Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pinterest Project: What a Hoot

It seems as though every time I am feeling like I should be tackling another Pinterest Project, Young House Love comes out with another Pinterest Challenge. How perfect is that timing to get oneself motivated?

I joined Sherry and her friends at Bower Power, Our Fifth House and Ugly Duckling House this weekend by perusing the pins and choosing a new project. With the big day over, it is a nice feeling to be able to focus on non-wedding projects. However, I also find myself with a room full of centerpiece elements that need to find a home.

On that note, I also spent the weekend burning off the rest of the votive candles in my 84 holders so I can clean them out and hopefully re-sell them. Our living room looked like the scene from every rom-com where the heroine walks into a room full of candles for The Most Romantic Proposal Ever. I don't react well to those scenes due to my fear of  lit candles setting the house on fire. I also can't help but wonder how much money they spent and how much time it took them to light them all. If I can take this digression one step further, one of my favorite lines from a Law & Order: SVU is when Olivia walks into a candlit apartment and says, "This guy is single handedly keeping Pier 1 in business." So random, yet so true.
Okay, back to the project at hand. Lately I have been pinning ideas for styrofoam balls because I have quite a few leftover Smoothfoam balls from my yarn ball centerpieces.
This was how I found these adorable little friends:

factorydirectcraft.com had the step by step tutorials which made re-creation easy peasy. I picked up several pieces of felt squares from Michaels along with a variety pack of googly eyes. According to directions, I flattened my smoothfoam balls on the bottom so they didn't roll away on me and then spent the bulk of my time cutting. The templates were for 4" balls, slightly larger than the ones I had on hand, so I had to eyeball the size as opposed to going straight from the templates. That also led to some variations in design...
I tweaked the design just a bit, mainly in how the face and head cover was applied, but all in all a couple adorable little owls.
Next, I grabbed one of the large yellow yarn balls to see how I might be able to use this idea to re-purpose them. A few less pieces of felt in the front to show off the yarn, and just like that a third owl was added to the mix! Bob likes him the best.
I didn't actually tackle template #2 yet, but have spent some time brainstorming other animals so I can also use the blue and gray balls I already have. The owls are a nice addition to the fall decor in the house, I'm thinking about penguins for the holidays, chicks and bunnies for Easter....

Thursday, October 18, 2012

On the Menu

I'm back with another wedding post! As I anxiously await the impending arrival of our professional photography album, I'll bide my time sharing a few more details from the big day.

This time around, two paper products that made their way to our table settings.

First up, our menu cards. I was quickly inspired by this photo that was making the rounds on Pinterest about a year ago (has Pinterest really already been around for this long???).
The free trial version of Adobe Illustrator came in handy again for making the menu text. I used the same font and format as I did for our luggage tags to make a justified rectangle of words. Quite some time ago, I picked up a stamp from Michaels' dollar bin featuring a set of silverware. I thought it would be perfect for the card, but once I added it to the page with all the descriptions of our meal options the silverware itself was pretty much completely hidden. I didn't mind this look myself, but my groom thought we could make it a bit sleeker so it was back to the Illustrator board.
We decided to forgo the lengthy descriptions of the meals (taken from our contract), especially since the names themselves featured a lot of the same words as the descriptions. To save some room on the top of the menu card, we looked at putting the stamp behind the text, but I wasn't sure how to do this.
1) stamping after printing would make it pretty messy looking
2) stamping before printing would not work with our printer - smears galore.
3) what if we took out the stamping altogether?

