Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Backyard Transformation!

Our backyard has recently gone through a major transition.  Upon moving in, a two foot concrete patio extended off the back of the house and the yard was stalks of alien Philadelphia weed that were taller than corn, taller than me.  Immediately the huzz sawed them down...using a hand saw no less and I attempted to dig up the roots which only created a ghastly dirt hole in the center of the yard.  The entire ordeal was eventually covered up by a super sketchy contractor who installed pavers while simultaneously wrecking the foundation of our house by the back entry.

Before!  Big Dirt Pile.
Since then, and since the wedding, it's been our primary project to get the yard spiffy enough for barbecuing and gardening.  Our first project involved building garden beds--similar to how I did them before.  I really wanted to bring the  boxes from our old place into our new backyard but they apparently have started to disintegrate.  It took one day to build two custom sized garden beds, and a couple days to fill them with dirt.  Bags of garden soil are ridiculously heavy.  We needed 18!

Veggie Box

Flower Box

There are a ton of tutorials for building these yourself but essentially you need to know how tall to make them depending on how deep the roots of your plants should go.  The veggie box (L shaped) is twice the depth of the flower box.  Other than that it's a series of ensuring square corners and screwing wood into little corner pieces that you can see above.

We also spent a long time painting the dingy concrete wall with outdoor paint.  I cut it in with a brush and huzz used the roller.  It was a post work activity that I zoned out doing.  We shared this job but worked individually...which was odd but it worked for us.

I knew I wanted to attempt to build something with all the tools I registered for from the wedding (clearly not a normal bride) and the first project was our Farmhouse Table.  We used free plans from Ana White that were so easy to follow.

Ana White's plan sheet gives you your shopping list, your cut list, and then step by step instructions throughout the whole project.  She makes it so that you're not buying excess wood and chopping it down to leave you with a ton of scrap.  The plans mentioned above utilized a pocket hole creator -- like the Kreg Jig.  

Once we had all our cuts, all the pocket holes drilled, and the notches for the base chiseled out we were ready to assemble with pocket hole screws and lots of wood glue.

A couple times we put pieces together backwards, which is all in learning how to follow plans, but we were able to fix our mistakes quickly.  The trouble started when we attempted to lift the 100% wood table after working in the heat all day.  Trouble for newlyweds.
Lifting furniture is probably one of the major causes of divorce.  The urgency and lack of communication is a fast lane to frustration and muscle fatigue.  Building this table resulted in a sad Sunday.  But later in the week once two coats of stain and poly were on and twinkle lights were strung, it was water under the bridge.  We are thoroughly enjoying our new-found paradise...can't even tell we live on the streets of Philly!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Club Wed Continued....

Like I said in the previous post, I didn't document all my DIY like I wanted to, but still want to share them and the tutorials that helped me along the way.  To start, we finally got our professional pictures!!  Our photographer was Aaron Almendral, and any amazing pic you see (vs ones from my phone) are his work.  He was seriously the best...very chill which was a nice counter to my manic panic...and willing to take a shot of anything, including my fur-baby.

Harry's sign was a DIY but from my brain.  A scrap of plywood with two holes drilled on the corners, some chalkboard paint slapped on, twine strung around and then written on with chalk marker made for a superb dog sign.  Ever read the comics on The Oatmeal?  We love the one about his dog and his erratic behaviors which inspired Harry's sign.


Chris and I created our own cocktail menu based on our world travels.  It was a fun way of personalizing the event and educated some of our wedding guests that may not have known Chris and I very well.  We invented appetizers from food we actually ate abroad and ran it past our caterer who was more than happy to oblige.  She and the chef loved our creativity.  Above is a tent sign I made using two pieces of scrap wood, chalkboard paint, a hinge, and two eye hooks with twine in-between to prevent the sign from flattening out.  No tutorial on this one but I do have crappy pictures of me cutting wood that I'll spare you from.


Guests found their seats via their place cards which I mini-clothes pinned to twine strung across an old frame (trash pick!).  I screwed eye hooks in the interior of the frame equal distance apart and then tied twine across.  The place cards were created via a DIY pack from Michaels--the cheapest option I came across aside from cutting poster board down.  The cards came with an online template to download into word.    Each guest had pre-chosen their meal which I recorded and indicated to the catering staff via a stamp of either a chicken or a fish.  

In addition to getting place-cards, guests were asked to sign in via our "wedding tree" which was hand drawn and designed by our most artistic family members.  Guests chose from an array of green inks to 'leaf a print' (get it?  GET IT?!) and sign below.  We're framing the drawing as a very special keepsake.  

