Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How To: Make Custom Postage Stamps

Look what came in the mail!

Did you know you can order custom postage stamps for about anything you like? We didn't until we googled around a few weeks back (looking for save the date and wedding invitation stamp ideas) and happened upon all the customization options out there — you can literally order anything from your own photos, stock images, and more.

There seem to be tons of sites that offer stamp customization options, but we fell in love with all the options and giant archive on Zazzle. All I did was search "pink peony" in their stamp section and pages upon pages of results came up. We're planning on incorporating pink peonies into the wedding since they'll be in season come June, so thought including them on the stamps would make a fun tie-in for the save the dates and invitations.

We settled on the version pictured since it had a vintagey and "chart illustrative" feel to it. You can find the exact stamp we ordered here — we went with the postcard version. I'm not in love with the "zazzle.com" marketing right there on the stamp and couldn't find a way to downsize or exclude it, but definitely understand their reasoning behind it.

Another fun perk — the more pages of stamps I ordered, the lower the overall price got (geez, stamps can get expensive, right!?). Plus, Zazzle sent me a coupon code for a future purchase after the order went through — sounds like they know how these things they call "weddings" work. We'll definitely be back to order more for the invites.

More on the save the dates to come soon!

Keep up with 17Apart's Wedding:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Weekend Trip: What We Found At Ikea

On our way up to NYC last weekend we took a little side trip to the Woodbridge Ikea. It's the perfect stopping point for us during the drive up, since it's right off Interstate 95 and allows for getting in and out fairly quickly.

We'd visited this Ikea in March of last year (trip details and what we brought home here), so knew the lay of the land. Mary was on a mission to find some curtain panels and an area rug — and both of us like looking around at all the smaller home and garden accessories that are new.

It's always fun walking around the showroom and warehouse floors — there's always new things to see and old favorites to think about getting again:

While window shopping, we loved the new section of lanterns, this elongated sink colander and the white lace hanging planters. We didn't leave with any of these finds this go round, but have them in the back of our minds for future trips. I pretty much fell in love with that sink colander, but wasn't sure if it'd be too long for our sink, so we left it this go round so we could go home and measure (not to mention the fact I picked up 2 new colanders in the kitchen section — anyone see a pattern here?). We also still like the hanging planters and think they'd even look nice hung upside-down as converted pendant lights. Maybe a project for another day.

We had fun walking through the appliance section — it's always funny to me how they have fake food and groceries in the fridges to show storage capabilities. It was like an adult-sized play kitchen.

I mentioned Mary was on a mission for curtain panels and area rugs:

She sorted through them all like a champ and in the end neither of us were completely in love with the offerings for our space right now. Either we'd love a pattern or material and it wasn't the right size or we'd find the perfect size and something just wasn't quite right. Such is life.

So, what we did bring home this time?

Behold, the smalls:

For the kitchen, I mentioned my 2 new colanders (here and here), but we also snagged a salad spinner and set of 3 basic cork trivets.

For those unfamiliar with salad spinners, you're in for a treat. It's one of those kitchen gadgets that isn't so multi-functional, but does a really good job at what it's meant to do — spinning and trapping the excess water off salad greens so all you're left with is perfectly airy, crisp and ready-to-eat greens.

Here's a shot of my new stainless colander in action too:

See how these things work together?

We picked up a couple little organizational helpers too — a shelf extension and a few basic wooden magazine files:


Mary's hoping to test the shelf in our pantry cabinet and bathroom shelves for fit and we're both hoping the magazine organizers will help us tackle the ongoing paper mountain problem we have going in in our kitchen (tell us we aren't alone with this problem).

We also picked up a few attachments and extensions for the basic wooden train kit we got during our last trip for when our nieces and nephew come over to play:

 1. Track extensions  2. Three piece magnetic train  3. Bridge and train extensions

They had such a blast playing with the basic kit last time they stayed, we thought it would be fun to get the attachments to give them more of a challenge the next time we see them. We also learned that having more train cars for them all to fight over share and play with helps all around.

While we left with a smaller load than what we went for, we got some great new inspiration and ideas for the home and feel like we got our Ikea fix in for the immediate future. In the meantime, the rug and curtain panel hunt continue on...

Have you been to Ikea lately? They always seem to suck us in with something new every time we visit.

P.S. Turns out that elongated sink colander would have been just a hair too long for our kitchen sink — thank goodness I was able to show some restraint.

Friday, January 25, 2013

DIY Valentine Projects From Etsy

As the week winds down we thought we'd leave you with a little "heartfelt" inspiration from Etsy. Here's a roundup of 12 fun Valentine-inspired DIY project ideas from the How-Tuesday series:

 Image gallery from the Etsy Blog.

