There is nothing wrong with being a cheap date. One of my favorite cheap and easy friend-date ideas is a DIY, at-home brunch. I do this all the time and it is so much fun. I’m a morning person so I love to get my hangouts in in the morning and there’s just something about it that feels so special and luxurious. Maybe it’s the delicious food? Maybe it’s the drinks in the morning? Maybe it’s because breakfast is so often rushed but brunch is super relaxed?

I have nothing against going out for brunch (in fact, it is another of my favorite things to do with friends) but sometime you just want to save some money or stay at home. Bringing food to a friend can also make a great gift if you go over to a friend’s house and bring all the ingredients and make brunch for them. It’s an even better gift if you also bring champagne for mimosas.

Cons of Brunch

  • none

Pros of Brunch:

  • cheaper than dinner
  • easier to make than dinner
  • Mimosas!
  • looks great on Instagram
  • you get to be like Ron Swanson, always be like Ron Swanson

So, what do you need for brunch at home? The same things you need for any brunch, but at home:

Eggs: Scrambled is obviously easiest but if you really want to impress someone go for a frittata  or a quiche. Almost everyone is impressed by quiche.

A Bread-like Thing: Cinnamon rolls out of a can? Yes! French toast? Yes! Pancakes? Yes. I love Kodiak Cakes high protein pancakes!

Beverages: Champagne for mimosas is preferred but any kind of fruit juice or coffee is also great.

Meat: Bacon is a clear choice but I’m a fan of a good breakfast sausage.

Do you like to make brunch? What’s your favorite recipe?

In this episode of being super cheap about my wedding we are going to be talking about bridesmaid dresses. My two bridesmaids both wore dresses from Amazon! (I even looked at wedding dresses on Amazon for myself but in the end I went with a dress from a typical bridal salon.)

I did have some concerns about getting dresses from Amazon:

Sizing: Sizes on Amazon can be completely insane. If you buy a dress from an Asian-based company you may have to size up as much as four sizes.

Color: The main advantage of the traditional bridal salon is absolutely matching colors. I was worried that dresses from Amazon would not provide the same level of color matching.

Quality: Quality on Amazon clothing can also be suspect, but we had enough time (and free returns with Prime) to try a few dresses out if needed.

However, I am a control freak so I didn’t let my girls pick random dresses. I made a list of about ten dresses on Amazon that came in chiffon and navy blue. I shared this list with them and let them pick from among them.

My Maid of Honor wore this ($60!) dress:

My Matron of Honor (the Amazing A Hopeful Hood) wore this ($50!) dress:

How do you think it turned out?

I think they turned AMAZING! Those are two dresses from two different brands! The colors looked perfect together, they styles complemented each other, and both girls got to wear a dress that they picked out an felt comfortable in.

To finish off this look I had both my girls wear silver sandals which they either had or acquired cheaply. I paid for hair and makeup for both as well.

Now that I talked about my apprehensions about this plan, let me tell you what I think worked so well:

Price: These dresses were both less than $60! You can’t beat that.

Wearability: Maybe it’s because I was the bride and the bride always thinks that the bridesmaids’ dress will be re-wearable, but I truly think both of these dresses can have a second life.

Quality: My fears about quality were completely unfounded. Both of these dresses were surprisingly high quality. We were all very impressed.

Comfort: Both girls said these dress were comfortable for the entire wedding day, which is a crazy long day.

Where did you buy your bridesmaid dresses? Do you like buying clothes from Amazon?

 

 

Most mug cakes have too many ingredients for my taste. If I wanted to crack an egg, I’d make a real cake! This makes a great and filling breakfast or dessert.

Ingredients:

53g or 1/4 Cup Kodiak Cake Flapjack Mix (this should work with any pancake mix but you’ll lose the high protein part)

Water Until a Pancake Batter Consistency is Reached

Sweetener of Your Choice

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon or Pumpkin Pie Spice

How To:

  1. Combine all ingredients in microwave-safe mug or measuring cup.
  2. Microwave on high for two minutes or until cake feels like cake.
  3. Top it!

Alternative, Kodiak Cakes makes Pancakes To Go in a little paper carton.

Have you had any luck with mug cakes or would you rather make a real one?

When we got engaged, we were in an interesting situation in that there was no clear choice for an officiant. I turned to the Internet to search for an officiant and was horrified by the prices that I saw. We wanted a simple, short, personal ceremony. We did not want to pay someone thousands of dollars for a 20 minutes ceremony!

