Saturday, May 31

Designing Wedding Heirlooms: Quilting Bee

Ever since we received the fabulous gift of a quilt, I've been thinking of asking the maker to design a second piece--a twin, you could say, or a second piece in a quilt diptych. Because the original is in darker tones, I thought maybe we could do something with lighter colors and use the fabrics from our wedding--the fabric photobooth I've made with this fabric, the gingham table runners--as well as other significant clothes and linens we have. I was just browsing around Portovert and reread the article on Angela Matusik's wedding. On her blog, she has a wonderful post about doing just this project with great folksy results--isn't the quilt above lovely? I highly recommend checking out her other great ideas.

Speaking of quilts, for more see
Nibs great 70s Crafts post.

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Backyard Field Guide: Peach Surprise

This painting by Cezanne is, of course, called Still Life with Plate of Cherries...and it, like our backyard, also features peaches--which I somehow overlooked.

Last night, walking around our garden, we peered up into the branches of this old tree behind the garage and S said, "What are these??" Tiny green nut-like fruits everywhere. And I thought, "Peaches...!"
So, after three full years of living here, wondering what this mysterious flowering tree was (our last best guess was Hawthorne), we now know from our neighbor that it is a peach tree and it is just covered in fruit, my favorite fruit. Little did we know when we moved into this house that it was formerly the homeplace of a university botanist. We've been finding treasures ever since and trying to maintain them. Lincoln has great garden resources and so I'm hoping to enlist a local arborist in helping us care for the tree and what looks to be a remarkable harvest. I'm not one to say that this was somehow a miraculous magical serendipity but the timing is pretty amazing....

Peaches! If you've never seen
this clip, I highly recommend it. Because after I thought about pies a plenty, I thought of, well, Will Ferrell.

As soon as the new camera arrives, I promise there will be more pictures!

For more peaches, check out
this post by Grace's Birdcage Wedding.

UPDATE: We've just found out from our an arborist friend of our new neighbor: it is actually an
apricot tree! The difference? It's all in the leaves--the apricot has heart-shaped leaves and the peach a thinner leaf! Go figure.

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Friday, May 30

Designing Wedding Heirlooms: Initial Here & Here

Laura of TextStyle has sent me the first photos of this beautiful sign she's made for our upcoming event. I'm so tremendously excited. Her work is just beautiful--beautifully crafted, beautifully designed and delivered with beautiful care. She was so kind to discuss all the parts of the project in great detail with me. I was hoping the sign could hang outside to welcome our guests to the party and later in our home--and, sure enough, she's thought of it all and more than I had ever hoped. She had the great idea of asking guests to sign the back on the big day--something that never would have crossed my mind and such a nice commemoration. To see more of Laura's work, check out her website here.

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Thursday, May 29

Sweet Find: La Pomme

Beautiful, beautiful pieces from La Pomme. I just love how these little dolls are tucked in and the blankets are turned down...!

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Backyard Field Guide: Robin's New Nest

It has been a busy, busy week in our garden! I was just about to put my post up about all this when our neighbor stopped by. There's a big storm on the horizon here and on the prairie that's no small thing: it's tornado season. In the immediate what that means is taking in all of our potted plants (which, thanks to the wedding, there are many of...!) so that the wind doesn't break any stems or whip them off the porch. While doing this, I was thinking what I had to write about today was, well, sort of thin. I was going to write about a bowl of zinnias I clipped from our plants in the hopes that they would bloom on the big day, new pots I planted, the herb favors for the party (all in the above photos)...sort of interesting. But then I took down the hanging baskets and put them in our kitchen:

Talking on the phone with my good friend Ben this morning, sitting on the stoop, I noticed a robin land with a beak full of straw, took off for awhile and then returned. Sure enough, here was his handiwork and homeplace in my hanging plants. From above, the nest is remarkable: one perfect circle. To be honest, I'm not quite sure what to do--leave it? move it? keep it? What would you say?

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Monday, May 26

Wedding To Do: Welcome Bags

First thing, I really, really need a new camera. Forgive the blurry photos! I just put up the essentials because, wow, yikes....

I've been working away on the welcome bags for our out-of-town wedding guests and just finished putting them all together. Reading the wedding blogs was a huge help in this area--I gathered so many fun and practical ideas. I found the bags
here--they were really inexpensive and eco-friendly (made of bamboo!).

