Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dollar Store Ingenuity

No matter how much my relative economic status improves in my life, I never stop loving the dollar store.  Between Jack's 99 cents store here in NYC, and the Christmas Tree Shop I visit in the 'burbs, I find inspiration and ideas everywhere!  So imagine how excited I was when I discovered a contest that strikes right at the heart of my dollar store love over at Living with Lindsay!  Lindsay has challenged readers to come up with a Spring decor item for less than $5, and the readers have responded!  Head on over to see the great ideas folks have had!  Oh oh oh, the love.  Here are my current favorites, all of which seem perfect for bridesmaids gifts, shower or wedding decor:

[caption id="attachment_2642" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Spring vignette from 320 Sycamore"]Spring vignette from 320 Sycamore[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2640" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Silhouette bird plates from Frugal Flourish"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2645" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Vintage inspired calendar from The Paisley Pair"]Vintage inspired calendar[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2644" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Apothecary Jars from My Swanky Crafts"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2643" align="aligncenter" width="182" caption="Nikki's tea cup bird feeder"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2639" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Lindsay's petal-fringed tea towel"]Lindsay's Petal Fringed Tea Towels[/caption]

Paper doily garland from Decor to Adore

Paper doily garland from Decor to Adore

Do you have any favorites?  What would you make?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Venue Scout: Dylan's Candy Bar

 Have you ever been to Dylan's Candy Bar?  I know there are multiple locations, but I'm talking about the NYC based confectionery where sugar is the law.  Where I will never bring my children.  EVER.  Because they might bounce right through the ceiling.  Yep, it's basically amazing.

Well, I'm super excited because I recently attended an outrageously fun bridal shower there (all photos in this post courtesy of friend-bride-to-be)!  I knew that Dylan's could throw private parties, but I always figured they would mainly cater to 10 year-olds.  And I was so excited to learn that they do much, much more!  Like showers and bachelorette parties!

Ready for the best part?  If you throw a party at Dylan's, they do all the heavy lifting for you.  They provide you with invitations AND thank you notes, a private, decorated room, food that isn't just candy (read: tea sandwiches, fruit, crudites) and of course a tasty dessert of your choosing! At the shower I attended, a bartender made tasty cocktails right next to a lovely dessert buffet, and ladies made the nicest-smelling cotton candy while we noshed and visited.  There was also a very tasty and lovely candy-land style cake on display.  As Rachel Ray would say, yum-o!

They will even offer you a professional photographer, games (we decorated cupcakes, played a celebrity couples game, and of course the purse game!), and post-shower courier service so the bride doesn't have to lug all those gifts home in a taxi.

Perhaps the best part, other than all the other great parts, was that each guest got signature Dylan's paint cans to fill with candy from the personalized candy bar- which had things like gummies, chocolate covered oreos, jelly bellies, and so forth.  The lids of the paint cans were personalized for my friend, and the guests were elbowing each other to get to the candy.  You really haven't lived until you've seen 50 and 60 somethings elbowing over candy!  :)

Even if you don't live near a Dylan's, this seems like the kind of theme anyone could run with for a grown-up girl party! I think it is pure brilliance.  Friends take note, for my next big birthday, this is the place to throw my surprise birthday party!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Newlywed Nesting, Notsomuch

Most people who know me, know that I'm a die hard fan of home improvement projects done on the cheap.  In fact, nothing makes me more excited than working on a project for our home... I devour the blogs until I find the perfect look, then I shop for bargain materials, learn techniques, and go!  For example, we added our fireplace mantle to the living room for about $150, but it would have cost $1,500 to have the local professionals do the same exact thing (with the same exact mantle).  All it took was some google searching for the right supplier and some high gloss paint.  J. and I also did our own marble kitchen backsplash by scoring clearance tiles from Expo when it went out of business.  They didn't have enough 2-inch tiles, so we got a box of 4-inch tiles too and figured out how to stretch the materials.  I made a plan on graph paper, J.'s cousin came over with his tile cutter, and for $150 in supplies and a weekend's work we had a new marble kitchen backsplash!

Unfortunately, I can't do any more nesting for a while, which is really too bad because I'm in full-swing-newlywed-nesting-mode.  We've been trying to sell J.'s house for the past 4 months to the tenant who lives there- she is a lovely woman- but unfortunately the sale fell through on Friday.  And so we're now trying more aggressively to sell my big girl house.  I have to believe that somehow, this will all work out, but it's incredibly frustrating to now know where we are going to be.  I am a planner, and not being able to make plans for my home is making me nuts.  But for now, home improvement projects do not make sense.  Maaaaaaaaan.

