I like to think of myself as the Sandra Lee of Wedding DIY. I kinda DIY'd my invitations. I kinda DIY'd my OOT bags. I definitely made my own favors, but kinda DIY'd the packaging. Trust me, if I could have made the time to do every single fold, crease and tag punch-out myself, I would have. The reality is that I'm a working girl and did not have the time, so I DIY'd based on what I had available to me. You should too - whether it's from scratch or with a lot of help from planners, friends, family or Michaels. Just make it your own! This is the place for all things DIY!


DIY Change of Address Cards from Little Spoon!

Hello from the lovely homestead of the parents of The Thirty-Something Bride! Before I get into the meat of today's post, I have to say that getting to my parents house hasn't been this easy since I actually lived with them, which was waaaaaaaaaaaay back in 1988. I've always lived far away from my parents. When I was in college at Indiana University, they lived in DC. When I moved to California, they lived (ironically) in Charlotte, North Carolina. When I moved to Chicago, they moved to Aiken, South Carolina as retirees. Now that I'm in Charlotte (and they've stayed put), it's a paltry 3 hour drive from Charlotte to their house! Historically, it's taken me endless days of travel and expense to get to and fro. I have to say, this is nice. 

I knew after we moved that I'd get to do a quickie DIY project...change of address cards! Now, I suppose I could have simply sent an email to my friends and family updating them with the new addy, phone, etc. But what fun is that? And to be honest, I HATE getting info that way. I lose emails. I delete them accidentally. I forget to write the stuff down and it all gets lost in the depths of my in-box. Besides, it's fun to get unexpected stuff in the mail. The art of the letter is quickly dissipating into the bullshit digital world and I refuse to go there without a fight. True, true...there's the whole "going green" thing in regards to printing and sending the real deal. You know what? I cannot live in a paper-less world. There, I said it. Screw Kindle, I wanna touch my books. I want to flip the pages. I can't read anything of substantial length or importance on the computer. My eyes just go crazy. I have to print it out. Yes, that means I use paper. *GASP* 

I'm sure my "footprint" is larger than some would prefer it to be. Sue me. Deal with it. I like paper. 

So, knowing that I wanted to get some cool change of address cards, I started looking at images and graphics and just didn't really know what I wanted to do or how much effort I wanted to put into the project. So I enlisted the help of a Nashville Bridal Blogger, Natosha from Big Spoon + Little Spoon. She's a graphic designer and is hoping to start her own invitation business thing so I couldn't have a better chick to help me out. Not only is she talented, she's super sweet. 

So Natosha hooked me up with a bunch of designs to choose from - all while she was finishing up a giant project at work and getting ready to leave on her honeymoon. Thanks girl! Much appreciated. 

Here's the design we ended up choosing: 

Why the crown? Charlotte, North Carolina, is also known as The Queen's City. Charlotte and the county containing it are named in honor of the German Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg, who had become queen consort of British King George III the year before the city's founding. [Source] All the street signs have little crowns on them. I just love that! I believe that Natosha snatched the crown image from The Graphics Fairy, but I'm not 100% on that. You know I loves me some Graphics Fairy. 

I purchased craft paper note cards and envelopes from Hobby Lobby for $6.99 for 50. 

In a Word document, I formatted the paper to the size of the note cards and simply dropped the image on the bottom half of the note card so that it would print to fold over as shown above. Easy peasy. 

Using the same template as the outside, I entered all of our change of address info on the inside and added a little note inviting all our friends and family to come visit anytime. Just as long as they call first. 

Then just fold and stuff. Y'all know how to do that, right? Just like your wedding invites. A mindless activity that numbs your tongue from all the licking. Ew.

I already had clear address labels so just printed all my address stuff in a matching font and slapped them on all the envelopes. No hand-written personal note. No signature. I followed the marketing rules of KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). And my dearest friends and family who read this blog? If you don't get one of these in the next couple of days? It means I don't have your address. Send it to me and I promise I'll try not to lose it in my in-box.

I did the same printing theme with the return address labels and just used some Forever stamps. I'm sure I could have made these super cool looking with vintage stamps or personalized stamps, but I needed to get these suckers OUT. 


