March 2011


These are PROTOTYPES. Yes, I know they look like crap. But I’m going to share anyway.

Here’s the first one I made:

All I had at the moment was a rubber band for the string. It would obviously be much classier than this.

It was inspired by this birthday card that Jessica made:

But I don’t have the patience to do more than one bunting string for ~200 invitations.

Here’s the inside:

So you can see the little bunting thing to the left. Then we’d print the map on the back of it.

The second one I mocked up very quickly, and then photoshopped some flowers on it.

First let’s address the elephant in the room that I don’t know how to make an ampersand. Stan informed me that it’s a backwards cursive “S”, not a forward one. Now I know!

That yellow piece of paper would be a yellow piece of fabric, and then I’d sew around that and the vellum paper (that clear paper). Yes, sew. I’ve seen lots of cute sewn cards and such, and with a machine I really don’t think it would be that hard. If I’m going to just print the cards, I kinda want to do something to kick it up a notch. Stan seems to think we can just hand-embellish them with gel pens. We’ll see how far we make it doing that.

I do kind of like the idea of not all of them being the same.

Oh and here it is in the too-big bright yellow envelope:

Yep, lots of yellow!

These might be too cutesy for a lot of you, but we’re really going for a casual vibe here and I like the handmade look. Plus, they will look a lot less “crafty” when we actually spend some time making them look good.

If you want to see some more of where I got my inspiration, check out my wedding board on Pinterest.

Oh and yes, it’s going to cost a lot less to DIY these babies. For 200 invitations, I’m looking at anywhere from $350-500 to order them. I’m not sure yet because I haven’t decided which ones to make and bought the materials and checked out printing costs, but I’m estimating that we can make these from $100-150. I’ll let you know!

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away (or rather in a house that happens to be the one in which I live) I built a table. I built it in the scary serial killer room in my basement.

I even stained and finished this table, and it was beautiful. Then it continued to sit in my scary basement for a number of weeks. All because I don’t own a hole saw.

But then one day, I whined enough that Stan went and got the table, and drilled a big ol hole in the back of it with his half-inch drill bit. Then he cut the hole bigger with a hand saw. Then he filed the edges until they were somewhat smooth. The hole didn’t look terribly pretty, but it served its purpose of being an opening for cords to run through.

Then we put the table in the living room and put the TV and DVD player on it! (And the bunny ears, because I’m awesome like that.)

And it looked like this:

I actually like the way it looks better like this:

but a) then I wouldn’t have anywhere to put my feet and set my drink, and b) we can’t block that heat grate. So the top option is how it will stay, but maybe with a classier DVD storage system. Yes, that is all the DVDs I own. Actually, a bunch of those are borrowed, so that’s more DVDs than I own. Hooray Netflix!

Here’s a shot of the whole room. I chose that particular console table because of its slim design (thank you Ana White), which really does make a difference in a room this tiny.

Here’s the old coffee table I was using before for comparison:

Oh and I got a new mirror. It was cheap and round and I liked it.

And just for fun, here’s a shot from pre-new floors and rug, pre- new flat screen TV, and pre- DSLR photography:

The table has some flaws (I need some more practice with stainable, or should I say “stainable” wood filler) and yes it was like the easiest plan I found, but I am still very proud of it. I built that!!! That’s what I plan on yelling to everyone who comes to my house from now on while pointing at it and jumping up and down.

There are a few things in wedding planning that make me smile and say “That is SO cute.” or “OMG, that’s going to be SO special.”

There are also a few things that make me want to shave my head, get a tattoo, and elope. Picking out registry items is one of those.

We tried to do it the other night, and it wasn’t fun.

We generally seem to buy stuff in one of two ways:

  1. Bargain shop. I’m not going to pay $12 for a fancy spatula at Bed Bath and Beyond that I know I can get for $3 at TJ Maxx.
  2. Save and splurge. There are just a few things that are worth splurging on to us. Shocker: it might be different from what you would splurge on.

