Friday, February 22, 2013

Design project: Ashley's wedding invitations

Oh happy day! One of my very best friends in the whole world is getting married and I was honored to design her wedding invitations. As you can see from the photos of us above, we have been there to cheer each other on through a LOT of adventures (and a lot of hairstyles! oh wait, maybe that's just me). But I am thinking this will be the greatest adventure yet that I get to be there to support Ashley and "cheer her on" during.

I think the best description of Ashley comes from Nick, her fiance, who said she is the "perfect blend of a little bit dorky with a whole lotta class." Oh man, couldn't have said it better myself! So naturally, Ashley and I would create an invitation design that would put these words on paper. Ok, well, we used a lot less of the "dork" and more of the "class." But we did at least let the RSVP postcards have a little bit of playfulness to them.

Below are the final designs that we created and I couldn't have been more pleased. This is definitely one of my favorite designs to date!

(ps....dates & names have been changed to protect the innocent)

And now, here's to Nick and Ashley as they get ready to dance their way through the rest of the journey that God has planned for them!

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Music Monday: Shovels & Rope, Luella & the Sun, Telegraph Canyon, The Great Book of John and Green Seed

It's no secret that I love music. I mean, I have a lyric from a Lumineers song tattooed on my wrist. And while I usually find time to get to live shows, that typically happens a couple times a month at best. But somehow in a span of 7 days, I managed to go to 4 shows and see 7 different bands at those shows. So I thought I'd share a bit about the bands that I've been privileged to see perform lately.

Love disguised as music. Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent of Shovels and Rope.

First up is a little band called Shovels and Rope. Yeah, you might have heard of them by now. They've been on David Letterman and will soon be lighting up a ton of music festivals this summer including Coachella, Hangout Fest, Wakarusa, Sasquatch and the Newport Folk Festival. I feel incredibly blessed to have been one of the lucky ones to catch their act from the floor at the Workplay theater to a sold out crowd on Saturday Feb. 9th. It's hard to really put into words what you experience at a Shovels and Rope show. You're basically witnessing the love and respect that two people have for each other on a stage, set to some pretty incredible music. It's just absolutely electric. Not to mention it's a ton of fun watching two people in love trade off back and forth from the guitar to the drum set and then never knowing what instrument Michael Trent is going to pull out and rock next. I'm telling you now, if Cary Ann and Michael come to a town or music fest near you: GO!

They also had an opener Andrew Combs who sounded pretty amazing. I really enjoyed his honky tonk sound, which was heavily influenced by the slide guitar his bandmate played. You can listen to his Daytrotter session here.

Luella and the Sun performing at Good People.

The next night, Birmingham Mountain Radio was hosting a free show at Good People featuring a band called Luella and the Sun. I had only heard their single "Fly So Free" but it was such a neat and unique sound, that I was intrigued. Plus, a free show? Count me in. The weather that night was pretty nasty, but I was pleased to see that a pretty large crowd how still came out to see the band, who ended up being fantastic. I will say that the sound in Good People needs a little work if they want to have bands play there from time to time. It's just way too echo-y in there. But still, I was impressed and I will definitely be checking out Luella and the Sun the next time they are in town. And by the way, they are also playing Hangout Fest, so if you're going to that, be sure you catch their set.

Telegraph Canyon performing at The Bottletree.

Then a couple of days later on Tuesday night, I managed to drag myself out for yet another late night to see my friend Bekah perform with her band Great Book of John. Unfortunately my phone died during the show so the only photo I managed to take was of the first opening band, Telegraph Canyon, a band out of Texas who I was pleasantly surprised by. My first impression of the band was that they sound a bit like a hyrbid of Seryn and the Lumineers. Not a bad mix, huh? For their last number they came off the stage and down to the floor to perform unplugged. Love it when bands do that. Especially when they manage to pull that stunt off well, and Telegraph Canyon certainly did.

I hate that I didn't get a pic of Great Book of John, but if you're a local, you know that GBOJ are Birmingham veterans who always put on a good show. I think their next album is set to be released sometime around April and then they should be on the road a good bit after that. So if you're not a local and they come to a town near you, get out there and see them.

(and btw, even with an iphone, it's clearly impossible to take a bad photo inside the Bottletree.)

