Thursday, July 30, 2009

Show Us Your Life: Wedding Flowers & Bridal Party

I was super excited when I found out what this week's Show Us Your Life topic was over on Kelly's Korner: your wedding flowers and bridal party. I absolutely loved our wedding flowers, and loved our bridal party even more, so I'm happy to share.

Here are a few shots of the delish bouquets:

Our wedding color scheme was deep purple and bright green, so for our flowers we picked (the florist and I, not Lee and I...he could care less): white hydrangea, green spider mums, hypericum berries, white roses, green kermit mums and purple statis. My three instructions to the florist (yes, I was probably a little bridezilla-ish here): NO lavender, NO baby's breath and NO carnations. I was so happy with the way everything turned out. (By the way, I've since reconsidered my disdain for carnations. When done well, like here and here, they are actually quite beautiful.)

Lee's boutonniere:

Here are the "pew markers" we did - galvanized pails filled with a variety of the wedding flowers and hung with purple satin ribbon:

And here's a shot of one of the flower centerpieces at the reception:

And now, the bridal party! We were lucky enough to have five groomsmen, five bridesmaids, two junior bridesmaids, two flower girls and a ring bearer stand beside us on our wedding day. We are so thankful to each and every one of you for making our day so special.

P.S. - I'm sorry you had to stand in the rain to have this picture taken.

Love this one of me and my maid-of-honor sister:

Aren't these two just precious? (Oops. I see some lavender. Those petals were supposed to be white. Although I know it shouldn't, this bothers me. I will find a way to carry on though.)

This is Lee's nephew. Isn't he just the cutest? He took his duties very seriously and we were so proud of him.

Two great shots of my girls before the wedding:

One last picture:

Sara is going to kill me for this. But I love this shot so much I had to include it. You see, we've been best friends for 18 years give or take, and seeing her get emotional during my dad and I's dance just makes me all mushy inside. I love how Katie is looking up at her, and how Chrissy is emotional as well, and how my sister is instead probably leaning over cracking a joke with someone. (She doesn't do mush well, and I love her for it.)

Stay tuned for next week: the reception and honeymoon (a.k.a. where the fun really begins).

Photos by: Leslie Ann Mills photography

Flowers by: Sandra McCuin of The English Rose

Goodbye July, Hello August

July has come and (almost) gone. Remember my goals for July? Here's how I did:

1. Create and order a photobook of our honeymoon pics (similar to this one I created for our parents of our wedding photos) Done! Well, sort of. I've created the book, but haven't ordered it yet. I'm going to create another book and wait until they have a sale to order them. (There's usually a $50 minimum on their sales.) Because you know I'm all about a discount. Want to see the book? You can see it here. (If you need it, Book ID is S2581144 and Password is 2692601.)
2. Finish unpacking desk/office boxes and get desk set up (yes, we’ve been in our house almost a year and we still have unpacked boxes) AND back up my computer Done! Well, sort of again. I DID back up my computer - halle-loo! And I did unpack my desk boxes, but everything's sort of laying around in piles right now because I'm trying to find the perfect organization system (bookcase, magazine files, etc.) AND the funds to purchase said organizing system. Stay tuned for the finished product.
3. Move 3 of the books on my “To Read” shelf to the “Read” shelf in Good Reads So I only finished two books. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski and The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks. My excuse is that Edgar Sawtelle was pretty long. Both of these books were just average, nothing to write home about. I plan on fully making up for this though on our relaxing vacation coming up.
4. Finish organizing our closet Done! (With no caveats!)
5. Replant my porch planters and patio planter to replace the dead pansies Not done. Not doing this. I've decided we have too much to water already. And it's time for stuff to die off anyway. I did at least clean out the porch planters and store them in the garage. And, well, let's just say Sugar helped clean out the patio planter:

So, that's it for July. And although it seems like only a semi-success, I really think posting my goals helped me keep myself accountable. I can guarantee you that without publicly writing out these goals, only about one of them would've gotten done (and halfway done at that). So without further adieu, here are my August goals:

1. Finish my office organization project.

2. Read five books this month (our vacay is the reason for the higher number).

3. Set a date for a yard sale (we need to have one desperately) and start getting things together for it.

4. Get started on an exercise regimen and cut portion sizes. This is for both me and Lee. We've decided that we love to eat too much to go on any kind of hard core diet. We love cooking yummy meals together, and aren't willing to give that up, but we can do better about portion sizes. And we'd rather work out harder than stop eating the things we love. Soooo, we're thinking about trying P90X. Several people at work are doing it. Has anyone else tried it? Have you had success, or is it just a gimmick?

