Thursday, December 22, 2011

Snowmen amok

As a kid, I don't think I ever made a gingerbread house. And it seems like a very important holiday tradition to have missed out on. Shortly after we returned from early Christmas in West Virginia, I happily declared we would build a gingerbread house. After all, we were on a roll. A tree had been purchased and decorated for the first time in many years AND most of the holiday shopping was done. 

It was decided we would build a replica of our townhouse. Choosing a simple design we were familiar with was a smart move as we are gingerbread-building novices. Mr. P added T-supports and corner braces inside the house for stability. I wish I were kidding.

Peppermint candies for the brick columns and candycane handrails. If you look closely you can see the drop of icing for the front door knob.

If you're piping icing out of sandwich baggies (instead of an icing bag), don't be surprised if your fingernails pierce the bag and you have literal mess on your hands. Mr. P's bag never sprang a leak... until I used it. We used pasteurized egg whites for the royal icing so it was safe to eat.

My Seuss-ified trees. Rocking a sugar buzz by this point.

Banished to the rear of the house, I started work on the paver patio. This patio went down in a matter of minutes whereas the real project has taken over 3 months. Mr. P stopped working on the front porch roof long enough to observantly ask if I was placing them in a pattern. Why, yes!

If only our fencing was arches of candycanes! Another icing door knob.

While waiting for icing to set, I assembled snowmen out of gumdrops. Scrounged up some loose poppy seeds (everything bagels are messy!) for eyes and piped on pairs of candy-coated mittens. Inspiration struck and I asked for a sled.

A rather handsome sled, indeed!

This is what happens when you let snowmen run amok! Sledding accidents are nothing to giggle at. And giggling is pretty much what I did the entire time I created this macabre scene. I knew we'd succeeded when my mom thought it was disturbing and dad thought it was hysterical.

Next year's gingerbread project: a sailboat?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ooops and another update

Broken images on the honeymoon posts have been fixed. (Slightly embarrassed that I just now caught it.) Any post written from the MarsEdit blogging program went into a separate Picasa album, whose privacy settings I must have fiddled with. Back to public view now. Phew.

(A full size tree this year for the newlyweds!)

Our early Christmas with my family in West Virginia was a wonderful way to kick off the month of December. The gifts, especially the photo albums and framed pictures, were a big hit. Really pleased with the way the kraft paper, bakers twine and salt dough name tags came together. Will post detail shots of them after the rest of the family sees them on Christmas -- this weekend. 

Oh, hello Christmas. Didn't know you were coming so soon!

Hard to believe Christmas is next weekend. And New Years the following weekend. I'm tired just thinking about all the busy between now and then. Let's just say I am looking forward to getting back to blogging soon, which will include wedding RECAPS!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cheap bakers twine and other slightly less important news

Had to share this incredible find (courtesy of my friend Jane): $9.95 for 3,400 YARDS of bakers twine!

Pink Bakers Twine via

And no, this deal isn't only for red twine. They have just about every color, including some of the harder to find ones like pink, orange, lime green and light blue. I knew you guys would appreciate it, especially with the holidays coming up! I've already ordered mine so I'm not worried about it selling out. Go get your own spool here.


I know this blog has been too quiet lately. Being busy is no excuse because we all are, but I am/have been. I swear! The mister and I have used every nice weekend between Labor Day and today to work on the patio project. We're finally at a point where I can see forward progress. No more digging. No more dirt piles up to my waist.

This was last weekend: 4x4 poles and sakrete for the fence posts. Now we have a raised garden bed in the rear and a 2" layer of crusher run (gravel) down. Next is sand... and then the pavers.

Work has really picked up and I've had back-to-back clients, which is atypical for this time of year. (Extra money is good. It allows me to buy silly things, like spools of bakers twine.) I'm in charge of the office holiday mailing from creation to dropping it off at the post office. No easy feat for 700+ clients.

No matter how organized I am, the holidays sneak up on me. Never mentally ready for them to start. Two weeks ago while picking up ornament crafting supplies for my Weddingbee secret bee, someone was driving around with Christmas music blasting from their car. I remember thinking, "Really??! Really?" But if that's what it takes to get your head into the holiday spirit... *sigh*

So on top of all the holiday shopping, ornament-making, card-mailing, and ambitious crafting and cooking projects, I'm creating seven individual wedding albums as presents. (I must be nuts.) Four are complete - the easier, smaller (<40 page) ones. The larger, more detailed parent albums are next. After  busting my butt to get those first four albums out the door for a 25% off discount, Shutterfly announced a 40% off discount (book40) the very next day. Of course. So now I need to get the three albums done asap to snag this deal.

