30 September 2011

Friday Favorites - Best of DIY Projects

I thought I would do a little round up today of some of my favorite projects from the past two years. Unbelievably at the end of this month it will be kalanicut's 2-year-anniversary. Amazing. It's so crazy to look back and see how prehistoric things looked and how much less I knew when I started. It's also encouraging to see progress, good response and feel I have found my voice in many ways.

Best of all I love my connection with you the readers. Some of you are grand real-life friends now, some of you are friends and family that I stay in better touch with because of this blog and some of you are blog friends whose influence & delightfulness I cherish. If you are here for the first time I welcome you, new friend.

Now here's a fun look back at some of my favorite DIY projects I've made:

My Handbag Line - I have not made bags for a while, but love these
Favorite Shoulder Bags - ditto
Baby Slippers - for friends
Pelmet Box #1
My $5 Bench
Upholstered Headboard -  for my lovely parents
Cane Chairs
My Dream Bread Bowl
Fall Jewelry
Jewelry Tray

It was so interesting that after my inspiring night last night I was just on fire all day today creatively. It's been a while since I have had that much energy and it was so fun to feel to connected with myself and so energized about doing things that inspire me. I am getting into a nice daily routine of inspirational reading, journaling and to-do list making which is so very helpful in maintaining a hopeful, organized attitude about the day.

Hope you've had a good week and wish you the best of weekends. See you back here Monday. Have lots to share next week. Happy Friday!

29 September 2011

Refreshment with Friends

Last night I had the opportunity to go with friend Kelly aka Everkelly, (author, fabric designer,all around amazing creative gal, beautiful, funny, kind soul) to the book signing for Design*Sponge at Home by Grace Bonney, founder of the world renowned blog Design*Sponge.

It was in Beverly Hills at the Anthropologie store there, a really beautiful store. There was a big crowd and lots of buzz around the shop, a great energy for a gathering. Kelly and I for a moment played "guess who's the famous blogger" trying to place half inch by half inch avatars with real live people which is nearly impossible. We did introduce ourselves to the beautiful, stylish and good humored Joy of Oh Joy Studio and chatted with her for a moment. She has the cutest baby bump and looked as fresh and energetic as she does in all her photos.

We also met up with Christy, a friend of Kelly's, who previously interned for Grace Bonney in New York. She was a ball of beautiful, hopeful, cheerful energy and so fun to talk to. And she pushed me out of my comfort zone, which is pretty hard to do.

Kelly and I also took a tour around the store, which is always full of great inspiration from the bones of the building down to the smallest items on shelves and hangers. Afterwards we walked across the street for a  cocoa/tea chat and looked at my wedding inspiration board. I also got to see some of Kelly's lastest photo shoot for a cool project she's working on. Her designs were so smart, fresh and inspiring. It was so fun to see projects she's been telling me about come to life. I'm hugely cheering her on.

We also talked about novel writing, a couple of writing projects we're each working on and a lot of other things. After dropping Kelly off I stopped by the grocery store and then headed home. When I got home I was so full of fresh energy, so excited about creativity, about meeting new people, about having courage to make dreams come true, develop ideas and have hope for the future.

I realized that there's nothing better than  planning a night out of your routine, with inspiring people, in inspiring places to really refresh the heart, mind and soul. Are you getting enough refreshment? I am reminded tonight that I need more and I'm committing to plan more of this. It's a good thing!

photo by kalanicut - Grace Bonney with a lovely Design*Sponge reader

linked to Good Life Wednesdays at A Beach Cottage.

28 September 2011

Quick Tip - Take Advantage of Coupons

As I've been going through my secondary email account where I have all my retail store emails sent, I am looking at the number of fantastic coupons I get from places like Michael's craft store and Joann Fabric and how that could help my event planning budget. If I were to take advantage of these coupons for medium to large purchases on a regular basis it save an amazing amount of money.

Here's an example. I was in a specialty retailer recently. They have some fantastic things you just aren't going to find in a mainstream mass retail store. But there was one piece of equipment I needed that was about $25. I knew it would be available at either Michaels or Joann Fabric and with a coupon I could easily get it for half that price. So I waited to purchase that little item and will pick it up on my next trip to either of those big retailers. Another great spot to look for coupons for wedding planning is the bridal magazines. You can often find 20% off your complete purchase coupons in the pages there.

I often get great coupons from Utrecht art supply. They carry quite a few products you might use for wedding planning. Aaron Brothers would also be a great shop to watch for great deals from if you will be buying frames. Subscribing to weekly coupons to any shop you plan to regularly shop or know you'll need some more costly items from can you big money if you are willing to plan your purchases a bit and watch for savings opportunities.

graphic designed by kalanicut using Picnik software

Being Gracious & Glad For Others

Cobalt Teal Inspirational Sweet HeART Wall Hanging Block  Authentic by Jodi Ohl

I've been thinking a lot about graciousness and showing support to other's recently. I have been the recipient of a beautiful abundance of sweet, joyful, loving greetings and words of support from many dear friends and family since we announced our engagement a month ago. I can't tell you how much that has meant to me. It meant the world to me when one said, "Okay, let me know what I can do!" another said "What can I contribute to?" and another said, "Oh I can't wait to help you plan your wedding! I am so excited for you!"

