decor

My Big Gay Wedding, Part 1: The Designer Album

May 7, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Narrowing down the photos I wanted to share from our big gay wedding was a daunting task — too many wonderful images and memories to choose from! So I’ve divided them into two albums representing my Gemini-esque personae: Designer and Daddy.

This one — the Designer Album — features details, graphics, colors and all the minutia I obsessed over to make our special day a little special-er. You can see the Daddy Album here. And thanks for your patience — I had to wait nearly 17 years to legally marry the man I love, so I figured folks could wait a few days to see more pics of my adorable kid.

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GAY WEDDING - INVITATION

YOU’RE INVITED. From early in the planning stages, it was obvious to Papa and I that a marriage between two people that had been together for 16+ years should get some props for longevity. There weren’t going to be doves descending from the heavens and whisking us away to a magical happily ever after. This was about commitment and family and roots and the journey it took to get here.

So I came up with a stylized brick motif. Bricks may not conjure romantic imagery, but they are vitally important in that they build roads for life’s travels and the foundation for a home. They fit and work together to guide, protect and stabilize.

GAY WEDDING - INVITATION OPEN

The front of the invitation unfolds to reveal a “road” leading us home.* I wanted to not only communicate the ceremony would be at our house, but also emphasize the importance of home to our relationship and our family. It also set the tone for the celebration — warm, informal and all about the love.
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So let’s get to the photos of the actual day, shall we? By the way, the fabulous Piper Watson shot all of the wedding day photos. Please hire her — she is a sweet photographer and an even sweeter spirit.

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JJ’s Room v2.0

January 13, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, MAKING MEMORIES

For one reason or another, this post kept getting pushed back further and further down my “to do” list. JJ transitioned from Room v1.0 (crib) to 2.0 (big boy bed) well over a year ago, but as with most things these days, once a milestone is reached, it fades quickly into the distance as he races onto the next.

But lately it feels like he’s trying to outrun his cuddliness phase even faster than usual. I look around his room (and the rest of the house) and see signs of his little body and little mind bursting at the seams — puzzles scattered over every spare inch of floor, several pairs of shoes and stacks of shirts ready for the basement as they no longer fit, a dusty booster seat we only use for “motivation” when he can’t sit still for a meal.

So before he starts redecorating his room on his own (either with robot stickers or a framed high school diploma) I thought I’d document JJ’s Room v2.0.

Pre-transition: I snapped this photo of his last night in the crib. Clearly he’d outgrown it — and this doesn’t even show the oft-seen image of one of JJ’s feet shoved calf-deep through the bars.

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Still, I was going to miss this little cage of cuteness as it represented not just a great way to contain protect him, but also a big step away from babydom.

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Holiday Decorating Ideas: Christmas Terrarium

December 12, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

Last year about this time I was suffering from my usual Holidays Over-commitment Burnout Lethargy (or HOBL), but was determined to muster some of that elusive Xmas Spirit and do at least one creative thing. I discovered my muse in the form of a Christmas Terrarium (yes, I realize how gay that sounds) made from all sorts of “found objects” and a bit of late-night Christmas Eve gumption.

To me, the best craft/art projects are simple and straightforward, especially when it comes to Holiday decorating ideas. If I have to learn to use a soldering gun or wear protective gear or mix any kind of potion, I haven’t got the patience. The fun for me comes from the spontaneity of pulling together unrelated items, creating something new and hopefully bringing a smile to someone’s face…even if it’s just mine.

So here’s what I used (with links of where to purchase, if available)…

  • Cake pedestal: Received as a gift ages ago — we’ve used it for actual cake maybe 2 times. But it’s gorgeous as hell and was the perfect base for my Christmassy masterpiece. I couldn’t find the same one, but Williams-Sonoma and Crate & Barrel have some nice options.
  • Miniature trees: I’ve been collecting Christmas trees for the last 15 years, but was short on the super shorties. So I hit the baking shop (cookie cutter) and toy store (model train set pine tree) to fill out my forest.
  • Paper Easter grass. Regular Easter grass was too shimmery for my taste.
  • Miniature LED lights. I snatched these up at our local hardware store even before I knew what I’d use them for. I used white, but they come in pretty much any color full-size Christmas lights do.
  • Small glass ornaments. I toyed with using white felt or something to make snow, but it just looked goofy. These kind of imply snow…or just a bunch of shiny balls. Either way, I thought it looked purty.

