Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day-cation: Mercier Orchards

Fall is definitely in the air! With Thanksgiving right around the corner, a trip to North Georgia to pick apples is a must. 

My grandmother, mom and I made the two and a half hour trek to Blue Ridge last Friday. We ate lunch at the L&L Beanery Coffee Cafe and shopped around some of the afternoon in the downtown area.

My favorite shop we stopped in was Fezziwigs! I have an obsession affinity to Christmas - especially ornaments. You can ask my husband. I dragged him into EVERY Christmas shop in Disney World when we were on our honeymoon. I came home with two Disney ornaments and a Grinch ornament from Universal Studios. Also, I remind husband at least once a day that Christmas is coming in less than two months and I'm SOOOOO excited! Using superhero-strength will power, I resisted the urge to buy an ornament in Blue Ridge, but thoroughly enjoyed roaming between decorated Christmas trees and advent calendars. 

After seeing all downtown Blue Ridge and Fezziwigs had to offer, we ventured to Mercier Orchards.

We picked two bags stuffed full of Braeburn, Cameo and Pink Lady apples. I had to jump to reach many of the apples. For my mom, there was no hope in getting the higher up apples - she's shorter than I am. 

After victoriously collecting two bags of apples and nabbing a round pumpkin, we explored the orchard's store. We tried a muscadine slushy that I absolutely fell in love with! In the end, the back of our car was loaded down with apples, a pumpkin, two jugs of apple cider and two fried pies (which R.J. and I devoured before bed that night).

After wrapping up at the orchard, we drove over the Smith House in Dahlonega to eat. The Smith House serves Southern cuisine, but not in your typical restaurant-style seating. At the Smith House, you are seated at a large dinner table with other diners to eat. While it is a little bit on the pricey side, the food is good. My grandmother has decided their green beans were the best she's ever eaten. That's saying something because my grandma has had her fair share of green beans!

Now then, I said I was planning on turning my apples from the orchard into an upside-down apple pie. Sadly, I couldn't find the time (or the ingredients for that matter) to make the pie this time around. However, I did manage to whip up some delicious apple sauce! The best part about making apple sauce is 1) takes very ingredients and 2) takes no time to make. 

You ready for my recipe? I combined a few I found on Pinterest and made it my own!

Six apples
A lemon
1/2 brown sugar
1 tsp. of cinnamon 
1/2 cup of water

Cut your six apples with an apple slicer and then quarter each slice. This is what will take you the longest to do. I didn't peel my apples either. Personally, I love the skin on them so I left them! However, you can certainly peel it off if that's what you'd prefer.

Of course, I had to peel some of the slices for Bentley. He loves apples - not to mention he's a good helper and that must be rewarded!


Put your quartered apples into a medium saucepan with the water, juice of a whole lemon, cinnamon and brown sugar. Stir it together to make sure each of the apple quarters are equally covered with lemon, sugar and cinnamon. Then, put your saucepan on low to medium heat and leave it WITH THE COVER ON for 45 minutes. 

Oh! And don't get so excited about making your applesauce that you forget to de-seed the lemon before you squeeze it over the apples. Oppsy!

After 45 minutes or until your apples are tender, mush the apples with a spoon and stir. TA-DA! You've got one good smelling kitchen and some scrumptious apple sauce. 

Now then, I've had some questions about when my post-wedding extravaganza will be gracing the blogosphere. To that, I can't give you a specific date, but I can tell you that I've been working steadily on getting the wedding scrapbook done. Thus, it should be soon! Yay!

See you Friday!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Organization October: Under the sink

If you are anything like me, you hate that space under your sink. It's full of cleaning supplies which are strewn everywhere. My dish washing detergent also has a home under the sink because the cabinet is conveniently located next to the dishwasher. I'm always having to fumble or dig through the mess to get to the detergent packets.  

My organizational weapon of choice to attack this mess? An Under-the-sink organizer shelf which Bentley is modeling for us here:

I bought this expandable under-the-sink shelf. We have a pretty large space under our sink and I had a nice accumulation of cleaning products, dish detergent and trash bags that needed a home. 

The expandable shelf worked best for me because it allowed room for all this stuff and it fit nicely under the sink. 

I grouped all the trash bags and cleaning supplies together to put them on the shelf - putting the dish detergent packets and cleaning spray on the top shelf. Why? Easiest and quickest way to reach what I use most often. 

The finished product? An organized cleaning cabinet that is functional and easily accessible. No more digging!

