My fiance and I recently purchased our dream condo in Huntington Beach, CA and to celebrate we bought a puppy. It is now eight weeks later and my fiance and I are at war about this dog. I dislike the dog and my fiance adores her.
I feel horrible but I gave my fiance an ultimatum this morning - either the dog goes or I go. I can’t live like this anymore. As hard as I try to train this dog she goes to the bathroom all over our home. I clean it up but the urine smell remains. I am embarrassed to let people into my new home.
My mom thinks I made a mistake forcing my fiance to choose between the dog and I. What do you think? We argue daily over this dog and she is causing a huge strain on our relationship. Heartbroken
A. Congratulations on your engagement. Before you make any hasty decisions take a deep breath and relax. To create a solid relationships you need to learn to compromise and look for solutions.
I would recommend you do not force your fiance to get rid of the dog unless absolutely necessary. Getting rid of the dog will cause resentment and that is not a good way to start a marriage.
The solution to your problem is to house train your dog.Yes I know, easier said than done! So I contacted a friend of mine who works in the dog business for some advice. This may sound funny but he recommended you get a dog potty boxwith real grass.
A grass potty system is designed to resemble a patch of yard in a framed sealed box. Dogs are naturally drawn to the scent of real grass so house training will be much faster than if you try to train on pads or newspapers. Grass will absorb urine and will naturally eliminate all odors.
One great thing about these grass dog potty systems is that they are portable and can be placed anywhere inside or outside your home. Here are a few examples I found on a site calledDoggy And The City.
Companies such as, Doggy And The City will even deliver fresh grass right to your door. For one low monthly price, your dog gets a never-ending supply of fresh grass, and you get the satisfaction of knowing your dog can “go” when they want - day or night, rain or shine.
We all have seen it at some point during the holidays: a limp paper plate loaded with cookies and covered in plastic-wrap that’s not clinging. Is there a drearier way to transport baked goods, treats, or gifts from point A to point B? This holiday season, I vowed to make every effort to put an end to this unsightly and ineffective mode of conveyance by making cute brown paper sacks with ribbons.
These bags are super easy to make. You could use them for your wedding favors or even pack your families’ lunches for school and work.
Some assorted ribbon and a hole punch (or two, or three…) are all you need to extend the life of these “single-use” paper bags. Get the kids involved making their own lunch bags and they’ll be sure to bring them back home to use again and again.
A simple basting stitch is all you needed to make a pretty container perfectly suited to hold a batch of freshly made cookies to send to a friend.
For an even quicker solution, a few knotted lengths of satin ribbon look festive without being fussy.
These two “woven” examples are my favorites during the holiday. I recently used this pattern for Thanksgiving hostess gifts; one contained homemade brownies and the other Peanut butter fudge (both wrapped in waxed paper before being inserted into their brown paper wrappings).
For the example on left, use a 1/2-inch hole punch. Notice that you crease the bag vertically along the dotted lines and then place your hole cutter halfway over the fold and punch. For the example on the right, seven small cuts made with a craft knife (notice the tiny one at the bottom) provided the lattice through which you weave three bright red ribbons (Fasten the ends with clear tape on the inside of the bag).
For the holidays, I like to make cookies to give to all of my neighbors. With everyone’s schedule being what it is, I usually end up leaving packages at people’s doors. A 2-1/2-inch circle (again, cut by folding the bag over and cutting half a circle out across the fold) makes a perfect way to hang this gift on a doorknob. I used a custom rubber stamp to label each bag and a little silver cord to stitch them shut around the hole.
And last but not least a cute shoelace weave.
Nothing could be less trouble than putting a few stitches in a paper bag, and delivering your holiday goodies in style.
Here are some simple tips and techniques to help you make beautiful cupcakes. If you have ever been curious about the pretty, ruffly swirls… I’m hear to show you how simple it really is! Piping frosting on cupcakes is actually quicker than spreading it on, and the results are much fancier!
Ready to make some beautiful cupcakes?
A large pastry bag
A Wilton 2D or 1M tip (the 2D is a closed star, the 1M is an open star, the end results are similar, with the 2D being slightly more ruffly)
1. Hold the piping bag straight up, start frosting from the outside edge (about 12 o’clock position), and begin swirling around the outside edge.
2.-3. Continue squeezing with constant pressure as you work around the edge of the cupcake (I go counter-clockwise, but I don’t think you have to).
4.-5. Continue in a spiral motion, creating another layer of icing, working in toward the center.
6. Finish the spiral in the center, release pressure on the bag, and pull straight up.
Voila! A beautifully frosted cupcake. At this point, you could add sprinkles and you have a beautiful dessert perfect for most any occasion.
A few notes… the most common problem people seem to have with piping frosting on cupcakes is the frosting not being thick enough to hold it’s shape. Make sure your ingredients (butter, milk, etc) are nice and cool as you make your icing, and make sure not to add too much liquid. If you find the icing a bit soft, you can put it in the refrigerator to firm up a bit, or if necessary add a bit more powdered sugar.
As with any craft or skill, making beautiful cupcakes requires a bit of practice and experimentation… but it shouldn’t be too hard to find people willing to eat your “practice”.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a guest book full of inspirational and encouraging messages from your guests, it’s just sometimes it’s nice to mix it up a little! So here’s a few (ok 19) alternative ideas if you fancy something a little different!
Yep, that’s right! JENGA! Get your guests to write their messages on the individual blocks!
Writing on wine bottles is a perfect idea for the couple’s who are particularly fond of a glass of wine, plus it makes a lovely keep sake to perhaps open on future anniversaries.
Well wishes onto a guitar gets our instant approval! I LOVE this!
aaahhhhhh. Amazing. Messages on a vinyl of the bride & grooms favorite song!
Guest book alternatives that tie into a wedding theme are becoming increasingly popular, I’ve seen a few like the one above that have notes from guests inside a suitcase!
Guest books that can be displayed afterwards always get my vote, it’s lovely to have a constant reminder of your day.
’Share your key to success’. I completely fell in love with this when I saw it! It’s clever and beautiful.
Have guests sign a bench which you can display in your home.
A guest book tree! All of the lovely messages tied on by ribbon to create a beautiful presentation of well wishes!
If vintage is something that will be showcased throughout your wedding day then a type writer is a perfect fit for the theme!
This ‘Up’ inspired poster lets guests write their messages on balloon shaped card!
You can always lay out lots of colored pens on a huge table cloth for your guests to sign!
Another great example of a themed ‘guest book’. Something like this would be perfect for a woodland or forest inspired wedding!
Putting letters of love where they belong; In a letter box! Fun idea.
Or alternatively, display lots of envelopes for your guests to slot their notes in!
This one is a little different but absolutely brilliant! Instead of a guest book this couple asked their guests to write a story of how they knew the bride or groom!
Signing the couple’s initials is something that’s becoming quite trendy!
Writing messages onto a map is great for a travel themed wedding or for a couple who’s travelling after their big day!
And last, but not least, something quite similar to Jenga, Getting guests to sign jig saw puzzle pieces for future use!
