Posts in the 'DIY' Category
We’ve talked about my DIY skillz before (read: they don’t exist). If I were set out into the wild of crafting land (Michael’s), I’d have no freaking clue where to start, what kind of goodies to get, etc. I mean, it’s very likely I’d get caught in a vortex of “Oooh! Shiny!” and “Lookit all the pretty coooolllloooorrrrsssss!!!” and I’d walk out with paint and glitter and nothing to affix them to.
So, naturally, when I discovered Darby Smart and their very no-nonsense “We’ll send you all the shit, and instructions, and you just have to sit down and DO IT” approach to DIY and crafting, I was totally intrigued. Because I like making things and showing them off, but I kind of really need cut-and-dry instructions and no wiggle room to mess it up. Though, it’s very likely I will still find a way *foreshadowing*. And then looking at Darby Smart‘s website, and ogling at all the things I could actually like, do, the world very quickly became my wannabe-crafty-DIY oyster. Really, they got me hook, line and sinker with the animal figurines affixed to … anything.
So, of course, I hollered at them, and they happily agreed to send me a kit. I really wanted the Champagne flutes — they have two kits for Champagne flutes, and I didn’t really care which one, I just knew I needed to have them. A few days later, an adorably turquoise-and-chevron box arrived on my doorstep.
And then it sat on my table, and then under my table for a while. Because you guys, DIY is intimidating.
Until this past Sunday. That handsome guy of mine had to go into work for a while and I was kind of binged-out on Netflix and it was a fairly sunny day, so the light in our living room was awesome and my workspace was calling to me. So I poured some wine and got to work (yes, it was past noon, and no, DIY can’t be done without alcohol in the circles I run in).
1. Tape off design you want — the kit comes with stickers (shown on the “Drink” flute) and I used electrical tape for my own stripey design. I also taped off the top part of the glass where lips were to touch it, because I have this super weird thing about texture and the texture of etching makes my teeth hurt.
2. Slather on the etching glue. No, seriously, lube that baby up. Protip: Brush all in the same direction to give a smoother appearance. And watch out for clumpage, because that’ll also make it look, well, clumpy.
3. Let dry. Wait. Drink wine.
4. Rinse with warm water. You’ll want to make sure all that clumpage I talked about rinses off.
5. Untape. De-sticker. Revel in your masterpiece.
OK, so maybe they’re not some grand masterpiece (maybe I should have just etched the inside of the letters instead of the whole thing) but they’re still pretty freaking rad. And now I have Champagne flutes! Certainly those ladies with more DIY skillz than me will be able to conjure up some baller designs.
Oh, and hey, BABs, you can totes get in on this, because Darby Smart is giving away one of these Etched Champagne Flute kits!
As per usual, each task earns an entry. Open to US residents only (sorry loves!) Good luck, BABs!
You guys, ever since one of the brides, then the photographer, made contact with me about featuring this wedding, I was dying for the whole thing to land in my inbox. I knew it was a story full of love, but I didn’t know all the deets nor had I seen any photos yet … but I just knew it was one that would tug at my heart strings. And oh man … You can actually feel the love emanating from the words and pics. The wedding was held at 11 a.m. in the loft of the barn where one of the brides had ridden horses prior to their move to South Africa. Their sweet pup, Kobane, even joined Courtney and Carli — bedecked in a bow tie and all — for the reception. As conservationists, the brides had their wedding bands made from recycled silver and formed to resemble budding twigs. All of the decor was reminiscent of their relationship through the years, or was an actual piece of their history! So sit back, relax and enjoy all the love from this gorgeous Canadian wedding!
Names: Courtney & Carli le Roux
Wedding location: Rockwood Park Stables, New Brunswick, Canada
Wedding Date: 24 May 2014
Budget: $2500 CAD (~$2,305 USD)
How would you describe your wedding: A very intimate, quiet and special day full of small touches that are “us”; from the suitcase of letters we’ve sent each other, to books bound in twine that we’ve shared, hand written menu cards and an “our story” board.
What was your favorite part of your wedding? We loved how intimate it was, and how every tiny element held meaning. Exchanging vows was the favourite part, because we wrote them in the same room at midnight the night before we were married, but didn’t get to read each other’s.
What did you splurge on? Our photographer. Photos of the day are absolutely beautiful and we are a bit panicked even at the thought that we nearly didn’t have them.
What did you save on? Food, venue, dresses, decor and rings. We self-catered everything in a brunch-style buffet. Our venue was the hay loft of the barn where one of the brides rides and was loaned to us for free, so long as we cleaned it out and set it up. We managed to find an off-the-rack dress that was not only 50% off, but fit one of us perfectly, and the other was handmade by Courtney’s mother. The décor was all handmade and items that we already owned – from old suitcases and books tied in twine, to an old typewriter and vintage camera with case, and we made our archway out of branches that had been broken in a recent winter ice storm. We used old tables that were already in the barn and covered them with inexpensive linen, and used items and dishes that we already had to decorate them. Our rings were handmade and found on Etsy, and were given to us as a gift by Courtney’s sister, Alishia-Marie.
Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? We are really happy with how everything went together, but we really shouldn’t have spent so much time and energy worrying about the food. We stressed ourselves out about it and on the day, there was no need – we had far more than enough, and everyone who attended would have been fine even if there hadn’t been. The day was about us, not the food, the decorations, the dresses.
What was your biggest challenge in planning? We planned everything in less than two months, and initially we hadn’t intended to use the hay loft and so trying to find a venue in such short notice was a bit stressful, until we were offered the loft. If you can, use a location that doesn’t require much decorating, and something that family or friends own – a nice, big yard, a cottage, a beach – it will save so much time and money.
What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? Whatever happens doesn’t matter – the day is about you as a couple, and nothing else. Anyone at your wedding will understand that. Relax. It isn’t actually as serious as it’s made out to be – the commitment you are making is, but the day itself isn’t. And have fun! The things that go “wrong” make wonderful stories.
What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?
1 – How intimate and personal it was.
2 – That everything in the room had some kind of meaning to us.
3 – That the place we got married at had so much meaning for us.
4 – I had a surprise FaceTime call from one of my closest friends, who was unable to attend because she is living in Korea.
5 – The ceremony itself. We rewrote the template ceremony given to us by our officiant, and it made it so much more special.
Top 5 least favorite? We can honestly say that we have nothing to fill in here, other than we wish certain people had been able to make it.
What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? Have favours! Print programs! You need this … You need that …
Basically, people forgetting that the wedding was ours and ours alone, and that we were free to do whatever we pleased.
The best? Just enjoy it, and it’s about you. When we would get stressed out or worked up about something that really didn’t matter on the day, we were reminded of that fact. That all that mattered was us, and that we were happy.
Any other bits of wisdom? We know that so many people say it, but it really is not worth the stress. All that matters is that that paper gets signed – everything else is just for fun.
$1000 Photogtapher Alicia Robichaud of www.arfoto.ca
$350 Dress for Carli, that needed no alterations
$75 Fabric for Courtney’s dress, hand mande by my mother
$250 Food, self-catered (and delicious!)
$100 Marriage License
$100 Hair for both of us
$100 misc DIY decoration supplies, linen, dish and chair rentals, etc.
$250 Wedding shoes, which were riding boots that are still being worn by both of us
$225 for both recycled silver wedding bands, given to us as a wedding gift.
Do you have a wedding you’d like to submit? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
You guys, did you know that the unofficial state slogan of Kentucky is “Kentucky Kicks Ass”? Welp, now you do. And this real wedding (geez, it’s been a hot minute since we’ve had one of these hasn’t it?) does just that. The ceremony was held on a cliff, in Kentucky, and was full of family and love and general creativity. This is one broke-ass, kick-ass wedding for the books … and check out that sunset!
Names: Donna and Larry Roseberry
Occupation: Registered Nurse
Wedding location: Pine Crest Camp Lodge, Beattyville, Kentucky
Wedding Date: 4/12/2014
How would you describe your wedding: Nontraditional with many ancient Celtic traditional elements such as a ring warming, hand fasting, and prayer circle. Our vows were ancient Pagan/ Celtic vows that spoke to us in a deeply spiritual way.
What was your favorite part of your wedding? My sweet husband is a musician. He wrote a song especially for our wedding day and sang it to me during the ceremony while playing the guitar as well.
What did you splurge on? Catering. We found a local couple who prepared a delicious dinner which included fried chicken, mashed potatoes, baked beans, slaw, rolls, biscuits, tea and lemonade. They charged us around $ 650 but completely worth it.
What did you save on? We used many found items collected during previous trips in our wedding. Our cake topper and table decorations were made from pinecones we collected on hikes. Our toasting glasses were souvenirs from a wine tasting we attended the week we were engaged. Many of our decorations were items we already had at home such a family pictures, we even took our favorite picture off the wall to include! Friends and family donated burlap, quilts, baskets, etc. We waited for items at Hobby Lobby to go on sale at half price and then purchased them. DJ and Videographer were free. We also saved money by hosting both the wedding and reception at the same lodge. We rented the entire 10 acre property all weekend for $950. After guests paid for their rooms, our cost was only $650. This included 2 nights’ accommodations, reception, hay bales, 2 kitchens, campfire, and an atmosphere that is unrivaled!
Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? I would have decorated with more inexpensive grocery store flowers. We placed spring blooms in old wine bottles, soda bottles and mason jars. It turned out to be one of my favorite, easiest and least expensive touches.