See you Wednesday for a little post about our day-cation to the Georgia mountains!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Friday's Letters

Dear husband, we bought our first car today. this is what being a grown up feels like. Dear Taste of Home Cooking School, you taught me some yummy recipes that'll make my waist line grow. I'm sure my tummy won't mind though! Dear Bentley, you've got new car windows to decorate with your nose art. Guess what else? This one has air conditioning so you won't be panting pitifully on our mini road trips anymore! Dear new job, you are an answered prayer at the perfect time. However, after my last go-around, I'm a little nervous about you. Dear apples in Blue Ridge, I'm coming for you today! You better watch out  because when you get back to my house you will be baked into that upside-down apple pie I learned to make at the Taste of Home show. Also dear husband, thank you for painstakingly picking the leftover acrylic off of my nails. You told me to woman up when I'd say ouch because beauty is pain! I appreciate the reminder. Even more than that, I appreciate your intense concentration face which I captured so well in that picture above.

Dear lovely readers, here is your weekly dose of cuteness courtesy of Bentley to start your weekend off right.



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Pinterest Test: Six Layer Sourdough Club

Welcome to the first (of what will hopefully be many) Pinterest Test! I'm testing all those recipes and crafts you see on Pinterest and letting you know which ones won't be a waste of your time. My first pick that passed the Pinterest Test? The Six Layer Sourdough Club from Eat at Allie's.
Looks like it came straight from Panera, right? At least, that's what I first thought when I pinned this scrumptious looking club sandwich.

I decided to test out this recipe for the husband. He eats a ham or turkey sandwich for lunch every day. His sandwiches only consist of three slices of ham or turkey, two slices of white bread and a slap of mayo. I know this, because I'm the one who assembles these lack-luster sandwiches the night before. I wanted to switch it up a little and make him a REAL sandwich and that's when I ran across this club sandwich on my Yummy-ness board on Pinterest.   

It was really easy and quick for me to make. It took me around 15 minutes from start to finish. It took me the longest to chop up all the vegetables and mix the dressing together. 

In my concoction, I had chopped tomatoes, red peppers, green peppers and onions. As for the dressing mixture, I used the same as the original recipe. 

All you have to do after all that chopping and measuring is stuff the mixture in the hollowed-out piece of bread and layer on the meat and cheese.  

 Ta-da! The vegetable and dressing mixture was enough for me to make two loafs! If you look at the original and compare it to mine, I didn't chop my vegetables up as fine, but it didn't make a bit of difference.

As for the taste, here is the text that R.J. sent me the next day during his lunch break: "Lunch was awesome!" I paired it with a spinach salad and a banana for him.

Is your tummy telling you to taste test this or what? The Six Layer Sourdough Club definitely passed the Pinterest Test! You should try it and tell me how it goes... ;)

Happy eating!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Organization October: Linen Closet

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Are you ready for the second installment of Organization October? [If you missed the first one, you can check it out here.]

Over the weekend, I tackled our linen closet - problem area #2. It had become an accumulation and random assortment of embroidered hand towels, crumpled comforters and mismatched sheets. Nothing had a place and lived where it landed - or at least where it got stuffed. I cringed every time I opened the closet door. It was a no-brainer to put it on the list of problem areas for my Organization October series.

For this organization project, all I invested was time and some labels. I found some really cool labels at Walmart and I was able to find them online here if you'd like some for yourself. I really liked these labels because you can reuse them again and again. The labels slide out of the plastic holders so you can re-label anything. Here's an up-close of them: 

Now to the good stuff! I started first and foremost by pulling out ALL of the towels and folding them neatly. After I folded them, I arranged them into piles: finger-tip towels, wash clothes, hand towels, bath sheets and bath towels. I dedicated two of the four shelves in my linen closet to the towels. 

I decided to use the middle two shelves because the were the easiest to get to first. Whenever you organize, you should always keep functionality in mind. Placing my bath towels on the very top shelf wouldn't have been practical. I reach into the linen closet for a towel more than I do for bed sheets. Thus, our extra comforters and quilts found a home on the bottom shelf and the sheets on the top. 

Below the comforters and quilts (and behind that baby gate), I put R.J.'s tool box and our drill. I needed those some where easily accessible, but out of sight. Our toilet paper stash also lives on the linen closet floor ready to go!

Lastly, when it came to organizing the sheets, I'd like to share with you a helpful tip I ran across on Pinterest from the one-and-only Martha Stewart. 

Put your sheets in their matching pillowcases. Not only does it keep your sheet sets together, but it helps you easily stack them up together for a nice, neat look in your closet! As you can see, I've got my full size sheets on one side and the twins on the other!

There you have it! I've got one organized, labeled linen closet. 

Hope to see you back on Wednesday. I've got something new to hit the blogosphere with: Pinterest Test. Have you ever seen a craft, recipe, etc. on Pinterest that you wanted to try? I'll test out the Six-Layer Sourdough Club recipe for you all. Something tells me it'll be a good one!

