My friend Leigh's blog!

nicole.ossola {at} gmail {dot} com


A Small Hello

I hope you had a heartwarming Mother's Day!

There's nothing like being on top of your schedule enough to make time to make things. Like gifts. Especially Mother's Day gifts. And to then find time to wrap them nicely, in apricot Matelasse paper from Bell'occhio that you had the presence of mind to gently roll and designate precious space for in your carry-on luggage for your cross-country move while other, much more reasonable things (like spare keys and winter coats) were left to their own fate with moving truck men.

The little picture pinned to the front of the larger package depicts an adorable baby kid goat. I printed it out as my card, including a little note to my mom that she has always helped us find our footing in life- signed with love from her kids.

The other little ornament is a cross-stitch sampler of our nickname for my mom (her name is Steph, and we adore her as "Teff"). Leigh from Style Me Etsy found the sweet original below from Etsy seller JulieEllen, and I specially stitched my own version with this free lowercase-serif alphabet pattern.
I've missed the creativity and sharing of blogs for the past few months, and am so happy to be back amongst it all!


Home, Sweet Home

After three wonderful, tearful, exciting, change-ridden years in California, I am so happy to say that I'll be moving back to Maryland this week!

print from Amy Ruppel's State Birds Series

Posting has been light because I have been flying cross-country for job interviews and appointments, and I finally have my little ducks in a row. I'll begin work immediately and live with family in Baltimore until February. Then, my husband comes home and we will move to Annapolis!

It will be interesting to see how my taste and style changes upon returning to the East Coast, especially Annapolis. If you're not familiar with Annapolis, it is the most perfect little city imaginable, sort of like Virginia's Colonial Williamsburg but much more vibrant and...real.
It's the state capital, so it is bustling with political activity. It is home to the U.S. Naval Academy, so handsome midshipman with their pretty peacoated girlfriends and blushing dates are around every corner. And the narrow little homes each look like something out of a Charles Dickens novel.

I moved to Annapolis after college with a friend because I wanted to stay in-state but not necessarily in Baltimore (although I do love Charm City as well!). Annapolis is where I fell in love, was married, and had a wonderful job. I know it will be different this time, both for the better and for the bittersweet, and I can't wait. I'll be taking a little bit of time (another week or so) to settle back in with my family and hit the ground running with my work, and hope to see you back here shortly!


Goodness Gracious, There's More!

Yesterday, our Georgia feature offered perfect welcome basket ideas- and two sets of free printables! One is pink and quite peachy from Lucky & Lovely, and the other is vintage-inspired and punchy from Miss Pickles Press. I am in love with both of them, and very glad I don't actually have to choose just one for a wedding. I don't know how you'll ever decide!

I don't mean to overwhelm anyone with even more adorable options, but if you are in the market for Southern printed goodness then you also have to visit the Etsy shop of Miss Pickles Press. It's full of unbelievably perfect and inexpensive special touches!
Help guests "Chow Down" on good grub with these {Cutlery Packets}, $15 for twelve printed kraft bags; package Georgian apple butter with her custom {Spread the Love Labels}, just $12 for fifteen; and create adorable favors with {S'mores, Y'all Tags} that are just $1 each, with coordinating ribbon.

And of course, be sure to thank the aunt who threw your bridal shower, the neighbor who hosted your bridesmaids for two nights, and the colleague who baby-sat your pups so you could get hitched over the weekend. This notecard is spoken like a true Southern belle!


Georgia Free Printables, Part Two!

If you were loving the vintage Coke ideas Jen suggested with her welcome basket picks, you will adore the free printables she has designed for us. Inspired by old-fashioned Coca-Cola colors {remember the green glass bottles?}, they share the fun, punchy, and bold style of the one and only Miss Pickles Press.
Here are the print-ready .PDFs for your welcome baskets, wedding favors, correspondence and gifts- anything you please {except commercial gain, of course}!

Notecard (Front) {A2-sized, prints two to a page}
Notecard (Back)
{A2-sized, prints two to a page}
{print 10 per sheet}
Treat Bag Toppers
{fit a 4x9" bag perfectly!}

For more from Jen {or to meet Miss Pickles, her darling dog and studio namesake!}, please visit her studio, Etsy shop and blog. You won't be able to get enough of her {Jen or Miss Pickles, that is}!


Locale Lovelies: Georgia, Part Two

One of my favorite things about Locale Lovelies is that our contributors, who come up with their welcome basket picks completely independent of each other, very rarely suggest the same idea twice. Our first Georgia pick list today was so wonderful it's hard to believe there are enough great ideas left for an entirely unique second basket: but it's true {and then some!} thanks to Jen from Miss Pickles Press.

