Thursday, September 25, 2008

Spiffing up our invites - the envelope liners

One of the ways that I thought we could jazz up our invitations was by adding an envelope liner. I've always thought that envelope liners add a nice touch and they didn't seem difficult to do. Since I was getting my invitations from HelloLucky, I asked Sabrina if she could send me a couple of blank envelopes so I could measure them and figure out what I'd need to do to make envelope liners for them. I ran to AC Moore and Hobby Lobby and found a bunch of cute papers I could use. Now all I needed to do was to cut out the liners and see which one looked the nicest. First tip - make the shape as easy as possible. If you're picking your own envelopes out, pick the plainest ones you can - the liner will fancy it up plenty. If you can simplify the liner shape, do it. When I first started cutting mine out, I was trying to add a tiny bit of a curve. After driving myself insane, I realized that if I followed the outline of the glue pattern, I really just needed straight lines. Another tip - don't use an instant drying glue. It's nice to be able to slide the liner around a little to make sure it's in the correct place.

After making several test liners, I ended up deciding that I wanted to get the actual invites before deciding on a final liner. I'm glad I waited - some of the liners I liked the best by themselves actually didn't look as well with the invitations as the final liner I went with.

Here's the liner we went with in the end:

Last tip - when making these, don't stack them in a pile while drying. I managed to stick several together because I was dumb enough to do this.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ready to mail!

We've got 54 invites ready to go into the mail tomorrow! We'll be hand delivering about 8 to friends in our neighborhood and we still have to get ten more addresses. It's such a relief though to know these babies are going out! A little scary too!

Assembling invitations is exhausting work!

I'll have pictures and directions for the rest of the parts of our invites tomorrow.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My weekend project

I've been busy putting the finishing touches on my invites so we can mail them tomorrow and Tuesday!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Our Cake Topper

How adorable are these?

Oilpainta will be making our cake topper. There are so many cute cake toppers on Etsy but I was definitely smitten by her toppers. She's also not crazy expensive. What I love about her toppers is that she sends you a very extensive questionnaire asking about your wedding details and about things that are important to you. We've asked her to include some kitties at our feet. We're going to have the Sunsphere and our 1894 Queen Anne Victorian in the background. She's adding flowers in our wedding colors and we sent her pictures of the tuxedo Marcus will be wearing and pictures of my dress for her to copy on the topper.

We will be having a doughnut cake like above (ok - maybe a tiny bit smaller) on our junk food buffet at midnight. I'm on the hunt for a rather large vintage cupcake topper in a wedding theme to throw in the top - the uglier, the better. Anyone else looking for something fun for their cake?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hot Chocolate & Hot Apple Cider Bar

For our wedding, we're having a hot chocolate and hot apple cider bar. If we get lucky, we might even have a chilly evening so we can all sip these drinks by the fireplaces. Since I'm a neurotic online researcher, I had to see what chefs and other people online recommend. I couldn't find anything for a hot cider bar but I did find a bunch for hot chocolate. Here's a list (what I'm planning on serving is bolded):

•Coffee options - instant espresso powder or Espresso Shots
•Crumbled up candy bars (Heath, Milky Way,3 Musketeers, Snickers, or Butterfingers)
•Truffles (cappuccino, dark chocolate, raspberry)
Miniature baking chips (semisweet, peanut butter,white chocolate, butterscotch or mint)
Caramel syrup or caramel squares
Peppermint candy pieces, smashed
•Flavored syrups of all sorts by Torani or Da Vinci
•Peanut Butter
Red hot candies

Cinnamon sugar
•Candied ginger
Orange twists
Chocolate shavings
•Cocoa powder
•Fresh mint leaves
Grated nutmeg
Cayenne pepper
Marshmallows (regular or chocolate ones or try online for coconut, cinnamon, caramel and peppermint)
Whipped cream (regular and flavored - see recipe below)

•Rock-candy swizzles
Peppermint sticks
•Pretzel rods (dip them into melted chocolate and coat with candy sprinkles)
Cinnamon sticks

•Grand Marnier (orange flavored)
Kahlua (coffee flavored)
Frangelico (hazelnut)
•Godiva chocolate liqueur
Malibu rum - sounds weird but tastes heavenly!

