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Birthday Surprise

20 Nov

All right. That last post was a little sad and dramatic. Not my usual style. So, let’s move on to some of the other fun stuff I’ve done lately, shall we?

I am not the only October birthday around here. My Mom (see her 50th birthday party invite here!), Mother-in-law, and Sister-in-law all also have October birthdays. I also wasn’t the only one with a milestone birthday this year. My Mother-in-law turned 60!

To celebrate, we decided to surprise her by getting her family and closest friends together for a private cooking class at Flavour Cooking School. The nice thing about that option, aside from being something fun and a little different than just a regular meal, was that there was very little for us to do! Denise, the wonderful owner of Flavour, took care of everything for us.

The one thing I offered to do though was take care of the invitations. Now, invitations weren’t entirely necessarily. There were only 13 of us total and everyone either was or could have been told by phone. But for as casual as I am about most things in life, I think special occasions are always a good excuse for a little bit of tradition and formality.

Given how busy I knew October was going to be, I very strongly considered just buying invitations instead of making them, like I would normally want to do. I absolutely loved this one from Inviting Company. Unfortunately, for how few we needed, it was going to be pretty pricey per piece. 

I found the next one on Etsy in the Silver Light Photo shop. You probably know by now how much I love buying things from Etsy and the price was definitely right. I was *this* close to purchasing but decided the style was just a little too casual for what I wanted. 

So, despite my original intentions, I decided I’d probably just be better off trying to make something. I googled for some clipart of vintage silverware and came across The Graphics Fairy. Here’s the finished product after some formatting in Word (I don’t have Photoshop still…really need to do that soon…), printing on white card stock, and gluing on pretty fall colored card stock (they were each different.)

Exactly what I wanted, easy, and free (since I already had plenty of card stock on hand.) Perfect.


Beth & Steve’s Shower – Photo Booth

20 Jul

Last, but not least, you may still be wondering about the sneak peek from Beth and Steve’s shower that I posted a little while ago. Well, I kept finding cute photo booth ideas back when we were planning our wedding (a long long time ago!) but decided against it from a logistical standpoint. Still, I kept the idea in the back of my mind (or maybe the front of my mind considering how popular they still are) and figured this would be the perfect time to make it happen.

My original plan was to hang fabric on a clothesline (remember how much I said I love them?) but it turned out my mom (whose backyard I was borrowing) had actually taken hers down. Since I’m not exactly a carpenter, my next idea was that I could somehow re-purpose a standing garment rack (like this one) to make this work. My Mom offered instead that we could nail posts into her deck railing (have I mentioned how nice my Mom is?) which made the set up really simple.

I bought two curtain rods, curtain rings with clips, and my inspiration fabrics and I was pretty much done. The curtain rod fixtures were screwed into posts and then nailed to the railings so they were about 7 feet high. I had cut my fabric to just a little bit longer than that so they’d pool at the bottom. I considered hemming the ends and sides with hem tape (I can’t actually sew…) but skipped it in the end. I don’t think anyone knew the difference and it saved a ton of time. I asked our friend Kristy to bring the props because I knew that what she owned would be far better than anything I could ever find. And, let me just say, she did not disappoint.

Here’s what our “booth” looked like from afar –

And here are just a few of my favorite photos –

Thanks, Beth and Steve, for letting me host here in Chicago! I hope you had at least half as much fun as I did. ;)



Beth & Steve’s Shower – Food & Drinks

18 Jul

Ohh, you probably thought I was done talking about the shower. But no, just busy. Two more posts and then I’ll catch you up on everything else.

I don’t have many pictures of the food. It’s difficult to have a party and take pictures! Isn’t that why people hire wedding photographers? But look! We had cheese!

And mini cherry cheesecakes!

There was also plenty of good stuff in between. And an ice cream cake in honor of Steve. He likes ice cream a lot. We also convinced him that weekend to like Twitter a lot. If you’re on Twitter, you should follow him @RealSteveBeam. He’s quite funny.

But, back to the party. Beth studied and worked in France so I was pretty excited about the champagne (well, cava) bar. We had peach, orange and pomegranate juices to mix with the cava and top with strawberries, raspberries, and peaches. Yum!

Beth & Steve’s Shower – Decorations

5 Jul

As I said, this is my favorite (albeit totally unnecessary) part of parties. The Chicago weather was not super cooperative the day of the party, which threw some things off, but I was pretty happy with how things turned out. The original plan was to have more of the party on the grass instead of the deck but I’m just happy we were able to be outside. I would have also liked a little more set-up time outside (it was drizzling most of the morning pushing back the timeline more  than I would have preferred) but, again, I’ll just be happy we were outside at all.

The decorating mostly focused on two things. Martha Stewart poms in the trees. And the tables. A few other little things were added along the way as time and materials permitted.

The poms really are easy to make so I don’t have much more to say about them than is written in the directions linked above. I will, however, say that when I rounded the ends it was not as pretty of a process as their pictures would have you believe. I still got the job done though and I think that’s all that matters.

I made the “gift” bulletin board above out of leftover fabric (which you’ll still see later…) and some ribbon. Since Beth and Steve were traveling from out-of-town I offered some of the guests (the ones I knew well enough to know they would not be offended!) the option of wrapping a picture of the gift to open and display at the shower while shipping the actual gift directly to the end destination. I think the plan worked out pretty well as they were able to fit everything they had to bring back in their suitcases and carry-ons. Yay!

The white box with pictures in the bottom left hand corner of the same photo is actually the card box we used at our shower and wedding. My grandparents made it for us out of 4 8×10 picture frames and a lazy susan. I love being able to re-use it! Maybe Beth gets some credit on the “something borrowed” for that one.

