Thursday, July 29, 2010

Welcome to The Club

Scott and I joined Sam's Club last week. We only really did it because they were running a promotion where we got a $20 gift card for joining. And when the yearly fee is only $40, that's a pretty good deal. So last night we made our first real shopping trip to Sam's.

For me, shopping at Sam's is a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I feel excited that I can potentially get a lot for my money. I feel angry because I can also potentially waste a huge amount of money. I feel disgusted by the 120 pack of Ho-Hos. I feel nauseous when I see the gallon jar of mayonnaise. And I feel a little terrified when I see how easily we spent $100.

So I'm trying to be very careful with my Sam's shopping. Many things I want to buy come in such large quantities that I won't be able to finish them before they go bad and I'll just end up wasting money. This must be avoided.

However, lots of the stuff I can buy there will last forever. Take our laundry detergent. I paid about $15 for a 140 load pack of powder detergent. That's almost 3 loads a week for a year.

Or our garbage bags. We purchased 150 garbage bags for $9. We only use maybe one bag a week right now. At this rate, we will literally have these same bags for 3 years. These are the bags I may use to dispose of the leftovers from my 30th birthday cake. Or our childrens' diapers. We'll have survived (or not) the end of the world in 2012 before we use up these bags. The world could be a completely different place in three years, but one thing's for sure: we'll still be using our 150 ct. drawstring Sam's Club Tall Kitchen Bags. And that makes me feel ... a little weird.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Disastrous Me

So apparently I'm kind of a disaster. Not in a very serious sort of way or anything. Just in a way that I tend to create small disasters whenever I do something. I didn't really realize this about myself until I married a non-disastrous man. He doesn't spill stuff or knock stuff over or drop food on the kitchen floor. It's weird.

My worst offenses are in the kitchen. If I'm just cooking something in the oven, it's no big deal. Maybe I spill a little over the side, but nothing too disrupting. Stuff on the stove is a little more of a disaster. I may fling a little beef out of the frying pan or swish my pasta around a little too vigorously, requiring some post-cooking stove top cleanup. (Sidenote: I really like stirring things and sometimes I just get a little too excited about it.)

But by far the worst kitchen messes come with baking. Mostly because baking typically involves mixing some light, powdery substances that much too easily go flying out of the bowl and onto the floor, counter top, and/or me. Times ten if I'm using a hand mixer. Luckily, I got a couple aprons as wedding gifts.

But a couple weeks ago I found myself a new disaster waiting to happen: the garden hose. We moved into the house we're renting about a month ago and this hose as been sitting outside the back door untouched since then (and for who knows how long before we moved in). But this weekend I noticed that our flowers outside were looking a little sad after awhile without rain, so I thought it would be a great time to fire up the hose, while Scott neatly and quietly took care of some handyman jobs in the house.

I made my way outside and found the hose unplugged from the spout. No problem, just twist it on. When I felt it was sufficiently twisted, I turned the handle slightly and the water started without a problem. Then I felt a little moisture on my ankle and noticed that the hose was spraying a bit where it was attached to a second hose for extra length. It didn't seem to be leaking too much, so I turned the water on full blast. well, I apparently hadn't secured the hose to the spout quite enough and water began squirting out at me. No biggie, I turned the water off before I got too soaked.

That's when our neighbor (Howard?) noticed the disaster I was causing and came to my rescue. He helped me tighten the hose and even commented that washer in there must not be doing it's job which made me feel a little less dumb.

So with the water on and excessive leaking under control, I squeezed the nozzle on the hose and, happy day, water came out full force. Then I stopped squeezing. But the water didn't stop. No worries, a broken nozzle could be dealt with. So I went on my way watering my flowers, but didn't get too far on account of the 10 different knots that the hose was in. Despite this setback, I managed to water all my flowers.

