A Wedding Project: Rustic Chalkboard Painted Door

For the past couple of months, I've been uncharacteristically "meh" about wedding planning. I've looked at blogs here and there, pinned a few things, but haven't really checked much off my "to-do" list. This isn't a huge problem because we got so much done very early on, but I know if I don't keep on top of all the DIY projects, all of a sudden it's going to be two months before the wedding and I'll have nothing done. This is what I've been reminded of many times by many former brides-to-be.

So over the weekend I decided to get things in order and complete a couple easy wedding decor projects. I had all the materials at home already and plenty of Olympics to watch while I worked, so there was no excuse to put anything off any further.

Right after we bought our home last year, we made a trip to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore to see if we could find anything of interest to add to the decor. Almost instantly I was drawn to this little beaten-up door with glass panels. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it, but for $2 I knew I'd put it to use somehow. Eric is totally against my "I'll find some way to use it!" mind frame (or, as he refers to it, my "hoarding tendencies"), so he was getting antsy having this thing collect dust in our house without being used.
But there it sat, for well over a year in our upstairs bedroom, barely getting glanced at, much less "put to use."

Sensing Eric's frustration with the door just taking up space, I had the idea months ago to incorporate the door into our wedding decor by turning the glass panels into little chalkboards. While I won't share exactly how it will be used, I will show you how I transformed the door into a chalkboard.

I started by taping off the panels to prepare it for painting... Side note: Is there anything more tedious than taping off little intricate panels? The taping process took twice as long as the actual painting did

I painted two coats with chalkboard paint purchased at Home Depot for a previous project and let the paint cure overnight. The next morning, I went down to the basement to remove the tape and was horrified when I stood the door upright and realized the two coats were completely transparent in the light.

Ugh. I already mentioned how much I hate taping around panels, so I definitely didn't want to have to tape off the back of door to paint that side, as well. So I racked my lazy brain to think of a way to get out of taping again. What my lazy brain came up with was backing the glass panels with black cardstock! The door will be propped up against a wall, so the back won't be visible to people at the wedding. Because no one will be able to see my little shortcut, I was perfectly fine with backing the panels with cardstock rather than more chalkboard paint for a more opaque look.

I measured the panels and cut six rectangles to size, then affixed to the glass with double-sided tape.

Ahhh.... MUCH better! (Despite the blurry photo)

I'm really excited thinking about the final product once this chalkboard door is put to use in the wedding. And I'm hoping I can find a way to use it around the house after the wedding is over, too!

You'll have to wait another 9.5 months to see the final result in action, but until then....


Your Weekly Pins...

Another Friday, another week of pins! Here's what caught my eye on Pinterest this week...

Painted Curtain Rods. Fun and simple idea!
[I have never been a "neutrals" kind of girl. I love bright color and finding any way to incorporate it anywhere I can.... so when I saw this easy, bold idea for painting ho-hum curtain rods, I hopped right on board the color train. Fun!]

Note to self: MUST make this during the fall!! Pumpkin coffee cake with brown sugar glaze
[Sooner or later, fall is going to come. I have to admit, this summer's blazing temperatures have me yearning for fall's cool, crisp air. And once that autumn chill comes, I can't think of a better way to welcome it than with some pumpkin coffee cake with brown sugar.]

 Marinated Cucumbers
[Much like last year, our garden is currently spewing out cucumbers like the plague. searching for ways to use them up, I stumbled across these marinated cucumbers (NOT pickles!) and figured they'd be a perfect barbecue side dish and a great way to nuke my cuke collection.]

Dotty blouse.
[I recently read that polka dots are going to be a huge fall trend, and this cute, breezy shirt is both on trend and the perfect pair for summertime shorts or a fall cardigan.]

michelle mason
[Also super trendy at the moment? Neon! This highlighter-yellow dress manages to squeeze by the "just too fluorescent" tag with that elegant, sheer netting around neckline and hemline.]

How to hide your router and other unsightly tech wires | by Anamu
[Have an unsightly wireless router bumming out your otherwise vintage home decor? Turn that necessity into a room's accessory by covering it with an old book cover and topping that with another piece of interest. Genius!]

Learn this chip bag fold and you will never need a clamp ever again!
[I'm always running out of chip clips at home, so I pinned this idea for using origami folding techniques to seal up a chip bag without needing a clip in three simple steps!]

Do you ever think what am I going to do with all the cards that you get from your engagement, bridal shower, or wedding? Look at this awesome DIY on how to make these special cards into something that lasts forever
[I love this idea for creating a quasi-scrapbook for all the wedding/bridal shower/engagement cards you receive. A great way to keep everything together and to remember all the folks who've sent you well wishes along the way!]

