Thursday, October 16, 2014

Our Wedding: Bridesmaids Boxes

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I'd be lying if I said the early stages of our wedding planning weren't stressful, but we've been in a phase of smooth sailing for the last few months. Beyond choosing a venue, everything else has been pretty easy. A few of our vendors have been booked, a bought a dress in one day (I might be crazy...or smart? Still TBD) so we've been able to move forward into the details of the day.

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Next on the to-do list was to gather my crew of bridesmaids and ask them to be with me through the next year, and stand with me on our big day. A mix of family and best friends, I wanted to ask them in a special way that set the tone for the rest of our celebration. Desserts and sweets are a serious obsession of mine (and will play a starring role in our wedding) so I enlisted local favorite Coquette Patisserie to create a few dozen French macarons in our wedding palette. The flavors that matched the colors were salted caramel and rose raspberry—it was a miracle that I didn't eat them myself.

Each bridesmaid received a box containing the macarons and a card popping the question, all wrapped up and personalized. I was a little nervous shipping such fragile cookies across the country (word to the wise ladies...think your shit through) but they made it safe and sound.

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They all said YES (hopefully not because I manipulated them with delicious cookies) and I'm happy to have them all on board! Dress decisions are next..!

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Big thanks to Coquette for creating the perfect macarons on time, and for their awesome packaging!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fall Polish Roundup

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I've been trying to resist the fact that it's fall, but now that it's really here, I can look on the bright side – dark manicures are in full force. My go-to shades for fall are nudes, grays, and burgundy, which are classically seasonal and go with everything from day to night.

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I'm currently wearing OPI Scores a Goal, which is a nice dark raisin color, and for a more dramatic twist I switch to Essie's Wicked — an almost-black burgundy hue. OPI's Taupe-less Beach is the perfect gray-nude, and on the flip side, NARS Storm Bird is a cool, cloudy gray with a beautifully creamy finish. I usually reach for opaque polish, but I do have a few favorite shimmery shades for fall: Essie's Penny Talk and Butter's Chimney Sweep. I'm a big fan of Butter's formula, and have noticed it tends to chip less than other polishes. Sometimes the pricier options are worth it.

So are you embracing fall yet? And pumpkin everything?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Illustrated Wedding Invitation for Meghan + Nate

One of my favorite couples ever – Meghan and Nate – are getting married (so soon!) and I was thrilled to complete their stationery suite with these custom invitations, which complemented the Save the Dates I designed a few months ago.

They are getting married in a tree-filled NYC park, and wanted their invitation to combine the elements of a cityscape with the nature of the park. We decided on a palette that reflects the early fall feeling of September – neutral beige, mustard, and berry tones pair perfectly with the kraft RSVP envelope and info tag.

The star of the show is the invite, so we kept the rest of the pieces simple and sophisticated, with just the right dose of lightheartedness (a Mad Libs RSVP card is very fitting for these two)! The bride, being ever-so-crafty herself, chose the cutest combinations of stamps for each envelope. After months of hard work and collaboration with them, I was super excited to get my invite in the mail.

Counting down the days till this awesome NYC wedding!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ship's Wheel Mirror Makeover

When it comes to antiques, I'm usually cautious about altering their appearance in fear of destroying their value (file this under: everything I know I learned from Pawn Stars). We were faced with a lot of these decisions when we moved into our house – we had to decide what needed to be kept and what was okay to touch. For example, our living room is full of original cherry wood trim...and even though it wasn't my thing at first, it's an element that adds real value to our home, and we'd be crazy to paint it. Now I'm happy it's there – the wood is beautiful, and makes our living room feel like a modern cabin.

On the flip side, just because something is an antique doesn't make it valuable (though it could be emotionally valuable) and a little coat of paint isn't going to hurt anyone, if it makes you happy. 

Jim and I decided to check out the Lakewood city-wide garage sale a few weekends ago and after heading down a ton of driveways, we found this antique mirror with a $5 sticker on it. I'm sorry – what? $5. This is why I love garage sales.

The bones of it were there, but we knew the paint job and the metal stars wouldn't really fit our decor. Thankfully the mirror was made of wood and not metal, so we knew we could give it a quick makeover and find a great home for it on our walls.

I actually can't take any credit for this makeover, because Jim did it all himself, but hey...I art directed?

He removed the metal stars, which were just pinned into the frame with small nails, and then stripped off the paint with Strypeeze. This causes the paint to bubble and peel like tar, so be sure to wear gloves when trying this at home. He used a shim to scrape the paint off once it became loose. Once the paint was removed, he used wood filler to fill the cracks where some of the pieces were separating, and gave the piece a final sanding.

We actually liked the distressed look that the stripping/sanding process gave, so we left the mirror as is. I debated about white-washing it, or putting the stars back on, but decided against it. You can always add, but you can't always take away.

It turned out to be the perfect piece we were missing in our second floor stairway. I love it more than I expected – for $5 I figured it was a risk-free project, so it was great that it came out so nicely. I can't really say no to something nautical for a few bucks, anyway. 

