Friday Links

Friday Links

May 1, 2015

 Eliot | The Orange Slate

Albania | The Orange Slate

Happy Friday! What’s on your agenda this weekend? It’s baby shower season around here and I’m so excited to help celebrate the pregnancy of a dear friend tomorrow.

A fantastic roundup of podcast suggestions to refresh your listening list. (via Design*Sponge)

An interesting perspective on friendships after college. (Do you agree?) (via Cup of Jo)

Green smoothie inspiration for the summer months ahead. (via Real Simple)

Wisdom for growing up and prioritizing. (via Shauna Neiquist)

A breathtaking collection of photos. (via VSCO)

Hilarious tongue-in-cheek tips for anyone who has ever sat in a meeting that ran over-time. (via TheCooperReview)

One of the most inspiring fundraising drives is going on right now. (via Opportunity International)

Some lovely Mother’s Day gift ideas. (via The Edwards Dinner Party)

I’m excited about this great way to protect Miles’ baby skin during long sunny beach days. (via Amazon)

Tips for conquering procrastination and forming new habits. (via Zen Habits)


*Some links are affiliate. Thanks for supporting The Orange Slate!

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Happy Valentine’s Day! (And Some Relationship Advice)

February 14, 2015


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Happy Valentine’s Day! This is seriously one of my favorite holidays. I love the pink, the candy, the excuse to dote on those we love, the combinations of fancy and flirty and fun.

What are you doing today? We have never gone out to dinner on Valentine’s Day. It’s just not our thing. In fact, it’s our thing to NOT, if that makes sense. One year we did lunch. Then one year when we were dating, I was horribly sick on Valentine’s Day and so we made dinner at home and ever since, we cook dinner at home.

Tonight, for the very first time, I am making steaks on the stove using our cast-iron pan. I’ve been frantically reading advice from steakmasters, so I’m hopeful. Any advice for me?

I hope your day and weekend are full of love and fun and rest. And if you still need something to do tonight, here are some tips on love, marriage, and relationships that I gathered from married couples a few years ago. It’s still one of my favorite blog posts. Consider it my (re)gift to you.

Love you all!

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Friday Links

Friday Links

December 12, 2014


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Happy Friday!

Am I the only one who feels like December is racing by? Christmas will be here so soon! I’m excited, but I’m also trying to savor the month and the festivities as they occur (without feeling too panicky about all of my “to-dos”!).

I’m hoping that this weekend gives us a little bit of family down-time before the whirlwind of family visits. We are so excited to take time away from work and school and enjoy time with both sides of our family soon. Christmas for us is going to involve a lot of traveling  and I’m so looking forward to it! (The holidays will also include Mark’s first flight with Miles. I’m not nervous about flying with Miles anymore, thanks to a reliable system, but I am relieved to have some adult company on our flight for the first time!).

Here’s some reading suggestions for your down-time this weekend!

I love shopping at Target and I’m not ashamed of it, even if it does make me qualify for the term “basic”. (via Christianity Today)

This list of 35 career goals was great. How many have you achieved? (via Mashable via Cap Hill Style)

Have you heard about the My One Word project? I already know what I want for myself for 2015. (via My One Word)

Tonight, I have a cookie-exchange party. I might make these Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies. They look so tasty! (via Martha Stewart)

Some helpful tips for reconnecting with old friends during the holidays. (via LifeHacker)

Do you subscribe to paper magazines (as opposed to digital)? As passionate as I am about digital media, I still love my print media! Here’s an interesting podcast about the future of print magazines. (via DesigneSponge)

How do you feel about regular date-nights? Do you have “date night goals”? Mark and I are terribly lazy about this, both firmly believing that a shared carton of ice-cream and a Netflix binge constitute an acceptable and happy date. (This habit has its roots in our pre-baby days). But this article made me think that perhaps we should set our sights a little higher a few times a year. (via Coffee + Crumbs)

I adore Williams & Sonoma, but this Hater’s Guide will make you laugh so hard that you may cry. (via The Concourse)

What are you reading this weekend? Share in the comments!