Flavored Whipped Cream: Whip 1 pint of heavy whipping cream to the soft-peak stage. Add 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and the flavoring of your choice. Store chilled (up to an hour) until ready to use. Here's an example of a flavor combination: To make chocolate-pecan whipped cream, add 1 tablespoon pecan extract and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder.

I couldn't find much for hot cider. Of course you've got to have cinnamon sticks for stirring. I did find a few liqueur suggestions. Any other ideas?

•Applejack in cider is my go-to fall thermos sipper. It's great for hay rides and haunted houses!
•Apple brandy

Email woes

Today we were working on the Google spreadsheet that contains addresses for our invitations. We were testing the form feature on it and I sent it to my email address. Nothing came. After trying a couple more times, I sent an email from our business email to my personal email. Still nothing. On a whim, I turned off my spam blocking at ATT and resent all of the above emails. This time everything arrived. Sooooooo...if any of you have tried to email me in the last couple of weeks, I'm not ignoring you! Please email me again or reply in this post. Thanks!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Spiffing up our invites - the leaf inserts

I want to start off by saying that I'm not a very artsy person, meaning that I can't draw to save my life and walking into a Michael's store tends to overwhelm me. I'm not a complete crafting reject but Martha Stewart would never worry about me. I tend to be too much of a perfectionist so I get frustrated very easily. I'm telling you this because I want to encourage those of you who look at a lot of wedding DIY projects on blogs and think "I could never do that". We're not doing anything super-fancy for our invitations but I think what we came up with is very cute and it really wasn't hard to do. A little tedious at times, but not hard. I was very nervous when we started out but printing with the Gocco is very, very easy.

Here's a step-by-step guide to our leaf inserts. We wanted a way to spruce up our invites and include our website information so we came up with the idea of a leaf.

The first step is understanding that no matter what it is, a cat is going to be a part of it:

That's our design template. We traced a leaf from the maple tree outside our house and scanned that in. Then I used Illustrator to add text - I wish I had thought to use Photoshop because it's so much easier for me to use. We printed it out and since our inkjet printer is broken, we had to print it on our laser printer. That meant we needed to take it to Kinkos so that we'd have a carbon ink based copy. The Boy shrunk it down to three different sizes because I was being a spaz about it fitting in the envelope. The one above is the size we went with.

That's the Boy burning the copy onto a Gocco screen. I suggest ordering extra screens when you buy a Gocco. It's much less nerve wracking if you know you've got several backup screens at the ready.

That's the image burned onto the Gocco screen!

Cutting the paper we're going to print on. If you don't already have a paper cutter, I'd strongly urge you to get one. It made so many things easier because we had it. Buy one with the 50% Michaels coupon.

Inking up the screen with gold ink. We bought this ink from Northwood Studios.

This is peeling off the protective paper layer on the screen.

Printing the first one!

Getting into the groove now. That's the drying rack with cards stacked up. If you're going to be doing a lot of big Gocco projects, you might want to think about buying one or two more.

That's a leaf that's been printed and cut out. We used scissors on the first few but quickly changed to an exacto knife.

This is the finished product - all that's left to do is cut it out.

This is where the Boy thought he might need to reink the screen.

As you can see above, using the Gocco wears your ass out!

First lesson learned - don't ever let the Gocco close once you've got it inked up. What a bleeping mess! Also, the cleaner from Northwood Studio works so much better than the cleaner that comes with your Gocco kit. Use this and paper towels to clean things up.

Start with a smaller project to build your confidence. Don't try to do a complex design with four different ink colors for your first project.

If you're going to cut out a shape, if it wouldn't be a hard shape to line up with the words on the screen you burn, cut the shape out first, then Gocco it. Since we were going to have to squeeze our words into our leaf shapes, it seemed easier to just Gocco the leaf shape on the paper as well. That almost made it impossible to cut out the leaf shape with scissors without leaving some of the gold leaf outline around the edges. We remedied that by cutting out the leaves with an exacto knife. This isn't quick but it does look nice and the Boy watched football while doing it. The differences aren't really noticeable in pictures but they are in real life. The leaf we cut out with scissors was also fussed over several times, just to get most of the gold outline gone. The exacto knife takes a little longer at first but then it's done.

