Monday, November 29, 2010


That's the only way to describe this past week. For those of you who live in the northwest, you know what I mean. Seattle + Snow = Totaldisaster. Now, I super heart snow...and really anything that gets me out of going to work. (Wait, was I not supposed to admit that?) But, I had to go to work on Monday - there were deadline emergencies to deal with. I was frantically trying to finish something and keeping an eye on the snow, which was lightly falling, but not sticking. And then, at 3pm, it hit...snow, snow, SNOW! I left work (and by "left" I mean RAN) just before 4pm, met up with the fiance a few blocks away, hopped into his work car - luckily a Jeep with 4WD - and we hoped for the best. However, we didn't expect the worst, which is exactly what happened. (Ok, it wasn't the *worst*, but it was super irritating, and an expensive night.) In four and a half hours, we drove less than two miles. There are only a couple of ways to get to West Seattle, and they all involve a bridge. Conveniently, all of the bridges are a fairly steep arch, and although never formally closed, every bridge was covered in a layer of ice (and car accidents) and therefore impassable. We tried to wait it out. We really did try. We amused ourselves by watching people driving waaay too fast spin out and slam into a chain link fence - one after the other - and then speed away, still too fast for the road conditions. Some people don't learn, apparently. Four and a half hours was all we had in us. We learned later that many people trying to get to West Seattle had an 11 hour commute. Um, we live 12 minutes from downtown.

We turned around and headed downtown and decided to call our wedding venue, the Alexis Hotel, and pray for a room. We were stupid happy when we got into the lobby, because it meant warmth and a bed! Oooh - and a bathroom!! (PS - These photos are from the Alexis Hotel's website - I'm not that good of a photographer.)

After hearing about our "harrowing experience" (ok, so maybe I'm exaggerating) and our "we're getting married here next year so we wanted to stay here" story they upgraded us to a suite. The suite was amazing - it has a bathtub the size of my bathroom. No, really:

The tub was just what the doctor ordered. Well, after foraging for some dinner anyway, since it was almost 10pm. It really would have been a fantastic evening had we not sat in traffic until we were exhausted and starving. Oh, and if we had had a change of clothes for the next morning. The hotel was great, though. They gave us toothbrushes and toothpaste. They even brought me a hair straightener as I tried to pretty myself up the next morning with none of my usual tools. (It takes a lot of tools. In fact, I've put a sample sized mascara in my purse now, just in case. I always feel better with mascara.) Needless to say, we like the Alexis even more now.

We made it home safely the following day. My office was closed so we had a nice snow day! (You'd think I would've taken a photo of the snow, but by then I wasn't a fan.) I made some awful soup, which we threw out, and we went out to dinner with the neighbors. I was also able to finish Chris' daughter's and nieces' Christmas presents!

I posted about these a while back, but I hadn't yet added the hearts. I made heartfelt bags a la Martha Stewart. Mine didn't turn out quite as well as hers, but they'll do.

I made four bags, although I only needed three. The first was kind of a "whoops, that's NOT how to do it" test, but it still turned out cute enough, so I plan to give it to a friend's daughter.

I love that even the handles form hearts.

I also added a heart to the back to hide the ugliness where I sewed on the handle.

I used two different fabrics for the interior.

I ran out of heart fabric, and I happened to have some coordinating bird fabric lying around, so two of the bags have bird interiors. I realize that this makes no sense, but the kids are three and I figure the "making sense" gene doesn't kick in until at least 35. And, even though I do know that it's nonsensical, I kind of like the birdies better anyway. (I'm not yet 35.)

I filled the three bags with Webkinz - a cat, a horse, and a bulldog/pug/?. Since two of the girls live in Wisconsin and one here in Seattle, I thought it would be cute for them to all have Webkinz that can live in the same place online. But mostly I bought them for a good price at Costco and kids love stuffed animals. :) I put some Christmas card making supplies in the bags as well, and I added Christmas critter slippers from the target dollar section after the photo shoot.

I'm happy to have one project and three Christmas gifts completed! Now to make tutus for other friends little girls! I have an abundance of tulle. Who doesn't have a bolt of tulle in their closet?

On Wednesday before Thanksgiving I stayed up until 3am. I made almost vegan mashed potatoes (I used lactaid milk at the end). Then I made homemade potato rolls (here's the recipe I used). There was nothing nutritious about them, but they were YUMMY! Again, I used lactaid milk and I subbed Earth Balance for the butter so I could eat these without wanting to die. Yay!

