Monday, March 26, 2012

Munchie Monday: Avocado Smoothie (?!?!)

Briana and I have a deep and abiding love for avocados...mmmm....obsession actually might be a better word.  While we love our guacamole and chips, we will also take them plain with a fork.  We spent many a night eating just an avocado for dinner (with lots of berries for dessert!), topped with a little bit of Lawry's seasoning salt (aka my special magic), tons of lime juice, and two kinds of hot sauce drizzled over the top.  On the rare occasion I have had avocado ice cream and I loved it!  However, sadly without an ice cream machine (which I'm better off without) this treat doesn't come my way very often.

In my quest for wedding weight loss, I've been trying to find ways to get more veggies in my life at more meals to fill up my tummy.  In my quest for lifelong happiness, I've been trying to find ways to get more avacado in my life.  See how these two coincide?

I recently came across this recipe for an avocado smoothie with about 215 calories and it is yummy (don't knock it until you try it!):

Avocado Smoothie (for 1) 
1/2 an avocado (squirt lime juice on the leftover half and leave the seed inside, it will keep it from turning brown)
juice from 1/2 a lime
1 granny smith apple cored and chopped
1/2 cup water

Blend together all ingredients.  If you need it to be cold, throw a few ice cubes in.  When making smoothies for one, I recommend shelling out the $30 for a personal sized blender like this Bella Cucina model from Target (I bought mine on sale for $20).  It's really really easy to clean and you save time in the morning because the blending jar can also be used as a to-go cup (it comes with lids).

If you have any yummy wonderful suggestions for using avocados, please let us know!  We eat them anyway we can get them (except for Briana, she won't always eat them in Boston because they are too far from their natural habitat).

Friday, March 23, 2012

Wedding Diet Woes

Briana asked me awhile back to do up a post on wedding weight loss....and by awhile back, I mean like August, right after Mr. 3 proposed...which is about when I started panicking about being a fat bride.  Now, I must say that everyone tells me I'm not fat, but like most of those mean girls that we carry around in our inner voice tells me different and I have never felt slim or trim in my entire life despite spending 15 years in dance class growing up.  This is an extremely hard post for me to write and I know it's not our usual type of blog post....but I feel like there are so many brides and women in general who are going through the same thing, that I thought it needed to be written.

I packed on about 20 lbs of "love fluff" (which is what I call it when you start dating someone and you spend more time with the person snuggling than you do on the treadmill) after Mr. 3 and I started dating through a combination of eating out more, vacationing, stress, and also a couple of non-life threatening medical concerns that the doctors either refuse to treat or don't really know how to treat which make me extremely tired (I have PCOS and subclinical hypothyroidism...feel free to google).  I won't go through the medical details here, but to say it has been challenging....I can't even describe.

I'll also spare you all of the stops and starts I've had and all the many many many diets and exercise routines that I have tried, but I refuse to take diet pills or do extreme crazy workout routines because they simply aren't sustainable.  I use Oprah as my guide on this...I remember watching one of her shows where she was talking about her workout and diet routine and how "we too could see results like Oprah."  Well, the woman was doing two-a-days at the gym and not eating dinner if she didn't get home until after 7 PM (she brewed herself a cup of tea with lemon to keep from knawing Stedman's arm in his sleep).  Oprah said if she got hungry during the day she would have 5 almonds to keep her satisfied.  HAVE YOU EVER LOOKED AT 5 ALMONDS?!?!?  I have certainly tried this trick (like so many others) and let me tell you 5 almonds doesn't do diddly squat.  While I think Oprah is a great lady at any size you find her...she has clearly fallen off the wagon (and freely admits it).  Diet pill (which I'm not saying Oprah has used) are simply so unhealthy I'm surprised they haven't been outlawed.  They either don't work, have horrible side effects, or later we find out that they are a close cousin to the crack and speed you find on the street corner.

All fall, I stressed and worried and failed miserably at losing weight by myself.  My exercising came in spurts and I was propping myself up on caffeine and sugar to get through the work days.  I tried on wedding dresses at a few stores and felt depressed/tearful every time I looked in the mirror because 1) the majority of the samples were a size 8 or 10, which is a 4 and 6 in a street size and 2) the dresses that did come in my size were not what I was looking for at all. 

Mr. 3 was actively supporting me through all of this and doing his own research on the side to try and help me.  He finally suggested that I see a nutritionist, because at the bare minimum it might be a way to handle the PCOS symptoms.