What was your biggest challenge in planning? Putting together a wedding 5 hours away from the destination took more time and planning than I expected. The mere task of transporting everything to the Lodge was quite a task!
What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? Don’t buy into the idea that you have to make your wedding look like Pinterest! Make it your own and you won’t regret it.
What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding? All four of our children were part of our wedding party, and my oldest son walked me down the wooded path to the ceremony site. Instead of a guest book, we took pictures of the surrounding area on previous trips, printed them on card stock and cut them out like postcards. We then asked guest to write us a note filled with advice or well wishes and had guests place the “postcards” in an old donated and rescued mailbox.
Larry cut two saplings from the property and placed them in old moonshine jugs, once they were standing upright, we strung twine between the two tress and clipped old family wedding pictures to the “clothesline” with clothespins. Our cake topper was fashioned from pinecones we collected on previous hikes.Our wedding ceremony included ancient Celtic vows, a ring warming and a hand fasting. My father gave a prayer of blessing while our parents, children and ourselves held hands in a circle of love. Instead of buying a lot of decorations, we rented them from a local wedding planner … it was a win for everyone! A friend of ours donated 2 gallons of homemade strawberry wine. We placed it in a big Mason jar decanter and labeled it “smooch hooch” — guests were encouraged to have a sip before or after the ceremony.
Anyone lucky enough to get a kiss from someone could ring the bell located at the “smooch hooch” table in celebration! Our exit song was “I’m Gonna Be (500miles)” by the Proclaimers, so when the music started, the kids, Larry and I just began to dance in celebration! Soon, everyone joined in the dancing and celebrating … right there on the cliff!
Top 5 least favorite? Worrying about weather in an outdoor wedding is stressful. Although we didn’t need it, I wish I’d had a better back up plan. I had some issues getting the bust of my dress to fit correctly, and right before the ceremony, our officiate had to help me fashion a makeshift fastener to fix the dress! The day went by SO FAST! I wish I could have stopped time and enjoyed every second.
What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? My mom told me I shouldn’t wear white because it was my second wedding. I just smiled and bought that pretty white dress anyway.
The best? As long as you, your partner, the officiant, witnesses, and marriage license show up: everything else is fluff! Make the day your own! Be quirky! Have fun!
Any other bits of wisdom? Keeping our wedding small and intimate was one of the best decisions we made. We enjoyed every person in attendance, the love was overwhelming, and the budget manageable.
Groom’s suit: $115 (On sale at Kohl’s)
Bride accessories: $85 David’s Bridal
Officiant, Bride and Groom Flowers, Photography, Cake, Cupcakes, photography package through a FANTASTIC couple who run a wedding service called My Tiny Wedding: $930
Family and ceremony flowers $72 from local couple who run a small shop, Beattyville Horton’s Florist
Decorating rentals (lanterns, table runners, wooden slabs, candles): $122 , Simple to Elegant
Venue: Pine Crest Camp Lodge.
Catering: $650 included fried chicken, mashed potatoes, baked beans, slaw, rolls, biscuits, tea and lemonade. Provided by a local couple referred to us by the lodge owners, Everett Marshal
Beer/ Wine: $100, Sam’s Club
Invitations: $15, Sam’s Club
Programs, postcards: made ourselves at home: free
Favors: we purchased personalized honey pots and decks of cards using a coupon from David’s Bridal we received after purchasing the wedding gown. $75
Decorations: $100, Hobby Lobby
DJ: Free – donated by a friend
Videography: Free – donated by a friend
Cake topper: free –my daughter made them from pinecones we collected on a hike
Hair and makeup: Free – from a friend.
Total: $ 3225
Do you have a wedding you’d like to submit? Email email@example.com for details!
*Brought to you by our friends at Bloominous*
Flowers. I like ‘em. They sure look and smell pretty. I didn’t have them at my first wedding. But the logistics of that (budget, especially) were kind of a nightmare. I know a lot of BABs tend to opt out, or opt for less, due to budget constraints. And to that end, florists tend to be out of a broke-ass’s price range while DIY takes up too much time to make it worthwhile.
Which is why, when I found out about Bloominous, I shrieked in broke-ass delight! Here was an opportunity to not only try my hand at DIY, but try my brown thumb-riddled hand at floral DIY. I mean, I — me — this girl right here who once killed a cactus (true story) could actually work with flowers, making them pretty and arranged … and I wouldn’t even have to worry about the long-term care! Bloominous has an in-house florist in charge of curating the directions and designing the overall aesthetic.
Of the four collections, the Bohemian Desert spoke to me the most (color!!!). I made my pick, and sat back and relaxed. A couple days later, a large box arrived on my doorstep and I got prepared (read: beer) to get my hands dirty. But, since the flowers come cut-to-order, trimmed and de-thorned, there wasn’t really much dirty to get.