I felt like this little project was the precursor to my upcoming Christmas card project. Every year I write one of those "Dear Friends and Family" letters with pictures and funny snippets of the year in review. A few years ago I opted out of the letter. Never have I had such an uprising of complaints from my friends and family. I got a plethora of emails with the following: 

"WTF? Where's my letter?"

"Did you forget to stuff my card with your annual letter? Can you please send me one?"

"You didn't do a letter this year? It's the one card I look forward to during Christmas." 

"You need to keep doing those. My husband likes to read your letter." 

"Dude? No letter this year? Dude."

So after that, I went back to the annual letter. There are two kinds of cards that I'm drawn too - Christmas tree cards and Peace cards. I always struggle between the two because I have friends who aren't Christians who I send cards to. "Seasons Greetings" seems like the most user-friendly approach, but when I think about it harder, I think, "These are my cards I'm sending out. I celebrate Christmas. So why shouldn't I send out what I like?" That's generally where I end up in the end. Who knows? I might be offending the hell out of my non-Christian friends with all my in-your-face Christmas-love.  

What are your holiday card plans? Do you send them? Do you over-think your card's theme based on who you'll be sending them to? I've never received a Happy Hanukkah card from any of my Jewish friends, but I wouldn't mind if I did. Anyone want to weigh in on how politically correct holiday cards need to be? 


DIY - Wall Collages

You could call me a photo junkie. I prefer Social Historian. I love family pictures. My grandfather was a photographer and so there are lots of them around the house. When my grandmother passed, I wanted to make sure that his photos/negatives weren't thrown out or disregarded, so I have the bulk of them. I was also the lucky recipient of many of the family framed photos. 

I also have this, um, habit of buying wall art where ever I go. I have many many many more things to hang compared to space to hang them. Just about every inch of available space is taken up with photos or artwork (the wall piece was done by my artist-brother). See....


This is part of the dining room. Covered in photos and art. 


Work in progress. Things left to hang. See the chest in the background? Photos on top, photos waiting to be hung. It's scary. 

In our old house, I had a lot of the family photos hanging up the stairway walls. I could do the same in this house, but I wanted to mix it up a bit. Change things around. It is a new house after all, right? Then I thought about all the cool picture collages I see out there on the interwebs. You know the ones. Here, let me show you. Like these from The Martha.

Cool, right? So I was thinking about what the hell I was going to do with all these pictures when I remembered a DIY tutorial on HGTV from like, a million years ago. I thought a family wall collage might be a cool alternative to the stairway concept from the The Last House. So, here you go! 

Tools you'll need: 

1. Pencil

2. Hammer

3. Nails and/or picture hanging stuff

4. Tape

5. Measuring Tape

6. Framed art/photos/mirrors

7. Large piece of paper (or several smaller sheets taped together)

First, lay out your large sheet of paper. I used some leftover paper from the move and just smoothed it out a little. It doesn't have to be a perfect piece. Scraps are good. Then, lay out the pictures as you would like to hang them on the wall. This was probably the "hardest" part. 

Once you have all the pictures where you want them, trace around the pictures so you'll know what goes where. 

Since all my frames are different and all have different kinds of hanging apparatuses (apparati?), I measured (on the back) from the top of the frame to the top of where the piece would hang. Then, on my large sheet of paper, I measured the same distance from the top down in the center. This shows where you'll be putting your nail. This step will help you in hanging the pieces ONCE versus having lots of nail holes in your wall. This step is totally worth the time it takes to do (about 15 minutes, tops). 

Next, hang your template on the wall with a few pieces of tape. Step back and check to see if it's level. You might actually want to use a level, but even I think that's a little anal retentive. Then again, I can eyeball that kinda stuff pretty well. 

Now this is where my tutorial will stray from the one I saw on TV. They said to nail  right over the paper, then to peel the paper off off the wall. Eh, I wasn't digging that idea. For some reason, I was envisioning some sort of catastrophe in that step. So instead, I tapped the nail into the marked spot to make a small hole then just pulled the nail out. Once I had all the nail holes made, I un-taped my template and placed it on the floor to use as a guide for where the pictures went. Then, I just nailed in all my nails and hooks and such and hung the pictures!