But a girl can dream!  In an effort to get my design fix, I've resorted to blog love.  Check out these great blogs I've recently discovered, with their incredible offerings!  You'll probably notice these are very "me" (lots of vintage, eclectic, cozy, with a substantial dose of country and only a touch of modern/contemporary) but there's tons more out there for every taste and style.  Please go forth, nest and share so I can live vicariously through you!!

320 Sycamore:  Check out her little makeovers.  Or her recent $5 dollar store spring vignette. 

Apartment Therapy:  An old favorite!  With craigslist finds, madeover furniture, and lots of reader feedback, this place is like an encyclopedia!

Better After:  Spectacular projects, before and after!

A Country Farmhouse: Self explanatory and brilliant.

Kelly and Olive: Design inspiration at it's best.

Frugal Farmhouse Design: This author has killer taste and great ideas.

My Repurposed Life:  This blogger takes trash to treasure in simple, genius ways! 

Anything Pretty:  So much loveliness in one house, it's hard to believe.  I wish I was as good with woodworking as Jenny!

Life as a Martha Wannabe: I feel like I myself could have a blog with this title.  But I love this one so much, I don't need to!

Young House Love:  So much adorable cuteness, so little time.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Gifts to "Flip" For (and apologies for the bad pun)

I crack myself up with my dad-style use of puns :)

Have you seen those cool little video cameras known as the Flip?  They are these adorable, teenie tiny video cameras which start at just $149 and can basically go anywhere.  It seems like they have lots of bells and whistles in those tiny packages too!  I feel like this would be such a great thing to bring on a honeymoon- small, portable, great for capturing funny moments along with those special ones. 

Ok but here is what is really cool about the Flip right now.  If you order one of these from the company, you can upload an image and they''ll put it on the video camera.  For free.  SWEET!

[caption id="attachment_2320" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="It would appear to be just that easy"]It would appear to be just that easy[/caption]

 I have to say, I'm obsessed with this idea and I don't need a video camera at all.  But still obsessed.  I feel like this would be such a wonderful gift for newlyweds... or parents who have helped plan your wedding; or your maid of honor.  You could put the couple's engagement photo on it, or your parents' wedding shot, for example.  And with free shipping offers available, it is that much more appealing.

What do you think?  Do you love the Flip?  Actually, while I'm at it, has anyone out there actually used the Flip before?  What did you think?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why Am I So Obsessed With Wooden Flatware?

This is why.  This gosh-darn adorable set of wooden cutlery spied at Kate's Paperie.  In a sewn paper pouch, with a cloth napkin, it makes me think of picnics and summer, strawberry shortcake and potato salad!  But at $5 per set, it might be best to use these for a dinner party and find something else for a wedding.

Good thing there are affordable alternatives out there!  Jessica over at Budget Savvy Bride was the first blogger to call my attention to wooden flatware, and she made her own cutlery sets for her wedding.  She found them to be quite sturdy and perfect for her guests.

[caption id="attachment_2601" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Look how cute hers turned out!"]Look how cute hers turned out![/caption]

A little wooden flatware, a little paper, a little baking twine or yarn, and you've got yourself an easy DIY that is as cute as a button!  And did I mention that this stuff is biodegradeable and compostable, unlike their plastic counterparts?  Earth friendly!  I'm TOTALLY stealing this idea for my brother's engagement party cookout this summer.  A quick google search will find you some affordable flatware from a great many retailers.  Quick tip: buy in bulk  (BSB got hers in cases of 1000 from Ecoware Biodegradables for $56.99 which includes shipping) if you're planning a wedding.  But if you have a smaller crowd, you can buy sets of 100 wooden forks, knives or spoons for $6.49 at the Web Restaurant Store.

So all this is quite excellent and lovely.  But my crush was taken to a whole new level when I saw these over at Totally Tabletops: monogrammed, personalized perfection.  This sort of personalization doesn't come cheap, but it sure is cute.  And you can find them, for example, at Neiman Marcus (36 pieces for $64).  But the crafter in me has to wonder- don't you think you could do this yourself with a little custom stamp?  I'd love to hear if you've tried!

[caption id="attachment_2614" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Who needs boys when you can have these?"][/caption]

Do you love this flatware as much as I do?  What would you to to personalize it?

[caption id="attachment_2602" align="aligncenter" width="199" caption="Ok, one more adorable example for you, from the Bride's Cafe!"][/caption]

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Bridal Shots- No Trashing of Dress Required!

So I know I've mentioned how much fun I had with Jessica  Morrisy working on my bridal shoot at the Brooklyn Bridge... and now she's got highlights up on her blog!!  Here's some samples, but definitely head over to her blog to check them out!



