Low-Budget Bachelorette

I’m trying to finish out the wedding blogging – two years have passed, it’s time, plus I’m helping out with a June 2013 wedding, and I’d love to put some projects up here without having weird two-year old wedding posts hanging around.

Bachelorette:

That was easy. While I wanted to have a fun night, I also wanted something low-key. My sister had a ton of ideas, a night on the town, etc, but in the end, she was doing SO.MUCH.STUFF. for our wedding, that I didn’t want her to have to plan another thing, and I didn’t want her to have to spend any more cash. I decided to plan my own bachelorette! My sister and cousin helped, and most of my ‘maids and friends came over to my apartment to enjoy drinks and snacks, in-house mani-pedi-mini massages, and a movie night, with candy.

In the end, it was a good plan, because I got super-sick with a cold.

Bar Setup

I had only been in our apartment a short while when I hosted this little party (actually, Jam and I were still adjusting to living with each other after only a few weeks, and we had a massive blowout before the party. As he headed to NYC for his bachelor bash, I cursed his car as it pulled out of the driveway and wished him a massive hangover. Let’s just say, wishes come true, and I spent the next day wracked with guilt as he tried to drive his hungover ass home. OOPS.)

ANYWAY. We moved furniture around and used my desk/bookcase for a bar and food table. Because this was after my shower, I did have enough glasses for everyone! Critically important!

The traveling spa troupe provided manis, pedis, and chair massages. I had hired the group after extensive googling. They were nice enough, but super-freakin’ shady. Weird about set-up, weird about getting paid (cash only, after telling me over email cash/checks/credit cards were cool) – they weren’t unkind, just SHADY. Needless to say I can’t find their business online anymore, so I guess they don’t do this sort of thing anymore. I will say that the idea was decent, and the services were OK. All in all, my girlfriends were just kind of like ‘whatever, it’s fine, we’re here to hang out and have fun’ so they were cool with the experience….especially after the mobile spa peeps cleared out, ha ha.

My cousin put together some pudding shots with chocolate vodka. Delish!

We chillaxed, all barefoot and casual – no club lines, no binding party clothes!

And yes, we drank out of fish martini glasses!

OK, that may not have been the most inspirational bachelorette party ever, but I had fun. We finished the night by munching on popcorn and a basket of movie box candy while watching “The Hangover” – good stuff!

If you do live in the Boston area, I do have two bachelorette recs. These never get old to me (though I’m sure others are like ‘yuuccckkkk not again’)

Pole dancing lesson at Gypsy Rose. So fun! The lady over there is nutso, but hilarious. Just don’t book the last class of the night because all the good clothes and shoes will be gone and you’ll end up looking like I did, a sort of deranged, pole-dancing pirate.

Fancy light limo optional! I went to this bachelorette with my sister. We had a blast, and I loved not worrying about driving home at the end of the night, even though I didn’t drink that much and I really went for the post-bar pizza :)

Jacques Cabaret Drag Show. It’s totally raunchy. The performers will bring you up on stage. They will grab your boobs. But they’re totally fun. I love Jacques!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Manifesto

Well here we are on the last day of summer (boo!)

I have wedding posts coming, I promise. I even have some craft-oriented posts too. Behind as usual.

At the beginning of the summer I made a Summer Manifesto. I used a photo of a gorgeous New Hampshire sunset I had taken a few years ago and listed ten things I wanted to accomplish this summer – BUT unlike my usual lists, I tried to keep it fun. I did fairly well:

ImageGo to NH three times:

June

July

 

August

Pick Strawberries

Which, while fun, resulted in a fairly tragic jam-making experiment.

Beach Day. Didn’t really happen, despite the fact that I planned to trek down to my favorite RI beach. I even took the day off! I totally forget why I didn’t go and what I did instead. I did spend almost an entire day sleeping on a lounge chair on the dock in New Hampshire, so that’s *almost* a beach day. There was also a day Jam and I moved into my parent’s so we could lounge poolside with booze to beat the heat. That’s like 1/4 of a beach day. Close enough!

Five things off the Day Zero list.

Yikes. The Day Zero list I have is great, but gah, it is NEVER going to be finished by next February, not even close! Doing five things this summer didn’t really happen for me. There are things I probably accomplished, like seeing 30 new birds – that probably happened. There are things I did half-assed, like “learning about my ancestors” – did I really dedicate time and effort to it? No. Did I ask my dad a million questions about his maternal grandparents and why they moved from Ireland and when, how my great-grandfather worked on the Boston Elevated and whether he ever told my dad about the Molasses Flood? Sure. But it was half-done.

