Remember that list from the beginning of the year? It seems it's nearly time to check in and see how I've done. Now, let me explain how we're going to do this. We're going to stay on the positive side of things and ignore all the items that didn't happen. Cool? I have a tendency to harp on myself for the things I don't get accomplished every day, and I'm finding it's not the healthiest way to go about life. (Stay posted, that's likely to become a goal for 2010.) So here's what I can check off:
1. Marry Fred! - Done, and awesome.
2. Plan and pull off an awesome, personal and meaningful wedding. - Check. Loved every minute of it.
4. Play my horn every day. - Not quite every day, but I'm going to call this a humongous success anyway. I played my horn nearly every day, and it was so worth it.
9. Wear skirts more often. - I did wear skirts more often, and I liked it!
10. Learn to design my own patterns. - Hard core. See #11.
11. Design and sew my own wedding dress. - Yes!!!
12. Let my hair grow out. - This was simple, but I'm pleased.
15. Give a recital. - I played more than a dozen with my brass quintet. That's not exactly what I had in mind when I came up with this goal, but I'm going to say it counts.
19. Make an inspiration board. - I made a wedding related inspiration folder on my computer.This was only a small part of it. Close enough, and really helpful.
23. Take a trip to somewhere I've never been. -
24. Finish the quilt I got fabric for a year ago. - I'm so close, and I've got a few days left yet! I'll get back to you when I'm done.
27. Put things away a little quicker. (Dishes, laundry, etc.) - Yes again, especially toward the end of the year. More of this in 2010.
28. Go camping. - I did this! Fred and I got a tent and camped out when we hiked Katahdin this summer.
31. Make better use of my extensive driving time. - I'm currently on a Jane Austen book-on-tape kick, and it's lovely.
32. Bag a couple of the local peaks. - Katahdin, in the bag.
33. Blog more often. - Check.
Alright, 16 out of 33 isn't too bad. And I've learned a couple of things in this process:
1. Lists are great, but I have to refer back to them every so often. I totally forgot a couple of items I had listed as goals, so they never had a chance.
2. Some things feel like a great idea in the first half of the year and then totally fizzle during or after the summer. My year still works on a September to May cycle.
3. Goals work better when there's a measurable result. "22. Smile a lot more." is too vague to measure, so in the end you can't really count it one way or the other.
4. Life happens. As my dear friend and superhero says, excuses aren't just excuses. Sometimes they're really good reasons too.
All in all, it's been a good year! 2010, coming up . . .
at 3:10 PM
Christmas is kind of tricky at our house, mostly because it's the busy season. We don't get to prepare for it in quite the same way most everyone else does. I drive by all kinds of cozy looking homes and sparkling decorations and busy shopping malls as I hustle to this or that gig. The gigs are of the fun sort, usually, but by the last weekend before Christmas we're all starting to look a little haggard.
And I made my very first non-graham-cracker gingerbread house! With window panes and a wood pile and everything!!
at 3:30 PM
Prodded by a couple of custom orders (thanks!!) I've decided it's time to open up shop again. This lady was an experiment, made from another felted wool sweater, and she turned out beautifully. I'll add new elephants every couple of days and there will definitely be more sweater elephants coming. I think they're my new favorite design!
at 2:37 PM
You may have noticed the orange background in a couple of my last posts. Meet my new orange sideboard!
Fred and I found it on the side of the road one day when we were out for a run. It seemed it was previously owned by a teenage girl with a penchant for blue nail polish, white-out, and carving her name in things. Yep, it was a little beaten up. The front panels were originally screens, but they were punched through and I knew my cats would further their destruction had I left them. I think it's an Ikea piece, which is fine by me. It's solid and the price was right!
Inspired by the how-to on poppytalk by the Something's Hiding in Here folks, this thing was a quick fix with some paint and fabric. We re-arranged some furniture and now it's got a spot in our dining room/studio. The storage space really helps, and yay for a pop of color!
at 1:15 PM
We hosted our first Thanksgiving! I feel like such a grown-up. So what does a vegan serve for Thanksgiving dinner?
Peppered Cashew "Goat Cheese" with crackers (this was Amazing.)
Seitan Roulade, Chestnut Stuffing and Mushroom Gravy
Carrots Elegante (a funny name, but tasty)
Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Poppy Seeds and Lemon
Mashed Potatoes (no recipe necessary)
Cranberry Sauce (from our favorite cookbook)
Pumpkin Ice Cream
Pecan and Caramel Apple Tartlets with a Spelt Flour Crust
This was our second Thanksgiving celebration, held on Saturday with my side of the family. We went to Fred's family on Thursday, and they're so wonderful that they had vegan options waiting for us! I think Thanksgiving is my new favorite holiday. It's as yummy as Christmas, has almost as much good family time, and there's none of the commercialism or fuss. All in all we had a lovely celebration, and we have so much to be thankful for. Wishing you all the best!
at 5:39 PM
We were lucky in that we got married at a beautiful park that required no extra decoration, and our reception space stood on it's own really well too. Through choice and necessity, we kept the extra decorations to a minimum. Although what we had added a lot of color and texture, and to me the whole space looked happy.
