07 November 2011

It All Started With A Recycled Wedding Dress

When my oldest daughter Tara tied the knot, I decided to make the ring bearer pillow for her wedding celebration. For all you moms out there who think your daughter's will want to wear your old wedding dress, lets just say, I've yet to see it happen. They grow up and embrace their own trends and styles.  In other words, they get their own sense of taste and their own opinion on clothing (and everything else imaginable).  I hate when that happens, in my experience, around age two when they become enamored with the word NO and are not afraid to use it.

What better way to recycle something that is just taking up space, than to make something meaningful and new out of it? My wedding dress had been hanging in the closet gathering dust for years because, I was too busy putting kids through private school to have it hermetically sealed and boxed for $800 bucks.  I breathed new life into it per-say.  So, I used some of the material from my own wedding dress to make the ring bearer pillow for my first daughter Tara's wedding. I wish I could show you a picture of it but, I'm too afraid to ask her if she still has it.  I'm a little over emotional-like right now.

Now that my second oldest daughter Kate, is getting married, I got out my scissors and recycled my dress once again.  I'm not a seamstress, (I may have mentioned that once or twice before) but I can sew a somewhat straight line in a pinch.  I cannot measure worth a darn, so I eyeball the project and hope for the best.  I've got three more kids to marry off and I hope to force them carry on the tradition of making from my own wedding dress, their ring bearer pillows with my own little hands.

My wedding dress was ivory satin with a sheer overlay.  I let Kate choose some of her favorite sea shells to embellish her pillow.  They were a salute to all the happy memories she has had living here, from bright days basking in the sunshine, to competing in many surf competitions all through high school, and to bonfires and parties by moonlight. I'm just guessing about the bonfires and parties by moonlight because I'm pretty sure her father and I didn't sanction very many of those.

Kate and her favorite surfing partner, her baby sister Maggie.

I used the satin material from my dress to cover a pillow which I formed from batting.  I then glue gunned her favorite shells right onto the pillow before I covered it with the sheer overlay and ribbon.  Do you think it is appropriate to use the terms,"glue or gun" when one speaks of weddings?

This is Kate and Justin when they first met at college three years ago.

This is them all in love and mushy-like, just before they got engaged last February.

Last summer I snapped this photo of the love birds and if only someone would get the engagement pictures off their fiance's computer and email them to their mommy, I'd have some really, really, cute official engagement photos to show ya.  You guys are always so patient with me though, so I know you'll hang in and when you're a captive audience again, I'll have all the engagement pictures, various parties and such and the official wedding pictures to share very soon.   Because you know I love you like that.

Of course my pup Saint Kieran, was "helping" by giving me moral support through my entire pillow project.  He made sure that none of the batting got away!

I'm not sure what kind of help this gal was.  Perhaps she was supporting me in spirit.

Oooh, so many pearls to choose from. I sewed the (faux) pearls on by hand during the many hours I have spent sitting on the sofa watching Mr. Cottage By The Sea, pace the floor and say bad words while watching The Charger's lose football games this season. OH FOR THE SAKE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY CHARGERS - BRING IT ON!  A woman can only take so much pacing.  The man is beating a path in my rug.

We held auditions for the job of ring bearer, and although this guy was a close second...and very hard to resist -

This one succumbed to the tickle monster and won out in the end.

This is what the website, "The Knot" has to say about the duties of the ring bearer.

The ring bearer, traditionally a small boy aged four to eight, walks 

down the aisle just before the flower girl (if there is one), carrying a 

pillow with two rings tied to it. Since it's not the greatest idea to 

entrust gold rings to a rambunctious 6-year-old, the rings are usually 


Are you the trusting sort? Well, if you trust the little tyke with your

jewelry, at least have someone hand him the pillow replete with real

rings just before he begins trekking down the aisle. If he gets hold of

them too far in advance, it's more likely he'll lose them.