Do you shop garage sales? Are they worth it for you, or too hit-or-miss?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Our Engagement Session with Kayla Coleman Photography

There are times in life where the stars just seem to align, and our engagement shoot with Kayla Coleman was certainly one of those. Within days of our engagement, Kayla happened to be in town from Durham, North Carolina and we jumped at the chance to work with her. Her talent has long been a favorite of mine, and I knew she would be able to capture the magic we were still feeling from our whirlwind vacation. 

We scrambled to get some ideas (and outfits) together, and decided to shoot our photos in our most natural settings – around the house, on our bikes, and at the beach. We were drinking beers on the beach when Jim proposed, so we wanted to include a nod to that moment by mimicking the scene (minus the Key West backdrop...and the tears). We are thrilled to have these photos to remember this time in our lives, and can't thank Kayla enough for her hard work and keen eye. She is truly amazing! You can check out her work here and visit her on Facebook for more.

Another special thank you to Tracy, the fabulous stylist from Anthropologie / Crocker Park, for making my last-minute shopping a breeze!



Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Links: Sangria Recipe Roundup


When it comes to summer, there are few drinks I like better than sangria. It's the perfect refresher that packs a mean alcoholic punch (well, at least when I make it).

I am a repeat offender when it comes to making peach sangria, so wanted to dig up some other recipes to inspire some interesting combinations. We have a bunch of mint growing in our garden, so I'm anxious to use some up with the apple mint white sangria pictured at #4. I love the idea of mixing in some herbs or veggies, like cucumbers or even sweet peppers, for a twist on this classic. Now that the nights are long and warm, sangria makes for an ideal patio companion. Time to get that pitcher out!

1 | Light and tropical pineapple sangria (Erin's Food Files)
2 | A beautifully styled watermelon sangria bar (A Fabulous Fete)
3 | White peach sangria – love the addition of the grapes (Cooking ala Mel)
4 | Apple mint white sangria (The Clever Carrot)
5 | Another great use of herbs – strawberry rosemary sangria (A Cozy Kitchen)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Our Key West Trip + Engagement Story

Hi everyone! I'm back from a bit of radio silence...we just got back from Key West a week ago and I'm finally getting back to reality – although our reality is a little different now that we are ENGAGED (yay!!) and have been fully thrown into the excitement that it brings. 

I posted some photos on Instagram during our trip but there are plenty more to share. Key West exceeded our expectations and I wanted to share our experience and favorite spots in case you ever find yourself down at the very end of the U.S.!

Our beach for the week, at the Pier House Resort. We loved our stay here and couldn't beat the service, amenities, and the private beach. Key West is small and there are only a handful of public beaches on the island, so having a private place to enjoy the sun (and have cocktail service) was a must. And seriously...look at that ocean. We were actually right in this spot later in the trip when Jim proposed.

We had our first drink here after we landed – I forget the name of this bar but it was right next to our hotel. How fun is the bright painted furniture?!

The food in Key West was incredible – so much fresh seafood and tons of places to eat. Our first night there, we walked Duval Street from end to end (think Bourbon Street – lots of bars, live music, and no open container policy) and stopped for some street food from D.J.'s Clam Shack. The lobster roll was so good, and I know it wasn't just my beverage doing the talking ;)

We couldn't leave without visiting the Hemingway House. I am kind of obsessed with his style and did a little portrait of him, so it was really amazing to get to walk through his home and see his collectibles from years of traveling and living abroad. Above is the front entrance.

Here's the main parlor room and the master bedroom. 

The size of the property and the lush, beautiful grounds were just as impressive as his stately home. We walked through gardens of palms, sugar cane, banana trees, ferns...which offer shade to all of the six-toed cats that live on the property. 

And then there was THIS POOL. It's bliss. I wanted to jump in so bad.

We filled out the week with a snorkeling trip, plenty of bike riding, and tons of food. Key Lime pie basically has its own spot on the food pyramid down here (not complaining), so we had a very delicious week. We headed to Latitudes for dinner on our last night and we both agreed it was the best meal we've ever had. Not only was the food amazing, the atmosphere was so elegant and romantic...the tables are set up in the sand, right along the ocean, with candles flickering everywhere...we enjoyed every minute of that dinner and were really sad to be winding down the trip.

We hopped on the 11:00 ferry back to Key West and decided to hang out at the beach and drink some late-night beers. We did this every night in Maine last summer (there wasn't much nightlife!) so it's become a bit of a tradition to sit and talk on the beach late into the night. Jim filled up his backpack with some cans of Miller Lite (hey, we keep it classy guys) and unbeknownst to me, my ring. 