The Green Seed performing at Metro.

Feeling a bit like a groupie, I went to see GBOJ again at Metro bar this past Friday night. I have to admit that though I did want to see them, I really wanted to see a hip hop act called The Green Seed. This was mostly because I have still never been able to catch one of their performances, even though they are also local and on the Communicating Vessels label with GBOJ. I can't say that I know much about hip hop, but I do know that I had a great time watching these guys perform. They are high energy and excellent at their craft, plus they have two very talented DJs spinning behind them. It was certainly a different kind of Birmingham night than I am used to experiencing and I look forward to catching them at other future shows.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

i heart rock n' roll

I think it's safe to say that most everything in my closet (and the outfits that I put together from those items) are not exactly "rock n roll." Yes, I go to a lot of shows, but I would not consider anything I listen to to be "rock" and the attire I wear to such shows definitely reflects that.

You've all seen my wardrobe. It's sweet dresses and boots for days. But I bought these red pants at Necessary Clothing on a recent trip to NYC last fall because a) I needed some color in my life and b) colored pants/jeans were everywhere saying "buy me! look cool! buy me!" and c) because they were/are perfect for football season (Roll Tide!). Forgot to mention they are also super cute, affordable and comfy!

Anyhow, once I got the pants home, I realized I didn't know what the heck I was going to pair them with. Most all of my tops seemed like obvious and boring choices.

Then I got a little rock inspiration. I mean, what is fashion if not sometimes pretending to be something you're not? So here I am trying my hardest to look cool and like I could actually be a rocker. And yes, I am admitting to trying to look like a rockstar which I am pretty sure defies one of the first rules of being a rocker: Never admit you are trying to look cool. It's ok, there wasn't much hope for me anyway.

Here's the cheapskate outfit breakdown:

1. Pleather jacket, Know Style ($39.99)
2. Cut off tee shirt, giveaway (free)
3. Red jeggings, Necessary Clothing ($24.99)
4. Grey bag, Designer Details in L.A. ($40.00)
5. Grey suede booties, Target ($24.99)
6. Sunglasses, Urban Outfitters ($10.00)
7. Infinity ring, Brooklyn Flea ($5.00)
8. Cocktail ring, gifted

Total: Under $150.00

Monday, February 11, 2013

Design project: Lyrics as art

I mentioned recently my homemade gifts for friends this year where I took lyrics from a Head and the Heart song to make a sign for home decor. As I said in that post, I also made another design project piece of art. Mostly because I wanted my friends to know the entire song and why it makes me think of them and all of the lyrics just couldn't fit on a sign. So I made a cute lil postcard with the lyrics in the shape of the state of Alabama, which is where we all met and started our beautiful friendships together. Then I attached the post ard to the back of the sign so they could have it framed or post it on their fridge if they wanted. 

Once I had made this, it occurred to me I should use this same idea for other instances as well. Luckily I had the opportunity to host two amazing musicians in my home a few weeks ago for a house show. If you haven't heard of Carolina Story yet, I suggest you listen to them now. Yes now. Go here and press play and then come back to my blog. 

Where were we? Oh yes, Emily and Ben of Carolina Story were coming to play a show in my house and I really wanted to do something special for them. So I took the state of North Carolina (where they fell in love) and filled it with lyrics of one my favorite songs of theirs "53 days." It just seemed to fit.  I loved it, they loved it; it was a hit. 

Obviously this is fast becoming one of my "things" I do. So get ready to see many more state outline, lyric-filled graphic design projects in the future. I'll go ahead and apologize for the redundancy now.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Leopard print done right: Minimalistically

Here's another throw back fashion photoshoot. Laura and I took these photos back in the fall of last year, hence why I am able to bare my legs in these photos as it was warmer then than it is now.

I've honestly never been a huge fan of leopard print. I think it's done wrong entirely too often, which means you usually end up looking cheap. And since I'm already thrifty in what I spend on my clothes, I run that risk enough! I certainly don't need a double whammy :)

Anyhow, I'm pretty sure I actually saw this exact shirt featured in a post by Kendi Everyday and I was instantly smitten with the style and the price. So naturally I style-stalked her and ran out to Old Navy to make the purchase. And it's been a handy little piece to have in my wardrobe. Stay tuned to future posts to see the other ways I like to style it!

