My Hobbit House

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When I was little I always said I wanted to live in a ‘hobbit house’ when I grew up. Still now, at 27 years old, I want to live in a hobbit house. ‘Hobbit house’ has always meant to me a space that is inviting and warm, and where nature is everywhere. I’m not talking about cooking over a campfire indoors – my hobbit house always had an Aga. Think rustic the way English gentlemen had country estates, Arts & Crafts influences, Art Nouveau influences, natural fibres, wrought iron, and things made out of twigs and stumps.

I was in Anthropologie the other day and saw the toadstool cookie jar (or whatever it is) in the photo above. It is absolutely perfect for my hobbit house! I don’t know if I’d use it as a jar, rather just a piece of art to sit on a side table or in the centre of the big, rustic dining room table.

I’d still love to decorate a house in this way but it seems anathema to put my perfectly-imagined hobbit house into a place in the city. This house needs to be in the country, surrounded by rolling hills. When I win the lottery, I’m building it on Saltspring Island so I can be near the sea too. I’ll grow all my own vegetables and keep chickens and goats. And the craft studio! It’ll be epic.

What’s your fantasy house like?

Thrift-a-phobia

I love thrift stores. I love them because they are cheaper, kitschier versions of antique stores, which I also love. I go into thrift stores and I browse the housewares, the furniture, and the books. Notice that clothing never comes in to this equation at all.

Thrifted Sweater Vest

(press the auto-timer button BEFORE the shutter button, and it will work better)

Part of it is the whole ‘used’ thing. Yes, I realize that clothes can be washed, I do it myself a few times a week, but it’s different when it’s my own dirt. For another thing I hate poking through unorganized racks. Just like I love Anthropologie, but the sale rooms intimidate me. My main strategy for shopping at Anthro is to try on things when they’re full price and nicely displayed with coordinating things, and then buy them when they hit the sale room. It’s all just too crammed in together and you have to look through every.single.thing to make sure you haven’t missed anything. The ‘everything crammed together’ reason is one of the main reasons I avoid thrift store clothing. Now, give me a bookstore with books crammed to the rafters 3 rows deep, and I will sit on the floor and sift through every.single.one to make sure I haven’t missed a gem!

It makes me sad that I feel this way about thrift stores because I know so many fashionable people in real life and in blog land that are always wearing awesome outfits, and saying ‘this old thing? Thrift store for $3!’. I love the Anthropologie style, but it isn’t exactly easy on the pocket book, and so many of their pieces are vintage-inspired, I believe that you can dress like an Anthro model entirely from a thrift store, if you have the fortitude.

Neuroses aside, I went to a thrift store the other day with the express purpose of looking through the clothing – to be more exact, the sweaters. I needed sweaters for this sweater scarf I made myself, and the place to get them was the thrift store. I went, took a deep breath, and browsed the ladies’ sweaters. I managed to pick 5 as candidates to be turned into scarves, and I found this awesome sweater-vest. I love a good sweater-vest!

Thrifted Sweater Vest

It was my size, Esprit, and only cost $4.99! And chevrons are all over Pinterest right now, so it must be cool, right?

I found that I could look through the big long racks, and that they weren’t as intimidating as I thought they were. Everything was at least organized by size, and mostly by colour within those sizes. I could walk slowly along the racks and see at least the sleeves/shoulder of each garment, and only pull out the ones with fabrics I liked. This one vest has me excited to go thrifting for clothes. Specifically, I really wanted to do something kicky and Anthro-y and pair it with a cool skirt or patterned blouse, but none of my current skirts went with it (too summery, apart from the one satin one which was too satin-y), and I don’t own any cool printed blouses (we’ll talk about my obsession with Emma Pillsbury’s wardrobe another day).

What’s your favourite thing that you’ve ever thrifted?

Rehearsal Load-In

Before reading wedding blogs and wedding magazines, I’d only heard of rehearsal dinners in the vaguest of ways. It wasn’t something that I thought was terribly common, so I wasn’t fussed about having one. Then I get into blogland, and start regularly buying Martha Stewart Weddings, and I realize that people send out invitations, they go to fancy restaurants, make speeches, have dress codes… This is totally not what will be going on for the Cinnamon Bun rehearsal. Invites? Nah. Speeches? Plenty of time for that at the wedding. Dress code? Steel toes.

