Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Coral Wedding Wreaths

The doors of our chapel were a little plain for the entrance to such a fun wedding!  To spruce them up a bit, we decided to add some color with floral wreaths.

Real ones were pretty pricey, and they only last a few days.  It would be much more fun to reuse our wedding wreaths again and again, so we went with silk flowers!

I looked online and at all the local craft stores, but didn't have much luck.  Well, I found some in the $100+ price range I liked, but I wasn't willing to pay that.

My Mom found some that were close to perfect at Tuesday Morning, for $35 each.

They had a little too much purple and yellow going on, but no problem!  We removed the offending flowers - just ripped them off.

In their place, we added "Bonnie Pink" flowers.  We also supplemented a few other spots on the wreaths that were looking a little bare.

Here they are adorning our chapel doors.

The extra flowers cost about $40, and it took less than an hour to spruce up the bargain wreaths.  They were perfect on wedding day, and I can't wait to use them in our home!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wedding Wednesdays

Wowee, a lot of folks got engaged over the holidays!  Since I never got around to sharing all my wedding projects, what better time than now?

Back in August and September, my Mom shared all the details about making my wedding dress.

This time, it's a little different!  I'll be sharing the ins and outs of other wedding projects I did, from cloth napkin wedding favors, to the wreaths for the church, centerpieces, invitations, and more!

I was completely exhausted after the wedding.  I know it wouldn't have felt like a "Bonnie" wedding if I hadn't DIYed so much stuff, but it was truly a monumental undertaking, and not one I'd suggest lightly.  That said, I hope some of my ideas are inspirational are can show you creative ways to save money.  Some might not actually help the bottom line, but just be fun ways to personalize a wedding.  Now that it's been six months, we've finally taken our honeymoon, and I have some amazing photos from the photographer, I can't wait to share!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Prepping Flowers for DIY Wedding Bouquets

There are several steps behind the construction of wedding bouquets, and they're very important to the quality of the end product!

I'll use my most recent floral experience making bouquets and boutonnieres for my sister-in-law's wedding.

First up, you've got to know what the bride wants.  My SIL and I chatted about what she wanted and shared some photos back and forth on Pinterest.  Considering cost, effort, and what's available in the winter, we came up with bouquets like these below.  For the most part, they're a mix of white roses, freesia (sprays of soft white blooms), hypericum (green berries), and some lush greens.

images from Genesee Valley Florist (upper right) and Bill Beers (lower right)
We decided to use a white rose, hypericum, and greens for the boutonnieres, and those stems plus freesia for the corsages.

After gathering inspiration photos, we made a trip to my floral wholesaler, Potomac Floral, just to make sure she liked everything in person, and also because it's just fun to go play in oodles of pretty flowers sometimes!

My next step was to calculate the number of each stem I'd need for the project.  I used the inspiration photos to estimate counts for each type of stem.  (Looking back, I estimated about 25% too much for my bridal bouquet, and about 50% too much on the hypericum overall.)

Armed with my estimates, I called my guy at Potomac Floral and placed the order.  With the wedding on a Saturday, I planned to pick up the flowers on Thursday.  I'd clean them on Thursday, assemble bouquets on Friday, and assemble boutonnieres and corsages on Saturday morning.

Everything went as planned with my pickup!  I took my parents along on the field trip, and showed them around.  Here are some photos of me in the giant cooler where most of the flowers are kept.  They keep the temperature about 38 degrees in there, so I've learned to bring my heaviest coat!

The next step is the one where you've got to start budgeting time.  Time to clean the flowers!

By "clean", I don't mean with soap or anything, it's more like "process".  Basically, you unwrap all the flowers, cut fresh tips, remove extraneous leaves, and remove any ugly petals.  I took photos to help describe it.

When you get the flowers, they're tightly packaged into a box, and slightly wilted because they've been out of water for a while.

You separate them one at a time, and remove thorns, leaves, stems, and ugly petals.  I use a steak knife and make chopping type motions parallel to the stem, which cuts off the leaves and thorns.  Doing all this makes it so you can easily add them to your bouquets as you're assembling them.  For plants without thorns, sometimes I can remove the leaves simply by running my fingers down the stem away from the flower.  It's quicker and safer than the knife method.

Finally, cut a fresh tip on the stem and put them in fresh water.  If you like how open the flower is, use cold water.  If you're trying to get them to open up more, like I was with my freesia, put them in warm water.  (But not hot, as you run the risk of killing them!)

Altogether, it probably took me two or three hours to clean all these flowers.  I got a little lucky because the freesia didn't require much work, and the roses were essentially thornless, so all I had to do was remove leaves.

Once all your flowers are cleaned/processed and in water, you're done for the day!  They'll open up a little more overnight.  Having them all ready to go makes bouquet assembly move much faster and more smoothly.

See?  It's not so bad!  Don't be scared of flowers!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Upcycled Cashmere Scarves

Well, it would seem that the New Year brought the flu to our house.  Tommy and I spent most of last week bundled up on the sofa watching 24, and definitely not doing anything productive, like fun projects.  That same week, I sent my camera with my sister-in-law on her honeymoon, so I couldn't even share my photos of the bouquets I made for her wedding!  Never fear, there are plenty of posts coming soon.

This is a guest post by my Mom, Janet.  She also guest wrote a series last fall about how she made my wedding dress.  I definitely got my love of projects from her!  She does a lot of sewing projects, but she's done her fair share of house projects over the years, too.

I got inspiration for this project from a lovely scarf a friend of mine had on.  It was made from several strips of wool sweaters sewn together and had a swirl of wool roving felted onto it.

I shopped for several months for nice wool sweaters at the thrift stores.  I looked for 100% wool, especially falling in love with the cashmere ones.  Stains or holes weren't a problem, because I could cut around them!  I collected up with 7 sweaters before it got too close to Christmas and I needed to get sewing.  Some had attractive hems, which I tried to incorporate (see the red one).

Once I got them home, I machine washed and dried all the sweaters so they ‘did’ whatever they were going to do (shrink, pill, run).  This way, they'll at least be hand-washable in the future, saving the owners from dry cleaning bills.

I cut the sweaters apart at the side seams then sliced them into long strips.  


I mixed and matched the strips to get cute combinations of colors and textures.

I used my serger to sew everything back together.  I set the serger for a short stitch length and a wide stitch width, and used two spools of wooly nylon serger thread and one spool of regular thread in the needle (my machine uses three spools of thread at once).  For painless thread changes, tie off each thread to the color you have in the serger, and gently pull it through.

First I sewed the strips end-to-end, aiming for a total length of 60"-70".  It looked a lot cuter when I sewed them together at angles, and also made the scarves drape nicer.

Then I sewed the strips together lengthwise.  Once each seam was started, I gently pulled the fabric lengthwise, creating tension along the edge I was stitching. This helped to ruffle the seam allowance, or as they call it in the manual, “lettuce edge”.  However, be very careful not to stress the needle and break it or the thread! 

I managed to turn the 7 sweaters into 10 scarves.  The very last scarf was compiled from all the scraps, and liked it the best!  Have fun with it!

This was an easy, fun way to upcycle high-quality sweaters into beautiful scarves.  The project took most of an afternoon, but I did make nice gifts for all my favorite gals!

Thanks Mom!!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Resolutions

2012 has been a phenomenal year.  We got married and bought a house, my sister-in-law got engaged and married (look for the flower photos soon!), my brother-in-laws graduated college, and most everyone close to us is healthy and at a really good point in their lives right now.  We are incredibly blessed and thankful!

All these wonderful things have made me quite a busy person, so my resolutions this year center around making time for the important things.  My professional coursework has drilled into my head that goals be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound), so I'll try my best.

1. Catch up with friends more often in person and on the phone.  I have some really great friends, and I really miss them!  My goal is to catch up with my best friends at least once a month.
Lovely ladies at my bachelorette party

2. Get in shape.  I've been kind of lapsing on my regular exercise schedule, and we haven't been eating great.  My goal is two-fold here: exercise at least three times per week, and be in shape such that all my clothes fit properly.  Before the wedding, we had good success following the eating guide in The Seven Principles of Fat Burning by Eric Berg.  Basically, you eat lean proteins, fruits, and veggies.  We felt great doing it!  I still don't have time for meal planning, so I'm changing our Emeals subscription to the Paleo plan.  I don't know anything about being Paleo, but the recipes agree with the Fat Burning book, so I'll be using those.


3. Maintain our home as a refuge.  This means staying organized, continuing to work on the projects (but in a timely manner so they don't take over our home), and keeping work separate from home life.

Foyer before and after

4. Travel!  Outside of visiting family, my goal is to go on at least one international trip and one stateside.

In Dominican Republic for our "engagement-moon"
5. Volunteer.  My goal is to volunteer for 50 hours this year.
Shopping trip for toy donations

I wish everyone a wonderful year!!!