My First Year and the Combating the Sex Trade Industry in our Communities

The end of my first year at the University of Minnesota and the beginning of a beautiful summer. 

This year has been so much more than I imagined it would be. I began my third year of college with a feeling it would be great to explore the field of medicine. I declared a major in biochemistry and a minor in public health. I started volunteering at Amplatz (University of Minnesota) Children’s Hospital, learning a lot about pediatric oncology. I have been beyond lucky to find myself in the Chair of Community Health position at the U’s Minnesota Medical Leader’s club and the events organizer position for the Undergraduate Public Health Association. I have been exploring the field through the University of Minnesota’s College of Biological Sciences Premed Scholars club and have submerged myself in studies. 

I have also been attending these incredible Community Health Advocacy Talks with UMN’s urban research outreach center.

One CHAT talk I attended last week on sex trafficking in the Minneapolis area really struck me, reminding me of why I wanted to do all this to explore medicine in the first place. I had a frustrating “connect the dots” moment when learning about the sex-trade market, remembering a past friendship I had with a vulnerable young woman, who (from my hindsight view) may very well have been involved in the sex trafficking industry. 

When I met Amanda, she was 17, a couple months pregnant, with a very tumultuous living situation. She was homeless at the time, but would scarcely stay in shelters, usually with the man she was with seeming to be in charge of where she would go each night. Each time I would see Amanda around the city of St. Cloud, I would always stop and talk to her, usually inviting her out to lunch with me. She usually would accept my invitation, but she always seemed quite paranoid, and would often have a “boyfriend” suddenly show up. Although the idea had crossed my mind of what might have been going on, I hate now how naïve I was and that I did not do more to intervene. 

At the CHAT event, the researching professional noted the way the role of a medical professional intervening in a sex trafficking situation might be limited because of the same kind of “watch-out” guarding of a girl, such as in the case of a visit to the emergency room. It becomes so hard for a girl to feel safe enough to reach out for help when they are so guarded, beyond the dependence they are made to feel on their pimps or facilitators.

If medical professionals are able to learn about what a pimp or sex trafficking facilitator may look like, and what a sex trade victim may look like (since these people are generally good at keeping their underground market a secret), there is a chance we can save more young women from this injustice in our communities.

Doctors and nurses aren’t the only people that can be whistle blowers for the justice of women and girls (and boys) involved in sex trafficking. I was amazed by how much I had learned at this talk and how clearly I had missed warning signs screaming in my face, and I realized how much this really needs to be a thing we learn about more often among the general public and in schools.

Vulnerable teens get involved in the sex trade industry because they are not educated about the dangers and the tornado-like force the industry has, sucking them in (whether through facilitated drug dependency, physical force, violence, or other forces). The large amount of people even in our own neighborhoods paying for “prostitution service” (though I hate using that term, as it is almost always more like slavery) do not realize that these victims are usually not in control of what they do. The general public doesn’t have the necessary knowledge to whistle-blow when the warning signs are winking at them. And with all this, we can’t even get a question on Minnesota’s student survey about this illegal sex industry among teens because school districts want to “protect kids from exposure to such questions” (as if that is logical at all). 

I digress. 

My recently found knowledge and reminiscence on my past naive experience around the sex trade has encouraged me in my hard work and studying to reach my goals as a medical doctor someday. I hope my readers find some encouragement as well to educate themselves and those around them on the topic of sex trafficking in our own communities.

Together, through the power of education, we can combat the sex trade industry in our communities. 

Equality in Health as Social Justice (and some on the Affordable Care Act)

The United States recently passed the Affordable Care Act (popularly known as “Obamacare”), and more than ever, I am fighting others with the argument of whether health care should be a universal right to every American. Though educated economists and doctors may or may not agree with whether the Affordable Care Act was truly the best decision for the medical economy, the passing of this act raises the very important conversation of health care as a basic human right. 

Universal health care seems to be the perfect example of the struggle between social and market justice. Should every human have basic health rights in order to take advantage of the opportunities of life, especially when they have no control of their circumstances? Most would say so. But it seems this is nearly impossible to ensure while also fighting for the American ideal of market justice. I would encourage anyone interested in this issue to read the brilliantly explained balance struggle, available free here: “Public Health as Social Justice”, Dan E. Beauchamp.