And then there was the sort-of. “Go to a book signing and tell the author why you enjoyed his/her book.”

We-ell.

I went to a book signing.

But more than anything, it was because I HAD to see Teresa Guidice in person. I had to. I admit it, I had never set eyes on her cookbook. Though that being said, both Jam and I enjoy her recipes! Who would have guessed?!

There were the reals:

Climb a mountain (or a large hill). I’m pretty sure this falls in the “large hill” category – no surprise, as I actually hate hiking (it aggravates my asthma something fierce). I did this hike because 1. the interwebs assured it was easy and even had stairs in some parts 2. I had to see that view. WORTH IT!

West Rattlesnake, Squam Lake

The other definite accomplishment was “Knit myself a sweater”

YES! 

Read books all day.

Totally did this while sitting on this balcony:

Either Lynda LaPlante or Tana French (or maybe both) are responsible for getting me to actually sit for nearly a whole day in my butterfly chair reading.

Explore by bike or kayak

Bike:

Norwottuck Rail Trail (awesome ride)

Kayak:

Grape Island

More Farmer’s Markets. Yes. I especially enjoyed the Braintree Farmer’s Market where I found rhubarb in abundance and even practiced yoga outdoors on the lawn of the Town Hall one Saturday morning.

Sew a Summer Skirt. Nope. Didn’t happen. Ah well.

Picnic Lunch or Dinner

We combined kayaking to Langlee Island in Hingham Harbor with a picnic lunch atop the rocks. We look like this because it was a thousand freaking degrees and Jam got all irritated that there were bugs around his food. It was kind of a bust and not the elegant event I had in my mind, but hey, we tried!

Pedicure at least once a month. Kinda sorta. Every six weeks is more like it. I would show you a picture of my blue toenails, but I know better that to post anything to do with feet or foot pictures on the interwebs.

Plan an anniversary trip. Done. Not saying when or where, but here is a hint:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Wedding in the Works!

Well I am still behind on getting all the wedding how-to posts up here, but they’re coming. In the meantime, I am helping friends plan their Spring/Summer 2013 nuptials, so now and then you’ll be seeing DIY/how-to’s for their wedding as well. They’re also a bride-bride wedding and I really hope they’ll let me blog about their process here. Exciting!

More about planning: When I was planning our wedding, I turned to the interwebs. I had a significant amount of wedding blogs in my google reader. These were helpful to me – I saw what others were doing, was able to find inspiration in other weddings, and saw mistakes others were making and tried to avoid them. This time around, there’s Pinterest! I recently read an article written by a bride-to-be about how Pinterest is “ruining” her wedding because she sees all these DIY projects, cute/quirky/whimsical inspiration, and she can’t do it all or have it all or afford it all and that makes her sad. Boo hoo.

Sigh. Really?

Maybe it’s because now I’m 30 and I’m trying not to sweat the small stuff (though I was 28 when I got married) or maybe I just try to approach things with a combination of practicality, common sense, with a slice of imagination and a “I can do that” attitude, but blaming blogs and Pinterest for ruining your wedding is, in my opinion, a little insane. I knew my budget. I knew what I wanted. My husband and I prioritized carefully. We balanced priorities (food, music, photography) and pulled off DIY stunts for the things that were less important to us (decor -though it turned out just lovely, favors, choosing not to have cherubs and unicorns precede us down the aisle, etc). We had the wedding we both imagined.

In planning with my friends E and K, I told them to think about their wedding in a similar fashion. While E is the dreamer and K is practical, they both have very concrete visions of what they want, and in areas where they haven’t been 100% sure, blogs such as Style Me Pretty (which to me, isn’t usually practical, and tends to trend towards the “frankly unaffordable” scale but is very, very pretty) and Pinterest have been great tools in the planning process. I put together an inspiration board for my friends, and it was so easy for them to look through things in that format – yes, yes, no, I hate that, I love that, I can recreate that project as a DIY – these are the kind of decisions that we were able to make in just a few days…and since we have less than a year to plan this wedding, decisions must be made! Based on a combo of blog-inspiration and Pinterest, we were able to narrow down venue choices to four, my friend E chose attendant gifts, a guest book alternative, a potential color scheme. She did not like any of the decor I pinned – but that’s OK, now that she has an idea of what she likes, I can look for things that will appeal to her. Trust me, brides and grooms, the internet is your FRIEND. Let it guide you if you need, but don’t let it get to you.

