Friday, May 23, 2014

Five Friday Favorites

Welcome back to my Five Friday Favorites! It's been a crazy busy last few weeks with work and some extra training added into the mix. Fun, fun...not! :) Any whoo.... let's get down to business!

1. Sam Adams Summer Ale 

If you haven't tried it yet, it is a must for summer time. It's our new go-to beer this season. So smooth and refreshing! While I can't believe it's basically summer already, I am excited for summer brews and parties in our backyard at our firepit! Oh and of course going to the beach! 

2. Sushi Dates

We are officially fans of sushi! You don't know what a feat this is for two very "meat and potatoes" kind of eaters but we officially like sushi, and no not just the California roll ;). Plus, I've found out that if you make it for the lunch specials, or in this case early bird dinner specials (thanks, night shift schedule!), sushi can be really affordable! Delicious food and not too expensive  are two of my favorite things. 

3. Oil Pulling

If you were clicking around on Pinterest like I was this past week or following me on Instagram, you may have seen the pin below or the picture above. Seeing as I have never been in good graces with the dentist (or I have a GREAT relationship with them, whichever way you look at it ;) ), I figured I would give it a quick read. What I found is this thing called Oil Pulling. 

Apparently, swishing a tablespoon of organic, unrefined Coconut Oil in your mouth (I found mine at our local health food store) for 20 minutes preferably as soon as you wake up in the morning helps detox any bad things left in your mouth as well as helps to prevent or reverse cavities. Then, you just rinse your mouth with warm water and brush your teeth like normal. 

I have only done a few rounds of this so far, so I will keep you updated, but my mouth did feel pretty darn clean after. FYI, even if you really don't like the taste or flavor of actual coconut like myself, the oil is not too overwhelming tasting so by microwaving it for a few seconds, the butter consistency of the coconut oil becomes liquefied and is easier to swish. Apparently, this oil pulling is becoming a trend too because the lady at the health food store where I got my Dr. Bronner's Organic, Unrefined Coconut Oil said that lots of people have been coming in to purchase it and that it can also be used on your face, I'm assuming as some sort of mask. 

4. Nike + App 

I have been using this app since last December and it is really my favorite. I don't use any other workout apps because this one does everything I could want for my routines. I do not have the sensor to put in my shoe that would be useful for running on a treadmill, but for outside runs, you don't even need it (although I would like to get one eventually for use at the gym) because the GPS tracks your phone. 

I like this app because it uses pretty accurate GPS to track my outdoor runs, updates me when I hit each mile giving me my pace per mile and total time running, and syncs directly with my iTunes playlists allowing me to pick a playlist and skip around to different songs while running (which I do a LOT of!). 

I also really like the way Nike + tracks your runs and shows you stats. Above, is what the app shows you after you have completed your run. It shows a map of where you ran, the total distance, allows you to put how you felt (shown by the emoticon), shows the weather for the day, how many miles you have on your specific pair of running shoes, and obviously the final time and calories burned. Below it also shows you the breakdown of each mile pace and how each one differentiated which is helpful. 

Being the Type A personality that I am, I love looking at the stats, so I try to use the app every time I do an outdoor run so that I can compare it all afterwards. The app also tells you when you've beat your own records for things such as mile time, 1k time, and 5k time so I like to use that to motivate myself to get my times down. Finally, it shows you in bar graph form all of the runs you've done each month and the difference in mileage which can also help as a motivating factor. 

I have recently read a lot of great reviews for the Fitbit, so I am anxious to get one and try it out for myself in the near future. Have any of you tried it? I'd be anxious to hear your thoughts.

5. Breaking Bad

 We just finished the first season of Breaking Bad, thanks to our neighbors for lending us their DVDs after we had heard so many good reviews from my cousins, our neighbors, and lots of friends over the years. We literally watched the entire season, minus one episode, in one night thanks to our night shift schedule. I'm not sure why it took us so long to check it out because we are officially hooked! Gonna have to get some Netflix, at least for the free month trial, to indulge our new addiction. :) 

Hope you have a great weekend!


Friday, May 9, 2014

Five Friday Favorites

Welcome to my first installment of Five Friday Favorites! I can't wait to share some of my favorite things of the week every Friday (as often as I can)! Knowing me, literally my tastes can change week to week so it will be fun to see what's catching my eye through the year and depending on the season. 

Let's get started!

1. My family is coming to visit this weekend! 
I am very excited about this not only because I will get to see my Sister, Brother, and Mom and catch up with them all, but also because they are staying at our home so we finally get to break in our {now} functioning guest bedroom. I love the feeling of my home being full with people we love and we haven't had many/ any overnight visitors since our wedding time in September so it will be nice to wake up to the voices of those I love and show off some of the updates we've done since they were last here. 

