Random Update: Pretty Things

In our new house there isn't much storage space at all, so I was pretty excited when I spotted this awesome necklace tree at JoAnn's. It will make it easy to store my jewelry without having it piled up in a drawer or taking up tons of space sitting on the dresser.

Four Oaks Manor Review

I have had A LOT of comments about how beautiful the reception site was that Justin and I picked for our wedding. I'm not really sure if people are aware of how much time, thought, and effort went into picking the location.

Let's just say ... 5 months of looking with the reception site being one of the last wedding vendors picked. We were trying to stay within a rather small budget ... that ended up just not working out for us. We checked out farms and ... this, that, and the other. When we saw Four Oaks, we knew it was the place for our reception. It had a southern vintage feel. It was outside ... and inside. There were blooming plants and trees. It was great.

The main concern for us was the money. It was much more costly than our original reception site budget included. They wanted us to use their catering service, but at $27 a head for 150 people plus taxes? Umm ... no. Using my dad's advice, I contacted Four Oaks again saying that the location looked gorgeous, but we could not afford to use their caterer. Much to my surprise the owner responded and said that was ok! SCORE!!!

When we went to check out the location, I asked if the rental included the chairs and tables (one less thing to rent). The owner initially said yes ... then later changed his mind ... then let us use them for free! Squee! I was over-the-moon knowing I was able to use my own caterer (for less than half the cost of the Four Oaks caterer) and using the tables and chairs rent-free! So exciting!

Needless to say I was pleased as punch with Four Oaks Manor and their willingness to work with what Justin and I needed for our beautiful March reception. The owner even freely provided exciting ideas for decorating that we were more than happy to use when planning our reception.

Four Oaks Manor went above and beyond helping Justin and I put together a beautiful wedding reception. I would definitely recommend at least contacting them to find out if they would be a good fit for any events in your life that may need a beautiful location.

Adorama Review

A month or so ago I was shopping at Kohls and saw the cutest magnets to go on a refrigerator. Knowing that Justin and I do not have many magnets for the fridge and these were so cost-friendly, I decided to buy two just to see if I liked them. The magnets were cute, but when I bought them, I had no idea how few places sold images in the 3.5x5 inch size. A google search led me straight to Adorama's page where I order four photos to go into our two magnets.

1. The cost was good. It was what I would expect to pay anywhere else for photos of that size.

2. Being able to order the size I wanted made me extremely happy. I did not want to include "special instructions" like WHCC required you to do. It was nice being able to pick the size image I wanted.

3. Comparing WHCC and Adorama, I noticed that WHCC uses brighter colors than Adorama in the final print. Does this matter? It depends on what you are going for. Do you want your pictures printed brighter?

4. The pictures shipped fast. Not as fast as WHCC, but they were at the house within a week of ordering them. They arrived much sooner than Adorama predicted they would. (The WHCC images arrived a day later than predicted.)

5. The pictures arrived in an 8x10 box with an 8x10 piece of cardboard and plastic protecting my tiny 3.5x5 images. This makes me think Adorama does well in making sure your images arrive looking good and not torn to pieces or bent due to the mail system.

6. While I was thrilled with the size, one image (of the four I ordered) had a white spot at the top where it looked like the image had not been aligned to the paper very well. Disappointing. It was not worth contacting Adorama to complain about for me. If I were providing these images to a client, it would definitely be worth complaining about.

Overall thoughts: If you want a fun size, Adorama is definitely worth considering. I ordered matte lustre since I think it creates a beautiful print (although I wouldn't think twice about ordering a metallic print! How fun!). The size that I ordered (3.5x5) was really fun and unique. It feels almost like a trading card. I would definitely have fun doing an album of these for someone special in my life. It seems more exciting since it is a different cut than what you would normally receive (4x6, 5x7, 8x10). The ordering was easy. I would definitely recommend using them over traditional drugstore prints; you really don't know the difference until you see the beautiful paper and how nice on the eyes it is. :)

Neutrogena Daily Scrub

I was hesitant to talk about this since it is slightly more personal than my usual posts, but I thought if it could help another person it might be worth it.

A year ago I had the best skin. I never really got a pimple and when I did it would disappear within a week or so. It was nothing to worry about, stress about, or even give two seconds worth of thought. I never really wore make-up unless I was going to an event since my face was clear. In fact I often got compliments on how great my skin looked.

