Friday, December 21, 2012

Bridezillas.... a Product of our Current-Day Society

I didn't think it would happen, but I believe I'm there. I've become a bridezilla. Ok, I may be going a little dramatic here, but as a first-time bride I am just now becoming enlightened to the scam that is 'the wedding'. I knew from friends complaining or segments on tv discussing ways to save on getting married, but I really did not realize how you can walk into a normal store and mention the word wedding and the price immediately increases four times its normal value!

I pride myself on being a deal-finder and a somewhat frugal shopper. The goal is to find the best quality item for the cheapest possible price, right? I rarely pay full-price for anything - hitting up stores prepared with a coupon. I even have multiple apps on my phone that help give me good deals. But, wedding changes everything... going cheap can very easily mean going extremely tacky.

My first introduction came when seeking out venues to house our reception. I actually work in a location that is notorious for putting on weddings. It was the first venue I priced out and I scoffed saying, "I'm not getting married here, that price is crazy - I can totally find a better deal than that!" A few weeks later after endless hours of searching I was extremely humbled and appalled but the reality of what we were facing. We looked at hotels, barns, resorts, bars, restaurants, and everything in between. Suffice to say, we are now booked at the place where I work after realizing what a good deal they actually are; they don't charge for the location so all your money goes into your food and set-up and at the same time they do everything so you don't have to worry. Not having a wedding planner, this proved to be more what we were looking for.

Earlier that week Chad and I visited this barn about 40 min outside of Madison. It was beautiful spread out on this vast countryside on a horse-farm. There were rolling hills, luscious trees, even a gravel path and the option to add a horse drawn carriage if you so desired. Let's book it! Then we get out of the car to check it out. We are literally blown away - it's so open that there is this constant breeze that rolls over those hills. "This wind is typical" says our guide. Are you kidding? I'm not one for being prissy, but getting my hair done in these circumstances would be a waste because it would be destroyed after about 5 min. And the barn? Basically a wooden box that turns into a massive wind-tunnel once you open the doors. It's base price? $3500. Exqueeze me? That's over 25% of our budget and we haven't even fed anyone yet. Oh, and we haven't even sat everyone yet? Yep - luxuries like chairs and tables tack on even more cost because that price doesn't include anything. That's just for the use of the barn. And this place is booked for the next year and a half? Who are these people out there paying this?! And people actually spend this to get married? And there are people who get married more than once? I don't know how they do it - I guess I'm too cheap!

Reality ad sunk in. This is NOT going to be easy. Here we are working to start our lives together to do crazy things like 'buy a house' and 'have a family'. I think I have a decent job. I don't spend frivolously. I don't go on crazy vacations around the world. We live within our means - so I thought. So, tacking on the price of a wedding and the reality of what people really pay was quite a shock. We still are working to have a wedding near our goal. I anticipate our final price will spike a bit more than we first had hoped. The best way to keep the wedding cheap? Cut the guest list. This really isn't an option since having our friends and family there was one thing that was important to us. Plus, the idea of a nice sit-down dinner has been something we always wanted. Feeding people (and allowing them a spot to sit) proves to be the other really expensive cost so we are keeping our guest list to 150 max.

I've come to realize that the wedding isn't just the one day. It's the whole time leading up to and culminating with that one day. So, if you are going to put so much time and energy into all the details and spend so much money, you may enjoy all the time up until the wedding. If you make it a conscious choice - I think it really can be enjoyable. So long as you can let things go and just be happy with only investing a the few things that actually matter, then the wedding is do-able. Our biggest investment at this point is in our photographer. That was something we didn't want to skimp on. Other than that, I've really learned to let go and ask the question "is that something I'm really going to look back and think I could have lived without? One luxury that I've already come to let go on was a sort of 'add on'. I grew to really love the idea of having a photo booth because I loved the idea of having a guest book with lots of funny photos of our family and guests. But, at the end of the day is it worth it for the price of $750? For a book? with pictures? After we already are having a pretty great photographer? no. 