What are you up to this weekend?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What to buy at Terrain?

I've got a 20% off discount for Terrain burning a hole in my pocket. It's good through the end of the month, so I still have time to choose what to spend it on. The problem is, there are so many tempting things to use it for...

Sun Shower Necklace, $48

Tagua Bib Necklace, $72

Marble Sunflower Dish, $88

And the big ticket item, which I've loved since its introduction but don't actually have a place in our house picked out yet:

Filigree Sphere, $238

(all images via Terrain)

Or I could be smart and use the 20% discount toward Christmas gifts. But I really like that light. What would you pick up?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hello, again.

It's been four months since our wedding. It feels more like a year. You would think post-wedding, I'd have all this free time. Especially since I am not blogging as heavily as before (read: once a month if you're still following). Yet, I find myself busy. Yes, work and the usual obligations are there. But this busy is more of a in-my-head-busy, planning-busy. I love planning and thinking up projects for the hazy future.

Last month, I stumbled across a "planning enabler": Pinterest. If you're one of the few uninitiated, you owe it to yourself to take a look. This inspiration pinboard community was made for the visually-oriented planner. The best feature is seeing what my friends and fellow bees pin in real time. I could easily spend my evenings in a pinning and planning daydream. If you're curious, visit me and see what I've been up to.

In the name of productivity, I created a board just for my 101 Things list. Incentive to accomplish... and plan. Ooops. So far, I've knocked out two classic books (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre), ventured away on two weekend trips, dined at new restaurants (Chifa & Meritage in Philly; Rivers at the Watergate in DC), sipped seasonal pumpkin brews (reviews soon on my wine blog), and have every intention of starting some DIY projects this weekend. Maybe a little mercury glass or an early start on the holiday cards.

Whatever it is, I need to close my laptop and be productive before the weekend slips away from me. Are you up to anything particularly interesting this weekend?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Milestones and Life Lists

Every September I reflect on where I am and what I've accomplished. This time of introspection, usually reserved for December and January, is a habit from my back-to-school days. Each new school year was filled with the promise of new. New school supplies and a new outfit started me out on the right foot. New subjects, teachers and classmates to learn and challenge my thinking. But as an adult, the newness and challenges happen far too infrequently.

I stumbled upon the idea of a "30 things to do before I'm 30" list too late. It would have been more like a 30 things in 30 days list. You see, I turn 30 very soon. This milestone birthday has not weighed on me as it has for other friends because I'm approaching it a little bit differently. I'm embracing it as the starting line for a reinvigoration. It's a new decade, full of promise.

To get started, I created a Day Zero list. Maybe you're more familiar with its project name: 101 Things in 1001 Days. This is my challenge for the next 2.74 years. (You'll help hold me accountable as I blog my way through the 101 things.) Without further ado, here is my list organized by theme:

1. Open an etsy store.
2. Professionally print and produce my senior thesis book for my grandparents (that I’ve been wanting to give them for 8 years).
3. Shoot a roll of film on my Holga.
4. Hang my art in the house.
5. Learn how to take better photographs.
6. Create book of my Weddingbee posts.
7. Make Christmas cards.
8. Buyer fewer/make more gifts.
9. Create my “50 States” canvasses.
10. Create wall collage of wedding photos and ephemera.
11. Shoot roll of 3200 film.
12. Restart vacation sketchbook.
13. Take printmaking or screenprinting (again) class.
14. Create family recipe book.
15. Mercury glass something.
16. Buy more art.
17. Resume wine blogging.
18. Use washi tape for a greeting card series.
19. Create displays for shell and sand collections.
20. Re-design both blogs.
21. Guest blog.

House Projects
22. Create studio space for myself.
23. Paint all of the house's interior wood trim white.
24. Paint, drywall ceiling and install new trim in our bedroom. (I’ve lived with the green swatches on the wall long enough!)
25. Go garage/estate sale shopping.
26. Transform a piece of furniture.
27. Epoxy paint basement floor.
28. Paint second bedroom ceiling fan white.
29. Build a living wall for rear yard.
30. Build a simple water fountain for rear yard.
31. Paint closet floor or install hardwood flooring.
32. Devote a weekend to house stuff: re-grouting, touch-up paint and other procrastinated tasks.
33. Paint the front door.
34. Create emergency kit/bail-out bag.
35. Catalog contents of house for insurance purposes.