Tomorrow’s Post: DIY Ceremony Decor

How To: Stamps and Envelopes

After putting so much effort into the wedding invitations, I wanted the accompanying envelopes to look as pretty as possible. While I already owned an envelope liner template (Paper-Source, AGAIN!) I had to decide whether I was going to use just one envelope with the invite enclosed, or go fancy with two envelopes, an outer envelope with the invitee’s name and address and an inner envelope with just the invitee’s name. How could I resist being a little bit fancy?! After consulting Martha regarding some etiquette questions I had about addressing the envelopes, I went to work.

I decided to go with navy inner envelopes and eco white outer envelopes, both from the Paper Source. I used the same pearlized filigree paper from the belly bands to make the envelope liners for the inner navy envelopes

Pearlized filigree paper lined the inner envelopes – it coordinated with the invitation belly bands!

but decided to leave the outer envelopes unlined.

While the whole “print out script and retrace in fancy pen to look like calligraphy” plot did NOT work on the STD’s, given the color and size of the navy envelopes, the result was much more satisfactory for the inner envelopes. Once I had set up a word template to the dimensions of my envelopes, all I had to do was print (and print, and print, and print again) each envelope (using Scriptina font), then retraced with a gold pen.

I used three fonts during this whole wedding process: Albemarle swash, scriptina pro, and copperplate gothic. The names here were printed in albemarle swash, with black ink on the navy envelope, then retraced with a gold pen

I love the contrast of the navy and ecowhite envelopes!

I decided to use the same printing strategy on the outer envelopes as I did for the STD envelopes – navy font, with names in Scriptina and addresses in Copperplate Gothic Light. Not only did this 1. save money (no calligraphy cost) 2. save time but also 3. kept a theme going. Yes, this is just a small detail, but it was nice to continue the use of the Scriptina/Copperplate font combo.

sorry for the less than stellar photo – this was taken waaay after the fact….after I dug my invitation out of my scrapbook. The originals were prettier and uncreased!

Once again, return addresses were stamped and embossed with the stamp I purchased on etsy. Do note the awesomeness of calligraphy in the picture below, however. If your budget allows and that’s what you’re into, I say go for it! Even better if you have nice handwriting and can pull off doing your own calligraphy. The results can be super-gorgeous.

When it came to stamps, I was in a conundrum. I wanted something special (of course I did, ha) – you know, something delightful and whimsical like the invitations featuring vintage stamps that you see featured on wedding blogs these days:

Vintage stamp look

The problem was the fact that I did not want to pay more than face value for my stamps (OK, not too much more than face value) and I wanted them to be relevant to some sort of theme. Since birds were already a part of our wedding, I began searching the internet for bird stamps. I found this link, which featured all the US-issued bird stamps – and I noticed that smack in the middle, was a US state birds series. YES! 50 stamps to a set. Since I had been to the Post Office for a pre-mailing-weigh-in, I knew each envelope, with the exception of the one going to England, would cost $1.00 to mail. I had 70 invitations to mail, which meant I just needed to track down 7 sets of the state bird stamps to mail all my invites. The same site also featured some tropical bird stamps that would be enough to cover the RSVP post cards. If I could find enough stamps for both the invites and RSVPs, I could stick with my nice little bird theme.

State Bird Stamps!!

eBay became my new best friend (and remained so through more than one search for the perfect wedding-related item!). With a bit of strategic planning, I was able to buy enough bird stamps to cover the postage for all of my invites and RSVPs. This often took patience – I couldn’t (budgetarily) afford to get caught up in a bidding war that would push the price of the stamps to more than face value. Since I was looking to send out invitations in July/August for an October wedding, I did have time to bide my time waiting for people to post bird stamps for sale.

When it was time to put the envelopes together, the Tape Runner XL was my friend once again – it saved me from stamp and envelope licking. I loved the effect of the bird stamps too!

Once again, I turned to my etsy-purchased return address stamp and trusty embosser for return addresses on the back of the envelopes. I found a platinum-colored stamp pad at Paper Source that I just loooved, and used some clear embossing powder to complete the look.