Nicholas are you reading this?  Nicholas can you read?

All I can say is, Nicholas fits the description above.  He's a small boy, age five, and he is definitely rambunctious.  In answer to that question in the second paragraph about being the trusting sort, lets just say I think we're gonna go with the fake rings on the pillow.  Not that we don't trust him,  look at that face, it's just that he is rambunctious and ... well... Nick will be accompanied down the aisle by one of his older brothers Dayne, who is eight.  Accompanying them will be their little sister Emma who will be our flower girl. Big brothers Ty and Cael will be altar servers and baby Abigail will be the topping on the cake as always, with all her adorable cuteness.  Nicholas calls her "Honey Heart" and it sure does fit, don't ya think?

 It's Honey Hearts momma for whom I made that first pillow so many years ago.  It must have been good luck because Abigail Rose is their 6th child.  I like to think it's all because of the prayers I prayed for their marriage whilst making that first ring bearer pillow from my wedding dress.  I'm hoping it will be the same for my daughter Kate and her new husband Justin. If you want lots of wee grand babies this cute just let me know and I'll see what I can do for ya. 

For a DIY project that started out on a wing and a prayer, I think it turned out real purty.  A tad bit of hand embroidery to further personalize with their names and wedding date, and a pillow is born!

  Kate and Justin

Much more to come...

04 November 2011


Several months ago something awful happened here at the cottage. I'm not big on writing about awful because I have so much to be thankful for that I'd much rather devote these pages to that.  Before I go on to tell my story, I want to say that I know there are much, much worse situations going on in the lives of people everywhere.  My life here at the cottage seems idealistic, and in many ways it is. I understand the difference between your home being vandalized and losing a child, or having a loved one fall ill or die.  I realize that some people live in deplorable conditions every single day.  I was a Foster Mom for many years, and I've worked within a system where the visibility and fate of others less fortunate was crystal clear to me.  This post is about something that happened personally to my family and in the context I'm putting it I hope you will realize that for us it was a very bad thing.  But in the big scheme of things, it's just an unfortunate circumstance.  It doesn't even count amongst all the more serious situations out there.  I just wanted to chronicle it and let you know, that even in idyllic situations, bad things happen.  It's the context of what we do with it afterwards that counts.

I usually don't write anything but optimistic posts around here so I hesitated penning this one.  This is where I come to share the good and the beautiful in my life, and hopefully that is why you visit me here.  I promise I will end this post on an up note and with some beautiful photos because, hopefully that's the way I will always end up.  On my feet, with a smile on my face!  I truly believe there is a blessing in everything if you look hard enough and I'm determined through any and all things dark, to see the light.  More importantly is the fact that no bodily injury incurred to anyone at the cottage, and everything that this treacherous person tried to destroy has now been restored.

Someone, maliciously vandalized our home and property last spring.  In our little neighborhood and even in our town, which is small by San Diego standards, at just under a population of 13,000 people, we are very lucky because crimes like this seldom take place here.  Many of our neighbors have lived here for over 20 years and have never seen this happen. The crime was so obviously and maliciously intended to be personal, we have no doubt.  On our front drive here, what you see is some kind of acid which was thrown over the front driveway, walkway up the side of the house, the front gate and the walkway to our front door.

It has taken us months of hard work and as they say, blood, sweat and tears (more than a few tears) to come to grips with the vandalization that occurred to our property last summer.  Besides Creedence Clearwater Revival, I'm not sure whom else uses the term "Blood, Sweat and Tears" but, those words ring true in this instance.

Part of what we've been dealing with is the mundane, such as insurance company policies, robots on the phone instead of real people, coverage or no coverage?  That, as anyone whom has done it knows, is mind numbing in and of itself.  We've addressed the clean up, and back breaking work of the complete reconstruction to the front of our property.  We spent over a year while we were remodeling, living with the noise, mess and distress which typifies construction and, in one fell swoop, having barely had time to enjoy the fruits of our labor, we were plunged back into it again.