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Eating In (And a Recipe for Silver Dollar-Fried Potatoes)

January 27, 2014

Dollar Fried Potatoes      


For some, dining out is an experience, a journey of exploration, a fun way to experience the local atmosphere. Mark and I tend to eat out only when we’re desperate, when schedules are crunched and food is frozen and we are both too exhausted to think. Restaurants, by association or otherwise, have simply become an occasional necessity for us. Mark gets annoyed by the service or the wait times and I grumble over paying for a recipe that I am pretty certain I could create myself.


When we really want to indulge, when we really want to relax and de-stress, when we need time and space, conversation and some very good food, we cook at home. There is really nothing that quite compares to savoring a meal with wine or beer (or in my present state, juice) in the warmth of our dining room after we’ve gathered, chopped, combined, and watched with bated breath. For us, cooking is the best kind of magic.


Poor Mark has also been essentially meat- deprived for weeks in the wake of my morning sickness*. So on Friday, we held a phone conference while I rattled off options from the seafood department of Costco. We settled on lobster tails and met at home promptly at 6:00, ready to tackle our dinner of lobster.


I’ve been dying to try to make my grandfather’s dollar-fried potatoes for ages and they seemed like the perfect side-dish to pair with lobster. So I prepped the butter sauce and lobster while Mark worked on slicing the potatoes.


I used red wine for the steaming instead of white and skipped the green onions and the meat was none the worse for the wear. Frying the potatoes was a process a bit more involved than I had bargained for, but the result was beyond worth it.

We happily munched our moist lobster dripping with garlic butter (I had approximately 4 bites of mine before handing it off to Mark…baby nausea is a beast) and thinly shaved, fried-and-lighty-salted-to-perfection potatoes (I stole most of Mark’s), paired with ice-cold Blue Moon (at least for the one of us who is not currently pregnant).


For that little space of time on Friday night, it might as well have been a warm night in July. Summer is coming, friends. But since it’s taking it’s sweet time, might I encourage you to usher in some of your own warmth?

Go buy something that you would never buy at the grocery store, prepare some time-consuming colorful extravagant dish, and indulge for a little while. We spend far too much time tracking and counting and weighing and assessing and criticizing our food. Let’s spend some time rejoicing over our tables.


Dollar-Fried Potatoes


Vegetable Oil

5 (or 10 or 15) Russet potatoes



Wash the potatoes and slice them as thinly as possible. Pour 1/3 a cup of vegetable oil into a frying pan and warm the pan.

Fill the bottom of the pan with sliced potatoes and lightly salt. When the potatoes are a deep golden-brown and crispy on the bottom, flip them over.

Remove the potatoes as they finish frying (potatoes may fry at different speeds) and stack on a plate.

Continue to fry until all of the potatoes are done, adding oil as necessary and lightly salting each new batch. Potatoes may be kept warm in the oven as they cook. 

*Yes, you did read that correctly. We are so absolutely ecstatic to welcome a new member to our little family next summer. I have struggled with deciding exactly how to handle this delightful news in the sphere of  social media and am still figuring that out. But I felt that it was only fair to share the good news with my dear readers. More about this in posts to come.

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“I Always Thought That I’d See You Again . . . “

December 16, 2013


This blog has been largely silent for almost three weeks. The last few days have been sad ones and I post now partly just out of an attempt to try to sort out my own confused feelings, partly out of an attempt to give honor where honor is due.

On Thanksgiving Day, my grandmother was visiting my side of the family in Indiana. Everyone was there together (except for Mark and me, who were in Dallas with his side). She had flown from San Diego to Indiana to be with her only daughter and her grandchildren for the holiday.

It was a very normal Thanksgiving for all of us, on both sides of the country, filled with normal food and normal people and normal activity. And then it all stopped in a way that felt like the coldest ice water sprayed in one’s face or like running full speed into a cement wall.

Early Thanksgiving evening, Grandma passed away. It was terribly sudden and left all of us paralyzed, shocked, uncomfortable, breathless.

People aren’t supposed to die on Thanksgiving. Especially not grandmothers. Especially without warning.

