Monday, January 14, 2019

Wedding Planning on a Dime #cheapweddingideas

Weddings can cost a fortune. But there are ways to pinch pennies. Below are pictures of my niece's wedding...a wedding in which we stretched every nickel and dime spent to unbelievably low numbers.

The biggest savings was having a great family that is well-connected. My cousins run Wedding Planners and Catering Services (Sharon Helmick and Teresa Jackson, are my cousins. If you happen to live in the Ohio Valley region and need quality work at an affordable price, give them a buzz!) and have all the table linens, dishes, and kitchen wares we needed. Not everyone is so lucky to be related to pros, but there are ways to save money by thinking outside the box.

We used reusable dishes at the reception. It took a bit of time to wash them afterward, but we saved several hundred dollars not buying the high-end disposables. The napkins are also cloth and are reusable. Many halls have dishes available for long as you're willing to do the extra clean up.

Check with churches and civic organizations. They often have the large, industrial-sized serving items. Offer them a donation or ask about rental fees. The punch bowls in the picture were gathered from family. Amazing what people have already gathering dust in their cupboards.

Another smart idea my cousins taught me...use black table cloths on the food tables. Spills and stains are inevitable, so white table cloths make zero sense.

The pretty glowing trees lining the hall were cheap to make. We cut down saplings. Used Sakrete to secure them in Dollar Tree buckets. Painted them white. Lined them with white Christmas lights and they were perfect.

Re-usables. The roses in the table arrangements were repurposed from another wedding. The pine cones in the mix were gathered from yards and baked before adding them to the centerpieces. By looking for things that can be repurposed, thrift shop flower arrangements can get a second life.

The chair covers made ugly metal folding chairs look classy. We tucked the covers under the legs of the chairs for a finished-looking touch. We had to do it all in one night because we failed to book the hall for an extra day to do the decorating. By accident, we saved money by doing it all in a twenty-four hour period. 3:00 AM start time sound good, my fellow money savers?

Drapes of lights twinkling behind a sheer curtain. A gorgeous, affordable idea.

The bridal table. The rose and pine theme was chosen to save money, but they turned out to be perfectly symbolic. Red roses for love. Pine for longevity.

Christmasy touches make for cheap pizzazz. The Dollar Tree is well stocked during the holidays and a cheap place to pick up baubles to add some sparkle.

Putting the final touches on the light sheers. PVC pipes with holes drilled in it were the light/curtain hangers. A magical touch!

The cookie trays were supported by red bowls they flipped upside down and glued to the bottom of the trays. The garland was lengths of pine with roses wired to it and pine cones laid on top.

The pine garland was also used on the tables. The pine cones were free. The hurricane vases were reusables. All of these matched, but had we not found enough of the same kind...non-matching vases would have been beautiful too and with planning could be gathered from thrift shops and friends.

The Christmas tree was my mothers, or the bride's grandmother. We decorated it with pine garland, Dollar Tree snowflakes and red bulbs. The pine garland was simply twine with pine cones hot glued to it. The tree topper was a simple bow.

In the basket on the table, there was a basket of jingle bells for people to ring as the couple came into the reception hall. Sharon painted a board to say, "Ring the bells with joy and laughter and wish them happily ever after." That worked out perfectly because it was freezing cold on their wedding day and no one wanted to stand outside and blow bubbles!

They had all the roasters from their catering business, but it wouldn't be impossible to borrow roasters and dishes from people. Just be sure to label it to return it later.

Which reminds me of a huge money savings...we cooked the food ourselves two days before the wedding. Stored it in the fridge and put it in the roasters to heat the day of the wedding.

Another way to save money on the food if you don't want to cook it yourself is to contact local charity groups. For my mother's funeral, I contacted Wetzel County Hope and Memories, a local group that raises money to help cancer patients with the transportation costs of cancer treatment. They cooked and served the food after the funeral for a donation to their charity.

The finished product. It's pretty during the day, but absolutely perfect at night. The candles on the table and the sparkly trees around the hall were the perfect amount of romantic light.

No two centerpieces were exactly the same. By sticking to the same colors and theme, you can save money by picking up items as you find them discounted instead of having to find a certain number of exact matches in bulk.

Monday, January 7, 2019

#WeightLoss, take 2019

loved having all the boys home!

I'm at it again. And this is definitely NOT a New Year's Resolution. I don't want to make a cliche resolution to eat better, exercise more, and lose weight. I really want to make a life change. And if I keep trying, it's bound to stick one of these times, right?

I know I can do it. Over the summer, I stayed with my plan for a couple of months and lost 10 lbs. Then life exploded and my healthy eating diary got packed up with the rest of the house, soon followed by the holidays and family. Forget trying to get back to eating healthy with all that activity and stress. And that's why most people decide to wait and make changes when the holidays are over. The New Year is a good time to reset life.

