Monday, May 31, 2010

A weekend in KC - and finding a place to live!

This weekend we went galavanting off to Kansas City to find a place to live. We plan on moving there July 1st, which is only a month away! Since I had the long weekend off from my jobs, we were both able to go as well.

Sean and I had a lot of criteria for the place we were looking for, which made the search both easier and harder. This is probably going to be our last place before we buy a house (yikes! How crazy is that?!), so we wanted to be comfortable - we'd like to stay here 2-3 years, or more. While laundry in building was okay, we preferred laundry in unit (at least hook-ups). We needed a bedroom that would fit our queen size bed, and a living room that would house both our couch, entertainment center, and a desk for Sean (or a second bedroom). Because we're not students, we needed either a cheaper place (so we could afford gym memberships), or one that offered a work-out room. The kitchen was way high on our priority lists too. We knew that a new place meant lower utilities as well.

We researched a lot of places out in KC before we left on Saturday. I managed to schedule 7 apartment viewings in the 30 short hours we were there. We saw most of them. One place ditched us on Sunday, which is sad cause that's the place I wanted to see the most. They were all on the Plaza, which is like KC's downtown area. While they all had a great location, there were two central problems: there weren't any grocery stores anywhere close, and these places were small. I had no idea how small 500 sq feet was. It's tiny!! Especially for two people. We quickly discovered that we were okay being a little farther out, if we got a nicer, larger place. We also found out that, while not that expensive, the average cost of a place in KC was around $600-800 - a LOT more than it costs to live in CoMo. Sad day.

On Saturday, we found ourselves in a game of frisbee with our friend Kevin, and Zack. I know Zack's little siblings Mallory and Ethan, but I didn't even know Zack existed (apparently there's a 3rd brother as well too). Zack mentioned that Mallory and Ethan were looking for a subleaser (their dad has recently been diagnosed with cancer, and they were looking to move home), but that they were really far north. We said we'd come look at it, but mostly just to visit. These are old South kids! We love them! Well, of course we fell in love with the place. It's about 20 minutes north of the Plaza, but it's huge. Like, 1100 sq feet huge. It's new, gorgeous, and has a pool and fitness center. Plus, they cover cable in the rent, and there's laundry in unit. Awesome! It's a little more expensive than we wanted to spend, but when we crunched numbers and realized that we'd be spending more in the "little stuff" in other places, we decided to go ahead with this place.

We're excited. We have a place (that's gorgeous). It's a two bedroom, but since we're subleasing, we'll only be there for 3 months. Then, we can choose to stay there (if we get decent jobs) or move to a one bedroom. And, we're helping out friends. It's really nice to be able to give them a break - it's tough to find a subleaser. We're less than half a mile from a grocery store, a Target, a Kohl's, and a Michaels - and they're the ones that we'd be driving to even if we lived on the Plaza.

Here's where we'll be moving: Carrington Park.

Oh! And there's SO much to do in KC. There's great people, and really, I just can't wait to move there. It'll be a fabulous change of pace, and there's so much there. Most of all, Sean and I will be there together :)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Yo! Save the Date!

Sean and I finally sent out our save-the-dates this week. One of my aunts asked one too many times when the wedding was, which was starting to get frustrating. Plus, I have several family members who will need months (ahem, my dad) to get off on a Saturday. Even though everyone knows we have a winter wedding, they pretty much stop considering things after that. We can't blame them - they all have little ones and busy lives! We've been engaged for over a year and a half...while most people think that gives people plenty of time to think about it, it's actually a reverse effect. It gets put on the backburner for so long, it gets forgotten about (including by the bride and groom!).

This is actually one of our first wedding projects. They've been a long time in the making too. Our save-the-dates are magnets. I fell in love with the idea when I was a nanny a few years ago - the lady I baby-sat for had a cute little save-the-date magnet on the fridge. I think I still know the day her cousin got married. I designed ours myself on Photoshop, and went over to Vistaprint to get them printed. I had a few coupons, and ended up getting a great deal on them!

The business cards were printed on my home computer, with cards that I needed for a school project long ago. I got the ribbon for uber cheap - it was only 50 cents a roll originally, but I had a 30% off coupon, so I was able to get 4 rolls for $1.40. It was a little touch that really made the save-the-dates really nice looking. By the wedding world, save-the-date is actually an StD. I should do a post on wedding world terminology - it's crazy!

