Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wedding Favors - Favors by CJ

Although it is taking me a few months to get around to this, I absolutely have to write a post on our favors and desserts from the wedding.

Cassie is an old friend I made playing ice hockey at the University of Maryland. She had always coordinated and baked for our annual "Pink at the Rink" fundraiser, and the events went flawless and looked as if a team of professionals put them on when in was mostly just Cassie.  Over the years playing hockey our incredibly lucky team got to witness the evolution of the cake pops...first for the pink at the rink event, but then Halloween ghosts and spiders, Christmas trees and Santa hats, one day even a dinosaur and also ladybugs! So, as soon as my husband uttered the words..."will you marry me?" I said yes and my mind said CASSIE!

Kidding, it took about two days for me to start thinking favors...but the cake pops made by Cassie and her business: Favors by CJ ,were such a hit at the wedding and one of the best (tasting) decisions we made during the wedding planning. We didn't have a traditional wedding cake, so this was our way of including cake into the wedding. And not only did they taste delicious, but for our all grey and white wedding - they were an amazing pop of color at the dessert table.

Then - to top it off, she also made us bride & groom pretzel sticks:

In addition to being amazingly good looking - they tasted delicious as well.  I think I ate a few packs in the car after leaving the reception, even after swearing to never eat them.

Again, Favors by CJ ...highly recommend it :)

Photos by C&I Photographers

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mismatched Bridesmaid Dresses

First, these amazing photos are from our wedding photographers:
Here is our specific blog post. I've spent hours, probably days of my life looking at the blog. If you look, you will too.

Picking one bridesmaid dress that works well for all members of the bridal party can be really tough and probably...for those of you who have done it..uncomfortable? I wanted everyone to feel comfortable and gorgeous in their dress and figured the best way to do that was to let them pick what they wanted. This might not always turn out perfectly, but for this wedding I think it went flawless!

First, I was so surprised at how similar many of the girls' taste was. I knew we were all somewhat similar, but when it comes to picking out a dress that you love and fits your body type, a lot of them really liked the same exact style. Below are some recommendations that might make it easier for someone else who is hoping to do the same thing:

1. Talk to everyone casually about what they like, length, material, shade of the color, etc. If you find that everyone likes the same thing, it could be difficult when you tell everyone to go out and pick what they like - you might have one bridesmaid who likes a dark strapless dress and all of the rest like light halter tops. If everyone has similar taste, it's probably better if you put some parameters and tell which maid to get dark, which to get light, etc.
By the way, hangers from Whiskey & Wedding Bells, amazing.

2. In my opinion, they should all be the same length. If you are going to do something mis-matched there needs to be one element that is the same. In my personal opinion, it should be the length.  I've seen others do the same accessories, shoes, etc. Anything could work as long as you remember to keep something *noticeable* constant.

3. After deciding on a length I went to the paint store to look at all of the different shades of grey. There were about 50 of them...ha..........hahaha. Anyway, if you still haven't determined a color and you know you want your dresses to be mismatched, you want to pick a color that has a lot of good shades. If you love bright red, but you hate burgundy and you think lighter tones look too pink - red probably won't work. In this case, you might want to pick a uniform color for your bridesmaids and then they can pick the style. I'd recommend that with any bright color.  With grey, I found that the shades were either warm or cool.  Some greys leaned more towards a tan or brown color (warm), while others were more towards black or blue (cool.) I picked up paint shades that showed all of the "cool" shades of grey that I thought would look nicely together and put these in the bridesmaid packages. My bridesmaids were all pretty close and ended up going shopping together a few times, but for bridesmaids who are spread out distance wise, these paint chips could be really helpful for the solo-shopper.Because many shopped together we found it a bit easier to determine who purchased what shade, but naturally some bridesmaids will prefer a darker or lighter shade based on their skin tones - let them pick first and the others can fill in afterwards. We didn't calculate who had what shade obsessively, the girls picked what they wanted and the last few who purchased asked the group what we were lacking.

4. Material. This is really important especially because it will be noticeable in pictures. There is a big difference between chiffon and silk for instance. It just happens that I really liked the variety in color and material (this has a lot to do with the color being grey...cream would be the same way.) But most often, you'll want to determine a material for the dresses. This totally come down to personal preference.

5. Style was the most important thing for me to let the girls choose on their own.  In their bridesmaids gift I sent a few pictures I found of dresses I really liked so they would know what my style was and I trusted them to go with the ideas.  What would be most important is if you hated a particular style, you need to make that apparent early on in the process.

