Category Archives: friends

Project #2: Burlap Happy Birthday Banner with Jersey Rosettes

At the beginning of June, my dear little sister, Tabitha, celebrated her 30th birthday.  Her older sisters are some of my closest friends, and as an adult, she has become so dear to me as well.

After receiving the email about the needs for the very detailed party her husband and sisters were planning, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to take the “Happy Birthday” banner concept swirling around my fizzy brain and bring it to reality.  Of course, I used several links, both Pinterest and others, to help me in my endeavors.

I knew that the first thing I would need would be a pattern and I was lucky enough to find an awesome printout pennant pattern on fantastic Chickabug’s blog.  One of the best things about this pattern is that it has four possible size modifications.  I cut the triangle down to the 6″ size and taped it to some cardboard scraps that I’ve been saving from our moving boxes (knew these would come in handy).  I carefully cut around the triangle with some very sharp scissors, but you could use any number of effective tools.  When I was done, I had a very sturdy template that could be used for all my pennants.

Banner template

Using a fine tipped sharpie marker, I outlined the pennants on a medium weighted burlap and carefully cut them out.  I was careful to use a burlap weave that wouldn’t come apart as easily.  The next few steps were important for the overall look of the lettering.

First I found a beautiful Celtic font Zilluncial online and downloaded it here.  I played around with it and made it bold at a very large font, can’t quite remember the size, but it was big enough fill up a large space on my pennant.  I printed off the letters in bold black and carefully cut them out.

The bold printed letters before they were cut out.

I traced around them onto paper with a fine-tipped marker, making a beautiful outline of each letter.  Then I practiced making a 3-D effect using this tutorial on How to Draw 3-D letters with the Cavalier Perspective.  Click on a picture to enlarge and see a closer, more detailed perspective.

Practice Sheet 1









Practice Sheet 2









Practice Sheet 3










Once I felt confident of each letter, I traced the outline of the letter onto the burlap and did the 3-D effects by hand.  It ended up better than I could have hoped.

3-D Close-up

I knew I wanted to have rosettes in between each pennant, but after making a few burlap rosettes and trying them out, I didn’t like the look of burlap with burlap.  It was time to try the rosettes using a different material.

I broke out some off-white jersey material I had stashed away and cut some long narrow strips.  It was fun to use the Decorated House tutorial for rosettes on a different material.  After playing with it for a while, I made several small rosettes that worked perfectly.

Rosettes and Pennants

Rosettes and Pennants

It was then I realized that my pennants were going to be too see-through for the lettering to be seen if it was hanging outdoors.  I used a basic black cotton material and cut triangles small enough to be glued onto the back of each pennant.

I cut some long strips of jute and used craft glue along the edges of the triangle, stringing each pennant on the jute and gluing the rosettes in between.

Black Backing

After letting it dry for a while, I realized that the rosettes were weighing down the top of the banner, causing the letters to topple in on on themselves.  My solution?  A little U.S. currency.  I glued one penny close to the bottom of each pennant on the back side … it worked perfectly!


I will modify it in the future and put either large rosettes or bows on the ends, but all in all, I think the final product was a success!  We hung it on the hosts’ garage and it went perfectly with the rustic decor for the party.

Happy Birthday Banner

Tab and Hannah

The hosts and their adorable son

The hostess and her precocious daughter

My nephew and his good buddy E, Tab’s niece


A June Weekend Adventure Part 3

Jenn's Beautiful Courtyard

Jenn and I talked late into the evening at our eatery, and, of course, didn’t arrive back at her place until very, very late. I was still keyed up from my night of blissful photography, food, and friend, and I couldn’t get to sleep for hours.  I leafed through my pictures and watched old episodes of Friends until the wee hours.

When I woke early the next morning, I felt my body digging itself into the couch I was sleeping on. It was early, 5:30 a.m. to be exact.  I leafed through magazines and waited for Jenn to wake up.  Then it was time to pull on some grungy sweats and a t-shirt and cheer on our friend Becca as she ran in the North Shore Half Marathon/5K in Highland Park!

Becca at the start of the 5K ...

On the way to coffee ...

We arrived just as the 5K race was about to begin. I was able to break out the Snapper again, take some photos, and then, she was off!  Jenn and I met up with another of our very close circle, Jo, and went to get some coffee to get us through.

We positioned ourselves at the finish line. I realized that I wasn’t going to get a great shot of her from the side I was on, so I naughtily sped across when a long lull in finishers provided an empty space to run.  I felt a little guilty when I had to squeeze through on the other side and drew some annoyed looks from the volunteers housed near the sound system.


It was worth it! Go Becca go!

We cheered her to the finish and then decided to head over to Walker Brothers The Original Pancake House. The scent of coffee wafted delicately through the air as the waiter poured for the girls around me.  I myself am NOT a coffee person.  Unless it is frozen and drenched in loads of sugar and syrup, I don’t touch it.  The smell of hot coffee, however, always covers me with its delicate haze of richness.  I can only wish that I enjoyed drinking it as much as I enjoy breathing it in.

