Friday, June 20, 2014

city girl in the country

Friday, June 20, 2014
I'm a self-proclaimed city girl - but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the country too. The state of Washington is just amazing, while the Seattle boats and skyscrapers have their allure, the rolling hills and grassy plains have an air of magic to them. We went on a little road trip last weekend to visit my brother. His family moved from Maui to a small farm a few months ago, seeking a slower, organic life. We ate fresh strawberries and spinach from the garden and the meat eaters ate meat they had raised. It’s a delicious life, where 9 to 5 doesn’t rule your life, where family comes first and the dirt never leaves your fingernails.




Tuesday, June 10, 2014

garage sale tips and tricks

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
I get a surge of excitement when I spot bright-colored signs at street intersections. Yard sales are the one place left to get amazing deals on used goods. Especially in the Seattle area, as flea markets are few and far between, and thrift stores prices have caught up with their level of trendiness. Here are just a few of my tips and tricks to getting ready for the garage sale season, so you can score big!

----Time it right ----

I start the yard sale season in May when the first few sunny days hit, the spring-cleaning begins. College towns are a treasure trove the weekend after finals week. Students are moving home for the summer, or relocating for work and don’t want to deal with large pieces and clutter. These sales are perfect for finding bohemian home decor and trendy clothing. 

Look for annual community garage sales, and mark them on your calendar. Many communities pull together to do joint advertising and encourage community members to host garage sales on the same day. This means there will be house after house of sales, block after block. We have three annual garage sales we hit every year. We mark off the whole day for them and save up some cash. This makes for efficient garage sailing, but they often attract treasure hunters from across the state, so come early (but don't be an annoying early-bird). 

----Make a game-plan----

...but feel free to stray off course. Before casual garage sailing (note not day-long community sales) I like to start with a route or location in mind. Yard sale treasure map is a cool tool that combines garage sale listings from Craigslist and creates a treasure map route. I usually pick a cluster in a nice neighborhood and go from there. But the older generations aren't too keen on this new fangled technology, so feel free to veer off course when a new sign appears.

---- Location, location, location ----

I find higher quality items in neighborhoods with higher real-estate prices, so that’s often where I start. But be strategic. If you’re looking for kid stuff, try suburban areas. If you’re looking for nice antiques, try the established neighborhoods (which are often in a higher real estate bracket). If you’re looking for art or quirky accessories, try the upcoming neighborhoods that attract the 20-somethings.  

 ---- Haggle ----

Garage sales are the one place I feel comfortable haggling. Think of the posted price as a suggestion and know what you’re willing to spend. The afternoons are the best time to strike a bargain as sellers want to close up and be done for the day. In the mornings, I tend to be a little more conservative. I try not to offer less than 50% of the asking price. If you’re new to this, start by offering to pay 80% of the price. 

If you think the posted price is already a screaming deal (like 10 cents for a book), pay it. If it’s already rock bottom, don’t be rude, you’re both winning here. If you’ve struck yard sale gold and are buying multiple items try grouping together for a lower price. 

Remember, it’s always in your favor to get the seller to identify the price first. If it’s high, counter or put it back down. If it’s lower than expected; you scored! If there's an item you're interested in that's overprices, give the seller your phone number and ask them to call you if it still needs a home in the end. 

 ---- Grab your insurance ----

Did you buy an awesome dresser, but need some time to secure a friend with a truck? Pay for the item and ask the seller to put a ‘sold’ sign on it and a note to serve as a receipt. Before you leave (to come back later), grab a dresser drawer or couch cushion. This way the seller won’t be able to re-sell your item to the highest bidder. This doesn’t happen often, but it’s not unheard of either! 