The first step is to get a big ol’ bucket — or similar vessel (I used a trash can) — of water and dump some flower food in there. Then you cut the stems and make sure there are no leaves that might get drowned when you let the flowers rehydrate (4-12 hours, the longer, the better). I let mine sit overnight so they could drink up all the waters!
Once the flowers are all boozy from libation, organize and lay out the stems in front of you, based on which project you’re going to tackle first. Lucky for people like me who are pretty flora-dumb, there are great photos and illustrations to go along with each stem and step.
Arrange the bouquet, centerpiece or boutonnière based on the instructions. I mean, it’s really easy at this point. The Bohemian Desert collection features a succulent that has to be stuck with pins and wrapped with floral tape to attach it to a dowel and then shoved in the bouquet, which was the most complicated part for my clumsy little hobbit hands. And even that was easy. Of course being the picky, indecisive Libra I am, I rearranged the bouquet and centerpiece about 30 times until I was satisfied that there was balance.
I love that the bouquet came with the pearl-topped pins, which always remind me of buttons on the back of a wedding dress and harken to a v. special wedding-y kind of elegance. I was also impressed with the vessel for the centerpiece, as it was a simple black plastic vase, but was dipped or painted in gold for an added oomph. Because, you guys, it’s in the details!
Here’s the thing, you guys. This whole process was simple enough that I’m tempted to order a centerpiece once every couple of months just to have in my house. I know, for a fact, that my next wedding (not that I have a ring … yet) will be using something by Bloominous. The customer service was phenomenal and it actually gave me a sense of confidence in a DIY area that was hugely overwhelming for me. Plus, a little birdie told me that they’ll be adding two new collections soon … and those may just have to adorn various surfaces in my casa! And since you avoid the whole 300% markup deal that comes with using a florist, it’s super budget-friendly ($5 boutonnières, $40 centerpieces, $50 bouquets).
PSSSTT: Stay tuned between now and May for a special deals and news from Bloominous!
Based on the number of sparkly shoe pins on Pinterest wedding boards, a lot of you guys are interested in dancing the night away in some sweet disco ball kicks. Unfortunately, some of those babies can cost you multiple thousands of dollars because shoe manufacturers enjoy taking refreshing swims in pools of your tears. Today, we take the power back!
I demonstrated on a pair of Converse as they had excitingly sparkly sides but boring toe caps, and as a person with child-size, hoof-like feet, my pants tend to cover up the majority of the shoe other than the toe cap, so clearly said toe caps needed to be kicked up a notch, namely to “Super-sparkle-unicorn-fart-SHAZAM” levels, but you can use this method on anything that’s not currently alive. Take the item you want to funkify, and clean it until there’s no more dirt and grime or gross buildup. Rubbing alcohol works magic on white shoes. Get some Gem-Tac or E-6000 (both work well, but the E-6000 is super stinky so I prefer Gem-Tac), a china marker, and an approximate buttload of flat-back rhinestones in the color of your choice. You’ll want to make sure you’re buying glass rhinestones rather than acrylic–even though glass is more expensive, it’s also more reflective and plastic will get scuffed up easily and look cheap, rendering your item ugly and your time wasted. Get more than you think you’ll need; you can calculate the approximate amount you’ll need here. A rule of thumb for crystal estimation–to fill a square inch of space with an 7ss stone, you’ll need 144 crystals. To replicate the sparkliest of shoes, you’ll need somewhere in the realm of 30 gross (or more!), which is why I suggest buying them all at once from an online store that gives you bulk pricing, because the small packets in the retail craft stores are a total rip. To take a shoe from plain to drag superstar isn’t cheap–prepare to spend around $100 on rhinestones…but it’s still significantly cheaper than a pair of Louboutins! You can use whatever size rhinestones you want. The smaller the stone, the more more sparklicious impact the project will have and the more luxe it will look, but bear in mind it will be fussier and require many many more stones per square inch, driving up your costs in time and materials. I used SS16 (4mm)on this project, for example, but on something smaller like a cell phone, I’d want to use a smaller stone. Spread some Gem-Tac on the area you intend to cover (it’s easier to work a bit at a time than covering the whole surface with glue, because it dries relatively quickly.) and pick up and place the rhinestones with the tip of the china marker. You can use tweezers instead if you’re a fan of frustration, I won’t judge. Rinse and repeat until you’re done. Once you’ve let the glue dry, you’ve got a piece of eye-searing sunshine on your hands. Take that, manufacturers of overly-expensive shoes!
BLAM. Sparkle time!
You can create a more high-fashion look by mixing a variety of stone sizes like I did on the lenses of my gaga-esque sunglasses. Just place the stones randomly in a way that looks good to you, working one small area at a time. It’s ok if there are small gaps, the glue dries clear, and if it bothers you, you can always put a tiny stone in the gap later.