This is obviously just a small sample of alternative guest books, the possibilities are endless for things you can get guests to sign!
One of my favorite gifts to give for the Holidays is something from the kitchen. Who doesn’t love food? It may be something you make myself, or a gourmet favorite you purchase. Either way, foodie gifts are something everyone can use.
For this year’s food gifts I have found a set of fun chalkboard style Christmas/Holiday labels from Lia Griffith. These labels are ready for you to personalize and print. The button at the end of the post will take you to worldlabel.com where the free printables are hosted. Once you download them onto your computer and open in Acrobat you can click on the text fields and update the text to your own. Simply print them onto full sheet labels and trim with scissors for your food packages and jars.
These sweet little cards are perfect for thanking your wedding guests or friends who celebrate with you at your housewarming party or anniversary bash. Print on white card stock, score and fold, and you’ve got quick, easy and super adorable thank you cards.
Cards are available in your choice of pink, mint or blue.
Download your bicycle thank you cards in pink, mint and blue
There’s something so cozy about the idea of marrying your best friend on a chilly night filled with music, dancing, comfort food and your favorite people. To pay tribute to the season, here’s a roundup of some of our favorite winter wedding ideas!
Q. Nearly all of our wedding guests are flying in from out of town, and several are coming in a day early. We’ve reserved blocks of hotel rooms, but do we also have to arrange wedding transportation in some way? I don’t know how we’ll do it, with everyone coming at different times, but my fiance thinks we have to.
A. Though you might arrange transportation for some extra-special guests (e.g., asking your brother to pick up your 90-year-old grandma), you do not need to feel compelled to arrange transportation for every last guest. It would be impractical for you at the best of times, and one or two days before your wedding, let’s face it — you’re going to have way more crucial stuff to juggle. That said, you could still be a gracious host. In your save-the-dates, wedding newsletter, or on your wedding website, do include information on airport transportation to and from every hotel. This can include public transportation options, where to catch a cab, and, most importantly, about how much each will cost (that way no one will have to worry whether they have enough cash on them). Also, check with the hotels you’ve reserved rooms at to see whether they provide any sort of airport shuttle service; if they do, definitely clue in your guests, then cross another task off your list!
Make this the star of your holiday table and you won’t need anything else.
Delicious and moist. And one of my favorites.
And covered in cream cheese frosting which is to die for.
There’s something about a red velvet cake that always makes me feel good inside. And it’s not just the taste. It’s the memories it brings of family and holidays and home. But it doesn’t have to be saved for special occasions. I think it should be loved all year long.
Red Velvet Cake
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour 2 cups sugar 1 Tablespoon cocoa 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking soda 2 eggs 1 1/2 cups oil 1 cup buttermilk 1 Tablespoon vinegar 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 oz. red food coloring
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour two 8 inch cake pans.
Lightly stir eggs in a medium bowl with a wire whisk. Add remaining liquid ingredients and stir together with whisk until blended. Set aside.
Place all the dry ingredients in your mixing bowl and stir together really good with another wire whisk.
Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on medium-high for about a minute or until completely combined.
Pour into cake pans and then drop the pans on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
After about ten minutes, remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack. I also cover in plastic wrap while the cakes cool.
Then make the frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature 1 cup butter, room temperature 1 teaspoon vanilla 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
Sift sugar and set aside.
Beat cream cheese and butter on high until creamy. Add vanilla.
Then, add the sugar in batches. Scrape down the sides in between each addition.
And frost away.
** Special Thank You to Bakerella for sharing this delicious recipe with us.
DIY : 4 Ways To Print Photos On Fabric Using A Printer
Some of you may know that one of my favorite crafting techniques is printing on Fabric! I love how professional the fabric looks when the images are printed directly on it…the quality is truly amazing! So I decided to round up some printing methods with links for you to try. Enjoy!
2. Freezer Paper Method - I believe this technique is probably the least expensive method, providing that you can find Freezer Paper where you live. It’s readily available in the U.S., but not so easy to find in some international countries.
3. Label Method - This is the method that I use most often, because it’s the fastest! This tutorial was written by Gail from My Repurposed Life, she has lots of clear photos so you can really see how nice the printing looks on the fabric!
4. Printable Fabric Sheets - This is a great method to start with, especially if you are nervous about putting things in your printer, other than paper. This is a fool proof, no worry product and there is a project and printable included on the post.
Getting ready for a photoshoot? Here are some inspiring photos. Silhouette photos shot from a distance capture grandiose and drama by juxtaposing the shadow of your bride and groom with the imposing, vibrant landscape, such as in the first photo. Closing in closer makes for a much more intimate and romantic image, as with the last photo.
Take a look at our picks and let us know which type of silhouette photo you like best!
A Wedding Poster Guest Book is a fun alternative to the more traditional guest books. It allows for signatures of your wedding guests in poster format.
Using a Poster Guest Book at your wedding is easy. Download the wedding poster guest book template for free. Customize the poster with the names of the bride and groom and wedding date. If your printer is large enough, load it with 11 x 17 card stock and print the poster. If you have a regular printer, we recommend saving this Printable PDF and visiting a local print shop to print your guest book poster here.
At your reception, place your guest book poster on a table in a high-traffic area. Add some cute pens so guests are encouraged to write down their names. After your wedding, frame the guest book poster and proudly display it on a wall in your home. This will be a fun daily reminder of the amazing time you had on your wedding day with all your family and friends.
When you are the bride, all eyes will be upon you! Your wedding is your day to really shine, and to do that, you need to have the complete package. Once you have found your dream wedding dress, it is time to learn how to select the perfect wedding accessories to complement your gown.
First think about color. In general, a wedding gown which is white will look best with icy silver accessories. This is the time to shop for wedding jewelry with clear crystals, set in sterling silver. If you feel like being a bit more daring, add some blue crystals to your bridal jewelry set. They will add a gorgeous hint of color, while still maintaining the icy sparkle that suits a pure white wedding gown so beautifully.
Brides who have selected an ivory gown will find that gold jewelry is often very complementary. Or if silver wedding jewelry is more your style, combine ivory pearls with sterling silver for a soft and elegant look.
Then there is the neckline of your wedding gown to consider. A good rule of thumb is that the more skin your dress reveals, the bolder your jewelry should be. A strapless wedding dress calls for a striking necklace like a bold choker, a modernbib necklace, or a classic multi-strand pearl necklace. It looks beautiful when the shape of a necklace echoes the neckline of the gown, which is why pendants enhance a V-neck dress, while round necklaces suit a scoop neck. Certain necklines can be tricky to pair with necklaces, but look incredible with bold earrings.
If you have selected a one shoulder gown or a halter neckline, make a statement with dramatic crystal or pearl chandelier earrings and a matching wide bracelet.
Naturally, your wedding accessories should pick up on the embellishments on your bridal gown. It is a great way to draw attention to the special features on your dress, while also creating a coordinated ensemble. For instance, if your gown has a row of small bows running down the back instead of buttons, it would be lovely to select wedding shoes with a petite bow on the toe.
