Wednesday, June 30, 2010

CSN Stores Giveaway

Remember that post about the CSN stores from yesterday?? Well I wasn't just posting it for the heck of it.  Hopefully you guys all went over there and took a look at all the fabulous things they have to offer, because now I'm giving you guys the chance to win a $50 gift certificate!

That's right, the wonderful people at the CSN stores are offering up a $50 gift certificate to be used toward a one-time purchase online at any of their 200+ stores.  You can use it to buy anything of your choosing!  You have three chances to win, but you must be a follower of Happily After All to be eligible.  So if you're not already, do it now! (It doesn't count as an entry, FYI)
So here's how:

1.  (MANDATORY) Head over to one of their online stores and comment on this post with what your favorite item is or what you could really use.
2.  Tweet about this giveaway.  Make sure to link back to this post.  Comment on this post telling me you did so.
3.  Post about this giveaway on your blog and link back to this post.  Comment on this post telling me you did so and leave the link to the blog post.

And that's all there is to it this time!!  One winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator.  The giveaway closes at midnight on Monday, July 5th.

Now hop on over and see what you'd like to spend your gift certificate on!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happily After All: A Crazy Lady The Morning Of

Remember how I told you I was still working on projects the morning of my wedding??  Well not only that, but I was also running around in town and going to the store and our reception venue and picking up pictures and finishing decorating and sewing sashes and getting ready.  It was a crazy, crazy morning!

I woke up around 7:30am after only about 6 hours of sleep.  It was finally the day of our wedding, the day I had been looking forward to for over a year, but I couldn't enjoy it just yet!  The vinyl I had picked up at Walmart had to be cut and turned into this:
All photos are by our wonderful photographer Brandy Swartz of Photography by Brandy unless otherwise noted.  This particular one is cropped by me.
I borrowed this sign from my boss who had used it for her daughter and niece's wedding.  I left on the congratulations and stars and the line at the bottom, and just peeled off the previous names and date and replaced it with our own.  It went very quickly with my Cricut doing all the cutting.  I did run out of vinyl though and my sister had to run back into town to get some more.  She actually couldn't find any, so we just cut out the 2, 2010 in white paper and taped it on! I don't think anyone even noticed.

Then I had to run into town and grab some pictures from Walgreen's and finish filling all of my family tree picture frames.
Unfortunately I had to pull the pictures of our cousins because I didn't have time to grab a couple extra frames that I didn't have.  That was supposed to happen Friday, but I ran out of time!  So it ended up just being our parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles.  Hopefully the cousins didn't feel left out.

I also had to stop in town at our grocery store and place an order to have two dozen white and green balloons blown up.  They were busier than I was hoping so I had to pay for them and arrange for someone else to pick them up and put them on these signs:
Cropped by me.

I also had to finish filling the kids bags with treats and coloring books and bring those out to the reception venue.  There was also a couple of touch ups and additions that had to be made out there as well.  I still had to print out the poem and scripture for our reader, and I had to make sure everyone was going to be where they should be on time.

During all of this, my girls were at my house getting ready without me!  I didn't get back to the house until around 10:30 and we were supposed to be completely ready to go by 11:30 to have some quick lunch and then get dressed and do pictures with our photographer.  Think maybe I was running just a little bit behind??  It gets better...just wait!

In case you've missed anything...
Decorating the Reception Hall
Honoring Our Family
The Rehearsal

Real Wedding: My Bridesmaid and Her Best Friend

This last weekend Mr. T and I went to the wedding of one of my bridesmaids.  I just wanted to share a quick picture of the two of us.  I'm going to hold off on sharing a recap until she gets some of her pictures back from the photographer.  I was starting to write the recap for you guys, and realized I had been a horrible blogger and didn't take any decent pictures of all the decorating that I did, so you won't get to see any of the details.

So for now, just a couple of pictures of my husband and the bride!
Me, the beautiful bride, and her cousin/my bridesmaid.
Here we were, just over a month ago at my own wedding!

So that's all for now, hopefully I'll be able to share the whole wedding with you soon!

A Great Site To Check Out!

Throughout this whole process (it's been over a year that I've been blogging now!) I've been introduced to so many new ideas and websites and giveaways that I'm sure I wouldn't have encountered otherwise.  I've been fortunate enough to even win some freebies!  It's definitely been an experience and I've been glad to share it with all of you.

One of the sites I've come across has been CSN Stores.  It's one great location that has over 200+ online stores where you can find anything and everything you could possibly imagine from cookware to cribs, to LED lighting and household decor.  As many of you are new brides, or soon to be...and if you're anything like I am, you'll be getting some serious nesting desires and this is a great place to turn.