Use this power wisely. Or go nuts! But when everything you own is covered in rhinestones, don’t say I didn’t use the word “moderation”, because I did, just now.
BONUS: If you’re looking to make a pair of wedding fauxboutins, you’ll want to get your red sole in place before doing any crystal work. Here’s how you do that:
*Carefully tape off all the areas on the shoe that you don’t want to be red. Don’t skimp on the tape, buy the best stuff you can find as your edges need to be crisp to look right. If you’re taping on lace, I’d recommend wrapping the shoe in cling wrap and then taping over that so you don’t risk damage to the fabric from the tape, because even delicate surface tape is intended for tougher stuff than lace.
*Prime the sole with a multipurpose primer. Aerosol primers and paints are great but make sure you have covered every single surface on the shoe you don’t want painted or you’ll be very upset.
*Paint the soles the red of your choice. You can use spray paint, house paint, auto paint…the original runway Louboutins were done with red nail polish! Keep your coats thin and even, with a minimal amount of brushstrokes for the best results. If you want to coordinate further, go with an orange based red if your wedding incorporates warm colors or a blue based red if you’re going cool. Just like with lipstick and teeth, orange reds make offwhites look more yellow, and blue reds make them look more white, so keep that in mind if your shoe is not pure white.
*Let them dry thoroughly before doing anything else. Don’t poke, prod, lick, wear, or otherwise touch the shoes for at least 24 hours. I mean it!
*Use a surface sealant to make the color last longer. Again, aerosol works fine.
Your red paint job should look great but it’s not entirely impervious to scuffs and scrapes–after all, you’ll be walking and dancing in these babies on a variety of surfaces. Be careful when walking on your new soles, they can be slippery! If you want a flash of red on the heel but to keep the grip of the sole, tape off the toebox when you’re doing your paint job.
May the crafts be with you,
Whaddup, BABs? This wintery weather has me cooking up a storm (soups, pastas, even a pot roast!), but sometimes I’m a little slow in the prep area because I’m so cautious with how I handle my knife. I take FOREVER slicing and dicing to perfection. And with the amount of veggies I like to pile into my dishes, the cutting often eats up the vast majority of my time in the kitchen.
So when I saw this nifty little email touting Craftsy’s class, Complete Knife Skills with Brendan McDermott, I got uber excited. And of course I couldn’t keep it to myself.
Not familiar with Craftsy? Welp, you should be. Especially if you’re planning on DIY-ing shizz for your wedding day. Craftsy offers lots of free mini courses and many more full-length courses (the priciest I saw was $59.99 for a studio photography course) in areas ranging from knitting to cake decorating to paper crafts and more. So whether you’re planning on making paper flowers for your wedding decor or would like to create some bling for your bridesmaids, and you don’t really know how to go about it, check out Craftsy and learn how to do it all yourself.
Oh, hey newly-engaged BABs! We know that starting to plan your wedding can be a bit overwhelming, and sometimes finding ways to create your big day that oozes your love for one another without murdering your bank account can be tough. But fear not! Our UK partner MyOffers is here to get those wedding wheels spinning with 8 fun, funky and outright fantastic ideas to make your big day truly yours.
Whether you go for a classic ‘50s look, run with the swinging ‘60s, or delve into ‘80s noir, vintage weddings are always en vogue. Delicate dresses, themed decoration and kitschy details turn these weddings into scenes from period dramas, or postcards from eras gone by. Planning a vintage wedding can also be easy on your bottom line by making your own decorations and rifling through thrift shops. There’s tons of ideas and inspiration out there, all you have to do is find what speaks to you and go for it!
Run Away Together:
Forget the stress of organizing every far-flung relative and friend; forget the potentially huge list of expenses; forget about worrying over the weather; forget about diplomatically creating seating plans; forget about getting married with anyone around. Find a country you love, and go there. Get married on a beach, under the stars, or in a church in a town you’ve never been to before. Have a quiet ceremony, tie the knot and when you’re ready, re-emerge into the real world, happy and married. Elopements can serve as a secret memory, an inside moment you and your beloved can share for the rest of your life.
Under the Sea or Up, Up and Away:
Dive under the seas if you’re a SCUBA pro, take a boat out, or simply go for a paddle: As long as you don’t mind getting your feet wet, a water-filled wedding ensures that you’ll have the most unforgettable day. If water isn’t for you, take to the skies! Hot air balloons, bungee jumping and sky-walking … the possibilities are endless when you decide to take your feet off the ground. Although you won’t be able to have many guests with you at the time, there’s plenty of opportunities for an aquatic or aviation themed party afterwards.
Plant members of a band around your guests, a la the opening scene of “Love Actually” (Eds. note: This scene makes me tear up EVERY TIME), have missing friends flown in from around the world – or simply trot up to the venue on your beloved horse. Having little surprises like a dog, an old university friend or a hidden singer can bring a whole new element to a wedding, especially if it’s kept a secret from everyone.
