Bottled Thanks

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I wanted to make a simple decoration to give as a gift to the people who helped make our wedding possible, a kind of wedding favor for those friends and family who had gone above and beyond during the planning of our special day.

I discovered some pretty little glass bottles at two local stores: AVA Papier and Action for less than two euros each and I felt the inspiration start to brew.

Before I left AVA I grabbed a bottle of decorative sand in the same blue as my wedding invitations and some simple brown card tags. Honestly, if you’re lucky enough to live near one of these stores you need to go explore it a bit. The company started as a paper factory and has expanded to become a papercrafts extravaganza… where all the colors are coordinated throughout the store!

I don’t know how I’d have kept our wedding on a budget if I hadn’t discovered this place.

I had some blue feathers left over from the invitations so I put them to good use. I filled each bottle with an inch or so of the colored sand topped by a single fluffy feather and then I stuck the adorable little bird stopper tightly back into place.

I used my singing bird stamp on one side of the tags to help the gift coordinate even better with the wedding plans. Then I neatly wrote “Merci” near the bird and carefully signed the name of the recipient on the other side with my bronze gel pen and used my turquoise marker to give it a bit of a shadow.

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I cut lengths of brown metallic and blue satin ribbon, threaded the tag onto them and tied a neat little bow to hold it in place.

Glass bottle wedding favors

There you have it, an incredibly simple thank-you gift made with about € 3 of supplies and finished in a matter of minutes and the recipients adored them!

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Sea Salted Butter Caramel – Easier than you think!

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If the title of this recipe doesn’t make you start drooling a little then who are you?!

I love caramel. If some stranger had stood up at my wedding with an offer of a lifetime supply of caramel if I left my fiancé, I cannot promise that I would be Mrs. Bourlart right now. Granted, I’d have made sure I could share my lifetime of caramel with Phil before taking the deal. He’s logical enough that he’d see the benefit, I assure you!

Phil tried to make a caramel tart a few weeks ago but his caramel came out more solid than he wanted. He told me that the recipe sounded simple but was harder than it looked. I took the bait and started researching caramel recipes. Finally, I found one that looked easy enough and I tried my hand at it. It turned out delicious but the texture seemed a bit too thick for me. I found that if you add the sea salt too soon, the caramel will start to crystallize around it leading to too-salty chunks floating in your caramel. By the third attempt, I was no longer looking at the recipe and after a while, I realized that even that recipe was more complicated than it had to be. So, now I present you with an unbelievably easy, no thermometer, no timer, very little measuring required recipe for your very own Sea Salted Butter Caramel. You’re welcome.

Sea-Salted Butter Caramel

Ingredients:

1 c White Sugar (210 g) 1 tsp Sea Salt (5 g) 1 package Butter (250 g) cut into chunks 1 small bottle of cream (200 ml)

Tools needed:

A frying pan A wooden spoon A random spoon for scraping the sugar from the wooden spoon

Instructions:

1.

Heat the sugar on medium heat until it is fully melted and turns brown. It takes a while to start melting so you can go get a coffee while you wait but as soon as the melting begins you have to stay close because it can go from melted to burnt in a matter of seconds.

Melt the sugar on medium heat

2.

Once the sugar is mostly melted, add the butter. Stir gently until the bubbling dies down as the butter and sugar reach the same temperature. Mix the sugar and butter together until you can’t tell the difference anymore.

 

The butter and the sugar will bubble until their temperatures even out

3.

Drizzle in the cream. Stir until it stops bubbling and you can’t see the separate ingredients.

 

Keep mixing the cream in until it stops bubbling once again

4.

Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Remove from heat when the bubbling has nearly stopped

5.

Once it has cooled enough to where you can touch the caramel safely, sprinkle in the sea salt and stir some more.

Once it's cooled down a bit, sprinkle the salt over it and stir gently

6.

Allow it to continue to cool but come back every few minutes to stir the caramel or all of your butter will try to float to the top.

All done!

  • Once it is just a little warmer than body temperature you can put it into a jar.
  • To make it even more presentable, sprinkle a few grains of sea salt on top of the cooled caramel before closing the jar.
  • Store it in the fridge so that the cream and butter don’t go bad.

Never heat it in the microwave!

If you need to heat your caramel for whatever reason, put some in a pan and warm it on the stove. Otherwise the ingredients are likely to separate in the microwave.

 Sea salted butter caramel

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How can you use your caramel?

  • Drizzled over ice cream
  • Make some pralines
  • As an ingredient in other recipes (oh yes, I will be giving you some, don’t worry!)
  • Melt a spoonful into your coffee to spoil yourself
  • Put a layer of caramel on top of pudding or yogurt
  • Eat it by the spoonfull when you’re too lazy to make something to eat… you can always make more!
  • Bribe your spouse, children or neighbors into doing your will in exchange for some.

The invitations

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I really wanted to make our invitations myself. Phil thought I was crazy but I managed to do it!

After weeks of searching and looking through tutorials and templates, I found this gorgeous template  so generously shared by roberts2b. 

