A Handmade Wedding

Good evening everyone!  It’s a beautiful, sunny Saturday here in Texas, and I wanted to spend a little time catching up with you guys.  I’ve already been married a month now, which is a little surreal – we spent so much time and effort planning for this wedding, and it was over in an instant.  I’m still digesting and savoring the memories of my wedding and our honeymoon, and I wanted to share some photos with you.

While some elements of my wedding were handmade, we hired vendors for the really important stuff, like photography, food, and florals.  Other elements were DIY though – we used Spotify playlists in lieu of a DJ (no regrets! so much cheaper!) and went with an app called WeddingMix for our videographer (again – much cheaper than an actual videographer).  My mother-in-law also recorded our entire ceremony, which is wonderful.  But for other aspects of our wedding, it was important for my husband and me to incorporate handmade elements that reflected our personalities.

I decided that my contribution would be embroidered and cross-stitched designs to hang behind our sweetheart table.  Our venue had a tin wall that was the perfect spot to showcase the finished pieces.  I’d been working on this installation pretty steadily since January.  While I didn’t get to finish ALL the pieces I wanted, I was able to get a decent-sized collection for the wall.  All photos below are from our photographer, You Are My True.

Besides the embroidered and cross-stitched pieces, I painted some wood panels purchased from Joann (which I mention in this post).  Someone decided to use them for the sweetheart table and groom’s cake, which was a brilliant idea.

For the photos above, I’ve captioned each artist’s name and Instagram handle (with the exception of kits purchased from Dimensions or Bucilla).  I don’t have a close-up of the second embroidered “Love” piece (which you can see in the first photo, hanging right above the banner), but this design was by Brynn & Co (@brynnandcoshop). It was a kit that I got from Mollie Makes.

Some of these pieces were WIPs that I had long neglected, like the embroidered birds or the cross-stitched “Love” piece (in the first photo, it is hanging above the banner and is the first piece from your left).  That piece is unfinished, which is unfortunate since it’s a beautiful design. But I’m attached to the half-finished look (and also too lazy at this point to finish it).

Getting all these pieces together was a little stressful, but I’m so glad that I did – it was so worth the extra effort. I was happy with how they looked on the tin wall and that I could bring a handmade element to my wedding. My amazing bridesmaids did a wonderful job of arranging them.

And after all the planning and effort (and money, cough cough), I have to say our little wedding was perfection.

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Credit: You Are My True 

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Wedding Procrastination

I’m not going to lie – my default mode is being a procrastinator.  It’s hard to feel motivated for something when it seems so far away, right?  It’s why I waited 5 weeks before my test the first time around to study.

I’ve gotten better over the years, though.  You get burned enough to learn that maybe waiting until the last minute for EVERYTHING isn’t such a great idea.  Especially at work – you very quickly learn that rarely does a deliverable rely on one person.  If you wait until the last minute to complete a product, then you have to cross your fingers that the reviewers, the GIS person, and secretary can just drop whatever they are doing to help you.  Procrastinating at work is a great way to make enemies and have people hate you, so I prioritize my deadlines as much as possible.

For wedding planning, we were good about tackling the big items early.  Several weeks after we were engaged, we were looking at venues, and selected one by early February of last year.  (Though it was all for naught, since we lost our venue in December and had to scramble to find another. Ha! Ha! )  We lined up the caterer, day-of-coordinator, and photographer early.

Then summer and fall happened – traveling to Italy, studying for my exam, prioritizing work projects meant that wedding planning fell on the bottom of my priorities list.  In September, I was gripped by a sudden fear that I NEED TO BUY MY DRESS NOW, so I hurriedly made an appointment at David’s Bridal and purchased one.  And then I didn’t worry about how I was going to look until the beginning of this year.  OH GOD I NEED TO SCHEDULE A HAIR AND MAKEUP TRIAL.  AND A DRESS FITTING. AND I NEED SHOES.  AND A VEIL.