The Theme Scene:
If you’ve got a theme in mind, run with it. Get your guests to dress up, decorate your venue accordingly and go all out when it comes to you and your betrothed’s wedding day attire. From Alice in Wonderland, to rock’n’roll – push the boundaries and see how inventive people can get.
Get Your Hands Dirty:
If you’re low on cash, or don’t fancy blowing your savings on one day, make the most of what you’ve got. Find a friend with a gorgeous backyard, go DIY on your decorations and trawl charity shops and secondhand stores for your attire. Get close friends and family to pitch in with their own elbow grease, and your day will truly be created by love.
Think Outside the Location Box:
Don’t just stick to churches or courthouses: There’s nothing stopping you from branching out and holding your wedding in your favorite place. From museums to libraries, and bookshops to barns, put your own stamp on your day by holding it somewhere new and meaningful. Love flying? Check out an airplane hangar. Got a knack for history? Preserved forts and homes often host events and provide unique locales.
Get Festive at a Festival:
Welcome your friends and family to a WedFest, and say goodbye to formal seating plans, three-course meals and rigid dress codes. Find a large piece of land, with room for camping, stock up on alcohol and easy-to-eat finger foods, and rally together everyone you know who’s been in a band, owns a guitar or fancies themselves as a DJ. Let the wedding fun begin!
I am generally all about DIY projects; if I see something I like, my gears start spinning as to how I can recreate it for myself, and wedding planning has provided ample opportunities for me to build and tweak and tune every detail to my heart’s content. It also has provided me ample opportunities to go overboard.
At one point, I read an article criticizing wedding DIY as creating a culture of a disposable day filled with throwaway things…and I took that as a cue to dye, cut, sew, and hand-embroider all of the wedding napkins lest people think poorly of me for using monogrammed disposables. That particular madness ended when I changed the wedding colors/scheme and didn’t want to start over from square one…at least I have a heck of a lot of cocktail napkins to use from now until the end of eternity.
The commitment to quality DIY, however, didn’t stop there, and got much worse for a while. For instance, we picked our venue because they were on the preferred list of a caterer we tried at the Seattle Wedding Show. Later, when we discovered this particular caterer was out of our budget (severely so), we were glad that the venue provided a sizeable kitchen and didn’t require you to hire one of their preferred vendors because we were going to (wait for it) cater our own wedding. I figured out recipes, tested them, figured out how to scale them up/pre-prepare and freeze them, but ultimately decided that while it might be possible to do this ourselves, that I didn’t want to spend my wedding day freaking out about what was going on in the kitchen, or IN the kitchen, which is where my perfectionist ass spends 99% of the parties I throw. I also didn’t want to set my bridesmaids on that task, in the back in their pretty dresses, frying up eggrolls, not least because grease tends to do a number on chiffon.
Later, I thought “Wouldn’t it be fun to do all the flowers?” We didn’t plan on having floral on any of the tables, so it just meant bouquets and bouts…and then I remembered that more people get bouts than the wedding party, and mothers and grandparents should have corsages and then I thought it would be nice to have a little floral at each table, and it was already galloping out of my control and I knew it was going to explode into a giant pain of wilted, angry “Why did I think it would be fun to do this?/ I don’t have time to do this! /I’ve decided to set the venue on fire instead.” the day before/the morning of, and that my fury face, though funny, doesn’t translate particularly well to lovely photographs.
This is how I devised my rules of DIY. When I decide to take on a project, I ask myself the following questions:
Is it necessary? As in: do I need it or just want it? Will it be an integral part of the day, or something that that I’ll look at later and wonder why I’d wasted the time and effort? By this question, something like personally designed and assembled invitations would be worth pursuing as they’ll presumably be tacked to the fridge for a while and set the tone for the event itself. Envelope calligraphy that will just be thrown away…not so much.
Does it have impact? Is it something that the guests will see and take in as part of their overall impression of the day, or is it something that only I would worry about and notice? With this question, I was able to focus my efforts toward special centerpieces, and not decorating the bathrooms (I trust that people will still know that they’re at a wedding when they step through the door).
Is it reasonable? Will making it prove just as expensive or more expensive than buying it? Is it a reasonable use of my time, or will I feel upon completion as though I climbed Mount Everest by myself, naked, with only a vuvuzela and a herring strapped to my back in an aquarium? I am aware that I can generally ask my friends for help, but I also want to be reasonable in my requests for their time. It’s one thing to spend an afternoon together working on a project, and it’s another to spend every weekend for a month toiling in a friend’s sweatshop because she had to have handmade paper menus for her intimate wedding of 500. For instance, it took some time and effort to make our wedding website (and very little in the way of financial resources), but no more time than was reasonable, and we found the results extremely worthwhile. Not so much with the napkin thing.