Death has a funny way of surprising you in a bunch of ways that you don’t expect. Some of my emotions and feelings right now are quite unlike the ones that, in theory, I would have expected from myself. I am sad for the loss of my grandmother. I’m sad that I never asked her certain questions, that I never heard certain stories. I’m sad that my bank of memories with and of her is now full – that there won’t be any more cookies or pictures with her.

I’m sad that I didn’t ask her more about growing up in Yuma, Arizona, or about her Uncle Tito, the real cowboy. I’m sad that I never really heard about the loud boisterous parties held at my grandparents’ house until my great-aunt described them to me as I tried to piece together an obituary.

Of course, I’m grateful for the wealth of good memories that I can cherish. Grandma loved some good big-screen sap and there were countless chick-flick matinees. My grandma loved snacks and light-hearted chat and my memories of her are inseparable from the afternoons at her house that involved lounging and general juicy gossip over Cheez-its or gumdrops or popcorn.


I’ll never be able to hear Carole King or James Taylor (whose lyrics this post’s title bears) without thinking of the albums that she gave me for my birthdays, perhaps her subtle reminder to me that some music is really just better. She was a devout Catholic and I’ll never be able to hear a mass or walk into a Catholic church without being reminded of my heritage of traditional liturgy and beautiful worship spaces.

But there are so many other feelings too. Little children often become immensely uncomfortable at the sight of their parents experiencing sadness or anger. But in the past two and a half weeks, I’ve learned that this happens with big children too. I’m watching my mother grieve the loss of her mother and I can count few times that I have felt as utterly helpless. The comfort my siblings and I can give is only of a secondary nature. I can’t say that I know what she feels like because I don’t.

I know my sadness, my memories, my loss, but watching my joy-filled, bubbly Mom truly grief-stricken reminds me that losing a grandmother and losing a mother are two very different things.

And my sadness is mixed with a (perhaps selfish) irritation, a grating feeling of discomfort, a deep annoyance that we can’t all just be fine, that life can’t just go on as before, an anger that all is not right with the world.

Mixed in, too, is a guilt that I suppose is probably very normal, guilt that my life hasn’t really changed all of that much, guilt that my schedule and my day and the turning of my world and really, the greater universe, hasn’t really altered just because Grandma isn’t here. That tension that used to exist in theory – that life stops and that life continues to go on – has become horribly, uncomfortably, awkwardly real.


I am a solver, a hater of conflict, a fixer. But here, now, in these sad days, there is nothing to fix, nothing to mend. I want to take the people I love most and hide in a blanket tent and promise everyone that everything will always be ok forever, that nothing bad will ever happen, that we will always be together and safe and healthy and fine.

But that isn’t true. The truth is that sometimes things are not ok. Sometimes things cannot be made perfectly right. Sometimes there is nothing for me  or anyone else to fix. Sometimes sadness is just part of our story. Right now that is true for my family. For now, that is acutely true for my sweet mom. It might be true for you this day, this Christmas, this year, this decade.

And this truth of a hurting, unfixable, broken, crying, uncomfortable world is perhaps the truth closest to the heart of Advent.

Because Jesus came into our world not to fix it and tape it up with a pretty ribbon and make everything all sparkly-Christmas-catalogue perfect. He came as a little innocent vulnerable baby into a world that was dark and hurting and unpleasant. He came not to cover us with Band-Aids and smile and pretend that all is well but to suffer with us in our sadness, in our loneliness, in our awkward, irritating, unmanageable grief.

Advent is about remembering that, unlike us, God could have protected His family, could have kept Jesus safe, could have protected those closest to Him from pain. But He didn’t. Because we needed someone to suffer with us. We needed someone to step in to our hurt and sin and sadness and say “This is my mess too.” So God did the unthinkable – he put Jesus in harm’s way.

And in all of the dark quiet sadness right now, in the loneliness, in the confusion, in the tears, amidst the phone-calls and emails and not-knowing-what-to-say-or-do, it is deeply comforting – perhaps the only real comfort – to know that I am not the one who is supposed to fix, mend, make right, keep the world turning. I am not the one who sustains the world. God does that. And God is and was in this mess with us.

I’m trying to learn where that leaves me, hands full of questions that I can neither solve nor release, standing close to problems that I can’t fix or turn away from. I have far fewer answers than questions. For now, I am simply trying to learn to be present, to be sad myself, to grieve for and with others while also accepting my utter inability to repair or even help.

It doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel like I’ve found a solution or like I’m holding a complete package. Maybe I’ll never hold the complete package – never feel like this story makes any sense.

But behind the darkness is the message of Advent, the promise of a good God to a grief-stricken people, the promise that after the weeping, God is there – to comfort, to heal, to restore, to redeem. And for now – but really, always – it’s only that promise that keeps my world – and the whole world – turning.

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A Wedding Tale ~ Part VII: Finding The One (And Some Dress Shopping Tips)

November 18, 2013


Every girl dreams of that moment during her wedding planning when she finds The One. The dress, that is. A wedding dress is a woman’s moment to be a princess, a fashion icon, a Sabrina, an Audrey Hepburn, the graceful enchanting center of attention. That moment when you walk down in the aisle in your gown is your moment to show everyone your sense of style. Are you classic? Vintage? Cutting-edge? A perfect princess? Rustic duchess?

The only problem with this is that the average cost of a wedding dress is about $1,200. That’s no fairy tale. $12oo was a sizeable portion of my wedding budget; there was no way I was going to spend that much on just my dress.


Additionally, for those of us who haven’t known since we were 12 years old what kind of dream dress would mesh perfectly with the rest of our Dream Wedding, the prospect of finding a dress that will utterly define us, our sense of fashion, and our wedding can be a bit overwhelming.

There’s so many options – Ball-gown? Trumpet? A-line? Sleeves? Straps? No sleeves? Lace? Silk?


But pick a wedding gown every anticipatory bride must, and so I dove in. I visited a few local boutiques to narrow down the styles and then tried to match the styles at the typical budget avenues – David’s Bridal was of course my first stop, but I’m impatient and a little nervous about commitment and the idea of waiting 6 weeks to put on my custom-fitted dress for the first time made my already palpitating heart want to pack up and go to South Africa.


I began to scour other possible source. For all of you brides-to-be out there, Ann Taylor, JCrew, Macy’s, and Bloomingdale’s all have fabulous wedding dresses. If you’re shopping on a budget, check out the clearance sections. The dresses are generally 100% refundable and returnable so there’s very little risk involved and when you finally find one you like – there’s no wait!

I finally found a dress that I liked and that fit my wedding budget among the Ann Taylor collections. I ordered it and tried it on with my mom and sister looking on. It was lovely, it was white, and it essentially fit, which was pretty much all that I cared about at that point. (I’m a terrible shopper.)


But something was off. I had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that the dress just didn’t look that great on me. The feeling was confirmed when I tried the dress on over Christmas a second time with my mom and sister looking on. It looked terrible on me. It might just have been a difference of hair or lighting but the dress I had bought did not work. At. All.

Back to Square One. To boot, now it was December. The wedding was in June. In the calendars of wedding planners, my wedding dress shopping was already about 12 months behind schedule.


I began to panic. I started scouring wedding dress blogs for solutions. Sites like Off Beat Bride literally saved my sanity by assuring me that my range of options was a lot greater than I was allowing. It didn’t matter what the dress looked like on paper. It mattered if I liked it.


I was pretty sure at this point that I needed an off-white dress. My skin is pretty fair and Mark was going to be in his white uniform so a bit of contrast was needed. I started to search through formal dress departments.

Almost immediately, I found a gorgeous dress in Macy’s online formal dress selection. It was an off-white champagne color. It was exactly the fit and style that I had been searching for and fell well within my budget. I ordered it immediately. When it arrived, a whole three days later, the dress fit perfectly. I didn’t want to let go of it. The dress literally was a dream come true.