See ya then!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday's Letters

Dear husband, thank you for being my person. I'm sorry I kept you up Wednesday night. At 5 a.m. the next morning, I'm sure you regretted it, but you were there for me when I needed you. That makes you beyond amazing. Dear Etsy shop, you've kept me busy this week. Yay! I'm so glad to finally feel like I'm making some money to help our little family. While you've presented your fair share of challenges this week, I've got some new ideas for you that I can't wait to tackle. Dear Bentley, the scarecrow in the neighbor's yard is not real. Will you EVER stop barking and growling at it? I promise, it will not do anything to you. Dear livers, you guys can really suck sometimes. You need to start leaving my family alone now. It's really not funny anymore. Dear frozen pizza, some day I will learn how to get you out of the oven without dropping you on the floor!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Organization October: Master bedroom closet

Welcome to my first Organization October project! What is Organization October? I've decided to dedicate the remainder of the month to organizing three problem areas in our home: the master bedroom closet, the linen closet and under the kitchen sink. 

I'm tackling these projects one at a time and spending as little money as possible. After all, organizing your home shouldn't be expensive, right? Hopefully, these three posts will give you some ideas and a little inspiration to tackle the problem areas in your home! If you'd decide to tackle a problem area in your home, I want to hear about it and see the before and after pictures! I might just feature my favorite in the future. 

The master bedroom closet in our apartment has been quite neglected. It was neglected when only my clothes were in it prior to our wedding. It was neglected even more when R.J. moved in with his own clothes. At the present, R.J. doesn't have a dresser for his shirts, socks and underoos. Thus, our closet has to double as a dresser for him as well. His shorts and white undershirts were even beginning to overtake the chair our fan sits on. 

My goal was to condense the clothing hanging up, find somewhere inside the closet for R.J.'s socks, undershirts, shorts, etc., organize a gazillion pairs of shoes so we didn't have to dig for a pair from the closet floor and have a home for our laundry basket. In an apartment, you are always hurting for space. For that reason, I was hoping to create a little bit more storage for other items as well. 

My organizational weapons of choice?

Thanks for modeling Bentley!

  1. 5-Tier Swinging Arm Pants Hanger
  2. Tie/Belt Hanger
  3. Fabric Storage Bins
  4. ClosetMaid, 3-Shelf Laminate Stacker Organizer, White, 898700
  5. Clear Box Under Bed Storage IRIS CB-70
I already had the fabric storage bins and the storage shelf. R.J. and I purchase the pants hanger, tie rack and under-the-bed storage bin with some gift cards.

The first step in my closet organization mission was to go through all the clothes hanging up. I don't think R.J. had been through his closet since before we met. We donated almost an ENTIRE garbage bag of clothes he had outgrown or had worn holes all in. I also went through mine and found some items to donate - effectively thinning out the horde. 

Next, I separated the clothing that passed the donation round into piles: Sunday dress clothes, causal shirts, pants, and work uniforms. Look at the craziness! That's what I like to call organized chaos. 

After finishing R.J.'s side, I did the same on my side. Since I have more shoes than R.J., my shoes claimed both of the shoe racks I had. A sweater organizer I also already owned became our hoodie organizer. Because my shoes were not consuming the closet floor, I was able to put the laundry basket on my side, under my clothes. 

Now then, the closet shelf above R.J.'s hanging-up clothes became his makeshift dresser. His socks are in one pink bin and his underoos in the other. His basketball shorts, pajama pants and swim trunks are in the khaki bins. On top of the storage shelf are his undershirts and his shorts! They're no longer on the chair! Yay! 

I really wasn't intending to put the under-the-bed storage bin on the closet shelf. I had purchased the bin to store the china my granny gave me as a wedding gift. However, our current bed is so low to the floor, the bin wouldn't fit underneath the bed! Therefore, it found a new home on our closet on the shelf.

As for the pink bag on top of the china, it now houses my summer clothes. The second pink bag in the "before" picture is now under our bed and full of my summer shoes!

Our closet has been like this for about a week now and is still organized. I hope this tidbit inspires you to organize your closet! You'll discover clothes you forgot you had. I did!

See ya next time!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Wedding: Budget and Advice

Welcome to the last installment of our wedding series! If you want to relive the fun or you accidentally missed some of the previous posts, you can go back and refresh here. For those of you who have followed along with our storytelling journey, we made it to the end! It's certainly bittersweet, but before you get too upset I will tell you I am planning an after-wedding post. I can't tell you when exactly it'll hit the blogosphere, but I can tell you that it will give you a peek at what wedding items and decorations we kept as well as what I've done with them since.

