Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Backyard Design Dreaming

Now that my wedding is over, I have brainspace to once again play around with design and other creative pursuits, not to mention more financial resources at my disposal!

Here's a little backyard design situation I dreamed up. All of the products are actually designed for outdoor (who else haaaates it when bloggers post images using indoor pillows outside? Like who's actually going to truck the pillows inside and outside depending on weather?? #aintnobodygottimeforthat).


That gingham umbrella is just so darn cute! What's your latest outdoor design find? 

Friday, 30 June 2017

Our Wedding Photos!!

Today I'm delighted to share photos of our wedding! We hired the amazing Grace and Jaden Photography, and all photos in this post are theirs. We loved working with them and loooooved our photos--they really captured the candid moments and the look and feel of our wedding. We didn't want forced, traditional wedding photos and Grace and Jaden were more than happy to oblige.

Weddings are notoriously expensive, and it was important to Vinny and me that our money was going towards small, local businesses whenever we could. We are also very active, outdoorsy people with a lot of respect for Mother Nature, so we were very thoughtful about the choices we made to try to lessen the environmental impact of our wedding. Lastly, we've fallen in love with Portland and wanted to help our guests (most of whom were traveling from out of state) understand just what makes this area so great.

With all of those things in mind, we held our ceremony at the Grotto, which is one of very few places in the US where you can get married in the Catholic church in an outdoor venue. The Grotto is drop-dead gorgeous and made for beautiful photos. All of our guests have been raving about what jaw-dropping venue it was!

We did a first look, which in retrospect was a great choice as I didn't realize how nervous I was to see Vinny until I was power-walking towards him! All of my nerves settled once we saw each other and I was able to really enjoy the rest of the day.

My dress was really the only one I considered, being the only one that made me feel like the bride version of myself rather than a stranger impersonating a bride. It didn't fit perfectly when I first got it, but I had a vision for it! I brought it to my seamstress, who made several tweaks: we narrowed the shoulder straps, dropped the back into a more flattering V, and added panels to the sides to fit my hips better. I bought the dress on eBay (from this shop) and was so happy with how effortless it was to wear all night--no tugging, no pulling, no Spanx or strapless bra required--just lots of dancing! :)

I'd recommend my seamstress, Tatyana's Wedding Alterations, to anyone. All of the reviews about her are accurate, in that her home is hard to find, her accent is hard to understand, you feel like maaaaaaybe she didn't really understand what you were asking for, but in the end she does a great job for a very reasonable price!
  • Eco tip: thrift/consign/ebay your dress! Some people don't love this idea but it was great for my budget and my eco-friendly values!

For my jewelry, Enclave Gems made me a custom pair of earrings so I could add my own aquamarines (Vinny's birthstone). I made the necklace myself loosely based on a design from Anthropologie that I loved but couldn't afford. I used  this smaller moonstone strandthis larger moonstone strandthese aquamarinesthese jump ringsthese clasps, and this magnetic clasp. I bought my brown leather wedges for our engagement photos and they still look brand new, so I rewore them at our wedding.
Vinny found his suit from a local Portland shop Well Suited, then he added the same aqua tie from JcPenney to match the groomsmen and a Blue gingham dress shirt from JCrew Factory. We both got our outfits pressed at Black Dry Cleaners, who did a great job.
  • Eco tip: buy local and get something he can rewear. Vinny actually wore his suit for the first time in our engagement photos, but it looked totally different for our wedding just based on his dress shirt and accessories.

Our flowers were designed by my wonderful mom! Although she lives half a country away, I wanted her to be a special part of our wedding planning. We decided to use faux florals for the bouquets so my mom could make them in Minnesota and bring them out. They were so beautiful and people didn't know they were fake unless they literally touched them! We got each piece from Afloral, Michael's, and Hobby Lobby, then my mom worked her magic. Half my bridesmaids took them home with them!

