31 March 2010


No, we will not be the first couple in the world to have mismatched silverware at our wedding reception.  I take comfort in the fact, though, that even the cool kids are still doing it.  Of course, we aren't doing it to be cool.  Not exactly.  It's more that we thought the effect would be cool.  We're probably not saving money--it could have been cheaper to rent--but it's really hard to explain to the folks at the rental company that you think it would be really fun to have lots of forks and spoons that look nothing like each other.

And besides, the whole thing has given us a great excuse to indulge in one of our favorite activities.  We spent hours--days, probably--poking through funny little thrift stores in and around my hometown in Ohio.  And you know how much we love treasure-hunting.

I think we've finally come up with enough of everything.  I'm still feeling a little insecure about spoons, but hey, a bride has to have something to stress about, right?

What I really wanted to do--and it never would have worked--was to have real silver at our wedding.  Every once in awhile, when I'm at the Goodwill, I'll see old silver mixed in with all the stainless steel in the silverware bins.  And the best part?  It's still the same price.  It's kind of my dream now to have an entire set of "good" silver that I've pieced together at twenty-nine cents a fork.  I'll let you know how that works out.

Of course, we're not registering for silver.  I'm not that kind of girl. (In fact, I'm not sure I'm even a "registering" kind of girl, at all.  I think that's something I'll have to address another time.)

It's kind of funny, though.  Pretty much the only people that seem to think that the 21st Century American couple should register for something so decadent is, um, the people that want to sell it to you.  The wedding industry is still all over silver, which I find amusing in a cloying, condescending way.

I'm not saying I don't like the heft and the history of fancy silverware.  I love it.  When you're paying three hundred dollars a setting, though, instead of--I don't know--say, thirty?  It seems like a real cut-and-dry sort of decision.

Oh, unless you're at the Goodwill.

So this is the beginning of my collection.  At the rate I'm going, I'll probably be retired before we have enough forks to have company over for Sunday dinner.  And of course, the pieces aren't going to match.  Which is absolutely fine.  There's just something kind of regal about silver.  When you hold it, it feels important.  Which is probably why people go all ga-ga over expensive flatware in the first place.

And I'm fascinated by the fact that families used to have their silverware monogrammed:

I'll be honest.  I kind of have this fantasy now of hosting a fancy, modern wedding where the wedding cake is topped with a fork and spoon, instead of the traditional bride-and-groom caketopper.

Admit it.  You can kind of see it, too, can't you?

30 March 2010

other places to go

Now might be a good time to introduce you to a few of my new favorite wedding blogs.  I don't know why it took me so long to find them, but now that I have, I'm kind of hooked.  I know that I'm always sending you to sites like Once Wed and Martha Stewart Weddings.  There's good stuff there, and I'm not about to give either of them up.

What I really love, though, are the bride blogs.  Call me self-centered, but I like the idea of a woman using a blog as a sounding board, a confessional, and a kind of diary as she cobbles together "the most important day" of her life.

If you're intrigued by that, too, then take a look at Souris Mariage.  Mouse is planning a September wedding in Arizona.  In the meantime, she's treating us all to her witty, down-to-earth observations on wedding planning, some beautiful photos, and weekly peeks at real weddings.  She also hosts an awesome resource list that ranges from "How to Find an Ethical Jeweler" to "How to Make an ipod Reception Playlist."

And if you're feeling, um, peculiar, try The Bowie Bride.  Please be forewarned, this is not for the faint of heart.  The Bowie Bride isn't pulling any punches.  She's fun and maybe a little mouthy and I think she's a pretty good time.  She and her man are getting hitched in L.A. in July, and they are doing it in style.

If questionable language and risque photos aren't your cup of tea, though, then you should skip right ahead to A Homegrown Wedding.  Lindsay and her fiance are planning a June wedding and they are personally tackling nearly every detail of the day.  Anyone who makes her own wedding invitations is a woman after my own heart.

No two brides are alike, and so, of course, neither are our blogs.  I hope you enjoy peeking at these three works-in-progress.  One of the sad truths of bride blogs is that they rarely outlast the wedding.  Hopefully, these three keep flying after the big day.  I can't wait to see what these ladies do next...