I know it probably looks like I just laid all this stuff on a platter and called it a day, but it did take a bit of trail-and-error (and a rum & coke or two) to get it looking magical and not monsoon-ical.

The trees are kinda flimsy, so put down lights and grass first, covering the bottom of the platter evenly. The lights come with a little battery pack, which you can hide under grass or let hang out the back. Keep the lights on while you’re arranging everything, so you don’t cover too many up. Wiggle your trees in place, pushing aside the grass and lights so they’re resting directly on the pedestal, then place the balls around to fill in the gaps. Gently put on the cover, trim off any extra grass, and voila! A Winter Wonderland Under Glass!

Helpful Hint: Wash the pedestal and cover before beginning. If you forget and get it all together, smudges will only look worse when backlit. TRUST ME, I KNOW.

tererium1

Serve covered…

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…or uncovered.

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And for the craft-averse who thinks this is WAAAYYY too precious for your cynical sensibilities, I whipped up something silly and snarky just for you…

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Okay, maybe it’s a little sacrilegious, too. Click to view detail — you know you want to.

For my Nerd Nativity™ I used a small cheese platter (again, it’s had cheese on it maybe ONCE). It didn’t work with the cover, so I hot glued a star-shaped cookie cutter to the top and put it on a red salad plate to make an even mini-er tree terrarium.

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This is a great activity to do with the kids, either for putting it together or having them run all over the house looking for things to include (JJ loved dumping every last figure out of his toy box). Put them on the kitchen counter, as a Christmas dinner centerpiece or in the kids’ room as the coolest nightlight ever.

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If you try one, be sure and send me a pic and I’ll share it on the Designer Daddy Facebook Page!

Happy Crafting and Happy Holidays!

 

Paintin’ Punkins

October 10, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

Maybe you’re tired of seeing all the cool and creative ways to decorate for Halloween. I know I am — but only because I won’t have the time or energy to do any of them. Don’t get me wrong — I love Halloween for it’s wonderful mish-mash of adorable and terrifying. And I had grand plans for our family costumes this year. Papa and I skipped dressing up last year, so I wanted to make the extra effort to do it all together, while JJ still wants to be seen in public with us. There are only so many of those years left. But on our trip to Target to get JJ’s initial costume request, they didn’t have his size. So he wore me down asked politely, and we got something different. Back to the drawing board for Papa and me…

My Halloween mojo had been dealt a mighty blow. Yet JJ was helpful putting out our gargantuan pumpkin collection, and even assisted in picking out real pumpkins at the local nursery a couple weeks ago. We were getting back on track to the true Trick-or-Treating Spirit.

And then the other day, out of the blue, he asked, “Daddy, can we paint punkins?”

Quicker than you could say “I’d better take advantage of this before he starts asking me to play basketball or fix a car” we were down in the basement, rummaging through Craft Mountain, hauling supplies upstairs, and embarking on our little project.

I’ll tell you up front — these aren’t the most creative pumpkin painting or decorating ideas out there. I didn’t consult Pinterest or click through a slide show on iVillage or pick up Martha’s latest mag. I had to grab this opportunity by its ornery horns and make do while JJ was in a crafty mood!

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We set up in the kitchen, covered the table with newspaper, got out all our (acrylic) paints, brushes, cups of water, paper towels for cleanup, paper plates for mixing colors, and turned our shirts inside out and backwards. These little pumpkins and gourds you can get from any supermarket or nursery are a great size for toddler hands. And the painting part is great because no cutlery is involved.
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A long time ago in a gallery far, far away….

May 3, 2013 | By Brent Almond | THINGS DAD DIGS

Happy May the Fourth from Designer Daddy!

