Our Night to Remember

They say that June is wedding month. I'm not sure I've ever been to a wedding in June, though! After yesterday's near 100 degree temperatures swept across the Commonwealth, I think I know why.

Almost four years ago, we scheduled an October wedding. My husband and I are fall and winter people. I love Central Kentucky in the fall - the sharp chilliness of the mornings that blossom into beautiful blue skied afternoons full of a backdrop of brilliant leaves.

Our outdoor wedding was billed as a backyard barbecue party that just so happened to have a wedding thrown in. My husband had already done the wedding thing once before, so he gave me a few of his "must-haves" for our wedding/party and left me to go crazy. Funny enough, I was never a girl who spent her adolescence planning her nuptials. I had no idea what I wanted, but I knew I wanted something that felt authentic to us - fun and casual with touches of sentimentality that reflected our individuality.

While my wedding may have taken place before Pinterest, it did not take place before Martha Stewart Weddings, Rock n Roll Bride, or Weddingbee. I may not have had pinboards galore, but I had Google docs full of links, pictures and lists of ideas! Since we wanted to keep our wedding small and personal, I decided to do quite a bit of DIY. I also had lots of help from my wonderful family and friends. These are just a few of the personal touches that I feel made our wedding special for us.

The bridesmaids found dresses off the rack within the color scheme (green and brown) and rocked their favorite boots while groomsmen wore button-down shirts and their most comfortable jeans (as did the groom). I made my own wedding dress - wonky hem and all, I loved it.

photo by Clay Jackson 

I made our bouquets - sheaves of wheat with brown ribbon - from supplies in the bargain bins at the craft store.
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photo by Clay Jackson

The wedding took place in the backyard of my parents' home. We decorated with handmade votive lanterns along the fencerow - my family and friends saved all their salsa, peanut butter and spaghetti jars for months!
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photo by Clay Jackson
 
Luckily, we had a tent with walls that kept out the chilliest October day in recent memory (boo!). Also luckily, my parents had a supply of firewood for a late-in-the-reception bonfire. Of course, that bonfire was the site of quite a few rounds of bourbon passed around the circle - something of a family tradition. I, eventually, donned a pair of blue jeans underneath my dress because I got so chilly.

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photo by Clay Jackson

Inside, the tent was filled with lanterns, votives and table decorations that were simply squares of fabric topped with centerpieces that featured photos from our travels and favorite quotes.

photo by Clay Jackson 

With the help of the internet, our officiant (who also happened to be my cousin) and my own flair for the dramatic, I wrote the marriage ceremony and our vows. In true Jason-and-Lydia inappropriateness, we first sealed our marriage pronouncement with a high-five (we got to the more traditional kiss later).

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photo by Clay Jackson; I also made the banner in the background here

Food was handmade by my awesome aunts, uncles and friends of the family. We had some authentic, kick-ass, best-in-the-whole-world Western Kentucky barbecue (St. Augustine Catholic Church recipe) made by my uncles paired with potato salad, pasta salad and appetizers made by my aunts and served buffet-style. No one needs fancy flatware with that menu, so I made easy-to-carry and cute flatware packets.

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photo by Clay Jackson

My handy dad crafted a dance floor for the reception. On the backs of our RSVP cards, I asked our guests to write three songs that they'd request from a wedding DJ. I used those, plus our own favorites and family traditional wedding songs (we do an awesome number to Shout! but aren't big on The Chicken Dance) to construct a 3+ hour dance-til-you-drop playlist.

Wedding Dance
photo by Clay Jackson

Our wedding was a labor of love for me. I relished choosing and crafting all the little details. During one of our dances together, my not-always-enthusiastic-about-the-details husband whispered, "This is perfect. I'll never doubt any of your crazy ideas, again! Thank you."

In the end, of course, it was one day - one awesome day - but only one day of so many that make up a marriage. For us, it was the perfect way to publicly commemorate our commitment to one another and to share the love with our families and friends.