29 March 2010


In my very first post here on the Sparrow--which seems like so long ago--I showed you this little ring pillow-substitute that I'd tossed together.  I thought the thing was cute, and it went over quite well at the Salvage Bride workshop, but I knew almost before it was even done that it wasn't the right ring-holding-thing for our wedding.

I want to say that I've been puzzling over the matter ever since, but the truth is, I've had other, more pressing things to puzzle over.  I'd kind of forgotten about the whole thing until a few days ago, when I had a teeny-tiny eureka moment.  I remembered that a few winters ago, I made about a dozen felted wool bowls, a few of which are still kicking around our place.

No, they're not super-fancy, but I like them.  And my man likes them.  And they're kind of--us.  Unfortunately, I didn't have the foresight when I was knitting and felting these in late 2008 to make them nice and shallow, in order to properly display a pair of small-but-important rings.  So, I picked the best of the bowls and decided to make a little cushion to tuck inside it.

Over the weekend, we found some fabric to play with--actually, my partner-in-crime found it, but I'm going to take partial credit.  The pattern is called "Key Tree Yellow Plume" and it's by Tula Pink for Moda.  It looks a little bit like this:

I think it's cute, and if you like it, too, you can find it in this Etsy shop, among other places.

I've already been very up front with you all about my miserable sewing skills, but one of the few things in my repertoire is, in fact, tiny pillows.  I sat in the kitchen and sewed while my man cooked dinner.  It took about twenty minutes, and while it's not perfect, I think it will do just fine.  I still haven't gotten the rest of the thing figured out, but I'm pretty sure I'm on the right track.

I'm going to take a moment now to say that if you're a knitter and you've never made a felted bowl, then it's time to get down to business.  It will be one of the easiest--and most fulfilling--little things you ever make.  Go to ravelry.com and get yourself an account, if you haven't got one.  You'll find plenty of patterns there for felted bowls, boxes, and everything else.

(And if you aren't a knitter, and you live in the Seattle Metro area, I will gladly exchange one half-hour "intro to knitting" for a small cup of coffee and a cupcake with pink or yellow frosting.  The ball is officially in your court.)

With all that said, I'm still not absolutely sold on the whole "rings in a felted bowl" thing.  I kind of want one of these:


And I'm having a hard time not just ponying up for one of these:

CUSTOM silver leaf edge ring bearer bowl (tm) the original modern heirloom by Palomas Nest- for wedding- commitment ceremony

Really, though, I know that we don't need either of those.  The details of our wedding don't need to look like something in a magazine.  They should look like who we are and what we do.  There are some finishing touches that still need to be figured out, but all in all, I'm pretty happy with what we've got...

26 March 2010

making space

You know all that crafty goodness I've got planned for this weekend?  There was a necessary first step that I had to take this afternoon.  Crafting usually requires a flat surface to work on, and much to my man's chagrin, I've managed to cover almost every flat surface in our apartment with at least a light dusting of, um, stuff.  So today, the big project on my list was turning this...

...into this:

If I've made it look quick and easy, well, don't be fooled, my friends.  This was an all-out offensive, and there were a few casualties.  Now, though, I've got plenty of room to make a big, crafty mess and hopefully, when I post again on Monday, I'll have something fun to share.

Happy weekend, everyone!

25 March 2010


We have a few photos hanging on our walls at home.  In our living room, there's a picture of what looks to be a collegiate rugby team.  Here's a detail shot of a few of the boys.  They're obviously taking this whole thing very seriously.

And in our bathroom--because where else would you hang it?--there's a group portrait of the 42nd Annual Convention of the American Association of Baggage Handlers.  It was taken in Minneapolis, on June 28, 1927.  I can say this with certainty, because it's all written right there, in the lower right-hand corner of the photo.  By my count, there are ninety-four people in the picture.  My favorite ones are the wives in big hats.

I have photographs at work, too, that I've stuck in different places.  I found this in a box of old love letters and birthday cards that mysteriously drifted into the shop.  After shuffling through a few of the letters--some stirring stuff, folks--I've decided that this woman's name is Sue.

