Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Thread, needle and some luck

Bentley seems to get in almost every picture I take. That's his paw in the upper right corner. 

Well, I've done it. I've officially started working on the wedding quilt! I am not going to lie - of all my wedding projects this is probably the one I am most nervous/apprehensive about tackling. Despite my Pinterest and Google research, I haven't really found anyone else who shared how they tackled piecing together a wedding guest book quilt. I guess it really hasn't been done before. That's what I get for daring to be different. Oh well!

Not only do I have to create my own design from scratch, I have to find a way to incorporate all the different fabrics we saved. I've got fabric from the bunting, the candy buffet, the photo booth, my dress and my sash - not to mention the actual quilt squares the guests signed.

That said, wish me luck! If When I figure out how to tackle this daunting challenge, I'll share my journey through it with you to hopefully help other lost brides out there.

I'm sure some are wondering about the progress of my wedding scrapbook. I've got GREAT news. I only have two more pages to complete and then I'm done! Yay! Be looking for that post soon.

Until next time!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Packaging Update

Earlier this week, I showed you my lack luster attempt at packaging my first ever print order. 

Yeah...it's not very pretty. However, after combing through Pinterest for inspiration, I'd like to introduce you to the after.

Looks more presentable, right? All I really added was a kraft paper tag with my shop logo and the little clothes pin from my scrapbook supplies. 

While I do think these turned out adorable, I realized it was time to invest in some actual packaging for my business. I purchased some kraft paper bags and some gold washi tape which should be coming next week. I'm patiently waiting for my next print order that I can use my ideas on.

As an Etsy shop owner, I feel that it is important to support my fellow Etsy artisans. Therefore, all of my packaging material was purchased through a couple of different Etsy sellers.

For the rest of you, here is some packaging inspiration that helped my creative juices start to flow!

 shop packagingpackageThank you tag - gift tag - party favor tag - tulip flower tag- packaging supplies - bridal shower favor tags

[Note: If these images had a viable link to an Etsy shop or blog, I linked the pictures so click on them.]

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mr. and Mrs. Burlap Bed Pillows

If you are a regular Etsy or Pinterest cruiser like myself, you might have seen those adorable Mr. and Mrs. pillows cross your screen a few times. I fell in love with the Mr. and Mrs. Pillow Covers offered up by SweetnatureDesigns on Etsy. Unfortunately, these adorable decorative covers were a little out of my price range. I became determined to make my own as a Valentine's Day present for R.J.

Set of 2 Decorative Pillow Covers - Mr. and Mrs. - 12 x 12 inches -  Made to order

That's when I ran across a tutorial while searching on Pinterest posted by Kait over at Mrs. DIY and the Tennis Guy. I didn't follow her wonderful tutorial verbatim, but it served as the basis for my project. Didn't hers turn out great?!
Photo courtesy of Mrs. DIY and the Tennis Guy 
Aren't you dying to tackle your own now? Awesome! Here's what you need:

One yard of burlap
Permanent acrylic paint
Foam/paint brush
Paint pen
Needle and thread 
Pillow fluff or forms
Paper to use as a stencil

Step One. Once you've gathered all your supplies, find a font on your word processor that you'd like to use on your pillows. Make the words as big as will fit on your page and print them out!

Step Two. Cut out your words so it creates a stencil like mine below. While you have the scissors in your hand, cut two 12'' x 24'' rectangles out of your burlap!

Step Three. Fold one of your burlap rectangles in half to make a square. Cut the half where you folded so you have two burlap squares. Do the same with the other. 

Step Four. Position the stencil in the middle of one of the burlap squares. Trace the stencil with your paint pen. Remove your stencil and paint inside the lines with your brush! [Note: If you want clean lines, I'd suggest using a small paint brush. I used a foam brush and didn't get perfectly clean lines. However, I kinda liked it that way!]

Step Five. Let the paint dry completely. Now, lay one of your blank burlap square on top of your painted word. Sew three of your pillow sides. Turn it inside out and stuff your pillow. Sew it all the way up! Repeat for other pillow. Ta-da!

Step Six. Fluff your pillow. [Punching the pillow is highly recommended.] Make up your bed and place your pillows! Then, take a picture and post it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! YAY!