Return addresses

More invitation tips:

- when assembling invites, write the RSVP # (if using) on a mini post-it and stick it to the outside of the invite. That way you won’t have to re-open an assembled invitation to check the RSVP #

- keep track of RSVP #’s on a spreadsheet – I created a new column next to everyone’s names I had on my address spreadsheet and filled it in accordingly

- ask if you can hand cancel your own envelopes at the Post Office. The PO near my office promised to hand cancel, and the lady there even hand cancelled the first few envelopes in front of me. Then the rest were dumped into a bin as soon as I left because they arrived streaked with black (from the sorting machine I assume) and generally beat up and crappy looking. I KNOW #firstworldproblems but seriously, if you or a calligrapher puts that much work into something, you want it to arrive looking decent, even if your guests are tossing the envelope in the recycle bin the next day.

- make sure everything you need to include in the invitation is in there! We found out a few weeks after sending out our invites that we would need menu selections ahead of time after all (we had been told that guests could choose their meal at the reception – but to be fair, we were told that nearly 2 years before our wedding and things change! We should have double-checked!) In the end it was ok, we scrambled, made menu cards and got back everyone’s meal choices, but it would’ve been far easier to have sent out those menu cards with the invitations!!

How To: Make (sort of) Your Own Invitation Suite Pt II

Ok, Pt I left off with the anticipation of some manual labor (and a word-heavy post – this one is picture-heavy and therefore, more fun!). Pocket folds, colors, and envelopes had been chosen, CatPrint had finished out printing order. Time to assemble!

Assembling the pocketfolds was a decent amount of work, but we only had about 70 invites to pull together, so this was done in a day. I set up a little wedding-invite-assembly table in my parent’s porch:

It helps having all the supplies you need in one place!

And of course after falling in love with the copper paper from Paper Source, I realize that in order for it to even show, I’d have to cut down the excess edges on my invites. Argh! Luckily, my sister lent me her great paper cutter.

Cutting down the edges

Oh, another important note here – adhesive. Let this become your new best friend:

Taper Runner XL – be sure to choose the “Permanent” adhesive so your wedding invites don’t fall apart!

This little thingie dispenses adhesive when you roll it along the edges of whatever paper you’re planning on sticking to your pocketfold. You don’t have to worry about the lumps and bumps glue and glue sticks leave behind, plus there’s no drying time. When you’re doing a big project like wedding invites, it may seem as though the tape runner doesn’t last very long, but it’s totally worth it. Stock up on a few refills while your in the store. I still have a couple of these babies (of course I bought multiples in my planning-induced fog) and I use them making cards and gift tags – they’re great!

Make sure everything is centered! You can reposition a little once the adhesive is on the paper, but it’s not a good idea to be moving everything around.

I decided to put a navy piece of paper in the pocketfold to serve as a backdrop for our inserts

Once the main invites were in place, our inserts were ready to placed in the pockets. We included RSVP cards, an Additional Info card, and of course, our map.

Our lovely RSVP cards were part of our invitation suite from A Printable Press:

A Printable Press’s “All Lit Up” RSVP

RSVP – We stuck with postcard format so people could just drop the card in the mail. We did all we could to maximize RSVP’s including giving people a lengthy cushion for sending it back to us!

I saw a tip online about using an invisible ink pen (readable with a UV light) to number each RSVP in case they were sent back blank. Though I thought this was a little silly I did it – which came in handy when we received multiple RSVP’s back without names!

I used some flat card packs from Paper Source to print up the Additional Information card and ceremony/reception maps.

We included this “Additional Info” Card in the invitation – it listed the address of the reception site, hotel information, and the address to our wedding website

Our wedding map was a labor of love (more on this later) – since the distance between the ceremony site and reception site was less than three miles but not exactly direct, I decided to include the map along with the other inserts.

Wedding map! I’ll explain how I made this in another post….

Completed wedding invitation suite – I thought it looked snazzy!

With the pocketfolds complete, we just needed to add the finishing touch. As I mentioned in the Pt I post, I took a wedding invitation class at The Paper Source, which is the first place I had ever seen/heard of “belly bands” – a piece of ribbon or paper that goes around your pocket fold to keep your invitation closed. Totally unnecessary, but very pretty nevertheless. I thought I’d go with the paper I had used to make the vellum STD envelope liners, but I found a piece of flat paper at The Paper Source that kind of blew my mind – pearlized ivory filigree paper that was just the right combo of subtle and elegant:

Pearlized Ivory Filigree paper from The Paper Source

It looked wonderful layered on top of a navy piece of paper. We completed the look with a gold piece of DMC thread.

