Monday, September 24, 2012

Busy busy bee...

Two months certainly flies by when you're planning and having a wedding, honeymoon, and being busy with life! I noticed the projects piling up, the pounds packing on, and "life" happening, as a newlywed. We had a beautiful wedding that I can't wait to share, an amazing honeymoon in Belize, and since then I've been a VERY busy girl (with work, projects, gardening, and canning!). Over the next few weeks, I'll be busy writing and gathering everything we've been doing, but for now, here's a teaser from our wedding:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I just became mayor of your wedding....

I've read on wedding blogs that people seem to have a love/hate relationship with wedding programs. You either love them, and love the idea of guiding your party through your ceremony, or you hate to ruin the surprise/trash the environment by wasting paper/ have a phobia of cardstock/ forgot how to spell your bridal party's names and don't want to get caught....Personally, I felt compelled to give my guests something to fan themselves with so they aren't sweaty beasts in the hot Utah evening- so this program idea was more out of necessity and general hygiene than anything else.

Also, if you're anything like me, I want to know when the party starts and what I'm in for as I take a seat. "Damn this wedding is LONG! Do they have cocktail hour before?...." People may also be stunned and amazed at our brilliant choice of wedding songs, and want to rush home and download them. Or download them during our ceremony while checking their facebook and checking in on foursquare. "I just became the mayor of your wedding! Huzah!". I'm also taking bets to who does this first....

My wedding programs, menu cards, escort cards, and various table signs were all made from the same shop on; and customized to meet my needs. The shop owners name is Sarah, and her shop is called Belletristics. Her shop is located here:
I loved how quick she designs, her prices were great, and she's extremely professional. All I had to do was approve prints, then print them myself.

So people, at least you know what you're in for now-

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The key to crafty happiness....

As a friend of mine recently pointed out, skeleton keys are "my thing". When she mentioned this, I scoffed, then noticed just how many of these little guys I have in my wedding and home decor. Okay, maybe they are "my thing". For my wedding, I wanted to create a special seating board- something different than a simple list of where you're sitting. I really want every small detail to feel special, so these skeleton key escort cards were a non-negotiable. I am simply in love with them. :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Time to get creative with fruit

This past week, I picked up a TON of fresh fruit as a part of the co-op I belong to. While this certainly is a blessing, there are weeks that we have to get creative so nothing goes to waste. I decided to make fruit infused water, which I've done before for parties- and store it in the beautiful 2 quart mason jars I'm stockpiling for my wedding.

 This is the easiest thing you'll ever do. Take whatever fruit, vegetable, or herb combination suits your fancy, and chop up into large chunks after washing. I used clementines, strawberries, lemons, and 3 sprigs of basil in the picture below. I also love lemon, cucumber, and rosemary; strawberry, lemon, and sage, or just the classic lemon or cucumber.
 Next, fill your large jar with ice, cap, shake.. and enjoy. I recommend letting it sit for a few hours. This will keep for a few days, but good luck getting it to last that long! There's nothing like fruit infused water on a hot summers day.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Wedding invitations

Dear Etsy,

I have to break up with you. Well, more importantly, my bank account has told me we have to break up. That being said, I will continue to spend hours upon hours gazing at your beautiful items as inspiration for my life, but we can no longer continue to have a relationship.

Yours truly,
The broke ass bride with big dreams.

For those of you who have spent time on Etsy or Pinterest, I understand, as I am an addict too. I don't know what people planning weddings did before these websites existed... gasp... did they read magazines? I am thankful for them, but often find things are priced at the "trust fund baby" level. Now don't get me wrong, I agree the artists creating them deserve to be compensated, as this is how many of them make their living-- I just can't be the one to do it.

This long prose gives you the background to my wedding invitations. You see, the brilliant thing about a very small wedding of only 65 invited guests, is that I can go all out on some items, and am not forced to mass produce anything. I literally spent 13 hours digging through close to 1600 wedding invitation designs on Etsy, Pinterest, and every wedding invitation manufacturer imaginable's site, to only come up empty handed. That's when I decided to take matters into my own hands in order to achieve what I kept seeing in my head.

