A Hand Made Valentine

There’s a tradition in my house. Every Valentine’s Day, since the first year I was born I believe, my mother has made my father a home-made Valentine. Always out of construction paper, sometimes with paper doilies, almost always featuring a picture (or 12) from the last year, and progressively more witty/corny as the years pass. We’re talking almost 30 years of hand made cards.

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Valentine Circa 1989 (I’m the shorty on the right)

It’s one tradition my sisters and I always look forward to. Usually pictures of “all of Daddy’s girls” make it into the card. The crowning jewel in the collection is the year we moved into the new house, Mom worked the lyrics of our family theme-song “Once in a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads into the card:

“and you may find yourself in a beautiful house”

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“with a beautiful wife”

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“and you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?”

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Ever since my hubs (what?!? Still so weird to say) and I moved into our apartment I’ve carried on the tradition of making hand-made Valentines. I always look forward to breaking out the construction paper, glitter, scissors, and glue and rifling through the last year of pictures for a theme/idea. Lets just say this year’s is going to be epic (and easily 100 pages long). I can’t post this years just yet (need to keep it a surprise for my Valentine).

One of my favorites from years passed is our 5th Valentine together.

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They aren’t super fancy and polished, but they don’t need to be. Getting down and dirty with old craft skills and slapping something together is sometimes the best way to express your love. It’s also something to cherish forever. These Valentine’s are also great for a last minute “oh no I forgot to get a present!”

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A Little Cabin in the Woods for Lucky Number 8

I met the man of my dreams March 1st, 2005. Which means March 1st, 2013 was time to celebrate our 8 (EIGHT!!) year anniversary. Every year we plan a get away to escape our hectic lives, his fire pager, preferably hide somewhere with no cell service and just be us. We’ve done everything from an extended weekend trip to Montreal, to a quick 1 day overnight in Mystic, Connecticut.

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Hanging out with the Beluga Whale at Mystic Aquarium circa 2010

This year we were hurting for a magical weekend get away. And this year, for the first time ever, the future hubs did all the planning. I told him all I wanted was a quite place away from the world where I could bake all weekend. And my Pretty People, did he deliver.

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We escaped to the Catskills in the great state of New York to the most perfect little cabin in the woods one has ever seen. He even pulled some strings with Mother Nature and had a constant gentle snow fall all day. It was like living in the happiest little snow globe for the weekend. The cabin was originally built in the 1950’s, and recently lovingly restored. The owner, a contractor, didn’t overlook a single detail.

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The little square windows in the bathroom were by far my favorite

The cabin is brand new, spotless, and design wise it was perfect. Being a designer myself I appreciated every hand selected antique detail he added back into the cabin to fill the old/new cabin with some nostalgic charm.

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We definitely relaxed and recharged (much needed to gear up for wedding planning). I also baked some yummy treats so stay tuned for some easy and delicious recipes!

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What’s Your Numbah, Sugah?

03.01.05 the date that I like to think changed my life forever. It was that date 8 years ago that I met my soul mate and never looked back. We still to this day wish each other “happy anniversary” the first of every month. It has turned into more of a game so many months later who can wish it first and on what media device. (I usually win on all accounts)

03.01.05 are our numbers. Period. Even when we (finally) get married I’m sure we’ll still do something special on the first of March. These numbers were my semi inspiration for a project I’d been dying to do. As seen in a previous post I recovered my blue college apartment pillows to match our red cabinet. Love them. The fabric however was rather summery and just doesn’t work year round.

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Graphic and typography items are popping up everywhere; numbers, letters, quotes. I decided to take our most treasured numbers and create graphic pillows for the living room. The process was easy. Find a font you love, I used the font “Elephant” (should be standard on most PC’s) I really liked the vintage feel of this font; the serifs, the almost hand typed feel if you could call it that.

