Saturday, January 31, 2015

Daily Deal Websites

I have discovered a few websites lately that I am just giddy about sharing! Of course, I have to preface this by disclosing that none of these sites have offered anything for me to talk about them. I am sharing because I really think they are just that awesome! Check them out and let me know what you think!!

Thred Up

I stumbled on this website after clicking a side ad (who does that?!). I am so glad that I clicked! This website is super cool. It advertises itself as the “largest online consignment store.”

I spent a few weeks looking through the website before I tried buying something. They have great brands and list exactly what kind of condition each piece is in. Once you put something in your cart, you usually get 24 hours before it expires and is available to others again. It was helpful that the brands were familiar since I am pretty certain of my size for well-known stores. For example, I knew that generally, I am a size small at Gap and J. Crew. For the price, it was definitely worth a little risk.

To make it even sweeter, they sent out a 40% off coupon for new customers! I purchased three sweaters, two shirts and two dresses from Gap, Old Navy and J.Crew all for just $52. Plus, I received free shipping since my purchase was over $50. To top it off, the presentation of how everything is shipped and packaged is classy, pretty and clean. Total steal if you ask me!!

Brickyard Buffalo

My lovely cousin Brianna tuned me into this website. She has a great fashion blog and is always wearing affordable and adorable outfits! 

Brickyard Buffalo is similar to a Nomorerack or Groopdealz website (also one of my daily guilty website look-throughs). They have daily deals but unlike others, their volume of deals is fairly small. But I have already purchased a few amazing finds! Check out my BB scarves that I just love.

Scarf: Brickyard Buffalo
Dress: Thred Up (Gap)
Fur-Lined Leggings: Groopdealz
Boots: Target

Darby Smart

I think this company is just brilliant. They specialize in “project” boxes where you pick a project and they send everything you need to complete it. 

In a time where DIY is trendy and oh-so-cool, this makes it very easy to be able to complete some projects with step by step directions. While I definitely suffer from abundant amounts of DIY ideas, even I found some projects that I would love a full box of supplies for. 

They offered $10 off for a new customer’s first purchase. I bought a kit for making soy candles, something that I have been wanting to do for a while. For those of you who find Pinterest projects that you do not have the confidence or supplies to complete, check out Darby Smart!

I had enough supplies for two candles! Easy and made great Christmas gifts.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Book Initial DIY Project

My dad loves to tell the story of the book letters that were used in the centerpieces at my wedding. It all started when I was walking through a cute little boutique while waiting for some girlfriends to arrive for brunch. I had arrived early and was perusing through the handmade candles when I came across a bookshelf of letters. I was fascinated when I realized they were made of books. Throughout the brunch, I kept thinking about them and ended up popping my head back into the store. Each book letter sold for $25 a piece. Of course, I started my typical research, looking on Etsy and online to see if I could find them for cheaper. But most were being sold for right around $20 per book, which was not in the wedding budget.

Well, I decided that I was going to try it myself. I went to my local thrift store and found that they had half priced books on Wednesday. And crazy enough, it was a Wednesday! I tried to find books that were decently thick, had neutral colors and had interesting or meaningful titles on the binding. It was harder than expected but in my first trip, I ended up buying about five books.

Thankfully, our initial is "M" so it was pretty easy to create a stencil for each book out of painter's tape. I used a utility knife to cute the front and back portions of the book. From there, I followed the lines and traced out the pages with the utility knife. Each book took around two hours, depending on the size.

After my second book run, I started into the process yet again. We had about 12 tables that would use the book in the centerpieces so I was not quite halfway through my book cutting. My sister was spending some time with me and saw my labor intensive process. She made me stop and brought a book to my dad. Soon, they took all of the remaining books and within an hour, came back with perfectly cut book letters! To this day, they continue to laugh at me and my silly DIY ways. I was grateful for the saved time and clean cut that they were able to achieve.

They ended up using a saw knife to carefully cut out the letter. This would be more complicated if you needed a letter like a "G" but it wouldn't be impossible. The book M's looked darling on our tables in our library wedding reception. It was the perfect way to incorporate our married initial and bring in the book theme.

Like the majority of my wedding projects, there are at least two of these gracing our home. They also make great gifts for anyone with an "M" initial if they didn't already steal one from their table at the wedding. I love the unique and timeless look that this piece brings!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Little Wedding Details : Part 2

Aren't Lisa's little wedding details adorable?! Being a part of her big day was such a special and memorable experience for me, but knowing all the work that she put into the details made me appreciate the whole day even more! I know when I was planning my wedding, it was those small details that represented Dave and I that became the fun focus. Then seeing it all come together, was just a big bow on an already perfect day.