And nobody seems to remember where this photo came from.  It was probably tucked into the pages of an old book or lying in the bottom of a cardboard box.  It floated around for awhile before I stuck it up on the wall because I just felt sorry for it, and I thought it deserved some respect.  Oh, and also, because there's a baby.

I don't know why we have all these pictures of people we don't know.  I think it's partially because we're collectors of things.  And because I love stories and my man loves images.  I don't think it's strange that we've kept the photos, but I do think it's a little weird that we don't have any pictures of ourselves or our families hanging anywhere.

Oh, we do have the digital picture frame thing that slide-shows all the time, and it's pretty cool.  In my book, though, it's just not the same as a photo on the wall.  We don't really have that many hard copy pictures of the two of us.  Which is why I'm so happy we've finally booked a photographer for the wedding.

I don't think he'd ever describe himself as a wedding photographer, but Andrew does great work, and we're really excited to have him around.  Having decent pictures of the wedding was one of our highest priorities, and I'm glad we're not gambling on some run-of-the-mill wedding photographer that we found in the yellow pages.  In the end, we'll have a few quality pictures as proof that this whole crazy thing actually happened to us.

And maybe someday, someone we'll never know will find those pictures in a box, or under a floor board, or tucked between the pages of a book.  They'll wonder who those kids in the funny clothes are and why they look so dang happy.

In the meantime, though, we'll have a few more photos to hang on our the walls.  But don't worry.  We certainly won't be getting rid of the ones we already have.

24 March 2010


The invites went out yesterday.  I can stop lying awake at two in the morning, worrying about the countless ways they could be ruined before we ever managed to mail them out.  House fire.  Spilled coffee.  Vengeful cat.

Now all I have to worry about is the United States Postal Service.  Godspeed little envelopes!  You're on your own in this harsh, harsh world...

For those of you keeping score, here's the news of the week:  The invites are out.  The tent is reserved.  The photographer has officially shifted from "strong maybe" to "yes."  I ordered my man's ring just today from this lovely Etsy seller.  (I already have a wedding ring waiting for me, a beautiful little thing that belonged to his grandmother.  I can't wait to show you...)  

And--that's pretty much it.  It seemed like a lot earlier today, but really, there's still so much more to do.  I'm okay with that.  I work well under pressure.  The procrastinator in me almost requires it.

If you're holding out for more crafty goodness, don't worry.  I've got plans for this weekend that, if all goes well, will result in some fun things to share soon.

But for now, I've got more list-making to do...

23 March 2010


I have my Grandma Sally's tatting shuttles.  I keep them in a little drawer with my knitting needles and crochet hooks, but the shuttles have their own little case, a gold one with a latch that clicks shut.  Two of them are plastic, but my favorite is made of metal.  Sometimes, I take them out of the case just to look at them.  They're special, because they connect me to the memory of my grandmother.  But here's the sad truth: I don't have the faintest idea what to do with the things.

Grandma Sally was one crafty lady.  Besides the tatting, she also made stationery sets by painstakingly cutting designs from old greeting cards and pasting the artwork onto colored sheets of paper.  I'm sure she had plenty of other projects going on, too.  It's my bad luck, then, that she died when I was so little.  The only arty thing I really learned from her was to make circular patterns when I colored with crayons, because it filled the space faster and gave everything an even look.  (This really does work and I've shared it with every rookie crayon-user I've ever met...)

I know I'm not the only one who missed out on that intergenerational exchange of handwork skills.  Maybe we were too young to learn the lessons our elders tried to teach us, or too stubborn, or just not there at all.  Now that we're grown and eager to continue the traditions, we've found that we have to be pretty creative in how we find the knowledge we need.  Knitting circles, co-ed craft nights, and community exchanges like Seattle Free School have helped to fill the void.

My favorite new place to pick up a skill might turn out to be a light-filled space in the Phinney/Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle.  At Assemble Gallery and Studio, co-owners Andie Wurster and Emily Grosse have created what I have a hard time describing as anything but a dream come true.

For starters, there's the shop.  I couldn't begin to resist a place that carries the work of artists like Nikki McClure, Love + Luck, and The Small Object.  And the little jars of knitting needles, thimbles, and sewing scissors just really make me want to stock up on knitting needles, thimbles, and sewing scissors.

