Friday, July 29, 2011

Happy Anniversary!!

A little late, but Happy 34th Anniversary to my wonderful parents!

Mom, Dad, me, Chris & my brother

They've been through the ups and downs, and are still in love today.  Their marriage is something that I strive for with Chris.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Brides Against Breast Cancer

This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer for a great cause - Brides Against Breast Cancer!  BABC is an organization that accepts donated bridal gowns which brides-to-be can purchase at a discount.  All of the proceeds go towards granting wishes for women with stage 4 breast cancer.

It was an early morning as I met some of the ladies from the Nest for a delicious breakfast at Cafe Brazil.  After breakfast we headed over to the Hilton Anatole to check in.  There were so many dresses there!  The doors opened at 10 am and the bridal traffic was on and off.  I mainly acted as a runner to return dresses from the fitting area to the floor. Although the turnout wasn't as high as they would have love, there were several brides that found "the one" and it's such a wonderful moment to share with them.

Not only did I have a great time helping brides to be, I also had a wonderful time volunteering with a few ladies that I chat with on a daily basis.

Thanks for the picture Leslie

Are there any volunteer organizations that you enjoy helping out?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Will The Name Change Process Ever End?

I was so happy that I had the chance to knock out the major name change items in one day - Social Security, Driver's License and the bank.  I had to hold off on my passport because I needed it in my maiden name for our honeymoon.

Can we go back tomorrow?  I miss the all inclusive

Since there are no out-of-the-country trips in our near future I wasn't in a big rush to send in my passport...until I read the fine print.  I should probably back it up a little and give some more info.  My old passport expired in August of this year, we honeymooned in May.  You would think everything would be ok, until I read on the MSNBC that some countries "will not permit travelers to enter the country unless their passports will remain valid for at least six months after their scheduled departure."  I don't think Mexico is one of those countries, but there is no way I was going to risk it.  So one completed form, 100+ dollars and a certified mailing later I renewed my passport in time for our May honeymoon.

I originally thought that I would have to sink another $100 bucks to get my name change, but after reading the small print I noticed that if you send off for a name change within a year of your last renewal it's free.  That's right, FREE.  For once, I wasn't being screwed out of more money (I'm looking at your county office for an official copy of the marriage license) for this name change.  Since I didn't want to risk anything in the timing, I went ahead and sent off the passport yesterday.  Hopefully that marks the end of my major name changes.  The minor ones will come in due time.

If you're married and changed your name, were you able to knock out the major changes quickly?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Vacation Art

I've always been the touristy type that likes to pick up a souvenir or two when travelling.  When I was younger it was keychains.  Boy, did I love keychains!  All of my friends and family would gift me keychains from their travels as well.  I think I was somewhere between 800 and 900 when I finally stopped collecting them.  I'm sure my parents loved the fact that they were all linked together and displayed on the ledge of our game room.  I still have the majority of those keychains somewhere in my parents house, most likely boxed away.

When Chris and I started to travel together, I would always want to pick something up to remember the destination.  From the miniature replicas of iconic pieces

to trinkets that originated in particular locations.

Steel pans originated in Trinidad and Tobago

As I moved towards decorating our apartment, I thought a perfect way to remember our travels would be to pick up pieces of art.  Of course the art always seemed to be so much cheaper than the framing (even with 60% off).  This piece, which we purchased in New Orleans, hangs near our kitchen with the title of "Bourbon and Water".

I won't lie, I originally was drawn to this because it was pre-matted with the maroon backing (Whoop!), but I think this could be really cute in a future bar area.

When we traveled to Mexico for our honeymoon, I was on the search for more local art to add to our collection.  We boarded a ferry to head over to Isla Mujeres for our souvenir shopping and wondered into various shops.  Nothing jumped out at me until store number 4.  They had beautiful painted pieces on natural canvases that were parchment like.  We found a couple that we really liked, but couldn't make a decision.  The shop owner told us a price, but from my previous trips to Mexico I knew there was always room for a deal. I distinctly remember that there was no air conditioning in this shop and I was sweating up a storm as we stood there trying to decide on a favorite and a reasonable price.  I sweetened the deal by offering to purchase two, if he gave me a better price.  Thankfully he took the deal because I think I would have melted if we stood in there one more minute!

Once we were back in the states, I headed over to my favorite craft store Michael's for some custom framing.  Chris was very helpful in selecting the mats and frame style that would go best with the art.  After 3.5 weeks, a "blackout issue" with the corporate office and a reprocess from our store I finally picked them up. 

I love the blue and green colors (as I'm sure you remember from our wedding) and can't wait to hang these up in our future house!

When you travel, do you bring anything back with you other than memories?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lovin' Summer Reality

Oh the wasteland of TV during the summer months!  It's hard to go without new episodes of our favorites like The Office, Glee, Criminal Minds, Community, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, The Mentalist... I could go on and on.  I don't know where we would be without the DVR and On Demand feature.

Criminal Minds via Blastingmind

While most (like my brother) hate the summer season chock full of reality programming, I actually don't mind.  In fact, I really look forward to some summer staples like So You Think You Can Dance (I think Melanie is the front runner to win it all) and Master Chef.  

Image via Sharetv

With the shift from wedding television (although I did watch every episode of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding), to HGTV and the DIY network, I have found some new favorites like Design Star and all of the Crashers series (House, Room, Yard and Bath).  I have to admit, there are some guilty pleasures thrown in there as well.  Hell's Kitchen, anyone?  Even though I hardly keep up with the new episodes of MTV's The Real World, I'll never miss an episode of the Challenge!

I would say that we mix it up a bit in the summer and catch up on movies from Netflix, but with the recent price increase Chris decided that it's not worth it and canceled.  It's not a huge savings, but as they say, every little bit helps.  Plus, there's always Redbox.

Do you enjoy any of the summer reality television series?  Were you a Netflix user upset over the price hike?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Reading Up On Home Buying

I knew after the wedding that I would have a substantial amount of extra time on my hand.  Those DIY projects were a great way to kill time during the long engagement and I was afraid that I would go into wedding withdraw once I realized I had all of this extra time.

Chris is happy to see that there is no PWD (post wedding depression) here.  I have dived head first into reading anything and everything that I can on the home buying process.  There is so much out there to read up on, and I feel better about educating myself (and Chris) before we make this big purchase.  We've pulled our credit reports and scores and looked at ways that we can improve them (every point helps).  I will admit that I've looked on sites like and to see what type of houses are out there.  Creating a wish list of items we would like in our future house has been really easy, we were on the same page with so many features.  The main factors we are looking for are: 4 bedrooms, 2 or 2.5 baths, 2 stories, 2 car garage, nice sized kitchen, dining room, decent master suite with bathroom & walk in closet. 

This is our current favorite house via trulia, but doubt it will still be on the market when we purchase

We saved and spent a good amount of money on the wedding, which is good and bad.  It's bad because we are currently building our account back up.  It's good because it showed us that we have the ability to save for a big event, and taught us to budget pretty well. While on the road with Corinne (from Connecticut to Jersey), I started to think of ways that we could save faster.  After talking it over with Chris, we have decided to stop wasting money in rent after this lease is up and move in with my parents.  As much as I don't want to be one of those older twenty-somethings living at home (especially with my husband), looking at the savings was just too great.  If we continued to rent our apartment, our rent would go up and we would be locked in for another year, or 6 months or be raked over the coals if we did a month to month lease.  Moving in with my parents will allow us to save 3 to 4 times as much each month as we are now.

So while we save, I'll continue to read up and watch as many episodes of HGTV's House Hunters, My First Place & Property Virgins to gain any tips I can. 

How did you start your house hunting process?