Custom Pottery Bridal Shower

One of my issues with weddings is that they are expensive for everyone involved.  The last time I was a bridesmaid it cost me well over a thousand dollars.  Once you do the bridal shower, a gift for said shower, the bachelorette party, dress, shoes, hair and makeup, gift for the wedding, and possibly take a day off of work thanks to trendy wedding dates, you probably don’t want to look at the statistics on the success rate of marriages in the US.  You have a 50% chance that this was just a wasted effort and cost.  And you’re lucky to get a thank you note and possibly a crappy piece of jewelry to commemorate the whole fiasco.

Knowing I am in the “elope now or never get a sympathetic ear from me ever ever EVER about what stupid flowers/colors/shoes/food your future mother in law wants you to get” camp when it comes to weddings makes most people tread lightly around me when mentioning nuptials.  Look, you can invite me to your wedding but I won’t be happy about it, okay?

Still, it seems to fall on me to take care of things for my middle little sister as she prepares for her small wedding next month.  So I threw her a shower.

2014 Emmi's Wedding Baked goods1

I guess because I have to be different, or because it is such a small wedding that there aren’t even any attendants, or maybe because Emmi dislikes being the center of attention, we didn’t do the traditional shower with gifts.

Have you ever been to one of these paint-your-own pottery places?  The greenware (pottery that is already fired once) is layered on shelves and you pick a plate or figurine or whatever and paint it with special ceramics paint. (A quick lesson in ceramics: the paint is not paint but a glaze – liquid containing tiny bits of colorant and minerals that will actually melt into a smooth glass coating once the item is toasted in a kiln for several hours. ) There is more technique than skill involved in painting, but it is a fun and creative way to spend an afternoon.  I may or may not have a slight addiction to painting pottery.

My baby little sister Lea and I made invitations with a cute poem and invited the 20-odd guests to just come and make something for Emmi instead of bringing a gift along.  This solved my ethical hangup with showers: I’m already getting something for this greedy bride for the wedding so I have to get her a second gift for the shower, too?

We went to our favorite outfit, a great independent store called Star Glazers.  Hey had tables ready for us, balloons, and extra staff.  You can always bring your own food and drink.

So there is always a risk that people are terrible at following directions/using a paintbrush.  I made a Pinterest board to collect ideas and bounce them off of the bride.  CLICKY!

Was I successful in orchestrating a pottery class/party in which 20 women made coordinating ceramic dishes for a mutual friend?

You be the judge!

 

 

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Painty Painty!

I’m not blocked; I have just been busy with other stuff.  Like Pinterest, Netflix, and family stuff.  Nothing serious.  Oooh, I had one job interview.  Haven’t heard yea or nay on that yet, so that’s good.

It’s hard to get into a pattern of behaviors and tasks when one is unemployed.  I find that things just slip through my fingers and suddenly I have spent all day making my Sims grow tomatoes.  A definite weakness upon which I promise to improve.

One thing I did recently was I helped my brother move.  Moving is an integral part of the twenty-something lifestyle.  As we grow older, we tend to become less migratory and sometimes we even establish ourselves enough to be able to afford movers. A more common milestone at my age is having enough stuff to move that a truck rental is necessary.  We all have that list of pals who we have helped in the past and now owe us a favor or two.  When the time comes, we call in favors and ask friends with pickups, painting experience, or just nothing better to do to come over and spend the weekend moving.  If you are like me, you also have a huge family that may not even call in the owed favors.

I like to imagine that when we get together to do something constructive or creative, my siblings and I form a small but effective work force called the Handy Dandy Sibling Construction Company.  Together we can garden, paint, move, design, decorate, bake, and cook our way to a magnificent display of craftsmanship and old-fashioned know-how.  For all that I spent most of my childhood wishing I was an only child, I appreciate the way I can mesh my skills with those of my very different but very similar brothers and sisters.  Like most siblings, we each have unique personalities and interest, but the commonality that occurs among us is unique to large families.  We were raised in the same way by the same parents in very tight quarters; we can almost read each other’s minds as we negotiate our tasks and chat to catch up.

So, my middle little brother, Jed, moved last week and neglected to ask for a lot of help.  He called in favors to friends but not to family.  Actually, I found out about the move because his wife posted something on Facebook.  (sidenote: Facebook is an excellent tool for stalking family)  Jed helped Chuck and me move a few years ago, and he has also used a shovel quite a bit around my property, so I guess I sort of owe him.  It’s natural enough for me to demand that my younger sibling drop everything to help me when I need them; that’s just how big sisters are.  Plus, Jed is pretty much the biggest workhorse I know.  He’s huge, strong, good-natured, and smart.  It’s hard to believe we are full-blooded siblings, really.

Summer 2011: My tall, thin, hairy, blond-haired, blue-eyed little brother Jed and me (with crazy eyes). His beard is worse now.  Ke$ha would be all over him.

