Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm featured on Things Mommys Love!

Check out Things Mommys Love today! I'm the featured contributor!

More to come,

So frustrating!

I have been overwhelmed in the past few days. My computer crashed and I lot a few folders (including my articles folder.) so I'm a little behind on updating this. Sorry :-(

More to come,

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Check out Mama's Money Savers!

I'm the featured guest blogger at Mama's Money Savers today! Check it out!

More to come,

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Want to snag a foreclosure? Pt. 1

I got a question asking how we found foreclosed homes. Rather than make one long comment, I thought this would be great for a double installment.

I want to start off by saying, your own personal house is not an asset - it is a liability. Your home's equity is NOT an asset. If you want to know more about why this is, check out Jim's Random Notes. (The book he mentions, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, I first read when I was 13.) or read everything but the last paragraph here.

When you first decide you want to buy a foreclosure, think about if you're willing to put a little elbow grease into a house. When the market was hot, really hot, in my particular area, people were camping out for homes, bribing neighbors with cakes, faking references, etc. It was nuts. If a seller wanted a house to bring in top dollar ($700,000+) they staged the house, had it professionally cleaned, maybe redid a kitchen or bathroom and had it professionally landscaped. This isn't the case anymore. For example, here's the backyard in the house we just bought:

I'm 5'9. Many of those weeds are taller than I am.

There is no way a house would have looked like that back when the market was climbing. Most of the houses my fiance and I looked at needed work - and 99% of them had been built after 2001. For example, our house, which was built in 2006, needs all the carpet replaced because somebody poured bleach on it, our sliding glass door's handle has to be replaced because somebody broke half of it off and a window screen needs replaced because somebody sliced it.

A lot of the houses we looked at (we probably have looked at close to 30 houses.) needed doors replaced. Bedroom doors would have huge holes in them from previous owners, I'm assuming, just kicking them in. Counter top tile would be broken with a hammer, cabinet drawers were missing, appliances would be gone (which is illegal for the previous owners to take, but they didn't care.) Some houses look as if the owners, while understandably upset, moved their furniture out and didn't care if it hit a wall or a window or anything else - some still had junk left behind in them. Some houses, such as in the case of the house my fiance's sister bought, has to be completely gutted. If you're wanting a move-in ready house, foreclosures aren't for you.

If you've decided you're up for hanging a piece of drywall (takes 10 minutes to hang a new piece) then you need to go to a bank to get pre approved for a loan. Yes, this is step two, not step # later down the line. In our particular market, if you see a house, you need to put an offer in on it that day so you need to already have your loan ready to go.

Do not, under any circumstances borrow more than you need to. Don't borrow extra to use a little to buy a car, pay off credit cards or anything else. Just don't do it. If you think you can afford a $300,000 loan, get a loan for $250,000. You don't want to be living paycheck to paycheck. You want some cushion in case of emergencies. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT get an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM.) Do NOT get any loan that is longer than 30 years. That means no 40 year loans, no 50 year loans. If you can't pay it off in 30 years or less, you can't afford it. Period. If possible, get a loan where you don't get penalized for paying off more of your mortgage than is due that month.

For example here's a 30 year mortgage for our house, versus a 15 year mortgage for our house. The monthly payments aren't what you look at, it's the final cost of the house you look at. If you notice, the monthly payments for the 15 year mortgage are not double the price of the 30 year mortgage monthly payments.

30 year mortgage

15 year mortgage

Difference in money saved with a 15 year mortgage vs. 30 year mortgage = $100,800

After you get pre-approved for your loan, gather up the money you're going to use for a down payment. If you don't have any money for a down payment, forget about buying a house right now because the amount of money you'll pay on interest back to your bank will mean you end up paying twice as much, if not more, for your house and your monthly payments will be huge.

Try to squeeze every last penny you possibly can from your excess fun money to put toward a down payment (don't take from your emergency fund though.) The usual rate is 3% down which is usually a couple thousand dollars. This is a bad idea because the less money you put down, the more you end up paying for the house. We put down 20% and we're going to try to put down a little more if we can scrounge up the money.

