Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Trip to the Alter on a Budget

No, I have never been married myself but I been planning events since there were events to plan. Massacre Ball for Middle School Halloween? Yep, that was me. Ok, I don't think we ultimately were allowed to call it that but my chalk outlines of dead bodies made the cut complete with a blood pool. While I don't suggest that you go this route for your wedding (though for some this might be ideal), I thought I would share some links and ideas to help avoid your trip to the alter making a serious dent in your wallet.

I think this link is a great place to start if you are on a budget for your wedding. It offers suggestions for all of the major wedding expenses which is helpful to find places to save even if you have already started making commitments elsewhere.

Personally I have not spent a ton of time on Etsy but that is only because I know I will spend a TON of time on Etsy once I start. I assisted a friend of mine with some wedding planning a few years ago and she managed to find some amazing deals on Etsy. For example, she found a vendor to make a lovely birdcage style veil for around $50 that looked exactly like the one we found in the bridal salon priced at $250. She also purchased several pieces of wedding jewelry as well as custom designed martini glasses for her bridesmaids all from Etsy. You will be amazed at the quality (and quantity) that is available on this site. Here are a couple items I found with just a quick look:

These would be lovely on a sweet table, as a favor, or at a shower.

This particular designer has a variety of options and customizable templates. Once your design is complete, you are sent the final version for printing at your favorite local print shop or for an additional cost this designer can arrange on your behalf.

Idea - Cylinder Centerpieces
These Fillable Cylinder Centerpieces from The are a useful addition to any wedding and at $5.75 a piece they are a steal. I have seem similar items at Bed, Bath & Beyond; Crate & Barrel; CB2; and IKEA but I think this looks to be the best set as they have actually been designed to work together. I have found others to be too large to sit on a table and/or the variance in height to be too great. There are so many options with these types of cylinders - candy station, candles, or florals just to name a few. Below you can find a version of a classy yet simple arrangement I often see in luxury hotels. The site I grabbed the photo from has instructions if you wish to recreate and can be found here.

Budget Weddings Magazine
Another great resource right now is the current publication by Woman's Day magazine titled "Budget Weddings". It is most likely to be available at bookstores and other locations that have a large selection of periodicals.

There are lots of ways to save on events and weddings are no different. Hopefully if you or someone you know finds themselves planning a wedding on a budget some of this information will be helpful. If you have a particular question about working around a budget with a specific aspect of your wedding, feel free to contact me and I will try to help!

More event and entertaining posts will also be coming your way in the near future! In the meantime, does anyone have any helpful cost saving tips they used at their own wedding? What about thoughts on must spend items?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Product Placement Wednesday - Table in a Bag

This week's product is one I have been coveting for years! Just in time to kick off of the summer season this Memorial Day Weekend, it is Crate & Barrel's Table in a Bag.

As implied by the name, this table collapses and fits into an easy to carry bag. Crate & Barrel also offers matching chairs should you be opposed to sitting on the ground. This table is perfect for picnics, taking to the beach, or even a fun alternative to the "kids table" for your little ones. I personally am looking forward to getting one to take with me to the Cinespia summer cemetery movies at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Right now Crate & Barrel is offering the Table in a Bag at a special price of $33.96 (normally $39.95) and is eligible for free home delivery! If anyone is looking to surprise me with an early half birthday gift, this would be a great choice!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Product Placement Wednesday - Ms. & Mrs. Minimergency® Kit for Her

I love when I just happen upon genius. This is exactly what happened to me on Saturday while shopping at Sephora aka "The Mother Ship". While waiting in the check out line, I was browsing all of the impulse buys/mini products (I don't know about you but miniature versions of full size products are just so tempting - I think it's a girl thing.). That's when I saw the adorable Ms. & Mrs. Minimergency® Kit for Her.

The Ms. & Mrs. Minimergency Kit for Her contains the following items: 0.017 oz Blistex Lip Ointment, Dental Floss, Ice Drops Breath Freshener, Emery Board, 0.8 oz Clear Nail Polish, 1 Nail Polish Remover Pad, 0.1 oz Hair Spray, Clear Elastics, Earring Backs, 1 Stain Remover Towelette, Double-Sided Tape, Mending Kit, 1 Deodorant Towelette, 1 Small Latex-Free Bandage, 1 Regular Tampon, & 1 Packet of 2 Tablets of Advil.

With all of those items what WOULDN'T you use this kit for??? This kit is perfect for the desk at work, your car, traveling (everything is TSA approved), and makes a lovely gift for brides/bridesmaids. With a price tag of $13, you can afford to keep one in more than one place!

Ms. & Mrs. makes a variety of these fabulous kits tailored to a variety of situations including Mother of the Bride/Groom, Labor & Delivery, and College. While the Minimergency can be ordered via Sephora, all other varieties can be ordered direct through the Ms. & Mrs. site.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Bachelor Dinner, Part 8

I know it has been well over a month since The Bachelor wrapped and I still have yet to share all of our dinner recipes. I figured I had better get with it since The Bachelorette starts on Monday! Also, since these meals took place in January, my memory is starting to slip. For the sake of time and interest level, I will include all of the missing items (that I can remember) in one post. Please note that while we are giant pigs, we did not eat everything in one sitting. These are probably some of the easiest items we made all season and guess where I did nearly all of the shopping - that's right - Trader Joe's.