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Once a font is selected increase the font size, a lot. I think my letters were done at a 60 or 70 point. Print them out, tape or rubber cement the print down to a thicker piece of paper, and cut them out to form a stencil. If you have a steady enough hand I recommend tracing the number/letters with pencil and painting within the pencil lines. You could also use the stencil as a true stencil but I found the paint tends to sneak underneath creating less than graphic crisp lines.

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I used cheap yet thick and sturdy fabric from Ikea, $3.99 for half a yard and typical craft paint $2 in a charcoal gray. You could use a fabric medium if you chose to but I found the paint spread and held just fine, even after washing. I used a graphic red striped fabric (also Ikea) for the reverse side to play with the red accents throughout the room and the vintage graphic feel of the pillow. I used the same pocket hemmed technique illustrated in the previous pillow post, an easy way to create removable pillow covers.

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I really love how they came out and adore that they reflect something so meaningful to us in such a subtle, stylish way.

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PS Happy Anniversary Babe! 8 years (AAAHHHHH!!) Time really flies when you’re having the time of your life. Looking forward to many more adventures together. Love you!

The Happiest Day of Our Lives…?

Hello Pretty People! I have the deepest apologies to all of you for totally flaking on my blog for the last few months. As I believe (most) of you know Future Hubs proposed way back in August, 2010. We always intended to have a long engagement (so we’re right on track) with a goal of an Autumn 2013 wedding.

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Needless to say I’ve spent the last 2 year stalking wedding blogs, drooling over pictures and fictitiously planning the ideal day for the two of us. Flash forward to December 2012 when we realized 2013 was knocking at the door reminding us we had 10 months until “W” day.

Late December and January turned into a frantic search for venues, dragging my groom as well as good friends all over the greater Hudson Valley area in search of “The One”. I can now calmly and happily say we’ve found it. (Right when we were ready to give up hope and elope, funny how that works.)

More details to come on that as most of our family doesn’t even know. To any family reading this we are still waiting on a final date and once that happens we will let you all know.

I plan to make a few posts about the venues we’ve seen for those brides in the NY/NJ/CT area who, like me, don’t want the typical catering hall, dinner/dancing wedding. I’ve found a handful of places after what could potentially be hundreds of hours of research that are comparable to all the Oregon/California/Washington weddings us East Coasters drool over.

Wedding Blog Summer Camp Wedding

Photos by Jessica Velarde

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Photos by Logan Cole

Early apologies to anyone who could care less about wedding anything. This has unfortunately been my life for the last 2 and a half months and really living in a diverse area as greater NYC it shouldn’t have been this hard. I truly hope my reviews help any bride stuck in the same boat I was. Plus, bonus, most sites I visited are county and state parks so it won’t be all wedding banter. so if you like the great outdoors and Mama Nature yay!

For a Snowy (Blizzardy) Day

As most of the United States knows by now the North East just got clobbered with a large amount of snow. 6″ to 30″+  depending on location. My little part of the world received roughly 14″. The best part of snow and being snowed in is

1. playing in the snow

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and 2. Hot Cocoa.

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I happened upon this rather scrumptious (and very easy) recipe for white hot chocolate cupcakes from Betty Crocker. Claiming I “loosely followed” this recipe is an understatement, I substituted Super Moist Milk Chocolate cake for the specified White Cake.

The frosting created it’s own headache. I was not that successful in melting the white chocolate. Creating a lumpy half melted mess however, I was very successful with. To fix the problem I added dark chocolate and 100% cocoa chocolate. Adding the additional darker chocolates helped to smooth everything out and created a delicious not too sweet frosting.

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Lastly the roasted marshmallows were a bit of a pain to remove from the pan. Consider yourselves warned. Perhaps placing them on tin foil or another bendable surface will help to remove them a bit better.

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Finally if you didn’t just get dumped on with crazy awesome amounts of snow this recipe would be perfect as a post Valentines Day dinner chocolatey treat.

