This is Halloween!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, everyone!

I’ve always been a HUGE fan of Halloween, and thank goodness my mom always loved making costumes as much as I loved wearing them. I’m working on gathering up past costumes for an AWESOME post so keep your eyes peeled for that!

Besides dressing up in costume, decorating is another favorite part of the festive season. I’m so excited about my townhome turned out this year I just HAD to share it with you! I would also like to give a public shoutout to my husband because he doesn’t really like Halloween and has been VERY sweet about my Halloween takeover. (Confession: I started decorating September 12…)

Here’s a look at our dining room, I used a $3 burlap table runner from the Target dollar section and some fake gourds that I got at the Dollar Tree. I used three packs so only $6 for our tablescape and all of our dining room decorations will stay up until December since they’re Fall themed, not Halloween.

Here's a closer look at our table. The gourds are actually really cute, especially for a dollar! Here’s a closer look at our table. The gourds are actually really cute, especially for a dollar!

Last but not least, our mantle! I’m OBSESSED with how this turned out, especially for less than $30!

Here's the breakdown of everything if you're interested! Orange skull (Target; $3), Wood picture frame (old, Michael's), raven (Dollar Tree; $1), Ghostly Greetings sign (Target; $1), black basket (Target; $3), Sirius Black's wand (old), raven/skull decoration (Dollar Tree; $1), various photo frames (already had these from our wedding), large wood empty frame (stole from my mom but you could probably find one for cheap at a garage sale or thrift store), web (Dollar Tree; $1), fabric (Dollar Tree; $1 - 2 pieces), black roses (Michael's; $1.50 each), clear glass jar (Target; $3), mini skills (Wal Mart; $3), tombstone (Dollar Tree; $1), rat (Dollar Tree; $1), lamp (free, someone was just throwing it out!), candles were leftover from our wedding. Total spent = $25 Here’s the breakdown of everything if you’re interested! Orange skull (Target; $3), Wood picture frame (old, Michael’s), raven (Dollar Tree; $1), Ghostly Greetings sign (Target; $1), black basket (Target; $3), Sirius Black’s wand (old), raven/skull decoration (Dollar Tree; $1), various photo frames (already had these from our wedding), large wood empty frame (stole from my mom but you could probably find one for cheap at a garage sale or thrift store), web (Dollar Tree; $1), fabric (Dollar Tree; $1 – 2 pieces), black roses (Michael’s; $1.50 each), clear glass jar (Target; $3), mini skills (Wal Mart; $3), tombstone (Dollar Tree; $1), rat (Dollar Tree; $1), lamp (free, someone was just throwing it out!), candles were leftover from our wedding. Total spent = $25

I think the easiest way to do a Halloween mantle is just get a LOT of stuff. Sounds silly but the more cluttered and dirty it looks…the better! I just gathered things from my house first to see what I had and then filled in the gaps using items from the Dollar Tree and the Target Dollar spot. Filling picture frames you already have with free online printables is a great way to save money and it lets you switch up the look every year. I’m not a huge fan of bright colors for Halloween color so I kept it all neutral except for the orange glitter skull.

Using fabric (I think it might be called cheese cloth?) really ties everything together. I got mine for $1 and used one sheet on the bottom and then draped another over the large picture frame in the back.

xoxo
Valery

 


Wedding Decor and Details

28 September 2014

Phew, it took me a little longer than I thought to get this post together…sorry about that! I wanted to share some of the details and decorations from our wedding day. We put a lot of love every element of our wedding and I am really proud of how it all came together. Some projects were pretty hard but all in all, I really think it was worth it. We pulled off a wedding for less than half the average cost of a wedding here in Dallas. If you want to see our wedding video, you can view it here. OR if you want to know more about what we wore, all the details on that can be found here.

Shameless plug: If you like the flowers, you can view more of my work over on my website, Brennan Floral Design.

We got married at Winfrey Point, which sits on White Rock Lake in Dallas. It’s kind of a blank slate, which meant we could make it what we wanted it to be. The ceremony was outside so we kept the decor for that suuuuper simple. My dad made my vision come true by building the arch out of 2x4s – they’re sitting in buckets filled with cement. Then we just covered the buckets with burlap and tied fabric strips around them. The fabric strips are just stapled to the top and since the look is “rustic,” we let them fray and it worked perfectly.

