Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Hold My Hand
Originally uploaded by .nicky.

Happy New Year! It's about 9:00PM here in California, and Guitar Fred and are settling in for the night. I came down with a cold so our original plans with friends (who just had their first baby two weeks ago) were dashed, but nonetheless, we braved the madness at the local grocery store and prepared a wine-braised pork roast that should be ready around midnight tonight. As we sat watching reruns of 30 Rock, I turned to Fred and marveled that at 5 years together, ours is the longest relationship I've ever had and that I'm happy he's THE ONE (long story, but I've been proposed to 3 times before by others).

He smiled and replied, "Me too." This is the first New Year's we've spent living together, so it's feeling like we're married already. I'm excited to start this New Year with him by my side and for the years to come!

Have a Happy New Year. May 2010 bring you joy, prosperity and happiness!

Tied up.

Guitar Fred and I spent Monday night shopping -- not his favorite past time but it was all about him. After he spent 1.5 hrs buying a new pair of shoes (80% off of $169 -- good boy!), I dragged him to the Men's Wearhouse in the same shopping center to look at tux rentals (prices range from $89 to $150). MW has a deal that if 4 groomsmen rent a tux or suit, the groom's tux will be free OR if 5 groomsmen rent, the groom gets a $400 credit towards a brand new tux or suit. Guitar Fred liked the latter option, but we only have 4 groomsmen.

{Above: The styles Guitar Fred liked at Men's Wearhouse. Source:}

He is going to ask the guys if they can wear their own black suits and we'll provide the ties. I'm not too keen on that since I had my heart set on him wearing either chocolate brown or gray, but I understand that since most of his 3 out of 4 of the groomsmen are flying in from the East Coast, we should watch costs. None of the ties at MW were agreeable to me -- the blues weren't peacock blue enough, and the orange selection was limited. A search on Google didn't turn up much. Then I went to and I found some possibilities, including an ascot (which midway through writing this post, he says he doesn't like.). I also liked the selection my sister's wedding photographer, Ann Hamilton, posted on her blog.

Short of heading to the stores, do you have any suggestions for finding stylish striped silk ties for under $40 online?


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Inspiration #54: A Tulip Chandelier

Okay, crafty-nistas -- how can I make this stunning display on my own and for no more than $100?!?! This is fantastic, so whimsical and modern at the same time. I suspect I can buy the hanging votive holders from CB2 for $3.95 each and substitute the tulips for an inexpensive bloom. This would be amazing hanging above the bride and groom's sweetheart table.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Inspiration #53: More Flowers

This Christmas, Guitar Fred's mom sent me home with almost all of her vintage white milk glass collection (bless her heart) and I've already bought 16 really cool yellow "Nantucket" lanterns at the Smith and Hawken closing sale (below) for 80% off of $39 (that's $7.80 each) .

Here are some really cool arrangements for some inspiration on what to do with these elements:

Details on a Budget for the Design Novice

I used to work at a design firm, but I'm by no means a designer and instead a project manager. It seems that the most successful bride DIYers are also graphic designers so I was starting to feel a little discouraged with the prospect of committing myself to DIY projects until I stumbled across Two Yellow Shoes. I was excited to learn that founder and creative director, Laura Larson, offers custom digital templates in your color palette for a fairly reasonable price. Using the templates, you can print the files on your own at home or have the flexibility to choose a local vendor who offers competitive pricing on paper stock and printing.

Since we have a bird motif, I liked the Custom Scrolls and Bird template (top 2 images, ranging from $20 and up depending on what you pick and choose). But I do also like the Wildflower digital package (bottom 2 images, $55). Any thoughts?


Monday, December 28, 2009

Inspiration #52: DIY Table Details

Considering Guitar Fred is the bookworm, these table card number "stands" are pretty clever:

 And to keep paper at a minimum, these napkin ring menu "rings" work double-duty:

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Rent-a-Cake stand?

