Friday, October 29, 2010

Christmas Projects

I've decided to make a lot of Christmas gifts this year mainly because I really enjoy sewing and creating so much that I thought it would give me a nice excuse to take a break from the busyness around me and work on them.  I've already started and almost completed 4 gifts because I knew if I waited that my plan of peacefully sewing would end up with me stressfully pulling my hair out and wondering why I had put myself through this :).  One of my favorite sites to check every day is Sew4Home.  A lot of my projects have come from their awesome tutorials, but they also showcase fabric every so often.  A couple of days ago I was checking their site and I was SO excited when I saw that they were showcasing this new fabric from Michael Miller:

I was mostly excited by these two fabrics in the Italian Alphabet Collection:

These fabrics are so perfect for Stephen's 93-year-old Noni.  They're perfect for her because she is a tiny little Sicilian lady who loves to bake biscotti and do things in the kitchen and this fabric is full of graphics with their Italian names next to them.  

I knew I had to buy both of them to make her a Christmas present.  As soon as I saw them, I immediately thought back to the reversible apron that I made for my sweet friend, Katie in August.  I was so frustrated when I couldn't seem to find the cream fabric anywhere but luckily I found someone on Etsy who was selling both for $7/yard which was perfect for me!  I'll have left over fabric from the apron, which I'm planning on making dish towels for Mom C.  I'm SO excited and hope that these fabulous ladies love their Italian inspired Christmas gifts as much as I'm excited to give them to them :).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DIY Wedding Fun - Part 6

Salt Covenant

Instead of lighting unity candles, Stephen and I did a salt covenant in our wedding.  Our friends, Matt and Mandy had done one in their wedding in 2002 and I loved it when I first saw it.  Instead of our mom's coming in and lighting a candle, they walked in carrying salt from their kitchens.  They set them next to the main salt container and then Stephen and I poured them into the container during the ceremony.  There are different ideas behind it: the Biblical idea that we're called to be the salt of the earth was a main idea that we wanted to encompass in our wedding and in our marriage.  Another idea was the symbol of our families joining together into a new family.  While all the grains were joining together, we would never be able to pull out "his grains" and mine - we were joined for forever.  The coolest thing about this is that we have this main salt container and it's sitting on our mantel.  We will have this container of salt from our wedding day forever to remind us of the covenant we made with each other before God for the rest of our lives.  While I didn't etch this container, I realize now that I could've easily done so.  This is a cheater "DIY Wedding Fun" post because I didn't actually make this container, but if you were interested in making one yourself, it could easily be done.  If you'd like to see a tutorial on how to etch a glass surface, just click here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

DIY Wedding Fun - Part 7

Yummy Desserts/Favors
The spring before our wedding, I had attended the wedding of a friend who had heart shaped, monogrammed cookies as favors.  I loved the idea of them but didn't love the idea of how costly this would probably be.  I quickly learned that their mom's had gotten together and made the cookies super cheaper than they would've paid for them had they bought them from a bakery.  I was ALL about this idea, although I know I stressed out my mother-in-law and my mom with this courageous effort!  
My mom got to work making the sugar cookie dough a few weeks out and freezing it until we were ready to work with it.  We got together (my mom, mother-in-law, sister, sister-in-law and best friend) a week before the wedding and baked the cookies in the desired leaf shapes (oak and maple).  This process took a good 2-3 days to completely roll, cut and bake all the cookies that we would need.  We then got together and iced the cookies using royal icing from a recipe I found online.  This process took a good 1-2 days as we had an assembly line going of piping and flooding and moving the cookies where they could dry.  Once this was all finished, I piped the "C" on each individual cookie and bagged them the Thursday before the wedding.  While I didn't get to taste any of the official cookies, I heard they were quite yummy!
Here is the "C" that I got from The Knot as our cake topper.  The only problem that I had with it was that it was silver and I really wanted it to be a soft shade of gold to match with our warm, natural colors in the wedding.  So, I spray painted it - simple enough!  
My husband has QUITE the sweet him, sugar is in the bottom portion of his nutritious pyramid!  Because of this, we incorporated all the things that he loves into the wedding: the sugar cookies, the cake with 3 different flavors (Italian Wedding, Strawberry and White Chocolate) as well as homemade pumpkin pies (made by my incredibly sweet friend, Anessa!), candy corn AND a groom's cake (Cinnamon Swirl with EXTRA cinnamon per the groom's request).  Needless to say, our guests fell into a pile of granulated sugar as they left our reception!
The Roman Numerals on the side of the cake are all the different Super Bowls that the Steelers have won.  My husband's cousin, a devout Cleveland Browns, fan did not really care for this cake :).
The Groom's cake was a huge success with Stephen and his family!  Stephen was born a Steeler's fan as his whole family lives in Pittsburgh (and this is where he was born).  I was so happy to incorporate things that Stephen loves into our big day!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Magnificent Mondays: Magnificent Blogs 36

Emily is a stay at home mommy that loves to show the blog world that you don't have to be Martha to create beautiful, homemade things!

Did I ever tell you that I like fall?  Because of my love for fall and monograms, I really like this!

