Wine Journal

My husband and I LOVE wine. We have been taking classes on it for almost 4 years now, and although we have taken the courses sometimes more than once, we always learn something new from the instructor, Fran.

This is something, maybe the only thing besides movies or dining out, that my husband and I love equally. I will watch football, but he loves it. He will give me his opinion on my design, but I love it. Wine is one of the few things that he and I both crave to learn as much about it as we can and something that we do together nearly every week. We love tasting it, knowing when/where it came from, and pairing it with a nice meal.

That being said, from the past 3-4 years of classes, all we had was a big folder full of our wine class notes. I decided to take this a step further and turn it into a wine journal. I categorized all the different regions and grapes we like, separated them into tabs and folders, and designed the page above to use as a tasting sheet when we like a wine.

My hope is that in a few years, our experiences with the beloved fermented grape will be filed in this journal and it will be as much about the memories as it is about the knowledge. I think one day when we are having a certain fish or cut of beef we will be able to reference our journal and know the perfect pick! Now, on to wine cellar design... :)

If you would like a full size copy or excel file of my journal entry sheet, just email me at jprchitect [at] gmail dot com.


Wedding Entry #3 | Don't Get Married on a Saturday

Getting married on a Friday was hands down the best way to save money, right off the top. My husband and I were super budget conscious and this was one of the first decisions that we made that affected our bottom line the most. Well, this and winning our photographer [Wedding Entry #2].

Not only was our popular venue available and over $3,000 cheaper (rental price ended up being $2,750), but our photographer was available, and cruises only embark on Saturdays so that worked itself out too and we could leave the very next day on our Honeymoon! 

I also read online and in magazines that deals could be made with vendors if they weren’t already booked for the non-traditional Friday date, but since Charleston is a very popular wedding destination, I didn’t risk it and booked the vendors I wanted right away.

This wasn’t something I did intentionally, but I heard after the fact from friends and family that had to travel to Charleston that this helped their plans as well. They came into town on Friday, went to the wedding, and still had a whole day to tour around Charleston on Saturday before leaving on Sunday.

I’ll be frank and tell you that I wasn’t thrilled about the Friday date at first, but since I was already off from work for the whole week anyways, it didn’t really end up mattering to me (I didn’t even know what day it was since getting married is such a whirlwind). And let’s be honest, it really is all about the bride, isn’t it?!?

Another option is a Sunday afternoon wedding. This was posed in magazines as the cheapest route since you would most likely serve lunch fare, not a lot of alcohol will be consumed, and most likely locations and vendors will be cheaper. Due to the fact that I am friends with raging alcoholics who love to dance, this was just not an option for me as they we need a day to recover before returning to work. :)


New Car!

Yay! We did it! My husband and I were finally able to get the exact car I wanted. :) I am very happy with my choice and we even got a great deal. Steven is quite the negotiator!


Happy Valentine's Day!

No matter what is going on, I am so grateful to know that you are there for me no matter what. You give me the support and love that I need and I am so happy that you are in my life! I love you!


Bathroom Design!

This is a rendering I just did for a potential new client. She and her husband have a gorgeous house and this unused space on their second floor was the perfect spot to add in a spa oasis, even though this will be their daughter's new bathroom.

Here are a few tips for those thinking of doing their own design but you can always message me for ideas!

1. Always overlight your bathroom, but put the fixtures on dimmers. That way you have enough light for grooming, but can dim the light down for a bubble bath.

2. Cleaning a bathroom does not have to be as hard if you use the right construction methods and materials. Tile can be murder to clean for some, but I recommend using a grout with a latex modifier that will not allow the penetration of bacteria and that will make it harder for scum to grow.

3. Having enough storage (and in the right spots) is key to keeping your bathroom tidy. What about adding a large cabinet with an outlet inside of it so that your hairdryer and straightener can live there? Or making sure your vanity mirror has a medicine cabinet for your toothbrush and makeup?

4. Technically that chandelier above the tub is against code... you should be able to stand up in the tub without hitting your head, but doesn't it look sweet? and who stands up in a tub? :)


Mom's Pallet Re-use Project

My mom is quite the talented lady! She just sent me a picture of her latest wall art which is a reuse of an old pallet. She is always collecting things from her travels and in recent years started collecting a piece of pottery from every new place she went. This is the idea she came up with to display her art!

The only change she made was to add the horizontal shelves with an edge to hold up her pieces. She had to yellow the wood to make it match the old pallet and I think the results are great!

The little pottery piece on the top left is the turtle plate we got her in Hawaii :)


Wedding Entry #2 | Enter a Contest

I won my photographer!

It was truly the most wonderful contest I have ever won and I still feel so grateful for the prize. Virgil Bunao of CVI Photography was AMAZING! [see my favorite pics above]

We saw the pictures he had taken for the wedding of a friend of ours and absolutely fell in love with them, but not necessarily the price tag that comes with having such a talented photographer. It is not just the camera equipment and time spent at the wedding, but also the time of all the assistants, having the overhead of a staff and studio, and then the editing time that goes into the final best photos taken and this can become understandably pricey. 

Having such a talented photographer was well worth it and given the opportunity again, I would have paid for his services and cut back elsewhere to get the type of photos we now enjoy on a daily basis, even though my thoughts didn’t start that way – I had a bit of sticker shock. I believe his rates were roughly $5,000.00 for the package I won which included an engagement session, 2 photographer’s full-day coverage, and a CD of all the edited pics (over 550) from our wedding, and I couldn’t have asked for better pictures from the best day of my life!