We are setting up our venue ourselves, and we get access to it around 5pm on the Friday before our Saturday wedding. We’ve asked our bridal party, parents, and friends to meet us there so we can set up the space. We’ll have chairs to set up, decor to arrange, a faux-to booth to rig, tables and more chairs for the reception area, plus all the totally amazing, knock-your-socks-off DIY I’m planning. There will be pipe and drape to set up to hide some of the stuff on the walls in the venue, putting chairs in orderly rows, not to mention unloading all this stuff from our car (and/or possibly a U-haul, depending on what all we pick up that day! There is a limited amount of room in my 1992 hatchback).

This has always been the plan, since we secured our venue. Cinnamon Buns’ mum said that she would handle food and drink for the evening – she will be picking up a couple lasagnas and some big salads from a friend who has a home-based catering business, buying some disposable (I hope compostable!) plates and cutlery, some pop and bottled water and bringing that down to the venue. I figure we’ll have our load-in, and make our first priority the ceremony space. Then can rehearse once the space is set, grab some lasagna standing up, and get back to garlands and sorting out exactly what gets hung where. We’ve passed the word around the bridal party just by talking about it, we’ve asked a few other friends as well. Obviously, our parents will be there too, I’m not sure if they’ll stay for the lugging things around, but they should be there for the rehearsal.

Sometimes I feel a little sad that we won’t just get to go somewhere, do a short little rehearsal with me wearing a pretty dress, then head out to a classy restaurant with everyone, and have wine in glasses and real cutlery and cloth napkins. I don’t get to pick out another set of invites either, and I love me some papergoods! Sometimes I see dresses, and think ‘what a great rehearsal dinner outfit!’ and then I remember the crawling around, the lugging of chairs, the ladders, the possible set-up and tear-down of scaffolding… and realize that the best I will be able to do is some jeans and a cute top that I don’t mind getting sweaty and dusty in. (For the record, this is my current favourite ‘if-we-had-a-fancy-rehearsal-dinner-dress’)

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Anthropologie’s Tuileries Dress

As I said above, I get a teensy bit sad about not having a fancy dinner with everyone, but it doesn’t depress me deeply, and I don’t want to change the plan. Honestly, grubbing around in ripped jeans, old t-shirts, and steel-toed shoes comes much more naturally to us and our bridal party than fancy restaurants. It’s what we all do for a living, so not only is it natural, we’ll be pretty efficient at it. The bridal party is made up entirely of people in backstage theatre jobs: stage managers, set & lighting designers, technicians, one even works with a very large lighting rental company. A load-in is our natural environment. Hopefully, we won’t be at the venue too late that night, and maybe we can take everyone for a drink or two somewhere nice after. I certainly don’t want to be there too late, but I also want the space to look great on our wedding day! (I have also put my foot down about not doing any of that stuff on our wedding day morning!) We’re obviously going to do a lot of the planning beforehand, we even have a CAD drawing of the space, so we can do a proper ‘set design’ in the months leading up to the big day.

I’ve seen that some people have a photographer come and shoot the rehearsal – we didn’t book our photog for that, although I think it would be neat to have someone there documenting the transformation of the venue. Maybe I’ll find a friend with a nice camera, or dare to find someone on Craigslist.

What was/will your rehearsal be like? A sophisticated affair? A bunch of friends tossing chairs around and making silly jokes?

It’s Shoe Time!

I started out thinking/knowing that I wanted coloured shoes to go under my wedding dress. I wanted a pop of colour, plus where would I wear white shoes again? I want my wedding shoes to be flat, or a 2″ heel tops. One reason for that is comfort, another reason is that Cinnamon Buns is only 4″ taller than I am, and I like being shorter than him. It’d be weird to be his height in all those photos. And even 6″ heels wouldn’t make me nearly the same height as our 6’1″ and 6’3″ bridal party members. I was also fairly sure I wanted a peep toe, and I knew that anything that had that thing between your big toe and the next one was out. I hate that feeling.

I even started browsing online for shoes before I found my dress! These were a couple of my favourites way back in the day:

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Marc by Marc Jacobs 693179

See by Chloe SB14060

See by Chloe SB 14060

Then we decided on colours, and I found a dress, so I started looking for teal, apple, or metallic shoes. I had actually almost tried on these shoes in my favourite local shoe store a few months before getting engaged. I decided not to because they were too expensive at the time, and I didn’t know where I’d wear them. Of course, they were sold out once I remembered them and realised they’d be the perfect wedding shoes.

