Saturday, January 28, 2017


My oh my, what a month.

I sit in the comfort of my quiet morning work spot,

Reflecting on all that has been accomplished so far this year.  Understandably, I'm exhausted and very thankful for the weekend.

I made major progress on planning a baby shower (March 4), a bridal shower (March 18), and hosted a work baby shower (Jan 13).  I've done some crafting and worked on printed materials (games, scrapbooks, invitations, etc).

I found gifts for a bridal shower (early February), a work bridal shower (end of March), a wedding (April), baby showers (TBD in early April, summer, and Jan 21), wedding work showers, and more.  We've just decided (okay, I decided) our guest bedroom will be the land of presents.

I'm so happy so many of our friends have exciting events coming up! We're thrilled to celebrate with you all.

We attended a friend's baby shower in Arizona and picked up our last piece of furniture.  Our bedroom is coming along nicely:

The next step is a new mattress, but we're waiting for those to be on sale over President's Day weekend.

I did my part to create equality-minded students, even if the current political mindset is full of hate:

I also have an active {donorschoose} project where I'm requesting books that celebrate Latino and African American culture, as well as portray strong women and scientists.  I'm also asking for books on climate and the environment.  #gorogue

I completed semester 1 report cards and comments.  That itself deserves a medal.  Or you know, pretty flowers from a supportive husband:

We also had our first APTT (Academic Parent Teacher Teams) meeting.  For all 36 of my students (because of course I got a new one mid-January), I created these:

Inside are their data graphs for the year and other data.  We created a power point, held an hour long meeting, and spent roughly 18 hours getting ready for the day (most of which happened outside of contract (paid) time.)  There are math games, vocabulary games, and fluency activities for families to work on at home.

Six families came.

To be fair, it was in the middle of the day. On a Thursday. Right after awards ceremonies.  Teachers would resist having to stay after for these meetings (because we wouldn't be paid), but having it during the school day meant very few families could actually attend.  

Instead of being upset with a low turn out, I'm going to think about the situation with the mindset that if it were at another time, more families would have attended.  Low turn out has nothing to do with their lack of interest in supporting their children, but rather the real world demands of having a job (or several jobs) and being unable to get the time off. 

I also decorated for Valentine's Day.  We're being super low key this year (our four year anniversary) with one gift (a new mattress) and ordering in Chinese food. 

We had another reading competition and our team won.  I prepared for substitute teachers (always hours of work), and managed to keep thirty six hormonal eleven year-olds focused on their learning for a good majority of the school day.

Battle of the books and the book fair have both started.  I think there's a mandatory Battle of the Books meeting next week, but chances are it's the same night as our school's BINGO night, chili cook off, and evening book fair.

On those days when I feel overwhelmed, a view from our playground usually does the trick at calming my anxiety:

(No filter. Picture from my phone.)

We've also started a new yoga routine, cooking more at home, and working on portion size.

We tried these {Hawaiian BBQ Tacos} and they were delicious!

When I say we've started yoga, I truly mean it's a family affair:

Luckily, all that's on this weekend's agenda is some errands (grocery and fun shopping), family lunch, and reading (for fun).  Plus we've got a cozy date night planned with a TV marathon.

Wedding Steps

With a few friends recently engaged, I figured I'd share our "how we got married without killing each other" system:

Announcing Our Engagement

First, we called our families and friends.  Those closest to us deserved to find out in person (or via text) before social media.  After we'd contacted those that we needed to, we posted the cliche kissing picture with my ring hand out.  Many congratulatory messages ensued.

Insuring the Ring

Thank goodness for pinterest because I didn't know I had to get my ring inspected, appraised, and added to our home owner's insurance policy (or renter's policy).  I set up an appointment at a local jewelry store and took the information to my insurance agent.

Picking a date

We knew we wanted to get married outside with pleasant weather.  For us, that meant early spring (Feb-April) or late fall (Oct-Nov).  We looked at 3 day weekends and holidays for out of town guests.  We didn't want to take any major holidays (Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Valentine's Day, or Thanksgiving).  We considered New Year's Eve until we realized out expensive hotel rooms in Las Vegas would be for our guests.  B didn't want it near his birthday (April) and I didn't want it overshadowed by the first of April because some of our groomsmen have the tendency to take jokes a little too far.  We knew we wanted to get married on a Friday because it was significantly cheaper and that way we could afford an open bar (one of our must haves).  We picked Veteran's Day (11-11) and conveniently, many of our teacher friends already had the day off.