I scheduled my fitting the week before my hair and makeup trial (which was today).  While we were shopping, we found a pretty veil.  I was on the fence about getting a veil, but gave in and bought one.  (Once upon a time I thought I would make my own veil. Hahahahahaha.)  My mom and I went back and forth about getting a tiara (I was very firmly in the “not wearing a tiara ever” camp), but I found a pretty head piece that would accentuate my dress but wouldn’t give off Princess Diana vibes.  I also purchased an accessory for my dress that I don’t want to give away here in case my fiancé reads this, EVEN THOUGH I ALREADY DID ACCIDENTALLY OOPS.

After I frenetically found all the accessories I wanted, the seamstress showed me the tally for the alternations.  Now, I had purchased a cheaper dress well below my already modest budget.  But the alterations COST AS MUCH AS MY DRESS.  I started entering panic mode.  Since I wanted to have the veil and headpiece ready for my makeup trial, I resigned myself to dropping a bit of money on everything.

When I went to the cash register, I asked the cashier if I could do a layaway plan.  Nope, everything had to be paid for up front.  Of course it did.  When she chirpily read out the total, I sadly grabbed my debit card and mentally thanked the universe that I’d gotten paid the day before.  And to reward me for dropping a small fortune on accessories I would wear for five hours of my life, David’s Bridal decided to reward me with THREE FREE PRINTS TO SHUTTERFLY, YOU GUYS!

I was mad when I returned home, especially when I started pinning looks for brides with headpieces and veils, and saw veils I could have purchased at half the cost of the one I’d purchased at David’s Bridal.  If only I had taken more time to find a veil (or make one).

I was angry about it for three or four days before placating myself – the accessory plus the dress equals the modest budget I’d originally had in mind for a dress. The veil, alterations, and shoes would have been purchased regardless of the dress, so if I’d picked a more expensive dress, then that would have been even MORE money spent.

Or, Fiancé and I could have gone to the courthouse and I could have worn some jeans and a top from Target and spent $0, I’M KIDDING but kind of not really.

And yet the procrastination continues, because instead of taking the time to make wedding-related decorations, I am NOT doing those things and crafting things completely unrelated to the wedding.

Sigh.

Less than two and a half months to go, guys.  I have a feeling there will be more of these posts.

Welcome, 2018 or: Waiting to Get January Over With

Every time a new year begins, I feel conflicted.

-Cautiously optimistic about the year ahead and what I can potentially experience or accomplish

with a piling heap of

-Wanting to accomplish ALL THE THINGS

with a dash of

-Morbid fear about what kind of sadness the new year will bring

with an extra side of

DAMN IT, I HATE JANUARY.

I do. I really do guys. I try really hard to be an optimistic person and I feel like I am much better at it than I was in my trainwreck 20s.  But. BUT.  I don’t like January and January clearly doesn’t like me.  Just about every year I stumble out of January feeling chastened and humbled.  This year was no exception, and started off with a thud as I returned to work after a short vacation and felt like a ton of bricks had hit my desk in my absence.

But I have a cuddly dog to snuggle with, lots of hot chocolate to keep me warm, and my Spotify Top Songs of 2017 playlist to keep me occupied as I work (clearly I listened to a lot of Alice in Chains last year).  I have some anniversaries to look forward to in January – six years with my love, and ten years living here in Austin and working at my firm.  (Ten years?  TEN YEARS?)  And we have a wedding to finish planning that is in three months and holy crap there’s still so much to do LET’S NOT TALK ABOUT WEDDING PLANNING IN THIS POST, OKAY?

Okay.

I also have a lot of craft projects to keep me occupied in the evenings since I can’t bring myself to open a book and study just yet.

I am working on little bits here and there for the wedding that I will consolidate in one post after I have some, you know, actual progress.  I’ve finished the November Little Box of Crochet project that I guess I will post….soon? Even though it was a Christmas box?  Whatever.