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Frye “Maya Vintage Stud

Apple green shoes were a little hard to find. I found a few that were just a bit too casual, lots with too-high heels, and many that had been discontinued. I considered these sage green ones for a bit, because I loved the flower, but ultimately decided no.

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Seychelles “Bette”

I felt like I should consider Fluevogs, as I always admire them at the shoe store, but there weren’t any in the right colours, and all styles were a bit clunkier than I wanted. These were pretty awesome though, love the ribbon!

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Fluevog “Belle Star”

If I could have found where to buy these babies, I might have. They’d be a great nod to our British heritage!

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Awesome shoes!

I saw these shoes on a blog somewhere, fell in love, then realised the shoes were discontinued. I stalked eBay and where ever else I could for a while, until I came across a photo of them on a person’s actual foot (which Google will not find for me again! Argh!). Do you have any idea how much toe cleavage shows through that butterfly cutout? You can see basically all your toes except toenails, and I found that toes distracted from the gorgeous laser cut-out.

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Dolce Vita “Dillon”

Since getting engaged, I’ve been checking pretty much every shoe store I walk by for ‘the ones’. I hadn’t found them, until tonight! I was sitting at home, almost catatonic after work and dinner, and decided to do one of my favourite things: browse Anthropologie’s website. I haven’t stopped doing it, even though there’s an Anthro in this very city, not a 10-minute drive away! I guess I like to be up on what’s new (or you could call me obsessive). Tonight, I found these shoes:

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Anthropologie Nelumbo Kitten Heels (this file is currently saved on my computer as ‘Anthropologie dream shoes’).

Pro: The dimensional flowers will match my dress!

Pro: They aren’t white!

Pro: I would totally wear these again. I need some neutral dressy shoes anyway!

Pro: The heel is listed as 2.25″ – not too tall!

Pro: Um, they’re ADORABLE?!

Con: My Anthro doesn’t carry shoes (at this point, anyway).

Con: I’d have to order them from the website, for $23 shipping (ok, whatevs) and $59.55 in duty & taxes! Total purchase = $261.09, which is cheaper than the Louboutins and Manolos some brides buy, but more than I was thinking of spending. And I resent having to pay duty. Free trade, people!

Con: Because of above-mentioned website thing, I couldn’t try them on/see them before shelling out the cash. If they don’t fit/aren’t that pretty in person I’m not sure how much shipping I’d have to pay to return them, or if I’d get my duty back.

Con: That’s a thinner heel than I’m used to. I tend to buy heels that have good, thick, 1″ square heels. That’s not the look I want on my wedding day, so I suppose I’ll be dealing with that no matter what shoes I buy.

What do you think? Should I suck up my pride and shell out the duty?

A Love Letter to Anthropologie

Dear Dearest Darling Anthro,

I am finally putting words to my emotions and am writing this letter to tell you my true feelings. At first I read your name on the internet, and found a cute clothes store that I didn’t think too much about after closing that browser window. Then we bumped in to each other again late one night in Portland Oregon, after I stumbled out the wrong exit of Powell’s Books (reeling from the delicious book fumes). I bought one of my favourite dresses ever that day, and I still treasure it.

When my fiance and I went to San Francisco, not even the excitement of getting engaged could keep me from visiting you, and spending more than I should have. Once I got home and started browsing for bridesmaid dresses, I found this:

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(from The Knot)

It looks like another bride has a similar relationship to you and I! I dreamed about being able to buy bridesmaid dresses (and me dresses!) from you. Every weekend that summer I debated jumping in the car and going to visit you in Edmonton. I almost managed to convince myself that 3 hours of driving in each direction would be worth it for another sight of you, but I never did get in the car. I kept a close eye on your lovely website though, and that is where I heard it, those sweet sweet words: Anthropologie. Opening in Calgary. Winter, 2010. Instantly I started counting down, trying to divine exactly which day of winter 2010 you would open your doors here in my city.

But while I waited, all the countdowns and checklists that brides are assaulted with kept urging me to make a bridesmaid dress decision. I even did the research and found a dress I liked made by someone else. I’m sorry I didn’t trust in you, but at least that dalliance was with an Etsy seller, right?

