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Ella’s Baptism Dress: The Sketch & The Dress

Well. Ella’s baptism dress is finished and I love it. Love it, love it, LOVE it! Seriously it was one of my favorite projects to ever work on and the result made me squeal with delight.

Here’s where the dress began … an idea in my head and the resulting sketch:

And here is the dress that came of it:

When Ella put it on, you’d have thought I’d dubbed her queen of the world. You could see it in her eyes that she was certain she was the most beautiful belle ever. And that made every stitch worth it.

I’ll be back later to post the pictures I took of her in her special dress.

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The Perfect Care Package [Finals Week Edition]

He had finals this week.

He’s on vacation next week.

But the week after that? He comes here.

To meet me.

After 4 1/2 months of emailing, texting, and phone calling.

You need to know that, because it pertains to the rest of this post. But from here on out we’re talking about “the perfect care package.” And nothing more. For reals.

Let’s begin. The Finals Week Survival Kit I mailed to the East coast last week (Yes. To him.):

Before we move forward however, let it be written that it is  ultimately Frit who taught me how to put together the perfect care package. She’s seriously the best. Whenever I go out of town, am left behind when she goes out of town, have something great happen to me, have something terrible happen to me, or am just out-of-the-blue lucky, you can bet there’s a gift basket of some sort to go with the occasion. Additionally, my own mother packs a mean gift box. I look forward to her Valentine’s Day care package all year. So basically what I’m saying is that I’ve learned from the best and you can put your trust in me and this here post.

Now. Putting together a perfect care package is really not difficult. It just takes a little time, a little care (hello? that’s the reason it’s called a care package), and a little thought.

Let’s get started …

1. FOOD

The basis of a good care package is always the same: food. Find out what their favorite treats and snacks are. I’ve been able to collect “data” for over four months now so I had a wealth of knowledge to draw from. Favorite road trip snack? Pretzels. Favorite candy? Skittles. Favorite cookie? Oatmeal. Check. Check. Check. As for the beef jerky … Frit always throws a package of that in too because she thinks it rounds out the food portion nicely. I concur. Who doesn’t love beef jerky? Especially boys. Now, if you’re unable to sleuth their favorite snacks, make sure you go with a good salty/sweet, fruity/chocolatey, healthy/sugary mix. A great place to start is in the bulk foods aisle at the grocery store where you can find fantastic trail mixes, atypical & seasonal candy, dried fruits and nuts.

2. EXTRAS

Once you’ve got your food covered, then you move on to the extras. The type of extras you choose will vary by person, personality, gender, and the type of care package you’re putting together, but ultimately, you just have to put yourself in their shoes. Think: what would you want if you were in their situation? In the case of this example, we’re talking about a finals week package for a guy who’s in a pretty intense doctoral program, is studying from early morning to way past midnight, is tired and feeling the stress that comes from such a crazy-hard program, and lives alone. So if I were him, I’d want, in addition to yummy snacks, outlets for letting go that require zero brain power when I did actually get to take a break. So. I found a hand-held Tetris game, a stress squeezer, a yo-yo, and a CD.

Other ideas Frit & I had, but didn’t use, were: $5 gift-certificates to places like Subway or Wendy’s so he wouldn’t have to worry about making lunch or dinner, a Nerf over-the-door-basketball hoop, a DVD from the sale bin at Wal-Mart (you can find some real gems in that bin!), a package of No. 2 pencils, my favorite pens, or even a box of index cards.

3. PACKAGING

Next, you’ve got to think about packaging. One option is to wrap every item in the package with tissue or wrapping paper. This is definitely a fun way to go and makes opening the package like Christmas morning. You could also add post-it notes with cute sayings or phrases to different pieces of the package. Color coordination is a must in my opinion as I think it ties everything together nicely and gives it a finished look.

I opted for tying lime green and aqua ribbons around each item and using aqua striped tissue paper for the box filler (not pictured). Cellophane bags tied with ribbon (like the one holding the pretzels in the photo above) are a cute, easy way to package bulk items and Tupperware (like the one holding the cookies in the picture above) is great for sending handmade goodies as zip-top bags leave food items susceptible to being smashed. Oh! And a side-note for sending cookies: use a few paper towels to cushion the cookies against breakage and put a piece of bread inside the Tupperware to keep them soft.

Lastly, if you’re not mailing your package, baskets are the way to go. You can find them cheap at the thrift store and they make the perfect container for giving your goods away. Line it with fabric or tissue paper! And when arranging your items, position large items first, near the back. Then fill in with the smaller ones.