If you're planning a wedding, you don't have to DIY everything or have the biggest and best of everything for your day to be special. Look for ways to make sure that you and your relationship shine through. Make it meaningful, make it real and you won't go wrong.

Valentine Ideas for the Kiddos

Valentine's Day is one of those holidays that always sneaks up on me. Much like my Christmas ideas, I always plan on doing really cute homemade valentines with my girls, and then suddenly it's February 12 and I realize I have nothing prepared.

Luckily, I've saved a few cute homemade ideas over the years, and today I decided I'd make 50 homemade valentines for the kids in my girls' preschool and kindergarten classes. (That's right. Fifty. And that's right, I decided this today. If you're thinking, "Hey Megan, aren't you supposed to be working on your book revisions right now?" You'd be correct, and I'll thank you for not mentioning it again, thank you.)

I thought I'd share these valentines with you too, in the (totally improbable) case that any of you have also been caught off-guard by Valentine's Day this year.




Note: These valentines do require just a bit of work. If you see these and think, "Ain't nobody got time for that!" Never fear--I've also included a few files of strictly free, no-fuss, printable valentines that are super adorable.

Here's what you need:

  • This free printable (There's also a plain version, and it might be fun for kids to color the flowers themselves.)
  • Card stock (I used shimmery card stock, because I don't understand why anyone would choose plain card stock when something sparkly is available, but you do what you want.)
  • Green construction paper (OR green card stock and this leaf printable if you're not as lazy as I am)
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • sharpie marker
  • Tootsie roll pops

Once you have the printable, it's fairly self explanatory. Print and cut out the flowers. Use scissors to poke a hold in the middle, and stick the tootsie roll pop through it. (You'll need to hold the wrapper fairly tightly around the stick as you push it through.)

Use the green construction paper to make a leaf-like tag for the stem and write "From: Your Child's Name" on them. (Alternatively, print the leaf printable on the green card stock and then cut the leafs out and write your child's name on them. I decided fifty flowers were plenty enough to cut out and I would become a violent, angry person if I had to cut out fifty little leaves too. So I just cut fifty little straight-edged tags. Voila!) Glue the leaf/tag to the stem. I pushed my tags up pretty far so they'd also serve as a stopper to keep the flowers from slipping down the stem.

Skip To My Lou has several free printable valentines, as well as printables and crafts for other holidays. It's one of my favorite web sites--be sure to check it out if you're into that kind of thing!!

As promised, here are a few free, printable valentines that require no extra work aside from cutting them out! (Be sure to explore the sites they're from, because there's lots of cute stuff on there!)

 


Getting Pinterest Crafts Done!

If you're like most people, you're enamored with Pinterest and have pinned every cute little craft and DIY you see. If you're like me, you've pinned lots of magazine photos and thought to yourself, "Hey, I could do that!" HerKentucky even has our own collaborative Crafts board!

Have you done any of those projects?

If you have, then you're awesome. If you haven't, then it seems like you aren't alone.

Last month, my sister came up with the brilliant idea of having a monthly Pinterest Craft-a-Long. She corralled me, our mom, our cousin and her daughter for the inaugural event. We each emailed craft pins to the group and decided on one to make. My cousin, Kim, hosted the event for October and we got our paint, cut and glue on! (Well, they did. I ended up having to work. Boo.)

The group each made this project:


 




I was at my cousin's house over the weekend and was excited to see her creation. It looked pretty awesome, and she reported that they had a lot of fun!

We're already planning our November Pinterest Craft-a-Long and trying to round up ideas on what to make. This project is getting my vote:



Have you tried a Craft-a-Long for those undone Pinterest pins? If you were going to do it, what's the first item you'd make from your boards?

Pink Ribbon T-Shirt Quilt

This is what a square will look like.
I've always wanted to make a t-shirt quilt. For years, I've saved quilts from ball games, sorority dances, and charity events. I've matched them to the perfect fabrics and I've made diagrams of their placement. And then, every time, I stopped.

