If you ever feel as if you need a shot of humility, start a blog. As soon as you think you’re the cleverest person alive, you’ll realize 500 other blogs have already thought your thought…and done it even better. I thought I was super clever with this idea: gathering paint-chips in the colors of the wedding and giving a set of each chip collection to each of my bridesmaids. Yeah. Its already been done apparently but I’m sharing anyway because I still think its a cool idea and I honestly hadn’t seen it done until I started to pick out my paint chips and realized The Knot, Style Me Pretty, and pretty much ever bride destination on the web had beat me to it. I think its a great way to keep all the girls on the same page, and keeps you in control even if you’re thinking of letting everyone choose their own dress. The color ranges on the cards give the girls a little wiggle room while still preserving whatever glorious picture you have in your head.
I haven’t had a moment to even think about blogging since the Reign of Spring Quarter Terror began showering down its projects, due dates, and never-ending processional of assignments, classes, forms, and tests. Its so frustrating screaming through these months because I love this time of year and want to do so many things that never make it on the YOU HAVE TO DO THIS TO SURVIVE list. Despite all the screaming though, I couldn’t escape the fact that it is April and full-blown wedding season. I was so excited to be forced back into some creativity by a client asking if I would make an apron for the future “Mrs. O.” I love it when there’s a special purpose for my pieces. Of course, each one is unique and special to make, but when I know a little about where its future home will be and what sort of girl will be wearing it, every stitch is just that much more exciting. This client was requesting the apron for a surprise gift for a bridal shower. She asked if I could embroider the bride’s wedding date and new last name initial on the waistband and I was so happy to oblige her.
It seems as if life finds it interesting to string you along without any change, excitement, or alteration month after month, and then enjoys pouring out its bucket of love or turmoil to see how you handle the windfall, adjust to the magnificent or magnanimous changes, or squirm and squeal with the overwhelming-ness of all of it, all at once. February was that kind of month. It all come pouring down, all of it wonderful, wonderful things, but all of it dished out in one big lump and the process of combing through it, making sense of it, and making a plan for it is entirely and utterly overwhelming:
On the second weekend of February, what I believed to be a random day trip to the sea turned into an engagement to the most wonderful man I have ever met and someone who has been my best friend since we met a little over four years ago. I can’t really express how excited I am to be with him and how surprised I am everyday that I can be loved by another human being who is not obligated by family ties to love me as much as he does. It was not nearly as glamorous as those things always are in your head. I brought my camera on the trip, thinking I was going to capture a few pictures of our day and never imagining what that trip would entail. Unfortunately, I didn’t happen to remember to put my memory card in. In the end though, I’m rather glad for that ironic slip of the memory because seconds after he asked, I sobbed, and the ring got slipped onto my finger, the strangest most annoying mist-rain got both of us drenched and completely un-fit for any capture of a lasting image. My hair turned into rivulets that quickly washed away whatever make-up remained from my proposal tears, and so the only thing to mark the moment is a really horrible phone-camera image and the memory in my head which still makes me laugh just thinking about it. None of that really matters though because to me marriage is the most incredible thing. The fact that two completely different people from two entirely separate lives and families could meet and discover that they love each other, and that that love is actually returned by the other person blows my mind. I am ready for it…I think…but at the same time as more and more people hear about the engagement and we discuss it, it feels entirely too grown up. If only the rest of life could pause while I wrap my head around this one I think I would be ok but that’s not how all at once works. No, no. All. At. Once. All of it. Everything happening RIGHT NOW.
In the midst of all of this, I am also finishing up the second quarter of my post-grad program. Whew. If going back to school was rough, it’s even more rough now. Typing papers and lesson-plans soon turn into fingers creeping up to my bookmarked “wedding” folder and greedily perusing my favorite wedding blogs (here and here). Next week is finals week though, and the promise of a spring break week after that with evenings free to plan and ponder is about the most wonderful thing I can think of at this moment.