What's included:
1) 2 bottles of water,
2) a wedding cd mix in one of
these Paper Source enclosures & a fun label (it reads: "From This Moment On" referring to the Cole Porter tune),
3) the weekend schedule rolled up into a scroll and bound with a piece of
paper from our invitations,
4) one rubber duckie,
5) a composition notebook with a certificate of
contribution to a literacy fund & two pencils tied with a red bow (we're both writers and care deeply about education),
6) a
"something's hiding in here" bag
(I can't say enough about the wonderful work of these etsy artisans!) filled with party toys & chocolates,
7) animal crackers (in the
classic box),
8) a disposable camera,
9) a mason jar with dry ingredients & our recipe for cornmeal cookies (because, well, we live in the Cornhusker state),
and, last but not least,
10) a door-hanger envelope (the label says "Welcome to Lincoln" with a small city graphic, the envelope is
this Paper Source enclosure) with brochures to local sites (like here, here and here), a map & list of our favorite places and a postcard with postage.

It's amazing how much you can pack in a little bag! A little cellophane, a bow and we're set.

Now, off to buy a new camera...! Thank goodness for the timely tax relief.

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Sweet Find: Hand Shadow How-To

How fun is this hand shadow set? I just love how the cards demonstrate the "proper" way to cast your favorite animals. Found here.

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Thursday, May 22

Gratitudes: Wedding Quilt

We received the most wonderful gift from a good, good friend today--a quilt by Phyllis Moore. I can't keep my eyes off of it! The colors are remarkable, made to coordinate with our wedding. There are pieces of African fabric, bold flowers, organics, grids, braids, brush strokes and dots. I was so utterly touched I wept when we spread it out before us. To me, a quilt is life. For more information about her collection, Phyllis Moore can be contacted at

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Wednesday, May 21

Find It on Film: Senator Obama

Our documentary of the week. I'm quite hopeful that our next president will care about Africa--the place, people, culture--and bring about compassionate change.

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Wedding To Do: Music You Can Dance To

I really am in love all over again--with music! One of the best evening entertainments lately has been browsing around for good wedding tunes and putting together playlists--welcome barbecue, getting ready, ceremony, cocktail hour, and, my favorite, 'let the dancing begin.' To fit our homey, garden theme, I've been sticking to love songs with a really warm and whimsical feel to them.

I'd love to hear other recommendations!

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In the Spotlight: Jenna Hein

The very gifted calligrapher Jenna Hein is helping us create a wedding certificate for all of our guests to sign after the ceremony. I was so excited to see her featured on Brooklyn Bride's d*s guest blog. What lovely letters! Congrats to Jenna!

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Sweet Find: Vintage Weave Interiors

These delightful French flags speak precisely to the mood I'm in these days...!

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Sweet Find: Odd Molly

I'm not usually one for posting favorite clothing finds but, wow, I love this sweater. Hand crocheted. Check out the patch on the upper arm. Gorgeous. I'm officially an Odd Molly fan.

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Monday, May 19

Designing Wedding Heirlooms: Creating a Vision

A few thoughts about planning as we count down the final days!:

When we started seriously thinking about the wedding, I wanted my love of making art to be a part of all the decisions we made. I found myself feeling entirely inspired to take up those design skills again that I had let go unused for some time. In college, I made paper by hand, bound books, illustrated with pen and watercolor, and suddenly, with our engagement, I found myself with good reason to head back into the studio again. I've always been passionate about paper and, even before we decided on a date, I chose
the Japanese pattern that would set our color scheme (Paper Studio is a wonderful shop & supplier). The small bending buds are my favorite part of the design....

Over the past several months, I've found that it was this little swatch that guided all my subsequent choices--theme, colors, feel. What I love most--and what I would never have guessed early on--is how versatile this basis is. I haven't created an inspiration board exactly but over the past few months I've drawn together images of some of the pieces that will make our day (forgive me for not knowing where each comes from!). Just a few below for a sneak peak!

(Images: I used these zinnia packets in our orange Paper Source invitations; we're growing our own zinnias for centerpieces like these; the next two images are from Lena Corwin's wedding in Martha Stewart Weddings; the groom's tie found on sale from JCrew; a dress quite similar to the one I'll be wearing.)

If you're planning an event I highly recommend generating ideas with the inspiration questions Kathryn uses for her boards on Snippet & Ink. I found this such a useful way to begin and later to organize. Here's what I came up with for responses:

1. What is the season of the event?

Summer, June.

2. What is the mood of the event? Is it formal, casual, or something in between? Is it grand or intimate? Sophisticated? Playful?

Fun formal, intimate, elegant but not stuffy, playfully artistic.

3. What is the location? Inside or out-of-doors? How can I play up regional/local elements? Does the architecture/scenery inspire me?

Hometown Nebraska. Ceremony: community garden. Luncheon: café. Reception: backyard garden party.

4. What single element can tie everything together? Is it a theme? A certain flower or fruit?

Palette: red, orange, sky blue,
white/ivory, leaf green, pink, gold, black.