Is it vain to admire your own handiwork? Probably. But I have to say, I loved the finished product so much, I made one for myself to scrapbook.

Spare invite for me to scrapbook

I was going to talk about envelopes, calligraphy, and stamps next, but if I’ve managed to hold your attention this long, you deserve a break. More on the rest of the invite details later!

Our photog took this fabulous picture of our finished invite – make sure you send your photographer an invitation (or have one on hand for them) – this is the first page of our album!

How To: Make (sort of) Your Own Invitation Suite Pt I

Bear with me, dear readers – this one is a bit LOOONG.

Invitations are obviously a huge part of the wedding planning process, and a big part of the wedding itself, for most people. When it came time to figure out what to do for our own invites, I had read enough bridal magazines, trolled enough wedding blogs, and received enough wedding invitations to have an idea of what I did and did not want. I wanted a definite DIY component to our invites, but I wasn’t sure how much I’d want to take on. I also wanted the invites to reflect our style and color scheme, and I loved the idea of the wedding invitations themselves tying into our reception venue, something you see more and more on the ol’ wedding blogs. We could go with some quirky, like hankie invites, or even do an evite thing – but we decided we are paper people. Or rather, I decided I wanted to be paper-oriented, mostly so I could torture myself with as much DIY as possible, pick out vintage stamps, and scrapbook the rsvp’s. Thus the hunt began for the perfect invites.

Here were our requirements – our invites had to be: pretty, fun but a little formal, feature attractive fonts, appeal to the rustic fabulousness of The Barns, and maybe come in navy or have navy elements. Oh, and it had to fit in the budget, which was fairly loose, but I wanted to keep it as small as possible, so basically any fancy paper companies, engraving, professional calligraphy, etc, was out of the question. Could I have the pretty-fun-whimsical-rustic-elegant invites I wanted on a budget?

I decided to start at the beginning – I’d take a Paper Source wedding invitation class to see if I had the power to DIY our whole wedding invitation suite. I had a blast doing this – it was a great decision. I learned about all of the Paper Source paper products, and I learned how to emboss! I also learned that an entirely DIY suite was not for me. The things I learned during this class would come in VERY handy later though, so the workshop was worth every penny of the $15 I spent.

Next, I aggressively trolled wedding blogs for a “designed by someone else, printed by you” option. I decided I wanted to try and find STD’s, invites, and RSVP cards that were pre-designed. Any other additions to the invite suite (menu cards, maps, etc) I decided to make myself. I’d also worry about the envelopes, pocketfolds, printing, and mailing. Through one blog or another, I discovered Printable Press. They had the PERFECT invitation suite called “All Lit Up”

“All Lit Up” by Printable Press

It had everything we were looking for – the invite was navy, the fonts were fantastic, it was a “print your own” company, the design embraced the rustic, whimsical elements of the Barns, and though we hadn’t decided to add string lights to our decor just yet, in the end, the invite proved to be the perfect match for our wedding by featuring the string lights we’d add later. Almost as if it was all planned :)

Working with Kimi at Printable Press was sooooooooo easyyyyyy. I’m pretty easygoing (though I heard later, after the wedding, “we thought you were going to be a bridezilla and you totally weren’t! It was great!” Um, thanks?!) and I’m hoping I was easy to work with! After sending Kimi the customizations she needed, she sent the proofs. I showed them to husbando, we decided we loved them, and that was that. The design charge was $190. Can you even believe it? The whole process took just a few weeks (I ordered these in December 2009, 10 months before our wedding, so we were working with plenty of time), from initial contact to pdf proofs.

Next came the “where to print?” question. Since we chose the All Lit Up design, we knew we wouldn’t be printing these color-heavy invites on our own printers. At the time, Printable Press recommended CatPrint (they have new recs on their, site, check them out if ordering from them!) I liked CatPrint’s options (mostly their off-white options for the RSVP cards) and prices ($26 for our Save the Dates, and about $90 for the invites and RSVP cards). They were great to work with. I also visited Cards and Pockets because I loved the idea of pocketfolds. That site allowed me to order a few pockets in different sizes and papers so I could experiment.

