Monday, June 22, 2009

mady by hank

I don't know where I stumbled upon the kate henry likes to sew blog, but I totally dig her work. I think that her made by hank clutches would make great bridesmaid or hostess gifts. They sell out fast, so I'd keep an eye on her shop if you're interested. Her new items are usually gone by the time I see the blog post that they went up.

 All Images:

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rain, Rain, Stay Away...

...because lots of Chicago girls are getting married today! It looks like they'll be lucky too.

Lots of Blog Love to all of the Chicago Girls getting married this weekend:

Kelly from Keg Design

 Images: Keg Design

Katie The Indecisive Bride
- who won't be a Chicago girl for much longer :(

 How fun! Congratulations and have a blast!

 There are still a few more local girls for us to follow and drool over:
I hope that I didn't miss anyone. I think that I've convinced another A New Leaf bride to post here soon. Her Save-the-Dates are the coolest.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Gocco Graduation Gift

My buddy at work recently graduated with her EMBA. She reads my blog and has always complimented my gocco projects, so I used this as an opportunity to make her some personalized cards. Since gocco costs have soared, I invited my entire team to contribute and was able to give her a complete stationery set.

I asked her to pick two Paper Source colors and not ask any questions. She selected bluebell and opal stardream. I added the blossom pink because PS doesn’t sell pens in bluebell and because I found one blossom mailer box laying in the store and convinced them to sell it to me. I mixed the ivory ink from white and gold ink in an attempt to mimic the stardream. My embosser is in storage, but I think that these would have been AWESOME embossed.

When I pulled these color descriptions from the Paper Source Colorscope to write this post, they gave me a chuckle. Bluebell is right on for Karon. I always tease her about relaxing at work and just happen to pick "blossom" for her. (KD, wouldn't you agree?) As you may recall, when Paper Source first published their colorscope, I found out that there was a science to my wedding colors.

I think that this will be my last gocco project until I have my own laser printer. The copiers that I have access to at the local Kinko’s just don’t print evenly, so there are always holes/gaps/spaces in my prints. It took me 40 prints to get 20 good cards for this project. This happened to me on every project and it put me at my Gocco Wit's End every time.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Honeymoon in Napa Valley - Part 3: Restaurants

I won't bore everyone with restaurant reviews, but thought that I'd list the restaurants that we went to (and loved, of course) in case anyone is unfamiliar with the area and is looking for a starting point. I must have been exhausted because I didn't take any photos of restaurants!

  • Auberge de Soleil: Definitely one of the most expensive lunches in the world, but the food AND the views are worth it. I inquired about having our wedding here after we were engaged. Someday we’ll stay there.
This is the view from our table on a previous trip.

  • Bistro Jeanty: Adorable and delicious. I tend not to use adjectives like “romantic,” but I would say this restaurant definitely could be. Totally wine country chic.

  • Bouchon: Definitely one of the best restaurants at which I’ve eaten in my whole life. It’s owned by Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame. I think that the French Onion soup choked Andy up. I don’t mention Bouchon often because it brings a look of pained longing to Andy’s face.

  • Mustards Grill: The food’s pretty fresh and good for a pricey lunch. We go just for the Hazlenut Tart. I bought the cookbook for that one recipe.

  • Oakville Grocery: Andy and I popped in here for breads, cheeses, and sausages a few times. We agree that our picnic lunch gathered here was one of our favorite meals from the trip. I love it here.

  • Rutherford Grill: I know that Bandera is in Chicago, but I think that Rutherford Grill is adorable and totally Wine Country. That, and I never pass an opportunity to eat Prime Rib French Dips.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Honeymoon in Napa Valley - Part 2: Sonoma Wineries