And this!

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It’s a blanket!  It’s a project for someone special.  I am hoping to finish it this month while it’s still cold and before wedding planning takes up all my free time.

As for my resolutions this year, they’re pretty vague and simple.  And, with the exception of the third, should be pretty easy to achieve.

  1. Get married
  2. Be crafty
  3. Get licensed already, for the love of god

Time for me to get some hot cocoa and ~hygge~ (It’s not a verb, is it).

 

Making Mistakes to Grow

One of my roles at work is being a safety rep.  For the next several months, I’m giving focus topic meetings on different aspects of being a safety rep since we have a lot of new safety reps in the area.  For my first focus topic yesterday, I decided to discuss the aspects I’d found most daunting about being a safety rep when I first started – like dealing with difficult project managers and people assuming that I was suddenly an OSHA expert and asking really detailed safety questions.  My area safety manager told the group that it was okay to make mistakes and encouraged people to get out there and try, even if they failed.

This maxim, that it’s okay to make mistakes, is one I constantly remind myself.  I made one that my team member gently reminded me of via email.  I was so frustrated!  I should have known better! I went home and felt better after eating my feelings and walking my dog.  But making mistakes just helps us grow, and part of working on a team is having other people holding you accountable and ground-truthing your work.

Last night, I started thinking about making mistakes in my own creative work.  I still consider myself a beginner with crafting which holds me back, because naturally, I don’t want to make mistakes. I just want to make a perfectly Instagrammable piece of art. But that inclination keeps me from trying riskier stitches because it will “look bad.”  Staying inside the box all the time can really hinder creativity, and I’ve definitely always been a rule follower. I can’t even purchase any of Keri Smith’s books, like This is Not a Book, because the idea of tearing pages from the book or destroying a page by pouring milk on it (or whatever the creative prompt actually is), is just so foreign to me. (I know! That’s supposed to be the point! BUT I CAN’T, YOU GUYS).

I’ve been working on a Studio MME Super Stitcher’s Club piece.  What I love about Megan Eckman’s work is you can stitch the piece as simply or as elaborated as you’d like.  It’s designed for stitchers who don’t like the crazy fancy stitches like French knots, but allows enough room for improvisation in case you decide to go crazy and plop a couple on there.  I’ve decided to go outside the box and play around with some extra stitches on the piece.  It’s made me uncomfortable, if I’m being honest.

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My brain is like, “STOP IT. YOUR STITCHES ARE UGLY.” But I know that I need to at least try this idea and see where it takes me.  Maybe my stitches will continue being ugly.  Or maybe I will end up with a piece I’m really proud of.  I’ll never know if I don’t try, or if I just continue doing the same back and running stitches and nothing else.

Making mistakes is a sign that you are growing and if you stumble a little, it means your path will be smoother in the future.  I proposed a risky little strategy at work several days ago and to my shock, the team decided to accept it!  There’s no way I would have had the gumption to propose it without the stumbling blocks I’ve had over the past year in this role.  And I know if I continue pushing myself with my creative projects -instead of restricting myself to the ones I already know I can do – I know I’ll continue growing in that aspect, too.

I hope you all have a great weekend! I’ll be indulging in a lot of crafty time while Fiancé is at band practice.  Need to buy some flowers and plants since the one hard freeze we had this year killed all my succulents.  The house needs to be cleaned because it’s looking cluttered and I feel stressed when it’s cluttered.  I’ll need to do some yoga and maybe a run, because I haven’t run since the half-marathon and now I feel that pent-up crazy lady feeling when I haven’t been able to run in several days.  Maybe watch more of The People v. O.J. Simpson (not sure how I feel about it yet – and those fake Kardashian kids take me out of it every. single. time) and listening to a lot of this song, which is a current obsession.  See you Monday!