Brides who have selected wedding dresses with silver embroidery or crystal beading should choose wedding jewelry in the same colors as the gown’s embellishments. You would not want to wear gold jewelry with a gown covered in icy silver mirror backed crystals, for example.
Style matters too. If your wedding dress has a vintage flair, enhance it with bridal jewelry inspired by the same time period. Gowns which have a very modern sensibility will look best with geometric wedding accessories with a contemporary flair.
Crystal cube earrings or long linear stiletto earrings will suit a sleek minimalist dress perfectly, while the bride wearing a ’50s inspired lace tulle gown should opt for classic pearl bridal jewelry. Your shoes and headpiece should also make sense with the style of your gown. A delicate tiara will look heavenly with a princess style dress, just as a spray of feathers will suit a chic modern gown.
With all of your key wedding accessories selected, you can start to pick out the smaller accent pieces like a handbag and perhaps a pair of gloves. Be sure to try all of your wedding jewelry, shoes, and other accessories on with your bridal gown at least once to ensure that the complete package looks as good as you envisioned. Then you will be ready to float down the aisle looking every bit the radiant bride on your wedding day.
*** A special Thank You to Glam Girl Creations for allowing use to use their photos.
This pampering gift in a jar is an orange creamsicle sugar scrub recipe that uses coconut oil and smells good enough to eat.
Who doesn’t need a little pampering in their life? Mix up a big batch of this orange creamsicle sugar scrub, put it into small mason jars and give this gift in a jar to the women in your life. The smell reminds me of summer and the coconut oil helps keep your skin soft and smooth!
What You Need
To make one 8 oz mason jar of orange creamsicle sugar scrub, you need:
1/4 cup of coconut oil
3/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
10 drops of orange essential oil.
Soften the coconut oil in the microwave for a few seconds.
Add the vanilla extract and the orange essential oil. Then, stir in the sugar, 1/4 cup at a time.
Print off this fun label and attach it to the jars. To print the labels, I opened a blank Word document, inserted the label image using Insert and choosing Picture. I resized the label to whatever would fit on my jar. If you are making more than one, copy and paste for however many labels you need. Then, add a couple pieces of baker’s twine around the lid or a strip of washi tape across the lid.
The coconut oil will return to a solid form but the sugar scrub will soften in your hands or you can add a little warm water to the scrub that you scoop into your hands. We have a jar of this in our bathroom and have been using it for the past couple of days. It makes your legs and feet feel amazingly smooth! Just be careful though because products containing oil can make the shower/tub slippery!
I do not considered myself a fanatical environmentalist, but I do like to recycle whenever possible. So today I want to share with you some fun upcycled ring bearer pillows I found on an Etsy shop called Hal’s Barn. These quirky handmade pillows are made of upcycled material with eco friendly filling.
How to make fancy edges and fancy toppings — and up your pie game this holiday season.
1. Rounded Crimped Edge: With this new technique, the bowl of a spoon guides the finishing of the edge, making a slightly rounded, more fluid edge.
The larger the bowl of the spoon, the bigger the waves will be. Dip the bowl of the spoon lightly into flour and press it gently into the crust, moving outward and using your fingers to guide the outer edge. Repeat all the way around the crust.
2. Dotted Edge: Roll out pie dough scraps to 1/4-inch thick. Lightly flour a small circular cookie cutter (in a pinch, you can use a shot glass or even freehand it), and cut out enough circles to cover the entire edge of the pie.
Brush the edge of the crust with water, and lay the circles around the edge, overlapping slightly. Any shape can be used, just remember to keep the dough pieces small. Pieces that are too large are more likely to become misshapen in the oven.
3. Braided Edge: Roll out pie dough scraps to 1/4-inch thick — it’s best to keep the piece of dough as long as possible. Cut long, thin strips (about 1/4 inch wide) using a chef’s knife or pastry wheel. Pinch three strips together at the top, and braid together.
When the pieces are almost fully braided, pinch the ends together to seal. Hold the strand at both ends and stretch gently. Repeat until you have enough braids to cover the entire outer edge of the crust. Brush the edge of the crust lightly with water and press the braids into the edge, overlapping the pieces slightly to achieve a seamless effect. This technique also works well with just two pieces of dough, twisted together.
Creative Crusts, Toppings, and Fillings
4. Ruffled Phyllo Crust: Place a piece of phyllo onto a work surface. Brush with melted butter, and top with another piece of phyllo. Place the second piece slightly off kilter, so the edges don’t match up, and the points of the dough are askew from the first piece. Repeat until you’ve layered 7 pieces of dough. Transfer the dough to a pie plate, and crumple the overhang around the edge. From here, the crust can be blind baked or paired with a filling and baked.
5. Cut Out Double Crust Pie: Roll out pie dough to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out shapes from the dough. Working from the outside inward, layer the dough pieces around the pie filling, overlapping slightly. This is a simple and eye catching alternative to a standard double crust pie — and is far easier than lattice work.
6. Toasted Marshmallow: Love the look of meringue? Try an easy (and delicious) alternative — marshmallow topping! Cook sugar and water until it reaches 250 degrees, then add melted gelatin and whip the heck out of it. From there? Mound it on the top of your favorite pie and toast to perfection in the oven or with a torch.
I made these little beauties for my party and they were delicious! And besides being adorable, they were easy to make! They consist of brownies, chocolate frosting, peanut butter cups and peanut butter frosting.
I purchased a 12 pack of 4 oz jelly jars and a brownie mix from Walmart. I made the brownie batter according to the directions on the package. Then, I greased the bottoms only of the glass jars and set them on a baking sheet. Next, I added brownie batter to each jar. I ended up with extra batter so the recipe could actually make more than 12 desserts.
I baked the brownies for about 20 minutes at 350°F . They were gooey when we ate them so if you like your brownies well done, you will want to bake them for longer.
Once the brownies were cool, I piped in store bought chocolate frosting.
I cut a bunch of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups into small chunks…sorry I didn’t count how many but I think you need a little more than 1 peanut butter cup per jar.
Just put the peanut butter cup chunks on top of the chocolate frosting.
To make the peanut butter frosting, I mixed together 1 container of store bought vanilla frosting and 1 cup of peanut butter. Then, I mixed in 1 cup of powdered sugar. After that I added, 3 tablespoons of half-n-half and beat it until it was creamy.
I piped the peanut butter frosting on top of the peanut butter cups.
The last thing I did was stick 1/4 of a peanut butter cup into the peanut butter frosting. I stored them in the fridge until I was ready to serve.
These were seriously delicious but very rich. They were almost too much to eat in one sitting…not because of the size of the jars but because of how sweet they were!
Peanut Butter Cup Brownies In A Jar
1 brownie mix ~ water, eggs and oil that are called for on the box
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix up the brownie batter according to the instructions on the box. Grease the bottoms only of 4 oz jelly jars (I used 12 but had extra batter). Put about 2 tbsp of brownie batter into each jar. I used my cookie dough scoop and just eyeballed it. Place the jars on a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes for gooey brownies and longer for well done brownies.
1-16oz container of chocolate frosting
After the brownies have cooled, pipe chocolate frosting into each jar, over the brownies.
