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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

{Wedding Wednesday} Save the Dates - Guest Post

Today for Wedding Wednesday, I'm proud to announce another guest blogger!  Chloe from How We Flourish (formerly Healthy People, Healthy Planet) is going to tell us all about save the date cards! She has some awesome tips that I couldn't agree more on! I chose not to do save the dates in order to save money, time, stress and the fact that we didn't have that many out of town guests.

Take it away, Chloe!

Save the Date

Whether you have a lot of out of town wedding guests or you just want everyone to be able to plan ahead for your wedding, save-the-dates have become another expected part of wedding planning. But do you really need to spend a dollar a piece PLUS postage for a hundred cards with your face on them? I don't think so!

Do I even need save-the-dates?

Answer: It depends. Technically, no, you don't. There is nothing in wedding etiquette law that says you must send out save-the-dates. If you are having a small or local wedding and everyone already knows your date, feel free to skip! However, depending on your guests, you may want to. Formal invitations typically go out 6-8 weeks before the wedding, so your guests may appreciate a heads up. Save-the-dates can be used not only to inform guests of the date, but also to direct them to a wedding website, where you can post travel and lodging information. This may be extremely useful for out of town guests who need to plan ahead for your wedding. An important point to keep in mind is that if you send someone a save-the-date, you have to send them an invitation. No going back. For this reason, many couples choose to only send save-the-dates to out of town guests and VIPs. Certainly only send them to people you are 100% positive you will want at your wedding. Cutting back on quantity in this way is one way to save money.

Electronic save-the-dates

Okay, so you have decided you should send save-the-dates because your family is scattered across the country, or whatever your reason may be. But maybe you still don't want to print off a hundred cards and mail them out. This is fair: it costs money and there is the environmental burden of printing and shipping to consider. Therefore, if you are not concerned about the formality your save-the-dates are conveying, feel free to let people know via the internet! A simple email may do, or you can make up a design to email out (more on designing later). Keep in mind, however, whether everyone on your list has an email address they check regularly. If your grandparents or great aunt Peggy would have trouble with an electronic save-the-date, consider giving them a call or mailing one to them.

Budget Friendly Printing

For a more formal and accessible save-the-date, you may still want to go with standard paper save-the-dates. With smart shopping and designing, these do not have to cost an arm and a leg! Go with postcards. You may think magnets or hand carved wood slices are cute, and I'm sure they are. However, not only do these products cost more, but you must also pay for envelops and postage. Furthermore, anything weighing more than an ounce or that is rigid will be charged more than standard postage. Postcards, however, are cheap and postage is only 33 cents to send within the United States (at time of posting; max size 6" x 4.25"). Even simple card stock or 80 lb glossy postcards will hold up fine in the mail. Don't buy save-the-dates. This may sound like confusing advice, but hear me out.

Buying save-the-dates from a typical invitation retailer will end up being more expensive than it ought to be. After all, if you put the word "wedding" in front of something, retailers get to jack up the price, right? So instead of shopping for save-the-dates, shop for postcards that allow you to add your own text or upload your own images. A quick search for "postcards" will yield many websites that will sell 100 custom postcards for under $20. Once you find a company you like (many will send you free samples), sign up for their mailing list to keep an eye out for sales and coupons. Don't feel limited by designs. Even if you've found a good price, you may feel stuck choosing a certain design you aren't crazy about. Luckily, many postcard sites let you upload your own picture. No design experience? No problem! Sites like PicMonkey make it easy to edit photos, add text, make collages, and then turn them into a postcard, like the one below:

Save the Date
Me: "Why did you take the picture on the patio table?" Fiance: "It's artistic!"
Heck, if you have the creativity and time, you can even make your postcards and print them at home! Keep your eye on the prize Above all, remember that all of this planning is about you marrying the love of your life. Don't worry if your save the dates aren't absolutely perfect. Do what you can and work within your budget. There are always options if you are willing to look for them.

Enjoy your planning, thanks for reading, and a big thank you to Catherine for inviting me to post!

How We Flourish

Thanks again to the lovely Chloe!! 

