Friday, January 28, 2011

Carl and I are moving to the United States. It still blows my mind!

We are in the process getting his Visa and sometime during this year we will be making the big transition from life in Ireland to life in the US of A. We are really excited....and terrified...and happy...and sad, a range of emotion that comes and goes in waves of hysteria.

A few nights ago Carl and I were walking back from the cinema and like so many of our conversations recently, talk turned to America. Instead of getting too serious, I teased him saying it would be his turn to get used to all of the little differences that he'll find in America. Two hours later and we were still listing all of the things that I found surprising or downright shocking as an expatriate.

As I was falling asleep later, I thought about my life in Ireland. After 9 years, I still don't understand some of the vocab and references, I still get surprised by what I can't get at the grocery store, and I am still learning so much about this country I have had a love-hate relationship with and am about to say goodbye to.

As a swan-song to this lush green land and as a way to record things I don't want to forget, I am going dedicate one blog a week to life in Ireland. I asked Carl for help with a title for this section and he came up A Cead Mile Differences. Cead Mile Failte means a hundred million welcomes and it is used in Ireland all of the time, Cead Mile Differences is a little play on words. A hundred million differences.

Some will be funny, some will be sad, and some will seem downright bizarre, but I hope you will enjoy learning about life in the Eire.

Image source

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Particularly Pretty Pinwheels

*We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog to discuss blog titles. Currently I am on an alliteration kick and I apologize...I really just can't help myself. It's something that I have enjoyed since I was a wee child and I must warn you now that they won't always make sense, but you probably knew that already?

We got married in the Embassy Suites and I loved the reception area. It was long and skinny with terraces at both ends. It provided the perfect areas for dancers, sitters, smokers, and chatters. What I didn't love about the room was the chairs. I loathed them in fact. Seeing them reminded me of every conference session I had ever sat through...when the meeting lasts about 10 minutes longer than your bum could take sitting on that chair. We looked at renting other chairs, but the cost could not be justified. Even the cost of chair covers, bordered on offensive, but in the end we went with them and the price justified the return. What I couldn't spring for however were the bows. They cost more than adding Guinness to the Open Bar. How is that possible you ask? I have no idea and this was one bride that could live without big lovely tulle bows.

The chairs needed something though and that's when I remembered pinwheels. Again, this is another simple craft I made countless times as a child. With updated and fancified materials it was a great finishing touch for the chairs, that by the end of the night turned into hats and necklaces for the guests. One of the things I loved most about having made so much of the decor was the fun the guests had with it all.

What you need:
Glue Gun
Center of wheel (button, pebble, wood heart, etc)

Cut the paper into 12 inch x 3inch strips - you will need two per pinwheel.

Fold the paper in a fanlike accordion (the folds should be about 1/2 inch apart). Glue the ends of the two strips together. Then glue the remaining ends together, leaving you with a large circle.

Press the edges in together and secure with glue. Once dry and stiff, glue the button (or other item) to the center.

Glue ribbon to the back of pinwheel.

Use as chair backs, attach to gifts, make a beautiful garland, the possibilities are endless and again like so many of the other ideas, depending on what paper you choose, these can be made to be seasonal!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fabulous Folded Flowers (aka Origami)

As you saw with the fortune tellers, I love creating things out of paper. It feels like you are making something from nothing. While I can't say that I have spent a load of time doing origami, it is something that I have always appreciated and admired. It is a long standing Hawaiian tradition to have 1001 Origami cranes at birthdays and weddings as a symbol of good luck. It got me thinking that I should explore origami as part of the wedding decoration. After some searching, I found this tutorial that taught me how to make paper flowers. Five petals and one flower later, I was hooked!

We were going to have some logistical problems though. I need to start working on the flowers in Ireland, otherwise they would never be done in time for the US wedding. Shipping them wouldn't make sense as it would just add to a budget we were trying to cut down. In the end, we did all of the folding in Ireland, leaving them flat for carrying with us to the US, and did all of the gluing in the US and it worked perfectly.

All you need to make these beauties are paper, glue gun, and patience. (Patience if you are making 150 of them for a large occasion, otherwise you can go ahead and chuck the patience right out the won't need it)!

When choosing the paper for these flowers, don't choose something too thick. I used a velvet adorned paper from Laura Ashley that in all honesty was a little too heavy. It made the folding more difficult than it needed to be, even though the result was beautiful!

Here are some examples of the finished products:

These flowers can have many many purposes. We used them at each place setting as a way to add color to the tables. They can be used as gift tags, or clumped together as a faux bouquet. Depending on the paper you use, they can be seasonal as well. And if you are a young boy, you will think of even more inventive ways to use your flower:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tilly is a Wisconsinite.

This is a quick break from the deer postings... bigger things are happening today.