Peanut Butter Cup Layer:
About 18 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Cut the peanut butter cups into chunks and place them on top of the chocolate frosting in the jars.
Peanut Butter Frosting:
1-16 oz container of vanilla frosting 1 cup peanut butter 1 cup powdered sugar 3 tbsp half-n-half
Mix together the vanilla frosting and peanut butter. Add the powdered sugar and mix well. Beat in 3 tbsp half-n-half until smooth and creamy. Pipe the peanut butter frosting over the peanut butter cups in the jars.
Top each frosting peak with 1/4 of a peanut butter cup and store in the fridge until ready to serve!
There’s nothing more romantic than a wedding at sunset on the beach. With close family and friends, it can provide the perfect symmetry of romance and simplicity as you start your life together.
Unlike most traditional weddings, the attire worn by the bridal party at a beach wedding is often more relaxed and casual. This untraditional, low-key style of wedding may sometimes leave brides puzzled about what to choose when selecting dresses and accessories for themselves and their bridesmaids.
Here are some beautiful handmade one-of-a-kind jewelry accessories from the Island Treasures 2013 collection which would be perfect for a beach wedding.
A great way to coordinate your beach wedding theme with your jewelry is to incorporate the colors found on the beach. Jewelry is an excellent way to add a beautiful burst of tropical color. Choose jewelry in colors that represent your surroundings. Look for earrings, and necklaces made with freshwater pearls, gemstones or crystal beads in vibrant or subtle shades of tropical colors. Bridesmaid jewelry made from turquoise crystal or ocean blue agate will create a subtle ocean theme.
Consider jewelry with an organic appeal. Look for jewelry that is inspired by nature, such as, pieces that are handmade with seashells, freshwater pearls, and mother of pearl. They will add just the right amount of embellishment to your dress and tie in perfectly to your wedding theme and to the natural beauty of the surroundings.
Sandy browns and pacific opals are the trend, but burnt orange and bright hues of blues and greens are great too. This color pattern is great for bridesmaids but can also be worn by the bride if she prefers that extra splash of color.
Similar to choosing the perfect wedding dress, ordering invitations can cause bridal panic attacks. First impressions last forever, and wedding invitations set the tone and theme for the entire affair – not to mention the fact that they’ll last forever in your mother-in-law’s scrapbook.
Put all that together and it’s easy to see what a central role invites play in your big day. But remember, this is supposed to be fun! Take a deep breath and consider the following invitation details to guide yourself through the process intact.
Many brides struggle with creating the perfect theme for their weddings. In my experience, brides begin with a theme in mind, but it goes out the window once they see invitation samples they love. Keep an open mind about invitations, especially if you have no locked-in theme or color scheme. Sometimes, actually viewing product samples is the difference between liking an invitation and ordering an invitation. My best advice when it comes to planning a wedding is to stick with a color theme, rather than stick to a design theme. Narrow design themes can eliminate choices before you’ve even considered them.
Invitations can get pricey. It’s also difficult to weigh a fair price against the level of quality and detail required. I recommend that brides compare the prices of many vendors on wedding e-marketplaces to ensure they’re receiving reasonable deals. Some vendors may offer free guest address printing on invitation envelopes, while some offer free customization. It’s important to consider each aspect of a price to get the biggest bang for your buck.
Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. What one bride loves, another bride hates. For example, more outgoing brides could feel that a metallic pocket fold with a satin ribbon and rhinestone buckle perfectly sets the stage for an elaborate, flashy wedding. On the other hand, traditional brides may love classic invitations, featuring a white cotton cardstock with black, gold or silver lettering that appears simple and elegant. In any case, I have found that bold-colored ribbons or colored rhinestone embellishments have negative effects on wedding invitations. These aspects can make invites appear “Sweet 16-ish,” and no bride wants that look.
I would also recommend that brides stay away from adding photos of the couple to the wedding invitations. Photos of the couple, or of a landscape, are more appropriate for an engagement party or a save-the-date announcement. If you have your heart set on incorporating a favorite photo, use it on your wedding program, table menu or wedding favor. A beautiful picture of the couple on a custom wine label definitely makes a lasting impression on guests.
Shopping for invitations online can save brides a lot of time, money and stress. If you want handmade wedding invitations, Etsy is a great place to start your search for custom designs to fit each bride’s unique requirements.
My final recommendation when it comes to ordering invitations is to always purchase a sample before placing a full order. This allows brides to physically see the quality of the invitation before placing a large order. Remember that actually viewing a product can make all the difference.
Ease your invitation stress by performing a little research before contacting vendors. Know roughly what you want, but keep an open mind in order to get the best results. Have fun with the process, and you’ll be able to create something special.
* A very special Thank You to Allison LeAnn Design for allowing us to use their photos.
You can see the entire Allison LeAnn Design CollectionHere.
Your favorite pie in “mini me” size. So cute, so easy — and so delish!
All you need for this quick and easy version are some Pillsbury pie crusts, a few cups of your favorite pie filling, and an egg – and you’re ready to go! The sky’s the limit with how many ways you can customize these. So grab a muffin tin and give them a try!
2 (2-count) packages Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts 4 cups OR 2 21-ounce cans of pie filling (cherry, blueberry, apple, peach, etc.) 1 egg, whisked
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
Roll out a single pie crust on a flat surface. Use a large cookie cutter or any sort of circular lid to cut out a 4-inch circle of dough. Press each dough circle into the bottom of a muffin tin so that a tiny rim of dough remains sticking out the top. Repeat with remaining dough to fill all 12 muffin cups.
Fill each cup with about 1/4 cup pie filling, or until the filling nearly fills the cups.
Use the remaining dough to cover the tops of each pie. To make a lattice crust, use a knife or pizza cutter to cut out thin strips of dough, then lace together to form a lattice. To make a standard crust, cut out a circle of dough just large enough to cover the top of the crust. Use your fingers to gently press the top crust to the bottom crust until they stick together and no gaps remain.
Use a pastry brush to brush the tops of each pie with the whisked egg. Then bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden and the filling begins to bubble.
Remove and let cool for at least 15 minutes. Then very carefully use a knife to loosen the edges of each pie and gently lift each pie out. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate.
When it comes to engagement rings, we all want something that lets our style shine through. The good news is that there are a world of options on Etsy, especially if you don’t want to break the bank. Estsy shops, such as, M B F Jewelry offer eclectic gems to hand-hewn bands. You can find the ring of your dreams and still have money left for the honeymoon.
Sentimental? Yes. Simple? Not always. Here’s what you may not know about planning a backyard wedding celebration.
When it comes to weddings, there really is no place like home. Maybe your parents have an amazing lakeside house, or Grandma has that perfect country cottage. But odds are your childhood homestead isn’t quite prepared for 150 wedding guests, 75 cars, 20 waiters, 15 tables, and 1 happy couple. Although it may be more work (and more expensive) than you anticipated, you won’t regret saying your vows in the place that means the most to you. It’s all about being prepared for what it takes to throw a wedding in your very own backyard.
