Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fabulous September

I would like to start this post off with a confession: I totally thought there were 31 days in September, so I wasn't quite prepared for this list today. Oops.

Moving on...
Here is what made September worth trudgin' through.

1. Finding a Venue
We did some power shopping over the last month, but we couldn't be happier with our final choice!

2.All Things Pumpkin Flavored
Lattes, bread, krimpets, beer, pie, whatever- bring it on! I was so giddy when I drove through Starbucks and saw the Pumpkin Spice Latte had return I literally squealed! They guy on the other end of the drive thru was not as excited, though.

3 Fall Television
I love when new shows pop up, and old ones come back. This year I have started watching Glee, Flash Foward, The Office ( I know, I'm behind the times) and Community in addition to my old shows, Dancing With the Stars, Survivor, Entourage, The Amazing Race, Project Runway, Castle, and the Mentalist. I'd like to add Modern Family and Fringe to my repetoire, but I just don't think I can fit them in the schedule. Don't forget that LOST and American Idol will start in January too! *sigh* What did people do before DVR?
But I have to say, if you haven't started watching GLEE yet, do it. This show is hysterical.

4. Doodles turns 4
I'm not quite sure how it happened, but my eldest niece turned 4 on Monday.
I feel so old.
*double sigh*

Well, we've put nine months into this year already! Should I make an obvious baby reference? Nah, I'll save that for next month- when both my sister-in-law and friend Erin pop out some daughters!
See ya next year, September!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Project Christina

Recently I've gotten involved with a local non-profit group called Deserving Decor. Basically what they do is clean, refurbish and decorate transitional housing for homeless families. I've started to refurb some of the donated furniture they recieve, and my first piece was a childs dresser. And since I have this bizzare need to name everything, I have dubbed this dresser 'Christina'.



This thing had seen better years. I set out to spend as little money as possible on this rehab, especially since I couldn't turn any sort of profit on it. I had planned on using the original knobs, but as I was moving the dresser back to my apartment, one of them completely split in half!

After a quick run to Lowes, (did you hear that Target?? I have moved on!) I replaced the orginal knobs with smaller, more modern ones. Probably a good choice too, because it really makes it look more complete.

There were endless layers of paint on this bad boy. It looks like it was at one point red with yellow knobs, but someone decided to slap on about 75 layers of cheap white paint.

I scraped and sanded it down as much as I could, and coated it with primer. My idea was to paint it a glossy white, but I decided that a fun green would add more personality to an already white room, and also a safe neutral for either a boy or girls room. I did, however, finish off the cabinet area with white and JEGs was able to pry the old hinges off and replace them with new ones- making it possible for the door to stay closed.

The top of the dresser had knicks and dings, and was generally filthy. I scrubbed it down and attempted to fill in as many holes as I could, but there were so many!! I added a coat of polyurethane to the top, drawers and door for future protection.

My cousin, Aileen, works as a manager at a local Lowes. She was able to hook me up with an old book of wallpaper samples. They were the perfect size to line the drawers, and add a little pop of color!

Cost Breakdown:
Primer- Kilz, Free (already had it)
Paint- Benjamin Moores "Georgian Green", Free (leftover from a room my mom painted) and Valspars "Lilac Muse", Free (leftover from this project)
Drawer liners- Free (Thanks Allie!)
Knobs- $8.33 for 5
Hinges- $2.19 for 2
Final Cost- $10.52

So for the cost of a Hamilton I was able to restore this adorable child's dresser, and help a family in need.

Good deed for the month- check.

Always & Forever,

Monday, September 28, 2009

Venue Crashing: Normandy Farm

We're back again for another edition of Venue Crashing!

This past Saturday we headed to Blue Bell, PA to look at Normandy Farm.

The original property dates back to 1730 when there was a tavern on the main road (202) from Doylestown to Norristown. Let me tell you, I could use a tavern on my 3+ trips a week between the two towns now! But anyway, in 1913 the property was bought by a prominent businessman and renamed after Normandy, France where he honeymooned with his wife. The owner, Ralph Strassberger, nearly doubled the size of the property to raise his thoroughbred horses, and some fancy cattle (Aryshire? I don't know.. a cow is a cow to me.)

Ok, back to me. The ceremony takes place on the grounds in a cozy little garden

a wide view
There are tons of photographic opportunities on the grounds. One of my favorites was by the old barn that flanked the side of the ceremony area

Say hello to my 'Must Have Photo Moment':

While JEGs and I are snapping fancy pictures like the one above, our guest will be ushered across the parking lot to the cocktail area, complete with open bar and fun appetizers

Oh wait, was that some interesting detail? Let's take a second look...

Loves it.
During the cocktail hour guests can meander out on the terrace that has comfy seating areas

The seating areas are enclosed by stucco walls

I'm not sure why it looks like my mother is standing in a hole...

