Monday, May 31, 2010

Budget Friendly Monogrammed Tray

I've been lusting after those cute monogrammed melamine trays I've been seeing all over the place. In our basement family room, we have a faux-leather ottoman as our coffee table and we really needed a tray to set on top, to store remotes and so we could set drinks down while we're watching TV.
I debating just ordering a tray that I had seen, but the $65+ price tag stopped me. We didn't even spent $65 on the ottoman itself! So I knew I could get creative and make one myself. I was at Crate and Barrel and spied this:
A perfect sized white melamine tray. For $17.95! And I had a 20% off coupon, so my total came to about $14. Major Score! 

So then I turned my BFF Etsy to find a monogram vinyl decal to put on the tray. Let me tell you, there are TONS of decals there! I finally decided on a pretty traditional monogram decal which was 8" and only $4! Here's the finished product:
The monogram is done in lime green and I love how it pops off of the white!
And here it is in use on our ottoman. Even J (who was not really all that excited when I told him about this project) admits it looks really good and is definitely useful!

So the grand total of this project came to about $25! Not horrible for an original tray that I "made"  myself! 

Happy Memorial Day! I'm off to our pool for the day! 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wedding Wednesday: The Details

Another installment of Wedding Wednesday! Today we're talking about the details - place cards, favors, programs, etc. Our ceremony programs were fans, since it was a late summer outdoor wedding. They got a lot of use! They had a navy backing and then we did half with yellow ribbon and half with green ribbon. My day of coordinator was sweet enough to lay them out on the seats and alternate the ribbon color for me, since she knew I was slightly OCD about that sort of stuff. I just loved the look of them sitting on each seat. We also did menu cards, tucked into each napkin at each place setting. Our monogram and wedding date was up top (we also used that same monogram on the programs). They were backed with bright yellow paper and I love how that popped against our navy linens. We did beer koozies as a sort of informal favor. We decided we wanted to do koozies just about a week before the wedding (we weren't going to do any favors at all), so it was a bit of a scramble to find them last minute. We just had the wedding date printed on them - nothing else - because I thought it looked pretty cute that way. Also, I'm not a super huge fan of personalized ones with the names and some cheesey graphic. They sat in glass containers at each bar for people to grab. The Pillows! My favorite "DIY" project of the wedding - I just didn't do it myself. ha! My wonderful MOH and her mom helped me with sewing about 20 pillows that we placed around the benches at the venue. We used really fun, bright fabrics so they made the benches look a little bit more welcoming. It was nice to sort of make it feel a bit "loungey" around the gardens. After the wedding, I re-covered the pillows in more neutral fabric and now we use them in our family room!
Our place cards were also another favorite detail of mine. I knew I wanted to use wheatgrass to hold our place cards, because I think it looks really fresh and whimsical. I found a seller on Etsy to make the 75 flags for me - she did half polka dots and half stripes, which were attached to lollipop sticks which got stuck into the grass trays. I did the "calligraphy" myself the week of the wedding with a navy sharpie. It wasn't perfect by any means, but I think it carried over with the laid back feel of the place cards and looked pretty cute. We also did 2 large vases of fresh lemons and limes on that table to add some color.
The Ice Cream Cart - such a fun surprise for the guests, as well as a nice treat for a late night snack on a hot night. People seriously attacked that thing when it was brought out (right after cake cutting). It had a whole assortment of fun ice cream treats, like what the ice cream man would bring, and even our older guests were so excited about it!
So those are some of the details from our wedding - Happy Wednesday!

(all photos by Egomedia Photography)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

2 Things...

1. I took the new job!!! I was able to negotiate a little bit on the salary to get it a bit higher, and I decided my quality of life is worth more than money anyways. I'm really excited to start something new and exciting - AND get my weekends and nights back! I start June 14th and I will even have a full week off in between jobs to relax and catch up on life...I'm so excited I was able to work in a weeks long vacation before I start! And we'll be going down to Florida for my BFF C's wedding during part of that week, so I'm even more excited!

2. I decided not to sell my wedding dress. It just didn't feel right - I love that dress way too much to get rid of it. I did offer to let her borrow the dress, and she came over to try it on and it was actually a little bit too tight and too short anyways, so that made me feel ever better! ha! And seeing someone else wearing my wedding dress confirmed even more that I will never sell it. It was so weird to see her in it! so it's still hanging in the back of my closet and hopefully one day it will be able to be used somehow for our future children. 

Thanks for all the advice/help on my latest two dilemmas. I really appreciate it!  