My 'something old, borrowed, and blue' all took the form of a handkerchief from my grandfather, who passed away several years ago. We tucked the handkerchief, which had blue stitching, into my bouquet and it came in handy during my dad's speech! :)

I loved how our bridal party looked together. We gave each bridesmaid a different fabric swatch from Azazie and asked them to just pick a long dress (from any store of their choice) that matched the swatch. I'm under no illusion that any of them will rewear their dresses, but at least they had the option to wear something in their chosen price point that made them feel comfortable and beautiful. From left to right: "Orchid": local bridal shop (similar), "Spa": Amazon (similar), "Jade": Azazie (note: although this is not a maternity dress, it fit my friend's six-month-pregnant belly really beautifully), "Ink Blue": Azazie, "Grape": David's Bridal (sold out, similar), "Wisteria": Azazie.

We did want the groomsmen to be able to rewear their wedding outfits (#reducereuserecycle) so we asked them to  wear a white dress shirt, black dress pants, black shoes, and black belt of their choosing, then we provided them with their tie. Our flower girl and ring bearer obtained their own outfits, but we provided the bow tie and suspendersDespite being worn by a very active 2yo boy, the suspenders stayed on surprisingly well!

For their gifts, I made each bridesmaid a custom piece of jewelry using the lost wax casting method I learned from a friend. It was so fun to think up how to personalize each gift to the recipient's style--a lot of love went into each gift! Vinny gifted the boys their ties and a nice thermos.

Vinny proposed with a beautiful recycled rose gold and white sapphire "Twisted" ring from Olivia Ewing (above). I made his wedding ring myself--it was really fun getting his input on it as I tweaked it!

Instead of buying a band to pair with my engagement ring, we designed a wedding ring together that I wear by itself (no band). We worked with Krista at Green Lake Jewelry Works, who somehow took our rambling requests and put together the most beautiful ring. We did almost the entire design process online, making only one quick stop to their Seattle store to make sure they were legit (which they totally were!). It was so much fun!
  • Eco tip: Diamond and gold extraction is highly damaging to the earth and the workers extracting them. We tried to alleviate this problem in four ways: used non-diamond stones (white sapphire for my engagement ring), lab-created stones (moissanite for my wedding ring), recycled diamonds (as accents to the wedding ring), and recycled metals (white gold for my wedding ring, rose gold for my engagement ring). On moissanite: it's a lab-created stone that's just slightly less hard than a diamond but with more brilliant refraction pattern that's prettier than a diamond, in my opinion. People don't know it's moissanite unless I tell them, which I make a point to do because I think it's a beautiful stone that helps avoid destruction of natural resources! 

My talented husband designed all of our paper goods (Save the Dates, programs, invites, wedding signage...) and his employer (he works at a graphic design/manufacturing company) graciously gifted printing and materials of everything to us. It was a fun process--I'd bring Vinny my ideas of what would look good, he'd put together his spin on the ideas, then we'd tweak until it felt just right!

We decorated the ceremony venue very simply, given the enormous beauty of the Grotto. We lined the aisle with a set of glass lanterns (large and small) which we filled with jade stones, a battery-operated candle (large and small), and the larger lanterns also received a large faux succulent

Although the Grotto was an amazing place visually to be married, I feel like I have to be honest in my review of them: overall they were the biggest stressor of our wedding by far. Their communication was very poor (I often had to send 3-4 emails over the course of a month before getting a response), and the coordinators they provided seemed intent on throwing up roadblocks rather than accommodations. I actually just found out yesterday that they never filed our marriage license with the county! To be continued on that nightmare... Because of all this bullshit incompetence, I honestly don't know if I'd go through the Grotto if we were to do it all over again.

After the ceremony the entire wedding headed to Urban Studio for the reception. The bridal party arrived in hilarious style, as we rented a bus from Eco Shuttle that ended up looking exactly like a city transit bus! Eco Shuttle was great and affordable.

For our centerpieces, we bought round 6" plastic planters that looked like terra cotta (similar), filled them with ferns, lavender, and astrid from our local Portland Nursery and topped them off with small jade pebbles.
  • Eco tip: cut flowers are incredibly destructive to the environment, especially if they're not local and in season. Instead of floral arrangements, we decided to use potted plants, many of which went home with friends and family at the end of the night, and the ones that didn't are beautifying our home. 
We used these candles with votives. They worked great and after 5 hours they were only burned maybe a quarter of the way through, so we are donating them to our church. Instead of your typical numbered table marker, we cut numbers for each place setting through Vinny's work. This allowed us to use our wedding colors without it ruining the nature-inspired look we were going for.
  • Eco tip: what you don't do is just as important as what you do. Originally we wanted to make coasters like these (#4 in the article), but ultimately we didn't think people would reuse them and they seemed too wasteful so we opted for a simple recyclable escort chart.
Lastly, I wanted a loose, textural fabric for our runners, so I bought cheesecloth off of Amazon.
  • Eco tip: before you buy an item, think about whether it can be reused later. We decided against certain types of fabric for the runners, favoring cheesecloth that will be reused in the kitchen and for cleaning/car maintenance.