Tips for The Wedding Dress Search:

  1. Commit to a dress budget. There is an endless abundance of dresses and shops and accessories. Using your budget as a guideline will seriously keep you from going crazy with all of the options.
  2. Try a lot of styles on at first and go with your instincts. If certain dresses consistently just don’t look good on you, stop wasting your time on them.
  3. Don’t be afraid to try something that is different than your imaginary ideal dress. Sometimes we think certain things will look good on us that definitely don’t in reality, and vice versa.
  4. But let your taste be the starting point. If you have a style that you absolutely love, start there.
  5. Be willing to be a little uncoventional. For me, this mean that I bought a technically non-wedding dress that wasn’t white. For you, it might mean wearing a short dress or including a colored accent. Be willing to experiment and be willing to search for your dress in unexpected places. Remember, it’s YOUR wedding. The dress should be something you love. It doesn’t matter what it is called, who made it, or where it came from.
  6. Be careful how many opinions you solicit. I limited the number of people who knew about my dress ahead of time to my mom and sister, one bridesmaid, and my roommates. I knew I could trust their opinions; I knew they’d be honest with me; and I knew that all of them would respect my final decision even if they didn’t love the dress.
  7. You should feel beautiful in your dress. This is a non-negotiable. If you don’t like the way the fabric feels or falls on you, keep looking. It doesn’t matter what the dress costs; it matters that you love it and love the way you look in it.

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7 Tips for Selecting the Perfect Wedding Venue // 6.

September 24, 2013


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Only a few weeks into our 7-month engagement, Mark and I had settled on a Michigan wedding. We both love the outdoors and knew we wanted to have an outdoor wedding if at all possible. June in Michigan is temperate in a good year, chilly in a luckless one.

My family home, nestled on land in the middle of National Forest 90 minutes away from a major airport provided us with the perfect backdrop for the simple yet elegant wedding we wanted to create. A tiny church nearby and the ample space inside the house and barn provided us with backup in case of inclement weather.

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The wedding site ended up being more perfect than I had even hoped. The rehearsal dinner took place on the front patio of the house; we organized the reception and ceremony in the back of the house.

We had a brief brush with inclement weather – a few raindrops started to fall right as the bridesmaids were beginning to walk out of the house and down the deck stairs towards the waiting guests. But the drops had stopped by the time the piano had played the last notes of Canon in D. The clouds blew away and the reception was held under a partially sunny sky.

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It was so special to get ready for the wedding in my family home, to eat lunch with the wedding party in our family kitchen, to chat for a few minutes with my bridesmaids and sisters in the rooms where we have all spent so many hours together through the years.


Although not everyone is able to organize a reception or ceremony in their home, no one needs to settle for a venue that is simply functional and effective.

When searching for a venue, frantic brides often feel a little trapped and often settle for spending substantially more money or a less inspiring location than they originally hoped for.

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The venue selection will affect almost all other aspects of a wedding. Venues often have rules about catering, drinks, and guest numbers that will limit your ability to make your day your own.

Peace of mind on your wedding day is priceless. If you sense that your choice of venue is causing substantial stress, creating financial strain, or is severely limiting your ability to make your wedding your own, consider being more flexible about your choice of venue.

Here are seven guidelines to keep in mind when you are seeking out a venue for your wedding.

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1. If you plan to be married outside, have an indoor backup ready nearby. 

Our indoor backup for the reception was on-site; if it rained, we were prepared to move all of the food and guests into my parent’s home. The church a mile away was our ceremony back-up and the woman who has the key to the building was one of our dear friends who helped extensively with the wedding, so there was no chance of suddenly losing access to the building.

2. Consider unusual venues rather than the traditional hotel or country club locations.

An art gallery, museum, or historical home all make lovely indoor venues. If you plan to be married outside, consider a local barn, public garden, city park, or state park. Even if the area is technically open to the public, the flexibility of a non-traditional option often provides you with more flexibility to make the wedding your own.

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3. Don’t underestimate the value of using the home or property of a family member or friend. 

The peace of mind that can come with a venue where the rules are more relaxed is often worth a little extra clean-up. Beautiful homes and yards often offer a backdrop and atmosphere that money can’t purchase, especially for a small wedding.

4. Consider having your ceremony and reception in the same place. 

Even if this means that you sacrifice some backdrop or atmosphere, your guests will appreciate the convenience and ease. The reception will be more comfortable and enjoyable for everyone if it doesn’t require the bride, groom, and guests to fight traffic or spend a long time rebooting after the ceremony.

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5. Keep the lighting in mind. 

