Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Final Night "Manning" The Blog

Well friends, my role as blog curator for my wife comes to an end tonight as Ali returns tomorrow from her two-week trip to Italy.

  I just want to write a brief post to thank you all for humoring me as I've dabbled with this blog stuff.  I have to admit, it's been an intriguing and surprisingly addicting two weeks as a blogger.  Between checking for new comments, followers, and reading the other guest blogger's posts, it's been quite an experience!

For those of you who are late to the game, here's a recap of the past two weeks...
...Rachel Sandall from Spokane's wedding resource, Applebrides.com shared 5 Budget Friendly Centerpieces

...Jamie Porter, Ali's best friend from Oregon, and author of The Jamie Update shared her love for backyard weddings

...I tried to offer a few tips and suggestions for making the ever-scary toast

...Becky Haight, Ali's close co-worker friend, fellow lover of weddings, and author of this blog, brought a DIY shower post to all of us

...and finally, Linda from burlap+blue and shared a tutorial for lightweight clay hearts

It's been awesome having Rachel, Jamie, Becky, and Linda share their passions, wisdom, and great ideas with all of us...please support them and their blogs! 

Lastly, thank you all again for letting me guest-host my beautiful wife's blog for the last two weeks.  It's been a bit lonely around the house without my best friend so this blog has offered me the opportunity to feel like I was connected to Ali in a small way. 

Thank you too for your support of Ali (and, in turn, me) and our vision and dream of Violet Hills. 

Maybe I'll sneak on sometime and write another post!

Until then...

-The Husband-

Friday, May 27, 2011

burlap + blue.

Hi Violet Hills readers! This is Linda, from burlap+blue, and I was honored when Ali asked me to guest post for her! If you aren't familiar with me, I own an etsy shop that focuses on vintage-inspired goods for the home, including...

dessert pedestals

personalized matching games

and custom coasters!

I also have a shelter blog with tutorials, giveaways and home tours.

And, today, I want to share a tutorial with you all for these...

Fun and easy, these lightweight clay hearts are perfect for stringing along a garland, hanging from a vase or bottle with twine, or even tying atop wedding and party favors.

Crayola Magic Dough
paper doilies
cookie cutters
twine or string

Step 1: Roll out your dough to about 1/4" thickness. Using your cookie cutter shape of choice (I chose hearts), cut out your shapes. Use your chopstick to make a hole for hanging.

Step 2: If desired, use paper doily to "stamp" design onto your shapes.

Step 3: Let dry (about 72 hours), string and hang!

Thanks for letting me visit with you all today!
Be sure to stop by and see me over at burlap+blue!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

DIY Bridal Shower

Hi! I'm Becky Haight, Ali's co-worker and fellow lover of all things wedding! You may recognize me from the high maintenence coffee drink here, or the bridesmaid shoe dilemma here, or in general the co-worker who inspires cupcake posts here.

I am so honored to be guest posting for Ali/Violet Hills and super excited to share with you my DIY bridal shower that I threw a couple of weekends ago! This summer I have the privilege to be my best friend's Matron of Honor at her wedding. I really wanted to "go all out" for her shower, but unfortunately that usually means lots of $$$. Lucky for me (and perhaps you) I found lots of little inexpensive ways to make a big impact on a small budget!  

First, lets talk cupcakes! I kept it fairly simple, using a box cake mix and homemade buttercream. The fun flair that these tasty treats got were white chocolate tuiles and some fun wrappers. The white chocolate tuiles were super easy - lay out some wax paper, melt some white chocolate chips, pour them into a frosting bag, cut a tiny hole, and start scribbling away. I made a K for the bride and flowers to correspond with the flowers on the invitations. The wrappers were purchased from Cupcake Social on ETSY - I got 48 and used 1/2 in the decorations mentioned below. This tiered stand is from Willow House - I already owned it, so it found a new use for the day. Oh and those are nuts in the silver cupcake liners - again a simple, inexpensive way to dress up boring nuts.

Invitations were another aspect of the shower I was super excited about! I purchased a design from West Willow's ETSY store that she personalized/customized for our event! These were a post card so I saved on postage and was able to print them at home. Plus as a gift to the bride, I asked that she make a corresponding Thank You card that I had printed at Costco Photo Center.