Ok, that's all for now. Happy August!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tightwad Tuesday

We haven't been canning tomatoes like crazy lately in order to save money per se, but rather because we have SO many tomatoes that it's ridiculous. We'd never be able to eat them all fresh. But, the saving money part is not a bad side effect. 

Here's a few glamour shots of just some of the tomatoes we canned this weekend, pre-canning of course:

Yes, I styled this photo by adding a few mason jars and a watering can. Don't judge me.

Here's a shot of the canning setup:

And the finished product:

Oh, we also made homemade salsa and pasta sauce. Eat your heart out Martha Stewart.

Bachelorette Bar Golf Follow Up

My previous post about bachelorette bar golf has been quite popular. Every week I have several visitors to my blog who get here through Google keywords related in some way to “bar golf.” If you look at the Google image results for "bachelorette golf," three of the images on the first page are of us from that fateful night (we're famous!). I’ve also received several questions regarding our bar golf details. Not one to leave the people hanging, I give you: 10 Steps to Fabulous Bar Golf.

Step 1: Plan your route.

Plan out the bars (or "holes") you'll be visiting ahead of time. We planned a 9 hole game, but actually only managed to make it to 8 holes. If you want to be ambitious and play 18 holes, go ahead. But don't say I didn't warn you.

Obviously, consider geography in your planning. Each bar should be a short walk apart, and you don't want to go zig zagging and backtracking all over town. Plan your holes in a logical order. Another important point to consider is cover charges. Don't plan holes at bars where you know there is a cover charge. No one wants to pay 9 or 18 different cover charges to go in and drink one drink and leave. That being said, with a big group of bar golfers, you can usually talk your way out of paying a cover. As Amy said to one bouncer, "There are 11 of us. We're playing bar golf. We're coming into your bar and all buying a drink and leaving and we're not paying a cover." Boom boom pow we were in, sans cover.

Bonus points for: planning food holes into your route. It'll make your golfers last longer and make everyone happy to boot.

Step 2: Determine your scoring.

Our scoring went something like this for each hole:
  • Eagle, -2 pts = signature drink from that bar or a classic cocktail or shot
  • Birdie, -1 pts = well drink
  • Par, 0 pts = beer
  • Bogey, +1 pt = water or nothing

Step 3: Make awesome scorecards.

You need a scorecard, like ours below:

We typed this bad boy up in Word and printed on regular computer paper. It includes each hole, the eagle, birdie, par and bogey drinks for each hole, and a column to keep score. Then we backed the scorecards with cardstock and laminated them to protect from spills (this comes in handy!). If you don't have access to a laminating machine, you can use something like these self-laminating pouches that you can get from any office supply store. We attached a ribbon long enough to hang the scorecards around our necks and tied on a mini Sharpie marker. Voila!

Bonus points for: matching the cardstock, ribbon AND mini Sharpie for each golfer.

Step 4: Dress the part.

Remember what we looked like? You MUST dress up, or your bar golf outing will be lame. Here are some ideas: Polo shirts, white or khaki shorts, skirts or capris, sweater draped over the shoulders, pearls, anything argyle, Sperry's or Ked's (but more importantly, whatever shoes are comfortable).

Bonus points for: popped collar, visor, golf glove.

The next 4 steps are dedicated to Bachelorette bar golf, in particular:

Step 5: Send out a cute invitation.

Sara did a great job on ours:

You can find this one here.

Step 6: Assign a designated golfer to each hole.

This was probably the smartest decision we made. Each hole was assigned a Lead Golfer, who was responsible for 1.) picking out the signature drink for that hole 2.) buying the bride's drink at that hole (or finding someone at the bar to buy her drink) and 3.) coming up with the dare for that hole.

This made it super easy to divide the duties between everyone attending and make sure the bride was never left lacking a drink and always had a fun dare to complete. Which brings me to...

Step 7: Come up with fun dares for the bride to complete.

Each hole should include a dare. Have your golfers come up with these beforehand, so people have some time to think up good ones. We typed ours out and backed them with paper with grass printed on it. Some of the dares were golf related and some weren't. Some of our favorites? Find a cute guy at the bar and have him stand behind you and teach you a proper golf swing. Find an older couple at the bar and ask them for their best piece of sex advice.

Step 8: Outfit your bride in a sweet visor veil.

This isn't rocket science. Find a solid white visor (or whatever color) and attach a cheap dress-up veil or piece of tulle from Wal-Mart or Michael's and maybe some ribbon.

Step 9: Let the night take you where it will.