I chose a rather simple black and white scrolling cursive for our actual invitation:

Then had this printed on white card stock from Invitations by Davids Bridal. Simple, and to the point. But, missing everything I actually wanted for my invitations in terms of a true wedding suite. And, let the record show, there are many beautiful wedding suites on Etsy.. all of which around $12 per invitation. So, $600 on invitations. Seriously. Guess this girls making her own.

In my love of all things Etsy, I found an amazingly affordable map that an artist was able to custom design using a few elements from my wedding: my colors of Navy Blue and Peach, and the theme of vintage lace and skeleton keys. Her name is Anna Malie, Anna Malie Design, and her pricing was great. I LOVE the way this map turned out, and it gave all of my out of town guests (about 90% are out of town guests), a sense of direction in booking hotel rooms, where the reception and ceremony are, and where our house is.

Once I had all of the elements printed, I sat and assembled a few prototypes, then shipped them to my best friend in California. **Note to brides: this is a GREAT idea**. She took photos of the invitations, and the condition in which they arrived, which enabled me to make a few tweaks to the design before mailing.

aka: how I became the glue dot queen...

I started by wrapping the invitation, response cards, map, and registry information- with a thick 2 inch section of cream colored lace, and affixed it to itself in the back of the invitation suite with a glue dot. Next, I took a strand of navy blue satin ribbon and affixed it in the back with a glue dot. Lastly, I affixed a small white ribbon with a rhinestone onto the front using, you guessed it! A glue dot :) Note: I purchased a ribbon of tiny bow with rhinestones, rather than purchasing them in a pack. This saved me close to $10, and all I had to do was cut the ribbons I needed off.

Once the wedding invitation suite was wrapped, I used red wax seals to affix the inner envelope.

Red wax seals:
I have read several comments on my Pinterest board about fellow brides having this turn out tragic, so I figured I would walk DIY step by step here. I purchased the red wax cubes as seen above, and my best friend found the metal stamp with "M" on it. The only other tool you need is a tea light or lighter, and wax paper, and some patience.
 ** you will need to make these one at a time, so give yourself some time, and perhaps some soothing music.. as this will get tedious.**

1. Lay out a few sheets of wax paper to work on. This enables the wax to dry and peel off for you to use.
2. Using a lighter, hold the flame near the end of the wax bar and allow a small puddle of hot wax to drip onto the wax paper in about the size of the seal you want. Keep in mind that the size will grow slightly once you place your stamp onto the hot wax.
3. Stamp the metal directly into the hot wax and allow it to cool for a moment. When you peel off the stamp, no wax should stick with it, and your impression should be solid and visible. If you notice you are not getting a full impression, press harder-- or, the wax may be too cool by the time your stamp hits it. Timing is everything- so play Goldilocks and experiment with time until you get it just right.
4. Allow the wax to fully cool after you pull your stamp away.
5. Once cool, carefully peel off your stamp and affix onto your envelope using a glue dot.

* If the wax becomes too hot, it will burn and let out tiny bits of black-- avoid this by keeping the wax far enough away from the flame so that it heats up but does not burn.
* Some people try to perform this process directly onto the envelope, I have heard this causes the wax to crack and crumble during transit. When the wax dries onto wax paper it picks up a tad of the wax from the paper and enables it to remain flexible. This, along with the glue dot, will prevent it from cracking in transit.
*Ensure you are enclosing this in the INNER envelope only.

So, after all of this... my assembly time was about 15 minutes per invitation.. about 11 hours of invitation assembly total. However, I think it was WORTH IT:

Wedding Crest-- you seriously need one.

