Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Refinished and distressed dresser

So I just finished my first resale piece! My sister was kind enough to give me her childhood dresser that she no longer could fit in her guest room...for free. How cool is that?! This gave me an opportunity to remake this piece to sell instead of just refinishing pieces I already own or needed to use myself. I am so very excited! Here's the before and after:

It was a beautiful solid wood dresser but was just dated looking. The top was also scratched and one of the tracks for a drawer was disconnected, which I fixed using a new screw and wood glue before I got started.

I knew I wanted to go with the wood tone on top and use chalk paint on the bottom like I did with this dresser turned media stand. However, I thought that this dresser would look great distressed in a shabby chic look that is so easy to achieve with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and wax.

So the first step was sanding down the top with a hand sander since this part was being restained. The rest of the dresser did not need to be sanded since that is the magic of using chalk paint. Luckily, I had some leftover stain from another project.

It took about three coats to get it to the color I wanted and to cover up the scratches that I had sanded out. I usually like to give the coat a day to dry in between since I've been burned in the past with stain not drying completely. Always remember to wipe down about 15 minutes after applying the stain. Better to use more coats to achieve the right look than to have to start all over again if the stain won't dry.

I then put on a coat of polyurethane for protection and durability.

With the top complete, I then taped it off using painter's tape and got to work on the bottom. I removed all of the hardware and got rid of it. Some of the brass pieces were broken and I did not like the dated look so to me, they weren't worth saving and refinishing. I removed all the drawers and also taped them off around the edges so that it would have a nice, clean look when the drawers are opened.

I mixed a custom blend of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint using roughly 1/2 Aubusson Blue, 1/4 Old White and 1/4 Provence, all of which I already had on hand. I used Pinspiration from here and here. It took about 2.5 coats to get the coverage I was looking for.

Once the paint was dried (which can be in one day or less with chalk paint. It dries fast!), I started to distress the piece. Using a sanding block and regular sand paper, I worked my way around all of the edges of the dresser and drawers. You can see how this brings out both the stain that is below the paint and also the natural wood tone. This gives it a lot of character in my opinion. Like its been loved on for many years. See the details:

After distressing I sealed the entire dresser with Annie Sloan clear wax using a wax brush. Once the wax was dry, I buffed the dresser with a rag to give it a nice sheen.

I then added on some oil rubbed bronze handles that I purchased at Lowe's that bring out the darker top and darker distressed points.

I love the way the dresser came out. Now for the hard part...selling it! As you can see from the pictures, the dresser is sitting in my dining room. I don't have a garage or basement or anywhere that I can work on furniture. So for now, the dining room is it!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Let's talk about wedding hair

With the wedding now under six months away, I guess it's okay to admit that I have kind of been agonizing over how I'll wear my hair for the wedding. Silly, I know, but I can't help it. There are so many options and pinspiration I am finding on Pinterest that I keep changing my mind.

Originally I thought all up. Having a beach wedding with the unpredictable weather and a likely chance of it being windy, I figured having all my hair up would ensure that my hair would look nice all day and all night long. I am thinking having it curled and then put up in a loose way, with lots of volume on top and definitely not structured. Sort of like these:

You see, I have very long, but very fine hair. It does not hold a curl for more than a few hours no matter how many tools I've tried and how much hair spray I use. I leave the house looking great, but in a few hours my hair is straight and ratty looking, kind of how it looked at the end of our engagement photo shoot. Notice the progression? No fun for wedding pictures. So that is why I've ruled out wearing my hair down, even though that's how I wear it most days.

But then there's my fiance. He's told me many times how much he likes my hair in a high ponytail with a little volume on the top. I wore it like that the first time we went out partying with each other and I wear it like that often when we go out. So that is definitely an option, too, so long as I can add some extensions to it for volume to dress it up for the big day. I don't want to end up looking like I have a rat tail by the end of the night! So now I am leaning toward something like these:

I've read all the bridal magazines and blogs that suggest that brides don't do anything too drastic from their everyday look for their big day, hair and makeup included. So that is why I am now leaning toward the ponytail look.