Andy and I hit Sonoma County for the first time on day 2 of our honeymoon. Sonoma was incredibly beautiful, but I was a little disappointed in it. I’ve had so many girlfriends talk it up in comparison to Napa Valley that I was kind of expecting Tuscany. You definitely can’t beat the views. My friend Tracey grew up in Santa Rosa and now that I’ve seen it, I am so jealous of her. I was DD that day, so I don’t have very many pictures.
  • Chateau St. Jean: Chateau St. Jean is a huge winery and very pretty. The wines were OK. Since it was recommended by my friend Laura and we tend to love everything that she suggests, I’m wondering if we did the wrong tasting. The gift shop is nice in this one. They have a lot of cool picnic supplies.
  • Ferrari-Carrano: Ferrari-Carrano was a recommendation of a man at St. Francis. The grounds are STUNNING! Absolutely beautiful. We did the Reserve tasting and agreed that the whites are divine. F-C is a White House favorite, as they had a bunch of framed menus from White House events. My friend later gave us a bottle of F-C as a wedding present.
Can you believe that I drove with these purple teeth?
Thank the Lord that I did not get pulled over.


  • Hanna: GORGEOUS grounds and an incredibly friendly staff. It wasn’t my type of wine though. This would be a good place to visit if you wanted to have a little picnic between stops.
Image: Hanna

  • Imagery: Imagery was recommended by my friend Laura. It was GOOD. They have an art gallery and just a  good, casual vibe overall. We bought Aunt Ruth a bottle from here as a thank you gift for our airline miles, but we never heard her review.

  • Sausal: This place was recommended by blog readers. It wasn't as quaint as I expected. The place is CAT CITY. I am allergic to cats, so smelling them kind of makes me sick. The tasting was free and the wine was very well priced. It wasn’t our favorite, but we bought my dad a decent bottle as a gift for $20.00. He opened it on Christmas and he and my brother liked it. The winery is located at the top of the valley and was picturesque.
  • St. Francis: Another Laura recommendation. The winery itself is beautiful and the wine really good and affordable. They sell adorable engraved bottles for the holidays. I bought a bottle of Cab with a wreath for my family to drink on Christmas Eve. It was delish. I was trying to hog it for Andy and I when my drunk brother poured the last of it into his class and mixed it with cheap wine. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
The guy who poured our tasting at St. Francis drew us a map of where to go in Sonoma. Since he talked up the grounds of Ferrari-Carrano, we spent an hour driving straight there and ran out of time. We filed the list for next time.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Honeymoon in Napa Valley - Part 1: Napa Valley Wineries

Our trip to Santa Barbara reminded me that I never posted about our honeymoon in Napa Valley. I probably didn’t write about it because there wasn’t much to say – we drank, we ate, and I took several two-hour naps. On the last day there I asked Andy, “Do you think that we should have done SOMEthing?” His response was, “At what point did you see yourself hopping on a bike for a 30-mile ride through hills?” He had me there.

I used to receive e-mails requesting winery suggestions for honeymooners, so here is our list of wines tasted in Napa Valley. (Sonoma will follow tomorrow.) Many of these were suggested by our well-to-do wine diva pals – Aunt Ruth and my friend Laura – as our goals when we go to Napa are:
  • Taste stuff that we can’t get in Chicago.
  • Taste stuff that we can’t afford to drink in Chicago.
  • Taste stuff that we CAN afford and CAN get in Chicago.
Also, we always split tastings to save money and avoid getting drunk. I hope that no one from Wine Spectactor stumbles upon this, as my descriptions would probably make them cry.

  • Andretti: This will be one of the bitchiest things that I’ve ever said on my blog, but when I saw that the tasting was only $12 and noticed the people that were in Andretti, I decided to walk out without tasting. Andy told me he was ashamed to be married to me when we walked back to the car. (Mockingly, I think.) But the place smelled like cat and the tasters had on fanny packs!

  • Cakebread: Cakebread is awesome! This was our second visit to Cakebread and we really enjoyed it both times. The tour guides are so nice. I think that they’re all retired dads and uncles. On this visit, we did the Wine & Food Pairing “Experience” for $40. It was so fun! It started with a comprehensive tour of the winemaking facilities and ended with a wine and food tasting. Our host was funny and the other guests were nice. A word to newlyweds, if you hold up a tour because you’re running late, don’t tell a table full of strangers that you were back at the hotel screwing. (It wasn't us, it was some trashy girl who had the tour guide take their photo toasting their wine glasses. Losers.)