Also, I'm in the process of putting together our wedding scrapbook. With more than 1,000 pictures, it is proving to be more of a challenge than I thought. That said, you might just see a post about how to assemble and organize your own - with some helpful advice I learned along the way.

But, back to our last wedding series post! Let me explain for a moment how this post is going to work. First, I will give you a rough, categorized budget. I think you'll be impressed with how far we stretched our dollars! Second, I'll go through the budget point by point and explain what that category included. Third, while I'm going through the budget point by point, I'll include any advice/tips/suggestions which will be highlighted in yellow in case you are just interested in those. Lastly, after the budget breakdown, I'll conclude with any general advice that didn't fit into any of my categories.

My hope is that this post and this series as a whole has served as an inspiration for future brides who are on a budget. I don't know about you, but my family and I couldn't afford a $25,000 wedding. If we could, I definitely would've had a Ferris wheel ride at the wedding though! Honestly, I don't know if I could stomach spending that much. However, I think this series has shown that you can have a really awesome, fun and personalized wedding without spending an insane amount. For those of you who are not future brides, hopefully you found the series at least entertaining. I'll stop blubbering now and get to the good stuff.

The General Budget 
Note: You'll notice that the items we spent more money on are, for the most part, those that were most important to us. Your budget will typically reflect the items you care most about.

CEREMONY                                                   $754.13
RECEPTION                                                $3,007.50
INVITATIONS                                               $132.82
BRIDAL ATTIRE                                            $578.56
FLOWERS                                                      $513.89
OTHER VENDORS                                     $1,100.00
GIFTS                                                              $343.40

                                       GRAND TOTAL: $6,430.30

Now then, I'd like to note my budget at the beginning was $6,000. I got pretty close, right? Well, my father-in-law and mother-in-law graciously offered to cover the cost of the corn dogs, tater tots and servers. That knocks my total spent from my budget to $5,900.30. Though I tried my best to keep every receipt and track every dollar for the breakdown below, I'm sure I missed a couple hundred dollars here and there. So, I'd say I hit $6,000 pretty darn close!

Like I said in previous posts, the reception was where we wanted to spend most of our money - and indeed, we did from the looks of the budget! Half of our money went to it!

Budget Breakdown

Wasn't it beautiful? If you want to reminisce, you can here!

  • CEREMONY                                                                                        
    • Walker Horne Outdoor Theater                                                                  $300.00
    • Officiant donation                                                                                         200.00
    • Chair rental                                                                                                    90.25
    • Decor                                                                                                            60.81
    • Waters                                                                                                          36.57
                                                                                                                        TOTAL $754.13
SIDE NOTE: We made three separate trips to the rental company to order chairs. No lie! In the end, we rented a total of 95 chairs. The fairgrounds already had 85 for us to use outside. 

TIP: If you get married outside, I'd highly recommend having iced waters outside for your guests! Our day-of coordinator, Corrie, suggested it. She'd witnessed too many people pass out or get ill feeling while waiting for a wedding to start in the heat. The 100 waters we had outside only cost around $25, but the total above we spent on them was bumped up by the personalized labels we purchased to put on them. 

SIDE NOTE: The decor category above includes the cost for: the twine on the mason jars, the shepherd hooks, outdoor direction signs and the cost to make the ribbon streamers. 

TIP: If you get married in a venue that requires you to rent chairs, I'd keep an open mind about choosing a chair color other than white. While white is usually the preferred wedding rental chair, the brown chairs that we rented were 55 cents cheaper per chair than their white counterparts! In total, we spent $90.25 to rent 95 brown chairs. If we had rented 95 white chairs, we would have spent $142.50! In the wedding world, that extra $52.25 can go a long way!

In love? I am! Read more about it here and here!

    • Sandy Creek Room                                                                                    $400.00
    • Table Linens                                                                                                   70.00
    • Food (corn dog, tots, cotton candy, staff, popcorn)                                        635.13                                                                                                        
    • Drinks (waters, cokes, labels, straws)                                                            277.75                     
    • Rentals                                                                                                          195.00
    • Cupcakes and pies                                                                                        510.97
    • DJ                                                                                                                450.00
    • Favors                                                                                                          133.84
    • Table signs                                                                                                        9.00
    • Gift/Guest Registry Table                                                                                 24.09
    • Decor (bunting and ribbon steamers/wands)                                                    120.16
    • Misc.                                                                                                           ~250.00  
    • Photo Booth                                                                                                    31.56
                                                                                                                       TOTAL $3,007.50
TIP: If you are looking to keep your food cost down or stretch your dollar, have your wedding during the afternoon to avoid having to feed your guests a meal. Our wedding started at 2 p.m. and ended at 4:30 p.m. All of the food at our wedding was served in a snack portion which helped our budget greatly. 