6. To keep things a bit more uniform since style, color and material were all matching - the girls had similar hairstyles that were down.  This really really helped to pull it all together. Some hair up and some hair down would have really highlighted the differences and I think the hair down and the length being the two constants worked out perfectly.

To further the mis-matching...I know, bold...the girls picked their own shoes (they actually all naturally went red/pink) and we had different white flowers for each girl.


DIY: Holiday Decor....2 months late. (Tree Skirt, Pine-Cone Wreath, Holiday Vases)

On a random day of motivation, actually the day after Thanksgiving, we decided to create and put up all of our Christmas decor in a few hours. Seeing as we didn't have any, that involved a trip to Michaels. I had been excitedly "pinning" a multitude of DIY holiday crafts, but when the time came I had to settle on just a few. 

You might recognize the letters over the mantle from the wedding:

We had probably a hundred leftover glass vases of all sizes from the wedding centerpieces and picked three to create holiday vases. These were really simple, I wrote words onto the vases with my glue gun - "joy, peace, and noel." Make sure you practice these first....... Then spray painted the vases after the glue dried. Don't spray paint on the porch of your apartment......... (Lots of .............. here, learn from my experiences ;) or for most of you who already have enough common sense to not spray paint on your apartment deck, porch, 5x5square - don't follow my example.

Then, my favorite part are the sticks spray painted in glitter. We used three bottles of gold glitter spray paint, if you really want them glittery - you'll have to use about the same. We found these sticks behind the in-laws' house and my little sister-in-law thought it was hysterical that we were collecting sticks to cover in glitter. I was excited to show them to her on our mantle and she responded with a monotone "cool" and "is that a guitar over there?" Anyway...

We spray painted the pine-cones as well and I really liked how those came out. We were going to collect some from out front, but Michael's sold a bag of about 30 for $1.99 and they smelled like cinnamon. No bugs and a cinnamon smell? SOLD.

With the pine-cones I made a .....uh....cluster of hanging pine cones? Anyway it looked pretty, just didn't sound as cool when I tried to type it. This was really easy, and I was planning to hang on our front door, but I wanted to look at it inside instead of the neighbors getting to see it. (Well, that was honest.) We're still working on a door mat and one knows we live inside the apartment. You can see the pine-cones on the right of the mantle:

To make this you'll need approximately 7-12 pine-cones, a spool of thick ribbon (the kind with wire in craft vocabulary is slowly best), and a spool of thinner (wire) ribbon as well. First step was to cut 2 foot strips of the thick ribbon - I cut as many as the spool of ribbon could make. Save one for the bow you will tie at the very end. Then you fold an inch of the ribbon in order to create a flat surface to glue to the top of the pine-cone. See below:

Then, use your smaller ribbon to tie bows.  Glue the bow on top of the folded surface of ribbon (shown above) to hide it.

Do this to as many pine-cones as you would like.  The tricky part is to then lie all of your ribbons on the ground and gather them together in a "pretty" way. I actually made about 12 of these, but when attempting to put them together, it seemed that 7 was the perfect number. Because the ribbon has wire it in, it will mostly stay in place and make it a bit easier on you. The, tie the ribbon you saved in a bow around all of the extra ribbon from the pine-cones. We used a push pin to tack this into our mantle and it stayed and kept its shape the entire winter season.

Last but not least, I attempted to make a tree-skirt out of felt. I cut a large circle (yes it is way too big for this little tree, but in the future when we have an actual house and big tree....!) with one slit from the edge to the center and then cut out felt flowers to glue on.  My goal is every year to make another whole row of felt flowers around the edge in a different shade of white, cream, or ivory to make it very full and 3d. It looks a little bare right now, but it will grow quickly.  The felt flowers were simple, you can tell the shapes that were cut by looking at the flowers since they are mostly separate and easy to see. (For now!) Also it was all hot glued.

Another handmade gem from our special Aussie friend were the ornaments, check this one out:
We love them, and her ;)

Anyway, with the rush and excitement of our first married Christmas and all kinds of new dynamics and traditions we really liked having the decorations up early to have a cozy (naturally 700square feet is cozy) place to come home to!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

DIY: Halloween Costume...3 months later.

So, after a long haitus of managing our first married holiday season, a new job and the husband's law school application process I am back. I'm upset I didn't keep up to date with the most recent DIYs especially since they were mostly all holiday themed. Never to late to share. Especially this first one...