Touring locations

We asked for suggestions from friends and coworkers.  Some venues never got back to us (cough Springs Preserve cough), some were too small for our event (Mt. Charleston), some weren't going to be practical (lake cruise at sunset wouldn't work for seasick guests), some were run down, and some were simply stunning.  We toured a half dozen venues over several weeks, never seeing more than 2 per day.  I went into each appointment with a good 2 dozen questions.  Some venues laughed at my prepared and logical approach, so we knew that wasn't the choice for us.  I took notes during the meetings and refused to commit to anything that day. We thought about hotels nearby and accommodations for guests.  We narrowed our choice down to two different venues.  We were fortunate to be able to take our moms to see both venues and listen to their opinions.

From there, we made a pro-con list about each one....

on massive chart paper.  One of us is way more type A than the other.

Our top two venues were gorgeous, but we ended up going with {Stallion Mountain} because it felt more like us.  The other had a grand ball room and massive staircase, which made him feel uncomfortable.  Stallion Mountain was close to our home (under 10 minutes), had 2 hotels nearby, and was close to the Las Vegas strip for visitors.  It also had a spacious parking lot, security guards, and perhaps the most catering and kind staff I've ever worked with.

We booked our wedding (14 months out) and announced our date on social media...

with the pets of course!

Asking our bridal party

We had a small engagement party over Labor Day weekend so we could ask our bridal party.  I originally wanted a small bridal party, but he kept asking groomsmen so my original idea of one bridesmaid went out the window (which turned out to be wonderful).  I saw my bestie a few weeks before (we live on opposite coasts) and got to ask her in person at the airport.  We decided on asking our mutual friend to be our officiant and I asked her over lunch.  We "popped" the question to many of the other bridal party members at the engagement shower.  I popped the question with cute bags of flavored popcorn.  

B ignored the cute bags I made and asked his boys outside, with beer.  

Meeting with the coordinator

We lucked out with our venue because we had a coordinator handle many of the logistics for us.  We were fortunate enough to have a coordinator for the day of logistics, freeing up my bridal party to spend the morning getting ready, snacking, and enjoying mimosas.  

Picking colors

We went with deep navy, blush, and gold for our colors.  I originally wanted blush for my bridesmaids, but since they were all on the paler side, they looked a tad...naked.  Not the classy look I wanted.  So we had our girls in deep navy and the boys in gray suits with navy accents.  B was in a classic black tux and I had my cream gown.  Navy was a flattering shade (since one bridesmaid was pregnant), but not as harsh as black.  We then picked our theme (slightly rustic, slightly polka dotted, classic, with fun quirky twists).  We wanted our wedding to be elegant, but still reflect us as a couple.  After all, it's a celebration of our love.

PC: Stephen Salazar Photography, LLC


Since we had a photo booth (one of my must have's), I asked our photo booth rental about book mark strips.  Not only would this tie in my love of reading, but also give our guests a space to save their photo strips.  I typed up "consider yourself booked for our photo booth" and did my own ribbon, saving some money in the process.  I was able to pick up ribbon at Joann's with coupons and sales, which cut down on the cost.

We also did "hugs & kisses from the Mr. and Mrs." favors.  I ordered pink kisses from Oriental Trading, waited out sales for Hugs, and got pre-cut tulle circles in navy and cream.  I ordered custom tags from Etsy because the frustration of hand lettering 150 small tags wasn't worth it to me.

PC: Stephen Salazar Photography, LLC

Photographer & DJ

Booking these next was crucial.  We got recommendations from friends and our venue, then looked at sample pictures.  Our photographer actually did our engagement pictures (round 2) and was easy to work with, which made a huge difference.

I met with her about a week before the wedding to go over a shot list and create a time frame.  If your photographer doesn't do this, ask.  We spent too much money and time on the wedding for the pictures to be something we just winged.


Honestly, my wedding earrings and bracelet were from {Charming Charlie}, a trendy teen store.  I wanted something fancy and elegant, but I wasn't going to wear them again.

PC: Stephen Salazar Photography, LLC 

Similar styles at the bridal store were several hundred dollars, but I snagged the earrings and bracelet for $10 each.  They photograph well, held up on the big day, and didn't break the bank. 


For us, these were a low priority.  I went with what was in season and a few colors to save on costs.  I wanted to keep my bouquet, so having a toss bouquet was important (and something I had to bring up to my florist).  We had flowers for our bridesmaids, boutineers for the groomsmen, and corsages for our moms (and his grandma).  We had a good half dozen meetings with our florist and she still managed to mess up the wedding day by arriving an hour late and unprepared.  

The Rest

I tried to set aside an hour or two each week to work on wedding events, but at times, nothing happened for weeks and that was alright.  Having a long engagement meant we could spread out our expenses and not feel rushed to make any sudden decisions.  We could also wait for items to be on sale or use coupons (Joanns & Michael's) for crafting materials.

I asked for help assembling the favors.  My bridesmaids (the ones who were able) came over.  We had a craft night with wine and Chinese food.  