You Need Room to Say “I do”
Does your setup have enough space for all your guests? If not, you’ll have to start trimming the list. Don’t mistake overcrowded for cozy. If you plan to use a combination of indoor and outdoor space, know that if the weather takes a turn for the worst, everyone will need to fit indoors. Will there be enough space in, say, the living room, to set up white folding chairs with a wide enough aisle? The general rule is six to ten square-feet of floor space per guest for row-seating.
You Can’t Do It All Yourself
Since you’re so accustomed to your home, hiring a wedding coordinator will give you a fresh perspective on the property and what you can and cannot do. You will also need people to cover all the basics: setting up, cooking, serving, parking cars, and cleaning up. Hiring a cleaning crew may be the best decision you’ll make. In the days leading up to the wedding, the last thing you (or your parents) want to have to do is a massive house-scrubbing.
You’ll Need to Tend to Your Lawn
Your yard will be on display, so give the space a manicured look. Whether that means dragging out the lawnmower or hiring a landscaper, you’ll want your lawn to be in peak form. If you’re planning on a spring wedding, start preparing in the fall. Talk to your professional landscaper about reseeding, replanting, and sodding.
You’ll Need to Plant Early
Most perennials need a winter to take hold, and it takes some time for annuals to fill out. Make sure to find out the appropriate planting times for the flowers you’d like, so they’ll be in full bloom on your wedding day. For a spring wedding, cool-season flowers like tulips, daffodils, and lilies of the valley will be in bloom (which need to be planted the autumn before). For summer, try annuals like geraniums, Gerbera daisies, and African daisies, which should be planted after the threat of frost; you’ll probably want to plant perennials for fall, like Japanese anemones, chrysanthemums, and blue salvia — these should also be planted the fall before.
Your Wedding Officiant May Not Comply
Make sure your wedding officiant will give you his or her blessing at your chosen location (some aren’t able to perform the ceremony outside their place of worship because it’s not recognized by the church). You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to find a licensed officiant who will do the honors.
Wedding Guests May Try to Stay At Your House
Try to dissuade them from this idea. Unless you’re marrying at a 25-room estate, the only people who should be staying at the wedding site are the homeowners and their immediate family (the bride or the groom, other siblings). You don’t want to be fighting your cousin for shower time the morning of your wedding. What you should do is recommend a hotel that’s as close to your property as possible.
You’ll Need to Rent Everything
Your must-have items are tables, chairs, dinnerware, napkins, table linens, place settings, barware, portable bathrooms, and a tent. Rent enough chairs so everyone can be seated for the ceremony. If you need more room for the reception, remove most of the chairs after the meal, keeping just enough around so half the party can sit during the festivities.
You’ll Probably Need a Generator Too
Most homes can’t accommodate the amount of power necessary to light a tent or provide power to a catering kitchen. You don’t want to risk a power outage, or even worse, blowing out the whole neighborhood! Check with your caterer to see if you need to rent extra coolers, grills, or roasters. Don’t wait on this; you’ll want to start researching and reserving equipment six months before your wedding.
Wedding Vendors Need to Check Out Your Home
In order to determine what extras they’ll need to bring, vendors should stop by for a visit. Have your caterer survey your kitchen to make sure it is well-equipped and large enough to prepare the menu. Otherwise he may need to bring in a completely functional traveling kitchen.
The Ground May Not Be level
Chairs, tables, the dance floor — you don’t want any of these items to be on uneven ground. Professional tent companies can ascertain whether or not they need to put down a foundation or if they’ll be able to lay a dance floor directly on the ground. Your other vendors (caterers, florist, band) need to determine what is necessary to keep floral arrangements and the cake table from tipping over.
You May Need a Permit to Party
From the city permits to fire department inspections, make sure everything is in order. Bring in an electrician to inspect your area, find out if local noise ordinances require a permit or place restrictions on noise, and determine if you need to file for a permit to park cars along your street. The last thing you want is cops crashing your party.
Port-A-Potties Have Gone Luxe
You’ll want to account for three bathroom trips per guest. Most septic tanks can’t handle that many flushes, so portable bathrooms are a must. A general rule of thumb is to have one bathroom for every 35 guests. Keep in mind that your guests will need a place to wash their hands and do a mirror check, so keep the area well lit. Upscale portable bathrooms are now available that have lighting, sinks, heated water, and even air-conditioning. Don’t forget to make them even more home-like by including an amenity basket filled with hair spray, tampons, Band-Aids, and breath mints in the ladies’ room.
You Can Save on Decorations
What makes your home unique — an elegant dining room, a massive oak tree in your backyard, a gorgeous lawn, or a spectacular view? Play up that feature to create a homey feel. It adds to the trend of making it look like you’ve emptied Grandma’s china cabinet of all its unique and beautiful pieces. Use different centerpieces and mix-and-match vases. Bring in fresh, home-grown-type flowers or play with outdoor lighting possibilities. Garden lamps, paper lanterns, and tiny white lights strung on branches will create a stunning atmosphere.
Have a Plan B That’s as Good as Plan A
Unexpected weather can bring about unique challenges. Always plan for the worst by making sure guests will be covered in the event of a sudden downpour. If there’s no way to pitch a tent at the ceremony area, arrange to have the ceremony at a house of worship in case of rain — make sure to have an insert in each invitation that gives the alternate address and a number to call to find out if the ceremony has moved. If a tent is your Plan B, make sure it has sides to keep out a driving rainstorm. Stifling heat can pose just as many problems as rain, so make sure ceremony chairs aren’t in direct sunlight and that there are plenty of shaded areas, cool drinks, and even hand fans available. If it’s a warm day, extra electric fans and portable air conditioners can be brought in; on wintry days, propane heaters can warm up the place.
You May Have to Include Your Neighbors
Let them know of your wedding plans well in advance. They may be planning to host a party the same night. Also, make sure they know the ceremony time so nobody’s mowing their lawn during your vows, and ask if they’d offer their driveways for extra parking space. But you can’t rely on neighbors’ generosity completely. Make sure there’s enough street space for parking, or arrange for guests to park at a nearby lot like at a school or church, and provide round-trip shuttle service. If you want valet parking, hire a reputable company. You don’t need a Father of the Bride scenario on your hands.
Insurance May Cover Home Repair
From guests dancing on your lawn to vendors traipsing in and out, your home may take a bit of a beating. Find out what your homeowner’s insurance covers. You may want to consider getting a supplemental policy. Check with your domestic insurance company to see if your policy covers third-party liability, and with your vendors to make sure they have their own insurance policies, as well.
It’s All Worth It
We want you to be prepared, not scared. Having a wedding at home — even at your new home as newlyweds — is an amazing idea, and an event your family will always remember. The best thing about having your wedding at home is how personal it can be. Nothing compares to getting ready in your childhood room and coming down the staircase in your gown. Find the right people to help, and you’ll walk down your homespun aisle stress-free.
Today I want to share with you several fun tutorials using Chinese Frog Closures.
Anthropologie Inspired Necklace
This necklace is so simple and easy. Lay out all your pieces. Depending on the length you want, it will take 10-14 closures. Take a needle and thread and sew the following areas from the back side of the closures.
