How NOT to Buy a Wedding Dress


shop dresses store

Shortcut to this post is: Buy your wedding dress in the store, NOT ONLINE.

I am totally obsessed with BHLDN. If you haven’t looked at this wedding dress store, you are missing out on some awesome eye candy. This dress porn is everything I love: vintage, whimsey, unique, and a huge variety. So, I fell in love with a dress. As you know from this post Part 1 and Part 2, our wedding is themed Great Gatsby. I found a dress called Cyprium Gown and felt the look would totally complement my theme. It was on sale for $600 [originally $1000] and was only running large sizes. I talked to the sales lady, who was super nice, and she suggested I order a size 8 and get it altered. Why the hell not? Don’t all wedding dresses have to get altered anyways? My mom and I went on a limb and just did it! We anxiously waited for it to arrive a week later.

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Cyprium Dress from BHLDN

The packaging was beautiful, the dress bag was so well made, and then we got to the dress. It looked a lot different than online, but was definitely pretty. I took it to our guest bedroom while my fiance and dad waited.

BHLDN Box

The beautiful packaging from BHLDN.

BHLDN Bag

BHLDN Dress Bag.

It just looked so blah on me. It was huge (as expected) but I didn’t get that “feeling” that you are suppose to get when you try on your wedding dress. As you can see from the pictures, trying on a dress in your own house just doesn’t feel very special. I didn’t have a huge mirror to examine the dress and didn’t have the proper tools to fit it to my body. My mom and I decided we would go dress shopping the next day to make sure this was the one. Needless to say, I found my dress that day and promptly returned the online dress. My new dress is very 20’s, was the same price as the online sales dress, and made me cry. Isn’t that how it is suppose to be? If I learned anything from Say Yes To The Dress, Randy likes a crier!

BHLDN Dress

Cyprium Dress BHLDN on Front View

BHLDN side of dress

Cyprium Dress BHLDN – size 8 is way too big

The moral of the story is: go dress shopping in a store. There is something very ritualistic about this experience that trying on your wedding dress in your home bathroom doesn’t offer. You have a bridal assistant oh-ing and aw-ing over you, the dress is pinned properly to you, guests in the store commenting on how beautiful it looks, and you get to be a bride. If there is anything I have learned through this wedding experience it is that you should embrace the bride moments. You only get to be a bride once and you will be pampering all your friends when they are brides so … enjoy it! Just don’t be an awful bitch.

love, Sarah

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Life Hack #2 – Use a Cup to Amplify Your iPhone Speakers


iphone_cup

This is a trick my friend showed me while on vacation. It is free, easy, and actually makes a huge difference. All you have to do it put your iPhone (or any smart phone) in a glass cup. The shape of the cup amplifies the sound of weak iPhone speakers. Yesterday I was all over the house cleaning, doing dishes, filing and this little cup followed me from room to room.

love, Sarah

Impulsive Shopping & Control with ADHD


sorry-stressful-day-shopping-sympathy-ecard-someecards

Hey all! So, I have ADHD and have written a few different posts about how I cope. One of the most difficult issues for me to overcome throughout the years has been my relationship with money.  I was diagnosed when I was 25, so I was pretty much clueless about why I thought differently from my friends and my partner. One of those huge differences was my relationship with money and my compulsion to spend.

Ok, a lot of people have issues with money. For myself, It also doesn’t help that I come from an ADHD family who spends every single penny they have. I never packed my own lunch [or had my parents’ pack me a lunch] until I was 22 years old. Yes, you read right. From the age of 3 to adulthood I always had lunch money. This, in addition to my natural urge to spend because ADHD people are more inclined to act impulsively without thinking of the consequences, makes me more prone to compulsive shopping.

Now, onto the important stuff: how to cope and gain self control with ADHD.  My friend L told me this trick she learned from Suze Orman, Oprah’s financial lady. It has been around for a few years, but it is the WANT VS. NEED RATIONALE. So, for everything I buy I ask the question,

“Do I need this?”