We made sure to still go on date nights and talk about the future.  Our wedding was one beautiful, expensive day, but I hope it's not the best day.  We have the rest of our lives to look forward to and it saddens me when people spend so much time thinking about their picture perfect wedding, but not the picture perfect life they want to build.

Even with the most meticulous planning (because I'm quite type A and own it), things will go wrong.  Our cupcakes had a different flavor frosting (not that I cared).  Our florist was awful (that I did care about).  The rehearsal dinner restaurant couldn't find our reservation (I got a little bridezilla in that moment).  The groomsmen forgot to give B his gift, meaning it wasn't in pictures.  Even with a detailed schedule, things didn't go 100% according to plan.

But at the end of the day, I married my best friend, surrounded by our favorite people, and had a big party afterwards.  That's what counts.

PC: Stephen Salazar Photography, LLC

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Wedding Hacks

I promise to keep this post-wedding post a tad shorter than the last one (sorry!).

Today's topic: Time saving wedding hacks

I planned my wedding while teaching three dozen fifth graders.  I was all about time saving hacks.

Time saver one: Address stamps

By far one of the best purchases we made.  We ordered this one with our first names and used it on the engagement shower invites, save the dates, bridal shower invites, wedding invitations, and thank you cards.

We also ordered one with our last name for wedding thank you's and every day mailing.

Not only did it save a lot of time (which is crucial when you mail things out in groups of 100), but it also meant B had no excuse not to help.  I'd address the envelopes, he'd stuff them, seal them, stamp them, and place the postage stamp on them. 

Time saver two: Numbering the RSVP cards

We used an excel doc to keep track of our wedding information.  We numbered the reply cards to correspond with the number on the excel doc and my oh my, what a life saver!

Some of our guests forgot to put their names on the cards, so instead of guessing, we just checked the back.

Time hack 3: Favors

I wasn't about to hand write 150 small cards.  For me, it was worth it to order favor tags on Etsy:

Sometimes it's worth it to spend a little to save your sanity.  My bridesmaids definitely appreciated not having to hand write each of those small cards.  Making the favors and getting the twine to cooperate was difficult enough.

While not necessarily a time saver, I am a huge advocate of back up wedding shoes.

I loved my wedding heels, but it was a long day.  I picked up bejeweled flip flops for a few bucks and discretely changed into them after dinner.  

They were the same height as my heels, so my dress wasn't damaged in any way.

I also ordered many items from Etsy (bridesmaids gifts, groomsmen gifts, gifts for my mom and his mom, cards, etc).  I asked for discounts if I was buying in bulk (6 or more of something) and many vendors happily obliged.  Every little bit helps!

We (my hubby and I) also set aside time each week to discuss the wedding. I did my best to not bombard him every day with details, so instead we had a thirty minute chat once a week about the progress of different aspects.  He knew ahead of time so he could focus and I was respectful not to ask to talk about the wedding when he was working on homework, watching football, or playing video games.

We also made sure our entire lives didn't revolve around the wedding.  We still went on dates. We celebrated friends' milestones.  We lived our lives without devoting every spare second to focusing on the wedding.

It's an important day. It's an exciting day. But it's not the only day that matters.  Keep the long term goal of a happy marriage in the front of your mind when wedding planning and hopefully the bridezilla moments will stay at a minimum.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Just a few of my favorite things (Wedding/Engagement related)

**Notice: This is a lengthy post because I fully enjoyed planning my wedding.  It contains products we used (I'm not paid for endorsements) and ways we saved money (because weddings are expensive). 

With the stress of the wedding safely behind me, I can now pause and reflect upon some of my favorite aspects of the day (and the days leading up to the event).

I had a long engagement and it was phenomenal.  We were engaged on July 4, 2015 and married on November 11, 2016.  

We lived together in the home we purchased before marriage, so there wasn't that rush to get married quickly.  Having a long engagement meant I didn't feel pressured to make any snap decisions.  It also meant I could spread out expenses, which is easier for the budget.

I took my time on creating table decor and favors.  I waited out coupons for Shutterfly (invites) and Joann's for crafting purposes.  

We toured several venues and toured two more than once.  We could discuss our choices and it didn't feel like every spare moment of our lives was devoted to wedding planning (which B appreciated).

A long engagement also meant I could read way too many articles (pinterest, bridal magazines, the knot, etc) on wedding planning.  After spending lots of time in the bridal aisles of local craft stores and attending bridal planning events, I realized I didn't really like a lot of the bridal trends and overly elaborate weddings.

I like burlap as much as the next crafty gal, but an entire wedding devoted to it? No thanks.  Overly rustic and mason jars everywhere wasn't my husband's taste.  So I used burlap, lace, and mason jars at my bridal shower instead!

