A few weeks ago, I co-hosted a bridal shower for my sister-in-law Beth. I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of weddings and all the hoopla that goes along with it, but I really wanted to help host a special and unique event for Beth. She’s helped me so much with watching Lucy and being a big sister when I needed one most. She’s literally one of the nicest people on the face of the earth. Seriously, like, all the time. It’s really annoying, but I love her anyway…
What started as a semi-potluck brunch somehow escalated into a French-themed cocktail party. Rightly so, I’ll admit, because Beth has always had a soft spot for la Paris ever since a trip post-high-school. Also, I’m pretty sure a cocktail party is what her extremely classy mother would have put together for either of her daughters’ bridal showers. So I pushed my sappy wedding critic aside, and pulled out my resources to help my fellow (five!) bridesmaids put together an event so very… Beth. It was fun yet elegant and the food exceeded my (already high) expectations. I just had to share the results.
In the wondrous age of social media, the five of us – hailing from New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Florida – were able to keep in touch throughout the preceding months. We kept a private Facebook page to keep in touch, share documents, and vote on menu items, craft ideas, etc. Pinterest was also quite handy to throw a bunch of ideas together and see what worked best.
With so many crafty ladies, I arranged a craft day where I literally pulled out any and every tidbit of ribbon, tissue, and paper to assemble a resourceful (aka free) arrangement of decor. Amidst tissue poufs and tassels to paper- and ribbon-wrapped glass vessels, we reminisced about our own weddings – the good and the bad. (Mine was definitely allowing my mother to “just pick up some flowers” for the church. I’m glad I have a sense of humor because multi-colored mums on a kelly green carpet might throw another bride into a fit of tears.) The arrangements were easy as pie to assemble before the event – a fellow bridesmaid and I cut fresh, local cherry blossoms and forsythia in bloom to fill the vessels, lemons gave a pop of yellow about the place, and I drew up some pretty labels to identify the French menu and cocktails.
The food was amazing! I was utterly impressed with not only the presentation and quality, but the custom menu so perfectly created. Justin Lingl from Root Catering Co. had spent time in rural France teaching English (and gathering culinary inspiration) so he was more than happy (and experienced) to craft a cocktail party menu for us. Baked goat cheese dip with handmade herb crackers, gougeres, crostini with olive and asparagus tapenades, veggie tartlets, and freshly broiled croque monsieurs and forestieres – each equally delicious. He paired the dishes with French-inspired, yet crowd-friendly, cocktails (and mocktails) including a basil lemonade, mojito, and a few Kir Royale varieties.
For dessert, Justin recommended his friend Tish Smith, owner of Foam Floaterie, an ice-cream and soda shop in Philadelphia with delicious and experimental pairings of homemade goods. Despite my own fondness for ice cream and floats, she is quite adept with all manners of baking and suggested a more authentic French cookie platter – citrusy madeleines, meringues topped with chocolate and sea salt, and limoncello macaroons. With our bellies full of Root Catering’s savory dishes, I was surprised so many had room for dessert – those cookies flew off the plate so fast, I barely had time to snap a photo! The perfect end of the evening was a delivery of fresh brews from my family’s Harvest Coffee Roastery.
The shower was so nice and simple. We used what we had and put on a great show. Beth loved it so much, she’ll be borrowing some of the ideas for the wedding itself – handwritten flags and markers, simple arrangements in pretty glassware… I’ll be sure to share photos after the big day next month!
Have you ever let yourself fall into a moment, suddenly with an acute perception of what’s around you? Or perhaps just found yourself there, staring at something you’ve looked at every day but never really seen? Whoa… heavy, right? The Jealous Curator‘s carefully crafted “Beautifully Boring” show at the Tanner Hill Gallery in Chattanooga, TN, celebrates artists who make the most of the seemingly mundane. Holly Farrell, Leah Giberson, Samantha French, and Mark Bradley Shoup each contribute far-from-boring works that give life to various places and things. Catch the show if you’re in town, or browse their works online… then see what “boring” catches your eye around your house or outdoors.
This image greeted my this morning in my mailbox from Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co., making me wish for sunshine, fresh flowers, and brunch with friends and family. Despite springtime palettes on my Pinterest boards, this shiny black is doing the trick. All handmade in the US of A, too? Bruce would be proud.
I hadn’t planned to get to Art Star Craft Bazaar this weekend. In fact, as most things do these days, it sort of snuck up on me. However, after fellow Philly creative Susan over at Fleurishing kept tweeting about such lovely things, I squeezed a little time out of my Sunday afternoon to get over there and experiment with my new camera. Yeah, I looked all sorts of official with a camera – too bad I was so busy chatting that I didn’t notice my focus was way off.