  • Chimney Rock: So delicious! Absolutely love it. Definitely one of my faves. I insist that everyone taste this.

  • Cosentino: Andy and I always go to Cosentino while we’re waiting for a table at Mustard Grill. (I say "always," when we’ve done it twice.) Cosentino is good, affordable wine. And they tend to over pour if you shoot the breeze with them. (Wink, Wink) Cosentino distributes to Chicago and the price is definitely right. The wine won’t change your life, but it can soften the harshness of a rough day at work. Andy and I oftren bring Cosentinos to parties and BYOBs.

  • Del Dotto: Del Dotto winery is modeled after the opulence of Venice, Italy. It looks like Piazza San Marco with a disco ball. We attended a cave tour at the Saint Helena facility. First of all, it's not a tour. It's just a tasting that happens to be conducted in the barrel caves. They don't really explain anything about wine-making unless you ask a question. We probably would have shared a tasting and saved $50 if we had known that. That being said, it was a fun tasting. We tasted about eight wines directly from the barrel, which was kind of neat. It was followed up by some tiny snacks while they gave you the sales pitch, which we didn't actually hear because the owner was there after over-imbibing at lunch and CRANKED the music. I mean, fingers-in-the-ear LOUD. And he was like a human iPod shuffle because he went from Bocelli to Stevie Ray Vaughn. Dig it.
  • Duckhorn: Duckhorn was OK. The wines are pretty good, but their tasting is a total production. Reservations are required, as they serve you on their patio, which is very nice. It just seemed very unorganized when we were there. We switched seats to get out of the blazing sun and, even though it was empty, our waiter was so confused that he looked like he was going to combust.


  • Frog’s Leap: This place was appointment only, so we couldn’t try it. The grounds are beautiful. I hope to get there next time.

  • Merryvale: Merryvale is delicious. It’s definitely a family favorite, as Aunt Ruth serves it a lot – including at my shower! Their “Profile” wines are $$$, but you can get their poor-man’s wines for $25-$35.
  • Mumm: We popped into Mumm on a whim. It was pretty good and the grounds are beautiful. The pours were huge, so we sat on the patio for a good half hour and relaxed.

  • Opus One: My friend Laura suggested Opus One “just to say you tasted Opus One - the tasting is $25 for 1!!” That summarizes it well. It is delicious and the grounds are beautiful and very quiet. They require an appointment, but I don’t know why, because the place is empty. And they don’t actually talk to you. They hand you a (small) glass and instruct you go to sit upstairs and bring your glass down on the way out.


  • Peju: We stopped here on a whim while killing time before an appointment. This wine was not my bag at all. I remember thinking that it was “heavy” and “spicy.” I was a little buzzed before this tasting, took one sip, and gave it to Andy. Then I took a nap in the car. (And the sales guy was kind of slimy.)

Image: Soiree

  • Robert Sinskey: Andy and I both love Sinskey. It’s the first tasting that we did together on our first trip out. The employees are friendly and the wines are delicious. Their wines are foodie-driven, even more so than other wines. I think that if I were to ever surprise Andy with a wine club, this one would be it, as the two times we left there he’s said, “I wish that we could join wine clubs.” My friend belongs to it and said that they often include spices and recipes with their shipments. I’d like to do their culinary tasting sometime.

  • Rubicon: I always thought that Coppola wines were cheesy grocery store wines, but heard a lot of good things about the winery. OMG. So worth it. We took the Vinifera Journey Tour – which was excellent. For only $20, you get a tour of the vines and the tasting.  DO NOT WEAR WEDGES on this tour. You’ll look like an ass, your feet will bleed, and your new husband will be distracted from the tour guide as he will have to spend the entire time holding your arm to balance you as the whole tour takes place on hills (from which you can see Francis Ford Coppola’s house). The winery itself has a movie museum, which is a nice break from gift shops with “I love to cook with wine – sometimes I even put it in the food” aprons. The Rubicon Reserve and CASK wines are really, really good. Reservations are recommended. 