4. A PERSONAL TOUCH

Lastly, make sure your package has a personal touch. Whether it be a card/note, something homemade, or an item that belongs to you, adding a bit of yourself goes a long way to making it special. For my package, I whipped up a batch of my delicious oatmeal cookies and designed/drew the CD face and sleeve for the finals week playlist I put together with him in mind.

I also included a handmade card with a handwritten note.

5. JUST MAIL IT ALREADY!

Despite how proud I was of my care package, in the end, I was nervous to mail it. What would he think? Would he hate my cookies? (That would crush me most of all!) Yes, the yo-yo is a silly idea, but is it stupid? Did I totally fail at putting together a playlist of music he’d like? Is it too much? Is it not enough? But ultimately, Frit reminded me, “What would you think if you got a package like this in the mail? You’d love it! Cuz who doesn’t love getting mail? Especially when you’re far away from family and friends and headed into a really crazy week. You’d just be so grateful someone thought of you.”

And she’s right. You might feel apprehensive about what you put together. You might worry some of the items are dumb. You might be self-conscious about the wrapping. You might worry that it’s not enough. But the bottom line is this: no matter what’s in it, the person receiving it will know you care. And that is all that matters.

And so I mailed it.

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Cell Phone Picture Gallery: The Senior Citizen Collection

I have a confession. Sometimes I take photos of strangers with my camera phone without them knowing. You know … for later review.

Exhibit A (if you actually click through to that link, then you also need to read this afterwards)

Exhibit B

But in going through all the photos on my camera yesterday (yeah I know I need to get a life), I saw a particularly high volume of pictures of old people.

Now granted, I live with someone who loves old people so much she even let herself get matched up with a 70-year-old on eHarmony, and every time I take a picture of an old person I send it to her, but it’s more than that. I love seeing old people in love. It reminds me that life-long happiness in marriage is possible and that life is sweet. And so I take pictures of it so that I can always remember that fact.

And so today, I’d like to share my collection of senior citizen photos with you. You’re gonna love it!

(I spotted these two at the gym. He had on a brown polyester track suit with a blue sweat band ’round his forehead and a fanny pack ’round his waist.
She had on a pink shirt with a white sweat band ’round her forehead and another set ’round her wrists.)

Now the next 3 photos aren’t senior citizens in love, but it’s still as endearing as can be.

One morning I was waiting for the train alongside this group of men. There were probably 10 of them, average age 75, about to embark on their first train ride downtown. I couldn’t help myself! I wanted to skip work and follow them all over the city!

In conclusion may I borrow a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “As we grow old…the beauty steals inward.” How true.

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Modeling the Bridesmaid Dresses

Remember these dresses?

Well. Here’s what they looked like on actual people:

Don’t you just love the red Vans? So darn cute!

The groomsmen wore aqua:

LOVE this bridal party!

Congrats Kate and Garrett! And thanks for asking me to sew such fun dresses!

Do you need something sewn, designed, or created? Email me. I’d love to help!

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Provo Wedding: Leah + Bryon

He got a little choked up when he began talking about how much he loved her. She stood quietly by his side, holding his hand, watching him intently, and smiling. Always smiling. If there’s one thing Leah and Bryon know how to do, it’s smile. And laugh. And play.

I’m certain that their forever, which began Friday night, will be full of happiness. Congratulations you two. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of your beautiful day.

Leah, you’re breathtaking.

They opted to see each other before the ceremony (love it!). It always gives me chills to watch a groom see his bride for the first time.

Some of my favorite photos are always the ones where the bride and groom are looking at each other and you can tell that, for them, there’s no one else around.

Leah. Seriously. You’re gorgeous!

I also made all the bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages for the day.

To see more photos from the wedding day, visit the album on Facebook and become a friend of Island Belle while you’re there!

Take a peek at Leah and Bryon’s engagement photos here.

To schedule your own family, wedding, engagement, or bridal photo session, please email me.

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Smells Like Summer: 5 Ways to Enjoy the Season

On Saturday, Frit and I went for a morning swim (cuz the triathlon is in like oh … 26 days [ack!]) and then to run errands. You know, just your standard sunny-Saturday errands: a quick good-will drop off, gathering of supplies needed for the lessons we were teaching at Church on Sunday, purchasing a new lawn trimmer AND edger as well as finding a cage to go over the outside dryer vent because the d$*% birds built a nest inside it last week (and let me tell you, the men at Lowe’s were in awe of us hauling all our “goods” around the store), picking up some potting soil, and acquiring a tanning pass so our legs don’t blind any of the other racers on triathlon day.