My last DIY project for the shower were these adorable coffee paper filter and cupcake liner garlands. The bride mentioned of something similar that her photographer uses as a prop in some of her shoots. All you need is a large needle (to poke holes), twine or other string (I purchased mine at Cupcake Social), coffee filters and cupcake liners (remember I said I repurposed some of the extras from the cute cupcake ones and also some silver ones). Ali and I busted 4 of these out in about an hour after a slow start and some improper tool usage.

We repurposed these white tissue paper pom poms from a baby shower thrown the day before and made up some blue ones to go with them.

I also repurposed this glass "pickle" jar that I used for beverages at my wedding. And added a little extra flair with the fun paper straws (also from Cupcake Social).

And for something that adds no cost to the party thrower, we asked the restaurant to have ingredients for special cocktails and verified they could do these for a flat $5 per drink if guests wanted. Golden Groom and Blushing Bride drink recipes from Martha Stewart.

I could go on and on - clearly.  Hope this provides some fun projects and inspiration for all you bridesmaids!

Quick Tips for a Memory-Making Toast


Hello Wedding Lovers, its Ryan again - aka The Husband. (I love that I get to say that!)

Today, I want to share some thoughts on the notoriously nerve-racking toast.  If you haven't given one before I'm willing to bet some of you have either had the thought 

"Oh man, I hope I never have to give a toast" 


"I wish I was the one making the toast right now."  

If you're anything like me, maybe you've even thought about what you would say, how you would say it, and how it would make the specific person you are toasting feel if you ever had the chance to give the toast.  Or maybe you've even wished you could be as funny or sentimental as the speaker.  It's with this mentality that I write the following post because I believe anyone has the ability to give a toast that the toastee and the audience will always remember.

Let me first begin by stating that there are many reasons I'm not qualified to lend my expertise in this area.  First of all, I've never given a toast in a wedding.  Second of all, I'm not a wedding planner, or expert at all for that matter.  

Both these reasons are typically strong enough to keep someone from finishing this post, but let me make a case for why I think I may have some ideas of value to offer to you. 
* I have a degree in Speech Communications.  I studied the history and theory of communication in many of my college classes and more importantly, spent many hours in classes focused solely on public speaking.  
* I have attended many weddings throughout my life and heard both memorable and forgettable toasts.  My guess is that if you follow this blog and have a passion for weddings, this is something we definitely share in common.  And if you ever have the privilege to stand in front of someone and honor them with a toast, it's both the great toasts and terrible toasts that you'll think about right?  

Well here are a few tips to help you prepare a meaningful toast that will have all the event guests coming up to congratulate you.

1) Respect the Toast - Many strong men and women have crumbled and wilted under the pressure of toasting a special someone.  Public speaking in general is a very daunting task known as humanity's biggest fear.  Think about how much more intimidating a meaningful toast is!  That being said, don't treat the toast as a joke.  You've been asked to share your thoughts about someone for a reason.  It is a sign of respect to be chosen to toast someone, treat such an honor respectfully.  This is true for open-mic toasts as well, it should never be taken lightly.  Scared?  Don't worry, it will get better.

2) Know Yourself - What makes you you?  Are you the funny one?  The sentimental one?  More importantly, who does the person you are toasting know you to be?  Be that person.  It's so cliche but don't try and be someone you are not.  A toast can go from bad to worse in a matter of moments as soon as the sentimental one tries to give their whole speech as the funny one.  That being said, it's great to incorporate elements of other personality types into your speech, but don't stress out about having to get all the laughs in the room if you're the sentimental type.

3) Know Who You are Toasting - What would the toastee appreciate hearing?  Why do you think they specifically chose YOU to give the toast?  What is meaningful for them?  Do they want to laugh or cry?

4) Know Your Message - Winging it = never a good option.  This is especially true after a long night of drinking.  This also doesn't mean you have to memorize what you are sharing.  Take time to think about what you want to share.  Do you want to share a story about the toastee?  Or do you want to share a personality characteristic you appreciate most in the person you are toasting?  
*The absolute very best toasts incorporate a personality characteristic into the end of a story. 
**The very best toasters make sure that whatever they are sharing is full of meaning.  Don't share a story just to share it, make sure it has meaning.
***Make sure you know how you want to begin and end.   The times I've been most nervous giving speeches are when I don't know how I want to end what I'm sharing.  When your toast doesn't have meaning, it won't have a beginning and you'll probably start by rambling for a while.  Guess what?  You've lost your audience.  It also won't have an end and you'll be left saying "OK, well that's all I have I guess" which segue's perfectly into the next point

5) Be short, be simple, be succinct - This should give you great peace if you are worried about giving a toast!  Chances are, you aren't the only one given a toast.  Don't be a mic-hog.  Even if you have the most meaningful memorable story, there's a specific point in time when the audience will simply tune out.  Please, please, please for the sake of audiences all around the world, do not flirt with that point in time!   