To know that there are people out there who will give of their love, time and energy to support you as you take a big step in your life is most meaningful. In fact, thinking about it right now is bringing a tear to my eye. I see your faces and hear your sweet words again in my ears.

Over the past months I have seen babies born, marriages happen, new jobs and other reasons to celebrate in the lives of friends around me. I am always so very impressed when I see people go out of their way to add to the joy and merriment with their love and kindness. I am particularly moved and impressed when I see people who have every reason to be envious put their own feelings of aside and with all their hearts wish others well as they see them receive the exact blessing that this kind-hearted soul has for so deeply longed for.

I have been thinking a lot about an associate who was so joyful and kind and sweet to me when she heard I was engaged. She would so love to be married and has been a single woman for many decades now. I know she celebrates and loves in this same way for other's new babies, although she never had a chance to have her own.

Sadly as we move in and out of our experiences with others, this abundant attitude is not easily achievable for everyone - or perhaps for any of us all the time. Some people cannot wish another well when they have a baby because they want one so desperately themselves. Some cannot wish a friend well when she meets a really lovely man because they themselves are not currently in a relationship. Some despise going to weddings because they have not yet had their own. Others can only be jealous for another's awards and successful career or wealth. While we cannot control how other's feel and act, I feel sad for any of us who finds ourselves at times in these places.

I have thought a lot about my supportive kind friend, and other supportive kind friends and family and the support and loving kindness I have seen showered on others. I have resolved even more that I will be full of good wishes and love for others. There is never a good reason to hold back or to allow envy or shame or despair or even disapproval keep us from being like my friend - beautiful, loving, caring, supportive and a shining example to everyone around her. I admire her and hold her dear to my heart as I write and dedicate this post to her. Thank you dear friend for your sweet, touching example. You have changed me for the better.

I have to share a bit about this awesome piece of art above. It is titled Cobalt Teal Inspiration Sweet HeART Wall Hanging from the Etsy shop Lucy Sweet Lucy. Gorgeous, isn't it. The artist is  Jodi Ohl and you can read all about her at her blog Sweet Repeats. And yes, she takes custom orders so if you want something that fits perfectly into your home decor she's willing and able to make that happen.

I'll be back later this morning with a quick tip that could save you lots of money. Have a great Wednesday!

27 September 2011

More Fun Treats From Paper Source

I have so many things to share with you this week that I can't even get to all of them. I didn't yet get to to finishing the mantle, so that will come soon. Here is a little more eye candy from my recent trip to Paper Source. In square feet Paper Source is not what you would call a warehouse store. It's more like a nice, normal size boutique shop, but you cannot believe how long you can spend in there.

When I was in line to pay for my purchases, The Man called me and mentioned, "You've been in there over an hour and a half." I seriously had no idea. But he was so kind to indulge me while he wandered the local shops and I got a lot of research and sourcing done, not to mention a great little tutorial on embossing by one of the gals there. They were all so helpful as I said before.

Wouldn't these stamps be so darling for assigned table numbers. Love the floral patterns, the bold size. Can't imagine how cool they would look in color. Paper Source also had an amazing selection of handmade papers. They are breath taking. I was especially taken with this orange pattern on top. So cheery and spunky. Paper Source's ink stamp collection is the best I've seen around.

The selection of papers covers most of an entire wall of the store and there really is something for every one and every occasion. Here are a few favorite greens. I imagine these would make lovely envelope liners.

They have an entire section devoted to card stock and matching envelopes in almost every color you could imagine. Perfect for small run invites, thank yous or other greetings. The color selection really is impressive. They also have lots of samples around the store to inspire your creativity. Here is a collection of favor or gift boxes. I especially like the one with the striped ribbon. You could use it for so many events and fill it with so many kinds of goodies.

If you're not up for DIY, Paper Souce has a wide selection of gorgeous greeting cards, calendars and gifts. I'm still salivating a bit over a couple of 2012 calendars I saw there. Shoot if it really is going to be the last year of the world, I should at least enjoy a stunning calendar to count down the days. Har-har. They also have quite a wide selection of charming and witty gifts if you need a little something for a birthday or thank you gift.

If you don't have the good fortune to have a Paper Source store in your neighborhood, you're in luck because Paper Source has an amazing online store as well. I've spent many an hours browsing there too. They have some great online tutorials for some of the most popular projects and products too. Besides an amazing array of mouth-watering goodies, the web site is full of helpful information too.

26 September 2011

Favorite Etsy Wedding Finds

image via Beth Robinson

In my few minutes of early morning and late night free time this past weekend I decided to browse through Etsy's wedding section. It's pretty beefy and I'm still surprised at some of the not so impressive and total copycat products I saw, but I have to share a few of my favorites. First up this darling bird cake topper by Beth Robinson of giftworldz from Nashville, TN. I'm not going with any bird elements, but this cake topper almost makes me wish I was. I love the simplicity and down to earth feel with the fun twist.

SALE 40 poms... choose your colors
image via Party Palms

You can order poms in a wide variety of colors and quantity from Party Palms of Dallas, TX. These are just so charming and look so pretty overhead. Makes me double think the paper lanterns a bit. But these would work for so many occasions and options. Would be cute in a little girl's room, for a birthday party, to decorate a coworker's desk for their birthday, etc.