When one conjures up the image of a wedding crest, perhaps you envision me sipping afternoon tea with my pinky in the air. Yes, it sounds rather hoity toity, but truth is, creating a wedding crest is one of the most resourceful, practical, and easy things any bride can do. I created mine from Paper Source, for about $40. I also picked up an additional colored stamp pad, which fit into the circular device, and gave me the option of sticking to my wedding colors. I know this may sound a little costly for "just a stamp", but here are a few ways you can really get your moneys worth using card stock, a punch, and a little imagination:
1. Invitation Seals:  I stamped onto high quality, bright white card stock- then took a photo of it using a high-grade camera. For the most part, this is the image you see above. Yes, I could have ordered a digital version, but that defeats the purpose of using this expensive stamp in as many ways as possible, doesn't it? I created stickers using this image, to seal my outer envelopes for the wedding invitations.
2. Personalized Jar Seals: These stickers seriously come in handy. For my out of town family guests, I am creating large canvas bags filled with Utah-based goodies. One of these goodies is a small jar of honey, with a lid the exact size of this sticker. Look at that, custom made lid labels..
3. CD stickers: Again with the stickers? Yes. Jace and I are creating a cd with our favorite songs as one of the favors, and sealing the cd jewel case with these stickers, just like what you'd buy in the store... if people actually bought cds anymore.
4. Wedding tags: Using a XL circular punch from any craft store- I stamped, then punched out card stock circular tags for our wedding favor burlap bags.
5. Centerpieces: Using the same theory as above, I tea-dyed card stock and singed the edges, then stamped and affixed onto our blue mason jars as part of our centerpieces.
6. Thank you cards: I will be stamping our thank you cards with this stamp, and any other correspondence to our friends and family will be stamped.
7. Street Artist Graffiti: Carry the stamp with you, and stamp up city street signs, walls, buildings, coffee shops, hipster hang outs, flyers,... make your wedding known to the world you stamp crazy diva! Create an underground following for your "art". :) 

So there you have it- at least 7 different cost effective uses for a wedding crest stamp. It is a very cool finishing touch to have.

Cake inspiration

Let me just say this: if I could go cake tasting every day for the rest of my life, I would be a happy woman. We have partnered with an amazing baker, Jennifer from Salt Cake City (, who has hands down, some of the best, most innovative flavors and decadent ideas in the state. Not to mention she appeals to Jace and I's nerdy sensibility, as she is getting her Ph.D. in Statistics- a lady after our own hearts. When we heard that, we knew she was our baker. After tasting 6 different flavors, we decided on a white cake with white chocolate and buttercream that melts in your mouth and is literally the stuff dreams are made of. We also decided on a white chocolate cake with raspberry filling for the second tier. I close my eyes and can still taste this cake. This is a good thing, as I've heard from many people I won't be eating much on my wedding day. That's fine, because this cake haunts my dreams.

Now, when it came down to deciding on the look of the cake, Jennifer had this amazing idea to make one tier similar to my dress- crafting lace appliques and tiny buttons down the back. I also LOVE the look of quilting on cakes, and the swagged layered fondant-- so there you have it- that's our cake. I am excited to see the final version. For now, here are a few of her other designs that we just loved:

 AND.... HERE is our final version! I ordered the cake topper from Etsy- It is very simple, custom, and turned out cuter than I had imagined! The cake itself was a "Snow White Cake" on the top and bottom layer, and "White raspberry kiss" on the middle layer.

The cake design has quilting on the bottom layer, a swag with flowers and tiny rhinestones on the middle layer, and the same lace as my dress on the top layer. Along the entire back of the cake were tiny buttons, similar to the back of my dress.

I honestly couldn't have been happier with the end result of this cake!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Glamorous life of Cassandra...