If I don’t need it, like really need it, then I don’t need to spend money on it that moment. Why this is great for all people, especially ADHD people, is that it takes you out of the impulsive spending mindset. This thought process really does bring me back to reality. While I think this is initially designed to stop people from spending money they don’t have, for ADHD people [and other compulsive spenders] this can be used as a grounding method: to ground yourself back to reality. Maybe you do deserve that new pair of shoes… but if you don’t need another pair of black heels – walk away for today. If you find yourself thinking of them a few days later, this purchase may really have so validity and bring you happiness beyond the impulsive need to shop has passed.

Another thing I have noticed sparks frantic shopping: try to avoid falling for sales. If you find something you need on sale, go for it! But, if you don’t need it you are just letting the impulsive pressure of a sale take control of you.

Here is a small personal example, but a valid one: I was at Target getting some sports bras. Now, I actually needed some new sports bras because I only had two and I was working out about 4 days a week. While looking for sports bras on sale I came across a really cute work out shirt ALSO ON SALE! I frantically picked it up the shirt and immediately imagined how cute I would look at the gym; then I headed to the check out. In the line, I realized I literally had 30 shirts I could wear to work out in and I didn’t need this shirt. At the front of the line I gingerly handed over my work out shirt and said, “I changed my mind. I don’t want to buy this shirt.” It has been about 3 weeks and I still know I didn’t need the shirt! It might have only been $5, something I could afford, but I would have just bought it because I felt impulsive and wanted it. Impulsive shopping can be overcome!

love, Sarah

Love Affair with Songza — My Top Play Lists


Songza

While I look so forward to Britney Spears Wednesday, I felt this post was still Britney related because she is a motivation for me on most of my music fortes. So, for today’s Wednesday I will share with you all my new favorite music app/web station SONGZA. Note: I think the app is easier to navigate than the web streaming.

What is Songza and why is it better than Pandora? Yes, I said it: better than Pandora. Songza is a free music streaming site with stations curated by music experts and designed for moods and activities. These stations really do feel curated and are really well selected and designed. Additionally, there are NO commercials and NO listening limits. It doesn’t stop after 30 minutes with the most fucking annoying message, “Are you still listening? We don’t like playing to an empty room.” Like, of course I am still listening! It has been 30 minutes, asshole!

Enough bitching from me… now it is your turn to explore Songza and bask in it’s glory. Especially for you, I have picked a few of my favorite play lists.

Working Out

Cardio Hip Hop: The raunchy rap really is motivating for some twisted reason. When A$$ came on, all I could think was, “I must keep running! I must get my ass like Big Sean wants!”

Massive Pop Hits: The Remixes: I can never get enough of Britney Spears [as you all know] and her songs remixed for work out motivation. There are also some amazing Katy Perry Remixes on this play list.

Relaxing at Home

Acoustic Versions of Pop Songs: Yep, I am a pop princess. I love all things pop and I like the acoustic twist.

Female Indie Pop Singers & Revolutionary Daughters of Kate Bush: Girl Power! I love female singers and songwriters.

Andy Warhol’s Record Collection: Pop culture of the 1960s-1970s, which translate to Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and David Bowie.

Work – Clean Lyrics

The Rebirth of Alt Pop: I love upbeat alternative rock with catchy melodies and moody lyrics. A great motivator at work.

Code Your Face Off: The right beat and focus for work and no R rated lyrics to worry about.

Cleaning and/or Cooking

Girls Just Want to Have Fun: Enough said on this one. I hate cleaning and cooking so…. this adds a little fun to the activities with singing and dancing.

Soul Food Kitchen: Get your groove on with some soul in the kitchen. How fitting!

Ladies of Song: This is always on at our house. It is the perfect cooking music. It just makes me feel like I am in a different time period and makes me feel calm and serene almost immediately.

