Tag Archives: crafts

Hope and Healing

I had big plans for this weekend, involving festivities and relaxing, and then getting back to blogging on Monday with a clear mind and a lot of thoughtful things to say.

One thing that’s funny about blogging is how much personal stuff I do share, how much I can say about the bumpy parts of my relationship with my wife and finding balances with my family, how much detail I am willing to go into about dealing with depression and therapy and medications and even sex.  Well, the funny thing is when and how I am able to share all that: after the fact is fine, after I can parse it out and look back on it and it’s already a story.

I know I wrote a post called “the short version” last week, but this version is that I am feeling a lot and I don’t know how to say any of it. I spent a lot of last weekend visiting my dad in the hospital.  Don’t worry, folks! He made his escape, we returned his dog, and all seems to be returning to normal (though he declined our offer – nay, our plea – for him to take Daphne home with him tonight).  But this weekend my grandfather went to the doctor and was in quadruple bypass surgery within 24 hours of that visit. Will you, internet people, please send my family healing thoughts?  I would really appreciate it.

Seeing my grandfather and wife interact this summer was one of the best things of the whole summer.

Anyway… here’s what else happened this weekend: on Sunday we picked out our Christmas tree and it is naked in the corner of our living room except for the one ornament that we found and couldn’t not buy.

Really. How could we leave that at the store? We couldn’t.  It needed us almost as much as we needed it.

Our other purchase was the stocking to complete our little family.  Piper has always had a stocking and Daphne got hers last year.  Look, folks, I know the pets don’t care, but I felt guilty not having one for Jake, so I bought this:

What’s that you say?  It looks a little like Jake but has too many eyes?

Ahem. Problem solved with a pair of scissors and some sheer brute force (yes, they sewed AND glued those eyes on!).  Also, my sewing skills require some work, but I think it’s pretty clear that the fish says “Jake” (and hopefully is not read as “Jaxe”, which I was worried about).

Are you starting any holiday decorating or festivities?  Weekend highlights?  Please share!



Filed under Home, Relationships

Sponsored Post: Being a Family is Awesome

You all have probably noticed a flurry of Shutterfly cards being, ahem, advertised on some of your favorite blogs.  Yeah, they’re doing a pretty tempting thing where, if we talk about their awesome cards, they give us some for free.  Full disclosure: I am happy to write about things I like if I get something out of it.  Key phrase: things I like.

You may have heard that I got married a couple of months ago to a pretty great woman.  So far, marriage is awesome.  One thing that we agreed on pretty quickly – once we figured it out – was that we were going to have the same last name.  Funny thing is, it took me a month and a half to introduce myself with my new, full name.  Often someone will ask me the last name and I’ll give them the new one, no big deal; but only last week did I introduce myself by my entire new name.  I got all fluttery, and it hit me again: this is us.  This is our family.  We are The Bird-McTurtlesons.

And that brings me to the post of today: holiday cards.  Even before I found out about this sponsored post thing, I was really excited to send out holiday cards from The Bird-McTurtleson Family.  This is adulthood, people!

So here are some of the cards I am considering (click on any of them to take you to the Shutterfly site):

"Joy Love Story" - click on image to make your own!


"We Heart You" - click on image to make your own!


"Snowflake Reflections" - click on image to make your own!


"Framed with Love" - click on image to make your own!

Who comes up with these titles?  No idea.

I signed the card with all of our beasts’ names (including Truman… hmm… don’t read into this, we have made no official decisions yet), so then I felt like I had to include pictures of at least some of them.  Piper often looks annoyed in pictures, especially if she has to share the spotlight with us, so that is why she is not featured here.

If we didn’t have so many pictures, or if I were better at decision making, we could probably narrow it down a little better.  But we do, and I’m not, so here are lots of options.  I narrowed it down using some strict self-imposed rules: no folding cards (I don’t have a lot of prolific things to say on a holiday card beyond, “We spent the year planning our wedding, and now I’m bored so I blog a lot.”); no “Merry Christmas,” as I plan to send these to lots of Jews (“Happy Holidays” or “Warm wishes” is always preferable to me); and pictures must have some sort of line between them, otherwise my eyes are confused.

I really love a couple of the cards other people have posted about, too:  The Marshes have some really pretty cards in the works. Miss Cardigan posted some really cute one-photo options, too.

So here’s the deal: Bloggers get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly, check it out here. It was fun putting these all together, though in reality my wife has a huge say in this whole thing, so they may turn out looking totally different.  Which of these four do you prefer?  Which pictures are the best pictures?

Happy holidays way, way in advance!