 ----Come prepared ----


Here are a few items I find essential on the hunt.  
  • A big sturdy bag. This can be a backpack, canvas tote bag or reusable grocery bag. This is VERY important. Use as a shopping basket and with it on your shoulder, you’ll still have hands to rummage. If parking and walking from house to house, this will carry it all. On the bigger, multifamily garage sales, I might even pick up some wheeled luggage (or bring your kid's radio flyer) to tote my wares. 
  • Small bills. Stock a lot of $1’s and $5’s. Because it’d be embarrassing to haggle your way down to a couple bucks and hand the guy a $50. Also, sellers appreciate it. 
  • Cell phone. Did you find that perfect navy blue couch, but didn't bring the truck? This is your life-line to outside help. Often sellers will hold on to the bigger items till the end of the day, to give you time to hunt down transport options. Often I prearrange emergency help before a day of garage sailing. Luckily my family values a good bargain so they will usually do the favor. In addition, cell phones are great maps that help you get orientated in unfamiliar neighborhoods and locate the nearest ATM.  
  • Bungee cords. In case you don’t have nice friends and family with a truck (or own a truck yourself). With enough bungee cords you can put some pretty big items on the top of your car. Just, don’t quote me on that…. 
  • Space measurements. If you’re shopping for larger items, keep a list of what you need, with measurements, dimensions and sizes. That way you won't forget, and you'll know when it’s the perfect fit.
  • Tape measure, to make sure that darling armoire/bench/couch will fit in your house.
  • Fabric Swatches. I typically look for a lot of home decor, so I like to bring pictures of room in progress and fabric swatches. This makes me make smarter design choices. 
  • Water and snacks. Billy will get hangry fast, so we make sure to guard against any problems of the stomach. Sunscreen isn't a bad move either! 
Update (6-18-14): Wear Sunscreen. Lesson learned from a recent garage sale adventure 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

beautiful wedding websites

Thursday, June 5, 2014
Event venue? check. White dress? check. Bridesmaids? check. Wedding website??

One of the newest 'to-do' items on an engaged couple's growing list of tasks is the wedding website. As an extension of an invitation suite, websites communicate the extra details carry the same aesthetic of the wedding. We spent hours on ours, researching options and finally creating one. The options are almost endless, there's hundreds (maybe even thousands) of styles with a variety of colors and layouts to match any wedding theme, and many are free! No worries though, the below sites have made creating a wedding site easy, beautiful and affordable. Below are my top picks for the best place to host your wedding website.


Wedding JoJo

Free Option: Yes
Cost: $15 / month

Wedding JoJo has templates that are clean and polished. Pages include an RSVP options for all events (wedding + rehearsal dinner, etc.), a guestbook, photo galleries, registry information, and password protection. With a paid membership you can get password protection, more theme options and a custom domain. However, even with access to all themes, in comparison they are still limited and you are stuck with the existing page structure and layout (i.e. about pages are in Q/A format).





Wordpress

Free Option: Yes
Cost: Any special themes ($0-$80) + cost of custom domain ($14/year)

Wordpress is often considered the standard in today's web design. It is easy to use and the amount of themes and plugins available makes for endless options. Plus, there's no expiration, so you can revisit year, after year. One downside: the nicer themes might cost a few bucks, and customizing html and css is possible, but tricky. There's a lot of themes geared towards weddings here at a variety of price points. If you want full control of your site, this is a great option.

Theme: Morena, $35 


The Knot

Free Option: Yes
Cost: Custom Domain, if wanted

The Knot is one of the most popular wedding websites out there. There are numerous themes to fit your day, they have matching invites through Paperless Post, Wedding Divas and Minted, oh AND they're free. 



Riley and Grey

Free Option: No
Cost: ~$35/ month

Riley and Grey has really sleek design, but it is on the pricey side. They do have an option to 'pay now and publish later' minimizing the time you actually need it live. You can do all the prep work and only pay for the time the guests need to use it. There's only a few themes, with little color customization. However, I do think there designs are thoughtful and dynamic and can fit a range of wedding aesthetics.




Squarespace

Free Option: No
Cost: ~$35/ month

Squarespace is beautiful and the templates are polished and responsive, which means the site will remain beautiful on mobile, so guests can easily browse the registry while shopping in store. Speaking of registries, Squarespace offers an easy tool to accept cash - usually something you have to find a third party tool to accomplish. 