My Mother's Garter: When I was going to pick a garter to wear I wasn't too picky. I figured "something blue" since my color was turquoise would be appropriate.  As Dave and I had decided against the garter toss I knew it really would just be a special something for me. I also really wanted something from my mom to serve as my "something old" and although we had decided not to revamp her wedding dress and that I'd go with a new one she did pass down a special piece for me. From her wedding box she pulled out the garter she'd worn that her own mother had sewn for her. And not only was it a piece representing my mom, but Lisa and mys grandma who couldn't be there to celebrate our days with us.

It was perfect, a little out of style, but I loved it all the more.  It was my "something old", "something blue" and "something borrowed" all rolled into one. I couldn't believe how perfect it was!

Favorite Flowers: Hydrangeas : I am in love with hydrangeas and wish I could have a whole garden full. I would move to Cape Cod, MA just to be able to take in the beautiful assortment of hydrangeas grown out there. Apparently, other people are just as obsessed as I am. There's a club and everything! Being able to have those in my bridesmaid bouquets and centerpieces made me light up whenever I saw or smelled them, and there were a lot of hydrangeas.

See our choices in Our Bride and Bridesmaid Bouquets.

First Dance Song: "Forever" by Chris Brown: Not every couple on their wedding day is lucky enough to have a first dance song that truly was their first. When it came to choosing our dance song, it was a no brainer. "Forever" was the first song we had danced to when we started dating and whenever it would come on (which it would frequently do to popularity) we'd have that shared look and smile. And since we are both dancing fiends, a song with a beat and some romance was just the ticket.

See my First Dance Lyric Frame.

Father-Daughter Song Butterfly Kisses:  That too was extremely easy to pick. I still have memories of my dad singing this song when he would be tucking me in at night. He'd give me butterfly kisses before saying goodnight. It's funny how little I was and yet those memories are still so clear. So when it came down to Brown eyed girl which he'd also sing, the butterfly kisses seemed the perfect gift to give my dad to say I never forgot those butterfly kisses at night.

Personalized Table Names: Together Dave and I came up with some table names that fit our stories together. Intended for our guests to know a little bit more about us as a couple, they were a mixture of humor and fond memories. Dave wrote all the names and stories for each table, an important wedding contribution I thought.  A few included: Coldstone, Chapel Walk, Guitar Hero, Statue of David, Marie-isms, Cedar Point etc.
Check out what Math Wedding Table Names look like at my in-laws wedding.

Couple's Crossword: We featured a crossword on the back's of our ceremony programs and at our wedding reception.  Thought it was a great way for everyone to discover some interesting things about us. It was just another way to tell our friends and family more stories and fun facts about us as a couple and the journey we've been on. Fun to make, fun to play. See the crossword featured in my post "Personalize Your Wedding: Guest Favors" for ideas.

Bridal Memory Book: A memory book for the bride on her wedding, this was designed by my ladies for me to open on the big day.  It was a book about our past together and encouragement for my future with Dave. For something so memorable it's hard to believe how easy it is. What a truly special wedding gift! Follow the blog post for how to make the perfect bridal memory book!

Looking back it's so hard to pick my favorite details.  All that planning and work was worth it for those small details. Those small pieces made the wedding more Dave and Marie-ish, and allowed us to share our love and joy with everyone we loved, which is exactly what that day should be about.....but thank goodness we never have to get married again.

More Ways to Personalize
Photos are a timeless and easy way to add the you, into your wedding.  Whether it's in photos of the couple, of family/ancestors, a photobooth for guests, there are many opportunities to Personalize Your Wedding: with Photos.

Showing your unity during the wedding ceremony can be done a number of ways, one new trend is through the Sand Unity Ceremony.

And ideas on how to Personalize Your Wedding: Drinks and Desserts to please your guests and add your own delectable favorites.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Little Wedding Details

If you have followed our blog at all, you have probably read my love of little details. I am such a sucker for details. As I have shared in some of my previous wedding posts, I found the little details to be a huge part of making our wedding day special.

Every bride has her "thing." It is important to find what means the most to you and your future husband. For example, I see many brides who incorporate custom hangers for dresses with the bride's future last name and/or the bridesmaids' names. These are a sweet gift and make the dress pictures very fun! Obviously, jewelry is another big one since each bride has a different idea of how they want their jewelry to play into their wedding day look.

I wanted to share what a few little details from my wedding day. I still adore each of them!

Phone Case: Amazon
Earrings: J. Crew Factory
Shoes: Saks Off 5th Ave (Kate Spade)

Phone Case: Amazon
I really wanted a "wifey" article in my wedding day ensemble. I had seen t-shirts, sweatshirts and bags with "wifey" printed on them but were a bit pricey. I did a lot of research over several weeks and finally found this phone case! I loved that it was subtle but so fun.