Vendor Review: BluePrint Cleanse

renovation_cleanseIs it just me, or is cleansing the new fad diet?  (Well ok, cleansing and gluten-free).  You probably have heard of these cleanses either from people who love them or people who hate them.  Personally, I know people who have literally lost ten pounds in a week on these things and kept it off.  So when it came time for me to take my boudoir photos, I was tempted... quick and easy weight loss?  Seems like something most women would like!

Of course I should mention- most cleanses say that they are not intended to be a weight loss technique.  What they are actually supposed to do is rid your body of toxins and all that yucky stuff.  So take it for what you will.  Also, a brief legal disclaimer: be careful, talk to your doctor, and know that I'm making no claims, promises, etc. regarding the safety or effectiveness of cleansing.  You're on your own peeps.

And thus, my research into the world of cleansing began.  Now, my first exposure was to the Master Cleanse- which seems wildly unhealthy to even my non-medical mind.  The cleanse involves drinking only a concoction made from fresh lemons, grade B maple syrup and cayenne pepper.   For days.  No solid food is eaten for the entire cleanse, and for me that was a deal breaker... I was not spending all this time and effort to get skinny only to wreck my metabolism.  Plus, no food is a really bad idea for me, because I get cranky.  So I kept looking.

Next I considered GOOP which is the cleanse made famous by Gwyneth Paltrow.  The nice thing about this cleanse is that you DO get to eat.  The drawback for me was that you have to have lots of fresh food on hand and you have to fix everything yourself.  For regular people this is totally doable.  But for me, given my work schedule which is generally hectic and unpredictable, it wasn't realistic.

But then, I found the BluePrint Cleanse.  BP is actually a company that makes a few types of cleanses and they're all pre-made and juice based, but the juice has calories so your body doesn't go into starvation mode.  The drawback to BP is that their 3 day cleans runs about $190- that is a lot of dough to spend on juice.  But they delivered it to my office and it was all pre-pressed and convenient, which was ideal for me.  I decided to try their Renovation Cleanse, which at the time was the best for beginners.  I loved that the juices tasted good- nothing to grassy or gross- and for your last juice of the day, you get this cashew milk blend which has cinnamon in it, and it is downright delicious.  It is also the most filling of the beverages, so when you're really about to chew off your own arm, the cleanse comes through for you with some sustenance.

These days, BP is also offering a new cleanse, the Juice 'Till Dinner, which the website says consists of a daily supply of four juices, a two course vegetarian meal, and two snacks.  With foods like Cucumber Basil Soup with Cashew Cream on the menu, I think it sounds pretty good.  If you've tried it, I'd love to hear about how you liked it!

So, ok, review time. 

Pros:  The BP Cleanse offers tasty juice, and is 100% convenient.  I did my fast in very hot August weather and worked out every day, but in spite of these two facts I was never left feeling shaky or weak.  The cleanse helped me lose 3 pounds, at a point in my wedding diet where I had been at a three week plateau.  My tummy was as flat as it has ever been in my boudoir photos and I felt great.   

Cons:  I was hungry.  Very.  No lie.  I was cranky.  I was emotional.  I cried once (or twice).  The BP Cleanse was also expensive- but then again, that may have been a pro because when you spend that much on a cleanse, you ain't cheating.

Would I do it again?  Sure, so long as I have the kind of job where I can afford it.  But my MIL made a good point too- you could probably do a day drinking V8 and get similar results.  Ok, you might not feel like you were eating 10 pounds of freshly pressed cabbage, but for less money I might try that next! 

Have you ever tried cleansing?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Horseshoes And Weddings? Yes, please!

Today, I am madly in love with all the horseshoe wedding inspiration I'm finding on etsy.  As a girl who hearts horses, it is only natural.  But even if you're not an equestrian, I bet you'll feel the love too!

For instance (click images for source):

[caption id="attachment_2393" align="aligncenter" width="344" caption="Check out this incredible red glossy horseshoe heart by AlteredIron!"]Check out this incredible red glossy horseshoe heart by AlteredIron![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2396" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="How can you not love this Horse Heads Horseshoe Trivet from brianbrazeal?"]How can you not love this Horse Heads Horseshoe Trivet from brianbrazeal?[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2395" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="And of course, BringingHomeBrandi's rustic version"]And of course, BringingHomeBrandi's rustic version[/caption]

Can't you just see it now?  Decorating an escort table, incorporated to hold table numbers, weighing down outdoor tablecloths, or hanging at the bride and groom's sweetheart table-- I feel like there are so many ways one can use horseshoes to add a touch of country chic to your wedding!  And let's not forget the element of jewelery inspiration too!

What do you love today?!


