cupcake dreams

May 9, 2010

I love fresh baked goods. And I’m not sure why, but lately I’ve been obsessed with cupcakes…especially ones with fantastic piping and huge amounts of smooth icing. I think I got started on it when Marianne Bonifacio began posting pictures of her recent cupcake-making endeavors.

I love spending time in bakeries. The hard work of a baker, I’m sure, is never fully understood by those outside of the trade–extreme early morning hours ensure fresh baked goods to costumers all day long, and the work is never quite done. When I spent the summer in Savannah, Georgia a couple years ago, my best friend was working at Harris Baking Company on E Liberty St. She worked out front, but described the grueling work of the bakers in the back. They are certainly to be admired. How can we not be thankful for those who provide us with fresh, delicious baked goods? And how can we so often forgo it for convenience and imitation stuff that’s chock-full of preservatives?

Speaking of Savannah, there is another fantastic bakery there called Back in the Day Bakery, where this sweet cupcake came from.

Maybe when Luke and I relocate to Charlotte in September I’ll pick up a special treat once in awhile from Polka Dot Bake Shop. They look amazing!


a place to get married

February 25, 2010

Here is a sneak preview of the location at which we will be married! We love how rustic and charming this South Carolina State Park is, and as soon as we saw the wooden amphitheater there, we knew it was perfect for us. Named for the seventh US President, the park also gives us ample opportunity to make wisecracks, many to the effect of “not just manifest destiny…MARITAL destiny!” Har har. Yeah, expect to NOT see the name “Andrew Jackson” appearing anywhere on our wedding invitation, as I’ve taken it upon myself to re-name the amphitheater to something a bit more romantic. I think “The Amphitheater in the Woods” sounds far better…

This beautiful old amphitheater and nearby pavilion suit Luke and I perfectly and provide the exact setting we want for our wedding: relaxed, simple and out in nature. It’s going to be a wonderful evening full of marital bliss, food, drinks and music. Not to mention horseshoes, cornhole, and…well, we’re still working on ping-pong.

It’s going to be the best day of our lives to date, and we want you there to share it with us. We can’t wait!

196 Andrew Jackson Park Road, Lancaster, SC
(803) 285-3344

an engagement story

February 4, 2010

It all began at a little Italian restaurant when David Sanford tried to show me a picture of six T-bone steaks and, instead, revealed a picture of a diamond ring.

Yes, it was an accident, but little did he know that picture would haunt me for weeks–months, even! You should have seen the look on Luke’s face when it dawned on him that the image on his dad’s phone (which, unbeknownced to him, was set to slideshow) was slowly fading from a pile of grilled meat to a sparkling ring. Eyes widened, jaws dropped, the phone was jerked back across the table, cheeks turned red. David, Lola, Luke and I realized almost simultaneously what had just happened. I was laughing maniacally. Could that have been… the Ring?

As it turned out, the image I saw was not the ring Luke placed on my finger on January 2, 2010. A far more special surprise was in store for me. What remained from that night, though, was the reality that a scheme was in play. For those of you who know Luke, you know that as responsible as he is, he tends to be a bit… shall we say… scattered. Thus it felt funny to know he was making these plans behind my back!

In December ’09, When Luke picked me up at the airport for my annual Sanford Christmas visit, I noticed his nails were stained brown. His fingernails being generally clean, I wondered aloud: “What’s that stuff under your nails?”  “I was just doing things around the house.” Though my wheels started turning, I took his reply as a cue to not ask any more questions. The week went on, and, though eventful, yielded no proposal of marriage from the man I have long known I will one day marry. Then came the phone call.

Luke was hanging up the phone with his granddad when I walked into the kitchen. It was the day before we were scheduled to drive back up North. Wondering why he was on the phone with his granddad, I slyly asked Luke when we were planning on leaving the next morning, thinking “if  he says something about stopping at the cabin, I’ll die.”  Now, when I talk about the cabin, I am referring to a slice of heaven that Luke’s grandparents, Cliff and Anne, dreamt up and built with help from the whole Sanford clan. It rests tucked away in the Blue Ridge mountains in Virginia looking out at breathtaking views stretching all the way into North Carolina–the perfect place to get engaged (I know I’m bad, but as I said–my wheels are always turning)! Luke replied “I was thinking we could head out around 11….” Pause, silence. Then: “I thought it would be kind of cool to stop up at the cabin.”