For Halloween our friend was having a housewarming party/Halloween party and I can't begin to explain how much this particular friend loves Halloween. We, on the other hand, never dress up or really do anything other than hand out candy at my parent's house whose neighborhood seems to be the Mecca of candy collection. (Seriously I'm talking like...300+ kids.) But, we knew it would mean a lot to her if we dressed up so we thought about our costume a lot in the weeks preceeding the party. Ok in the days preceeding the party...OK so in the DAY preceeding the party.

So, Friday night we head out to Target to gather our DIY costume supplies. Of course we do not grab a cart because we are only grabbing one or two things, and everyone knows when you walk into Target you always come out with just one or two things...or $70 worth of things you need. Anyway, empty handed we stop in at the ladies section and see some black tights on sale. Not the kind professionals wear (or apparently don't wear anymore?? seperate topic) to work, the kind tweens wear as jeans. So we see some of those on sale. I pick up a pair of XL - that will fit the husband for sure. He stares at me. We keep walking. We find some long sleeve black t-shirts on sale, one for me in the female section, and he got lucky - a waffle shirt in the MENS section. Things are getting a bit better.

Armed with our black skin tight suits we begin looking for our outer layer. We walk into the mens section and unknown to me, they only sell white tank tops, t-shirts, underwear, in PACKS. I haven't seen underwear or t-shirts in packs since mine had the Little Mermaid on them. Anyway, I  make some weird comments about the packages of intimates everywhere. Thing is, we only need two white tank tops and two whitie tighties.

Pause - yes I do realize I haven't told you what our costume is at this point.

Back to the story. Only needed two of each, and Target selling packs of not 4 or 5 but jumbo fruit of the loom value size 12 packs, oh and get this one extra for good measure. So a bakers dozen of whitie tighties is exactly what we don't need. To further complicate things, I obviously need a smaller size than he does and compromising in the middle just wasn't going to work. So, I grab a 13 pack of SMALL whitite tighties. I really thought they'd losen up to be honest...but you'll hear about that later.
Might I add that this 13 pack was really not the $2 or 3 dollars I was hoping to spend and I really just couldn't bring myself to walk into a thrift store looking for whitie tighties. Ok this is getting out of hand.

SO, our black spandex body suits and 13 whitie tighties in hand we grab a pack of white tank tops in his size - I'll find a random white tank top at home. So, our arms aren't that full...expect that bag of whitie tighties we keep trying to wrap up in the black spandex so no one sees us carrying. We then head over to the cosmetics section to grab 10 jumbo bags of cotton balls. Now here people, is where we needed a cart. But did we get one? No. Just like how in college we always, ALWAYS, carried in every single bag of groceries in one trip no matter how heavy or how few available hands we had. So, 10 slippery plastic bags of cotton balls that keep falling as we walk back to the register, our whitie tighties, black spandex and $80 later we are ready to begin our night...and it's already 9pm.

I lay out our materials at home:

We then grab my glue gun, Scarlett (since our last post and extended bonding over the holiday season I've since named her.) Scarlett and I go to TOWN gluing cotton balls on every single inch of the whitie tighties and tank tops. We had a system going by the end of the night, I glue a long line and he slams down as many cotton balls as will fit. At the end, I picked up our finished pieces to show off, realizing they now weight about 10 pounds more than before and have essentially turned into a suit of armour. Hot glue hardens, yes I was aware, but I wasn't REALLLLY aware. We set the suits down and figured we'd conquer the task of getting dressed...well...the moments before we got dressed.

The next day arrived and it was time to "slide" into our cotton armour. This was not easy. At one point Andrew had his hands above his head and the white tank top completely stuck over his face for a few minutes until I literally used every ounce of strength to grab it down. Same situation for me, except I didn't handle it very felt a little claustophobic. So after that ordeal we finally realize how absolutely ridiculous of an idea this was. Too late to turn back now. We walk out of our apartment complex, at least I have a long black coat. Andrew has a short black coat but managed to fit some gym shorts over his very expanded cotton bottom. As we walk cotton balls trail behind us at least every 3 feet and wherever we stop and stand for a minute is a little pile.

It was the hottest car ride of my life, and poor Andrew was in size small whitie tighties covered in cotton balls with at least 4 layers on driving an hour to Gaithersburg. Worth it. We saved them if anyone would like to borrow. ;)