For example, here is our loan with 20% down on a 30 year mortgage. Compare that to a 30 year loan with a 5% mortgage. Look at the difference in the monthly payments, and, most important - the actual, final cost of the house.

5 % down payment

20 % down

Difference in money saved with a 20% down payment vs. 5% down payment = $36,900

Start looking for agents who specialize in foreclosures. Not all real estate agents deal with foreclosures (the process is a little different) so you need to make sure you tell whoever you are working with that you specifically want to view foreclosed homes. You really do need an agent for foreclosures because the day they come out on MLS, they will probably already have multiple offers in by the end of the day. If you look on your own, most of the houses you find online will already be pending. That said...

All banks have a list of foreclosures that they own. You can call up banks and ask for their list or try to find if they have a web site. For example, Wells Fargo has their own site - Pasreo, but to buy one of their houses, you or your immediate family can't work for them. You can take a look around at their site and get a feel for what's available in your area.

Tomorrow, I will start the second installment of How to buy a foreclosure.

More to come,

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

We got the house!

This morning our real estate agent called to tell us we now own our first house! It was the seventh house we put an offer on so we're so relieved!

Our new house! 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, 1,600 sq. feet for $215,000.

It seemed like every house we put an offer in on, somebody out bid us. It was so frustrating because we only looked at foreclosures and banks tend to price the houses very low knowing that they're worth much more. This creates a huge bidding war and drives the price up. For example, my fiance went out to go look at houses and found one he liked (I told him if he was looking without me and found something he thought was a good deal to just put an offer in on it.) He put an offer in on the house slightly above the asking price of $250,000. The house ended up selling (to somebody else) for more than $500,000 in less than a week.

The reason we got the house that we did was because our agent works in the same office as the agent selling the house for the bank. It had just been listed on MLS (Multiple Listing Service) that day. Our agent called up his coworker and told him we wanted to put in an offer. Because they knew each other and had a good working relationship, we didn't have to offer anything above the asking price. (Ok, we offered $100 more, just to give an even number.) She also promised us she wouldn't accept any other offers beside ours to submit to the bank. To top that off, we got our closing costs paid for by the bank, home insurance for a year, pest control and inspection all paid for as well as.

We got really lucky. My fiance's sister and her husband recently purchased their first house. They had also put in offers on multiple homes. Their agent knew the agent (not in the same firm) selling the house and knew that my fiance's sister and husband were offering the highest bid. Unfortunately, the other agent submitted another offer to the bank that was much lower. Their agent said he couldn't believe that the lower offer got accepted but apparently, it's more about who the agent has a better professional relationship with.

My advice for buying a house without going through the hassles we did was to straight up ask your agent if anybody in their office has any homes for sale with your conditions. You're much more likely to get a better deal this way then going with a home listed through another firm due to the fact your agent works with the other agent on a daily basis. Honestly, it's more about connections than how much you can offer.

More to come,

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Under Construction!

There's a new (temporary) layout in the works right now. I'm working on two guests posts today for two other ladies' blogs (yay!) so I'll be updating tomorrow!

In the meantime...

In what area of your life are you looking to save money? What is your biggest expense? What do you cut back on when money is tight?

Have any questions, comments or suggestions?

Send your answers and thoughts to

More to come,

Saturday, July 11, 2009

When "for sake of tradition" heaps on costs

"You've got mail." Click, click, click, slumping back in your chair, you realize everything is forwards and junk mail. How often do you find yourself in this position? Political Jokes, a cartoon and warnings about kittens being stuffed in glass jars usually get deleted by me. But once, my dad had me read a particular forward from my grandma that I never forgot and actually changed the way I viewed everything I did. Has that happened to you with a forward?