Where I’ve Been: Field Work and Lots of Crochet

Good morning everyone! I apologize for my absence.  I was in the field for the past two weeks doing groundwater sampling.  This trip had the most wells I’ve ever had to sample (59!) but it actually one of my least stressful trips.  None of the equipment broke down, we stayed ahead of schedule for most of our time out there, and I was working with a great co-worker.  There was one day when our radar looked like this:

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It turned our site into a small mud party and we did briefly get stuck in mud. But we were able to get ourselves out by shoring up rocks near the tires,  WHICH NEARLY NEVER HAPPENS.  It was awesome.

The adjacent property has a bunch of judgmental cows who stare at us while we sample the wells. One of them was very sweet and playful. I called him an Apollo cow because like my own beloved dog, this cow was trying to eat my personal belongings, i.e. the keys to all the wells.

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Even on good sampling trips like this one, I was so exhausted at night that I barely had the energy to answer work emails, much less craft.  I did work on this beautiful piece from Studio MME’s Super Stitcher’s Club.

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On weekends I’ve been doing a lot of crochet.  Crochet is my go-to craft when I’m feeling stressed or just need to unwind without thinking too much.

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This is a pretty piece I’m doing from an old issue of Mollie Makes (crafting from my stash!) Crochet in the round is still challenging to me so it’s a good way for me to practice my new skills, even if it looks a little wonky right now!

I also worked on this piece from an old issue of Simply Crochet:

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I’ve making progress on my blanket as well.  I think I mentioned in the last post that I’m using Attic24’s Cosy Stripe Blanket as my pattern, but am modifying it by making more stripes with the same colors:

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And finally, I started working on this cowl while visiting with my wonderful future in-laws this weekend (that is still a slightly surreal sentence to type):

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So that’s what’s been going on in my neck of the woods! Keeping busy with wedding planning too; Fiancé and I have selected a venue and pinned down a date.  My parents are coming up in March and Mom and I are going to start doing wedding dress shopping, which is going to be so much fun.  I really cannot wait for that.  Fiancé and I ran a half-marathon yesterday.  It was his first and he CRUSHED IT, I’m so unbelievably proud of him!  I was about to cry when I saw him coming up on that mile 12 marker.  As for me, I’m not super thrilled with my time but given the humidity I will accept it.  I almost want to do another one just to prove to myself that I can run it faster than I did yesterday.

Also, I have not been studying much this month, which is fantastic given the test is two months away. I had this conversation with my parents this weekend:

Mom:  Have you been studying?
Me: Umm…yes, I’m on chapter 8 in my book!
Dad: Out of how many chapters?
Me:  …..52.

Well, I’d better head off to work before they send a search party looking for me. I hope you all have a great Monday!  See you Wednesday!

Love Trumps Hate

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After the election, I struggled with what to say about it on my blog.  I ended up writing a passionate post about how dismayed I was about Trump’s win.  I never publicized the blog on my Instagram or Facebook feeds, and I hid the post several months later.  The tone didn’t fit with my blog’s overall feel, I thought, and I didn’t want to offend anyone as I slowly grew my blog and future business.  It’s just best to be nonpartisan with this blog, I thought, and on my private Instagram account I can say what I really feel.

But after the terrible first week we’ve had with the Trump administration, I can’t be nonpartisan here anymore.  It’s too dangerous to be silent.  I have Muslim friends and I worry about their safety.  I worry about my country’s safety as we close our doors to others and as this president makes allusions to a Holy War on Twitter.  What Trump is doing is not American.  It’s hateful and disgusting.

I’m fairly new to the world of activism, so everything in this post is inspired by the great work being done by friends on Instagram and helpful articles I’ve encountered while researching.  I’ve linked the articles in this post.

