Friday, September 30, 2011

Fresh Idea Friday: Spice Up Florals with Paper

Happy Friday!  I know I glad to be done with looooong work week!  To send you off to your fun weekend, Briana and I wanted to supply you with some DIY inspiration.  I loooove fresh flowers and I would love to be one of those Parisian girls who buys a baguette, a bottle of wine, and fresh flowers every week as I strolled through open air markets and bakeries.  Unfortunately, I count myself lucky if I get to the Safeway grocery store to pick up my canned soup lunches for the week and that I don't kill the aloe plant in my apartment (I have ~issues~ with over watering, but it comes from a place of love for my plants).  

 I'm not a big fan of the all paper displays I've seen, but then Briana stumbled upon this picture below and I think it's a great idea!  Supplement your floral displays with paper flowers!

Style Me Pretty

This is a great way to add a color to your arrangement that may not be readily available or far too expensive!  Have you ever seen that movie Bed of Roses?  You really must if you are going to call yourself a girl (I also secretly wish that I could be the girl from Bed of Roses and have a shy florist (played by Mr. 3, of course) woo me with expensive blooms). The main character gets beautiful lavender colored roses.  When was the last time you saw those at 1-800-flowers?  That's because they are pretty expensive.  Since lavender isn't really a common color in flowers, this idea might work is does above with gray.  Still not a believer? Check out another sweet arrangement in silver mint julep cups and trumpet vases!

Martha Stewart Weddings 

For those of you who don't have  a green thumb or that much green in your wallet, you can make an arrangement of these paper flowers to put on your desk or dining room table.  Sometimes all we really need is something pretty and cheery to get us through the day and those really loooooong weeks!  Martha Stewart, the original DIYer, has got some paper flower instructions and templates to get you started.  So get started and feel free to send us all your pretty paper pics!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thrifty Thursday: Heartsy the Groupon for Etsy

Sooooo, I know that I am totally addicted to Groupons and Living Social deals for great savings on dining, tickets, and things I wouldn't normally spend a dime on.  Now, I've found Heartsy which combines my love for a daily deal with my love for Etsy and all things crafty/handmade!  Heartsy is a free email subsciption service that features private sales on Etsy vendors (you must sign up to receive the deals).  If you are interested in the daily deal, simply purchase and redeem at the Etsy vendor's shop.  I know I'm keeping my eye out for good deals on Christmas gifts and weddings thank you's (Reminder: Savings Dollars = More Shoes Dollars).  Check out a few of my favorite pieces from the featured vendors for today's sales:

DiBA Jewelry
Heartsy Deal: $21 for $42 Online Store Credit

Heartsy Deal: $10 for $24 Online Store Credit

Shiba Designs
Heartsy Deal: $9 for $21 Online Store Cedit

I think these will make really cute gifts for the right girl and the deals are are an awesome value!  If you haven't tried out Etsy yet, you are missing out!  Heartsy is a great way to save some moo-lah and get into the Etsy world!  What do you think, do you love Etsy as much as me? Give Posh Purpose the scoop on your favorite vendors!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

H&M for Men

I recently went shopping with J because I needed work appropriate clothes for fall and I wanted to sneak in a few new shirts for J. He is pretty picky, mostly because he sees nothing wrong with free t-shirts from his time at MIT (i.e. while I was in high school). I don't really care what he wears to work, but I do prefer him in hole-less shirts when we go places together.

When I pick shirts out for him, he either complains about the price (he is currently on a Marshalls kick) or says it looks too girly. However, H&M now has a set of long sleeve shirts that come in non-offensive solid colors. AND these shirts are made out of pima cotton, so very soft and breathable. AND, they are $13 each. J bought a dark grey shirt and a navy one, too. H&M is not always the highest quality, so I am not sure how many times J can wash his shirts before they come apart. I have not had any issues with my H&M clothes so I am optimistic. Now if I could just get him to buy new jeans..

Wedding Wednesday: To Bridal Show or Not to Bridal Show

So a couple of weekends ago, Mr. 3 and I went on a whirlwind adventure visiting venues out of town.  While out and about I managed to squeeze in a quick trip to the local bridal show.  I wasn't expecting much, because it's a small city.  However, since I'm not from the area, I decided it would be worth it to go if for no other reason than to be able to talk to a bunch of photographers all at once and look through their books.  I've also always thought it was silly to charge brides a fee to come in and look around when the purpose of the event is to earn more money.  Regardless, I decided to check it out (don't worry I left Mr. 3 behind, I try not to torture him tooooo much with wedding stuff).  After going, I think Bridal Shows are totally worth it because:

1. Vendors offer discounts:  Vendors see bridal shows as a way to drum up a lot of business all at once and book their events for the following year.  One way to get a bride interested is to offer a small discount.  For example, I will take a look at every single photographer that offered a discount at the bridal show and I'm doing some stalking online now to check them out.  The discounts may be as small as 10%, which may not sound like a lot until you realize that the cheapest photography package I've seen is $1,200.  That's $120 that you can apply shoes.  I also saw discounts as much as 50% off photography packages if you booked within the next two weeks.  Men's Warehouse and Jos. A. Bank offered tuxedo rental discounts as well.