But more exciting for me than the shop--or the inspiring gallery--is the studio, which hosts classes that range from squeaky-toy making to t-shirt quilting.  If you're intrigued, the current class listings are here.
Given our recent fascination with table cloths, the block printed table linens class is probably the one I'd start with.

The very best part?  The studio hosts custom events.  Like, say, bridal showers?

I don't know.  Maybe taking a class is cheating, but if a class is what it takes to help me master hand embroidery or the inner workings of my nasty, nasty sewing machine, I think my Grandma Sally would be proud.

22 March 2010


The other day, a gentleman I'd never met before walked into our shop and promptly said to me, "Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials."  At first, I was a little puzzled as to how he'd heard--or why he'd care--about my engagement.  As it turned out, he'd seen my photo in the neighborhood newspaper and read the accompanying article about the Salvage Bride workshop we held a few weeks ago.

My brief encounter with mini-celebrity has left me feeling a little exposed.  In the past month or so, I've spoken with dozens of people, not just about the workshop, but also about our upcoming wedding.  Up until then, I'd really thought of the wedding as a private thing, an event that involves my man, a chosen few, and me.  Now, though, people I hardly know have asked about everything from our vows to our dessert buffet.

Please don't misunderstand me.  It's not that I find these conversations intrusive.  (Could I really post on this blog, day after day, about our big party in June, and then complain that people are nosing into my business?)  It's more that I'm having to rethink my feelings about the public nature of our wedding.  My idea that the wedding represents a commitment that exists only between my man and I--well, it only goes so far.  At some point, I have to concede, the wedding really represents a contract between us as a couple and society as a whole.  In getting hitched, we're making a promise to the community as a whole that we'll conduct ourselves in a new way.

It's no wonder people are interested in what shoes I'll be wearing.

It's kind of making my head spin.  If I have anything in particular to blame for my having gotten into this new mindset, it's probably Elizabeth Gilbert's new book, Committed.  It's been a few decades since I've written a book report, and I'm not all that inclined to start now.  If you've read Eat, Pray, Love--and if you haven't, you're one of, like, twelve people on the planet--you already know who Elizabeth Gilbert is, and you know that she has some issues.  Among other things, she has issues with marriage, and Committed is her way of examining why people marry, why they don't, and what it means when they choose one or the other.

Maybe a book like that sounds like too much work--although I'll point out right here that Gilbert is pretty darn accessible--or maybe it just sounds, um, scary.  If you'd rather leave the subject of marriage alone and just worry about the wedding day, then maybe you should try Rebecca Mead's One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding.  Mead looks at wedding planners, bridal fashion, gift registries, and everything else that's we've crammed into the modern American wedding while asking what it all means.  Or what we wish it meant.

If you're planning a wedding, you might be better off reading something, well, relaxing.  But if you're feeling brave, try one of these.  They're both good reads and your library probably has them.

When I'm interested in something, I'm prone to becoming absolutely immersed in it.  If I get into, say, "organic gardening," then I'm perfectly capable of eating, sleeping, and breathing organic gardening for, oh, maybe a year and a half.  It's true that eating, sleeping, and breathing "wedding" probably isn't the best choice for anyone, including me.  You can't blame me, though, for wanting to understand just what exactly it is I'm getting myself into.

19 March 2010


Please don't tell my grandmother--she'll be appalled when she finds out--but I think we're using bed sheets as tablecloths at our wedding.  To be honest, various female members of my family have already expressed concerns about the plan.  Some of them have just gently mentioned how conveniently inexpensive it is to rent table linens these days.  Others, though, have just frowned.

I didn't realize it would be such a big deal.  We're using mismatched china and we've cobbled together a collection of silverware that looks like it might run you ten or twelve dollars at a Midwestern yard sale.  It's not like we're worried about things looking--well, proper.  I kind of figured that once you've introduced a pinata to the plan, there's really no turning back.

It's not like we're just buying any old bed sheet at the Goodwill, though.  We're being pretty choosy.  The theme seems to have landed somewhere in between "tea party" and "circus tent."  Despite all the reassuring I've been doing among my worried relatives, I have started to wonder what all of these mixed-up tablecloths and dishes are going to look like when they're assembled side-by-side.  I'm still pretty convinced, though, that it's all going to turn out just fine.