The other thing I'll need to decide on is if I want to where a veil, a flower in my hair, or both. When trying on dresses I definitely felt like more of a bride with the veil on but that might be hard to pull off with these bumped up and pumped up hair dos. Clearly, I like big hair.

So what do you think? Did you or are you agonizing over your wedding hair do, too? How did you ultimately decide? And were you happy with your decision?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Driftwood Christmas Tree

We plan to use a lot of driftwood when decorating for our wedding. My mom has so kindly volunteered to scour the beaches of Surf City, New Jersey this winter to find some large pieces we can use for part of the centerpieces, to decorate the gift and dessert tables and maybe even to adorn an arbor to be married under.

Pinspiration: driftwood centerpiece, driftwood garland, driftwood arbor
But unfortunately, the large pieces are few and far between. She has lucked out though and scored a ton of smaller pieces. She had the awesome idea to use some of those smaller driftwood pieces as the handles for the shell bouquets me and and my bridesmaids will be carrying. (More on those in a later post, I promise).

My mom is the kind of person that can't sit still. Like me, she always has to have a project to work on. So you can see her dilemma when she's sitting in front of a mini-mountain of driftwood. She just had to do something with it. With the holidays right around the corner, she came up with the perfect solution: a driftwood Christmas tree!

So cool, right? I asked her how she did it and it was really quite simple. She bought a wooden dowel. Then she drilled a hole through the center of each piece of driftwood equivalent to the size of the dowel. She also used a block of wood for the base, which she also drilled into, but not all the way through. She then slipped the driftwood of varying lengths onto the dowel, with the larger pieces mostly at the bottom leading up to the smaller ones toward the top. She then stuck the dowel into the wooden base, but not before adding a bit of wood glue for stability. She then fanned out the "branches" to give the tree some fullness. She then used a glue gun to add a shell at the top for a star (although she said she's waiting for the perfect starfish to really top her tree).

I love that she left hers very simple, as it fits in with the natural coastal vibe. But I can see adding some embellishment in the form of tiny, shiny ornament balls, or glitter to make it bling. The coolest part is, once the holidays are over, the "branches" can be moved around so that it lays flat for storage. Although, I think I would find a way to display it all year long.

Here are a few other crafty ideas I've found on Pinterest for decorating with driftwood.

Pinspiration: seahorse, driftwood orb, driftwood anchor, driftwood lantern, driftwood mirror, horse head

Friday, September 20, 2013

Engagement Photos

So I have been holding off sharing the photos from our engagement shoot (taken way back in June) because I used a few of them on the Save the Dates and I didn't want to ruin the affect of people seeing them for the first time. But, I have been taking my sweet time getting the Save the Dates addressed and out the door, and I couldn't wait any longer! I am still dying to share them on Facebook though, but I will restrain and vow to get the Save the Dates finished this weekend!!

Anyway, we decided to use the extremely talented Ann Coen as our photographer for the wedding and part of the package she offers includes an engagement photo shoot. Ann is a local Long Beach Island photographer, so it couldn't have been more convenient for us. It helps that she knows the area so well and has shot just about everywhere there is there. Plus, our good friend Kyle, who shot our proposal, now works with Ann. We shot up on the beach on our street in Surf City.

Now, I'm not sure how many of you have had engagement photos taken, but I must say, it was awkward! And that is saying a lot given the fact that I LOVE being in front of a camera. I already knew that it would be a challenge for my fiance, since he does not love being in front of a camera, but I didn't realize how silly I would feel. It is very hard having all of the attention focused on your "coupleness."  We are also not the PDA-type of couple to begin with. It is hard to act natural when a perfect stranger is asking you to kiss and hold hands and be lovey dovey.

It also didn't help that is was just barely raining. We decided to go ahead with the shoot anyway since we were only up in Jersey for a few more days, but my hair — which looked awesome before we left the house —looked like Bob Marley's dreads once we were up on the misty beach.

But all that being said, Ann was awesome to work with. She is so laid back and just went with the flow, which I think set us more at ease. She even laughed along at us with us when I misunderstood a pose she was trying to get us in and accidentally straddled my fiance in a not-so-save-for-family-viewing kind of way.

