Put a Ring On It: The Bridesmaids Gifts

When deciding what I wanted to give as a gift to my beautiful bridesmaids, I knew right away that I wanted it to be something that they would wear or use for the wedding.

However, I did not want it to be the lines of:
a. A tacky tote bag

b. A classy reminder of a night you didn't remember:

c. Some snazzy dog tags 

Can you tell I'm really into lists these days?

Not only did I want the gifts to be nice and something that the girls wouldn't be embarrassed to wear, but I also wanted them to have something they would able to wear or use it again (because I'm not sure how many times a shiny purple mini-dress will come in handy). 

Almost immediately, I decided I was going to make clutches for each girl, until I remembered there were nine of them and sewing just one would take me a year. And then I remembered that I can't even sew in the first place.

Scratch that.

One day, after months and months of Googling for the perfect bridesmaid gift that would be cute, functional, and wouldn't break the bank, I glanced down at the huge cocktail ring I was wearing that I bought for my Halloween pin-up girl costume. Eureka!

This set the wheels a-turning. I pulled out a giant bag of clip-on earrings that I've acquired over the years and decided that some of them were too pretty to be sitting in a bag, and that they would look really swell as, say, cocktail rings on my bridesmaids fingers.

I made a quick trip to Michael's for the rest of the supplies: super glue and ring frames (which were, surprisingly, hard to find). Time to go to town.

First, I picked out the best earrings that had semi-flat backs, and used my pliers to pry the earring back off. A little bit of sanding helped smooth the surface to be glued. Next, glue those suckers on, and resist the urge to try them all on before they've finished drying completely.

And voila! Instant bridesmaids gifts.

You would think that picking out which ones to give to who would be the hardest part. Actually, all of the rings were so unique in style, that I was pretty much able to match them to each girl perfectly. 

I had some leftover red boxes from my sister-in-law (and, incidentally, bridesmaid)'s bridal shower, and noticed that they were the perfect size for rings. I got out my scrapbook paper and crazy scissors and made name tags for each one.

I was pretty much the giddyest person ever when I handed them out at the rehearsal dinner. Despite a casualty or two (nothing that couldn't be fixed with an extra dab of glue), the girls loved them and they looked fabulous.

And look! They're even making appearances in senior photos!

In other news, my sister is beautiful.

Maybe if a career doesn't work out, this could be a new business venture. I could be a Bridesmaid Gift Maker. 

I'll just add it to the list.


My Top Five Dream Jobs (and why I can't have them.)

Just in the past seven days, I have missed a rare East Coast earthquake and slept through a rare East Coast hurricane.

What does this tell me? Maybe that I'm incredibly unobservant. Or that maybe a career in breaking news and journalism isn't for me.

Since the duration of my days has recently consisted of pouring over job opportunities on the interwebs, jobs and careers have been on the forefront of my mind. Sometimes I find a prospect that I think would be perfect. Sometimes I find things that I'm overqualified for but apply for anyway. Some days I think I need to have a dream job that I love, and other days I think, well, even if my job isn't great I can always have hobbies. Which I really don't think is the best attitude to have.

The real question is, what career is for me? I decided a long time ago that I wasn't going to manage a restaurant, work behind a front desk at a hotel, or plan conventions--i.e. everything my major taught me how to do. Don't get me wrong--most of the time, I really enjoyed that stuff. I know my situation after college (getting married and moving somewhere because my husband found a job there) wasn't the same as many recent college graduates, and call me crazy, but I want a job with a schedule where I can get up in the morning, put in a solid day, and come home at night and spend time with Ian. And not have to work on Christmas. Oh, hospitality.

So in between endless job applying, after some brainstorming I have decided on a couple dream careers for me.
1. Recipe Tester
"Imagine being able to earn a living by cooking in your own kitchen? If you have a passion for food, an obsession for accuracy and a curiosity about the way things work, professional recipe testing might be a career for you."

Only problem with this--a degree in food science or nutrition is required. I don't want to know the science of the food, for pete sake--can't I just cook it and give it a "yay" or "nay"? And then blog about it, maybe?