Ombre Rock Candy Cake - awesome!
[Not only is this wedding cake a major statement (and a creative way to incorporate the ombre trend], but those glittery crystals are actually rock candy! Double dessert? Double bonus!]

loads of ribbon and twinkle lights strung over the dance floor
[I love the draping of different strips of fabric mixed with twinkle lights - such a pretty way to dress up rafters!]

half golden retriever, half wiener dog!!
[Is it a mutt or a designer dog? Either way, this half-Daschund, half-Golden Retriever is one of the cutest dogs I've ever seen!]

There are plenty more where these came from! To see everything I pin all week long, follow me on Pinterest.


Taking the Plunge

Last weekend, Eric and I drove up to his hometown to spend some time with his family. It was a fun weekend packed with activity, and - as the case usually is - it went by too quickly. Saturday began with a sprinkle but turned into a terrificly lovely day, so we decided to take the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.

We drove a half hour over to the Eau Claire Dells, a place I'd never been, but where Eric had frequented while living nearby. We went hiking, hopped in the river and marveled at the gigantic rocks carved by glaciers millions of years ago. 
You guys, dells are cool. These dells were formed thousands of years ago, and today we're left with a natural water park of sorts... not the waterparks found in those "other" Dells (wherein the actual dells are no longer the main attraction), but a place filled with waterfalls, little pools of wading water and plenty of areas to climb, jump from and explore.

And when I say "jump from" I mean rocky cliffs that tower above a deep pool of river water.

Eric had never jumped from the bluffs at the Eau Claire Dells in all his visits there growing up. Warned of the cliff-jumping dangers, he was always too nervous to take the plunge from roughly 30 feet up. On Saturday, he crossed that jump off his bucket list. 

And I joined him.

Eric, his two younger brothers and I sat on the rocks at the dells for a while, watching some pretty gutsy kids climb, jump, swim and climb again off that cliff, toying with the idea of doing so ourselves. I took the reins, saying I would definitely like to jump, and that it wouldn't seem so scary once we were in the air. After watching these youngsters continue to jump without hesitation, we knew we wouldn't be able to live with ourselves if we chickened out.
I didn't get a photo of any of us jumping, but all four of us climbed the bluffs and, one by one, jumped into the white water below. While we only got one chance (shortly after our jumps, the park ranger came over and warned about too many people being around for jumping), so we were all limited to jumping from the area where the girl is standing, above. But seriously, how badass is that kid jumping from the top?

The Eau Claire Dells were a lot of fun. The hiking was enjoyable and the swimming in the little dells pools was a good time, too (although there was a lot of strategic navigation around incredibly slippery rocks), but that jump from the bluff was a blast. For me, it was just a jump from high into some water, but Eric couldn't stop talking about how excited he was to cross that jump off his list.... after all, if you were a kid at the dells and were warned of the bluffs with this sign, wouldn't you be a little freaked out to jump, too?


Your Weekly Pins...

Another Friday, another week of pins! Here's what caught my eye on Pinterest this week....

Pinball coffee table - so rad
[This is the definition of "rad" if ever there was one. A totally awesome antique/consignment shop in LA called TINI (an acronym for the cheekily-named This is Not IKEA) is probably my new dream destination. They carry the most incredible home decor pieces, all of which I love, but this super-sweet pinball coffee table had my jaw dropping. So freakin' cool. This would be Eric's dream, and one I could actually get behind. If I'm ever in LA, I say screw Grauman's Chinese Theater, TINI will be my absolute first stop in Tinsel Town.]

Grilled Corn, Mushroom + Roasted Poblano Tacos with Chipotle Crema
[In summer, my craving for Mexican food shoots through the roof. As the temperature rises, so does my appetite for tacos, burritos and, of course, margaritas. These grilled corn, mushroom and roasted poblano tacos with chipotle crema have my mouth watering just typing the name out. I must make these before summer ends.]

Broiled crab cakes for dinner? Survey says yes.
[At least every other summer for the majority of my life, I've visited the East Coast for a beach vacation with my family. Many of those trips were in Maryland, from where my dad originally hails. Every time I'm out there, I must get some fresh Maryland crab... preferably in the form of light, broiled crab cakes. There simply is nothing better. Sadly, I'm missing this year's family trip to the Outer Banks and will also be missing out on all sorts of fresh seafood. Although I'm sure they won't be the same, this simple recipe for broiled Maryland crab cakes should make me feel a little bit better about missing out on family vacay this year.]

Grilled sweet potatoes with lime and cilantro
[We go through a lot of sweet potatoes in our house. Neither Eric nor I have met a sweet potato we didn't like, so this recipe for grilled spicy lime sweet potatoes is not only right up our alley, but sounds like a perfect barbecue side if you ask me.]