There was a gallery room that everyone walked through on the way to the main ballroom. The exhibit that happened to be on display had these beautiful and huge watercolor paintings on every wall. We just got lucky with that one too!
We set up a photo table in that gallery room too. We collected wedding pictures of as many guests and family members as we could and put them on display. It was so neat to see all the generations of weddings before us, to see the same people in so many pictures over the years, and mostly, to honor all the marriages that came before us.
Aside from that, the only major decorations we had were the napkins that my family and I made, and flowers that we arranged the day before. My aunt Judy, my sister, Fred's mom and I had made a ton of napkins in advance, but come Saturday morning we still didn't have quite enough. So bless these people, we sat down together and made more. My dad and my step mom ironed, I helped pin, and my aunt Judy sewed. For me, that was a really special moment. It was amazing to have the unconditional support and help, and it felt so good to have my family around to make the wedding happen.
Flowers were a project too. I ordered wholesale from Potomac Floral, and I can't recommend them enough. They're good because you can order flowers by the bunch, not by the box, and that way you can get a huge variety.
My sister and I first put together our bouquets, which meant as much laughing at each other as arranging flowers. Mine was made up of hypericum berries and dahlias, and hers was an arrangement of mums and hypericum berries.
I also made boutonnieres for the guys out of mums and hypericum berries. I didn't do a trial run of the flowers, although I did do some research in advance and I've worked with flowers before. It was great that things turned out as well as they did!
We did make a pomander ball for my niece out of flower foam and mums. It was really sweet. And then we forgot it. Fred and I realized it was missing while we were in the car on the way to the wedding. We were running late enough that we just left it. Everyone says that something goes wrong at on your wedding day, and we figured that was it. Better to get it over and done with and move on! So Audrey stole my sister's flowers. Naturally.
Then my dad and step mom and I put together all the rest of the flowers. Fred and I had collected empty glass jars during the entire proceeding year for the table arrangements. We wanted everything to look natural and simple and fun, and it turned out beautifully.
In the end, it was so good having so much help during the weekend. People say that your wedding day goes by in a flash and all the details become a blur. It did go quickly, although I'm glad to say I have really vivid memories of all of it. But I'm so especially thankful for the time we all had together in the days before too. I'll remember making the projects come together with the people we love as much as I'll remember the actual wedding day!
at 8:36 AM
I don't remember exactly when I decided I would make my own wedding dress. The idea planted itself in the back of my head years ago, long before I knew Fred or knew we'd be getting married. And when the time came, I knew there were no two ways around it. Even as I got closer to the wedding and felt desperately behind, as almost everyone around me said I should go buy something, somehow there was a calm about it. I knew it would work, I knew it would be done, and I knew it would be as perfect as I could ever imagine.
My dress wasn't about being princess for a day, or needing to look like a bride. I've played enough recitals and worn (and made) enough recital gowns that I'm all set on the princess thing. I don't need it anymore, it's just not my style. Similarly, Fred never thought to wear a tux. He puts on a tux probably over 100 times a year for gigs. On our wedding day we wanted to feel like us, just spiffed up and extra awesome.
Then there was the issue of a pattern. I've never been keen on the commercially available wedding dress patterns. Some people use vintage patterns for bridal wear, and that's a much better option, but it still wasn't the look we were going for. I had never designed a pattern before, but somehow I got it in my head that that must be the way to go. Brilliant, huh? There's nothing like winging it for your own wedding dress. So I bought a book, Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong. I designed a couple of simple items to get the hang of it, and then I took the plunge. Wedding dress or bust.
Let me tell you, I went through so many drafts that I lost count. I started with the bodice, went from measurements to a pattern, made a muslin version, and then set to tweaking. Then I'd take it apart, put tweaks to paper, and repeat ad nauseum. Almost every adjustment affected every adjacent piece, so everything had to be redone every time around. And then there were the complete design re-dos. Those were the days when I would spend 8 hours trying to make it work, and then realize it would work better a different way but I'd have to start from scratch again. I spent a lot of time developing patience in those final weeks!
When I finally started in on the silk I was so ready to go. I had made that dress dozens of times in muslin, at least in pieces, and I was so sure it would work. It had to work, I was about a week and a half away from the wedding! Fred's brother came into town for our joint bachelor/bachelorette party, and it still wasn't done. He left for their house in Westfield to get the place ready, and it still wasn't done. It was probably Wednesday before I got the zipper in and actually tried my dress on for the first time. And promptly burst into happy tears!
I finished the dress at 10:30 am on Saturday, well more than 24 hours in advance of our wedding. The dress wasn't perfect, but I'm probably the only person who would know. The morning of the wedding I sewed a piece of fabric from my mom's wedding dress into the hem, slipped into my cowboy boots, and at that point it was everything I ever wanted it to be.
at 11:07 AM
And I thought I was busy before the wedding. I don't know how it's happened, but the wedding's over and I'm as busy as ever. Honestly, I'm wiped. Gigs are coming in but money is tight. (My car died the week after we got back from our honeymoon. Hello significant and unexpected expense.) So I'm trying to fill up all my extra time with a super flexible "office job" at a music research center that I'm hugely lucky to have. Don't get me wrong, we're doing really well. My family has helped more than I could imagine, this extra job is fantastic, and Fred and I are facing it all together in a way that's more together than we've ever been. Marriage wins.