So, here's the Plan that Works! for me:
  • Write down all Calories
  • Start with a Max of 1500 cal/day, then cut back more
  • Fruit and Veggies are "Free" - I don't count those calories to encourage myself to eat more of them
  • Drink more Water - I start with 16-20 oz/day and add more
  • Creative Exercising - burn calories any way I can!
    • Stand more at work
    • Take stairs instead of elevators
    • Park farther away at the store - especially if I need to shop at several stores: I park in the middle of the lot and walk around
    • Master the stairs at home - I do 10 flights up and down when I can.
    • Keep the house cleaner, or vacuum more... much as I hate to clean!
I'll post updates soon. And I wish you all luck with your resolutions or aspirations to improve!

Let's make 2019 a prosperous, positive year!

Monday, December 17, 2018


Cake Mix Sugar Cookies
Super easy and tasty.
Mix a package of cake mix (I used Funfetti cake mix for these)
1/2 Cup oil
2 eggs
(white sugar for dipping)

Mix all the ingredients together. 
Once mixed, shape the mix into a ball, and then roll into a log shape. 
Refrigerate for an hour or so then slice and dip in a bowl sugar.
Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. 
*These work well with as cookie cutter cookies


Hot glue pine cones to twine for a natural (and cheap) garland  for the Christmas tree.
 So easy! 
And beautiful. 


Tara and I are signing off for 2018. Our kids are making their ways back home, so it's time for these Really Real Housewives to put our tips and advice to practical use. May your holidays be full of blessings and love. We'll be back in 2019 with more tips, advice, and the occasional whine.

Until then...

Monday, December 10, 2018

Tis the season of STRESS!

I loved Liz's post last week. We are still moving (since we moved only a short way from our old house and it isn't sold yet, we are taking our time moving some things every day and organizing as we go--we sure have a lot of junk!) and I'm only bringing over what Christmas decorations I can handle putting up before bringing more. December 12th is coming! I'm looking forward to it and hope I can get enough done that I don't have to keep decorating while they're here.

Besides the move, I'm also stressed about presents, parties, expenses, work, etc. At least I got my Xmas cards out early to give everyone our new address. And I finally decided we wouldn't travel for the holidays, even though I really wanted to, so I just finished up the easy gifts, wrapped them, and will ship them tomorrow. But I still have so much to do! It never ends! I like being busy, but this is ridiculous!

So I've come up with some ways to de-stress during the holidays (and beyond):
  • listen while you work - I love music. I like to sing, too. Whether just listening to some soothing holiday music or belting out my current favorites, music is a big de-stresser for me and makes the work less of a chore.
  • watch while you work - then there's the other option of watching a Christmas special or other favorite movie or show while you get your wrapping/cleaning/online shopping done. I scroll through the guide and schedule shows to record on my DVR - then I can watch them later and FF commercials, they stress me out too!
  • get physical - I was doing well with my eating plan (diet) and lost 10 lbs this summer. But as soon as we got back from vacation and began our selling/moving process, my scale and my diet went into storage. It worked before, and it will work again--starting right after the holidays. In the meantime, exercise is a great stress reliever, so I set an alarm on my phone to do some exercises each night. I hope it works!
  • organizing and prioritizing - writing down my to do items in a nice neat list, I feel I can accomplish them. I also know my limitations, so my daily list is reasonable. When I cross things off the list, stress recedes.
Some people bake, some jog or do yoga, and some take long baths... How about you--any de-stressing ideas or techniques? Please share!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Enjoy a Holiday

My boys and I getting our tree. I took it from my son's Instagram.
I hadn't even thought to post one. That loses me Mom of the Year, right?
As you can probably tell by the picture, Christmas is coming!!! If the picture wasn't a big enough hint, I'm sure you've noticed the decorations adorning the streets, the homes, the stores...and you don't need me to remind you that you that the clock is ticking...closer and closer to The Day. I know I feel a bit of panic when I start to think of all the things I need to do to make this an amazing holiday for my family. 

The planning and the work and quickly spin out of control. I have had Christmases where I was still putting out decorations on Christmas Eve. 

That's crazy. 

Christmas Eve should be reserved for cooking and last minute shopping and wrapping. 

It was a real downer to look at Christmas and sigh (the bad, tired kind of sigh). I love Christmas. It's a magical time of year. But I was ruining it with stuff. It was then that I invoked the December 12th rule. Whatever I didn't have set out by December 12th stayed in storage. Eventually, by setting a deadline, I was inadvertently sorting stuff out. I was cherry picking the important stuff to make sure it was getting set out in time. After stuff stayed in the boxes for a few years, I decided it was time to donate them. 

This year, I had all of the decorations I planned to use out by December 1st and not a single person has noticed it didn't take me two weeks and twenty-some boxes to get there. 

Minimize work. Maximize fun. 

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