I suppose I felt guilty about always using Jed’s muscles, and also a bit bored and useless since I am unemployed, so I volunteered to pitch in.  Jed and his wife hated their old apartment – a dim basement hole with little light and no charm.  My brother’s new rental is awesome and as I am handy with a paintbrush/terribly lazy when it comes to lifting and hauling, I immediately volunteered to help paint.  The dining room is red so I ended up with a Dexter manicure.  Pretty sweet.

Then we painted the den/craft room with a taped-off chair rail look.  My SIL Alice, Jed’s wife, is very crafty so the room needed to be inspiring.  It took all day, but I think she likes it.  Also, I helped move furniture around and told embarrassing stories about my brother when he was not there.  As is customary, I was provided with food (Thai, Taco Bell, and pizza!) in return for my help.  Overall, it was not a bad way to spend my day.  Much better than going to two football games with Chuck.

……………..

Painting for Jed made me reminisce about my oldest little brother’s last move, too.  As I was painting the den in Jed’s new home, I recounted this conversation between Jon, his wife Angela, and me:

Angela: I want the living room to be red and tan, with a white chair rail.  Can you help me pick out the shades of paint?

Me:  Of course!

Angela: Should we put the red on top or on the bottom?

Me: Your couch is red, so I would say the red paint should be on the top.

Jon: I read on the internet that if you have a darker color on the top half of the walls, it makes the room seem smaller and the ceiling seem lower.

Me: It’s your living room, not a palace ballroom.

Angela: Trust your sister.  She is right.  We will buy the paint and the chair rail tomorrow when you are at work.

Jon: Chair rail was invented to protect the plaster walls in dining rooms from being dented by chairs being pushed into them.  The living room does not need chair rail because it is not a dining room and we have drywall, not plaster.

Angela and me:  Shut up.

Jon says he does not understand the chair rail but he also freely admits that aesthetics are lost on him. Good thing he is so easy-going!

Xoxoxoxo I love my brothers and their wives!

Weddings Part I: DIY Cupcake Tier

At my age, everyone is having babies and getting married.  Weddings in general make me barf.  Well, that’s an exaggeration.  I usually only gag.

If I’m a total cynic about weddings, it may be because I was raised by wedding cynics.  My parents recently celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary and they eloped, only telling a handful of people of their plans.  Chuck and I announced our intention but didn’t invite anyone to our 30 second JP ceremony in Arlington, Va.  Best decision I ever made.

I have been a bridesmaid two and half times and that’s really enough for me.  The cost, the stress, the cost, the scheduling, the cost, and the general nonsense are really too much.  Chuck recently sent me this funny article on being a bridesmaid.  I can’t say I’ve ever had it this bad, but I don’t want to try.

Chuck has missed several weddings in the past several years due to football.   These include the weddings of two of my brothers.  Before you jump to conclusions and call him selfish, please remember that weddings are pretty darn selfish as well.  Chuck likes to remind people that he only has about a dozen football games to attend each year so as long as an event takes place outside of those days, he will attend.

Out of 12 grandchildren, four of us are now married, but this was the first of my cousins to be wed.  I have to say, she did an excellent job at keeping it beautiful, low-key, and budget-friendly!  It was my honor and privilege to bake a “cutting” cake and 4 dozen cupcakes for this wedding.  I also designed and built a tier for the cupcakes and I made custom toppers for each of the cupcakes.  This helped coordinate them as there were a few other bakers also contributing.

Here is how to make a cupcake tier:

1.  Make cardboard discs:  You can buy these at the store but I have tons of clean cardboard left over from my new kitchen cabinets.

I used some twine and pens to make three compasses. This way I was able to make six circles, two of each size. I decided to double the cardboard to reinforce it.

Just use the pens as a compass to make perfect circles!

Use craft glue to stick two circles together. I made sure that the “grain” of the cardboard went in opposite directions.

2. Cover the discs to make them pretty.  I used wrapping paper, but I suppose you could use contact paper/shelf liner as well

Use a gluestick to adhere wrapping paper to one side of each disc.

Trim the wrapping paper to 1/4 inch.

This is too much. It needs trimmed.

This is perfect

Use hot glue to fold and adhere the edges of the paper

I used decorative ribbon to trim the edges of the discs.

Just hot glue the trim along the unfinished edges.

clean and simple!

Finished edge. Fold over the edge and stick it in the back when you construct the tier.

Ta Da!

3.  Construct the layered tiers.

I used canning jars and glue to make the tiers, but you can also use dowels, soup cans, TP rolls, or paper cups. Double-sided foam tape is also very helpful for sticking the glass to the cardboard.

4. Add the finishing touches!

Cupcake Toppers – I only made 1/3 of the cupcake for this wedding. To coordinate the cupcakes made by three bakers, I made these cupcake toppers using circle punches, scrapbook paper and embellishments, toothpicks, and hot glue. Super easy and super cute!

I only brought 1/3 of the cupcakes to the wedding. This is what 4 dozen cupcakes looks like!

This is the cupcake tier before all of the cupcakes were added.

This is what 144 cupcakes looks like. All but about 10 fit on this tier.

Dessert table complete!

More wedding musings and photos to come, and then Farm Show pictures!