To make a long story short, this particular forward was about a lady who was making an Easter ham. Before she put it into the pan, she cut the ends off. Her daughter asked her why she cut the ends off and the mom replied, "That's just how my mom did it! Let's ask grandma why she did it." They went into the living room to question the grandma why the ends of the ham get cut off. The grandma replied, "That's just how my mom did it! Let's ask great-grandma why she did it." They turned to the great-grandma and asked her why the ends of the ham were cut off. She replied, "I had to cut the ends off because my pan was too small for the ham!" So basically, two generations later, the ladies were cutting up their ham without knowing why they were doing what they were doing. All it took was one little girl to ask "why," to stop the cycle of blindly following "tradition."

When it comes to weddings, at least here in the U.S., they're full of tradition. Unfortunately, this makes for some very cookie cutter weddings. I don't think there's a bride out there that wants her wedding to be just like everybody else's. She wants to be unique, but stick with tradition. After adding in the bridesmaids, the tiered cake, the bouquets, the garter, something borrowed, something blue, a six pence in your shoe, yada, yada, yada you end up with one very expensive wedding - and it ends up being the same show, with a different cast.

Here's a few very common wedding "pieces" that I'm skipping and the root of tradition behind them.

-Bouquets : Bouquets, used in Medieval times, consisted of herbs and roots to ward off evil spirits. Later, brides added lots of fragrant flowers to cover up body odors since soap and deodorant were non-existent.

- Matching bridesmaids dresses - Bridesmaids wore similar dresses to the bride's gown, while groomsmen dressed similar to the groom. This was to confuse and protect against evil spirits or jealous suitors who attempted to harm the bridal couple, as they would be confused as to which two people were the bride and groom. (I doubt this one worked!)

- Huge Bridal Parties - During Roman times, to make a marriage legal, a wedding required 10 witnesses. During the bride kidnapping era, close friends of the groom-to-be assisted him when he kidnapped the bride from her family. The groomsmen were there to fend off angry family members fighting to keep the bride. (This still happens in parts of Eastern Russia.)

-Throwing rice (now blowing bubbles) - Rice became the popular item in the United States to wish prosperity and luck on newlyweds.

-Tossing the bouquet - Tossing the bouquet is believed to be an outgrowth of an idea, that was popular in the 14th century France - that it was considered lucky to get a fragment of the bride's clothing. Unlike today, where we have bridezillas, the woman was more like property and therefore treated rather terrible. Guests would grab at the bride's dress to tear off lucky infused pieces. Brides, looking to run away unscathed, began the custom of throwing bouquets as a distraction.

-Garter tossing - The garter represented the virginal girdle. When the groom removed the garter, he was demonstrating publicly, that the bride was relinquishing her virginal status. In medieval times, guests accompanied the newlywed couple to their bed chamber after the ceremony. Some guests would way overstep boundaries by trying to get the bride undressed and in bed. In order to keep the other men at bay, the groom would toss the bride's garter to distract them.

-Wedding cake - The wedding cake originated as loaves of wheat bread, broken over the bride's head to symbolize the virginal state of the bride being broken. Guests were encouraged to eat the crumbs that fell for good luck. During the Middle Ages, the bread became sweet buns, and the guests were responsible for bringing a bun to the wedding as a gift. For fun, after the ceremony, the mini sweet cakes were piled up and the bride and groom attempted to kiss over the enormous pile - the taller the pile, the more prosperous the couple. Supposedly, an anonymous French chef working during the reign of King Charles II, in the 16th century, visited London, and was appalled by their gross wedding cake traditions. Eager to make a buck, he came up with the wedding cake.

Frankly I don't feel that any of these traditions are very relevant today and am skipping all of them. Think about all the associated costs with all the above mentioned items. They get really expensive! Personally, I'm carrying a flamenco fan down the aisle, serving Russian tea cakes and we're going to be hitting a pinata. I'll update later more of our alternative wedding choices!

More to come,

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Quick running total of wedding costs.

Wanted to do a quick run down of costs so far for the wedding and wedding related stuff. I'm not listing the items we already had or received for free.