I wanted our flower girl and ring bearer to feel special, so I made them little crayon/coloring book/sticker kits. I got these clipboards and added a DIY coloring book using line art from Google, then tossed some crayons in to these spice jars and tied it all up with a ribbon to look cute. Bonus: they brought them with on their flight home to keep the kids entertained.

For sweetheart table decor, we bought two of these faux eucalyptus garlands and wove in some faux ferns leftover from our bouquets. My mom made two floral accents from the leftover flowers from our bouquets, and we hung the garland with these Christmas light holders. We received two of these plant stands as a bridal shower gift, so we bought terra cotta planters and added plants from Portland Nursery.  On the floor we placed large terra cotta planters and filled them with the cutest lavender trees from Portland Nursery. Vinny bought plywood at Lowes and had his work cut the "M&V" sign out for us.

In lieu of a traditional guestbook we framed this stump print on Etsy; guests then signed the print's mat. The artist creates these stamped prints from slices of fallen logs. This particular tree fell in the Uinta mountains of Utah, where Vinny and I met and spent a lot of beautiful weekends camping.
  • Eco tip: put your own spin on traditions to make them work for you. We didn't think we'd ever use/look at an actual guest book, but we plan to hang our print in our house where we can enjoy it daily!

Aren't my parents the cutest??!

I came up with the idea of making these 'dance ambassadors' sashes, which ended up being one of the funniest parts of our wedding. People passed the sashes around the entire party and got people dancing who would normally sideline themselves :)

I can't close without mentioning the rest of our vendors, who were all amazing and we would recommend them to anyone!
  • Hair and Makeup: I worked with Jasmine and her assistant Amy from Blossom and Beauty. They were great--very sweet, relaxed people with really reasonable pricing for Portland. The bridal fee included a trial, which went so great and really put my mind at ease about how I would look on the big day. Then they came to my house to get everyone ready (so much more relaxing than going to a salon!) and got through my hair/makeup plus 5 bridesmaid's hair and a bridesmaid's makeup all between 9:30AM-12PM.
  • Reception venue and caterers: We held the reception at Urban Studio, which is the event space for our caterer Pearl Catering.  We researched a ton of caterers and event spaces and Urban ended up being the most affordable and easy option. The space itself is sort of an industrial blank space that you can really make your own. The food was delicious (people told me the Chicken Saltimbocca was the best wedding food they've ever had) and it was very easy to customize and to allow for specialized diets. They were very easy-going and overall very easy to communicate with. 
  • Rentals: Urban Studio provided most of the dishware (glasses, silverware, serveware) and they offered to arrange for the rest of our rentals, but we ended up using Party Place for our table/chair/linen/special plates because it was cheaper to do so through our wedding coordinator. Party Place was great. For a small fee ($60) they dropped off and picked everything up and they were even able to add on a tent canopy last-minute when it looked like there might be rain during our ceremony. 
  • DJ: We found DJ Sir Kenneth through our wedding coordinator, and he was very easy to work with. We met with him once briefly at the start of our planning then sent him a list of song requests a few days before the wedding. The dancefloor was packed the whole time and he was just really great and friendly!
  • Wedding Coordinator: Last but certainly not least, our wedding coordinator was Kim at Your Perfect Bridesmaid. If I had one piece of advice for newly engaged couples I'd say to factor a wedding coordinator into your budget, because she was hands-down the best money spent on our wedding and I honestly can't say enough good things about Kim and her staff. They say every wedding has something go wrong, but if that happened at ours I didn't know about it because Kim dealt with everything beautifully. Her fee is very reasonable for the amount of work she did. We hired her as a 'day of' coordinator, but the package included several meetings during the planning stage including a meeting with Urban Studio to ensure we were all on the same page. She also set our timeline (which I could probably do myself but it saved me a ton of stress and deliberation about whether I did it correctly) and we received a discount on our rentals through YPB, which made her reasonable fee even more reasonable!
All in all it was truly a perfect day; we keep saying we want to do it all over again in slow-motion! Hope you enjoyed this glimpse into our wedding :) For more inspiration, check out my wedding Pinterest board.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Our Wedding Inspiration!