We didn't really talk about making our own table cloths.  The whole bed sheet idea just sounded so, well, easy.  I've already been pretty upfront about my lousy sewing skills.  There's no way our household would have survived the trauma of my attempt to knock out a dozen table cloths.  If you're feeling brave enough to try, though, here are some instructions that make pretty good sense, even to someone like me.

Our tables are going to be beautiful, and if we have any real last-minute worries, maybe we'll just do this for all eighty of the table settings...

I'll be back again on Monday.  Happy weekend, everyone!

18 March 2010


The subject hasn't come up yet within these pages, but sooner or later, it must be acknowledged.  I have a wedding dress.

This isn't a new development.  I bought the thing almost a year ago now.  I didn't go to the salons and sip champagne and try on one dress after another until I finally found "the one."  Honestly, I didn't even try anything on.  I saw a picture of the dress on the Internet, fell in love with the idea of it, and then spent the next three or four days trying to talk myself out of it.  It was too expensive.  It was too fancy.  It was too white.  Oh, and it was too expensive.

In the end, my partner-in-crime--who was probably just tired of watching me moon over pictures of an article of clothing--told me to buy the dress.  I'm glad he did.  I'm not sure what would have happened otherwise.  Maybe I would have waited until the last possible moment, panicked about my lack of a dress, and then gone to David's Bridal and bought the first thing I tried on.

Probably not.  But maybe.

I am a little sorry that I skipped over that "traditional" experience of trying on lots of fluffy dresses with my sisters and my step-mom looking on.  I worry that I'm cheating myself out of lovely memories.  Honestly, though, I love the dress I have, and I never would have found it in the shops.

And if I hadn't found this dress, I can't even guess what I would have ended up with.  I knew I didn't want a big, pouffy thing, and I was pretty sure I didn't want anything white.  Nothing in the magazines seemed even close.  I looked at vintage dresses at the Goodwill and in some of the consignment shops, but nothing really looked right.

I did look around a bit on-line for a second-hand dress.  Mostly, the prices were hard for me to swallow.  A used dress for two thousand dollars?  Really?  But hey, if you really want Vera Wang--and if you do, I don't blame you--then two grand is a steal.  If you're looking for a "gently used" designer dress, there's plenty to see.  Once Wed hosts some dress classifieds.  If you go to Recycledbride.com, you might even find dresses for your bridesmaids, too.

Fortunately for me, I did finally end up with my "dream dress."  It turned out to be white, after all, but definitely not pouffy.  And I ended up spending more than I'd planned to--although maybe not as much as you'd think.  I have big plans for that dress, though.  I fully intend to wear the heck out of it after our wedding.  I'll get my money's worth, in the end.

Of course, I'm not going to show you the dress.  That would be like posting photos of the invitations before they hit the mail, and if you've been reading, you already know how I feel about that.  I will let you in on the secret just a little bit, though.  The dress was made by Portland-based designer Elizabeth Dye, and the vintage button and lace detail on my dress looks an awful lot like the photo that Elizabeth uses for the banner of her blog...

I don't have the dress with me right now.  It's in Ohio, with my seamstress--the mother of a woman I grew up with--and it will be ready and waiting for me in June.  I'm kind of anxious to see it again.  And when we are finally reunited, my lovely little dress and I, I'll take some photos.  And then you can see...

17 March 2010

tough choices

One hundred and one days.  We have one hundred and one days to get it all done.  It sounds like plenty of time.  Weeks and weeks.  Months, even.  What could we possibly need to do that we can't get finished in one hundred and one days?

Um.  A lot of things.  When we started all this, my head was full of projects and ideas and plans.  Every time I opened a magazine or scrolled through a blog, I'd think of something else I wanted to try.  And if I'm making it sound like I was the only one in the house getting carried away by crazy plots, let me remind you that catering our own wedding was not entirely my idea.

