Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On Weddings

I feel the need to write this post for a lot of reasons.

Somewhat because I know a lot of people are disappointed in our decision to no longer have a "wedding."

Somewhat because I, pretty frequently, battle internally with our decision to no longer have a "wedding."

But mostly because I just need to put it in words, vent for a few paragraphs, and have it be out there.

Denny and I aren't having a wedding anymore. Bummer, I know. But a lot of things are beyond our control, especially when Mother Nature comes barrelling through the state, destroying a lot of things we love, including our beaches, familiar hangouts, friends' homes and our wedding venue.

We never had a HUGE wedding budget to begin with. We were planning a wedding on a tight budget, but at a place we both loved and both of our families had history. A small private yacht club where Denny's parents were members and they were going to let us have our wedding there. For a great price. So great your head would spin if I told you.

This, my friends, is a crappy cell phone picture of my Great Uncle Eddie Mo,
who was Commodore of the Yacht Club years ago.
A few pictures down is Denny's grandfather, who also served as Commodore.
They were good friends.

I bought a dress.

Picked my colors.

Booked a photographer and a DJ.

Hired my friend to do the catering (Hi, Mike!).

I ordered save the dates and invitations.

I bought table linens for an awesome price from another bride. 12 navy blue satin tablecloths.

Asked my closest friends to be in my wedding party. We started shopping for dresses.

I poured over blogs the likes of Style Me Pretty and Emmaline Bride, created a slew of Pinterest boards (here's one of those boards if you're so inclined to check out all of the wedding-y goodness) and was well on my way to pulling off a little DIY vintage nautical wedding with our nearest and dearest celebrating with us.

I started sewing tons of pretty little yellow satin fabric flowers for bridesmaids bouquets. This is where I originally got my idea to start my business. Fabric is amazing and the things you can do with it are amazing. I thought I could do this as a business, making things for brides planning their big days, because, hey, I could say I had been there. Done that. Planned a DIY wedding and lived to tell the tale. I had about 250 flowers sewn and ready to go.

So many plans. So many spreadsheets with timelines on when to finish each project so I wouldn't burn out (yes, holy Type A). Added project deadlines to my Google Calendar. I was so on it.

And then Hurricane Sandy landed on the Jersey Shore. And I got this photo of the yacht club in a text message from my father two days later:

That lifeboat? The one that says "Ventnor"?
That belongs on a beach in a different town six miles away.

We went down a week later to see it for ourselves. As our feet squished across the soggy, salty carpets, and looked at the sheet rock cut out of the walls, three and a half feet up the wall where the water line was, my heart was sinking. I had spent so much time worrying about my friends and their safety. I counted my blessings that we only had some siding and a few roof shingles blow away at our house, but now this place where my fiance's father grew up and my great uncle spent so much of his time was destroyed. In a mere 24 hours.

I also came to realize that the chances of my charming shoestring budget wedding were fading pretty fast.

I don't want to sound ungrateful or selfish here. Many people lost much more than we did. Many people are still displaced and coping with the loss of their homes and their belongings. My heart breaks for these people.

But I was so excited about the idea that our money could get us a wedding somewhere where we wouldn't go broke in the process. We could have our wedding where Denny's grandfather and my great uncle would have a presence even though they weren't necessarily there in person. It was doable.

Denny and I had an tough decision to make--do we wait and see if the repairs will be fixed in time, do we try to find another venue, or do we call the whole thing off?

We were nine months away from our July wedding date.

I didn't want to stomp into the yacht club right away like some crazy Bridezilla, demanding to know when it would be ready, because this was a place so many people spent their evenings, weekends, and summers first. People grew up here, learning to swim in the bay, spending late nights with friends. These people lost a part of their lives when Sandy took that place down. Who was I to demand to know if my silly weekend in July would be available after so much more was lost?

I believed that if we waited until January to hear about the progress of repairs, that would give me seven months to finish planning and creating. It would be stressful, but I could make it work.