I'm going to let Jen take it away here, introducing you to "a welcome basket fit for Scarlett O'Hara herself. Welcome to Georgia, y'all!"
Start from the ground up by packaging all of your welcome goodies in a {Vintage Coke Crate}. Everyone knows and loves the original Coca-Cola, founded in 1886 in a Georgia drugstore. These crates are timeless treasures, and also a perfect size for presenting treats and goodies. Jen found hers via Etsy seller buygollymissmolly, but you can find them all over eBay as well. Stock your crate with {petite glass Coke bottles}; cans or bottles simply won't do!
Springtime in Georgia gorgeously blooms with many native flowers and trees. Share the sweet, heady scent of the grand magnolia tree year round with the {Magnolia Candle} from Archipelago Home.

Atlanta is proud of its sports teams – especially the Braves! Every gal needs a boyfriend-style Atlanta Braves {Baseball Cap} for lazy weekends and bad hair days. Jen especially loves this slightly tattered gray version.

{White-Speckled Stone Ground Grits} are perfect for a hearty Southern breakfast. Often called "Georgia ice cream," Jen loves grits from the Nora Mill Granary in Helen, Georgia; each pound comes in cute reusable cloth bags for just $3.95.
The city of Savannah is known for serious Southern charm. Jen notes that the city is stunning by day and undoubtedly haunted with ghosts of the old South by night! For a decadent Savannah treat, give world-famous {Pecan Pralines} from River Street Sweets, pictured above center and right.

Fall is apple season in the north Georgia mountains, and nestled in the quaint mountain town of Blue Ridge is {Mercier Orchards}. Family owned and operated since 1943, they will ship their divine apple butters, peach and Vidalia onion salsa, pumpkin butters, hot apple fritters, fresh ciders, gourmet honey and other Southern specialties just about anywhere. Don't forget the chow chow relish!

Let your guests get their old school soul fix with a beloved classic: a Ray Charles {Greatest Hits CD}. Ray was born in Georgia in 1930, and his music is a perfect companion for a slow Sunday drive. Or, make a mix for guests including other native musicians such as James Brown, R.E.M., The Indigo Girls, and the B-52s.

Your more literary-minded guests will love escaping to an era when petticoats and mint juleps reigned the day. Atlanta author Margaret Mitchell penned {Gone With the Wind} 70 years ago, and it's a classic to this day.

And lastly, send guests home with a small trinket that's downright useful, too. {Vintage Georgia Map Magnets} are available from Etsy seller historicallytoo. Aren't they sweet?
A bit more, about the contributor: Jen Wells Mageau is the designer of Miss Pickles Press and a homegrown Georgian. She loves that her state has "more Peachtree Streets than should be allowed on one map!" Like most Georgians, she enjoys enjoy good food and good company, and takes Southern hospitality to heart.

And lastly, why package all of your welcome goodies in a boring basket when you can package Georgia gifts in a {Vintage Coke Crate}? There are so many uses for these timeless treasures, and it's a perfect size for assorted treats and goodies. Jen found hers via Etsy seller buygollymissmolly, but you can find them all over eBay as well.

Georgia Free Printables!

Ray Charles couldn't have said it better:
The whole day through...Just an old sweet song...Keeps Georgia on my mind...

And Melanie Carter of Lucky & Lovely couldn't have designed today's free printables any better: she sweetly paired Ray's lingering line with the state's famous fruit. Yes, these printables are pretty as a peach!

Here are the print-ready .PDFs for your welcome baskets, wedding favors, correspondence and gifts- anything you please {except commercial gain, of course}!

Notecard {Front}
Notecard {Back}/Envelope Liner

Treat Bag Toppers
*extra special* Recipe Cards

Melanie put such care into these printables; they are absolutely perfect, and just what I love to see on Locale Lovelies! She was even kind enough to add her own peanut brittle recipe card; adorable favors, anyone?

To see more from Melanie, you can visit her portfolio {love that she is such a pink girl!} or follow her blog.


Locale Lovelies: Georgia

Welcome to another edition of Locale Lovelies! Georgia has been gracing us with its presence everywhere of late, thanks to Design*Sponge Grace Bonney's recent Savannah wedding. Our first guest, Liz Demos from @home vintage general, was a part of the styling for that lovely affair and has offered a treasury of wonderful welcome basket ideas.Local artist Tim Degner illustrates Savannah beautifully on unique postcards, which would make perfect welcome notes or art prints for guests to take home. And wouldn't they be sweet as table cards?Next, tuck in a waxed-paper sack of {Glazed Pecans} from the Savannah Candy Kitchen. As they say, "If these are just a snack, then Dixie's just a cup...And Southern hospitality is just a handshake and a smile."