Above is the scissor leaf

Above is the exacto leaf

Remember that the ink you use will dry to a slightly different shade. This worked out well for us because we used the gold ink on cranberry red paper - the lighter color actually shows up better.

Unless it's a huge mistake, please don't sweat the small stuff. I realize that I'm being quite the hypocrite by saying this but I did try not to let the little imperfections bother me and for the most part, I succeeded. You're creating a one of a kind work of art, not something that's mass produced so please keep that in mind. That being said, make about 15-20 more than you need so you can weed out the worst offenders.

We did the printing over two nights. The first night was to test which paper the ink looked best on when it was printed. Then we ran to the store the next day, came home and printed some more. We stored our screen in a ziploc bag in the fridge.

Try to make your design so that you don't have a lot of detail work close to the edges of the screen. This is where you're most likely going to deal with spotty ink so don't frustrate yourself by putting detail work there. I'd stay far away from borders around the edges - you'll get spotty ink and you'll be able to see easily if your card wasn't lined up exactly right.

Try to stay away from tiny print. There may be some secret way to do this but I haven't found it yet.

If you can find one, I'd recommend getting one of the PG11 models if you're planning on doing more complex printing jobs involving multiple screens.

I'm sure I'll think of more tips and pitfalls later but I wanted to get this posted since we're all done with this part of the invitation, except for cutting some of the leaves out. I've been working on the envelope liners, the address labels, the monogrammed belly bands and the leaf envelope seals.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cute casual wedding dress

Bird cage veil plans

Since I'm having a reception dress made, I wanted to get something cute to wear in my hair with it. Thanks to a very sweet lady at WeddingBee, I found some french netting for a bird cage veil. What makes it even more perfect is that it has polka dots and it's only $3.85 a yard!

I am a Photoshop idiot!

I gave up on Illustrator yesterday. My 30-day trial was coming to a close and the program just made me feel dumb. I know that with some classes, I could learn how to use it but I don't have the time to do that right now. A few years ago, I messed around with Photoshop a little. By messed around, I mean I really had no clue what I was doing but could figure out enough to have some fun. So I thought I'd download it and see what I could do. I spent the better part of this afternoon messing around with the program. I figured out pretty easily how to take an existing monogram and add my initials but I really didn't want to go this route - it seemed too much like cheating. So I downloaded some free brushes and patterns and I was able to come up with this:

I am so freaking proud of myself. No - it isn't perfect but it's all mine!!! I still need to tweak it a bit but I am so psyched that I could do this in just an hour or two. I always see these gorgeous graphics on wedding sites and I drool over them, knowing that I could never do them because the people that do them are graphic designers. I am FAR from being a graphic designer but I still managed to create several cute monograms today. If I can do it, anyone of you can do this. Seriously - just download a copy and start messing around.
I'll try to post the places I found the patterns and brushes I downloaded tomorrow. Now I'm off to see the Yard Dogs Road Show!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Alert! 50% off Michaels Coupon!

I rarely see the 50% off coupons so get this while you can!

Good through Sept 20th.

Some gorgeous photos

From Susan Stripling's blog:

Dingbat Press Invitation Giveaway! $900 value!

Enter here! There are some gorgeous invitations at this site.

To be given away:
A Dingbat Press Wedding SuiteLetterpressed Invitation/Reply Suite of 100 (one hundered!)

2 color, 5x7 or 4x9 letterpressed invitation.
1 color, Return Addressed Outer envelope.
Printed on our thick stock 110# cotton rag paper.
2 color, 3x5 reply card (or thank you).
1 color, Return Addressed Reply Envelope.
Printed on our thick stock 110# cotton rag paper.

This will be for a CUSTOM design (4-6 week turnaround, no RUSH available on this giveaway)3 custom designs will be produced, winner will get 3 additional rounds of proofs.

TERMS:Giveaway to last 1 week, to close at midnight on Friday 9/19, winner will be announced Saturday 9/20. This package is valued at over $900 and one lucky winner will take it all! I'd also like to offer a 10% discount to all wedding invitation purchases made in my
Etsy shop through the end of the month, they just need to mention code DP10 when purchasing.