There are two ballrooms at Normandy Farms- the Grand Ballroom and the Silo Ballroom. Since we will have a smaller party, we looked at the Silo Ballroom, which was still lovely. When we snapped these pictures on Saturday, they were already setting up for a wedding

See those chairs? Not folding chairs! BONUS!
Now, you may be wondering to yourself, why do they call it the Silo Ballroom? Well my friend, that's because there are three huge silos attached to this room

from the outside, by the terrace

Looking straight up from the inside

The best part is, they have integrated the silos into the ballroom. The first one can be used for a number of options: a children's table (if you have many children attending), a photobooth, a place to put the presents, or what this couple did- display family wedding photos

The second silo is the perfect spot to display the cake during the reception

.. and the third silo is used for storage, so you can't really access it. Hey, two out of three ain't half bad.

There were a lot of other fun perks to Normandy Farms. There is a hotel and restaurant attached to the reception area, so after the reception ends, we can crash the bar in the restaurant and then guests who want to can stumble upstairs and stay the night. Also, it is directly across from the Blue Bell Country club, so the groomsmen could putt a couple rounds before they sass themselves up for the wedding.

Things we liked about Normandy Farm:
  • Location- we couldn't beat it. Twenty minutes from our apartment and about exactly half way for each family
  • Character- TOOOONS OF IT! It had that barn feeling, but a little more sophisticated. And less hay.
  • Total Package- this place has it all; included in the cost is the caterer, cake, open bar and bridal hotel room for two nights. PLUS, JEGs and I got a $100 gift certificate to their restaurant. Sweet.
  • Chairs- not folding chairs at no extra cost ( I really have this aversion to folding chairs)
  • Menu- the options were interesting, without being too crazy. Like pot stickers, or mini chicken fajitas for appetizers. Yumski.
  • Dates- there was one available date in June, and plenty in July.
  • Discounts- if we signed a contract by the end of September, we would receive 9% off the catering bill.
Things we didn't like about Normandy Farms
  • Ceremony Fee- $6.85 per person to set up chairs. That is killing the budget a little
  • Parking lot- although there is a crap-ton of parking, our entire area is surrounded by parking lots or driveways. It didn't really have that secluded feeling like Pen Ryn.
...I have a confession to make. Saturday was actually our second trip to Normandy Farms. JEGs and I had gone to see it the following Sunday and knew right away this is were we wanted to get married. That shazam feeling was there, and we went to my parents house and gushed about it. We had already planned a dinner with both sets of parents for the 26th, so my dad said 'Give them a call and have them show us around. I'll bring the checkbook.'
So we met up with the director of sales, Alecia, again and showed the 'rents. They loved it, and Daddy-O signed a contract.

Mark your calendars- July 17, 2010.
Let's get crackin'.

Always & Forever,

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Wedding ToDo List
Snag me a hottie
Find venue
Set date
Get Wedding dress

Always & Forever,

Friday, September 25, 2009

Missing the Bullseye...

Dear Target,

Remember when I sang your praises here and here? I take it back. We are offically fighting.

To begin with, I want to talk directly to you, Target-of-the-Metroplex. I understand you are renovating, but could you at least try to group items that are similar together? I don't like scanning the grocery aisles over and over again only to locate my bread on the other side of the store, snuggled between maternity wear and handbags.

..because what goes better together then pregnancy tops and hamburger buns??

Secondly, why did we stop selling knobs for furniture? I went into to purchase 4, and all you have now is packs for 10. I don't need 10 knobs- I only need 4. What am I supposed to do with 6 extra knobs? Your selection used to rival that of Lowes, and now it's crap! Strike two, guys..

Ok, so this last part was kind of my fault. I invited my parents and JEGs' parents back to our apartment for dessert and coffee after dinner tomorrow- only to realize, JEGs and I have exactly one coffee mug. So unless we are all going to play Pass the Dutchie Coffee Mug to The Lefthand Side, I should probably invest in some more.
So I turn to you, dear Tar-zay, in search of regular coffee mugs. What do I find? $3.99 each! WTF?? So I grab 4 (just in case), check out, and head over to IKEA.

Oh, that's right Target. I went there.

What did I find there? Mugs that I liked MORE for $1.99 each!

Target vs. IKEA- it's like the Sharks and the Jets

I confess Target, I feel a little dirty for cheating on you like this. But you are kind of a hot mess and I need something a little more reliable right now. Lets take some time apart- I'll figure out what I want out of this relationship, and you figure out where you want to keep the bread aisle.

Please don't try to call me. It's really better this way.

Always & Forever,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Venue Crashing: Pen Ryn Mansion/ Belle Voir

Disclaimer- Mostly all of these photos were straight up stolen from the Pen Ryn website. We totally dropped the ball and didn't really take a whole lot of photos on this trip... well, JEGs did, but I forgot about them. Oops.

Today Venue Crashing in ON SALE!!! TWO FOR ONE!!! Supplies are Limited!!

Ok, so maybe they aren't on sale, BUT you do get two for one- mostly because they are on the same property ;)

First up is Pen Ryn Mansion, located in my home town- Bensalem, PA (Go Owls!)

Pen Ryn dates back to 1744, but in 1893 Lucy Warton Drexel (those names should sound familiar) purchased it and nearly doubled it's size by adding servents quarters, library art gallery and carriage house.

This place holds a special place in my heart because my brother Russell was married here in April 2004.