For a quintessentially Southern summer treat, add {Key Lime Coolers} from the Byrd Cookie Company, a Savannah staple for 85 years.

The Savannah Bee Company has a great story behind it and great products to put forth. Liz loves their {Honey} as a gift, and different varieties are even offered in generously-sized $5 samplers.Nourish Natural {Soy Wax Candles}, beautifully packaged and pictured above right, are made in small batches right in downtown Savannah for $13. {If you are a candle lover, you know this is a wonderful price for luxury soy!} And as Whitney of Darling Dexter shared while Nesting recently, Nourish {Soaps} are also perfection at just $5-6 each.

Low Country {Luxe Candles} honor the culturally rich, canopied region that wends from above Charleston, South Carolina all the way to the last barrier islands of the Georgia coast. Scents such as Gullah, Spanish Moss, High Cotton, and Sea Grass perfectly embody the brand's namesake, and there is even a scent called Savannah. I am longing to try Gullah myself...just for the mysteriousness of it!How cute are these {Puzzle Post Cards} Liz found from a local company? The best part for the rest of us is that they can be customized for any photograph or even made into a wedding invitation or welcome note.

If you did decide to give puzzles depicting local vintage postcards like the one shown above, a perfect pairing would be these nostalgic {Paperweights}, available from Liz's own @home vintage general. She can create paperweights for any host city or occasion- and, I can share from experience that she is an absolute pleasure to work with!Your browser may not support display of this image.

And lastly, Liz even has suggested some sights and set-awhiles for your guests. They can "Slow Down and Taste the Sweet Life" with homespun desserts at the Back in the Day Bakery, or loll about in Lulu’s Chocolate Bar

The Moon River Brewing Company serves up great {Beer} and an even better atmosphere, and a Savannah Foody Tour introduces visitors to Southern delicacies over the course of seven unique stops. One of them is the Lady & Sons restaurant, owned by Food Network Queen Paula Deen. You'll get to eat her world famous fried chicken, in addition to other restaurants' retelling of the South's culinary history: shrimp and grits, iced tea, sweet potato fries, barbecue, gourmet Chocolates, collard greens, macaroni & cheese, and French frozen hot chocolate.

Thank you Liz, for helping us love the South even more. Next we'll share not one, but two adorable sets of free printables!
A bit more, about the contributor: Liz owns a gorgeous boutique in downtown Savannah, and also does charming event design. For more of her lovely taste, please follow her blog!


Something New: Moss Registry

Sometimes beautiful pieces can be had inexpensively, and sometimes they will cost you a pretty penny. Today's featured registry offers items that certainly are of the latter variety, but if there is ever a place to splurge then surely it's on your wedding registry!
Soho-based Moss has been hailed as the best design store in America. And in the world. The beauty and originality of its products are stunning, and its registry service is simply perfect for anyone suffering a Crate & Barrel overload.

Our Nesting friend Heather Ross first introduced me to Ted Muehling's {hand-painted porcelain}, and those pictured above are available for your registering bliss. {Faux Repair Plates} make imperfection absolutely beautiful in the dreamiest colors, and the pistachio {Insect Fruit Plate} is a sweet nod to nature.
We are well-versed in five-piece china and flatware settings, but how about a {Five-Piece Glassware Setting}? The stackable set above is over-the-top yet practical, a great design for $175.

You could also register for crystal {Alpha Water Tumblers}, sold in pretty pastel sets of two for $145, or even a 16-piece {Plastic Cutlery Set}, imprinted with a 19th century Italian floral motif for $120.

There is much more loveliness and quirkiness {and if you're up for it, some pretty far-out-ness!} at Moss online.


Perfect Anniversary Gifts

Have you seen the first of Bird & Banner's guest post series at Design*Sponge? The focus of the series is anniversary gift ideas. Paper is the traditional gift for first anniversaries, and today's post offers some very promising {and inexpensive} make-it-yourself ideas!
Above, clockwise: A vintage book with a custom calligraphed bookplate; you and your lover's thumbprints form a heart; and woven paper hearts made from leftover wedding invitations.

How sweet would it be to make those paper hearts as holiday ornaments from your extra wedding invitations? {Truly, you know you have about a dozen of them and you only need two or three for scrapbooking and safekeeping!}

Or, how about making an ornament from a friend's wedding invitation, and giving it to the couple on their first anniversary? In this bag?  Even if you didn't want to cut up their invitation, perhaps you could help yourself to an extra program or two and create ornaments from them instead.

My anniversary is right before Christmas, and I would have loved this! Now, I am excited to do this for friends and family {we have three invites for 2010 already, and two on the same day next October: 10-10-10!}.

The ideas above are my favorites, but you can see the full post at Design*Sponge.