So, back to bridezilla. No, I'm not terrorizing and crying because I want all the flowers in Madison at my wedding. My requests are actually quite simple, I think. It's just the reality of it all and the time it takes to seek out the best option for the best price. Oh - and everything is negotiable, which I'm not a huge fan of. I hate haggling, but it's how the industry runs. All the prices are SO inflated, that you are expected to talk town to a semi-ridiculous price. There are those amazing deals, but a lot of them lack the luster of a wedding. Say you get a hall for cheap, but it's just a hall so you have to add piece-meal all the other little bits to make it nice and what you would like. Then you have to be sure that everyone comes through for you on the big day. We ultimately went a little more up front for our venue because we figured we would save in the long-run not having to deal details like renting chairs and setting up tables. Unless you can afford a wedding planner, it's really the only option now-a-days unless you want to be dealing with details on your big day. All I really want is to wake up - get pretty, and just be able to enjoy, remember, and look back on how fun the day was as best as I can. Is that too much to ask, RAR! ;)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New Socks. Oh, how I love thee...

Hello! I'm alive! Boy - holidays are crazy! I've come into a bunch of freelance design work lately, so it has unfortunately put my blog posting on the back-burner for now. But no fear! I hope to be back up and blogging more consistently through and after the new year! Hope you had a nice break from reading :)

Today I was motivated to do a fun little post because of these awesome socks that I bought. I have this favorite site that I love to check everyday. It's called theClymb - I LOVE the things they post on here. Outdoor-wear and gear in amazing brands I've never heard of at prices I can afford. No, they aren't paying me to shop here or tell you about it. It's just my dirty pleasure. I managed to snag an awesome fleece zip-up for less than $20 a month or so ago.

Most recently I bought some awesome socks. They have great deals every now-and-again. This month they had a free $15 credit. With that bonus, I managed to score 3 pairs of socks I was oogling. That deal tipped me over the edge to purchase and I managed to get them for $12 for 3 pairs including shipping. Totally worth it in my opinion considering these typically run about $10-$20 per pair - Merry Christmas to me! Bonus feature? These socks are made in America AND here in Wisconsin. Who knew!? I love hearing of these brands I've never heard of. And the quality of these is impeccable - Fox River Socks.

It's amazing how good it feels to have new and fun socks. If you are looking for an ideas to add to your Christmas list? I know this year I was struggling. There is nothing I need which I'm so grateful for. Remember when you were a kid and socks were the last thing you would ever want to add to your list? Who knew they bring me so much joy today :)

Hope you are finding joy in your Holiday so far!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Weekend in Portage :: Part 1

View from the deck at Portage.

This weekend was one that I've been looking forward to for quite some time! Chad and I try to get away to Portage as much as I can, but plans happen and life just gets busy! This was the only weekend open where we could break away this fall and we were really wanting to get up north so we could chill, cook, carve some pumpkins and live a little bit simpler for a bit.

This is my seat of choice: near the fire, view of birds, and nice cozy couch.
Pumpkins to carve. Sadly, these never got touched, but they sure look festive!
Friday after work, we loaded up the car, grabbed tons of groceries from a list that I had prepared the week prior and we set out for an hour up north at a family house that we love to get away to. It didn't go quite as smoothly - we got up there only to realize that I had forgotten the cream cheese. Chad attempted to pick up some from his grocery stop (we went separately - I was in charge of food and he was in charge of drinks) only to leave the 2 boxes at the grocery store - HA! We had to head out for an extra trip, but once we did, we were on lock down and promised to stay in until Sunday.

First things first! I start dinner... a frozen pizza (we didn't arrive until a little later thanks to our detour) and Chad began working on getting the fire going.This evening was not so exciting - just what I had hoped for! Portage doesn't have cable, but recently wi-fi was installed so we do have access to Netfix. We try not to watch much tv, but tonight we indulged in a couple of episodes of "Lie to Me," our favorite for the moment. OH! I almost forgot that I whipped up a new recipe for an egg casserole. We substituted spicy sausage instead of bacon. I love preparing breakfast the night before so you don't have to cook right when I get up in the morning!

Saturday was when the real action happened! I awoke, of course, at 6:30 am. I was hoping to sleep in more, but got over it quickly since I could start the day watching the birds, listening to the rain, and reading a new book. It was great to take time waking up. I managed to pop the casserole in the oven. Once that was done after an hour I got a chicken roasting. This was majorly easy. Word to the people who have never made a whole chicken? It is not a big deal - you can so do this!

Once the casserole was done, I whipped up some banana bread and baked it while we were eating.