Be short - be cognizant of others who also have the privilege of sharing and the audience's attention span.  
Be simple - detailed stories lead to long-run on toasts.  Ask yourself: does this story or thought I want to share communicate in the shortest amount of time the message I am wanting to convey?  Maybe there is another story that communicates your message in a quicker, more effective (and thus) more meaningful way.  Be succinct - again, know your beginning and your end.  Know your message, and communicate it effectively.  Rambling and rabbit trails take away from the message which takes away from how powerful and impactful your toast will be!

However, will that being said, don't cheat this one and make it too short. If it's going to leave a lasting impression on both the toastee(s) and the audience, it has to have some meat to it.

6) Practice - It doesn't have to be for long or many times over, but this will help with knowing your message and being short, simple, and succinct.  Try it in front of a mirror!  Reading it in your head counts, but it's not nearly as helpful and worthwhile as reading it outloud

7) Breath - It seems silly but many people forget to do this while speaking.  It's also not the end of the world if you mess up your words!


Okay friends, that's all I have for now, I'm sure I'm missing something so if I think of anything else, I'll sneak on here and write a part II.  I am very interested in hearing your thoughts in all of this.  For those of you who have given toasts, do you have any advice?  For those of you who are like me and have heard both great and poor toasts, do you have any advice?

-The Husband-

Monday, May 23, 2011

Backyard weddings.

Hi. I'm Jamie. A friend of Ali's, fellow blogger, and Oregonian. Ali and I share a similar love for weddings. (Please note: I am not married...I am not even engaged.)My favorite part of not having had my wedding is dreaming of the day. I tend to switch back and forth between eloping and having a wedding of 200+ guests (when the day comes, that is.) I love finding hidden Oregon gems for a wedding. Some places I've considered: an open field with one big oak tree, a small white chapel on big open road, a white covered bridge, a public park in a small town, a little vineyard lost in the middle of nowhere, or a big red barn. But then I go home. To my parent's house. And I find myself in love with the idea of a backyard wedding. So home-y. Also, um, free.

Take a look at a few images I found:

backyard wedding 5

backyard wedding3

backyard wedding2

backyard wedding

all via.


someone's backyard. lucky ducks.
via me. (Taken from a window of a moving car in the McKenzie River Valley, Oregon.)

Where do you dream of your big day? 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

5 Budget Friendly Centerpieces

Article by Rachel Sandall from Spokane's wedding resource, AppleBrides.com.

Recessionista brides don't want to spend oodles of money, BUT they also don't want to skimp on style. The good news is that it's never been easier for the budget conscious bride to get everything she wants for very little, thanks to the DIY and vintage trends taking over the international wedding scene.
Here are a couple centerpiece options that will make a big impact on your wedding style, but not your wedding budget!

Easy, local and incredibly cheap, lavender is a great option for the bride who wants to make a big impact on a budget. Dressed up or dressed down, lavender doesn't need much embellishment to make a strong statement. There are several lavender farms in Eastern Washington who will sell it to you by the bunches, then it's over to you to make it fabulous!

This one takes a little planning, but for brides with a green thumb it's the perfect way to make your tables unique and beautiful. All you need are a couple terracotta pots, your flower of choice and some time to watch them grow!

(Image from Once Wed)

Fruit Centerpieces
Apples, oranges, grapes, berries or lemons, the choice is yours! Once you decide the fruit you want for your centerpiece, all you need is something to hold them. Easy! Whether you want a rustic planter box, a shabby chic cake stand or clear vases, the options are endless. To really embrace the fruit centerpiece trend, go for fruits (or vegetables!) that are in season, they will not only be easier to find but also cheaper.

(Image from the Pepper Design Blog)

Vintage Bottles and Vases
For this option, you will need to be ready to continually hit the vintage shops with a vengeance! Looking for unique vases, bottles and bowls which will be the canvas for your centerpiece. The great thing is that they don't need to match, in fact, the more different the better! You want different heights, sizes and shapes to give your table a dynamic look. If you have long tables, you can spread them out, if you have round tables then bunch them together for a strong impact.