Thus my dreams that night were of the events at the cabin the next day. I didn’t know what would happen, but I had an inkling.

I never would have known Luke planned to propose that day, he was so very poised and confident. We drove the hour and a half from Charlotte to exit 1 just across the NC/VA border, chatting, singing, and obviously stopping at Chick-Fil-A to share an Arnold Palmer. We maneuvered the steep, windy road up the mountain until the car could go no further. We hiked the rest of the way in the bitter cold. It was a freezing, beautiful, sunny day on the mountain and once we got in the cabin we took a minute to warm up before Luke asked me to join him on the back porch, which looks out over all of this:

Then he gave me a wooden box he had made (hence the stain under his fingernails)…

In it was a letter & a ring box. Luke smiled as he took the ring box in his hand and got down on one knee in front of the bench we sat on. He told me he loved me, that I am his best friend, that he wants to spend his life with me… and that I was about to be very surprised. When he opened the ring box, I saw his mother’s beautiful ring that I have always admired on her hand. So unique, so intricate is this ring–I have grown to love it more and more every day. But as he said, I WAS very surprised–so surprised that I didn’t even respond “yes!” Instead I could only blurt “it’s your mom’s ring!” over and over while poor Luke waited on his knee for my response. Looking up and seeing through my tears that he was waiting in anticipation, I said yes. He sat next to me again and gave me the letter from the box. Lola had written it to me–to express her joy that I would be entering the family, to share her desire for me to wear the ring, to ask me to accept it “as a symbol of not only Luke’s love, but mine and David’s as well.” It was beautiful and meaningful–and the ring is an antique! Lola received it from her husband’s mother, who received it from her husband’s aunt. We have since discovered that the diamond is from the late 1800s/early 1900s. Amazing!

We are so happy and can’t wait to gather with our family and friends to celebrate the love we have found in each other. Updates will ensue with wedding ideas, the website launch, etc. And hopefully from now on I will keep up with my blog! I have lots of work to do and a beautiful new Macbook Pro to work on. Life is good.

A Thoughtful Regift

November 24, 2009

As I’ve been handmaking all the paper for my recent projects, I’ve come to a few realizations. Let me begin by saying I am completely biased and think handmade is by far more beautiful and meaningful than something manufactured, and I desperately want to believe that everyone feels the same. When I give a card made from paper I myself made…well, let me put it this way. Last night a girl in my letterpress class re-gifted me a bundle of Nepali handmade paper cards, envelopes, and stock. I couldn’t believe the intricate beauty of the papers…


And I loved the inscription on the back of the cards:

What a lovely way to see things. After I read this I decided to include inserts in my handmade cards from now on in order to encourage those who receive them to use them again. I have to say, in America we have the negatively connotated idea of the “re-gift”… but I LOVE re-gifts! Honestly, the other week, Luke’s brother Mitch sent me a Starbucks gift card as a thank-you for putting him up for the night. When I called to thank him, he owned up to the fact that it was a re-gift. I thought that was fantastic. There’s something I like about a person who realizes that you will like something more than they do and passes it along for your sake. Sure, there is also such a thing as cheap, thoughtless re-gifting… but thoughtful re-gifting is where it’s at. I also loved this great idea I read in Real Simple this month. The question was “How do you stay on a budget during the holidays?” and one reader answered:

“I host a snack-and-swap party for my girlfriends. Everyone brings over 8 to 10 things (clothing, books, household items, etc.) that she has never used, despite best intentions. We pour wine, eat cheese, display our goods, then “shop” for Christmas gifts in the comfort of my home. Inevitably we all find items that are perfect for our loved ones, without spending a dime.” – Amelia Winslow, CA

All that said, I’ve been a little discouraged lately about my handmade paper cards. Inevitably, it takes far more time and effort to handmake something as opposed to buying it–that’s a given. I guess in business, one has to begin to weigh the amount of time it takes to complete a project against the amount of money earned for that project. At this point, my ratios are hardly balanced–consider the 4 hours it took me to make a set of 10 stationery cards, start to finish, and the $15 I’ll get for it in return. I’m determined, however, to not let this get to me. Yes, sometimes time spent measuring, pouring, cooching, squeezing, and drying the paper gets long and tedious. To be honest, though, the process is relaxing. The studio is soothing. I turn on some music, head back to the place where everything comes together, and spend an hour making 30 sheets of paper–and things are alright. And when the end result looks something like this, I remember why I’m in love with handmade paper.