Now, though, we're headed into the final phase, where all the planning turns into doing.  All those super-fun projects are either going to start happening or not.  And, let's be honest now, some of them will not.  Making those choices is going to be tough.  Once, I've embraced an idea, I have a very hard time giving it up.  And in spite of his tendency towards conflict-aversion, my partner-in-crime does have a little bit of a stubborn streak.  (Please don't tell him; I don't think he knows...)

I'm not talking about any really huge sacrifices here.  I think--in spite of what a few of our friends and family members might believe--we've actually been pretty conservative about what we've taken on.  We ditched the whole "let's build tables out of salvaged barn wood" idea.  And I'm not going to sew the napkins and tablecloths myself--which is good, because I can't actually sew worth a dang.  

I'm still planning on making the pinata, though.  And making banners to hang in the trees.  There are still the centerpieces to figure out, and the kids' table, and the bouquet.  Oh, and yes, the food.

Fortunately, I've just stumbled on a new tool to help me make tough decisions about which DIY projects to tackle and which to subcontract out to the lovely folks on Etsy.  Rachel at Heart of Light is guest blogging at 100 Layer Cake right now, and yesterday she shared her DIY Reality Check Flowchart. 

If you're stressing about whether or not to take on the ten-millionth project on your wedding checklist, try running your options through Rachel's flowchart.  The straight-forward simplicity of it will blow your mind.  I'm thinking about taping it on my wall and using it to determine every detail in my life.  I'll have to let you know how that turns out...

Right now, though, there are the wedding decisions to make, and they're going to start coming on quick. Today, there are one hundred and one days to go.  And tomorrow, it will be a hundred...

16 March 2010

through the lens

Just a quick post tonight to point you towards--gasp!--someone else's blog.

If you're still wondering what last weekend's Salvage Bride workshop looked like, Eliza Truitt, the lovely and talented wedding photographer who joined us for the event, has posted some of her photos.  Wander on over to elizatruitt.wordpress.com to have a look.  And while you're there, scroll down a bit and you'll find some beautiful, beautiful pictures of beautiful, beautiful babies.  Sigh.

Thanks again for being with us on Saturday, Eliza, and for sharing your work!

15 March 2010

on display

{I know I promised you all a recap of our Salvage Bride workshop.

Let it suffice to say that last-minute details were, for the most part, worked out, and, I dare say, a good time was had by all.  It was definitely a party, what with the cake, the pom poms, and even a real live wedding photographer!

Of course, there were things I meant to say that I forgot to.  And things I probably shouldn't have said that slipped out anyway.  I definitely learned a lot, and if I had it to do over again--and hey, maybe someday, I will do it again--I'd sure do a few things differently.  But for now, at least, there's nothing to be done about any of that.

Thanks to those of you that came on Saturday and those that have enquired about the outcome of the event.  Hopefully, we'll have some photos soon that I can share with you all.  Thanks to Sarah K for keeping me on track during those last few hours of planning, to Eliza T for documenting the affair, and to my partner-in-crime for all the shoulder-patting that a girl could ever hope for.}

Now that we're through with all that, let's move on to more important things.  Like cake stands.

Along with Martha Stewart and every other woman I've ever met--oh, and a few guys, too--I love cake stands.  For someone who's probably only baked two or three proper cakes in the past decade, I own way too many of the things.  (I think the current count stands at five, but I'm just getting started...)  Whenever I see one at at the thrift store and don't buy it, I feel a deep and terrible sense of loss.  I am only exaggerating a little bit here.

I don't know what it is that I find so irresistible.  If you share this affliction and have diagnosed its cause, please, by all means, let me know what you've discovered.  All I can be sure of is that I am almost obsessed.

My favorite cake stand might be this one, which I splurged on about a year ago.

Of course, picturing it without a cake on top doesn't do it justice, but I have yet to bake a cake worthy of it.  I think it's beautiful, and if you do, too, you can find one like it at Whitney Smith Pottery's Etsy shop.

For Christmas this past year, my lovely sister-in-law-to-be gave me a little cupcake stand to match.

Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

With all the wedding cake talk lately, I've been trying to figure out how to get my rocking-est cake stand to Ohio and back again.  The idea of shipping it makes me a little shaky.  The obvious solution would be to just purchase another one and have it shipped directly there, right?  And why stop with one?

