terrariums at Terrain

(Say that five times fast!)

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen that I attended a terrarium workshop at Terrain yesterday. I’ve long been intrigued by terrariums but have always had an extremely black thumb, so I was hesitant to spend money on something I’d likely end up killing. The good thing about terrariums is that they require very little maintenance, though, so I gave it a whirl. (It’s day two and my terrarium still looks good, so my fingers are crossed that this is a fool-proof type of gardening for me! ;)

My friend Susan joined me for the workshop, which lasted two hours in the greenhouse. Instruction and potting materials were included in the $15 fee; we were able to choose our own glass vessels and plants from Terrain, which we paid for at the end of the workshop. Susan thought ahead and brought her own vessel:

I went with a tall cylinder for mine. I started out thinking I’d use the copper base underneath and flip the glass over to be a closed terrarium (as shown), but once I started playing around I changed my mind.

That cardboard box contains all of the plants I grabbed inside the store to possibly use in my terrarium. We were encouraged to grab as many as we wanted so we’d have some options when we started creating. Whatever we didn’t use would go back into the store and we didn’t have to pay for it.

We started out by adding gravel (above), and then adding small bits of activated charcoal and mixing everything together. This is a good base in the bottom that will absorb extra moisture so my plants are never drowning. Then we added potting soil on top — I have about 2″ worth because of the plants I chose. After that, it was all about having fun and creating a lovely little environment for some plants.

I ended up only using three of the plants I had originally chosen, and I also added some rocks, moss, and dried flower buds to give things a bit more color and texture. I am so pleased with the final result, and Susan’s came out beautifully, too!

I will have to water each plant (about a shot-glass worth of water for each one) about every 8-10 days. It will thrive most if it is in bright, indirect light, so I currently have it sitting on my desk where I get a lot of natural light throughout the day. It’s also nice to see it there while I work!

I’ll keep you posted if I manage to kill the plants or if, like I’m hoping, everything stays alive and well.

Have you ever made a terrarium?

All images by Susan

DIY for a special little guy

Phew…it’s been a busy week over here, which explains my absence! I’m so excited to share this cute project with you, though, and I hope it will make up for things being so quiet here lately.

I had the pleasure of spending last Sunday afternoon celebrating the impending mommyhood of my friend Emily. She and I met through blogging when we were both sharing our wedding planning experiences on Weddingbee, and we have become great friends over the last few years. I thought it only appropriate that part of my baby shower gift to Emily call attention to her blogger status, so I made some (pretty stinkin’ cute, if I do say so myself) custom onesies for little baby boy O’.

You know I’m a big fan of my Gocco, but for this project I knew that I didn’t want to work with the limitations of screen-printing, especially since I was only producing one final product with each design. Instead, I wanted something with full color (knowing that I planned for at least one of the pieces to include Emily’s Tiramisu icon from Weddingbee), so I turned to iron-on transfers. I never used iron-on t-shirt transfers before so I was a tad hesitant that they’d look cheap, but I was pleasantly surprised with the final result.

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cold beers + a touch of nostalgia

Over the weekend I celebrated the big 3-0 with some family and a few close friends down the shore. Since I’m a glutton for DIY and I love any excuse to break out my Gocco, I decided to put together some little party favors for the lovely folks who made the trek to the Jersey shore to party with me.

A few weeks ago I came up with the idea of screen printing some can coozies for my guests, since adult beverages would surely be making an appearance over the weekend. I found several websites that sold blank can coozies, but the only site I came across that allows you to mix and match colors without a minimum purchase was BlankKoozies.com. At 99 cents each, I ordered a mix of navy, teal, and fuchsia coozies (my order was shipped the same day), and created a design that was similar to my email invitiation. Using my Gocco and silver ink, I printed the design and fell in love with the sweet results.

I decided not to stop there when I found a little store in town that had a great selection of candy that brought me back to my childhood. I mean, what better way to celebrate turning 30 than with candy cigarettes, Pop Rocks, and candy buttons?? I also threw in some salt water taffy for good measure.

When I printed the can coozies, I had remembered that there was a package of brown paper lunch bags in our kitchen, so I decided to make use of the Gocco screen while I already had it inked up and I printed my design on the bags. They ended up being the perfect finishing touch — I put all of the goodies inside the bags and they looked incredibly adorable awaiting the arrival of my guests.