So these are the kinds of things I kept saying as we would contemplate adding an item to the registry:

“Don’t you feel weird registering for a $120 pot? I mean, people are going to resent that we are essentially asking them to buy us a $120 pot.”

and

“Well there’s no point in registering for that cheap <insert generic kitchen item here>. We already have a cheap <insert generic kitchen item here>. We’ve been living on our own for a collective fifteen years.”

I promise I’m usually not a gift brat. My family is kind of weird with gifts in fact- meaning that we don’t always do them. As a result, I generally view every gift I receive as kind of an added bonus, and I’m happy to receive whatever gift someone was thoughtful enough to pick out for me. But along with that laid-back gift attitude, I also kind of expect that if someone picks me out a generic set of dish towels/utensil set/spoon rest that I don’t really need, then it should be okay for me to return it and get cash. (I’m not talking about hawking granny’s homemade quilt on ebay- I do have boundaries.)

But people like when you have a registry, because they feel like giving you a gift is more personal and nice than giving you cash. And there’s no non-tacky way of saying “Please give us cash.” If there were not social rules, this is what I would write.

“Hi friend! You are not required to give us a gift. We just like that you’re our friend. However, if you would enjoy giving us a gift, you’re welcome to! The problem is, we’ve both been living on our own for quite some time now and have the basic essentials of life. What would be nice to us is to own a sweet Kitchenaid mixer or a kick-ass set of pots and pans, or a new tent so we can go camping. Or like, to fix the fence in the back yard. But all of those items cost more than we’d like you to spend on your own, so maybe you could just contribute to our dreams becoming reality with however much cash you’d like to give? That is, if you want to give us a gift. Because if you don’t, then you totally don’t have to, and we’ll still like you.”

But that doesn’t really fit nicely on an invitation. Gaaah this is the dumbest post ever, because there’s no point to it. People are going to give what they want to give, so we should just make a gift registry with a wide range of price options like everyone else does and quit whining.

My blog friend Lauren wrote a really good post about registering a while back. She is hilarious, and you should read her blog. Glad I’m not the only one who feels weird about registries and like I’m being judged for my choices!

And if you’re reading this and happen to be someone who would like to buy us a wedding present, I’m sorry if you feel bossed around. That was not my intention. We will truly enjoy anything you pick out for us. Just don’t judge us for our registry items please! And don’t feel like you have to get something from the registry. You don’t.

Now is the time for me to stop typing.

Does anyone out there use mint.com? Anyone? Bueller?

Well I gotta say, I think it’s pretty much the greatest thing since sliced bread. I’ve tried to budget before using Excel, and I always get really excited about it at first, but then I realize that it’s not fun to look at all your transactions from your bank statement, decide which category they all belong in, then type the amounts manually into the spreadsheet.

Mint does it for you! It knows what most of your transactions are for; if you go to Mae’s Diner, it automatically puts in it “Restaurants”. If you go to Shmo’s Market, it automatically puts it in “Groceries”. How smart! (Sometimes I do have to go in and manually correct it- since I get my gas at Smith’s it thinks it’s Groceries, but I can easily change it to Gas/Fuel, for example.) And if you’re not organized enough to make separate budgets for “Personal Care Items” and “Random Crap I Want To Buy” and “Oil Changes”, you can totally make a budget for “Everything Else”- Mint won’t scold you for it!

I feel a little weird sharing how much I spend on stuff with the whole Internets, but I really want you guys to see how easy it is. And besides- what would blogging be without a little oversharing?

Green = Yay! You can still spend money on this this month!

Yellow = It’s okay, you haven’t gone over yet. But no more spending!

Red = Bad Manda! You spent too much on this! Cut back in other ways and try harder next month.

And since it syncs automatically, you never have to bounce back and forth between your statement and your Excel spreadsheet. You can see where you are with your spending in real-time! You can create budgets for anything you want, and if you go over, they let you know (if you want). They also alert you when those sneaky banks try to pull a fast one on you by charging some ridiculous “Account Management fee” or something.

I have every account on there- my mortgage, 401(k), student loan, checking/savings, credit card…  anything you have a log-in for, Mint can sync with it. It’s pretty cool to be able to see it all in one place.

