Painted & Stenciled Wedding Signs

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There’s no getting around it – wedding costs add up. All of the little things – votives, menus, signage, candles – build into a crazy decor monster that you’ll never be able to use again.

Even on the resale sites, wedding signs cost about $15-$50 each. To use one time! I absolutely refused to spend that amount of money on anything so small for my wedding, which is where my DIY day came in. I decided to shop around and buy blank wood surfaces on which I could stencil my custom signage instead.

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These craft wood surfaces were so cheap at Michael’s – no more than $6 each!

For a wedding of our size (way bigger than we expected) at a venue like ours (essentially, a gigantic field), it’s definitely necessary to have signage to show people where to go. Plus, cute rustic signs are so trendy right now, and so easy to make! I did my buying before I did my planning, so it took me a bit to go through and decide what wording I wanted to include where.

Supplies:
– Craft Wood Signs (I got mine at Michael’s)
– Small letter stencils (I used Martha Stewart’s Typewriter Font)
– Large Letter Stencils (got mine at Lowe’s)
– Stencil Dauber Set (Also Martha’s)
– Craft Paint

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Summer Checklist 2018

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Super great news – my first year at my doctorate program is over! While we only had about one month off last summer, we were blessed with 10 days off between the spring semester and the summer session, and we’ll get TWO WHOLE MONTHS off this coming summer.

With wedding planning in full swing and a bunch of projects on my list, the timing couldn’t be better. If you remember, I made a summer checklist last year and managed to finish most of it – but not all. Here’s what I hope to accomplish with my time off this summer:

1. Wedding Lawn Games DIY
This is a biggie. Our wedding is in October, in a huge field behind a gorgeous barn, and the entire setup was designed to accommodate lawn games galore for our guests to enjoy until twilight hits. On the list? Mr. & Mrs. Cornhole, Ring Toss for the kids, Giant Jenga. Stay tuned.

2. Finish our Farmer’s Porch
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Last year, I started painting our farmer’s porch with a haight-style blue on the ceiling, and my grand plans were going just fine until Mike proposed (not a bad distraction!) With a half-painted ceiling and a still-chipping floor, it’s fair to say that NO progress has been made in the last 6 months on this project, especially with summer weather hitting so late here in RI.

Goal for this project – July 4th.

3. Start and Maintain a Perennial Garden
I have always wanted to keep a flower garden, and this was never possible in NYC with my minimal apartment space and non-existent yard. I dug out a small garden last year and planted some hosta and hydrangea, just to test and see if the soil would keep for flowers this year.

IT DID!

This year, I planted a ton of different perennials, and I can’t wait until they bloom – IF they bloom! I’m so excited to share the progress I’ve made with my lillies, roses, and other plants this summer.

4. Refurbish a Found Park Bench
At the start of the summer, our neighborhood associated voted to replace the benches along our walking path. However, the bench at the end of our street, though rusted and a bit worn, was in perfectly good working condition. Mike, our neighbors, and I have taken this bench under our care and have decided to refurbish it to enjoy in our own yard.

It’s going to be beautiful – black metal supports with an early American oak style for the wood slats. We’d love to have this one done by the 4th as well to accommodate our guests for the fireworks.

5. Read 2-3 Books for Pleasure
During the school year, I resent reading a bit. Articles upon articles loaded with statistics and scientific writing have made me lose a bit of my luster for a good book. This summer, there are a few books I’d love to read – in particular, the new Gillian Flynn book that they’re making into the HBO Show, Sharp Objects. Beach reads a-go-go!

6. Master the At-Home Workout Routine
Now that I’m teaching spin classes 4 times a week at a local studio, I barely have time to enjoy the other workouts I love during the school year, like running and TRX. With the wedding coming up I’m feeling the heat when it comes to “bride body,” and I’m hoping this free summer will give me the opportunity to enjoy more of the workouts I love. We also just purchased a new paddleboard, which I’m excited to learn how to use and get some of that core strength I’ve always been lacking!

7. Eat More Protein
Along those same lines, Mike has been totally revamping his diet and has seen a ton of success losing weight and recomposing his figure. I hope to do the same in the coming months before the wedding, and beyond – especially since I’ve just found out I have Celiac Disease (more on that later). Protein has always been a struggle for me, but we’ve found a few ways to inject more protein into every meal that I’m excited to share.

8. Get Organized!
The forever task. There’s SO MUCH STUFF in our house, and the collection keeps on growing. A MAJOR task that we started this winter that I’m hoping to finish is our basement. When I say that it’s literally a pile of tools, surfboards, boat accessories and garden supplies, I’m not exaggerating. Things keep piling up, and there’s a lot of potential with the space. A big goal for Mike this summer is to make that space functional for us to take on more DIY projects – like the homemade bar cart he’s hoping to construct in the fall.