Once everything arrived, I pulled together the Save the Dates. Next, I focused on the invites. The pocket folds from Cards and Pockets did not work. I didn’t like the set-up and the colors were wrong. They cost less that Paper Source pockets did, but a quick visit to my local Paper Source (with printed invites and RSVP’s in hand) showed that it was worth spending a few cents extra per pocketfold to get what I wanted, which was the A7 folder invitation enclosure in ecowhite. Ecowhite was just “off-white” enough for my taste, plus cheaper than the luxe option in cream.

Next up, I decided I did want to bring in a third color for the invitations. I was thinking gold, but again, a visit to the Paper Source to look at my options changed my mind completely. A7 Notecards in Copper Shimmer were the right size and color for the background.

Once the invitations were printed and the pocketfolds and background pieces were chosen, most of the hard decision work was finished. Next up, manual labor time!

The Power of Prayer, The Power of Platelets

Has anyone been reading about Ashley’s journey on Lil Blue Boo? I don’t usually get all woo-woo here, but when I read her blog post, I was so happy and excited! I started reading her blog when another crafty blogger linked to her video, and it’s so great to see her cancer responding to treatment. Because I’m a scientist, I have huge faith issues (a whole other story) but I think there’s something to be said about the power of prayer and the power of a whole community focusing their positive energy on a person. It’s a good thing!

Image

Choose Joy necklace!

Because of all this goodness, I’m going to share something different today.

Now because I am a scientist, one of the things I do fully understand is the power of platelets, even more so because I am a non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma researcher at a large cancer hospital in Boston, and so many of our NHL patients require platelets at some point in their treatment. In her post, Ashley mentions that her platelets are low. This is a common side effect of chemotherapy. In the simplest sense (*please remember I am a researcher, not a doctor*), chemotherapy attacks growing cells. It goes after anything that is rapidly dividing. This is great, because chemotherapy can “find” rapidly dividing cells and destroy them, but it also means that it can’t tell the difference between normal cell division, where your body is making new tissue to replace old tissue, and cancer. That’s why people undergoing chemo with certain chemicals lose their hair, and it’s why people become anemic. Some chemotherapy agents are “myelosuppressive” – they slow your bone marrow down, which slows down the production of red blood cells and platelets. Because platelets help your blood clot, having a low platelet count can be very dangerous. For patients undergoing chemotherapy, a simple bump can have serious consequences.

Platelet infusions can make a life-saving difference. That is why I donate at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center every other week.

Chillaxin' While Donating

I don’t want to brag, but I will: I have a kickass platelet count and give a double every time I go. You don’t have to have as high a count as me to donate though :) It’s easy, and it’s actually pretty fun. You get to recline in a warm recliner, get covered with a warm blanket, and watch TV or a movie or read a book. I bring my kindle because I donate fairly quickly. This way I can read, or hook up to the hospital’s WiFi and play Words with Friends or check Facebook.

Image

Reading a book while donating - this time from the left arm (I switch it up)

The staff is AMAZING. I know people probably think I lie when I say there are people there who put the needle in your arm and you barely feel it, but it’s true. There are also snacks when you’re done. One day, one of the infusion techs brought me a cup filled with Girl Scout cookies from her own stash. It’s awesome. I have also had the chance to meet some New England Patriots:

Punter Zoltan Mesko - ridiculously nice and listened to me blab on about whatever!

And because I have made “Team 20″ two years in a row, hubs and I have had the chance to go to Gillette Stadium for a fabulous brunch, where there’s amazing food, a view of the field, and more Patriots:

Image

Kevin Faulk -also AWESOME and NICE!

I also have a pile of t-shirts, a gym bag, and a huge, fuzzy red towel, just for taking the time to donate. Oh, and once a year I get coupons for ice cream…which I never use because I would eat the whole pint! My point is, if you meet these criteria, get in here and donate. If you don’t live in the Boston metro area, google “donating platelets” and your ZIP code – if there’s a center in your area, it will come up in the search results.

I started donating because I wanted to do something tangible to help the patients on my study. I’m not a physician or a nurse physically treating their cancer, and because I’m a “do-er” it drove me crazy feeling like I wasn’t “DOING” anything (even though our research will save lives!). Donating platelets makes me feel like I’m a part of the force kicking cancer’s ass, and I love it. I didn’t think of it as any benevolent wonderful thing though, until recently, when I told the doctor I work for that I had made my milestone 100th donation. She said “Oh Allison!! Do you have any idea how many people you’ve saved!?!!!” I had never really thought about it until then, but now I do every time I donate. Let me tell you something: It makes me feel so good, like a freakin’ rockstar.