36. Purge closet of out-of-style or ill-fitting clothes.
37. Re-wire and find shade for stacked ball lamp.
38. Orchids: feed and find large cloche to cover one of them.
39. Learn boat knots.
40. Learn sign language beyond alphabet.
41. Go camping.
42. Go horseback riding. (Bonus if it’s bundled with #41.)
43. Learn to identify 10 constellations.
44. Learn how to better use my dSLR.
45. Refinish my dresser set.
46. Take or teach myself a new choreographed dance.
47. Learn about beer varieties and production.
48. Distinguish between wine varietals in a blind tasting.
49. Take pile of clothes to seamstress/tailor for alterations.
50. Snorkel, without being a spaz.
51. Learn massage techniques.
52. Overnight sailing trip.
53. Go sailing with just Brian.
54. Find a new job.

Culture & Travel
55. Attend a film festival.
56. Read the Harry Potter series.
57. Visit a new country.
58. Visit a World Heritage Site.
59. Resume working at Va La Vineyards.
60. Attend a concert.
61. Return to Finger Lakes for another wine weekend.
62. Visit the tri-state wineries.
63. Visit a new wine region (VA/MD, Long Island, WA/OR)
64. Network toward the goal of a wine or design career.
65. Host a wine tasting event.
66. Get around to reading 10 of the classics I've never read.*
67. Get a Final Jeopardy right.
68. Road trip!

69. Set up auto-deduct for short and long-term financial goals.
70. Wipe out any outstanding debts.
71. Establish a rainy day fund.
72. Save $10k for down-payment.
73. Maintain debt-free household.
74. Set aside money for a baby.
75. But first, determine baby budget.
76. Sell my wedding dress. :(

77. Host another Family Dinner with our friends.
78. Dine at 10 new restaurants.
79. Join a CSA.
80. Read my Geometry of Pasta book and create 5 proper dishes from it.
81. Go on a culinary road trip.
82. Make croissants.
83. Make macarons.
84. Plant a vegetable garden.

Health & Beauty
85. Resume yoga.
86. Dust off the elliptical and commit to 15 days each month.
87. Lift free weights for 20 minutes on the days I don’t use the elliptical.
88. Get health insurance.
89. Begin using anti-aging moisturizer and night cream.
90. Color my hair.
91. Give myself a monthly manicure.
92. Switch to a new foundation.

93. Play croquet or bocce in the park.
94. Mail package to random person in my address book.
95. Make three new friends.
96. Go out once a month with a girlfriend.
97. Find my way through a maze (corn, hedge or otherwise).
98. Photo scavenger hunt with friends.
99. Write a letter to my grandparents.
100. Curl up with a book all day.
101. Fail (epicly) at something.

*The books: Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, The Odyssey, Ulysses, Don Quixote, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Gulliver's Travels, The Importance of Being Earnest, & A Tale of Two Cities

What do you think of the list -- too ambitious? Do you have a similar list?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sea of Love - The Beaches

Midway through our B.V.I. honeymoon, we still hadn't made it to one of the top attractions on Virgin Gorda - The Baths. So we hired a taxi and bumped our way along the island's main road to the edge of the national park where a trail strewn with giant boulders hinted at what was to come.

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With a little effort, we reached our reward!

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The Baths! After hearing Mr. PaC's stories of this beautiful place, I fretted (needlessly) the real thing wouldn't live up to expectations.

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Surreal sea and sky. Daytrippers at anchor.

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It was so ungodly hot that our only escape was exploring "the caves" connecting the two beaches. Which is merely a denser concentration of granite boulders haphazardly stacked in such a way that it formed a maze-like passage over, under and between said boulders.

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Off we go! This first passageway required a crouch-waddle movement during which I may have shot Mr. PaC an incredulous look as I expected the caves to progressively become more difficult. Thankfully, this was it for tight squeezes.

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One of the serenely beautiful tidal pools with powdery soft sand. This would be a good spot to hide pirate treasure!

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Emerging out of the caves for a moment between the beaches, this was our view. See that the tidal pool in the foreground? It's home to a rather territorial little fish that enjoyed nipping our toes.

