Valentine’s Gift Guide (His & Hers)

The month of February is upon us, which means Valentine’s Day is near!  We’re big on Valentine’s Day around here, as it also marks another year together for us (6 years!). This year we don’t have much money in the budget to spend on gifts, but we’ll still celebrate together. It’s still fun with or without gifts. :)

Do you need some gift ideas for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day? We’ve made two little gift guides to help get you started – one for him & one for her. We had fun choosing things that we would want ourselves! No Valentine this year? That’s okay – it’s an excuse to treat yourself to a little something. ;)

Valentine's-Gifts-for-Her-NEW

1. Candy Shop by Deborah Lippmann   / 2. Sorbet Headband by Gussy  / 3. Flower Guide via Rue La La / 4. The Ballet of Mustache Print via Etsy  / 5. TOMS Ballet Flats  / 6. Sweet Heart Mug from Crate & Barrel

Valentine's-Gifts-for-Him-NEW

1. Grado Prestige Series SR225i Headphones / 2. Combo Charger by Incase / 3. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson / 4. Pocket Phone Case by hard graft / 5. Drive Blu-Ray / 6. Youthberry Wild Orange Blossom Tea from Teavana

Wedding Plans: When & Where

A week ago, we were just at the beginning stages of wedding planning. Researching venues, photographers, & videographers and trying to narrow down a date was still the task at hand. Since then, we’re excited to say that we’ve been made great progress in our wedding plans!

First off, we found a photography team (husband & wife), who happen to be friends of a friend. They’re awesome people and it’s an easy decision to choose them to photograph our big day. Their work is consistently beautiful. The feelings are mutual, as the vision of our wedding is exactly what they love to shoot.

Second, the photographers recommended a videography team (also husband & wife) who do incredible work. As far as we’ve seen, they’re one of the best in the midwest. We met up with half of the team and talked weddings & videography. He couldn’t believe we were asking him what gear he used. ;) Again, it was easy to imagine him as part of our big day. He also loved our non-traditional approach to our wedding and our plans fit in well with his style.

Finally, we visited the restored historic barn venue in the Middle of No Where, Missouri. I think that’s the beauty of it. In a small town in Missouri, it is truly a hidden gem. We met with one of the owners, a retired art teacher, and she impressed us from the start. With a warm welcome, she showed us around the barn and property. It didn’t take much and we were sold! The vision that her and her husband have carried out on the land is amazing. You have to see it to believe it.

Their barn is built to host parties, weddings, or really any type of small event. There is a small, climate-controlled area of the barn with a kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom — a perfect spot for a bride to get ready. Out one door of that area, you will walk onto the porch which overlooks a lake and the land beyond it. The lake has a handmade boat on the dock – just dying to be used for photos. ;)

Outside the other door, you walk into a “breezeway” and can head up the stairs to the loft. The loft is beautiful – already set up with a sound system, tables & chairs, a bar area, built-in lighting – it’s the perfect spot for drinks and dancing. By the way, they built their tables from the old wood in the floor of the loft. It’s also lined with windows to let the summer breeze flow through on a nice evening.

There’s a flat lawn area in front of the barn, where we will hold the ceremony. It is surrounded by fields of grasses and wildflowers. In fact, the whole land is full of all sorts of vegetation. Their goal is to restore the land to it’s natural state. We didn’t see it today, unfortunately, since it’s the middle of winter. But we can just imagine the beauty of it all in the summertime. A photographer’s dream. A bride’s dream, for that matter.

We’re already throwing around all kinds of ideas. The owners are open to almost anything, and want to help us out in any way to make their property shine. They also have a guest house that they rent out that we can use!

Oh, and the date?  Mark your calendars (official ‘save the date’ coming soon) — Saturday, August 25, 2012. The date is set and the venue is booked! We’re on our way to being married. :)

We’re Engaged, Now What?

We’ve been engaged for a little over a month now, and now the big question is, “Did you set a date yet?” That’s usually what people do first, but apparently we’re a little different.

Well, our answer is no, but we have a general time frame in mind. We are thinking the end of summer/early fall for a couple of reasons. One – it hopefully gives us  enough time to plan, and two – the weather will be perfect. But, we haven’t set an exact date because we don’t want to limit ourselves yet. Our thought process is to remain flexible until we choose the venue, photographer, and videographer and coordinate with their schedules.

That brings us to what wedding planning we’ve done so far.

First, we have to decide where we are going to have it in terms of geographic area. Should we have the wedding in Indianapolis, where we are now located and most of our friends are also living? Or should we have it in St. James, closer to our families and our roots? Or should we just go out on a limb and have it on the beach in some other part of the US?

Well, we thought we decided we would have it in Indy because there are many more options here in terms of venues, vendors, etc.

First, we started researching photographers and videographers in the Indy area. We know just how important it is to capture the big day on film, so that was definitely on the top of our priority list. Plus, it will be the most expensive part of our wedding. We do want to have a cost-effective wedding, but we also know that sometimes you can’t sacrifice quality. It may sound cheesy, but besides our commitment to each other, photos and video are the only other part of the wedding that will last forever. It is well worth the investment.  End of rant – wink.