Your plans will change. Your holes will change. You won't make it to all of the holes. You'll be having so much fun dancing on tables at hole 5 that you won't even bother to keep playing. This is ok. If you play out all 9 or 18 holes as you planned them, something is probably wrong. Someone is probably not having enough fun.

Step 10: And the most important: Be safe.

Designate a driver or secure a cab ride home for everyone. This should actually be done at Step 1, before you even start planning your route.

Thanks and happy bar golfing!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Weekend Update

We had a pretty low-key weekend. Sometimes those are the best.

This morning, we decided to go hiking at Harris Lake. We did the 5 mile loop around Peninsula Trail. The trail usually takes about 2 hours, but between stopping to let the dog swim and stopping to eat lunch it took us about 3 hours.

Harris Lake is located at Shearon Harris, which is a nuclear power plant. See the cooling tower in the background of this picture? All throughout the park were warning signs of what to do if the plant blows up and you have to evacuate. Scary huh? But other than that the park  and lake were beautiful!

Although it was REALLY hot (and we went at the hottest part of the day -- not smart) it was fun, good exercise, good quality time with Sugar, and best of all, FREE.

Now, brace yourself for this next picture. This was my kitchen at about 7:00 tonight, after not being cleaned after this morning's pancake breakfast, today's packed lunch, and tonight's pasta dinner. Not a single surface was left uncluttered. It was so atrocious I just had to take a picture and share. If you don't ever look at me in the same way again, I understand.

In my defense though, I spent what seemed like 2 hours just yesterday cleaning this kitchen! Don't worry, after another two hours of cleaning tonight, our kitchen is back in order once again.

Hope you all had a good weekend!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Show Us Your Life: Wedding Dress

So, Kelly over at Kelly's Korner is hosting a Show Us Your Life series and this week is 'show us your wedding dress' week. I absolutely LOVED my wedding dress, so I'm all too happy to oblige. (Next week is wedding party and flowers, so I'll be happy to play along then, too!)

After being vehemently opposed to David's Bridal, guess what? I found my dream dress there. It was an ivory all-over beaded lace trumpet-style gown with an illusion halter neckline, matching sash and chapel train (yes, I got that description off of the DB website). 

I always knew that I wanted a halter neckline, but I had pictured a more full A-line skirt. But after trying many dresses of this style on, I realized this wasn't the most flattering style for me. So when I came across my dress I fell in love with the slimmer trumpet style.

Here's a shot of my dress monogram, with my new initials and wedding date. I loved this little detail. You can get these from a variety of places now, but my mom got mine through the J. Crew wedding site. It was my "something blue" and such a sweet little extra:

 Here's a picture of my sis putting on my garter:

And one of my dad walking me down the "aisle":

One of the things I loved most about the dress was the lace work. The pictures really do not do it justice. I never considered my self a lace girl, but this dress had me at hello. It reminded me of some of the much more expensive Monique Lhuillier-style dresses.

Another thing I loved about my dress was the way it bustled. Because the beaded lace was SO heavy, the alterations lady recommended a double bustle - an over bustle AND an under bustle. I loved the way it turned out, even though we did have to re-tie it a few times throughout the night (I don't think even the strongest bustle had a chance with all of the moves I was busting). Here's a good shot of the dress bustled:

And finally, here's a shot of my bridal portrait:

But where is my dress now? Hanging in a closet at my mom's house. On a regular 'ole hanger. Still dirty from too much dancing and biodegradable rice. Exposed to all types of dust and damaging materials. I need to get it cleaned and preserved. Just one more thing on my post-wedding To Do list (9 months later). 

I've thought about selling it. I'm under no illusions that a daughter might wear it 25 years from now. And I could possibly get some decent money for it (not to mention saving the $150 it costs to have it cleaned and preserved). But, I'm just not sure I can part with it.

What do you guys think? Preserve it and stick it in a closet forever? Or sell it and possibly regret it later?

**All images taken by the lovely Leslie of Leslie Ann Mills Photography.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Friday Link Love

Here's a quick recap of some of the web finds I'm loving this week:

- Have you seen photos yet of Wednesday's solar eclipse in Asia? This is a great collection of images. Wondering if you'll ever be able to experience a solar eclipse? Well, we'll be able to see one here in the U.S. on August 21, 2017. Mark your calendars!

- Here's a quick glimpse into one of the Martha Stewart craft storage rooms. A room full of every craft product imaginable? Ummmm, HEAVEN!

- There's something eerie yet beautiful about these images of 100 abandoned houses.

This is a fun little time waster. Read the instructions, then click "click me to get trippy."