Concepción Studios is a California-based graphic design studio that specializes in vintage-style prints, posters and photographs for its music industry clients. They’ve worked with the likes of Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, MUSE and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, merging 60s-style design with contemporary irony and whimsy.

Yet it’s the studio’s Etsy store that drew my attention on this most blessed of holidays. The shop features, among other things, an out-of-this-world collection of Star Wars-inspired prints. Let’s take a stroll through the gallery, shall we?…

My favorite is this set of Princess Leia and Han Solo silhouettes. Click to enlarge and read the obvious, yet hilarious, captions.

HANLEIA

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Giveaway: Printcopia Canvas Prints!

March 19, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES, THINGS DAD DIGS

PRINTCOPIA-LOGO

One of the perks of being a blogger for any length of time is getting nifty stuff to review. Even better is when it’s something that you genuinely end up liking. Such is the case with the canvas print from Printcopia I was asked to create and review for a very cool giveaway that YOU need to enter! (details below)

Not surprisingly, I’m pretty picky extremely anal about what goes on the walls of my house or office. No “off-the-rack” posters, prints or artwork in this Designer Daddy’s personal gallery. Yet that’s not to say I only buy expensive artwork. My main requirement is that it has a story — a painting by my favorite local artist, a framed poster from a trip to Prague, or a charcoal sketch I did in college — it’s gotta be personal, otherwise it’s just decoration.

However we don’t have many photos on the wall. We’ve got plenty scattered throughout the house on bookshelves and dressers; but even more odd, we don’t have more than a couple of photos of our son on the wall… or anywhere. I’ve posted a bazillion on Facebook, Instagram and my blog, and I’ve got a folder in iPhoto for every month since he was born. But since becoming parents, getting photos actually printed, picking out a frame, etc. just takes time we ain’t got.

This is what excited me about Printcopia. It was a way to put up a photo of JJ along with the artwork on the wall and have it fit in — not just in size, but in quality.

I’ve had one photo print made before through another company, and while the quality was good, it only came in one size/shape — square. Printcopia can do square plus a bevy of other sizes ranging from 8″ x 8″ to 30″ x 40.” And not just canvas prints, but also sleek acrylic prints, framed prints, panoramics, decorative wall decals, and yes, even old school photo prints. Images for all of these can be uploaded from Facebook, Instagram, or your desktop/photo library.

But my favorite feature was being able to choose any color I wanted for the edges of the canvas. As a designer, having the ability to customize the details is vital (I’m a dork like that). For my print, I chose a favorite from our trip to Italy. Our living room (where the print now lives) has a warm, bright color palette, so being able to sample the orange in JJ’s shirt and make that the border color was pretty dang awesome.

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NOW ABOUT THAT GIVEAWAY…
I’ve partnered with several other parent bloggers so we could get a bigger booty.
The winner will receive THREE canvas prints:
one 8″ x 10″
one 11″ x 14″
one 16″ x 20″

Keep in mind Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are coming up. Enter this contest (and win)… Shopping for your spouse, parents or in-laws? Done. And WAY better than smelly soap or a tie.

 

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Original photo

 

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Printcopia canvas print, in our living room. The only thing I Photoshopped out were the crayon marks on the wall. (Canvas is 16″ x 20″)

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The giveaway runs for two weeks (ends 11:59pm April 2nd), and the winner will be contacted within 7 days. If you have any questions, email orenmil@bloggerfather.com. Oren (AKA A Blogger and a Father) headed up this contest and will be responsible for prize fulfillment. Contest is open to US residents, 18 and older.

(PS: Printcopia has several sister sites that sell car magnets, banners, and bandit signs.)

JJ’s Top 10 of 2012

January 6, 2013 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, THINGS MY KID DIGS

As with any toddler, JJ’s moods tastes shift like the wind. Make that a whirlwind. But these ten things stood out in 2012 as being particularly popular with our breezy little boy…

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Jingle Bells, Batman Smells

December 12, 2012 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

In an attempt to discourage JJ from yanking ornaments off our tree, I gave him a Christmas tree of his very own. I pulled out my collection of superhero ornaments and together we put them on this nifty little tree. I even set it up outside his room on a piece of white foam paper — it looks like snow and keeps the table from getting scratched. How smart and crafty of me!