It was the end of the weekend for the slew of talented crafters when I arrived – hour 14.5 of 16, to be exact. They were tired but still quite friendly, eager and willing to share stories of their process and love of their particular talent. Let’s meet a few, shall we?
Skylark Studio – I had seen Karen’s work before but it was lovely to see and touch it in person. She explained to me her continuous development of designs that have outlasted the indie scene’s anticipated expiration date, such as the birds and antlers that still seem to dominate sales. My favorite piece was a simple pendant with a new variation of her fish-scale design. Unfortunately, my camera skills were off to a rocky start and the photos didn’t quite turn out. No worries, though, as I was having a lovely time chatting with her! Quality time with an artist is worth a few blurry shots.
Kin Ship Press – They were featured etsy sellers this summer, where they share the inspirations and process. By the way, I need this mug to remind me to actually enjoy my coffee.
Gioconda Padovan – “Feel free to try!” came a pretty little voice, inviting me to use her custom-made stamps designed with her original drawings of buildings, people, and objects. A simple concept made popular in recent years by Yellow Owl Press – infinite possibilities for customers to create their own works of art. (Photo from GP site)
Meerwiibli – This coat stopped me dead in my tracks! I loved the color, the collar, the pattern, the pockets – everything. I watched as a waify little thing tried it on with her cool colored tight and rugged boots, then asked her if it was as warm and cozy as it looked. When she replied, “yes,” I knew I had to move on because I went any closer, it would have some home with me.
Brainstorm – They were working with a paying customer when I wandered up (I promised Tom I wouldn’t spend any money, but I surely took some notes for Santa). I love to see what this team dreams up, and am always happily impressed with the quality and rich color they accomplish with their prints.
Forage – Anything made by Shauna and Stephen is infused with their sense of humor, romance, and impeccable craft – Forage is no different. This was my first encounter with the bowties, and, as expected, could have scooped up a few if only I had the kind of gent who’d brave the bowtie. I’ve decided to hone in on my husband’s cousin who is getting married this spring… Matt, there’s a handsome green gingham with your name on it! And the wedding party would look dashing, dear boy! Let’s pair it with some Whitney Deal dresses for some homespun matrimony. (Photo from SHiH – mine were quite awful.)
Gilbert & Leona – Another item on the Christmas list – the bucket bag. Made of recycled and/or post-manufactured leather, it would have been a total step up from my days with the diaper bag. I’m just about done those and am in the market for a new one. Not too heavy, wonderful color, and I’m sure it would patina quite nicely…
Diamond Tooth Taxidermy – The feathery headpieces here were so elegant and pretty, I almost wished I had some fancy place to go wear it. But fancy means finding a babysitter, shaving my legs, and staying up past my bedtime… how about I just wear it around the house with a cocktail?
Concrete Polish Studio – I’m normally attracted to simple jewelry with little to no detail, but these chunky, sparkly rings drew me right into the booth. Perhaps I need to shake things up, and go straight to the double finger quartz knuckle duster? Yup, I think so. (Photo: CPS)
Farmhaus – This was the first public debut of their works at the craft fair. I was getting pretty handsy with all the cutting boards – great qualilty and a simple, modern design with crisp edges and a convenient hole at the corner for hanging. But my favorite piece was a (sold) hunk o’ wood, sanded and waxed up, on a trio of big red castors. If Lucy has been there, she’d be riding that around the place fo’ sho’.
Penelope Rakov – I had two questions for this vendor: How do you make that? and Do you like your name? The latter had more to do with taking advantage of meeting my first Penelope, a name I can’t seem to explain nor question why I like – I just do. More importantly, do you see those earrings? I had to ask how she does it – was it clay and resin, I asked? No, no – glass! In her Philadelphia studio, she plays with stupid hot glass, stretching and combining colors and patterns to create really stunning pieces. The resulting jewelry has depth and personality breathed into each piece.
Diane Koss – Cutesy But Not Too Cutesy added some frickin’ awesome baby hoodies to make your little one an adorable monster. Also a good gifts for wee ones of friends and relatives who would never, ever admit that their kid IS a little monster.
Namoo – Where were these quilts when I was planning my nursery? Actually, that’s exactly what I said to owner / maker Insung Kim, before telling her that this just re-enforces why I need to have another kid ASAP (just kidding! Let me graduate first). Her color and textile pairings were neutral and fresh, and she was sweet as pie, telling me about her desire to incorporate with more organic and natural fabrics. All the better, Insung! All the better…
Lil Fishy – This booth just had the darnedest baby gear – because every tot needs a scarf with a penguin on it! Plus their tagline is “It’s important to be little.” Well stated.