Some people are worried about security, but honestly, I’m not any more worried about it than I am with my Amazon account, or my regular ol’ bank log-ins. I just chose an extra super tricky password for Mint, and this is pretty comforting.

No, I’m not being compensated by Mint for this tout- I just wanted to share because it really has been life-changing. I can log in so easily to check my budgets, and being able to see everything in real-time has really altered my spending habits. I just wish I’d had it sooner- I’d probably be richer!

PS- I can’t not mention how awesome you guys are for being understanding about my being in a blogrut (that is now a word). You really helped take the pressure off! And just as I predicted, after posting that I we finished a couple of projects. Ain’t that life?

Have you noticed? I’m in a blog rut. Or I’m high-centered. Yeah, maybe that’s more accurate. I feel like this Pontiac Sunfire at :31

I’ve half-finished about 5478 projects, but since they’re only half-finished, there’s nothing to blog about yet!

I’m also trying to:

  1. lose the “Renovation 15” (you fellow bloggers sometimes seem to lead parallel lives to mine)
  2. train for a half-marathon (see #1)
  3. plan a wedding (which I know should offer some good blog material, but <insert excuse here>)
  4. and a honeymoon (I know, poor me)
  5. do some pre-marital figuring stuff out (don’t worry, nothing bad- just reading through a couple books recommended to us)
  6. enjoy my life without feeling pressured to document everything

That last one, #6, is part of the rut. When I’m not in a rut, it’s a joy to document the most insignificant minutia of my life. And since the writing flows easier, you guys seem to enjoy it more. When I’m in the rut, it’s a chore. When it’s a chore, it’s not even fun to read.

So I think I’m going to wait out the rut. Instead of trying to post 3-5 times a week, I’m going to cut down to however many posts come naturally. I think my dear readers would probably enjoy some quality over quantity anyway, so this is also for you. 🙂 Plus, maybe if I’m not so worried about blogging I can actually get a few things done around here!

And along with my rut, I haven’t been commenting on your wonderful blogs as much. I’m still reading! My creepy little eyes are still prying into your lives and projects and trials and triumphs!

I know what you’re thinking. “Why was it necessary to post this, Amanda? Why don’t you just post less? No one cares if you only post once a week.” Well, that is a good question, smartypants. I don’t know, I guess I just feel a little better letting the world know that I fully intend on kicking the blog up a notch once things settle down a bit.

(And watch, now that I’ve posted this, I’ll probably start coming up with a billion things to blog about. Whatevs.)

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you post-rut!

Okay- just throwing this out there: I have the most adorable, squishy-cheeked, pouty-faced, dancing, cartwheeling, weird-stuff-saying nieces and nephews on the planet.

For real. Don’t try to compete with this.

I’d post more pictures, but I don’t want to make everyone jealous.

There was no way I could choose ONE flower girl and ONE ring bearer out of EIGHT nieces and nephews. So I’m having them all, baby (aside from the babies- but they’ll still get matching outfits).

How adorable will it be to have four flower girls in matching yellow handmade sundresses (my mom is awesome), and two little ring bearers in white shorts and yellow polo shirts bustling their way down the aisle? I secretly hope they get in a fight or one of them trips (an injury-free trip of course) or otherwise causes a scene. It would be kind of hilarious. (Probably not really.)

I think it’s funny that Stan is instantly inheriting eight nieces and nephews. He’s a quiet guy, and hadn’t spent a lot of time around kids before me, so it’s been really cute to see how he’s learned to interact with them. Collin (above) calls him “Tsan” (he mixes up sk and st sounds: school=ksool).

Anyhow, what’s your take on flower girls and ring bearers? I’m sure I’m not the first person to have more than one of each.

And how about insta-nieces/nephews? Anyone else out there suddenly find themselves an aunt or uncle to a large (or small!) number of little ones upon getting married?

Stan got fancy with Matlab again, only this time he put in names instead of numbers. Fancayyyyy!!

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Congratulations Comeca_Jones! I’ll email you shortly.

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