Just so you know, I have barely hit the tip of the iceberg that is Songza. Their stations are so amazing and diverse I fear I may never be able to fully explore their music! As I find new stations I will update this list and update you with a post. XOXO soon to be Songza lovers.

love, Sarah

Lip Addition: Real Girls’ Beauty Must-Haves


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Just wanted to let you know I have officially committed to a new product. It will go under “Lip Stuff” in the original post Real Girls’ Beauty Must-Haves. Maybelline Baby Lips Lip Balm in Grape Vine.

It is sheer, yet has just enough color.

It has a sheen, yet not glossy.

It has a silly name, but not a silly price of $3!

love, Sarah

Budgeting Essentials for Women from “On My Own Two Feet”


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I bought the finance book “On My Own Two Feet” by Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar about 5 years ago when I was a single lady and in college. This book has been my go-to resource for all things from car loans, mortgage, retirement, to budgeting. Every point in my life has warranted a look in this book. Needless to say, this book is worn and well used. Just as books should be!

My man and I have had our money together for almost 3 years now [that is a post in itself] and this book works for single ladies or families. It is geared toward women, but the financial advice is applicable to many different situations.

I start a new job as a librarian in a prison [as evident in this post] and we will be finally making enough money to live beyond pay-check to pay-check. Of course, this means I get to break open my best finance book and get to work on my budget! I thought it might be helpful so share some of the resources from this book.

BUDGETING

Note: These resources are from the official On My Own Two Feet website. Check it out!

Your budget should be broken into these 4 segments, 25% Income Taxes (this may be high for some if they live in states like Arizona or Texas), 45% Foundation Expenses, 15% Future Expenses (savings), and 15% Fun Expenses.

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What are Foundation Expenses, Fun Expenses, and Future Expenses?

FOUNDATION EXPENSES – Things you must pay for monthly.

  • Housing: your monthly rent OR mortgage payment, homeowners insurance, and property tax as well as other routine bills like utilities, phone, cable, internet.
  • Transportation: your car payment, insurance, gas, maintenance, monthly tolls, and parking if you drive and/or your monthly bus, train, or subway pass if you take public transportation.
  • Basic groceries/supplies: food, toiletries, cleaning supplies.
  • Debt repayment:  any fixed payments on student loans or other debt (including credit cards).
  • Other Foundation:   health insurance, non-reimbursed medical expenses, life insurance, childcare costs, charity, and “ESSENTIAL” clothing.

FUN EXPENSES – Items that can be eliminated if needed

  • Fun food: take out, restaurants, coffees & snacks, dinner & drinks with friends, etc.
  • Fun clothing: your “WANT” clothes, shoes, accessories, and jewelry.
  • Entertainment: movies, concerts, CDs, DVDs, magazine subscriptions, books, newspapers, hobbies, etc.
  • Personal: gym membership, facials, manicures, makeup, etc.
  • Other: vacations, gifts, pets.

FUTURE EXPENSES – All forms of savings.

  • Retirement: 10% should be saved into retirement
  • Emergency Fund: This should be 3-6 months of your monthly income in case of a emergency or the event you lose your job.
  • Big Ticket Items: Such as a down payment on a car, house, wedding, or a huge vacation.

The book also suggests you do a two month budget check. To do this you just spend as your normally do and record all your expenses and income. Using this handy budgeting excel form [you can also find the same form on the official website under downloads] you can record all this info.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

While not all things fit for each person, I think these are good budgeting rules to follow. I mean, our dogs are part of our family so they are foundation expenses. Also, a gym for me is not negotiable [though, I only pay $10 a month so…]. I have tried to keep a log of spending habits, but I am not very good at actually recording information. I much prefer to move my foundation expenses into an account meant specifically for bills, fun expenses into a different account, and savings into a savings account. A larger post on this can be found here.

I hope this helps all of you! It’s a great book and you should pick it up.

love, Sarah

Why to Use Different Bank Accounts for Bills, Spending, and Savings


Account CollageImage sources:  Hill and Hammond & Monarch House & GoBankingRates.com

We have been doing this little trick for 2 years now, and I don’t know how we would keep our money straight without it.

We have (1) an account for set bills, (2) an account spending, and (3) an account for savings.