With a basic background in homelessness I have gained certain opinions of my own about the rights of individuals in such a position as poverty. After watching the great documentary, “Poor Kids of America” (available on Youtube.com) I found myself in a disagreement with a loved one of mine regarding the rights of impoverished populations in health-related issues and health care. My opposition’s argument, “Those in extreme poverty have much bigger things to deal with than their health.” This is a flawed philosophy I see showing more and more in the argument for market justice against the Affordable Care Act here in the United States. The fact is, kids in poverty are 7 times more likely to be in poor health than kids above the federal poverty line here in the United States. 

Anyone who has found themselves or a loved one in poor health could attest to the difficulty of taking advantage of the opportunities of life that accompanies a poor health status. This can be an unending cycle; poor health-> unable to take advantage of life opportunities-> finding self and family in poverty-> poor health. If a child is 7 times more likely to find themselves in poor health because of their parents’ income, there is a clear disadvantage in life present; a vast inequality in opportunity and a clear violation of social justice.   

Now, I do not claim to be an expert in what could be the right economical choice to close the health inequality gap in the United States, but I know we need to take action on this issue. I stand by any actions we take as a society to close this health inequality gap, even if it means violating the American ideal of unlimited market justice. My heart aches that so many disagree with the way the scales should tip in the social versus market justice, especially when it comes to health in our nation. 

Though I surely am no expert in the economic issues at stake, I hope I have offered a skeptic a new perspective to contemplate on this issue. 

Easy, Heart-Healthy Mediterranean Green Beans

This one is one of my favorite heart-healthy recipes; enjoy.

Ingredients:

Green beans (Fresh are best, Frozen are great, too)

Olive oil

Garlic

Onion or Scallion

Garlic Salt

Pepper

Parmesan cheese

 How to: 

1. Start just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of your pan on the lowest heat you can get your stovetop. As it is heating, mince/chop the garlic and onions. Add the garlic and then onions to the oil and stir around about 10 minutes until golden brown (you don’t want either of these raw or burnt, adjust your time to your stove heat).

2. Add the beans to the pan with oil, mixing around. Keep the pan at the lowest heat setting. Usually, it takes less than 5 minutes for mine to finish cooking, fresh or frozen.

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3. Season to taste with salt, garlic salt, and/or pepper.

4. Set on serving plates and sprinkle with parmesan cheese as desired.

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Tip: Butter can make this dish extra delicious!

Also, this recipe is super budget friendly with frozen green beans, at only about $0.35 per serving!

Men’s Modern/Vintage Wedding Style

As long as 6 months after our wedding, we are still receiving compliments on the attire of our groomsmen during the wedding. A friend of ours even modeled their family Christmas card from inspiration from the men’s style at our wedding. It is my wonderful, handsome husband’s sense of style, and with the help of the wife, they wore it for about $65 each (most of which was the cost of TOMS shoes)!

So here is what the men wore at our wedding:

©Chelle Photography

©Chelle Photography

©Chelle Photography

©Chelle Photography

I chose to keep the sunglasses in there to protect the anonymity of the youngest brother groomsmen a little bit. Although not all the pictures have those in there, I loved that I got them for the photo opportunity (I just ordered them $10/1 dozen from orientaltradingcompany.com).

The burlap TOMS shoes matched our burlap/twine/lace all around vintage style.

We went for slim ties and suspenders ordered from Ebay.com for less than $5 per guy. They had great color selection and the orange color matched our girls perfectly. The groom got his pants from sammydress.com for about $10.

I hope you can find a little inspiration from our men’s wedding style!

Killing them Softly: Using Essential Oils to Safely and Effectively Combat Mosquitoes

This post is in response to the WordPress Daily Prompt:

Daily Prompt: Necessity is the Mother of Invention

by Krista on December 14, 2013

Imagine, in great detail, an invention that could help reverse pollution — describe for us how your invention works and how it will help save the planet.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us INVENTIVE.

Although I more closely identify with the title “scientist”, I feel this goes hand in hand with the title “artist”, so I will respond.

I must preface this post by saying that this is not 100% my ideas or knowledge, but a collection of team member thoughts at the University of Minnesota which I had the pleasure to work with the last several months. The knowledge here is under the ownership of these individuals, and our ideas have been documented properly. The unauthorized use of any of these ideas without permission is plagiarism and theft, and will be treated as such.