Someone--someone who isn't very fun--has pointed out that I might want to reconsider that plan.  I'll begrudgingly consider some alternatives, but I will have a cake stand at my wedding, folks.  Even if I have to make it myself.

Which I just might try doing.

I've mentioned this once before, but I've been messing around with the idea of making cake stands out of old wiring spools.  I'm especially taken with this big guy...

...but I don't have that entirely figured out, yet.

What I did manage to cobble together recently were these little numbers.

The bases are plastic spools that used to be full of electrical wiring and the tops are plates from the Goodwill.  They aren't finished products, yet, but I think they have potential.

I'm especially blown away by how perfectly this thrift store plate matches the design of some "vintage" Rubbermaid shelf liner I found kicking around the shop.

I'm  also pretty taken by the detail on the rim of this little Noritake plate.

Our cake in June will most likely sit on a cake stand that we've made for ourselves.  I really like the idea, and I'm looking forward to making something great.  It'll be fun to have another cake stand.

None of that will stop me, though, from registering for a few more, just in case...

12 March 2010

slide show

If you've been following along this week, you know that tomorrow is a big day.  I'm still taking care of last-minute details and don't have much time to write.  Instead, here are a few photos I've been meaning to share with you:

{detail of a vintage radiator cover}

{detail of 19th century sewing machine at our shop}

{birdhouse with red flag}

{chandelier in the sun}

To those of you coming to tomorrow's workshop, I can't wait to meet you!  I think we'll have a great time.  And to the rest of you, I'll be posting a recap next week.  See you Monday.  Have a lovely weekend!

11 March 2010


Another busy day today, getting things ready for the workshop this weekend.  The event is right around the corner, and as the minutes tick by, I'm finding that I need to adjust my expectations of myself.  There are things I'd planned to do that won't get done, last-minute projects that will be scratched off the list, and absolutely "perfect" ideas that will just have to be "good," instead.

I'd like to think that this is all really good practice for the Big Day coming up in June.  It's important to remember to take deep breaths and to treat yourself well.  At some point, you need to just sit back and be satisfied and enjoy the results of your hard work.

Of course, it's one thing to be able to recognize all that, and it's another thing entirely to put it into practice.  I'm actually pretty lousy at calling it quits.  I have a very hard time saying, "Enough is enough."  I always want to chase the dream up until the very last second.

There is one situation, though, in which I can almost always be relied on to quit.  When I am not immediately good at something--something that I've never tried before--my first instinct is to stop trying. I don't like losing.  I don't like making mistakes.  I don't know if it's just my nature to be this way, or if it's some indirect result of how I was raised.  Regardless, I've found enough things that I'm at least moderately good at to be able to get away with avoiding the things that I don't take to right away.

All of which brings me to the drama of the day.  The pom poms.  If you read the wedding blogs, or flip through the magazines, you know that tissue paper pom poms have been all the rage for quite some time now.  I thought it would be fun to have a few for the workshop space on Saturday, and when I saw that Martha had a how-to on her website, I knew that I was set.

Now, Martha has never steered me wrong.  I've always maintained that if you are willing to follow her instructions without question, you will not fail.  Baking a tart, getting grass stains out of cotton, decorating the table for Thanksgiving.  There's nothing Martha can't help you do.

If all that is true, though, then how did I end up with something that looks like this?

Such a sad little muppet of a pom pom.  To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement.  I was overwrought.  I was bereft.  It had seemed like such an easy thing to do.  How could I have made such a mess of it?

Of course, the answer is that I needed a little more practice.  After a few hours of being vaguely mad, and some of that deep breathing I was preaching about earlier, I gave it another go.  I really had to make myself do it.  Mostly, I was dreading another tissue paper travesty.

Instead, though, I got a pom pom.  And then another one.  And another one.

The weird part is that I skipped some of Martha's directions.  That whole trimming the ends to look like flower petals?  I ditched it entirely.

And it worked.  These things aren't works of art, but I like them anyway.  They're bright and fun, and they're a nice reminder that I shouldn't take myself--or my little projects--too seriously.