I really hate that I blurred out our last names...but it seems as though you can't be too careful on the internet. Ah well. You still get pictures :)

(The full package)

(artsy shot? This shows the cardstock we put behind the magnets, so they wouldn't interfere with the USPS equipment or get stuck to each other)

(I got into a rhythm, mispunched a few cards...whoops! Good thing I had extra)

For those of you who can't read it, the little tag reads:
"Our big day is fast approaching
And we can hardly wait
So put this magnet on the fridge
And be sure to save the date!"

I tried making it with correct punctuation, but it just didn't look right. My grammar savvy friends will have to deal with the incorrectness. get started on designing invites.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Table love.

Sean and I stained our kitchen table this weekend. He's been busy sanding the beast for the last 4 months or so, and had finally gotten it all finished. Between the main table, the leaves, the pedestal legs, and the cross beam, there was a lot of work to do. I tried my hand at sanding a few weeks ago, and promptly decided I hated it. Luckily, Sean likes playing with the power tools, so he was more than happy to okay with doing it.

A few weeks, we went to pick out our stain color. We knew we wanted a dark reddish wood color (hey, it's gorgeous and I'm a sucker for cherry wood and the like). We had originally decided on Minwax #225, Red Mahogany - we loved it. Unfortunately though, you have to add a finisher on after you stain - which was going to be an extra $33. So while the regular wood stain was fairly inexpensive, the finisher severely upped the cost. We decided in the end to go with Bombay Mahogany, which was a Minwax Polyshade - it included the finisher with it. It was a bit darker than the original color we had picked out, but we love it nonetheless.

Even with our wood conditioner, the table soaked up the first coat of stain. It was really hard to get it smooth, and definitely made us wonder if we had made a mistake going with the unfamiliar polyshade. We waited six hours though, and when we put on the second coat, it went on like a dream and really smoothed out the surface. We were so relieved! Sean definitely didn't want to have to sand the table down and start over, and frankly, neither did I. It took about 2 hours to stain the pieces each time we did them (though the second time it was probably only an hour and a half), plus we had to wait six hours in between for the stain to dry. So after about 10 hours of staining, this is what we ended up with:
 (The legs and crossbeam) 
(Still drying)
(The final color, top view)
(our new table!!! eeek!)
(size wise? This view is without the leaves)

Isn't she gorgeous? I'm so excited to have a really solid table - it's always been the backbone of my family. This little venture only cost us about $60-70 in the end too, and most of that was stain and sponge brushes (we couldn't use rags because of the texture of the polyshade). My dad said that we should get another finisher (though the name completely escapes me), just because it's a table and should probably be a little more protected than it is with the regular finisher. I need to talk to Sean about, but we'll most likely end up adding it after he buffs out any remaining stain bubbles with steel wool.

Now we're looking for an unfinished wood shop that we can get chairs at...we've decided that we really don't like the chairs that came "with" the table (it's obvious they weren't originally purchased with it). Now...if only we had a place to put our new table...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bridesmaids - they have dresses!

I finally wrangled all my bridesmaids to go dress shopping. I have six girls, and they're all spread out (three in CoMo, two in StL, and one in ChiTown), so getting them together was not a possibility. However, one of my girls is moving to Savannah this week, and another is in Indianapolis with a DCI internship for the summer - dresses needed to get done. And I'm so thankful they are.

Originally, I had told all my girls they could pick any dress they wanted in Holly Green, from David's Bridal. My only original term was that if one girl wanted a short dress, at least two needed a short dress. Well, then we started thinking. I'm getting married in January. While I love the idea of short dresses (even with black tights!), it wasn't logical. I didn't want my girls to regret short dresses either. So, in the end, they all have long dresses from David's Bridal.

There are only 8 long dresses to choose from in my color at DB, which kind of sucks. But in the end, it actually worked out really well - two girls are in one dress, two girls are in another dress, and two girls are in similar dresses, though not identical. I like it. I think it'll look fabulous. The girls were all able to pick dresses that work great with their body type, and they could have considered price too (though I don't think they did) All the dresses are primarily satin, though 3 of them have chiffon accents, so they all jive well together too. Shanon will be in a completely different dress, but she's the junior bridesmaid so it doesn't really matter - she only has 3 choices, and she made it a long time ago - as in, November.

And now, without further ado...