  • Ring - $1,000 even.
  • My engagement photo outfits - $52.66 at Forever 21 (Includes Tax -4.46, Turquoise dress - $22.80, Green dress -$14.80, Gold necklace - $6.80, Earrings - $3.80)
Subtotal as of today: $1,052.66

Wedding Decor:

  • Porcelain birds - $11.47 at Michaels. (Includes 3 2.5" green birds at $1.49/each, 2 3.5" birds at 2.99/each, Sales tax - $1.02)
Subtotal as of today: $11.47

Paper Goods:
  • Loteria cards - $3.92
  • Colored cardstock - $4.36
Subtotal as of today: $8.28


Michael's Trip #2 - Total w/ tax: $15.56
  • Embossing Hole Punch - $11.19
  • Glitter Stickers - $2.99
Subtotal as of today: $15.56

Wedding Clothing:
  • Mantilla Veil - $57.61 (Includes 49X49 veil, shipping, tax) from Ebay.
Total as of today: $57.61

Total as of today: $1,145.58

More to come,

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Diaper Free Babies?

Have you ever watched those Discovery Channel or Nova programs, heck, even No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain, that feature non-Western people and wondered how their babies go to the bathroom? Maybe it's just me, but I always wondered how those little babies didn't cover their moms, who were carrying them around on their back or on their hip, in their pee or, well... poop.

About three or four months ago, I was surfing online and stumbled upon this series of articles at Eco-Child's play: Baby Essentials That Aren't. As I read through the first three articles, I found myself saying, "yeah, this makes sense!" That is, until I hit the fourth article. "What do they mean diapers aren't essential?" My mind reverted back to the explosive diapers I changed when my brother and sister were born, added that to a picture of tribal women carrying diaper-less babies and came up with a disgusting picture of a messy, filthy baby and a very frazzled mom. Settling into the pillows on my bed, I continued to read, albeit with a big dose of skepticism.

In the article, after mentioning the well known cloth diapers, the writer suggested early potty training - from birth! "What?! How is that even possible?" I thought, scratching my head. I Googled "potty training babies" and then "E.C. babies," unsure about what EC meant (don't you hate when links in articles use abbreviations without saying what they mean first? It means Elimination Communication.) I found a site about Diaper Free Babies and then the very humourous free webs site about one mom's experience about going diaper free. I finally knew what all those women in Africa and South America did with their babies, they used elimination communication!

I've read various web sites stating that babies can cost upward of $5,000 in their first month of life! Geeze! After reading Eco-Child's Play's series, tons of web sites on home birthing, breastfeeding and now babies going diaper free, I can't understand how a family with a stay at home mom could pay $1,500, tops, for a new baby (obviously day-care will cost a fortune.) I've had a lot of experience with the ins and outs of babies as my brother was born the day before my 16th birthday and my sister was born when I was 18. I honestly don't think babies need a whole lot, so I don't know what would jack the price up if you cut out non-essentials (heated diaper wipe holder anybody?)

Just something to think about in the future when Dre and I are ready to start having some kiddos.

More to come,

Monday, July 6, 2009

The best food in life is homemade.

Well, I'm laid up in bed with the most horrific Earth shattering cramps and two gallons of water (I love water.) I won't be doing a whole lot today but I'd like to give you some recipes that I'll be using at my wedding reception!

The Restaurant Dilemma:

My favorite restaurant in California is La Mediterranee in Berkeley. "I love La Mediterranee. I've been going to la Mediterranee since 1999 and I love it. It's my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant in California. The food, especially the Middle Eastern Plate with the Pomegranate Chicken is to die for. I do wish they'd take the chickpeas out of the Chicken Cilicia and Spanakopita though. Luckily, my mom, after lots of trial and error is able to make everything on the middle eastern plate at home and I have her recipes so I make those dishes at home for a fraction of the cost. When I don't feel like cooking though, I go to La Mediterranee for those dishes. Just a suggestion - the Avgolemono and Fava bean soups aren't that great but the mushroom soup = heaven.