All you have to do to roast a chicken is have a roasting pan (check - I don't have one, but there was one at Portage. Note-to-self, add roasting pan to the wedding registry. Oh wait, I have to create a wedding registry! Oh well, no wedding talk this weekend...I'm on vacation!) Alright, back to roasting. So you've got the pan, you're halfway there (no, really!) Now, the most important part.... Remove the Giblets from inside the chicken. You don't do this and you will probably get a horrible smell, or worse - start a fire. Giblets - out! Wash off the chicken and put in the roasting pan, breast side up.

Don't be deceived! These are easy to cook - they just take a bit of time.

Season with salt and pepper, toss in a 1/2 cup of water the pan, and throw into a 350 degree, pre-heated oven. That's it! The only thing left is how long to cook. The rule is 20 min per pound. My chicken was a big mother (7.6 lb) so I put it in for 2 hours to be safe. It came with a plug in it, that pops when it's done, meaning it reaches a safe temperature. Mine had popped at 2 hours, but I left it in for another 10, just to be sure and get it a bit more golden. I have to say, this was SO easy! You just need to be home for the 2 hours while it's cooking! And so I leave you with my first few recipes.

Many more recipes to come in Part 2 - I promise they won't disappoint!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back...

If you read about my last DIY project where I painted this great mirror I found, you probably noticed one of the things I learned. When painting it's always a good idea to pin down the plastic so you don't find it stuck to the freshly painted project (I know, duh - right?) I had to peel the plastic off, and dig in the trash to pull out and spray what I could get out of the last of the spray can. Luckily there was just enough to fix my mishap.

The other thing I learned was the behind the scenes mishap that you don't see but I'm going to share. I don't know if it's something you can learn from. It's something I've dealt with my whole life and still haven't learned from. It's my klutzy tendency! Growing up my mother appropriately named me Klutz-o-leeta. All my white shirts I referred to as 'spill shirts' and I have no clue how I have gotten through life without having broken a bone by now (knock-on-wood).

So what does this have to do with my project? Let me show you:

What you are seeing is what happened when I went to grab the mirror that was leaning against the wall behind the frames on the right. As I stood strait my head banged into the wall-shelf knocking all my candle holders off. The larger one slammed down into this pot that I threw in college. I'm just sick. It was one of my favorite pieces; a container AND cover. Sad thing is is that it already had a chunk out of it from another time when I dropped or knocked something else down onto it.

Maybe the lesson to learn here is that I shouldn't house breakables on the floor? I guess lesson learned, hopefully. Good outcome? This corner is now much cleaner than it has been for quite some time!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tidbit Tuesday :: Wedding Inspiration Board

Today is a very fun tidbit! I'm leaning towards these colors for my wedding and am so thrilled! It's end of September and the leaves should be in full fall colors so I wanted something that would compliment those colors. Also, our reception hall has deep wood paneling to give it a very classic and elegant feel so I thought the green, white and creams would really work well. Plus, I hope to have TONS of candles to make everything have this nice warm fall glow. What do you think?! I'd love your input!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tidbit Tuesday :: Sweet Validation!

One of my favorite things to do when I have some free time is to stop into Pier One and just look around. I get lots of good ideas and love seeing what new things they have come up with. The other day I came across these lamps.

They were JUST like the ones that I got at a garage sale that Chad and I fixed up! I just saved us about $70 with the lamps I got! Remember, I paid $5 for the lamps and shades, and about $5 for the spray paint. Nothing gets better than that! This one's for all those people who find that moment where they really got a great deal! Without a lot of hassle - Love it!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thumbprint Drawing :: Final Final, with thumbprints!

For those of you following the progress of my Thumbprint drawing, you are in for a real treat! I was fortunate enough to receive some images of the final product from the wedding. I have to say - they turned out beautiful! Thanks so much to photographer Lindsay Davis for allowing me the use of these images. She is a very talented photographer and if you want to see all her talents please check out her blog!

Also, I finally launched my Esty site! There is only one design on there, but there will be more to come soon - just wait! :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tidbit Tuesday :: WE HAVE A DATE!

This is a bit different Tidbit today. Not something from my apartment, but rather some great news to share. Chad and I have a date for our wedding! September 28th, 2013 - only 361 days from now! We are thrilled, but for different reasons. Chad is thrilled because I'm a bit back to normal from my dose of crazy. I'm thrilled because I can go back to thinking about life instead of continuously researching venues and trying to think of new places (I couldn't come up with any that hadn't been done before.)