Till next time,

If you're a fellow blogger and are interested in guest posting for this series, shoot me an e-mail at CatherinePageWood@gmail.com! Or, even if you're not a blogger and would like to share your wedding story or advice, send me an e-mail! I would LOVE to share your stories!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out the other editions of Wedding Wednesday!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Plucky's Second Thought Link Party #17

This is my very first time co-hosting a link party!! And to think, I used to have no clue what a "link party" was! I love participating in link parties, they're a great way to get your content out to fellow bloggers and network with them as well.

If you're unfamiliar with what a link party is...it's a place to have your favorite posts seen by tons of other awesome bloggers with plenty of opportunity for comments, Facebook/Twitter shares and Pinterest pins! All you have to do is follow the rules and then click the link at the bottom of the thumbnail list and add your info. It's really easy!


Co-Host (That's me!)


Catherine from Happily Ever Crafter 

Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Google+ / BlogLovin

  If you are at all interested in co-hosting upcoming Link Ups, please contact Jess!

Now, let's get to the Link Up!!


I'm excited to see what you guys link up!

Till next time,

Monday, October 14, 2013

Relay Foods - Online Grocery Shopping

Recently I was approached by Relay Foods, an online grocery store. They are a company based in Charlottesville, Virginia (yay local!) and have recently expanded into Lynchburg, Virginia where I live. I was given the awesome opportunity to review them for you guys. But not to worry, you're eligible for an awesome deal too!

Relay Foods currently has pick up locations in the following cities: Baltimore/Annapolis, Charlottesville, Lynchburg, NOVA/Washington, Richmond, Staunton/Fishersville, and Williamsburg. So if you're in or near any of these locations go order some groceries! 

For us here in Lynchburg, our pick up is from 3:30pm-6:00pm at the BB&T on Old Forest Road. 

Their website is incredibly user friendly. Ordering groceries is so easy. Check out Sweet Pea's post about Relay Foods and navigating their website for more info. 

But it really is so simple. You can place your order up until midnight the night before pick up. How awesome is that? Forgot an ingredient for that casserole on Wednesday? No problem! 

Relay Foods is loaded with amazing local farmers as well as conventional grocery store items. You're bound to find what you're looking for! 

Big, beautiful, blue truck just full of groceries for us Lynchburgers! 

All you do is tell the attendant your name (they're super sweet) and they find your box and you're on your way! 

Easy peasy. There were about 3-4 other people waiting for their groceries which is awesome! The attendant even told me that Lynchburg has broken records for the largest order! That blows my mind...us? Here in little ol' Lynchburg? Especially considering they have pick up locations in DC and Richmond! 

They give you your groceries in these super cute tote bags. They're good quality reusable bags, too! I'll be bringing mine back to load my next order of groceries in. 

Gorgeous local hummus right there on top. 

Two bunches of bananas (they gave me one bunch that was more yellow and one that was a little green...so smart! They won't all ripen at the same time!) and organic strawberries. I inhaled those puppies in a couple of days! 

All my goodies! 

I only got a couple of local products but I'll definitely order more next time. I ordered potato gnocchi to try and cook with! I'm excited to try it. 

Lots of spaghetti. My husband is a spaghetti fiend! He'd eat it every day if I let him. And quinoa of course. It's a great staple to have. 

Overall I was very satisfied with Relay Foods and you can bet I'll order from them again! How cool is it to order online one day and pick up your food another day? So much less time consuming than going to the store. I can imagine this would be especially helpful if you're one to plan weekly meals! 

And let me be extra honest here...I used to think online grocery shopping was for snooty business people that could afford to pay someone else to shop for them. That's not the case at all! 

Here's the best part for anyone remotely interested in trying Relay Foods...if you use my referral link then you will receive $30 OFF your order of $50 or more! If you use my link, I'll also receive a $30 credit to my account. Who wouldn't want $30 of FREE groceries??? It's really a very, very good deal. Use this link HERE if you're interested.

So go, give it a try! They even do gift certificates! 

Till next time,

Disclaimer: I was given a gift card for Relay Foods in order to review them. Everything I said is my own opinion, though. I'm always honest with you all!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Make Butter At Home!

Bear with me folks, we're hoping to get a good DSLR soon. But in the meantime, iPhone photos are going to have to do. 

The longer I'm in this healthy/natural/frugal living lifestyle, the more I learn that we have gotten so lazy!