Cute for me, just not representative of us as a couple.  So I had it at my bridal shower (which was amazingly me: pink, polka dots, lace, burlap, glitter, and Harry Potter with an elegant feel.  I am very blessed with amazing friends and family.)

Other wedding trends: rhinestones and feathers? Absolutely not.

Elaborate programs? We passed.  Fancy place cards? We passed.  

Instead, we found small ways to incorporate our interests into the big day in several ways.

One: Our Fur Babies

I got vetoed on having our dog as our ring bearer.  So instead, we used our pets to announce our wedding date.

(Correction, we tried. They didn't always cooperate.)

Two: Crafting & Couponing

So anything related to weddings can be super expensive.  Plain white flower girl baskets are over $20 and super bland.

Instead, I snagged some after Easter for 70% off, added ribbon in our wedding colors, added fake flowers, and made 2 for around $12.

I also made our card box.  I picked up this vintage inspired suitcase at Ross a few years ago, then added burlap flowers and a banner (pre-made letters and paint).  Total cost? $5 and an hour of my time.  I got to use the card box at my bridal shower and the wedding. 

The best part? Now that the wedding is over, it's back in the corner and stores seasonal napkins.  

I liked these frames at Joann's, but not at $12.99 for 4 (we needed 5 packs).  

So slowly over time, we picked up a pack at a time with a 40% off coupon.  I'll be using some of the frames as thank you gifts once we receive our formal wedding pictures back.

(Completed table numbers)

As I mentioned above, we skipped making programs.  Who really saves those anyway?

Instead, I waited until I had a super coupon to Joann's and picked up this chalk frame for $12 (originally $40).  With some erasable chalk paint and vinyl stickers, we provided our guests with all the information they needed:

Plus we can reuse the chalkboard sign.  His cousin Tony is getting married in May and his fiance asked to borrow the board (which is fine of course).

We also skipped place cards (because guests would probably lose them due to lack of pockets on dresses and the open bar factor) and used picture frames to display table information:

Plus, we can now reuse the frames for pictures in our home.  Win win! (Except B doesn't count this as a win because he has to hang them.)

Three: Football

It's not a secret that we are avid football fans and fiercely loyal to our teams.

We used this football in our engagement pictures:

And as the garter toss at the wedding.  (Not pictured: "Great Catch, You're Next!").  The groomsman didn't remember to take it home (cough open bar cough), so it's now on our mantle.

We took engagement pictures in our jerseys with #11 (but in our teams).

I surprised him with Broncos socks (for his cold feet) and a new #11 Somma jersey on our wedding day.  

I also got myself a jersey as well because I could (and I had a coupon).

But due to miscommunication, we didn't get wedding pictures with our new jerseys.  Oh well! Perhaps we'll use our matching Somma jerseys for our Christmas cards next year.

Four: Documenting moments

We had a photo guestbook made from our engagement pictures, but not everyone signed it (it happens).  Because of this, I'm so glad we did other small things to document the events.

For our engagement shower, we had guests sign a vase:

It now sits on the media stand (with fake flowers) so we get to enjoy it each day.  We also used the "be our guest" sign at our wedding (see above) and it now sits in our guest bedroom.  I'm all about using things multiple times!

At my bridal shower, I had guests sign my "kiss the miss goodbye" frame.  We used sample lip wands and cheap, vibrant lipstick so we wouldn't share cooties.  I then framed a picture with 2 of my bridesmaids.

We also had our bridal party & family sign one of the large S's that I painted. 

The S was also used in our engagement pictures and will soon hang on the wall.  For now, it sits on the ledge.

Lastly, we followed advice on pinterest and mailed the First Family an invitation.  I was a little anxious that we'd get a congrats card from Trump, but low and behold, a few days before their last days in the White House (which I'm still in denial about), we received our congratulations card from the White House.

What a fun keepsake!


My lovely husband couldn't care less about what our cake topper looked like.  So I ordered this beauty off of Etsy:

It was the same cost as generic "S" ones at the store, but way more meaningful.

It now sits on the Batman shelf at home, along with our wedding toasting flutes (a Marshall's find), and some of our wedding flowers.

I had a Batman themed garter as well, compliments of one of my bridesmaids.

Keeping with tradition, it had blue in it!  It was also way more fun than a traditional (bland) white and blue garter.

Harry Potter

I had a magical (pun intended) "Muggle to Mrs." themed shower.  

My MOH gifted me with the most amazing ring bearer box:

Which my brother has already called dibs on for his future wedding.

We also took advantage with this iconic chapter title: (The Unbreakable Vow):

I've been asked if I'm sad our "big day" is over.  My answer? Nope. It was wonderful to plan, it was a wonderful day, but my life isn't over.  There are plenty of big days ahead.