In June of last year I got my first really bad pimple right before Justin and I did engagement pictures. Seeing as it was only one, I wasn't terribly worried about it. I covered it with makeup and went to the session with no problem. However that pimple stayed for much longer than one of my usual pimples. I waited one month... two... Being broke I resisted trying everything on the market. Since my mom and brother often had problems with pimples, I tried the products they were using. I even tried home solutions I found online to no avail. The pimple shrunk in size, but it was still a scar on my face. I thought, okay if that is the worst thing that happens to me prior to my wedding, it will all be okay.

I was going well... no pimples or anything until January (3 months before the wedding). I broke out again. I stayed calm. I figured I was back to my "normal" pimples and it would disappear on its own just like every pimple I had had before June. No such luck. One month went by and we were getting closer to the wedding... I asked my make-up artist what I could do and she provided me with a product to try. Nothing. Grr.

She was able to cover the pimple with make-up for the wedding so that my face looked clear. I really wish it had been.

While these two pimples left their scars, I thought, once again, I was in for the clear. Stress was done with. Wedding was over. Then it happened again in May. Being desperate, one of my friends recommended Neutrogena Deep Clean Shine Control Daily Scrub. It took about two weeks to work, and I was feeling particularly anxious about it working. My face is currently completely clear of acne and my acne scars are decreasing in noticeability! Yay! I finally feel like I'm getting my old face back again!

I was especially concerned when I saw that some users of this product noticed themselves breaking out more after a week or so of use. I was really concerned that I would damage my overall pretty great skin to the point of breaking out more often than if I had never used the product to begin with. Luckily I have noticed no such thing. Yay!

I would definitely recommend trying this product if you are having a problem with acne. It really has made a difference in how I feel about my face. I still notice the scars, but I worry less about future acne impacting my appearance. Maybe by this time next year my scars will be completely gone! Wouldn't that be awesome?!

Busy as a Bee (or a New Couple)

It seems that people are correct when they say that you get much busier after marriage.

Here's a flashback for the past few months:

- a short honeymoon (a day, plus a day with guests)
- car accident and the aftermath (approx. 2-3 weeks)
- looking for a rental house, moving, organizing, cleaning the apartment (approx. 2-3 weeks, still doing it really)
- family events (Easter, award ceremony, Mother's Day for two families plus a grandmother, birthday, graduation)
- being sick (2 weeks)
- editing a book (up to 10 hrs. extra work a week than what I had before the wedding)
- getting used to living with someone else (which meant grocery shopping every night and getting very little actually done the first few weeks)

Nevertheless, this has made me behind on writing thank you notes. If you have not yet received yours, never fear! I am getting to it! We are making sure to spend time writing the thank yous, because we want you to know that we appreciated what you did and how special you made our day. It has been fun hearing back from friends and family who are reminded of our wedding a few months after the fact when they get our thank you note. We have received forgotten pictures and missed comments. It is almost like celebrating our wedding months and months later!

Organization Ideas & An Update

Living with so few hiding places has encouraged Justin and I to find creative ways to store things he uses on a daily basis.

My grandparents gave Justin and I all of these lovely pots as a house-warming gift. Rather than stuffing them into a cupboard, Justin decided to hang them over our breakfast bar. I thought it was a great idea. It saves us some of our precious cupboard space which can be used for other things (food, appliances, etc...).

Another, humorously in my opinion, good idea for storing knives... We will never fear sticking our hands in drawers again. Plus, we don't have to worry about a knife block taking up space on our counter. Plus... it even holds a scraper! (And scissors. You don't want to know how many kitchen utensils we've placed on those magnetic racks!) 

Can you believe they make these?!? Originally it was magnetic spice holders that went on a magnetic rack similar to our knife rack. Well... they work just fine as magnets on the fridge! :) Only problem is that, while Justin can tell what it is by smelling it, I cannot. Label maker here we come!

Justin and I only have one extra closet other than our bedroom closet. We decided to make it 1/3 pantry. We went to Ikea and bought this cute little shelving unit. Things aren't very well organized in our pantry yet, but we are off to a start.

Justin and I also had to buy an extra bookcase to hold all of our books and "stuff". (What you see is only half of it.) Obviously we will be finding a different place for the printers, sewing machine, and tool boxes. I think the goal was to get things off the floor. Walking around is important. I will be scouring pinterest for ideas on how to decorate the bookshelf in such a way that we can put out normal things like batteries, light bulbs, etc...  on shelves so that they can be put up, easy to get to, and yet not look like we don't have a place to store them (even though we don't).

