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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Prevent Child Abuse America

I want to use my blog for today to let everyone know about a sister chapter of my sorority that lost a member. I received the following e-mail. Her campaign is linked below.
Dear Sisters in KD,

I am a CAB for the Alpha Phi Chapter at Westminster College. I want to do something really special for the Chapter to honor Emily Hilliard, the sister we lost on March 7th in a tragic car accident.

Their Shamrock is in 2 weeks so I am trying to surprise them with a gift in honor of Emily. I am going to be working overtime to raise money to give to them on March 30th. I know it would really help lift their spirits to have a successful Shamrock.

If every alumnae chapter were to give $5, I would surpass my goal of $1,000! If you are able, I would love any support that you can give.

Please feel free to share this with anyone in your network. I want to honor Emily's kind spirit and help the chapter to move forward after this great loss.

Love in AOT,
Melissa Goodfriend
Eta Iota, Pace University
Fall 2008
Alpha Phi, Westminster College

Donate to her fund now

Monday, March 17, 2014

Meatloaf Recipe

1 1/4 lb ground beef
1 egg
2/3 cup smashed Ritz Crackers
1/4 cup of milk
1/4 cup of Ketchup
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 t. of mustard powder

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Mix together the ground beef, egg, Ritz Crackers, and Milk and put in a loaf pan. Cook for 50 minutes. Mix the ketchup, brown sugar and mustard powder and pour over meat mixture. Cook for another 10 minutes.

Friday, March 14, 2014

How to decide your wedding budget

   So now that you've decided how much money you have you have to figure out how to spend it well so you don't blow your budget.

Don't Really Listen to What Wedding Planning Books Say

Every wedding planning book has a suggested budget percentage wise. You can follow these but it probably won't fit your wedding. Remember that these planner and wedding magazine companies probably work with vendors and want you to spend TONS on your wedding. So there is plenty of reason to take their suggestions with a grain of salt. For example we looked at one that said something like 5% for transportation but we had our wedding and reception in the same place, we didn't really need a limo or a horse drawn carriage. So how do you set your budget?

Decide on Your Four Walls

When talking about personal finance Dave Ramsey talks about the "four walls" being food, transportation, shelter, and clothing. Obviously things are a little different with wedding budgeting but decide what is most important to you or rank everything. We picked photographer, reception DJ, venue and my dress as the most important things.

Find Out What the Important Things Cost

For the most important things, I would just see what it would cost from vendors around your area to get what you want. I would still go with the least expensive that seems to do what you want. Having a good reception DJ was important to us, but our guy was great and cost $550 instead of the almost $1000 that other places were charging. After you've gotten the most important things on your list look at what you have left and make it work. Side note: every vendor is likely to say that their piece of the wedding is the most important part because they do that for a living, and this isn't to say that they're just trying to sell a product. They decided to do whatever 40+ hours a week, when they got married (if they are married) they probably cared about what they sell the most. Let vendors that don't have a standard fees know that you have a certain budget, they will honor that budget. Good vendors will see that as a "make it under this" threshold. 

DIY what you can

I have seen weddings with DIY everything. People have had weddings at their house or a family member's house, TONS of people DIY decorations or invitations, and people have just relied on guests' pictures for their photography. Eric and I got invitations from Vistaprint (WAY cheaper, and in my opinion, same quality) had Eric's mom make most of the decorations and had a friend do make up and hair. We didn't really care to spend a lot of money on those things. Just remember you want to talk about how fun it was and not how much you saved. Doing some things yourself or relying on family members can make that more realistic. 

Jewish Readers: DIY or Borrow Your Judaica

Seriously, do you want to spend $70 on a glass your going to smash? Use a lightbulb instead. With the exception of Kippot, Judaica is very expensive and wedding things are expensive so by the transitive property of cha-ching Wedding Judaica is astronomically expensive. Eric and I made our own Chuppah (and if you want a canopy for your wedding, regardless of religion, I suggest you make it yourself-- renting one was going to cost us ~$80) Plus when you make things yourself then you have a cool family heirloom and who doesn't love cool family heirlooms. Also check in to what your synagogue offers with wedding services (ours offered a Ketubah) and what your family has especially since you'd hate to drop $100 on a Chuppah cover and then have your grandma want you to use hers. If you're having your wedding at a synagogue I would skip buying kippot because you will end up with roughly as many kippot as you bought. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How to talk to parents about the wedding budget

    Money can be a difficult subject and asking people for money can be even harder but it's very important that everyone is on the same page right off the bat when wedding planning. Getting a clear budget is very important right off the bat for a few reasons. First off, the most expensive parts of your wedding may be the first things you do. For Eric and I, the most expensive parts were the venue, catering, and my dress. We had to pick our venue out a year ahead of time and the dress was set pretty close afterwards. Also, if you have logical family (which may be a huge if) and they hear that your total budget is $200 they won't push you to invite every single person they've ever talked to. Obviously this is an extreme case, but I'm certain that at least a few wedding budgets have been blown out of proportion by insane guest lists, and not only over the top decorations or wardrobes.

Be Clear and Direct

When you're meeting up to talk about the wedding budget, it's fine to go out to dinner, but be clear that you want to talk about the budget. Money is a sensitive subject and to blindside someone is not ok. Also if something is vague ask some follow up questions. Don't push anything though. 