TIP: If you are renting anything for your wedding, take the time to shop around. My mom and I spent one whole day driving ALL around the metro area visiting rental companies to see what they had and what their prices were. After we collected all the pricing brochures and figured out what we wanted to rent, the best selection and price was in our backyard at Coweta Equipment Rental. However, one thing we learned was that each rental company had completely different prices for the items we were looking for. Also, don't forget to ask about the delivery and pick up charge! That can make it or break it too. 

ADVICE: Like with the previous tip, really do your shopping before you make a purchase or sign a contract. The time you spend doing your homework will pay off in the long run for your budget. I spent time shopping around, gathering quotes and researching my vendors like the DJ and the cupcake baker. For example, I contacted two local bakers for a quote on the cupcakes. Bakeshop Betty quoted me $240 with the free use of the cupcake stand. Her competitor quoted me $100 more and would charge me an additional $50 for the use of her cupcake stand.

    • Invitations, RSVP cards and Thank You notes                                                 $76.57                                                         
    • Postage                                                                                                            56.25
                                                                                                                        TOTAL    $132.82
So, you may be wondering how in the world I got away with spending such a small amount on my invitations. Well, I had two things going for me. First, I'd like to think of myself as a paper goods designer. I've done some freelance work and also sell other invitations and digital creations in my Etsy shop. If you haven't check it out, you can do so here. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to design our wedding invitations. Plus, it's rather difficult to find carnival-themed wedding invitations. Once again, my wedding theme forced me to be creative.

Second, I purchased two awesome Groupons from VistaPrint. I paid $17 for $70 worth of VistaPrint goods. Between the two Groupons and paying for shipping, I only shelled out $76.57 for my invitations. It cost almost as much to mail them.

While everyone may not have the desire or software to create their own invitations, I do still have a tip for you!

TIP: Pick your invitation to reflect the overall feel or theme of your wedding. Your invitations are meant not only to invite guests, but get them excited about your upcoming nuptials! That said, don't be afraid to step out of the traditional "wedding invitation box." There are so many creative, unique and personal invitations on Etsy. That's where I'd recommend you go!

    • Rings (his and hers)                                                                                       $175.00
    • Wedding Dress                                                                                                 50.00
    • Reception Dress                                                                                               38.00
    • Alterations                                                                                                        51.50
    • Shoes                                                                                                               37.09
    • Headpiece                                                                                                          8.00
    • Undergarments                                                                                                 37.00
    • Jewelry                                                                                                            25.59
    • Sash                                                                                                                  5.00
    • Bridal hair                                                                                                        50.00
    • Manicure and Pedicure                                                                                    65.00
    • Makeup                                                                                                          13.88
    • Garter                                                                                                              22.50
                                                                                                                        TOTAL    $578.56
TIP: Don't be afraid to call in favors and tap into the resources around you when planning your wedding. Since R.J. did not have to pay for my wedding band since it was a family heirloom, we only had to purchase his wedding band. In high school, one of his wrestling coaches was the owner of Morgan's Jewelers, Jim Morgan. As a wedding gift, Mr. Morgan sold us the ring at cost. 

If you'd like to read more about my bridal attire, check it out here if you haven't already!

    • Sunflowers                                                                                                     503.44
    • Baby's breath                                                                                                      -
    • Roses                                                                                                                 -
    • Greenery                                                                                                            -
    • Florist supplies                                                                                                 10.45
                                                                                                                         TOTAL   $513.89
Again, when it came to my flowers, my budget had a saving grace: my granny. As I posted earlier, my grandmother made all of the bouquets in my wedding. Also, if you saw flowers at my wedding that were not sunflowers, roses or baby's breath, then my granny grew it. When she came into town the Wednesday before the wedding, she brought a small garden in the back of her van with her!

Seeing as my granny would be assembling the bouquets, we really only needed the flowers. Newnan Florist sold them to us wholesale and I cannot sing their praises enough!

TIP: Ask questions. We were a little afraid at first to ask a florist to give us flowers at wholesale and not pay to put them together. However, the ladies at Newnan Florist were more than happy to help us all they could. You never know until you ask!