Filed under Home, Marriage/Wedding/Engagement, Menagerie

We invite you… part 2

I didn’t want to overwhelm you with the beauty of our fabulous invitations, so I saved the actual invites for today… lucky you.

Okay, but really, there have been some really fabulous invitations on the internet, and ours were not those.  As I said before, we wanted to keep it simple.  That said, I do really love how they came out.  They were pretty, but still simple and got the message across.  I think the hardest part was figuring out exactly how to convey the message that everyone getting the invitation was invited because they were so important to us.  We didn’t do courtesy invites or friendly invites – everyone was very intentionally invited, and we wanted people to know that.  We went back and forth on this for awhile, considering almost every single word, and finally settled on:

Because your love, guidance, and friendship have been important to us in our individual lives, we would like you to join us in celebrating and affirming our life as a couple.  Please join us for our wedding…

The wording we used was inspired by this post on So You’re EnGayged. Since going through this whole Getting Married thing, I’m finding I have a much greater appreciation for details, like exactly what words are where on invitations.  Which invitations did we end up going with, you ask?  Well, here:


Even though we didn’t do fancy folders or a ton of cute inserts, we did have a couple of other things in the envelope with the invitations.  First, we had simple RSVP cards, which we blank on the back; we invited people to write a note or draw us a picture, and we got some really impressive artistic RSVPs back (pictures to come!).  Second, we had an information card, which listed the events of the weekend (Kimball Farm on Saturday afternoon, potluck at our house on Sunday), as well as some fun places to visit in the area.


our invitation "suite"

We then spent a solid weekend (or two) addressing envelopes, numbering RSVP cards, tracking down people’s addresses (guys! do this way before you need to do it, because it’s hard work doing it all while you’re trying to mail stuff out.).  The process was made more tolerable by doing it up at camp, and by drinking lots of wine. Wine helps everything wedding-related, I found.

Turtle, annoyed that we didn't do this earlier and that I'm taking pictures instead of being helpful.


me, hard at work writing return addresses

so pretty when you open the envelope!

exciting envelope innards!

We weren’t into fancy calligraphy, especially since I never noticed or cared about the writing on the envelope until WeddingBlogland told me I should.  I happily told WeddingBlogland to be quiet, and just tried to keep my handwriting neat.  Of course, if you’re into calligraphy, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that! It just really wasn’t a priority for us.

almost done!

Aaaand done! We really did love our invitations, but we were glad to see them go, and to be done with that whole part of the process.

Did you end up happy with the invitations you settled on?  What would you have done differently?  What do you notice the most when you receive an invitation?


Filed under Marriage/Wedding/Engagement

We invite you…

We interrupt your regularly scheduled recap posts to bring you – ready for it? – our invitations. Okay, so these were a long time coming, and I’m sorry we didn’t share them sooner, but here goes. I had seen a lot of other people’s prospective invitations, and it helped us to hone in on what we did and didn’t like in invitations. To start, we knew we liked an outdoor theme: birds, trees, leaves. We knew that fancy folder invitations were really pretty, but that we didn’t have the finances or the patience to do something fancy. We knew that we would keep our invitation, and maybe immediate family and best friends would, too, but we also knew a lot of people would throw it away, and so we only wanted to put enough effort into it that we loved it and were okay with other people not realizing how Absolutely Amazing our invitations were.

Turtle's face to express how awesome our invitations were

A friend of mine from roller derby does graphic design stuff, and she offered to design and print our invitations essentially for cost. The whole process involved a lot of running around for us, which worked because Turtle was unemployed at the time; if you are employed and a busy person, this might not be the way to go for you. The three places we got quite intimate with were: Lisa’s house, Kinko’s, and PaperSource. I didn’t keep the best track of how much we spent on the invites, but I think it was around $2/invite, which apparently is awesome. Yay us!

Anyway, we sent Lisa our basic thoughts, and she sent us back some mockups.  She pretty much nailed it right away, with a few minor changes.  Here are some of the first images she sent:

We liked the simplicity of the designs, and we loved the way Lisa played with the colors and borders.  But something wasn’t quite right – we couldn’t agree one which tree we liked, and none seemed quite… “us”.  And then! Then it occurred to us that we already had a tree that we loved!

Remember our stamp?  The one that we used for our Save the Dates and for our favors?  Well, here it is again, in action:

What did we end up picking? Answers coming in Part 2…


Filed under Marriage/Wedding/Engagement

Do me a favor…

…and help me find something to do with myself?

When we were in the midst of wedding planning, I would occasionally turn to Turtle and say, “I think I’m going to have post-wedding depression. What will I do with all of this energy post-wedding?”