Friday, May 21, 2010

I'm really just posting this to try and wrap my brain around some things and writing stuff down like this always helps. However, I would like any advice that anyone would like to throw my way, as I'm having to make a tough decision this weekend.

I was offered a new job today. I was actively looking for a new job (and have been for a few months now). My current job is the wedding coordinator for a large hotel chain (internationally known) in my town. I basically do sales of potential brides, then handle all the weddings once they have booked here, and then I'm the on-site contact for the day of the wedding as well (so I attend/coordinate all the weddings held here - about 60 to 70 a year). I do love aspects of my job, but after 4 seasons of planning weddings non-stop, I was/am burned out. Majorly. The hours are insane. I work 60-70 hours a week in the summer, primarily during the weekends. I work every Saturday, all year long. Most of my Saturdays are 12, 13, sometimes 14 hour days.

I knew all this going into the job 4 years ago, but it's still a difficult transition to deal with never having off on a weekend to spend time with my family, J and my friends. Constantly having to turn down invitations to certain things (weddings, parties) because I can't take off any time in the summer, at all. In the 4 years that I worked there, I have taken 2 vacations, 1 of which was for my wedding and honeymoon and the other was just 4 days off to attend another wedding. So it was draining to say the least.

Not that I don't love weddings, brides, etc. but at this point in my life, I started feeling like I was missing out on a lot. Also, we do want to have kids at some point in the near future, and I didn't feel like I would be able to have kids working my current hours. I also have other gripes about the job - mainly pretty horrible and annoying co-workers. I could probably write 50 blog posts about that.

I am on a salary, with a bonus system in place for upselling clients/brides on better food/beverage/upgrades. The first two years at my job were awesome and I was making more money than I ever have before. That's really the only thing that made the hours tolerable.

Last May, due to the economy, they cut our salaries by about 20% and took away all bonuses. In addition to our (new, lower) salary, we do now get 1% of our total sales for each month. In the winter (slow months), that can be as little as $50 (literally) and in the summer, that 1% can be as high as a few thousand dollars. But the problem is that it's never regular - I never know what my paycheck is going to be before I open it - a little scary to say the least! Especially with having a mortgage and was insane during Christmas to receive hardly any money! And couple the lower salary with the fact that I was still working over 50 hours a week - there was a major problem. J figured out that my hourly rate was like $1.56 or something crazy like that. Oh, and also to save money, my company took away paid holidays. So now we can either work Christmas Day, Thanksgiving, etc. or not get paid for them. Yeah, sounds illegal huh?

Anyways, I started looking for a new job because I was pretty fed up and really sad about how the job I once loved had become something I now hate. I contemplated starting my own wedding planning business, but that's just not something that would be an option for us financially right now.

So after 3 rounds of interviews, I was offered a new job with another hotel chain in my town. This job is doing corporate events, some marketing (which is my background) and a little bit of sales for the hotel. It definitely does interest me, even though I do love weddings, I think a change into the more corporate side of things could be very interesting. The other thing - the job is Monday - Friday from 8 to 5 every day. No weekends, no nights. Straight normal 40 hour a week job.

Here is my dilemma - the salary. I haven't sat down yet to figure out my exact salary at my current job (since I never have a regular paycheck anymore, to be honest, I don't even know what my salary is!). But this new job is less than I am making now - not by much, but I'm pretty sure it's less.

So I guess my question is - should I accept this new job and the new (probably lower) salary? Is it wrong to take a job making less, when I know my quality of life will be so much better, since I'll have so much more time for my friends and family? I know you should constantly strive to make more, but when does that get outweighed by my own personal sanity of leaving a job that I'm so unhappy at? And then I worry, there are definitely aspects of my job THAT I LOVE - will I regret leaving? I absolutely adore my brides - the wonderful feedback and thank you notes that I have received over the last 4 years is seriously incredible. I'm also really scared/sad to think about telling my boss that I'm leaving - he will seriously be floored and upset. Also, I'm leaving a whole summer of brides in the lurch with a new coordinator taking over their weddings - which I feel guilty about already.

Ok, really I just wanted to get this all out. Trying to wrap my brain around everything. I have to give the new job an answer on Monday. I doubt I will be getting much sleep this weekend.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


This weekend I'm co-hosting a baby shower for my BFF K. She's due in July with her first little boy, who they are naming Will. We're actually doing a co-ed shower because she wanted her husband to be involved. So it's really more of a laid back cookout with lawn games (cornhole, bocce ball, croquet) - not a whole lot of traditional baby shower stuff (no cheesy games, etc.). But of course, I'm still going crazy with fun decorations!