Although the food is wonderful, the waitresses suck. (The busboys are good though) I can count on terrible service when I go there. It's just a given. They're too busy chatting between themselves to notice customers. I don't know how many times I've had to get up from the table to go find the waitress to say, "hey, we need the bill" or "here's my debit card" because they never come pick up the tab. I don't want to wait around for 20 minutes after my meal is finished for the waitress to finally come with the bill. Also, I hate having to wait 15 minutes to get a refill on my drink... just a water.

I've only had one really bad experience (Jan. 2009) at La Mediterranee in 10 years so I can't say that it's terrible. I was sitting at the bar waiting for my to-go order (because I didn't want to put up with the crap waitresses that night) while my fiance stood next to me (lack of seating) and all of the sudden, a wine glass in the top rack somehow spontaeously combusts over my head and the head of the guy eating his dessert next to me. There was glass all over me, the floor, in the guy's dessert and wine. The waitress just said, "wow, that's never happened before" and she wisked the guy next to me's plate and wine glass away. She didn't replace his food (he had a substantial amount on his plate and his glass was full) She never apologized or anything. Me, the guy sitting next to me, and a busboy cleaned up the glass. It was ridiculous.

Despite the terrible waitresses, I highly suggest La Mediterranee as their food is delicious - just get your food to go though. Great, delicious food - consistently bad service.

3.5 stars (yes, the service and wait staff brought the rating down that much.)" (From my own Yelp review)

Like a lot of people, my fiance and I are sick of spending loads of money to go out to dinner only to experience sub-par service. My mom and I spent I don't know how long perfecting our "copy cat" recipes (and leaving out all the garbanzo beans that are in the originals) so now we can have the Middle Eastern plate foods for 8-12+ people for the price of 3 meals + appetizer would cost if we ate out.

My Inspiration:

Here's La Mediterranee's Middle Eastern plate:

From left to right: Hummus, rice pilaf, chicken pomegranate, spanakopita, lavash sandwich, chicken cilicia, pineapple, and munster cheese. Avgolemono soup (Center)

The Recipes:

Here's my family's recipes for our versions:


Serves 12
  • 19 ounces garbanzo beans (chick peas), undrained
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons ground sesame seeds or tahini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Combine the 7 ingredients in blender on high. Turn off and scrape sides with spatula.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Chill then serve with pita bread.
Pomegranate Chicken
(I think my mom tweaked another recipe to make this.)
Serves: 4-6
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4-6 chicken breasts or 12-16 chicken wings (The size you'd use for hot wings)
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Place chicken in a shallow baking dish.
  3. Combine garlic and oil.
  4. Brush all over chicken.
  5. Bake 45 minutes, bast several times with pan juices, until skin is browned and chicken is cooked.
  6. In a small saucepan, combine pomegranate juice, wine, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar.
  7. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  8. Reduce heat to low and cook 5 minutes.
  9. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Transfer chicken to a ziploc and deeply pierce meat with a fork in several places.
  11. Pour sauce over chicken.
  12. Let it sit in the bag with the sauce for a few hours in the refrigerator.
  13. Remove from bag.
  14. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.
  15. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm. (I like to eat it cold.)
Serves: 8-12
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach (Thawed and squeezed dry of liquid)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 garlic clove (chopped)
  • 1 egg
  • cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper (ground)
  • 1/2 cup butter NOT MARGERINE! (melted)
  • 12 phyllo pastry sheets (9X13)
  1. Mix all ingredients well in bowl except Butter and Phyllo.
  2. Butter 4 Phyllo sheets and stack together.
  3. Place 1/3 of filling mixture in a long roll along the long edge of the Phyllo Sheet.
  4. Roll in log form.
  5. Cut log into 6 pieces.
  6. Place in buttered 9X13 pan.
  7. Repeat twice as above.
  8. Butter all the pieces with the remaining butter.
  9. Bake in a 350F oven uncovered until golden brown or approximately 20 to 25 minutes.
Lavash Sandwich
Serves 10
  • 1 piece lavash bread
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • 1/2 cucumber , in thin slices, should be cold
  • 20-25 mint leaves should be cold
  1. Spread cream cheese evenly over the lavash bread.
  2. Sprinkle with desired amount of garlic and onion powders.
  3. Layer the cucumber slices over the cream cheese.
  4. Layer the mint leaves of the cucumber slices.
  5. Roll up into a log.
  6. Slice into 1 inch wide pieces.
  7. Serve.
Chicken Cilicia
(Bear with me, the recipe my mom gave only listed ingredients and nothing else so I'm trying to do it from memory.)
Serves 8-12