My main concern was to have something nice but that didn't break the bank. Also, something without hidden costs or fees we may not recognize until after the fact. The more I looked into places there we definitely knew what we DIDN'T want. (I never knew how difficult choosing a location is!) After visiting a beautiful barn in the country, we realized that putting our faith into a day based on mother nature was not something we were willing to do. Barns are beautiful, but if the day isn't I'm not sure that I would be able to be stress-free.

Another direction was locations that just have the venue and nothing else (like chairs, food, linens, dishwear). It may be cheaper to do things piece-meal but without a wedding planner it also will be difficult to keep our day stress-free if having to depend on multiple vendors to show and do what they say they will. So, our focus was on places that take care of most things. This was overwhelming because there are so many items to discus. How many people does it hold? when can we get in and leave? and what is included and what do we have to pay for? We met with a few places and they all seemed really out of budget but we were still hopeful. Then one day at work I got an email.

Now, let me back up a bit. For those of you who don't know, I work for the Wisconsin Union in the Memorial Union. It's one of THE most amazing places to go in your free time. I go there for work, but have been able to compartmentalize the fun with the work. It's one of the coolest things of my job that I'm right in the middle of everything downtown. I never envisioned getting married here, and at first I didn't want to. Then when I checked into it all our dates were booked already anyways (I'm amazed how far out in advance these places book up!)

Floor 2 and 3 are where the reception will be held.
This would NOT be our wedding colors, but it gives you an idea of what the room looks like.
I imagine it with lots of candles on the tables so it will be very elegant..fingers crossed!

Here is our view of the lake. It will be more fall than summer like this image, but you get the idea.

So back to my Thursday, I received an email that there was an open day available because there was not a football game at home that weekend if I was interested. It took me a day of shock to realize what this means, but once I started looking into it and started envisioning the option in my head, I fell more and more in love with the idea! I was ready to sign away, but Chad took a bit more encouraging.

Understandably, he hadn't seen the location and didn't really know what it all entailed. I did most of the research for the details on how much food, alcohol, and everything costs. The Union is an amazing deal for all you get and what's included - I had no idea until it was actually available. So, Friday I showed Chad the room where we will be having the reception. Included is the terrace balcony outside overlooking the Terrace and Lake Mendota. Pretty much everything is included/available except for the entertainment, cake, decorations for the tables. After leaving Chad agreed that it's too good to pass up, so our date was decided! Ironically, it was on September 28th, 2012 that we decided! One year from the actual date - so unbelievable!

I feel like that was the major stressful decision because it guides the choices and decisions for all the other pieces of a wedding. Relief is finally here and we can enjoy the decision making process from here-on-out (in my opinion.) I can't wait for the day, but am glad that we can now take our time putting together each detail as we go.

Oh, I delegated the location of the wedding to Chad! Of course, with my approval, but I think it will be good for him to see all the details and how time-consuming researching all this can be! For me? I'm planning on going dress shopping as my next endeavor. I have a couple days planned with friends and family so I am definitely going to enjoy this decision! :)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

DIY :: Scroll Mirror Redone

This project has been staring at me for quite a while. You may remember this mirror way back when I posted the exciting purchase I made on the fly back in May. I got it for $20. Though I don't have a place for it, I just couldn't pass up this cool wall decor. I'm glad I did, once I'm married next year I'll probably be moving into a new place with the hubbs-to-be. Hopefully I'll find a spot in our new place together!

This has been leaning against the wall in my living room for the last 5 months.

First things first, tape up the mirror. There was a nice gap that this paper
slid in on the edges so I can really get really great paint coverage.

I got this tarp for $3. Money well spent and I'll save for future projects.
Now for the back...

I didn't realize how difficult it would be to get in all the grooves of the detailing.
I recommend painting from each side and angle to be sure to get all the crevices.

In-between each coat I would go in and chill or work on other projects.
Here's a tip - make sure to keep the sides/corners down.
I came out one of the times to the plastic stuck on the top of the mirror! Learn from my mistake!

I put it on the my stairs so that the back and front could dry really well.

Ta-da! Anyone can do this - what are YOU going to paint next :)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday Bake-fest :: Banana Bread & French Toast

This weekend proved to be a very fun Saturday of Banana bread and French toast making - courtesy of muah! Carb-o-load-a-rama! I love my banana bread recipe - it's super easy and I usually have these few basic ingredients in my cupboard.