So head on over to their site and take a look around! And then if you happen to pop back over here tomorrow you might just find an unexpected surprise.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Happily After All: The Rehearsal

Now that I've left you guys hanging forever, I thought I'd finally pick up where I left off after decorating the reception space.  I finally got my disc of pictures, so I should be able to just keep rolling after this right into the actual day of the wedding, full of lots of wonderful pictures!

So one thing I didn't tell you guys is how long it actually took us to decorate.  We got there at about 9 in the morning and we weren't ready to leave until around 3:00 that afternoon.  We had planned on starting the rehearsal at 6pm that night, 20 minutes out of town.  And I was supposed to be there at 4:30 to meet with the pastor, which was just ridiculously early.  We had just spent an hour talking with him the Sunday before after Church, so I don't know what he could have possibly needed for over an hour.
I still had to go and get my nails done and have my eyebrows waxed because it just didn't fit in any other time during the week.  So my mom and I ran and got our nails done and then stopped on the way home and I had my eyebrows done quickly.  I got home and had about 5 minutes to change and leave the house.  My hair was up in a ponytail from earlier that day and I was able throw on a bit of makeup.  I went flying down the road and made it to the church a couple minutes after 6!! Not only was I late for meeting with the pastor (I had Mr. T call and tell him there was no way I was making it that early) but all of the guys were even there before me!!

I was calling my mom along the way telling her what I forgot and what she needed to bring with her!  But eventually we got it all sorted out and we were able to start the rehearsing!  Our pastor sat us all down, girls on one side and guys on the other and talked us through the entire ceremony before letting us actually do anything.  He hasn't actually done a wedding in a long time, so I think he was pretty nervous.  Our second pastor wasn't in town yet, so he wasn't there to run through everything with us.

Everyone is lined up, waiting for my entrance!

Notice the ponytail?! And my gorgeous ribbon bouquet from my IL shower.  I think I was more emotional as my dad walked me down the aisle here than during the actual wedding.

We made it through very quickly, just hitting all of the main points.  Mr. T's mom went through her solo with the organist, but other than that, everything else was just summarized.  I had forgotten to print out my readings, so my friend Sarah couldn't even read those.  I think she was a little nervous about that!  She didn't get to see them for the first time until the morning of the wedding.

My sister Sam, our Maid of Honor, and Mr. T's younger brother Jake, one of our Best Men.
My best friend since birth Brittany, a bridesmaid, and Mr. T's youngest brother Joe, the other Best Man.
Brittany's cousin Bri, who I've known since birth as well, and Mr. T's friend from school, Eric.  (She just got married this weekend and I'll share pictures soon!)
My wonderful friend Arin who I played soccer with in high school, and Mr. T's football teammate Scott from college.
And my friend Katie from high school and another of Mr. T's football buddies from U of I.

We all mingled for a little bit and then I had everyone follow us back to my parents' house for a quick stop along the way to dinner so we could share the groomsmens' gifts with everyone.  We had everyone line up in the kitchen with the curtains closed to the back deck.  I handed over gift bags to each guy and they opened it up and saw a set of bean bags.  Very cool and all, but it wouldn't do much good alone.  So then we opened up the curtain and led them out onto the deck where they saw these:
I had my uncle line up all the boards for us while we were at the church.  The boys absolutely loved their gifts.
Then they all left and headed towards the restaurant.  I gathered up all of the other gifts quickly and then ran into town.

It wasn't until we got to the restaurant and started to eat and I got a glass of wine in my hand that I finally got to slow down for the day.  I felt like I had been running around like crazy all day without a chance to catch my breath.  We ate, we laughed, and we enjoyed each others company.  The girls got to open the rest of their gift (a clutch and their jewelry) and the ring bearer and flower girl each got a pair of lime green crocs and a couple of movies.  We also gave the ushers a bottle of their favorite alcohol and a gift card to a restaurant in town.  We didn't gift our parents at that point, but we have a plan in the works still that I'll share with you when it's finished.
We had cake.
My mom's friend who did our wedding cake also did a groomscake as a surprise to Mr. T.  He is a big fishermen, so I thought this would be cute.  She even added "She's a keeper!" to it.  He thought it was hilarious and was definitely surprised.

Mr. T's dad kept inviting their family over as they arrived into town.  So we got to see a lot of his aunts and uncles and cousins that night.  We ended up being there until about midnight just visiting and drinking wine.  It was nice to be able to just sit there and relax and not have to worry about anything.

Although, we did have to stop at Walmart on the way home and get some white vinyl for a project I still had to finish.  I was planning on doing it that night, but I fell asleep in the car while my mom ran in and I didn't get to work on it until the next morning.  Yes, I was working on projects the morning of our wedding! But more about that in the next post.