Enter Katherine Tallmadge, nutritionist extraordinaire.  I started seeing her the week before Christmas (iiiiii know...what was I thinking, dieting at Christmas time???).  Katherine has written her own book and appears regularly on news shows and in the Washington Post.  I explained all my issues to her and she was so helpful and kind.  We mapped out a weight loss plan which involves me wearing a pedometer so that I can make sure I'm getting at least 12,000 steps a day and also tracking what I eat to make sure I don't have more than 1,600 calories in a day.  She also has a background in behavioral therapy which she uses to help me figure out what modifications I can make to my life so that I can get my steps in and not exceed my calorie quota for the day.

Let me tell you though...I'm not a success story yet.  Since January 1st (my goal for the first two weeks of our appointments was just to get through the holidays without gaining any weight...which I accomplished!), I've lost about 6-7 lbs.  While I'm happy with any weight loss and I feel a definitely difference in my body, I've got a long way to go and time is running out.  I would like to lose an additional 30 lbs between now and the wedding and some days I really don't know how I'm ever going to do that.  I get up at 5 AM to get to the gym 4-5 days a week to put in an hour long workout and I track my calories.  I do cheat a little on this from time to time, but I've gotten a lot better in the past month and I'm staying close to the 1,600 calories about 90% of the time.  I've got an appointment with a new doctor to make sure that it isn't my medical condition that's holding me back, but if they still refuse to treat...I'm not sure what to do.

I want to feel really beautiful on my wedding day and (I'm not ashamed to admit a little vanity) I want my guests to say "she looks stunning."  While my mother, Briana, and Mr. 3 all say I have nothing to worry about, I can't help feeling that I will look at my wedding photos and just see the X number of pounds that I didn't lose in time.  Katherine says that everyday you should take 5 minutes to visualize what your goal is to keep yourself motivated.  I think it sounds a little touchy-feely myself, but it doesn't cost me any money to give it a I try and picture either myself at my bridal fittings with the seamstress saying "I don't know how we are ever going to take this dress in!" or my favorite....walking down the aisle slim and trim (and tan) towards Mr. 3.

I'll keep y'all posted about any tips, tricks, or successes I have, but if you have any words of encouragement for a bridal dieter, let me know!  I certainly need them!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Florists and the Grocery Store

As promised in my earlier post, I thought I would share with y'all how I'm saving some major moo-lah on my flowers. One of my biggest non-negotiables for this wedding has been that I want beautiful flowers...and lots of them.  I was extremely worried for awhile that this non-negotiable was not going to happen because flowers can run you thousands (and I'm not talking low thousands).  Yikes! 

My dear sweet Mama and I had heard that you could save quite a bit of $$$ by using a grocery store florist.  I'm not talking about those stores that have teeny tiny corners devoted towards a few bouquets of aging roses (designed to sell to forgetful husbands, I'm sure).  What we mean is the grocery store in the nice part of town with the refrigerated displays of floral arrangements who usually have a florist on staff at all times.  For those of you lucky enough to be near a Wegmans grocery store, these are pretty standard...but for the rest of us it can be hit or miss.

Not being from Roanoke, I was a little worried about finding a suitable grocery store and I had heard that Kroger had the lockdown on the grocery store chain market (which is not a store I grew up with and they don't have them in the DC area either).

Enter Mr. 3's stepmother, who did some calling around for me and tracked down a referral to the Kroger at Bonsack location for their florist, Vicki Chambers.  Vicki does all the bridal shows in the area and is working on a portfolio of all the wedding flowers she has done for past brides.  I met with Vicki at Thanksgiving to find out the general types of flowers that will be in season in July and a general idea of price point.  Vicki told me to bring pictures of what I liked so she could give me a better idea of pricing. 

This particular Kroger location is HUGE and includes a cafe sitting area next to the floral department which is where we met.  I brought along some initial pictures, mostly with the idea that I want all my flowers to be soft and fluffy and include bushes of baby's breath.

Pinned Image
Style Me Pretty

I also knew that I wanted my bouquet to be all white and the bridesmaid's bouquets to be soft shades of pink.  Ditto for all the centerpieces.

Love those peonies!
Style Me Pretty
What I didn't really care about (besides the baby's breath), was the type of flower used.  My theory is that no one notices the type of flower as much as they notice the volume of flowers.  So, I was prepared to embrace the idea of carnations and garden roses (which can resemble peonies) wholeheartedly.  What I wasn't prepared for, was the florist to give me exactly what I wanted.

