Handmade Tables and Updates from the City of Roses

PDX Before_18Remember this picture? One of my very first photos of the Blue Dream. This is our “dining room” — I use air quotes because there was little to suggest it was actually a dining room when we first moved in. We didn’t have much furniture at the time: a teeny yellow couch, a bed, a couple of dressers, a desk… that’s it.

One of my first  priorities was a dining room table. I don’t know about you, but in my life the kitchen or dining area has always been the center of the house. It’s where all the action is — where friends and family gather together and hang out during the day. Plus, let’s not be coy, I really like food. It’s such an important part of family and friendship: breaking bread, and drinking beers, and sitting in one place all together at the same time. Plus, we have some great old friends in Portland, and I wanted to be able to share our home with them. I find that when you invite a bunch of people over and only have a glorified loveseat and a swivel chair in the way of seating things tend to get awkward real quick. So…

Table_109Look at that table! We made that! Well mostly The Boy, but I helped! I did math for the dimensions! I sanded! I performed energizing dances on the back porch to motivate the team while The Boy operated the saw! I contributed. It was a bit of hard work, but way easier than you might think, and a lot cheaper than buying a comparable table from a store. Let’s take a look at the process…

Table_003Table_018Table_019Table_038Table_044Table_059Can we just stop for a moment to appreciate The Boy’s beard? Someone has really embraced Portland life.

Anyway, apparently I got bored with documenting things after all the hours of cutting, and sawing, and sanding, because I’m all out of process photos. But this is all you really want anyway…

Table_073Table_092 Table_095Meet Penelope P. Fern! What does the P stand for? We can’t seem to agree: I say Proserpina, The Boy says Prosythia… which I’m pretty sure is made up. Men.

This is where I got distracted playing around with the camera… Table_111Table_112Table_153Table_146Table_149Aren’t fresh flowers just the best? I’ve been so inspired by the incredible weather here. It’s that perfect in-between, before it gets too hot, when you’re just so grateful to be outside in the sun. The tulips are completely out of control here–the ones on my table are lovely, but they’re positively PUNY compared to what I’ve been seeing the streets. Blooms as big as both of my fists together!

Anyway, one more look…

Table_124The whole project cost us around 100 dollars in materials, and there’s a nearly identical table on sale at Restoration Hardware for about 2k. Not a bad deal. In case you’re thinking of replicating the project, we used these plans as a starting point, but adapted the project significantly from there. I’ll let you figure that one out on your own.

The build process was a lot of fun. It was so nice to work on something together, especially when the payoff is so tangible: we’ve already hosted one successful dinner party at this baby!

It got us thinking a lot about where we want to go from here, and we’ve been talking more and more about working and creating together, you know, for money. We were talking with a friend recently about strengths and weaknesses. Our friend mentioned something he’d heard, about how people try to focus on their weaknesses and strengthen them, but the best plan is to forget about your weaknesses altogether. You’re supposed to find someone else, he said, who is strong where you are weak and vice versa. The Boy and I looked at each other, and I knew he was thinking exactly what I was thinking. It’s the very basis of our entire relationship. Well, we’ll see… it’s so easy to dream big, but the first step can be so hard. I’ll let you know how it goes.

In other news, Portland is absolutely magical. We’re still in that early phase, the young love romance of a new city, but I really do think this could be it.

In other news, I finally bit the bullet and got Instagram. You can follow me here!

So that’s one thing I get to cross off our loooong list of projects. Up next: coffee tables and secret gardens.

How to: DIY Your Wedding Flowers, Part One

Photo by Katch SilvaPhoto by Katch SilvaPhoto by Katch SilvaPhoto by Katch SilvaLook at those flowers. Don’t they look beautiful? And professional? Well, like just about every other detail for this wedding, I did them myself… with a lot of help from some amazing friends and family, of course.

DIY wedding flowers are kind of a thing right now, and there are two really good reasons for that. First of all, it saves a ton of money. Towards the end of the wedding planning I was getting really stressed out, and I looked into hiring a florist just to get one thing off my plate. At that point I had already priced out how much it would cost to do the flowers on my own, and it was way more expensive than I thought it would be. I was curious if it would really cost that much more to hire someone else. Yes, it was. More than three times as much, actually.

Second of all, doing your own flowers can be fun and, most importantly, soothing. The day before the wedding I descended into the basement with my flower crew to cut, clean, and arrange. Crazy things were happening upstairs: The Boy was freaking out, the tent people arrived late, the lights couldn’t be hung until after the rehearsal dinner, and everyone was running around the backyard yelling and fretting when it was about 105 degrees outside… but guess where I was? In the cool, air-conditioned basement, chatting with friends and snipping flowers. And every time I went upstairs, someone would try to grab me and ask for help, but I was all like, “Oh, so sorry, I can’t help you because I’m soooo busy with the flowers!” Best decision ever.