Earrings: J. Crew Factory
As for my earrings, I didn't find these until about two weeks before our big day. I had purchased another pair of earrings that were close but not quite what I was looking for. I spent months looking for the perfect earrings that fit into my style and vision. I finally found them and they were worth the months of digging!

Shoes: Saks Off 5th Ave (Kate Spade)
These shoes were actually one of the pieces that I wasn't waiting for or intensely researching. I came across these as I was walking through Saks Off 5th Ave on a break from work. Saks Off 5th Ave has incredible prices on designers so I found these $250 shoes for a very affordable price that I could not resist. These beauties were my reception shoes.

Vows with a Cross
Sometimes brides do not have a lot of extra budget to spend on little things. Thankfully, some things money can't buy! The following are a couple wedding details that we made a part of our day that we did not have to account for in the wedding expenses.

Wooden Cross: Family Heirloom
We used a wooden cross that my dad had since coming to the faith during our wedding ceremony. We actually held the cross while we said our vows and now the cross hangs in our bedroom to remind us of the vows that we made that day. For better or for worse.

DIY Wine Cork Initial:
I loved our wine cork M and wrote a post with full instructions after the wedding, check it out here. We used corks from showers, friends' weddings, girls' nights and from friends and family. This was a special way to bring natural purple, our wedding color, into our reception decor and celebrate a new last name. It now is displayed proudly in our home.

Tie: Macys (Calvin Klein)
Shoes: DSW (Cole Haan)
Socks: Kohls (Marc Anthony)

If you need any ideas for your groom, I can attest to the tie, shoes and socks being some important details for my husband. He still feels (and looks!) like a million bucks when he wears his wedding shoes. While he initially complained about shoe shopping, once we found a few viable options, he was all on board. Make sure your hubby feels like he gets a few details of his own on the big day. Help to make him feel extra amazing because let's be honest, all eyes will glued to the bride!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cheesy Buffalo Dip

This dip was eazy peazy to make and very delicious.  A great appetizer to bring to a Superbowl Party or any football game get together.  A play off the typical buffalo chicken wings that are served as tailgating or football food.  A positive is you can sneak some healthy dip materials into your options for the crew, carrots and celery for one.

Less mess and fuss then making traditional wings, and yet same addicting flavor! Doesn't have to be only football food, serve this year round and you'll always get an appreciative crowd.    

Cheesy Buffalo Dip

Recipe courtesy of Kraft
Cook Time: 30 min
Servings: 20

1 8oz pkg cream cheese
1/2 cup Kraft ranch dressing
1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce
1 cup finely chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese & extra

 1) Heat oven 350 degrees.
2) Mix first three ingredients in the bowl.  Add chicken and cheese.  Mix well.
3) Spoon into 1 quart shallow baked dish.
4) Sprinkle some cheese on top of the dip before putting it in the oven.
5) Bake 20 minutes or til heated through.
6) Serve with celery, carrot sticks, and tortilla chips.

Make Ahead:  Dip ingredients can be mixed together ahead of time.  Pour into a slow cooker and then cover with lid.  Cook the cooker on LOW 1 1/2 hours.  Discard dip remaining after 3 hours. 

Love Buffalo Chicken? Check out the Buffalo Chicken Salad (courtesy of Pioneer Woman recipe) featured on our site.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Homemade DIY Lip Balm

I am currently stuck at home, dealing with a miserable cold. We all get one at some point during the terrible winter months, right? I decided to find the silver lining and use the time to try a new project that has been on my list for a couple of weeks: homemade lip balm.

I have seen a couple variations of this, some using Vaseline or even melted crayons for a more dramatic color. I opted for a more simple and subtle version. The only two ingredients that you need is coconut oil and some form of drink powder. I used pink lemonade powder and Arnie Palmer powder. But I also saw versions that used koolaid, emergency-C and Crystal Light. Find a flavor or color that works best for you!

- 1 teaspoon of pre-sweetened drink powder mix
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
- Containers for lip gloss. I found mini-makeup containers on Amazon.

1. I started by melting the coconut oil in the microwave for 30 seconds. Using a whisk, I stirred it until it was fully melted.
2. Add in powder and use whisk to beat sugar until it is dissolved.
3. Spoon it into contains. I put mine into the fridge so the oil would harden faster.
4. Secure the top on and add a label if desired. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

First Home DIY Ornament

I have just a quick little project to share today. This one was inspired by my friend Mary, who also got married this summer and moved away to live with her new husband. We have spoken a few times about sharing projects to stay connected and to help inspire one another. It has been a fun way to stay involved with a dear friend! She gave me the idea for this DIY project.

