Monday, October 25, 2010

Amanda's Shoe Clips

As I already mentioned, this month my cousin, Amanda, got married. It was a great opportunity for me as the maid of honor to observe her planning process and practice a few things for my own wedding. Because I am the family crafter, I offered to help with as much of the DIY as Amanda was willing to pass off to me. The final list included her garter, ring bearer pillows, silk flowers for bridesmaids’ hair, and shoe clips for the bride.
I had made pillows before, so those were easy. I used these DIY instructions for the garter and it turned out perfectly. As for the shoe clips.... Well, here you go!

1 . Supplies - I stopped and Joann’s and picked up a few fabric remnants in white and ivory satin and tulle. There was more than enough fabric to play with and remnants are 50% off! I also had a pair of vintage clip-on earrings I’d found a few months earlier at a local vintage shop. I used a small metal cutter to clip off the earring back. The alligator clips pictured were what I originally planned to use, but they were too tall and long so I switched to the bobby pins.

2 . Cut 3” wide strips of fabric. I started with several fabrics, knowing I could play with layering to find the look I wanted. I ended up using only one strip of the white satin for each clip. Layering with the ivory tulle was “too much.”

3 . Fold your fabric strips in half length-wise and pin. Sew a wide running stitch (the widest you can do on your machine) down the length of the fabric. I only ended up using a piece that was about 8-10 inches long for each shoe. I cut the fabric after stitching the entire length. It was MUCH too long, so feel free to trip it down and save some time or keep the full length and layer it like this.

4 . To ruffle the fabric, pull on one of the two threads at the end of your stitches and push the fabric down to create a gathered effect. Even out the gathers and pin in a circle.

5 . Hot glue the back (least pretty side!) to a circle of felt.

6 . Secure/hide the raw end
of the fabric with a bit of hot glue.

7 . Secure a bobby pin to the back with a square of felt and more hot glue. Be sure you hide the bobby pin completely behind the flower.

8 . Turn it over and secure the gem/earring/button of choice to the front with more hot glue.

9 . Repeat for shoe clip #2.

And voila! It was one of the simplest DIY projects I’ve ever done. If you don’t have a sewing machine, use a wide hand-stitch. Don’t they look beautiful? Amanda ended up taking them off of her shoes and putting them in her hair by the end of the night... that might have also been after a 4 hour open bar :) In her hair or on her shoes, they looked lovely!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I've Been Challenged!

The lovely Grace Hester has started a new game and asked to learn more about me in 140-characters or less.  Here is Grace's 'About Me' that kicked it all off:

As a twitter-lover myself (follow me!), I gladly accepted! It took several edits to decide which of my the many words you can use to describe me made the character-limit. Clearly I could go on about myself for days... ;)

For more inspiration check out Busy Girl's About Me in 140-characters or less, make your own and share the link!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Amanda's Wedding and one of my favorite venders: The Flowerman

This past Saturday was my cousin Amanda’s wedding. Amanda is also one of my best friends and it’s been so fun being engaged and wedding planning together. Several months ago I talked Amanda into meeting with the Flowerman, a well-known florist in Dayton, Ohio that had recently opened an office here in Columbus. The Flowerman is unique because it offers various version of “do-it-yourself” wedding packages. You can arrange as much or as little of your flowers yourself with the help of a few friends. The more you DIY, the more money you save! And, of course, they provide the flowers, space, supplies and a fabulous instructor to teach you as you go. Amanda will be the first to tell you that she is not a crafty person, she leaves that to me, but she did let me drag her right into this one and I am so happy she did!

Amanda chose to have the Flowerman make her bridal bouquet and we tackled boutonnieres, corsages and bridesmaid bouquets ourselves. It took us a little over two hours to make everything and I think they turned out quite beautiful! Of course we had Melissa from the Flowerman walking us through each step and she did a fabulous job!

The most important lesson we learned is to re-cut the stem each time a flower is removed from water for more than a few seconds. A fresh cut, usually at an angle, reopens veins that can quickly close. And be sure to put the freshly cut flower right back into water after the cut. If you plan to DIY your flowers, be sure to keep that in mind!

Photos courtesy of me!

I just put a deposit down with the Flowerman for my own wedding and I am so excited to play with more flowers! And now I have a well-trained group of volunteers, right? Hopefully I can talk them into doing it one more time for me!

Are any of you ladies considering DIY-ing your flowers?

The Flowerman did not provide me with any free or discounted services or products for this review. It’s just my honest opinion of one of my favorite wedding vendors. They rock!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I'm in a Wedding Rut!

Help! I'm sure the few of you reading this blog have noticed that the posts have been few and far between of late. There are a few reasons (coughexcusescough). The first being that I have been insanely busy at work. Ugh! Isn't that always my excuse? The second being that the few blogs I've written have been guest blogs over at The Budget Savvy Bride. Check them out! The final, and probably true, reason is that I am in a Wedding Rut.


I've finished the Big Things. We have the places and times, photographer, dj, flowers, bridesmaids dresses and my wedding dress. Now is when I take the scary leap from the Big Things to the details and the details scare me. I'm collecting items for centerpieces, but the process is slow mostly because I am picky and have a difficult time committing to something. The list of little things feels daunting: guest book, registering, jewelry, hair pieces, shoes, ties, table numbers, favors, photo booth.... the list is epically long! We are closing in on four months and I am already overwhelmed!

So, today I am off work to help my cousin before her wedding this Saturday (congrats, Amanda!!). And after Saturday I am starting a real "to do" list with due dates and deadlines. And a workout plan because somehow I am dieting and STILL gaining weight. Ugh.

