Thursday, September 24, 2009

Most Important Trip to the Post Office EVER.

The invitations are DONE. They have, in fact, been lovingly placed on my friends' and family's refrigerators for some time, but I just haven't gotten around to a blog post. Let me tell you, when I let these babies go at the Post Office, I suffered a minor bout of separation anxiety. I even sprung for the 61 cent stamps because I didn't believe the postal employee who assured me that a regular 44 center would do the trick (although, I may have been persuaded by the adorableness of the wedding cake on the 61 cent, and the sickness of the wedding rings on the plain 44's).

The invitations were something I wasn't always sure I was going to make on my own. I knew sort of what I wanted, so I went to a few stationary stores and websites to price them. I only needed about 50, but the price range of what I wanted (not including RSVP cards or any inserts) was anywhere from $2.75 a piece to $5 a piece! Not exactly in my budget. So, I did some prototyping and came up with an elegant looking invitation for super cheap.

First things first, I decided I did NOT want to make 50 RSVP cards, 50 RSVP envelopes, 50 maps to the venue, etc... so I created our wedding website to house all of the details and utilize a nifty RSVP tool that would help keep my guest list organized. With the website made, I just had to nail down the wording of the invite. I love my parents and future in-laws dearly, but since we are not having a huge luxurious bash being paid for by our parents, I wanted to avoid the stuffy "Mr. and Mrs. LastName invite you...". Instead, we wanted to address our close circle of family and friends and let them know that their attendance at our wedding was really important to us because they have played an important role in our lives. We went with:

"Because your love and friendship have helped us become who we are, we joyfully invite you to share in our celebration of love and commitment."

Under that, we had our names (obvs) and the date and time of the ceremony. To RSVP and get the rest of the deets, we referred our guests to the website.

Once I got the text formatted to the proper width and spacing, I was able to print it out on white cardstock (2 per page, score!) and cut them. Next, I rubber stamped a top border (the same stamp as I used on the Save the Dates). After that, I added a strip of black and white ribbon (again, the same as the Save the Date) using some serious double stick tape action. I mounted each piece onto green cardstock and cut around it to create a border. Here's a few pics of the invites in their assembly-line action:

Once they were all cut apart, I created little pseudo-envelopes for them, black with a green ribbon bow. I saw this look in a book of sample invitations and I LOVED it (but hated the fact that the outer envelope, with the adorable bow, was an extra 2 bucks per invite). I just used good old textured cardstock, a bone folder, and my new best friend, double-stick tape. Here's what the finished product looked like:

After they were all assembled, they got stuffed into their Staples clearance envelopes (I couldn't get the original green envelopes I wanted in the proper size, which resulted in what I'm embarrassed to say was a 2 day temper tantrum, but these envelopes worked just fine) and lovingly addressed by hand with my newest favorite writing utensil, the Sharpie PEN.

And then they were finished! I don't have the exact price breakdown, but I can assure you that these little lovers were finished for well under $50 (thanks in part to a 5/$1 cardstock sale at JoAnn's!) and I have plenty of materials left over to make the dessert description cards and other things we may need for the ceremony.

I have gotten some gret feedback from the invitations, and I LOVED making them. I am seriously considering an etsy shop for personalized invite or holiday cards. Think it would get any business...?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Target Demographic.

Let's face it -- I could never buy EVERY product endorsed by Peyton Manning, unless maybe I won the Powerball. But when I saw this commercial featuring two of my absolute all-time top five favorites, even I couldn't believe I didn't run out and buy a Sony HDTV immediately. I rewound and watched this no less than 8 times in a row.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dear Jillian.

Dear Jillian Michaels,

I wanted to apologize for slamming you in my facebook status yesterday. If you want to market your own diet pill, that's your prerogative! I should not pass judgment on the fact that you have plastered your face all over thousands of DVDs, wii games, water filtration systems, and cereal boxes. You are still my favorite Biggest Loser trainer, and if I were on the show, I would pick you over Bob in a heartbeat (though I love you too, Harper).

All day long, I worried that, because I am a fan of yours on facebook, you would somehow see my status. I stressed that you would manifest all of your ragey workout energy into my still shrink wrapped DVD copy of 30 Day Shred, which was waiting for me at home to take on at the end of the work day. I even hit the gym for 3 miles on the treadmill on my way home, partially because I was so intimidated by your 20 minute workout.

I can proudly say that I made it through Level 1 of Shred without cheating ONCE (partly because my fiance was drinking a beer on the couch watching me, critiquing my form the entire time). I have to tell you, it was a hell of a lot easier than Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism. I even got a little cocky towards the end, telling your mini-me on my tv screen that I could do jumping jacks all the live long day. I wanted to take the time to thank you for not making me do any high knees, burpees, or walking planks. It made me think you had forgiven my facebook comments.

Thirty minutes after completing your workout, I realized that you had gotten your revenge. I could hardly keep my arms up long enough to wash the shampoo out of my hair. Lifting my water glass to my mouth is becoming increasingly difficult as the night progresses. I'm not confident that this pain will lessen overnight, and although I am slightly terrified, I will face you again late tomorrow morning before work.

I can't wait for next week's premiere of "Biggest Loser: Second Chances". I hope you have a mouthful for Daniel.

Your fan forever,
Mary Ann*

Monday, September 7, 2009

2 Months/Shower Power!

We are already one full week into September, which means my wedding is exactly 2 months away! I celebrated the milestone this weekend at a lovely bridal shower hosted by my fiance's mom.