2. Vendors hand out pricing information:  It is a pain to have to email/call everybody and their granny to find out pricing information for services.  Some vendors are extremely reluctant to even tell you what the prices are even if you email/call because they want you to get meet in person so that they can suck you in with their sales pitch.  However, bridal shows are all about handing out the info so that you will give them a call back.  All the photographers had package information to give out, so I saved myself the trouble of having to email about 5 different vendors.

3. Vendors sponsor giveaways:  Although I didn't win anything this time, I went to a bridal show a few years ago with a best friend and I won a $500 gift certificate to the plastic surgeon's office (I got some spider veins lasered off, thank you very much - no botox here).  While we were at the show I saw brides win: choice of either wedding bands or a honeymoon stay, free makeup, salon services, nail services, gift certificates to bridal salons, and a free LCD TV.  You didn't have to purchase raffle tickets, but it was a great little perk for the lucky girls who won!

4. Vendors offer samples and freebies:  In my small swag haul, I received a small bouquet of about 5 roses from a florist (so pretty!), chocolates, and mints.  All the caterers had a spread of food including cheesecake lollipops, tea sandwiches, chocolate mousse cups, homemade potato chips, fruit, cheese and crackers, and veggie trays to name a few.  If you did drag your sweetie to the bridal show, he should be able to cope by making his way through all the samples.

5. Opportunities to ask questions and gauge someone's personality:  Besides the really valuable pricing information, I thought this was the best part of the bridal show.  I got to ask several questions from the vendors I was interested in and by talking with them I learned a lot about their level of professionalism and personality.  For example, I talked to a very sweet photographer who seemed to be reasonably priced.  However, both her and her husband were smacking on huge wads of chewing gum during our conversation.  I felt that was very unprofessional and I will not be contacting her.  I also talked to a florist who will not allow you to bring your own containers.  I was not a fan.  Most of my containers are going to be from thrift stores or someplace inexpensive like Garden Ridge, so I knew she would definitely not work.  I ALSO found another bridal store that carries the line of dresses that I am most interested in trying on.  I spoke to the owner and he said that they have been in business for 29 years and he has no intention of closing up shop.  He also told me how long it would take to order a dress and that they do not take the manufacturer's tags off or try to cover up the label so you can't go figure out how much the mark up is...mostly because they don't mark their dresses up.

Whether you are getting married in a small town or a big city, I highly suggest that you attend the bridal shows.  I got a lot accomplished in about 2 hours of my time and I had a lot of fun doing it!  What are your thoughts on bridal shows?  Must do or pass?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Trousseau Tuesday: Color Blocking

Color blocking is nothing new, but it is a very tricky trend. Example A below.

However, if you want to jump in on the activity but want an easy solution, check out these shoes. The Jessica Simpson platforms are available at Nordstrom for $89. The other pair is $26. They are practically identical! Thanks to my friend Ashley for spotting both pairs and sending them my way - she always has great finds! I prefer the Jessica Simpson pair because I am anti-yellow, but if you like the colors, you should definitely take advantage of such a great deal.
Jessica Simpson
Not Jessica Simpson

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fresh Idea Friday: DIY Flowers and Candles

Look at this super cute floral/candle arrangement! Melinda sent the blog post with the DIY instructions for the flower and candle arrangement my way so we could admire together. She thinks the idea would be great for a supper party and I think they could also be used at a bridal shower (or classy bachelorette party).

J has a lot of stemware lying about that he never uses any more. I was considering clearing some of it out, post wedding of course, but now I will definitely hang onto all the various types of glasses. I just need to start thinking more creatively!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thrifty Thursday: Advice from a Webcomic

Hover over the xkcd comic for this message:
And if you drive a typical car more than a mile out of your way for each penny you save on the per-gallon price, it doesn't matter how worthless your time is to you -- the gas to get you there and back costs more than you save.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wedding Tip Wednesday: Not a DIY Bride? Try Etsy!

Not a DIY bride, but love those cute details that show up all over the wedding blogs?  Check out Etsy vendor Purple Peony Couture.  This uber fun bridal accessories and decor shop is run by Colleen, a friend of a friend, located in Baltimore, MD.  Her products will save you the time of DIY, while not having to sacrifice the cuteness!

Check out these cupcake toppers ($12.95 for 12) that I love for a bridal shower!  Briana and I think they are tons of fun!  Briana said she also thinks they could be used to ask your friends to be in your wedding party.