Mr and Mrs Stamped Dinner Forks With Wedding Date Spoon

These have been seen around a bit, but they are so beautiful and would be so pretty framed in a shadow box after the wedding in a dining room. A lovely wedding or anniversary gift too. These are made by Holly of Baby Puppy Designs from Jamestown, NY.

Personalized Wedding Date Hanger - SHIPPED in 48 HOURS - Bridal Hanger, Wire Hanger, Wedding Name Hanger
image via AntoArts
There are a lot of people making these personalized dress hangers. There is a varitey of quality, colors and wording. I do like the dark brown hangers and I like the personalized date. These are made by Antonia Varbanova from  AntoArts of Washington, DC.

The Shabby Chic "Sweet Love" Banner - Ready to ship
image via Better Off Wed

I find this a very likeable cake topper. There aren't a lot that I have seen that I really like and there are some I've found horrifying. I like the idea of letting the cake speak and having a little touch at the top. So I'm impressed with this one by Tina of Better Off Wed in San Francisco. Tina has some great options in her store you might want to see them all.

Hope you enjoyed a little Monday morning eye candy. Doesn't require too much energy or concentration, while you enter the new week. I'll be back later in the morning with a fall mantle update. Have a wonderful week. I read something this weekend that said something to the effect of the only thing holding you back is yourself. That's pretty powerful. I'm thinking lots about that this week. Sending you warm wishes!

23 September 2011

Preview - Fall Fashions For The Mantle

Here's a little peek at work going on for the new Fall 2011 mantle decor. My 2 1/8 inch whole punch, glue stick, scissors and I are busy whipping up a few pumpkins for a new bunting. Getting the shape just right has been a little tricky so far. Still working on perfecting where I need to snip to make them look quite right.

I also have a couple of bags of dollar store pumpkins and gourds waiting. I'm debating on doing a little spray paint work on them with some of this new fangled Krylon glitter spray paint that's been all the rage the past couple of weeks online. Or I will put to use a little glue and my 100+ bottles of Martha Stewart Glitter in every size and shape available to mankind. Wondering why I would own so much glitter? I had a 24-pack of my own, then won one of every kind of multi-pack from a very lovely Martha Stewart Twitter giveaway. I have a LOT of glitter. Thanks Martha! Big kiss.

By Monday I am hoping we'll have something fun and new to show you that will last right through until Thanksgiving. Have a fantastic weekend!

A Walk Through Jamali Garden

image via Jamali Garden

I've been hearing a lot of event planning folks talking online about Jamali Garden and wanted to check it out for myself. I'm impressed. Jamali Garden is an online store full of beautiful home and garden decor and event design treasures. It's talked about in all the most fashionable magazines and on the best online sites. If you're in New York, there is a brick and mortar location in the Flower District.

image via Jamali Garden

I have to say that their prices are very fair and the selection is mouth watering! I love the faux banana leaf table runners and placemats above and the fantastic collection of many things bamboo including this screen. Here are a few other favorites in the collection.

image via Jamali Garden

How could a beach lover like me not go a little ga-ga for this driftwood garland. Wouldn't these be fantastic draped above a beautiful outdoor dining setting with white lights, a beautiful table covered with a white tablecloth with candles in clear jars down the center of the table. Gorgeous and so simple.

L.E.D. Pillar Candles with Remote Control

They also have a wide variety of candles, LED candles and lighting and many kinds of vessels to display candles in or on. You can find baskets, ribbon, sea glass, ceramics, shells, holiday decor items and so much more. Right now they are having a big "yard sale" on all kinds of outdoor furniture and gardening accessories. Let's face it, it's just a complete and total designer's candy store. Check out Jamali Garden, you'll definitely find something you'll like for your home, garden or next big event at a great price.

22 September 2011

Quick Tip - Make Your Own Envelopes

image via Paper Source

I picked up two little treasures at Paper Source Tuesday that I've been wanting for a long time.  These are gems that make a phenomenal addition to my crafts cupboard. I bought the envelope template kit that will allow me to make my own envelopes very easily. I have made my own envelopes since I was a teenager, but my template always was a torn apart envelope. I had fun making envelopes out of maps and all kinds of paper back then.

image via Paper Source

Now that I have access to a fantastic printer/copier right next to my desk I can make my own special paper compilations on my computer and print them out. Seriously if you had told me that would be possible when I was a teen I would've been so impatient and completely giddy for that day to come. You can also make envelopes out of scrap booking paper, wrapping paper, vellum, craft paper...so many options.

I love that the template kit comes with FIVE different sizes. I'll likely use these for my holiday cards this year and to DIY invitations. Would be great to be able to make a variety of envelopes for the festivities. There are great DIY video instructions at the Paper Source web site.

image via Paper Source

Then I also got the perfect pairing for making your own envelopes. I bought the envelope liner templates. Each template fits perfectly with the coordinating envelope size.The liner kit comes with six different sizes so you're really covered on a wide variety of projects.

image via Paper Source

Your creativity options are truly ENDLESS with these envelope and liner templates. I will definitely get my money's worth with these these high quality templates. Can't wait to experiment with them. Have a wonderful day. Thanks so much for coming by and spending a few minutes.

