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Archive for February, 2009

Gallup Park 2Gallup Park, Ann ArborThere is no question that the economy’s woes are hitting all of us. But that doesn’t mean that we still can’t have some fun and do what we need to do.

 

I have always said that I think a difficulty with American culture is that we don’t talk frankly about money. In Italy, folks would directly ask how much something cost or how much you get paid. It was shocking to me at first, but then I got used to it. It is helpful to have a sense of costs, what other people are paying and if you can do better.

 

I’ve talked about this with Americans and there seems to be a gender difference in the discussion of money. For example, almost everywhere I’ve ever worked, the women bring their lunch in and brag not only about their good cooking, but their cleverness in using the leftovers to create something new. We also talk about the coupons they used to get a bargain when they bought their food. Men don’t seem to be as comfortable doing that and tend to spend more money going out for lunch.

 

These are *huge* generalizations that I would mark down as unsupported claims in an essay I was grading. So prove me wrong. Perhaps the current economy will change how both men and women behave.

 

Here are some things we’ve done lately that were incredibly inexpensive and either useful or just plain relaxing. It helps us with our daily budget and saving for the wedding.

 

Get a haircut at a haircutting school. I went for a haircut at the Douglas J Aveda Institute in Ann Arbor. I made an appointment and paid $16.00 for a great haircut and even a scalp massage. Aveda is a no-tip hair salon, so it was really just $16.00. I love Aveda products and enjoyed the scents of the massage oil and the rosemary conditioner. It took an hour, a little longer than a usual haircut since the instructor checked a few times, but it was worth it. I recommend Stacy, who did my hair with great precision and was fun to chat with.

 

Go to a matinee movie showing. Give up movies? Never. But why not see the new releases at an afternoon show instead of an evening show which may cost a few dollars (or even double) the price of an afternoon show?

 

Sign up for the point programs wherever you go. Sure, it’s tiresome: You don’t want to carry around an extra card or clog up your email account. But, I encourage you to give in and do it. You’ll save and eventually see it as a challenge. For example, we buy bagels at Barry’s Bagels  at the Westgate shopping center in Ann Arbor and we are about to get a free bagel (plus, their “baker’s dozen” isn’t just 13, it is 14! Score.) (Word of advice: some stores have credit cards, not point systems, with their names on them. Be wary of opening up too many credit cards.)

 

Make sure all of your credit cards have a point program. Everything you buy with a credit card should give you points. These points take a LONG time to build up to anything worthwhile, but why not earn a little extra with the money you are already spending?

 

Double your points. We all order online and you can increase (ok, maybe not double) your points. Start by logging into a credit card website and then shopping through their preferred vendor. For example, let’s say you are going to order online with Staples. Log into your credit card company, look for their preferred shopping vendors, enter into the Staples site and then buy something using that credit card and giving Staples your Staples rewards number. Voila! You’ve gotten extra points. Usually, you get more points by ordering through a credit card website than just using the point system set up on your credit card.

 

Look for coupons and sales. I know, it sounds like advice for your grandmother and who buys a paper anymore? But you can look online for sales. If you’ve already signed up with your favorite companies (for points and just to receive notices), the sales will come right to your email in-box. If not, you can look on company websites. Let’s say you have a big purchase coming up at a store you don’t normally shop at. Look on their website and track it for sales. You can even call the store and ask if they know of any upcoming sales. For example, when we moved to Ann Arbor we had some posters we wanted to frame. We went to Michael’s and were quoted a pretty high price, which was surprising since it seemed like an inexpensive framing store. We talked to the saleslady who assured us that sales come around. We signed up online for their coupons and discovered a 50% off framing sale just a week later.

 

Happy Hour. We all know about happy hour, but sometimes forget. Look to see if your favorite restaurant or bar has happy hour or other deals (free dessert on Tuesdays, for example.)  

 

Girl’s afternoon? Stop by the makeup counter in the mall for a free makeover.