Remember that lighting changes the look of an event and your photos. A garden might be lovely during the day but if you have an evening wedding and the area is not appropriately lit, your event could be dampered by darkness. Be sure to check out the venue during the time of day for which your ceremony is scheduled.

6. Using a venue that is already decorated will save you money on flowers and other decorations.

Mark and I were married against a backdrop of green fields and trees. During the reception, we were surrounded by open space, deer, green fields, and wildflowers. Because we selected a lovely place for our wedding, we were able to stress and spend less on the decorations. For instance, we didn’t have any kind of backdrop (an arch or table) behind us during our ceremony. We simply didn’t need the added elaboration.

7. Don’t fight your location.

Your location will, in many senses, determine the style of your wedding. If you are having a ceremony or reception in a modern art gallery or a new building with a lot of stone and clean lines, then try to incorporate those into your decorations and wedding-day style, rather than trying to battle against the look that is already present. Our wedding was outside so we tried to incorporate a lot of natural hues and textures.


A bonus tip: Relax and prioritize. 

Remember that the blessing of being surrounded by family and friends and the memories of a relaxed, special day are far more important than the decorations or the backdrop. Frankly, few will even remember your venue in a few years, but everyone will remember whether the day was stressful and frantic or relaxed and gracious.

The meaning of a wedding ceremony and the love you share with your guests on your wedding day trump. Focus on finding a venue that allows everyone to focus on what is actually important on your big day.

Need more inspiration? This book provided me with so many wonderful ideas during our planning process.

Want some more wedding insight? Check out the entire series below!

Part 1 – an overview of our day.

Part 2 – our DIY invitations.

Part 3 – outfit inspiration from our groomsmen and bridesmaids.

Part 4 – our magical barbecue rehearsal dinner.

Part 5 – how to re-create our DIY burlap flag banners.

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10 Memorable Free (or Almost Free) Dates in the DC area

September 17, 2013


Mark and I have never been one of those couples that spends a lot of money on dates. Sure, we like to go out to a nice dinner every now and then just like anyone else. But if we spend a lot on a date, unless the spending is really intentional, the chances of one or both of us just being grumpy and experiencing a lot of buyer’s regret is fairly high.

We also happen to live in Washington, D.C.. Besides being the capital of the nation, it’s also the capital of Great Free Activities. There are so many things to do and see in this city that don’t cost a dime and that are truly worthwhile.

So here are 10 free (or almost free) date-night suggestions for the D.C. area. Mark and I will definitely be checking off the items (again!) listed here as the weather begins to cool off. (If you’re not in the area, keep reading anyway . . . many of these ideas will still provide you with some date-night inspiration!)

1. Visit the National Portrait Gallery or the National Museum of American History.

Both of these frequently have new or visiting exhibits so they never get old! Mark and I love to wander through these and other museums, especially as the weather gets colder!


2. Have a picnic on the lawn of the Capitol.

Picnics are not as fun when the temperature registers at 95 degrees. The cooler weather means that impromptu picnics are fun again!

3. Spend an afternoon watching the planes take off at Gravelly Point.


4. Visit the beautiful Franciscan Monastery, located in Northeast D.C.

5. Rent or borrow bikes (or dust off your own!) and do a bike tour of the monuments around the Tidal Basin.

6. Play pickup volleyball by the Lincoln Memorial on any Saturday or Sunday morning.


7. Find a farmer’s market near you and wander. 

8. Make dinner together. 


9. Watch a movie at home.

This is seriously one of our favorite things to do. By the time we have time to just hang out, we are normally too tired (and probably too lazy!) to leave our cozy home to go out and spend money. We much prefer turning on a movie, opening a ginormous bag of Twizzlers or some wine, and watching a movie at home.

10. Visit Fort Washington. This little known but impressive landmark will fill a fun afternoon!


What are your favorite fall budget-date ideas?



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How We Decorated with Breathtaking Burlap Flag Banners // 5.

September 10, 2013



Many of our decorations and wedding pieces were DIY projects. But, next to the invitations, my favorite DIY wedding project was the burlap flag banners that we created.


I wanted to tie some quotes and words into the reception.




My sisters and mom and I tackled this project when I went home for Mother’s Day, a few weeks before the wedding. We had such a lovely time crafting together and having a large bulk of the wedding decorations completed gave us a lot of peace of mind later!