Big news everyone: last weekend I got married! It was a wonderful day that I wish I could do all over again in slow motion. My husband (!) and I have each lived in several different states over the years and it was unbelievably special to get all of our friends and family from across the country (and world!) in one place. We even had a surprise guest: our friend flew in from Tokyo!

We don't have our wedding photos back yet, but today I thought I'd share how we put together our wedding. We based our entire planning strategy on three main concepts:

1) We decided how we want our wedding to feel for us and our guests and stuck to that vision. For us that meant all of our decisions were based around creating a joyful, welcoming, modern, nature-inspired wedding.

2) Every time we hit a roadblock or stressor, we'd ask ourselves, "Will this change how we feel on our wedding day?" If the answer was no, we generally cut that thing from the wedding. If the answer was yes, it helped to reframe the reason behind why we were doing that thing which made the whole process so much more enjoyable.

3) We are environmentally conscious in our day-to-day lives, and we wanted our wedding to follow suit. This meant actively making decisions to reduce excess and waste as a byproduct of our wedding.

Once these three guidelines were established, I did as any 2017 bride would do and took to Pinterest and wedding blogs. Here are some of the inspiration images that found their way into our wedding:

I am an enormous fan of artist Zoe Pawlak. I've had this painting of hers saved for years and it served as the color palette for the wedding.

Our second biggest source of inspiration came from this gorgeous wedding of an actress and casting director. While the Palm Beach look (and large budget!) is not what we had in mind, we thought they nailed a fun and happy vibe and we gleaned a lot of DIY ideas from their photos.

Specifically, we loved the idea of potted plants as centerpieces instead of flowers. I always feel sad seeing flowers get thrown away at the end of a wedding, plus cut flowers are tough on the environment, so potted plants helped us reduce our waste. At the end of the day, our friends all took home potted plants and it's so fun seeing parts of our wedding live on in their homes! We also loved the white runner and the idea of using numbers on each plate rather than traditional table numbers.

From the above jumping-off points, we started to narrow our focus. We liked the look of a plated table with waterfall napkin like this one, and I also really liked green plants with minimal colors in the centerpieces.

The terra cotta pots here add a bit of nice dimension and earthy tones.

We ended up choosing similar plants to this image--ours were lavender, fern, and astrids.

We didn't want to go quite as minimal as the above tables, so the grey tablecloth and white runner of this image provided some pretty contrast.

I really loved the soft texture of this runner (we ended up using white cheesecloth) and how it draped over the edge with ribbons to cinch the runner.

My niece and nephew were the flower girl and ring bearer, so I made sure to include them with their own coloring books and sticker/crayon jars.

Our ceremony was held outdoors at the beautiful Grotto, which needed very little embellishment. Our only aisle d├ęcor was glass lanterns, which we filled with river rock and candles.

We had this Ikea easel set up with directions to the ceremony and a potted centerpiece of succulents.

My husband is a talented graphics whiz, so he designed and fabricated all of our paper goods as well as our wedding website. His workplace (a graphic design/manufacturing company) generously printed everything free of charge, which was awesome for our budget! We roughly based our Save the Dates off this postcard, incorporating simple language and multiple fonts that were then repeated in all of our wedding signage and invites.

For our invites we really liked the floral border and clean look of this invite, but we put our own spin on ours.

I can't wait to get our photos back so I can share how this inspiration turned into reality!

Monday, 22 May 2017

Quick Design: Ethical Spring Outfits!

Warm weather has finally hit Portland! It's been a long slog of a winter and I'm very happy to see the sun again! In celebration of our next week's weather forecast, I put together a few outfits using items sourced from companies that employ ethical production practices of one kind or another.

Ethical Spring Outfits

Outfit 1:
Skirt: Kopal NY: This company uses natural dyes in their production, partnering with socially responsible groups in India to build sustainable work and keep Indian textile traditions alive. 