I called this post the "glamorous life of Cassandra"... because as many of you know, the world of DIY is HARD WORK. You see, us DIY-ers get these grand ideas into our heads, where we concoct brilliant colors, layouts, schemes.. then WE have to do it. Most of the time, this means reading other blogs and figuring it out as we go. Some of the time, this means inhaling spray paint even though I wore a respirator. So yes, this whole home remodel and decor thing is down right glamorous. I type this while drinking a martini and watching the pool boy. I kid. I kid. Bottom line though, is that it's worth it. I have LOTS of new things coming to the blog this week: the final reveal on the living room, a TON for the wedding DIY section, and maybe even a couple of other surprises... so stay tuned!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Living Room Remodel Part 1: Installing Baseboards

<---- Remember this?
While sitting in my living room early one morning, looking through various remodel blogs and photos, I decided we needed to tackle the living room. While we have wanted to replace the baseboards throughout the house for some time, I thought, why not take it one step further and install board and batten? So, I asked Jace for a few weekends of his time, and here is the story of our remodel.

We followed the following outline of steps for this project:
1. Baseboards
2. Chair rails
3. Stair woodwork
4. Board
5. Batten
6. Paint and Electrical.

We started off with the basics, our 1980 home has 2 inch wood baseboards without design. Just plain ol' simple wood. Simple wood that's been kicked, beaten, painted, bumped into, and abused over the past 30 years. It was time to go. I also really, really, like the look of board and batten, and felt it would give the most focal room of our house a much needed breath of new life.
As you all know, the first step to any good remodel is to make a HUGE mess. This happens to be my favorite part--- trashin' the place! This part is always fun, taking down the artwork, sconces, window treatments, not stepping on the dog. You know, the usual.

My first step was to paint over the pretty green wall I had-- Sorry soothing green wall.. I'll revisit you when I re-do the laundry room, but for now you must skeedaddle....
I decided on "Wheat Bread" and "Polar White" Behr Ultra Premium paint. I swear by this brand, and have used it in every room I've painted. It has the paint and primer in one, and generally makes every project easier. I didn't bother taping off the lines, and just painted roughly the same height throughout the room.

The next step was FUN.
 Removing the old baseboards.
Here's how to do it:
1. Take a utility knife and remove the old caulking seal along the top of the baseboard.
2. Using a putty knife, gently pry off the baseboard along the length of the board, taking caution to not pull off any wall with you. (I did this in one small section... my bad!).
3. Jace swears by the nail punch method, which is essentially the same first step, then using the nail punch and pry bar.
4. Remove your baseboards and chuck em'.

Installing the new baseboards was a breeze: 
How to install new baseboards:
**Wear safety gear! Jace is demonstrating the latest fashion: Safety glasses and a mask**
1. Measure twice and cut once using a miter saw. Measure out the lengths you will need for your walls. I recommend measuring, cutting, and installing as you go, rather than cutting all at once. This will help you in your corners, and to maintain equidistant lengths of board, so you don't end up needing a small 5 inch piece. Those can be tricky to install.
2. Cut all of your non-corner pieces using a straight cut.
3. Cut all of your corners using a 45 degree angle. Again, measure, cut, go look at the joint you've created, fit the pieces together, and cut again. You may find, like in our house, that you don't have a flat, straight walls. Yes, that's right... we had crooked walls, chances are- you do too. This meant some angles had to be cut at 43 degrees, others at 47 degrees. We didn't know this could be a possibility, and slowed us down for a minute as we reassessed the wall. You want the tightest joint possible, so reassessing your cuts may be needed.
4. Mark all your old holes above where your baseboard will be going, so you use preexisting holes. This makes installation a lot easier.
5. Line up your piece that you are installing flat onto the base of the floor. This means pulling up the carpet a bit.
6. Using a nail gun, (we used a fuel-cell powered one, and did not have to deal with a compressor: awesome move on our part- and much easier). Line up the markings to where you will be installing the new finishing nails, and hit the trigger to release the nail. Install your nail about an inch above the bottom, depending on how large your baseboards are.
"Say hello to my little friend..."

7. Using your finger, place a small amount of white caulk on the hole you've just created, and wipe off the excess using a wet rag.
8. Once the caulk has completely dried, sand down any excess, tuck your carpet fully in, and paint the baseboard. We used a left over plank while painting, and tucked in a plastic sheet throughout the length of the room, instead of taping. This way, we were able to fully paint the baseboard without damaging our carpet.
I also recommend using a satin or glossy finish paint here, as eggshell will scuff and be hard to clean and remove.