Continuing on the subject of cakes...I already told our cake designer we were supplying a vintage white milk glass stand. Then I stumbled across Clara French's beautiful site. Rental starts at $45 (having Clara make one starts at $198!) and you can have the stand for two weeks if out of state (Washington). Round-trip shipping is $48. If you're on a budget or even live in Washington (where you can save on shipping by picking it up from their Seattle boutique), renting one of Clara's cake stands is a good option!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Inspiration #51: Mickey Mouse Ears Cake

Christmas at my fiance's house is a fun affair! (Aren't they cute in their matching striped jammies above?) This Christmas, Guitar Fred's sister and niece gave us this pair of glass Mickey Mouse ears from Walt Disney World and I immediately thought -- what a cool cake topper this would make. What do you think?

Also, I found this cute orange and white cake on Flickr (janet2k) sporting the ears!

Miniature Mickey Mouse Ears Cake
Originally uploaded by janet2k

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Night Before Christmas Tradition: Brunswick Stew

 {Photo from}

Every Christmas Eve, my fiance's family gathers after Christmas Eve Mass to eat Brunswick Stew, a traditional southern recipe. My future mother-in-law's mother used to make it for her husband, since it was a tradition in his family to eat it the night before Christmas Day. The tradition is about 60 years old!

I don't have the exact recipe -- family secret -- but here's the closest one (I added in the package of okra to the list of ingredients as his sister prepared it). By the way, this is certainly budget-friendly meal!

Brunswick Stew from
From 19th-century Virginia, this stew originally included squirrel meat (this recipe uses chicken and you can certainly add London Broil or other beef cut suitable for stews to this recipe). Although the stew is sometimes thickened with stale bread cubes, this version uses flour to give it body and features garlic bread on the side. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs. Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 cup stew and 1 slice bread)

Cooking spray
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
1 (10-ounce) package frozen baby lima beans, thawed
1 package frozen okra, thawed
6 (1-ounce) slices Italian bread, toasted
2 garlic cloves, halved

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add bell pepper, onion, and celery to pan; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add oil to pan. Combine flour and chicken in a medium bowl, tossing to coat. Add chicken to pan; cook 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Gradually stir in broth; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Add tomato paste and next 5 ingredients (through okra) to pan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.

Rub bread slices with cut sides of garlic; discard garlic. Serve bread with stew.

Nutritional Information
Calories:319 (26% from fat)
Fat:9.2g (sat 2.2g,mono 3.5g,poly 2.6g)

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you peace and joy AND a Merry Christmas from "sunny" Florida!
May you have a wonderful time with your friends and loved ones!
xoxo ~~ Vera D.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Inspiration #50: The Circus+ Venetian Style

I apologize for being MIA for a few days. Last Friday, Guitar Fred and I traveled to St. Petersburg, FL, to visit his family and friends, and today is the first day I've been able to get online!

Today, we headed about 50 miles south of St. Pete to Sarasota, home of the Ringling Bros. Museum of Art at the University of South Florida. John Ringling was not only the founder of the most famous big-top in America, but also an avid art collector. It was a real treat walking the grounds (lot of Spanish moss and banyan trees) and visiting the exhibits on-campus, including two galleries dedicated to circus life, John and Mable Ringling's Venetian mansion (Ca d'Zan), and a Italianate art gallery and courtyard with exhibits spanning Medieval times to the 19th century. 

The Ringling Museum is a lovely place to have a wedding and also a good source of inspiration for the carnival look and feel (font, colors, decor, spirit). Here are my fave pics of the day, including the miniature circus and the Ringling's posh digs:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Drumroll Please: Musically Romantic Save-the-dates Debut!

Design by: Vanessa Wieren at Alchemy Fine Events & Invitations, Encinitas, CA
For: Vera D. and Guitar Fred

Custom guitar pick - see how here
Kraft envelopes - see how here


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

DIY envelopes for our save-the-dates

To save $200 on envelopes for our save-the-dates, we designed our own. Our materials included: 100 kraft envelopes ($19,, a bird motif acrylic rubber stamp ($3.49, Target) and "Love" motif wood-rubber stamp ($1, Michael's), teal embossing ink powder ($3.49, Michael's), silver embossing ink pad ($3.99, Michael's) and an embossing fan ($24.99, Michael's).

This comes to about $0.56 per finished and designed envelope.

Here are the steps I took:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Inspiration #49: Florida Wedding Style

Guitar Fred and I are flying out to St. Petersburg, Florida on Friday to visit his family for a week. Here's some wedding eye candy to get me in the Florida mood:

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