Next, we started researching venues. The options are endless, but also expensive. I think the venue could make or break the wedding/reception, but we aren’t going to break the bank for a conventional venue. We don’t have that kind of money to throw around. If you do your research, you can find a place that won’t cost thousands of dollars and put that extra money elsewhere. A trick to that is finding somewhere that doesn’t have hidden or extra costs – like required catering or extra chairs. Plus, we want a place with flexibility to do our own thing.

We want an outdoor ceremony and an indoor reception. Think rustic, charming, & tasteful – with a little bit of class. We are down to Earth kind of people and want our wedding to reflect us.

So far, it seems that barns/farms/fields are a best option for us. But not just any old barn with farm animals, but barns that are actually made for this kind of thing. Like the Red Barn at Traders Point Creamery, Featherston Barn at Conner Prairie, or the family owned Bo-Mar Farm.

We thought we had found some gems in Indy area, and then we stumbled upon a treasure in the vicinity of our hometown. A historic barn on 124 acres recently restored into what someone called “the best kept secret” of the area. That threw us for a loop, because we thought our hometown was out of the question. Perhaps we didn’t dig deep enough.

Cross your fingers that we have found the perfect spot to celebrate our Big Day. We are going to check it out within the next few weeks and we’ll keep you updated! For now, here’s a a little wedding inspiration.

Top 10 Apartment Must-Haves

For the first time, we are official apartment renters. Well technically, it’s Ryan’s place first and then I’ll move in later. Nevertheless, we both still had to agree on where we wanted to live. We had a similar list of apartment “must-haves” (shocking, I know!) and searched for apartments in Indy via Trulia.com. We narrowed our list down to 10 apartments or so and Ryan started apartment hunting.

After seeing just three of them on the first day, he found the winner! I trusted his opinion since he is really picky when it comes to that sort of thing. I probably would’ve wanted to see ALL the apartments just because I’m that kind of girl who likes to see all the possible options. (You know, like seeing what’s on EVERY channel before deciding what to watch on TV). So it’s probably a good thing he was quick about it and I was stuck here in Missouri for that process!

Anyway, here’s a few “selling points” that helped us seal the deal… (not in any particular order)

1 – Washer & Dryer

Not just a hookup, but an actual personal washer & dryer in each apartment. I don’t want to make weekly trips to the laundry mat or have to buy my own machines!

2 – Adequate Storage Space

Apartments are already small… so storage space is key. This particular apartment has walk-in closets in both bedrooms, and lots of other closets and storage space.

3 – Two Bedrooms

One for sleeping and one for work. It’s been too long that the office and bedroom have been one room so it’s finally time to separate them!

4 – Good Location

Fishers, Indiana is actually named one of the top cities to live in the country! This apartment is also among a lake and woods, so you have the convenience of a city, but not necessarily the feel. We’re close to Trader Joe’s, Starbucks, Orange Leaf, Chick-fil-A… you know, all the important places.

5 – Pets Are Welcome (PAW)

We (okay, I) like our furry friends! It would be lonely without Onyx the kitty cat.

6 – Private Entrance

A private entrance makes it feel more like home and less like community living.

7 – Open Layout

Again, we don’t want to feel claustrophobic in an apartment. An open floor plan with high ceilings and lots of windows is ideal, and even though we didn’t get vaulted ceilings – it’s a trade off because we’re on the 1st floor. Plus, we get extra storage space under the stairs (see #2).

8 – Wood Burning Fire Place

Hey, it wasn’t necessarily on our list- but we’re not complaining! A wood burning fireplace for those cold Indiana winters will help make them a little more bearable.

9 – Updated Appliances, Clean Carpet, etc

Call us spoiled, but we want something nice. Since we’re just renting, we can’t make any major changes so what we’re stuck with what we get. We want to be proud of our first apartment and enjoy what we are paying for. They actually put in brand new carpet and appliances before Ryan moved in.

10 – The “Extras”

Again, these weren’t necessarily on our list, but they’re a perk. Tennis courts, workout gym, & pool – sure, we’ll take it!

What are your apartment (or house) must-haves? Finding the right apartment was just the first step – keep reading for the shopping, decorating, and making it our own!

Preview of Love Story

I just read in a magazine about a challenge of writing your love story in 6 words. It’s from a new book called Six-Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak – a compilation of 6 word love stories. For example: “Not always perfect. But so worthwhile.” and “Hog the covers, I don’t mind.” They can be funny or serious. Oh and it’s easier said than done.

So here is my six-word version of my love story. Ok, there’s two versions because I couldn’t decide.

This is our relationship overall:
“Love never fails despite many challenges.”

This is the the story of how we met and came to be a couple:
“Sweeter than Hollywood, directed by God.”

If you want the long version, see my blog on Valentine’s Day!
Oh and leave a comment telling me your love story in 6 words!