Nothing could really top that second weekend of February, but discovering my featured article in Apronologyon the shelves at Barnes and Noble was none the less quite a wonderful additional February blessing. It was a triumphant discovery and I’m still so proud and thankful for it. If you still haven’t checked it out, go to Barnes and Noble!
Are you beginning to understand all at once? I’m seriously worried about March and every other month of 2014 because when February pulls out all of its tricks, my goodness…Despite how overwhelming it is though, how some days I do squeal and squirm and would rather curl up deeper into my bed and have someone else call me when everything is planned out and I can emerge safely, I am so excited for every magnificent and magnanimous thing that is being revealed and the abundance of blessings this year has begun with.
Preheat oven to 350°. Oil and flour a bundt pan and set aside. In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together sparkling wine and sour cream. Finally, in a third, large bowl, beat sugar, melted butter, and oil with a mixer until well blended. Beat in each egg one at a time and add the vanilla. Beat on medium-high for 3 to 5 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Slowly add the flour and wine mixture to the sugar mixture and beat until well blended. Bake 50 to 55 minutes.
For the sparkling wine glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp. sparkling wine (or until the icing is a “drizzling” consistency)
Add a small amount of sparkling wine to the powdered sugar until it reaches a “drizzling” consistency and pour over the top of the completely cooled cake. You’re done!
This cake is so delicious, the sparkling wine makes it taste wonderfully fruity but gives it a flavor you can’t quite put your finger on why you love it so much–isn’t that perfection for Valentines? I try and make it every year for February 14th and I somehow found time to squeeze it in this week so I hope you enjoy!
Way back in December I mentioned that VMMV’s Etsy shop was going to be published and guess what? It’s here! I’m so excited to give everyone a little preview of my article in the beautiful new issue of Apronology. I got my own copy a few days before it officially hit the shelves but I was holding off from revealing my spread until everyone had the opportunity of buying it so I didn’t spill any secrets. I was so, SO incredibly surprised when I got my issue because people, I MADE THE FRONT COVER! I’m not the gorgeous pin-up apron on the front, but the “turn to page 86 for a 1 apron 2 styles” plug on the cover is…me!
I am so honored and so excited to have made it to the front. I hope you all go out and find this magazine; Barnes and Nobles should carry it and if they don’t, ask! It’s Stampington & Company’s newest magazine and it has so many beautiful aprons that some amazing sewers create, I can’t get over that I’m among them. The editors were so wonderful to work with, I can’t gush enough about the experience. My apron is just one of so, so many gorgeous ideas, please go support this new magazine and read about all the new and wonderful ways artists are updating aprons.
If you haven’t noticed, there’s a new little badge over on my sidebar under “features.” Take a minute to check out the issue and if you don’t feel like finding the magazine in a store, use the link and order online. This article is coming at the most perfect time. I’ve been so swamped with school that I haven’t had even an hour to spend on this space and it’s been a nagging sort of disappointment. This article forced me to make VMMV a priority just long enough to share and it feels good. I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to a new month. I’m hoping to be able to pop back in to share a valentine recipe for a sparkling wine cake that is super yummy so stay faithful please in my frequent absence! I so appreciate all of you. In the meantime though, go read about aprons!
I can’t believe it’s already coming to the end of January. There’s Valentines reminders in every store already, have you noticed? gah. In the twenty-one days this year has been alive, it’s not quite been what I expected. School has piled on way, WAY more work than I anticipated, and my ambition to get it all done has been much, MUCH lower than I hoped. So, needless to say, I’ve been absent from my VMMV baby far more frequently than I imagined. sighhhhhhhhh.
I know I already did my “word of the year,” but some lovely ladies on some equally as lovely blogs came up with the idea of doing an “unword.” That is, a word you want to “undo” out of your vocabulary (and your life) this year. For some reason, getting rid of something is way easier than resolving to gain something, so the unword wagon is something I jumped on pretty fast. My word? “Unconfidence.” It’s slightly deceiving because I am very confident, it is more confidence and surety in decisions though that I’m going to stop being unconfident about and start being…well, confident about. Unapologetic I suppose—there’s one “un-word” that shouldn’t be gotten rid of and that’s what I’ll be doing in 2014:
Confident that the days I work, and work, and…work, won’t last forever.