Locale Lovelies: Orange County + L.A., Part Three

Our last guest today is actually the very first person I asked to share in our O.C./L.A. feature. Jen is a perfect fit, because her blog {Green Wedding Shoes} offers inspiration specifically from Southern California weddings!
Jen's first pick is a lovely way to allude to Hollywood: she recommends a luxurious Apothia Candle from Fred Segal in the {Behind the Velvet Rope} scent, which has notes of dry vanilla martini paired with sunny grapefruit. Another nice SoCal scent is {Wave}.


{Wine} from Municipal Wine Makers in Santa Barbara is a great choice with fun labels. The {Bright White Riesling} pictured above and the {Pale Pink Rose} bottle below are each $20.


Beautiful Paulette {Macarons} are much less expensive than you might think: just $4 for a mini gift box of two! Sweet tooths (is the plural "sweet teeths?" "sweet teefers"?) would also love a cupcake from L.A.'s famous (and best, in Jen's opinion!) cupcakery, Sprinkles. Adorable cupcakes in favor boxes cost $5 each.

Designer {Truffles} from Compartes are almost too pretty to eat! I would go with the {Chocolate Guinness Truffles} as a small nod to the tastes of your guy guests, since so much of this basket is pretty and pink!

For the ladies, beachy nailpolish by local {Sheswai Lacquer} would be much appreciated. At $16 each, these bottles aren't cheap, but they aren't cheaply made either: the caps are sustainably harvested wood, and the lacquers don't contain formaldehyde or other chemicals commonly found in polish.

{Bossa Nova Juices} are produced in L.A., and would be refreshing for guests the morning after a night of celebrating. These superfruity bevs feature fun label designs and flavors such as mangosteen, acai and goji berry.

It seems that "no trip to Southern Cali is complete without a trip for an In-N-Out burger!" Jen suggests including a $5 {In-N-Out Gift Card} for a trip for what a lot of locals call the best burger around.

Jen would package everything together in customizable Wedding Chicks {Totes}, which you can register for! She would add a pair of Old Navy {Flip Flops}, which are indispensable in SoCal. These pretty pearl white ones are just $5, and many fun colors are under $3.

And lastly, include a welcome note with a suggestion for guests to explore town and find some of L.A.'s beloved food trucks. Your note could be written on a postcard featuring vintage photos of the Santa Monica pier, Hollywood sign, and other L.A. icons; you could write it on a pretty Art Deco {Card} from Peach Press Studio, available at Urbanic Paper Boutique {whom you know and love from last week's Venice Beach feature!}; or, you could pen it on one of our free printable notecards!

Thank you so much to Jen, Danni and Rachel for making today's Orange County & L.A. feature so special. Next week, Locale Lovelies will be in Georgia!

Free Orange County + L.A. Printables!

Giggles were induced when I read the last of Danni's e-mail containing her Locale Lovelies welcome basket ideas. You see, she closed with an impassioned directive that guests "MUST stop at In-N-Out!" because it is her absolute favorite food venue. {In-N-Out is Southern California's family-owned, gloriously clean and delicious fast-food burger stop, in case you're not familiar!}

And yes, of course, Danni is completely right: In-N-Out really is a must. But what made me smile was that the adorable free printables she designed for us today share a strikingly similar color palette with In-N-Out's logo. Coincidence, or subconscious cravings while she was designing? :)
This .PDF shares print-ready notecards and labels for your welcome baskets, wedding favors, correspondence and gifts- anything you please {except commercial gain, of course}!

To see more of Danni's design and inspirations, you can follow her beautiful blog or support her lovely little shop, both of which are named oh, hello friend.
The fine print
: These free printables are for personal, non-commercial use only. Plea
se note that the modification of these designs does not void their copyright. Distribution of .PDFs, even not for profit, is prohibited.

If you would like to share these free printables on your blog or site, I welcome and appreciate your willingness to do so! Please feel free to use the image to your liking, and link to this page to share the actual .PDFs with your readers. Thank you!


Locale Lovelies: Orange County + L.A., Part Two

Since first seeing her blissful lilypad headbands, I have had a small but significant blog crush on Rachel from {Heart of Light}.

I am trying to redesign my own little bloggity blog, and long for something similar to Rachel's wide, well-stocked sidebar. She recommended a pumpkin waffle recipe recently, and now buttermilk, pumpkin and cloves are on my weekend shopping list. She pointed out a couple of surprisingly wearable fall dresses from Old Navy, and I immediately bought one of them in three colors. I heart Rachel's taste, and hope you will likewise love her choices for a welcome basket to L.A.!