Do you have a sweet little girl in your life that needs a pretty headband for her hair?  If so, head here.

Here is a transformation of a very country tray to a very sophisticated and decorative tray to display in her home.

Run on over to Martha Shmartha and let me know how you've been inspired!
Happy Blogging!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

DIY Wedding Fun - Part 5

By no means is this a new idea, but I figured I'd share it anyways.  For our guest book, I had decided that I wanted to make a more personalized book that I could have sitting out and people would enjoy looking at.  Many of my friends had done the same thing at their weddings and I loved the idea of it.  I took our engagement pictures (you could use any pictures you'd like) and I designed a book through apple as our guest book.  I made sure that I had plenty of room around the pictures so that people had enough room to sign around them.  We sat the book out with regular, thin-tipped sharpies and people signed away.  I have the book sitting out at our apartment and I even find myself look through it from time-to-time.  

Friday, October 22, 2010

DIY Wedding Fun - Part 4

Table Centerpieces

I was engaged for a year and a half...I had a lot of time on my hands!  So, what I did to pass time was I made my own table centerpieces.  The picture above shows just one of the two different centerpieces that I used on the tables (the others were lanterns).  I went to Michael's and bought a bunch of wooden frames for $1.  I also purchased a pack of fall themed scrapbook paper and I Mod Podged all the different fall designed paper onto the frames.  I then took baby and little kid pictures of Stephen and I and I filled the frames with these pictures.  The frames were accompanied by Mason Jars that a lady at church let us borrow and we filled them with coffee beans and a votive candle.  With the candle lit, the hot wax dripped down into the beans and really filled the tent with the wonderful aroma of coffee and vanilla (the scent of the votives).  We simply finished off the jar with left over ribbon from the invitations...those to come soon!  All centerpieces were surrounded by fall leaves around them (and a menu of the meal served) to add some more color to the table.  The picture frames could be made for ANY occasion, as I've given them and seen them be given for birthdays.  The mason jars could be made for any special occasion that you have coming up to help create an intimate setting in your own home.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

DIY Wedding Fun - Part 3

Pumpkin Tea Lights
Do you see the little pumpkins on the table?  I know you can't really tell but I made tea light holders out of these pumpkins to enhance different tables throughout the reception.  They were on the guest book table (see above) as well as on the food and dessert serving tables.  

I don't have a great picture of them, so I've shown you a picture from a blog I found recently.  You can visit this blog to see how to make these easy pumpkin tea lights yourself.  

These would make a great addition to your thanksgiving decorations to really add a soft, festive touch to your serving tables.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

DIY Wedding Fun - Part 2

Pumpkin-potted Mums

I spent a lot of time searching the internet (specifically home decorating and crafty magazines) to find different decorations that I could easily do myself to save money on.  This project was an EASY project and I loved the outcome!  Not only was it beautiful, but it saved me money on florist costs because I was able to decorate really cheaply with my pumpkin-potted mums.  AND (as if those 2 things weren't enough) my parents planted the mums once we were finished with them.  I made these on Thursday night before the wedding with my best friend and the only thing I had to do was cut the tops off the pumpkins and gut them.  If you're interested in the official tutorial, go here to see what I followed.  These would make a fall decoration for any home and then plant your mums (or give them away) when you're done!  This would also make an awesome housewarming gift (or any gift at that)!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

DIY Wedding Fun - Part 1

In honor of my one year anniversary, I'm going to share with you some different projects that I took on to make my fall wedding last October 10 exactly what I had envisioned.  Even if you're not planning a wedding, some of these projects would be fun to do for fall decorations or a special occasion :).  Enjoy!

Glowing Pumpkins
I love me some monograms AND pumpkins:)
I had wanted to do this for quite sometime!  I enlisted the help of my best friend to come over and help me gut the pumpkins and then use wood etching utensils to etch the rind off the pumpkin so that it would glow.  I used these in various places on the serving tables (mostly on the dessert tables).

This is a great project to do for any occasion, and even for none at all!  Of course I was inspired by Martha and she didn't disappoint.  This project was easy (just a little time consuming as we made 6 of them)!  We did them the Thursday before the wedding so I'm unsure as to how long they would last, but I'm assuming they'd last as long as any regular carved pumpkin would.  When we were finished with them we gave them to my parents-in-laws and Stephen's side of the family whose last name ended in "C".

If you're interested in making your own glowing pumpkins, you can find the tutorial here.  
I'll see you back here tomorrow for another fun DIY wedding project!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Magnificent Mondays: Magnificent Blogs 35

Brooke knows that decorating can be expensive so her blog offers ways to decorate on a budget.

Check out these awesome chairs!  I love furniture transformations!

Check out how she took etching to a whole new level.

Check out her tutorial on how to make a cheap and easy window valance.

Head on over to All Things Thrifty and let me know what you find that sparks your interest!
Happy Blogging!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Good News and Busy Times

Hello Blogger friends!  I hope you guys are having a great hump day!  When I was teaching, this was always my favorite day of the week because the kids were used to coming to school but they weren't burnt out on it yet :).  Maybe you're feeling the same way?  Maybe you've gotten the Mondays out of your system but you're not quite counting down the minutes to clock-out on Friday?  No?  Okay, well, never mind.