Jacket: DL1961: made in the USA, DL1961 has found ways to reduce their water, dye, and energy use in manufacturing; they also focus on eco-friendly textiles like Tencel and ProModal.

White shirt: Fair Indigo: Fair trade company using Oeko-Tex certified dyes (regulates how chemicals can be used) and organic cotton (less chemicals = better for the earth/workers)          

Sandals: Nisolo: This company focuses on transparency, sustainability, and fair trade work by using leathers only as a by-product of the meat industry, providing above-average wages and healthcare to its workers in Peru, and publishing an impact report of their practices. I bought these to possibly wear in my upcoming wedding!

Outfit 2:
Tee: Calder Blake: Each piece from this small company is created start-to-finish (design, manufacturing, shipping) in California, with an emphasis on timeless, well-made designs that last the test of time
Skirt: Conrado: This company sources its material from deadstock (leftover fabric from other stores' clothing) and produces their items in a small family-run company.

Shoes: Veja: Widely touted as a gold standard in ethical fashion, Veja has transparent supply chain and fair trade practices, encourages eco-friendly farming practices, provides incentive for suppliers to NOT deforest their land, and uses eco-friendly materials.

Outfit 3:
Shoes: Matt + Nat: This vegan company not only avoids animal products, they incorporate recycled materials such as plastic bottles and bike tires in their products and supply their workers with a safe working environment and fair wages.

Pants: Matter: I recently listened to an interesting podcast from the owners of Matter, in which they described how they look at traditional textiles like Ikat and interpret them in a modern way. They focus on slow fashion and quality materials.

Crop Top: Groceries Apparel: This company's products are made in LA with non-toxic dyes. They have a great page explaining their product sources and focus on eliminating waste and reducing their carbon footprint.

Outfit 4:
"Love over Fear" tank: Siempre Viva: This company partners with workers in Mexico, providing business mentoring to women whose businesses then create the products for the line. They source natural, organic fibers and donate to charities. Plus, in the current political climate I think "love over fear" is a great message to send!

Shorts: DL1961: per above, better manufacturing practices = reduced environmental impact

Sandals: Frye: Made in the USA, Frye is well-known for their quality leather that can take a beating and look all the better for it.

Monday, 15 May 2017

An ethical alternative to my 10x10 capsule wardrobe!

I'm a big fan of the concept of "When you know better, do better." Recently I posted a spring capsule wardrobe incorporating new items from several mainstream stores. Since then, I watched the documentary The True Cost (it's on Netflix!), which dives into the deep and dirty world of fast fashion. Long story short, mainstream clothing stores want you to buy from them (duh), and they want you to keep buying from them (duh), so they make their clothing cheaply both in terms of cost and materials. Cheap clothing doesn't cost the company much, and it is designed to fall apart quickly so you have to buy more to replace it. To make cheap clothing, you need cheap labor and cheap materials, which leads to abuse and underpayment of workers and use of terrible chemicals and manufacturing processes that damage our world and the workers exposed to them.

This, and my subsequent research on the topic, has led me to want to make better, more intentional, and more ethical purchases when adding to my wardrobe. There are a lot of ways one can define ethical fashion, and I plan to write a whole post on what I'm learning, but here are several ways in which an item could be a more ethical counterpart to fast fashion:

1. Made in the USA: reduces carbon imprint for American shoppers and ensures better regulation of working conditions
2. Sustainable materials: using natural, renewable fabrics and materials
3. Sustainable production practices: reduce the use of chemicals, dyes, water, and energy
4. Reused/recycled materials to create a new product
5. Second-hand items: give a second life to an already-created item
6. Custom/made-to-order: reduces excess material use and stores' need to get rid of items seasonally
7. Buy one/give one: Toms is famous for giving away a pair of shoes for every pair purchased, which many companies have now adopted
8. Buying less: capsule wardrobes do a great job of this--using fewer items, more
9. Transparent supply chain: understanding where your items are sourced from gives the consumer the ability to decide if the company fits your own ethics
10. Vegan: some materials, like leather, are very harmful to produce in terms of the chemicals used, plus some people do not feel animals should be killed for human use. Additionally, vegan items are more likely to be made of plant-based products (see: sustainable materials)