(Image from Ruffled Bride Blog)

Do you have access to a tree? Any tree? Then this centerpiece will work for you! Cut some branches, stick them in your vase or jar of choice, and for next to nothing you have not only a cheap display, but also one which is perfectly stylish.

(Image from Wedding Bee)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Husband's Holding Down the House (and Blog!)

Well, I guess the best way to start is by introducing myself...I'm Ryan aka "The Husband."  

For the next two weeks, while Ali's treking across Italy, I get the responsibility of taking care of our Lola and Trudy, keeping our cute little house "clean," and most importantly, continuing this blog.  For all you gardeners, I feel like Ali's left me with a potted petunia hoping (and probably praying) that I won't let it die.  Needless to say, I'm a little nervous about somehow ruining this beautiful little creation of hers.  So please, bear with me for the next couple of weeks!

Since Ali first dreamed up V. Hills, I've had the unbelievable privilege of walking alongside her on this journey.  I absolutely love how wide she smiles and her eyes light up when she shares her vision, discovers a new favorite wedding idea, or organizes the pieces of a client's wedding puzzle.  From my perspective, I believe it to be appropriate to thank you.  So to each of her followers, both official and unofficial, thank you for supporting her too.  We couldn't have made it this far without your continued interest and input.

I'm not completely helpless with this blogging though, I promise!  In case you didn't read the bottom of this post Ali's prepared several guest bloggers to make sure you all get a healthy dose of Violet Hills Weddings + Events.  Here's the lineup according to Ali:

** Linda Smith from Burlap + Blue.  I read her blog on a regular basis, and I LOVE her style.  She's adorable.

** Rachel Sandall from Apple Brides, the ultimate resource for Inland Northwest brides.  She does fabulous work - no joke.

** Becky Haight.  Becky writes a personal blog for her family, and will share it if she feels so obliged.  Becky and I are constantly talking about weddings together - we share that love for sure!

** Jamie Porter - my best friend from Oregon.  Jamie is no stranger to blogging - she's been at hers for awhile.  She's funny, witty, and my best friend.  That's all you need to know.  

I, too, am excited to hear from each of these bloggers!

Finally, I have a few ideas for posts from my (the groom's) perspective. I'm certainly nowhere near as creative or talented as my bride.  I also don't have nearly as much experience and expertise but I think its important to get another view on these wedding things : ).  Here are my ideas, leave some feedback on which ones you'd like to hear about or any questions you may have for the guys in your life:

1) Toasts and Roasts

2) Yawn...How to get your groom involved

3) The Proposal.  And no, not this proposal...more like this...

4) Get Down On It: The Epic Wedding Dance Floor

Well, that's all for tonight.  I look forward to hearing from the guest bloggers and from all of you.  Also, if you're interested in following Ali as she's across the world while we're all still at work...here's the link to her travel blog.

Wish me luck on keeping the "petunia" alive.

Talk to you soon

-The Husband-

Monday, May 16, 2011

j.crew gift card giveaway winner.

Hi friends.

Our winner for the $75 J.Crew gift card has been chosen at random...

Kelsey Eberth

Kelsey, please e mail me your address so I can send you your saweeeeeet gift card!

Thanks for playing!


Also, you all should...

Read this.

Check out these colorful cookies.

Fall in love with this green coffee table made out of a door.

Tell me how much you want your floors to look like this.

 Don't get so upset.

Get your twirl on. 

Happy Monday.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

sunday's thwacks and shout-outs.

 Thwack (verb) : to strike with, or as if with, something flat or heavy.
Shout-out (noun) : a public expression of gratitude or recognition.


1.) On Thursday, I found a bug crawling around inside my shirt at work.  Gross.  Super gross.  I had the heebeegeebees all day.

2.) Remember that big proposal I've talked about a few times that I helped put together for my day job..?  Well, we found out this week that we lost it.  They went with a Big 4.  We can't combat that, which was frustrating.  But, I can look back on our efforts and feel confident that we gave it our best shot.