2. My New Coffee Spoon 

It says, "Love you a Latte"

I have been eyeing up similar coffee spoons on Etsy, but never went through with buying one until I saw it in a store with local handmade items called The Nest, in downtown Columbia. It was the right price so I snatched it up! 

Also, I had been wondering about the process of making these hand stamped spoons, so when we got home I looked it up and realized I actually have a set of the metal stamps you need to make them that I got from my Grandpa's shop after he had passed (see below). I am actually super excited about the possibility of making these and I already have a ton of ideas swirling inside my head for sassy sayings for them! Stay tuned for this new possible business venture. ;) 

Love that it has his name on it!
3. Dripped Iced Mocha // New Coffee Place
In other coffee news, Brandon and I tried a new {to us} coffee shop downtown called Drip. It is on Main St. in Columbia for those of you locals and it is awesome! I figured I would step outside of my Starbucks addiction and try something new and man am I glad I did. I tried their Iced Mocha that you may have seen on my Instagram {if not, you should follow me!} that was like heaven in my mouth. It even had an edible chocolate straw that was deeeelicious. 

Nom, nom. 
4. Car Monogram // Monograms in General

I dunno if it is just since we got married or the fact that we live in the South now, but monograms have slowly but surely grown on me and now I can't get enough. In fact, I recently fancied up my ride with a monogram I purchased from Etsy and I love it. I may or may not have also gotten a shirt recently with my monogram on it...I told you, I'm a little obsessed now.

5. Getting Featured! 
I have recently started linking up a lot of my DIY projects as you may have seen at the end of a lot of my posts recently. To those readers who are not bloggers, this means that I have added a link to my project on another blogger's profile in what is known as a "Linky Party." Basically, it is a conglomeration of lots of bloggers DIY projects so that new bloggers and others can get their projects out to the masses. Then, typically the host of the Linky Party picks a few of their favorites to "feature" on the next week's link-up. The Linky Parties are typically held on the same day every week. 

In an effort to get more readers (don't get me wrong I love my fam and friends who make up most of my readership!) and hopefully get my projects seen by others, I have been linking up a lot of my original projects. Since doing this I have gotten my Ikea Hack: Fabric Covered Tupplur Blinds featured on Yesterday on TuesdayDIY Vintage Chic, and The Silly Pearlmy DIY Nautical Boat Cleat Towel Hooks featured on DIY Vintage Chic, and today I just found out my Nautical Outdoor Oasis was also featured on DIY Vintage Chic. To most seasoned bloggers, this probably doesn't mean quite as much, but I'm gonna let you know, seeing someone pick my project our of hundreds of projects totally made my day, actually my whole week! And to see my Ikea Hack curtains featured THREE times {eek!} was just beyond awesome! Brandon probably thought someone died with the way I screamed when I saw my projects picked the next week hehe. 

Anyways, hope you have a great weekend! 


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Our Under 18K Wedding :: Let's Get Down to the Numbers & Free Wedding Budget Download

One of the hardest parts of planning a wedding is coming to a compromise on a budget and sticking to it. For us, we were lucky enough to have some help from my Dad, while the rest of the money was our responsibility to come up with. I actually liked this because we really had the ability to "make it our own," literally through our own means as well as lots of DIY projects. Essentially, we didn't waste any time trying to cater to anyone else's interests or opinions except for our own which was nice and much less stressful. While our wedding was not extravagant in my opinion, seeing as we cut a lot of corners here and there where it made sense for us, weddings in general still cost a lot. There are so many small details you don't think about at first that you can put tons of money into if you get ahead of yourself. And trust me, I wanted to focus on the details as well, but just not spend an arm and a leg to do so. 

The one thing I really wish I had when I started wedding planning was an Excel sheet with a basic breakdown of the expenses for each item as well as a common place to have all of the vendors' contact information easily accessible.  The budgets I was able to find early on either were way too basic, only including things like food, venue, dress, and were not free to download or easily edited. So, like any good DIYer, what did I do?! I made my own, catered specifically to the needs of a young bride who needs to have some organization in her wedding planning process!  Once I had it created, I saved it in my email and was able to consult it on the run if I had to contact a vendor quickly or check the status of our budget. For me, I also kept my guest list in the same Excel workbook on a separate spreadsheet which allowed me to easily go back and forth when I was crunching numbers based on our guest numbers. 

In order to hopefully make the lives of some other brides easier and avoid the annoyance I had in regards to not finding a suitable wedding budget Excel sheet, I have shared our personal wedding budget below as well as a free downloadable Excel sheet, HousLoveDogBlog Wedding Budget, for your personal use. Use it well and wisely, my friends! 