I had some leftover fabric. With it, I made an anniversary date pillow the same way as the Mr. and Mrs. pillows.

I really do love how they turned out. I think it gives some character to our boring brown bed. [Husband insists upon solid color comforters only to my dismay.]

Until next time!

Bentley modeling our new pillows!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Kraft Paper, Twine and Beaches

Greetings readers!

Today, I would like to share with you a very special project I started working on and introduce you to a even more special young woman.

This is Lauryn. She is my sister-in-law. You may recognize her from my wedding series or you may know her personally. If you do know her personally, you already know how amazing (and inspiring) she is. However, if you do not know Lauryn personally, let me share with you some of her story. 

Believe it or not, literally a couple hours before the above picture was taken, she was lying in a hospital bed. Last year, Lauryn dealt almost non-stop with health issues in addition to the diabetes she's had since she was 15. She couldn't eat without doubling over in pain. She began dropping weight like crazy, because her body wasn't getting the nutrition it needed. 

After being constantly in and out of the hospital for months with doctors unable to correctly diagnose what was causing it, she went to Emory in Atlanta. I won't pretend to know what her disease is called, but basically Lauryn's pancreas does not produce the digestive enzymes needed to assist in the breakdown of nutrients during digestion. 

Today, Lauryn is on some experiment drugs to treat her disease and is responding wonderfully! Her last doctor's visit was excellent and, as a family, we could not be more relieved happy! We know God has walked beside her over the past year and has brought her to the other side. 

Throughout her trials of the past year, Lauryn always managed to find something to love about life. For Pete's sake, she checked herself out of the hospital against doctor's orders to stand at my side as my bridesmaid on my wedding day! She never let her disease stop her from living life and loving those around her. Despite her health issues, she even managed to nab the heart of a man - one who rarely left her bedside during her frequent hospital stays. 

Lauryn and Paul will be married in September of this year. Lauryn's dream of a small, romantic beach wedding is finally coming true. With her brightest days ahead of her, she's dove headfirst into planning her big day. 

So, back to the project I started off talking about. I'm beyond excited (and flattered) that Lauryn asked me to be her wedding coordinator! I was definitely having wedding withdrawals so I finally have another to feed my addiction. Seriously, I didn't sleep for three days last week because my mind was going CRAZY with ideas. Lauryn has also given me exclusive blog rights so I can't wait to share this wedding with you all. I think I could get use to wedding planning. David Tutera, I'm coming for your job! Watch ya back.

My sad attempt at packaging...
We've finished designing and printing the Save the Dates for this destination wedding. After Lauryn mails hers out, I'll be more than happy to share them with you and the story behind the design. I'll also be posting a version in my Etsy Shop!

Speaking of my Etsy Shop, I am officially offering custom printing - which means I've got to brainstorm some options for packaging. If you follow me on Pinterest, I'm apologizing in advance for the butt load of packaging repins you are about to see on your feed. Sorry!

Until next time!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Friday's Letters

Dear husband, what a week, right? Full of ups and downs, but it ended VERY well. Thank you so much for working so hard and kicking our small house catastrophe in the buns. Dear house mortgage law, you suck. There I said it! You can't get a loan on a commission-based salary until you've worked at that job for two years? Seriously, do you think I want to live in this tiny apartment two more years?! We've got everything else you demanded. But, we've found a way to deal with you with some help from R.J.'s company - hourly salary here we come. So, you can just suck my big toe because the Winsletts will be purchasing a home in 2013. Dear house hunt, it's on again after a short bump in the road. We've already got an idea of what we want so you better deliver! Dear Bentley, I'm determined to find you a house with a little backyard for you. It really sucked walking you in 30 degree weather the past few mornings. Dear twos, thank you for not getting Mrs. Miranda sick this week. Even though I had to wash blue paint out of some of y'all's hair, finger painting was a blast! Dear Atlanta Falcons, please don't give me a heart attack on Sunday. Let's go to the Super Bowl! Woot woot!

That is all.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Organization Inspiration

Hi-de-ho readers!

I feel like I'm in an organizing lull. My work with PaperLark Studio has pretty much consumed my spare time. I'm definitely not complaining! I've been steadily adding new items and consistently completing orders. God is good, right?!