As y'all well know by now, I come from a quilt family. I can distinguish a nine patch from a Log Cabin or an Ohio Star from a mile away. I've learned the appliqué stitch. I can iron like a boss. The thing is, I just can't cut straight. Turns out, that's a big problem when you're making a quilt.

This October, I'm getting past all that. I'm making a throw-sized quilt to commemorate many years' worth of breast cancer charity runs. This cause hits really close to home for my beau and me, and we've always made an effort to support breast cancer research charities. Needless to say, we have a lot of pink ribbon t-shirts sitting around the house. A quilt is a perfect keepsake to help us remember all the fundraisers we've participated in over the years.

My basic pattern.  I'll keep y'all posted.
My grandmother helped me create a pattern for my quilt. We cut nine t-shirts into 15" squares. Each square will be framed by a 2" wide green and pink border. These squares will be sewn together and framed by a 2" wide contrasting border, then quilted.

Since I've cut up over a decade's worth of fundraising commitment to use as quilt squares, I'll need to participate in a few new races and earn some new shirts. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to raise money for breast cancer research in the Bluegrass State this year!

This part scares me far more than running a 5K!
Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure
Lexington (5K) -- Saturday, October 6, Downtown 9 AM
Ashland (4K) -- Saturday, October 13, Central Park, 9AM
Louisville (5K and 10K) -- Saturday, October 13, Iroquois Park 9AM

American Cancer Society Making Strides Race
Lexington -- Sunday, October 28
Louisville -- Sunday, October 28
Ashland -- Sunday, October 28


The Sky Scarf - September 2012

What was it Robert Burns wrote about "the best laid schemes of mice and men...?" I think that it was something about how everything can go crazy in a short time! September was that time for me! I would suspect that, with back-to-school routines ramping up in so many families, I am not alone.

My Husband and I started the month of September in Costa Rica under beautiful, bright blue skies. Everything there, from the palm fronds to the butterflies to the fruits, was brilliantly colored. I diligently took pictures that included the sky so that I would remember the shade for The Sky Scarf.

When we returned, my situation at work got a little crazy and the first rows of my Sky Scarf never got started. 

However, I've kept notes each day on the shade of my sky. Being the super nerd that I am, I've organized them on a special Google Calendar!

I bought my yarn before our trip, and I love all the shades I found. 

Sky Scarf Yarn

Things look promising for this Sunday to be my "catch up on September's rows" day.

How are your sky scarves coming along?

The HerKentucky Sky Scarf Challenge

Early last year, I taught myself to knit. This was attempt number eleventy billion to learn. I'm not sure what made it happen, but one day, the actions associated with knit one, purl two just clicked in my brain and off I went with the clicking and clacking of needles never far behind me. Then came summer. Hot, hot, hot summertime. Who wants to think about woolen hats and scarves when your brain melts just stepping outside? Not me.

With our recent cooler temperatures and nights of sleeping with the windows open, I've been thinking more and more about picking up my needles again. The imminent football season is also good impetus to start pinning new projects to my Ravelry to-make list and my Pinterest knitting board. Nothing helps you feel better about being lazy and watching a whole day (or a whole weekend) of football than having a newly-knitted scarf or two to show for it!

This week, I happened across a pin on the HerKentucky Craft Ideas Pinterest board. (If you aren't following us over there, you really should! These women have good taste!) That pin led me to a post on whipup.net (one of my favorite craft sites) by Lea Redmond and her idea for Conceptual Knitting - a Sky Scarf. The basic premise is this - you observe the sky each day, then choose a yarn to match the color of your sky, and knit one row each day. At the end of one year, you'll have a pretty amazing scarf with a cool story behind it.


Source: whipup.net via Her on Pinterest

I like this idea because it ties two of my goals for life into one thing - 1) to live, observe and document my life in interesting ways and 2) to craft and create beautiful things that are useful.