TIP: Again, another example of how I used the talents of those around me to help with the wedding. People who love you, want to help all they can! And trust me, you'll need their help because it's impossible to plan and execute a wedding alone!
    • Photographer                                                                                                   $600
    • Day-of Coordinator                                                                                         $500
                                                                                                                         TOTAL   $1,100.00
I'm going to be honest, I didn't want to hire a day-of coordinator. If you haven't noticed, I'm somewhat of a control freak. I had that wedding day planned down to a T. For Pete's sake, I gave my bridal party a pocket schedule of where they needed to be and when on that day! I was really resistant to allowing someone else to have some control on that day. However, I conceded because I knew that day I wouldn't be the one having to control everything. It would - by default - fall onto my mom's shoulders and I wanted her to enjoy that day. So, here's your tip:

TIP: At the very least, hire a day-of coordinator if you don't want a wedding planner. If a professional coordinator doesn't fall into your budget, ask a family member or friend who you know to be reliable and naturally organized to fill the position. It'll make the day less stressful and more enjoyable for you and your family. 

ADVICE: The NUMBER ONE place where you NEED to spend your money is on your photographer. After all, you have your wedding pictures for a lifetime and even after that your children and grandchildren will have them. 

TIP: Negotiate with your photographer if their packages are out of your price range. I hired my photographer by the hour and instead of having a pack of pre-ordered pictures included, I only purchased a CD with all of the images on it. 

TIP: Keep a running list of pictures that you want as ideas for them pop in your head. Before the big day, describe in detail what pictures you are wanting and what he/she should be looking to take pictures of. 
    • Bridesmaids' gifts                                                                                         $128.40
    • Groomsmen gifts                                                                                            116.14
    • Parents' gifts                                                                                                    84.00
    • Gift wrapping                                                                                                  14.86
                                                                                                                         TOTAL  $343.40
The Last Word

Planning our wedding was -hands down- the most challenging, intense and stressful project that I've ever taken on in my life. It was more stressful than managing staff of 50 college students and trying to put out a newspaper every Tuesday like I did my senior year of college. However, it was -hands down- the most rewarding experience and the best day of my life thus far. By the end of my wedding day, I knew that every tear of stress I shed and every ounce of frustration I'd had over it was worth it. 

That said, as you have seen, much of my wedding was handmade. While homemade is not always cost effective, for the projects we selected to tackle, it was. Therefore, don't forget to cross check which is the most cost effective option for you. Not only do you have to consider the financial cost of the project, but you have to consider how much time you'll spend completing the project. 

At times, my wedding definitely became a labor of love for myself, my mom and even my granny. Wedding planning and wedding craft LITERALLY became my full-time job. However, as craft-oriented as I am, I wouldn't have been satisfied if it had been any other way. 

Lastly, you need to have a wedding partner-in-crime. This person can be your maid of honor, your significant other, etc. For me, it was my mommy. 

Without her, my wedding would not have come together. Along the journey of wedding planning, we'd each occasionally have a crazy, hair-brained idea, but the other would keep the idea in check and focus on the overall theme of the wedding. 

Another great thing about having a wedding partner-in-crime is they start reading your mind after a while. Because we spent so much time together working on the wedding, my mom knew exactly what I wanted and what I would and wouldn't like. For example, if I began to feel overwhelmed when someone was asking me questions, all I had to do was look at my mom and she would finish answering them exactly how I would have. That is such a relief and blessing towards the end of the planning process. Believe me!

Lastly, you need to have a wedding partner-in-crime so you always have someone in your corner. My best example (and favorite memory) of my mom being in my corner during the planning process has to do with the alterations on my dress. I had taken my dress to the seamstress five weeks prior to have it hemmed and to have the ugly bow on it removed. I had been told it would take two weeks at the most. Needless to say, by week five, I was freaking out. The two previous Fridays the seamstress told me it would be ready the following Tuesday. Yeah, right. 

When the Friday of week five rolled around, I called and was told the same story that it would be ready by the following Tuesday. I had my one and ONLY bridezilla moment by threatening the seamstress that I was getting the dress Tuesday whether it was done or not. (My bridezilla-ness was justified though, right? My wedding was only three weeks away!) 

Anyhow, my bridezilla threats were not good enough for my mom. She took the liberty of visiting the seamstress in person, demanding to see the dress. When she saw that the dress had not even been touched, she had a mom-zilla moment and told the seamstress off. She told the seamstress that she had no idea what kind of stress she was putting me through. Lastly, she told the seamstress how pathetic it was she'd had the dress this long and hadn't even hemmed it. 

All I'm going to say is that I got my dress that following Tuesday along with ample apologizes from the seamstress. (Thank you mom!) 

Well folks, that's about all I got for ya! I hope you enjoyed this series. The responses I've gotten from it have been phenomenal. I hope I've inspired some future brides and entertained the others. 

You should stick around even though our series is over! After all, it's Organization October in our house and I'll think you'll be pretty impressed with some before and after pictures I have to share - not to mention my pending after-wedding post. Until then, thanks for sticking with me. I appreciate the support, the kind words and allowing me to share a piece of my life with you. 

