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Hey everybody!

The Craft Begins is moving!  It’s bigger and badder and in a new place – thecraftbegins.com

It is a lot easier to use, there are some new features, and it’s a lot prettier as well!  I hope you’ll stop by.  All of the archives will be moved over there as well, so you won’t miss  a thing.  However, all new posts will be there, so you’ll have to come visit!  I’ll leave this site up for a while so you won’t lose it.

Hope to see you soon!


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On hiatus…

Hey everyone.

I’m taking a blogging break for a few days.  I’ve got lots of things going on here, things I think you’ll like.  The blog will be better than ever – doing a complete overhaul, and that usually takes a little while!  I hope you’ll like it.  In the meantime, if you’d like to be notified when the new blog is launched, let me know at thecraftbegins [at] gmail.com, and I promise you’ll be updated!  See you in a few days!

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It’s all lovely and springy, and I sat down near some pretty grass earlier to take a picture.  I’d like to give you a snapshot of my afternoon, and a great poem that I think goes with it, from one of my favorite authors, Shel Silverstein.


There is a place where the sidewalk ends

And before the street begins,

And there the grass grows soft and white,

And there the sun burns crimson bright,

And there the moon-bird rests from his flight

To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black

And the dark street winds and bends.

Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow

We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,

And watch where the chalk-white arrows go

To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,

And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,

For the children they mark, and the children, they know

The place where the sidewalk ends.

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mercenary-copySo I’ve been running into the problem lately of people asking me what I “do”.  I do lots of things, but I find that I’m always at a loss for words, there’s an awkward pause, and I try to find a way to explain all of my creative endeavors to someone who just asked a simple innocent question and didn’t want a 10 minute answer.  I’ve been playing around with the idea of labeling myself a “creative mercenary” since I usually just appear for short periods of time to work on a specific project, whether it be photo styling or picking out a wall color for a friend’s apartment.  I’ve heard some reactions that thought the concept was too violent, but I think it’s better than a “will work for food” business card.  Here’s something I’ve been playing around with – I’d love to know what you think!

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I think one of the more important elements of a wedding is food, but that’s because, well, I love it.  You probably won’t get much of a chance to eat it, but that’s besides the point.  There’s a good amount of time during the reception when you’re so busy talking to everyone and seeing people and having a good time, you don’t think about what everyone else is doing at that moment.  Aside from drinking, they’re probably eating, and that’s a great time to continue on whatever theme you’ve got going for your wedding.  Aside from colors, the only “theme” that I had going was to make it as personalized as possible.  I looked at lots of caterers, lots of whom had pretty appetizing fare, but it all seemed very “wedding” to me.  Then I had a stroke of genius.  There is a local Thai restaurant where I grew up that is a favorite of the family’s.  We’ve been going there for years, dragging other people there, and I liked the food so much, I had their phone number on my speed dial.  What a better way to a) have a unique food experience, b) share my favorite restaurant with all my family and friends, c) give one of my favorite local restaurants a good deal of business and d) save some money in the mean time?

There ended up being some additional planing that needed to take place, like renting dishes and silverware and all of that, but I think that it worked out really well in the end.  The restaurant had never catered an event before, but it was so successful I hope that they will do it again!  And the guests all thought the food was amazing, so that never hurts.  Plus, I got to eat my favorite Pad Thai on my wedding day, so that made it all the more special.  If anyone is in the Denver area, I highly suggest checking out Wild Ginger or their sister restaurant, Tommy Thai.

Drinks obviously fall into the food category.  Played around with the idea of having a dry wedding, but I decided that I didn’t want everyone to leave after an hour.  Drinks can get very expensive very fast, and there’s some ways that you can avoid the bill constantly escalating.  The first big mistake is the open bar/mixed drinks idea.  First of all, most people view an open bar as an invitation to get as drunk as possible, as quickly as possible.  If you’re doing mixed drinks, same goes.  You also have the added expense of a bartender, which doesn’t help matters at all.  In addition to that, having a properly stocked bar requires buying lots of weird small items, like vermouth, that you’ll probably never use again, and you run the risk of ending up with 3 bottles of whatever it is you don’t particularly like.

