Sunday, April 29, 2012

HERE & THERE: Cultural Enrichment

The main reason I love to travel so much is that I'm a culture sponge. I love learning about and experiencing other cultures' foods, music, crafts and especially the people. The United States are such a young nation so it can be hard to relate to some age old traditions and its fascinating to see how other cultures keep those traditions alive. I'm not a cultural scholar by any means so please don't try to quiz me but I am really good at being "in the moment" and just absorbing everything I can as often as possible.

When I can't be traveling I like to find small ways to always be learning and experiencing. This weekend's travels brought me the following:

Dinner and a Documentary // I made pizza and margaritas for a couple of friends and we watched Blue Alchemy which is a documentary about the traditions and history of indigo dying. We've got big dreams of cultivating our own indigo vat now! Indigo dying is a very temperamental process and if your vat isn't perfectly happy, all of your hard work in the resist process can be for naught. Trust me, I've experienced this. Admittedly, it may not be the most thrilling documentary for some people but we're fibers girls so it was right up our alley. 

Japanese Spring Festival // Sunday, we went into Boston for Haru Matsuri, or Spring Festival to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the original gift of cherry blossom trees from Japan to Washington, D.C. in 1912. There were women dressed like geisha, tons of Japanese craft vendors, taiko drummers and more. It made me very nostalgic for Japan and reminded me that it's been almost six years since I traveled there. I really hope to make it back some day.

Japanese in Chinatown // we had hoped to grab lunch at the festival but food tickets sold out fast so we went with Plan B and consulted Yelp! which recommended a Japanese restaurant in nearby Chinatown. My guy's seafood soup was beautiful!

Bostonian Strolling // The weather was perfect for strolling and since we don't visit Boston too often, it was nice to just mosey around. We visited one of the many (very) old graveyards in Boston and it's always so interesting but tragic to read the ages and stories of the people buried there.

copyright Mary Lance
Grapefruit and tequila is such a tasty combo!
Taiko drummers from Wellesley College were amazing. These girls must get such a workout!
 

 
 
 
Fanciest iParty entrance I've ever seen.
 
Gravestone of John Trapping, 1678.

 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

HERE & THERE: Southcoast

My closest confidants are well aware of my attitude toward living in Fall River, Massachusetts. It's not the friendliest or most "happening" place in the world but the rent is ridiculously cheap and it's pretty central to Providence, Newport and Boston. We usually don't spend time in the area, and instead head to the outlying destinations for our dining and entertainment pleasure.

This weekend though, I stayed fairly local and it was actually quite fulfilling. Southcoast Mass. is hit or miss but there were quite a few hits this weekend including:

Battleship Picnic // We ordered takeout from a great Asian restaurant nearby and had a sunset picnic at Battleship cove. Banh Hoi...mmmm!
Dockside Exploration // We happened upon a great little dockside bar at the Borden Light Marina. It wasn't open for the season yet but looks promising as a great summer spot!
Comedy Show // On a whim, we checked out the schedule for the local arts and music venue and decided to check out the comedy show they were hosting.
Whaling City Fun // Saturday I explored the Whaling City aka New Bedford with my mom. We hit up the Whaling Museum, sampled some great food at Sid Wainer, and ate lunch dockside at Fathoms.
Gourmet Meal // Simple ingredients found at the Sid Wainer lent themselves for a great impromptu pasta dish. Anchovies, sun dried tomatoes and some science-lab-worthy caramelized cherry tomatoes.
Upcycling // as an Earth Day pre-gamer I upcycled a lamp from our living room to fit our nautical theme better.
I've officially started collecting cloud photos.
A whole container of 4 leaf clovers!! I've never found one but this would've felt like cheating.
Gorgeous edible flowers.
Hey guys! These are just some friends I met recently.
  
 
Factoid: Oil is seeping from these whale bones and will continue to seep out for another 50 years!
  
The clipper ship screen print is faint but I kind of like that.
 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

GET CRAFTY: DIY Wedding

As a couple, my husband and I are fairly private people and we generally enjoy smaller, more intimate gatherings with great food, good drinks and stimulating conversation. That's what I wanted for our wedding and I really wanted the styling to reflect our personalities. Our wedding was small and included our nearest and dearest friends and family and every detail was intentioned toward making our guests feel loved and welcomed.

 

I am still recovering, creatively, from our wedding last November. It was by far, the biggest and most complicated craft project I will most likely, ever take on. I planned 100% of it and DIYed probably 95% of the whole shebang and I would not, could not, have had it any other way. Even though there were moments when I was afraid it would all fall apart, I think I pulled it off fairly smoothly but it definitely took it's toll on my creative flow.


I remember during an initial meeting with our caterer I had brought my reference folder with tear sheets, sketches and inspiration photos that I planned to use for my own DIY projects. I wanted her to get a feel for, and understand the "vision" I had for our wedding and after responding with, "I am" to all of her questions regarding, "who is doing this?" or "who is doing that?", she looked at me like I had ten heads and I specifically remember thinking to myself, "I know this woman doesn't think I can pull this off, but I totally can!"