All photos by Heather Hawkins Photography.

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To honor family members who were deceased or unable to attend, we reserved a seat for them with a photo. This was a really special reminder that they were there in spirit.

For the reception tables, my mom and I made tablecloths out of muslin to keep them super cheap plus the natural/cream color fit in perfectly with our color palette of peach, blush and mint. I made sure to use 40% off coupons from Hobby Lobby – they let you use it for cuts of up to 10 yards so I made sure to get the correct lengths each time based on the table lengths (I think with the coupon they were less than $2/yard). Then we made runners from burlap that was already the right width, we just ran hot glue along the ends to keep it from fraying. The wood candleholders and wood slices were purchased via Craigslist from another bride – her father cut them himself from cedar trees they have on their land. (I resold them for the same amount and kept a few myself for my home decor…in the end they were totally FREE for us.)

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I did our flowers so to keep some of the workload down, we also incorporated some non floral centerpieces. We used $1 unfinished wood picture frames from Michael’s and added a fabric rosette to showcase some of our engagement photos. We also made sure to reuse bouquets during the reception. As a budget-savvy person AND a wedding florist, I can’t emphasize how important it is to reuse bouquets in your reception! They’re almost always a huge expense and they’re gorgeous so take advantage! We had empty containers filled with water on some of the tables so the bridesmaids could just drop them in when the ceremony was over…super easy!

 

For some tables, we added lace, burlap and rosettes to mason jars and put candles in them. I think candles are so lovely and romantic…perfect for keeping centerpiece costs down!

Here's the head table, I made the Reserved signs for our table and the family tables using our home printer.  Here’s the head table, I made the Reserved signs for our table and the family tables using our home printer.

Bridesmaids bouquet (L), Bridal bouquet (C), Maid of honor bouquet (R) Bridesmaids bouquet (L), Bridal bouquet (C), Maid of honor bouquet (R)

Our wedding favors were coasters - you've seen the tutorials online, tiles from Home Depot, scrapbook paper and Mod Podge. It took a lot of work and help from friends and family, but they were a unique and inexpensive gift for our guests. I made the sign for the table and just printed it on my home printer. Our wedding favors were coasters – you’ve seen the tutorials online, tiles from Home Depot, scrapbook paper and Mod Podge. It took a lot of work and help from friends and family, but they were a unique and inexpensive gift for our guests. I made the sign for the table and just printed it on my home printer.

Entryway table - pennant banner using inexpensive fabric from Hobby Lobby, $1 wood picture frames from Michael's, nicer photo frames from TJ Maxx ($6-$7 each), faux vintage suitcase for cards and the word CARDS made out of scrapbook paper Entryway table – pennant banner using inexpensive fabric from Hobby Lobby, $1 wood picture frames from Michael’s, nicer photo frames from TJ Maxx ($6-$7 each), faux vintage suitcase for cards and the word CARDS made out of scrapbook paper

These signs were on the restrooms, I think I got this idea from Pinterest but it was so long ago I honestly can't remember. I just used one of the fonts from our invitation suite and printed the signs on our home printer and taped the photos on. These signs were on the restrooms, I think I got this idea from Pinterest but it was so long ago I honestly can’t remember. I just used one of the fonts from our invitation suite and printed the signs on our home printer and taped the photos on.

I saw the I saw the “5 things” idea on some place cards on Pinterest and LOVED the idea of using wood palettes so I combined them! My husband and I each came up with 5 things about ourselves, I printed them on my home printer and my sweet dad made the palette room divider using this tutorial. The left side has my five things along with a bunch of childhood photos, the right side has my husband’s five things and his childhood photos. The flower covered balls at the top are just cheap Chinese lanterns from Party City covered in crepe-paper rosettes – cheap but very time consuming.

Winfrey Point has three different fireplaces so we kept the decor relatively simple on them. DIY yarn covered letters from Hobby Lobby (coupons used, I think they were like $3 each), fabric pennant banners we made, various photo frames and flowers. I REALLY love how these turned out. Winfrey Point has three different fireplaces so we kept the decor relatively simple on them. DIY yarn covered letters from Hobby Lobby (coupons used, I think they were like $3 each), fabric pennant banners we made, various photo frames and flowers. I REALLY love how these turned out.