So you should try donating platelets too :)

How To: Make Your Own Hair Flower

I absolutely loved the veil I picked out when I bought my wedding dress. It was the perfect length and style, and I thought the beaded lace trim matched my dress perfectly. Recently, when I was preparing my dress and veil for cleaning and preservation, Jam noted that while my dress probably wouldn’t be worn again as a wedding dress (another story for another time), I should make sure I keep the veil preserved, because it’s “so pretty, it could become a family heirloom.”

View of the Veil

Another reason to love the veil: I could drape it strategically across my arm to hide a little flab

All veil love aside, the thing I didn’t love about it was that it was a little weighty. I imagined my head tilting backwards by the end of the night, weighed down by beaded lace…plus I wasn’t in love with the headband I had bought and insisted that I’d be ditching that after the ceremony (which I didn’t, but whatever), so in one of my many self-indulgent moments, I went to etsy and bought myself a hair flower:

Hair Flower from Brenda's Bridal Veils on Etsy - isn't Etsy the BEST?!

The plan was to have my friend Jen put the flower in my hair early so no one would have to carry it or remember it pre-reception, placing it low enough in my hair that it wasn’t a distraction. I think we pulled it off just fine in the end.

Hairflower, headband, veil - rockin' everything at once...

My sister saw my hair flower and really liked it, and she might’ve even hinted around that she wanted one. We-ell, what she did know is that I wanted her to stand out and feel special as my MOH, and if that meant having a hair flower, I was all for it. What she didn’t know is that I had bought her a special clutch for her MOH goody bag:

MOH clutch, also an Etsy purchase

and, as much as I love my sister-bestie-MOH, I had kinda stretched the budget and couldn’t swing a $50+ hair flower….but…I really wanted to make it happen, so I hunted for hair flower tutorials. Luckily, I only had to look as far as weddingbee to find this fantastic tutorial by Mrs. Pineapple. Simple, straightforward. I could totally do this (oh, and at this point we were t-minus 7 days to the wedding I think) – and do it fast.

My sister and I went to Michael’s and JoAnn’s for supplies, and found the fake flowers at each place were gross. We ended up at AC Moore, on the hunt for the perfect navy flowers. Ugh. Horrible selection. In the end we decided to go with cream colored flowers instead – better selection by far – with navy beads in the center. This was one of the cheapest DIY’s I did for the wedding – I bought silk peonies, beads and a barrette. I had clear beading line at home that I was planning to use for the assembly, so the final price for this was less than $10.

I wish I had taken pictures while doing this project, but I didn’t :( the good thing is it’s SUPER easy :) I took apart the silk peonies (I think I bought 2) and arranged the pieces of the flower by size. I just stacked the pieces, one on top of the other, rotated the petals here and there, added some small pieces to the top, ’til I had the look I was going for, then glued them together with a glue gun. While you could finish the flower with a glue gun, I don’t trust glue, so I chose to sew the rest. We chose a bunch of navy crystal-like beads and sewed them in the middle of the flower. Here’s another tutorial from wedding be that explains the sewing process a little better. Once the beads and petals were secure, I sewed the flower to a barrette with some clear beading line. I went over the barrette with as many rows of stitches as I could without adding bulk to ensure security!

It took less than a half hour to make my sister a hair flower, but we both loved the results. Everything came together so beautifully, and I loved the fact that we were the only two rocking hair flowers on the wedding day:

You can see my sister's hair flower peeking out of the side of her head...

Here's a better view of the flower (she's cracking us up, clearly)

As you can see, the hair flowers stayed put. We are probably gossiping here, tee hee.

Knowing now how easy it was to put this flower together, I would’ve probably made my own (not that mine wasn’t absolutely lovely, but I could’ve made one for a fraction of the price I paid!). You can really dress up a DIY one with feathers or rhinestones – or better yet, a really fabulous rhinestone button or sparkly pin for the middle. If you have the time, why not make one for each of your bridesmaids? If they don’t want to put it in their hair, you could put a pin on the back and your girls could put it on their dresses or purse…the possibilities are really endless for this fast and fabulous DIY project. Plus, now that you have the skills, you could make a coordinating hair flower for any fancy occasion!

How To: Make a DIY Cardbox

Oh the cardbox. This was a project that I left to the absolute last second. I was gluing and hammering this together about four days before our wedding.