All in all, it ended up being an event that I was completely proud of. I don't mean that in a bragging way, but I felt like it was my baby that I had carefully conceptualized, methodically planned out and successfully executed. My blood, sweat and tears went into that, the most special day of my life. Our lives.

My dad & I made the sign directing our guests to the reception.
Shepard's Hooks defined our ceremony site.
Handmade dinner napkins reflected my love of quilting and the menus showed our love for food!
Sangria in mason jars with straw flags. The backside says, "Finally!
Ordering, receiving and caring for hundreds of dollars worth of flowers is really stressful!
M&J Trimmings is such a great resource for velvet ribbon.

I did my own makeup and hair piece but left the hair styling to the professional.
Keeping in the DIY spirit, my younger sister acted as Maid of Honor and Officiant!
I custom screen printed ties for my husband and the best man that reflected their personalities.
"Spread the Love!" Favors complete with Nutella packets and graham sticks, yum!
 
Mini clothespins held the escort cards to chicken wire that I secured within a picture frame.

It was frigid the day my dad & I cut these logs to make table numbers.

No, I didn't make the ice cream but this was one of my favorite moments from the day.

WEDDING SPECS:
Venue: The Meeting House, Tiverton, RI
Officiant: Sister of the Bride
Caterer: Pranzi Catering, Providence, RI
Photographer: Kevin Trimmer Photography, Providence, RI
Hair: Revive Salon, Portsmouth, RI
Bride's Attire: Dress: Alexandra's Bridal Boutique, Fall River, MA / Shoes: Ceremony: Nina (endless.com) Reception: Minnetonka (DSW)
Groom's Attire: Kenneth Cole New York, DKNY, Shoes: Bostonian

DECOR RESOURCES:
M&J Trimmings, NYC
Paper Presentation, NYC
JoAnn Fabrics
Etsy

For any brides out there who are planning or considering a DIY wedding feel free to email me with any questions. I really did LOVE planning and designing and DIYing my wedding and love to help others with the process as well!




Sunday, April 8, 2012

DESTINATION: New York City

We love New York City.

We really do, and we try to get there as often as possible. It's full of so much life and color and always refreshes my soul and restores my joie de vivre. It's under three hours away and makes for a great day trip. Our last trip in December was cut short by pouring rain so we were elated to have perfect weather this time around. There were flowers in bloom on every block, we ate lunch outside in the sun and sipped iced coffee with our jackets flapping open down the sidewalks.

I usually like to have some sort of an itinerary in mind so that we are able to utilize our time there most efficiently but we're always flexible in case we need to make room for unexpected things...like a quick shopping trip at Anthropologie....

This trip was bringing us to the somewhat newly opened American Wing at The Met but of course we had to throw in a few foodie adventures as well. 

This NYC adventure included the following: 

a. Chelsea Market // Wonderful bakeries, restaurants and gourmet purveyors all within an elaborately facaded building. Souvenirs were a five year cave aged Gouda which is the most amazing taste you'll never forget and Kusmi Tea which we had seen all over Paris but never got around to trying. The Euphoria blend is a roasted mate with notes of chocolate and orange; it's delicious.
b. Spice Market // I made a reservation in advance and luckily there was a table open outside so we soaked up the sun while nibbling on fresh poppadum and the most delicious tuna burger I've ever tasted. You may remember I mentioned my love for Jean-Georges and Marja Vongerichten from the Kimchi Chronicles, here. Some people like to follow athletes or movie stars but I have a thing for chefs. JG wasn't there today but I am always hoping for a Anthony Bourdain or Eric Ripert sighting, never any luck sadly!
c. Doughnut Plant // Have you been?! I know it's hyped up a bit but it's not without cause. These donuts (or "doughnuts") come in some interesting flavors and really are so good. We shared a Wild Blueberry, Triple Chocolate and a Cinnamon Sugar. We opted for cake style on all flavors but they also have yeast donuts.
d. The American Wing at The Met // The Met is a great museum. Admission is donation based so you only pay what you can afford. The new American Wing is a wonderful exhibit including paintings, furniture, sculpture and architecture from some of the greatest American artists. I'm not the biggest fan of museums; my husband loves them and he loves American history but I have to admit I was definitely captivated by this exhibit and it was great to see so much furniture built in Newport and Boston and quite a number of paintings by Gilbert Stuart who was born in Rhode Island.
e. Candle 79 // This is a vegan restaurant like no other. This isn't your usual crunchy granola, hippie joint. This is legit sophisticated cuisine that just happens to be vegan. They also have some really innovative mixed drinks with ingredients such as sage, wheat grass vodka, lavender bitters and more.
f. Sant Ambroeus // we stopped for gelato and Italian cookies before heading home. Sitting on their sidewalk bench on Madison Avenue licking my hazelnut gelato with a warm breeze in the air really made me wish we lived in the city. Maybe, one day.
Anthropologie always has the best merchandise displays. Look at this pattern!
I think I really need to make a donut pillow for my house!
Drinking my delicious new tea in an adorable new mug from Anthro.