My very favorite thing, however, was the tables. I wanted an eclectic mix of jars and containers with just a few blooms in each to go down the center of each table. I actually have a lot of jars and vases (just one of the many things I collect – or is it hoard?) but then also saved any more that I came across in the couple of months before the shower. I had extra wrapping paper from the envelope liners for the invitations so used that to make table runners for each. I knew this all worked in my head but was happy when it worked in real life too. (Does anyone else ever have that problem where somehow things don’t translate well between the two?! I do all the time!)

The flowers are orange carnations which I ordered in bulk online from Sam’s Club. I was originally hoping to go with something like ranunculus (because I love them) but ultimately decided I didn’t want to go lower on the quantity of the flowers or increase my flower budget enough to get them. I just made sure to get the large carnations and not the mini ones so that they’d have the bigger blooms and bunch together nicely. I was also pretty nervous about getting them in orange and nearly went with white. I’m really happy I took the risk though instead of playing it safe and boring!

The napkin rings are mini-Martha poms. I’d put these in the cute but probably not worth it category, to be completely honest. The idea was that they’d add some more color to the rest of the table. Which they do. They’re just time-consuming to make. I was very happy to see Kristy re-purpose hers later on as a corsage. ;)

Here’s one more pictures for this post, just because it’s a favorite!

Many many thanks to my Mom, Pete, and Elaine (who knew she is a master flower arranger?) for helping me with the day-of prep. You’re all the best!

Beth & Steve’s Shower – Planning

4 Jul

When I started thinking about planning Beth & Steve’s shower the first thing I considered was how I wanted it to look. I understand this isn’t the most critical component of a party (we all know that so long as you feed people well and give them good drinks they’re almost guaranteed to go home happy) but it is the part I like planning best.

Beth studied and worked in France so I wanted to somehow incorporate that into the day. Never mind that I’ve never actually been to France myself. (I probably should have planned a scouting trip – is it too late to go back and do it now?!) My interpretation of a French party was partly inspired by this photo from an Aussie online magazine and website called StyleGuide.

I don’t know why it says French to me but it does. Maybe because I wanted it to. Regardless, I liked the idea of the kraft paper and plasticware mixed with the floral tablecloth to create a thrown-together casual but pretty look.

I had already been thinking of using an orange and turquoise color scheme and had an idea that required finding some fabric. I decided getting the right fabric would be the hardest part so I started by looking for that first. I found a beautiful pattern in the right colors in the clearance bin at the first store I checked. Hooray! It was a little more graphic than the floral one above but I figured I wasn’t going to find anything better for that price!

As I mentioned in my post about the invites, getting the fabric helped me finalize the colors and start moving forward with all the plans. Here’s what my “mood board” looked like once I started making a few decisions and purchases.

Sneak Peek of Beth and Steve’s Shower!

28 Jun

I still have to get through a bunch of pictures but I couldn’t resist this sneak peek of Beth and Steve’s shower! That’s Beth in the middle, her mom on the left, and sister on the right.


The important take-away from this photo is that we had a lot of fun. =)

Beth & Steve’s Shower – Invites

8 May

Finally, the long-awaited shower invitations! I still love them. Though, I will say, they’re much prettier when I don’t have to block out the details. Sorry, internet friends. But I will at least skip to the end result since you’ve waited so long. :)

My original inspiration was a lace/doily rectangle invitation I saw at Paper Source (no longer available online). I knew I wanted to make something though so I pondered how I might be able to use a real doily and get my invite details onto the center. After realizing I’d still have to mount it onto card stock and, more importantly, that the scale of the doilies wasn’t quite right, I knew I needed a new plan.

I was also drawn to the Mums printable invite when I was originally shopping at Paper Source. The similarity to the colors I used is actually somewhat a coincidence (they’re actually inspired by a fabric I’ll be using at the shower!) but I liked the overall layout. I remembered Martha Stewart’s Dyed-Doily Gift Wrap tutorial and realized I might be able to incorporate that idea where the mums are on the printable invite. I experimented with the dying process to make sure I could get the colors right and decided it was a go!

The invitations are made of the following products:

  • Paper Source A9 Notecards in Soft White
  • Paper Source A9 Envelopes in Peacock (a little too dark to use at the shower but it provided a nice contrast for the invite only)
  • 8″ White Medallion Lace Paper Doilies dyed blue/green (about 4:1 blue to green – see more instructions in link above)
  • Wrapping paper from the Dollar Tree for the envelope liner (score!)

The night before assembly, I dyed all of the doilies so they’d be dry by the next day. In my test batch I noticed that the color didn’t always dry evenly so I patted these with a paper towel as I laid them out on the table to make sure there wasn’t any excess dyed water. Given the delicate nature of the medallion doilies, I tore almost all of them as I removed them from the water. However, they’re hardly noticeable and were always easily fixed when glueing them to the card stock.

The invites themselves were drafted in Microsoft Word and printed on my home computer. Jackie Blonde helped me with the actual assembly. We cut each doily in half and used a glue stick to apply them onto the card stock. Any excess at the edges was trimmed with an X-acto knife. We (Jackie!) traced the envelope liners onto the wrapping paper using the Paper Source Envelope Line Template for the A9 envelope, cut out, and glued to each envelope. Perhaps the easiest parts to explain but most time-consuming to carry out. Thanks, Jax, for all your help!

So, what do you think? Anyone else with any DIY invites in the works? I don’t know if I’ll make any more since I don’t think I can top these. Have I mentioned yet that I LOVE them?