The coozies (and the candy) were a big hit! I had fun putting everything together and I’m glad that the goodies added a little something to the festivities. ‘Twas a great weekend!

how to make grocery store flowers look like a million bucks.

Let me begin by saying I greatly admire the work of florists. I do. And I love my mom a lot. But when I’m buying her flowers for Mother’s Day (and living on a budget), I can’t fork over $50 for a pretty bouquet of something that will die in a week. Just. Can’t. Do it.

I have always been a fan of buying grocery store flowers, but of course you don’t get the same beautiful presentation in a Trader Joe’s bouquet as you would with a professional florist’s bouquet. Something about that price tag on plastic secured with a rubber band… just not doin’ it for me. Fortunately, if you’re resourceful, you can make grocery store flowers look like a million bucks in five minutes.

What you’ll need:

  1. grocery store flowers — I bought two bunches of sunflowers from Trader Joe’s ($4.99 per bunch of 5)
  2. brown postal wrap — I’m still working with the 75 square feet ($2.50) I got last Christmas!
  3. scissors — I used pinking shears to add some character with the zigzag effect
  4. ribbon or baker’s twine — I used green and white baker’s twine

Step one:
Remove the store packaging from your flowers and trim the stems (if necessary). Arrange flowers however you’d like and secure your arrangement in place with a piece of twine tied in a bow around the stems.

Step two:
Cut a piece of postal wrap — I cut a piece about the length of the flower stems (from the bottom of the flower buds). Any longer and you won’t be able to see your flowers peeking out when they’re all wrapped up! And, in case you’re like me and can’t cut a straight line, I fold over my paper and crease it where I want to cut it, then follow along that crease with my scissors. Works like a charm.

Step three:
Line your flowers up along one side of your postal wrap (with the cut edge at the top of your bouquet if you used pinking shears). Gently roll your postal wrap with the flowers to the opposite side to create a cone-like shape with the wrap. Make sure the bottom of the wrap is more tapered as you roll it to achieve the desired effect.

Step four:
Wrap a long piece of twine around the middle of your postal wrap a few times and tie a bow.

There you go! Now that looks way better than flowers wrapped in plastic, doesn’t it?

spreading the wisdom: “DIY is not ‘Duplicate it Yourself’”

I have seen this article linked on a few other blogs in the last few days, and I usually don’t like rehashing what I know is already out there… but I think this article is important enough to continue spreading around in case you haven’t already seen it. It’s a great article from Decor8 entitled Real Talk: DIY is not Duplicate it Yourself!

I see a lot of personal interpretations of DIY ideas, especially in the wedding world, but for every unique interpretation I’d bet there are ten more blatant rip-offs. As a designer, I have most definitely been asked to replicate something another designer has created, and my answer has always been a resounding “no”; after all, I hope that other designers would do me the same courtesy if someone asked them to replicate one of my original designs. When it comes to individuals replicating something for themselves, though (meaning they do not intend to resell it), it is still a slippery slope — particularly when those projects are blogged about. Even if “inspiration” credit is still given, that doesn’t necessarily make it okay to have stolen someone’s design.

Inspiration and copying are two very different things, and I’ve seen a lot of copies in blogland that have made me really uncomfortable.

Here’s an excerpt from the post on Decor8 that I find particularly notable:

“Perhaps some people feel like their homemade invitation (or cake or dress or bouquet or centerpiece or curtains or pillow…) that looks exactly like the original couldn’t possibly change anything in the world or hurt someone else. While I think that the vast majority of bloggers understand the difference between inspiration and copying, and act professionally and ethically, I’m not sure that many are doing an excellent job of pointing out the difference—and the real effect that copying has on the people behind the businesses that supply creative content and products—to readers. The simple fact is that when somebody decides to “duplicate it yourself” (instead of getting inspired to “do it yourself”) it hurts a real person.

Check out the original post on Decor8 to read more.

What is your stance on “Do It Yourself” versus “Duplicate It Yourself”? Do you think anything is fair game, or do you make sure to put your personal spin on any ideas you use as inspiration?

feel the love

Happy (almost) Valentine’s day! Now that our Valentines have hopefully arrived in the mailboxes of our friends and family, I can share them with you.