21 September 2011

Ideas for Holiday Cards 2011

image via Paper Source

After a few weeks of trying, I finally got an extended visit to the Paper Source in my neighborhood. I probably rounded the store at least five times, but I really got to look at every corner and everything I had been wanting to check out. I learned a lot too in my conversations with the helpful, friendly staff.

I decided to check out all the embossing supplies and got a lot of help learning about what everything does. I also started thinking about Holiday 2011 cards. I am always inspired by Stepmodo to start preparing for the holidays in July or August. While I was  looking at all the paper goods I decided to check out the holiday stamps. Thought I'd share a few of my favorites. I'm envisioning some fun papers, much like I did last year with a pretty little square with a lovely, sparkly embossed stamp this time. Here are some that caught my eye.

image via Paper Source

I completely adore the tree at the top of this post. How gorgeous is that? Such beautiful, fine detail. Love this square above. It captures so many sentiments in such a creative way. The beautiful script on this stamp below charmed me. I'm still thinking about it. It would be so beautiful on a metallic, glittery embossed card.

image via Paper Source

Love it! These trees are so petite and charming. I do quite love them. Wouldn't they be so beautiful in dark gray on a white card, or white on a dark gray card? They would also be beautiful in so many green hues or each tree a different color. The fine details are so perfect.

image via Paper Source

It's a great time to get the Christmas cards made. Once they are all put together, stamped and addressed, writing the greetings inside will be a treat come holiday season. Even if you don't want to make your own cards, it's a great time to get the best selection of choices at fine retailers or order your own personalized cards. Get your cards addressed and stamped now and that's two big things you won't have to deal with come the holidays. Are you working on any holiday projects now? What colors and styles are you thinking for the upcoming season?

I'll have more treasures to share with you from my extended visit to Paper Source. It's such a great store with the absolute best of paper goods.

20 September 2011

Saving Big on Wedding Sandals

image via SandalWorld

Happy Tuesday. I didn't want to do another wedding-ish post today, but I had this already ready to go and didn't get a chance to put together another post for today. So forgive me for too much wedding talk. I'm not talking about it that much in my every day life, lots of every day things keeping me busy. But really this DIY is doable for anyone who wants a fun, unique pair of shoes for a special event.

You may remember these lovely sandals I found a few weeks ago. Unfortunately when I went to buy them, I realized the site I was looking at was asking about $50 more for them than I could find them at another sites and that they are not leather, which you can see if you look up close at those flowers. Big bummer. The straw that broke the camel's back was that I could not find them in my size anywhere.

So I started looking around and realized that you can DIY sandals like this too. Here's what I would do. Buy these sandals on clearance from Aldo for just $29. They aren't leather but having seen them in person they seem much better quality than the sandals above.

image via Aldo

Then pop over to your favorite trimming store and buy a few leather or fabric flowers. You can even make your own DIY leather flowers or fabric flowers with directions from the Martha Stewart website. Here's a fantastic collection of 10 DIY flower projects colected by Skip To My Lou. You could even buy a few high quality silk roses in the silk florals department at your local craft store. Then attach those pretty flowers across the sides of your new sandals and you are ready to walk down the aisle.

image via Joann Fabric

So you can easily make your own fabulous wedding or special event sandals with just a little cash and DIY rather than spend big bucks on sandals that don't look that great to begin with. Just another way to shave a few dollars off that wedding budget.

Have a fantastic day! Sending you happy good wishes, wherever you may be.

19 September 2011

Falling for Knee-length Boden Skirts

images via Boden

If any clothing retailer was going to do something to impress me for Fall 2011, it would be to put out some gorgeous knee-length skirts. Enough with the mid-thigh skirts already. Some of us are over 15, have kids around, in and out of the car all day, are on the go a lot and need clothing that actually covers us on the move or when we bend over to pick something or someone up.

Who is knocking my socks off? Oh, just Boden, AGAIN! Boden you totally rock for making the most amazing clothes for real people with real lives. You give us patterns, appliques, lots of color and options. Not like so many retailers who every season put out a tan, black and gray skirt in one solid color with nothing interesting or personlizing in any way. Here are some of my favorites and you can see them all right here. Applause for Boden!

Let's all shop for fall, shall we!

How To Save Big On A Wedding or Event Budget

Happy Monday. Hope you had a great weekend. The weather here could not have been more fantastic yesterday and we took a lovely little bike ride through our neighborhood. Love my bike!

Now that I've been wedding browsing for a few weeks I've learned and relearned some great event planning lessons. Let me just say now that if you are someone who plans weddings or events on an unlimited budget you will not need to read any farther. This will be of no matter to you. But if you are someone who likes to live a gorgeous life and needs to live within a budget, this baby is for you.

Lesson Number 1: Always check competing vendors and non-wedding industry vendors for comparable prices. Found an awesome sight for sandals but realized that all the prices were up to $50 higher than what the same shoe went for at other outlets.