My first alternative was to have a friend be ordained online and perform the ceremony. Then I saw that marriages performed by minsters ordained online are not always honored in Pennsylvania. In this search I found out about self-uniting, or Quaker, wedding ceremonies.

Pennsylvania has a strong Quaker heritage and one remnant of that is self-uniting wedding ceremonies. The main difference between a self-uniting ceremony and a traditional ceremony is that in a self-uniting ceremony, there is not minister and the couple marries themselves. Personally, I found this idea exciting and romantic, but my then finance hates public speaking. We compromised by having an emcee help move things along.

I am actually including the exact script that was used in our wedding ceremony for inspiration, or to just copy.

All of the uses of “Bride” and “Groom” were replaced by our names.

Giving Away of the Bride (Emcee, Mom, & Dad)

Q: Who gives this woman to be married to this man?

A: She gives herself, but with her family’s blessing.

Opening (Bride)

We thank you for tolerating us as we choose to step outside the confines of the traditional wedding ceremony, and focus on the things that matter most to us as a couple. We know that many families couldn’t fathom the idea of a wedding ceremony without an officiant, and we are so very lucky that our families not only tolerate our eccentricities, but encourage us to find our own way and love us all the more for doing so.

Address (Emcee)

As Bride said, we’re doing things a little differently. This is the first wedding I’ve seen or been to in a bowling alley. I really wanted to come up with some sort of bowling analogy for marriage, but try as I might I just couldn’t. There are a lot of really smart married folks here who I’m sure could come up with something brilliant, but I’m stuck throwing gutter balls.

This is also the first wedding that I have taken part in the ceremony. I was a ring bearer when I was very small, but I didn’t understand then how important that was. I just knew I had to not drop the really expensive pillow with the even more expensive rings on it.

Today I will be acting as a facilitator. I’ll be asking Bride and Groom a lot of questions. I did not make them up. The Bride sent them to me in a well-organized Word document several months ago, and I wrote them down on these note cards last night. These are questions you may hear a minister ask at most weddings. But I’m not ordained. And I didn’t take a test online to get my license to wed others. Today, the Bride and Groom will officially be wedded by themselves.

Pennsylvania, as a Quaker state, recognizes ceremonies of self-solemnization; which is a fancy way of saying the Quakers believe that marriage is a covenant made between two people because they love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives on earth together.

Why would two folks want to get married? Most will tell you because they love each other. But what does that mean? My understanding, at least in part, is that… two dynamic, unique, and capable individuals decide that they really like each other and want to take on the world as a team. Because they make each other better. They see the best in the other; they celebrate it, cherish it, and encourage its growth. They see the worst in each other and they can forgive and work through it. They put the other first and serve them with their time, strength, talents, and resources.

While there are a lot of things that the Bride and Groom do differently, this is one thing that they wanted to do the same as everyone else. This service is a public declaration of their devotion to each other, this choice, this promise that will last a lifetime. Because while the promise is between two people, they want to make it in front of the people they love, who are important to them, who have helped get them to this point, and who will continue to guide and support them in this next, most exciting part of their lives.

Community Vows (Emcee, Bride, & Groom)

  • Groom and Bride, will you reach out to your community both when you need help and when you have something to celebrate?
    • We will.
  • Community, will you offer the Groom & Bride your wisdom and encouragement in their times of struggle, and celebrate with them in their times of joy?
    • We will.
  • Community, will you listen to the Groom & Bride, and when they request it, give them your best advice?
    • We will.
  • Groom and Bride, will you listen carefully to that advice?
    • We will.
  • Groom and Bride, will you strive as husband and wife to be contributing members of the community gathered here today?
    • We will.
  • Community, will you do everything in your power to support, uphold, and honor the marriage of the Groom and Bride?
    • We will.

Readings

Vows (Bride & Groom)

(couple’s vows to each other)

Declaration of Intent (Emcee, Bride, & Groom)

Groom, do you take the Bride, to be your partner in the adventure that lies ahead?

Do you promise to walk by her side to the ends of the earth?

To love, encourage, and support her in her every endeavor?

Do you commit to opening yourself up completely to her and sharing with her your entire being?

To share her laughter as well as tears?

Do you take her as your wife for now until the end of time?

Bride, do you take your Groom, to be your partner in the adventure that lies ahead?

Do you promise to walk by his side to the ends of the earth?

To love, encourage, and support him in his every endeavor?