We started out our wedding planning process blindly assuming we could scrape by on a $15,000 total budget with about 90 guests, seeing as we were willing to go with the cheaper, yet quality option rather than the more expensive options for most everything. However, as you'll see below, many of our allotted (expected) expenses were still much lower than our actual expenses. Once we came to the realization that we would have to come up with quite a bit more, we obviously had to up our efforts to save money. Thankfully, by having a year to plan our wedding, we were able to come up with enough money to have the day of our dreams. 

We were able to keep our wedding manageable by doing a few key things:
     :We bought wholesale beer/ wine ourselves and brought it to the venue. (It was still            open bar, however.) 
     :We chose more home-style foods that were still delicious, but not as expensive. 
     :We chose to do a buffet rather than sit down meal. 
     :I DIYed as much as I could without sacrificing quality (ie. Our DIY photo booth, etc.).
     :I printed my own name cards, programs, and part of the invitations using cheap, yet            cute printable downloads from Etsy.

While we cut those corners in ways that were probably only noticeable to ourselves, we did splurge by picking our venue, the Dairy Barn, and making sure the Barn looked exactly as we desired. The overall feeling of our wedding was more important to us than the price tag on the menu or having one more vase of flowers. 

I hope that by sharing our budget, it can help new, soon-to-be brides get an idea on the cost of things (take into account we live/ were married in SC and this will vary some geographically and based on tastes) and make a more practical budget for your wedding. If you are struggling like I did to find a budget Excel sheet, feel free to download my HousLoveDogBlog Wedding Budget and use it as needed. 

When using the downloadable wedding budget, I would suggest starting out at the top left "Contributors" Box and fill in who all is contributing to your overall budget and how much they are contributing. Then go to the allotted expenses column a
nd divvy up the money as you see fit based on what items are most important to you. Then as you book vendors, go ahead and fill in the actual expense, deposit/ date due, name of the vendor, contact name, and website/ other info. I promise this document saved my sanity throughout our entire wedding planning process. Finally, when all is said and done, and paid for (dunn, dunnn, dun...), go back and total up all of the actual expenses in each sub-total category and discover the grand total...or if you'd rather not dwell on that crazy amount of money you just spent on one day, leave that grand total box empty and enjoy being a newlywed! ;) 

I would love to know if my Excel download helps you! Feel free to contact me at HousLoveDogBlog{@}


.: If you like this wedding post, check out our Rustic DIY Barn Wedding tab above or click on the link!:. 

Nautical Outdoor Oasis

Almost a year ago, in early June of last year, we enlisted the help of some of our good friends (with the lure of an awesome suntan, great workout, and possibly some alcoholic beverages as well, hehe) to help us construct a firepit area in a spot of our yard practically calling for a pit of fire and some friends gathered round. 

Brandon and I picked up all of the supplies at Home Depot using the Pavestone Rumblestone Firepit Kit. You can basically choose from multiple different layouts and they have a list of the exact amount of each type of brick you need. It's very simple actually! Then, you just get the firepit insert that corresponds with the layout you chose.

Here's a quick rundown of our process in case you were wondering (if not, just scroll down to the after pics!). First, we dug up the grass in a baseball diamond shape seeing as that was the most logical shape for it in this location of our yard. Then we laid out some standard landscaping fabric to block weeds from growing up through, cut it down to size, and used garden staples on the edges to hold the fabric down. Once the fabric was attached, we placed our firepit stones in the place we wanted them and then began filling the space with many, many bags of white stones to finish off our space. Brandon later came in and edged the entire area with more paver stones as you'll see later which really streamlined the whole area. 

For months, our firepit area solely consisted as the bench as our only seating. But I had a vision in mind and I was determined to make it awesome and totally "us"! Finally, we found some stumps in the woods near our house that someone had left for trash and I knew they were just what we needed so we hauled them to our backyard to put them to good use. Again, that was months ago...   

Recently however, I finally had the chance to finish off this awesome outdoor space with a few new additions now that it has gotten warmer and I think I am finally satisfied with its entirety! Using outdoor acrylic patio paint, I quickly updated the stumps to make them an awesomely bright pop of color. I love the character that each stump has and that no two are alike. The striped seat cushions are from Target that I got on super sale using the Cartwheel app on top of an already awesome deal. Finally, I added a few Adirondack chairs and snagged the Walter the Whale from Carolina Pottery. Oh yea, and that rusted anchor in the far right is actually a real antique one we found at a shop in Southport, NC on our mini-moon! 

So far, this space has been great for my morning coffee, relaxing in the sun, and of course hanging out with friends late into the night with a nice cold one and some s'mores. We love to entertain so this space is definitely party worthy and comfortable.

In other awesome backyard news, on the opposite side from the firepit we have also upped the ante by adding that new tropical bush as well as a small garden Brandon constructed on the side of the house. So far we only planted tomatoes, but we shall see! Maybe we'll get some other veggies in the mix if we can grow a few tomatoes first! 

Eh... they have a long way to go. ;) 


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