My Wedding

Free Option: Yes
Cost: Custom Domain, if wanted

Mywedding.com is user friendly, and you don’t have to know an ounce of html to get a great product. There’s also a bit of flexibility, couples can create unique sub-pages like “In Loving Memory.” It also has tons of themes that look sharp. Oh, and the hundreds of themes they offer? All free. 




Blogger

Free Option: Yes
Cost: Custom domain, if wanted 

Yup, those are our mugs in that screen shot. We  opted for a Blogger site, it was free, and we could keep it pretty much forever. I wanted to be able to revisit after the wedding and had fantasies of turning it into a couples blog site (like I could ever convince Billy to do such a thing). If your wedding has logos or specific graphics, you can incorporate them any way you like and stay consistent with fonts. Blogger and Wordpress have a lot of the same pros. Where Wordpress has a plethora of dynamic themes, Blogger easier to customize with little web design knowledge.  I'll be doing a tutorial on how we created ours next week! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

kitchen accents - mint

Friday, May 23, 2014
In an attempt to get over my color anxiety I’ve been on the hunt for great mint kitchen accents. I think eventually we want to put some open shelves above the fridge (or even an eclectic gallery wall), and it’d be fun to display all our pretty white dishes and our pops of mint too!  Below are a few items I think give the perfect hint of mint in the kitchen. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

surviving baby fever

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

photo by Gabi Menashe, licensed via Creative Commons

We’ve been married for just over six months, and are incredibly happy. So happy, that I can’t help but picture what our kids will look like (they'll have dark hair with bright blue eyes), what sort of activities we’ll pressure them into (ballet and baseball), and we already have a running list of names (and thought of grabbing urls for our top picks). Yup, we want a baby, and our relationship is ready, but our life isn’t quite there yet. 

We know there’s never a perfect time for a baby (oh, and people love to remind us of that, too). But we’re still struggling to finish renovation projects on our little fixer-upper, and our schedules are so opposite we only see each other two days a week. I want our family to have evening dinner together, or at least the prospect of a cohesive schedule by the time the kid is 5. 

That isn’t in the cards yet. Billy has started school again and is taking flight lessons for his pilot’s license, while I’m toying with the prospect of graduate school. To pay for flight lessons, Billy has to sign up for extra days to get overtime pay. And my grad degree is only possible if I’m working full time. Endeavors on both ends will take at least three years to accomplish. Needless to say, money and schedules are tight, and do not plan on lightening up anytime soon. 

In addition to all of that, I like to take things slow, enjoy the process. We’ve only lived together for a year, and in some ways we’re still figuring out our quirks, like how to fight and make up.  I’m not saying our marriage isn’t solid, but I want us to be a little bit more concrete before our roller coaster ride. It’s about the journey, and I’m very much a delayed-satisfaction-type of girl. Billy and I didn’t even mumble the four letter word until two years into our relationship, while our engagement was a complete (and wonderful) surprise, happening a year sooner than I imagined. 

Yet, the baby pressure is there. Even before we got married we were getting baby questions. My sister-in-laws were sure I’d be ‘the first’. We get it from our parents, from our siblings, from our friends, and even from ourselves. 

I feel the baby fever.

Luckily, as one of the first of our friend group to marry, we have yet to deal with our friend’s running down the family planning path. God knows how envious I'll  be of my girlfriends' decorated nurseries and itty bitty clothes. 

Baby fever is not conscious, it is the outside world telling us to leap off a bridge, even if we don’t know how to swim. It’s fear of missing out. 

We’ve decided to explore a birth control implant (a small rod in my upper arm), which is effective for up to three years. In three years I’ll be nearly 30 (scary) and it will be time to get serious about family planning. We’ll take our three years to get our lives ready, and then we’ll seriously consider our options.

I excitedly told a few family members. Reactions were a more negative than I imagined. “You want to wait three years? Isn’t that a bit long?”. I was excited to have a future date to look forward to. When anyone talks about family, whether it be starting a family now, or waiting, or not starting at all, it’s personal. In the end, it’s our timeline, it’s our sleepless nights, it’s our decision. 

Have your experienced baby fever? Do you have a plan, and how are you dealing with the pressure? I’d seriously love to hear! 

Design + Development: Revel and Design