9. Find 3 New Go-To Recipes
A goal I always like to set myself each season is to find go-to recipes that are easy to put together for either me or Mike that we both actually like, that’s healthy and clean, and now that I’ve got this new dietary condition, that’s gluten free. I’ve always eaten gluten free because the diet makes me feel better – even my mood! – but now that it’s more medically necessary, I’m looking at this change as an opportunity to really refine my skills in the kitchen.

10. Redecorate our Bedroom
Last but not least – the bedroom. We recently built our own platform bed from scratch and it really upgraded the look of the room. Between that and the dresser I repurposed to be more “nautical” last year, the room is coming together. It’s a weirdly shaped space, and a lot of it is empty now that we’ve also removed a set of twin bunk beds that used to live there. My mission – make our room a cozy hangout spot for us and Reese Witherspoon the dog to rest in.

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DIY Platform Bed with Storage

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How many times have you woken up in the middle of the night, displaced from your comfortable bed “zone” by your significant other and your dog (or kids, for all the moms out there!)? Chances are, probably a lot. And, chances are, you’ve probably come to this conclusion one time or another – WE’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER BED.

That decision was made in our house in early March, when Mike and I started shopping for mattresses (aka polling all of our friends, family, coworkers, waiters, etc). We finally decided to buy our brand new (King!) mattress from Nectar, which came highly recommended from a former coworker of mine and comes with a ONE YEAR Warranty, which seems like a totally reasonable amount of time to evaluate how much we liked the mattress.

With a new king mattress and a full/queen frame, it was clear we also needed to invest in a new bed. I browsed online for hours and found a million links to beds that I liked a little bit, but nothing truly caught my eye that would match our wall-to-wall carpet and go well with this dresser I upcycled last summer.

That’s when Mike suggested we BUILD our new bed – a more cost-effective option that gave us the flexibility to decide on features and colors, and also gave us a project that we could work on together.

First things first – it should be noted that building a DIY bed is not¬†that much¬†cheaper than buying a bed, particularly if you don’t have all of the necessary tools. That said, this bed has all of the features we want (read: storage) that we may not have found in the same price range from a furniture store.

The Plan
Mike found this great pattern on the Lowes blog in his great internet sweep for DIY beds.
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DIY Golf Chipping Game

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One hobby my mom passed down to me that I’ll never get over – yard sales. We LOVE them; every weekend, Memorial Day-Labor Day, we scour through the paper and design our route from house to house to browse through other people’s trash.

Late in last year’s yard sale season, Mike (who, despite himself, is starting to get into it) found a beat up old bean bag game and the light bulbs went off. He had been wanting to get his younger brother, who is obsessed with golf, an at-home chipping game to practice with. Now, we could turn this old game into an awesome Christmas gift!
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Cost savings:
Brand new Chippo: $189
DIY “Upcycled” Golf Chipping Game: $35

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NYRR 18M Marathon Tune Up

43 days to go.

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Mike and I after a long 18 miles through Central Park

When I look at this countdown, it feels like forever ago that we started training for this race. It’s scary! I can’t believe we’re up to 18 mile long runs already – and what’s scarier is the two weeks I had to take off before this 18M race due to a (cause unknown) hip strain. But here we were, ready to go this past Saturday morning in Central Park, alongside 6000 other future (and former) marathoners.

I have always loved NYRR races – despite the long bathroom lines and the crowded Mile 1’s, their races are always full of so much energy. The Central Park starting lines and the traditional pre-race speech by Peter Ciaccia always gets me nervous and excited. This particular day was no different.

I was particularly nervous since this was a looping route – 3 loops around Central Park, which meant 3 times up Harlem Hills, 3 times up Cat Hill, and 3 times through the rolling hills of the lower park. BUT, my goal was to go in with an open mind and take the race as it went, running each mile as it passed. (See my previous training post for more on this new, positive racing outlook.)

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Yikes! (Harlem Hills, miles 6 and 12)

Central Park isn’t unfamiliar terrain to me — I’ve done the MORE Fitness Women’s Half Marathon twice, among countless other NYRR races that loop through the park. Since this tune-up wasn’t exactly a race, I thought this might be a nice way to people watch in the park while moving around. Since I wouldn’t hit the same spot twice without about an hour break in between, my hope was that each loop would be different, with a different scene playing out while we ran.

We got to the start near 102nd street around 6:40 am, 20 minutes before the start, to get our bibs. The race counted towards our 9+1 goal to qualify for next year’s marathon, so we knew we couldn’t quit early with our bibs on! Then we found our pace group – somewhere around a 4:30 marathon time, slightly slower than we aim to run the actual race. We barely made it to our corral – we had about 30 seconds to spare – having underestimated the registration lines for the morning!

Then, we were off….

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