So at this point, we're all caught up on the prewedding week.  There's one more post before we get into the actual wedding activities!

In case you've missed anything...
Decorating the Reception Hall
Honoring Our Family

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I've Been Featured!

I just received an email from someone on Etsy who had created a treasury, and she was writing to let me know that she featured my brand new parasol in it!  This is the first time one of my products has been featured in a treasury, so it's exciting for me!

Here's where you can find it!

And this is the new parasol...I actually just painted it this morning and put it up.
If you want one of these for yourself, head over to Happy Hour With a Housewife's blog for my giveaway! It's going until Sunday.  Or check out my Etsy shop!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Our Three State Honeymoon: The Surprise!

I might be the worst blogger ever right now.  In the last three parts of this honeymoon post, I've hinted at a surprise multiple times, and then I just left you all with nothing! I'm so sorry.  There aren't really any excuses...just life getting in the way!

But I'm back now, and I'm ready to share our exciting news with you.  And for those of you that might have been thinking baby...think again! I wish that was our news, but in our little one bedroom house right now, with a grad student's just isn't happening!!  A couple more years...

But our news does get us one more step closer to having that baby!  Remember how we were looking at land?? Well we're currently under contract for 40 acres of raw land 30 minutes south of Duluth.  We found the perfect lot while we were up there looking on our honeymoon.  We've already negotiated the price with the owners and we've gotten preapproved and done all of the financing.  Now the title agent is looking into everything to make sure there aren't any leans or easements on the land and that the previous owners actually own the title to the land.
Once all of that goes through, we'll close on the 30th of this month!!

Would you like to see some pictures?
 You come in 3 miles on a gravel road, which curves to the right and ends in a dead end with a lady and her farm at the end.  So if you picture the corner going to the right, our land would be in the nook of the corner.
This is looking out at the road before it curves; you can see our truck sitting out on the road.  On the left is an inset of trees, and the land goes on the other side of that as well.  From where we're standing, a driveway would come up along the tree line and then turn and head back down so there is a turn around.  Our future house will sit right where we're standing!
This is the same standing point, but turned around facing away from the road, so this would be our "backyard."
Here's the same standing point, but looking more towards the trees, or the side of the house.
And here we are, standing in what will eventually become our home!  I absolutely cannot wait =]

The added bonus?? See all of the trees along the side of the road?  On each side of the curve, our land backs up to 50,000 acres of state land.  All of which Josh and his brothers and dad can go hunting on.  Some of the land we were looking at was heavily wooded which would be great for hunting.  But with this land being so open, we won't have to worry about trees falling on our house and having to be constantly cleaning and maintaining falling and dead trees.  We have all of the same benefit with the state land, but we won't have to be responsible for any of it!

So that's our exciting news.  We're heading up there on Wednesday to show his parents while they're here visiting.  I'm going to try and take some better pictures then.  And then with any luck, we can close on time on the 30th!  I'll keep you all updated on the progress.  And eventually I'll show you all the floorplans that I've been drawing up.  We're still a couple years out from building, but it's exciting to get ready!

Be sure to check out the giveaway for one of my custom parasols on Happy Hour With a Housewife's blog!!

Giveaway You'll Love!

I don't know how many of you are aware of this, but I own an Etsy shop.  Yes, I've been holding back from making an announcement on here, because I didn't want it to get too big, too soon, while I was still planning my own wedding.  I opened it in mid February, and to date, I've made 118 sales. (holy crap! I didn't realize it was that many already!)
But now that my wedding is over, and I'm doing this more or less full time, it's time to spread the word!!  So in honor of this coming out, an online friend of mine (some of you may know her as The Housewife/Laura/MeSooLaLa) is hosting a giveaway on her blog "Happy Hour With a Housewife" for one of my products.

Want to know what it is?!  I guess it won't do any harm showing you what it is, but you have to go over to her blog in order to enter. 
 One of my custom parasols!  Use it for your upcoming shower, wedding, birthday, you name it!
So hop on over there and follow her rules.  And check out my shop too while you're at it!  I'm slowly adding more and more things as time goes on.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

This year, I get to celebrate two fathers on Father's Day!!

My dad...the man who I've looked up to my whole life, and who I've based my moral compass on.  He's the reason I knew to never settle, and continued to keep looking until Josh came into my life.  He's done everything for my mom, and the two of us girls and I could probably never thank him for it enough.

And this, is my new dad! My father-in-law.  In a house of all guys, I'm their first "daughter" and I'm glad to fill the role!  He did an amazing job raising Josh and teaching him how to be a man.  I'm so lucky that I got a great set of in-laws.