Girls Can Tell – I’ve seen these neat diagrammatic linens and lunchbags around the webs, and I had just seen their ad for their new shop in Grid. So I stopped in, chuckling aloud at a few illustrations (magical unicorns and Chicago architecture, specifically). The tea towels were so soft I could have bought a stack right then and there… but put them on my Christmas list instead.
knitknit – The embroidered felt necklaces here are so elegant and charming. The soft autumn palette only compliments the woodsy animal folk Nguyen Le draws and embroiders free-hand. (Photo: KK)
Huldra Press – Marianne was fresh out of business cards when I got to her at the end of the day – a sign she was in quite the demand this weekend! When I asked her about her work, she gushed to me about her craft, telling me her favorite creations often came from crisp metal letterpress on recycled kraft papers. Her mellow color schemes and simple forms made quite a palatable collection for the show.
Solidio – Wood buckles, frames, and jewelry all made from custom furniture scraps. Mitch was kind enough to tell me a little bit about the company and their commitment to reducing waste by using scraps for these finely crafted accessories (or to feed the wood stove and keep warm!). (Photo: Solidio)
Red Prairie Press – I only had time to quickly pass through the racks here and fell in love with the soft raglan Arrow sweatshirt, taking note of the size I’d need for Santa (medium). Then I moseyed on over to the site, where I read up a little on Rachel Bone, who creates it all herself in her house. Crazy, right? I also found this awesome Eagle print pullover with a rad Lenape Indian folk art inspired design. I’d look pretty awesome in it. (Photo: RPP)
There were many more but these were a few favorites among the bunch. Glad I stopped by – lovely to meet everyone! Hopefully my photo class at Project Basho next weekend will get my skills up to par for next time.
In between my 9-5 job, part-time school status, and raising a 2yrs-old, I somehow missed the opening of Design Philadelphia yesterday. So now I’m reorganizing my schedule to see what I can manage to fit into my already packed week ahead. Smashing printers seems fun, as does drooling over DwellStudio in person or visiting the artist studio tours. I’ll let you know what I end up making via twitter. Hope to see you there, wherever that is.
On a miserable and rainy Saturday afternoon, I stopped by the Art Star Craft Bazaar. I was fumbling with my umbrella, coffee, and iPhone, and wasn’t able to get any good pictures. However, here is a roundup of some faves with photos by the artists & crafters themselves:
- Modern Bird Mobile by Baby Jives: This booth was utterly ethereal with mobiles floating overhead. Makes me want to pin some wings on Lucy’s birds and re-hang them on a twig.
- Toddler Octopus Shirt by Loyal Dog: Every year I am impressed by this booth – always something fresh and new. I loved this sweet, heathered shirt for Lucy.
- Do-It-Yourself Kit by Chez Sucre Chez: The ever-adorable Kimberly Scola was there with her sweet and simple modern cross-stitch. Last year I purchased one of her Boyfriend Hankie kits and made one for Tom with my initials (GM for General Merriment). He keeps it in his pocket always which is why I still don’t have a picture of it. He never uses it either – only offers it to me when I need a tissue. Too damn sweet.
- Hipster Bingo by Hipster Bingo: Genius! Only I’m sure it would be way too easy in Philly or NYC. But definitely two thumbs up!
- Handwoven Greta Scarf by Pidge Pidge: I loved these scarves – lightweight with subtle color. Perfect for chilly summer nights.
- Man & Woman Mobile by Specks & Keepings: I ran into Hillery Sproatt’s work Friday afternoon when I stopped by Arcadia with my friend Alison. Her skilled craftsmanship surely shines in each of her pieces, and it seems to run in the family with her daughter Rebe’s mother Debra Weiss’ lovely wearable designs.
- Organic Cotton Onesie by Sweet Pepita: Send a favorite old tee or choose from one of the many this shop has for some cool digs for your kid. Or someone else’s little dweeb who needs some serious style – we all know those poor kids whose parents dress them like dolls.
- Pom Pompadour Horrible Adorable by Jordan Elise: A new twist on woodland creatures and faux taxidermy, eh? These sizable soft sculptures would make the perfect focal point in any nursery, Or living room.
Despite the weather, the fair did not disappoint. With a pretty even mix of wares – baby, fashion, ceramics, jewelry, stationery – it was a good show.
I forgot to mention what a success 67 Paris was last weekend! We had a great turnout and sold quite a few pieces. Check out the sweet press we got from Philly Broadcaster right here.
[Photo credit: Reuben Wilson]
A friend of mine stumbled upon a treasure chest of vintage photos and has commissioned me to help put on a gallery showing of our favorites from Paris. Come view the joie de vivre (and enjoy a drink or two… or three). Hope to see you there!
Here’s a submission by my buddy Gavin DiRusso (whose incredible home I will feature posthaste).
“Seems like something general merriment could appreciate:
Thank you, kind sir. It is, indeed.