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Devil's Bay - the other side of the caves. We stood on the edge of the cave for a good minute surveying the view, stunned at how gorgeous a natural place could be. Nothing we've ever seen exceeds the B.V.I. in natural beauty.

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The salinity of the water made it ridiculously easy to float.

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Photographic proof I went into the water! I like to tell Mr. PaC I have a healthy respect for the ocean and all its creatures, especially sharks. (Thank goodness Shark Week had not aired before our honeymoon!)

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The following morning, we departed LDB via powerboat. Our destination? Mountain Trunk Bay, north of the resort on the west coast, for a private beach drop and picnic lunch.

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Approaching Mountain Trunk.

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Pinch me. Seriously. We're looking out onto The Dogs from here, specifically Great Dog and George Dog. Scrub Island, Great Camanoe and Tortola loom in the distance.

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More craggy rocks and beaches strewn with rock. In crevices, we found sea urchin, snail and crab. I had plenty of beach to explore and returned with a good shell haul.

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This spot was purported to have some great snorkeling so Mr. PaC brought his gear. But the water depth jumped from 2' to 15' almost immediately, so he couldn't help but wonder what size fish were in those depths if we had good sized fish and large sea turtles in our 3' deep protected bay. That and I wasn't going out there - as bait or lifeguard. No way. No how.

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So he built more rock sculptures.

Because you made it this far... here's your video reward, a panoramic view of Mountain Trunk Beach:

Our waterproof video camera rocks! It took all of the above shots and many HD movies. And not once did I ever worry about getting it wet, sandy or being rough with it. My (malfunctioning) dSLR stayed in the room safe for the entire trip.

Catch up on the PaC honeymoon: We arrive. We explore. We dine. We spa.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sea of Love - Spas & Seclusion

Not many men have set foot in a spa. Willingly. Or would readily admit it. But now we can count my husband in the small number of guys who've set a manicured toe inside. In all fairness, I don't think he would have tagged along had it not been a couples massage.

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After discovering there was an infinity pool just for spa guests, we decided to show up early. Like 2 hours early! What? You would have done the same thing.

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Seriously dreamy. Not one but TWO pools overlooking the ocean. All to ourselves. Mr. PaC hovered at the pool's edge like a child waiting to jump in after eating while I snapped photos of the undisturbed pool.

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We soaked and swam 'til our fingers turned prune-y, then attempted the hot tub until the mosquitoes chased us (me) away.

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(One of my absolute favorite pics from our honeymoon.)

Hopping back into the pool to escape aforementioned mosquitoes, we spied rock and what could be a beach just below the cliff. I wonder if we can get down there?

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Yes we can! (via a steep, slippery man-made series of rock stairs)

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This secluded beach is Casey Bay on the northwestern edge of the resort. (It's the only place we didn't run into our celebrity!)

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Unable to resist his inner child, Mr. PaC scrambled over the rocks and began work on the first of many PaC stacked rock sculptures.

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For the curious and amused, I passed on the mani-pedi since mine were still in great shape. They would have gone to waste... so Mr. PaC had his very first manicure AND pedicure sans polish. I have NEVER seen his hands look better. Why I didn't ask him to do this for the wedding, I don't know!

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Post spa-treatment bliss.

We enjoyed Casey Bay's privacy and close proximity so much that we traversed its steep trail several more times. The resort beach was never crowded, but a gorgeous Caribbean beach to yourself is a real treat!

Catch up on the PaC honeymoon: We arrive. We explore. We dine.

Sea of Love - Dining in the Dark

As part of our trip package, Mr. PaC and I were treated to a sunset dinner on the beach. We had so many awesome things on the itinerary that I really never gave it a second thought. Until we walked out onto the beach and saw this...

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Our private table overlooked the half mile of beach, bay, reef and beyond at Little Dix Bay. We were in for three courses of bliss.

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*clink* *clink* with some Sauvignon Blanc


Seafood appetizers & entrees: mahi mahi, lobster, shrimp & swordfish

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How to pass time between courses? Take photos of each other. (Oooo, you can see my new bling!)

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I can still hear the palm leaves rustling in the tropical breeze. Oh wait, that's the neighbor sweeping the sidewalk. (Honeymoon's over...)

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Catch up on the PaC honeymoon! We arrive. We explore.