See you next time!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Wedding: Trash the Dress

Welcome to the second to last installment of our wedding series! If you are just now joining us, be sure to get caught up by reading through our previous installments here. Ya'll ready now? Let's do this!

Our wedding took place two weeks before the county fair came into town. For R.J. and I, the county fair has special meaning. That special meaning was also a huge factor in our decision to get married at the fairgrounds and adopt the fair theme. 

Six years ago, R.J. and I had our first date at the county fair at the Coweta County Fairgrounds. Every year following, R.J. and I made sure to make a date night trip to the fair - even when we were away at college. Little did we know back in 2006, that that would be the place where we got married. It was only fitting we go back to the fair in our wedding attire and have a little fun with a photo shoot! 

I had originally planned to wear my wedding dress that I had worn down the aisle. However, after it came back from the dry cleaners, the zipper was broken. I plan on sewing part of my wedding dress into the memory quilt I talked about in a previous post. Since I won't use all of the material of the dress, I've been tossing around the idea of shortening it just above my knees. I could then wear it (hopefully) on our one year anniversary or such. Anyway, I ended up wearing my reception dress to take pictures in at the fair.

I really don't have much to explain, because I think these pictures speak for themselves so I'll just let you enjoy the rest of them. 

Thanks for stopping by! Our last installment of the wedding series should be out to wrap everything up on Wednesday. I'll see you then!


Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Wedding: Bridal Attire

Welcome! If you are just now joining us, you can catch up by reading the previous installments of our wedding series here. If you're one of my dedicated readers who is all up-to-date, then I'd like to say thank you for sticking around and for the support! Without further adieu, let's start with the groomsmen attire! 

Aren't they just adorable? Anyway, you may have noticed beforehand that our wedding was really relaxed in terms of attire. The boys didn't wear tuxes - not even suits. I had them in light khaki pants and a pool colored button-up shirt which both came from JCPenney's. We didn't feel that the formal-ness of tuxedos (or suits for that matter) fit the vision we had for our wedding. We wanted something comfortable and fun that adequately fit the carnival them. However, we did dress them up a little bit by adding satin red ties from Men's Warehouse and matching red suspenders that I ordered online. (Kudos to my sister-in-law Lauryn for the idea about the suspenders. They seriously made the outfit!) Lastly, they had matching boat shoes from Payless.

They cleaned up pretty good, didn't they? You might have also noticed the guys were not wearing your typical flower boutonniere. Let's get a close up for you:

If you ignore the fact that R.J. is licking icing from the wedding cake off his fingers, you can see the prize ribbon boutonniere. In the blue center, is the word "Groom." The center of the groomsmen boutonnieres said "Groomsman" with the exception of Clay's which said "Best Man." Perfect for the carnival theme, no? 

I'm not going to lie though. I really wrestled with how I felt about these ribbons the whole week before the wedding. Since carnival-themed prize ribbon boutonnieres are not too common, I had to make them. Since tutorials are far and few between, I came up with my own which you can go back and read here.

My main concern after I made all six was that they looked like something for a child's birthday party. I definitely did not want to cross over that line. My mother thought they were absolutely adorable and would work perfectly. However, I was still not sure. R.J. then graciously came to the house after a 14 hour work day and put on his entire outfit complete with the boutonniere to put my mind at ease. After seeing it all put together, I was finally convinced the boutonnieres were acceptable. 

Speaking of the groom, here are a couple insights into some special mementos he had with him that day. First, R.J. wore a pocket watch which belonged to his grandfather. After his grandfather passed, the pocket watch was handed down to him. Since then, R.J. had always wanted to wear it on his wedding day and indeed he did! You can see it hanging out of his pocket in a lot of the pictures in previous posts. Second, his mother gave him a pin of two little golden footprints, also worn by his grandfather, to put on his tie. You can see her pinning it on him in the picture below.  

 Now, it's the ladies' turn! My bridesmaid dresses were selected before the groomsmen attire so that I could match the color. I'd like to think I succeeded quite nicely in that! Their dresses came from David's Bridal. I absolutely fell in love with the neckline of it and it suited each girl wonderfully.

As for their shoes, I found these at Rack Room Shoes. Originally, I had purchased a pair for me to wear on the big day. After wearing them for a while, I thought they were perfect for my girls. They were the right color and had a low wedge heel so we could walk through the grass for the ceremony. Plus, I kind of liked the fact that all six of us had the same shoes.

For their bridal gifts, I gave each a pair of red drop earrings and a matching bracelet to give the pop of red in their outfits. You can see the jewelry best in this picture of me and my sister-in-law Lyndsey!