Now I don’t think you need anything fancy to put cards in – one of my friends had a lovely birdcage, a simple custom made box, and I’ve been to plenty of weddings where you just throw a card on a table and that’s that.

My city-savvy (NYC born and raised) mother-in-law told me that I needed to have something to put cards in so “people wouldn’t steal them.” The sad truth is, this happens. So I added “card box” to my list of DIY projects.

The great thing about the card box I pulled together was the fact that I had everything already except some floral moss, which cost maybe $3.00 (always save your Joann’s, Michaels, and AC Moore coupons!). I think if you take a look around your kitchen, pantry, apartment, house, etc, you’ll be able to come up with something quick and useful!

Jam and I were the lucky recipients of a “Spicy Wedding” gift crate from Penzey’s Spices (and just to take a moment here – 1. This was one of our most awesome shower gifts, 2. Make spice gift crates your new go-to gift for your cooking friends, they will LOVE you for it, 3. Penzey’s is awesome in general and they ship sooooo quickly). Because I keep everything, I kept the crate, thinking that I’d have a use for it one day. Four days before the wedding, I realized this would be a perfect card box:

The Penzey's Wedding Crate

I wanted to have a lid on the box, but didn’t want guests to have to take the lid off to throw cards in. I have only basic tools in the apartment, and while I know my dad would have lovingly sawed a slit in the lid, I didn’t want to haul over to my parent’s house with yet another project (they were already doing sooo much), so I decided to take two nails and hammer them halfway down into each corner at the front of the crate. This way, the lid was propped open in the front, but rested on the back of the crate. Here’s a cropped picture of what it looked like:

You can see the nails propping the front of the lid up

The crate looked nice like this, but as you can see from the above picture, it came with some stamps and stickers on it. This was fine, except you had to rip the red sticker off the top to get the crate open, and the leftover bits were ugly. Hummm, what to do…then I remembered I had these:

Owls from Etsy!

I had bought these off Etsy shortly after I started wedding planning. I have a thing for birds and owls and thought they’d make a great cake topper…until we picked out our cake and realized these wouldn’t look quite right. They had been hanging out in a desk drawer. Since we had a casual bird theme happening, I figured we could put these little owls to use on the top of the card box.

I still had to deal with covering the box. I decided to go with floral moss. My dream was to find this kind of moss:

squishy, pretty, cushion-y moss

You know, that pretty moss-like stuff that’s all cushion-y and pretty and green…well…IT DOES NOT EXIST…just kidding, I’m sure it exists, but four days before your wedding on the south shore of Massachusetts? It just wasn’t happening. While there were many moss alternatives on the interwebs (like this adorable moss made of yarn!) we were dealing with major time constraints. My local JoAnn’s Fabrics provided this:

Sheet Moss - literally dried moss in a sheet the size of a piece of paper

but beggars can’t be choosers..plus it was cheap and prettier than reindeer moss…well more or less, because it was kind of ugly and bald in spots, but WHATEVER.

I bought it, brought it home, cut it to size. I had to cut two different pieces to get full box coverage. I glue gunned the sh*t out of it and got it to stick to the crate lid. I threw the two owls on top. It.looked.dumb. In a moment of inspiration (or maybe sheer desperation) I ran outside, found a stick that was just big enough and bent enough, sewed my owls onto said stick with clear sewing thread, and glue gunned the stick to the crate lid. A printed sign completed the look.

We had a card box:

DIY Card Box!

Was it the prettiest card box ever? Uh NO. The type-A crafter part of me thought that it even looked a little bit sad. But again, you kind of let things slide when you’re in desperation mode, and it was what we had to work with, so in the car it went with the rest of the wedding decor. I kept in mind two things I have learned as a crafter: 1. other crafters will think that it is cute and even if they see flaws they will appreciate all the DIY you’ve done and let it go and 2. non-crafters will think you are an effing genius for coming up with it. Yes. It’s true.

On the wedding day, our brilliant day-of coordinator, Angie, put the card box on a table with our other bird-themed decor and it DID look cute. Not sad and sloppy homemade, cute and whimsical homemade:

Success!

See? DIY doesn’t have to be over the top and perfect with straight lines and hand-sewn layers of tulle or whatever. It can be as simple as some found objects, a JoAnn’s coupon and a loaded glue gun. With a little DIY-skillage and some soft lighting, you can pull almost anything off.