Back to the task on hand... the grounds are beautiful. The mansion faces the Delaware River and offers the most amazing views

The wedding is held on the front lawn under a pergola with the river as the back drop

Plan B is to move all tables to one side of the ballroom and set up a white sheet for a backdrop

Place cards are set on a table located just before the ballroom. I had to show this picture because I love love love this chandelier

The ballroom is huge and very lovely. I have a thing with big, pretty windows. They make me happy.

Next up is Belle Voir. They are literally a stones throw away from each other- as in located on the same property .

"It looks like a Columbian drug lords house"- JEGs

Again, this place has meaning to me because my friend Erin got married here in June 2006 (it wasn't built yet for Russell's wedding).

The grounds here are lovely too, and the ceremony is in a courtyard just off the lobby of the hall

Plan B is the same as it is in for Pen Ryn- all the tables are pushed aside and a curtain seperates the ceremony.

Cocktails are served in the Grand Hall

The reception is held in the Ballroom, which looks very similar to the ballroom in Pen Ryn- huge windows and doors. Except the views look out on to the river.

What we liked about Pen Ryn/Belle Voir
  • Character- honestly, the views were out of this world. The property is secluded so it's just you, the river and a big 'ole house. Both places were oozing with elegance (does elegance ooze? That sounds contridictory...??)
  • Space- oodles of space. Tons of room for people to meander inside and out.
  • Convience- they offer catering, and a cake along with the ceremoney and reception site.
  • Price- due to the economy they were able to hook. us. up.
  • Food- I remember the food being decent at both sites.

What we didn't like about Pen Ryn/Belle Voir

  • Location- It would be a hike for JEGs side of the family, but only 20 minutes for my family (and more like 5 for my Grandmother).
  • Dates- ALL Saturdays were booked for Pen Ryn for the whole summer. Not sure about Belle Voir, the girl still hasn't gotten back to me.
  • Been there, done that- My brother got married at Pen Ryn. Erin got married at Belle Voir. I would like to find something that is my own...

At the end of the day, we decided that Pen Ryn wasn't totally off the list. We could make it work. More place to come!!

Always & Forever,


Venue Crashing: The People's Farmhouse

On Saturday JEGs and I checked out The Farmhouse and the People's Light and Theater Company in Malvern (how's that for a name?).

I was so excited about this place because I thought this was exactly what we were going to be looking for- an old farmhouse with that cozy feel.

We pulled up and met Shane, the chef and owner. Shane was a hyperactive and very blunt Irishman. First thing he did was sit us down and tell us what we should and shouldn't be looking for in venues. Then after 20 minutes of telling us how fabulous he was, he showed us around.

The ceremony would take place in the backyard. It was very quaint and the flowers were beautiful.

Before I go any further, there is something I have to point out. Here is GoogleMaps view of the Farmhouse:

See that white arrow? That is the ceremony location. The blue arrow? A very busy road. It was kind of noisey during the tour...

Anyway, after the ceremony the cocktail hour was held on the back porch, under a tent

The porch from the ceremony site

Looking out from the doors
...and from there we would move inside to the dining room

If it rained, the ceremony would be transplanted to the attatched theater's lobby

the refreshment area in the first picture would be covered by a floor to ceiling curtain and the board on the wall in the second picture would be taken down. They did have these cool orb things hanging from the ceiling though

.. they kinda reminded me of something you would see in Super Mario Brothers.

What we liked about The Farmhouse:
  • Plan B- I liked that the Plan B was in a completely seperate area so we didn't have to worry about moving chairs back. Plus the lobby had a lot of character to it.
  • Food- It was supposibly really good. Just ask the chef. He'll tell you all about it.
  • Chairs- I know this sounds silly, but I really hate folding chairs. The chairs in the pictures are owned by The Farmhouse

What we didn't like about The Farmhouse

  • Character- remember when I said the lobby for Plan B had character? Well that was about it. Everything else was just blah.
  • Noise- I think that picture says enough. Those bushes didn't buffer a whole lot.
  • Space- I liked the area for cocktail hour, but it was right on top of the gardens. If the photographer backs up to take a picture of us, he's going run into someone swigging a beer! Also the dance floor was soooooo super tiny. Shane said we could add more, but that in turn, costs more.
  • Food- I would be getting married in jeans with flowers I picked from the side of the road because the price of the food ate up our whole budget (no pun intended).
  • Options- there were no options, or any place to do anything else with.

Also, we weren't sent home with a packet of information- something else I didn't like.

Basically, this place was a HUGE let down for me. I was so upset on Saturday night because I pretty much had the invite written out. Teaches me to put all my eggs in one basket.

So, I think it's pretty safe to say The Farmhouse is off the list. Fear not though, we have other venues to crash!

Always & Forever,


Note: My apologies if anyone felt that I was describing Shane as a pompus ass- he was very friendly! He was blunt and to the point, and we did appriciate that. However, after about an hour, we got a little tired of hearing how wonderful he is.

I am by no means bashing this venue- it just wasn't the venue for us. We ended up booking a venue for a MUCH MUCH better price. WE got everything WE [not just me] wanted and more