French Toast

I ordered the delectable French Toast … and … a side order of bacon.  It was extremely delicious, but I can tell you it wasn’t a great choice.  I ate slowly, letting the powdered sugar, butter, and toast melt in my mouth.  Half hour later, I had a stomach ache that didn’t leave me for about 24 hours.  Lack of sleep + very buttery French toast = a sick feeling that will not quit.  Plus, for the first time in a long time, my body is getting used to eating more clean.  Tuna, fruit, greens, veggies, and crackers are definitely NOT supposed to prepare a person for the spicy Thai cuisine and fatty breakfast food that I had.

Joanna "posing" with her Bodybugg

One of the many gorgeous stained glass windows.

Beautiful stained glass light fixture

After our indulgent breakfast, we went outside where more pictures of friends who had not been together for a while were in order. I love having willing subjects!

Jo and Jenn!

Jo up to her typical antics!

I think you'll understand if Becca and I are worried about Joanna's teeth ...

Joining Jo in her awesome craziness ...

Jo looking too happy to be emo ... maybe if I change it to black and white?

A very, very tired Christy

The fun had to end at some point. I was sad to see my girls go, but I was so exhausted, all I could think of was my wonderful bed at home.

A June Weekend Adventure Part 2

My Saturday began to get more interesting as Jenn and I headed to her new apartment. Jenn has always been a city girl, so I was overjoyed to enter her own little piece of the city. As always, her excellent taste is easy on the eyes.

Jenn's Window to the World

We started talking about her schedule, and then she pulled out the holy grail of Jenn … her date book!  This is a very sought after commodity in the world of my friends.  Jenn’s schedule is always jam-packed with some event or another and trying to get time with her can be difficult at best.  Booking months in advance is usually the best way to get things done.




Tonight, her time was all mine though … pencil me in Jenn! She suggested two of her great deals; one for an Italian restaurant and the other for Sura Thai Bistro, a delicious, modern Thai lounge/restaurant.  I told her that I was up for anything, either sounded delicious after a week of eating clean.

We decided to hold off on making the decision until after I did a little makeover.  You know one of my summer goals was to use all the makeup tips I’ve been gleaning from Youtube on my friends and go out on the town.  Saturday was the first day that I have ever been able to do that.

The Bewitching Jenn

Jenn is the kind of girl who likes to look natural.  She also has the most beautiful blue-gray eyes.  Keeping all that in mind, I began with my pallet.

First I cover under eye circles with concealer, and then utilized a skin highlighter/brightener to create a lighter space for the inner eye.  I swept a flesh tone color onto the lid and brow, and then began to work with the blues and grays that I knew would compliment her beautiful eyes.

Eyes Don't Lie

I worked with the lightest turquoise across the lid,and then layered darker blues and mixes of blue and gray, staggering the edges further and further from the center of her lid.  I added a pop of light white/blue in the center.

To increase the size of her eye bed, I lined the waterline in white (had to use eyeshadow, oh how I wish I had a pencil), and then lined beneath the waterline with a mix of dark blue/gray about 1/4 of the way in, tapering it in gently to meet the waterline.  Underneath the rest of the waterline, I accentuated with more white shadow. I lined the top with a dark/blue gray and winged it out gently to the sides.  Finally I contoured her cheeks with bronzer, blush, and highlighter, using a kubuki brush to blend.

Then it was time for a much deserved impromptu photo shoot.  Usually Jenn is the face behind the camera, but on Saturday, it was all about her!

Love that Smile!

Jenn settled on Sura.

I tasted my first dish of Edamame ... delicious!

Delicious Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce

Jenn's Beef Pad Thai and irresistable martini ...

Finally, my scrumptious lemon grass chicken!

A June Weekend Adventure Part 1

It has been a really long time since I spent any large amount of quality time with my girlfriends, so imagine my delight at finding out that Skinny Cow was having an event in Chicago with a bra-fitting (something to do with their new slogan “The Perfect Cup”), champagne, Skinny Cow ice cream, and goody bags galore.  I signed up myself and Jenn (Jo was unavailable) and made plans to stay the night with her in the city.

I arrived via the “El” and waited by the sign at the entrance.

A few minutes later, with Jenn only moments away, the hostesses apologized and told me that they had made their last fitting appointment, and now no one else would be let in.  I stood there, looking down at the tickets I had printed out in my hand and thought you’re kidding me, right? Isn’t that what printing out the tickets was for?

I called Jenn, let her know not to park, and wandered outside, nostrils flaring a bit in annoyance. I mean, I didn’t need the fitting … couldn’t they just let us in for a little ice cream?  The sugar monster in me, angry at all the clean eating I have been doing, stomped and paced, paced and stomped, waiting for Jenn to arrive.

Then I saw it. I unslung the Snapper from under my arm

I don’t know architectural terms, but I love the double bay windows bubbling out from the skin of the building.  The faces and curves carved out of the masonry create such character and elegance.  Also, for those of you who don’t know, I am obsessed with brick and stone buildings, even if those materials are only faces over less elegant materials.

After snapping about a dozen shots at a couple of different speeds, waiting for pedestrians to get out of the frame, I turned to my left and noticed these elegantly pruned topiaries.

As I continued to shoot, I realized how calming photography is for me.  What a great metaphor for ways to handle stress in life.  You step back, look at the whole picture, and just take it in.  Perspective in photograpy, as in life, is what makes the difference between just living, or experiencing something beautiful and meaningful.