I think the second contributing factor to my organization lull is the fact we're starting the house hunting process. I'm no longer concentrating on how to make this two-bedroom apartment functional. Instead, I'm brainstorming ideas for our new, undetermined home.

With that, I'd like to share with you some organization inspiration that I've run across this week! Each of these posts offer some great ideas and storage solutions. So check them out by clicking on the pictures!

Bathroom Organizing Tips
The under-the-sink area in the bathroom is a major organization issue in our house right now...

I'm seriously really jealous of this craft room organization. I need to hit up the dollar store for some bins!

The tutorial for the burlap cardboard boxes is amazing! I want to try it.

See you Friday!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday's Letters

Dear Bentley, it is the end of an era. You officially beheaded your beloved Eeyore! You are so confused as to why Eeyore's head no longer follows his body when you cart him off into another room. I guess I can finally be honest with myself and admit that you are spoiled rotten. Disney no longer makes the Eeyore plush you love so much which means they are VERY expensive now. Did I really just pay $20 for a stuffed donkey you'll behead in a few months? Dear husband, I'm so excited that we've started planning our one year anniversary trip. Once again, you're spoiling me rotten by letting me have free reign over the travel plans. You might want to rethink that!  Dear my precious twos, please help Mrs. Miranda not get sick again by not coughing in her face when I put you down from the changing table. Thank you, my little loves! Dear student loans, you are ridiculous. You are almost as much as my rent! I don't mind paying you off at all, but can't we find a way to where my whole paycheck doesn't go to just you? I have other bills to pay, you know. Dear mommy, I'm so glad you had a semi-easy transition back into work. Thank you for your spirited phone calls during your drive home of wonderful ideas for my business. 

Until next week!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Freezer Meals 101

Greetings readers!

I thought I'd share with you a little experiment I did during the month of December. 

Truth be told I am not much of a cook. It isn't that I can't cook - I just really don't like too. I love eating the food, but not necessarily putting in the elbow grease to make the food. For some, half the fun of eating is the cooking. Me? Not so much. 

After some reflection, the fact that I don't like to cook probably contributes to our frequent eating out (which was killing our budget!). After chasing around 13 two-year-olds, writing awesome blog posts and knocking out some Etsy orders, the last thing I want to do with my time is cook. 

Last month, I experimented with doing freezer meals which entails a three to four hour cooking marathon. The cooking marathon leaves you with approximately a month's worth of meals ready to be popped in the oven. If you don't like the chore, you might as well do it once and get the pain over with, right? 

For us, it worked wonderfully! I filled our chest freezer with: homemade spaghetti sauce, chicken and bean chili, this beefaroni stuff, BBQ chicken, meatloaves and chicken spaghetti. All I had to do was thaw it, throw it in oven for a few minutes and open a can of beans to go with it. Now, that's what I call cooking!

I haven't actually done a cooking marathon for this month because we STILL have leftover meals from December. Because of the holidays, we didn't eat at home every night. 

We definitely have picked out a few favorite recipes which I'd like to share with you.

Chicken Spaghetti (2 - 8x8 casseroles)
4 chicken breasts - boiled & shredded2 cans cream of mushroom soup1 green bell pepper, diced1 onion, diced4oz jar of pimentos, diced3C thin spaghetti, broken into small pieces2C shredded cheese1 tsp seasoned salt1/8 tsp cayennesalt & pepper to taste
Boil chicken, keep 2C of broth. Cook spaghetti in the remaining broth. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Mix in the saved chicken broth gradually. You want the mixture to be creamy, slightly soupy, but not drippy. Press into pans and top with more cheese. Wrap in foil.Reheating - Thaw casserole. Remove foil & place back in baking dish. Cook at 350 for 45m.
1C chopped zucchini
1/2C chopped onion
1-1/2lbs Italian sausage
3 garlic cloves, pressed
26oz jar spaghetti sauce
30oz beef broth
1C water
1-1/2C uncooked pasta (egg noodles, radiatore, ziti work well)
Chop zucchini & set aside (I cut it in slices and then cut the slices in half but I like bigger chunks). Cook sausage until no longer pink, add onions & garlic. Add spaghetti sauce, broth & water - bring to a boil. Stir in zucchini, cook 2-4 minutes until tender, add basil.
Chop zucchini & set aside (I cut it in slices and then cut the slices in half but I like bigger chunks). Cook sausage until no longer pink, add onions & garlic. Add spaghetti sauce, broth & water - bring to a boil. Stir in zucchini, cook 2-4 minutes unt
il tender, add basil.