I think many people can agree that the plethora of pesticides we have used on our planet within the last century have been quite devastating to our environment. But the necessity of these pesticides can hardly be argued in the contrast, with mosquitos carrying deadly diseases that kill young and old around the world every day.

So I would like to bring forward my brilliant team’s proposal; a simple duckweed plant, changed slightly to create an essential oil that can stop the growth of mosquitoes in their larval stage.

As a side note, the power of duckweed as, literally, a green water purification, really is underestimated.

Duckweed plant

Duckweed is a plant already present in many places mosquitoes reproduce and grow. Every stage of a mosquito’s life up until adulthood occurs in still water; the duckweed plant’s natural habitat. So why not attack there to stop mosquitoes in their tracks?

Thymol, an essential oil, is a safe and effective larvicide. And a plant we know of, lemon beebalm (a plant I occasionally enjoy herbal tea from), creates this thymol naturally from a gene we know of. Thus, we propose taking that gene from lemon beebalm that codes for the enzymes responsible for thymol production, and inserting it into duckweed.

The technology is known to move this gene from one species to another; using a TaqMan DNA extraction kit to take the gene from the lemon beebalm, amplify our specific gene using a polymerase chain reaction, and using 2 specific restriction enzymes and a pGreenII plasmid to put the gene into agrobacterium, and then infect the duckweed with the agrobacterium. In theory, the modified duckweed should produce the thymol and effectively kill mosquito larva in whatever water source it is put into. We can test our theory after running this experiment on the modified duckweed with Hewlett Packard essential oil analysis technology.

The animal lives that could potentially be saved from widely using a safer pesticide is encouraging. There are some discouraging factors of this potentially new larvicide, though, such as the unknown implications of the antibiotic effects of thymol. With more experiments and research, we could study the implications and possibly develop this technology.

BIOL2002, 2013, Section20, Team 9 (1) Poster

In conclusion, the creativity and science behind this idea go hand in hand; one hardly more important than the other. The mix is such a beautiful thing to me.

My top 10 Low Cost Gifts for Teen Girls and Young Women

Adorable leopard print scarf for $1.99

watch

Matching leopard print watch for $4.00

This fall and Christmas season, I have more than 15 gift-givings to do for teenage girls in my life. Between my two twin teenage sisters, my teenaged sister-in-law, my brother’s (whom is deployed in the army so we take care of her like a sister) girlfriend, my younger adopted sister, my older sister, and 2 of my girl cousins-in-law who I drew for my husband’s family’s name drawing Christmas gift giving fun, I feel over my head in what I can get all these girls and still be original and within our slim budget. Between Christmas and all but one of my “sisters” having a birthday this time of year, there is a lot of creativity to think up to put a smile on these important ladies’ faces. I am sure moms, friends, and young women in my shoes feel my pain and joy, here.

Now most people would say, “just get them all gift cards!” but I not only feel unoriginal and cheap getting 15 $5-$10 gift cards (because that is honestly about how big our budget is this year with college and a wedding this year), but I am confident I can beat that price!

So, here is my list (click the links to view gifts):