 

The completed invitation

For the most part, the template was perfect for my needs so I will not repost the templates and the English versions. If you want to use this template, please go get it on their original post.

I did need to make a few changes, however, to make these work for me and I will allow myself to share them with you here.

Additional supplies needed for my version of the invitation:

1 large sheet of stencil plastic from AVA Paper (basically a Belgian version of Office Max but with a lovely craft section) The plastic that I purchased was simply sold with the other large sheets of paper. I’m sure most office supply stores should have something which will work

1 Lovebirds wax seal kit from Nostalgic Impressions with bronze glue gun wax

(the Lovebirds seal is available here)

Wax seal from Nostalgic Impressions

1 Love stamp kit from Heyda (I found it at AVA but it is available through Amazon)

Love stamps from Heyda

1 Love Birds stamp from Impression Obsession (on a cling mount)
Lovebirds stamp

Colorbox Pigment Ink pads

#15020 Turquoise and a metallic cat’s eye Queue (for the bronze)
Colorbox Pigment Stamp Pads

A Dove hole punch from Artemio

Artemio's Dove Hole Punch

Bronze ribbon from the after-Christmas sales

Blue and Bronze pens, the ones I used were:

Bronze Uni-ball Signo in a broad tip

Turquoise Stabilo Pen 68/51Bronze Uni-ball Signo in a broad tip and Turquoise Stabilo Pen 68/51

A few packages of blue feathers from AVA

All of my paper was purchased at AVA

A sheet of self-adhesive rhinestones


 

 

The first thing that I did after downloading the templates was to personalize the text and translate it so that I could print both English and French versions.

I scanned a sheet of the blue paper from AVA and used Photoshop to find the RGB value of the color. Then I went through the invitations to make sure that all the blue was the right shade.

While adjusting the colors I noticed that the tree images were very pixellated and not unicolor so I spent a couple of days polishing them up as well. Here are my finished trees.

white tree on blue white tree information tree invite tree

STEP ONE

We printed the envelope template from roberts2b’s tutorial and I traced the measurements onto a piece of stencil plastic. I carefully cut it out with a craft knife and used my new stencil to trace the envelope onto pieces of A3 paper. Our dear friends Kasia and Fab came over twice during that week to help me cut out all the pieces. The pockets were folded into place and glued with a glue stick. Then the stack of envelopes was placed under a heavy book to dry.

STEP TWO

We then had to print out the templates for the invite and happiness backing and cut my bronze paper to size.

STEP THREE

Step three was to print out our invitation, menu, information, happiness, and RSVP pages and cut them to the correct sizes using a metal ruler, rotary cutter and self-healing rubber mat.

menu French x 2

French invite x 2

Information French x 2

happiness french x 15

RSVP French x 2

As I cut out the invitation pages, I used one of my stamps and the bronze ink pad to put a small singing bird into the branches of the tree.

Heyda's Bird in bronze ink

STEP FOUR

It was time to assemble the invites. The info, rsvp and menu pages were slipped into the pocket. We used a glue stick (don’t use liquid glue or it will make your paper ripple!) to glue the invitations and happiness tags onto their proper backings. After the stack of invitation pages had dried under a heavy book, they were glued into place in the envelopes. Just before closing the invitation envelopes, we stuck a single ribbon inside so it would float out when opened.

STEP FIVE

The next step was to prepare the ribbons. I used a fine bladed craft knife to cut tiny slits in the backing of the happiness tags, right along the edge of the white paper so that the slits were nearly invisible. I cut the ribbons to size by wrapping a long length of it around a stack of envelopes which happened to have the right size and then cutting through the wrapped ribbon on one edge to have many pieces of uniform length.

The finished tags

I slipped one end of the ribbon in a slit on the happiness tag, wrapped it around an invitation and slipped the other end in. I tightened it down and slid it off of the invitation. I sealed the ribbon ends in place on the back of the tag with a small piece of clear tape.

I stuck a pair of rhinestones onto each tag and then the ribbon was slipped back into place to hold the invitation closed.

 

Happiness is marrying your best friend

The tags were slipped back into place around the envelopes with the tag on the back so that there was nothing but ribbon over the opening.

STEP SIX

I opened up my package of glue gun sealing wax and went to town sealing all of my invitations. Be very careful with this step! I melted a few ribbons by getting too close with the tip of the glue gun and more than once I realized far too late that I was holding the seal incorrectly. Still, it only took a few test runs before I was pumping out beautiful wax seals.

Sealed and ready to mail

I strongly suggest buying yourself a new glue gun… as cheap as possible. This wax melts like crazy inside of the gun and I STILL haven’t gotten it all out of mine. I actually used my dirty glue gun to my advantage in another project but you’ll have to wait to see that.

STEP SEVEN

Address all of your mailing envelopes. For our envelopes I used simple craft paper envelopes from the bulk office supply aisle of AVA and simply folded them to size. I used the Love Birds stamp from Impression Obsession to decorate the corner of the envelopes. Once the envelopes were addressed, I rushed out to the post office and mailed them off.