And voila! Now I'm cool like The Marth. DIY up in the hizz-ouse! Somebody call Design*Sponge. I'm ready. 

What I'm loving is that there is still space to add more pictures. The Candyman has some cool old pictures of his mom that we're going to print out and add to the group. The gift of DIY that keeps on giving! 


DIY? It's a Wrap!

You know what I like to do? I like to wrap presents. I actually have books on unique ways to wrap gifts. Twisted, right? Most people hate it. I think everyone gets pressed for time around the holidays and they get all their shopping done and then it's like, "Damn, now I gotta wrap all this junk too?" I think that's why they invented the gift bag concept. Plop it in a bag and go. 

I'll admit that I have fallen prey to the gift bag wrap method of gift giving, but I don't like doing it. I like to take the time to wrap something nicely because I think it's part of the gift. In years where the budget has been tight, I've gotten more creative on the wrapping, because it gave me the sense that I was giving something nice versus something cheap. I like thinking about the person I'm giving the gift to when I'm wrapping. And while this may sound silly, you know the people who save paper and ribbons? I wrap with less tape and better supplies for those people because a)I know they'll save it b) I know they appreciate it and c) reduce, reuse, recycle! 

So when I came across some really cute wrapping ideas from Sweet Paul Magazine, I just had to share and then show you one of my favorite quick-tip wrapping idea. First, total cuteness from Sweet Paul (have y'all seen this online mag? I ♥ it.)

I actually did this last year, but used white as the accent and different kinds of bows and ribbon, but I love the idea of yarn! And folks, craft paper is cheap. You can get it at any craft shop, for sure. But you can buy in bulk online and check out the moving departments of Lowes or Home Depot or even Amazon - cheaper and LOTS more! 

How cute and vintage-y are these? Of course, more involved: photo copying images at Kinko's onto large paper. Probably not the cheapest route. But you COULD do the tags super easy on your home computer with card stock and a tag punch-out (best shape to buy for reuse!). Cute, right? 

Here are a few other cute ideas Sweet Paul had. Love the pompom! Got left over cupcake liners? Here's an idea! 

So now for a little T30SB DIY! I actually got this little DIY idea from my brother. He's one of the most creative and crafty people I know. That's right - a guy who's crafty. There are more of them out there than you think. I mean, what else is a garage for other than a place for dudes to get their "craft" on. Instead of paper and fabric and scissors and hot glue and endless trips to Hobby Lobby, it usually comes in the form of wood and metal and rope and paint and power drills and endless trips to Home Depot. Right? Anyway, one year my brother his wife sent us gifts with all the bows done as follows. It was really super cute. 

You know the cheap bows you buy during the holidays that stick right on top of the gift? You buy a giant bag of them for $4.99, use about 10 and then stuff the bag in the closet for 11 months. And then you go to wrap the next year, see that all the bows are crushed because you've stuffed them in the closet and then you go out and spend another $4.99 on bows. The endless cycle of bows. Want to stop the bow madness? Recycle those crushed bows! Here's how: 


Mangled bows (see above)

Small Scissors

Step 1: 

Cut all the loops on the bow, staying as close to the center of the folded loop as possible. 

Step 2: 

Once all the pieces are cut, try to lay the bow as flat as possible and line up the layers of ribbon. 

Hold the layer of ribbons and cut a fringe into the layers as close to the center as you can. These do not have to be even, symmetrical or perfect in anyway. If you cut a few too small or too big, it's OK! 

You can go piece by piece, ribbon by ribbon and fringe them all for a really perfect looking bow, but by the time you're done you'll want to stab yourself in the eye with your scissors. Trust me, your anal retentiveness will do you more harm than good on this step. I speak from experience.



Step 3: 

Using your tiny scissors, curl the ribbon fringes as you would curling ribbon. Make sure when you do this that you have a firm grasp on the center of the bow so you don't pull the bow apart. I find starting with the pieces that are the most crushed is helpful. Curl it in the opposite direction first to get the bend out, then re-curl. 

Next, curl the pieces in the center and work your way outward. 

Then twist it and scrunch it and make it look pretty. 