I’m normally not a pink-and-gold kind of girl, but for some reason, I was really feeling a Marie Antoinette-esque color scheme for this design. After all, it’s happy and lovey and Valentiney, right? Plus, I’m not gonna lie — I do enjoy the metallic ink when it comes to Gocco projects. It’s sparklyyy.

I chose to design our card around a quote from Vincent van Gogh, one of my favorite impressionists. Using Blossom cover stock and A6 envelopes from Paper Source, I screen printed the design with my Gocco and gold ink.

See? Sparkly!

Sending Valentines may become my new tradition — it’s not like Christmastime, when everyone expects several holiday cards in their mailboxes each day, so I’ve loved the genuine surprise and delight that our friends and family members have displayed after receiving our Valentine’s Day cards.

Happy Valentine’s Day, all! Enjoy the weekend with someone you love.

Number 10: Blurb wedding albums

Ever since we got our wedding photos back from our photographers last February, I have had a very big to-do hanging over my head. It made it to number ten on my 101 in 1001 list:

10. Create wedding albums for parents

Finally I was able to cross this biggie off of my list this Christmas (with glee, might I add). In early December, I hunkered down and designed 12″ x 12″, 50-page hardcover albums, which I had printed by Blurb. I had never used Blurb before so I was quite nervous for the outcome, but after reading so many rave reviews from the ladies at Weddingbee, I took the chance… and I am pleased to say that I am extremely satisfied with the final result.

I designed my layouts in Adobe InDesign, using one of the helpful templates that can be downloaded from the Blurb website. (If you don’t already have a layout program you’d like to use, you can download the Blurb BookSmart® software to lay out your book.) The templates clearly show the “safe zone” for all images and text, and illustrate how much bleed to include in your layout for photos or other images that should bleed off the edges. This is especially helpful if you don’t want to chop off the heads of any of your wedding guests :-)

I was also impressed by the cover templates, from which there are several to choose based on the number of pages in your book and the paper used for printing (which affects the width of the spine). I had created smaller, soft-cover books a few months back with Shutterfly, and my cover layout was not what I was expecting in terms of placement of the text on the spine (it ended up on the back). With my Blurb books, everything was lined up exactly as I had set it up on the cover, spine, and back cover.

I think the back cover is actually my favorite… I included our silhouettes and monogram that I had also used on the menus and drink signs at our wedding. I’m a sucker for silhouettes!

Overall, I was very pleased with the image quality and the vibrant colors. While I wasn’t expecting absolute perfection, I didn’t see any problems with skin tones, and I thought the ink coverage was impressive (and consistent) throughout each book.

(I look a bit pale, but, um… I am pale :-)

order="0" />I ordered three books total — each 12″ x 12″, 50-pages, with image wrap covers and Premium paper. The final cost for each book: $85.95 plus shipping (which I actually got for free with a holiday coupon code). Compared to how much professional albums would have cost, we saved hundreds and hundreds of dollars and still had really beautiful Christmas gifts for our parents.

Does a Blurb book match the quality of a professionally designed and printed album from your photographer? Of course not. Even with the Premium paper selection and the image wrap cover, you aren’t going to get the same attention to detail and the high quality printing that you would otherwise get from a professional album company. But for the money spent, I am elated with the final result, and I’m pretty sure our parents are, too.

In terms of timing, I ordered all three books together on December 8; I received free FedEx Ground shipping with a holiday coupon code. My books were shipped on December 15 and received on December 17. Considering the size and number of pages in my books, I think this is an exceptionally fast turnaround time.

If you’re considering ordering from Blurb, a few pointers:

  • Pay a little extra for the Premium paper; the final result is worth the additional cost.
  • Use the templates provided on the Blurb website (or download their BookSmart® software to lay out your book) to avoid unexpected cropping of photos off of edges or in the spine.
  • If you have questions, be safe and contact Blurb customer support before placing your order; I had a few questions and they responded very promptly.
  • Selecting the option to remove the logo page from the back of your book (like I did with my first upload) will add quite a bit of cost — for me, it would have cost another $20 per book! And once your book is uploaded, you cannot reverse this selection. Unfortunately, I had to go back and re-upload my entire file, which, because of its size, took a few hours, but was worth the $20 saved. And the small logo on the last blank page of each book isn’t so bad :-)

What’s your company of choice for self-made photo books?