Just like Two Kids in Love

Time for a little lovey dovey super simple date night idea. Since The Fiance and myself are basically on opposite schedules most days we cherish a night together, especially one that receives the coveted title of “Date Night”.

There’s no reason Date Night needs to mean little black dress fancy restaurant and dropping easily $100 for one romantic evening together. Sometimes you want to behave like two little school kids, complete with mac and cheese and blanket forts.

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That’s right it was a pj totin’, “Goonies” watchin’, blanket fort buildin’ kind of date. (Really is there any better movie to watch in a blanket fort than “The Goonies”?) Building balnket forts as adults is basically a million billion times cooler than 6 year old blanket fort building mainly because couches can be turned on end and moved around for optimal fort awesomeness. We also incorporated Christmas lights for a more romantic ambiance.

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The Mac and Cheese was probably the best home made style I’ve ever had. Recipe was thanks to Pottery Barn. I highly recommend you all to give it a whirl. The cheeses I used included Parmigiano Reggiano, Gouda, Montery Jack, and White Cheddar. I also used French’s Dijion Mustard with Chardonnay Wine, I secretly think that mustard choice added the amazing flavor.

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It was probably one of the best dates the two of us ever had. No cares, no worries, just an excellent youthful movie and a kid favorite all grown up dinner. Did I mention dessert was brownie sundaes with rainbow sprinkles?

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Yeah that’s right. We don’t mess around in this house. I highly recommend a regress-ful date night (or afternoon). Acting like a kid is some of the most fun an adult can ever have. And best part of blanket forts in your own grown up apartment? No “Dad” shows up at 5 from work saying “alright, looks like you had fun today now take it down.” That sucker was up for easily a week of enjoyment.

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Oh the Places We’ve Been!

I’ve come to realize I really enjoy maps. They are so fascinating. Cities, towns, lakes, rivers although all discovered not all discovered by yours truly. I catch myself staring at them for hours. Thinking about how long it would take me to drive to San Francisco if I fly to Portland. (I mean it’s like RIGHT there relative to Jersey)  I’ve also come to realize I enjoy travel more than I once thought. This combination fueled a fun and forever evolving project.

Upon a semi recent trip to my wonderful college roomie’s house I got pretty jealous she beat me to the punch.  Over at Creating Confidence you can see roomie’s version of her “travel map”.

Because Mr. Fiance and myself have really only ventured to the greater Americas we started simple with a map of North and Central America. I found a really nice vintage map from the 1960’s with gorgeous coloring. Little bit of spray glue, foam core board, and skills from Art School I mounted the map so I had something to pin into.

I then took a quick trip to Office Depot, grabbed some map pins and hurried home. The colors left a lot to be desired. (White, Black, Red)

Quick can of spray paint and I fixed that problem

Future Hubs and I decided that rather than just including trips we went on together we would also include trips we’ve gone alone. Pink represents my travels, blue his, and white is where we’ve been together.

I’m still working on a frame to enclose the whole project but for now it’s just fine hanging raw. He may have significantly more pins West of the Mississippi but I’ve got the East coast dead and buried. He’s got me beat on furthest North, Canada, but I’ve traveled way closer to the equator than he has, Nicaragua. It’s also exciting to see how many white (us) trips we’ve taken.

The most exciting thing about this slightly lovey dovey project is how it will always be evolving. Removing a pink or a blue pin to replace with a white one, adding a new color once our traveling changes from “us” to “all of us” (ie potential future family trips) Just look at all that blank yet to be pinned and conquered map. Looking forward to hitting all 50 states and further.

The Big 3-OH! Claims Another

Today is Mr. Fiance’s BIG 3-OH! Saturday was dubbed “Birthday Observance Day”. We had a jam packed day filled with kayaking, friends, dinner, carnival, fireworks, fried dough deliciousness, and of course a camp fire night cap. (It’s not a future hubby party without a campfire.)

The jam packed day caused last minute me to run out of time to get my big birthday present project assembled in time. No worries, he just got to wake up the next morning to more birthday fun.