  1. My DIY homemade sugar scrub. I have figured out how to make these for about $2.30 each (with $1 of that going to the cute, thrifty container from the thrift store or craft store) for a $20+ value. Check out my blog about this! I did 13 sugar scrubs for $30 last year. My only struggle is, this was my gift last year for 13 wonderful women in my life, so I am not going to do the same again this year.
  2. Jewelry and watches from Sammydress.com. I got this cute leopard print, diamond studded white leather watch for $4 for a young woman that loves animal print, diamond studs and white leather, with free shipping! I paired it with a matching scarf that I found for $2 (which I will discuss later). For a $6 gift I know she will wear all the time and get compliments from her friends on, can’t beat that! I also LOVE this site’s jewelry, with dozens of pairs of earrings between $1-$2 with free shipping (I own several and love them). Since they don’t usually come in a good package to gift in, I usually buy gift boxes and bags from orientaltrading.com, like these adorable chevron gift boxes ($3.25 for 24).
  3. Scarves! Being a Minnesotan girl, all on my gift-giving list love scarves. And I have mastered the sport of finding cute scarves. One of my favorite places for $3 scarves is Ragstock. I know this is a local Minnesotan company, so many won’t have this choice. Another good place to try for scarves is Ebay.com, where I found this leopard print scarf (with many other choices) for only $2 with free shipping, and this black, warm scarf for only $3.39 free shipping. I am pairing each of those with matching leather watches for my sister-in-law and older sister, for gifts under $7 for each of them that I know they will wear and love. If you are a DIY-er, I have made the cutest infinity scarves from purchasing an old skirt at the thrift store and cutting off the bottom and hemming the edges; scarves for pennies and minimal effort!
  4. Removable vinyl wall-decal chalkboard clouds for their bedroom or dorm room from etsy.com! You are not only getting the girl a gift she loves, but also supporting an artist on etsy.com. Prices start for this cute cloud shape at $1.50 each (increasing with larger sized clouds). Remember to pair it with colorful chalk (only $0.75 at orientaltrading.com) or fancier chalk markers. Write them a lovely note on their new chalkboard for when they open their gift for an added touch, like “You’re beautiful, girl! Merry Christmas!” This will be sure to make her day! Also, shop around for other fun wall decals, which can include fun sayings and other fun shapes and images.
  5. Forever21 has TONS of the cutest items for under $5, one of my favorite to give being their fun nail polish. It starts with nail polish for only $2.80 with hundreds of color choices, to their kits and sets for cheap like this leopard print nail set (the teen girls in my life love animal print).
  6. Makeup. I feel this is rather cliche, but it is one that many teen girls will appreciate a ton as they explore the fun field of makeup. Gift sets are everywhere for this, from your local Walmart to Target to Forever21 to ebay to your local Sephora- which is so fun. I have found that if I am purchasing fun makeup for a teen who is younger, I also purchase them a makeup remover, face wash, and moisturizer to go along. This also has put parents at ease when this is one of their little girls’ first makeup packages.
  7. Candles! No girl would dislike a candle, and they are appropriate for anyone teenaged aged or older. Bath and Body Works is a good place to start for these. These can also be fun to put together in a cute basket with lotions and soaps or body mists. You can also buy the gift baskets in the store, but I feel you usually spend more that way and have less room for creativity, but that can still be easy and fun!
  8. A DIY mug like this adorable one here. Go buy yourself a cheap plain mug from the thrift store or wherever, decorate it yourself with a sharpie marker or porcelain paint marker, and stuff with something fun for a chick you love! Maybe it is because I am a coffee lover, but the 5 mugs I have received through my life have always been my favorite gifts. I love the idea of writing a message or simple words like “Beautiful Day” on the mug and adding Lindt chocolate, hot chocolate, or a $5 coffee shop gift card to the inside. You can spend as little as $2 for this gift or as much as $20, depending on how thrifty you are finding the mug and what you want to put in it.
  9. A cute, cheap pair of shoes, like those at pinkbasis.com. Shoes at this site can range from $2-$40+. I also like the super cheap shoes you can find at sammydress.com. Since shoes can get so expensive and a lot of girls don’t buy them for themselves but still love them, it can be a fun item to get as a gift from someone that knows how to find good deals.
  10. The basics. Kind of vague, but those vague gifts can be the best gifts sometimes. Soaps, lotions, tank tops ($1.80 each at Forever21), plain tees, hair ties, headbands, socks; you can’t really go wrong with any of these items, and you can find them for prices from $1-$5 easily. Stacking up on them can add creativity and provide a young lady with the things she needs all year long.

I hope this list has helped you make a decision about what to give someone this year!

Carlson Wedding Day Part 1

I married my high school sweetheart this summer. As many of my past posts suggested, we had a budget wedding. We ended up spending less than $1000 on a beautiful wedding day. My hope in posting our story is to encourage other brides-to-be to not feel the pressure to spend huge money on one day (especially if it is just not in your budget). I absolutely feel that you should splurge where necessary in making your big-day a special one, but there are so many “traditions” that others feel the need to impose on people getting married. We had a beautiful day while throwing many traditions out of the window. Enjoy our story!

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This was the dress’ original style. I ended up cutting off the sleeves and making it strapless, and altered it to stay up better that way.