Do you commit to opening yourself up completely to him and sharing with him your entire being?

To share his laughter as well as tears?

Do you take him as your husband for now until the end of time?

Exchange of the Rings (Bride & Groom)

“I give you this ring as a symbol of my commitment to you and to our partnership in life. You have my heart always.”

Signing of the License (Emcee)

While this wedding is a celebration of love and commitment, it is also a legal ceremony. I ask the Matron of Honor and the Best Man to join me and the bride and groom at the table. The signing of a marriage certificate is not just a legal requirement. It is in fact an ancient custom that represents the concept that not only must marriage be entered into consensually by both parties, but that it is also a social contract between a couple and their community…for the good of all. Signing the marriage document is also a self-defining moment for the Bride and Groom… perhaps one of the most impactful and consequential moments of their lives. So I ask them to sign the document before them. I ask the Matron of Honor and the Best Man to sign the marriage license as witnesses to this moment. May the legal benefits and obligations of marriage enhance your life for all the years to come.

Pronouncement (Groom and Bride)

And finally, by the authority vested in us by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we officially pronounce ourselves husband and wife!

(kiss)

 

Watching: White Rabbit Project 

If you were sad when Discovery Channel canceled Mythbusters, you will be thrilled with this new Netflix original series staring the Build Team, Grant, Tori, and Kari. It’s a different format where the crew takes on a different theme in each episode and ranks them on different criteria. The Build Team was always my favorite part of Mythbusters, so this is a real treat for me.

Buying: 

A fidget cube! I saw one of these at a friend’s house and I had to have one. It’s a small cube that has a number of different little ways to entertain yourself with small finger motions. I am a reformed nail picker so this is a great way to keep my hands busy. I imagine it would also be great for anxious or fidgety children.

Eating: Enlightened Sea Salt Caramel Ice Cream Bars. 

80 calories. 7g of protein. Caramel swirl. These really have it all. I buy these at BJ’s and they are delicious; you would never know that they aren’t ungodly healthy. They taste divine. Buy them. Eat them.

Making: Muffins made from Kodiak Cake mix. 

Right now my favorite baking project is variations on Kodiak Cake muffins. The plain ones are like delicious pancakes, but the peanut butter ones are the best. I like to use either the Peanut Butter Kodiak Cake Mix or add powered peanut butter to the original flavor. Topped with jelly or jam, they are a real treat.

 

Changing: My Hair.

I grew my hair for my wedding until it was the longest it has  ever been in my adult life. I recently cut off several inches of hair and I feel bald now, but I’m loving the ease of dealing with shorter hair.

What are you into this week? I am always looking for new Netflix recommendations.

My family loves Mexican food. Who doesn’t love Mexican food? But, sadly, you can’t always go out to eat your Mexican food with margaritas.

One of my absolutely favorite things to make at home is this recipe for sheet tray fajitas. It is super easy, very delicious, and moderately healthy. This is only a recipe in the loosest sense of the word and it can be completely customized to fit you and your family’s needs. If you don’t like chicken, you could use any other protein or even make it vegetarian with sliced portobello mushrooms.

Ingredients

Chicken (I like thighs.)

Peppers (I like to use a mix of tricolored bell, poblanos, and jalpenos.)

Onion (I like Red.)

Taco Seasoning

Olive Oil (or Olive Oil Spray.)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cover a baking tray in foil for easy cleanup.
  3. Grease the foil with olive oil or olive oil spray.
  4. Cut bell and poblano peppers into slices.
  5. Deseed and cut jalepeno peppers into rounds.
  6. Cut chicken into strips roughly the same size as your bell pepper slices.
  7. Peel onion, cut into slices, cut slices in half to create half moons.
  8. Mix all vegetables and chicken on sheet pan and coat with taco seasoning to taste.
  9. Bake for one hour turning halfway through or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  10. Remove from oven and let cool.
  11. Serve with tortillas for tacos, lettuce for salad, or rice and beans for a burrito bowl.

Disclaimer: This recipe is based off of a longer, more detailed recipe from The Yummy Life, so head over there if you need more detail.

I don’t just meal prep for myself, I meal prep for my entire family, four people. We all eat generally different diets. I generally try to stick with low carb, low fat. My husband just wants tasty. My parents are both watching their sodium and want generally healthy food.

To accommodate these different diets I tend to make a lot of “components” that can be combined into a complete meal.