Then, I made vegan green bean casserole. It was goooooood. It was healthy until I added the fried onions. And, I forgot to take a photo. I also made cranberry sauce. Duh.

Because I was on a roll, and it was only 1am, I stayed up to make Chris an apple pie. He hearts apple pie, and he so rarely asks for dessert so I get excited when he does. Again, I used earth balance in the crust so I could eat some dessert on thanksgiving. That made it almost vegan until I did a nice egg yolk wash over the top (I'm not good at being vegan) and sprinkled it with sugar. The sugar was a special request from Chris. I like to be accommodating. And I never shy away from the opportunity to sprinkle sugar on something.

Before baking:

And after:

Mmm...pie. How much do I love miniature holly cookie cutters!?

Sometimes when you make pie, this happens to your pants:

It was actually much worse than the picture shows, but that's really neither here nor there. (And, yes, I was wearing a down vest while cooking - there are no heat vents in my kitchen. It's cold.) I was tired when we got home at midnight on Thanksgiving. So tired I forgot to put the leftovers in the fridge. I almost cried the next morning when I realized what I had done...and that it meant I would have to make dinner that night. (But, we ended up going out to eat while braving the crowds on black friday.) Only the rolls and the pie survived the night. Sigh.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

First fun with fondant!

So, this weekend was all about the butterfly cake. My friend's (shameless plug) daughter turned 13 this weekend and ever since I made her this Hello Kitty Cake (sorry for the awful photo - it's rather old):

she always asks me to make her cake. This year she wanted butterflies. Since Chris was again out of town and my Friday night was free, I thought it was a good time to try out this recipe for marshmallow fondant. I've never used fondant before, and I think it tastes kinda yucky, but I thought it was a good compromise to use the fondant for the decor but use regular ol' buttercream for most of the cake. At least people could pick it off if they so desired. Turned out pretty well for my first attempt, I think!

Again, since I couldn't stop with just one giant butterfly, I made smaller butterflies from Hello, Cupcake! to paste to the board. I didn't have the melting chocolate disks, so instead, I just dyed white chocolate purple. I also dyed the cake purple for fun, but I don't have any photos of that.

I probably could have color coordinated the whole thing better, but all in all, it was worth not sleeping on Friday. :) I didn't think the cake was all that exciting - the birthday girl just wanted white cake with frosting in the center, and yet I got at least three more cake orders for future birthdays. :) Unfortunately, they are birthdays in August. I'm guessing I might be a bit busy one month before the wedding to make a bunch of birthday cakes, but I am crazy after all. Someone stop me if I agree to this. Please.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's like a sweatshop

at my house. Sleep!? No sleep for you! You cover buttons! Man, that lady's pushy. So, I did. 144 of them. (The crazy lady even made me redo a few. See previous post about how "not-go-with-the-flow" I am.) My fingers hurt.

Ok, so technically, this is 143 buttons. I found one hiding in the pile of scraps when I was cleaning up. This is more than I need, but I figure I'll find a use for them even if I don't use them for napkin rings.

I really do wish I could stay at home and do this all day long. Despite the hot glue wounds and the nerve damage in my fingertips.

Monday, November 15, 2010

OCD, anyone?

Ok, so I might be a little crazy. Hey, I said "might!" Last week (yes, 10.5 months before my wedding) I met with the venue to discuss tablecloth colors. Yes, I did. Angie at the Alexis Hotel is so so great, and she totally tolerates my insanity. I brought all my fabric flowers to lay on top of the samples and find the best linen color. (Of course I did.) I've decided on creamy-nude-ish (I need a crayola thesaurus) colored tablecloths with white napkins. The ribbon used for the napkin rings is the same color as the tablecloth, so that should tie everything in together. Angie has graciously offered to put on all of the napkins rings a couple of days in advance! I've started covering the buttons with scraps of fabric from all my other projects. Cute!

The polyester silk fabrics don't cover the buttons as nicely as some of the others, but don't tell anyone and I'm certain they won't notice! I'll have a mix of all the different fabrics I'm using, which will be extra cute - and free since they are scraps I would be throwing away anyway.

I also have quite a few more fabric poms now. And the prettiest piece of milk glass you've ever seen, which my aunt found hidden at a Good Will for $7! Drool. I think I saw that one for $30 on ebay (and I almost bought it for that ridiculous price)!