I went in the kitchen to fix dinner, leaving him to undecorate/redecorate to his heart’s content. A few minutes later I heard a telltale “Uh-oh”...

…and went to check and this (below) had happened. I realized I should have told him that these weren’t like his other superheroes, and that the arms and legs didn’t move. So I did, put poor Iron Man with the other toys in the “to be fixed” pile, and went back to making dinner.

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DooDad of the Day: Number Tree Growth Chart

October 19, 2012 | By Brent Almond | THINGS DAD DIGS

I haven’t done a DooDad in awhile — there’s such an onslaught of cool/cute stuff out there, I sometimes don’t know what to focus on — although I have started throwing some stuff up on Pinterest. But this one comes from someone I actually know, so wanted to give it a special shout out.

Growing Tree growth chart & detail

Designing a growth chart for JJ has been on my (much too ambitious) to-do list, and he’ll probably be 6 feet tall before I get around to it — so I might just have to buy one of these awesome charts from Mixt Studio, owned by Californian designer/mom Marcie Carson. We met a few years ago in Louisville, KY where we were judging a design competition. She was also blogging at the time and hers was one that inspired me to start Designer Daddy, so I’ve kept up with her ever since.

I really dig these because they’re smartly designed and fun, but not over-the-top kiddie-looking. Plus it’s nice to see a kid’s product that’s not tied into a TV show, movie, or — dare I say it — superhero. Marcie gave me a little extra info on the growth charts… and a deal on FREE SHIPPING!

Do they come with any stickers or ways to mark a child’s height?
They are made of canvas, so you can write directly on them with a pen. A Sharpie is best, but even a ballpoint will do.

What inspired the designs?
Most of my inspiration comes from my two children… what they (and their friends) like to play with. I also pay close attention to decorating trends in children’s rooms. All of our designs are playful without being too cutesy.

Do you have any new products coming up soon?
We just added several new growth chart designs, including some cool new themes like 70s beach, retro skateboard, and Guatemalan stripes. Please offer a FREE SHIPPING CODE to your readers: “GoodKarma”


Check out all the styles… and take some time to poke around all the other cool products while you’re there. And be sure and tell Marcie I sent ya.

Sit Happens

February 8, 2012 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, THINGS MY KID DIGS

We’re not in full-on toilet training mode just yet, but it’s just around the corner. Every time Papa or I go to the bathroom, JJ runs in after us shouting “PEEPEEPOOPOO! PEEPEEPOOPOO!” He then sits on his own ‘lil training seat (below), hops up in a few seconds, then pulls its lever to “flush.” Isn’t that just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? Yes, I realize I may change my mind once it has actual urine and feces in it…

JJ’s other potty duty dooty is flushing the toilet for us, and then waving “Bye bye pee pee!”, closing the lid*, and then washing his hands. So far all of his bathroom experiences have been pretty non-traumatic (other than trying to flush a full roll of paper) which I hear is key in a successful transition to big-boy pants.

So you can imagine my alarm when my Mom sent me this photo, asking if we wanted it for JJ.

This monstrosity is my Dad’s training toilet, unearthed while my parents were going through my recently deceased Grandmother’s things. Last used during the Truman administration, it looks to be made entirely of dark wood, with a faded Dick & Jane-type illustration on the back. While I’m all about vintage furnishings, I couldn’t see us using this for anything except maybe an outdoor planter. Or perhaps if we lived in the American Horror Story house.


I mean seriously — faced with the daunting task of pooping on your own for the first time, which would you prefer? The bright-and-shiny, super-smiley “Cheer for Me! Potty? Or the miniature electric chair? I don’t know how anyone survived childhood before Fisher-Price…

*We also recently purchased these awesome toilet seats (I know, I’m getting excited about toilet seats…) that close slowly so as not to smash baby’s fingers. We even got one that’s called “Next Step” and has a smaller training seat magnetically attached to the lid that can come down to aid in potty training. Ain’t technology grand?