10 March 2010

little boxes

Lots of hustling and bustling going on here at headquarters as we put the finishing touches on this Saturday's workshop.  I can't imagine going a whole day without posting, though, so I thought I'd share this tiny thing with you.

This little box drifted into the shop last week.  I liked the way it was so obviously handmade.  It's built out of thin pieces of plywood and tacked together with finish nails.  I'd guess it was originally made to hold a drill, because when you open it up, it has holes that seem to be sized for storing drill bits.

The tiny holes made me think of pens and pencils, and I started thinking about using the box as a kind of alternative guest book.  I used a drill bit that was a little bit bigger than the original holes to make the slots a little roomier for my colored pencils.  I also spent a few minutes tightening hinge screws and just generally dusting and scrubbing. (This box has been sitting in someone's workshop for a very long time...)

I printed up slips of paper with three different messages at the top and tucked them inside the box.

I think it could be neat to display the box with a piece of plywood hanging above it.  That way, your guests could choose a slip of paper, write their message on it, and then hang it on the plywood with a hammer and a little nail.  Mostly, I think I like that idea because it's fun to imagine girls in fancy dresses drinking champagne and wielding hammers.

Really, though, hanging a clothesline and letting guests pin their messages up with little clothespins would probably work just as well.  And when the wedding's over, you can paste all the notes and well wishes into your scrapbook without having to worry about there being nail holes in everything.

Not that there's anything wrong with a little nail hole here and there...

09 March 2010

funny valentine

All this wedding-themed crafting has gotten me thinking about my favorite kind of project: the gift.  Making things for myself is all well and good, but when I knock together something that I think is truly awesome, I can hardly wait to share it with someone else.  I'm incredibly lucky to be marrying someone who appreciates the handmade object just as much as I do.

A month or so ago, I decided that my Valentine's Day gift for my man would be a book safe.

A book safe is really just a hollowed-out book.  It's a secret hiding spot disguised to look like every other book on the shelf.  I don't know why I thought my partner-in-crime needed one.  I figured that he liked books and, while I've never proven it, I think he might also like hiding things.  Besides all that, it sounded like a challenge.

I'll admit right now that I was kind of making things up as I went along.  If I'd taken the time to do some research, I probably could have found some shortcuts, but instead, I just plowed right into it.

I started with a copy of The Discourses by Epictetus.  I didn't choose the text for its significance--it's not that I'm a big fan of Stoic philosophers.  It just happened to be a good-looking book.  It was also on its way into the dustbin, which made it easier for me to take the difficult next step.

Before I go any further, I should say that I cannot stand a person who abuses a book.  Highlighted college textbooks, dog-eared pages, and books left face down on a coffee table all rank high on my list of offenses.  So I'm still a little ashamed to point out that in order to turn a book into a book safe, I had to cut a hole in the book.

To do this, I used my handy little Exacto knife with a #11 blade, a self-healing cutting mat, and a piece of cardboard that I cut into a template.  I put the template on top of page one, put the mat underneath page one, and then used the knife to cut around the inside of the template.  The end result was a rectangle-shaped hole in the middle of the page.

I repeated this process another one hundred and thirty times.  Okay, not really.  But almost.  My knife was plenty sharp, but the pages of the book were pretty old and were inclined to tear when I tried to cut too many of them at once.  In the end, I resigned myself to cutting one page at a time.  It wasn't as bad as it might sound.  The only challenging part was lining up the template every time.  Once I got into a rhythm, though, the whole thing was kind of calm and meditative.  Except for the times that the cat jumped up onto my worktable and started batting the knife around.

It came out pretty well, and my man seemed pleasantly surprised by the gift.  I'm don't know what he's going to put inside it, but I'm pretty sure I'm not allowed to look.

If you're too lazy to make your own book safe, or you'd like something that looks a little more polished, you have plenty of options on Etsy.  This one, for instance, really puts my little project to shame.  Still, there's something about doing it yourself that turns a good gift into a great one.  If you're as enamored with the book safe idea as I was, I hope you'll consider giving this a try.


P.S.-  I'd like to thank Peggy Sturdivant for featuring our upcoming Salvage Bride workshop in the current edition of The Ballard News-Tribune.  It was great talking with you, Peggy.  Best wishes for all your wedding planning!