I had another craft night, so I had lots of help with these! My friends are so great and so genuinely excited to help me accomplish all my wedding crafts. I have a confession, however. I wish I could say I was one of those 'go with the flow' types, but, well, I'm just not. No, really - not at all. So, I did spend quite some time tinkering with the projects after my friends left to make them just so. I'm admitting that I'm super picky and it might be a problem (that's the first step, right?).

I need to take some more photos as I have over 150 yo-yos made from dupioni silk and about 15 silk flowers done as well. I'm getting a little concerned, however, as I really really need to spend some more time focusing on finishing these crafts up so that I can move onto designing logos and having letterpress plates made. My awesome designer friend Agnes played with my L Letterpress tool at craft night. Here are some of the cards she made.

I'll need to work on making sure that the edges don't show up in the image, but Boxcar Press has some excellent suggestions for this. I will be using Boxcar Press for my custom made plates, and if it weren't for their post on how to make the L Letterpress work well, I'd be very discouraged right now, but they've done such a comprehensive review of the product and how to improve it, I'm really excited to go to town and letterpress the logo on everything!

Because I can't focus on and finish anything I've started (ah, ADD), I've also started a project using these:

But I will reserve a post on that for the future, and if it turns out well, it may be the subject of a guest blog post! No, I swear I'm not making that up! I'm so so so so excited that our photographer, Abbey Hepner, has asked me to guest blog on the new segment of her blog that she is starting called CREATE. She talks about it here. Have I mentioned that I'm excited about this!? And that I love Abbey!? (Just checking.) And how cute is my fiance - when I told him (in my ridiculously giddy "GUESS WHAT!" voice) about the guest blog, he replied: "Wow! That's great!," followed (in a slightly less excited tone) with: "What does that mean?" I love that even though he had no idea what I was talking about, he was still genuinely excited for me. :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Because babies like pretty, too...

I was asked by a dear long time friend to make the cake for her baby shower. Ok, so maybe she didn't ask me, maybe I asked her. And maybe I also invited myself to the shower when she announced her pregnancy and I got a little overwhelmed with excitement. (And maybe Chris pretended not to know me right then, but who could blame him!?)

I offered up all the cake flavors and mom-to-be couldn't decide, so dad-to-be picked vanilla cake with blueberry filling and meringue frosting. Last minute I decided that sounded boring, so I added lemon zest to the cake and lemon zest and lemon extract to the frosting. (Voila - lemon meringue frosting! I've eaten my fair share of the frosting right off the spoon. That recipe will be making a re-appearance soon for sure.)

M-t-b mentioned a train themed party in blue and green. A number of decorating ideas popped into my head. At first I thought of cute toppers for cupcakes, but m-t-b said she'd prefer a cake. So, of course, I settled on both a cake and cupcakes. I have a problem with knowing when to stop. Or so I'm told. (I also didn't hide the cut out area where I filled the cupcakes with blueberry very well. Whoops.)

I also wanted to make vegan sugar cookies because they're delicious and I can eat them without being doubled over in pain. I'm selfish like that. Plus, I knew that I couldn't really create a train out of frosting - I'm not that talented. Cookies seemed like a good way to get the theme across.

Instead of soy milk (since I'm lactose intolerant and somewhat allergic to soy - thus the "doubled over in pain" comment), I used almond milk and almond extract in the frosting for the cookies. I think I ate 15 of these over the weekend. It's three days later and I'm just now coming off the sugar high. Totally worth it.

A friend of mine informed me that I needed to borrow her train punch. I mean, really, who doesn't have a train punch!? So, I obliged and made a border for the cake plate. (However, the cake was too big, so it became the "cupcake" plate.)

One day while working hard and not getting distracted by shiny things (suuuure) it popped into my head that I absolutely must make tiny bunting for the cake. And so I did. Luckily I had lots of blue and green colored paper scraps from a friend's wedding a few years back. I had to make sure the bunting fit the cake before I got too far ahead of myself.

In hindsight, I probably would have skipped the train tracks on top. I think it distracted from the bunting. Plus, the colors weren't matchy matchy. Also, it was a lot of work. I melted chocolate and brushed it in a thin layer onto silpat using a silicone brush to give it a railroad-tie-wood-grain look and then, once cooled, I cut each one out with a knife. I searched everywhere for black licorice rope, to no avail, to I had to settle on red. I was going to coat the licorice in chocolate, but that would've made me very late to the party.

