Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Homemade Whipped Cream

Is anyone self-catering a dessert bar for your wedding? If so, may I recommend the addition of homemade whipped cream? The process was incredibly inexpensive, easy, and delicious (one of my favorite combinations!).

I put it on this cake and added strawberry sauce that I made simply by cooking down some strawberries in a little water.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

My New Banner from BuildASign

I could not be more thankful that BuildASign wants to partner with 2000 Dollar Wedding to exchange products for an advertising slot in the sidebar. It was a no-brainer for me, since I've already used their products personally (paying full price).

Their products will come in particularly handy as I plan a big Earth Day event for the school I'm working to start. The first thing I ordered was a 3' x 8' banner. Their user interface made the process very easy. Although they had templates to choose from, I opted to design my own. I uploaded a photo, positioned it using their tools, added the school's logo, and added some text. I did communicate with a BuildASign representative to ensure that the logo wouldn't get pixelated during the enlargement process (since it was difficult to tell on the preview).

When the box arrived, I was downright giddy. Seeing a bigger-than-life banner with my life's dream on it made the whole thing feel a little more real. I'm just so thankful that sites like BuildASign exist to help DIYers achieve professional results. Honestly, I think one of the reason we were able to sell our house without a realtor and save approximately $7,500 was because we represented ourselves professionally with products from BuildASign.

They have other things like Save-the-Date magnets, business cards, signs, bumper stickers--the list goes on.Link
I look forward to hanging this banner above our booth on Earth Day and feeling like a professional, legitimate school (okay, maybe it doesn't quite feel real yet).

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reducing Stress with Small Steps

I'm honestly not a naturally organized person (even though I write posts like this one about my Weekly Action Plan). The truth is, I have to force myself to perform the daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly actions necessary to function like an organized person.

Even though organization does not come easily to me, I still crave it--oddly enough. For example, if I'm really stressed out, simply cleaning and organizing my environment can have a hugely beneficial effect. Matt and I planned our wedding during one of the most stressful transitions of our life. We were moving to a new city, looking for new jobs, and trying to buy a house (all while planning an unconventional wedding on a shoestring and worrying that we would bore everyone--at best--and give them food poisoning--at worst).

Whenever my stress levels rise, I have to come back to my coping strategies. My life is getting increasingly busy as I take on a new part-time job (working as the Director of Operations and Compliance for a new charter school in Austin) and work to start my own school. I feel like I'm running from one thing to the next. Henry wakes me up in the morning, I breastfeed him, shower, and then realize I have exactly four minutes until I need to be out the door (and that's assuming there's no traffic, which is a very dangerous thing to assume when SXSW is going on in Austin). In the evenings, I'm too tired to adequately prepare for the next day, so I'm wildly stuffing things into my bag as I race to the car every morning.

So in order to combat my stress levels a little, I identified three areas that needed about 20 minutes of restoration (total): my work bag, the area by my bed, and my car. It's amazing what 20 minutes of a little elbow grease can do. I feel exponentially better already!

Do you have one small change you could make that would reduce your stress levels immediately?

Today on Feeding the Soil: My updated plan for organizing myself!

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Monday, March 19, 2012

DIY Quilt Planning

The first time I made a quilt was for our wedding. We incorporated it into the ceremony, and it has become a visual reminder of the community and connection that we felt during our celebration.

The next quilt I made was for our son Henry when I was pregnant. Making the quilt helped me to slow down and mentally prepare myself for his arrival.

Now I'm gearing up to make a quilt again, this time to celebrate our son's first year. I want to make a quilt out of his baby clothes. Of course I immediately turned to Pinterest for some inspiration. Here's what I've come up with so far:

Option #1: I like how this quilt is chunky and asymmetrical.

Option #2: I like how there are multiple pieces from the same outfit and how it's color-coordinated.

Option #3: Again, I like the color gradient, but the white background makes it even more vivid and striking. Honestly, though, I'm starting to realize that I need to look at his clothes to see what we're working with. We definitely don't have such vibrant pinks and reds.

Option #4: This one might work with the color pallette of Henry's clothes!

I also need to figure out what we're going to use the quilt for. It might be fun to make a giant quilt and put some kind of plastic material on the underside, so we could use it as a giant family blanket for picnics. It might also be fun to use it more of a lap blanket with a fuzzy, comfortable fabric on the other side.