We're spending this Father's Day with my father-in-law, and we're also celebrating his father's birthday today.  So we're heading over to the grandparents later today for dinner.  My dad is camping this weekend, so I'll make sure to call him up and tell him I love him!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I'm Guest Posting!

Today you guys can join me over at LauraLou's blog...Lucky In Love!  She just got married on Saturday and is enjoying a wonderful honeymoon down where it's warm and sandy!
So pop on over there if you'd like to see what I have to say for today.  And if you haven't been there before, make sure to look around, she has some great projects.

Professional Pictures!!

I have exciting news!! My pro pics are finally finished! Right now they're all up online to look at, and the full disc of high resolution pictures is in the mail.  I'm going to continue to wait on my recaps until the disc gets here, but in the meantime I pulled a picture offline to show you all.
At some point, I'll put up the username and password for you to view them all, but I really want to walk you through the day with the recaps so you can get some back stories, my opinions, etc about the pictures.

So for now, I leave you with this....

Oh and I haven't forgotten about the surprise part of our honeymoon post yet, I just haven't quite gotten it written! It's coming soon though I promise.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Our Three State Honeymoon: Minnesota

Okay, so you've seen Illinois, and you've seen Wisconsin, and now we're on to the unscheduled part of our trip.  Mr. T and I have been talking for some time now about buying land in Minnesota sometime in the future.  We know that this is ultimately where we're going to end up living for the rest of our lives.  We have big dreams for our future, and the first step would be finding land to start our lives on.  So we decided to drive up to Duluth, MN and get in touch with some realtors to look at land.

Why Duluth?  Well we both want out of the cities, and Duluth is the next biggest area.  We figured we would work backwards a little.  Buy land, and then find a job in that area.  That way we end up exactly where we want to be.  Duluth has multiple high schools, middle schools, and a couple colleges.  There are also quite a few surrounding towns with large high schools.  So with any luck, Mr. T will be able to find a job within a reasonable commuting distance.

So we checked out of our hotel in the Dells, and drove up to Lake Superior.
Mr. T has been up here before, but this was my first time, and I didn't expect there to be SO much water.  It looked like the ocean, where all you see is water and sky.

We had made reservations at a hotel right on the Lake.  And I do mean right on it.
This is the view from our hotel room window.  You could walk out the lobby doors and across a boardwalk and be on the "beach."
The back of Canal Park Lodge from on the beach.  If you're ever in the area, I highly suggest this hotel.  It was absolutely gorgeous, and the price wasn't bad at $116/night for a lake view.  Here are a couple of pictures of the room. (I remembered this time!)
View from the doorway.  The bathroom is to the right.
My hubby relaxing after the drive.
The cute little bar area.
The couch and desk past the bed.
A peak into the bathroom.

We got up early in the morning on Wednesday so we were at the hotel by 2 or so.  We put on our suits and headed down to the beach to put our toes in the water.  Unfortunately, it was freezing, and the beach really wasn't a beach so we couldn't lay out.  But we did take some pictures!

After that we decided to go inside and swim in the pool since it was much warmer.  On the way though, Mr. T thought it would be a great idea to jump into the lake and then run inside to the hot tub.  And I'm not kidding when I say the water was freezing!
How handsome is this man?!

We spent a little time in the pool and then got dressed up to go to a "fancy dinner" which apparently I didn't get any pictures of.  But we headed across the street to a nice Italian restaurant the hotel was featuring called Bellisio's.  I got a pricey glass of wine, that was delicious but that I couldn't justify having a second glass of.  We got escargot as an appetizer which neither of us had tried before, but it was actually really good! They cooked each one in a little shallow bowl in a butter garlic sauce with cheese on top and it was served with small pieces of bread.  Very delicious.  I got an amazing lobster cannelloni and Mr. T got some sort of fancy chicken.
We decided then and there that we would come back as often as we could on our anniversary and stay the night in the hotel, and come out for dinner at the restaurant.  I'm planning on holding him to it!

The next morning we got up and drove 1/2 an hour south and met up with two different realtors over the course of the day.  It was very informative to see what kind of land you could get for what kind of money.  We're looking at buying multiple acres, so it was also nice to see just how big 40 acres, or 60 acres really is.  All in all, it was a really great learning experience for us, and got us even more excited to start our future!
Here are just a couple of pictures of some of the land we saw.

We ordered in a delicious pizza that night and laid in bed watching Shrek.  Then we got up in the morning and continued on our journey.  We had to stop in Saint Paul quickly, and then we went back to Wisconsin for a weekend of camping.

Make sure you tune in tomorrow for the surprise I hinted at! It's pretty exciting =]
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