*Note: these are not my bridesmaids. Clearly, I do not have twins, and who the eff poses like that?
(From left, the dresses will belong to Rachel [my Maid of Honor!), Lyndsey, Jayme, Allie, Moni, Christine, and Shanon (my Jr. Bridesmaid and baby sister)

The girls have until August 1st to buy dresses, so they'll all have guaranteed addresses at that time. With most of us graduating/recently graduated, our addresses have been a bit wonky lately (heck - I don't even know my address come July!). David's Bridal was great for us, just because they're everywhere. The average cost of the dresses was $130, though they range from $99 to $155. I'm really excited to see all of them together!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Monkey Bread

Have you ever had monkey bread before? It's a gooey, cinnamony, and amazing. I remember my grandma making this bread when we were really little, but after she got sick when I was around 5, she stopped. I remember pulling apart this delicious bread with forks, because I hated getting messy as a kid. Honestly, it had be a looong time since I had it, until recently. My mom made it for my sister's First Communion. The event was at 9 am, so we chose to have a brunch party afterward. Monkey Bread is a form of coffee cake, so it's perfect when served with breakfast - though I think it's perfect anytime.

My grandma's recipe:
4 rolls of biscuits (NOT the flaky ones)
3/4 cup of white sugar
2 Tbsp of cinnamon
1 cup of brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks of butter
(you can also add chopped nuts or raisins, but I'm not a fan)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a bundt pan REALLY well
2. Chop the uncooked biscuits into quarters.
3. Mix the cinnamon and white sugar in a bowl.
4. A few pieces at a time (usually about 4 biscuits worth), roll your biscuit pieces in the cinnamon sugar. Then layer in the bundt pan, adding nuts and raisins if you choose.
5. Melt butter, add brown sugar, and bring to a boil for 1 minute.
6. Pour butter-sugar mixture over the layers of biscuits in the bundt pan.
7. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then flip onto a plate and serve!

Be careful to not overcook your bread...also - it's a million times better when it's served hot!

Shoe Love.

It occurred to me a month or so ago that I need to start looking for bridal shoes. Bridal shoes actually wouldn't be that big of deal, except I want green shoes. Yup. You heard me right. I want green shoes.

I couldn't get images like this:
or this:
out of my head. I wanted colored shoes.

Sure, I could go the hot pink route or the red route, but I really love the idea of having my wedding color. I love that dark, rich green. Which, as my luck would of course have it, is a pretty rare color in shoe world apparently. Especially since I really don't want to spend a sh*t ton of money on my shoes. I want the best of all the worlds - cheap, comfortable, and luxurious holly green. Heck, I couldn't even find a pair of dark green shoes...until I stumbled upon this post. In it, Landlocked Bride (who hails from StL - woot woot!), highlighted these f-ing amazing, gorgeous in every way possible shoes - that I now desperately want:
Gorgeous, no?

Can you imagine these beauties peeping out from under my dress? Le sigh.

Friday, May 14, 2010

5 years ago...

So I kind of forgot to mention...

Sean and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary last Saturday!

5 years! It's amazing to know that we've made it this long, especially knowing we'll be together for many more. It's our last "date-iversary" too - by this time next year, we'll be married! We've also now known each other for 8's been a long time coming.

I know some people think it's absolutely ridiculous that we've been dating for this long, but we've really enjoyed it. We've gone through a lot of ups and downs, a lot of stress, and a lot of everything. We've been to Destin, Disney World, Chicago, Galena, Tulsa, and Memphis (have you ever driven in a car with someone for 16 hours straight [I mean it. We didn't stop for 16 hours, AND it was through the night]?). We've moved furniture that wasn't ours, we've gone to family reunions, and we've gone to more weddings, funerals, and baptisms than you can count. Yes, many of our friends have and will get married before us. Sometimes, I get a smidge jealous, but in the end, it really doesn't matter. I know that we're right for each other, and I know that we can get through the hardest of the hard. Catholics have a tendency to date for a long time anyway. Divorce is a huge negative (if you're married in the Church once, you can't get remarried in the church without an annulment), so making sure it's gonna work is completely and totally necessary.

Besides, no matter how much I love Sean, I so glad I got the opportunity to live on my own. It creates a sense of self-awareness, something that can't be discovered when you're always living for someone else. I'm really confident about myself now, and I'm completely confident in the idea of marriage - I'm ready. I can't wait to go apartment hunting in a few weeks, I can't wait to move in together in the next few months, and I can't wait to get married in 238 days.

By the 2005...
- YouTube was launched
-The United States 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, refuses to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube.
-The 2005 Sumatran earthquake rocks Indonesia, and at magnitude 8.7 is the second strongest earthquake since 1960.
-His Royal Highness Charles, Prince of Wales marries Camilla Parker Bowles.
-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger elected Pope Benedict XVI on the second day of the Papal conclave.
-Kuwait permits women's suffrage in a 35-23 National Assembly vote
-Hurricane Katrina devastates much of the U.S. Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, killing more than 1,836 and causing over $115 billion in damage.
-The controversial drawings of Muhammad are printed in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
-The Colbert Report first airs.