2. Cereal Tester
"[Pabros] takes a single square of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and places it carefully on one of the molars on the right side of her mouth and bites down carefully, feeling the piece crunch and savoring the cinnamon goodness."

Again, a career like this requires an actual knowledge of food science and properties and rubbish like that. (Hah, rubbish. Thought I'd throw that word in there) In my humble opinion, I think it would be beneficial to have a lowly regular non-science-y person test products like this, because what little kid is going to crunch on their Cocoa Krispies and analyze the texture and composition? Yeah. I'll be sure to bring that to the interview.

3. Wedding Consultant
"Have you ever thrown a party? Do you remember all the little things that went into just making your house presentable, the food acceptable, and the liquor adequate? Well, multiply all of these things by 1,000 and you have an idea of what wedding consultants deal with: It is a high-stress profession."

 Stipulations: No bridezillas, must have vintage styles and tastes almost exact to the consultant, must be interested in hearing about every detail of my own wedding in the process, and dance lessons with Matthew McConaughey are required.

4. Greeting Card Writer
Here were the very helpful tips I found on how to be a Greeting Card Writer from education-portal.com:

1) Get an education. 2) Consider an internship. 3) Consider Freelancing. 4) Get a job.

Well gee. If it were as easy as that, maybe I wouldn't be making this list.

I could always revive my Etsy business.

5. Luxury Bed Tester
"Roisin Madigan, 22, is earning £1,000 to sleep in designer beds every day for a month. The student is helping with a "sleep survey" carried out by luxury bed specialists Simon Horn Ltd. The company sells luxury Savoir Beds, originally made for the Savoy Hotel. General manager Craig Roylance said Roisin will not only provide an objective view of the beds on sale, but will also be part of a look into what brings a good night's sleep."

Since my experience in San Antonio over Spring Break last year, I haven't been able to stop raving about the Westin Heavenly Bed I got to sleep in for a week. It's kind of pathetic--when Ian and I did our Bed Bath & Beyond registry, I picked out our Egyptian Cotton White Damask Bedsheets because they reminded me of a Heavenly Bed. I was thrilled to receive a queen-sized pillow top for our mattress from Aunt Joan. Every morning is a struggle to get out of bed, not because I'm depressed over the current job market, but because our bed is just so damn comfortable. My experience with luxury beds clearly makes me the best candidate.

In conclusion, I'll just keep searching indeed.com.


Reasons why I am Not Martha Stewart

I know, I know. It's really hard to believe. What with all those gourmet meals prepared in fancy cooking wares and the home-y little touches all over our Lower Level Apartment, I know you all probably think my middle name is Martha. Not to mention she/Macy's furnished half of our kitchen.
Oh you know, just some Hurricane Shepard's Pie!

Here's the truth, friends. I would love to channel Martha and make my home look like the photos on the website. An eclectic colonial dining room? Yes please.

But as newlyweds on a budget, most of our home decor has come from the following:

1. Craigslist 

2. Leftover Wedding Decor

3. Our Parents

4. Bren's Craft Projects

Aha! Craft projects? What could be more Martha?

Well, for starters, many of the projects I start go way unfinished. I always start with the best intentions, but soon I get bored, distracted, or so gung-ho about the next project that I leave what I was doing in the dust. For example, several weeks ago I decided I was going to start a greeting card business on Etsy. While I'm just poking around Virginia for jobs, might as well make some extra cash, right?

During a Saturday afternoon with Cheaper by the Dozen on TV, I quickly started to build up my starting inventory. And then stopped at four. They took a lot longer than I thought they would. 

That's the thing--I don't have patience. I usually don't read directions. Instead of investing the time in quality materials, I tend to do whatever is easiest and quickest. It's a wonder I stayed focused to make 200 wedding invitations (although, I had significant help with that one...). 

So today, I was just perusing on Pintrest and making note of all the fabulous craft projects I will (probably never) make, and I kept stumbling across this idea for earring storage:

This craft project just spoke to me. I had a wooden frame lying on the shelf that I had been trying to find a use for. I also had tons of string, which is like, the same as wire. Perfect.

In my true fashion, I didn't bother to click the link to find out how Amanda made that little beauty. I assumed scotch tape and string would suffice as the way to hang my earring collection.

