For the most part, due to budget and time constraints, I limit myself to small, easy crafts: basically, crocheting. You can't do too much harm with some yarn and a blunt plastic needle.
But every now and then I get the urge to do a bigger project, like re-covering and repainting the kitchen chairs Or, say, repainting a nightstand with chalk paint.
Confession time: I'm not much of a decorator, and I REALLY don't do change well. Once I get my "personal space" set up, it doesn't change. EVER. There have been a few additions to my condo since I moved in six and a half years ago (like, you know, my husband and dog, and about 8,000 more books), but it's pretty much the same. Okay, exactly the same.
However, my sweet husband has this way of gently pushing me outside of my comfort zone with encouragement and love. All of his furniture and belongings coming into my perfectly spaced and designed house was stressing me out, and he knew it. Moving the bookcase from diagonally in the corner in front of the thermostat (NOT convenient) to beside the sofa drove me crazy. But it was the only way we would get his wide-screen TV and TV stand in the living room. I had to acquiesce. And incredibly, it made our living room look SO much larger.
So now I've been on a spree to find other ways we can make the midget condo look like it might actually comfortably fit two adults and a full-grown Labrador. And in that process, I'm having fun doing a little decorating, too.
It started when I saw my coworker had entered a contest to win a free downloadable graphic font print from Brim Papery. It basically involved sharing one of her images on Instagram, and you automatically received a free print. But once I received my free print, I realized I had no clue what to do with it. And that's when I thought of it - I'm going to make a gallery wall! FRAME ALL THE PRINTS.
So I went through Etsy and searched for prints that inspire me, including Bible verses, Eric Church lyrics, and Harry Potter quotes (oh, come ON now. You knew that was coming). I ordered multi-colored mats, bought some black frames, and we were in business.
Except B wanted to put the gallery wall in the dining room. Where I have had my Blik up since exactly three days after I moved into the condo. Which I put up all by myself. Remove it? Was the man MAD?! But he insisted it would look better there than in the hall. So I agreed. We peeled the Blik off the walls, bit by curly bit. We used a Magic Eraser to clean any adhesive that had stuck. We hung the gallery wall.
And wouldn't you just know, when we took down the Blik and put up the prints, the "dining room" looked so much larger...and so much better. Maybe I should try this "change" thing more often. Check out the pictures below and get ideas for yourself!
Want to do it yourself?
Check out the prints I purchased, or search these shops for your own favorite quotes!
1// Love never fails (my favorite of the bunch!)
4// Grass (my freebie, not yet for sale)
5// For each new morning
6// I solemnly swear
The frames came from Bed Bath & Beyond. They came 4 to a pack for $29.99 (plus the ubiquitous 20% off coupons). I only needed six frames, but this was a better deal than buying them individually. The white mats that came with the frames were removable so I could use the colored mats.
I purchased the mats from 5dollarframes.com. For six mats and shipping, it was only $16. Pretty economical. And as you can see, they offer a ton of colors. I do wish their Carolina blue wasn't quite so pale/washed out, but alas, I think it's enough that people get the idea :)
We are also going to expand our wall a little with a few smaller prints (when I decide on some I like). It will be an evolving work that reflects B and me. Luckily, I don't think I'll be afraid to change it.
I really thought I had this in the bag. I was one of the last of my close friends to get married, and I'd been in their weddings, for better or for worse. I'd seen an awful lot, and was rewarded with a heaping helpful of knowledge from my sweet, sweet friends. They were there to answer any questions I had. Further, I had been planning my wedding in my head since I was about, oh, 16. I had some pretty good ideas of things I wanted (and didn't want). And I am crazy, crazy organized and OCD. Still, there were things that surprised me...
Meetings with vendors are wildly inconvenient
Let me start by saying that I worked with THE best vendors and they have been so helpful and fantastic. I'm not knocking any of them in any way, shape or form, and I would hire them all again in a heartbeat. But here's the thing: just because they will be working on a night and a weekend (presumably) on the actual day of your wedding doesn't mean they want to work on nights and weekends leading up to it. They want their get-to-know-you meetings to be during the regular workday. Unfortunately, my boss also kind of likes it when I'm, you know, at my place of employment during the workday.
This was my biggest frustration in wedding planning - trying to get off work to go to vendor meetings. The reception site's ONLY times for food tastings were 2:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Period. That wasn't convenient for me, that wasn't convenient for B, and that REALLY wasn't convenient for my parents who had to drive 3 hours to participate in this event. Thankfully, we did it on the Thursday before my birthday so they could combine it into a long weekend/birthday visit. I ordered my save-the-dates, invitations, and menu cards from Wedding Paper Divas solely because I could peruse, design, order and preview them online and do it on my time, meaning one less harried lunch-hour meeting during the week. Unless you work from home or have a REALLY flexible schedule, be prepared to have a little heart-to-heart with your office manager about your comings and goings.
Pinterest actually doesn't help
That's the best way to explain it. It's just too easy to get three billion suggestions, and deciding between them is IMPOSSIBLE. There were like 400,000 different routes I could have taken with flowers - white, pink, blue, yellow...we're talking a freaking rainbow here. How can you choose? How can you know which really will look best?