Trying to find another venue on our budget was out of the question. For the amount of people we were inviting and the time of year we were planning our wedding there was no other venue like it in our budget. Plus I had grown way too attached to the yacht club. It was just too perfect.

Rescheduling wasn't a great option to me. I'm jonesing for another baby in the WORST way and both Denny and I want the age gap between Peyton and our next child to be at 3 years, max. Waiting until the Fall or Winter to have our wedding and try for another baby after would mess with our plan.

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm all about plans.

Calling it off was our next best option. We knew we were selling our house and we knew that we could have plausibly used that money we were saving for the wedding as a downpayment on our next house.

January arrived and it didn't look so promising. It could be done, MAYBE, just in the nick of time, but the thought of playing it so close made me anxious.

So, we sold our house and called off the wedding. Decided to get married at the courthouse instead.

Was it an easy decision? No. But it made the most sense for us.

My sister entered me in the SOJO 104.9 "Dream Wedding" contest. I qualified as a finalist. My last shot.

My mother and I went to the big Bridal Show on Sunday where they'd be announcing a winner. We walked around to all of the vendors, looking around, filling out those forms for wedding spam and door prizes (why not? I don't like wedding spam but I do like free stuff).

Every vendor asked me, "When's your date?" "Do you have a venue yet?" And bashfully I said no, but my date was supposed to be in July. After a few puzzled looks on the "supposed" part (what bride plans a wedding for THIS July and doesn't have a venue yet?!), I'd elaborate a little more. "My venue, a place I really loved, was taken down in the hurricane and I can't really afford to get married anywhere else." Pity party of one, right here.

I got a lot of sad faces and a lot of "Oh you poor thing." And as I walked around that Bridal Show, surrounded by hundreds of happy brides planning their big days, I couldn't help but feel sad. Why am I here? I did all of this already. I set my date, ordered my invitations, bought the damn dress, booked a few vendors, and now I can't have any of it.

I was only there because I had a 1-in-100 chance of winning a wedding.

Call it a brief moment of selfishness, jealousy, and maybe embarrassment, but I had to fight back tears a few times. It just wasn't fair.

Needless to say, I didn't win the wedding.

My mom tried to make me feel better. Bless her heart, she really tried. "Oh well, the couple who won were from Mays Landing. That's not too far, so it's not like some random person from far away won. You were close."

Close? I did appreciate the effort.

Sorry, Mom, but it was a random drawing and "close" only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.

(Thanks, Dad, for that saying. It feels way too appropriate here.)

So, we're still not having a wedding. We're buying a house instead. And while I sometimes have internal battles over the fact that every girl needs a "wedding," I try to remind myself that it's more about the "marriage" and not the party.

I know a lot of people don't agree with our decision. A lot of people are disappointed. Sometimes I'm a little disappointed, too.

I keep hearing a lot about how I'll "regret" not having a wedding, but what is there to regret about marrying the person you love the most in the whole world, regardless of where it is, what you're wearing, and how much you spend?

Plus we'll get the house we'll raise our family in once we find it, so I really don't think that's a shabby deal after all.

***And now that this is off my chest and turned out WAY longer than I thought it would, we can continue on with regularly scheduled blog posts about pretty things and the fact that Spring is SO SOON.***

Friday, February 22, 2013

When coupons backfire

I won't lie...I love coupons.
I love saving money.
I don't buy things at retail value. Ever.
If it's not on sale or I don't have a coupon, then I don't buy it.
If something is on sale AND I have a coupon, then I am overcome with joy. Pure, unadulterated joy.

Today should have been one of those days.

As you probably know and I mentioned earlier in my post today, I have been spending a lot of time fantasizing about this house we don't have. I've been pouring over Pinterest and spending WAY too much time at Pier 1, Target, Michaels, and Christmas Tree Shop. It doesn't help that ALL of these stores are within two miles of my office, making lunch break window shopping far too convenient.