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My dress after alterations to better fit my body. I loved it way more, and the fixes were rather easy. Could not have been happier with my spend of $100.

I purchased this dress online (see my top cheap dresses blog), and ended up altering it myself because of fit difficulties from my pectus excavatum. I was very happy with the dress quality I purchased. It was made from my own measurements, which is not rare in online dress shopping. I would have had to also alter a dress I purchased in a store (I have a special medical issue with my body causing this) and I am happy I did not spend the $600 on dress and alterations through a company like David’s Bridal, like several of my budget bride friends. I had a better experience with my dress purchasing online than my reception dress I bought in a store. I saved a ton of money and got the widest selection. I would absolutely encourage a bride on a budget to shop online for her dress(es).

The outfit details turned out perfect for me. I picked rose buds right from my grandma’s 40 year old rose bush the morning of the wedding to add to my hair. I did my hair in an updo I practiced once before the wedding (I wear my hair up a lot, so I am good at that sort of thing). It is also practical to ask a sister, friend, or cousin who is good at hair to do yours for free. I gave those people that helped a simple thank you gift, but saved much more than hiring someone.

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My wedding day “assistant”/honorary bridesmaid helping me put my grandma’s roses in my hair.

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Something borrowed/blue/old- a brooch from WWII

I did my own makeup, also. I got together with my bridesmaids and a couple friends to do nails and pre-wedding pampering a couple days before the wedding for under $20 (this is where my inexpensive “will you be my bridesmaid?” gift came in handy).

My jewelry matched our wedding day style also, being only $10 from an antique shop. I especially love the brooch that I asked if I could borrow from my step mother (which was her grandmother’s in world war II) that matched my garter, which I added to the middle of my gown.

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Getting ready for the wedding- beautiful faux pearls from antique shop. Easy to find, inexpensive, and beautiful.

Our bridesmaids dresses were also a fun and cheap detail we had at our wedding. Who says those need to be from a bridal shop, where they are usually upwards of $80 for an ugly dress? We got ours for $20 from AX Paris. Many stores have cute dresses that can be used for semi-formal bridesmaids looks; some suggestions I like are Forever21, Maurices, Macy’s, JCPenney, and Target. I would suggest to browse the website before heading to stores to save energy, since dress shopping can be exhausting.

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My bridesmaids and I!
I found novelty sunglasses for photo-ops at orientaltrading.com for only $10 for a dozen; they were a hit! If it weren’t for the budget, I would have gotten more!

Our overall budget for clothing (between groom, bridesmaids, and myself) came to about $200.

Enough about looks…

We had a backyard wedding at my in-law’s house. For seating, we used chairs from back yards, we borrowed from the church, and used hay bales for overflow seating that my father had on the farm. Our overall budget for seating came to $0. To add to our laid back feel, we had random seating. We also used some of our chairs for dinner, which cut down the amount we needed.

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Hay bales for seating covered in old blankets

For ceremony decorations, we used burlap strips (about $5 a roll at the craft store) to line the aisle and used rocks from the property to hold it down. We used white light, white stringed Christmas lights I collected from thrift stores all year as lighting. Price for this came to about $15.Image

Mason Jars for table decorations

Mason jars wrapped with twine as table decoration- we included our wedding favors in these after pictures (chocolate mustaches and lips)

©Chelle Photography

Antique style frames with song and lyrics to play dismissing table of guests for dinner

Our reception was the most expensive part of our big day. Our biggest money savers included not renting a venue (since we had a backyard wedding), catering from a local italian restaurant rather than a wedding caterer, and not serving alcohol. Decorations included mason jars with twine from my grandmother and dismissal-for-dinner picture frames that I purchased at a thrift store which my sister/bridesmaid printed lyrics of songs for.

©Chelle Photography

Helping the little ones with milk for toasts

One of my favorite parts of our wedding was our cookie and milk toasts that stood in for alcohol. Milk and cookies are cheaper than alcohol, and we used mismatched stemware I searched around at thrift stores for.