There are so many things that used to be made by hand at home or by members of the community but now, everything is bought at the store, made in China. Simple, cheap things that take a very short amount of time to make/do. 

Like butter.  

Butter is incredibly easy to make! 

Let me show you. 

Buy some heavy cream and grab an empty salsa/spaghetti/jam jar from your stash in the cabinet. 

(What? I'm the only one who has one of those?) 

Organic and local is best but this was the best I could find. 

Let the cream sit out overnight or about 8-12 hours. Sounds weird but that's how we do it.

Fill the jar about halfway with cream and secure the lid VERY TIGHTLY. 

Be sure to adopt a steely look of intense concentration!

Now shake it like a Polaroid picture! And then keep shaking. 

We divided it equally into four old salsa jars because there were four of us makin' butta. 

After a couple of minutes you'll see butter start to form!! Keep shaking! 

Pour out the liquid. But not into the sink because that's pure buttermilk! Save that in another jar. 

Now you can really see the butter. At this point you may want to mush the butter around with a knife to really get the buttermilk out. You can even put a little water in the jar and shake for another little bit. You just want to be sure to get all the buttermilk out or else it causes the butter to spoil faster. 

Now that you're butter is done, flavor it! We kept one jar as just plain butter, which was delicious, a salted butter, and a honey butter. The four of us ended up devouring one jar of butter (it was maybe 6 tablespoons or so) on toast because it was so fresh and perfect! 

The jar on the right is full of the buttermilk we got out of it! That's a ton of butter AND buttermilk for the price of heavy cream. That's a good deal to me! 

And there you have it, delicious, fresh, creamy butter! I think next I'm going to try making homemade mayonnaise

Don't forget to save that buttermilk! I don't use buttermilk very often so I froze it in an ice cube tray so I have it when I need it. 

Fresh butter on homemade bread. YUM!


For an awesome and in depth video to understand the science behind making butter, watch this video

What's something you prefer to make fresh at home? 

Till next time,

I've linked up to Swap N Share Sunday Week 27 with Spatulas on Parade!

I've linked up to Less Laundry, More Linking #11 with Life After Laundry and Sensational Creations!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

{Wedding Wednesday} Mirror, Mirror - Guest Post

This week for Wedding Wednesday, I'm pleased as punch to have Heather from Spunky Real Deals guest posting for me! Heather is the founder of The Virginia Bloggers Club which is how we got connected. If you're a fellow blogger in the fantastic four-season state of Virginia, don't hesitate to contact Heather to get involved. The Virginia Bloggers Club is a lovely group of bloggers who are all about helping one another grow! While you're at it, check out her blog! She's always got great giveaways going on (alliteration much?). 

Hello Happily Ever Crafter readers! My name is Heather Paulding. I am the author and blogger of Spunky Real Deals. I am also the founder of the Virginia Blogger's Club. When I heard about Catherine's Wedding Wednesdays I knew I had to put something special together for all of you!

Mirror, mirror on the wall who's the fairest of them all? You, of course! I am convinced that every wedding must-have large mirrors. The proof is in the photography.


A Good Idea: Give your bridesmaids your single wear wedding shoes to doodle on and they turn into a precious keepsake.

Thanks, Heather! Mirrors look so cool! Wish I had one at my wedding! I'll keep it in mind if my husband and I ever do anniversary pictures (in our wedding attire) one day! And what a great idea to do something special with your wedding shoes. Mine were ivory glitter TOMS and I still wear them :)

Do you like the large mirror idea for wedding photographs? What kind of shoes did you or will you wear at your wedding?

Till next time,

If you're a fellow blogger and are interested in guest posting for this series, shoot me an e-mail at CatherinePageWood@gmail.com! Or, even if you're not a blogger and would like to share your wedding story or advice, send me an e-mail! I would LOVE to share your stories!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out the other editions of Wedding Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Letter Writing Revolution - Because opening your mailbox should be fun!

While the concept of letter writing is not new by any means, my idea for a Letter Writing Revolution is. Brand new, in fact. I literally just thought of it. I knew I needed to write a post about it before it got pushed to the backburner!

A friend of mine recently posted on her Facebook that she's looking to write more letters to friends. I responded and got a lovely card in the mail shortly after. It was so exciting to find a hand written letter in the mailbox just for me! I also had been wanting to write letters to my sister-in-law for fun and while  writing those two letters today, the idea came to me.