Back to the contest…

While longingly scrolling through CVI’s website I found a link to the contest and just knew and felt inside that I had a great chance to win. It was an essay contest on how your wedding will be a “green” wedding and/or DIY wedding and I was all over that topic! Having just passed the LEED exam only a month prior, I felt like it was fate and got instantly excited.

I wrote about my history with recycling, my love of the earth, non-wasteful wedding ideas I had, and some innovative ideas I had already incorporated or was planning to incorporate into the big day.
My essay actually won third place, but part of the restrictions that applied was that the prize, or photographer, couldn’t have any previous bookings for your date, and being that my wedding was on a Friday (I will give you more on that later), my date was the first one available in the order of winners!

If I could give you two pieces of advice from this entry it would be this:

One, whatever the cost, get a fantastic professional photographer, someone that you feel comfortable with and can prove his successes by having a large portfolio for you to look through. Don’t be afraid to tell him or her if you want a specific pose or feel uncomfortable with something. Remember you only get one shot at capturing your special day and Virgil was just one more reason I felt less stress because my trust in him was so great.

And two, enter that contest! A locally held one will give you a higher chance of winning than the ones you see in the back of Brides Magazine for a dream honeymoon, but you never know! There are many drawings at local Bridal Shows you can take advantage of as well and this is also the perfect spot to speak with vendors, ask them questions, and become knowledgeable about the ones you want to use. The hard part is figuring out how to get them for free! :)


Alessi Jar

I love designer housewares more than just about anything! Here is a sweet little jar that I bought (I actually got two, one shorter and fatter and one taller and skinnier) for my bathroom. The designer is Alessi and I love most anything I have seen from the collection.

It started from a need for new jars to hold my cotton pads and Q-tips in my bathroom. I got a new shelf to store some lotion and body splash and wanted something a little different to go on there as well, and this is what I came up with! Well, I had my eye on a different Italian design (here) but couldn't bring myself to spend 60 dollars on something to hold cotton swabs... so the fun one above is what ended up in my cart.

I am excited to get them in the mail! Should be here by the end of this week or beginning of next! :)


Car Buying Woes

Buying a car is completely awful! In fact, why does the whole car industry make me feel I am getting screwed every time I lease, buy, or fix a car? There should be some sort of test you have to take to be a car salesman - one that includes how to shake a hand, how to not lie, any sort of ethics course would be great!

The best luck I have had with an honest salesman, and lately I have dealt with three… is that the one with the least experience was the most honest – yet not the most knowledgeable. There is a delicate balance between them knowing too much that they can screw you over and not knowing enough to maybe get you a better price.

There is also that whole pesky APR % on your loan. Sure, a used car is cheaper to start, but over the life of your payments, you may end up paying more in the end if you could have gotten a super good rate on buying a new car, not to mention that you have a newer car in the end as well.

I am not claiming to be an expert in this, definitely NOT an expert, but I would say from my recent experience I have learned a few things and have charted my course of action; I will be comparing both a new and used car that I like in terms of payments and total cost, I cannot get out of my lease no matter what they say (without paying for it, literally) until my lease term is up, and I can afford to be picky on my next car because I am buying it and keeping it for a long time (the only true way to get value out of your car)!

Above is a picture of the car that I most have my eye on – the Honda CR-V. I test-drove the Toyota Rav4 and found it to not look as good in my opinion and it seemingly didn’t have the interior room that the CR-V has even though it handled pretty well. I also drove the Nissan Rogue which I thought was quite nice, but I couldn’t get the bad reviews I read online out of my mind (calling it rudimentary design) and the one I drove was top of the line and out of my price range anyways. Plus, I just love me a Honda! I can’t wait to get back into the Honda family after driving a Toyota Camry for 4 years. I drove a Civic for 11 years prior and regret the switch I made. I will not make that mistake again!


Snuggle Time!

You can make fun of them all you want, but I am a BIG fan of a Snuggie (or Slanket pictured above)! The comedians try to depict people who can't wear a blanket and do simple tasks as silly, but I beg to differ - a blanket with sleeves is genius (and no, it is not a robe put on backwards, unless your robe has a long train on it?).

I am sure there are a lot of more important and meaningful inventions of the 21st Century, but it is the little things that makes this girl happy. Coming from someone who keeps her house pretty chilly, this is the perfect remedy. I can hold my kitty, play on my iPad, change the channel, cuddle my baby niece, etc. all without my arms getting cold!

We own 1 regular Snuggie, 1 marshmallow fabric type-snuggie (I am pretty sure this was an off-brand), and 1 Slanket, and I have to say all three serve a great purpose! Incase you are looking at getting one yourself, I have a few tips below:

The Snuggie, however cheap, is made of cheap material. It is similar to fleece, but not as soft as I would like it. That search led me to the marshmallow fabric suggie-like blanket I found at Walmart. It is made out of that super duper soft fleece you see baby blankets made out of and this has become my snuggie of choice. And lastly, if you are 6'-0" tall or taller, I would suggest the Slanket. It is made out of a heavier fabric than the Snuggie and is all around larger size, which causes it to be a bit pricier, but my husband loves it!

If my household could handle one more blanket with sleeves, I would definitely get the one above! I LOVE that pattern.
From Charleston, South Carolina to your computer. I hope you enjoy. :)