Have you ever done anything like this before? Maybe you’ve always wanted to take up calligraphy or floral arranging or, I don’t know, welding your own seats out of found scrap metal, but if you’ve never done it before, practice it way ahead of time. If you’re not familiar with the process, things could take much longer and not turn out the way you’d like. Spraypaint has the unfortunate tendency to not dry when it senses you’re in a rush, glue likes to fail, and spot welds will crumble before your eyes: these things are law. When you give yourself plenty of time, you can invest a little and see if the project is worth pursuing or if you’d rather not undertake the task.
Is there a better way? Just because I first envisioned making it one way doesn’t mean that it’s the best, most resource-effective way to do it. It’s worth taking the time and brainstorming other ways to see the task through to completion. For example, I’ve got my heart set on Battlestar Galactica dog tag escort cards, but my initial idea (based on a tutorial I found online) of flattening pennies on a steel plate proved extraordinarily difficult (I’d have to take a few breaks to rest my shoulder during the flattening of each penny) and the results weren’t proving to be worth it. I’ve got a couple of new ways to do it battling it out in my brain and I know that one of them will prove more effective than spending every night for the next two months pounding pennies.
Can it be done in advance? The less a DIY project can be done in advance, the greater the side eye you should give it. Your time is a resource, and in the last few weeks leading up to your wedding, it will be at a premium. You don’t want to be making favors, assembling centerpieces, arranging flowers, frosting cupcakes, and putting the finishing touches on your dress the day before, unless you get that exciting runner’s high from stress.
Speaking of time: Is it worth it for the amount of time you’ll have to exchange for it? What’s the personal cost to you if you miss a year or more of baby showers, birthday parties, movie nights, and cookouts because your every free moment is devoted to wedding projects? Are you willing to look back on that year of your life as The Year of Wedding Projects?
Do you really want to DIY it, or do you just not want to pay for it? Granted, planning a huge shindig at the expense of our married future has never been one of my aims, but I’ve been particularly conscious of it because of my time here at The Broke-Ass Bride, because I don’t think it’s authentic for me to preach to everyone the virtues of hard work and saving a dime if I don’t do it myself…but at the same time, I have come to realize that I don’t need to be punishingly strict with the budget, and that some things are worth paying for to have them off my plate. So we’re paying a caterer, and we’re paying a florist, and that frees up my time and mental energy to work on the details that are important to me (the perfect ipod playlist to get the party grooving) AND have some much-needed me time. All that should matter in regards to our budget is that we end up with a total cost that seems reasonable to us. Yes, some people will spend less than us, and some will spend way, way more, but everyone has different circumstances and for us, it’s worth spending a bit more to have a party that we’ll remember fondly than a shindig that we’ll groan just thinking about the work involved.
Walk through my questions the next time you have a DIY project that you’re on the fence about—I hope it will help you pare down to projects that are reasonable for your time, skills, and budget. And if you have any DIY questions, feel free to hit me up in the comments and I’ll do my best to help you out. I’m so not handmaking 500 pieces of paper for your menus, though.
It’s like a donut and a croissant are having raunchy, sloppy sex in your mouth. Need I say more?
If you’re late to the game on the nationwide Cronut craze, let me briefly enlighten you. It all started when Dominique Ansel bakery in New York introduced these flaky/creamy/crunchy/doughy delights, resulting in (and I kid you not), people lining up around 5am to procure these precious pastries due to the limited number available each day, and the fact that they sell out in like, 5 minutes. Word of these tasty treats swept the nation, and just like that, a culinary craze was born.
Now, bakeries around the US are launching their own take on the Cronut – dubbed with other unfortunate portmanteaus such as the “doughssant” and “frisant” and “crullant.” BUT, my intrepid friends, rather than wait in line for hours and hours and paying between $3-5 per pop for a hyped up pastry hybrid… why not make them yourself? If I did it, being the least baking-savvy person I know, and succeeded… YOU CAN TOO!
And the dozen or so tasty treats that were the fruits of my 3-day long labor? WORTH IT. Worth every minute of prep. Worth every ounce of stress. Worth the look on my boyfriend’s face when he tried it. Worth the pleasure that radiated from my lips down to the nethers of my very groin at the taste, texture and “HOLY SHIT I MADE THIS THING THAT TASTES SO GOOD”-ness of it all. If you don’t believe me, check out the video at the end of the post
Now, would you like the recipe? Well, then. Here you go!
There are several parts to the process.