Turns out it didn't. 

I thought to myself, oh well, and then I gave up for about an hour.

But as the pathetic tape-y frame just sat on the kitchen table, I felt kind of bad. Like all junk, the poor guy deserved a chance to be made into something fabulous. So I caved and read the directions on the website. Apparently in order to build a sound and sturdy earring holding frame, one needs some heavy duty wire and a staple gun. Eep. But then I remembered I had loads of wire in my craft basket from my jewelry making phase. And a couple thumbtacks. Same thing.

No one would see that side anyway.

And now, for the real test. Would it hold up my pounds and pounds of dangly earrings?

Answer: it sure would! And it would look pretty swell doing it:

Craft project: complete and successful! 

Who's the queen of crafts now?

(Hint: me.)


My Pintresting Kitchen

I, like many of my fellow bloggers, have fallen into the Pintrest obsession community. It's true. The only thing I'm kicking myself for is that I didn't hop on the bandwagon while I was wedding planning, as it is a GREAT tool for that! However, I'm getting lots of inspiration for different areas of my life...Style, Hair, Dream Home, even Things to Hang on my Wall.

So naturally a good portion of my Dream Home board consists of kitchens, usually with some variety of red and teal appliances and fixtures, and most definitely with a checkerboard floor.
Like this:

From here

And this:

 From here

But for now, our little kitchen has made me happy. Remember when we registered how I made sure to scan every single red and teal kitchen item? A red coffee maker, KitchenAid mixer, coffee mugs, and canisters. Teal towels, cutting board, baking dishes, and mixing bowls. My mom even scored us retro teal chairs at a flea market (that supposedly came from a tiki lounge in Miami) to go with our retro kitchen table from Aunt Joan's basement. As far as newlywed nests go, ours is pretty tops.

Thank you, Julia. From Etsy.


Brenda the Bookworm

I've always loved reading.

Much to the delight of my parents and relatives bragging rights, I learned to read much earlier than my classmates and excelled at an exceptional rate through Writing to Read, the cutting-edge technology in first grade on prehistoric computers. Not only that, I'm a fast reader--I was always done with reading assignments, tests, and the like way before anyone else. 

Growing up, I breezed through the monumental pre-teen series, graduated from Babysitter's Little Sister to the much older, more mature Babysitter's Club, and sometimes raided my mom's paperback cabinet where I squirmed uncomfortably through literary love and mild sex scenes (sorry, Ma). 

But when I got to the point in school where we had to start reading books to uncover deeper meanings, analyze the crap out of the placement of every word and sentence structure, and lead class discussions on underlying themes that I just never seemed to grasp (can't we just take it for face value?) I was turned off of reading "grown up" books. Crime and Punishment, Romeo and Juliet, Antigone...how boring. Not only was the language ancient, but I was expected to draw things from words I didn't understand and write papers on it? No thanks. I'll stick with the Shopaholic series and Seventeen Magazine, thanks. 

I'm not sure when exactly things changed, but I do remember the first grown up, really hard book that I actually enjoyed. We read A Tale of Two Cities in tenth grade, and with the help of Sparknotes (as an aid, not a replacement, mind you) I found myself realizing, woah...this is cool! Although spending five minutes on a single paragraph was the most frustrating thing to read for a girl who breezes through a paperback in one day,  taking the time to understand made enjoying the book so much more rich. 

My developing love for writing, along with the suggestion from my now-husband, made me decide to minor in English because, in my usual quick fashion, I was ahead of schedule to finish up my college classes before four years was up (and the prospect of graduating early scared me into picking up a minor). The semester of where I had mostly English classes (Article Writing, Fiction Writing, and Critical Reading, with American Fiction over the summer) was probably my favorite in the four years. It was a refreshing and much-needed break from the rigorous, business-driven, somewhat tool-infested Hospitality Management major. I found more stimulating conversations from sitting in one English class than I did with an entire semester of Finance class, and some of my favorite teachers came from those classes. They were so laid-back and classes mostly full of people who loved to write and read, weren't concerned about kissing up to CEO's and scoring internships, and didn't know what the hell they would do with it after college. I liked it. 