By going to one of those aforementioned inconvenient vendor meetings, of course. My florist pulled out a scrapbook of weddings they'd done, and one of them matched my vision PERFECTLY. I fell in love. They tweaked it just a tiny bit to suit my tastes, but I absolutely LOVED my flowers (pictured above)...and Pinterest had nothing to do with it. Trust your vendors. They've done this many times (tip: hire experienced vendors), and they should be able to help you pinpoint your style. If you have your heart set on this ONE THING you saw on Pinterest, you could miss something even more amazing.
The one thing, however, that Pinterest DID help with was hairstyles. I pinned several similar ones I liked, and my hair and makeup artist was able to create a similar style that I LOVED. She did say that they can't re-create any one style EXACTLY, but having ALL those pictures pinned in one place was able to give her an idea of what I liked. So Pinterest has its uses...just don't let it overwhelm you or dictate your every move.
Do NOT DIY
I consider myself a fairly crafty person. I crochet all the time, and I like to make things. However, no matter how crafty you are, your wedding really isn't the place to do it. The ONLY things I "made" were the wine corks and the place cards inside them (see above), and after a weekend spent watching March Madness and playing with an Xacto knife, I was even re-thinking that.
A lot of people go the DIY route to save money, and I'm not knocking that. You gotta do what you gotta do. But unless you (or your MOH, your 'maids, or your mother) are SUPER-experienced in doing certain things, just don't. I had one of my bridesmaids, who is a graphic designer by trade, design my wedding programs. It's entirely possible I could have done it myself, but the time and mental capacity involved would've made me miserable, and it would've looked nowhere as amazing as her work.
If (for cost reasons), you absolutely MUST do something yourself, make it something that can be done well in advance of the wedding. See if you can find a talented friend/neighbor/coworker who would offer their services in lieu of a wedding gift. Fork out the money for the stuff that HAS to be done the day-of (flower arranging, catering, etc) so you and your family can relax and enjoy your wedding, because that is the main goal.
I frequently refer to Gilmore Girls as the oracle for life (how could I not? I AM Rory). So it really befuddles me that I did not listen to a direct quote from Luke regarding weddings: "There's nothing like a wedding to screw up a family." I will not go into details or name parties involved, but trust me, this happened. The good news, ironically, is that for us it happened on both sides of our families, and at right about the same time. There was only so long the wedding planning perfection could hold out before something had to give, and oh, it gave.
If you have an uncle that likes to grope young women, or an aunt that cannot stay out of the liquor bottle, or a bitter sibling who's always tried to one-up you, they will not change just because it's the most important day of your life (not theirs). If they'll bring the behavior to your family Christmas get-together, they'll bring it to your wedding (and/or to the planning). Do not take this personally. Have a glass of wine with your husband-to-be and laugh about them, instead.
Planning is most fun with your spouse-to-be
Maybe it's because my mother and all my best friends live at least three hours away, but the most enjoyable aspects of wedding planning were the ones that I did WITH B. A lot of the stuff he was perfectly content to let me handle. Flowers? He wanted no part of that. But he came with me to all three cake tastings, and we enjoyed ourselves SO much talking about what we liked, didn't like, envisioned, etc. We laughed about the crazy vendors and were in complete agreement about the ones we liked. We debated ideas and suggestions. It was so much nicer to plan our wedding together since it was OUR wedding, not MINE.
Just something to keep in mind there, budding bridezillas. It IS your husband's day, too. You may be the one in the big white dress that everyone is looking at, but the day is about the both of you, not just you. So involve your hubby-to-be in the planning.
"The Big Day" will not be perfect
Everything went perfectly right up until the day before the wedding. Then the fun began.
We went to the rehearsal, where everyone in the family and wedding party was blown away by the insane amount of rules and, oh hell, the insane rules themselves, imposed by my church. That is a whole different story that could fill an entire blog post itself and/or an open mic comedy night, but anyway. We survive that, and get in the car to head to the rehearsal dinner.
That's when I get a text from my mother saying my brother has food poisoning with a fever of 102.9, and they've stopped at an urgent care place. Um, yeahhhh. Between worrying about my brother and being sad my parents were missing our rehearsal dinner, it was a long night. But they were finally able to show up for the slideshow and the toasts, and all was well.
The day of the wedding did go relatively smoothly, albeit with some fun NEW rules from the church (such as, my still-weak brother can't bring a water bottle into the church). My brother escorted my mom down the aisle and then sat with her instead of standing up front as a groomsman, as originally planned.
But you know what? It was a perfect day, at least to us. We had a beautiful first look, a...well, a ceremony (those involved know why I'm refraining from adjectives here), and a FANTASTIC, fun, amazing reception celebration with our friends and family. And at the end of the day, we were husband and wife. It may not be textbook-perfect, but it's YOUR wedding day, so I promise, it will be perfect to you. :)
Y'all, I have done it. I have surpassed my own expectations for myself. I have reached the pinnacle of yarn perfection and alumni pride.
I figured out how to crochet a Tar Heel.