You can layer smaller crushed bows into the center of larger bows for multiple colors and depth. If you do so, make sure to firmly secure the two bows together before curling. I usually just staple them, like they do to begin with. Th entire process takes 5 minutes, tops. 

So what do you think? Are you going to get creative on the cheap or just go for the gift bag? Either way, happy wrapping! SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE! I can't wait for Christmas! 


DIY Wallpaper - It Ain't Just for Walls!

I have been cheating on my Google Reader with Facebook. It's true. Instead of reading blogs and being inspired, I've been playing Scramble, Pathwords and Bubblewords. A Facebook friend beat my high score in Scramble by 2 damn points and I've been trying to get the lead back - and not getting there. Fucking stupid games. Anyway, words games are mind-numbing and I feel slightly less imbecile-like playing them than I do say, watching The Real Housewives of New York and/or Bethenny Getting Married.

I've decided to go back to my first lover and engage in a little romantic one-on-one blog love. I was inspired by a few things that I 'd like to share.

First, LOVE this little crafty-inspired goodness from Bookhou via PoppyTalk. You can make these with what appears to be very little effort and expense.

And then you can do this with them for table numbers/favors. Too cute.

I spent quite a bit of time stalking reading Bookhou's blog and found these freakin' totally adorable little badges.


Cutetastic, right? And even if you don't have the time or skill or desire to embroider little badge buttons for your maids or whatever, the DIY craft paper match books are clearly simple and adorable. You could totally put little earrings in there, or stamp the outside - whatever. Get inspired!

Here's an effing cute-ass idea from PoppyTalk. She actually has several from this particular post. I know there are a lot of you brides out there stalking eBay and Etsy and all that for Mason jars. Stop. Why? Because this idea is so totally cute and easy, I'm pissed I didn't do it for my own wedding. Lookie:

Totally cute as place cards using cheap note paper. The possibilities are endless here. Here are some other ideas to make this DIY your own:

  • Collect various glass jars from friends and family. Ask them to save their Prego sauce jars, baby food jars, mayo jars, olive jars, etc. Then you can have various heights, sizes, etc. All you have to do is soak the jars in a big sink or bucket of water for 24-48 hours and the labels should just float or peel right off. A little Goo Gone will clean up any remaining sticky shit.
  • Don't want to hand write the names? You can easily print them on card stock, cut and wrap. Other paper ideas
    • Craft Paper - want a tip? Don't buy this crap at Michael's or JoAnn's. They rape you for this. Go to Lowe's and head over to the moving section where they have boxes and packing paper and stuff. You can find 60 yards on a roll for like $3. No shit. Check it out
    • Wall paper - you can color coordinate with the cool DIY books above. If you want to spend a little more money, try cool vintage wallpapers
    • Origami Paper (find discounted styles here).

And speaking of wall  paper, check this out:


Totally cute for a buffet or candy bar backdrop, right? And here's just a little visual how to:


Totally easy-peasy. You can get those blank wood plaque things at any craft store. Hobby Lobby probably has the most selection and cheapest prices. And think about these options:

  • Make these into trays to serve off of - to present little cookies or desserts. Just lay them flat on a table!
  • Add cut out numbers to them, put them on a plate stand and voila - table numbers!
  • Attach the wallpaper to thin foam board or balsa wood and make them into colorful plate chargers. 
  • Use it to wrap gifts, cover books, line envelopes (although some might be too thick for this).

 So, would you attempt any of these projects? Do you think they are doable? Cute? Lame? Would you know where to start? What keeps you from DIYing - time, energy or know-how? What pisses you off about DIY tutorials? I know that I can't stand The Martha's tutorials. It's like, we're all just supposed to own our own Gocco machine/serger/tool-du-jour and/or have an endless supply or ribbon on hand (well, I do) or some bullshit like. Don't get me wrong, I have gobs of respect for The Martha and her mad skillz, but we need tutorials for those of us who are less crafty. Am I right or am I right?

Happy Friday to all! On a personal note - I've totally chillaxed over the whole house thing. It's under contract. We got 97% of our asking price, which is freakin' unheard of in this market. I did the math and not counting HOA fees and insurance and crap, I basically lived in my house for 5 years for $5000. That's like $83 a month in rent. You can't beat that with a stick. As for all the changes and shit that are about to happen? Bitch, bring it on. I am SO ready.