And Voila! There's the finished Baseboard, installed, gorgeous, beaming, and waiting for board and batten.....

Homemade Vanilla Extract

A few weeks ago, Jace and I received 8 vanilla beans in our Bountiful Baskets food co-op order for the week. Since we never know what we're going to get, I was challenged to find something amazing to do with these delicious pods. I'd never dealt with vanilla beans before, and was somewhat intimidated to make an extract, but had a gorgeous bottle, just waiting for some love.

Homemade Vanilla Extract:
1- Small Bottle of GOOD vodka (you can use the cheap stuff, but again, isn't the point here to make yummy, better-than-store-bought extract?
1- Pretty, air tight, clear bottle. (The prettier the better).
5-8 Vanilla Beans

Step 1: Slice the vanilla beans lengthwise and remove the beans from the pods. The vanilla beans I had did not have large beans, so I ended up keeping most of the beans in there. If you choose to do this, just be prepared to strain through a cheesecloth in a few months once your extract is ready.

Step 2: Place your beans into the bottle. 

Step 3: Using a funnel, pour your vodka into the air-tight bottle with the beans.

Step 4: Label for 4 months later. (The extract takes about 4 months before it is fully cured, so labeling helps you remember when it is "good". Within one week, your bottle will smell of pure vanilla, so you can't just go off of smell :)

Step 5: 4 months later- enjoy. You also just saved yourself a ton of money, and have pure, real vanilla extract. Start baking!

Simple, easy-peasy,  and super yummy.

Until next time,

Monday, January 23, 2012

Composting, Co-oping, and self-sufficent living in Utah..

Believe it or not, there comes a time when you realize there is such a thing as too large a shoe or purse collection. Follow me here, because I don't think I've completely delved into delusion yet. I'm not necessarily sure if I've fully reached this point in my life, but I certainly have started to look for something more significant and sustainable. I received a gift card for Christmas, and like any self-respecting woman would, immediately jumped onto to look at shoes (you can't blame a girl for trying).. and yet, nothing resonated.
For some reason, I looked up from my keyboard, and found I was looking at tumbling composters... Really Cassandra? Tumbling composters? Wow. How the mighty have fallen. A few years ago, you would have bought a pair of designer sunglasses and called it a day. What is happening to me? Wait, did I just ORDER that composter? AND a book?! The joys of composting? Oh God, it's a downward spiral.
I'm excited to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle. Where did this come from?   I'll be honest, some of this came from living in Utah... but I place most of the blame on my future mother in law. Year after year, she pumps me full of ridiculously delicious homemade canned goods from the farm. Wait--You mean I can just go out to the garage and grab beans, fresh from the farm? In December with 3 feet of snow outside?  Organic beef that I know every single step of how it was raised, and how it made it's way onto my table? Corn so sweet and delicious, having never been touched by a pesticide? Oh my God... I'm a farm-fresh junkie. Give me the good stuff. Give it to me now, and no one gets hurt. If slow food is a drug, my mother in law is my pusher man......
So. Now I've certainly been bitten by this bug. I want to know where my food comes from. I want to spend my grocery budget supporting local farmers and businesses, and people who are interested in keeping food local. I want to dabble in this through food co-ops and composting to make my garden this year great. I found a great link through the Slow Food Utah page, "", and will be trying it out this weekend.

My composter arrives next week, and I've picked up a few books to help get me started:
"The Urban Homestead" by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen.
"Your farm in the city" By Lisa Taylor.
I'm filling my cranium with as much garden knowledge as humanly possible in the desperate hope that this years bounty will resemble more of a bounty, and less of a morsel. Admittedly, ending the season holding the single, small pumpkin I managed to grow, up to the sunshine with tears in my eyes, (tears of joy.. thank you very much)... was probably not my finest moment; but a learning experience I truly needed. I learned that a garden cannot grow on love alone.. and that sometimes you honestly, truly just need some crap.