Copyright Purple Peony Couture 
Use this great banner ($14.95) to hang across your gift table and this Mr. and Mrs. banner for either your table or the getaway car. 

Copyright Purple Peony Couture
Copyright Purple Peony Couture
Finally, be sure to check out her selection of birdcage veils and bridal hair accessories.  I especially love this petite birdcage veil ($44)!

Photo by A. Dawn Ward
Design Copyright Purple Peony Couture

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reader Response

Our faithful reader, Nancy Jones, had some good insight on ways to find picture frames at a low cost. Such a great idea to get me started on my girly shopping decor! Here is her email:

Dear Briana---Loved ya'lls idea about framing shopping bags.  I have a few more frugal suggestions to add.  Frames can be purchased at yard sales, second hand stores, Dollar General, Wal-Mart.  I get my husband to spray paint them for me to match decor (men are so useful when it comes to that type of thing----they will also attach the wires and hang pictures---actually, they will do all the work!) . 

Thanks, Nancy! I will keep my eye out for frames. I agree that this is a great project for men to be involved - they can be so useful at times! And if any of you other lovely readers have suggestions/questions/ideas for Melinda and me, please either contact us via the comments section or email Melinda at poshpurpose (at) gmail (dot) com or me at bri (dot) poshpurpose (at) gmail (dot) com!

Trousseau Tuesday: Pink Patch!

Betsey Johnson has released her lower cost line, Pink Patch! This is very exciting for me, as I absolutely love Betsey Johnson's clothes but not her prices. I noticed that a lot of her Pink Patch items are made of synthetics, but it seems a lot of dresses these days are. At least the Pink Patch items are priced more appropriately than some other dresses I have seen (seriously, $500 for polyester? I think not).

This dress is very obviously Betsey, but for $189. It could use a bit more poof, so I would also look for a short crinoline to go underneath. It also comes in purple.

This sweater is 100% cotton and is $98. It comes in red, as well. The winky face is very Betsey, but normally something similar would be closer to $200 rather than $100. 

These leggings are so cute! And even better, they are $49! Actually, the print is extremely similar to the print on one of my cotton/spandex Betsey dresses that I adore. I want these to make my long cashmere sweaters more exciting. I'm sure Melinda will tell me that these leggings are not work appropriate, but sometimes it is just more fun to ignore her :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fresh Idea Friday: Reuse Those Shopping Bags!

My sister Rebekah (who should be writing up an article about Initial Outfitters) sent over a great idea! Check out how someone repurposed shopping bags into decor - this is definitely on my to do list! I absolutely love it for my future walk in closet and makeup center (are you paying attention, J???).

Seems pretty easy to do. The directions can be found at La Dolce Vita. This blogger just got some white Ikea frames and put it all together, but you could use any frames that go along with your present decor. I love it! I feel totally justified for always saving my bags, now :) However, I wonder what the large bags would look like in a frame. Might be a bit overwhelming, but there is definitely charm in excess!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thrifty Thursday: Tuxedos for Your Posh Purpose Man

For all you ladies out there who love a man in a tux, I've found a great website for purchasing tuxedos for your groom, dads, and wedding party.  Buy4LessTuxedo has a wide selection of different style tuxedos from well known designers such as Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Hugo Boss.  You can buy just the pants and jacket, but they also carry complete collections (including tie, shirt, cufflinks, etc), shoes, and ties.  If you are feeling especially James Bond 007, they carry dinner jackets as well.  The tuxedos are priced at less than $100 for polyester, but for only $38 more, you can get your man this 100% worsted wool suit which is a much better investment for the money.

Neil Allyn Tuxedo from Buy4LessTuxedo
Orders are processed in 1-4 business days, but shipping is only Monday-Friday.  I highly recommend that you check this place out.  Rather than throwing away money on a rental, your honey could own the tuxedo for future weddings, New Year's Eve parties, or corporate events or resell it at a later date.  Let me know if you find any good deals...Mr. 3 is adamant that we have a tuxedo dress code at our wedding and I seriously haven't given them any thought since my date wore a white tux to prom my junior year of high school.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Engineer's Guide to Wedding Band Metals

J has been researching metal options for his wedding band. Since he is so sweet, he has written up an article based on his research for Posh Purpose. I proofread a bit, but mostly left his words intact meaning this is probably man-friendly. I hope y'all find the info helpful! And remember, this is just a summary of common band metals and their qualities; it is up to you to choose which is best according to your own situation and preferences.

The Engineer's Guide to Wedding Band Metals

In order to choose the metal for your wedding band, you need to determine what characteristics you want in your wedding band. There is no best metal. Everything has trade offs. I'll give a breakdown of each of the more commonly used metals followed by a quick score sheet that gives density, hardness and price.