There are several cupcake shops in Los Angeles, but Vanilla Bakeshop is Rachel's favorite. Specifically, she loves their simplest offering, and thinks your guests would as well: the {Vanilla Bean Cupcake}.This tiny, gorgeous bakery even packages each cupcake in a special little box, so it can be presented as a gift.

To help guests work off those full tummies, provide reservations for a historic walking tour. The L.A. Conservancy offers affordable guided tours of everything from art deco architecture to the downtown renaissance.
Next, include an {Odd Birds of L.A. Calendar} by local Etsy letterpress shop krankpress. Guests can keep an eye out for quirky local birds while they're in town and then bring the calendar, $18, home as a souvenir.

{Sunglasses} are a necessity in L.A. even during the winter, when the city can be hit with blindingly bright, cold days. I would give out-of-towners cheaply awesome aviators; imagine the great photos you will get of your guests around town rockin' their shades!
And for the sophisticates, share a bottle of wine from the Malibu Family Winery; Rachel's favorite is the $20 {Petite Syrah}. This vineyard is tucked up in the hills above Malibu, and Rachel thinks it would be a beautiful, relaxing pre-wedding outing for your guests; most people associate wine tasting with Napa or California's other well-known wine regions, but you can go right in L.A.!

{The Santa Monica Farmer's Market Cookbook} can go home with your guests for about $15. This farmer's market is an institution in L.A., and no visit would be complete without a walk through the stalls. Rachel loves to keep walking for a couple of blocks and enjoy her fresh coffee and croissants at the beach!

Help guests avoid the legendary L.A. traffic by sharing public transit options. You can get almost anywhere in the city on a bus, as Rachel does. She would recommend Metro for guests staying in Beverly Hills or downtown, and the Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica.

Top off the package with a sweet welcome note and your recommendation for a perfect day before or after the wedding: Urth Caffe for morning coffee; an afternoon at the Grand Central Market for a taste of historic Los Angeles; a stop at Border Grill for the most delicious happy hour; a visit to the downtown Standard Hotel for a rooftop view of the city at sunset; and an evening swathed in the warm SoCal carnival glow of the Santa Monica Pier, complete with a ride on the Ferris wheel. Your guests will never forget the warm welcome or wonderful memories of their time spent in L.A.!
A bit more, about the contributor: Rachel blogs at {Heart of Light}, a beautiful space filled with fashion, home, and design findings. She also creates the most gorgeous headbands for sale in her Etsy shop!


Locale Lovelies: Orange County + L.A.

I am happy as a lark to welcome today's first guest, Danni. She blogs at {oh, hello friend}, and was born and raised in Orange County. These are her top hometown welcome basket picks, and she's starting us off today by advising that you "grab a tote + necklace and represent!"

The {Los Angeles Tote} from Maptote, $15, and a {California Love Necklace} by Etsy seller Mushka for $48 - a pricy token for welcome baskets, but would be very cool bridesmaids' gifts!

Your browser may not support display of this image.Next, Danni recommends putting together a little list of shops and sites for your guests, beginning with the award-winning {Orange County Performing Arts Center} and the quaint {Bowers Museum} of art.

She would point visitors in the direction of the {Road Less Traveled Store} in Santa Ana, dedicated to offering environmentally friendly products, as well as {Crossroads Trading Co.}. This buy/sell/trade shop tops Danni's list for fun vintage clothes: she finds great brands and great deals, and there's nothing that could make your East Coast/Southern/Midwestern guests feel cooler than buying something vintage. In California. Near L.A. {I'm not being snide one bit; I felt this way when I first came to Cali from Maryland!}
This next idea might be my favorite yet: decorate each guest's hotel room with lovely {Pom Poms} from Orange County Etsy seller Orange Kisses! Imagine two to three poms per room, hanging over a bedside table with a sweet welcome note. They only cost $3-4 each and make a big impact; perfect if you want to provide a sweet surprise without spending too much time or money.
Danni just discovered Nan Lawson at a local craft show this month, and "immediately fell in love" with this L.A. artist's work. Her {prints} are just $10 each, and would be a nice non-weddingy touch for guests to take home.

Danni really struck gold at the aforementioned craft show, where she also was introduced to {crafty aprons, knitting needle pouches, and coupon organizers} from Polly Danger. You could pick something specific to each guest's interests for a personal touch, while supporting a local crafter's work.

On that note, Danni has another great recommendation for your guests: attending local craft shows! {Unique Los Angeles} hosts over 250 handmade vendors and is like "Etsy heaven!" {Patchwork Show} and {Handmade Brigade of Orange County} is another awesome craft group that puts on events. And last but certainly not least, Danni would send newcomers to the streets, in hot pursuit of traveling food mobiles such as Kogi BBQ {Danni has heard of people waiting up to two hours for a Korean BBQ taco!}; CoolHaus ice cream sandwiches; the Vietnamese NomNom Truck; and of course, the Sprinkles cupcake van {pictured above}!