Using our scanner I saved an image of the stamp and decreased the color to a lighter gray. I threw the image behind the text and *Ta-Da* a solution was found!
Our napkins were going to be navy blue so I found the perfect shade of gray cardstock at Staples and printed 3 to a page. I didn't pay too much attention to how exact the sizes I cut with the paper cutter were, but all in all they stayed in the same range.With a couple folds, the napkin ring was formed.
At first I thought we would need to glue the backs together to stay in place, but I ended up not asking the caterers to go that far since the heavy silverware and napkin kept everything in place until they were ready to be used. Are you getting hungry just reading about the deliciousness? I have had so many comments from our guests on the quality of the meals they enjoyed that night. Kudos to Cork Catering!
The other paper creation was a simple cab card I made to help our guests feel good about getting home. Our venue was in an area that was not heavily populated at night and Saturday night in Chicago is not always known for easy-to-find cabs.  I added our stripe theme to the side, contact info for a few local cab companies and the address of our venue for reference and printed on beige cardstock that we had a few extra sheets of in the drawer.
We cut them out and asked the caterer to put one at each place setting. 
If a few folks used these to get home safely then consider me a happy camper! Now, cut to 11:45pm when all who remained were the bride, groom and 15 guests.....no cabs in sight....hold music on the phone....and a 10 passenger limo. Why yes, you can fit 17 people in a 10 passenger limo if you try hard enough!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall Days Are Here Again

I waited a full week after getting back from the honeymoon before busting out the Halloween Decor tote and decorating our fireplace mantle.

Nothing changed too much from last year's mantle set up, just a little more activity with the addition of fake leaves and garland to cover the entire top. Fabric maple leaf placemats helped fill the spread.
Every year at the Long Grove Apple Fest I have picked up another piece to add to the collection - last year was the little cat riding the spider. We didn't make it to Apple Fest this year, nor any other craft shops to source a new treat.

Lo and behold, wandering the aisles at Michaels, I found an addition that looks more vintage than it actually is. This paper maiche-style basket was $7, on sale for even more. Not a bad deal! So this will be the purchase for the year - next season I want to invest in something on a grander scale - so many of my holiday items are only a few inches tall!
Our London Hurricane from Crate & Barrel was a wedding gift, something I have had my eye on for years now. She's filled with a pear scented candle, fabric pumpkin and ghost and a card with a zombie kitty.
A healthy selection of mini pumpkins came from my parents' garden, supplemented by a few more picked up locally. Using 2 homemade display stands (plate + candlestick + paint + glue = instant stand), a little raven sits alongside a few pumpkins, adding some height to the mantle.
I only have a few other touches throughout the house, including another hurricane of pumpkins on the dining table and a display of autumn and halloween cards collected over the years. However, I have my sights on a future Pinterest Project to up the ante on this holiday decor. The mantle scarf from Grandin Road:
Step 1: Learn how to use the sewing machine
Step 2: Buy excellent halloween fabric
Step 3: Make this to fit our mantle.

Now that's a plan! The only question is if it will get fit in this year or wait until next - with the speed that October is flying by, I am thinking this might be a 2013 Pinterest Project!

PS. I can't find the product anymore on the Grandin Road site, so linking instead to the Christmas Version.

How is your holiday decor coming along? Any new items added to your mantle this year?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Say Chowdah!

We are in the full swing of cool weather cookin' over at our house, how about yourself? Last week we treated ourselves to corn chowder - also a nice excuse to use our new le creuset 5 quart pan.

The recipe is from Joy of Cooking - very few tweaks to the recipe needed, apart from the use of corn husks to add to the flavor. We had bought ears of corn with the intention on making the chowder the next night. Life - and possibly Chipotle - got in the way, so by the time we were ready to get in the kitchen our corn had gone bad. Frozen corn from the corner Walgreens replaced our fresh ears of corn, and with it the step of soaking the shorn cobs.

Corn Chowder
6 cups
from Joy of Cooking
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 medium celery ribs, diced
6 small ears corn
4 1/2 cups milk
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbs butter

Cook bacon in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Leave the bacon in the pan and scoop out most of the fat. Add onion and celery, stirring until tender and slightly browned, 10-15 minutes.
Remove kernals from corn and set aside. Add the cobs to the pot along with the milk and diced potatoes. Bring the milk almost to a boil, reduce to a simmer covered until potatoes are tender.  We picked up a package of fingerling potatoes including some purple beauties that were gorgeous on the inside (too strong a feeling for potatoes?).

Remove cobs and add kernals with salt and pepper. Simmer until corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove 1 1/2 cups of the solids from the soup and puree. Return to soup with 1 Tbs butter. Melt butter, stir and serve.
We had some leftover cilantro from a previous recipe so the chowder earned itself a garnish.