The Graphics Fairy Rocks! Or a DIY Tutorial.

For all you DIY brides out in Wedding Planning Land (it's a magical, mysterious land), there are an incredible amount of resources out there to be inspired by. Please don't be limited to wedding only sites. The Graphics Fairy is just such an example of a go-to place for all craft-inspired beings, not just brides. She basically offers up freebies and tutorials. We likey! She shares mostly vintage artwork with very few limitations or copyright issues. Hell to the yeah. We likey even more!

I used one of her freebies for my match boxes and while I mentioned the project during my wedding planning, I really didn't give a great tutorial on it. I've decided to do that now, mostly because my match boxes got featured on The Graphic Fairy's Brag Monday yesterday! Woo! Hoo!

So here we go! First of all, there are lots and lots of templates out there for match boxes and match books. I printed out several different versions on-line and none of them quite fit. Most were too small. I found that odd and annoying. Maybe because I bought my matches in bulk at The Dollar Store? Did I have defective match boxes? Who knows. They were a buck so I adapted! I decided to make my own template. If you would like to use my blank Word template, you can find it here.

Do you not know how to make your own template? Well, I'm here to help. This is the way I set up templates. It might not be the best, fastest or easiest way, but for those of us who are PC users, who are NOT graphic designers and who don't feel like becoming proficient in Photoshop for stupid match boxes that for some reason you just have to have, this pretty much works. Here is a how-to on how to set up a template for custom labels in Word. Go here.

The original artwork that I used from The Graphics Fairy was this Sheet Music Frame:

 I do not know how to use Photoshop. I do know how to use ACDSee, which is like a watered down Photoshop. It's similar but slightly better than the dreaded and lame Paint application. I could probably have done this in Paint, but I might have had to drive nails under my eyelids since it's not the most user-friendly application. I basically used the following tools to re-create this label: Cut, Copy, Paste, Text Box, Clone.

Once I had this formatted as a jpg, I dumped it into my Word template (INSERT→PICTURE→FROM FILE), sized and centered  it the best I could (it was NOT an exact fit) and copy and pasted it into all the cells on the template. In order to account for the fact that it was not a perfect fit, I added shading to the background of the label (see tutorial) to fill in the white space. This ended up being a really good thing when I was putting these together!

Once I had them ready to print, it looked like this:

 I printed these out on regular 'ol paper. Nothing fancy needed. Then, I cut along the black lines to create the individual labels. You might be able to do this with a really sharp and accurate paper cutter (I don't have one of these). I used super-sharp, small scissors. Once I had all my labels cut out, it was time to glue. Oh, what fun! Here's what you'll need:

Take a label and lay it on the wax paper. Run your glue stick along the outer edges of the label, overlapping onto the wax paper to make sure you get the edges good and covered. You don't need to worry about adding glue to the center of the label. In fact, you'll want to hold the label down in the center while you glue stick the edges.

Take the glue stick and add adhesive to the center of the box body, along ONE of the striking strips and then on the opposite side of the box.

Place the label on the top of the box, with the top edge lining up next to the striking strip that does NOT have the glue. Carefully wrap the label around, smoothing it as you go, and lining up the edges. This is totally annoying and you'll mess up a few before you get into a groove. If you lay it wrong, gently lift it up as soon as you can and realign. The glue doesn't dry super-duper fast, but you don't want to let it set either.

Did you cut your label a little goofy? Is it a little too big? No matter. Once the labels are dry, go back with your super sharp scissors and just trim the edges up against the edge of the box. Because I had the darker background, any unsightly mistakes were hidden. Because I had an antique-y style label, my mistakes were well hidden. I'm not sure I could have done this if I wanted everything to be pristine and perfect!

This was a great project for sitting in front of the TV, watching House or American Idol or Desperate Housewives (God, I love those NY and NJ bitches-they actually make me feel totally sane and normal) or The Dog Whisperer - whatever your tele-poison is. Here's how mine turned out:


 Photos by Jonathon Campbell Photography.

Many thanks to Karen over at The Graphics Fairy for both the inspiration and the feature! Where have you found your inspiration? Share it - every bride needs a little help!