Baked Ornament Recipe:

- 1/4 cup of corn starch
- 1/2 cup of baking soda
- 3/8 cups of water
*This is a weird measurement because I cut the recipe in half.

1. Cook all ingredients on medium in a small pot until very thick consistency.
2. Put in a bowl and wait for it to cool. Place a damp cloth over the bowl to avoid the dough drying out.
3. Role out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.
4. I used the top of a water glass but you can also use cookie cutters to cut out your shapes.
5. Bake in the oven at 175 degrees for an hour. Flip over half way through the cooking time.
*Note: Do not let the edges brown. If the dough is still wet or soft, place back in oven for a few more minutes.

I used our apartment key to make a little indent before cooking. After baking the ornament and letting it dry, I painted the surface and then wrote our address on the front. It is a cute little keepsake for remembering our first home as a married couple. It looks great on our Christmas tree which is still looking lovely in our house!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

New Years Resolutions

It is a new year! New goals, new challenges, new aspirations.

Writing goals is something that my family grew up doing. While we usually complained about it, I have learned over the years that making goals helps to cultivate a more full appreciation for the accomplishments over the course of a year. Goals are also a wonderful way to make life happen instead of letting life happen. This year, my husband and I used a little road map for making goals that we really enjoyed. I have shared it below in case anyone is interested!

Make one BIG goal for 2015
(ie. Go to Europe, Finish your Scrapbook, Find a New Job, Renovate your Kitchen, etc.)

Next make goals for:
  • Money
  • Family
  • Health
  • Home
  • Faith
  • Work

Think about and make goals for:
A habit to make
A habit to break
A skill to master
A book to read
Somewhere new to go

Kind of cool to think about, right? I also came up with a daily set of goals to remind myself about. My mantras for 2015 include:

Be Brave || See the Good || Exercise Patience || Be Kind || Forgive Easily

Since I am a visual person, I decided to make some reminders to put around the house and at work. One of my projects included a gold and black canvas of "Be Brave."

DIY Be Brave Canvas

- Canvas (I used an 8x10)
- Gold paint (You can use any color) or gold foil
- Additional paint in desired color (I used black paint)
- Letter cutouts, painters tape or sticker stencils
- Top coating as desired (I used glossy finishing spray)

1. Cover canvas with the paint color that you want the letters to appear in. I attempted to use gold foil on a canvas but it was a bit of a painstaking process. I would suggest using a gold spray paint for a project like this.
2. Using your stencil letters/cutouts/tape, cover the areas that you want in your base color. I used sticker stencils to make my letters stay gold.
3. Spray or paint over the letters to make your top color. In my case, I covered the whole canvas in black.
4. Let the paint dry a bit before peeling away the letters/cutouts/tape.
5. I sprayed a glossy top coat for a shiny visual but you could leave as is if you like a matte look.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

DIY Wedding Ornaments

My "Marry Christmas Bulb" post is still one of my most read posts to date and one of my favorite DIY projects. I had to revisit it again this year for a number of reasons. First, I was so excited to do my own bulb with our wedding invite. Second, a couple friends tried this out and I was so proud that they did a project off the blog! And lastly, I have a few other ideas that I tried this year in addition to the classic.

Also to note, this is a great time to snag a few of these bulbs at your local craft store for discounted prices.

Marry Christmas Bulb

For full instructions, see my original post. Below is the bulb that I made with our wedding invites. I was happy that we had lots of different elements: doilies, purple and gold papers and gold ribbon. I also added some glitter that I had used for our table numbers.

Marry Christmas Bulb!

A bulb that my friend Marie made from her wedding this year!

Engagement Bulb

One of my best friends was living in Hawaii when we were engaged. She sent a bouquet of roses to us on the night of our engagement. It meant so much to me and I wanted to preserve them somehow. I ended up filling a bulb with the rose pedals. I think the pedals dried prettier inside the bulb since they didn't crumble or break like they would have if I had dried them beforehand. However, I had to be careful about keeping the ornament top off and periodically shaking up the pedals so that they did not get moldy.

Wedding Bouquet Bulb

I put together a pretty shadow box with my wedding bouquet (post coming soon!) but also had some extra flowers left over. I ended up filling another bulb with the dried pedals from my wedding bouquet. This is also a unique thing to hang on the tree and another way to preserve a little bit of the wedding.

Marry Christmas Bulb with Wedding Bouquet Flowers

As always, these ornament ideas do not have to pertain to weddings! You could cut up a baby announcement, preserve Valentine's Day flowers that your father sent you, fill a bulb with sand from a trip you just took or insert movie stubs and receipts from date nights with your significant other. There are just so many ways to make a meaningful but simple ornament to enjoy for years to come.