(Start this step first, because while it’s not complicated, it takes for-EVER.)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons softened butter (I used salted butter for this. I like salty sweets)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon dry active yeast
- 1 cup (ie: 2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
- 5 cups grapeseed oil
In a small saucepan, combine the milk and water and heat to just about 100 degrees. You’ll know its ready when you stick a finger in and its only a little warmer than your skin – kind of like the baby formula test. Then introduce the yeast, mix well, and let stand for about 5 minutes. While you’re waiting, lug out your stand mixer and slap on the paddle attachment. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and softened butter on low speed. Add the yeasty milk to the stand mixer and blend just until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl to ensure everything gets some mixer love. Pat your dough into a ball, place into a greased bowl, lay a damp tea towel over the top of the bowl and set it in a warm spot. Let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Then, use your fists of steel to punch that dough down a bit and refrigerate it for 1 hour or so. You can wait longer, just not shorter.
During this hour, you might find it handy to proceed to THE CRÈME. (see below)
After the dough has chilled for an hour or more, put the butter between 2 pieces of parchment paper and use a rolling pin or wine bottle to flatten and shape into an 8×8-inch square. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. And if your butter gets too gooey and won’t cooperate, throw the whole thing in the freezer for a few minutes to firm it up.
Then, roll out your chilled dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12×12-inch square. Peel away the parchment from your butter square and lay it on the center of the dough square rotated to land diamond-style (not square style). Gently wrap the corners of the dough over the butter block to meet in the middle and pinch the seams closed so the butter is completely enclosed in dough. Roll dough out into a 20×8-inch rectangle, then fold it into thirds, like you would fold a letter. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or more. Then repeat the rolling, folding, and chilling process 2 more times. And each time, tell yourself: it’s worth it.
Once your dough has been through all 3 rounds of the roll/fold/chill process – roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a 6×18-inch rectangle. Cut into 6×6-inch squares and stack all the squares on top of each other. Roll that pile of dough into a 6×8-inch rectangle. Cut 12 round shapes out of the dough using a ring cutter (or tracing the mouth of a drinking glass and roughing the hole with a paring knife, like I did. Honestly you don’t need the hole.), and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (an unheated oven will do) until you can press the dough and it holds the indent, which takes roughly 30 minutes.
Place the oil in a large pot and heat to 350 degrees. Be careful not to overheat and scorch the oil! I did, and it was a literal hot mess of smoke detectors and stench. I had to throw it all out and start over again. Keep an eagle eye on that temp, yo! And remember the first pancake rule: start with one cronut, so you don’t ruin the whole batch if you overfry on your first attempt. Note how long it takes to get to the perfect golden-brown you like (usually about a minute. Maybe even less.) Fry each cronut for that long, making sure to flip them about halfway through, until they’re perfectly perfect. Place on a paper towel lined plate to cool.
(pardon my messy kitchen. But do NOT pardon my adorable pajamas. They’re from Anthropologie, and I’ve never loved any PJs more.)
Once they’re cool, use a pastry bag with a long, thin tip to pipe the CRÈME (see recipe below) into the center of each cronut. I found that going in through the bottom produced the best results. (Going in through the sides just split my delicate cronuts at the seams. No bueno.) Then roll them in the SUGAR COATING (see recipe below), and drizzle with GLAZE (see recipe below.)
Eat these suckers PROMPTLY. I’m talking post-haste, m-fers. They will not be anywhere near as good a few hours later, and by the next day, they’ll still be sweet and tasty, but the magical texture will be lost forever. CONSUME WITH PURPOSE, people.
And instagram lots of pictures to make your friends insanely jealous. Comme ça:
(I made a simple vanilla crème and it was the bomb. If all I got from this endeavor was making this crème alone, it would have been worth it.)
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup fine sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Gently heat the milk and 1/2 of the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, but watch that it doesn’t burn. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, the other 1/2 of the sugar, flour, and salt. When the milk is warmed through, slowly temper the egg mixture by adding in a little milk at a time, whisking all the while to prevent scrambling. When all of the milk has been incorporated, pour the mixture back into saucepan and warm it, whisking like there’s no tomorrow, until the mixture is boiling and thick. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla extract and (if you detect any small lumps) push it through a fine strainer into a bowl. Lay plastic wrap directly on the service of the crème so a skin does not form, and stick in the refrigerator until ready to use. Good luck not eating too much of it in the meantime!
THE SUGAR COATING.
(I did cinnamon-sugar. You can do just sugar if you want. Or a different flavored sugar! Mmmm, sugar.)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Mix it together. Simple pimple.
(I did a simple, drippy, glazey one. you can do full-on icing if you want!)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/8 cup water
Whisk ‘em together. Easy peasy.
And this, friends, is what it looks like when I have my first bite. At 1am. After nearly 3 days of mixing, folding, rolling, and chilling and frying, and filling, and coating, and glazing.
Seriously delicious. Even my most pastry-loving friend deemed my Cronuts in his Top 10 pastry experiences ever! And having had very little experience baking, working with pastry, or deep-frying ever before – I have to say it was a really fun experience and super fulfilling challenge. With quite the rewarding end!
So tell me…. What do you think? Will you try making your own Cronuts?