I was there, the day you opened your doors on December 17th, and every dress I saw was sized up as an option. I’m sorry to say that none of them were right for the wedding. You were too full of corduroy and wool and long sleeves. While I like those things, they do not work for summer bridesmaid dresses. I tried to make it up to you by buying some long-sleeved corduroy dresses for me. :)

The New Year has been rung in, and now that I can say “I’m getting married this year” I started worrying about not having dresses for my ladies. I spent time fondling the swatch of fabric the Etsy seller sent me, looking it at how perfectly it matched the shirt we bought Cinnamon Buns for the big day. I started to think that I wouldn’t get to be an Anthropologie bride. I’m so sorry I doubted you! You made me wait, you tested me, you teased me, and now you send me the perfect wedding (or is it engagement?) present:

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Anthropologie

A light, floaty dress, with bra-covering straps, a pattern, and in my wedding colours? My patience is rewarded!

Of course dear Anthro, the proof will be in the pudding, as they say. This dress isn’t available online until January 18th, and I don’t know if that means stores don’t get it until then. You can be sure I will check in with you every time I am in the vicinity, and as soon as I see that dress, THAT DRESS in the store I will know if your teal is teal enough, your apple tart enough, the dress cute enough for my ladies. I’m hoping it will be.

Please, don’t let me wait too long, my gorgeous one?

Miss Cinnamon Bun

Weddings: more than just ONE outfit to plan

Around the same time I chose my dress, we confirmed our photographers. We got an engagement shoot with our photography package, and we’d decided to get the photos done and use them for Save-the-Dates. This posed its own problem, as we wanted the photos done before it got too gross and wintery here, plus we needed to get them done pretty quickly anyway to have any hope of sending them out before Christmas. We didn’t factor in our photographers’ other clients/jobs/life when coming up with this plan! They were very gracious though, and managed to squeeze us in early one October Sunday morning, before Cinnamon Buns had to rush off to work.

Beware: this post contains almost entirely self-timer photos taken in our dark bedroom, then edited into visible-ness.

I knew which dress I wanted to wear for the photos from the start:

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"Amarena" from Anthropologie

I bought this dress in the very first Anthropologie I ever saw in person, and I love it so much! I figured I’d find a pair of shoes and be done with it. Well, the weather forecast got closer and closer, and colder and colder. I bought some awesome shoes that matched a pair of tights I already had. In hindsight, I could have saved money by going about this the other way: finding tights to match shoes I already owned. Oh well, these shoes are awesome.

Camper Ariadna

The weeks leading up to our session were balmy and unseasonably warm. Then, on the Friday before our pictures, it snowed! It was then I went into panic mode, and bought all sorts of things I didn’t need:

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Sweater from Mexx

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Sweater from Smart Set

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Gloves that matched the tights that matched the shoes. Plus awesome belt.

I tried all these things on in every combination I could think of. I wasn’t happy with either of the sweaters – they hid the dress, which was what I wanted to show off! And the fluttery sleeves gave me weird shoulder lumps under any cardigan I tried on. I was worried about looking cold and miserable in the photos though, and if the snow stuck around I’d look pretty silly in short sleeves, frolicking in the snow! So, I started trying on all the dresses I already own that have sleeves.

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Sweater dress from Superstore, of all places.

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Got this on sale at BCBG a couple years ago

I wasn’t giving up on that tights/shoes combo! None of these dresses make me as happy at the Anthro dress, so on Saturday night, Cinnamon Buns talked me into just wearing the dress I wanted, and bringing my coat for between photos.

That morning dawned nice and sunny, and luckily Saturday had been warm enough to melt all the snow! I put on my Anthro dress*, purple tights, fierce purple shoes, amethyst earrings, nice winter coat (as opposed to my down-filled -30C coat) and went to go feel like a supermodel. A 5’3″ supermodel! I left all the cardis, the gloves, the scarves, even the belt at home. Later, I returned everything except the belt, which made me (and my visa) feel much better.

Were there any weather mishaps/scares for your photos? Did you try on 300 outfits, then decide on the first one you tried on? Sounds a lot like wedding dress shopping….

*There is another Anthro dress in my life/closet that I may love a tiny bit more than the knit one:

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Yes, those are BICYCLES! (photo from Anthro)

I wore this every chance I could get this summer, and if we’d gotten things together in time for a summer e-session, I probably would have worn it, photographer’s advice against patterns be damned!