I made some adjustments as I went. I wanted the necklace to be a little bit fuller in the front so I added one more frog closure to the bottom row.
To open the necklace just open the frog closure in the back. Now you have a great necklace that is very simple to create, yet makes a bold statement.
Chinese Frog closures are available in many colors and patterns. Here are a few styles available from b b Chris which would be fun for the Journal tutorial below.
I love keeping planners and journals. And recently I bought a journal that opens from the middle but it was too plain for my liking so I decided to dress it up a bit with a frog closure. Now the journal looks a lot more expensive than what I paid for and I love it.
This is an affordable idea for your bridesmaid gifts or even Christmas gifts.
Step 1: Measure the stretchable trim around the planner or book and cut
Step 2: Sew one frog closure onto one end of the stretchable trim
Step 3: Then sew the other closure on the other side of the trim
Step 4 (Optional): Take your hot glue gun and glue the back of the stretchable trim to the back side of your planner or journal. This way if you want to unhook your closure you won’t lose or forget it.
Bath salts are a simple, yet lovely, homemade gift idea. You can buy all the ingredients at your local health food store or supermarket.
The ease with which these bath salts are made belies how wonderful they will make you feel. Bath salts have moisturizing, soothing properties, and they’ll leave you feeling completely pampered.
You can color the bath salts with a small amount of food coloring. I’d use yellow with the lemon essential oil (or have fun with your own coloring/scent combinations). For Christmas you can color the salts red or green (or try layering the two). If using food coloring, you’ll want to add just a few drops, mix, then add a bit more, if needed, to deepen the color(s).
Homemade Scented Bath Salts
Yield: 12 cups bath salts
8 cups Epsom salts
4 cups Kosher salt
8 tablespoons sweet almond oil
40 drops pure lemon (or other) essential oil
(Optional) 6-8 tablespoons of dried herbs or crushed flower petals (ex. lavender, thyme, mint, lemon balm, rose, calendula)
1. Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl until everything is well blended, then spoon into sterile jars or other gift containers.
2. Label the jars, and attach a note directing your recipient how to use the bath salts - Pour 1/2 cup under hot water while running the bath. The bath salts can also be dissolved in hot water for a soothing foot soak.
Ah, the wedding meal: indulgent, delicious, memorable-and probably the most expensive line in your entire budget. Here are some ideas how to painlessly trim the fat in 10 easy steps.
1. Be choosy. Look into party venues that allow you to hire any caterer, not just one from their approved list (who may not fit your budget). Do the math before booking.
2. Tap the new guy. Consider new talent: a chef who’s young, eager, and, since he’s just starting to build his wedding-catering business, likely to charge less than his more established colleagues. But do some research before hiring him: Ask for referrals from recent wedding clients-and call them!
3. Keep it simple. Streamlined preparations require less work on the chef’s end. Wild mushroom soup? Easy. Wild mushroom soup with crab ravioli? That takes a lot more time to prepare, and time is money.
4. Stay in season. Serve foods whose peak freshness coincides with your wedding date. Want tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad in winter? You’ll pay dearly for imported tomatoes from Mexico. (Try arugula with Parmesan instead.)
5. Veg out. Make most of your hors d’oeuvres meatless. Besides a crudites platter, go with interesting combos, like crostini topped with a sweet-pea-and-fava-bean puree, or serve vegetable skewers, stuffed grape leaves, and dumplings.
6. Recession-proof your beef. Sirloin is less than half the price of filet mignon, and it’s still super-flavorful.
7. Count carbs. Pasta can be a budget-conscious bride’s best friend. But it doesn’t have to be spaghetti and meatballs. Try a southern Italian peasant-style dish, like orecchiette with broccoli rabe and white beans.
8. Beg, borrow, steal. When you’re not in a fully equipped space, renting serving pieces can add up. Got a guest list that’s under 50? Ask relatives to loan their favorite serveware. (Appoint someone to round everything up at the end of the night.)
9. Resist the upgrade. Many caterers offer basic packages with optional surcharges. We’ve seen scallop appetizers that cost an extra eight dollars per person. For 125 guests, that comes to another $1,000-ouch.
10. Enlist a friend. Ask a pal who loves to bake to make a dessert in lieu of a wedding cake (an ambitious project that’s best left to a pro). A tower of cupcakes or brownies is easy to do and looks festive. It’s a sweet ending at a sweet price.
Soak the rosemary in a water bath first to make the sprigs a little more plyable and clean.
Cut sprigs into 7 to 8 inch lengths. If your sprigs are shorter, that’s ok, as you can scale the size of the name-tags to fit your circle.
Form the sprigs into a circle. Try to be careful, because you don’t want them to snap.
Secure the top by winding around some floral wire.
Cover your floral wire. I used plain old white kitchen twine because I thought it would look the cutest. You can use really anything. Wind the twine around a couple of times before tying the bow to ensure you covered all the wire.
My husband Matt likes to joke that I am an Etsy addict and I must admit there is smidgen of truth to that fact. I enjoy shopping for hand-made jewelry as it’s unique, and made with lots of love. So when a friend Esther Marker, a jewelry designer, started an exclusive Etsy shop called Oh La La Jewelry I was so excited for her I wanted to share it with you.
Esther’s beaded jewelry is of the highest quality and would make perfect one-of-a-kind gifts for your bridesmaids.
Learn the ins and outs of hiring your wedding band or DJ, and the truth about some of the most common stereotypes.
Myth #1: A DJ will talk too much.
You’ve probably heard about (or been to) weddings where a DJ, in a misguided attempt to emcee, talked more than he spun, with cringe-worthy results. But an experienced wedding DJ will only speak when it’s appropriate. Every time a DJ speaks, he should have something important to say, which you and he planned in advance. To ensure that your DJ doesn’t abuse his proximity to the mic, be specific about when you want him to talk and when you don’t. If you’re nervous that yours is a chatterbox, consider sending an example of what you find inappropriate. You can find a litany of bad DJ videos on YouTube. But handle with care so as to not offend.
Myth #2: Bands take a lot of breaks.
One common concern about hiring a band is that each 40-45 minute set they play will be followed by a 15-20 minute break filled with music from a compilation CD — and that bored guests will vacate the dance floor. But you can manage your band’s need for downtime so that it doesn’t disrupt the party too much. Ask the band members to stagger their breaks so there’s live music throughout the night (it may cost an extra fee); guests will stay entertained and the dance floor will stay full.
Myth #3: A DJ will play cheesy tunes.
Worried that your DJ has his mind set on “Y.M.C.A.” and the Electric Slide, when you’re thinking more along the lines of “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Unforgettable”? It doesn’t have to be that way — your DJ wants to play what you want to hear, but you have to communicate your tastes clearly. Don’t rely on words alone, since terms like “dance music,” “rock,” and “slow songs” are vague and can easily be misinterpreted. To make sure you are on the same music style page, give him a playlist and a do-not-play list. Brides and grooms should be able to customize the playlist. People today have grown up with choice and personalization, and good DJs understand that.
Myth #4: You can control everything.