This video has been blowing up on blogs and Twitter today. It IS pretty amazing. Can you just imagine how fun of a couple this bride and groom must be?! And what good sports their bridesmaids and groomsmen are.

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Holly Springs Breaking News

So, last weekend on our date night to Walmart (yes, that's what happens when you get old), we passed by this new building on Hwy 55. 

I said, hmmm wonder what that's going to be? (The last time I got excited about a newly built building near our house it turned out to be a fire station. Now, I'm all for fire safety but it's not exactly somewhere I'm going to be frequenting regularly).

Lee says, "It looks like an Autobell." (if you don't know, Autobell is a car wash) I immediately start singing "People can tell when you Autobell!" Lee rolls his eyes.


We turn the corner onto the little side street between Walmart and this new little building, AND SEE THIS:

The hallelujah chorus commences.

I was speechless. Then I started screaming.

Lee was pretty excited too.

Holly Springs is a growing community, but other than Sonic and Wendy's, the restaurant choices are scarily similar to La Grange (Andy's, Bojangles, chinese restaurant, pizza joint). 

But now, my all time favorite fast food is here to save the day, and just 4 minutes away! 

This could be scary. I could eat Chick-fil-A every day of the week. ESPECIALLY on Sundays. And Lee and I are suckers for their milkshakes. Mmmmm.

No word on when it's opening, but they're already hiring!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Looks Good Enough to Eat

When we make dinner and it comes out super yummy looking I like to take pictures. 

Because I'm a dork like that. 

So I thought I'd share a few of our recent masterpieces.

Mmmm baked ziti. The trick here is to turn the broiler on for just a bit to get the cheese all bubbly and browned.

Bruschetta made with fresh basil from our garden. Here's the recipe. (Sorry these next two pics are crappy, I'm usually so ready to dig in I can't be bothered to run and get the camera, so these are camera phone pics.)

Meet the 8 to 5 sandwich. I read about it on Design Mom's blog. It sounded right up my alley. So we made it that same week. Ummm, can you say DELICIOUS?! Here's the recipe. Avocado AND cream cheese? Yes please!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

(Sort of) Tightwad Tuesday

So, I have a confession to make: I'm not really a tightwad.

I bet you were all thinking "Man she saves so much money, I bet she puts it all in savings and never wastes a dime." Ummm, NOT.

You see, I like to save money so that I can spend money. The more money I save via coupons, sales, turning the thermostat up (or down) and making Lee cut his own hair, the more money I can SPEND.

I used to spend money on Coach purses, Marc Jacobs sunglasses and mani/pedi's (ok, I still like those things). But ever since 108 came into my life, my spending has taken a different direction. I crave all things Pottery Barn, West Elm and Crate & Barrel.

Unfortunately, I don't make a Pottery Barn-esque salary, so I can't have Pottery Barn in my life without being cost conscious elsewhere.

I haven't paid for a pedicure in over a year, because I've found that I can do it myself (pretty decently) and save enough money for a throw pillow(!) or a vase(!) or a new doormat(!). (I know, I'm a geek.)

So, enough clarification on that. Now, onto the savings:

Last week, with ONE phone call, I saved us $420 over the next year! 

How is that possible you ask? Well, when we moved into our house a year ago and signed up with Time Warner Cable, we got a 12-month promotional deal on both our digital cable and high-speed Internet services. We've been dreading the end of that 12-month period for months now. Our bill came this month and it was almost $50 higher than what we'd been paying -- up from $93 to $142.

So I hopped on the horn and got a TWC rep on the phone. It went a little something like this*: 

Me: Anything you can do to lower my bill? 

TWC: Well, no. 

Me: Hmmm, that's too bad. Times are tight and I'm not paying $150 every month for TV and Internet. And DirecTV and Verizon sure have been sending me some enticing offers.

TWC: Umm, let me transfer you to our retention team.

Me: Hello retention lady. If you want to "retent" me you can lower my bill.

TWC Retention Lady: Ok, let's see what we can do.

She proceeded to get our bill down to $98 a month, just $5 more than what we were paying. I was most appreciative and felt a little surge of victory.

*Actual conversation may have varied slightly.

HOWEVER, the next part of the story is very un-tightwad-ish. I had to call Time Warner back a few days later to get our balance for July (instead of paying the $142, they prorated this month's balance). After the rep gave me the balance, she said "WAIT -- we're running a deal right now -- Showtime and Cinemax for only $5/month for 2 years." Now normally I wouldn't have even considered this but I happened to remember that Big Brother After Dark comes on Showtime and since BB is my summertime obsession, I caved. "Yes, sign me up." 