  • Silver Oak: MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE WINE. I love, love, love visiting Silver Oak. It’s $25 for two small glasses of wine, but I don’t care because I love it. The winery itself is pretty no frills and the employees are always panicked – which makes me laugh, as working a tasting room has to be a pretty low rung on the ladder of stressful jobs. I wish that they’d keep their glasses (which I leave behind anyway) and give you more wine. Love it. I need to try Twomey next time, as it’s the same owner and is cheaper. (Not to mention that I love me some Pinot Noir.)

  • St. Supery: Pretty grounds, self-guided tour and some interactive displays, wine was so-so, but affordable.

Up next – Sonoma Wineries (There aren't as many. I promise.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Invitations

I'm sure our invitations look somehow look familiar to you. Your right, the main inspiration came from the paper goddess herself, Tina! I loved her design so much that I contacted her to find out more. That was the kick-off for our mails and the reason for me posting here. But back to the story. I not only loved the design but also the wording "we do" "do you" so I asked her, if it would be okay if we are going to copy that too. And she graciously agreed. So a major thank you goes out to her!

And now, without further ado, the invitations.

All photos by me, if you want to see a close up, hop over to my blog

Tote Bag Project

I recently whipped up some tote bags for a co-worker's family vacation. As with most of my projects, I didn't have much time with these, but she, thankfully, loved the final results. She purchased teal bags from and I ironed the design on using iron-on transfer paper. Her theme was "LastName Vac (pronounced Vake) at the Lake."

She was one short on bags, so I surprised her with a personalized one using some extra supplies that I had around the house:

The primitive sailboat design wasn't merely a reflection of my poor drawing skills. The design actually matched the napkins that she bought for the trip, which had a watercolor drawing of a sailboat floating in teal and light blue waves. I thought that my ART101 skills totally showed, but she said that her family asked her for the name of the boutique that she bought them from. Wooooo Hooooo! Fooled them! Ha, Ha.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Classy Venue: North Pond Cafe

The North Pond Cafe is an awesome restaurant that I, unfortunately, don't visit enough. The menu is a foodie dream comprised of some of the freshest ingredients that you'll ever taste - primarily grown at farms throughout the tri-state area. Their web site states it better than I could:
The menu at North Pond is designed to feature products raised or grown in their native environment and offered at their seasonal peak. We seek out farmers, producers and other artisans who take special care with their chosen craft, and can offer us exceptional products just recently harvested. We then work to highlight the special character of these ingredients, choosing preparations and pairings meant to accentuate their unparalleled flavor.
In addition to being delicious, North Pond is also incredibly adorable. The space is a beautiful Arts and Crafts building that provides a tasteful nod to the Chicago area's Frank Lloyd Wright history. And its Lincoln Park location is to die for - check out the views:
North Pond was the second place that I called after Andy and I were engaged. I used to live two blocks from NP and would often sit in the park reading and thinking about how pretty a wedding would be there. A pond-side ceremony** overlooking the skyline would be so romantic.

The venue IS available for weddings and special events, but as with most restaurants, you must meet their minimum food and beverage requirements. And I believe it only holds 100ish people - which was too small for us. I'm still dying to see a wedding there. It is truly a venue upon which to build your entire event - stationery, dresses, floral...I think that an inspiration board is in order in the next day or so.

All North Pond photos from

I recently had a conversation with a friend and fellow blogger who commented that Chicago was pretty weak in terms of weddings. She feels that all local weddings were either Catholic masses followed by Michigan Avenue Hotel Receptions or Catholic masses followed by Loft Receptions. I can't argue the Catholic mass thing, as being a local raised on the South Side, I knew exactly three non-Catholic people until I went to college (and all three of them went to the Catholic schools I attended). But I know that we've got more than the 'Mile and a few lofts! Does anyone have a cool place that they'd like to share? A DC bride getting married here in September will be getting married at Enoteca Roma, a restaurant/wine bar in Wicker Park with a kick-ass outdoor patio. A wedding at a neighborhood wine bar? Sign me up for that!

**The North Pond is also a stone's throw from quite a few local churches: