March 24, 2014

There is a concept of karma that states that whatever energy a person puts out into the world, it will be returned to them three times (or three-fold). I like to think that good things happen in patterns. At least it always seems that there is a momentary lull and then things happen quickly in succession. In this instance, there are three major things happening in my life right now: getting married, planning an epic honeymoon "down under" and moving to a brand new city.  

In writing, the rule of threes is a way of making information easier to follow, funnier and more satisfying. Think "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and the "Three Little Pigs." On Friday, we went to city hall to apply for our marriage license and had lunch at Rock Au Taco in London where I had three little, but mighty tacos: one was spicy with pork; the other was hearty with beans; and the last was full of fried fish and just right. 

Rock Au Taco London Ontario

Rock Au Tacos, London Ontario

There are also three reasons why I want to get and stay fit for the next little while: wedding (obviously), looking good on the beach on vacation and my 10-year high school reunion. I thought 10-year reunions were only cheesy things I saw in movies, but I got invited to one recently for my high school thanks to the magic of Facebook--the ever useful way to keep in touch with old friends. This was me 10 years ago right before the prom (pictured third from the left). 10 years ago my life was about having fun, trying to fit in and working hard. Now, life is still somewhat about those things and much more. 10 years later I don't have to worry about whether boys like me or not because I am marrying the absolute best one. 

So to eat healthy and stay in good shape before all of these fabulous things, I have banished snack foods and my favourite cracker chips and replaced them with fruits and vegetables. I also learned that it is also much easier to actually stick to eating them as snacks if they are already pre-cut and washed and sitting in a container ready for me to eat. You need some dip with all of those vegetables though and I learned this great, easy recipe from my Mother-in-law-to-be. When we went over there the other week, I thought I was eating all of my calories for the day by dipping. Little did I know that it was actually guilt-free greek yoghurt and caramelized onions. That's all it is. 

Caramelized onion dip

Caramelized onion dip

1/2 a tub of Greek yoghurt (200-250g)
1 onion
1 tbsp butter
1 dash of worcestershire sauce or balsamic vinegar


Slice the onions into longer pieces instead of chopping them. Add the butter to a pan on medium heat and add the onions. I also like to add a touch of sugar to start the caramelization process. Let the onions slowly cook for about 30 minutes and add a dash of worcestershire sauce or baslamic vinegar near the end.

caramelized onions

If you're wondering how to perfect caramelized onions. this tutorial nicely explains the process. The key is to use butter instead of olive oil and let them cook for a long time. This process is different than sauteeing them normally and the goal is to get them soft and a rich, brown colour. 

caramelized onions and greek yoghurt

Let the onions cool and add them to the greek yoghurt. Eat right away or let the dip set for a few hours or even a day to let the flavours and onions meld together. That cute little accessory for my mason jar is a Cuppow by the way. The lunchbox adapter makes it so easy and convenient to take snacks on the go, especially vegetables and dip. 

Remember the old school method of making onion dip by adding onion soup mix to sour cream? I sure do, and the old school way of eating it was also with Ruffles chips. I hope I eat a lot more vegetables than I did back then and have learned a lot more about eating and living. That was so 10 years ago. 
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March 11, 2014

D.I.Y wedding seat sign letters

My new wedding philosophy is as follows: the longer you are engaged, the more time you have to find things you like. This doesn't necessarily mean more time to plan. I have been thinking about our wedding for ages, but it feels like right now I am in a time crunch with a huge to-do list until May. 

J.Crew Bride Sailor Tee

I have been really good at sticking to the budget. When you start to learn more about weddings you realize the best places to buy certain things and for how much. My one splurge so far has been this J.Crew Bride sailor tee that doesn't apply to any other part of my life except this one. I also don't really know what other times I will wear it. There are always a few indulgences, however, it's a good feeling when you realize that you can make something yourself for a fraction of the cost.

Anthropologie chair signs

Take these chair signs from Anthropologie for example. In a fantasy world, I would buy everything from BHLDN weddings. Then I realized that $48 for letters on a string is kind of expensive. And that is all they are: hanging letters tied to string. So I set about making my own fabric seat sign letters. I realized afterwards that using scrapbook paper might have been a little easier. I like the "cushiony" look of the fabric even if it was a little trickier to use.