We're doing bright blue, bright green and brown for the colors. Here's the invitation we had designed:Taking off from the flag garland on the invite, I actually had a seller on Etsy make three flag garlands out of fun print fabric that matches our colors. This is serving double duty as shower decor, and then we plan to give K the garlands after the shower for her to use in the nursery!I also found a really fun "It's a Boy" banner to hang behind K as she's opening all the presents, also from Etsy.
And because I'm seriously NOT crafty, I also had a seller on Etsy make cute cupcake flags. I debated making my own, but I knew they would come out much better if they were done by someone who knows what they are doing. (horrible picture because I had bad lighting, but they are so adorable!)
I'll be sure to post pictures of the shower next week!

I'm also really excited about the shower gift I'm giving. I didn't just want to get her something off of her registry (even though I'm sure most mom's would disagree with this and tell me she needs practical gifts!) But I went the sentimental route with my gift. My good friend Tara is an AMAZING illustrator - she's done a bunch of children's books and tons of other stuff. She draws and then hand colors everything - her work is seriously incredible. Right after K found out she was having a boy and decided on a name, I had Tara do a custom illustration for me, which I had framed so they can hang it in the nursery.

Isn't it adorable? She drew them based on a photo of K and her husband and then added that adorable quote from Peter Pan. I love how she made the word "will" in a different color, since that's his name. So that is printed to 8x10 and then she actually made me two smaller drawings, one of a sailboat and one of an airplane (both 7x7) for them to hang as a set. They are all done in the colors of the nursery and I had them framed in fun, bright orange frames. I can't wait until she sees them!

Of course, I had to get him some baby clothes as well, since he needs to be the best dressed baby ever. There are tons of really cute clothes for boys! I found this at Janie and Jack (obsessed with that store) and then had it monogrammed (of course!) - I'm seriously in love with this outfit!
How cute is that? I love the little crab!
I also found some other cute little outfits -- an adorable striped Polo onesie:
And I had to buy him his first seersucker - look how adorable that outfit is...
So I've gone way overboard, but I can't help it - he's definitely going to be the most spoiled baby ever!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Really, Gap?

This is currently being sold at Gap for $69.50. Seriously? Is this in style? A jean overall dress? For $70?? I feel like you can go down to your local Goodwill and pick up one of these exact same dresses for about $5.
In my opinion, overalls are never a good idea (unless you are an actual farmer, or 3 years old), and making it into a dress is even worse. Sure, I may have rocked something similar in 1991 when I was in the 7th grade, with slouch socks and keds with no laces. But in 2010, are we really going to be seeing this horrific thing come back in style? I just got on board with the whole cotton romper thing (I still think they are pretty ugly and unflattering to most people), but I cannot support this "trend".
Also, on the Gap website, this dress actually has 7 excellent 5 star reviews! So 7 people have purchased and LIKED this thing! They go on and on about how much they love it. That seriously blows my mind!

So am I that much out of the fashion loop that this is seriously popular now, or am I right in thinking this is hideous?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

To Sell or Not to Sell?

Opinions needed please! A friend of a friend saw my wedding pictures a few weeks ago and apparently fell in love with my wedding dress. So she emailed me and asked if I was interested in selling it to her. Honestly, I was seriously floored by this, as I hadn't even really given any thought to what I would do with my dress. I did get it cleaned after the wedding and it's currently hanging out in the back of my closet.

So then I started thinking about it more. Do I want to sell it? I don't know. Part of me does, because, I'm obviously never going to wear it again. Also, I would like another bride to be able to get some use out of it and feel beautiful on her wedding day. But then the other part of me says "No way, don't sell it". Not that I really expect/think that my future daughter(s) will really want to wear it, as it will probably be majorly dated and might not fit. But will I be upset in 20 years not even to have the option of giving it to them? But then, what if we have all boys and it's not even a consideration? Will I regret not selling it then?

I know that I did love looking at my mom's old wedding dress. It didn't fit me at all and had long sleeves and tons of lace, but we did end up using parts of the dress to incorporate into my wedding day details. In addition to the lace we wrapped around my bouquet, my mom also cut a small square of satin from her dress and had my aunt embroider it with my new initials and wedding date, which got sewed into the back of my dress as my "something blue". So I'm worried that maybe when my time comes to show my dress to my daughters, even if it's just to use a small part of the dress, I will be really sad/upset if I don't have my dress anymore.