Confident that the things I am working for will actually, eventually happen.
Confident that I can only do so much and then letting the rest go
Confident that when I don’t have time to blog, I simply don’t have time and readers may come and readers may go and that’s just how it’s going to be
Confident that the things I have to let slip aren’t going away, just being set aside for a little while
Confident that what I am doing is plenty
Confident about the time I set aside to spend with the people I love is time well spent
Confident about not being the best all the time is still absolutely wonderful
Confident that my time-frame isn’t everyone else’s, and their’s isn’t mine and that’s ok
And, of course, confident that this year will have some wonderful days and some horrible ones and somewhere in the middle there will be created a very special new year.
What’s your unword for this year? What do you want to stop doing? What have you resolved against? Check out all the other unwords here for a few ideas if you’re stuck!
Having me write a Photoshop tutorial is a bit like saying the Jabberwocky is a researched piece of scientific literature. It’s really rather silly. Photoshop and I have a very suspicious relationship. Photoshop is certain I really know nothing about it and I am certain photoshop delights in closing its windows, laughs in my face when my efforts turn out pixelated, and giggles like a high school mean girl when I can’t remember which layer is which. We’re both sort of right.
Despite all of that though, I’m doin’ it people, I’m giving all of you a photoshop tutorial and you may laugh, you may cry (I do…frequently), but the end product is pretty cute and I think that’s all that matters:
DIY silhouette pillow
Take a profile picture of yourself (not for Facebook, of your actual profile) and upload into photoshop.
Choose quick selection tool, select your profile (not the background) and then cut and paste the image onto a blank, white background.
For the layer that contains your profile, choose layer style: color overlay: and choose black. **you may have to do a few touch-ups with the eraser tool at this point to get a clean profile. I also add a little line by the eye to create an eyelash**
Print your image, cut out the black profile outline, then pin this cut-out onto your fabric and stitch around the outline of your face.
I use embroidery thread to do my stitching by hand. It seems like it would take an eternity but actually if you do a simple stitch, once you get the hang of it, it really goes rather quickly. Stitch your image on the fabric before you make it into a pillow though, once its stuffed and fluffed you wont be able to do it! I made four of these guys for my four best ladies at our annual Christmas party and, unless they were just being sweet, they loved them. The best part about them is honestly how much it really looks like the person!
Cut the sweet potato and yam into small cubes and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake on a cookie sheet covered in parchment for 30 minutes on 400°. Cut the shallot into very thin slivers and combine with chopped pepper and mint leaves **if you despise mint, exchange it with another herb, cilantro or basil would taste great as well** When the potato and yam are finished cooking, allow to cool slightly and then combine with the rest of the ingredients.Serve cold or warm.
for the vinaigrette
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 orange
1/4 cup olive oil
Combine the lemon and orange juice, whisk in the olive oil, add to the salad and you’re done! January is the month of attempting to be healthy and getting your Christmas-cookie-tummy feeling slightly more clean and fresh so I’ve been on the lookout for some interesting new “winter salads” that aren’t just a mound of lettuce leaves. This one is super fast and easy and can even be served over rice which is what I ended up doing. Plus, sweet potatoes are such an underused wonder, they really deserve another chance and combined with some winter citrus, this is one of my new faves.
There’s lots of new year resolutions to meet someone new, start dating, finally ask that person out, perhaps break up with this person and “find yourself.” But, there are hardly any resolutions to make a current relationship better. “If a Man Answers” is a one of Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin’s more obscure duos, but it honestly has the best plotline for a new year and a resolution to make a special someone even more special.