 

Go on a self-directed walking tour. Every town has something to see and do. Look online or in travel books for a self-directed walking tour. You’ll see new things and get yourself out of the house. We like to take weekend adventures (ok, we did more of it in the fall when the weather was better) and drive to nearby towns. It is helpful to have a guide to help direct your tour of the town. The town’s municipal website will usually lead you to the right place.

 

Go on a factory tour. We haven’t gone yet, but we can’t wait to go on a tour of the Jiffy factory  in Chelsea, MI. It is closeby and free. (Who doesn’t love those easy to make corn muffins?)

 

Recycle. Some stores offer coupons or discounts for bringing products back for recycling. For example, if you have a Staples rewards card, you can bring back your used cartridges and receive a $3.00 coupon in the mail for each cartridge. I find that most of these deals are with tech products like cartridges, printers, computers, etc.

 

Supermarket sales and local perks. Know your local market. Hillers, a Michigan supermarket chain, offers a 5% discount to anyone with a University of Michigan ID. If there is a sale on a product you buy a lot, stock up. You can freeze it or store it in the cabinet.

 

AAA or other discount programs. If you belong to AAA, ask if museums, hotels, etc. have AAA discounts. We recently went to the Field Museum in Chicago for a reduced rate with the AAA discount (which wasn’t listed anywhere, you have to ask.)

 

Go out for lunch instead of dinner. The lunch menu is usually the same food for less than the dinner menu. Enough said.

 

Go to the library. Do you need to own every book you read? Probably not.

 

Buy used books on amazon.com, half.com, etc. If you must own the book, you can usually buy a cheaper copy of it somewhere.

 

Go to a museum or gallery. Most galleries are free and most museums are inexpensive or have a free night. The Museum of Modern Art has Target Free Fridays which is much cheaper than the usual $20.00 entrance free.

 

Look for free events. Every university, bookstore, Whole Foods, etc. sponsors free events. Go to a reading, food tasting, lecture, etc. and have a good time. The University of Michigan’s MFA program sponsors readings which are wonderful. They want to get you in the store and you want a night out. They will often sell certain products at a reduced rate for the event that they are sponsoring.

 

Enjoy the outdoors. Everyone who knows me knows I’m more of an indoor girl than an outdoor girl. Still, I enjoy a lovely park for a walk. Who couldn’t use the exercise and fresh air (if you’ve already taken that allergy medicine? J ) Gallup Park in Ann Arbor has a great paved path around a lake and welcomes even the most avid indoor person (see the pics above.) Hans and I went there a few times this fall and look forward to returning this spring.

 

Volunteer. There are lots of organizations that make group volunteer projects fun (they want to entice you in, after all.) Look on http://www.volunteermatch.org/ for something in your area.

 

Make lists. Go shopping with lists of what you need and what you might like if it were on sale (the less necessary items.) This will help to ensure that you don’t buy extra and you keep an eye out for certain sales. No impulse buying here.

 

Go out and explore the world! There are times when you must spend money (medicine, rent, etc.), but you can be smart about your day to day purchases. Continue to tip well and help support fellow human beings. Don’t spend money you don’t have unless it is an emergency.

 

When you do come into a little money, remember those non-profits or local stores you visited without spending any money and give them a donation or buy something full price. It is only fair and will help to keep them afloat. They are hurting, too.  

 

 

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Lyn Lynch, Makeup ArtistI recently met Lyn Lynch at my fiancé’s friends’ wedding. A perfect complexion, great lipstick and hip glasses, I asked her what she does for a living. We chatted about her experience as a makeup artists and she agreed to share some of her tips here. As someone who rarely even buys tinted lip glass, I was really interested.

 

 

 

 

 

How should a bride start her search for a makeup artist?