The density is given as g/cc, and for reference water is 1.0 g/cc. Density is defined as the mass per unit volume, which means how much the ring will weigh for a given size. Some people associate more value with heavier things, other people prefer to not notice that they are wearing the jewelry. You’ll have to try the ring on to know how it actually feels.

Hardness for the purposes of jewelry can be seen as scratch resistance; harder metals do not scratch as easily. However, harder materials are also more brittle. A harder ring won’t scratch, but it’s more likely to chip (and in some cases shatter). Also, harder materials are more difficult to work with, which will often times make the jewelry more expensive. The hardness is given in terms of the Mohs scale, which I’ve only ever seen used on jewelry. Diamond is the hardest material (except, of course, hyperdiamond) with a Mohs hardness of 10.
As with anything, you'll be able to find a wide range of prices, so I'm just going to give a qualitative score. For many of the simple designs, you’ll be able to find much cheaper prices on the internet than in stores. But if the ring you are going to buy represents a considerable amount of money to you, I would recommend going into the store to make sure that you are satisfied with it. For me peace of mind is worth the extra 10-20% I spend.

Gold is historically the most precious metal, and it's major differentiating factor is its color. However it seems to me that yellow gold is largely out of style right now, (but don't put any weight in my observations) making white gold popular. However white gold is white because it's alloyed usually with nickel, which means that people with certain allergies can't wear it. Gold is a relatively dense, very soft and stable metal which means it's easy to form and scratch but hard to tarnish (chlorine at high temperatures does the trick). When you buy gold, you are told its purity in karats, which is a weird and arbitrary scale that clearly outdates the metric system. It's out of 24 karats, so 10 karat gold is 10 parts gold and 14 parts other things. The lower the purity, the harder the metal is, but also the less gold it contains. I always go for low karats because it's more durable and cheaper and most people can't tell the difference by looking at it, but I also like shopping at Walmart.

24K Gold - Density-19.3, Mohs-2.5, Price-$$

10K Gold - Density-13.9, Mohs-3.0, Price-$$

Platinum is popular partially because it's the most expensive metal available. I would say that in general people get it simply because it’s expensive. Platinum is expensive because it is rare and has a lot of industrial applications, but it’s special characteristics make it a very interesting choice. The first thing you’ll notice is that platinum is dense, more dense than depleted uranium. The only naturally occurring elements that are more dense are osmium and iridium. It’s also a pretty tough metal, almost as strong as steel. It doesn’t tarnish, but it gets small surface scratches which make it less shiny. Platinum is not as easy to form as gold, which may somewhat substantiate the fact that platinum jewelry costs so much more than gold jewelry, but I think that it’s most likely just a product of marketing and supply & demand.

Platinum - Density-21.5, Mohs-4.25, Price-$$$

Silver is not a very common choice for wedding bands. I figure a lot of this is because it tarnishes easily. It also is as soft as gold. However, when it is taken care of, it has the potential to be pretty much the shiniest of all metals. It is significantly lighter and cheaper than the above listed options, but I wouldn’t really recommend it. Choosing a silver wedding band is choosing high maintenance jewelry, and let’s be honest, you’re already adding a wife that you have to pay attention to.

Silver - Density-10.5, Mohs-2.5, Price-$

Palladium is an interesting option. It is very similar to platinum (in the same family of metals), but a lot cheaper. It’s also lighter, harder and more abundant. As mentioned earlier, harder metals also means more brittle, which means that even though palladium is harder to scratch than platinum, it’s easier to chip. Palladium is also slightly harder to cast than platinum, which may affect the pricing/availability. I have a feeling though that the main reason that platinum is easier to find than palladium is because jewelry stores want to make more money.

Palladium - Density-12, Mohs-5, Price-$$

Tungsten Carbide
Tungsten carbide is a particularly interesting choice for me as an engineer. Tungsten has a ridiculously high melting point, and is extremely hard. It is hard enough to be used as a cutting tool for hardened steel. Tungsten carbide is harder than most gemstones, with only corundum (sapphire) and diamond being harder. This means that you would have to go out of your way to scratch it (like rubbing it with a diamond file) so it will look brand new years after you buy it. It’s impossible to resize, and you can chip and even shatter it if you aren’t careful. Because of its hardness and high melting point, once it’s damaged or your finger grows, it’s done. If you are the sentimental type who wants to keep the same ring forever then this may not be the choice for you. Compared to the precious metals, a tungsten ring is quite cheap. There is a tungsten alloy which has a very cool blue tint to it, but I believe it’s from the presence of cobalt. I’m sure the state of California thinks this alloy is a carcinogen.