ENTERING: Leave in the comments a link to your blog. You need to blog about the giveaway and create a linkback/pingback to The Dingbat Agenda. All successful posts/linkbacks will be officially entered.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Spiffing up our invites - the plan

As I posted back in August, I won 100 letterpress invites from HelloLucky. I was thrilled! I really wanted letterpress invites but I couldn't afford them so I was planning on doing something with pocketfolds and thermography - probably from When I found out that I had won these invites, scary Martha Stewart-ish thoughts ran through my head. I could take the letterpress invites and use them in pocketfolds. I could Gocco the other parts, like maps and RSVP cards. Oh - and I could wrap them with adorable ribbon and accessorize them with leaves.
In my younger years, I would have run with this line of thought. I'd either kill myself and end up getting them done (making myself and all those around me miserable) or I'd realize I'd overshot the moon again and have to settle. I've learned it's better to be upfront with myself and settle to begin with. I'm a scary perfectionist and "settling" for me usually means that everyone else in the world thinks whatever I've done is great. So I thought about how I could take my invites and spruce them up a bit - preferably stuff that could be done before I get the invites because I'm cutting it close and the invites need to go out in the next few days after I get them. So here's what I decided to do:

First, here are the invites I won:

Aren't they pretty? They're from HelloLucky's Marry Me line. I went with this line for a couple of reasons. One - I wouldn't have to worry about rush shipping. Two - they're less expensive than their other invites which means I could afford to buy the matching RSVP cards. That would mean less stuff I would have to make. Sabrina from HelloLucky is who has been helping me and she has been wonderful! So sweet and very quick to respond. I'm very impressed with their customer service so far.

I really wanted pocketfold invites but that's a dream I had to let go. If I had had a longer engagement period and realized how much DIY goodness there was out there, I might have been able to make that happen but I have to deal with what I can realistically do. So here was my spruce up plan. I love the chocolate brown but I wanted to figure out a way to add some red to the invite and I also needed a way to give people more information about the wedding, like maps and accommodations info. I thought that it would be cute to cut out leaf shapes and Gocco our website address on them. I also thought that envelope liners would be another easy way to add color and spiff things up. I considered adding a belly band around everything to hold stuff together. And finally, I thought about how to address them quickly (because I should get them next Wednesday and the majority of them need to go out on Friday).

I'm going to break each of these steps down into a post and give you pictures and information on what worked and what didn't work. I'll post those over the next few days as I get them finished - the belly band and addresses won't be until later this coming week. I'm a Gocco newbie and have never done scrapbooking or card making so if I can do these things, you all can do them as well.

Gocco-ing with cats

I'll try to get the rest of my pics from our first gocco experience uploaded tonight but here's a teaser:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Small details

Rose petals speared by high heels - for some reason I just love this photo.

Gorgeous Fall Flowers

From Michelle Ragos' blog.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Weddings and Sock Monkeys

Actually, this post has nothing to do with weddings but everyone needs some sock monkey love every once in a while. And hey - if your love for sock monkeys knows no bounds, the sock monkey dress might be THE DRESS for you.

Sock Monkeys in a Meat Grinder


Sock Monkeys in a blender
Sock Monkeys in a Blender

Gorgeous Summer Drinks

I think these would be perfect for a summer wedding! This picture is from TDiddy2's Knot bio.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Boy's boutonniere

When I was researching ideas for The Boy's boutonniere, I knew I wanted to find something a little quirky. I heard about the cutest idea that someone did for a wedding at an organic farm - they used little broccoli florets for boutonnieres. That would be a little informal for our wedding but the idea is great because The Boy and I love to garden. So I started thinking about what we could use that would be more seasonal. Persimmons came to mind but after thinking about it, I realized that even on his best days, The Boy has issues keeping food off his shirt. It would be kind of cruel to go and put something that was juicy and smashable on his tux on purpose.