I found this project MONTHS ago on Pinterest. I absolutely fell in love with it being the shutterbug and memory cherisher that I am. The project was straight forward enough. get 30 balloons, get 30 pictures 1 from each year of the birthday boys life.   Punch a hole in each picture, tie it to the string of each balloon and surprise the lucky birthday recipient. Obviously with precious photo originals I strongly recommend scanning in the pictures. Once scanned, you can dress them up a little. I added a mix of Polaroid and old school photo edges. The white edges also have the added bonus of an area to write the age for each picture.

A few of my absolute favorites:

Future hubs is on the right, one of his closest friends who also happens to be the guy that we met each other through is on the left. His face is classic. Apparently getting sweaters for Christmas is the bestest of all time. YYEEEAAAHHHH!

This fashion statement is probably my favorite of all time. The shirt, the tie (note how it’s tucked into his pants), the watch that could eat his arm, spiked hair and over sized aviators just round out this early 90’s awesomeness.

A slight word of warning. As stated before I was a bit last minute/out of time (as always). I had picked up the balloons on Saturday afternoon. I didn’t have time to attach the pictures until Sunday morning. By the time I attached the pictures to the balloons they didn’t have enough helium left to keep the balloons in the air. (note in the project link “I used the bed for photo support”) I had to change my plan slightly and move the balloons from the hallway to the living room (so i could use the couch as support).

Other than that one minor hick-up the project was a complete success. Thank you Future Mama-in-law for all of your help. I could have never done this without you. Also thank you to the rest of his family who contributed their own little birthday wishes/happy memories which I attached to the back of pictures that featured the both of them. The birthday boy truly loved it. He couldn’t stop talking about it all day. Happy 3-OH Babe. Love you forever and always.

Kissing Gnomes for the Happy Couple

A little follow up to the classy Southern wedding I posted last week. As previously stated the Newlyweds have a soft spot in their hearts for gnomes. I took a fair amount of pictures at the wedding (I can’t help myself wedding’s are my favorites) and wanted to send the happy couple a disc of images for their use.

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I quickly whipped up a little note card to mail out to them featuring love struck kissing gnomes. Quick, simple, cute and I believe enjoyed by the new Mr. and Mrs.

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I also fancied up the envelope a little. I openly confess to ripping off my sister’s “calligraphy”. It’s so simple and really spiffs up regular text. I’ll admit now that I also ripped off her style of drawing roses when we were kids. I’m sorry Erin, sometimes you’re just too cool and way better than me.

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a very diy southern wedding

A few weeks ago us Yankees took the trip south of the Mason-Dixon to welcome the newest member into the family. A family wedding in North Carolina to be exact. Besides the Bride being stunning, the Groom handsome as ever, and the day being picture perfect there were a few other highlights of the event.

The bride (I guess she’s technically my future cousin-in-law?) is a rather crafty gal (excited to have her in the fam for sure). She hand made every flower featured at the wedding. Let me repeat that. She hand made every flower. From the flowers that lined the aisle

to the ones that adorned the tables at the party

Not to mention every bouquet, including her own.

Let’s just say I’ve got some hefty competition.  Thankfully we’re on the same team, as they say, and she was happy to share all of her insider secrets. the folded paper flowers featured in the centerpieces and aisle decorations were found at this website, the paper roses (apparently super easy) tutorial can be found here. For the insider tips to quote the bride “For the rose pomanders, I just bought large Styrofoam balls and covered the heck out of those babies with hot glue and flowers.” For the record this is one of the reasons I absolutely love this girl.

Also The Bride and Groom have a little place in their hearts for garden gnomes culminating in this blog. To pay homage to their little creative baby the Bride’s mother secretly added gnomes in random centerpieces throughout the reception.

Needless to say we had a beyond fabulous time on our mini vacation to the South. The wedding was exquisite, we had a blast and wish all the happiness to the bride and groom.