I set up a towel on the beach, and as we're getting settled, it slowly starts to drizzle. A little drip here, a little drop there...I'm thinking, shit, it's our last day here, I'm totally not ready to call it a night. Then it rains a little harder, my hair's really starting to get wet (of course I'm worried about this) but Jim insists we just wait it out, as this does happen a lot in Key West. A little rain cloud passes quickly here and there all the time. So we just kind of sit there, waiting for it to stop, which it soon does. It's dark out, sailboats are cruising by on the ocean, no one around, it's almost 2am already. Our conversation turns to our relationship, I'm not thinking much of it, and smooth as butter, this guy is casually popping the question right before my eyes. Immediately following were lots of tears, lots of excitement and freaking out, another round of beers, and the nice realization that no one at home was awake, and that we could enjoy this amongst ourselves until the next day.

Our flight home didn't leave Key West until 2:30, so we luckily had plenty of time to call our friends and family in the morning, while packing and getting ready to leave. We had time to hit up La Creperie for brunch and Bellinis, and took one last bike ride around the island to say goodbye.

We had a truly amazing trip, even aside from the proposal. It was just icing on a very delicious, very awesome cake, and I will never forget the many little moments we had together. I knew when I met Jim five years ago that he was the real deal, and we've been committed as partners ever since. We chose each other whole-heartedly. OKAY, not going to cry...there's no crying in blogging!

I'm thankful to be home and to still have a bit of a vacation high (and a tan). I'll be back to regular posting this week. Thanks for bearing with me, and please, do not ask me when the wedding is! ;)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Illustrated Save the Dates for Meghan + Nate

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Creating memorable, custom work for friends, family, and clients is my favorite part of being a designer. Even if I am super busy, I tend to take them on anyway because they're so rewarding and fun for me to do.

One of my favorite couples ever is getting married this fall and I was thrilled to illustrate them for their Save the Dates. I'll be doing their invitations as well, so this was a great warm-up for the fun that lies ahead!

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We did a simple postcard layout and incorporated casual hand lettering to play off the whimsy of the illustration. We upped the elegance by typesetting Mrs. Eaves in small caps (my favorite). Kudos to Meghan and Nate for having exquisite taste, and for being awesome to draw!

If you have a project to discuss, shoot me an email at novak.rachael@gmail.com.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Crushing On: Floral Prints

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1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

I don't consider myself to be a super girly girl, but there's something about the charm of florals that bring out my uber-feminine side. They can actually be quite versatile and they don't have to be sticky sweet, as Tory Burch proves with her newest arrivals (which include this shift dress sitting at #1). I was  recently shopping for black ankle-strap sandals when I discovered this floral version, and now I'm completely distracted and have obviously forgotten about the black ones (or maybe I just need both). 

What puts you in the mood for spring? Floral prints definitely do it for me. And that bikini might actually convince me to rock a high-waisted bottom this summer...


Monday, April 7, 2014

Recipe: Homemade Oatmeal Creme Pies


Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies appeared many times at the apex of my childhood. Before moms cared about nutrition (or, before MY mom cared about nutrition) I used to get one of these bad boys in my lunch for "dessert" almost every day. And I wonder where my sweet tooth came from...

It's been years since I had one and the craving hit me while grocery shopping this week. I resisted buying a box and instead found this recipe to make my own. These were actually very easy to make and have all of the soft, chewy goodness of the original. I followed the recipe exactly and was sure to slightly underbake the cookies to keep them really soft. Head over to Cooking Classy to find out how to make them yourself!

Do you have a childhood snack you just can't resist?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Tribe Home Opener! Here We Go!

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It's been about five months since the Indians played in the Wild Card game (last October!) but that night hardly feels so distant. Spring training came and went and now the Indians are coming back to play on our home turf. The playoff vibes last season were electric and I think everyone is cautiously optimistic for another exciting year. Being downtown the night of the Wild Card game with so many fans (and non-fans there to catch the buzz...I don't blame them) was something I won't ever forget. 

Winter has no choice but to pack its bags and hit the road. It's baseball season...it's TRIBE season...now let's eat our weight in hot dogs and drink some beer!

I'm off to the game today – if you are too, stay safe, say hi if you see me, and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Still Life Lately


Happy April, everyone! I seriously can't believe how fast this year is going.

Lately I've been busy working on new projects and getting new products ready for springtime, but I've tried to make time to stop and smell the roses (or, in this case, tulips). Some snaps from life lately...

The J.Crew spring style guide is killing it – I wasn't crazy about their clothes the last few seasons but I'm really loving what's out now.

I scored these Sam Edelman boots at Nordstrom Rack on crazy sale, after lusting after them for years. Sometimes things are just meant to be! I'm also really pumped about adding these crazy cool mirrored Ray Bans into my rotation.

I had a few days home alone this week, and took the opportunity to finally page through this book and eat cookies for dinner. Ooooooooops. It's pure eye candy. Kate Spade is such a young, but iconic brand and it was fascinating to see how their aesthetic has evolved over the last twenty years. The book is also a graphic designer's dream – lots of great photography and bold color.

 Doing some brush lettering for a project...I love painting letters because things are so accidental. It can be frustrating at first, but once you learn to give up control, you get those "happy accidents" that all designers seek to have. But you can't seek too hard, or they won't happen! That's the conundrum.

What have you guys been loving lately?