I have some GREAT news!  On Sunday night I found out that I have gotten a Research Assistantship on campus!  This is so awesome because I will be receiving remarkable training and participating in such an awesome project that will really benefit me as a teacher.  I will be working with Project Read which works one on one with Chicago Public Schools to help transform the culture and climate of the school in order to reform their literacy curriculum so that ALL students are reached and are able to reach their highest potential as readers.  I'm super excited but also a little free time has definitely become just that: MINE and FREE.  It's going to be somewhat hard to get used to actually having a schedule and it's about to get really busy around here!  Prayers would be appreciated!  If you could pray for me during this transition and during this time when I go from having a really free schedule to having one that's not so much free.  I really appreciate it!

Because of this new recent job, I probably will be a little less present in blogland.  That doesn't mean I'm throwing in the towel, it just means that I probably won't be blogging on a daily basis, but instead just a few times a week.  I'm super excited to jump right in and be a part of this amazing project!

On another note, I've been put in charge of the kids' craft room at our church's fall festival.  I would love for some ideas.  Do you have any cool kids' fall crafts that you can send me a link to or describe for me? I've come up with a lot of stuff but I would love to hear all the great ideas that you have out there for me!

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Time flies when you're having fun!

A year ago on Sunday, I married my best friend and since then, time has flown!  In that year I: quit my job as a teacher to become a full time grad student; I moved from Lexington to Louisville to Chicago; I pushed pause on my ministry of Young Life to enter into a season of rest and intimacy with God and (obviously) I went from living with my best girl friend to living with my best guy friend.  Needless to say, my life looks totally different, but it's been a wonderful year despite all those differences!

Stephen and I decided to celebrate by taking a small trip to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin with a few stops along the way (and back).  I'll share a small snippet and let you know that I LOVED Lake Geneva and would recommend it to anyone - it's so quaint and cute and wonderful!

Stephen took the day off from work on Friday so we had a full three days together!  We started the weekend off by heading to Tony's Deli in Chicago to grab our lunch.  There's my home-made Italian Specialty, Stephen ;) Their meatball sub was super tasty!
We took our lunch with us to the Chicago Botanic Gardens and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery and weather (it was upper 70s-low 80s and NO humidity).

We drove to Lake Geneva, checked into our little home for the next 2 nights and then enjoyed a quick dinner and trip to Walmart to stock up on Oatmeal for breakfast :).
On Saturday we woke up and were really slow to get moving.  Once we caught our wind for the day we headed to downtown Lake Geneva for their Octoberfest celebration.

After we enjoyed the festivities we headed to the pier to wait for our boat tour of the lake.  If you're ever in Lake Geneva, I highly recommend you take a boat tour of the lake - what a great, relaxing experience!
We finished off the evening with a walk around the lake and some dinner and dessert - a pumpkin milkshake...yum!
On Sunday, we feasted on an oatmeal breakfast :) and then we headed to Mukwonago, WI to The Elegant Farmer for some Honey Crisp Apples, a pumpkin and for Stephen to make his own caramel apples :).
And then, on our way home we passed the sign for the Jelly Belly Warehouse in Pleasant Prairie, WI and we knew we (Stephen) just couldn't pass this up! ;)  So we stopped and got a free tour of the warehouse AND a free package of jelly belly beans for each of us.  We couldn't stop with just that so we made sure we purchased a bag of the Jelly Flops (the bag of beans that didn't make it into the real bags because their size was off).
And that was the sweet end to our wonderful First Anniversary Weekend :). 
I am blessed!  I can't imagine finding a more perfect man to spend the rest of my days with.  I've never met anyone else that reminded me more of Jesus than Stephen - he's as selfless, caring and considerate as they come.  I look forward to all the fun we have together in our future!

In honor of my favorite season (fall) and our wedding anniversary, I'm going to spend some time next week showcasing some of my DIY projects that we used in our wedding so be sure to stop by and take a peek at the great things that you can do for any type of celebration! 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Magnificent Mondays: Magnificent Blogs 34

Why not try to free up some of your finances so that you have money to give and save?  This blog gives ideas/ways to save your money, and also ways to decorate and live on a budget.  

What a great and inexpensive way to add spice to your walls!  I've seen this idea used for a nursery to coordinate with the bedding.

Check out this cool light fixture that they show you how to make for super cheap.

Looking to save money on a party you're planning?  Check out these free downloadables that the Bargain Hoot has to offer.

Head on over to Bargain Hoot and let me know what you find!
Happy Blogging!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thanks, God!

A year ago today, I was having a great day....

It's been one heck of a year!  Here's to many more just like it!!! :)  (if you want to see highlights from my favorite wedding ever :), just click here)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Happy Weekend!

My weekend...

A little of Tony's Italian Market...

A little of Lake Geneva, WI

A little of Elegant Farmer Orchard/Pumpkin Patch
Happy Weekend!  I hope you have a great one and enjoy this wonderful weather!!!