The great thing about moving into a house that is finished to your liking is that the list of TO-DOs shrinks considerably. Or it would, if you weren't me. Who is obsessed with all things home improvement and has an unhealthy addiction to Google and Pinterest. You can bet that my search terms include descriptions of every nook and cranny of my house and yard, and I am leaving no stone unturned. Every inch of my new home is subject to improvement, whether I ever get around to it is another story.
But we've been there for a little over a month, and the first thing I wanted to do is probably the LAST thing other people do. I wanted to paint my basement. Who cares about the basement, you might say? Well, true, I don't. Now. But when I have kids and they go downstairs to play? Or when I need to relocate my craft room down there? When I can't find that specific Christmas ornament because the bins aren't stacked and labeled?
We can't afford to finish the basement right now, but we can paint it. And the previous owners did start it, so we are using their leftover paint. And now is the perfect time to do it, before we have completely moved in and filled the basement with our crap. So we spent two weekends painting the ceiling white, and it brightens the room up already. Granted, it's a huge pain in the ass. I ended up having to climb on a chair with little rollers, brushes, and paint pads to get around the pipes, wires, and rusty nails. And the untreated wood just soaks it up like a sponge so it needs a billion coats. But you know what?
It's my yoga. It's my meditation. It's my time to say, peace out husband. Sayanara dog. I'm going downstairs, closing the door (the dog likes to get into trouble and eat paint covered garbage), and putting on my audio book. Or Pandora. Or the Hamilton soundtrack. And I'm going to paint until my arm falls off and I run out of paint. I'm going to work on this room until the people at Home Depot know me on a first name basis and my bank account is empty. Only then will I be satisfied...
Until I get bored again and pop over to Pinterest for a few more ideas...
Time for another wedding post, over 1 year since I got married! One of the most stressful things for me was picking out my wedding stationary. I kept going back and forth between making my own and buying invitations from a company. But the kind that I wanted would have cost us roughly 1 billion dollars.
So finally I collected inspiration from invitations I liked, created my own template using Adobe InDesign, found a local printer, and got started. I ended up with a multi-step process that, when all put together, looked amazing and professional. Granted, it took a long time, but if you have endless patience and some audio books, you'll end up with awesome invites for a FRACTION of the cost.
P.S. If people are interested, I can provide my indesign template fo frizzles
So here is the full bundle. I had:
I spent hours just looking for fonts! After awhile, your brain goes all woozy and they all look the same, but I eventually found a modern, blocky one called Corbert, and a legible script called You're Invited. Together, they made an elegant but fun combination. I added colored borders to make them pop and establish the color scheme.
Just like with the fans, I used scrapbook paper to create the belly bands and envelope liners. By doing this, I ended up with a variety of colors and prints, and I got to pick which one went to which person. For the older generation, a simple, elegant shiny paper was used:
Really fun, cool people got fun colors:
You could easily just buy one pattern but I'm an overacheiver who can't make up her mind.
Kevin and I spent a long Saturday spread out in my office, him trying to format the printer to print addresses on the front of the envelopes, and me measuring, cutting, and gluing inserts into the envelopes after he had printed on them. I ordered the envelopes I think from PaperandMore.com, which was very affordable. I got a template online for the insert, traced it onto the craft paper, and cut it using a paper cutter and scissors for the rounded edge. I used tape runners to attach.
And to create a cohesive look, I reused the fonts, colors, and designs for other paper products for my wedding:
This is a crappy photo of the template I made for our photobooth pictures.
This was the cover of our program, including the adorbs cartoon I made of Kevin and I. It also graced our:
Hashtag signs, because of course we did.
I used the layered paper technique multiple times as well,
And had our monogram lit on the wall behind us the whole night!
It was a wonderful night, and everything was so damn cohesive and impressive, if I may toot my own horn People were amazed at all the work that went into everything, because nothing was purchased, I had my hands in everything.
Eventually I will post about the yarn balls that we made as centerpieces:
But I am waiting until I can re-use them for an awesome project I have planned. So it will be a double post!
Let it be known that I, Sarah *cough cough mumble mumble last name*, have moved into my first house. The house hunting process began in February when Kevin and I both received raises, and was tiring and stressful. I get bored easily, hate sitting in cars, and get sleepy when I don't take weekend naps. So six hours of driving to open houses on a Sunday would wipe me out.
But lo and behold, we found our house. I won't say it's our forever home, because its kind of small, and not in the greatest school district. But it's close to everything we wanted (read: work and WEGMANS), on an adorable, tree-lined street with friendly neighbors, and best of all?
The previous owner was a contractor. So every single update that I would have wanted to do was ALREADY DONE! Custom travertine tiled showers? Hand-laid tiled floors? Every light recessed and on a dimmer? Beautiful fenced backyard with huge, fenced in garden for me to plant veggies?!?!?! Stainless steel appliances? ALL DONE.