 

It’s great if a bride can get referrals from friends or family members who have used the services of a great makeup artist before. Aside from that, an Internet search is really OK – type in “makeup artist” and the city you live in, and take note of what is listed. Many freelance artists have Websites that highlight their work, and that should give you a good idea of what kind of artist they are, and if they fit your needs. Of course, it’s always a good idea once you find an artist to contact them and set up a time to talk about your wedding, or better yet meet in person for a trial run. That way, you can try out the makeup artist before your big day, and get a sense of what they’re like. A good makeup artist will ask lots of questions about your style, personality and what you envision yourself looking like on your special day. I always recommend that the bride supply me with a few pictures of what she thinks is the ideal look – makeup artists are obviously very visual, so it helps us to see what you see in your mind.

 

What should a bride who doesn’t usually wear a lot of makeup do on her wedding day?

 

There is always a tendency to play it safe – what works for you in real life is right for the wedding, right? But keep in mind that you’ll be wearing a beautiful dress, your hair will be done (most likely different from what you do in real life, too) and there will be pictures taken, which always calls for more makeup than what you would normally wear. Keep in mind, a good makeup artist will respect that you wear minimal makeup in real life, but know just how to emphasize your best features on your wedding day.

 

How does a makeup trial work?

 

A makeup trial is just that – a practice run before the big day. Generally, the makeup artist will apply makeup exactly the way he/she plans to apply it on your wedding day. You’ll have a chance to critique it and ask for changes – more/less color or definition – that way, there are no surprises on the actual day. It can take place anytime before the wedding day – months, days, whatever the two of you work out.

 

Is it customary for a bride to have her makeup done before engagement pictures?

 

It’s a very personal decision – often, engagement pictures are the perfect time to do a trial run with your makeup artist – while the look won’t be exactly the same as it might be for the actual wedding day, it’s a good time to evaluate whether the makeup artist “gets” you and your personal style.

 

Who else usually likes to have their makeup done (bridal party, mother of the bride, etc.)

 

It really runs the gamut- I’ve done makeup for the bridal party, mother of the bride, mother of the groom, grandmothers, friends of the family, flower girls and friends. I’ve even provided a little concealer and bronzer for grooms who need to look picture perfect.

 

Do you bring your own makeup or should the bride provide her own?

 

It is really up to the bride – most makeup artists have extensive kits they travel with that can create any look they need. If you are allergic to certain products or just prefer certain colors, it’s OK to supply your own makeup for the artist to use. It’s something you work out with your makeup artist. Personally, I’ve done it both ways.

 

What can the bride do to make things easier for you?

 

It’s helpful if brides are open to suggestion – makeup artists who have done many weddings have a lot of experience with what looks good in pictures – trust them to know what is going to show well on camera. It’s also helpful if you have a clear picture of what you are looking for – we want to make you happy, so be clear about your preferences. It’s really a happy medium between the two of you – sometimes, you’d be surprised about what will really bring out your beauty. Trust a good makeup artist to do that for you.

 

What is the price range? Are there “recession tricks” to keep the price down?

 

The price range varies by artist and by city; there is no real guideline. You can keep your price down by offering to do part of the look yourself – maybe book the makeup artist for your complete look, then have your bridal party do their complexion (foundation, powder) themselves and have the artist just do their eyes, cheeks and lips (I charge half-price for that scenario, myself). It saves time and money, especially if your bridal party is savvy enough to do at least part of their look themselves.

 

 

***

Lyn Lynch is a New York City makeup artist who is slightly (OK, really) obsessed with makeup and skincare. She has a full-time job at Sephora, the ultimate candy store for kids like her. She also does freelance work in her free time, when she’s not researching other obsessions. She firmly believes looking good should be fun – and should take as long as you want it to take (sorry, husband).

 

 

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Personalized Wedding Poems by Chloé Yelena Miller can be given or read in a number of ways. Here are some suggestions:

 

Y Read the poem as a toast at the rehearsal dinner or during the reception

 

YIntegrate the poem into the ceremony

 

YInclude all or part of the poem in the vows

 

YPrint and frame the poem as a gift for the couple

 

YUse the poem in the invitation or save-the-date

 

YDisplay the poem during the reception or cocktail hour.