Also, my dress was not very expensive (as wedding dresses go) because it was so plain - so I have no idea what I would even charge this girl. A few hundred dollars? At that point, is it even worth it? Would it be an option to loan the dress to her, so she could wear it for her wedding, and then return it to me (obviously I would ask her to re-dry clean it). Is that a weird request? Borrowing a dress?

So that's my predicament! Ladies who are already married, would you or did you sell your dress? Do you regret it? Ladies who aren't married yet, would you ever sell your dress? Why or why not? Any input would be great!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wedding Wednesday: Flowers

Warning - super long post ahead with tons of pictures!

When we started planning the wedding, I really didn't have a clear idea of the flowers. I just knew I wanted something bright, fun and happy. I used a florist that I work with a lot at work and she is INCREDIBLE. I went to meet with her 1 time and she totally ran with my color scheme and had so many great ideas. September is actually a really hard month for flowers - there's really not too much in season during that time. I really wanted to use my 2 favorite flowers, tulips and peonies, but obviously that wasn't going to happen as they are spring flowers. But my florist came to the rescue and suggested dahlias (which look a lot like peonies as they are both really fluffy and full). We also used a lot of hydrangea because I liked how lush it was, as well as these amazing HUGE garden roses that she was able to find.

I seriously ADORED all the flowers. As evidenced by my reaction when I walked out of the brides room at my venue right after the flowers had been delivered:
Yeah, I was just a little bit excited.

I loved my bouquet, probably the most out of all the flowers. She did a wonderful job on it and it was exactly what I pictured in my head. It was yellow, green and white and I love how it popped out against my white dress in all the picutres. The bouquet was wrapped with yellow grosgrain ribbon and then we used a bit of chantilly lace from my mom's wedding dress wrapped on top of the yellow ribbon.

For Jake's boutonnière, I had found a picture of a really cool bout using a fish hook, and then making the flowers around it resemble a fishing lure. I showed it to my florist and she was really excited to try and re-create it. She seriously did an amazing job - it looked exactly like the picture and J LOVED it. All the guests commented on how unique it was. Here's when I first saw the bout:
And here it is on Jake. She used 3 crespedia (billy balls) and them some greenery around it. She also wrapped twine around the top of the hook too, which I thought was a great touch.
The bridesmaids bouquet were all green and white. They were very similar to my bouquet, only we didn't put any yellow in them, since I wanted them to stand out against the yellow bridesmaids dresses. They were tied with navy grosgrain ribbon.
We kept the ceremony flowers pretty simple, as I wanted the view of the river to be the main focal point. We did do some really fun carnation and daisy pomanders going down the aisle. They were really whimsical and I loved how bright they were.
We held our cocktail hour in the large garden right behind the ceremony site. We also wanted to keep this pretty simple, as it took place in a garden and I didn't want it to be overkill on the flowers. We used silver mint julep cups with small arrangements on the cocktail tables:
The wreaths!! I have to give credit to my mom, who suggested we add floral wreaths all around the venue. It was seriously one of my favorite elements to the wedding! The florist made 10 small wreaths that we hung from railings around the cocktail hour deck, as well as a HUGE wreath that she wired to the large oak tree which was the centerpiece of our cocktail hour, as the bar was set under that tree. This was a detail we added in at the last minute (seriously like the week of the wedding!) but I love the wreaths! The smaller wreaths:
The big wreath behind the bar:
As far as the centerpieces for the tables under the tent, again, I left it up to our florist and she did an awesome job. All the centerpieces were the same, and I liked the uniform look it gave the tent to have every table similar. She used low cylinder vases which she filled with cut lemons and then just did low, full, soft arrangements in the same color scheme and flowers as the bouquets. I loved how they popped off of our navy linens.

So those are the floral elements from our wedding. If you made it to the end of this super long post, congrats!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Busy Busy!

We spent most of our weekend gardening. Our entire yard is basically a hot mess, so we are trying to make it less ugly. It's a slow process. We have a small fenced back yard (it's actually a pretty large yard for a townhouse) and we spent most of Sunday weeding along the outside of the fence, which is about 40 feet long. Because our house is on the corner of our cul-de-sac, I feel like we need to step it up and make the yard look really good since everyone drives and walks past it. 
Once again, I have no before pictures. I think it's because the before is just SO damn horrible, I didn't want to waste my time. I give more credit to J actually - he has seriously been busting his butt working on the yard pretty much every free second of his life. We cleared out about 7 large black trash bags and 1 big garbage can of weeds this weekend. Yeah, it was that bad. 

But now - the after!
Like I said, this would be far more impressive with a before picture. Let's just say you could barely see the fence before because there were so many weeds and vines growing on it. I nearly took my fingers off trying to remove an old dead thorny rose bush that had grown in between the board of the fence - OUCH! 