Don’t worry, the down time will be short lived: derby tryouts start at the beginning of next month, if I decide to do them.  And there are about a million volunteer opportunities I should be taking advantage of… but none of it involves so much love, so many crafts, so many things to show to internet strangers! And, at the same time – and I thought this might happen – I am just way less interested in weddings than I was a month ago.  I even unsubscribed from some wedding blogs that I used to love.  Yay less blogs to feel bad about not reading! Boo less blogs for when I’m bored and don’t know what to do with myself.

Anyway, here’s what I have been doing: “wifely duties.” I’ve been doing a whole lot of cleaning, and I’m trying to channel the creative energy into creating delicious food.  That said, I am not interested in food blogs.  If I want to look at it, I want to eat it; and if I can’t eat it NOW, I don’t really want to look at it.  That said, I’m typing this while standing next to the carmelized butternut squash that’s baking in the toaster oven.  NOM NOM NOM.

So, okay, whine whine whine.  Speaking of favors, where’re the pictures? Where’s the good stuff?  Fine. Here are our favors, part 3. Or maybe 4. Sorry, I have no idea.

first, we started with our awesome wedding stamp. We had to stamp carefully so that the tree didn't get on the tags, and only the words were actually inked.

this project also features a pretty "thank you" stamp from PaperSource

we took the leftover strips of paper from getting our invitations cut to size, and stamped as many times as we could on each strip

This is a good time for me to mention that when I say “we” here, I really mean, “Here’s what I did, while my fiancee took pictures and said nice things like, Those are pretty.”

stack of thank yous

me, hard at work. Faithful photographer/fiancee not pictured. Notice quilt materials in the foreground.

Turtle gives the project a thumbs up, while multitasking and testing out the ribbon to tie it on... she's kind of amazing.

well, instead of tying a ribbon, we wrapped the jars in quilt square fabric; here are our pretty basil favors, all dressed up!

labels for the favors; I think I saw this somewhere on weddingbee a year or two ago, but couldn't find it anywhere when I went to post about it a few months ago... sorry to the person who inspired me for not being able to give you some credit!

our favors, all dressed up and ready to go! photo by E. Leonardsmith

So there you have it.  More details coming eventually… but I said that already, right?

I should also say about these favors that they were incredibly labor intensive, but they were also one of my favorite projects.  Each one really was just infused with the love and appreciation we had for all the people who were coming to our wedding.  We wanted to actively appreciate the people who were there, and we wanted to say thank you in a way that clearly had some thought and effort put into it; we also wanted people to be able to pick something they liked.  Not everyone likes tea (I know, I could hardly believe it either), but everyone likes at least one of the things we offered.

Um, the best part was that we made too many favors, so we got to take some home, and now we have extra lavender early grey! Oh, you guys, married life is so hard.

Did you have labor intensive projects that were totally worth it?


Filed under Marriage/Wedding/Engagement

A few of my favor(ite) things, take 3


For example, we’re getting married in ten days. Maybe nine days by the time you read this. Don’t freak out because not everyone can freak out, and we have dibs.

Two glasses of wine into my evening, I decided that stamping individual letters onto the seating assignments was probably a little beyond my capacity… what can I say, I’m a small person and two glasses of wine is a a lot of wine for me.  You wouldn’t believe how much spell-check helped this post happen. Anyway.  Rather than make seating assignments, I decided to work on our favors, and that brings me to our last Favor(ite) Things post: the candles.

The candles were the original idea, and, I think, are awesome.  That said, they were the biggest time-suck of all of the favors. The most money and the most effort for the least results.  But, whoa, they smell good, and they’re nice, and who doesn’t like a nice beeswax candle? No one, kids, no one.

So here’s how you do it:

supplies: wax, wicks, weights, and a jar

cut the wax. this is SO HARD. that's why we only have 8 candles. yes, 8, for all this work.

you can stab it and nothing happens! don't say I didn't warn you.

some people have double boilers. i have a measuring cup in a pot of boiling water. it works.

once it melts, you have a clear liquid.

prepare the wick - cut to the appropriate size and attach weight

attach top of wick to something that will hold it up when you pour in the wax... you can trim excess wick later

action shot! pour hot wax into jar.

setups for multiples

pretty candles setting!

my amazing photography celebrates our success (which smells lovely!)

why, where did this beautiful candle come from? someone awesome must have made it.