Danni explains that these trucks "simply advertise straight through Twitter to their followers about their next location!" I wonder if there is some way to turn this into a scavenger hunt for your guests? Talk about a fun way to explore L.A.!

Next up are the absolutely perfect free printables Danni has designed for us, and two more very special guests...
A bit more, about the contributor: Danni shares her creativity and inspiration at oh, hello friend, and also sells lovely jewelry, tidbits and buttons in her Etsy shop. She is a wonderfully gifted designer and a much-appreciated friend to Kirei Nest!


Something New: Rain Collection

Each week, I try to find a wonderful, lesser-known registry service that truly is "Something New" to you. Today's featured registry is Rain Collection, based out of Chicago, and it's an interesting choice.

At first, I wasn't certain about Rain Collection because its offerings seemed a bit disjointed: Marimekko mixed with Pottery Barn-esque pieces, and busy Amy Butler aprons alongside simple Rae Dunn ceramics. However, I'd like to share this shop with you because eclectic offerings can be refreshing amidst all the carefully curated department/chain stores - and of course, because I found some real treasures!
You might recognize the wonderful {Copenhagen Carafes} pictured above left from Anthropologie, where they are called Edda Carafes, are nearly sold out, and are unavailable for registering since Anthro does not have a registry service (why, oh why?). Happily, Rain Collection has all three sizes (small, medium and large) available, and for lower prices ($35-45 each)! {Update: these carafes are offered for even less at Velocity!}

Also pictured above for your registering glee are Rae Dunn's {Mixing Bowls} (see the cute little wire whisk painted in the bottom of the bowl?) and {Cheese Markers}; and lovely {Covered Glass Pastry Stands}.Additionally, I like the range of more masculine pieces that Rain Collection offers, pictured clockwise above: a striking {Wooden Spice Tower} arrives fully stocked for $110; an Owl {Salt & Pepper Shaker Set} carved from buffalo horn, $14; an elegant {Window Sill Herb Holder}; a beautiful shesham {Wood Pedestal} trio, $75-105; a fun {Puzzle Serving Board} $48; and iron {Zinnia Napkin Rings} handwrought in Mexico for $38 each.

P.S. You or your guests can enjoy 10% off any Rain Collection purchase with the code "twitt10" throughout the month of October!



Perhaps you noticed an absence here last week, and I just wanted to share a bit of what I have been working on!
I was very inspired by Marta's "you be you, i'll be me" endeavor a few months ago, in which she promised to share only thoughts, ideas, and items that she herself created on her blog. For an entire week. I'm not quite prepared to make that kind of commitment (neither my creative output nor my photography skills are en pointe).

But, a couple of recent projects have offered me that pride which only be derived from nimble hands fleeting across something other than a keyboard. While I love adding to this little silvered lavender space, sometimes you need to create something you can actually hold, you know?

Firstly, I have been flurrying (not to be mistaken for scurrying) to plan a special family event next month. I whipped up a batch of invitations, went to three postal shops to find the perfect postage, and addressed each one in pearl white ink. They came out nicely, and now I am trying my hand at creating these amazing menu wheels and these shimmery magnolias.

My next project was to organize the one thousand photographs and hundreds of letters that I have tucked away. I love to bind my own albums, and also want to give bound journals and address books as Christmas gifts. So, armed with incredible self-adhesive book cloth tape, I made two albums, an address book and a journal over the course of two evenings (it takes me about 1.5 hours per item at this point; I'm a beginner!).

Below, I've pictured the inside of one of my albums. It contains nearly 100 letters from my parents and my grandmother. While I was "away" at college (mind you, a mere hour from home!), my grandma wrote to me every week. Her envelopes often contained little news clips or comic strips, many of which I let go; but I have saved dozens of her letters, most brimming over with notes about her Red Hat Club outings, birthday dinners, and weather updates (again, mind you, I was just 70 miles away, experiencing the very same rain, snowstorms or sunshine as Baltimore :).

My family spent so much time making sure I knew I was missed at home, inquiring about my days, and keeping me up-to-date on their happenings (in addition to our near-daily phone calls).  These letters mean a lot to me now, and I can only imagine how precious the tidbits they contain will be in the years to come.

I used Paper-Source envelopes and stamps, and text blocks from Hollander's to create my books, complete with glassine paper inserts - a very nice touch!

Happy to be back this week, and composing some very promising posts. Thanks for bearing with me in the meantime!


Nesting, With Whitney Deal {Darling Dexter}

You've seen her wedding and you love her style, and now it's time to learn a little more about her nest! I'm so pleased to welcome Whitney Deal, and hope you enjoy the home favorites of this Darling blogger, photographer and designer.