So today, Tuesday, October 8, 2013 I am issuing into effect, my very own Letter Writing Revolution and I want all of YOU to join me! 

I had tons of pen pals as a kid (thanks Tiger Beat magazine!) and loved it. It was so cool to write to a girl my age over in Spain, Italy or California. My mom had pen pals when she was a kid too so it was cool to take on the same hobby. As I grew older, the letters eventually stopped. Busier school and social lives I'm sure were the causes but also, the internet. Instant messaging (AIM anyone?) took over. Especially if you were cool enough to have a screen name like xXxGothGirlxXx. 

IMs made way for chat rooms and eventually LiveJournal and Xanga. From those spawned MySpace and now we have Facebook. Not to mention 50 other social media sites that no one has time for. 

Now don't get me wrong, I think Facebook and other social media can be an incredible tool! It can connect long lost friends or family members or reconnect old high school friends. It's especially a valuable tool for bloggers like myself. 

Yet, Facebook has a down side. It has us more connected than ever before and somehow completely disconnected. Rather than call someone and see how they've been, you can simply "like" their status about a new job or a delicious lunch. 

I think we need to REALLY reconnect with people by handwriting letters to them. 

Let's do this together and start a Letter Writing Revolution! 

I don't want to bog this down with "rules" but if you'd like to join me on this, comment below. To make this awesome, feel free to share across the internet! Yes, we're going to use social media to our advantage! It's quick and effective. Share this post through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google+...or all of the above. Let's make this a big, beautiful movement. Use the hashtag (oh boy I hate hashtags but let's do this!) #LetterWritingRevolution to help organize our progress! 

I'm going to share on my personal Facebook page with my friends and family to find more people to write to. I'm open to write to anyone! New friends, old friends, strangers, family members, bloggers, soldiers, children and people all across the globe! 

Feel free to write postcards instead. Start small if you have to. I also encourage you to get involved with PostCrossing! It's an awesome organization that basically keeps track of postcard penpals. I wrote a little about it here

What are you waiting for? Dust off the envelopes, grab a pen and start writing! Let's make this so huge and fabulous that the USPS is taken by surprise! 

May your hand not cramp until the 2nd page (or paragraph. I know, it's been a while). 

So tell me, who will you write to first? Who do you think will write back? 

Till next time,

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

1st Blogiversary! Celebrating with a GIVEAWAY! [Closed]

I've been expressing my love for you guys all week already and today I want to show it by having a giveaway to celebrate my first blogiversary!!

I'll be giving away a roll on bottle of Solace oil blend from doTERRA essential oils along with a lovely handmade hot/cold corn pack! 

"What in the world is Solace and why do I want it?" Well, let me just tell you why! 

Solace is an awesome oil that is a blend of 11 therapeutic grade essential oils that is the perfect blend for women! Solace includes clary sage, lavender, bergamot, Roman chamomile, cedarwood, ylang yland, geranium, fennel, carrot seed, palmarosa and vitex. 

What that means for us as ladies is that during hormonal points of our lives (menstrual cycles, menopause) we can have a natural form of relief. No more Midol or Advil in this house! 

I've used it twice now and I can honestly say that it really helps alleviate cramps! I simply rolled it across my abdomen a few times and relaxed. Within an hour I was feeling significantly better. It was a beautiful thing. Truly. 

I will definitely be using Solace for a long time and would recommend it to any woman! 

For more detailed information about Solace, check out this site. You can apply the roll on anywhere you feel discomfort or simply inhale it. I really enjoy the smell. It's like an herby-citrus smell. I think most people would enjoy it!

This beautifully handcrafted corn pack was loving made by Rachel, the lovely doTERRA consultant who is making this giveaway possible! She has other adorable patterns and sells them. This pack goes hand-in-hand with Solace! How many of us are guilty of breaking out the heating pad when Aunt Rose comes to visit? Instead of using an electric heating pad, I can now just pop this gem in the microwave for a bit and then I have a nice hot compress to use while getting a foot rub. Yes, he really does give me foot rubs! 

How cute is that pattern? I love it! 

So needless to say, I'm excited about this giveaway because it's for products I really enjoy!