As you are probably aware, I'm a Wisconsin girl. And the longer that I don't live in Wisconsin, the more Wisconsin I become. Don't get me wrong... I cheered for the Packers when I was younger. I had the Sweet 16 Green Bay Packer's playoff birthday... in which I made accurate football player sugar and molasses cookies. The ENTIRE team. I wrote my Green Bay gear as appropriate especially when I was working at Manderfield's Home Bakery on Saturdays. I even had this horrible poster on the backside of my closet door. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Oh Deer. Part Two.

What would this girl do? Why, she would build it. Or first she would dream about building it... and try to come up with a plan.

Well the plan started out with a cardboard deer head. That was pretty cool... but it needed to be better, so I then looked up paper mache and found this recipe.

Now we were talking!

So off to Hobby Lobby I went to get my supplies... and then it was time to cut!

After cutting all of the pieces and putting them together, I used masking tape to fill in the empty space left behind.

I also decided I didn't like the antlers that were made out of poster board, and so I cut them out and rebuilt them with wire, foil, and tape. Finally I added a wood piece in on the back to make it easier later to attach to the wooden wall holder you would eventually see.

Next up.... time to add the paper mache and probably give this deer some hair!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Getting Centered

When I was 14 years old, my neighbor got married. This wasn't just any neighbor, this was Liz. Liz moved in next door when I was 6. I think she was just out of college, which made her young by my current standards, but it gave her a goddess like status for me at the time. She was the coolest neighbor a girl could ever hope for. For my birthdays she would give me handmade gift certificates for things I could redeem all year: free slurpee, free dinner at Chi-Chi's, free ice cream cone, etc. I always loved the stuff, but the best part about those presents was getting to spend time with Liz. I wanted to grow up and be just like her. When I was 14 she got married and it was so exciting, it was one of the first grown up weddings I had been to and I loved every minute of it.

From where I stood she was the perfect bride: creative, crafty, beautiful and happy. It shouldn't surprise anyone that I thought of her wedding when I found out I would be having one of my own. One of the things from her wedding that I always remembered were her centerpieces. Liz could make anything. Her basement craft area used to be my favorite place to sit for hours. I would look at all of her materials and crafts while she worked away. She decided that she didn't want flowers as the traditional centerpiece and instead had lovely wicker like wreaths with beautiful ribbon bows around a candle in hurricane glass. Fast forward 22 years to my own wedding and I decided that I would have something similar.

I kept the wreath idea, and the candle in the hurricane class. I looked at many lovely wicker and wood like wreaths, but none of them looked the same way I remembered hers looking. Reading through many blogs I came across the idea I later settled on: a ribbon wreath. Beautiful and simple, made from grosgrain ribbon - it was perfect.
Here's my mom showing their elegance!

Again - these work great for a wedding, but they would work great for a number of occasions. Depending on the color of ribbon you choose, they could work as wreaths you hang on the wall for all holidays.

I have a few tips for you so that you can avoid come of the mistakes I made along the way.
The Supplies:
Grosgrain Ribbon 50-55 strips 16" in length (This is a lot of ribbon, but very affordable if bought in bulk at
Styrofoam Wreath, Extruded Ring (available at Michael's for around $5)
Good Cutting Scissors
A Lighter

My mom was amazing and cut all of the ribbon for 15 wreaths for me. When I started to assemble the wreaths, I hit a road block. What is the one thing I have never liked about grosgrain ribbon, a fabric I otherwise couldn't live without? It frays! And on a wreath that is only made of one thing, the fraying was a big deal. After searching on line for advice, the only choice was to seal the ends with a lighter. It sounded daunting at first. 15 wreaths, 55 ribbons per wreath, 2 ends per ribbon meant sealing 1650 ends of ribbon. Luckily we learned this after the ribbon was bought and cut, or I might have backed out. I am so glad I didn't! In the end it took one evening plonked in front of the TV with my sister to get them sealed. And if you are making only one, it shouldn't take longer than 20 minutes. And you'll be so happy that you did it!

Cut Ribbon into 16inch strips

Heat seal with a lighter all of the ends (just run the edge of the ribbon close to, but not touching, the flame. It will immediately melt and seal ... in fact it becomes kind of addicting after a while. Beware if you get the ribbon too close to the flame, it can ignite or darken the ribbon if using a light color)

Once cut, take a strip of ribbon and tie it tightly around the ribbon. Following the same method (right over left or left over right), tie a second knot to secure. Repeat 50-54 times until wreath is full and beautiful.

That's it - it's that easy and the results are beautiful. We used the same color for all 55 strips, but at the end we ran out of one color and had to mix the ribbon colors. That looked great too. It might be fun to make a Halloween one out of black and orange or an Easter one out of pastel colors. The possibilities are endless!