But also, forget favors.  Here is what is happening ten days before the wedding:

We are freaking out.  We are forgetting to take our regular medications, and we are fighting a lot. Seriously: a lot.  A friend of mine who got married last year said, “Wait till the week before your wedding. The week before our wedding, there was just so much love and support. The week before our wedding was amazing. So much love.”

cute pictures of us interspersed in here to remind me of the important part: how happy we make each other.

Okay: I know there will be love.  There already is love.  I am blown away by the people who have stepped up, by the offers to help with things wedding-related, like various parties and craft projects, and the things sanity-related, like painting our study.  Yes, one of our bridal brigade spent Sunday with us painting our study so that I could have a good place to study Orgo and a nice guest room during our wedding craziness.  Thank you, Laurie!

Well, I don’t know about a week before our wedding; we still have a few days to go.  But I can tell you that ten days before our wedding, we are arguing, a lot.  Stress levels are high.  Will the favors get done? Where will we seat people? Did my suit get lost in the mail (answer: possibly. It’s in Colorado somewhere.)?  How will people get to the wedding? Will the car be fixed by then (answer: probably not. The Awesome continues.)?

More hapy pictures! photo by Ellie Leonardsmith

Okay, I know I’ve said this a million times before, but here’s the thing: there is no one else I would rather be arguing with.  Plus, my therapist says this is normal pre-wedding behavior.  Turtle says that she’s sorry, but she thinks she’s probably testing me to make sure I’ll stick around.  And I’m for sure stressed out about classes and missing them – and hopefully that was resolved by my officially dropping both of them today, though my guilt about putting off vet school for another year adds another level of stress.  Someone, please tell me it is crazy of me to start Organic Chemistry a week and a half before getting married? Yes?

So what is the takeaway here? The takeaway is that getting married is crazy sh*t, you guys.  It is nutty, and it is hard to prepare for this big party that has all of your most important people.  Even if it’s simple, of course it’s crazy, right?

A friend of mine got married recently, and it sounded like her wedding turned into a much bigger event than she originally planned, and a lot of people that she didn’t really, truly want there all said they would be there.  So she and her fiance and their two best friends went to the ocean at midnight and said their vows and they were married there at midnight on the day of their wedding.  I think that is amazing.

silly, because that's how we roll. photo by Ellie Leonardsmith

But, same thing I’ve always said, our people are important to us. The community that has supported us is important to us.  Turtle’s mom is coming this weekend and I am SO relieved by that.

Oh, you guys, I feel like I’m losing it a little.  Seriously, what are your happy ideas/sanity-savers/survival mechanisms?  Some happy, calm thoughts would be helpful. Thank you, fo’ reals. You guys are amazing.


Filed under Marriage/Wedding/Engagement

A few of my favor(ite) things, take 2

With less than 2 weeks to go until our wedding, we’re a little bit crazed.  Funny story, I also started Organic Chem classes on Thursday, which now take up four days a week in reviews, class, and lab.  Yay, let’s get busy!

So we’re scrapping a lot of details.  Pie-topper, what? Really, who cares – right now the ceremony is far more important, and absolutely one of the things we should figure out, like, yesterday.  In the midst of all this craziness, I will bring you some of what has already happened; recaps of this whole planning process, full of pictures and light on the deep thoughts from yours truly. Enjoy!

So I talked recently about one of our three favor options, and here is our second: tea.  I’ve talked a little bit about tea as a favor before, but we hadn’t figured out quite what to do with it.  We’d considered some sort of blend, but weren’t sure what kind… and then we went camping in New York and came across The Tea Shop of Woodstock. Swoon.

click for source

They had THE most amazing tea selection, along with everything else you might want, including amazing tea timers.  You never knew you needed one, but you desperately do, trust me. In fact, I need one. You can buy me one if you’d like.

genius. (click for source)

Anyway, they also had samples, and we settled pretty quickly on Lavender Earl Grey. Who knew such a thing existed and was so delicious?!  On top of that, much of our initial bonding/dating involved selling lavender products for work, and lavender will forever remind me of being mildly nauseated by the excessive smell that surrounded us in our first few days of being together. In milder versions, it is just wonderful.

So we bought a whole lot of lavender Earl Grey, and here’s what we did with it:

supplies: loose tea, tea bags, jars, measuring spoon

lavender tea = so pretty!

tea and unbleached tea "satchels"

Turtle, measuring tea into satchels; in front of her are filled satchels

five satchels bunched together

stuff them into little mason jars...


and wait till you see how pretty these little guys turn out in the end...

Next up: the third favor, and how we prettified everything!

Did you put a lot of manual labor into your favors? I think we were drunk on the smell of lavender for the rest of the day.  Which favor would you pick?


Filed under Marriage/Wedding/Engagement