We directed guests with tons and tons of signs.  That's one thing nobody tells you about wedding need to make a butt-load of signs to direct your guests around like lemmings.  Even with mega signage you'll also need a coordinator to move them around.  It might have something to do with the combination extreme happiness and alcohol.  I attempted to solve the issue with a multi-directional sign informing guests where it all was going down.  It involved cutting scrap plywood into rectangles, defining points to make an arrow, painting, staining, screwing, and yet another use for my chalk paint marker.  Since we weren't allowed to stake anything into the ground (venues have strange rules too) we had to make a 20 pound weighted cement and moss filled bucket to hold this thing in place.  Huzz did that for me in the same way he made the ones for our arch, except this one was permanent.  

Finally!  Time to party.  The hanging welcome sign was a clearance find at Burlington Coat Factory ($4 what up) probably because it was all scuffed and bent out of shape.  It fit perfectly with the vibe, so I used my trusty chalk marker to personalize it.  I googled a lot of welcome chalkboard signs to figure out what I wanted to do and kept the images on my phone while I meticulously copied onto chalkboard as best as I could.  Secret to my success!  

I had no idea what our flowers would look like before the day of our wedding.  I kind of didn't care--as I was more focused on my own flower project (the bouquets).  We found our florist via venue hunting, and he just happened to have a spot in the Rittenhouse Square and Clark Park farmers markets where we could visit him.  We said, "all colors!"  "whatever you think!" and ended up with bright, charming, arrangements with these crazy yellow flowers I didn't know existed.

The arrangements sat on slices of cedar cut by my grandfather on our family tree farm.  Not only did the place smell great, it was such a nice personal touch to the whole tablescape.  The runners were crafted by moi with burlap and white pom-pom fringe (available for resale as soon as I clean them all!).

Tables were identified with handmade nail, string, wooden table numbers--one of the very first things I made for the wedding back in April 2014!  They were a labor of love...and I still stare at them from time to time.  Bonus, they are for sale in my Etsy store (or if you just contact me).  


I really wanted a BAR marquee anyways for our eventual party basement and I thought it couldn't hurt to create one for the reception and keep it afterwards.  I used paper-machee letters from Amazon, drilled just enough holes for the string of lights I had gotten at an after Christmas sale ($2!), and spray painted a glossy red.  We had a full bar, but the most memorable drink was the groom's cocktail of honey whiskey, lemonade, and thyme.  It was gone before cocktail hour ended!  Ok we also have really boozy friends.

Across the dance floor behind the DJ booth was a festive tissue paper tassel garland I made from the millions of tutorials online (such a cheap and easy decoration).  In front of the DJ booth were these ridiculous LOVE letters I made.  They're very bold, but they turned out to be a really fun party prop as you can see.  They made it into the conga line too.  These were made via a tutorial from Green Wedding Shoes.

Last but not least, dessert!  We ordered a ton of donuts from our favorite spot in Reading Terminal Market.  I made a quirky Love is Sweet sign from foam board and string and a hot glue gun that was pinned to the table cloth in the dessert room.  The process was the same with the Mr. & Mrs. chair hangers....although I can't find pictures of them in action at the event.  I had used Fedex/Kinkos to print the words for me, and I traced them onto foam board.  Cut out with a serrated bread knife (it works great!) and strategically wrapped.  I got the words to stick together with a toothpick--that's how the S is attached to the L and the i is attached to the e and the w.  I ended up reinforcing with popsicle sticks behind.

And the LOVE letter display I had made on our return from Europe was placed in the dessert room too.  I was really really really happy to have everything created be out and about. That tutorial can be found on this blog, here.

And of course somewhere along the way our cake topper made itself onto donuts.  Harry and I made these with bamboo skewer sticks, string, and triangles cut out of our Europe maps.  Those maps were useful!  From boutonnieres, to signage, to cake topper...I think they got some wear.

And now...I think I'm done talking about the wedding!  Back to home projects and the like, of which I've been doing a lot of so hoping to share soon.  We were so fortunate for our bridal party who really put in a lot of sweat unpacking and packing up all the decor.  The amount you need even for a basic wedding is no joke, and thanks to specific instructions psychotically labeled on each bin of decor, the bridal party went to work.  It was unnerving for me to not assist, control freak that I am, but when I saw everything out I was extremely grateful.  Thanks guys!