Roasted Chicken Patties with Onions & Feta
1 Package/2 Trader Joe's Roasted Chicken Patties
1/2 Cup Trader Joe's Balsamic Glazed Grilled Sweet Onions (approximate amount) - alternate recipe available here.
1/4 Cup Trader Joe's Fat Free Feta
Chives - optional garnish

1. Heat chicken patties per instructions. If using fresh ground chicken, prepare as desired.
2. Heat balsamic onions in microwave per instructions. If making from scratch, prepare according to directions available here.
3. Top chicken patties with onions. Sprinkle feta on top.
4. Garnish with chopped chives if desired.

We enjoyed our chicken patties on a plate but I think this would be equally good on a roll. Our sides this evening included a salad and Trader Joe's Sun-dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Ravioli with Basil Olive Oil.

Turkey Bolognese with Meatballs
1 Package Trader Joe's Turkey Bolognese "Just Sauce"
4-6 Trader Joe's Turkey Meatballs
Whole Wheat Pasta (You choose the shape and amount. I tend to use fettuccine or fusilli and no more than 3/4 cup cooked per person.)
Shaved Parmesan Cheese - optional garnish

1. Cook pasta to desired level of doneness. Drain and set aside.
2. When pasta is nearly done cooking, begin heating bolognese sauce. I use the microwave instructions and find that it takes a bit longer than stated on the box. Be prepared to adjust to work with your microwave.
3. Once the bolognese sauce is heated, heat the desired number of turkey meatballs. Again, I use the microwave for both items but the stove top is also an option.
4. Place pasta on plate, top with meatballs and finish with bolognese sauce.
5. Garnish with Parmesan cheese if desired.

This very filling (and quite possibly the easiest) meal with accompanied by an arugula salad and homemade garlic bread made with roasted garlic and Parmesan cheese.

So there probably will not be a menu for the premiere of The Bachelorette next week due to some scheduling challenges but new Monday dinner recipes will be back soon! If you have ideas or suggestions of things you would like us to try and make simple & healthy, let me know!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Product Placement Wednesday - Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral Sunscreen

My loyal readers who also know me in the offline world know how incredibly fair skinned I am. The sun and I have been fighting for a long time but I am determined to win. Finding the latest and greatest in sunscreen is basically one of my missions in life. However when I find an amazing product I stick with it. One of my new (to me) favorite products is Peter Thomas Roth's line of Instant Mineral powder sunscreens.

While I would not recommend using this in lieu of your regular sunscreen, if you are spending the day in the sun, it is perfect for touch ups throughout the day. Since it is translucent, I have also used it instead of face powder to add another layer of protection to my daily moisturizer/sunscreen. Personally I prefer the Oily Problem Skin SPF 30 as I am not a fan of shiny skin.

If your skin is more on the dry side I would avoid this version instead opting for the original Instant Mineral SPF 30 or the Instant Mineral SPF 45.

Looking for an extra glow? They also offer Bronze Instant Mineral SPF 30 with three setting to customize your color.

Let me know what you think of these products! I have yet to try the bronzer so I would love to hear your thoughts.

Looking for other new sun care products? I can't vouch for them but Real Simple can! Here are their 6 New Innovative Sunscreens.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A little bit of This and a little bit of That....

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Today I feel like I should post something holiday appropriate but I didn't really plan that well. Back in February I posted a great recipe for Pulled Chicken Tacos that will be delightful today though not entirely Mexican. We have also enjoyed great tamales from Heirloom LA along with "homemade" sides that you might find to be a wonderful addition to today's menus.

Not sure if this is the "this" or the "that" but I came across a few sites this week that I found extremely interesting.

This site lists the top baby names for the past year and also includes a full database of names with search functionality. I am obsessed with names (babies not so much) so this is one of those pages I could play with for hours. What did I learn about my own name? The year I was born was the second most popular year for the name Gretchen with a rank of 198. That must be why it seems the highest percentage of my fellow Gretchens seem to be my age. In fact, there were two Gretchens in my kindergarten class. Another fun site for names that includes meanings, drawbacks (formally listed as "teasing nicknames"), etc. is BabyNamer.

When you order a sweet carbonated beverage do you order a pop, soda or a Coke? Okay, maybe this site doesn't break it down into regional vocabulary but it does discuss dialects throughout our country. It's a little difficult to maneuver but still interesting. I was a little disappointed to see that the "Cleveland" accent has yet to make the page but hopefully one of you will straighten that out.

Have a great day, drink lots of tequila, and tell me all of your crazy stories and or share your recipes for whatever delicious Mexican food you whip up today!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Product Placement Wednesday - Wine Wipes

Did you miss me? On The Tart Side was on a brief hiatus while I was visiting the parentals but I'm back with a great item for Product Placement Wednesday!

Ok, I'll admit - I have never actually tried Wine Wipes but have been dying to do so! As a regular red wine drinker, I often find that after a few (or maybe more than a few) glasses of wine my lips and teeth have a lovely Cabernet colored stain. It isn't always convenient to brush your teeth in between glasses and even if it was - who would want to do that? Mint + wine = gross. Wine Wipes have been formulated not to effect the taste of your wine by freshening your breath with orange blossom which is found naturally in red wine.

The makers of Wine Wipes also have a sister product called Pearly Wipes which are useful for a variety of situations but include peppermint oil for that minty fresh feeling.

Have any of you tried this amazing product? I would love to hear your feedback! Remember you do not need to be a registered member or following this site to comment.