What is the most loved housewarming or wedding gift you have ever received?
My mother-in-law gave us her china cabinet when we got married. It's a beautiful wooden piece that fits our style completely and is one our favorites.

What is the most loved housewarming gift you have ever given?

It was small but I loved it! I purchased Marimekko dish towels for a friend after her and her husband bought a house - nothing like a little pattern to add to your new kitchen.

Whitney's wedding invitation, photographed by Martha Manning.What is the most useful housewarming gift you have ever received?

Probably the Martha Stewart garlic peeler - that little plastic tool works wonders. (Unfortunately, it's no longer available!)

What is your favorite home item that you purchased or found for yourself?
My husband and I recovered an old ottoman we found at the thrift store. It was an amazing learning experience and has now become one of my favorite things in our house.

What dishware do you use on a daily basis?
Pyrex, pyrex, pyrex. We received everyday and fine china as wedding gifts last year but our favorite dishes to use in the kitchen are our pyrex bowls and plates that we've collected over the years. I love to mix and match patterns and colors.
Whitney's beloved Pyrex bowls and DIY recovered ottomanHave you ever registered for china or entertaining tableware {or treated yourself to it}?
Yes, we have everyday china from the Martha Stewart {Whiteware Collection}, and Kate Spade {Union Street} fine china. I love them both :)
From left: Martha Stewart Whiteware, Kate Spade Union Lane, and Union Lane on Whitney's own table.What is your favorite little treat {a certain type of flower, hand soaps, towels, sheets} especially for houseguests?
There is an amazing store in downtown Savannah called Nourish that I am hooked on. They carry a variety of handmade soaps that I always keep in our bathroom. That's probably my favorite little treat in our house.
A pretty table Whitney designed for Once Wed.What is your next dream or goal for your nest?
We love our home but we currently rent - so our next dream goal is to actually buy our first place together. Living in downtown Savannah, that isn't necessarily in our price range, but as we make our back to our home state of North Carolina eventually, we plan on buying an old bungalow in the mountains to fix up.


Locale Lovelies: Free Venice Beach Printables!

As if her perfectly suited welcome basket ideas weren't enough, Audrey has gone and created lovely DIY printables for us as well!

Please enjoy these postcards (front and back} and cupcake flags {love the unique shape!} They are print-ready .PDFs for your welcome baskets, wedding favors, correspondence and gifts- anything you please {except commercial gain, of course}!

Here are the .PDFs for you to print:
Postcards (Front) {prints four to a page}
Postcards (Back) {prints four to a page}
Cupcake Flags {prints six to a page}

To see more of Audrey's designs and inspirations for Urbanic Paper, you can follow her beautiful blog, Parcel Post.
The fine print
: These free printables are for personal, non-commercial use only. Plea
se note that the modification of these designs does not void their copyright. Distribution of .PDFs, even not for profit, is prohibited.

If you would like to share these free printables on your blog or site, I welcome and appreciate your willingness to do so! Please feel free to use the image to your liking, and link to this page to share the actual .PDFs with your readers. Thank you!


Locale Lovelies: Venice Beach!

Four hours of sleep is not a fun way to operate (I'm on a whirlwind visit to the East Coast!), but nothing could keep me from making time to share today's feature.

{If you aren't familiar with this series, Locale Lovelies offers local ideas for welcome baskets, such as the sort you might create for out-of-town wedding guests.}

Audrey Woollen adores her adopted home in Venice Beach, where she and her husband began Urbanic Paper Boutique. You must read how the boutique began - it's a sweet love story!

 Audrey would begin her welcome basket to Venice Beach with {Tickets} for amusements and fun at the Santa Monica Pier.

She would include this {Paperback} history of Venice, about $15. Audrey describes the volume as covering Venice's history "from its beginnings in 1880 through the Great Fire, to the advent of the rollerskaters and carnival-like ambience that characterize the Venice that we know today. I would love for  guests to get an idea of the roots of the canals and other landmarks in our area before exploring."

Next she would tuck in a {Bike Notecard} by Lilly and Scooter, available at Urbanic, along with passes for all-day bike rentals. Venice is a bike town!

A {Gift Card} to Intelligentsia would introduce guests to a total coffee experience; not only does the shop serve amazing coffee, but it is a local social hub in Venice {gift cards and cool Intelligentsia coffee cup pictured above}.

Add a few Westside L.A {Postcards}, $11 for a pack of six. Audrey loves how this one captures the feeling of the sunset hours in Venice.

For a little luxury, add a box of beautifully packaged {Chocolates} from fancy chocolatier Jin Patisser on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. 