Lesson Number 2: This is the basis for the blog post - When buying anything in multiples, the difference between a couple dollars more or less really affects your overall budget. Here's my example. I fell head over heals in love with the green and white floral paper lanterns from Luna Bazaar. Seems like a reasonable price to pay $11.50 each for say 24 of them. Total price = $236.00 Not terrible. When you look at a wedding budget, it's a pretty tiny expense compared to things like catering, photography and dresses.

But start considering how lots of little $10 items, when purchased in multiples, will affect your budget and it can make a big difference. Looking at other lanterns I realized I could buy the plain square green ones for $7.75 each x 24 units for $186.00. I could easily stencil these with the awesome leaf stencil I bought last week or with the fantastic stencils Martha Stewart recently released. That would save some money.

But if I really want to cut the budget back I could get the no frills round green lanterns for just $1.10 per lantern. At 24 lanterns that is only $26.40. That is more than $200 less than the favorite lantern. I could still fancy up these lanterns, but probably wouldn't go to the trouble to stencil them due to the varying curves.

I started to realize that it's okay to spend more if you feel really passionate about an item once or twice maybe, but you need to consider how these decisions will hammer your overall budget if you go that route multiple times. It only takes a few dollars here and there per item to really see the budget skyrocket. Think of how many other things I could buy with a $100 or $200 savings on just one area of the budget -- or just keep that money in my pocket - even better!

Lesson Number 3: Another thing I've learned is that there is a healthy market for stylish used wedding decorations. No matter which lanterns I were to buy, I could easily resell them which will bring even more savings on the back end of the wedding. That goes for cake stands, candle holders, linens, dresses and just about any item that can easily be reused for a wedding.

If your goal is to have a wonderful event for your family and friends and spend time with them on your wedding day, that goal will much more likely be realized if you are not stressed out about how much you've spent and how you're going to pay it all off.

While the look AND feel of your wedding are important, be sure to look at more options than just your favorite, most expensive ones. Your guests have not seen all the options you have shopped out and they are going to love your wedding because it's beautiful to them and because it's your wedding and represents you. Saving small amounts with budget-savvy decisions, in lots of places will allow you a beautiful wedding with big savings.

I have a budget in mind and if I really want to pull off a fantastic wedding on an amazing budget, I have to be thinking about every area where I can cut a dollar or two or ten, especially when buying multiples. So we'll have to just see where it goes with these paper lantern options. I'm not saying scrimp yourself out of the wedding you want or have a junky wedding just to save a few bucks. But it seems wise to be really clear on what you're spending on small items and how they impact the big budget in the long run. You may find ways to save more than expected.

This post is linked to Good Life Wednesday at Beach Cottage blog. This week Sarah has posted photos of the most beautiful flowers from her garden. A lovely peaceful online walk.

16 September 2011

Wedding Inspirations - Green and White

Last weekend when I found myself in my second home of San Diego, suddenly with no plans or people to hang out with, I decided to make use of my time and the joy of being somewhere vastly easier and quicker to run around town in than Los Angeles. It was the ideal moment to hit all the stores I could looking at wedding stuff.

Still a bit foggy about how to approach all this, I had a great conversation with my sister the night before. She's the awesome one who is a wedding photographer and also has a lot of wedding catering experience. I knew she would be a great resource but I still underestimated all the wisdom she had to impart. So helpful! We decided that first priorities are naturally to pick a date, nail down location and get Save The Date cards sent out. We have not yet done the first two, although the conversations are happening. So I decided to think about stationery.

After an hour of browsing wedding invitation books, I was more convinced than ever that I'll DIY ours. I've done a lot of my own graphic design work over the years and my whole career has been based on being able to write things like wording for printed materials. With a little guidance from books, mags and web sites, I should be able to nail that part. So with an idea in my head I headed out to check out all the craft stores have to offer.

I hit two Michael's stores, Papyrus, a JoAnn Fabric, Barnes and Noble, Target and Paper Tales, a paper crafts boutique in Point Loma. I took a lot of inspiration photos on my phone and downloaded them to my computer files. Now I am starting to see some themes come together.

I'm on the lookout for a really great Polynesian inspired green and white paper for the envelope liners. I've found a few nice ones, but so far nothing that I am totally convinced about. I'm thinking about making a cool aisle runner for the ring ceremony at the beach with some simple fabric and the fantastic large leaf stencil I bought last week. I love this stencil and may try to shrink it down a bit for smaller projects.

I also found Ruffledblog classifieds where you can buy used wedding items. I have seen some fantastic stuff there including framed number tables, battery-operated votive candles, glassware and more. I'm definitely keeping my eye on that place.

So that's a roundup of what's been percolating with the planning creativity so far. We'll see what happens in the end. I can't promise you it won't change, but it's definitely beginning to be fun to do a little scheming and so far a very little spending. I think my total expenditures so far are about $25. That is not including a goody or two I may have hidden in my closet - I'd consider another $25 there. So here's a question for you - Do you have a favorite online store for crafts, paper, stamps or scrapbooking supplies? I'd love to hear about them!

Have a fantastic weekend! It's a lovely time of year, fall for some, spring for others and the usual lovely weather for me and mine here in SoCal. Cheers!

15 September 2011

Making A List - The Beauty Of A Plain Sheet of Paper

Ah, I think this week the past two months finally caught up with me. It's been one stressful crisis after another since the beginning of July. And while I think I've done darn well keeping my head above water, this week I'm not feeling so hot. Happily we've had some really happy things happen in the past two months as well, which ultimately require planning that has the tendency to cause a little stress too.