If there's something that is a want for either set of parents and you just can't afford it be direct in explaining that. For example if your parents want you to have a certain dinner for the reception and you can't afford it, be clear in that. They may have ideas to work around it. I know a person who had the ceremony, dinner, and reception as three separate events where they had close friends and family at the ceremony, extended family and friends at the dinner and then everyone from their church at the reception.

Give Them Time

Your parents or future in laws may not know how much they can contribute right at the moment. Give them some time.  It may take a few weeks to figure out their home budget and get back to you on what they can contribute. They may need some time to actually contribute as well. Most things you have to pay a deposit and then the balance is due somewhere between a month and 2 weeks before the wedding so if you parents/in-laws have to contribute on a monthly or some other form of payment basis that won't derail anything in your plans. 

Show you Have Some Skin in the Game

Let your parents and in-laws know that you are contributing as well to the wedding budget. I would also suggest that you are in charge of the budget instead of one set of parents saying "I'll pay x y and z" as this will avoid some bridezilla-esque fights (watch "Say yes to the dress" if you think that paying for a certain category won't cause overspending) and it's a great practice for doing a household budget for the new couple.

Take What They Give You

This should be self-explanatory but you get what you get and you don't throw a fit. On the other hand if you have to open 7 credit cards or take out a second mortgage to invite everyone on your parent's lists then there needs to be a conversation about timeline or budget. 

Don't Count on Money You Don't Have

   Here's the thing I wish I had known/thought of before our wedding. Don't count on money you don't have. Even if someone is offering to pay for something don't order something you can't pay for out of your pocket or what is in your wedding budget. We blew our budget sky high because we just didn't have in our account or as a check in the mail. Obviously my opinion is to not use credit cards or any form of debt, but check your own comfort level and don't go further in debt than that.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cream Cheese Mints

Shout out to my mother in law for giving me this recipe. We had these at our wedding and they were AMAZING.

1 8 oz. package cream cheese
1 (2 lb.) package powdered sugar
paste coloring and flavorings

  Sift the powdered sugar.  Add cream cheese and mix with your hands until it's smooth.  Add flavoring (about 2 tsp. per full batch) and mix.  Add desired color and mix. Pinch off a small ball of mint dough, roll it in sugar, push it into the mold and then flip or push it out of the mold onto wax paper.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

4 things marriage is not

      Eric and I have been married almost 10 months... So that means we can give marriage advice now, right? well, probably not. However, as I start of my wedding series I wanted to make sure that my readers knew that the relationship is more important than the party. So let's dive in.

1. Marriage is not a Status Symbol

Dear women, you are not in competition with all other women and getting married is not the prize. Marriage is a blessing, an achievement and I'm happy for you, but graduating is a blessing and an achievement. So is paying off student loans, buying a house, getting a dream job, going on a mission trip, learning a new skill...
The point is marry someone you love not because you're [insert age you want to be married by] or because your friends are all getting married. If you know a singleton please stop saying "so when are you going to get married?" (Also, if you know someone who's married without kids stop asking when they're going to have kids. Patience is a virtue, yo.)

You won't be better than anyone else because you're married. You should be better than your previous self, but talking about your marriage should come from a place of joy not a place of pride.

2. Marriage is not a Burden

Don't get me wrong, Marriage is hard. Just living with someone is hard. However, it should be like a good kind of hard that's worth it at the end of the day like playing your favorite sport. Star-crossed lovers is a crock of trash and if every single day is a battle, or you have physical or emotional scars from your partner they might not be marriage material.

The other side of this is your life is not over when you get married you can still travel, you can write, you can have a career. If you dream all of these things, they are realistic things for you, and your partner is standing in the way basically "because I said so" you might want to evaluate the relationship. Marriage is a different thing to each person so staying at home, having kids and baking pies isn't necessarily you life after marriage.

3. Marriage is not a Fix-All

One of the two best pieces of advice I've ever received is "the day after your wedding is the exact same as the day before your wedding" getting married fixes nothing. If your partner was a crazy spender, they will be after your wedding. It doesn't really change the relationship or either partner.

4. Your Marriage is not For Anyone but You and Your Partner

There will be something in the wedding or in your relationship that people will give you "advice" on. Do whatever you think is best. For us, a lot of people were shocked/upset about our last name. Some dealt with it healthily and some didn't. Everyone got over it. Had Eric or I gotten caught up in everyone else's emotions I might have been stuck with a name that I didn't like forever. With your relationship's big decisions (and hopefully most of them are bigger than your last name) you and your partner have to do what's right for you. No one else is living your life.
The Dedicated House

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Tip for smooth legs

    For those of who have used my sugar scrub there's a simple trick for awesomely smooth legs. 

      First. wash and shave your legs like you normally would. Though this is going to scrub away a lot of dead skin so you might want to use a cheaper disposable for this if possible.

      Next use the scrub, which is 2 cups sugar and 1/2 a cup of olive oil, on your legs and scrub thoroughly then rinse off your legs and shave again. The second shave will pull away the dead skin pulled up by the scrub.

       After you're done with your bath put a lotion of your choice on for some extra hydration and softness.