I loved our guestbook. We chose something that we already had that meant something to us  in order to both save money. We met during worship and music is still a big part of our lives, so we used one of our guitars, and grabbed some colorful sharpies for our guests to sign it with. I guarantee I like this idea more that a book that we most likely would not see for decades. We see it all the time and can even use it to play. ©Chelle Photography

This is not nearly everything from our wedding day, but these were a few ways we made the day our own while saving money. I hope to at least inspire a few budget brides out there to stick to what they want on their wedding day while saving money.

 

The Joy of Home grown, Free Range Food

I haven’t blogged for a while. Since my last blog entry nearly half a year ago, I have gotten married, moved to the big city in Minnesota, and started the end of my undergraduate career as a biochemistry student at the big university. It has seemed difficult to catch my breath with all of my new found responsibilities. I thought I would just catch my breath a little with a fast blog this evening.

I digress.

One of the worst parts of growing up, as it seemed at first, has been worrying about feeding myself. Now I have become a wife, and sharing the responsibility with a man that can cook well has been relieving. But I also feel the pressure; someone else has to like my cooking now!

Mastering the art of grocery shopping on a budget was the first challenge. I coupon; which helps some with the cost. Growing up on a farm, though, with fresh food, especially meats and vegetables, at my fingertips most of my childhood, has unfortunately left a sour taste in my mouth about a large part of purchasing groceries at the big store in the big city. Somewhere between the farm and the shelf, so much of the food out there changes a scary amount. A piece of the food improves through the processing that happens between farm to you (who could live without cheese, yogurt, butter, and of course the “staples”), but so much of it has to go through a lot in order to have a longer shelf life.

It feels difficult for me to enjoy so much of the food in the pretty packaging you find on your grocery store shelf (I know my husband disagrees, having always eaten food the way most Americans do).

But, this leads to the blessing in the story; my farming roots. Although I have left my family and moved out, it is always so incredible to get to visit the family farm in rural Minnesota; and I get to reap the benefits of my visit long afterward in the “grocery trip” I get to bring home. It is always such a blessing that my father still shares his farm labor with us. Although my father most likely will not read this, I would just like to say, “Thanks Dad!”

Just today, I got to enjoy free-range eggs for breakfast, free-range, organic chicken for dinner, with potatoes and veggies from the all-natural garden. Not only was this all delicious; it meant a lot that it all came from a farmer that put so much care into his work, that the chickens that give us fuel for the day were cared for properly by someone that loves to do what they do for the sake of the animals.

I know most people in this country do not come from farming backgrounds, and that is okay, but I would just like to encourage people out there to support a local farmer, and buy some of your groceries local. Visit your farmer’s market when that time of year rolls by again. Network with the hard-working people from your community that make your food. Tell them thanks for being dedicated to real food! Try gardening if you haven’t had the experience before (gardeners; shout out to those that have a bigger appreciation for the people that make real food😉 ). And, thank a farmer.

And I would like to say thank you for all the farmers that stay in their occupation, working hard and providing food for the entire world. Thank you to the majority that respect the animals that feed us, and a special thank you to those that offer organic and free-range choices to eat.

Budget Wedding: Top 8 websites to find the best gown on a super budget

Find this dress with detachable train for $185 on DidoBridal.com

Find this dress with detachable train for $185 on DidoBridal.com

As a budget bride, when I hear of my peers that are getting married spending thousands on gowns, I am just dumbfounded. Even the hidden fees in David’s Bridal’s “clearance gowns” (like their $250+ alteration fees on top of an already expensive gown) are a scary thought to me. If a bride can comfortably afford these dresses, I am very happy for her! But I feel like so many brides are spending more than $500 dollars on a dress because they think that is the best deal they are going to find. I purchased mine for just over $140, and have continued to find even better the more I plan my wedding. It is possible to get a beautiful wedding gown selection as good as any at a bridal shop for all under $300. 

And if you save enough money on the wedding gown, maybe you can afford a party dress for your reception!

Here is my best list of places to search online for a super budget wedding dress. 
(no particular order)

1) JJsHouse.com -They have a new sale of large discounts every week, and also a great selection of prom dresses! Their adorable sister-site is JenJenHouse.com

2) DidoBridal.com -They have an adorable selection of quick-shipping items; perfect for a super short-engagement wedding or a just-added bridesmaid! 

3) Ebay.com -I know this one can be scary, but several wedding dress shops also display their dresses on Ebay. You can also find great second-hand designer dresses as dirt cheap prices!