Wish us luck. We have many, many miles to go before we finish the task of moving in. (5 more boxes, cleaning Justin's apartment, and the majority of my stuff!)

Fingerprint Trees

I wanted to share some pictures that the kids I babysit did today. I showed them my fingerprint guestbook from the wedding, and they "had to" create their own.

Mary Katherine


Ginger Vogt Dresses

Back in October, I won a wedding dress painting from Ginger Vogt through Vanessa Robert's Wedding blog. I was absolutely thrilled. I had been tweeting every day trying desperately to win it. You can imagine my surprise when I did. Although Ginger and I had been emailing back and forth since the win, I didn't have a picture of my wedding dress. :( (It's very difficult to paint a picture of a dress when you can't see it.) Within 2 weeks of sending pictures of my dress to her, she e-mailed me saying my dress painting would be shipped this week. I just got it yesterday as I was running out the door. I was SOOOO excited!

Ginger Vogt watercolor

The dress painting was wrapped prettily in a box with a nice note from the artist. It made me feel so special to receive the painting of my dress! Not only did she wrap it so gorgeously, but the painting was matted as well and ready for a gorgeous picture frame! I cannot wait to hang it up in my house! The painting has the slightest bit of shimmer which made me super giddy! What girl doesn't like shimmer? :)

I am so excited about seeing the picture hanging in our spare bedroom ("the wedding room" as Justin affectionately refers to it). It might be fun to get the bridesmaid dresses done smaller and positioned with it! :) We shall see.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Since moving, Justin and I have had to rethink our methods of waste removal. The area we now live in encourages recycling by ... discouraging trash. Go figure. In other places it has been so much easier to simply chuck whatever we had into the garbage and not think twice. It's been nice (and feels so much better) to begin to seriously reduce, reuse, and recycle what we already have as Justin and I begin to combine our things.

When we first started moving, I informed Justin that I wanted to reduce what we owned to the very "basics". I have other friends that have reduced what they own to what they can take with them if they were to just get up and leave one day. Even the little girl I watch only has what she needs; she continuously goes through her stuff to find things to donate to others that she has grown out of. What an awesome idea! A child donating to another in need! :)

Some things we have done in order to reduce what we use include:

1. Using kitchen towels instead of paper towels. I have to admit this is more difficult for me than Justin since I can't stand touching food (specifically eaten food). The minute the towel gets a speck of dirt on it, I want to throw it in the wash.

2. We are in the process of selling some of our books online using Bookscouter.com. It's a good way to make a few extra bucks. It's also nice knowing you have more room for books you actually want to read rather than allowing the books you were given or dislike to take up room on a shelf collecting dust.

3. Justin has begun taking his lunches to work in glass tupperware we bought over the weekend rather than using the cheap plastic grocery-store kind.

4. FOOD! I looked at the expiration date for every can of food Justin owned when we moved. I informed Justin that I did not want to take one speck of old food with us. We are trying to buy only what we know we will eat, and we are constantly going through the fridge to get rid of older food.

5. Justin and I are both going through our clothing. Obviously I do not wear 3 closets full of clothing. With only one small closet between the two of us, something had to be done. We are looking forward to taking some of our older clothing to a store like Plato's Closet to sell what is buy-worthy. The things that aren't will be donated.

We still have a lot that needs to be moved and gone through, but we are excited about reducing our "carbon footprint" in the world. It has been so surprising and eye-opening to see how many things can be recycled. I told Justin that I may need to print the list of things that can be recycled, so that I don't end up throwing away something that we could save money on by recycling. Luckily, the city will provide all of the recycling containers we could possibly ever need! Over the course of two weeks we have managed to fill the recycling container twice! Go us!

We are looking to build a compost pile to get rid of food. Hopefully once we get finished moving and build the compost pile we can reduce the amount of garbage we have even more! I'd love to get down to one bag a week of garbage!

Betsey Johnson Bridesmaid Dresses

Just wanted to take a quick second and explain that my bridesmaid dresses (!!) were inspired by a Betsey Johnson dress that you can see here on Caterina Scorsone:

My bridesmaids looked fabulous, so I was absolutely thrilled to see that the Betsey Johnson dress just does not compare to how beautiful the dresses were that my amazing husband crafted for my beautiful bridesmaids. (Although I am partial to the Betsey Johnson color. *shrugs*)