  1.  Donate.  There are many causes that need our support.  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)  does essential work in fighting for injustices.  They challenged the Trump immigration ban, along with the National Immigration Law Center  and the International Refugee Assistance Project.    The Council on American-Islamic Relations  is another organization needing support.
  2. Contact your elected official!  Use this website to get contact info for your elected senators and representatives.  I called my senators and congressmen today, and all their voicemails were full! I’ve read suggestions to fax them instead.  There are also emails/contact forms on their websites, but honestly I’m not sure how effective that really is versus calling them.  You can also send postcards from the Women’s March 10 Actions 100 Days initiative.  If you’re like me and never called an elected official before, this article is really helpful on how to approach it.
  3. Don’t become complacent.  There’s a lot of terrible stuff happening in our country right now and it would be too easy to want to turn off the news when it gets “depressing.” But we can’t do that.  Our administration is counting on these unconstitutional actions to become normalized.  We can’t let that happen.  We must fight back by protesting, by staying informed, and by reaching out to our elected officials.

Let’s show the world that there are still plenty of Americans who support free speech, freedom of religion, equality, and justice for all.  Love trumps hate.

And since this is a craft blog…I used a pattern from Maybe Matilda for these beautiful crocheted hearts.

 

The Process of Relearning

“If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.”

It’s a phrase I find myself pondering as I study for my test.  Right now I’m in the “background” chapters of my reference manual, which consists of lots of math that unfortunately I’ve forgotten. I don’t really like the way the book is structured because a lot of the math is based off of calculus. I remember the very basics of calculus and can probably solve a very simple derivative or integral if  you threw a problem in front of me, but that’s about it.  The book is jumping right into concepts I learned as a sophomore so my brain is struggling to remember, especially anything having to do with structures. My school didn’t have an environmental engineering degree, so my best option was getting a civil engineering degree with an emphasis in environmental engineering. This meant taking a lot of difficult classes on structures that I didn’t particularly enjoy and never used again after graduation.

I used to roll my eyes whenever I heard people complaining about algebra, and why should they have to learn it if they never have to use it?  “HOW DARE YOU,” I’d think. “ALGEBRA IS EVERYWHERE.”  Don’t get me wrong; I like math.  But now I get it.  I don’t particularly WANT to re-learn the radius of gyration or moments of inertia, though I know that these concepts help, you know, keep buildings from falling.  So that’s important, right? But I don’t. CARE.

So I am moving through my reference manual at a snail’s pace as I struggle to remember concepts I learned nearly 15 years ago.  It’s good times.*

I find this concept of forgetting things I used to do well extending even into my crafting life.  I often focus on one technique for awhile and go into a craft frenzy. A couple of months ago I was just crocheting all the time.  Now I’m doing a lot of knitting.  I still consider myself to be a beginner of both, so jumping from one to another can sometimes cause my brain to pause. For example, I was flying back from Philadelphia several months ago.  We hadn’t taken off yet because of the weather, so I dug out a knitting project. Now, for several weeks before this, I’d been doing a lot of cross-stitching for my cousin’s wedding present.  And as I sat there, with my yarn and needles in hand, I realized – I’d forgotten how to cast-on.  I moved my needles frantically around the yarn, hoping that it would magically come back , but no. I could not remember how to cast on.

Or whenever I move  back to a crochet project, I keep having to refresh myself on the stitches.  I think I’ve got single crochet (or double crochet for UK readers) down for life, but even with that stitch, I sometimes do a quick refresher in the event that somehow I’ve been doing it wrong all these years, because WHAT IF.  WHAT IF, GUYS.

Relearning how to do something can be really frustrating. It takes a lot of patience and willpower.  But like anything in life worth doing, taking the extra time to sit down and relearn a task or skill can only help in the future!

In other news, I kind of broke my promise about crafting from my stash:

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This is the first craft magazine I’ve bought in awhile.  This is from the latest issue of Mollie Makes.  This little guy looks just like Apollo!  I can’t wait to stitch him up this weekend. I hope you guys have a great weekend as well!

 

*In case my parents are reading this – see guys, I’m ACTUALLY STUDYING YAYYYYY.