And it's like a weight has been lifted. Not only a stressful weight, from living at home and dealing with uncertainty, but also a creativity-crushing weight. When I lived at home with my mother, she allowed me to do whatever I wanted to my bedroom. She also let me redo several rooms in the house, and valued my decorating opinion over anyone elses. However, she has simple, defined tastes. I have grandiose, creative, pinterest-y taste.
When Kevin and I lived in apartments I was limited by money and the temporary nature of our living situation. Why create something so impermanent, that would likely lose us our security deposit? That's not to say I didn't "improve" our apartment significantly, while spending lots of money
But now that I have my own house and a mostly indifferent husband, I can do whatever the hell I want! I can be held to my own standard, and I can have hella fun doing what I love: Creating stuff that makes me happy. Currently I'm working on a "built-in" shelving system that lines the dressing room area of our upstairs bedroom hallway. This means I'm buying cheap laminate furniture, and cutting it at an angle to fit into the eaves of the slanted ceiling. It's not the cleanest job, but I have plans to make it look less sloppy. I'm obsessed with using space well and finding a home for everything I own. The way I store things must be efficient and pleasing. I haven't even tackled my kitchen yet, because we don't have a pantry and I know I will go nuts trying to make it perfect.
So basically, I feel happy, creative, in love, hopeful, snuggly, hungry, and kind of tired. But compared to six months ago, things are definitely looking up!
I wish I had more time to dedicate to a real post, or a real update. Maybe about my 4th of July vacation, maybe about my upcoming anniversary trip to Toronto, or my move-in date for my NEW HOUSE!
But I can't. I'm busy. And I'm a grumpy gills today because I have so much to do and I want to do NONE of it. Unless it involves moving into my new house and planting a garden. Or pinteresting about my new house. Or sleeping. Which I haven't been doing enough of, though god knows I spend enough time in bed not being productive.
But it's already Thursday so I'm going to keep my head down and push through to the muggy weekend, where hopefully I can relax, breathe, and organize my thoughts.
Like how disappointed I am that nobody reads my blog or my books anymore. I don't like pimping myself on facebook or twitter or instagram to get followers. I'm too lazy. It's been MONTHS since I've gotten a comment on anything. Which gives me an idea for my next blog post! If I ever get around to writing it...
Time for my first official wedding craft post! During the process of crafting my wedding, I was obviously way too busy to stop, grab my SLR, start snapping photos, edit said photos, and blog about the photos. So almost a year after my wedding I will now piece together pictures, videos (if I have some of my processes) and combine them with links I used as inspiration for the whole project so that some other DIY-happy, pinterest-obsessed brides can use them!
I already posted this picture, right? THIS is my fan wall that Kevin and I spent weeks and weeks making.
Here it is at the end of the aisle, just waiting for the bride and the groom.
16 ft wide by 8 ft tall. Several hundred fans, roughly $300 to make. Hours and hours of folding, gluing, and paper cuts.
But I am not an ordinary girl, so why be an ordinary bride? I wanted something remarkable behind us as we got married, and with my little bit of photography knowledge I knew I needed something gorgeous for our photos. No blank wall would do!
As with any DIY project, expect it to cost 2x as much as you think and take 3x as long as you think. We started with the fans. My first few fans were crappy and didn't even end up in the wedding. Also because storing them was tricky and they ended up getting smushed. I found that wrapping paper was MUCH too thin. It was pleasurable to fold, but would crinkle immediately and look like crap. I wound up going to Michael's and Joann's every other day and buying all of the scrapbook paper whenever there was a sale or I had coupons. I went through a billion packs of this, which had five nice purples. They were the plain colors in the collage. For added texture and excitement I would throw in stuff like this:
The trick was to pick a main color, use all the hues of that color, and use your accent colors sparingly. For me, greys, whites, and silvers helped the whole thing seem more "weddingy," and make the purples pop.
There's a lot of Pinterest tutorials on folding fans. Here is a great one:
In addition to the tools she used, I found double sided tape runners, or tape dots helpful in adhering the paper edges to each other. Hot glue tending to get messy. Also, in her tutorial she uses the paper punch for circles to be placed on the back of her fans, I put them on the front. For the back I used scrap paper that I ripped and glued to a larger section of the back.
Very few tutorials had the scope and scale that I wanted our background to have. So Kevin and I went through many failed ideas when coming up with how to mount these fans. Our most spectacular fail was trying to create a backdrop frame out of PVC pipe, buckets, cement, and fabric. It was about $100 of wasted materials. In the end, I didn't like how structurally unsound it was, so I said screw it. Kevin's dad went to Lowes, bought us four huge foam sheets of insulation, each 4x8, and I just hot glued the backs of the fans to the foam after spray painting them purple, first.