Joann Fabrics is also in that fabulous shopping-office-radius, so I figured today I'd stop in and maybe rummage around their remnant bin which is one of my favorite things to do on my lunch break (a whole hour of manhandling fabric? YES, PLEASE). But instead of bee-lining it to the back of the store, I wandered into the decor section.

I feel like maybe I should also mention that this idea of finally having our home is filling my head with all kinds of thoughts I never thought I'd have...like gardening.

Why not.
I love a good hydrangea.

Anyway. Enough asides in this story.

I was browsing through all of the wonderful gardening goodies and yard decor and stumbled upon the rest of the home decor. And then I saw it:
Image courtesy of Joann Fabrics.
 Joann's, you can totally do better with product photography.

I think I might have let out a giant "squeeeee!" out loud, right there in the middle of the aisle.

And then I saw it: 50% off. I could get it for like...12 bucks.

And then I remembered: I got a coupon in my email this morning for 20% off  my purchase, including sale items. Valid Friday and Saturday only.

Be still my frugal little heart. 70% off this darling little wall hook? The possibilities were endless.

Where would I hang it?

In a hallway?
By the front door?
Would we have a mudroom?
In the powder room?
In our master bathroom?
In our (hopefully) giant walk-in closet, which would be a shame, because then I'd be the only one to admire it?

I gleefully whipped out my phone to download the coupon.

But my phone apparently doesn't like me to save money.

Which makes sense, because I've already had to replace the stupid thing before my contract was up.

Stupid phone.

I tried to download it, but my phone kept shutting down.

At this point, I had to be back at the office in 10 minutes and I wasn't leaving without getting 70% off, goshdarnit. I looked at my purchase, this gleaming new wall hook that would grace some wall in our new house. Even without the coupon, it was still 50% off...still a good deal, right? I should just cut my losses and buy the thing and just be glad that I got it for half off.


I knew I could do better. I just needed that coupon. I had to have that coupon. 70% off!

I wistfully put the wall hook back. I might have whispered to it, "I'll be back for you, my preciousssss." And I went back to my office.

So, I'm off to Joann's tomorrow WITH my coupon (printed out, mind you). I have my fingers crossed my twee little birdies will be waiting for me.

70% off, I mean COME ON.


Last night I found myself fantasizing about a house we don't have yet and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning pinning, and pinning, and pinning all kinds of cute home decor and DIY projects.

I didn't get out of bed to get Peyton and myself ready until 7:00. I have to be at work by 8:00.

If Friday is not kind to me today, I blame Pinterest.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Let's have a reflective post about the New Year...a month and a half late

I realized that with the hustle and bustle of packing, moving, unpacking, and house shopping, I didn't really get to share too much about how much I love starting the New Year (except for the fact that New Years in the dead of winter when it's 30 degree every day and we live in New Jersey so it RAINS all the time instead of snows). Also, should I be capitalizing "new year" like that? New Year?

I don't know.


Something about starting fresh. Maybe getting that re-do you've always wanted.

Not necessarily talking about resolutions. To me, resolutions are fine and dandy until it's the end of February and you're all resolutioned out. Ask me about that gym membership I've been paying $50 a month for and haven't actually USED since last April. I'm super great at resolutions.

I'm talking about goals. It's good to have 'em, even better if you reach 'em. That's my theory. Setting goals at the beginning of the year is awesome because you get 365 days to make them happen!

For example, in 2013, some of my goals are:

To start taking more pictures. Peyton is going to be TWO (TWO!!!!) in four months and the last photos I have of her are from Christmas. Fail.
To take my handmade business seriously and allow others to see that I take it seriously.
To make other people happy with my items.
To build an audience and connect with them on a personal level (hence blog).
To keep my house tidy and cook from scratch more often.
To be fully present in special moments.
To realize every moment with my family is a special one.
To create an ideal workspace/studio in our new home (whenever/where ever we get one).