It's amazing how over the course of a few weeks it's possible to really lose track of your routine and feel pretty out of it. We still have a few weeks before we will really know how outside elements are going to affect our life schedule going forward, but until then, it's important to get a grip on what I can. Living with limbo is not working too well for me. It's funny but almost every day I still think about what I need to do for a big event that happened almost two weeks ago. It was such a big thing on my plate for so long and kept getting cancelled and pushed back. So I'm having a time of it just realizing that it's over and it went well.

I'm sure you can relate. For the past two days I've had a headache, body aches and have been wondering if I'm coming down with something. I'm not too worried. But I do know that I need to take some actions to make this not so great feeling go away, recharge my batteries and recover and recuperate a bit. My first action today was to make two lists. First a list of all the things that are causing me stress. Then I made a list, using the same categories, of things I can do to make things better. My list of stresses looked pretty normal for most people. My list of actions, amazingly simple if given some dedication.

One of the things I felt I needed to do was get into a very strong routine. That would include early morning exercise, morning study of inspiring things, regular healthy meals, time with friends and family, time outside in the sun and fresh air, a firm bedtime and setting aside a few minutes every day to clean up and organize things. This does not sound overwhelming. These are things I can do.

So today I am working off a new schedule and I hope it helps me get in the groove and feeling a little more normal. I know it usually takes a lot of stress to push me off kilter, but it doesn't take many small steps to get me back to feeling centered, gathered and on my game. Baby steps, baby steps. (I'm laughing and thinking about the movie What About Bob? suddenly).

I'd love to hear what you do when you find yourself in this place? What signs do you first notice when you know you need to course correct a bit? What are the first steps you take? Are there things you absolutely don't push yourself to do? Insights and inspirations much appreciated! Wishing you a good Thursday!

13 September 2011

Fun Fall Sewing Projects by Martha Stewart

image via Martha Stewart
The Martha Stewart website is full of fun projects for fall. I adored these sewing projects. There are some great ideas for little fall gifts, home decorating and holiday projects. I especially adored the felted wool slippers, tissue cases and leaf pillows.You can also find fun sewing projects for winter here. I'm tempted to make myself a TV cozy for the TV in my room. Cute idea. Making stuffed animals from kids' drawings is total genius.

The people at Martha Stewart just never cease to impress each season with new products and projects. They are a continual source of inspiration for my own DIY. Here's a link to some awesome stenciled pillows made by Jen at Tatortots and Jello using some of the newest Martha Stewart craft products. Impressive!

So much great inspiration for fun projects across the blogosphere. Hope you have a chance to wander the Martha site soon for great inspiration to carry you right on into the new year. Have a great Tuesday!

12 September 2011

Location, Location, Location

I'm coming off a strange but very interesting weekend. Friday did not turn out at all as planned and included me driving around wasting 5+ hours of my time & half a tank of very expensive gas for no reason. Then instead of spending the weekend with The Man and The Bug, due to unexpected circumstances I ended up spending nearly all the weekend by myself away from home in a really bad hotel - okay hotel is a too good of a word there....

So on the fly I decided to make a whirlwind weekend of it. I have a new philosophy that if I'm not with The Man or The Bug I should try to get wedding stuff done. I did a ton of wedding research, a little bit of planning and then hit lots of stores. I started by going to a stationery store and looking through books and books of invitations. Of course the ones I liked were $$$$$ letterpress.

But nothing jumped out at me with the exact details I am imagining in my head. I stayed up late one night creating my own which I am fairly certain will be the one we go with. I also got a few good ideas from a couple of shopkeepers that I will incorporate into my ideas to make them much better. Then I spent hours sourcing papers that I wanted online. My eye is seeing very simple, dark wood grain paper with white printing, a small graphic element and a very bright & cheery envelope liner. That's where my head is at now.

I bought a small sand dollar ink stamp that I thought I could incorporate into something as well as a large monstra leaf stencil that I might be able to do some cool things with. I also found more good paper options late last night online.

Yesterday I had to attend a conference for the day and it just happened to be at the place we hope will be our venue. This spot holds a very special place in our hearts. We have spent many, many hours here and hope to share it all soon with our loved ones. At the end of the day I went back and took detailed photos. I have taken photos of this venue many times. Today I tried to take photos of the logistical things: what kind of chairs they have stacked up, what shape tables there are, how one would hang lights, how many benches there are around the outdoor deck, how many lights would you need to set around the perimeter, to outline the path to the parking lot or hotel, etc.

The full moon was just coming out as we arrived and the sand was so sugary soft, the waves were lapping up the shore, I could almost see everyone there having a wonderful time and ending the evening at the fire pit that looked so perfect for hanging out with family and friends. I just wanted every one of our family and friends there that instant.

Amazed at how gorgeous and lit up the beach was I thought we should look for a full moon date, but it turns out that there isn't a full moon even close to the dates we're looking at - darn. Here's a weird fact for you -- the full moon in 2012 will happen in the first 9 days of the month all year long.