Sigh…this next thing was really my pride and joy. I still practically cry (okay, that’s an exaggeration) every time I see a photo because it’s just so beautiful. My dear friend Mallory and her mom did a PERFECT job on our cakes, and my sweet mother in law made all the cupcakes for the groom’s cake. The old oil lantern sitting on the mantle has been in my parents bedroom literally my whole life so I loved incorporating that into our wedding decor.

The mantle is the same as the other two, but served as the PERFECT backdrop for our cake table. The tablecloth is muslin with a lace overlay that was just one piece of fabric I got from Joann's for about $8 - no sewing necessary. We had multiple cakes and I made the toppers, the teacup topper is actually from my parents' china set that they got when they were married. My bouquet is sitting in a large mason jar behind the cupcakes. The mantle is the same as the other two, but served as the PERFECT backdrop for our cake table. The tablecloth is muslin with a lace overlay that was just one piece of fabric I got from Joann’s for about $8 – no sewing necessary. We had multiple cakes and I made the toppers, the teacup topper is actually from my parents’ china set that they got when they were married. My bouquet is sitting in a large mason jar behind the cupcakes.

If you read this whole thing, you are seriously my BFF. I know it’s long-winded but I wanted to give details for people who might want to know more about some of the elements in our wedding. If you have any questions or want more specific DIY instructions on something, feel free to comment here or contact me via social media!

xoxo
Valery

 


The day I became Edward Scissorhands.

I’m so excited about sharing this experience with you guys that I kind of don’t know where to begin. So I guess I’ll just do this chronologically.

My dear friend Lindsay is SUCH an amazing photographer (hire her, now). My husband and I did an anniversary shoot with her and it was a great experience but another thing Lindsay really excels at and loves doing are styled shoots. She has brought so many classic characters to life including Sleeping Beauty/Maleficent, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and several others. GO look at them now (but then please come back to this blog post). I’ve wanted to do a shoot with her but let’s be honest…I’m not a princess girl. It’s not that I don’t like princesses, I just don’t really have the look. I’m Tonya Harding and those ladies are Nancy Kerrigan. When I mentioned that I was interested in doing a shoot, she asked if I thought my husband would be willing to be Edward Scissorhands….I told her no, but that I would…and the magic started, y’all!

We spent a few months doing tons of planning and figuring out the costume, makeup, location, etc. It was NOT easy because we really wanted it to look authentic and not costumey (that’s a word…right? whatever). Well, I hate to brag but…we nailed it.

Here are a few behind the scenes photos Lindsay took while the INCREDIBLE Molly of Dollface Makeup Artistry was transforming my face. I didn’t see any of it until I was completely done so when Lindsay showed me these photos, I was floored. It is pretty amazing to see how she got from my normal face to something that looked totally different.

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Yikes, I need to work on my posture…sorry, mom!

Can someone take me to the hospital please? Eek. Can someone take me to the hospital please? Eek.

Once hair and makeup was done, I put all my gear on (with the help of about four people, obviously) and got in the car.

Just chilling. Totally normal. Just chilling. Totally normal.

Now, I want you guys to remember that it’s summer in Texas. We’ve had a pretty mild summer thus far, the weekends before and after our shoots were in the 70s and 80s, but of course that day it was 95 degrees from 4-7pm. And the majority of the shoot was in a second and third floor attic.

There’s something so cool about completely transforming into a different person. I couldn’t really talk (and DEFINITELY couldn’t laugh) because of the scars of my face – the sweat alone was making them peel off. My heels were huge, my pants were super tight leather and I was sweating profusely so I ended up kind of walking like Edward. And obviously I couldn’t use my hands at all. It sounds so cheesy, but he is such a kind, misunderstood character and it was just really fascinating to “be” him for a few hours. It was such a remarkable experience that I am so grateful for.

Okay, okay. Without further ado, here are some of the amazing images from Lindsay. Side note: she was nice enough to not watermark these, so you know, just don’t repost them or anything without her permission (she didn’t ask me to say that, but I’m saying it anyway).