Check out each of the projects here and find even more diy inspiration in the How-Tuesday series over on the Etsy Blog. Did you notice our little faux mercury glass finish tutorial shining in the bunch up there? We were so excited to be included.

We have enjoyed our time in NYC this week and are headed back down to RVA in the morning where we hear they are having a heatwave compared to the bone chilling cold we've felt over the past week here in New York. Cant wait to get home to 39 degree weather tomorrow (never thought we'd hear ourselves say that)! We know Basil will be excited to see us as we will him!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Photography Tips: Golden Hour

Have you all heard about the outdoor photography window called golden hour? It's the timeframe leading up to and after each sunrise and sunset where outdoor lighting is supposedly at it's very best for taking photographs of anything or anyone. The sky fills with beautiful golden tones, shadows and brightness become golden, diffused and dreamy instead of harsh — and shooting during this window can help you capture some of those radiant sun soaked images we all know and love.

Having just learned about golden hour ourselves, Tim and I took the camera for a short walk around our neighborhood last weekend on the tail-end of a Richmond sunset to see what we could get:


There's definitely a more diffused, golden, and effortless quality in the shots we took on our little walk — it will be fun to try shooting more during this window.

We also snapped a few silly shots of each-other since they say this window of outdoor light is the best for getting good portrait shots free from harsh shadows and crazy looking skin tones:

He's obviously the bigger ham between the two of us.  I think he was making dramatic superhero hand motions while saying something like, it's the golden hour of power. Yep, just remember, he's all mine.

But yeah, gotta admit the lighting worked really well in these shots — not too bright, shadowy or dark. Pretty neat!

Now that we know about golden hour, it's been fun looking at photographs on wedding blogs and professional photography sites, realizing how many of the shots were taken during this little magic light window of opportunity.

Here are a couple golden hour snaps of the NYC skyline during sunrise and sunset we captured on our phones while in the city this week:

Nothing stunning yet, but we're having fun getting the hang of it. I'm thinking it could be interesting to try some jewelry shoots for the shop during golden hour to see if the quality of photo gets any better. It might also be a good photography window for those shooting clothing, fashion accessories or larger pieces outdoors.

While reading through a recent photography post on Sincerely Kinsey in my reader, I found out about a cool app called Magic Hour that takes your location and automatically counts you down to the next time-frame for golden hour. Once you're in the golden hour window, it tells you how much time you have left and you can even set up alerts within the app to have your phone give you reminders when each new sunrise/sunset is approaching. The best part? It's completely free. Tim and I have been having fun with this app — acting all overly dramatic and saying things like: T-Minus 10 minutes until GOLDEN HOUR! Yes, we are that cheesy.

Speaking of cool photography apps, Tim came across Afterglow — we both downloaded it and have been having fun playing around with all the different options. It has a lot more editing functions over the regular iPhone camera (like straightening, cropping shapes, etc.) and several different filter options to play around with. We're still getting used to it but it's also been something fun to play around with this week.

What photo apps, editors and new-to-you photography tips are you loving these days? Did you already know about golden hour? We'd love any tips you have for shooting in great window of light.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Print Instagrams on Wood & Acrylic with InstaThis

We've got some new art in the house we love and in true-to-us fashion, it involves photos we've snapped on our phones and our favorite Weimaraner!

When the magic workers behind InstaThis contacted us about transforming one of our Instagram images into a wooden work of art, we jumped at the chance and knew exactly the shot we'd want to use. I'd just snapped this new favorite shot of Basil overlooking the James River at a grouping of ducks swimming by and thought it was just too good to only live in digital form.

InstaThis is a brand new company (just launched in the last month) that connects with your Instagram account, allowing you to create prints of your snaps on acrylic or wood. They're all printed and finished right here in the USA from a small team based in Chicago.

We went with just the one recent shot of Basil in the river, but InstaThis offers discounts on multiple orders. Speaking of discounts, we've got one for you at the bottom of this post if you want to try out InstaThis on your own pics!

Our wood print arrived in one of the coolest compact packages we've ever seen:

We loved the thin cardboard box with geometric printed patterns and the InstaThis logo. Please don't mind all the water spots — the package arrived just after our first snow in Richmond and it seems the box was just as excited to get out and play in it as Basil was.

The box opens up easily to reveal the beautifully wrapped print (which already included installation hardware) and all the instructions and extra InstaThis info you need to know printed directly on the inside of the box:

Gotta love a company that makes use of materials otherwise headed for the trash bin. 

Here's our wood print straight from the packaging:

InstaThis printed our photo of Basil directly onto a 5/8" piece of Baltic Birtch wood — we love how you can still see the natural wood grains and patterns coming through the printed image. The wood block has a bit of heft to it too, really making it feel like a piece of finished art.

Here's Basil getting a good look at the print:

He's probably thinking "shoot, now that day I saw all those ducks that got away is sealed in time forever...I will get those ducks one day."