Tungsten - Density-15.8, Mohs-9, Price-$

Titanium is an extremely strong and lightweight material. The density of titanium is about ⅕ of the density of platinum. If you want a ring that you can’t feel, titanium may be a good option for you. It’s going to be pretty hard to resize, and it doesn’t have a very jewelry-like appearance. Since it’s on the harder side, it’s more likely to chip, but it’s not so hard that it will resist scratching. It’s not a very shiny material anyways, so any scratching will be less noticeable.

Titanium - Density-4.5, Mohs-6, Price-$

Stainless Steel
If you are seriously considering a stainless steel wedding band, more power to you. However, you should know that most people generally think this metal has a cheap look to it - think cubic zirconia. Stainless steel is not particularly dense when you’re comparing it to precious metals and not particularly shiny or scratch resistant. A stainless steel band is the wifebeater (t-shirt, not abuser) of wedding bands; it does not look classy and does not have good functionality.

Stainless Steel - Density-8.0, Mohs-4.5, Price-$

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Trousseau Tuesday: A Style for the Winter Season

Ack! Fall is upon us, which means winter is nearly upon us!  Besides the return of the pumpkin spice latte and the peppermint mocha, I find little redeeming about the cold winters.  Finding clothes in beautiful colors becomes more difficult as all the stores begin selling gray, black, brown, and perhaps the worst offender, oatmeal.  Navy, burnt oranges, and dark reds are just not as fun as my spring pastels and juicy summer colors. I also spend a lot of my daily dressing routine figuring out what will keep me warm but keep me from overheating as I trek through the underground WMATA system. I also think it's ridiculous when bridesmaids are left out in the cold, shivering in some thin silk dress and no tights.  That's why I was quite excited to see this new arrival on the kate spade website:

Kate Spade Sandra Sweater Dress
This a a very pretty berry color and it's made out of merino wool.  I think it makes a dress for an engagement party, rehearsal dinner, bridesmaid dress, church, or Christmas party.  You won't freeze, especially if you pair it with a cute pair of patterned tights.  While $355 is a little steep for a dress, I predict that kate spade will have a 20% off sale and free shipping at some point, so keep an eye out for the sales and Posh Purpose will keep you posted on any deals!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Living Social for Artisan Confections!

What a great coincidence! After writing up her chocolatier post last night, Melinda awoke to see a Living Social offer for Artisan Confections. Check it out, $10 for a $20 certificate to the best chocolates ever (I should know, my mom kindly let me nibble off a select group of pieces). If you have never tried these chocolates, or are already a huge fan, this deal will get you double the chocolate! Or, the same amount of chocolate for half the price, depending on how much you would normally purchase :)

Munchie Monday: Chocolatier Review

I was raised by a chocoholic who thought milk chocolate was a waste of calories and money.  I grew up trying out varying degrees of dark chocolate.  I'm pretty sure I was the only 10 year old who (1) would even try anything darker than a Hershey's Special Dark miniature and (2) regularly chose the 85% dark over the slightly sweeter 70% dark.  My love for the chocolate has not gone away, especially after finding a new supplier at Artisan Confections in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, VA.  This place might be the mecca for chocolate lovers everywhere.  Artisan Confections crafts gourmet chocolate bonbons that contain no artificial preservatives and therefore a shelf life of about 2 weeks.  These are some fancy chocolates and have cute edible designs on each yummy piece in flavors like lavender honey, espresso lemon, and peanut butter and jelly.

Artisan Confections 9 Piece Box

I've given them as gifts to two different women and they LOVED them.  My auntie was one lucky recipient and she should could not get over the mint flavor.  This is no Andes mint.  Dear Aunt C (aka Briana's mom) described it as "like taking a bite of a fresh sprig of mint right off the plant."  Take them as a hostess gift and you will always be asked back, I promise!

Artisan Confections does take online order so if you can't run down there for a pick up, they can be shipped straight to your door!  If you are lucky enough to live in the area, I'll give you a tip.  Artisan Confections has a small selection everyday of the "scratch" chocolates that are offered at a discount (usually 3-4 pieces per pack) for the bonbons designs that came out blurry or imperfect.  Trust me, no one will know if you eat them quick!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fresh Idea Friday: DIY Magnetic Makeup Portrait

My friend Ashley always sends great links my way. She knows my makeup collection in all it's massive jumbled glory, so she suggested a few ways to organize. I thought this DIY magnetic makeup display was super cute!

It is definitely great for those items you use every day. However, I doubt I could find a frame large enough to contain all my purple eyeshadows (I own about every shade of purple Urban Decay has to offer). I'm thinking a smaller frame for my more popular eyeshadows and a couple cute cups for my tinted moisturizer, eyeliners and mascara placed in front would be a great addition to my future bathroom.

Check out the instructions at Laura Thoughts blog and get crafting!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Melinda's Wedding Planning Update!