Vicki told me not to bother with carnations or garden roses because she could get me peonies for waaaaaay cheap.  Vicki explained to me that because Kroger has such large buying power, the grower's give them a great deal...which gets passed on to the customer.  Here's a rough price estimate for my wedding party flowers using PEONIES:

Bridal Bouquet: $100
Bridesmaid Bouquets: $25-$30 ea. for 8-10 blooms  (if you just fell out of your chair, please pick yourself up and continue reading)
Groom's Boutonnieres: $12
Groomsmen, Ring Boy, and Father's Boutonnieres: $10 ea
Mother's corsages and attendants (using roses): $15 ea

Total Wedding Party Cost Estimate: Less than $500!!!

But wait.  It gets better.  My large bushes of baby's breath, like the arrangement pictured above, (which will be used on 6 round tables at the reception) are going to be $30 each.  For my rectangular tables, I'm putting 5 low arrangements of varying heights composed of roses, hydrangeas, and more baby's breath, with a look similar to this one:

Pinned Image
Style Me Pretty

....which are going to run me about $60 per table for 10 tables.  My altar arrangement and flowers for the guest book table at the church are going to be about $70 each.  (Note: These prices don't include the vases/containers, which I am supplying myself.)

Total Floral Arrangement Cost Estimate: Less than $1000!!!*

I followed up with Vicki in February to give her the exact pictures that I wanted copied and I'm going to provide her with a swatch of my tablecloth fabric, bridesmaid dresses, and paint samples with my color palette for her to reference as she places the order for her supplies and assembles all the arrangements.  At our second appointment, I brought a few of the containers I would be using to get a more accurate estimate of the prices. Vicki told me she would throw in the toss bouquet for free using the left over materials and she offered to make a mock-up of the bridesmaids bouquets and my bouquet, but told me to wait until peony season started so that the mockups wouldn't be as expensive.  I also do not have to sign a contract or put down a deposit...I have to let her know about a month and a half before the wedding the exact quantities I need (which may change because the room layout hasn't been finalized for the reception) and then I will pay for them the week of the wedding at the check out line...exactly as if I was purchasing toilet paper and milk.

Ok, so now for the bad news.  Since I'm supplying my own containers (which has involved countless trips with Mr. 3 to TJ Maxx, Marshall's, Home Goods, etc), I have to drop them off the Saturday before the wedding.  Kroger also won't deliver the flowers like a regular florist would...I will be enlisting two volunteers the morning of the wedding to pick up and transport the flowers (one for the church and one for the reception....I can't take the chance that the flowers will wilt in the car due to the July heat).  I'm also taking the chance that Vicki won't quit her job between now and my wedding (I questioned her overall job satisfaction and she seems to love what she does, so this is a minor worry!).  While these are going to be logistical headaches, I'm willing to pop the tylenol to deal with them because I'm getting such an awesome deal on such a large amount of flowers!   

What headaches are you dealing with these days?  Do you think they are worth the $ savings?  Leave a comment below!  If you'd like to see more floral inspiration, check us out on Pinterest!

*Thrifty Tip Extra: If the grocery store has a rewards program that awards you savings points to put toward gas, make sure to swipe the card when they ring up your transaction.  Since we don't have any Krogers nearby, we will be using Mr. 3's dad's rewards card.  I hope he has lots of gas cans ready to fill up...they may all be free!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi Day + Exciting Announcement!

Happy Pi Day, y'all! It is March 14, or 3.14 :) The MIT math nerd in me loves pi day. I hope everyone celebrated with some pie! I was going to make a lemon merengue pie in honor of the occasion but I got too distracted by wedding stationary and other things.. check out my Pinterest boards to see why I am not a productive person!

Melinda and I have some exciting news regarding Posh Purpose. As you may have noticed from the new image to the right, we are now Southern Weddings Bridal bloggers! We are thrilled to be part of such a wonderful group of ladies - you should totally check out the other blogs on the list! We love wedding blogs of all kinds as they introduce us to fresh ideas :) Melinda and I love love LOVE Southern Weddings and check it every day for inspiration and general ooh and ahh-ing over the beautiful photographs and creative wedding ideas. As Melinda's wedding planning reaches breakneck speeds and she starts crafting more than sleeping, our crafty blog posts will grow. And I am giving Mother and myself the rest of March to consider all our options for my wedding so that come April, we can make firm decisions without feeling any regret! We have commitment issues when it comes to overall wedding schemes..