All photos included in our album by The Wiebners

bedroom overhaul: I’m so vain

I know I promised a peek into our bedroom overhaul a few months ago, to no avail. Fear not, faithful followers — our bedroom is still a bit of a work in progress, due to a teensy shortage of funds to do everything I wanted to do, and the fact that the holidays ate up most of my creative inspiration (and aforementioned fundage) for the last month.

While I still have a bit more work to do before I show you all of the before and afters (I was going to call it “the big reveal” but let’s face it, my home decorating skills are nowhere near being awesome enough to call it that), I thought I’d at least show you one bedroom project that is complete: my vanity!

Before:

After:

I have never had a little place all to myself to keep my jewelry and makeup — a place to sit each morning and primp as I begin each day. With the help of my best friend, Kelli, who gave me a great desk and chair for free (in exchange for me buying her dinner on our monthly dinner date — deal!), I now have my own little beauty depot. And let me tell you, I absolutely love it.

As you can see in the before photos above, the desk and chair were originally painted white and had white wooden knobs. It was in great condition — I just made it over a bit to fit with the rest of our new bedroom decor.

Nick sanded everything down for me using a power sander, and I then got to work painting the desk in Glidden’s Totally Teal color (with a semi-gloss finish). The paint went on so easily, it was almost too easy. One coat probably would have sufficed, but I went over everything with a second coat for good measure.

I switched out the wooden knobs with some glass ones found at Anthropologie; I also picked up a new mirror at HomeGoods and a small accent lamp from Target to add a little light. I topped it off with my jewelry stand and mirrored toiletry tray, put four 1″ brads in the wall from which to hang my necklaces, and I had a lovely new vanity!

Here’s the rundown of how much everything cost:

desk and chair: $25.00 (dinner for my friend as a thank you for giving this to me)
one quart of Glidden Totally Teal semi-gloss paint: $8.96
five glass knobs from Anthropologie: $40.00
new mirror from HomeGoods: $29.99
accent lamp from Target: $9.99
mirrored tray: free (it was my Nana’s)
jewelry stand: free (anniversary gift from Nick)
1″ brads to hang necklaces: free (already had these)

Total for project: $113.94

Is it totally chic and representative of amazing interior design? Absolutely not. But is it functional and cute? I think so. I would have loved some better lighting and maybe a prettier mirror that stands alone, but the items I found were inexpensive and still decent looking. Most importantly, I have a nice place to sit each morning to get ready for my day, all of my jewelry and makeup have their own place, and it makes me happy. It’s also great to have the little bit of extra storage that it provides.

Whaddya think?

brown paper packages tied up with… handmade bows and leftover ribbon?

In past years, I have always gone overboard buying pretty gift wrap for Christmas. Of course, a $5 roll of gift wrap usually wraps 3 or 4 gifts before disappearing, so I have always ended up spending $30 or so just on gift wrap, bows and ribbon each year. This year, while carefully budgeting our money, I decided to get a bit creative and save some dough while still having some pretty little packages to sit under the tree.

I started out with these DIY instructions from How About Orange on making bows from magazine pages (or any other scrap paper you may have lying around). I grabbed an old Glamour magazine (say hi to SJP!) and got to work.

I tried to pick pages with bold colors or prints — mostly ads that had less words and more images. Working with the easy-to-follow instructions, I got down to business and had a handful of pretty bows in no time at all. (Okay… about an hour or so later.)

Voila!

I had also asked Nick to pick up some basic brown postal wrap from our local hardware store. One roll of 75 square feet (30″ wide) was only $2.50! Several wrapped gifts later, we still have plenty of paper left to spare. Using the brown paper along with satin ribbon I already had on-hand from some invitation and stationery projects in the past, I wrapped each gift and topped it off with a handmade ribbon.

I also printed out some blank tags using ivory card stock I already had. I printed them so they’d have a little brown circle on which I could punch a hole to make it look like a vintage tag, but you could cut any paper down to 3.5″ x 2″ pieces and cut angled edges on one side. I hand-wrote each tag with colorful markers to coordinate with each bow.

Total cost for all of our gift wrapping this Christmas: $2.50. I’d say that’s a big “win”!

Merry Christmas wrapping to you :-)