Basically we left what was growing there from before we moved in - seagrasses and some rose bushes. We pruned everything back. I hope the roses start blooming soon (you can see the one has started already). 

We still need to add a few more things in and we're still deciding what else we want to plant along the fence. We also will be spending next weekend putting in a metal edging all along the mulch to make the garden more distinct.  Also, we don't really have grass in our yard, mainly just dandelions and clover. We are still deciding how to handle growing grass in the yard. I of course want to drop some $$$ and just sod the entire thing and J is being more reasonable and wants to try and grow grass ourselves. We'll see. 
I also planted all our planters on the front porch - I love how they came out! I went with a dark pink/red and white scheme. I really like how it matches/accents our front door color. 

Happy Monday!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

(photo by Egomedia Photography)

My mom and I are extremely close. We don't look alike at all (as you can see from the picture), but we are very similar in many other ways. I was lucky enough to have my mom be a stay at home mom for my entire life. She left her job when she had me and didn't go back to work until I went to college. She is the inspiration for me to (hopefully!) do the same thing when we have kids. She is now back to work and has worked her way up within her company to a regional manager. I am so proud of her for being able to be a great mom for all of my childhood, and then go back and have a successful career as well. 

She really taught me so much about growing up and I still talk to her at least once a day. Now I call her for cooking advice, sewing help, etc. I don't know what I would do without her - she's the best!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Photo Wall

I made a New Years Resolution back in January to get things hung on the walls of our house, which have seriously been bare since we moved in a year ago. It's actually sort of embarrassing when people come over. I cringe when I walk into our living room and see nothing. But I really didn't just want to throw anything up on the walls (that we spent many hours patching and painting!) until I was in love with it. 

So I started in our bedroom. We have a weird small wall in between our front window and the door to my closet. It's only about 3 feet wide and it's the first thing you see when you look into the room. I decided I wanted to hang 3 picture ledges and then find silver frames for them. Well, my project is finally done!

I found 2' ledges at Target for $8 each. I really wanted to get longer ones, but the wall just wasn't big enough for that. Then I found a whole lot of silver frames from Kohl's during their super major sale. I got the frames from $2-$9 depending on their size. I got 8 of them, and my total was seriously like $21. That was a good bargain day!

Jake was nice enough to perfectly hang them for me and I got to work on figuring out the frame arrangement and finding the right pictures for them. Since the wall is not super big, I stuck to 8x10 frames and smaller, since I didn't want the frames to overwhelm it or look too big on the ledges. I am so happy with the result!
The completed project! And a good shot of our wall color (it's a very very light blue) and our Target curtains that I'm in love with. 
Close up of the bottom ledge. As far as pictures, I didn't want it to turn it into a shrine to me and J. I used a lot of wedding pictures, but I tried to frame ones that weren't just of the two of us. I used a lot of shots of our venue and decor and I actually think it turned out more interesting that way. This ledge shows a floral wreath from our cocktail hour and a picture of one of the brick houses from the venue. And of course, I had to use some pictures of Spencer!
The middle ledge. In that triple frame, I did use wedding pictures of us. I did a semi-montage from the day and used a picture before the ceremony, during the ceremony and our first dance. Then I had to put another picture of the puppy dog up there - she's so photogenic!
The top ledge. This one has two more shots of our wedding venue and then the small middle picture is my favorite engagement picture of us. 
Another view of the wall. This is the angle from the bed - so this is what I see when I wake up. It makes me happy to wake up to these pictures!

And I actually did hang something else on the wall in our bedroom! Back in December, I made a fabric covered headboard (this post) and I was on the hunt for what to hang over it. Well, I finally decided on the starburst mirror from West Elm. Not terribly original, but I loved it so I went with it. 
Don't pay attention to our wrinkled bedding and mis-matched lamps. And super messy nightstands. Yikes. I need to lower the mirror so it hangs closer to the headboard, but other than that, I love it!

So that's all we have in our bedroom right now. Definitely need a few more things, but I'm making progress. It's all about baby steps! Happy Friday!

Edit: Our Bedding is the Pearl Embroidered Duvet Cover and Shams from Pottery Barn, in the color Sandalwood. Obviously I had to have it monogrammed. I got it on sale last year and it's on sale again right now actually! It can be found here

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Hope everyone enjoys margaritas and delicious Mexican food today! It's actually our 8 month wedding anniversary (yay!) but we're just staying in and I'm making Chicken Tostadas to celebrate. Ole!
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