Weddings for me are fun to plan!  I love looking at wedding blogs, rummaging through magazines, and stalking vendors online.  However, they aren't without stress.  Right after Mr. 3 proposed, I remember feeling "whelmed" with the idea of planning, budgeting, and creating an event with less than 12 months to go (Mr. 3 wants to get married next week, but I told him I preferred September 2012...we compromised on June 2012).  I tend to be great at making lots of small decisions, settling on colors, and focusing on all the little details...but big decisions involving lots of money scare me a little.  I knew that coming up with a date, a church, and a venue would really alleviate a lot of this worry (what's the point of figuring out your escort cards and pew bows if you don't have a church or venue to put them in?).  I had decided to have the wedding in Mr. 3's hometown so that the older members of his family would be able to attend, so I definitely needed to find a church nearby.  We immediately went to take a tour of the church that Mr. 3 was baptized and confirmed in.  After viewing the church, I knew that I would not need to look anywhere else.  This church is the complete package visually - exposed church organ, stained glass, beautiful pews, stone floors, wooden arched ceilings, and, most importantly, not one square inch of icky red carpet to contend with in my photographs.  From a practical standpoint, there is a nice sized parking lot and it's located in a quiet neighborhood.  From a religious standpoint, I couldn't quite get a feel for it based off of our 30 minute visit, but I feel good about it knowing that Mr. 3 grew up in the church.  Selecting a church was probably the most important part of planning a wedding for me.  Mr. 3 and I are super excited about seeing all of our friends and family and celebrating with them following the ceremony.  However, the ceremony is more important than anything else we plan, so I was glad to get this part figured out early on.

We are still working on the reception venue.  I have a place picked out, but we are ironing out the details of the contract.  From there, we will finalize our guest list and start meeting with vendors.  We've also started our registries (my registry review will be coming up soon!), but after my Priscilla of Boston meltdown last weekend, I'm going to hold off on dress shopping for another month or two.  After consulting my Martha Stewart wedding planner, I discovered that I haven't checked off too many things on my 6 months or more list, but I must remind my overachieving, type A personality self that I've been engaged less than a month and not even Martha would expect more.  I've also got great ideas for save the dates, flowers, favors, and tablecloths; and whenever I need a break from my wedding plans, I start working on Briana's!  I'll keep you posted on the good, the bad, the ugly, and the DIY projects as I go, but for now feel free to send me your favorite tips on remaining stress free during your wedding me, I'm going to need them!   

Thrifty Thursday: Budget Travel

Whether you are planning your next vacation, weekend getaway, or honeymoon, it's important to save money where you can.  However, you don't want to wind up in some sketch hotel worrying about bed bugs and grocery feet.*  Try to save more money than you had originally planned on using so that you have a cushion should you see a great pair of leather boots in Italy, a piece of artwork in the streets of Paris, or once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a day trip.  I recently heard about this great travel website, from TravelNow which has awesome deals on four and five star hotels.  I did a little market research looking for week long vacations in June 2012 for Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Hawaii, Napa, and Rome.  All prices are in U.S. dollars per night based on one room and double occupancy and do not include all taxes and fees.

Buenos Aires
4 Star: Ranging from $87- $333
5 Star: $250-$468, but I found a room at the Four Seasons Buenos Aires for $420

4 Star: $130-$270
5 Star: $136-$450, plus a couple of uber swanky hotels for $795 and $1300 (yikes!). The $136 was for the Hilton.

Honolulu, Hawaii

4 Star: $130 (for the Doubletree)-$320
5 Star: Two hotels $425-$475

4 Star to 4 1/2 Star: $124-$700
5 Star: none available

4 Star: $175-$300
5 Star: $274-$700, I found a room at the Waldorf for $323

Obviously, there is quite a range based on the amenities offered at each hotel and some of these prices are for all inclusive hotels, which makes them more more affordable.  A quick check at a couple of other websites shows that this website is slightly cheaper.  For example, the Waldorf is $345 on its own website.   Over a six night stay, that means an extra $132 in your pocket. I think this is worth checking out especially for the four star hotels and a great selection of boutique hotels. 

*Grocery feet (noun)- refers to the grey/blackish residue left on the bottom of your feet after walking around barefoot at a grocery store or convenience store (a la Britney Spears in cutoffs and no shoes at the gas station), can also be obtained under certain conditions in hotel rooms as the result of dirty carpet

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wedding Tip Wednesday: Wedding Bands

I am a very impatient person, so despite only being engaged for a week I decided to check out wedding bands with J during our shopping trip last Saturday. I tried on various bands including diamond eternity bands, diamond and pink sapphire eternity bands, and a plain platinum band. I still don't know what exactly I want, but I know that the band should be thin and not distract from my engagement ring. I was surprised to discover that the diamond bands either were too distracting or did not form a cohesive look with my engagement ring. Even more surprising was that the diamond and pink sapphire band looked pretty good, not trite.