It was also so nice that the wood print came ready to hang straight from the box. Since we were headed out of town, we found a temporary home for our new wood print in our front hallway:

It's leaning up against the mirror and by nothing other than chance, actually plays off the blue walls in the adjacent front parlor really well (see them reflecting through the mirror below):

Did you notice we found a new temporary home for our vintage wood stamps?

Now that the holidays have come to a close, we packed up the more holiday themed letters with the rest of the decorations and repositioned our family name letters in the front hallway here with the new print to create what we think is a welcoming little vignette:

So as you can gather, we're pretty excited about our newest piece of art. We'll keep you posted if it finds a new home in the house, but like the way it's hanging out greeting everyone as they come in for now.

A wooden photo print like one of these would make a great gift idea for Valentine's Day — and InstaThis is offering a special limited time 15% off discount especially for you guys on anything you'd like to order through this Valentine's Day, 2/14/2013. Just use the code "17APART" to redeem. Head on over to InstaThis to get started.

If you'd like to keep up with what's new at InstaThis, check out and follow their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest feeds.

This post was sponsored by InstaThis, who provided us with our wooden print and whose concept and mission we love. All thoughts and opinions were our own and we'd like to thanks InstaThis for providing a special discount code for all 17Apart readers.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Green Smoothies & Clay Pots

Tim and I tried our first green juice the other day. While knocking out a little shopping at Ellwood Thompson's, we thought it would be fun to try a little pick-me-up from their juice bar.

Juicing hasn't been something Tim and I have delved into yet, but have always been interested in when we walk by the juicing counter at Ellwoods. You can order from a long list of different juices — Tim and I both went with a vitamin rich, energy boosting green juice filled with veggie greens like kale, spinach, Swiss chard and celery, then lemon and apple to give a little sweetness and set off the bitterness in the greens. We even watched as each giant leafy green made its way through the juicer:


The end result — it wasn't bad! The hardest part was realizing we were drinking the equivalent of a lot of green veggies. While not something we'd want everyday, it was fun to try and we'll most likely try again. Don't think we'll be buying a juicer for our home anytime soon though.

While we were at the grocery store, we also came across these self-watering irrigation systems called Olla pots. They are clay pots you can plant underneath your garden and fill with water — then they do the rest of the work by slowly watering your plants over time.

It's evidently an ancient watering system that's regaining popularity. They had a demo set up at the store with one planted in an herb garden — you just fill the top of the pot sticking out of the ground with water like so:

And the pot seeps water underground overtime to feed the plants. We didn't pick one up during our visit, but love the idea and haven't been able to stop thinking about them since. I wonder if we could DIY something like this for when the summer heat hits or when we go out of town for a week at a time (like we are now).

So tell us, are you a juicing fan? Do you own a juicer and have a favorite go-to recipe or is it a great way to use up fruits and veggies from the fridge? Maybe you're like us and have tried it a few times and are fine to just have one every so often from the store. What about self watering garden systems? Tried it or curious like us?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Weekend Basics

Tim and I are enjoying a long weekend with an extra day off today. We made the drive up to NYC for the week ahead (I'll be working in the Brooklyn Etsy offices while Tim E.A.T.'s his way through the city). While we're exploring the city today, we thought we'd leave you with a little roundup of other goings-on throughout our weekend...
You may have gathered from this post that we saw our first snow of the year (and season) Thursday evening. It's always a little bit of a magical feeling when the first flakes begin to fall — it had been raining for about 4 days straight in RVA before the temperatures got low enough for snow. Tim got home from work just before the changeover to snow happened and we ended up getting about 2-3 inches in the city. We decided to take a little walk and get takeout for dinner while the snow was falling:

Here's our little snow dog:

He had cold toes but wouldn't miss out on the chance for a walk in the snow for anything. Does your dog run around and around real fast and hyped up in the snow too? Basil is so funny — he is hesitant to go out in the snow, but once he gets out in it, he likes to sniff, eat and run all around in it. Remember this video of Basil playing in the snow this time last year?

And the view from our front window just before heading up to bed that night:

To warm things up a little, Tim pulled out the kitchen torch on Saturday and whipped up a few caramelized grapefruits — they reminded me of a "breakfasty" creme brulĂ©e with the sugary crunch on top:

Find the full recipe newly published on E.A.T. This one's a must!

Yesterday we hit the road early and headed up interstate 95 towards NYC. We did take a short detour through the Ikea in Woodbridge:

We had fun walking around and even found a few fun little things we left with — more on those once we get them back home.

Then it was back on the road to NYC. Here's the view from our room where we're staying in Brooklyn:

Here's wishing you and yours a wonderful finish to the long weekend (if you had one too) and a great week ahead.