Damn it! They suckered me in for a little more each month. BUT, I figure if we watch just one Showtime or Cinemax movie a month instead of renting one, then it will pay for itself. And, I can always cancel if we end up not using it (after Big Brother is over of course).

Monday, July 13, 2009

Under Attack + Fruits of Our Labor

I told you we were worried about deer eating our garden. We had been lucky. No signs of deer. They ate our neighbor's blackberries, but didn't touch our garden. 

Then, one day while I was at work, our neighbor posted this picture to Facebook:

That picture was taken out of their window. Yep, that's our garden. Crap-ola.

We surveyed the damage. So far, she's only dined on cucumber leaves. She left the cukes intact, but ate off most of the leaves and blossoms that would've grown new veggies:

At least she didn't touch the tomatoes. She did however get the sunflowers that were growing back near the woods. I mean COME ON! My sunflowers?! NOT necessary.

We went to Lowe's. We bought this:

Yep, deer stopper. You just spray it on your plants and it stops the deer. It smells like old people perfume. I am skeptical. BUT, it's 100% satisfaction guaranteed!! So it HAS to work, right?? We shall see.

Anyway, after I got over that devastation, I realized we had a lot of picking to do. Our cukes  and tomatoes are growing almost faster than we can eat them. Here's what we harvested just on Saturday:

I've found that the most fun part of having a garden is coming up with new ways and recipes to use all of your freshly grown goods. So on Saturday, I decided to make a delicious fresh pasta salad with cukes and cherry tomatoes. I couldn't decide between a mayo-based pasta salad and an oil-and-vinegar based one, so I made one of both:

They were super-delish!

Ok, that's all for now. I'll be back tomorrow with a few yummy food pics & recipes, plus a (sort of) Tightwad Tuesday post.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

One Word Wednesday


(Other applicable words: Stupid. Aloe. Peeling.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Love Letter to Our Home

Dear House,

A year ago today we pulled up in our U-Haul, two first-time homebuyers excited to make you our own. You’ve been good to us over the past 365 days, so I wanted to take a moment to say thanks.

One of the biggest selling points for me a year ago was your kitchen. It had all the things I wanted: granite countertops, a big island, hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances. I still love all of those things about your kitchen, but it’s the little things I’ve come to cherish even more: the many wonderful meals we’ve cooked there, the way you function beautifully to entertain a party of 2 or 20, and the fact that your cutout window allows me to watch TV while standing at the sink doing dishes.

We also love you for your two-story living room, your upstairs loft, your yard and the plethora of wildlife living in it (well, sometimes).

Now, I should mention that it hasn’t always been a cakewalk. You were far from perfect, but we’ve been doing our best to make you all that you can be. Like when you had water in your crawlspace and Lee had to dig up the entire backyard to get you drained. Or the fact that some crazy electrician put the light switch to your master closet BEHIND the door in the most awkward position. After a day of cursing and thinking he had screwed up the wiring for the whole house, Lee finally got the switch moved to the more logical side of the door.

We still have a ways to go. I know you want a proper dining room table and china cabinet and your massive two-story living room wall with nothing on it makes you feel naked. Trust me, I want those things for you too. Hopefully Year Two will bring them and more.

You’ve seen us through a lot of milestones this past year. Our first time truly living together. The insanity that became my life while in the final stages of wedding planning. Three words: Joint.Checking.Account. Spending way too much money on Christmas decorations because we wanted you to look spectacular and wouldn’t settle for any less than two fully decorated trees. And our first addition to our family (by the way, I’d like to formally apologize for letting her live in the laundry room at first, we know you’re much happier now that she’s outside).

I should also take a moment to give a shout out to Holly Springs – thank you for welcoming us to town. You’re a long way from my work, but it’s worth it, to come home and feel “at home.” You’re a perfect medium: small enough to remind me of La Grange, but big enough to have a Sonic and a Lowe’s Foods.

So, House, thank you for a great first year. I can’t promise that we’ll never want to trade you out for a different model, but for now, to us, you are perfect (mostly).


Monday, July 6, 2009

4th of July in Pictures

Heading out on our crabbing excursion.


This is my husband. I think he is handsome.

Until he does this.

Little creek where we went crabbing. Such a pretty day.

I decided to try my hand at floundering in the hip boots.

Three labs that love to retrieve.

Big snake that Katie almost stepped on. Lee chopped him up.

Fireworks lined up on our neighbor's pier. So pretty to see the fireworks shows going off all across the river.

Fun with sparklers.
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