We stocked wine, beers and 3 varieties of “punch”, specially chosen to match the color theme.  The wine was fun, as we could choose interesting things to go with Thai food.  One way to save money is buying it buy the case, which will usually get you at least a 10% discount, or an even better way to save money is to befriend your local wine merchant.  They can usually get insider deals that they will pass along to people they like.  We also used cava for the toast instead of champagne.  In case you don’t know, cava is basically Spanish champagne.  It’s a little more dry than a traditional champagne or sparkling wine, but you can get into a good bottle for much less than you would champagne.  Plus, it’s more fun!  I made sure to get something I liked in case there was tons left over.  We’re definitely beer people, so we just picked up a couple of cases of things that we liked.  A warning: if your friends like beer, make sure to get more than you think you’ll need.  It’ll go really fast.  The only thing we did for spirits was 3 brightly-colored punches that could be mixed ahead of time to save time and money. They were the Garden of Eden Martini (from our favorite bar in Vancouver), Night of Passion, and Wedding Bliss (what terrible names!).  If you’d like the recipes, just let me know!

To me, desert was the best part!  We’re not particularly cake people, and as much as I love the way that gorgeous wedding cakes look, I wanted to do something a little different.  So we made a desert stand!  The tables were lovingly crafted by my mom and her best friends to match the theme – they are all stackable, so I got to keep them and use them for lots of things around the house!  We got bite-sized deserts (key lime tarts, small brownies, etc) from local bakeries and arranged them on the tables.  It looked fun, it was really unique, and I got to have my own little key lime tart!

The cost of wedding cakes gets so out of hand so easily, and this really cuts down on costs.  Plus the mini deserts are colorful and fun, and the guests can have something that’s more their taste then just a basic cake.  I don’t like chocolate, and I wouldn’t want to force everyone else at the wedding to eat vanilla cake, but what a shame it would be to not be able to eat my own wedding cake!

I’d like to say that we got around the cake entirely, but my mom would have none of that.  She had a special mini cake made just so we would have something to eat during the ceremony.  I just loved the little polka dots on the cake (it was part of the “theme”) and it was a nice compromise between traditional and fun.

So that’s what I did for the eating portion of the evening.  It was really unique and really reflected our styles, and the guests seemed to love it.  If you have any questions, need any tips, please contact me!  I love doing what I can to help out with weddings and since this was only last year, everything is still pretty fresh in my mind!

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I’m a big fan of flowers, and I wanted to have tons of them at the wedding.  When looking into the price of flowers, however, I was stunned!  They do make a huge visual impact, but at what cost?  You just end up throwing them away at the end anyway.  I got around the problem somewhat by having the wedding in a family friend’s backyard.  She’s a serious gardener, and their house is surrounded by 100+ year old cottonwood trees, so the setting was perfect.  That took care of a lot of the floral needs, but obviously, there was still a lot of need for flowers on centerpieces, boutonnieres, etc!

The first easiest thing was the boutonnieres.  If you’re already ordering some flowers, you can just save a few stems here and there and you’ll be all set.  You’ll also need some floral tape, lots of floral wire, and whatever embellishments you might like.  My crafty aunt Marcheta helped me with these.  Most of the color was found in the flowers, but we also wandered around the creek behind the house and picked up pretty fall leaves, pine needles and the like.  We then wrapped the arrangement first with floral tape to keep it in place, and then with beautiful velvet ribbon.  After that, she had the genius idea of adding twirls of copper wire for a little added flair.  Once you see how easy it is, you’ll wonder why you’re spending $10-20 apiece at the floral shop for these.  Plus, you’re able to customize them and really make them special for the people who are there for you on your big day.  After you finish each one, mist it with a little water from a spray bottle, place it on a bit of paper towel and put the whole thing in a ziploc bag in the fridge.  That way, they’ll be nice and fresh day of (I suggest doing them the day before).