You have to lay them out first to see what combinations would look the best, trying to fill in all the gaps and make a nice overall layout.
Transporting them was a pain, we had to borrow Kevin's brother's friend's panel van to move all four sections to the Hotel the day before the wedding. But the foam made them SO light and easy to move, which meant that after the ceremony my cousins could easily:
Move two boards behind the head table, and the other two behind the photobooth area.
Which got us some amazing pictures:
All-in-all, it made for a stunning backdrop to our wonderful day. Doing them in sections allowed them to be leaned against the walls and moved without hassle, so we got twice as much use out of them than if they were a static ceremony backdrop. And all of our guests were blown away at how gorgeous it looked! Ladies, if you want your white wedding dress to POP, stand against something like this
I hope this helps other brides and DIYers out there! If you have the time, the patience, and a Netflix account, you can binge watch some shows and get this done in a month and a half. I would NOT wait until the last minute! But it was so worth it.
Over a year ago I dropped off the face of the earth. I was busy, blogging wasn't fun, I had no time to cook. But really, one of the main reasons I stopped cooking was that I moved out of my mom's house into an apartment with my then-fiance, Kevin. Suddenly:
Not only bills, but for the first time in my pathetic adult life I was responsible for purchasing my own food. Sure, Kevin helped out, but he was paying rent. So I quickly learned that buying duck and lamb and scallops and saffron and truffles (ok, I never bought truffles) with my own money was ENTIRELY different from using my mother's credit card. I tried to shop more frugally, still spending way too much money each week at Wegmans, but living more within the means of a 20-something working at a tech start-up.
Enough about that: Here's what happened AFTER the move:
I got married! (Don't worry, a billion more posts about that to come, because Dammit I DIYed a beautiful wedding and I'm going to pin it!)
I went on my honeymoon to Jamaica and ate ALL the food and did ALL the scuba diving.
We got a PUPPY! His name is Rowdy.
That puppy grew up and became a lot of work.
I got Lasik. Obviously I have to redo my blog header now! Although I still miss my glasses...
I got depression and my grandfather died and there were a couple of super shitty months. I'll go into these more in depth as well. I obviously don't have any pictures of me bumming around the house wearing a blanket over my head, so here is a picture of my ghetto Hanukkah set-up because I left my menorah at my mother's house.
*edit* I found a picture of me at a New Years Party wearing my Chewbacca Onesie, which I wore a lot during the winter.
Things slowly got better. I got a raise and Kevin got a new job, so we began looking for a house.
We packed up our apartment and moved in with my mother (I know, it feels like a backwards leap to me too. But financially it made the most sense while we waited to...)
Close on our house! Which should be happening next Friday, assuming everything goes to plan.
Picture to be added REALLY FRACKING SOON!
So that's my life. The depression really grabbed my by the balls this time. It's something I've always struggled with, to an extent, but this year it became unbearable. Couple that with my anxiety, my grandfather dying, my new role as a wife, the dog being crazy, and the crappy winter...I was incapacitated for several months.
I was embarrassed. I was reluctant to seek help. I wanted to fix it by myself. But it got to the point where I couldn't. So I started seeing someone who has been very helpful at getting me to recognize my feelings and not try to suppress them, and also live with less guilt, fear, and anxiety.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not cured. I'm still all shades of fucked up. I get into moods where I retreat into a room with an audiobook or the Hamilton soundtrack and a monotonous task and just stop thinking. Or play solitaire for three hours. Or take a nap. And my husband has been so wonderful to me this year, despite this not being the ideal first year of marriage. The honeymoon period came to a crashing stop after my first full-blown panic attack. But he's been by my side the entire time, and I'm excited to start the next chapter of our lives.
Just, maybe with less panic attacks. And more fuzzy onesies.
I'm back. No idea what direction this blog will take me, but I need to work through some stuff, need to write more, need to share things I've created, need to reach out to readers and other bloggers who are going through similar things, or would benefit from hearing about my experiences.
My life is in flux right now and things are crazy, so maybe using blogging will be a therapeutic outlet for me. An excuse to close the door on my husband and my dog (I have a husband and a dog now!) for an hour or two and have some me time.
I had been pulling back from blogging for a year or so before I actually went on a break, because I wasn't getting satisfaction from it. It felt like a chore, something that I wasted my evenings doing and got no feedback on. Similar to my book writing. Once the reviews and comments all but stop, the emotionally needy person (me!) thinks, "what's the point anymore?"
But not having many readers might work to my benefit. I have always struggled with living inside my head and ignoring emotions and feelings, or trying to analyze myself scientifically. For example, here is my genius step-by-step method when faced with, let's say, sadness:
As you can imagine, this does not work. Not only does it not work, but I need to stop punishing myself for feeling sad in the first place. Trying to figure out where the sadness is coming from is helpful, but not for the purpose of "fixing" the sadness.