In the end, I think it made for a nice display on the dessert table. It's not Amy Atlas worthy, but I'm working on it. :)

Of course, I also had to match the wrapping paper for her gift to the color scheme. Sooooo cuuuute. I want to paper my walls with this stuff.

Perhaps it was kizmit, but the blanket I had commissioned also matched the shower theme and the nursery theme, but I didn't know that at the time and I gave the blanket maker free reign over design. You can see a photo here.

And, because clearly I don't value sleep at all, I also made and sold a vegan pumpkin spice cake with vegan maple cinnamon cream cheese frosting adapted from this blog and this cookbook.

It's no wonder I was asked at least 4 times last week if I still have a full time job. I do. And a part time one teaching dance. Good thing the fiance was out of town on business - I wouldn't have seen him last week anyway.

Also, please excuse the terrible photos. I'm way too busy to learn to use my camera, apparently.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cute as a button

So, I've tried to picture how the tables at my wedding will look. I'm a little sad that I have to do rounds instead of long family-style tables. For whatever reason, I find long tables to be much more aesthetically pleasing, but the only way 100 people fit in my venue is in rounds. Oh well. :)

I've still got my "people" (my aunt and this awesome woman) scouring the earth for even more milk glass so I can cluster a few of them on the tables instead of just having one sad, lonely centerpiece. I've asked around and it's unanimous - no one likes lonely centerpieces. (Ok, I've asked no one.) And then I'll* scatter dupioni silk yo-yos in varied colors and sizes around the flowers. (*And by I'll - I mean the proverbial "I," AKA, someone else. It is my wedding day, after all.) I have more to say about flowers, but I'll get there soon.

I'm concerned that since all the decor will be creamy & white, the place settings will need a little something to make them tie into the decor. (Or perhaps I just want something else to obsess over. I'm ok with that, too.) :) (These are the things that haunt me day and night. I kind of love it.) So, of course, I've decided to make napkin rings. Yes, I'm obviously insane. But, sanity is overrated.

I really do like this idea from Ober, Onet & Associates:

However, I'm concerned about all the paper making projects I already have in my "to-do que." Wow - that rhymes - I'm so stealing that from...myself(?). Plus cutting out the slits in the sides with an exacto knife over 200 times!? My hand gets all crampy and claw-shaped just at the thought. Also, I'm hoping my venue might be willing to take care of the napkin part of the decor, and I think it's a lot to ask to have them fold the napkins, thread the ribbon through, and have them center the ribbon without tearing the paper. Sorry, Chelan, I know you heart this one. :)

I also love these from Once Wed.

Yes, they're a little...hippie-ish, maybe? (Don't tell Chris! He's not so into hippie fashion.) But, they seem a little more forgiving than the other project. And I like that different fabrics can be used in each button. Plus, my fabric scraps can become my napkin rings! Um, yes, please!

I'm an addict and I was, in part, looking for an excuse to buy this amazing ribbon from Midori. We're so lucky to have them in Seattle!

I found a whole spool of this goodness in 3/4 inch on ebay. Mmmm. Forty yards of dupioni silk ribbon = the very idea of heaven. Plus, it's a little stretchy which will make it easy to get around the napkins.

Unfortunately, I couldn't really justify splurging for the 2 inch (more than twice as much), so these are going to be narrow napkin rings. The tutorial from Once Wed calls for 1 inch ribbon, but the stuff they show is at least 2 inches (I have that same ribbon from the tutorial in grey/blue, I mean, duh - who doesn't!? Ok, so maybe my ribbon addiction is a problem...).

I was thinking the thinness of the 3/4 inch ribbon might be an issue. And, frankly, it hasn't really gotten rave reviews from those who I've run the idea by, but I think it will be fine. It's just a little something extra, it's not going to be the pièce de résistance of the decor. Plus, I got a great deal on 1/2 inch cover buttons on etsy, so it will cost me less than $0.50 per napkin ring. Here's an absolutely horrible photo of a terrible mock-up I did of the project (I spent 30 seconds on this) to convince myself that they will look fine. I promise to take better photos when they're done.

I can't wait to work on this project! And the other 1,600 projects in my to-do que. (Ok, I'll stop now.)