Event Design – Weddings

Event planning is overwhelming because there are so many factors and variables to consider. The first time that I faced this challenge on a grand scale was for my DIYBrit and Tory - Pittsburgh Wedding - 608 wedding. My family put together big Christmas parties so I was used to doing a lot of work for a celebration, but this time, I was in charge. (cue panic). It would have been a lot easier to have an event planner, elope, or find a destination where you show up and all of the work is done. However, I thoroughly enjoyed planning and designing my wedding from start to finish.

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Entertaining in a small space

My husband and I live in one of the most expensive counties in Pennsylvania. The houses here are beautiful and full of history. Town homes and stone farmhouses paint the town and landscapes around us. As lovely as it is, it does provide a large problem. High rent. For a young couple starting out, it was a little stressful at times. This past year however, we were greatly blessed when a couple from our church offered us an apartment above their garage. A few months later, we called the place home.

It is a studio loft. About the size of a typical European apartment, we say we are practicing for the day we might get to move to Austria. It is the kind of dreamy spot you would find in a upscale or hip part of a trendy city. We are not living in a trendy city, for sure, but we are in a fun, little (almost non-existent) town. Continue reading

Opening an Etsy Shop

I used Etsy to buy a few items for my wedding. Etsy provides daily inspiration, much like Pinterest. Since I am currently staying at home and working on graphic and interior design projects, I decided that it would not hurt to open an Etsy shop. I love and hate the shop world of Etsy. It is a great platform for getting stuff out there without the worries of figuring out payments and orders on your own online shop, but then, you are just one in a million. However, since I am new to this woodworking and home items process I have nothing to lose. Continue reading

Making Tea Towels

I used to hate tea towels. I remember the first time I ever picked one up and tried to use it. My thoughts were those of doubt, “why would any one make a towel so thin and useless for dish drying!” I was in 8th grade.

Since that time, I have learned that tea towels are perhaps the most versatile towels in the kitchen. You can use them to dry, that was one of their original uses, you know, back in the day of daily fine china and afternoon tea, but that is probably not their best use, especially if you are used to a thicker and more absorbent terry towel. Better ideas for them are to line bread baskets, wrap fruits, veggies, and cheeses, wrap a hostess gift, and a plethora of other around the house uses.

Since they are so versatile, I now love having them and having many options. I don’t really want to set out my bread basket with Santa Clause peering over the edge in the middle of summer, but I also do not want to be scouring the web and local boutiques for the perfect towel. I decided to DIY. I am not an artist, I don’t sit around sketching and drawing things in my free time. My portraits of people have always been stick figures, the same things they were in K5. However, I can draw lines and even circles and that would be enough to start designing my own tea towels.

Target had some good options for plain white tea towels, so I bought a pack of 4. I washed them and once they were dry I went to work. I have a friend who loves NYC and I wanted to include a towel in a gift for her. I googled “famous New York icons” and then printed off images of the Empire State, Statue of Liberty, stop lights, pretzels, etc. and set them in front of me. My lack of ability to draw did cause some frustration, but overall, with the images right in front of me, I was able to draw recognizable icons. I used sharpie and acrylic paint. My biggest self-critique is that I need to practice drawing… a lot. But, otherwise, I think it turned out great.

My other tea towel design is based on Christmas. We just made it through the season, but I took a moment to remember it with a “merry and bright” towel. For this towel, I printed off text from Adobe InDesign and then cut it out with an X-acto knife (cue the cramped hand). Once I was done cutting and hacking and sawing at the cardstock, I set my template on top of the towel and used a sponge brush to press the paint onto the towel.

Now back to the drawing board to make the rest of these seemingly useless towels into personalized kitchen gems.

inside the house
inside the house

 

 

 

Woodworking

My dad practically rebuilt our house after our family bought it. My grandma still swears it should have been condemned and never purchased by a family who had young kids. However, we moved in and lived through construction and renovation. I always saw my dad working with wood – it could be the floors, the trim, built-ins, our TV console, whatever it was at the time, I always thought he was amazing at doing it.

Of course, it was not until after I married Tory and moved four hours away from my dad’s workshop, that I became interested in basic woodworking. Don’t be too impressed. I mean cutting, sanding, and drilling holes. I am not even sure if that qualifies. It all started when I discovered the antique shopping world where we live. Barn windows, homemade frames, Amish furniture, it is all here and nearby! Across the street from us is a cedar furniture plant that sells its leftover scraps for pennies, from which my crazy idea was born. I really wanted to make coasters. It sounded simple enough and I did not want to spend a chunk of money on something I could make, so I bought cork squares and mod-podge and made some. We still have those coasters and use them daily, but they aren’t exactly the dreamy design people would want to buy.

However, my dad informed me that I should get a bag of cedar scraps and make coasters out of that. Great idea Dad! There I went, walking across the street, oblivious to how heavy a bag of cedar scraps was. I found out. There is a reason people use cars, but instead, I carried my bag of cedar like Santa might carry his pack when he visits the house of an exceptionally well behaved child. So there I was, proud as a could be that I had my own bag of cedar. About a month later, Tory and I drove across the state so that I could go to a Boden sample sale and Tory could cut coasters (my idea of job delegation) with my dad.

A few months later, I actually made some coasters for a good friend of mine (bless her for being my guinea pig). They turned out great! Color-blocked wood, naturally made by the color differentiation in wood and an added pop of neutral color with some trendy acrylic paint.

It did take a lot of sanding, a couple of finger tips, and creative use of our small studio loft space, but they are complete and the process was well worth the end product.coasterholder

Figuring it all out

Before I got married, I taught German to high school students and was an office assistant for the school. I learned a lot at that job, usually because of something the kids did. I loved working there and was sad that getting married meant I had to leave because my husband could not get a job in Pittsburgh. There were moments when I wondered why I ever worked there because it was so hard to leave. However, day in and day out, I taught kids to be themselves and be the best they can be at that. After a while, without noticing it, the lessons I was trying to teach ultimately sunk in to me. As it is said, you learn best by teaching.

When I left the job, I was unsure of what I would be doing. I did not have a teaching degree and to be honest, I did not want one. I enjoy teaching German, but I do not enjoy  full-time teaching (lesson plans, test grading… nope, not my thing!). I love being with kids, but I do not love sitting in a classroom with them. I was the kind of person that would take students to concerts, activities, and restaurants in Pittsburgh. Typically something that is frowned upon by the masses in education.

My husband got a job in near Philadelphia, PA. That “other city” across the state. UGH, what was I going to do in Philthy? I HATED that city. Well, I hate their sports teams anyway. I taught for a year because the opportunity presented itself and I knew it was right, but I knew that I needed to get out of the classroom. I had wanted to start an Etsy shop, but that became a back burner idea since I was teaching full time and driving 2 hours a day.

I convinced my husband that I needed to take some classes from Sessions, an online school. I decided on a web design certificate with a focus in graphic design. I learned basic coding and boosted my confidence on my basic Adobe creative suite knowledge. Finally, I felt like I was doing something I liked.

Once the summer passed by, I decided to revisit my Etsy shop hopes. I enjoy staying home and being a wife, but I knew that I needed to start doing something besides baking bread and making spaghetti sauce. Both of which have great benefits, but don’t make much money. I procrastinate (who doesn’t?) but being the best I can be means opening this shop at the start of 2016.