Can you believe that stuff happened THAT long ago? 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chicago....and IKEA!!!

Sean and I took a mini-trip up to Chicago. We had an absolute blast! Sean and I are big fans of road trips (three to Destin, one to Oklahoma, one to Orlando, and now one to Chicago) - we don't get much time to be alone with each other, and 5 1/2 hours of driving is a perfect time to reconnect, especially after a spring like this one. My two jobs is really taking a toll on both of us, so it was nice to get away.

We were there mostly to visit Christine and Brian, as Christine's a maid and desperately needed a dress. Plus, it was good fun to torture in pretty girl things. We got in Saturday evening (I had to work that morning), and promptly went to experience Chicago's famous deep dish pizza at Giordano's. It was...interesting. Honestly, I wasn't a big fan. There was too much sauce, and I'm definitely a cheesy kinda gal. I can at least honestly say that StL style is the best though. What can I say? I like my pizza on a cracker.

On Sunday, we were off to eat breakfast (er, brunch) at a delicious Swedish restaurant, Svea. Their food was delicious, and kind of reminded me of the Broadway Diner - family owned, small, and adored by all. We got a TON of food for the price we paid, and my bacon and cheese omelet was phenomenal. Plus, they had coffee for me - I've become way too addicted as of late.

After our delicious brunch, we were off to David's Bridal. Christine tried on one (and only one) dress, and we were done. My girls really like to take the challenge out of wedding planning (unless of course, you're trying to get them together to do something).Later in the afternoon, we walked over to Lake Michigan (they live about 1/2 mile away) to do some rather chilly rock-skipping (which I fail at). The weekend ended with freshly baked cookies - rather successful I might say.

On our way home, we decided to pop into IKEA. IKEA (this time it's the wiki page) is like, the wonder of wonders. It's virtually two Sam's Clubs stacked on top of each other - they sell furniture and other household items. The novelty is the cost though - it's so cheap!! Nothing comes pre-assembled (which is great for us, who still had to haul it 550 miles), so the cost is kept way down. You walk through the second floor first - it has model showrooms, and essentially every furniture item they sell, assembled. You get to see everything, and you can decide what you'd like purchase. From there, you head down to the first floor. There are shelves and shelves of boxes of items - all warehouse style. You load your item into your cart (there's a computer system to help you find its location), and check out - it's SO cool. Also - there's a full restaurant inside, complete with Swedish goodies, as well as a baby-sitting service.

IKEA has 1 major sale a month, and a small sale each week. Each sale is 30-50% off its original price, and we were lucky enough that one of the items we purchased was on sale - score!We decided going in that we were going to look at bedroom furniture (neither of our sets is of good quality - in fact, they're falling apart!). Here's what we left with:
(Kullen, 3 drawer chest - we got 2 of these)
(Texture lamp - this one's mine!)
The 5 drawer chest was on sale for only $60, and the 3 drawer chests were $40 a piece. It'll be a beast to put them together once we move, but they're decent pieces of furniture for a great price. We weren't looking for a bedroom set, but we did need a place for us to put our clothes. As for the lamp...well, it's just cool. 

The worst part about IKEA is that you can't order much online - and the IKEA store in Chicago is the closest location to the StL area. Ah well. It's probably better in the long run. I'm addicting to clean lines and modern design, which makes up most of the IKEA stores - I'd spend way too much money there.

All in all, the weekend was a total success. I really needed the time away, and it was incredibly laid back. I would have liked to do a bit more, but were only there for about 36 hours, and it's probably better we didn't. 

Now if only we can get a chance for a mini-Florida vacation as well this year...

Friday, May 7, 2010


I'll admit - I'm not going to take this challenge. BUT I think it's cool enough to write about. Whether you take it or not, it doesn't particularly matter. But think about it...could you do it?

Imagine. You walk into your journalism class at the University of Minnesota, and the teacher asks you to give up any technology that was created after 1984. No laptops, no cell phones, no iPods (unless for work/school purposes)...for 5 days. There would be no Facebook, no Twitter, and no blogs in this land. Many of us wouldn't be able to call anyone (unless of course, you have a landline with a corded phone). There'd be no alarm systems, no automatic lights, and no water filters.