As always, feel free to send us some love, advice, ideas, questiones, etc! We <3 our readers!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wedding Suit Decision: Made!

J placed the order for his wedding suit pretty recently, as I mentioned earlier. It is absolutely wonderful to have one less (semi) major thing to think about!

We had a wonderful experience at the Boston Brooks Brothers location - since it was the 20% off Made to Measure special, Brooks Brothers had sent in two specialists who were extremely helpful and friendly. They helped us narrow down our fabric selections to one, make all the ridiculously detailed decisions neither J or I had been aware of, and offered general guidance for his growing adult appropriate wardrobe. And even better, they extended the 20% discount to  go towards a sport coat when J's suit arrives. The discount is only for one or two weekends out of the year, but Brooks Brothers is in for the long game (especially since J cannot buy off the rack). The specialists immediately picked up on J's reluctance to make another large purchase that day and so they told him not to stress and made a note in his file along with their fabric suggestions (taking into account the Southern climate and versatility in all seasons). I am so very excited, because I have been telling him he needs a sport coat for a very long time and the 20% discount will be strong motivation for him to finally take the plunge :)

While my attire is under strictest security, J's is not so I will share. One of the few constant visions of my wedding is grey menswear. It is probably due to the love all good southern girls have for the Confederacy, which makes it even more amusing that my Ohio-raised fiance will be wearing grey. However, I justify this to myself by remembering that his family did not come to the United States until after the War of Northern Aggression. J being his infinitely sweet and cooperative self agreed to buy a grey suit.

We chose a thin not quite charcoal grey herringbone lightweight wool. Brooks Brothers allows all kinds of customizations, all of which are free of charge. J chose an extra inner pocket for glasses (he says sun, I say eye - he is being so stubborn about getting new eyeglasses!), a special loop for the tooth of the belt to hold it in place, hand stitching along the outside of the lapels, just to name a few! The suit is also getting a special striped lining in MIT colors. It was not my first choice - despite it coordinating very well with our fabric, I do not like red. However, J really loved it and since it is so rare to see him get excited about clothing I decided to let him have his MIT themed lining. Of course, I made him promise that the lining would not show in any of our wedding pictures unless I give him permission for a specific shot. The specialists at the store kindly (and strongly) suggested to J that he keep his suit buttoned at all times.

The tailor took tons and tons of measurements to achieve the very fitted look we wanted. J estimates at least 30 different measurements, including the length of his thumbs. The tailor also found a way to make non-pleated pants (my choice) feel comfortable for J (his choice). Every time J gets measured, people stare in awe. I suppose a 6'4" man with a 6'10" wingspan is a bit of an oddity :)

Overall, we really enjoyed our Brooks Brothers experience and I 100% recommend it to anyone who wants or needs a custom made suit. Everyone was truly helpful and accommodating and totally not pushy at all. You can ask your local store when the next 20% deal weekend will be - they are very upfront with the information. And the price they give you at the beginning is the overal price, no matter how many custom details you add. In the end you will receive a completely custom made outfit. I am happy to answer any questions! I know things like custom made suits can be intimidating at times, so feel free to ask - or share any of your experiences with menswear for weddings or otherwise!

Caterers....the bane of my existence...

Hey pretty ladies!  I have been quite busy/crazed/accomplished over the last month of wedding planning.  I've managed to:
- finalize the save the dates (and their ugly stamps)
- pick out the bridesmaid's dresses, shoes, and gifts
- purchase the flower girl dresses, jewelry, and gifts
- pick out wedding invitations (more on those later...I'm totally in love with what I chose!) including my thank you notes
- pick out flowers (more on that later as well...I'm going to let you in on a secret to saving some major moo-lah)...and still have peonies.
However, I have one big snag in the planning.  I have no food.  That's right, I haven't signed a contract with a caterer and at this point I don't plan to.

I'm sure that some of you readers just gasped and I don't blame you.  Before you fall out of your chair, let me reassure you that I plan on having something (and a whole lot of something) to offer my guests.  I'm just not using a caterer.
When I first started planning this wedding, I read all the reviews for the caterers in the Roanoke area and I contacted a few to get preliminary proposals.  I have done a little bit of event planning through my sorority days, so I'm familiar with food costs and contracting and I know it's not cheap.  However, what I wasn't prepared for was the almost $1,000 fee to provide real china and glassware for 125 guests.  Staring at the total of about $7,000 for heavy appetizers and no booze pained my Posh Purpose heart...especially when our expected guest count grew to 150 people.  This seemed to be about average across the board and switching to disposable china and glassware would only have cut the bill about $500.