(please excuse the can of Guinness, it was after all, an Irish wedding)!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Oh Deer.

So this is the story of a deer, a girl, a dream, and a F-BIL.

Way back in September (maybe end of August), Sissy P and F-BIL were going to go to a Seahawks/Packer game in Seattle. This was a perfect opportunity for Sissy P to actually see the Packers play... and F-BIL likes the Seahawks, although he kind of did a Packer fan look that day with a hidden Seahawks jersey. Well anyway, this picture appeared shortly after on F-BIL's facebook page of someone they had seen at the game.

Yes, its ridiculous. A true Packer fan that man was....

So I may have said something to F-BIL along the lines of, "Wow, now we know what you'll be looking for when you visit Wisconsin next time."

His response? "Well if I had this, I would mount it on the wall and tell everyone that I had caught it stealing my cheese out of the refrigerator, so I killed him."

Now for a few people, this would mean that they would giggle and move on. Others may find the hat and purchase it for F-BIL. And then there are other sorts of people... people like me. Any guesses what I would do?

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Finding your Fortune

First let me apologize for a very long absence. I thought when I returned from the Honeymoon I would have more time and I think in the technical sense, that was probably true. I have learned though, that having more time can sometimes lead to getting less done. Does anyone else ever feel that way? Not that I wasn't busy for the last many (many) weeks, I was. Plus we got snow in Dublin. More snow than has ever been recorded in the history of this usually snow free capital city and right when we recovered from the snow, we got more snow. It was beautiful and frustrating and wonderful all at once. Annnnnd in my last defense of an excuse I have also been waiting for wedding pictures to come back to have good visuals for some of the crafts we used. Pictures are here, I am mentally back, and I am back to blogging!

For our wedding, we really wanted it to be a celebration of us as a couple with the people we love. We wanted the people who were making the effort to join us for this weekend to feel at every turn how much we appreciated them being with us. With that in mind we wanted our wedding budget to go towards great location, delicious food, rockin' music and lots of booze. We also wanted everything to be beautiful, but were shocked and amazed at the current price for mainstream beauty. So we were rebels and we bucked as much of the system as we could. This was our wedding and we were in charge. In the coming days I will be sharing with you ways that we cut on budget without compromising a beautiful and inviting wedding reception.

To ease in, we are starting with a small project that is applicable to all types of parties, not just weddings. Because I knew there would be a lot of people at the wedding who had not met Carl very often, we wanted to make sure that everyone felt like they knew us as a couple. Enter the fortune teller. Do you remember being small and making the little finger majiggies that you would put numbers and colors on and write in your fortune and spend hours playing with friends? I used to make them out of any type of paper laying around. And as I got older, I continued to make them and play with them out in bars and such. We decided they would be a perfect accent to the reception tables, as well as a great talking point for people who might not know each other that well.

They were easy enough to make. I made a template in InDesign, found some lovely and inexpensive marbled paper on line, and printed them in black and white. The total cost was $10.00 but the entertainment value was priceless!

These would be great at birthday parties, baby showers, training days, and even holiday dinners. They can be filled with fortunes, trivia questions, or fun facts. I am attaching the template that I used as a guide and photos of the final product.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Some More Wood Burnings....

While on my wood carving craze, I thought I should do something for my dad.

For him, there were two obvious options... truck or tractor.

So I did what any smart girl would do... and I asked my mother.

We ended up going with the tractor that he had fixed up for my grandfather's 74th birthday. His last birthday.

And so while my dad likes tractors in general, I think he especially likes this one.

This was the original picture.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Christmas Ornament Exchange

As you may have seen- there was a Christmas ornament exchange that occurred this past December! I think everyone enjoyed participating and getting a surprise in the mail. Hopefully this becomes a winter tradition.

This ornament was made by Sister P and sent to Allison.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Crafty Christmas: The other key holders

So as I mentioned in the last post, I finally had found the I knew that I needed to purchase some of those. Sister P and F-Bil had also mentioned in my Seattle visit that sometimes it likes to fall off the wall... so bigger picture hangers were a must! Finally, I needed to find the perfect papers for it all.... so off I went searching again. While I was out in my many craft runs, I found picture frames for scrap booking. I bought that because I thought it would be cool to make K&P's to look like it was a wall. I ended up using that for Allison's and the McHubby's as well! 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Crafty Christmas: The first key holder

First of all, I apologize for my disappearance. I hadn't forgotten about blogging, it was just my projects were taking over that I didn't have time to blog.... but that means I have plenty to talk about now!

This Christmas, I was all about having a crafty Christmas.... which meant I made the majority of my presents. I loved doing this and being able to present unique gifts to my family and friends. Plus, you can't return it when your face is on it, right? :-)