...That's just a starting list. I do have some more concrete business-related goals for the year, but I won't get into the nitty gritty here. That's what my planner and business plan are there for :)

While these are all somewhat tangible things, I really feel like they'll enhance my life and help me find purpose in the otherwise mundane routine of every day. Everyone needs a little purpose, right? Not just "I'm going to go to the gym three times a week or BUST." That never works out for me.

So, to living purposefully in 2013!

Anyone have any goals they'd like to share? Feel free!

Next post: my family.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Happy Valentine's Day! Hope everyone had a fabulous one.

As for us, Denny caught the "trifecta plague" (sinus infection, ear infection, pinkeye...gross?) from Peyton, so we're just taking it easy peasy tonight.

PS: never have done so much disinfecting. Ever. My eyes are still fine and I'm totally okay with that.

House hunting, Shmouse hunting

I really like to think of myself as a fairly optimistic, patient human being. Denny is the pessimistic, things-have-to-happen-right-and-right-now types of person (love you, babe!), and I'm the glass-is-always-3/4-full-don't-worry-be-happy-life-is-grand type of person. We balance each other out pretty nicely; I like to think I help Denny see the brighter side of less than desirable situations, and he grounds me a little when I'm up in the clouds with the rainbows and unicorns.

Patient and optimistic.

There is one thing that is testing what I consider these two very key elements to who I am.

Something I knew would be difficult, but not this difficult...

...House hunting.

Merely typing those words is giving me indigestion.

We were in no rush. We were testing the waters, checking out the market in our area, evaluating want we want in a home, and trying to make the most educated decision on our future. Choosing the home where we will raise our children. Yikes.

Until our realtor showed Denny a house while I was at work last Friday. He texted me afterward, "I kind of fell for it." I checked the listing and swooned over the photos. We went back together after I got done work and I swooned in real life. This house was perfect. Everything we wanted, plus some. ANDANDAND, just a little over our budget, but hello? No one pays asking price.

The next day we put in an offer.  So much for "no rush."

And we waited. For three excruciating days.

I spent the time fantasizing about paint colors, furniture layouts, and pantry organization. I also spent a lot of time on Pinterest (because, duh).

Tuesday, we get the call. Multiple offers on the table, give us your best and final.


There is something about knowing other people want what you want that makes you want it even more.

(Did that make sense? Bear with me.)

Needless to say, we put in our best and final, and would have gotten the house OF OUR DREAMS if the other bidder hadn't thrown in a cash offer. We can't compete with that, so we're now the seller's "back-up plan" if their accepted cash deal falls through.

Doesn't it suck being someone else's back-up plan?

There is one more house we looked at and would like to make an offer on (you know, since we're on a roll now), but our realtor is in California until Sunday. I'm now terrified that we have bizarre magic powers to make any house we invest a little bit of interest in, regardless of whether or not it's been on the market for months, desirable to everyone in a 15 mile radius and THEY MUST HAVE IT NOW.

Insert grumbles here.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Thinking Spring

Welp, now that I've gotten over the shock of January coming and going in the blink of an eye, I'll also admit that I'm totally over the winter already!

We've had snow, sleet, freezing rain, cold temperatures, and all of the not-so-fun stuff that comes along with Old Man Winter. While I enjoy living in a state that has four definitive seasons, I tire of winter pretty fast. On the bright side, Groundhog Day was yesterday and if you believe in little woodland rodents predicting the weather, Spring is coming early!

Pluuuuus, pitchers and catchers are reporting soon, and I trust baseball players more than the previously mentioned rodents as a sign that Spring is upon us!

There is so much to look forward to. Warmer temperatures, greenery, buying our new home together, Peyton's 2nd birthday (which is in June and I won't lie...I'm already planning). Seriously, I'm ready to get past this dreary yuck and bring on the rest of the year.

I am totally digging florals this year. I've already started incorporating it into the shop. Wanna take a peek?

There's plenty more where that came from...visit the shop, Whimsy Renee for more.

Now that I have my new fabric scissors I can finally get cracking the bib necklaces I've been seeing in my mind in pretty florals and pastels...just in time for Spring!

Hope you're all as excited as I am.