But in an effort to live my life as a fiscally responsible freelance musician (don't laugh at that), I've all but scheduled "me" time out of my life. That lasted about a week before I broke down. For a while I was thinking I should close down this blog more officially, at least till we found a little more breathing room in our budget. But now I think it best to keep the blog, and keep the crafting for the sake of sanity. I might not get to it every day, and it might not be much. But on those days when I make something pretty, even if it just means making my bed to improve the ch'i in one room, my head feels better for it.
My project today was a laptop cozy. I normally don't like the word "cozy" when used as a noun, but it's the best way to describe this one.
My most favorite sweater in the world just finally gave up the ghost. It was a thick cowl neck sweater from J.Crew, one that my Dad gave me for Christmas probably 7 or 8 years ago. I wore it constantly. I wore it till the yarn at the seams started to disintegrate, and then I wore it till there were actually holes. I seriously wore it out. Then I still couldn't bear to part with it, so I threw it in the wash. It shrank and felted up beautifully, even thicker and more cozy than before. My poor laptop, the one I got about 6 months ago, was still without any kind of a sleeve or cover, and it looked like my sweater was the perfect answer.
Three seams later and I was all set. If only every project could be so rewarding with only three seams. And if only J.Crew would come out with that sweater again, I'd really be a happy camper.
at 12:41 PM
This just arrived in the mail. My niece gets to wear it with a tutu for my wedding. That swatch, and pardon the wrinkles, is from my dress fabric. They're perfect together, and what utter cuteness. It's seeing it all come together that makes the hours of planning and listing and stress worthwhile!
at 2:08 PM
We just changed our wedding colors. Not all of them, just the colors we're using in our ceremony. Tie colors, flowers, shoes, my sister's dress, my niece's tutu, accessories . . . . Luckily, most of those things are last minute items that we're just getting right now, so it's not like I have a pile of stuff that we can't use anymore. We were going to go with orange and brown, but we can't find orange ties that don't clash with the fabric for my dress. Which is a very light peach, by the way. I realize I hadn't mentioned that before. So now we're going with burgundy and brown, with some peach flowers thrown in to the mix. And the wedding is a month from today. I just might loose my mind between here and there!
at 1:54 PM
Man, am I sure glad to have our invitations done and out the door. These were a humongous project! I've said a couple times that my cousin would be helping us with artwork. Let me just say, she went above and beyond. Really, her sketches make our invites. One of these days I'll figure out how to repay her awesomeness. Till then, let me show you what we've got.
We went with this vertical booklet layout. It was our original plan to tuck the invitations inside an inner vellum envelope, but we couldn't find any that could then fit into the outer kraft paper envelopes so we scratched that idea. Instead we made a sleeve with a sheet of vellum and these brilliant glue dots and used those as inner envelopes. You can see the back page peeking through the vellum there. Those leaves are on the back of the RSVP postcard, but they make for a cute background for everybody's names too.
Since we're celebrating everything Fall, Susan and I collaborated on this carved tree trunk for the cover page. I love that it's personalized in a non-traditional kind of way. This tree was kind of a kicker, though. It was my original goal to gocco the whole set, but there's no way the tree would have come out well on my little 4" by 6" gocco. So we sent the whole thing to a printer. Having goccoed three sets of invitations before these, I was so excited to finally do my own, but alas. It was disappointing, but it saved me a ton of time in the end and it was worth it for the tree.
Our actual invitation, the ceremony page:
My favorite is probably the shindig page. I can't tell you how long I deliberated before I came up with the word "shindig." We're not barbecuing and I don't just want to call it a party or a soiree or a fete or anything silly like that. Nope, we're having a shindig.
Free fonts, how I love thee.
The compass is my favorite part of the map page.
And like I said, the last page is a tear-off RSVP.
So there you have it! I'm pleased as punch at how these came out, and so glad they're done. And now on to the rest of the list....
at 4:59 PM
Today I set aside the whole afternoon for sewing. I've got serious work to do on my wedding dress. We're 43 days away from the wedding, and I've got nothing. (Insert panic here.) Well, not exactly nothing. I finally got it started it a few days ago, but progress is slow. I'm designing the pattern and I don't really know how, so I'm always afraid to screw it up and never really sure of what to do next. So I procrastinate. Obviously.
And so today I made a backpack for my amazing niece's (belated) 2nd birthday. The pattern is Made by Rae, and it gave my pins more trouble than it gave me. This child is going to take over the world, I'm pretty sure of it. And now she has a little pink backpack to help her on that mission. It'll be neat to see her with it when they come down to visit next. In October. For my wedding. Oh man. (Wedding panic returns.)
Sorry I've been MIA for a month. Avoiding this space makes it easier to avoid the dress. Although I have gotten a bunch of other things done. Next up to show you - the invites! They're in the mail as of yesterday!!
at 6:25 PM