 I think the biggest problem I would have with this challenge is the distance between Sean and I. To have no modern technology for 5 days would mean we would have no communication for 5 days - we talk to each solely based on chat, text messaging, and phone calls. In the summer? I could totally do it. I mean, if we go to Florida we essentially "unplug" for that week. It's wonderful. But on a day-to-day basis? It would probably be a struggle for me. 

My favorite part of the article? 
“I wanted them to realize the difference between using it in a strategic way and using it mindlessly,” LaMarre said.
LaMarre said technology should be used with an intended purpose and not needlessly.
“You wouldn’t just pick up a hammer or screwdriver and use it mindlessly,” LaMarre said.
It is this kind of “mindless” use that ended Knopff’s attempt a half hour after leaving the classroom the day it was assigned.
“After leaving class, I put on my iPod,” Knopff said. “It is so second nature to me that I didn’t even realize it.”
That girl didn't even make it an hour after the assignment was issued, simply because technology is so second nature to us. It's a great tool, resource, and addition to our lives, but we're so dependent on it now. I have no intention of ever giving up my tech - it's not a bad thing. It's something that will never go away, and it's best to accept it as a way of life. At the same time though, I'd like to not be too dependent on it. I can still cook without my laptop on a recipe, and I can definitely spell without spell check.However, I'm not sure I could have planned my wedding 100 miles away while going to school - I wouldn't be able to price check vendors at midnight or look up DIY projects to save money.

What do you think? Do you think you could take the challenge?

Thursday, May 6, 2010


We have one.

Wednesday I drove into StP so we could meet with Jen, the photographer of Adler Photography (St. Louis Style). Way back when, we had our engagement pictures taken by the founder of Adler, Kelly Adler. Well, little Miss Kelly has since gotten married, moved to San Diego, and started her own little family (complete with honeymoon baby). We were definitely disappointed that Kelly moved (I had gone to high school with her) and wouldn't be able to take our pictures.

But then Moni got married. Moni had booked with Kelly several months before (actually, before Kelly knew she was moving). Jen was the primary shooter at Moni's wedding, with Kelly being backup. I loved Jen's shots. She's a great photographer. I couldn't be happier with our decision to go with her. Plus, she has a fairly minimal package that allows us full copyrights to all the photos, which means we can print whatever we want (and make photo albums on Blurb for the parents!).

Price is definitely scary in the world of photography though. It's ridiculously expensive, and we have one of the relatively inexpensive photographers in the StL area. Yet, it's still 1/6 of our budget. Yikes.

Avenue Q

This past weekend, Sean and I went down to the Fabulous Fox to see Avenue Q with a great group of people. We had a blast - it was so hilarious, and so...real for us right now. Plus, the Fox is probably one of my favorite places to be in St. Louis. Why? Because it's gorgeous.

 (The front of the Fox, from the outside)
(The main entrance)
(The stage)
I find the Fox to be particularly interesting, just because of the variety of the shows. Everything plays at the Fox. There are Broadway Musicals (like Wicked), comedies (Avenue Q, and Young Frankenstein is later this year), shows such as Stomp, and concerts for rock bands, rappers, etc (Charlie Wilson). It's a gorgeous with an Indian flare - most of the decorations were brought directly from India. It also has a twin in Detroit - I think it's crazy that something so beautiful was made twice (actually, there are 5 Fox Theatres, but only the St. Louis and Detroit ones are similar).

We managed to score row J tickets (our friend Casey's parents are part of the friends and family program, so they get advanced tickets) for the show. I didn't know much about Avenue Q before we bought tickets - I had apparently been living under a rock. 

It's a bunch of puppets, Sesame Street style (and some of the puppeteers were actually Sesame Street puppeteers). Instead of singing about letters and sharing, they sing and address real-world, adult issues - things like making a life after college, low self-esteem, homosexuality, racism, sexuality in general, and even love. It really hit home for me. It's about creating a new life after college, once you jump head first into the real world. It's about how your expectations of life change, and how what you want isn't always possible - but sometimes it is. And of course, the superintendent is...Gary Coleman.

This is probably my favorite song of the show (though it's TERRIBLE video quality)

I'm definitely finding out that I am changing, and that, while I thought I knew who I was...that's exactly the point. It's who I was. I've changed so much in the last 5 months - my priorities have changed, my dreams, what I like to do, what I think about people. Everyone told me I would change after I graduated, whether I wanted to or not. I didn't realize how much I would. I know that I'm going to change so much in the next 5 years - I'm so excited to though. I'm ready to keep pushing forward, even if life is more confusing than it was before.