And hey now, no nasty comments about doTERRA or similar companies. After a lot of research I don't think that one company is necessarily "the best" or really even that much better than the other. Essential oil companies are wonderful advocates of healthy living and that's OK by me. You're totally free to maturely discuss different opinions but leave the mud-slinging for another day. Thanks!

  • Prize: A 5ml roll on bottle of Solace oil from doTERRA and a handmade hot/cold corn pack
  • To enter: Follow the prompts on my Rafflecopter widget below! The more you do the more entries you get!
  • Starts: Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013
  • Ends: Wednesday, October 16th, 2013 at midnight
  • Anyone can enter!
  • The winner will be chosen at random (from random.org - a random number generator) and announced on Thursday, October 10th, 2013! I will e-mail the winner to confirm. If I don't get a confirmation within 48 hours I will have to choose another winner, so be sure to check back here and check your e-mail!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you haven't yet, be sure to check out my first post of this week and fill out my blogiversary poll! I'd love to get to know you guys!

Good luck!

Till next time,

Disclaimer: I have received the above products for my own review and use but all of the opinions above are my own! That's what you'll always get from me...honesty! I was also not paid for this review/giveaway. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

1st Blogiversary! Past, Present, and Future

One year ago today I wrote my very first blog post. Don't judge me. I didn't know anything about blogging at that point! 

You guys have been here through it all. Even when I tried to make bread for the first time and failed miserably.

And then when I got it right and made amazing bread!

It's been a long and wonderful road with a huge learning curve. But I really have enjoyed it all! Through joining blogging networks, connecting with other bloggers and even meeting a few of my fellow local bloggers! I had no idea what I was getting into when I started but now I couldn't even entertain the thought of quitting! 

I've now published a total of 211 posts! Wow. That's a lot of blogging! Here are some of the most popular/favorite posts. 

My MOST popular post was actually my husband's first post! His cardboard helmet tutorial got an astonishing 5,570 views! Halloween's coming up soon and this would be an awesome DIY costume for kids an adults alike. 

My second most popular post was my DIY pallet garden for under $20. It rounded out the year with 3,728 views which is still huge! 

The 3rd most popular post was my Magic Eraser toilet cleaner Pinterest fail and 4th popular was The Walking Dead workout! Is anyone as excited as I am that the next season is about to begin?!? 

My most popular Pinterest pin was the recipe for my homemade garden fresh salsa

Followed by my homemade no high-fructose-corn-syrup ketchup! Both of which are so delicious that you'll never buy those things from the store ever again! So if you haven't pinned them yet, go for it! 

I'll wait. 

If you want to follow me on Pinterest, just click HERE

What Happily Ever Crafter post is YOUR favorite? You can choose from the ones above or the archives on the right sidebar. 

It's really neat to look at my most popular posts and realize they're all totally different! 

Our anniversary trip to Williamsburg, Virginia

And finally...drumroll please! My total pageviews for my very first year of blogging...


For you seasoned bloggers that may seem like chump change but I am blown away! My very first month I had only 180 pageviews. I guess that's decent considering I didn't tell anyone that I started a blog!

Every month has shown exponential growth and it's so cool to watch! I owe it all to you guys for liking, commenting and sharing my blog! I can't forget my incredible blog networks either, you can check those out on my sidebar. 

The future of this blog is completely unknown. I have goals but I don't know where exactly this blog will take me. Here are some of those goals for the next year of blogging.

  1. Reach 1,000 views a day.
  2. Reach 1,000 likes on Facebook (currently at 391!)
  3. Schedule Facebook posts ahead of time.
  4. Get back to consistently posting (good content) up to 5 days a week.
  5. Write those posts ahead of time and schedule them. AKA "Get with the times, Catherine."
  6. Cook and craft more for better posts.
  7. Try more things from Pinterest and share about it!
  8. Earn a little money through the blog and buy my own domain name (plus make the blog beautiful and functional!)
  9. Connect with YOU better and attend blogging conferences (like this one I'm attending on October 26th!)
  10. Be open to constructive criticism and change. 

So here's to the first of many years of blogging! 

If you haven't yet, be sure to check out the first post of the week and fill out my blogiversary poll! I want to get to know my lovely readers! 

Till next time,