Right? I know. Needless to say, go and “like” Dollface Makeup Artistry and Lindsay Steele Photography on Facebook so you can keep up with their antics. Both of them are RIDICULOUSLY talented and super fun – even if you can’t book them for a shoot definitely follow their work. You won’t regret it.

xoxo
Valery

 


Tutorial – DIY silverware holder

Confession: this project was so ridiculously easy I’m almost embarrassed to call it a “tutorial.”

Backstory: Our kitchen is laid out TERRIBLY and we only have two very tiny drawers. So tiny that a silverware organizer won’t fit in there. After lots of unsuccessful PInteresting, I realized that the easiest and most cost-effective way for us to organize our silver was to use mason jars! (I will never get tired of mason jars…don’t judge me!)

The problem: My ears. Y’all are going to think I’m so crazy but I literally can’t handle the sound of silverware against glass/plates/each other. I always DREADED having to help my mom empty the dishwasher growing up because the sound of putting away the silverware gave me chills. Actually, who am I kidding, I still hate it.

The solution: craft foam.

Initially, my plan was to glue felt on the inside of the mason jars and then spray paint them. Well, after my Edward Scissorhands costume (teaser alert) I had a lot of craft foam left and realized that I could use that instead to buffer the glass to silverware noise (you guys, I am SO CRAZY). Also it’s thicker than felt so it probably does the job better anyway.

Here’s the step-by-step process.

1. Spray paint the mason jars. Yes, they’re going to chip and scratch later but then I can just spray paint them again or buy new mason jars because they’re literally like a dollar a piece and I’m probably going to get tired of how they look soon anyway. Or I can “distress” them and say they’re supposed to look that way. Just make sure to do lots of really light coats so it doesn’t drip!

2. Cut the foam – you need a circle to go on the bottom and then a strip to go around the side. Super easy. I didn’t even bother measuring, I just eyeballed it and trimmed them down as needed.

3. Put the foam inside. I didn’t even glue it, you guys. I figure that way if something gross gets inside I can just take the foam out and wipe out the jar. Also: lazy.

That’s it. That’s the whole tutorial. Spraypaint, cut some foam, put it in the jar. Now I know sometimes spraypaint can come off onto other surfaces so I don’t recommend keeping these bad boys on your kitchen table unless you put something on the bottom of the jars. But that’s on you – this is a three step maximum tutorial.

Did I mention how cheap these were? Mason jars – $3.75, Spray paint – $5, Foam – $.89. Less than ten dollars and super easy DIY project? Yes please.

So now I have these precious silverware holders! It’s so convenient and looks a whole lot prettier sitting on the counter/table than the giant silverware organizer that’s been sitting out for the last six months (oops). I also like that if we have people over, the silverware is already out and ready to grab.

Anyone do on any cool projects this weekend?! I want to hear about them!

xoxo
Valery

 


Tutorial: Coconut oil hair mask

Hey y’all!

So, in case you haven’t noticed…I bleach my hair. As much as I absolutely LOVE the color, my hair becomes a dry, brittle nightmare if I don’t baby it. I have several tried and true products that I love and I only wash it 1-2 times a week, but it still needs more TLC. After reading some recommendations online, I finally decided to try coconut oil a few weeks ago and let me tell y’all, it’s a miracle worker.

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The first time I tried it I had just come home from the salon and my hair felt a little more brittle and prone to breakage than normal – I was kind of panicking. Never fear – this all natural, super easy and cheap method helped strengthen your hair, increased shine and decreased breakage. Here’s what I do!

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So dry……also, I’m in the process of growing my hair out which is why it looks so awkward.

-First I measure out 1/4 cup coconut oil and put it in a bowl so I’m not putting my hands inside a jar of coconut oil – ew. You might need more but just start with that – your hair might not be as dry or thick as mine and you can always add more later.

-If there are any large chunks that aren’t melted, I just break them up in my hands. No need to microwave or anything like that.

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-Next I just start rubbing that stuff all over my hair. I like to just pour a small amount from the bowl into my hands and then apply starting at the top of the head and working backwards. Then I add more to trouble spots that are particularly dry.

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Make sure to get the pieces of hair right at your hairline-those baby hairs need some lovin’ too! Sorry this looks like an Instagram filter, the lighting is AWFUL in our bathroom.