Lazy Lasagna Chili (made 3 - 4C bags)

For more recipes, click here!

It's safe to say freezer meals have found a place in both my freezer and my heart. As I run across more delicious recipes, I'll be sure to share the love!

Until next time!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Wedding: After the I Do Projects


I keep promising an "after wedding" special. However, my scrapbook is taking me longer than I originally thought. My need for it be to FLAWLESS is getting in the way! However, I have completed two post-wedding projects I will share with you today.

First is my wall display. I collected a few precious wedding mementos to display in my shadow boxes along with my two favorite bridal party pictures.

In one shadow box, you'll find: bottle caps from the glass bottle beverages from the big day, R.J.'s boutonniere, the napkin on which we wrote our vows and the flags from our cake topper!

Remember our cake topper? (I LOVE IT!)
In the second shadow box, I put all of my bridal accessories: my garter, my feather/beaded fascinator, my necklace, my satin sash and the broach.  

Here's is my display all together!
My next project was a smaller, informal diary of my wedding experience. Because I have more than 1,000 pictures of just the wedding, I wanted something to document what happened pre-wedding so I wouldn't forget all the wonderful showers I had. Lastly, I wanted to keep an informal account of my inner-most thoughts and feelings of the actual day that might be a little too personal for a formal wedding scrapbook.

With a Target gift card I received from one of my students, I purchased a Smash Book. In the world of scrapbooking, these cut-and-dry Smash Books are often looked down upon by hardcore, full-time scrappers. However, it fit what I needed it for perfectly. I wasn't looking to construct fancy, two-page spreads complete with embellishments, catchy phrases and coordinating colors - that was what my formal wedding scrapbook was for. With my Smash Book, I just pasted in the pictures I wanted and wrote my thoughts on the page making it a quick, easy project.

I've completed all of the pre-wedding festivities I wanted to record. I'm waiting to complete my formal scrapbook before finishing my Smash Book with my thoughts and feelings about the BIG DAY. I want the formal scrapbook to have the first pick at the best pictures.

Below are some of my favorite pages I wanted to share with you:

The proposal 

Engagement Party
Bridesmaids' Luncheon
I'm about half way through my formal scrapbook so HOPEFULLY I'll be able to get up a post on it in the coming month. My poor wedding quilt is still laying in the closet waiting to be assembled, but I'm not starting on it until the scrapbook is done. One project at a time!

Hope you enjoyed!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Friday's Letters

Bentley's new haircut!

Dear husband, I am so proud of you for passing the written portion of your CDL test. The hardest part is down! You got this. Dear Bentley, I want to apologize for the last two days of torture you have had to endure. You went to the vet and got your annual shots like a champ! We won't tell anyone you scurried to your fur daddy with your tail between your legs after you got that last big, stinging shot. The vet even complimented you on what a mild-mannered and well-behaved pooch you were (HA!) You may have fooled the vet, but you showed your true colors at the groomer yesterday where you got a bad grade on your behavior report card for being (and I quote) "a stinker." She can't trim your ears straight when you are jerking around! We will try again next time, okay? Dear work, those back-to-back 11 hours shifts are killer. Let's not do that again, alright? Also, I'm mad at you. I was completely healed from my last go-around of pre-holiday illness you gave me when I went back. Only three days back at work and I woke up with a congested head. Really? REALLY? Dear 2013, you have been good to me thus far. I think I might like you. We should keep this going. Dear PaperLark, I am in love with you. You're already giving me sales and I have big plans for you this year. I can't wait to share them with the blog world! Dear Hepatitis C, I just wanted you to know that my mom will be kicking your butt. She just started her treatment and it's on like Donkey Kong now. You should be afraid. VERY AFRAID!

Until next time!

Bentley's bad report card