Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bride Musings

Hi all! Jason and I are getting so excited for our wedding - even though it is still more than a year away! Tomorrow, my mom and I are going to bridal salons in the Ann Arbor area, and I'm hopeful that I'll find something I like.

A lot of people seem a bit perplexed as to how Jason and I can afford a wedding completely on our own. Jason and I are far from rich, at least in the society definition of rich, but we are rich in smarts, I think!

Our budget is quite large, I think, for the size of the wedding we're planning - meaning we're inviting only 60 people and of those 60 people, we expect about 45 guests. Experts say you should estimate that 20% of those invited will not attend, and that falls in line with who we're inviting who is from out of town (like my aunt in North Carolina and Jason's in Germany) and who just might not be interested in attending since the wedding will happen in Ann Arbor - a good distance away from all those invited.

I think the key to making a wedding affordable is remembering not that it's just one day, but what you'll remember from that day. We're not serving alcohol. Jason and I do not drink ourselves (or at least, we rarely do). Are we going to miss not having alcohol? Absolutely not! 20 years from now, I'm not going to be saying, "Man, I wish I had a bar at my wedding." We're not having any sort of bridal party (though I wish Preston could be the maid of honor and best man all in one :)). A friend once gave me some great advice (although I never wanted a bridal party anyway!): don't have a bridal party unless it's comprised of relatives. I completely agree. I think the people brides and grooms typically choose for the wedding party, they are not close or friends with those non-relatives 20 years down the line. I know that 20 years from now, I'm not going to be saying, "I so wish I could have had a maid of honor." I think my friends are mature enough to realize that being in my wedding party is not the best or most appropriate way to honor their friendships in my life.

Flowers. They die, people! I mean, look, I didn't want any flowers, and now I'm seriously considering a bouquet, only so I have something in my hands when I walk down the aisle. But instead of buying flowers, why not just do candles for the middle of the table? You can keep the candles afterward and use them in your home with your new groom!

So what are we splurging on? Food. Photography. The attire. The decor. And my parents splurged on one of the best parts of the whole wedding - a wedding planner! This is key for any bride and groom. I hardly ever worry about the wedding (trust me all, I could be a lot worse than I am!!!). I know that the weekend of the wedding, I'll be sitting back in my salon chair, relaxed, while the entire wedding is orchestrated by the wedding planner. Complete ease of mind.

Really choose what you will remember about the day - I knew I would remember the photographs. That was one of the first decisions we made - who would be the photographer. I knew I would remember the venue - and that was the first decision we made. We're working on decor still, but we have chosen all of the linens, the chairs, and the lounge furniture for the day. We haven't chose the food, but I'm confident that next spring when we choose, the Gandy Dancer will have wonderful options.

And of course, I'm going to look at dresses tomorrow!

I know it's cliche, but just remember, the day is about the fact that you've found your other half, and you're pledging to spend the rest of your life with him or her. The rest of the day will just sort of fade away, but you'll always remember the one you married and the love you shared. And honestly, that is all that really matters.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

New Cooking

One thing Jason and I truly enjoy is finding new recipes, experimenting, and trying new food. Now, with the internet, this is easier than ever, but sometimes, internet recipes can't be trusted. You don't know who's putting them out there and if they truly work - and we can tell you from experience, sometimes they don't!

Instead of paying out money for cookbooks, though, without knowing if you truly will use the recipes between the covers, visit your local library. In doing so, Jason and I have found one cookbook we could really use for all our meals:

This book, which holds 1,400 recipes, is wondrous! Appetizers, dips, breakfast entrees, desserts, soups - anything you want, it has!
We don't use our slow cooker often, mostly because we never had any recipes for it. But with this book, our slow cooker is getting more use than our oven.
Today's dinner: macaroni and cheese!
Visit your local library and get inspired by all the different cuisines and cooking techniques you will surely find. Reading is knowledge, they say, and in the case of cookbooks, reading equates to great food!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My New Best Friend...

is the freezer!

It's summertime, and so many wonderful fruits and veggies are growing in abundance! In the winter, it's so hard to find great, ripe, flavorful fruits and veggies (particulary tomatoes and any fruits at all, except maybe apples and bananas).

Jason and I have extremely limited freezer space, but we've recently been doing experimenting and researching online to see just what we can use our freezer for and how it will help us save $$$ - by saving food and by buying less.

One great way is to take advantage of "u-pick" farms. One such farm, obviously, is my grandparents' blueberry farm! I get a 100% discount so clearly, that's a great way for Jason and I to save money! This week, Jason picked almost 11 pounds of berries! He brought half home, and we froze the other half.

My grandma says the best way to do this is to put them on a cookie sheet, unwashed, in a single layer. Freeze overnight, then put the blueberries in freezer bags. Since our freezer is small, my mum did this for us, and the berries look great! We now have 4 1-qt. freezer bags full, and Jason will be going back soon to freeze 4 more bags! (As long as the crop is still there :))

Other items that seem to freeze well include asparagus. Jason's grandparents do that, I believe, every year, and today I learned that my grandparents have asparagus growing at their house in the spring! I am most definitely planning to make a trip next year to pick up all the asparagus I can to freeze.

So what else can you freeze? How about pasta sauce? Jason and I only ever use half of the 24 oz. jars we buy. Well, you can freeze the other half! How great is that? Organic Meijer pasta sauce costs $2.12 for a 24 oz. jar. Now that we can freeze the other half (instead of throwing it away like we always do), each time we eat pasta, we'll only be paying $1.06 per pasta meal for pasta sauce!

It's amazing, truly, how much you can freeze, and there are so many ideas on the Internet on the best way to freeze the fruits and veggies. I recommend doing initial research to get a feel of how to freeze food, but before ever doing so, talk to someone who has experience freezing that particular food item. I talked to my grandma about freezing blueberries since she freezes them every year and has done so for the last 50 years. When I'm ready to freeze asparagus, I would talk to Jason's grandparents. Those with experience will be able to give you the most thorough instructions and directions, and it will make the freezing experience even easier.

Happy freezing!