-Once my head is totally greased up, I usually take a brush or comb and CAREFULLY run it through my whole head. This helps make sure I didn’t miss any spots. It also gets everything nice and slicked back so I’ve got that snazzy used car salesman look just in time for bed. (If your hair is longer you might want to loosely put it up in a pony tail or bun. You could probably even wrap it up in a small towel. Unfortunately I’m not an expert in the long hair area.) Gotta be honest, I made the husband take some pictures of me after I was done but they were WAY too embarrassing for me to post. Sorry boutcha!

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-I don’t think coconut oil stains (don’t quote me on that!) but I usually put a grungey towel down on my pillow just to be safe. Also I try REALLY hard not to move around once I’ve laid my head down so I don’t wake up with a face full of coconut oil.

-In the morning, I usually have to shampoo 2-3 times (remember, I’ve got at least four days worth of product buildup in there PLUS a crapload of coconut oil) and then condition really well. If I can avoid heat styling my hair that day, I do.

-I usually try to do this once a week in addition to other deep conditioning and leave in conditioner on the ends between washes. In other words, if you don’t like babying your hair and conditioning a lot, you probably shouldn’t bleach it.

Let me know if you have any questions, hopefully between the ridiculous photos I made my husband take and the super long explanations, everything makes sense. 🙂

xoxo
Valery


Surviving without cable

Since my husband and I moved into our own apartment in February 2013, we made a decision to not have cable. It just wasn’t worth the $60-$80 per month (in addition to internet) since we were on a VERY tight budget. Over a year later, we still don’t have cable and I wouldn’t change a thing. So how do we do it?

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1. Fast internet – This was really a no-brainer for us. My husband does video game development and I have my own businesses (and blog) so having high speed internet was a top priority for us – even if we did have cable. We are able to stream videos on multiple computers and download things super fast. We pay less than $60 per month for the highest speed internet. Seems counter-intuitive if you’re trying to save money but I think it’s worth the extra $10-$15/month to have speedy internet, especially if you’re going to be streaming videos often.

2. Subscription services – My husband and I have chosen to go with Netflix ($7.99) and Hulu Plus ($8) but there are several other good ones out there too! Check them out, use the free trials and see which one best suits your needs. I love Netflix because it has most of my favorite tv shows I can watch reruns of, plus Netflix originals and my favorite AMC shows. And honestly, even if I had cable I would probably still pay for Netflix. Then of course we use Hulu Plus for our current favorites like Modern Family, Bob’s Burgers, Parks and Rec, The Mindy Project, etc.

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I just really like Mark Wahlberg, OKAY?!?!?

 

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Shows we watch regularly – RIP Michael J. Fox Show.

3. Don’t pay for what you aren’t using – Here’s a really important tip…don’t pay for Hulu Plus when new shows aren’t coming out!!! We make sure to put our account in vacation mode during the summer because we know none of our shows are on. You can do this for up to 12 weeks and it’s totally free. You won’t save a ton of money but you won’t be wasting it either and you’ll feel really smart 🙂 Also, if you get Netflix and don’t like it…cancel it! Don’t be lazy, save your money!

 

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4. Ask friends for help! – This is a biggie for me. If there’s something I’m really dying to watch (like The Grammys Tribute to the Beatles they had a few months ago that I FINALLY watched last weekend…thanks dad!), I make sure someone DVRs it for me. Unless you’re constantly asking your friends, they will more than likely say yes. Offer to bring dinner so you can watch it together!

5. Get a Chromecast!!! – The best $35 you’ll ever spend. We bought one of these bad boys when they came with three free months of Netflix so it really only cost us $9 but I would happily pay $35 for one if I had to do it all over again. This little guy is AMAZING. You just plug it into your TV, do a quick setup (basically put in your wireless info) and it’s ready to go. Open up Google Chrome on your computer, laptop or phone (you DO have Google Chrome, right?), click the little button in the browser and it will “cast” whatever page is in that browser to your TV! It’s seriously amazing. So instead of watching TV on your computer you’re actually watching it on your television. You can get one here (or at Best Buy, Target or numerous other retailers).

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I think that’s about it! If you have any questions, leave a comment! Do you have cable? Is it worth it? Let’s discuss!

xoxo
Valery