Banana Bread ::

  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar (can easily reduce to 3/4 cup)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
No need for a mixer for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4x8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.
Makes one loaf.

I don't recommend cooling the bread like this.
It ended up really smooshed the bread so that it was very compressed down.

French Toast ::

Now, french toast has to be one of the easiest things to make. I don't have a recipe - usually I just wing it. First things first, find some great bread that you love and that will absorb the egg mix.  My favorite is texas toast, but today we had this great loaf on-hand and it worked out pretty well.

For my egg mix I use an egg per person with a little water. I also add some cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. The secret I've found is patience; cook just under medium so you can cook slow so that the bread cooks through and isn't soggy. It also helps so you don't burn it.

For topping I had some fresh strawberries. After cutting them all, I mash half of them with a fork in a blow until they are mutilated. Then I add the rest that are in chunks. It makes a great and flavorful not to mention colorful topping. No sugar is needed because I also topped with this great agave maple syrup I bought at Trader Joe's.

So pretty - let's eat!

Bon appetit!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pickling for the First Time!

Chad and I finally got up early this Saturday and made it to the Madison Farmer's Market. It's been quite a while since we've made it last, but today is an exceptionally beautiful day with a hint of fall since it's a bit cooler. He had the great idea for us to finally try out canning pickles so here goes nothing!

 First-things-first, grab a nice hot and strong cup of coffee!

The colors are amazing! I never get tired of looking at all the great produce and seasonal things to buy.

I'm always amazed at the quantity of produce as well. Look at those mounds of peppers.

Mums of all colors – everywhere.

We got to the market pretty early, but it always fills up fast as the morning goes on.

We bought lots of Dill and cucumbers of course to make a batch of pickles.

Rumor has it, the secret to good pickles is making sure everything is sanitized. Here we are soaking the cucumbers after a good cleaning.

I'm not allowed to give the recipe since it's a family secret on Chad's side, but it sure is a pretty jar of pickles!

All together it made 8 really great jars. Only time will tell how these will turn out! They sure look good right now :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chad's Bedroom Makeover :: New Night Stand

We were planning on building this furniture... which we will!!! I just have other priorities that may delay this project for a bit. THAT and I actually finally found a night stand that was in the price range I was looking for. It's not a pair as I had hoped, but one will just have to do for now.

Chad and I found this at a random stop into Goodwill. It was a whopping $6 - YAY! I finally found a deal I can work with! The dresser is pretty good quality. Some things are cheap like the paint job, and the top is a laminate, not a wood so it limits the make-over options (no stripping paint and re-staining.) Also, the handles are not screws, but rather pegged into there somehow. 

Chad managed to pry off the handles. I washed down the whole thing with a bucket of soapy water and let it dry in the awesome sunny day we were having.

I probably could have used more than one can, but it did the trick. I probably could have sanded down a bit of the nicks and scratches, but just wanted this done. Also, I ended up going with a flat Matte finish which I was really happy with.  I'm just wondering if that will make anymore scratches show up more? We shall see!

Handles are in! It's definitely looking good-as-new! Also notice the nice lamp? It's like a new room!


So, here's the break-down ::

Night Stand = $6
White Spray Paint = $5
New Knobs = $3
TOTAL = $14!! Not too shabby!

I also love this shape! Someday when we have a room where we can paint the walls, this is going to look pretty snazzy! Can you tell how excited I am given the exclamation points everywhere? :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tidbit Tuesday :: Hide those Ugly Temp Gauges

Ever wonder how to hide those ugly temp gauges on the wall? I've seen it done with paintings, but I love using this star I found at Gordman's. Originally I had this star on the floor, just lying against the wall, but after kicking and knocking it down so much I sought out another solution.

I love when interior decorating also has a purpose! An easy nail an voila - an accent to the wall and hiding of the thermostat!

I believe a picture wouldn't have looked as good since there are already so many quadrilaterals on this wall.
I apologize for these awful images that I'm about to post. Unfortunately, they are the best I could muster for this post! I solemnly swear to work on having much better quality images! Someday I hope to have a job where I can work from home so that I can take images while it's still light out! :)

Luckily this star sticks out so far off the wall that it doesn't even touch this gauge on the wall.

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