Lastly I promise every blog post isn't going to be wedding related. Really, I promise. Hope you have a fantastic week. Thinking of you fondly and so glad you came by for a peek.

09 September 2011

Sticking My Toe in Wedding Planning

So it hit me about a week ago that getting engaged means actually executing all the plans to bring a wedding together. While we'll do something small, classic and very friend and family oriented, I realized that it's a massive amount of decisions, budgeting and details to pull together. That left me feeling really overwhelmed for a few days.

I talked to a few friends and relatives and got serious about looking at my mood board and figuring out what I had to work from. Although I felt like I had a pretty good idea for the design, the deeper I looked the less of a handle I felt I had on it. I started thinking about all the costs, how many blogs, books and magazines of ideas there are out there and my head began to spin.

Finding my way through that initial shock was allowing things to just percolate for a few days and simply look around without trying to think too hard. I grabbed a stack of magazines, especially Martha Stewart Weddings, The Knot and San Diego Style Weddings. Then I started thinking about what I could handle now.

I thought I can handle shopping for shoes. I knew I wanted a pair of very feminine, girly flat sandals. Since I'm very tall, The Man is just about two inches taller than me and most of the festivities will happen on the beach with a lot of family, friends and kids running around, something practical seemed essential. Plus I just can't imagine being 6'2" in heels and leaning down to hug people all day long. I found several pairs I really liked at Sandal World but these caught my eye instantly. They're going in the file.

Then I thought about a little guest bag I'd like to do. Love this beach tote. Throughout the plan is some Hawaiian influence. Although I don't like the color of this cake, I love the Polynesian influenced decoration. 

So far I'm seeing earthy bright greens, whites with a touch of orange and maybe a little dark pink sneaked in. I'm looking forward to sharing more inspirations that can definitely be used for much more than just a wedding. Hopefully you'll find some gems that you can use for parties, your home and more.

I would love your suggestions on how you organized your planning. Your experience and thoughts are priceless.

image 1 via Jiffy Shirts
image 3 via Sandal World

08 September 2011

An Engaging Event

I've been holding out on you with a little information. I needed to let it settle in and I have been sharing it, bit by bit, with people. I received this beautiful ring recently from The Man. It's formal - we're engaged. It was an amazing night, very sweet surprise. I played the textbook stunned girlfriend - totally not getting what was going on despite some weird behavior and a little box in my hand. Saying something dumb like "What? What? What?"

The Man has been unbelievably busy this summer so to know that he arranged everything to ask me to marry him in the midst of all that means the world to me. The beautiful ring is as unusual as is our relationship. The main stone is an aquamarine, subtly blue to match my blue eyes. The Man said "this ring just goes with you." During the day it almost looks white, at night it takes on a magical blue tint.

We are looking forward to the next step and moving on with our lives together with his daughter. I'm browsing the wedding magazines, blogs and the library shelves for inspiration. I'm so happy to have some lovely friends and family members who've been so kind to offer their help which means so very much. I am looking forward to putting together a very simple, small, beautiful celebration of our union in the next few months.

So that's my fun news for today. I'm sure I'll share some DIYs along the way. I hope to keep it all fun and enjoyable. Holly Becker (from Decor8 and author of Decorate) said to me the other day, "oh have fun, the best time of life!!!" I think that may be the best advice I could get. I am going to live by that mantra.

My sister is a wedding photographer in Las Vegas. To end this post I thought I'd share one of my favorite weddings from her site. You can link to it here. Have a wonderful Thursday!

06 September 2011

The Man Makes A Clothes Pin Doll

Had to share with you the clothes pin doll that The Man made on Saturday afternoon with a lot of direction and supervision from a certain five year old. Yes, she is a woman and knows how to boss people around. Haa-haa.

I immediately thought Moses, The Bug says it's Noah with his ark. All I know is that this biblical man has a lot of pretty clothes pin girls to hang out with now. He's one lucky man. I was very pleased to see The Man sit down and do something creative for a while. He often talks about trying to find time to do creative things between managing all the stuff of life.  Any time he is able to carve out a few minutes makes me quite happy.

He is incredibly talented as an artist with a portfolio of beautiful drawings he did when he was younger. Now days much of his art is for The Bug including amazingly lifelike clay models of dogs, animal drawings and now clothes pin dolls. He is even amazingly talented at making breed specific hand shadows on the wall. I'm still hoping he'll make me a beautiful painting some day.

Glad to get everyone involved in this project. It was so fun to see what each person came up with and how unique everyone's creations are. I adore that. Doing art projects together is a great way to encourage creativity and that's good for brains and souls of all ages.

You can see the design inspiration that got us started on this project here.

image by kalanicut

Tuesday Quick Tip

It's a Tuesday Quick Tip. This is the top of a $200 Anthropologie lamp I bought at a thrift store for $20 with the original price tag still on it. It did not come with a shade or a finial on top. I have looked and looked for a simple solution for the top of the lamp harp to hold down the shade, but could never find one that was the right size. Most stores only have one or two options. So I spent about 10 dollars trying different options and having little luck.

Then I found this acorn finial that came adaptable with two screw mount options. I thought for sure one of them would work. But the finial was bright gold and could not have been a worse option for my hammered metal look lamp. It was too shiny and just wasn't as simple as I was looking for.