3.) So I leave for Italy in 3 days, and my mom sent me her "master" packing list that she uses for big trips.  For those of you that know me, you know I'm pretty type A, aka organized and prepared in most situations.  Well, for those of you that don't know my mom, she is like me on steroids in regards to type A-ness.  So you can imagine that I wasn't surprised to open her master list and see that it was 123 line items long.  Umm seriously?  You want me to fit all of those things into a carry on???  (BTW, see shout out #1).

4.) I only did one post this week - and I feel like a horrible blogger.  So sorry friends, it's been crazy getting ready for Italy, work, the wedding planning, the Butterfly Affair planning, so many fun and exciting things going on, but it left little time to be on here.  Forgive?  kgoodthanks.


I feel like I have so many things to shout-out about this week, which is always a good thing.  So bear with me.

1.) I fit all of my stuff for my two-week Italy trip into a single carry on and backpack.  It's honestly no stretch to say that is a miracle.  I'm not joking, I usually check a giant bag when I go somewhere for the WEEKEND, let alone out of the country for two weeks.  I made my mom (and the husband) very proud.  iamawesomethankyouverymuch.

2.) For as much as I complained about our shady weather this spring, I have to talk as much about how I LOVE when we have warm weather - and we definitely had some of that this week!  I think I've told you before that the husband calls me his little plant, because when the sun first comes out for the season, I can't stay inside.  This morning, the husband, pups, and I went on a nice long hike near the Little Spokane River and soaked up some amazing vitamin d.  I loved it.  So did Lola and Trudy.

"Look mom I found a stick!!"

Trudy ate grass the whole time.

While Lola played fetch and went swimming.

3.) My tulips finally came up this week!  Mine are always so far behind everyone else's, so I'm always really excited when they finally bloom.  Pretty, no?  They're about the only good thing we have going for our yard right now.

4.) This week was Frappy Hour at Starbucks - 1/2 price Frappuccinos - and they even come in soy!  Made my day when I found that one out.  I think Becky and I went at least 4 times in 5 days, right Beck?  Side note, look how high maintenance Becky's order is - sheesh girl.

Totally kidding, you know how much I love you : )

5.) There is such thing as the World Beard and Mustache Championships.  Seriously.  I read about it on CNN this week.  Here's what some of the contestants brought to the table.


Wow.  I don't really know what else to say.  World Beard and Mustache Championship - who knew?

6.) Can I just tell you how thankful I am to be married to a man who has the most tender, loving, and caring heart?  I picked him up from work on Friday to him helping a lost blind gentleman.  The poor guy had lost his bearings on which direction he was facing and kept turning around in circles, so the husband ran over and explained exactly where he was, which buildings were around, which way was north, and helped him across the street.  Seriously melts my heart - and I'm so grateful we both share that compassion for others.

7.) Sorry sisters, I finally have proof that I'm dad's favorite.  Look closely.  See that answer to my question as "yes"???

Feels good to get that squared away.

8.) Okay so again, I leave for Italy on Wednesday for two weeks with my mom.  I'm so so excited.  A few things about that.

- I put together a super quick blog to post some pictures and talk about our journey in the Bootleg Country together.  If you're interested, you can check for updates.  I'm not sure how much access I will have to a computer, but hopefully a fair amount.


- While I'm gone, I of course will not be posting about all the things I love about weddings.  Bahumbug, I know.  BUT, I'm so thrilled to have a few guest bloggers join us here on Violet Hills to post about a few things they love about weddings while I'm gone.  Isn't that so nice of them?

You will hear from:

** Linda Smith from Burlap + Blue.  I read her blog on a regular basis, and I LOVE her style.  She's adorable.

** Rachel Sandall from Apple Brides, the ultimate resource for Inland Northwest brides.  She does fabulous work - no joke.

** Becky Haight (yes, the high maintenance frapp girl from above).  Becky writes a personal blog for her family, and will share it if she feels so obliged.  Becky and I are constantly talking about weddings together - we share that love for sure!

** Jamie Porter - my best friend from Oregon.  Jamie is no stranger to blogging - she's been at hers for awhile.  She's funny, witty, and my best friend.  That's all you need to know.  

** The husband - yes, he has a name, Ryan.  But to you, he's always been known as the husband, so I'm interested to see how he introduces himself.  What a trooper, huh?  Love him.

9.) Last chance for the J.Crew $75 gift card giveaway! It's now or never - ends at midnight tonight!  I will announce the winner tomorrow.

Isn't this exciting?  I can't wait!  For Italy, guest bloggers, the giveaway... all of it!