All in all, I think it was great practice for the wedding. We all got to know each other a bit better and my fiance and I can work on our picture posing skills for the next eight months. I love Ann's style of photography and can't wait to take photos on our wedding day!

So without further ado, here are some of my favorites:

So what do you think? Do we look as awkward as we felt? How did your engagement shoot go? I just ordered a bunch of these to frame around the house and everytime I was looking through them to pick out my favorites,  I was thinking "damn, my fiance is hot!" Haha! Can't wait to marry this man!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Save the Dates are done!

Though our wedding is still 283 days away (who's counting anyway) and it is a little premature to be sending out Save the Dates, I just couldn't wait to share with you all the design I came up with for our wedding reminders! I wrapped up the final design last week and sent them off to Vistaprint to have them made up. Well, what do you think?

We decided to use postcards to save a bit on the mailing costs. Since our big day is more a destination wedding (despite the fact our parents live there), I liked the idea of using the vintage "Greetings from" postcard look. I Googled "vintage postcard" with every combination of Long Beach Island, LBI, Surf City, etc. praying that someone else had already created the 3-D words I wanted to use. No such luck. Nothing was high resolution enough. Bummer. Then I happened upon this awesome tutorial on Pinterest from Design Instruct. Now I am no graphic artist, but I do know a little something about InDesign, a little less about Photoshop and nothing about Illustrator. But, I was somehow able to mostly follow his instructions. Through a little trial and error and lots of hair pulling, I think I actually pulled it off! The hard part wasn't the postcard itself, just the letters. Here's an up close version:
I decided to use a mix of photos from our engagement shoot and photos from around LBI. Getting them to blend together took me some time as I had nearly 80 engagement shoot photos to choose from. (I'll share those in another post) I love the way the word "Long" came out with Old Barney (the landmark lighthouse on the northend of LBI) and the photo of us blending so well. I also wanted to make sure Surf City got some play in there, too. That's where both our parents have beach houses, where we met and where he proposed.

Thinking ahead, I knew I wanted to incorporate the lifeguard stand into our Save the Dates so when we had our engagement photo shoot, I made sure we included that as a prop. My fiance was a lifeguard there for years and so were his brothers, and I knew it meant a lot to him as awkward as taking engagement photos ended up being for both of us. I had envisioned using a chalk-like font to actually write on the date on the back of the chalkboard on the stand. I love how that came out!

I of course changed the "Greetings from" to "Back to where it all started" because it fit in better with the whole wedding theme vs. travel theme and helped share our story for those that don't know we met on the island.

I ended up adding a vintage effect to the photo using iPiccy, a free photo-editing site that is so easy to use. I believe it was the "Henry" effect.

After that it was just settling on the verbage for the back side. We got all the pertinent information on there. After doing some research for my own postcard I suggest including the following:
  • First and last names of bride and groom (not everyone will know your last names from the opposite sides of the family);
  • the date (duh). I even did that twice, front and back;
  • the location, and I even got specific and mentioned the ceremony/reception venue for those curious cats;
  • the fact that a formal invitation is still to follow so people aren't confused;
  • the wedding website so people can learn more if they want to;
  • and a little blurb about booking your hotel rooms early. Most hotels will release your block about a month before the wedding. I know I have waited until the last minute to book for other weddings and have screwed myself over and since our wedding is being held at a vacation destination the week after Memorial Day, folks may need to book before the formal invites are mailed to ensure they get a room.
I plan to hand write out the addresses. I also blurred out our address on the "return to" line, but that is included in the version that'll get mailed to guests. Just following the post office's rules!

Next task is narrowing down our guest list. How did we get so many friends?! 

So, how many of you have created your own, or plan to create your own Save the Dates? Anyone else try and tackle a vintage postcard with crazy 3-D letters? Any one else start with one vision and end up somewhere completely different? Sound off in the comments. I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Engagement Party

My parents threw us the most amazing engagement party. I am so excited to share some of the details. We had it on Long Beach Island at my parent's beach house in Surf City. Next May we will be married on Long Beach Island (we also met and got engaged there, too) so it only seemed right to have the engagement party there as well. Plus, most of our family and friends live in New Jersey, so most, if not all of the wedding festivities will be taking place there.