I remembered that The Man had a can of Rust-Oleum Hammered black spray paint in the closet and a solution was born for about three dollars. I got the acorn finial and brought it home. Put it in the lid of a shoe box out on the balcony and spray painted it Hammered black.

Now it matches the lamp perfectly, is much more understated and best of all with the addition of a washer, which I didn't tighten down all the way so you could see it, I had the lamp harp finial of my dreams. Finally this awesome lamp is as it should be.

05 September 2011

Clothes Pin Dolls

Here's a peek at our clothes pin dolls. We had quite a mess going with all kinds of glues, needles and thread, scissors, ribbons, yarns and fabrics all over the kitchen table top. I think the greatest thing that came out of the experience is that The Bug learned to use a needle and thread for the first time. Now she keeps asking when she gets to sew again.

That opens up a lot of new options for projects for her. Saturday we worked with a lot of pinks, grays and greens. All the clothing took a real fall/winter feeling since we had a lot of success using felted wool scraps.

The first thing we did was paint the heads a flesh tone color and drew on the faces. While the faces dried we painted shoes on all of them. I went with all black and The Bug went with pink, purple and blue. While the shoes dried we drew on small faces with a fine tip permanent gel pen.  Next we sewed skirts by gathering cut pieces of fabric scraps. We glued on trims as we went along. After that we created our tops, then added belts and other design elements. Lastly we did the hair. Here are The Bug's finished dolls.

I love The Bug's hair choices, styling and the bangs. So awesome and not traditional. Love that she mixed them up and that they look so cool and edgy. We learned late in the process that school glue was not very helpful and fabric glue was a much better way to go. Wasted a lot of time on school glue because I didn't think I had any fabric glue. When I did find the fabric glue things were much less frustrating and moved a lot faster and easier. Here are my three ladies.

My ladies have some pretty serious dark brown locks. I definitely need to give them a haircut of some kind but I felt like at least for today they wanted to have long, crazy hair. I realized all that dark hair also really hides the clothing design, so maybe they need their hair up in a bun or something.

This was a fun project, but one that took some patience. It's pretty time consuming and mess making. But it was fun to learn how to create usable patterns to form fit the clothing, add sleeves, trims and ribbons. That will definitely make things move more smoothly the next time. Yes, we still have that whole bag of craft clothes pins to use up. Haa-haa. If you've made clothes pin dolls, again, I would really love to hear about them and see photos. Cheers!

Later The Man made a clothes pin doll. I love it. See it here. You can see the projects that inspired us here.

Design Inspirations - Clothes Pin Dolls

image via MishaLuLu

Happy Labor Day to everyone in the U.S. I know there are lots of you who are elsewhere and I hope you have a fantastic Monday no matter what you're up to.

I am so happy to have a full work space in my home now where I have organized all my craft & aft supplies. Anytime I want to do something creative I have a nice collection of tools and project ingredients at my fingertips and well organized so I can easily gather everything I need in a minute. The Bug and I decided we wanted to do an art project this weekend. Looking through my drawers I found the craft clothes pins I bought to make clothes pin dolls. I grabbed a box of fabric and ribbon scraps, bags of buttons, fabric glue, scissors and needle and thread and we were ready to go.

The first thing we did was look online for inspiration. Here are some that we really liked. I instantly fell in love with these two girls above. Adore their dresses, their faces, the arms and hair. Love everything about them. You can see them here at MishaLuLu.

These holiday dolls are from Martha Stewart. There is a great video tutorial. Super cute ideas for the decorating a tree or making a great garland with all kinds of different holiday inspired dolls. I may put these on my list of projects for Christmas 2011.

I loved these mermaids. What a cute idea just by turning the pin so that the base no longer was legs but was a base for a pretty mermaid fin. These would be so fun to make for a birthday party activity along with an ocean inspired theme. You can get all the instructions for the mermaid girls here. from FamilyGo.

It was great to look through so many galleries of ideas. It's amazing how you sit down with your own gathering of supplies and with your own ideas and talents you create something totally unique to you. Stay tune for later this morning, I'll share with you the dolls The Bug and I made. Have you made clothes pin dolls lately? I'd love to hear about your experience. Link up photos if you like! Hope your week is off to a great start.

*You can see the clothes pin dolls we made here and here.

01 September 2011

Culinary Activities at Willams-Sonoma

image via Williams-Sonoma

I made a late stop at Williams-Sonoma Santa Monica last weekend to pick up a couple of things and happened to pick up their September calendar for Culinary Activities. They have so many amazing things going on at the store EVERY day. Then they have special Technique Classes that focus on specific elements of cooking. This month they are doing Pasta, Pizza and Olive Oil classes. Class sizes are limited and offered complimentary. Here's a link to find out all about Williams-Sonoma Store Events.

What a great opportunity to stop in and learn how to use all your fancy cookware and learn from the pros. It's amazing to think of all the local opportunities for fun classes and education there are if you just check in and find out about them. I'll try to keep sharing more with you. If you don't have the specific business I'm referring to in your part of the world, it's very likely you have a comparative business doing just the same thing wherever you are.

Are you taking any fun classes? I'd love to hear all about them. Leave a comment here. Happy Thursday!

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