[I've said it before and I'll say it again - I wish I was the kind of person who attends fancy galas, just so I could wear this absolutely stunning gown. It's seriously so beautiful, I don't think I'd ever want to take it off!]

pleated grecian perfection
[Apparently I've been digging the Grecian look lately, because this little dress caught my eye too this week. It looks so flattering, and I love the neutral color. Easy to dress up or dress down!]

Canoe hammock. NEED.
[Upon first viewing, I thought this little rowboat contraption was a hammock-type thing. Apparently it is a baby cradle, which makes me all sorts of sad because I was really looking forward to taking a midday nap rocking in this puppy in our backyard. How come babies get all the nap fun?!]

Skulk of Foxes Hardwood iPhone Covers
[I'm crazy over these hardwood iPhone cases from A Skulk of Foxes. They're absolutely gorgeous!] 

This wedding... oh, this *entire* wedding...
[I am just in love this entire wedding. The couple looks so laid back and fun (I mean, they had a beer-pong table at their reception!) and their style and decor is so down-home and adorable. This is how all weddings should be!]

Pegged Leg Placeholders
[These shabby-chic place card holders are currently on super-sale over at BLHDN, but would be so easy to make on your own, too! Some discarded furniture legs, and a little paint and distressing - perfect!]

Standing ceremony - I still think this is such a sweet, intimate idea for a ceremony (mom, however, is adamantly against the idea).
[I'm a little enamored with the idea of a sweet little standing ceremony. I just love the idea of the people you love most all huddled around for an informal ceremony. Unfortunately (for me), I think this idea would work best with a very small guest list - anything under 50 people (much smaller than our guest list will be). It's still a beautiful thought, though!]

girls in the window / ormond gigli, 1960
[Girls in Windows, a photograph by Ormond Gigli, is such a beauty... and so is its back story. Shot in 1960, the photograph depicts models, celebrities and friends of the photographer, who were assembled to pose in the windows of some neighborhood brownstones that were slated for demolition. The photo was quickly shot during the construction workers' lunch break.]

life is hard.
[Sometimes, even when you're a French Bulldog, life is hard.]

There are plenty more where these came from! To see everything I pin all week long, follow me on Pinterest!


Strawberry-Nectarine Pie

As I mentioned on Monday, Eric specifically asked for a pie to be baked to celebrate his birthday. His only real request was that the pie could be served "a la mode," which, technically, could be any kind of pie. But I thought a nice summertime fruit pie would be perfect topped with a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream. Eric is a fan of nectarines, so I took that as a jumping-off point.Our fridge is always stocked with strawberries - a fruit I eat nearly every day and never get tired of - so I figured, nectarines and strawberries? The perfect pair for a birthday pie.

Mixed with sugar, cinnamon and a little lemon juice, this sweet-tart filling had my mouth watering before I even filled the crust. But the additional dusting of cinnamon-sugar atop the butter-brushed top crust really set it over the top.
Before I put the pie in the oven, I wrapped aluminum foil around the edges of the crust to protect it from burning while baking.

That little tip worked wonders, as after about 35 minutes the pie came out perfectly golden brown all over.

Naturally, I had to sit it by the windowsill to cool. Ideally the pie should have cooled in the refrigerator overnight to let the fruit juices set up, but I was dealing with a pie-hungry birthday boy who could barely let it sit 10 minutes before cutting in.

The verdict? He loved it! Although a little sloppy (again, it should have sat a little longer to set), it tasted great! So great, Eric went back for a second big slice.

After both slices, he went so far as to lick the plate clean. He was so furious in lapping up everything on his plate, all I could catch was this super-creepy blurred image of him in action behind the flowers.
I think that image speaks for itself. This pie is a winner!

Strawberry-Nectarine Pie
(adapted from Rainy Day Gal)
Makes one 9" pie

4 cups strawberries, washed, hulled and halved
4 medium nectarines, sliced
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
juice from half a lemon
4 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
your favorite pie crust
1.5 tbsp butter, melted
cinnamon sugar (or sugar) for dusting

1. Place strawberries and nectarines in a large bowl. Add sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and cornstarch, stirring mixture to coat.
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Press bottom crust into pie plate. Pour in fruit mixture. Cover with top crust and pinch edges together with moist fingers to form outside crust. Cut slits in the top crust for venting, brush with melted butter and dust with cinnamon sugar. Wrap edge of crust in aluminum foil to protect from getting burnt while baking.
3. Bake according to crust directions (around about 35-45 minutes). Let cool completely (if you can, let cool overnight to help thicken juices). Top with ice cream if desired!