 

YAdd the poem to the ceremony program

 

YInclude the poem on the wedding website

 

YHave the poem printed on wedding day favors

 

YInsert the poem into the thank you cards

 

YGive the poem later as an anniversary gift

 

YOffer the poem to your partner as a part of the bride or groom present

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I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day. TruVue Radio host Roland interviewed a number of poets for Valentine’s Day. If you missed the live broadcast, you can listen to the archived version here.

During my interview, I read three poems (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner), which I wrote for my fiance’ as a birthday present this past November.

Keep listening to hear Weddings by Artists’ custom song writer Anna Huckabee Tull’s interview and song.

Thanks for tuning in!

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Nestling Hearts Created by Lorraine RantalaThanks to Ann Keeler Evans, the Wedding Priestess, for sharing so much information about love and Valentine’s Day. Read one of my poems in her recent article in the Philadelphia Marriage Examiner. You’ll also enjoy Anna Tuckabee Hull’s song.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Thanks to Celia Milton for the great mention on her blog (look for the Feb. 4 post.) Scroll through her blog for other unique wedding ideas. I particularly like the photobooth… wouldn’t that be fun to have at your wedding?

If you are looking for a New Jersey celebrant, don’t miss her website.

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(Thanks to The Ann Arbor Chronicle for mentioning this blog post!)

 

 

I attended my first bridal show this weekend at V2V , a lovely boutique in Ann Arbor, MI.

 

I was smitten with V2V and their dresses when I saw a silk gown with a gathered front hanging in their window recently. Last week, I tried on a few dresses and spoke with Julia and Tracey. They told me about the “Bridal Event” this weekend. It sounded good, but I had no idea how much fun it would really be to attend.  

 

My friend Shasta kindly drove up from Indianapolis to help with wedding plans and we went together. Saturday, we had an appointment to try on dresses from the trunk sale. There were some beautiful Jenny Yoo and Siri that we loved. I haven’t decided on a dress yet, but I have a better sense of what I might like to buy.

 

Sunday was the Bridal Event. Shasta and I arrived at 2:30, a little before the second fashion show of the day. When we walked in, the woman gathering the tickets said that we had to try the meatballs right away. I wasn’t sure what she meant until we walked up the stairs and saw the vendors sharing samples of their foods. Who knew we should have come on an empty stomach?

 

We wandered around the tables of vendors. After tastes of almond cake, raspberry chocolate truffles, meatballs, apple cider and more, we felt like we were at an exclusive party dedicated to crafting original and sincere weddings.

 

Here were some highlights:

 

TeaHous is a Kerrytown-area store that specializes in tea and tea products. They had sample earl gray lollipops that would make wonderful favors.

 

Cakes by Rubina  offered a pure almond chocolate cake bite. It tasted like a true Italian dessert.

 

Decadent Delights  shared moist chocolate cake with us. They make custom cookies and can even make cookies that match your cake.

 

I had walked by Schakolad , the chocolate factory, a number of times in Ann Arbor and never stopped. That was clearly a mistake. I tasted a raspberry champagne truffle and wanted to create a distraction so Shasta could steal us the entire silver tray of chocolates.

 

When we found Zingerman’s, we found the meatballs. At this point I was too full to want to squeeze in extras, but it was delicious. Shasta enjoyed some of the apple cider.

 

The ultimate high point was the ten minute chair massage by Bellanina I was a new woman after that (why did I have to get up?)

 

The fashion show was great fun. The models walked down the runway in the dresses carrying lovely bouquets of flowers. Here are some pictures from the show:

 

 

V2V white dress

V2V group

V2V Show 3 I highly recommend attending future shows there. The cost was $8.00 in advance, $10 at the door. This was exactly the place to be for a bride who is looking to create an authentic wedding day without the excess of impersonal, commercial vendors.  

 

Thanks to V2V and Shasta for a wonderful weekend. I’m brimming with good ideas and cake.

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