I dragged the hose back to the door and attempted to untangle it, but considering it was wet and muddy I just ended up with wet, wet muddy clothes and a tangled hose. I finally gave up and went inside, leaving this mess in my wake:

Meanwhile, after we signed the lease on this house, I suggested on a number of occasions that we get one of the hose wrapper things, or at least something to hang it on. But Scott always insisted that we didn't need one. Strangely, even after my hose incident, he still insists we don't need one and that he can teach me how to properly roll the hose up. I'm pretty sure I can change his mind.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cheap Weddings

During my wedding planning days, I was constantly coming up with great wedding blog topics. I planned to write about all my brilliant money saving ideas, do it yourself projects, and about how weddings aren't about spending thousands of dollars on food and napkins and favors and stupid little things that nobody's ever even going to remember so why don't we just focus on the getting married part!! But now that it's all over I'm less inspired.

However, I thought I should just share with the world that I had a cheap wedding and that's ok. Well "cheap" might be relative, but in wedding world where the average cost of a wedding is $24,000, mine was quite reasonable. The wedding industry doesn't want you to think that this is possible, but it is. And here's how:

Rule #1. Pray. You're gonna need it. Also God makes stuff happen, so that's cool.

Rule #2. Don't listen to the wedding industry. It is seriously evil. It will make you pay double (or triple or quadruple) for everything just because it's for a wedding. It will also try to convince you that if you don't do things the "right" (most expensive) way, you're wedding's going to be a terrible embarrassment for you and your family. But it won't be. Do whatever you want. My reception was movie themed and I served popcorn and movie candy as appetizers. Tacky? Maybe. Delicious? Yes.

Rule #3. Don't listen to other people. Unless, of course, they are your finace or parents or whoever is helping pay for the wedding. But beyond that, just take everyone's opinions with a grain of salt. And there will be opinions. Hundreds and hundreds of them. From people you barely even know who think they know what your wedding should be like. They will criticize your brilliant ideas and tell you that you really need to include this one really little detail because it's sooooo important and everyone else does it. This was the #1 cause of any breakdowns I may have had while planning.

Rule #4. Go to Hobby Lobby. Seriously, I love that place. They regularly put their wedding stuff on sale and just going in there is inspirational!

Rule #5. Ask friends and family to do stuff for you. Ok, this one's a little bit hard because some of us don't love asking people to do things or don't have a wonderful family who's always ready to help. Luckily, I am blessed with a great family and group of friends who were excited to help. I had my uncle's band play at the reception, my cousin and uncle sing at the ceremony, my bridesmaids put together my flowers and designed my invitations, my mom printed all of our invitations and programs, my friend Laura made my cakes, the list goes on. It was a team effort. But I much preferred working with my friends and family instead of random people that I don't know. It gave everything an intimate feel and saved money!

Rule #6. Do your research. This may be time consuming, but if you want to save money it'll be worth it. I looked at plenty of over-priced reception venues before finding the one we settled on which I randomly discovered on a caterer's website. I looked into wholesale flowers and found I could order them very reasonably from the grocery store. I perused paper sites and ordered samples to try out for my invitations. It's some extra work, but I was really happy with everything I found. And the internet can tell you how to basically do anything.

Rule #7. Don't be afraid to do things the "wrong way." Most of all the little wedding traditions everyone holds so dear are actually kind of dumb and certainly optional. If you don't get any meaning out of them, don't do them, but you're going to need some confidence. If you're the type to give in the peer pressure, this cheap wedding stuff might not be for you. I had my reception at a park district senior center. It even said "Senior Center" on the huge sign out in front. But I sucked it up because it was a really nice place and very reasonable. I didn't have an open bar. I didn't do a bouquet or garter toss. I didn't do everything the church wedding coordinator told me to do. I had a rather casual movie themed reception. I bought popcorn at the dollar store. Yes, I broke many, many "rules" but people had fun and I got married and that's all that matters!

Rule #8. Be yourself. I got lots of comments about how our wedding was so "us" and I really like that. It wasn't some impersonal event that a wedding planner put together. It was clear that we carefully picked each detail and our personalities came through in it. And most of the time the reason it was so "us" is because we didn't do what was typical. Just do what you think is fun.

So there you go. That's all I could come up with for now. Cheap weddings. Don't be afraid of them.