Our family has had to address the emotions of vulnerability and betrayal that come with having your personal space and your privacy invaded.  There are fears which surface at a time like this that you have face and come to terms with.  Fear for the personal safety of your family is right at the top of the list.

The substance you see on our front cobbles, is some kind of acid which when you try to soak it up, incinerates the rags.  Literally, burns them up.  It is very scary and disturbing when one thinks of what more might have happened.  Our guardian angels were looking after our personal safety on this sad, dark night.  Only our  property was destroyed which is a blessing unto itself.  To be frank, there is nothing of material value to me, nothing that can't be replaced, except for my family and my peace of mind inside my home.

The intruder not only destroyed the driveway and sidewalk in front of our home, by throwing the destructive substance all over our front gate.  You might remember this post  " Ode To A Cottage Gate" where I explained all the details about how our gate got built and which I recently re-posted.

These were the stains that remained after we did our best to clean up.

The vandal was criminal enough to open the gate and throw the substance down our front walkway, all the way to our front door.  On the way out he tore into my husbands' car, bashing out every window and both mirrors, and denting the sides in as well.  All of this occurred at 10:00 pm when we were all at home.




So we rolled up our sleeves and went in to recognizance mode.  You can't let the bad guys get you down. First we took out all the front cobbles, turned them over and set them back down in sand.  Therefore we didn't even have to buy any new material! 

We then researched our options for replacing the front walkway.  I wasn't fond of the idea of painting over the cement.  I've done it before and usually it becomes a high maintenance project because it doesn't last very long.  A friend of ours suggested an outdoor Brazilian Walnut deck.

The idea of a deck appealed to us.  It flowed right along with the aesthetic of the cottage.  Very simple, easy to maintain and beachy.  Sand just falls through the cracks!  This wood was no more expensive than re doing the concrete and took about the same amount of time.  A bit of back breaking, knee cracking work but hey, worth it in the end.

Ipe is three times stronger than teak.  It's scratch resistant has a knot free surface and a one hundred year life span.  I think that will be plenty long enough for us.

Once it was installed we simply oiled it and even after a soft rain, it looks this beautiful and rich.  I LOVE the look, the feel, even the smell, of wood.

We transplanted some grasses from the side yard which had grown too large for their space there, around the Magnolia tree in the front yard.  When they get over the shock they'll green up and be the perfect addition of height around the deck.
I replanted the acid-burned moss around the front gate cobbles and it's happily thriving and growing back in now.

You may notice on the right pillar we now have a security system.  This was the hardest thing of all for our family to get used to.  We were the family whom in 35 years have never even locked a door!  When we sold our last house and the new owners asked for the keys we just looked at each other with blank expressions on our faces.

We've always had an open door policy.  

It's raining today, just an Irish mist really. I like to think it is God helping me to clean all the way up to the tree tops, as we are in full wedding mode around here, getting all the last minute details ready to celebrate our daughters marriage sacrament next week.  Many family members and friends will be flying in from around the country.  There will be parties before the wedding and parties after, and I am forgoing my beloved flip flops for high heels.  If I don't fall them off them and break something important, I'll be back in the blog world full swing. Thanks for sticking with me my friends, you are so special to me.  I'll share plenty of pictures of all our shenanigans when the celebrations are complete and the happy couple is off on their honeymoon.   

We have been blessed with so many good people in our lives.  The bad guys are certainly out there and can make things miserable for a time but the adversity they create can only get you down if you let it.  Thank God, and I do every day, that my family is safe. Although we now have the inconvenience of having to use a code to get into our own home, don't let that stop you from coming by.  One ring and we'll buzz you in and make you feel just as welcome as before.  The dirty dogs of the world will never win in the end because it's all about attitude.

Blessings to all and remember,

I love ya more than all the bad karma the bad guys will reap, and more than all the love God has sewn back into my heart.