Let's hope I find some renewed enthusiasm and energy soon!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Catholic Engaged Encounter

This past weekend, Matt and I attended an Engaged Encounter weekend. EE is a marriage preparatory retreat held by the Catholic church, primarily for couples marrying in the church, but also for non-Catholic couples interested in growing their relationship. EE fulfills Precana requirements for most churches.

For Matt and I, EE was mandatory to be married in our church. Although I am Catholic, I don’t consider myself to be religious. I was truly dreading the weekend, concerned about how much religion would be present in the talks. The website claims EE is applicable to all couples, religious or not, however I knew some church-related issues like  Natural Family Planning and sexual abstinence would be covered. I was skeptical.

My skepticism was compounded when we reached the retreat center. It was only about 45 minutes from home, but we were required to stay over both nights in large dormitories: girls in one room and boys in another. The room of 50 creaky twin beds looked like something out of a horror movie. I knew it was going to be a rough couple of nights.

I am going to include a breakdown of our EE weekend, in hope that it will be helpful for others facing the same fears I was. I had a hard time finding out any definitive information about what the weekend entailed through searching online. I believe that the more informed and prepared you are, the less anxiety you will feel. So here’s how the weekend went:

We started around 8 p.m. with introductions of the two couples who would lead the weekend. They were local volunteers through the national program. Usually a priest is also involved, but ours became ill the day before and wasn’t there for the weekend. The couples leading our EE weekend were sincere and kind, but very hard to relate to.

After introductions were the first two sessions: Encounter with Me and Encounter with We, examinations of who we are as individuals and as a couple. It ended with a prayer session and we were in our separate beds by 11 p.m. with a 7 a.m. wakeup call.


Saturday dawned on some very grumpy EE attendees. Although most of the boys seemed well-rested, the girls all grumbled about getting very little sleep in our sparse accommodations. I personally remember checking the time at least once every hour throughout the night. I dozed a bit in between, but the morning was a struggle.

Saturday was a long, drawn out day of 10 sections that almost all went like this:
  • 20 minute personal story from the couples leading EE on the topic
  • 20 minutes of individual writing on the topic with questions to consider
  • 20 minutes sharing our writings and discussing with out partner.

Over and over and over...

The process of writing and sharing wasn’t bad, but the topics seemed redundant and some required much less time than was allocated. Saturday’s topics included:
  • Disillusionment & True Joy
  • Openness in Communication
  • Signs of a Closed Relationship
  • Decisions in Marriage
  • Human Sexuality
  • Natural Family Planning
  • Unity: Called to be One
  • Morality in a Christian Marriage
  • Forgiveness in Marriage
  • Becoming a Family

The Natural Family Planning (NFP) presentation was especially comical as the presenting couple failed at it, which led to their first child. TOO FUNNY! I am actually open to using NFP, not because the church approves it (which I could care less about, my body, my decision!) but because I hate the concept of being on medication indefinitely for any reason. I like the concept of knowing your body well enough to be able to make educated decisions about your ability to procreate at any particular time in your cycle. TMI, I know. But I did find this to be one of the more interesting presentations, outside of the religious pressure to stop using contraceptives because some old man called the Pope tells us to. But I digress...

Although the day got better as it went one, overall Saturday was long and drawn out. By the end I was emotionally and physically exhausted, mentally checked out and begging Matt to make the 45 minute drive home and back in the morning so I could sleep in my own bed. Just after he finally agreed we had our final two scheduled events: a group discussion and prayer session. I was pleasantly surprised to find that these were the highlights of the weekend. They both went well, so we decided to stay the night and I slept much better (thanks to a couple glasses of wine after the evening ended!!! Alcohol fixes everything... LOL).

Sunday felt, if possible, even longer. The priest conducting our closing mass couldn’t be there until 2:30, so the remaining three sections were stretched over about 5 hours. We were all ready to be on our way home and I doubt any of us gave much thought to our responses, resulting in an unproductive day. We covered the following:
  • Betrothal
  • Two-by-Two: Marriage as a Vocation
  • Wedding: The Beginning of our Sacrament

After mass, we were finally free. Luckily I left Monday morning for a work trip to California. I think Matt and I needed the break from each other and constant one-on-one  conversation about our relationship.

In summary, here is my critique of our Engaged Encounter weekend and the program in general:


The material is a bit outdated and out of touch with modern couples. About half of the topics were interesting and half were redundant. Matt and I had already discussed about 80% of the questions and topics covered, which made us feel really good about our relationship and the foundation we are building on. I can see how EE might initiate important conversations for those who may not have already had them. For those conversations, the program is worthwhile.

A weekend is too long. If you have the option to do a one-day version or a series over several evenings, choose that one. The marathon sessions just leave you exhausted and at some point you will mentally check out. It’s not productive to hit that point.

If you do a weekend version, check out the venue. I hope it was cushier than ours. Sleep was impossible.

The presenters make or break the program. I doubt this is information you can search out ahead of time, but if possible, ask for reviews from previous attendees. Although I know our presenters meant well - they were volunteering an ENTIRE weekend to a program they believe in - they were not easy to relate to. They were religious to a level we weren’t and married much later in life, both of those issues clearly shaped the majority of their decision making throughout their marriage and made it difficult to apply their experiences with ours. Their efforts were appreciated, but the weekend would have been much better had the couples leading been more “like us” and the other couples there (who seemed be be “younger” and Catholic, but not overly religious). And a little bit of training on how to speak in front of an audience couldn’t have hurt either.

The topics included God to a point that made me uncomfortable a few times, but not too many. I definitely think most Christians and Catholics would understand and appreciate the inclusions. If you aren’t particularly religious, it wasn’t hard to just ignore those questions or change them a bit to be more applicable.

In Summary:

I will rarely recommend EE, except perhaps to younger couples who would benefit more from the discussions. The little we got out of it was just not worth the time or effort. There were a few redeeming factors, but just not enough.