(Homemade pita bread, black bean hummus, tabouli, spanakopita and chicken cilicia (on bottom, sans powdered sugar.)
  • 2-3 cups dark meat chicken meat, shredded
  • 1 c Chicken broth
  • 1/2 T Cinnamon
  • 1 t Nutmeg
  • 1 T Turmeric
  • 2 T Sugar
  • 1/4 c slivered Almonds
  • 1/4 c Raisins
  • 12 Phyllo pastry sheets
  • Butter, for brushing
  • Powdered Sugar, for garnishing
  1. Cook dark meat chicken in chicken broth until there is hardly any broth left.
  2. Add in spices and sugar, stir.
  3. Add in almonds and raisins.
  4. Butter 4 Phyllo sheets and stack together.
  5. Place 1/3 of filling mixture in a long roll along the long edge of the Phyllo Sheet.
  6. Roll in log form.
  7. Cut log into 6 pieces.
  8. Place in buttered 9X13 pan.
  9. Repeat twice as above.
  10. Butter all the pieces with the remaining butter.
  11. Bake in a 350F oven uncovered until golden brown or approximately 20 to 25 minutes.
Serves 6 (I like to make it with the least amount of Bulgar to keep it lower carb!)

  • 1/2 cup Bulgar wheat (even a third would work)
  • 2 cups water or chicken broth
  • 4 cups tomatoes , seeded and chopped
  • 1 bunch green onion, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and finley chopped
  • 1 cup onion , finley chopped
  • 5 cups fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Soak bulgar wheat in 2 cups of water or chicken broth let soak overnight or use boiling water and let soak 1 hour.
  2. Rinse and drain wheat in tea strainer and pour in large bowl.
  3. Add oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, stirring well.
  4. Add chopped veggies, mix well, cover.
  5. Refrigerate 3 hours, stirring a few times.
  6. Serve with pita bread.
I'm going to take a break right now. Hopefully you (or somebody else!) will enjoy these recipes.

More to come,

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Lucky Me

In the past five days, I've won three giveaways! As my way of saying thanks, if I win a giveaway, I'll put a link to the giver's site under the "Thank You" header over there on the side.

Many of the products / services I've either received or won are wedding related, some aren't. Either way, check them out because I've gotten some really great stuff from them all!

More to come,

Saturday, July 4, 2009

My DIY escort cards

Ever since I laid eyes on Manzanita tree escort card holders, I knew I had to have one. I don't know if you've ever priced Manzanita branch centerpieces at a florist, but they are EXPENSIVE! Technically, I could buy branches online at $4+ a piece, but luckily, a friend cut me 3 nice branches that he had, so I'm good. I'll post that project closer to my wedding date because I don't want to have to find room for a gigantic assembled tree / stand for 11 months right now.

Anyway, I couldn't decide if I wanted to make just escort cards or place cards so I made something I could use as either (and I'll decide later.) If I make them as escort cards, I'll hang them from the manzanita branch project.