Theme: Garden picnic. Zinnias. Orange gingham.

5. How can I stretch this idea? What is unexpected but fits perfectly with all the other aspects?

Mason jars, recipes, penny candies, locally grown flowers, lantern light, Mexican paper banners, luminarias, white butterflies & Monarchs, nests, feathers, poetry, flowery Liberty fabrics, woven seagrass, sparklers, sun umbrellas, almonds, cornmeal, strawberries, pies, trees, flower seeds, herbs, composition notebooks, family photographs, picnic baskets, old jazz & soul, museum donations, zinnias, cosmos, limeade, sweet tea.....

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Gratitudes: Week in Review

Already! This has already been another week to be thankful for. A few of the major reasons:

Taking a peek at our brand new engagement photos by the fabulous Allison Garrett! The one above is my very favorite--that would be us and our wily little old dog. More pics here.
2) Preparing for friends & family to visit from near and far--so many good phone calls and heart-to-hearts.
Picking up newly completed pieces from the frame shop, including this one below (the lovely doily was made by this fine etsy seller). (I'll admit it's up a little bit early...I couldn't resist!)

4) Hand-sewing for the first time in years--years!
Pulling together the last of the wedding details and getting sentimental (if any song will do it to me it's this one).
Espresso in the mornings and not having to rush anywhere.
Ordering books for the next class I'm teaching (including this one, yum!).
8) The first fresh apricots of the season.
9) Watching the zinnias open their first flowers--magenta, orange,
10) Buying tickets for our first performance at the Santa Fe Opera (
Verde's Falstaff--ahh!).
11) Remaining patient.
12) My very best friend. She's all things.
13) Big days of big sun and big clouds.
14) Being home, home home.

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Sunday, May 18

Sweet Find: Katie Burley Couture Millinery

I'm on a hat & feathers kick. I bought a lovely wide brim one this past week--it's soon to be a gift for my glamorous grandmother for our wedding--and then I stumbled on Katie Burley's shop today. I would love to strut around wearing one of these myself...!

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Tuesday, May 13

Rest in Peace

"An empty canvas is full."

Robert Rauschenberg, October 22, 1925-May 12, 2008.

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Great Books: Summer Reading

School's out and I'm so ready to sit under one of these and read all afternoon. Some new books I'm looking forward to diving into:

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri--the newest short story collection from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author

Living Room: Teaching Public Writing in a Privatized World by Nancy Welch--I'm intrigued by Welch's work on writing as social action

Astrid & Veronika by Linda Olsson--Olsson's debut novel and my bittersweet love story for the summer

One Drop by Bliss Broyard--Broyard speaks with great clarity on Henry Louis Gates PBS special, African American Lives 2, about her father's secret, passing as a white man, and her book, part memoir and part biography, aims to inquire into the difficult questions

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie--the transcendental historical novel by Nigerian writer Adichie

Sea Change by Jorie Graham--as the NY Times Book Review says, "Graham’s poetry is among the most sensuously embodied and imaginative writing we have."

(Umbrella photo from the whimsical, eco-friendly At West End.)

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Sweet Find: Whitney Smith Pottery

Being generally obsessed with cake stands, when I found Whitney Smith Pottery work I thought, "ahhh!" I love the simplicity and the glaze precision, its slight organic shine.

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Into the Kitchen: Fresh Strawberries & Cream

We bought our first strawberries of the season yesterday and they were delicious. A little bit of sugar and a big dollop of whipped cream--the perfect thing after a long day working in the garden.

Fresh Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsps dark brown sugar

Chill mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for half hour or more. When ready, pour cream into bowl and add sugar. Mix on high until the cream starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. (Don't over-mix or, well, you'll have butter on your hands.) Serve right away.

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Monday, May 12

Sweet Find: McMaster & Storm

The 'irrestible shop' of McMaster & Storm has opened an online boutique full of all sorts of ephemera & goodies (I found them thanks to housemartin). The candies above come in flavors like 'tamarindo' & 'arancia'--the words alone are dreamy. I also managed to find a graduation present for a France-traveling friend of mine (there's nothing like planning ahead!). Ribbon, soaps, swan figurines--all things sentimental and in the most delicate way.

What had me really excited were these Dresden Swallow trinkets (see above). They may find their way onto the bouquets at our wedding. The serendipity is remarkable because everything seems to be birds right now.

A few instances: I've been eyeing
this necklace for months now:

We received our first wedding present last week--a birding field guide and call recording (such a poetic gift).

And, yesterday, checking out the ceremony site, we spotted a magnolia warbler, a somewhat rare sight in Nebraska from what I understand. The little guy looked like this:

(Photo found here.)

Fancy feathered creatures everywhere. Somehow things are coming together...hmmmm!

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