A birthday weekend

Today is a very special day in our household... it's Eric's birthday! And although it's never fun having a birthday on a Monday, we spent the whole weekend leading up to it celebrating. 

Things kicked off Sunday afternoon at Tour de Fat, which is one of my favorite festivals ever. It's a traveling festival sponsored by New Belgium brewery that we loved last year, so it was a must-attend this year, too. There were bands, including these fellas, the Cleverys, who play bluegrass renditions of popular Top 40 songs... super entertaining.

Tour de Fat also had comedy shows, lawn games, a game show where they gave away a sweet bike to the lucky winner and of course plenty of New Belgium beer. Eric's favorite part was the bike corral, which was full of crazy Dr. Seuss-like bikes for people to try out.
Like this weird little tricycle contraption.

This wild bike that allows you to pop a wheelie on both the front and back sides.

And this beauty, which is the definition of fat tire.

After Tour de Fat, we rode our bikes home where we cooled off in the basement a bit before heading to our second festival of the day: South Shore Frolics.

This was the 63rd year for the South Shore Frolics festival, which takes place just a few blocks from our house in South Shore park, right by the venue where we're getting married!

The Frolics was absolutely packed on the hot summer day. There was some incredible people watching, and some pretty awesome festival games, both old and new to me.
The Spot game was a totally new concept to me. There was a big square of tables where these colored dots with frames hinged over them. What you do is place bets on the colored dot and put your money under the frame. Then, someone around the perimeter throws a ball into the middle, where there's a roped-off area filled with colored dots that the ball will eventually rest on one color. Each color has an odds to win, green being the most plentiful color, then red, then yellow, then blue and finally black is the 10-to-one moneymaker.
After about five rounds, we actually ended up even on our winnings, so we walked away before we got roped in too much.

We also played the pushing quarters game, which we probably made a dollar off of as well.
But no game at the Frolics was more exciting than the sausage raffle. This game is probably the most Wisconsin thing I've ever experienced. The way it's played is quite simple.
You visit the booth, exchange a dollar for a raffle paddle, and then they spin the wheel. Whichever paddle number corresponds to the number where the wheel lands, that lucky person wins some kind of sausage... or a package of bacon.... or hot dogs. You get the idea.
In honor or his birth date, Eric got paddle number 16.... but sadly, it didn't work out. We walked away sausageless.

To make up for losing in the sausage raffle, Eric consoled himself with a corndog.

The rest of the festival consisted of us stuffing our faces with funnel cake, rocking out to coverband extraordinaire Cold Sweat and the Brew City Horns and waiting for the fireworks, which were set off on the beach directly next to the festival.

It was pretty cool to see the fireworks being shot off right next to us. They were huge, loud and a lot of fun to watch.

The grand finale was something called "Blow up the Beach," which basically was a giant fireball on the sand, and let off a huge gust of hot air. It was a little scary, but the emcee of the night ensured us it was all part of the program.

But the celebrating didn't stop there! Yesterday we extended the celebration by doing a little swimming. We found a great little beach area at Menomonee Park in Menomonee Falls with a decent swimming area, complete with a diving platform and diving board! 
Yesterday was yet another hot summer day, so we really welcomed being able to hop in a lake for a couple hours to cool off.

After the lake adventure, we decided to have a birthday cookout - Eric's choice on whatever would be thrown on the grill! Naturally, he chose steaks.

With some grilled zucchini and onions for good measure.

Last week, I asked Eric what kind of birthday treat he'd like me to make for him. No cake for this guy; he  requested some birthday pie. More specifically, "some kind of pie a la mode."

So baked him up a quick, delicious strawberry-nectarine pie.

The consensus? He had two large pieces and licked the plate clean both times.

And stay tuned! I'll share the pie recipe later this week! I'm so happy with the way it turned out.

But with guts full of pie and a long weekend behind us, we turned in early.... celebrating birthdays is exhausting! And we hadn't even gotten to his actual birthday yet!

Eric's real birthday surprise wasn't just pie... I'd been scheming for weeks, planning to send him another birthday treat at work on his actual birthday. This morning at his office, Eric was visited by a very special entertainer: A singing chicken!

I knew Eric would get a kick out of getting a singing telegram on his birthday, so I called up Sing a Song Telegram, chose the chicken costume and had it scheduled for this morning! This was the first time I'd ever ordered a singing telegram for someone, and I have to say John at Sing a Song was great to work with! Obviously I didn't hear his handiwork, but Eric said it was hilarious! I had the card written "I hope you have a cluckin' good birthday," because I have the sense of humor of a 70-year-old man.

And on that note, that was a long three days of birthday fun! Happy birthday, Eric! I know I missed out on most of your years leading up to today, but I can't wait to spend the next 32 years with you, and beyond! :)



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