For those of you who want to try this, we started with a large roll of burlap fabric. We cut out dozens of flags that were all the same size, about 10″ across at the top. We used one as a prototype and then cut all of the others using the sample flag. A piece of paper cut to the right size would also work as a prototype.


Next, we mapped out the quotes and words we wanted to use. My mom, a genius seamstress, then folded the top edge of flags around a piece of twin to create banners that were the right length. (For instance, for the banner that said “Amour”, she attached five flag pieces together.


After the banners were sewn together, it was time to paint the letters onto the flags. First, each one of us lightly sprayed a bit of adhesive onto whatever flag we were working on before setting the stencil onto the flag. This helped ensure that the stencil didn’t slide around.


Then we used acrylic paint and a paintbrush to fill in the stencil, peeling off the stencil as soon as the letter was filled in. We tried both white and black acrylic paint. We definitely liked the way the white letters looked better although it occasionally didn’t stand out from the dark burlap enough and was a little difficult to read in some of the lighting.

The bolder, thicker stencils definitely were more readable than the elaborate, curly fonts.




Some of the banners contained strings of words. To separate the words, we included a flag of wedding-color-coordinating fabric in place of burlap. This added a unique touch to the banners and helped make the phrases and and words more readable.

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We left the flags to dry for a few hours before folding them carefully and storing them with the rest of the wedding supplies.

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The burlap flag banners were a beautiful touch at the wedding reception. Some formed a fun backdrop for pictures, some helped direct people, and some were strung high across the yard helped create a sense of height in the reception area.

Need more inspiration? This book provided me with so many wonderful ideas during our planning process.

Want some more wedding insight? Check out the entire series below!

Part 1 – an overview of our day.

Part 2 – our DIY invitations.

Part 3 – outfit inspiration from our groomsmen and bridesmaids.

Part 4 – our magical barbecue rehearsal dinner.

Part 6 – some tips on venues.

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How We Planned the Perfect Rehearsal Dinner // 4.

August 16, 2013


Because our wedding required a lot of traveling on the part of the guests and families, the celebration wasn’t just limited to a five-hour event. Instead, the revelry stretched out over several days. Spending a lot of quality time with both of our families and our close friends was one of the best parts of our wedding (and the aspect that took the most strategizing and planning!).

We opted out of an intimate, formal rehearsal dinner for a large, casual barbecue at my parent’s home. Mark is originally from Dallas and we decided to center the evening around a Texas-cowboy theme.

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We were expecting about 70 people for the rehearsal barbecue and so we rented a number of large round tables (the same tables we were planning to use for the reception) and set them up on the large  circle driveway. The food and drink tables were arranged on the brick patio immediately in front of the house.

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Each table was covered with a red-and-white checked tablecloth. We layered a square of burlap and a red bandana over that and spread some small rocks on each table. We created a centerpiece using some of the flowers that we planned to use for the reception (more on that later). Each centerpiece consisted of a clear vase filled with daisies and two small mason jars, each containing a white votive candle.


The catered food also fit into the barbecue theme; we served pulled pork, beans, and pasta salad, red and white wine, and Blue Moon and Corona beer.

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The relaxing evening with our friends and family was so memorable.

I loved the clothes that everyone chose for the evening. Ladies wore beautiful, elegant casual-chic dresses in every imaginable color and the guys wore bright polos or plaid shirts with jeans.

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My dad’s large blue tractor served as a fun photo-station for the evening.

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And Mark’s cousin made the groom’s cake, which we served as dessert at the rehearsal dinner.

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The playlist was full of classic country music and by the end of the evening, everyone was dancing to the familiar tunes against the backdrop of twinkle light.

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The evening before our wedding was celebratory, festive and fun and everything a Texas barbecue should be.

Need more inspiration? This book provided me with so many wonderful ideas during our planning process.

Want some more wedding insight? Check out the entire series below!

Part 1 – an overview of our day.

Part 2 – our DIY invitations.

Part 3 – outfit inspiration from our groomsmen and bridesmaids.

Part 5 – the fun DIY burlap banners we created.

Part 6 – some tips on venues.

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