I would like to say this is the product of toiling and working and figuring out a pattern over many years, but frankly it occurred to me in a flash of brilliance while I was at work. And as my Mimi always said (and even cross-stitched onto a pillow), "Even planning can't beat dumb luck."
My Phi Beta Chi big sis, former roommate, and one of my dearest and best friends is having a baby, a sweet little boy due in August. I know this baby's mama well. I lived with her for two years, after all. But I also know this baby's father. He went to college with us, too...and he will undoubtedly raise his child an avid Carolina fan (and future alumni). I LOVE when I see parents raising their children correctly...
But I digress. I was looking for THE perfect baby hat to make for this kid. When our other best friend had a baby, I made her the very first of my adorable owl hats that are so popular. But she had a girl, and this new little one is going to be a boy. Plus, I wanted an excuse to try a new pattern. I poured over my Pinterest crochet board, trying to decide on THE perfect hat...when I saw a pattern I had pinned for crocheted baby booties.
And the sole of a baby bootie looks awfully like the main part of the Tar Heel foot...
Just goes to show, you never know when inspiration will strike.
And CLEARLY my new "nephew" is going to need a Carolina hat. What sort of remiss auntie would I be if I did not instruct him in the ways of light blue from the moment he was born? So I made a Tar Heel. I made a hat. I sewed them together. And voila.
The best part is, the Tar Heel can be added to anything...blanket, scarf, hat, diaper cover. Any plain flat crocheted surface, really. I could put it on hair clips, a pin, you name it. Any and all crocheted orders will be a while because of the wedding coming up, but if you need an order for next fall, let me know...
...my master plan to take over the world with Carolina fans has begun. :-D
Ahhh, fall...the season of football games, boots and jeans, scarves, spiked apple cider, bonfires...and crochet?
That's right - Mimi's Heart (aka my Etsy shop) has a fully restocked inventory of handmade baby goodies. Got a bun in the oven? Need a unique baby shower gift? I am always MORE than happy to take custom orders, so if you want something I don't currently have in stock, or if you need something to match a certain outfit, please don't hesitate to send me a message. I can do adult hats, too. Do not be shy to hit me up with custom requests!
There are, of course, some designs that are more popular than others, but I wanted to take the time now to show off some of MY personal favorites. Don't forget to check out my Etsy shop to see the rest of my stockpile. Seriously, some of these are cute enough to make you want to have a baby...or at least borrow your friend's baby for the day (Miss Victoria, I'm looking at you, kid!).
Button is one of my favorites. This is not actually a baby hat, because I was worried little ones would pull off the buttons and try to eat them, but it's perfect for a child of 4 - 5. It's playful, it would match a ton of outfits, and the colors are very muted and fall-like. A bargain, at only $15!
My most popular design by far. I had a ton of requests for these last year, including a baby boy boy owl version and a hot pink and black owl version. This is a toddler-sized hat, but I can easily make one for an infant. This one goes for $20, but for an additional $10 I can also throw in a matching diaper cover - perfect for baby photos! And please remember: I do custom orders. Just ask.
I don't know why, but this hat reminds me of France. Maybe it's the colors, maybe it's the little red poppy flowers, but for whatever reason it screams "French" to me. That's why it's one of my favorites. How cute would this be on a little girl? TOO cute, is the answer. And for $15, another steal! If only airfare to Paris were so cheap...
Dark pink and cream, a dreamy hat for your little queen. I LOVE the rich pink color of this hat, along with the tinge of pink in the cream flowers. It's so elegant and perfect for fall and winter. I kind of want to make myself one, but I cannot find those beautiful flowers anymore. So snap up this hat while you can!
Spice in Green
Add this hat to the list of Endangered Species of Fake Flowers. I can't even remember where I bought this, much less that they would still have it. So snap up this beauty while you can, along with its sister, Spice in Red. How adorable would this be on a little girl wearing a denim dress by a pumpkin patch?! Again, I kind of want to make one for me!
So there they are, my top five (in-stock) favorites. I'll hopefully work on some new designs soon, but wedding planning and life in general have gotten pretty busy. So stay tuned and check the shop (and the blog!) often! And by all means, stay warm, y'all!
I actually made a craft that...worked. Okay, fine, even I'M surprised. But this actually turned out well (for a change...my Pinterest crafts don't always go so hot). What was it? Why, it was a homemade chalkboard frame for our engagement pictures tomorrow!
And how did I do this? I bought a cheap picture frame at Wal-Mart. It's one of those with the really thin frames (think 1 millimeter) that looks like there IS no frame, and the glass pops in the front. I popped the glass out and gave it a couple of coats with spray paint chalkboard paint. I hot-glued a piece of ribbon so that the "chalkboard" would hand, and put two bows where the ribbon met the chalkboard (I really, really hope it doesn't look too much like an "It's a Boy" chalkboard or something...). I bought chalk and...voila! It was remarkably easy, and I think I made B pretty nervous when I said, "Let's see what else I can chalkboard-paint!"
And what does it look like? Well, you'll just have to stay tuned until after our pictures are taken, won't you?