When we looked into the cost of centerpieces, I almost had a heart attack.  Flowers add up quickly, and you’ll need far more of them to properly fill out centerpieces than you might imagine.  My mom and I came up with a solution.  We bought big glass bowls, and put glass hurricane pillars inside the bowl, added a big white candle, filled the bowl with water, and floated a few spider mums in each bowl.  They had a great visual impact and spider mums are super hardy so they lasted forever.  Plus we only needed about 10 stems per bowl so they ended up being really affordable.  Everyone liked them so much, we’re doing the same things for several friends’ weddings this summer!

I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to deal with the pressure of all this prep work, so I did have my bouquet made at a local floral shop.  I really love what they did with it – it was dainty, elegant and funky all at the same time.  I was really intimidated by making my own.  However, a few weeks later, I did the flowers for a friend’s wedding, and I made her bouquet, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I would have thought.  If you plan on going this route, just make sure to leave lots of time to make sure that you get it right.  I made hers extra-special with some beautiful chocolate silk ribbon and an antique pearl and copper brooch that I found at an antique store nearby her wedding location.  I’ll try to track down some good pictures of it!

We used orange roses as an accent throughout the wedding.  Every place setting had a rose tucked into the napkin, which was a great prop for drama on the dance floor later in the evening.  😉  We also bought several bags of rosepetals to use for the aisle, since it was outside:

I really loved this; not only did the color look great against the grass, but I walked down the aisle barefoot and it was quite an experience!  Those petals are velvety soft against the skin.  Everyone had a great time playing in them after the ceremony was over.  We also got shepherd’s hooks from the local Home Depot and used them to hold little conical glass vases of flowers to line the aisles.  The vases came with little stands, so after the ceremony was over we could transfer the flowers to the tables and bring a little bit of color to where the party was.

The rest of the flowers were a free-for-all!  We just ordered a few bunches of things that I liked and gathered a ton of vases from everyone and kept them on the tables like that.  I did find lots of branches in the woods around the house, and created some really dramatic centerpieces with yellow branches surrounded by a few flowers.  Best part – they were free!  There’s lots of options out there for making really nice centerpices without a lot of money.

Here are the flowers that we used in the wedding:

Belles of Ireland


Spider Mums

Hypercurium Berries

Gerber Daisies

Burnt Orange Calla Lillies

Kangaroo Paw



Billie Balls

Chocolate Cosmos (best for a brown color, and they smell like chocolate!)

They all had really great colors, bright oranges, yellows and greens, and lasted a really long time after the party was over.  I bought almost all of the flowers on fiftyflowers.com, and would reccomend checking them out for your wedding flowers.  Another great resource is Costco – they will sometimes order things for you, and it’s often worth the price of a membership in how much money you’ll save on flowers.

Here’s a great picture from a friend’s wedding I did 3 weeks later.  They had similar colors, and a really nice approach to centerpieces.  They just had tons of mason jars of different sizes, and each jar was filled with only one variety of flower.

rachel-dustin-wedding-109My apologies for the sub-par pictures, but I was in a hurry!  Her bouquet I made is in the upper-left corner.  I just liked the approach – it was really fresh, organic and low-key.  She used white roses, white spider mums, red-orange alstromeria, yellow snapdragons, orange tulips, and one bunch of orange ranunculus only for the bride and groom.

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Originally I had planned my wedding for the summer, so I had a really nice color palette going.  I had planned for a chartreusey-olivey green, with a pink coral color and lots of off-white.  Had we had a wedding party, the groomsmen were going to wear tan seersucker suits with the green ties and the bridesmaids a lovely coral color.  I had wanted to do it sort of 20’s/Great Gatsby style, as much as I could.  However, the dates kept changing, and before you know it, the date was set for late September.  Since the wedding was going to be in a family friend’s back yard, I thought that it would be nice to incorporate fall-ish colors while still being bright and cheery.  My family liked to call it derisively brown, orange and green, but I think that the colors ended up being a bit more subtle.  I was using paint chips, but here’s a nicer version of the colors I ended up with:

I hope this helps set the stage for the next few days!  Tomorrow I’ll be blogging about flowers and what you can do to minimize the cost and maximize the impact.

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