I kept thinking and then I had this genius idea! What about a fishing lure? We both love fishing (The Boy introduced me to it) and it would be a little different. Most lake fishing lures are pretty large but a fly fishing lure would be perfect. GENIUS!!! Then I did a quick Google search and realized that of course 80 million people before me had also had this genius idea. Sometimes I hate Google. But hey - I've never seen on or heard of this before so it was new to me. Here are some pictures I found for inspiration:

A couple of weeks ago, we headed to our favorite fly shop in the Smokies, Little River Outfitters. When the guys there asked us how they could help us, I felt like a little bit of a dork telling them we needed something to go with our wedding colors but they thought it was a great idea and helped us pick some flies out. One of the flies we saw did match our wedding colors almost perfectly but the idea of The Boy wearing faux fish eggs on his lapel all day cracked me up. I figured we could tell all of our guests that it was some ancient pagan rite to promote fertility but The Boy overruled me on that. Here's what we ended up with:

I do want a little bit of flower in it so our florist may add a small cranberry red mum or coffee berries to it. I think a brown fern fiddlehead might look cool as well. Our neighbor ties flies so he said if we want him to add a splash of red to our fly, he'd be glad to do that.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Big sigh of relief over here

While at the seamstress today, I went ahead and tried my dress on again. I wanted to see how much further I had to go to fit into it. When I bought it, there was a gap of about 2.5 inches keeping it from closing. The last time I tried it on in late July, there was a gap of about two inches. Today.........drum roll please............................half an inch. Whoo-hoo!

I've been watching my calories, using the rowing machine and lifting free weights. In the last couple of weeks, my weight loss has slowed down and I was getting really nervous. I think I must have been putting on muscle though because today the dress was that much closer to fitting. In fact, the seamstress said that if need be, she really could have zipped it up and we're close enough that she could sneak in a small panel to make it fit without binding me.

I know I've said this before but don't ever buy a dress that's too small if you don't have to. If you're in that situation, you can do it. It hasn't been easy but it can be done. Now you'll have to excuse me. Krispy Kreme has the hot doughnut sign up and it's calling my name.

Frankly my dear - I do give a damn!

First, I want to introduce you to the inspiration behind my reception dress:

Behold - the loveliness that was known as Michelle Roth's Maya. It's no longer being made but even if it was, there's no way I could afford it. And even if I could, I wouldn't be able to stomach paying lots of money for a reception dress. So I looked for alternatives. Here's a copy done by Julius Bridal:

This is only $354 when you factor in shipping. I've read several reviews of Julius Bridal and some people have been very happy with their dresses, while others haven't. I still felt slightly queasy spending that much for a reception dress so I talked to my seamstress and asked her if she could make me a dress. She said that for under $100 (plus the cost of the fabric), she could definitely do that. I just had to find the fabric - white polka dots - not to hard to find, right?

Wrong. I searched through Joann's fabric department. I asked several internet savvy sewers to see what they could find online. I scoured ebay. Nothing. So on the advice of some friends, I headed over to Mill Agent fabric store. They sell fabrics for home furnishings. I automatically started imagining something like this dress, just in white:

I spent about two hours looking through at least 60 fabric sample books. I knew it had to be sheer so I only checked the sheer curtains books. When I walked out of that place, I was covered in lint but had found about four different fabrics that might work. I brought those pattern books over to the seamstress and she told me that two of them would work for the dress. One was a tiny swiss dot material. The other was this:

I liked this material but it was a fairly dark ivory. I really had wanted something that was more white and something that wasn't $24 a yard. But it looked like I might have to settle because it takes 6-8 weeks to get this material ordered. I ran by Jo-Ann so I could check out some patterns and get an approximate idea of how much I need to order. Here I am pretending like I know how to read patterns and sew:

I decided to look in the fabric section for material for the dress lining and on a whim, checked out the home decorators fabrics - something I hadn't done the first time I visited. The Boy was the hero and spotted this:

Score! $24 a yard with 50% off of that price! And this fabric only takes two weeks to get in. I walked out of there feeling so relieved. I hadn't wanted to spend a lot of money on a reception dress because it seemed so frivolous - who the heck needs two wedding dresses? If I can do it cheap though, I don't feel too guilty. My regular wedding dress weighs a ton and there's no way I can bust a move into the dawn hours in a huge, heavy dress. The only thing left to do is pick out the lining material and the crinoline netting (I'm thinking dark red) and I'll be good to go.