Pictured above is another of Audrey's favorite Westside L.A {Postcards}, emanating that beautiful golden sunlight of Southern California.

As for Audrey's final pick? She recommends a {Venice Maphawk}. This little booklet highlights local treasures such as restaurants, shopping and art galleries.  It even has an area map complete with a color-coded legend to make it easy for guests to to get around.
Lastly, I have to share this amazing custom wedding invitation that Urbanic Paper teamed up with design firm Unscene to create. This suite just completely conveys not only what it looks like, but how it feels to be in Venice Beach; a true work of art!

If you love Audrey's aesthetic, you will adore the free printables she has designed for us. Coming up in just a bit: Urbanic Paper's postcards and cupcake flags!

Nesting, With Brooke Reynolds

Brooke and her husband at their weddingWhen you find someone whose taste or lifestyle you love, why not see if you can borrow a page or two from her book?

Brooke Reynolds is a wife, mom, and former art director for both Martha Stewart Kids and Martha Stewart Living. She chronicles her craftiness on her blog, creating adorable birthday parties and gifts while finding time for some book design on the side (in fact, Brooke designed Weekend Sewing for Heather Ross, who was last week's Nesting guest!).

What is the most loved housewarming or wedding gift you have ever received?
"A good friend of my husband's gave us a very generous gift certificate to an expensive restaurant in New York City (where we were living at the time)." says Brooke. "He knew my husband well enough to know he would never spend that kind of money on one meal, and since we had a gift certificate, we had an excuse to go and not feel guilty about the money we were spending. We ended up going to dinner on our first anniversary, and it was one of the best meals we've ever had."

One of Brooke's sweet gift packagesWhat is the most loved housewarming or wedding gift you have ever given?
"I like to bring my camera with me when I go to weddings, especially for close friends. I snap pictures throughout the day, trying to capture details and other things that might be missed by the wedding photographer. Then I get prints made and assemble the photos in a folding album and I send it to the couple on their first anniversary."

What is the most useful housewarming or wedding gift you have ever received?
"My sister-in-law Syrenna made a recipe album for us for our wedding. She's a wonderful cook, and included many of her favorite tried and true recipes. She also gave recipes from my husband's side of the family: Dad's pot roast, Grandma's breakfast 'flip-flop,' all the recipes my husband had grown up with."

What is your favorite home item that you purchased or found for yourself?
"My favorite thing in our whole house is a credenza that my husband built. We looked all over for a credenza we loved, but could never find one that was just right (or didn't cost $10,000!). We designed it on paper and then my husband built it in our garage. It's the perfect size and it makes me happy every time I see it. (It also hides our TV inside, so lots of people think we don't own one. I'm perfectly happy letting them believe that!)"

What dishware do you use on a daily basis?

"Our everyday china is a simple white set from Crate & Barrel (the Maison line). All the dishes I own are white, something I learned from Martha Stewart who has a beautiful wall of open shelves in her kitchen in Maine, filled with only white dishes. My collection is nowhere near as lovely as hers, but it's still growing piece by piece, and it all works together nicely."
From left: the credenza Brooke's husband built; Martha Stewart's inspiring Maine kitchen; Brooke's Maison (Crate & Barrel) dinnerware at a party.What is your favorite little treat {a certain type of flower, hand soaps, towels, sheets} especially for houseguests?
"I am still learning how to be a good host. My mom does the sweetest things like ironing the sheets and leaving little treats on your pillow. She also makes sure to have on hand my husband's favorite soap and she even switches out the pillows because she knows which kind my husband likes best. I am trying to follow her example by paying more attention to what my guests like so I can remember specific things for their next visit."

Have you ever registered for china or entertaining tableware?

"I felt strongly about getting a set of china when we got married. I knew too many couples who didn't register for china and then never got around to buying it as the years rolled by. I loved the idea of having something from your wedding that could be used and enjoyed and then passed down to your children and grandchildren.

"We registered for a simple Wedgwood china with a single platinum band. We did take back some of the extra pieces like teacups, saucers and extra serving pieces in order to buy a few more dinner plates. It was more important for me to have plates (salad, dinner, and bread & butter for each guest) than to have matching teacups and soup bowls."
Brooke with one of her little ones at the beachWhat is your next dream or goal for your nest?
"To buy a nest of our own! We lived in New York for 10 years and then moved out to California in 2008. We feel like we have been renting forever and we are on the lookout for a home. Wish us luck!"

Brooke, thank you so much for your nesting insights, which are full of thoughtfulness. Sometimes it's as simple as taking the time to compile a photo album or family recipes, and sometimes it takes the form of a couple hundred dollars to a fancy restaurant; but regardless, it's clear that the most cherished gifts are those inspired by close-knit kindness.