4) EbuyWedding.com -This one has Great dresses for women of all sizes and some great short (reception/beach/destination) wedding gowns!

5) TopWedding.com -They have my favorite selection of reception/party dresses! 

6) InWeddingDress.com -Also has great plus sized dresses and maternity dresses on a budget!

Beautiful dress only $178 on ebuywedding.com!

Beautiful dress only $178 on ebuywedding.com!

7) VivoBridal.com -This website has a great selection of dresses from all sorts of cultures around the world; and they also sell styles as seen on the red carpet! 

8) SimplyBridal.com -One of my favorites as far as making your online shopping experience simple and elegant, but you may be paying about $100 more per dress than some other sites. Still a really outstanding deal and beautiful gowns. Great customer service to make your bridal experience an elegant one.

All of these websites also have great bridesmaids and mother-of-the-bride dresses as well!

 

Who knew one day could make you so busy!?

Upon logging onto my blog tonight, I realized I have neglected most of my internet usage apart from email for nearly 2 weeks! For anyone whom that seems normal to, I have usually logged on to my many sites of usage daily.

So, I am planning my wedding. And the scariest part is, I am hardly ready for the wedding day, and it is only a month a half away!

At the beginning of our engagement, I was so ready to take on our wedding with a hands-on, DIY, budget-friendly approach. I am crafty and the best thrift shopper I have ever met. No big deal, right? Apparently I was wrong. My pile of  “Done” projects has not grown in far too long.

Doing DIY invitations was fun! I found a complete, unused stationary set just the size we needed at the thrift store for a couple bucks. But designing a full invitation suite on word and including just what each guest needed in each invitation (for the lack of extra paper) was way more  time-consuming than thought. At least I made all 50 invitations on 5 dollars!

Sending them out though? Still hasn’t happened. Panic mode is setting in with less than 50 days to go until the big day. And the culprit? I have worked every day I’ve been able to drive to town for the post office’s full hours, and then the tie-rods on my car went out, and the couple of days I was able to get there, I just didn’t have the money for stamps! (By the way, it is ridiculous that the USPS charges nearly 80 cents now for sending each wedding invitations. $40+ just to send my invitations is ridiculous!! All of my saved money before is out of the window!) At least I sent out save-the-dates!

I still do not have a dress ready to wear either! I have a super inexpensive one purchased, but I have still not finished all of my necessary alterations to make it presentable. This one is a much more difficult feat than expected; bringing my white, all-lace wedding gown downstairs to my sewing surface in our messy farmhouse with a smelly dog and 4 climb-happy kittens is plan-ahead, set-aside-6-hours kind of project… yeah… don’t know where that is going to come from.

My fiancé and I are doing our first premarital counselling session tomorrow with one of the best Christian men I know, and I am very excited for that. He is a younger youth pastor that lives 5 hours away and has 6 kids under the age of 10. We are so blessed to have him as our officiant, marrying us on our special day!

On top of all the things I have not done so far in preparing for the wedding because of work, I got the strangest note from my boss on the subject yesterday. So, I am a newer employee at the store I am working at, and have only this week had a chance to request the days off that I need off this June for our wedding; the bridal shower, two days leading up to the wedding (for preparing, my Bachelorette party and the groom’s dinner), the wedding day (duh), and two days after (I think that is a give-in, we aren’t even leaving on a honeymoon). Somehow, with the only 6 employees that work with me, ALL of  these days had been requested off by my coworkers. Since there is no budging on these days that I need off, I simply added my name to the dates, having previously talked to our manager about them. Anyway, yesterday, I get a note from said manager stating, “Only one person may request off on any given day.” So… I don’t get my wedding day off of work. I guess I should have seen her attitude about this coming, since she described my wedding day as a “hurdle” and a “bump in the road of life” during my interview for employment. That is okay that she sees it that way as a manager wanting to hire a new employee, but it was interesting hearing it as a super-excited bride. Needless to say, I don’t believe I will be staying with this place of employment past about halfway through the month of June…

Anyway, the business continues. I was wondering a while back about why I had such a lack of inspiration to blog. I have finally come to the realization that it is just because I have been so busy! So, a blog on my busy schedule and the things I have failed myself on doing.