You can easily cut down on the price by having gemstones other than diamonds in your wedding band. Try alternating diamonds and another gemstone to maintain that sparkle that we love so much while adding a bit of personal flair to the band. Check out the Gemvara Rich & Thin Eternity Band. The website allows you to designate one or two types of gemstones. Here are some combinations that I liked.

Black & White Diamond in Platinum
on sale for $1,883
Iolite, Diamond in Platinum
on sale for $1,656

Smoky Quarts, Rhodolite Garnet
in 14k Rose Gold
on sale for $859

Stay tuned for next week's Wedding Tip Wednesday post which will explain all you need to know about metal options for men's wedding bands, featuring research by Engineering J! 

Thank Goodness for BBQ Sauce

My Sigma Kappa little Cynthia returned to Boston this past weekend. She had spent the previous school year abroad, so you can imagine how excited I was to see her. We went to J's apartment late in yesterday afternoon to cook supper and giggle about how she did not know her class schedule yet (MIT class started today). We are not the most focused set, so it took a long time to defrost the chicken. J came back a few hours later to find a half chopped onion and only two defrosted chicken breasts.

Since J was very hungry, I decided to start the pasta and just serve the chicken whenever it was done cooking. However, we all got distracted. J realized I had left the chicken in the oven after it had been cooking for more than 90 minutes! Obviously, it was far too dry to be eaten in the current state (not for a lack of trying on J's part). But instead of tossing it, I realized it could easily be turned into pulled bbq chicken thanks to Melinda's delicious recipe. After sitting overnight in my concoction of Sweet Baby Ray's, (a ton of) mustard, tobasco and Worcester sauce, the chicken is edible!

Thanks to Melinda for saving four neglected chicken breasts! Next time, I will definitely set a timer!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Trousseau Tuesday: Priscilla of Boston Closing!

After a nice day off from blogging in honor of Labor Day, we are back for Trousseau Tuesday!  As I'm sure many of you have heard, Priscilla of Boston (manufacturer of all pretty things bridal) is closing its doors for good after 65 years in the biz.  Although Mr. 3 says this was announced over two weeks ago, I didn't get the memo until Friday night date night. Mr. 3 and I were have a very nice date at Fireworks when I happened to glance at my Droid and saw the email.  After reading the news, I promptly began to have a meltdown.  I have been stalking the Priscilla of Boston website for several weeks, with a serious case of dress lust in my heart.  I immediately called Briana and my mother to tell them the gawdawful news.  After a few frantic discussions, we decided that I should grab a friend and head over to the Priscilla of Boston store in Tysons Corner to try on dresses and look at the accessories.  Everything in the stores was 40% off, but they would not take any new orders.

So, on Sunday, I ran over with a good, trustworthy friend (thanks Jenny C!!!) capable of giving me honest opinions and prevent me from having an public meltdowns.  We began looking through the racks.  This was my first dress shopping experience, but I already have a good idea of what I want in a dress (i.e. no strapless, ivory, fuller skirt, no puffy fairy godmother skirt, etc).  The first thing I noticed was that the dresses were not in good condition.  Some were missing buttons, others had dirt on them, several had ripped pieces big enough to stick your fist through.  The second thing that I noticed was the sizing.  I had called the store prior to going and I was told that they had every dress style in size 8, 10, and 12 (for those of you who aren't familiar, bridal sizes usually run two sizes smaller than street really street sizes 6, 8, and 10).  However, when I got there the samples were mostly 6, 8, and 10.  I didn't see a single size 12 dress and only one size 14.  I asked the store manager specifically about the dresses I was looking for and she said she only had one of the styles I was interested in.  Despite my disappointment, I was determined to keep and open mind and give it a chance.  Jenny helped me pick out several selections and we were immediately put in a room.  To sum up the next 20 mins or so, the first dress I tried on was very pretty and very flattering, but I felt it gave off the "cute" vibe and everything else was too tight or completely wrong for me.  While I'm happy to rock that "girl next door" vibe in my everyday life, on my wedding day I want to feel glamorous and beautiful.  If I could have my guests describe me in one word, I want them to say "stunning."  Until I get that feeling from a dress, I don't think I can commit.

Although I didn't find anything for me, I realized several things from this experience stylewise.  First of all, I like skirts with volume and I don't mind a train; however, the skirts that are gathered at the waist give me a a lot more junk in the trunk!  V-necks and boatneck dresses are flattering, but anything with a lot of crystals up top tended to be "too much."  Likewise, I was not a fan of too much lace or crystals around the hem because I felt like there wasn't enough to draw your eye upward.