I started out this post with the intention of reviewing some of the books that my unemployed self has read this summer (thank goodness for the library across the street!) but, as usual, my thoughts took me somewhere else. Hope you enjoyed the evolution of Brenda the Bookworm!

And just for kicks...here are some of my favorite books for the summer. They might not be the most intellectual, but for purposes of keeping me occupied on the patio with a glass of wine, they have done me well.
What books have you loved this summer?


A Change of Pace

What do you get when you have a couple who gets married in the middle of the summer and moves to a new place, a husband who doesn't start work until the end of the summer, and a wife who doesn't have a job yet? 

You get an extra long honeymoon.

That's basically what the past month has been for the Brodie Abode. And it has been awesome. A month to settle into our new home, become familiar with the area, explore the mountains, and explore the city. See old friends, make new friends. Go to bed at 1 and wake up at 10, with mornings spent lazily drinking coffee and catching up on my blogs.

It's been grand, but would you believe me if I said I was ready for a change of pace?

Ian officially started his job today, and I have a couple interviews lined up this week. It's time to ditch the leggings and tank tops and put on a suit (maybe a new pencil skirt?) and make my way into the world as a working woman. It's that feeling where, towards the end of the summer, you were ready to go back to school. Which, incidentally, is happening today at Penn State with the start of classes...and I'm not a student for the first time in 20 years? 

We had a fantastic last weekend of honeymoonin' at home, and it turned out to be more fun and exciting than we had originally planned! On Saturday afternoon we navigated the Metro to meet my brother and sister in-law and a PSU friend in DC. This consisted of parking in a shady mall, hiking across the shady mall parking lot and across the highway to the farthest station away from downtown.

An hour and a half later, we arrived at Dupont Circle for dinner at the Bier Baron, a rustic pub-like restaurant that had 500 kinds of beer.

I found a vintage store called Meeps. Pretty much made my night.

And we got our first taste of city nightlife.

We rolled home after a long Metro ride back, complete with a random run in with a State College friend (which induced lots of screams and squealing) and proceeded to sleep until 11:00. Whoops.

We awoke to texts from our new friends Matt and Erin who had free tickets to the Phillies/Nationals game. So I experienced my first major league baseball game--AND got to wear red. It was great.

And then the rain came, and after five innings we peaced out. I decided that all baseball games should be five innings. The perfect amount of time before I get antsy!

Then we came home and Ian made hot sauce.

It was a very productive weekend!

And guess what...

We got our wedding photos!

I hope you're as excited as I am. Not sure if that's entirely possible, but let's just say they are perfect. Let the wedding recaps begin!


It's So Tasty Too!

What's a girl to do with her antsy, (hopefully for not much longer) unemployed self?
Other than this...

Um, she bakes. A lot. But sometimes she forgets to put eggs in Duncan Hines cake mix, deems it "Fail Cake", and is then turned off from baking...for a week.

But not today! With two job interviews lined up for next week, I was feeling ambitious. I had recently made a batch of fabulous chocolate chip cookies for a coffee date with a new friend, and they were all gone. Wanting to do the right thing for the happiness of our household, I figured it was my duty to replenish the supply.

Except...I wanted to make ones that I wouldn't feel bad for eating half the batch, but wouldn't taste like cardboard or sawdust. So after some Googling, I stumbled across The World's Healthiest Chocolate Chip Cookies. Made with whole wheat flour, vegetable oil, and milk, I was feeling pretty good about the health factor! The big question...would they be tasty too?

Answer? Yes. Oooooh yes. The best part was not only being able to eat the batter--because no eggs was intentional this time!

As they baked, I was still feeling on a roll. I had a spark of inspiration to make something with the boxes and boxes of Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal we have sitting in the cupboard.

I wasn't sure if instant oatmeal would produce the same effect as regular oatmeal, but what did we have to lose? Those Quaker Oats are going nowhere fast. Luckily, other people have had this thought, so I found a fabulous sounding "Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal Muffins". I was getting sick of cereal for breakfast, anyway.

When all the treats were done, I put together a little sample platter for the man.

Cookies, muffins, and thunderstorms, all in one day. Can't go wrong with that!

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