As for my attire, I'll start with my hair, hair piece and jewelry. I wore my hair in a low chignon, styled by Regina at Studio Seventy-Seven. I was at a constant back and forth with my mom about my veil. She tried her best to talk me into a birdcage veil that would cover my eyes. However, I just couldn't stand it being in my face. I've never been one to like veils anyway. They just aren't me. [Here I go again being all nontraditional...]

Trying her best to coax me into one, mom bought me a hair comb, feathers and netting for me to play with. I looked at some tutorials online and before I knew it, I had crafted my own hairpiece. I decided I liked the netting - just not around my eyes or my face. When we did my hair trial with Regina, I absolutely fell in love with it when she wrapped the netting around the bun of my chignon. It was bridal. It was elegant. And thank God, it was out of my face. 

My hair piece also had glass pearls on it which matched my earrings and necklace. Which brings me to the jewelry! As for my earrings, my maid of honor, Tessa, gave me an antique gold pair of pearl earrings that matched the sash on my dress perfectly. They were simple, elegant and not flashy just like I wanted. My earrings then inspired my necklace which my mother and I painstakingly crafted together. You wouldn't think putting together a necklace would be more than simply stringing beads on a string, but it's hard! It's difficult arranging everything just right and making it actually look good. However, I think we did a darn good job! 

 Here's a closer shot of it (ignore my dead cow face):

Now for THE dress. I actually had two! How diva of me, right? I'll explain my reasoning, but let's start with the actual wedding dress. With my wedding dress, I did exactly what everybody warns you NOT to do: I bought it online. To my defense, there was a good reason I bought it online. It was only a whopping $50 from The Limited. That's right! I got a brand new $400 wedding dress for only $50. If I didn't like it, I wouldn't be out that much money anyway. However, I LOVED IT! 

Alright, pick yourselves off of the floor. As good as the price was, it did come with a huge, floppy bow on the side that I hated. I also knew from looking at bridal magazines I wanted a sash. Every dress I loved had a sash on it so it was obviously a sign! Thus, when I took the dress to the seamstress, I asked to have the ugly bow removed and for the sash to be put on. In the middle of the floppy bow had been a really pretty (and REALLY SPARKLY) brooch that I really liked. I look the brooch off of the bow before taking it to the seamstress and simply pinned it in the middle of the finished sash. Total cost of my wedding dress: $100. Never would've guess that, huh?

Here's the best picture I can find of the sash and brooch for you.

Now then, after the father/daughter dance, I ran and changed into my reception dress which I found at Dillard's for $38. I wanted a reception dress for two reasons. First (and most importantly) with sitting in the rumble seats in the getaway car, there was absolutely, positively NO way for me to get into the seats without ripping my dress. That sucker fit me like a glove so much that I couldn't even sit up straight. I sat with a lean because it wouldn't allow me to sit up. Second, my wedding dress was really heavy! Even though it doesn't really look like it, there is a TON of fabric under that thing. It was hot and sweaty. I didn't want to be suffering through the whole reception lugging it around. Thus, I resorted to my reception dress which was a simple, white crochet dress.

To tie it in with my previous wedding attire, I made another sash from the same material to tie around my waist. After getting into the reception dress, I took the brooch off of the wedding dress and put it on the sash of the reception dress! And here you have it!


I did keep one tradition which I think is fun: wearing something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue! However, I did not have a sixpence in my shoe as the saying goes. My something old? The fabric lace flowers from my granny's wedding dress that were in my bouquet. My something new? My earrings that Tessa gave me for my birthday. My something borrowed? An embroidered handkerchief from Italy from R.J.'s Nana. My something blue? My garter...which didn't really count because it kept falling off my leg while taking family pictures. I ended up ditching it before the ceremony. However, Nana's handkerchief had some blue sewn in it.  

Last, but not least comes my little flower girl/junior bridesmaid, Aaliyah, and her attire! She already had the dress because she was the flower girl in her aunt's wedding a few months before. She's definitely a professional at being a flower girl now. Instead of buying a completely different dress, we simply did some things to make it our own for our wedding.

Using fabric leftover from my own sash, I sowed Aaliyah one as well. If you look close enough you will notice three fabric flowers sewn to the front of the sash. These three flower echo the pattern and style of my wedding dress. Mom and I ended up tea dying the flowers to blend in better with the sash. To finish off her sash, I hand sewed beads leftover from my necklace in a pattern around the tea dyed flowers. Can you see the similarities we tied into both dresses now? She wore red, velvet shoes with a fabric rose on top to tie in with the roses in my bouquet too.

Woosh! All done. Guess what? We only have two more installments to go: Trash the Dress and Budget and Advice. That makes me a little sad to think it is almost over. Again, thanks to those who have been following this series the whole time. You're awesome!

Can't wait to see what you guys think! Leave me some comments!

Over and out!