Here's the cheapskate outfit breakdown:

1. Leopard print top, Old Navy ($19.50)
2. Peplum skirt, Lotus Boutique ($9.99)
3. Guess pumps, DSW ($29.99)
4. Black cami, GAP ($6.50)
5. Crossbody bag, thrifted ($5.99)
6. Sunglass, Forever 21 ($5.80)
7. Cocktail ring, gifted

Total: Under $100

Photos: Laura Menconi

ps. I'm wearing sexy leopard print on the steps of a church building...I'm wiiiilllllddd! (pun intended)

Friday, February 1, 2013

DIY: Handpainted sign

A few years ago, my friends and I decided to do homemade Christmas gifts for each other. It's funny because after that, one of my friends went on to turn the gifts she made into a lucrative business. Mostly I just really enjoyed being thrifty (of course) and also taking the time to be really thoughtful.

I decided that I wanted to do homemade gifts again this past Christmas for my friends. Not just because it was fun for me to be creative, but because I had already came up with a great idea, thanks to some lyrics from The Head and the Heart.

See, every time I hear their song "Rivers and Roads," I can't help but think of my framily and how we're all separated across the states, but we'll take rivers and roads to be together from time to time. So I decided I wanted to make a sign they could hang in their respective apartments or homes, so that every time they saw the sign, they would think of me and our group.

I am honestly not super crafty in the DIY projects area, so naturally I would have to enlist the help of dear ole mom and dad. I have the ideas, but I just can't fully execute own my own! So below is a step-by-step tutorial of how to make your own handpainted sign. I didn't do a great job of documenting each step with photos, so I'll just have to do a better job of explaining them.

Step One: Clean and assemble

We were able to purchase planks from a friend of my mom's. I think these came from an old barn. I had my dad cut the planks into several pieces that were a little more than a foot long. Once these were cut, I took a wire brush and cleaned each piece, then used the air compressor to blow off the saw dust, dirt, etc.

My dad nailed two of the wood pieces together and then nailed a square piece of plywood to the back of them. This was done to reinforce the wood and also to help flatten the back out. He also drilled a hole in the top on the back so that if my friends wanted to hang the sign, they could simply use that hole to place in a nail on the wall (funny story here, wait for it...).

Step Two: Pencil words onto board

Now that your signs are assembled, it's time to put the words on them. I chose to pencil mine out first so I would have the option to erase any mistakes and just trace over the words with paint afterward. If you're sure of your handwriting and painting abilities, I think it's ok if you decide to skip this step.

Note: Make sure that if you drill a hole in back for ease of hanging the sign, then be sure that you flip the sign over first so that you write the words right side up. Yeah, that's that funny story I was telling you about. I think only one of my signs ended up being written right side up. oops!

Step Three: Paint the words

Now it's time to trace over the pencil with your paint. I really wanted to go for a natural look since my friends all have different styles in the way they decorate. I thought by leaving the wood its natural color and using just a creamy white, then it should look good in pretty much any home or outdoor area. If you have a certain color scheme you are going for, you can definitely paint your wood before you pencil and paint the words onto your sign. 

As you can see, I used just a regular acrylic paint and a small paint brush that would allow me to write easily. It was very easy to see my pencil marks and just paint over them. And even though I don't have the best handwriting, at least everything was spaced out pretty much evenly!

Step Four: Enjoy your finished product

Once you've painted all the words, all you have to do is let the signs dry and you are done! Again, I wanted a natural finished look, so I did not use a coat of sealant or paint over the words. But I think it's worth experimenting with several types, colors, etc of paint and see what type of look you like best or need for certain occasions. That's if you have the time, of course. 

With the help of my parents, I made seven signs in probably about 3 to 4 hours—from start to finish. So this is definitely a doable project to finish in just one day for wedding signs or for children rooms or something for your own home. All you need is some wood, a saw, a brush, a pencil and some paint. Easy peasy, right?!

ps. I only painted the ending lines of the song on the sign, but you'll get to see the other design part of their gift where I used all of the lyrics to create another piece of art. that's for a future post!

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