I've also never been crazy about wedding dinners to begin's usually a lot of overcooked meat and starchy carbs.  I've only been to one wedding with dinner, exactly one, where everything I ate was wonderful.  The thought of spending that much money on (potentially) icky food was not appealing.  So, we started looking into other options.  I knew that I wanted to have dancing and from past bridesmaid experience, I knew I wanted all day to get ready.  That meant that brunches, lunches, and teas were going to be out.  Briana had brought up the idea of an elegant dessert party to me a couple of times...and one day it just clicked.  I love dessert, it's very elegant, and easy.  It's also very pretty to look at on a buffet table and I drool every time I check out Amy Atlas stuff on the web. 

Mr. 3 was behind it from the beginning and so we started looking into it.  I knew that we would need to offer some savory items and things like fruit so that 1) the men folk didn't riot and 2) the elderly didn't go into diabetic comas.

We took a few things into consideration...mainly that we needed to have the ceremony and reception at a time when dinner wouldn't be expected and that we needed to let people know on the reception card included in the invitation that we would be having "savories, desserts, and dancing", as my mama put it.  So we included this information in our invitation and we settled on 7 PM for the ceremony with the reception starting around 8 PM.  We are having a live band, which I have always wanted, as well as wine, beer, champagne, and possibly mojitos as our signature drink.  Which means we shouldn't have any problem keeping the party going until 12 AM!

I started working on the menu and where we could source all of our food (this is NOT a 100% DIY affair...I'd like to hold on to my sanity and my hair).  I knew I would need a wedding coordinator, so I interviewed two ladies on the phone.  One lady tried to talk me back into having a boring buffet dinner, but my second lady was behind the idea from the start!  I signed a contract with Vicki Itson from Events by Simplicity and she has been such a help!

I still thought...maybe there is a chance that we could find a caterer to provide this type of food, so I went back to the list and contacted the caterers in the area.  What a waste of time. 

They either didn't call me back or they still wanted $5,500 for dessert and essentially tea sandwiches served on plastic disposables.  My final breaking point was when I took the time to meet with a caterer in person while visiting Roanoke and a month passed without them even bothering to put together a proposal. (Side Note: The economy must not be as bad as everyone on the news says, because I have NEVER had this much trouble getting people to take $.)

So, I'm coming up with my own menu and sourcing it from local restaurants, Sam's Club/Costco, and family contributions.  It's still a work in progress, but I'm very excited about self catering my wedding because I know that everything will taste great, look beautiful, and my Posh Purpose heart won't feel like we were robbed by a bunch of caterer bandits.

I'll keep you posted on the menu, details, quantities, and all the other nitty gritty as the weeks go on!  Wedding planning is picking up speed, but I'll keep posting as I go!

What things are you doing to save $ or offer something different and fun?  Do you have any suggestions for me?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Weekend of Deliciousness & Happy Birthday J

This past Friday was J's birthday (as well as one of my nieces - love you, Gabriella!) so I cooked up my cast iron fried chicken and gravy, along with spoon rolls and canned green beans simmered in chicken broth, vinegar, black pepper and garlic powder. I found the spoon roll recipe on Southern Living and they turned out alright (I did not measure the salt and probably should have added more than I did). They are cooked in a muffin tin and are super fast to make up - great for a party! The texture is a bit odd when you are mixing up the batter, in case you want to try it out :)

We went up to visit Josiah's brother and his wife where we had some Mexican food for supper - it was surprisingly good for the Northeast. Sunday morning, we had biscuits and sausage gravy, lots of fruit, bacon, eggs, and some potato mixture cooked in bacon grease and onions. Talk about a feast! J definitely loved all the delicious calorie laden food. According to facebook, J had an amazing weekend full of celebrating his 23rd birthday. He lies about his age :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Posh Purpose Reader Submission

From my dear mama and loyal Posh Purpose reader (on the subject of invitations):

Dear Posh Purpose,

I would like to suggest that in these hard times, you eliminate attire from your invitation and let people wear what they have on hand.

The stores are full of high priced synthetics which many may not want to purchase for just one occasion.  Guests should feel comfortable and not stressed by having to purchase additional clothing.  Of course, those who wish to buy new ensembles may certainly do so.

Love, Melinda's Dearest Mama and Briana's Favorite Aunt

Who do you think I got my opinions on synthetics from?