One caveat to the last idea: You can give your DJ a mile-long playlist, but you shouldn’t try to micromanage the music. To some extent, your lists should be guidelines for the mix master, not hard-and-fast rules. Your DJ should know the genre you’re interested in, but let him choose the best way to mix the music — after all, it’s his job to keep people on the dance floor. Give your band some flexibility to react to the crowd and adjust the tempo accordingly. When you hire somebody to bake a cake, you can tell them what flavors to use, but you don’t try to tell them how much flour or what kind of sugar to put in. It’s the same with DJs — you need to trust that they know what to do.
Myth #5: Bands love line dances.
The days when it was de rigueur for a wedding band to encourage a conga line are over. But if you’re worried about that kind of thing, be sure to see the band in action before you sign on. Ask for a DVD of a previous performance to get a sense of how they interact with the crowd. You should also try to see them live. But you can’t crash somebody else’s wedding — find out if you can drop by to watch them play at another type of event. Just keep in mind that you can’t alter a band’s style as easily as you can tweak a DJ’s. If their live act is rambunctious and interactive (complete with line dances), then asking them to change might hamper their performance, and you’re probably better off going with a different group.
Myth #6: A band can’t offer enough variety.
You’d be surprised by the musical depth a quality wedding band can offer. One indication that a band has versatility is if they have more than one singer — if they have both male and female vocalists, for example, chances are they’re open to a wider range of songs. Though a band may specialize in a style (like big band or soul), they’re professional musicians and should be able to stray at least a little from their niche. And if a few of the songs you have your heart set on aren’t in the band’s repertoire, simply ask them to learn the songs before your wedding — most bands will learn between three and five songs if you give them enough notice.
Myth #7: A DJ will save you money.
Although a DJ almost always costs less than a band, that doesn’t mean you should cheap out on this vendor. If you’re willing to pay for a top-notch DJ, you can get way more than somebody to play songs. A great DJ will talk to your photographer and tell him which songs are coming next. Photographers capture the Kodak moments; it is the DJ’s job to create the opportunity for them to occur. I know a DJ who got a tape of the groom singing “You are My Sunshine” to his mom as a little boy and created a custom mix, bringing tears to everyone in the room during the mother-son dance. On the other hand: I heard a story about an inexperienced DJ announcing a father-daughter dance, unaware that the bride’s father had passed away. Although the old adage “you get what you pay for” isn’t always true, when it comes to your music it’s certainly advice to consider.
Myth #8: Hiring a bar band is a good idea.
Unless they also have a lot of experience with weddings, using a band or DJ that’s oriented primarily with nightclubs is risky, since they won’t be adept at pleasing a diverse crowd. It’s much smarter to find somebody who has experience in wedding entertainment. If you’re inviting coworkers, grandparents, and children, the entertainment should offer something for everyone.
Myth #9: You have to hire a DJ or band — you can’t have both.
If you can afford it, you can have the best of both forms of entertainment. Either hire a DJ to spin while the band is on break (and to be your emcee), or divide the evening into two portions. Another option is to hire a band for your reception and a DJ to spin at the after-party. Or, if you can’t spring for a whole band, see about combining just a few live musicians with a DJ. Some companies create packages where, for example, the musicians will play for the ceremony and during cocktail hour, then complement the DJ during the dancing, by adding percussion to a hot Latin set.
Myth #10: Slow songs first, followed by faster tunes after the cake-cutting.
Some couples request that their entertainers play ’50s rock or big band-style songs early on to please their older guests, and then switch over to more lively beats so the younger crowd can dominate the floor until last call. But it can be more fun for you and your guests if you have your band or DJ mix it up throughout the night. Alternating between speeds, styles, and eras of music will keep wedding guests of all ages more engaged and encourage them to broaden the range of music they’ll boogie to, with truly memorable results.
If you like apple pie, make this! I’m thinking I might be more of a fan of this apple crisp than apple pie, because with the pie yes you get a wonderfully buttery pie crust but with this you are basically getting a crumbly, brown sugary oatmeal cookie over the top of apple pie filling.Cookie or pie crust? I think I’ll go with cookie. Besides, there’s no 2 hour chill time for pie crust and no floury countertop mess from rolling out dough. Just a simple, fresh apple filled, oat covered crisp that is full of enticing flavors. And you’ll love the way the brown sugar and plenty of hot oven heat create that amazing carmel-like taste to coat the apples. Enjoy!
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, diced into small cubes
2 lbs Granny Smith apples (at room temperature), peeled, sliced thin and diced
2 2/3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted*
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 pinch salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl whisk together 1/2 cup flour, the oats, 1/2 cup brown sugar, the baking powder, 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp salt for 30 seconds. Add diced butter and using clean fingertips, rub butter into dry mixture until it comes together into small crumbles. Transfer to refrigerator to chill while preparing filling.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter and flour until well blended, then mix in water, lemon juice and vanilla bean paste. Stir in 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, the nutmeg and pinch of salt. Pour butter mixture over apples and toss to evenly coat, then pour apple mixture into a buttered 8 by 8-inch baking dish and spread into an even layer. Remove topping from refrigerator and sprinkle into crumbles evenly over top of apples. Bake in preheated oven (I baked it in lower half of the oven to ensure the apples cooked through and so the top didn’t become too browned) until top is golden brown and apples are tender when pierced with a toothpick, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest 10 minutes before serving (I let mine cool longer than 10 since I was serving in glass cups so they weren’t all steamy). Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.
I am getting married in March and had my heart set on boxed wedding invitations. After doing some research I realized I can’t afford them as I am having 200 guests. I would still like to send boxed invites to special guests. Is it tacky to send out two types of invitations? Or should I skip the boxed invites altogether?
A. Congratulations on your engagement.
I cannot imagine a more luxurious way to deliver your invitations than within a wedding invitation box! An invitation box will announce your big day with style and charm.
If you are a bride on a budget, consider sending out boxed invites to only your most important and honored guests, and mailing the rest in standard envelopes
Guests will be honored to attend your celebration, especially after you have made them feel as if they were invited to the royal wedding! Invitations can be enclosed within their boxes in several different delightful ways.
When it comes to making decisions together and responding to life’s little curveballs, you and your significant other can either take an “all in this together” approach or an “every [wo]man for him/herself” one. How compatible are you two in every aspect of your life? Take this helpful quiz to find out how you’ll deal with various dilemmas down the road.
1. Money can create big problems for a couple. How do you handle your finances together?
a. We merged our money and talk about our financial goals often. b. We take a “yours, mine, and ours” approach to our bank accounts. c. We keep our money separate. I don’t trust anyone with my savings!
2. Since you’ve married, family and friends have been asking the big question: When are you having a baby? Your response:
a. We’ve talked about it and have a time frame in mind, but it’s not happening right now. b. I can’t wait! Now I just have to convince you know who. c. Sure, that’s exactly what I need — two kids in the house.
3. If you had to rate your sex life, you’d say:
a. It’s even hotter now! Being husband and wife is a major turn-on. b. It’s the same as it’s always been — comfy and cozy. c. Ho-hum. We’re busy with work and setting up our new home, so we’re pretty tired at night.