Anyhow. On the way home from our productive morning, we had the windows down and the radio cranked. We looked at each other and smiled as we rounded the corner to home and Frit said, “It smells like summer.” And oh boy howdy! Did it ever!

In honor of this sunny weather, I’d like to make a few suggestions on how to get the most out of this blessed season. They’re things I do to make the warm months stretch and the days seem even brighter than they already are.

1. Breath deep. Right now our back yard smells of fresh cut grass and tulips and in a few weeks the wisteria, poppies, and basil will linger on the air. Go put that sniffer to good use and take in the scents. There’s nothing like the smell of sunshine, blue skies, BBQs, & Coppertone. Trust me. Tip: closing your eyes helps.

2. Wear flip-flops if shoes are required. If not…go barefoot as much as possible…especially in the yard. Cool grass underfoot does a body good.

3. Keep a roll of quarters in your car. It’s lemonade stand season friends! I am certain the karma for supporting lemonade stands is 10 times bigger and better than any other good deed you could possibly do. Tip: Pay double what they’re charging. The look on their faces when you tell them to “keep the change” is priceless.

4. Get dirty. Whether it’s sand in your toes, dirt under your fingernails, or grass stains on your pants–just do it. Get dirty. It grounds you. It connects you to the Earth. And a little sweat never killed anyone. In fact, I think it’s good for the skin (that’s the gospel according to Krista).

5. Put your face in the sun. The heat burns away any bad you might be feeling (even if just for a little while) and warms the soul. Plus it’s a way better way to get your Vitamin D than popping a nasty, smelly tablet every morning.

Happy Summering!

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Seamstress for Hire: 5 Bridesmaid Dresses Complete

A couple months ago a darling bride (Kate) hired me to sew her five bridesmaids’ dresses. Well. The dresses are d.u.n. And I’m super pleased with how they turned out. The girls looked so darling in them and the colors just make me happy.

Kate: I hope your wedding weekend is sunny and beautiful and that your life with Garrett is full of joy and love.

Next project: Miss Ella’s Baptism Dress…which I’m super excited about since I’m not only sewing it, I’m designing it! Sketches to follow soon.

Do you need something sewn, designed, or created? Email me. I’d love to help!

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The Buddhist Flutist

A conversation I had with Frit a la 5 minutes ago…

Me: I have a lunch meeting today with that flutist that I’m doing some consulting for, so I might not make it to the baby shower.

Frit: What Buddhist?

Me: [laughing so hard I almost peed my pants] Did you say “Buddhist”?

Frit: Yeah.

Me: No, it’s the flutist.

Frit: Oh. Well. Rub her belly for good luck will ya?

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I’ve Got Moves You’ve Never Seen (and never will, if you’re lucky)

Once upon a time, I had a big fancy office with my name on the door. It was seriously humongous. I didn’t even have enough furniture to fill it. It was also during this time that I had interns (more than one) and an assistant working for me.

Well, the north wall of this big fancy office was made of windows–corner to corner, floor to ceiling. And this wall of windows looked out on South Temple Street in Salt Lake City. I had a view of the gardens on Temple Square and could see all the comings and goings of the LDS Church Administration Building. In fact, as a side note, my friend Jessica, who worked in the office next to me, and I played Apostle Bingo for months–we made game cards and everything–to see who could sight the most Apostles on Temple Square.

But anyway, like I said, I had a big, fancy office with a big, fancy wall of windows, and my name was on the door (once upon a time). You would think that some amount of decorum and dignity would come with such a work space. Let me assure you–it didn’t.

Case in point: Whenever something great happened, namely, placing a great story for one of my recording artists with the media, or creating a killer press kit wherein my writing skills wowed even me … we would dance. Nay. We would DANCE! I would crank the music on my speakers (this was a record label that I worked at after all), call the interns and Jessica (she was the booking agent) in, and we would celebrate with a good old-fashioned dance party.

In fact, one time we were dancing and a group of high school students on a field trip were walking on the sidewalk below. It was hilarious to see the ripple effect as one of them saw us, nudged his neighbor, and pointed up. Pretty soon the whole group was staring, which then gave way to cheering, and then … dancing with us. It was fantastic.

Well. It’s been a while since I had that big, fancy office (it was once upon a time, after all). Instead of business suits, I wear yoga pants. Oh alright! Most of the time I wear pajamas. Sheesh! It’s not that big’a deal. I don’t have a nice, shiny desk, but I do have a freakin’ cushy couch. I have no interns or assistants, it’s just me, myself, and I. (And the three of us have some pretty interesting conversations by the water cooler, if you must know. Oh alright. We don’t have a water cooler, but we DO have a fully stocked refrigerator.)