I thought an easy way to start would be by providing ethical alternatives to my spring capsule wardrobe. Check out my new options, and see below for why they are a more ethical alternative to my original post!
 Ethical 10x10 Spring Capsule

Here's how the pieces I selected stack up:
1. Striped bell-sleeve top: Amourt Vert, where this is from, is made in the USA with non-toxic dies, sustainable fabrics, and zero-waste practices
2. White jeans, white dress, and navy top: Patagonia and Prana are leaders in establishing transparency in their supply chain, using better production methods, employing fair trade practices, and giving back to environmental causes
3. Striped short-sleeve top: Marine Layer is a US company that creates their products with a fabric made from recycled beechwood, and some of their products support local charities
4. White blazer and metallic shorts: these are mainstream products (BCBG and JCrew) but sourced from ThredUp, a second-hand store
5. Gingham skirt: this skirt is made-to-order in the USA; the store owner buys material specifically for each item ordered, thereby reducing material waste
6. Boyfriend jeans: AG denim is a pioneer in reducing the environmental impact of their production
7. Military jacket: Synergy Organic, who makes this jacket, are a fair trade company that uses organic cotton, which has less environmental impact due to not using synthetic chemicals to grow the cotton and less water needed to make the fabric.

What do you think of my ethical alternatives?

Friday, 28 April 2017

10x10(ish) Spring Capsule Wardrobe!

Wow, this year is flying by! Between work and planning my wedding, I've been adulting pretty hard the first quarter of 2017, so I had fun doing a little online shopping this week. I picked up this pair of shorts, this dress (only $16!), and these shoes and realized they made the good start of a spring capsule wardrobe!

I originally conceived of this post as a 10x10 wardrobe challenge but kept coming up with more and more options from my ten pieces, so I hope you enjoy :)

10x10 Spring Capsule

Do you ever read fashion blogs and think to yourself, WHERE ARE YOU ACTUALLY WEARING THAT TO? So often, the outfits don't seem like real life options. So I focused on putting together outfits I'd actually wear in my real life. These first 7 are things I'd wear to work at my hospital.

10x10 Work Outfits

Outfits 1 & 2: I'm a genetic counselor, and I'd wear these two outfits to meet with patients. Although I need to dress professionally, the nature of my work means I also want to be relatable and not intimidating, so I tend do dress business casual with some fun pieces thrown in. In the first outfit, this means lots of pattern mixing--dots, stripes, and gingham, oh my! For the second outfit, the swing cut of the army jacket is unexpected, and the big gold earrings are so funky!

Outfit 3: I'd wear this to a meeting with other departments. It looks professional but still comfortable, with a pretty rose gold watch to make sure we're keeping on schedule.

Outfit 4-5: For days spent doing admin/office type work, I prefer to wear comfortable pieces that aren't too fussy but still pulled together. The drape of the shirt in outfit 4 is breezy but the pearls dress things up a bit. Outfit 5 is literally a tshirt and comfy!

Outfit 6-7: These are definitely "Casual Friday" outfits. Outfit 6 employs some fun pattern mixing and a cute bow tie on the shorts, but the blazer and wedges keep it work-appropriate (at least in my department!). The last outfit is simple with pops of red.

A good capsule wardrobe allows for items to seamlessly fit into your non-work life too, as demonstrated below:

10x10 Play Outfits

Outfit 1: Since I have weddings on the brain, I'd wear this to an engagement party.

Outfit two: This would be a cute outfit for those days when you go straight from running errands to out with friends.

Outfit three: Brunch is big in Portland, and this dress with the shirt tossed over, unbuttoned, and tied at the waist would be so cute!

Outfit four: But the reality is that most of my brunches are not of the little white dress variety--more like the 'hungover and don't want to cook breakfast' persuasion. For that scenario, this outfit is perfect--dark glasses, comfy kicks, and a fedora to mask your unwashed hair ;)

Outfit 5: I'd wear this to an outdoor concert.

Outfit 6: This would be a fun date night outfit!

Outfit 7: July isn't really 'spring' but how cute would this be for a fourth of July party?! Love that watermelon clutch.

Outfit 8: This is the outfit I'd be most likely to wear to happy hour with friends.

So tell me: which items are you most likely to add to your own closet? I'm strongly eyeing up that swing jacket and soft striped buttonup!