improved dramatically. I probably wasn't safe on the roads before this at night - lights had a huge halo. I didn't realize how bad it was until everything became so clear. This isn't a guaranteed result of LASIK, but it does happen for most people.

So any downsides? I actually miss coming home and putting my glasses on at night, which was sort of like changing into my PJs after work. Zac likes to watch TV as he's falling asleep, and it was easier for me to tune it out when I couldn't see it. Now I sometimes get sucked in and stay up later than I mean to!

I can't believe how quickly I adjusted. I thought it would take awhile to get used to not wearing glasses or contacts -- when in reality, it took about a week. Now, I can't really remember ever wearing them, which is ridiculous considering I wore them for more than 20 years!

I am SO glad that I did it. Worth every single penny. Every single one. Four months in, I'm even happier than I was a few weeks after the surgery. Hope this wasn't too boring of an update... just thought you might be curious!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A few words of wedding advice

I read this post the other day over at Nice Girl Notes, and I've been thinking about it ever since. Like Roo, my Facebook newsfeed also seems to be flooded with people who are recently engaged (congrats, everyone!). And like Roo, I have some words of advice for people embarking on the wedding planning process.

Because I've been married for nine months. Which makes me an expert.

Without further ado, my additions to Roo's "Dear Brides, Don't Do This" list:


Don't feel like you need to have everything. Or that everything has to be expensive. Spend money on what matters to you, and scratch the rest. We didn't have favors at our wedding (curious - did anyone who was there notice?), because we didn't care about them. We sat down at the beginning of the planning process and talked about what we wanted most from our wedding, and that was for everyone to have a blast. We wanted people to leave our wedding saying, "That was SUCH a fun wedding!" Favors do not make people say that. A kickass band makes people say that. So that's where we spent our money. And because of that, we have pictures like this:

Don't be jealous of my sweet dance moves. Or my sexy dancing face. You too, can have that.

I LOVE this picture. Note my father in law over my shoulder looking possessed.

Yeah, we're that fun.

A video is worth the money. So are great pictures, but a video is super worth it. There are some things a video can capture that pictures just can't. I saw my not-very-emotional husband cry for the first time ever during our vows. It was one of the best moments of my entire life, and I can watch it as many times as I want. I can hear my dad's toast, see our faces when we first saw each other, and feel that day every time I watch it. I don't watch it often, but it's amazing how it brings you back to that day when you do. My cousin Megan was the first one to get married. When my other cousins were little, one of their favorite "movies" was Megan's wedding video. That's just a cute side note.

To watch the two minute preview of our wedding video, click here! I can't figure out how to embed it.

Think about what you HATE at other people's weddings... and then DON'T DO THAT STUFF! This should go without saying, but apparently it often doesn't. Things I don't like? Having a huge break between the ceremony and reception with nothing to do. Where all you want to do is take off your dumb dress clothes and your college friends are likely to park it at a bar and drink too much. So we didn't do that. I also don't like when the reception feels like a performance - look here! The bride and groom are doing this! And now this! Look over here! So we skipped a bunch of that stuff. I don't think anyone noticed or cared that I didn't throw a bouquet (except my single friends, who were likely thankful). 

If you love this stuff, do it! If you don't, cut it. No one but your mother and token snobby relative (everyone has one, right?) will notice or care.

It's okay if you don't enjoy every single thing about planning your wedding. I think I only enjoyed about 5 of the billions of things we did. It was stressful. And time consuming. I was more interested in getting married than planning a giant party. So when the florist wanted input on flowers, I said, "I like tulips, and I think pink is nice. Oh - I would like the arrangements to be pretty." And that's it. And they were very pretty. 

The 20% rule holds true. My godmother told me this was true at all three of her daughter's weddings, and I'll be darned if it wasn't exactly true at mine too. Plan accordingly. And don't be upset when the 20% who doesn't come includes people you care about and the 80% who do come includes random people your parents make you invite that you don't know or care about. 

I don't care what Peggy Post says, you do NOT get a year to write thank you notes. This irks me to no end. If people cared enough to travel to your wedding and give you a gift, the least you can do is write a timely (and thoughtful) thank you note. I think you get three months, tops, before you're just a jerk. Don't thank people for coming who didn't come (my in-laws got that note once), or just say "thanks for the gift" leaving people to wonder if you even got it. You're a married adult now - write decent thank you notes.