Anyhow my point is this (you were wondering when we’d get to that weren’t you?): While I’m not a great dancer (in my heart I am. In my heart I’m Debbie Allen. From Fame? Remember? Oh nevermind. Actually I always wanted to be CoCo or the girl who played the cello in the empty practice room. What was her name?). Wait. Where was I? Oh right. So even though I’m not a great dancer, and even though I’m by myself, I think it’s time to reinstate the practice of mid-day dance parties.

Why? Because I have a lot to celebrate. Even when I don’t think I do. And because I’m certain that if I have enough dance parties, I’ll eventually look like this:

Or this:

OK. Maybe not.

But at least I’m celebrating!

Maybe I’ll even open the blinds and if I’m lucky the neighbor kids will walk by and join in.

*In case you’re wondering, those are pictures I took of my baby sister Kaycie at her final hip hop showcase at BYU last week. She’s a rockstar. And she’s hot.

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Enagement Photos: Provo, UT [Leah & Bryan]

I love love. I believe in it. I pray for it. I hope for it. I love how it feels when you wear it. I love to see other people in love and I especially love capturing that love so that they’ll always remember.

This week I was able to photograph a very lovely Leah and a very dapper Bryan in Provo, UT. To say they fit perfectly is an understatement.

Leah and Bryan: Thank you for asking me to take your pictures. I can’t wait for the wedding day!

To see more photos from this shoot, visit the Facebook album (and become a fan of Island Belle!)

To schedule your own photo shoot, please email me or call 801.360.1235.

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Good Things Utah Appearance: Silk Flower Accessories

If you missed the show this morning, here’s the video! Enjoy!

Other helpful links:

1. Don’t want to take the time to make them yourself? Just buy ’em! I’m happy to do the dirty work. Click Here.

2. Step-by-step directions for this tutorial with photos

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Tutorial: Silk Flowers — Great for Headbands, Jewelry, Clothing, etc.

The most popular item at Island Belle Boutique is by far the silk poppy hair accessories. They’re flirty, feminine, and subtle. Needless to say I wear them all the time … like every day practically. And today, because I’m nice, because I’m especially happy these days, and because the snow has melted (hallelujah!), I’m going to share my trade secret of how to make them today. Once you understand the basic steps of how to create these fabric flowers, you can use them anywhere. They make great gifts for birthdays, Mother’s Day, favors for your luncheons and/or showers, and accessories for yourself (!), friends, and daughters.

And if you’re thinking, “I LOVE these flowers and totally need some, but I SO don’t want to take the time to make my own,” just

CLICK HERE to SHOP

the silk flower line at Island Belle Boutique.

Supplies: Light-weight silk fabric * Scissors * Candle & Matches * Needle & Thread * Beads / Buttons / Pearls / etc. for the center of your flower (it’s up to you!)

Steps

1. Cut circles of varying sizes from your silk (they don’t have to be perfect!)

2. Light candle and singe the edges of your circles. You don’t need to put the fabric directly in the flame. It will melt and seal the edge just by being in close proximity to the flame.

3. Stack circles (your petals) according to your own personal preference. You can make them lopsided or perfectly spaced, sparse or extra full. Just add your own style!

4. Insert needle and thread up through the bottom of flower, thread button or bead onto the needle and insert the needle back down through the flower. Repeat this process until you have sewn on all your beads or buttons. I always recommend using odd numbers for beads, buttons, or pearls.
5. Once you’ve sewn on your last bead, knot the thread at the bottom/base of your flower. All done!

You can now attach it (with fabric glue or more stitching) to a headband

CLICK HERE

or a hair pin,

CLICK HERE

on a purse,

CLICK HERE

on a shirt,

CLICK HERE

or even on a lapel pin (for a modern take on the ever-classy corsage).

CLICK HERE

You could even add these flowers to bracelets, shoe clips, ribbon belts, skirts, throw pillows, bed skirts, napkin rings, garlands, and more!

To see this tutorial demonstrated CLICK HERE for my appearance on Salt Lake City’s morning show, Good Things Utah.

Variations:

1. Use cotton fabric instead of silk. Just skip the step where you singe the edges and let the fabric fray slightly.

2. Use different colors for each layer of the petals.

3. Add tulle between the petal layers.

4. Spray with adhesive glue and sprinkle glitter for a little glam.

5. Add feathers.

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