Xander-Kylie-248Xander-Kylie-252So just in case DIY flowers are something you’re considering, I thought I’d pass along my not-so-hard earned wisdom. Next week I’ll be doing a step-by-step tutorial, including all kinds of practical information like the exact order I placed with my florist. But until then, here’s some more general advice about DIY flowers:

1) Someone will try to talk you to out of this. Actually, a lot of people will try to talk you out of this. The internet, your mom, your sister, whatever. But seriously: this isn’t rocket science, it’s floral arrangements. You can handle this.

2) Enlist a team of minions helpers. This is actually the most important piece of advice I can give you, and it pertains to every element of the wedding planning, not just flowers. I would have been up all night crying in that basement without my wedding planner and my two best friends. In fact, just as we were getting started I felt myself starting to hyperventilate. I was sitting there, looking at the 500 flowers I had ordered, and I couldn’t remember a single thing I’d learned about floral arrangements. But then I looked over at Lorenza and Maggie, coolly chatting as they snipped stems with Fleetwood Mac playing in the background, and I calmed down. Even if your friends aren’t as hands-on helpful as mine were, having other people around to talk to while you work will keep you from descending into the mad, hellish vortex of your pre-wedding day mind. This is a good thing.

3) Do a mock arrangement at least a few months in advance. It’s ok if the flowers you’re going to use aren’t in season yet, because you just want to get a feel for two things: 1) How many different types of flowers you’ll need to get the right variety and texture you’re going for, and 2) How many actual blooms you’ll need. It will also demystify the arranging process, and make you feel more comfortable doing the real deal. Start thinking about what kinds of pairings–as far as size, shape, height, and color–look nice together. The one semi-complicated part of my arrangements was the fact that I was working with flowers in lots of different sizes and shapes, and I’d made absolutely zero attempt to coordinate color. I wanted my flowers to be very textural and organic, but I didn’t want them to look like I had just blindly thrown them together. I had been trying to figure that out for the first time the day before my wedding, I probably would have thrown up a little. Also, my mock arrangement looked so pretty that my mom stopped trying to convince me to hire a florist, so that helped, too.

4) If you’re going to go the DIY route, it helps to be super flexible and have somewhat “rustic” taste. I wanted my tables to look undone and imperfect, like they were overflowing with wildflowers that I had just picked, and they pretty much did. If I had wanted super polished, professional looking arrangements, I’m not sure the whole thing would have come off as well as it did. In reality it’s probably not that hard to do those things, especially with a little research and practice, but it would have freaked me out to even try. But as my maid of honor Maggie said, “You can’t go wrong with flowers in mason jars.” Seriously, it’s impossible to screw up.

5) So you’re going to do the flowers the day before your wedding, and you don’t want them to wilt, so you leave them in a cool, dark place, like your basement. That means that on the day of your wedding, those flowers have to travel up the stairs, possibly into a car, and make their way onto your tables. This is where my advice comes in: the person in charge of getting those flowers onto the tables should not be you. I helped get all the flowers into jars on Friday, and on Saturday I wiped my hands of it and told someone else to figure it out. Actually, this was my motto for pretty much everything on July 20th. And every time someone tried to ask me something I just said, “I’m probably the last person you should ask this question to.” And everyone figured it out. And all my flowers made it onto my tables, looking perfect.

I’ll be back next week with more specific advice. I’m going to go spend the rest of the weekend looking at my wedding pictures, which just arrived in the mail.

Photo credit to Kateryn Silva.

DIY Gifts for Dad, or Anyone Else That Loves All Things Spicy or Bacony

I’m giving throwing you guys two posts today, since I was such a flake last week. I know that the gift-giving frenzy is pretty much over for this season, but these work as excellent presents for any occasion, so no matter.

If you were ever to ask my mom which one of parents I take after the most, she’d probably tell you that I’m my father through and through, that she can barely see any of herself in me. Whether or not that’s true, my Dad and I are certainly kindred spirits in several senses, one of those being our taste in food. We like all things greasy, cheesy, heart-attacky, and above all spicy enough to render a Neti pot useless. Was that gross? Oh well, you got the point. We like it hot. For a long time I got him an assortment of hot sauces for every holiday, be it Christmas, father’s day, his birthday, you name it. But once I started to cook, it seemed way more fun to do it on my own. This year I made pickled carrots, jalapeño-habanero hot sauce, and bacon jam.  Continue reading

DIY with nosurefooting & The Purplest House: Festive Crackers!

I know I promised this post for last Friday but honestly, it’s the holidays. Who wants to be uploading pictures and writing posts when you could be sipping cider, eating cookies, or going for a nippy night time stroll to look at all the sparkly lights? Not me, is the answer to that question. But I’m still really excited to share this post with you because I finally got to do a joint craft project with one of my oldest friends and favorite fellow bloggers, Maggie of nosurefooting!

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A Harlem Housewarming

I mentioned on Friday that I’d be attending a housewarming party for one of my closest friends, Miss Maggie over at nosurefooting. The party was a real hootenanny, mostly because of these amazing party favors:

Maggie got the print-outs from Oh Happy Day! So cute, right? And fun props + half a bottle of whiskey? Let’s just say I got a little giddy.

Oh boy. Anyhoo, check out some more pictures of the party here. All photos courtesy of nosurefooting.