Here's what you need:

  • Glue - fiance already had it for his minuature models so "free."
  • Colored cardstock - used leftover scrap pieces from making my save the dates - the package of cardstock cost me $4.36 at Jo-Ann's Fabric.
  • Fancy punch - $11.19 at Michael's craft store, on sale for 30% off.
  • Scissors - already had them so "free."
  • Pen - already had it so "free."
Not pictured (because I'm not going to do that until I know how many people are coming):
  • Ribbon /raffia - something to hang it on the manzanita tree. - already have it so "free."
  • Felt tip / calligraphy pen - to write names - already have it so "free."
What to do:
  • Bear with me, I took the pictures after I had already made a few escort cards so that's why they're not taken in exact order.
  • First, cut a size that you like from scrap paper, punch it, and glue on another scrap piece to the edge (optional)
  • Use this as your template to measure your cardstock to cut more paper.
As you can see, I'm using super advanced tools. ;-)
  • If you mess up on your punches (I like to have four at the end) just cut off the messed up piece and glue it to another piece of scrap paper.
  • Cut out one of the tiny cuts into a square. (We didn't pay $8.00 for that glue.)
  • Glue square to the underside of card so it sticks out like a pull (you could use these in guest books or whatever.)
  • If you're going to use these on a hanging tree, you can punch a hole in the opposite end and thread ribbon or raffia through it to hang. Finish it off by writing the guest's name on the card.
It was pretty easy and used just scrap paper that was otherwise going to go into the trash. The only thing I bought specifically for this project was the paper punch. I'll use it for more wedding related projects though!

More to come,

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Reception location: Country Club vs. Backyard

I've been looking at wedding blogs galore to get some ideas about things I'd like to make for this wedding. I am so happy we're paying for it ourselves which means anything I want to do, I can.

We're doing this wedding in my fiance's parents' backyard. We really lucked out because they live in an upscale gated community with a winery, country club and golf course. To rent out the country club within their neighborhood, it would cost more than our entire wedding budget of $2,000 (not including engagement/wedding rings)

Here's the country club:
Outside location

Inside location

We figured, "Hey, if we can get basically the exact same scenery in the same gated community - for free, why not?" Here's part of the backyard where we're going to get married (and my fiance's 12-year-old half brother looking for Easter eggs.)

I've been making my own inspiration boards because I decided I didn't want to have a color as our theme. Because I'm not bound by a certain color palette, I've noticed I can get a lot of things way cheaper (don't have to have custom colors, can buy what's in stock.)

Here's one of the inspiration boards I made:

We're doing a Spanish flamenco theme so we're having lots of bright colors - yellows, oranges, greens, teal, reds, hot pinks and white. Nothing dark and dreary. To go with our theme, we're having a tapas bar with sangria along with Mexican wedding cookies/Russian tea cakes instead of a wedding cake (neither of us like cake and cheesecake for 75 is out of our budget.)

To save on some money, my friends, fiance's sister and I will be making the majority of the tapas, drinks and cookies. I used to work at Whole Foods in the bakery so I've worked on my fair share of catering orders and can cook large orders fairly fast. We may hire a few people to man the tapas buffet and heat the tapas that need to be warmed in my fiance's parents' kitchen (Which is a dream kitchen - a shame since his mom said she doesn't cook!)

Here's my fiance's sister with her husband and sister-in-law in the kitchen we're making our food in! (I think the coolest thing is that heat lamp under the hood!)

We've done some pricing and we're going to save at least $1,000 doing the DIY catering. My next task is to try out some sangria recipes (I've never made it before and don't know what it's supposed to taste like.)

One item we've already decided we're serving is a chocolate cake shot. We'll be serving it at our reception dinner. My fiance's friend's mom made these for us a couple weeks ago and it's insane how much they taste like chocolate cake. It even has a complex and distinct flavor of cake and frosting!

Here's the recipe:

1/2 ounce Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
1/2 ounce vanilla vodka
powdered sugar
lemon slice

- Mix Frangelico and Vodka in a shaker.
- Pour into shot glass.
- Dip lemon slice in powdered sugar.
- Take your shot of liquor - don't swallow, just hold it in your mouth.
- Immediately place lemon slice in your mouth. (Don't dribble!)
- Enjoy.

More to come!