Yep, three accounts. How does it work? First, we get our direct deposits into the spending account. From there we calculate all the bills for the month and transfer money to our “bill” account. On the bill account we have automated all payments. This account does not have a debit card and we can not spend money from this account on anything but bills. The left over money in our “spending” account is for gas, food, and going out. Right now we have about $.17 in savings because we are living pay-check to pay-check. Yeah, better hope nothing bad happens. We would be fucked!

So, to break it down even easier and with the actual banks we use:

  1. Set up a Chase Account [or another national bank] for your direct deposits. There are a ton of free money when you open a few account with national banks. Look online or in the mail!
  2. Once you get paid, transfer the bills money to a bill account. We have been using Capital One 360 [formally ING Direct] which is a free online bank and sends checks for free. You also earn APY on money in your checking account. That is pretty unheard of. If you want to join, use this link and it will be a referral for you and I. Or use this link for a $50 reward.
  3. The left over money in Chase is for spending. Once we run out, we run out. But we also never have to worry about if we have enough money for the bills.

Done! Do any of you have good tricks for managing your money?

love, Sarah

How To: “We Are Getting Married” Photo Booth


WeAreGettingMarried!

We opted out of the engagement photos for a fun photo booth wedding announcement. Nothing against engagement photos, but I just could not see us looking longingly into each other eyes while holding little signs that say, “I DO.” I am sure our wedding day will have enough corniness for our lifetime together. We love having fun and being ridiculous, so this fit us as a couple much better. Maybe this could be a fun alternative for some of you? Or just plain motivation to take some fun photo booth pictures!

TEMPLATES

For the Great Gatsby theme – Download Sea Side PDF Here: MarriedSeaSide

Married Sea Side

For the alternative types – Download Quiet Scream PDF here: MarriedQuietScream

Married Quiet Scream

For the artistic types – Download Sketch Rockwell PDF Here: MarriedSketchRockwell

Married Rockwell

For the architects out there – Download Caitlyn PDF here: MarriedCaitlyn

Married Caitlin

MATERIALS

  • Thick stock paper to print the signs on or poster board.
  • Signs! Make your own or use one of my templates above.
  • If you go the poster board look, you will need double sided tape to secure the signs on the poster board.
  • Props – we used glasses, sunglasses, and hats.
  • About $10-$15 to blow.
  • Patience while you find a photo booth that works!

WHAT TO DO

  1. Locate a photo booth. We knew of one at an old fashion diner from my childhood. We drove 30 minutes, prepped with our props, walked up to the booth and … it was out of order. UGH! In the end, we tried 4 different places to locate a photo booth. We really wanted to use an old fashioned, film only photo booth. In the end we ended up in a Mall photo booth that has themes like “BFF” and “Friends with Benefits.” The one neat thing about this is the video that came along with it! Not sure if I will post it here, it’s a total mess but a fun way to document a wedding prep memory. Gross thing to note, when we walked up to the photo booth there was a teenage couple making out in it. Oh, the mall.
  2. Be prepared to do several photo shoots. It was so fun doing the pictures and then cracking up at the stupid [and ugly] faces that were made. We did three different photo shoots, and the first one we didn’t realize it was taking a picture. Check out the blooper reel at the end.
  3. Have fun! Enough said.
  4. Scan and edit the photo strip. The photo booth we went to was a very social media and digital image friendly booth, but we still used the photos and made a collage of the best by cutting and scanning.
  5. Put on your wedding website or email out to friends the digital versions. We are actually giving our parents one of the strips and keeping the other for ourselves.

 

DIYLibBloopers

Bloopers from our first go at the photo booth.

I hope you enjoyed this engagement picture alternative for those unconventional couples like us!

love, Sarah

Britney Wednesday – SEXY 2000 MTV Music Award Performance Until Vegas


If you were like me and 13, this performance is drilled into your head as one of the best things ever put on television. I remember being in awe of Britney, her dance moves, her physique, and her beauty! Watching it again made me realize … I still am. I think I just went into a daze while I watched this video. Who can work when Britney puts on a performance like this?