November 18, 2009

Miss Mary Adelaide. I have been waiting to show the finished product of my niece’s birth announcements, but I ran into a sort of road block… not owning a camera. The shots I’ve been posting are from my roommate Allison’s Canon, but who wants someone else’s mitts all over your expensive electronics? So I felt guilty (in addition to the subtle hint I got when she started keeping it on her person at all times) and started scoping the interwebs for a good deal. Enter Craigslist. Some people have trouble with this modern wonder, but I have had smooth sailing all the way through multiple transactions, and I’m very pleased with my newest purchase: a Canon PowerShot SD950 IS. It has literally been years since I’ve owned a nice camera, so I (almost) didn’t mind dropping the cash for this one. Plus, I got a great deal, if I do say so myself. I’m loving the camera and, after 5 years, enjoying having one that takes decent pictures. Maybe now I will actually start documenting this time period of my life. But enough of that… here are more pictures of the announcements:

For my very first large-ish edition letterpress project, I’m happy with them & quite excited to be able to give these to my brother and sister-in-law. Off they will go in the mail later today! I hope all who see them enjoy them, despite the fact the child is now 10 weeks old… live and learn, right? And how cute is she? I haven’t seen her since that day she was born, so I’m dying to get home for Thanksgiving to hold her and see that adorable smirk for myself.

Traditional Pomanders

November 15, 2009

When I think pomanders, images of tissue-paper-pierced foam balls come to mind. Personally, I think they’ve been a bit overdone in the wedding scene lately–yet I still love them. They have a great look–very whimsical–and, from what I understand, are a significant amount of work (this etsy shop, featured on the front page today, got me on this kick). I think when it comes time, I’d be willing to put the time in to create some of these, but when I did a google search to find out how, I was directed to the original idea behind pomanders.


Does this look familiar to anyone? Orange pomander balls are whole-clove-infused, great-smelling decorations I used to make when I was young. The smell of cloves always ushers in memories of stabbing oranges and inevitably leaving them unfinished (I don’t recall ever completing one–they, too, take so long to make!). I just think they are so cute and nostalgic. I can see them being used in any kind of fall and winter decor, and I love how earthy they are compared to the syrofoam & tissue pomanders we have become accustomed to.





This last idea is my favorite. So festive! Here’s a link to a tutorial for making traditional holiday pomanders.

white space ::

November 12, 2009

Lately I’ve been increasingly drawn to white in interior spaces. This past summer in Charlotte, NC, I stayed in the bright red guest room of a couple’s very colorful home (who was spending the season in Chicago). As summer waned, this couple decided to sell the house to begin a new life at Messiah College where the husband (new daddy, too) took a job as assistant soccer coach. What did this mean for my 3 fellow tenants and I? Paint crews made several trips and drastically changed the interior of several rooms, mine being one of them. One day I went to work and upon returning home that night, my red walls had been transformed (by who knows how many coats of paint) into a crisp white–and my endearment for the room actually grew exponentially. The bedspread was already white with a few shades of red in the throw pillows. A white bookshelf and white windowseat created the perfect canvas as I was able to accent with little bursts of color, like wooden crates and colored glassware. Light absolutely flooded the room. I never, ever would have guessed I’d like so much white in a room–but thus began my obsession.

When I moved into our house here in Rochester, the walls in my room were peptobismol pink–true story. On move-in day, I was the first to arrive. I pulled into the driveway, took out a strategically-packed box, left everything else sitting in my brother’s beat-up pickup truck and proceeded up to my room to paint. 4 coats and 5 hours later, I had three white walls and one wall waiting to be painted a soft green, which is the way my room looks now.


Look relaxing? It is. In fact, white spaces can be the most calming and relaxing of all. I know my draw to white rooms has to be a result of its spirited re-emergence into the world of interiors. Just look at some of these:




I love this last one especially–such intelligent usage of clean whites and calming earthtones. I plan on incorporating the use of whites paired with subtle undertones in many upcoming events & work… it honestly never hurts to simplify (graphic and interior) design, and what better way than to utilize clean whites?