Everyone knows who you are, even if you don't know them. You will inevitably have to invite your future mother-in-law's random friend you've never met, or your dad's second cousin. You won't know who they are, but they'll know who you are - because you're the one wearing that bride dress. Act like you know them and you're glad they came. If you're really smart, have your maid of honor figure out who all these people are ahead of time so she can whisper it in your ear. You'll feel important, like the president. I assume he has those kinds of people to tell him that stuff.

Enjoy every second of your wedding day, because you only get it once. We had a few opportunities to do this, and I'm so glad we did. During our ceremony, our pastor asked us to turn around and take in the faces of those who loved us and were there supporting us. It was overwhelming and amazing, and I'm tearing up just thinking about it right now. During our reception we stopped to take it all in too, and I'm so glad we did. I can close my eyes and picture it right now, and I can feel exactly how I felt - so happy that I thought I might burst. It also hit me like a ton of bricks that all of these people would never be together in the same room again. Our wedding day didn't feel like it rushed by, and I think it's because we took time to step back and just appreciate everything that was happening around us.

It already feels like planning our wedding was a lifetime ago. Do you have any advice to add to my list? Were you given any advice during your wedding planning process that was particularly helpful?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pallet Art, or, I am an Artiste

There are so many awesome pallet projects floating around the internet. Bookshelves, wine racks, art pieces... they're everywhere. I happened to mention this to my neighbor who is a landscaper, and he brought me home my very own pallet! Thanks, Bob!

It sat on our driveway for a few weeks while we (I. Zac was negative interested, because since it was wood, he knew it was going to be major work for him!) tried to figure out what project we wanted to make. We narrowed it down to two finalists:


This gorgeous coffee table

                                 Pinned Image

This cool art piece.

Ultimately, the art piece won out because caster wheels cost a zillion dollars, Zac was pretty sure the coffee table would be too big for our living room, and we had a large space in the family room where we needed an art piece anyway. Score.

The cost for this project is:

Pallet - $0
Paint - $0 (already had it)
Round sponge brushes ($2.99. Bought the cheap set. Worked like a champ. Score).

Yeah, the whole freaking thing cost $2.99. Because we are super awesome like that. And we have well connected neighbors.

This was the best kind of joint project because we each had to do our parts while the other person wasn't home for various reasons. That meant Zac got to cut the pallet and build the "canvas" without me saying things like, "Are you sure it should be that long?" "What if you turn it the other way?" "Can I use the saw?"

It also meant that I got to paint without hearing things like, "That red is too dark." "Add another line over there." "Are you sure you want to include that many flowers?"

Ahh sweet marital bliss.

Anyway, the pictures are a bit crazy because I found out mid-project that Zac had taken our good camera to a football game. So instead of great pictures of me painting, you can see pictures like this:


But anyway... the first step in this process was for Zac to cut the pallet and turn it into a canvas.

He took the boards off of the pallet... and how much do you love that we do projects like this in our living room, without even rolling up the rug? We are hard core.

This is how he put them together...

And this is what it looks like finished!

He did a fantastic job - all of the boards line up perfectly. We didn't sand it at all - we wanted that rough look and feel to it. A few of the boards were more rough than others, and the brown paint pen I used for the branches probably won't ever be used again, but it was worth it.

Time to bring out my trusty paint supplies. Thank you, Alpha Gamma Delta, for making me do enough crafting to accumulate this supply. I really should use this stuff more often!

I followed this tutorial here, which was really helpful. The project itself was so simple. It took me a while (3 hours, probably?) but that was because my cheap brush pack only had one circle brush of each size so I had to clean them off and could only do one color at a time.

The tutorial was inspired by this World Market art piece, and I liked how there were more colors and flowers than the tutorial, so I modeled mine off of the original art.

                                               Pinned Image

The first step was to draw branches onto the pallet. At first, I followed her picture almost exactly because I was afraid to mess up. You can't really mess this one up. As I went on, I started to just draw some crazy lines.

Then, I started with the bursts. I did one color at a time, and honestly chose the colors as I went along. I put in the colors until I had enough big bursts, then went through and added the smaller bursts one at a time.

The finished product:

And here it is hanging in our living room. The colors tie in really well with our pillows. It is so perfect in the room - I'm not sure how we ever lived without it!

And a picture so you can see it with the throw pillows. 

The best part is when people come over, they almost always notice it and want to know where we got it. Oh, you know, I just made it. No big deal!

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