Then again, I could forgo the quilt idea altogether and use the fabric to make something else. Too bad I already have birthday bunting! That could have been really cool. Maybe an apron? No, that's a stain disaster waiting to happen, plus it wouldn't be around for years and years.

Before I make any decisions, I think I just need to pull the clothing out and see what I'm working with.

I'll keep you posted!

Today on Feeding the Soil: A busy girl's guide to composting!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Habits that Hurt Marriage

Sometimes it's tempting to get so focused on the goal that once you achieve it, you forget to maintain it. Dieting is the perfect example of this. It's easy to become obsessed with eating right and exercising in order to attain your ideal weight. Once you attain that weight, however, it has to be maintained. If you revert to your old eating/exercising habits because you've already achieved your goal, you will obviously regain the weight. Healthiness has to be maintained; it can't just be achieved. Flexibility is the same way. If you work really hard to become flexible, you have to maintain it day in and day out.

Something similar can happen in our crazy wedding culture. The Wedding becomes the goal, instead of a healthy, sustainable marriage. The truth is, healthy relationships take work. They need to be maintained. They require reflection, adjustments, compromise, forgiveness, understanding.

It's so easy for me to take my marriage for granted. I mean, it's not going anywhere any time soon. We signed a contract! (And, more importantly, we've built a life and a history together.)

But that kind of nonchalant attitude will only set me up for heartbreak. The universe has a way of changing things in an instant; we should never take anything for granted. And in terms of what is actually in our control, Matt and I need to make sure that we pay attention to how we treat each other and that we continue to build rather than corrode our marriage through our daily actions.

The question for me is: "What habits do I have that hurt rather than help our marriage?"

One immediate answer is: I constantly offer up advice or correction about how to interact with our son, Henry. I imagine that that kind of nagging takes a serious toll on our marriage. It probably wears on Matt's confidence and joyfulness. I need to get into the habit of refraining from saying anything unless it is absolutely necessary (and, alternatively, I can bring up things later as a point of discussion about how we choose to parent rather than as an in-the-moment correction).

As I type this, I also feel compelled to acknowledge the deeper problem related to my personality (over-analytical, self-righteous at times, judgmental). Working on those parts of my personality would certainly strengthen my marriage.

Do you have any habits that hurt rather than help your marriage?

Today on Feeding the Soil: My love/hate relationship with running.

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Creating New Rituals

Matt and I have had meaningful and memorable experiences with creating our own rituals (like we did for our wedding with the quilt-wrapping and tree planting). When it came time to celebrate our son's first birthday, we wanted to think of something that was simple yet meaningful--something we could implement year after year as Henry reaches each birthday milestone. We wanted a ritual that would make time for us to focus on the "value of being witnesses for one another, celebrating the unfolding of one another's lives as a sacred gift." (from Living Passages for the Whole Family).

Inspired by the Waldorf birthday celebration, I started searching for candle holders. I stumbled upon this simple, beautiful, wooden candle holder on Etsy, and I thought about what we could do with nine spots for candles. And then the idea hit me: We could light a white tealight candle for each year of his life. When he turns 10, we can use a colored tealight candle to signify 10 and then add one white tealight candle every year in the remaining spots until he reaches 18 and the ceremony is complete.

This beautiful 9-hole candle holder could be used for so many things. You could light a candle during your wedding ceremony for the promises you make to your partner or for people you want to remember who cannot join you on your wedding day. If you incorporated it into your ceremony, you could come back to it during your anniversary celebrations. I love the idea of having a tangible object from your wedding that you bring out every year or leave out on a regular basis as a reminder of your formal commitment and love.

Today on Feeding the Soil: We get ready to start toilet training our one year-old.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tagging Glasses

I wanted to share a simple and inexpensive option for tagging reusable glasses at a party. I simply looped a rubber band through a tag from the office supply store, and voila! The only downside was a slight rubber smell, but the lower you place the rubber bands on the glass, the less you can smell it.


Today on Feeding the Soil: Balancing my needs with Henry's.

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Contest Winner--Hooray!

Thank you to everyone who entered our contest to win a complete wedding set from e.m.papers (and thank you to Eleanor for sponsoring such an awesome contest!).

Without further ado, I'd like to announce the lucky winner:
  • Erica Me

Please e-mail me within one week to claim your prize!

Stay tuned for more contests coming soon...

Today on Feeding the Soil: Henry goes to school for the first time (and my heart breaks a little).

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