I started looking for old concert footage because I am craving to see her in Las Vegas  when she is in residency. I tried to find anything about her upcoming time in Vegas. I did discover it will be at the Planet Hollywood and for two months. I could not find out when tickets will go on sale … trust me, when I know – you will know.

Until then, we wait and watch Britney in all her glory! ENJOY!

PS: Who else could look good in this type of outfit? I don’t think anyone else has totally pulled in of … not even Jennifer Lopez.

Britney Spears Jennifer LopezImage from Hollywood Life.

love, Sarah

Melatonin Supplements for a Good Night’s Sleep


Sleeping.Dog_Image source.

This little post is sparked by me taking too much melatonin last night and feel like a walking zombie. Damn, it really does work! This overdose sparked me to look into what exactly melatonin is and why it works so well.

BACKGROUND OF MY MELATONIN USE

I was introduced to melatonin pills by a nurse, and best friend, who worked the night shift at a hospital. Now, this friend is very into all things health [duh… she is a nurse after all], so anything she suggests I do without question or further research. At this time in my life, my live-in-boyfriend-soon-to-be-husband was also working a night shift. For any of you that have partners who work night shift: I am so sorry. It is the shittiest thing in the world to wake up when your partner is going to bed.  I will try not to go on a bitchfest about this, but I felt like the two of us lived on different planets. I was a much bigger baby about it than he was, though he was the one working in the middle of the night while the rest of the world was sound asleep in bed.

So basically, melatonin has been a part of our lives for about 4 years now. I am terrified of becoming dependent on pills, so melatonin was a great alternative to sleeping aids.

WHAT IS MELATONIN?

Melatonin 5 mg at your local super market.

Since I have not yet explained exactly what melatonin is, let me try the best I can. Melatonin is a hormone the every person naturally produces from their pineal gland. This pineal gland is a gland in your brain that acts as your internal clock. As we get older and older, we lose the natural melatonin hormone. These supplemental pills can act as a substitute. It is non-addictive and can assist in “curing” sleep problems. There is even some studies that show melatonin can stop or slow the spread of cancer, make the immune system stronger, or slow down the aging process. This research is still debatable, but it seriously sounds like an all natural miracle pill!

There are downfalls of melatonin: grogginess, vivid dreams [this sounds like a bonus to me! I love my fucked up vivid dreams], and low blood pressure. If you take too much melatonin, like I did last night, you actually sleep worse and feel unrested, yet exhausted.

HOW TO USE MELATONIN

As a user for 4 years, I am pretty aware of what works and does not work. You cannot use melatonin daily, this will mess up your actual sleep cycle and the melatonin produced in your body. I can happily use about 3 mg of melatonin pills if I know I am going to have a rough night falling asleep [I weight about 120] and my man can do 6 mg [he weights about 185]. Last night I used 10 mg and that was way to much. Start small, and see what mg works for you. Also, buy the pressed pills – is that what they are called? Meaning, buy the pills that allow you to break them in 1/2. We made the mistake of buying the capsule pills at 10 mg. Now we can only take 10 mg or buy new ones! At least the pressed pills can be split in 1/2 and last longer. One more melatonin hint: do not fight falling asleep.  I have taken melatonin too early and, when I get tired, try to stay awake. This totally messes with your sleep cycle and you will get a shitty night sleep  – guaranteed.

OTHER INTERESTING FACTS

According to the encyclopedia, here are some other interesting facts about melatonin and it’s effect on our bodies:

  1. Light affects how melatonin is produced. During the winter, you have more melatonin in your system because your retinas detect less light.
  2. Melatonin plays a large roll in the production of hormones in females. One of the locations for melatonin receptors is in the ovaries; female menstruation is slightly connected to melatonin.
  3. Mating in animals is influenced by melatonin. Melatonin production coincides with season and spring is prime time for mating!

RESOURCES

So, my nurse friend was 100% right. Melatonin works and can be good for you if used properly. Do you all use any other sleep aids?

love, Sarah