Seat sign letter cut outs

You will need:
Kraft paper or cardboard
Letter templates
Fabric or scrapbook paper
Exacto knife, scissors
Tape, glue stick
One-hole punch
Twine or string

On your computer, make print outs of the letters (2 "M"s, 2 "R"s and 1 "S"). Pick the font you want to use and make them block letters, and then re-size them to fit the entire page. Glue the paper letters onto kraft paper. Cut out the individual letters. 

Seat sign letters

Lay the letters out onto the fabric and cut out enough fabric to cover about an inch surrounding the letter. Now is the tricky part: use the exacto knife to cut along the edges and inside the grooves. Then keep folding and taping over the edges of the fabric to the back of the letter until the edges are smooth.

Trim off any pieces of tape showing or imperfections. The letters will most likely be viewed from far away, so it is alright if they are a little "rustic" looking. Punch holes in the top of each letter with two holes at the top of the "M"s and "R"s. Thread twine through the holes and leave enough room on both sides of the twine to tie them to chairs or tables. The cat seemed quite interested in my decorative set up:

Wedding seat sign letters

Depending on how we have the head table set up at our reception, these may be on the back of the chairs or hanging on the front of the table. They are a nice little reminder of the guests of honour even though everyone will most likely already know where the bride and groom are sitting. I think little personal touches are what make a wedding day special. 
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March 02, 2014

This is where I have been for the last few weeks (see picture below). The other day someone asked me--in order to make me feel less anxious about wedding planning--what was the worst possible thing I could imagine happening at the wedding? My answers ranged from "what if someone doesn't like something?" to "what if I trip on my dress?" "Really," she said. "Those are the worst possible things you can think of? Not the whole place burning down or a huge snowstorm in May?" Ok, maybe I don't have it too bad. 

Minted wedding invitations

I like some aspects of putting together a wedding, especially the fun projects. At this point they are still fun and not stressful and tedious. I am taking the term D.I.Y Bride to another level to save some money and add some personality to the wedding, like many brides. I like to refer to my theme now as that time "a thrift store and an Anthropologie store exploded." Chalkboards are one of those things I have wanted to make for a long time. 

D.I.Y chalkboard frames

I was inspired by a shopping trip a few months ago. I struck gold when I heard a vintage prop business was selling off its inventory and I had to check out what she had. The lovely lady still has an online shop, but seeing all of her stock in person was a dream come true. She had everything you could imagine for a vintage wedding, including jars, old books, frames, typewriters, crates, furniture and more. I picked up quite a few items for a great price and among those items were frames. She told me how easy it would be to use the frames to make chalkboards.

vintage props

Although I got some wooden frames from the sale, I made these chalkboards out of some silver frames I bought at Value Village for about $2 each. The chalkboard paint is the most expensive part of the project and can cost up to $25 depending on what brand or type you buy. I used white acrylic craft paint, but I would suggest actual hardware store primer. 

You will need:
Chalkboard paint or spray paint
Primer paint
Frames with the glass still in them

D.I.Y chalkboard frames

First, clean the frames and then the glass with an all-purpose cleaner. Take the glass out of the frames and start painting layers of primer on to the glass until it is completely smooth and covered. Alternatively, you could sand the glass to reduce the shine. Let the paint dry completely. 

If you are confined to a small crafting space, take the glass pieces outside and spray paint them with the chalkboard paint until they are completely black. Let dry for a few hours before you attempt to write on them. I love how these turned out and I am going to use these for menu boards and a guestbook sign. 

Chalkboard frames

I feel like I want to "chalkboard paint" everything now. There are also many options on Etsy and craft stores for creative chalkboards. I found this chalkboard carrier in the sale rack at Michael's craft store:

There is something about making things yourself or finding gems in a stack of old things that makes it so much more satisfying. I am sure I will make use of the chalkboards for other things besides wedding decorations. I have already made use of many of the crates I found at the vintage prop sale, including one as a make-shift cat bed. She seems to enjoy it:

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