The HerKentucky Sky Scarf Challenge
The challenge couldn't be simpler! Today, I'd like to challenge you to gather up your favorite blue, gray, and white yarns. Beginning September 1, knit one row of a scarf based on what the sky looks like that day - where you are. Monthly, I'll share my progress with you here on the blog. Please share your progress with us, too - via Facebook, Twitter or in the comments of each month's Sky Scarf post!

 What's that? You don't know how to knit?

If I can learn, you can, I promise. I taught myself with some good diagrams and by watching Youtube videos. I suggest that you find a friend/aunt/grandmother who knits and ask them to show you. I was mystified by someone else trying to teach me, but you may learn that way in two shakes. We're all different, and that's the best!

 Variations on a Theme

As I read the comments on the original whipup entry, I saw lots of variations on the Sky Scarf idea. Some people thought that observing the sky at sunrise or sunset could produce interesting results. Some people might like the idea of assigning a color to each mood and producing a row a day based on how they feel on that particular day. Of course, Heather and I brainstormed that we could make a scarf that corresponds with the UK basketball season – five rows of blue for a win, five rows of white for a loss. Everyone wants a solid blue scarf, right?

Join Us!

Mention in the comments if you'd like to accept this challenge. Then, go forth and buy yarn!

Here are some of our favorite local knitting shops:

  • With Ewe In Mind - 800 Jefferson Street, Paducah, Kentucky
  • ReBelle - 225 Rosemont Garden, Lexington, Kentucky
  • The Woolery - 315 St. Clair, Frankfort, Kentucky (with an amazing online shop)

How to Plant a Bourbon Barrel Planter

In my part of Kentucky, landscape designs often feature bourbon barrels pretty prominently. Cities' garden societies beautify their downtowns with the oak barrels, so I figure I’m not above it!

A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to buy four half barrels for $10. Total. I jumped at the chance. For those of you not lucky enough to work in the industry, barrel halves are available for public purchase. Here’s one site I found – watch out for shipping. Maybe they’ll let you pick them up to avoid those charges?
Last weekend, my little sister moved into a new house – one that she and her husband hope will be their home for a very long time. While she assures me that landscaping and front porch furniture are in the works, I decided that a barrel planter was in order for a housewarming gift!

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Bourbon barrels are more massive than you think! Each half weighs about 60 pounds, is about 18” tall and about 24” in diameter, tapering towards the bottom.

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Each half barrel requires about 2.5 cubic feet of dirt or potting soil. I used Pro-Mix Ultimate Container Mix. Knowing the skill my sister has at keeping plants alive (I’m much like her), I chose to go with the planting medium that claims to hold on to water and contains a fertilizer already mixed in.

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Before buying your plants, it’s good to assess the sun/shade situation of your planter. This particular location will get mostly full sun during the day, so I bought accordingly. I always find it helpful to lay out projects before committing to a final draft. Planting flowers is no different. So, here’s my rough draft – situating the still-potted plants around the space to see what works and doesn’t.

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It turns out that my rough draft was pretty pleasing. My sister approved it, and I went to work planting the items. In the back, with the broad leaves, I planted 3 Tropical Yellow Canna Lilies. In the middle, as a sort of focus piece, I planted a Hardy Lily – it should grow a bit taller than the canna lillies and really stand out. On either side are two Shasta Daisies. In the middle are low-growing pink Dianthus. Finally, spilling over the front is a pretty plant with velvety leaves called Dichondra or Silver Falls.

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As these grow, I’m hoping that they fill out and really shine on the front porch. If we all keep our fingers crossed and they survive my sister’s black thumb and the summer, all the varieties should come back next year, with the exception of the ornamentals up front.

It’s simple to make a nice, welcoming entrance to your home with bourbon barrel planters, plus it’s so completely Kentucky that it will be an instant conversation piece for any out-of-state visitors you might have!