My other meal prep priority is easy. I like to get this all done with as little effort as possible. So most of these are simple recipes that can be made quickly.

Food

Roasted Potatoes: I like to use a mix of sweet potatoes and white potatoes for a little extra health factors. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and bake until crispy and golden brown.

Shredded Crockpot Chicken: My lazy meal prep staple! Take chicken, I prefer thighs, put it in a crockpot with the seasoning of your choice, cook on high or low depending on how much time you have, remove from crockpot and shred. This can be used in almost anything; tacos, salads, sandwiches, etc.

Roasted Vegetables: Preferably something green. I like broccoli, green beans, or zucchini.

Spaghetti Squash: A great low carb alternative and it can be microwaved or made in the crockpot!

Egg (White) Cups: This are a breakfast lifesaver. Take anything you want and mix it with eggs, or egg whites, and bake until cooked through. I like to use chicken sausage, spinach, tomatoes, and cheese.

Protein Muffins: Made from Kodiak Cakes mix. I like to spice these up with jam or some chocolate chips. It tastes like a delicious muffin and you’re getting a ton of protein and whole grains.

I also like to throw in some more complex meals like sheet tray fajitas or chili.

Do you meal prep? Do you want to? What kind of recipes do you make?

Introducing DJ You!

So many things about weddings are so expensive and you really have to prioritize what is most important to you. I knew a few things were not important to me, one of which was a DJ. Of course, I wanted people to dance, but I knew that our wedding had a Photo Booth, bowling, and arcade games, so dancing was not crucial.

I turned to the Internet and came up with the best wedding DJ of all: DJ Spotify!

Yes, with just a Spotify Premium subscription and painstaking hours of playlist crafting, you can avoid hiring a wedding DJ. I admit that this choice is not for everyone. If your biggest priority is having a giant dance party, don’t do this. That said, people did dance at my wedding, I have pictures to prove it!

Our first dance.

Practice Spotify.

I clearly used Spotify because it allowed me to use a wide range of music without having to spend hundred of dollars. However, Spotify is not perfect. Not all artists allow their music on Spotify (looking at you Taylor Swift), but there is a way to add the local files from your computer to your playlist.

Crossfade.

You have to turn on the crossfade setting in Spotify or your songs will have awkward silence in between them. This will be on your Spotify advanced setting. Experiment with the length of the crossfade, but longer is probably better.

Have an emcee. 

You need someone to run the music and protect it from any persistent song requesters. Our emcee was Josh, a family friend, and professional actor. He also helped facilitate our Quaker ceremony (more on that in another post) and he was amazing!

Make sure your venue has a good music set up.

Our venue provided a DJ booth, speaker system, microphone, and all the necessary wires. You also need a laptop; you don’t want to be doing this on your smartphone.

Cater to the crowd. 

Most weddings are an eclectic mix of people with everyone from your grandmother to your college friends. So you need to play music that will appeal to everyone in that range. For your grandmother, maybe some Frank Sinatra? For your college friends, the latest dance tunes?

Pick some music you like. 

But do play some music that is just for you and your partner. It is your day and not everything needs to be a crowd pleaser. We played “First Date” by Blink-182, a song we both listened to before our first date. You can’t dance to it, but it was a special moment for us.

Separate you music into categories. 

We had a pre-ceremony playlist, a dinner playlist, a playlist for the special dances, and a dancing playlist. The length of these playlists will depend on the length of your wedding reception. We went with 40 minutes of pre-ceremony music, 45 minutes of dinner music and 2 hours and 30 minutes of dancing music. You want to make each of these longer than you think because the worst thing you could do is run out early.

Make sure the categories make sense. Dinner music should be more mellow than dance music.

Go a little bit cheesy. 

I drew the line at “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang. But I did play the “Conga” and “Happy”.

Do your research.

I am not an expert of popular music. I did a lot of Googling about “Songs People Love” and “Songs People Dance To”. Take those as suggestions and figure out what works for you.

Listen.

I listened to this playlist almost non-stop for months to make sure that the song list and order were perfect. I also made other people listen to it. Everyone was sick of this playlist, but on the wedding day, it was perfect.

TLDR; If dancing is not your main concern, use Spotify as your wedding DJ. Be sure to play a range of music and not just your favorite Gregorian chants.

P.S. I will share the exact playlist that I used at my wedding in a later post.

Would you consider DJing your own wedding? Did you? What songs would you be sure to play? Which songs would you avoid like the plague?