Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Furniture Facelift

As JJ and I approach our one year anniversary (holy cow!) as the newly married Justus family, we've been holding lots of conversations about re-evaluations of our life. Are we where we thought we'd be (both in marriage and in life)? What would we like to still do with our young, kid-free years? What would we like to put our money aside for to make our next big purchase? You know, the basic questions to answer, "Well that's where we were, here we are now, so where are we going?"

We've come to the conclusion that we're certainly happy, in love, and loving our life together, and we have just about everything we thought we'd have a year into marital bliss - with a still short wish list of wants - ie: get this girl a job! And we're keeping a running list of travel locations we'd like to take advantage of before we no longer qualify for the 'adult only' resorts. So that brought us to our big purchase question. With a new move on the horizon (aka: next week) to a new apartment we've narrowed our purchase choices down to furniture. (Keep in mind this is a very grown up decision for the couple who bought a new flatscreen tv as our romantic wedding gift to each other).

If you step into our current home it still looks like a bit of a Goodwill show room - my old dressers from childhood, hand-me-down bed frame, bachelor pad couches, and Target DIY shelving units. Mismatches galore and a nice long history of hand exchanges on most of the pieces. So after a year of wishing for a 'big-girl' apartment and nice newlywed pieces we've decided to save up for our first pieces of purchased furniture together...a new living room set. Something that is oversized (for my oversized JJ), modern, trendy, and dog fur resistant (but that's a whole 'nother topic).

With our summer savings going toward that, I have been researching my options to give the rest of our furniture a much needed facelift and to cure my own disgruntled self of my mismatch annoyance. Summer project, here I come!

Thanks in huge parts to my talented, crafty mother and my new neighbor, Lauren, who is a pro at furniture re-finishing, I have by-passed the highly toxic stripping and staining options and have opted for the time reducing practice of priming and painting. While not the classiest option or most beautiful, it's become the best way for me to blend the marriage of our furniture and the eye sore of our light vs dark stockpile of furniture. The winning team? Dark. I have selected a paint known as Chowning's Tavern Brown - a greyish, espressoesque color that depending on the light is rich in the mornings and muted at night.

With one dresser completed and awaiting a few coats of polyurethane I have six more to go - four more dressers, the legs of a chair, and a kitchen table and chair set. Ok, that's really about 12 pieces all together, but who's counting?

Wish me luck! Before and After photos to come...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My Wedding Hindsights

Recently, I have been asked by a local paper from my husband's hometown to contribute some ideas about my experience with the wedding planning process. We were married just under a year ago and the article asked for my thoughts on several areas of planning and what I might have done differently in hindsight. It was a short questionnaire and one that was pretty basic, but I figured why not post my thoughts here and let you all see a snip-it of my thoughts - before they get edited by the paper!

1. What did you learn about the planning process that you wish you'd known earlier?
There are lots of ways to cut costs and still have a beautiful wedding. Finances can be very stressful during the planning process, and it can be overwhelming to think of doing things yourself, but by enlisting the help of knowledgeable friends and family you can really make some gorgeous DIY pieces for your wedding. For example, rather than buying flower centerpieces for tables, grow your own seeds and flowers in a backyard garden and make your own arrangements, create your own programs using a local office supply printing store, write a thank you note to your guests in place of a favor (use pretty paper!), have someone sew a garter for you instead of buying a new one, or rather than purchasing colored table linens from a caterer, go to a discount fabric store and buy yards of fabric in your wedding color; a quick hem on the sides will make beautiful runners to jazz up a plain white tablecloth. Oh - and spray paint always works to make a quick change on a basket or flowerpot that you may already have in storage. Instead of immediately buying, consider how you can make each aspect of what you want...you'll be surprised how easy some of it can be.

A few of the DIY projects we did - programs, favors, goodie bags, and cake toppers.
My mom grew all the plants for our reception centerpieces and turned our porch into a greenhouse!

2. What was the best way to get the groom involved in the planning?
Have a quick conversation and ask him to list the things he cares the most about. Likely it will be the menu, music, honeymoon, and possibly his attire, but you may be surprised at what he wants to provide input about. If he shows a strong desire to help on one particular thing, say, the Save the Date options, let him do it. Even if he's happy with one small part, his overall attitude will be much easier to work with and he'll feel like he can lay claim to something HE did for the wedding. And a quick tip - don't hound him for advice on something he clearly has no interest in; serisouly, he doesn't care and you should just roll with it!

3. How did you stay calm and balanced during the whole stressful process?
I just reminded myself over and over that of course, if something can go wrong, it will. And it did. At the end of the day, if dirt was on my dress, my nails chipped, the flowers wilted - or whatever - I was still getting married to the man I love more than anything in the world, and that's all that actually matters. The rest are just minor details that most people won't even notice or remember. My favorite quote of the wedding week - "I'm too blessed to be stressed."

4. If you had to plan your wedding all over again, what's one thing you would try not to worry about as much?
I wouldn't ask for so many opinions from people about my "non-traditional" ideas. I worried about what people would think about doing things slightly different than usual - such as wearing colored heels and multiple necklaces with my dress or having two flower girls who were both 23 years old! I loved both of those aspects of my wedding and wouldn't have had it any other way, but I was so worried other people would think I was crazy...oh well!

5. Is there anything you forgot to do, or chose not to do, that you wish you did?
In hindsight - I wish I would have cut my guest list when I had the chance. One by one the guest list would grow bigger and bigger to the point where we were so stressed out a week before the wedding that our reception site would be too small to handle the guests. I wanted our 200 guest wedding to be a little smaller and more intimate, but I was too worried about hurting other people's feelings that I let it get a little out of control.

6. What's the one best piece of advice you have for soon-to-be newlyweds?
Seriously consider signing up for marriage counseling before the wedding. Although we were a little skeptical about doing it, we actually had a great time once we got there. It provides a platform for discussion topics that you might not address on your own and you'll likely learn something about your fiance that you didn't already know. I highly recommend it!