After a swift relationship, Sandra Dee’s character (Chantal) falls in love with and marries Bobby Darin’s character (Eugene), a photographer. Soon after the honeymoon wears off though, Darin’s character quickly moves his attention off his wife and onto his next beautiful photography model. When Chantal goes to her mother with her husband problems, her mum gives her a dog training book, telling her to use the tips in the book about training a dog on her husband. Though Chantal is slightly horrified, when she comes home to Eugene falling all over himself over a roomful of photography models, she begins to use the “tricks” in an attempt to transform him. After a few weeks, Eugene is a completely changed man: he’s attentive, willingly goes with her shopping, is romantic, and suddenly back to his old, devoted self.
Chantal quickly realizes however that her mother gave her the book not to train Eugene like a dog, but to train Chantal to treat him as well as she would a pet and transform her view of her marriage. Chantal began to intentionally seek out what Eugene’s needs were, she paid attention to his desires, went out of her way to make him comfortable, asked first where he wanted to go before dragging him to every errand on her list. Made his favorite dinner, greeted him with a smile, and welcomed every conversation they had together. Of course it’s not a Darin/Dee movie unless there is some mix-up to the plot–you’ll have to actually watch it to figure that one out–but even in the 1960′s they hit something right on the head: often we treat our pets better than we do our significant others and then we wonder why they aren’t drooling over our every word, longing to spend every moment with us, and jumping for joy when we walk through the door. Perhaps if we started treating them like our most beloved pup they may just figure out how much we really love them…try it, and see if this year your right now relationship doesn’t need to be switched out, re-newed, or rejected, perhaps it just needs both of you thinking less of yourself and more of the other person as the best dog you ever had.
A lot of blogs are plotting out a “word of the year” for this brand-spanking new 2014 as a sort of banner-word to capture the vision and feel for what they want this new year to be, what they want their fresh blogs to exude, and their personal lives to showcase. Last year, my word of the year was patience and I have to say I don’t think I did very well at following my own advice, but that’s what a new year is all about I suppose, resolving to try again despite every former failing. This year, I don’t have a very popular word, but I think it fits very well into what my life is going to be like in 2014, so I’m going to give it another go: it’s forgiveness.
I’ve been spending some of my Christmas vacation reading my favorite blogs and they all seem to be on the verge of launching big new projects, fresh ideas, and plans they’ve been idling for months. Seems logical for a new year: new plans, new goals, new ideas. But me? I’ve got nothin’ honestly. And that is why this year is going to be about forgiveness. Forgiveness I hope from all of my readers for when I vanish without an excuse and return without an apology, but most importantly forgiveness from myself to…myself. This year is going to be incredibly busy. Lots of big things are in the wings that last year I had to be patient about beginning but this year I actually have to accomplish and while it’s exciting, it’s also terrifying, exhausting, and creativity-numbing.
When I get on this space, I want to give you things from my heart so I’m making a new year resolution not to torture ideas out of myself, but to share things I find that I love along this new journey, to post projects I get a fancy for to distract me from real-life, and to share when I want to share instead of feeling obligated. It’s going to be tough. I really love this and still as a wee-baby blogger, everyone says to have frequency in your online presence, for a sporadic posting schedule won’t really gain a windfall of readers and may bore the ones you have, so deciding to sort of be a blog-slacker is scary. That’s why I need to forgive myself. This year I’m not going to be able to make everything work. Every part of my life will NOT be beautiful, in fact, I anticipate at least 3 out of the 5 major things in my life to be completely hideous for the larger part of this year. If it turns out better than expected, than jolly holly I’ll be happy, but I’m already forgiving myself for when it doesn’t. Last year I had quite the luxury of getting this blog off the ground, even if it only went up a few inches, but this year I have to put a few of my personal ambitions aside to complete real-life obligations that aren’t nearly so fun but completely necessary to you know—live. So, forgive me please that I can’t always put VMMV on top of my stack. I’m going to try and forgive myself as well and try to reallybelieve that there is a season for everything and when some seasons go, it doesn’t mean they won’t come back, just that you have to soldier through summer to get back to cozy fall, and when winter grows bleak, spring is always around the corner.