4. It’s Friday night! You can’t wait to…
a. Order in some takeout, curl up on the couch with your sweetie, and watch a DVD. b. Meet up with another couple for dinner. c. Go barhopping with friends.
5. If either you or your spouse were asked to take on a special project at work — which meant more travel time and longer hours — how would you come to a decision?
a. I would discuss the opportunity with my spouse, then make a joint decision. b. I would take my spouse’s feelings into consideration, but ultimately make the final decision by myself. c. I would make a somewhat independent decision based on my career and money.
6. It’s Sunday morning, and without warning, your mother-in-law has shown up once again. When she leaves, what do you say to your spouse?
a. “Honey, I like spending time with your mom, but could you ask her to at least call before coming over?” b. “I think it’s really inconsiderate of her to keep doing this. You need to talk to her about it — or I will!” c. “She is driving me crazy! The next time she comes over, I’m out of here!”
7. You feel that your spouse regards your advice as:
a. Always valuable — even if he/she doesn’t always take it. b. Occasionally helpful, but more often he/she sees it as an unwelcome interference. c. Little as possible! He/she’s pretty decisive and doesn’t like to feel controlled.
8. When having a big argument, you tend to:
a. Talk things out until we’ve come to some sort of agreement. We don’t believe in going to bed angry! b. Agree to walk away until we’ve both cooled down. Both of us can hit below the belt when angry, so it’s best we talk it over the next day. c. Give each other the silent treatment for the next week. The first one to back down loses!
9. You come home to find a sink full of dirty dishes. You…
a. Try to remember whose turn it is to clean up. We like to divvy up the household chores evenly. b. Grab a sponge and start scrubbing. If I don’t do it, no one will. c. Walk away. I can’t clean up after him/her again.
10. As far as your spouse’s pals go, you…
a. Enjoy hanging out with them — they’re my buddies too. b. Can take ‘em or leave ‘em. I hang with them to make my mate happy. c. Would rather get a root canal than deal with that crew.
Mostly As: Your relationship is a best seller.
“You’re working as a team to make your marriage as strong as possible,” says relationship expert Gilda Carle, PhD, author of Don’t Bet on the Prince! Although you appear to be on the same page about most issues, keep in mind that there are roadblocks in every relationship, so don’t rest on your dynamic duo laurels. Some tough challenges are proof that your relationship is maturing instead of standing in place, so look at them as an opportunity to get even closer.
Try this: To make sure you stay on the same page, set aside a 20-minute block each week to talk about your relationship — and don’t let anything interfere with that time. Pick the one thing that has gotten under your respective skins so the conversation stays focused and productive.
Mostly Bs: You could use some relationship CliffsNotes.
We know — married life is hard, so it’s easy to sometimes lose sight of what brought the two of you together in the first place (good looks, sweet gestures, or a passion for Depeche Mode). Good thing it’s never too late for a refresher course. To put yourselves on the way to a happily ever after right now, “simply create a fair balance between the me, you, and us part of your relationship,” says Dr. Carle.
Try this: Studies show that couples who have at least a few interests and hobbies in common have the strongest marriages. Whether it’s playing a round of golf or enjoying a wine-tasting,choose an activity each month that the both of you will love doing together. And stick to the schedule — no excuses. Could there be any easier advice than to have fun?
Mostly Cs: You need to buy a user’s manual now.
Calm down — you’re not headed for divorce court! All you need to do is start hearing each other. That doesn’t mean you’ll be in automatic agreement, but at least you’ll start to understand each other’s point of view.
Try this: If your spouse is complaining about something to you, repeat back what the person just said to you, says Dr. Carle. This simple psych tactic does two things. One, it lets your partner know you’re listening; two, it forces you to understand what your other half is saying because you’re focusing on the words. Sorry, that’s not all you need to do. Coming up with a communication style is key.
Renowned for their allure, sapphires are cherished as symbols of love, loyalty, power, royalty and wisdom. They are believed to bring happiness, fortune and good health to the wearer.
A Sapphire is the next hardest gemstone after the diamond, and it is also one of the most expensive gems. When buying sapphires, you should know how to evaluate the quality of the stone to guarantee that you get the best quality your money can buy. You should also shop smart by knowing where and how to shop to avoid getting ripped off.
Shop for Quality
Know what tone of blue you want. Sapphires come in blues, with the lightest being Sweden princess blue and the darkest being navy or black. The most prized color is royal blue, which is in the middle of the scale. As the most prized, however, it is also the most expensive.
Camelot and commodore blues, which are one shade lighter and darker, respectively, are similar in hue but slightly more affordable. Take the hue into consideration. Blue sapphires can be pure blue, or they can be tinted by green or purple. By value, pure blue ranks highest with slight purple tints following shortly after. Strong purple hues and any green hue are generally less expensive.
Look at the transparency of the stone. Transparency is often overlooked when buying sapphires, but the more transparent a stone is, the more brilliant it will look. Transparent stones can also be expensive, though. Fully transparent and semi-transparent stones allow the most light to pass through. Translucent sapphires allow light to pass through, but obscure objects, making it a good compromise between transparency quality and budget. Semi-opaque and opaque stones allow little to no light to pass through.
Consider a fancy color sapphire. While blue is the most common color for a sapphire, these gemstones also come in several other colors. Padparadscha sapphires, which are orange-pink, are rare and considered valuable.
Be aware of how origin affects price. Where a sapphire was mined can have a huge impact on it’s overall cost. Sapphires mined in Kashmir, Mogok, Burma, and Ceylon are usually more prized than those mined elsewhere. Typically, that is because the quality of sapphires coming from these mines is higher than those coming from most other locations. This is not always true, though, and paying for origin is a little like paying for a brand name. You can save money by purchasing quality sapphires from “lesser” mines.
Pay attention to cut. Cut does not refer to the shape of the stone. Rather, it refers to the facets on a gem’s surface, which allow light and color to shine through at their best. A deep cut sapphire has better color, while shallow stones often look too big for their own weight and look lighter in tone. The cut of a sapphire is usually rated on a scale of excellent, very good, good, fair, and poor.
Look for ratings from an official gemstone organization, like the Gemological Institute of America. Jewelers may provide their own rating, but it is usually more generous than the official GIA rating.
Expect more inclusions with blue sapphires. A sapphire’s clarity grade refers to the number of inclusions or cracks inside a stone. The fewer cracks, the more expensive a stone will be. Look for an official rating from a gemstone association like the GIA.
VVS (slightly included), VS (slightly included), and SI1 (slightly included) stones have few inclusions, and the inclusions they have do not effect the brilliance of the stone.
SI2 stones have inclusions that are obvious under magnification but have minor effect on the stone’s brilliance.
I1, I2, and I3 have inclusions and surface blemishes that are obvious even without magnification.
Heat Treated Vs Unheated Sapphires. Most of the lower priced sapphires are heat-treated. Jewelers heat sapphires in an oven under high temperatures for several hours, to enrich the color of the stone.
If you’re looking for a superior quality sapphire, an unheated stone is the way to go. Unheated stones that are free of inclusions and possess superior color are rare and expensive.