While I am glad that I went to try on dresses, I was extremely disappointed in the shopping experience.  Jenny and I had only been in the dressing room for about 20 minutes when we were asked to leave so that another girl could try on dresses.  The store manager explained that they were limiting everyone to 45 mins in the dressing room and that I would need to leave the room, but I could re-enter after the next girl was finished.  I thought that this was quite odd, considering another bride had been in her dressing room since Jenny and I entered the store and was still in there.  Furthermore, this other bride had about 15 dresses in her room and none of the sales associates were removing the dresses after they had been rejected (even though I requested any of her rejects).  Additionally, the store manager seemed to think that Jenny and I were there to play dress up because she asked if we were even getting married and then wanted to know if either one of us was engaged.  Perhaps what most concerned me was the rack of dresses in the hallway outside of the main showroom.  I asked a sales girl if the dresses were on hold or if they were also available to try on.  After she assured me that we could go through the rack and they were not holding any dresses, we began looking through the choices.  The store manager then came by and told us to be careful, because some of the dresses were sold to other brides and were just waiting to be picked up.  Imagine my surprise to hear that the store was mixing merchandise for sale with several dream dresses that had already been sold! 

Finally, I will say that while I love the Priscilla of Boston collection, the sample dresses were in such poor shape that I could not have imagined buying a lot of them in the condition they were in.  For example, there was one $5000 dress that had a hole the size of a hotel bar of soap ripped through the top part of the dress in addition to missing crystals and buttons.  It would have been very expensive to repair and at only 40% off I don't know who would pay $3000 for that dress.

If you are interested in checking out Priscilla of Boston before they close and you've already purchased a dress, I think it's a great resource for veils, bridal jewelry, and accessories.  What about y'all?  Anyone else as sad as I am to see the store close?  I'm just getting started on the dress hunt, do you have any East Coast bridal salon suggestions for me?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fresh Idea Friday: Windex for Your Diamonds?

I recently received a call from my freshman year college roomie, Mary Elizabeth, who remains one of my dearest friends. We don't get to talk that often so it was quite a treat to catch up with her! Over the course of our chit chatting about all things wedding, including engagement rings and wedding bands, Mary Elizabeth told me that her dear mama, Miss Bonnie, uses Windex to keep her diamonds sparkly and bright. According to Miss Bonnie's jeweler, Windex won't harm the diamond or setting and with a quick squirt and rub with a cotton cloth they will shine right up. Mary Elizabeth has followed her wise mama's advice since the day she got married in December 2006 and has not noticed any problems with this cleaning method.

I did my due diligence through some google slouthing and found step by step instructions from for using the Windex. I also conference g-chatted with Briana about this great idea. Briana thinks that although you may have to be more cautious with softer stones, pearls, or opals, your diamonds should be ok. As she puts it, "Diamonds are very hard. Anything that can harm diamonds also kills people." I now may have to rewatch My Big Fat Greek Wedding in order to try all the other miracles that Windex can perform.

Posh Purpose for Your Man: Gift Idea

Ok ladies. Briana and I have come to the conclusion that men need our help as much as anyone else with gift giving, clothing, advice, etc. We've decided to start a new feature called "Posh Purpose for Your Man" with ideas to share with your sweetie and provide help to make your wedding planning, gift giving, day-to-day life easier.*

First up, groomsmen gifts. I'm sure most men would prefer to hand their bros a six pack or bottle of Jack, but us girls think that gifts should have meaning, provide remembrances, be reused, and most importantly not be swilled on a Sunday in front of the tube watching Swamp Loggers or football. While lusting over furniture at Pottery Barn this week, I came across this great, affordable, and manly gift.

For $24, your man can get his homies a cigar box and for another $16, he can reward their friendship with a cigar cutter. For $6.50 extra, the cigar cutter can be monogramed with his bosom buddy's initial. Both gifts are silver plated and lightweight. All he has to do is throw in some cigars and he's set! Since you ladies will probably be doing the ordering, you might also be excited to find out that Pottery Barn offers free shipping on these two items. I think that these are great personalized gifts for the wedding party. Make sure to take a picture of all the groomsmen at the end of the night as they will probably all be "bonding" over an adult beverage and cigar...after all men will be men.

What do you think about our new feature? Is Posh Purpose something you share with your man...or just a guilty pleasure?

*Briana and I are not running a relationship advice column - Dear Abby has cornered the market on that one. However, should we provide earth shattering, relationship saving advice we accept gifts of thanks at all times of the year. We especially like Kate Spade, Godiva, and puppies.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thrifty Thursday: Macy's Home Sale

Macy's currently has a lot of home items marked down and you get an extra 10% off all home items by entering the code "FALL." If you know a bride who is registered at Macy's, you should definitely check out what she has on her list. You should be able to find plenty of marked down options for a wedding or bridal shower gift. Some deals are so great, you could end up purchasing far more than expected while staying within your budget!