Or jewelsbyn's lucky horseshoe necklace
jewelsbyn's lucky horseshoe necklace

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Moments of a Lifetime: Our Ceremony!

Once again, these fabulous photos are courtesy of Jessica Morrisy!

Well, we all made it down the aisle and nobody fell!  Bridesmaid R. said she nearly did (whoops, aisle runner!) but graceful as she is I'm sure nobody knew.   And my dad walked me down nice and slowly, so as to savor the moment and also to help me keep my balance!  It was so nice to see all the amazing people in our lives who came to show us their support and witness our marriage.  I was overwhelmed!  But something happened when I got to the end of that aisle-- J. and I sort of went into this perfect "bubble" and I barely noticed anyone else for the rest of the ceremony!

The pastor began with a welcome, and then the congregation was invited to sing a hymn (we chose "Joyful Joyful" by Mozart).  I'm not sure how thrilled our bridal party was to be singing, but they pretended well.  And given that I come from such a musical family, it couldn't have been any different!  I sang my heart out and it calmed whatever nerves I had left.  I still remember the feeling, it was incredible!

Next came the questions of the parents.  I loved that the pastor allowed us to customize this part of the ceremony such that questions were asked of both J.'s parents AND mine.  I can't stand the idea of a woman being "given away" like livestock (no offense to you traditionalists out there!  I see the romance, even if it doesn't work for me).  But I adore the idea of entering into marriage with a public declaration of support from the parents of the bride and groom.  I think it was a teary moment for all of us!  And then, my dad raised my veil and gave me a hug.  (Yes, awwwwwe!)

Next, readings from my dear friend J. who read from the Song of Ruth ("where thou go I will go...") and J.'s cousin B. who read from I Corinthians ("Love is patient, love is kind...").

Followed by the homily.  One of the reasons I really liked our pastor was because he was so intelligent.  His homily was about us and not simply some regurgitation of whateverpeopletalkabout.  He spoke about the importance of being individuals, not just of being a couple.  Of finding unity though our differences, and allowing each other the space to be the people we are- and using those differences to find strength together.  For two people who lived a fair amount of life before finding each other, it was beautiful, poignant, and perfect.

And by the way, remember that aisle runner I made?  Turned out pretty great, huh?

Ok ok, back to the important stuff.  Some prayer, followed by vows.

J. said his vows so loudly and clearly, it literally brought me (and him) to tears.  By the time it was my turn, I could barely get them out.  But I did!

And then the rings.  We had them engraved with a private message, and our wedding date.  And we even put them on the correct fingers!

Then, more prayer followed by the lighting of our unity candle.  At this point, I was trying hard to savor every second, because I knew the ceremony was coming to a close!

And then, the best possible thing happened.  We were pronounced husband and wife.  We kissed!  And then, "Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. J... MISPRONOUNCED LAST NAME!"  Um, what?!  Hilarity ensued!  It was the first of many mispronunciations I expect are in my future, now that I have a new last name.  But I don't mind AT ALL.  We got a great memory and a great photo out of it!!

We were married!  Hooray!

And how did we get here?  Checking InPractice Makes Perfect: The Rehearsal!; The Rehearsal Dinner!; The Rehearsal Dinner Slide Show; Girls Gone Wild!; Got Mah Hairs Did; The Guys Get Groomed; The Girls Get Glammed!; Get Me To The Church on Time!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Real Wedding: Amanda and Wesley!

Hey, its Friday (!!) and I know it's been a while, but I've got another jaw dropping wedding to share with you this week!  Today's feature comes from Kim Chelwick of Black Pixel, an up-and-coming photographer in Columbus, Ohio who, as you can see, absolutely nails the casual, natural-and-yet-glamorous elegance of this outdoor event.   Of course, it helps that she had such a drop-dead gorgeous bunch of subjects.

So let's talk turkey- if you can believe it, Amanda and Wesley are actually high school sweethearts who met at a ninth grade dance!  After learning they lived only one mile from each other, the couple soon found out they were "meant to be" and the rest was history!  After six years together, they finally tied the knot on September 26 at Brush Lake Lodge.  The day started out gloomy with rain but the clouds parted just in time for the ceremony, sending out the most perfect light for the photos!   The bride wore a stunning full length gown with intricate lace and beading, and the bridesmaids wore green and fuchsia frocks which suited them and the outdoor event perfectly!  I am particularly fond of the flower girl's 1930's style party dress, which to me channels everything both subtle and glam about this wedding!  Perhaps most special of all, the couple's adorable baby girl (the charmer with those sparkly eyes!) was there to celebrate with them.

I won't ramble on, I'll just let these amazing photos do the talking.  Congratulations to Amanda and Wesley, and to Kim for capturing their day with absolute and utter flair!