So, what the fuck. Let's blog about emotions and shit. With an occasional recipe or pinterest-y craft thrown in for good measure. Wish me luck!
It's pretty obvious that I've been a terrible blogger this past year. And in the past month I've been non-existent. It's not like my life has changed much in the past few years to excuse my absence, and yet absent I was. I think a lot of it can be attributed to a shift in my attention: away from things that take a lot of time to set up, plan, execute, organize and complete. You know, like blogging, photography, cooking, and writing extensive novels.
And it's not that I don't enjoy the process, because at times I still do. I still get pride when I really nail a food styling session, or make headway on a book. It's just that the external rewards for completing these tasks are so few and far between that they don't motivate me to keep going.
When I worked at a job where I spent all day on my computer, I had nothing better to do than blog and comment on other people's blogs, read up on photography and food styling, and work on my social media presence. I had a lot more blog traffic, and I would get comments on things I spent time on, making me feel good about myself. I'm a sucker for positive reinforcement.
Things have slowed down almost to a complete stop. I can go 6 months before someone comments on my blog, traffic is down, and the only excuse I have is that I'm not putting in the effort. I feel stupid for being so bitter about it, but it's like, why put in the effort when no one reads it or cares?
So I guess I've been in a funk. My motivation has been lacking, and I can't convince myself to strive for something when the reinforcement isn't a given outcome. Like in...
My brain feeds off of accomplishing goals and being rewarded for them. And it turns out that leveling up or beating a boss is a fucking fantastic way of making me feel good. At the end of the day, I might feel better about my life if I created a gorgeous recipe with stunning pictures and wrote a witty blog post. But I'll be happier and have more fun if I play four hours of video games, level up twice, and unlock a new part of the map.
Games are FULL of goals that I can achieve. I might not be able to breeze through a boss battle in one go, but I can walk around an area and do repetitive tasks that bring me closer to getting money, weapons, achievements, trophies, and other fun things.
And now I'm babbling about video games. Therein lies the problem. But the point of this post is to remind myself that I can write, and that I should keep cooking and posting recipes. At least so that I don't succumb fully to the dark void that is video games.
Stay tuned for new recipes coming up!
But on occasion I'll see a recipe on Pinterest that I just HAVE to shove in my facehole. One of those most recent ones was this orgasmic take on a grilled cheese sandwich. It's kind of messy, and the prep is slightly more labor intensive than a cup of easy mac or a bowl of cereal, my normal lunch options. But it's so good! Who could argue with this winning combo?
You will need:
Quarter the strawberries, toss with canola oil and a pinch of salt, and spread on a baking sheet. Roast at 375 for twenty minutes.
Look at that spotless oven!! I scrubbed that thing for an hour because I was sick of setting off the fire alarm every time we turned it on. Meanwhile, slice up your cheese (eating the parts that get stuck to the knife, of course), and chop up the chocolate.
Heat a large skillet or grilled over medium-low heat, have some delicious cider, and slice up some thick slices of multigrain bread.
Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese has started to melt, then gently flip the sandwich and cook until golden. Ignore the color of the brie, I had my flash on and overexposed the whites, , it doesn't actually look weirdly grey.
This is just one of those combinations where you think, "duh. Why haven't I made this before?"
Recipe from HowSweetEats
I am obsessed with Disney world. I always have been. I have stress dreams monthly about not going back. I tried to convince Kevin that Disney World would be the perfect honeymoon location, but he didn't go for it. Not even the promise of super sweet R2D2 Mickey Ears hats could sway him.
But, like the incredibly sweet and awesome and handsome guy he is, he kept his eyes open for deals. Which he found for this upcoming January, 5 months before our wedding. All of this backstory is irrelevant because...
And what's amazing is that now they have so much more stuff than the last time I went, like a whole new area of Magic Kingdom, and the super cool wrist bands that are your tickets and fastpasses and stuff. I'm really excited, obvi.
So to pump myself up, and try to get Kevin more than just moderately excited to go, we whipped (get it?) up a batch of Dole Whip, one of the most amazing snacks you can get at Aloha Isle in the Magic Kingdom.
You will need:
Add the whipped topping and process again until smooth. I may have overfilled it a little bit, not sure what size blender the original recipe used, but this just meant more spoonfuls of cool whip to eat.
To serve, fill a cup halfway full with pineapple juice. Add the frozen mixture to fill the cup. I just plopped the ice cream into the cups because I was at Kevin's house and didn't have a lot of other options. Didn't look the fanciest, and I didn't have my expensive cliche paper straws to dress it up with, either.
But who cares? It was awesome. I've got another Disney recipe coming up, and hopefully a few others before Christmas! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving, and don't forget to buy a billion copies of Starting from Scratch for all your friends and family.
Recipe from here