Because my fiance and I live in Virginia, all of the party planning kudos go to my mom and my sister. So before I show you all the beautiful details of the day, I want to give a special "thank you" to them. It meant so much to us to be able to celebrate our engagement with all the people we love and care about.

So without further adieu, our engagement party...

My parents rented a tent and had it set up on the front lawn of their beach house. As you can see, the linens and decor perfectly reflected our wedding colors of coral and turquoise.
A combination of pom poms, lanterns and lights were used under the tent. My mom could not find any coral colored lanterns so she spray painted them. Genius!
We had more than 60 people attend the party. I balked at first at the thought of renting a tent and tables and chairs, but thank goodness they did. It was hot and that tent made it bearable to be outside in the middle of June.
 My mom made this pom pom herself using coral colored cupcake papers. So cute!
 My future mother-in-law helped put together the centerpieces. My mom picked up some turquoise vases and they added coral flowers. Seashells filled with sand and a tealight added some ambiance once the sun started to set.

 My sister turned us on to this trick to pass out utensils easily at a buffet meal. All you do is pile a fork, spoon and knife together, wrap a napkin around then, then tie them all together with a ribbon.

 My mom took it a step further this time and used twine and starfish to tie in the theme we'll be using for the wedding. Starfish will make plenty of appearances on the big day.
My mom even included a tiny "diamond" ring on a finger of each of the starfish. Such details! And speaking of diamonds...
Check out the "diamond" engagement ring pops on each of the delicious cupcakes my sister made. She even stuck to the color theme using turquoise cupcake papers and coral icing that she custom mixed and matched herself.
My sister even made us our own "smash cake" cupcake complete with a giant fake engagement ring on top. This one was not edible however. So creative!
And speaking of food. My fiance and I had recently been to a party down here in Virginia where the couple cooked up a shrimp boil. We thought that'd be a great way to bring some southern flavor up north. My brother-in-law manned the steamers, and we followed this recipe from Pinterest. It was a hit. I totally recommend it for anyone trying to feed a lot of people. So yummy and I don't even eat the shrimp!
We set up the food in a seperate pop-up tent just off the main tent so people could work their way around and sample all of the food. In addition to the shrimp boil, we had a salad, sausage peppers and onions, pasta salad, smoked chicken, cornbread and more. We are Italian so there was enough food to feed an army of course!

Everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves and it was nice for the two sides of the families to meet. My fiance has a very large extended family with lots of aunts, uncles and cousins, while my family is smaller but we have a very large circle of friends.
Of course, helping everyone have a good time was our good friend Mr. Alcohol. My parents got a keg and had red and white wine, but the biggest hit was the sangria bar.
The fresh fruit skewers to add to your sangria was a genius idea I took from Centsational Girl. I think I may have made one too many trips up to the sangria bar! We plan on taking this same idea and using it at the wedding, but with bellinis.

 A few of the other touches I loved about the party were the card box, a gift from one of my bridesmaids. I believe she got it on etsy. I'll have to find you all a link. It'll pull double duty and will be out on display at the wedding. I love it so much, I'll have to find a way to use it after we say "I do!"

 My fiance wasn't so psyched about this giant poster (he's a lot shier than me), but it was such a nice idea to gather well wishes from our guests. They just wrote along the edges.
This wasn't necessarily a detail of the party, but my parents recently added this to the side yard of the beach house. We call it the casbah. It's really just a pergola from Home Depot, then my mom made curtain panels out of drop cloths so they can stay up there through the elements. They then added some seating and benches and bam, you have the most popular chilling spot at the whole party! Love the way that came out!

 And I guess a post about our engagement party wouldn't be complete without a picture of us celebrating. So here we are, a few drinks in I'm sure, but nonetheless thrilled to be on this journey to marriage together.