The sealed envelope

BONUS STEP

There was a TON of scrap paper left over and it saddened me to think of all that expensive paper getting thrown away. So this is when I went back to AVA and found the dove hole punch. Many a night over the next month was spent watching Netflix while I punched away at the scraps. I ended up having a very large cookie tin full of little bronze and blue birds to decorate the reception hall!

What happened to all of my scrap paper

Thanks to the helping hands of my fiancé and our dear friends, the wedding invitations were finished and in the mail just before the deadline. Philippe was proud to tell everyone that I’d made the invitations myself and we received many compliments over the next week or so as the invites started appearing in people’s mailboxes.

The only complaint I overheard was that some people felt broken hearted at the thought of actually breaking the wax seal to get into the invitation. If they only knew what will be arriving in their mailboxes any day now!

The Dress

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I was never really one of those little girls who dreams about her wedding dress. I never really started thinking about what I’d want to look like until I was in my mid twenties.

This is often one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning but I found a great way to remove some of the burden from my shoulders.

Originally I was going to make my dress. I have a pattern on hand which I bought many years ago and still love.

McCall’s Pattern 4713

M4713, Misses'/Miss Petite Lined Bridal Gown

I fell in love with this pattern in part because they had a fashion doll sized version of it available as well. What a sweet idea, make matching dolls for my flower girls!

McCall’s Pattern 4740

M4740, Alicyn Wright's 11 ½

I was so excited to make this dress for myself… until I started looking at fabric prices. I would be spending more or less 400 euros simply for the fabric!

I started to ask myself some hard questions. Would I have the time to make it? How much stress would I be bringing down upon myself if I sewed this myself? Did I even have enough sewing experience to be ABLE to make this dress?

My fiancé wasn’t overly fond of this dress at all. Would it be worth it to spend all that time and effort making a dress that my future husband wouldn’t even like?

We decided to scrap the ‘make my own dress’ idea completely. I spent a week looking for affordable wedding dresses available online and the next time the boys were home we sat down as a family to look through them all in hopes of finding one that everybody would like.

Finally, there it was!Oooh, now this is pretty... Trumpet / Mermaid Off-the-shoulder Chapel Train Lace Wedding Dress - € 200.49

This dress was fantastic! It was on sale for about 160 €.

Even though I had to pay about 50% of the price in taxes, the total price paid for the dress was less than half of what I would have spent on fabric to make my own. When I noticed that the dress would be custom-made to my measurements I no longer had any reason to hesitate.

I was so nervous about ordering a wedding dress online but I couldn’t have been happier with the results. The dress fit like a glove the first time I put it on and I received many compliments throughout the ceremony.

The only alteration that I had to do was to shorten the sleeves as I didn’t like the length of them.

The next time I need a quality dress on a budget I will be sure to shop here again.
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Organizing our Blue, Bronze and White Wedding

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April 11, 2015 was not only our seventh anniversary but also the date of our wedding. There were many DIY components to our wedding as we were trying to save as much money as possible.

I have decided to share with you all of the resources I used to plan our wedding as well as some tutorials for the various projects I made. Perhaps they may prove as useful to you as they did to us!

The first step when one is planning a wedding is to get organized!

I signed us up for The Knot right away. This website has many checklists and inspirational photos to help you get an idea for your wedding. I was really hopeful about this site as I know many other brides who have used it. Unfortunately only an American couple will get the full benefit of what they have to offer. Mostly we used this site to look for ideas and to organize our guest list.

The next thing I did was create a board on my personal Pinterest account to brainstorm everything about the look of the wedding.

https://www.pinterest.com/mistyrae82/wedding-plans/

Every time I saw an image or link that I liked, I would pop it into the wedding board. Every few weeks I would make Philippe sit down and look at the board with me so that we could eliminate ideas which didn’t please both of us. This also helped me narrow down our colors and theme until we had something definate.

In order to have a physical place to keep track of our plans, I downloaded this free wedding planner from Worldlabel.com’s blog. They have so many free labels and printables there that I’m sure I’ll be a frequent visitor.

These resources were invaluable. I don’t know how I’d have kept everything organized without them!

Setting a date was easy. The first thing we had to do after that was find my dress.

Once we found the locations for the wedding and had everything reserved, we needed to create the invitations and a website. The website took a lot of thought since I needed to find a wedding site provider which would allow me to create both English and French versions for our various guests.

I finally found a great service. Twowed is a fairly simple wedding site creator but it is the only one I found which allows multiple languages for a great price. $30 for unlimited use is just about unheard of these days.

Here is our site so that you can maybe get some ideas for your own. We even created a facebook event since it’s thanks to Facebook that we found one another.

After deciding on a location for the reception, we had to create a plan for decorating the reception hall.

I wanted to prepare some wedding favors to thank the people who’d been invaluable during the planning.

The ceremony had to be planned down to the last detail… though that is next to impossible in Belgium!

Then it was time to start thinking of what I would do for thank-you cards and gifts.

Now that it’s all over, I need to start thinking of what to do with the photos and what I can do with the leftover decorations.