I was really excited for the shower on a multitude of levels. The most important one was that my own mom was coming in to town, and I haven't seen her since... well, only June, but it feels like forever! Having her here was so great -- I got to go over wedding details with her in person, show her the ceremony and reception space, and have her generally calm my nerves. As a slight off-note, I had a horrible week last week, experiencing all sorts of anxiety, financial issues, and general distress (more on that later, or if you're lucky, never), prompting me to actually call out of work one day (this is something I cannot remember doing in the past 3 years) to try to get myself under control. Long story short, I got my act together by the time Mom got here on Saturday afternoon. I showed off the changes we've made to the house, re-introduced her to the dogs, formerly introduced her to our 9 cats, and set off to see the wedding and reception site, as well as have some dinner and pick up the hostess gift for Deane's mom Debi (which I neglected to take a picture of, fail). We also picked up the ingredients for the dishes she was bringing to the shower (and I took advantage of Mom at the grocery, college-freshman style!). Saturday night we relaxed, made some yummy snacks for the next day, and watched some cake shows on tv (typical).

Sunday morning I woke up and it was the day of my shower! I was so excited; it felt like Christmas -- only it was like a personal Christmas that no one else got to have, this one was all mine! I was really nervous in the morning -- I kind of hate having people go out of their way for me, and I felt like everyone had to travel, etc. to be here. Once we got to Debi's, though, I felt totally relaxed and comfortable. She had done SO MUCH WORK! There were pictures of me EVERYWHERE that I hadn't seen in forever (Student of the Month February 1987, anyone?) as well as pictures of me and Deane over the years. So cute! Every table was filled with my favorite delicious foods, and I was instantly glad I had worn an empire waist dress so I could feed my second trimester food baby with no worries.

The cookie, coffee, and cake table! :)
Take home cookie flowers for all of the guests!

Mom and I went to work mixing up some mimosa punch and put a lot of delicious things into pretty bowls as we waited for the guests to arrive. With each person that came through the door, I felt more and more loved! All my favorites from work were there, as well as my to-be-sister-in-law and several close friends. Once everyone had arrived, we played a Mary Ann trivia game and everyone did pretty well (Andrea took top honors, but Ashley won for best answer to "In what state did Deane and Mary Ann meet?" Her answer: "A drunken state!" Obvs true.). Then we all scooped up a refill of delicious beverage and headed outside for more games and laughter.

With Mom before all the guests arrived!

We read a little book that was put together by one of Deane's family's close friends, and it was all rhymey and pass-around-y. Hard to explain, but really cute, and of course there was a prize at the end.

Rhyme time!

Then we all settled onto the porch so everyone could make "Dough Brides". I didn't get a lot of pictures of this, but basically I had asked Debi to have some sort of activity for people to do as I was opening gifts, because I 1) hate opening presents in front of people because I fear they are dying of boredom and I will never have the appropriate thing to say about them and 2) didn't want to seem like an ungrateful bitch and not open stuff til afterwards. Everyone got some various hunks of flesh and hair colored dough, flowers, and lace, and they made mini-MA* brides and I judged them for prizes (actually, it was pretty funny in retrospect). I opened what seemed like millions of gifts, all of them so generous and fabulous, and was even more overcome with emotion when I opened several gifts from people far away who couldn't make it to the shower (Linds, I think Donna almost starting crying at the poke cake). It was really interesting because Debi had chosen a "Stock the Pantry" theme, so everyone brought a recipe along with the non-perishable ingredients to make it with. I got a lot of utensils, serving pieces, Pyrex galore (love that stuff!) and foodstuffs for my bare, bare pantry, so it worked out great! She even made a nice huge binder with pages for all of my new instructions and lots of recipes already in it.

The "wishing well" was made of a trash can with a doggie-proof lid, which we needed desperately!

Ooooh, big pile o' prezzies for ME!

Mom was great and took explicit notes on everything so I wouldn't forget anything amidst the chaos (one of my friends recently attended a mutual friend's wedding, afterwhich they received a thank you card for a clock radio that they definitely did NOT give), and of course there are pictures of every gift being opened (I'll spare you the boredom here, but you can check them out on facebook!). Once I got done being the center of attention and was 100% covered in sweat head to toe, we all went inside for some yummy yummy treats.

Nom nom nom!

Triple layer strawberry cake, yummmmm.

We all ate a ton, winded down, got to visit some more, and then everyone started to disperse. I was completely exhausted when it was over and made Deane put all the gifts in the truck while I pushed carrots and dip around my plate (read: continued to eat my way through a one pound bag of M&M's). When we got home, it was time to say bye bye to Mom and relax... only, I was so excited about new kitchenware that I stayed up until 2 a.m. cleaning and organizing all of my cabinets, as well as making an inventory list of casserole size dishes, cake pans, cookie sheets, etc. Very exciting stuff :) Today Deane finally got to chill and he went fishing all afternoon while I hit up Target to continue my beginner's foray into fulfilling a wifely duty of cooking... by purchasing the limited edition green Nintendo DSLite bundle with Personal Trainer Chef included :)
I have spent most of the day NOT finishing invitations or learning how to cook, but instead playing innumerable games of MarioKart and Sudoku (LOVE BrainAge). After this weekend, I am feeling fully refueled and refreshed. I am ready for day one of Jillian's 30 Day Shred tomorrow, ready to be back on a running schedule, ready for continued success with my fabulous staff at work, and most of all, ready to keep moving on wedding planning! I am sure these two months are going to FLY, but right now I can't wait for November 7th!