Fifty Shades of Grey Party
By • Filed In: Party

Yes, yes, I have been pulled into the Fifty Shades for Grey phenomena… and I have to admit, I am lit.er.ally obsessed.  I seriously thought I was in the books and refuse to believe they’re fiction.  In fact, this is exactly how I feel…

I read all three books in under two weeks and have plans to soon reread them.  That’s insane coming from a girl who doesn’t read much.

Surely you’ve heard of the steamy trilogy by E.L. James, right?  The books are told through the eyes of a 21 year old girl named Anastasia Steele.  She’s fresh out of college and meets a stunning, sexy, filthy rich, 27 year old, dominant man named Christian Grey.  Yes, dominant.  Christian is into “kinky, dominant, fuckery” as Anastasia refers to it, and he tries to get Anastasia to become his submissive.  His What?!  Obviously these books aren’t your typical boy-meets-girl love story.  No, these books share a love story with a delightful, kinky, twist.  I believe the books got better and better since you learn more about Christian’s dark past and their love story evolves, taking over the plot.   I also love how the series didn’t abruptly end.  There was a shocking twist ending but E.L. James continued to write and answer all my questions.

While reading these books, I have heard from several friends that people are now hosting Fifty Shades of Grey parties.  My ears immediately perked and I dug in deeper to find some very creative party ideas.

As I was reading the first book I was asking a girlfriend what she thought Anastasia and Christian looked like.  She then told me that another friend of ours had attended a Fifty Shades party where each guest was to bring a photo of someone they thought looked like Christian Grey.  Then each person at the party voted which photo best resembled Christian.  This was the winner…

Isn’t that insanely dead on?  I mean, look at the copper hair, scruffy face, and grey eyes.  If only he was wearing the silver tie…

I then did some of my own research on Pinterest and found some very creative ideas.

Julia from Throw Back Road threw her own party.  Here is a sneak peak of food she laid out…

How could anyone forget the silver balls that debut in the second book?  Take a look at these…

You thread dessert malted milk ball candies through mint dental floss.  Not quite what I had visualized while reading the book, but you get the idea.  The girl who made these for her book club said she received a standing ovation.

The rest of the photos are other ideas I found on pinterest.

The last couple photos come from Katherine at Inspire, Design, and Create.   You can find all the details on her decor set up and how to make that yummy looking grey cake and glitter wine glasses.

So, if you haven’t jumped on the Fifty Shades bandwagon, do so now!  I’m looking forward to talking about it with you.


Until next time ladies and gents…

Laters, baby.

goodbye yellow
By • Filed In: Projects

Well that was a long break, wasn’t it!? Kal and I both got super busy with end of the year type stuff at work and just did not have much time left for blogging. I’m not kidding, the last two or three weeks were ca-razy. But we’re back!

So I have my favorite white t-shirts and tanks that I wear all the time. They are constantly in the wash. And after wearing them so much they get these nasty yellow armpit stains. Ewwwwww. I can’t stand them. And then when that happens I can only wear them under other shirts because I don’t want to be judged by my yellow pits. So after googling around I found an unlikely solution. I think google brought me to pinterist (of course, I should have just started there), and I think this is the link I used. But it worked so well that I thought I’d show you.

You just combine two parts hydrogen peroxide with one part Dawn dish washing liquid and then add just a bit of baking soda. I actually made two batches of this mixture, one with the baking soda and one without and they both worked the same. The only difference was that when you wash the clothing it foams up A LOT more when you use the baking soda. I actually got a bit nervous that the bubbles were going to ooze out of the machine, but they didn’t.

Once you have it all mixed up, take a scrubbing brush or one of those bristle dish washing brushes and scrub it into the stains. Then just launder as usual and wait for the magic to happen. It took my shirts from this:

To this:

The coloring in the two sets of pictures is different, but you can still tell that the yellow stains are no longer there. Seriously, the pics do not do it justice! The solution is super easy to make and it is completely worth it.

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Primavera Studios
By • Filed In: Photography, Weddings

I saved the best for last with all my wedding sharing… Primavera Studios!  Just like Brian and Ashley from the NEWview, Kevin and Kelsey are the cutest married couple.  They photograph weddings together and not only are they the sweetest people to have around (I seriously felt as if they were in my wedding party), but some of the most talented.  Their photos are truly breathtaking.

I always find myself looking back in my “Primavera” album on my computer to look at all my amazing wedding photos.  And, I’m very frequently stalking their blog to check out some of their new work.  You can check out their posts from my wedding and my engagement session.  Remember reading about my friends Brad and Kendal?  Well, lucky for them (and extremely lucky for selfish me!) Kevin and Kelsey are shooting their wedding this August, so I get to hang out with Kevin and Kelsey again, soon!  You can check out their engagement photos, too.  Aaaaand, it gets better!  Cortney and Jeff booked them for their wedding, as well!  Ahhh, I can’t wait to see what they cook up for Kendal’s and Cortney’s weddings!  Want even better news?  Kevin and Kelsey travel anywhere for weddings.  Kevin even went to Jamaica for a wedding.  So, even if you don’t live in the Chicagoland area, they just might be available.

Here are just a few more of my favorites:

And… My all time fav…

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The NEWview Brings you Kal’s Wedding Videos
By • Filed In: Weddings

I was never planning on hiring a wedding videographer for my wedding thinking it wasn’t in my budget.  But then Cortney told me two of her good friends had recently started a videography business for fun.  Then I saw their prices and it was a done deal!  Brian and Ashley Newman from The NEWview were so much fun to have around on my wedding day.  They are a married couple with one adorable little boy, Oliver, and another on the way in June.  There are so many things I love about Brian and Ashley, and when they told me receiving a piece of wedding cake to go was Ashley’s most crucial point on their contract, I just knew we were going to get along great.  She shares the same cake obsession as I do!

Here’s the duo having fun in the photo booth during the welcome hour.

The wedding day came and went and when they emailed me the link to our “peek i do” video, I was beyond thrilled.  I kid you not, Brian and I watched it probably 25 times that day and 100 more times that week.  Brian, who could care less about this kind of stuff, said it was the best money he had ever spent.  He compared our wedding video to toothpicks (sounds weird I know, stick with me).  In Brian’s eyes, a box of toothpicks cost next to nothing but last a very long time.  Our wedding video was so reasonably priced but the memories would last forever.  When I told Ashley this, she thought it was the best thing ever and even sent us a box of toothpicks along with our wedding DVDs in the mail that said, “love the ‘toothpicks.'”

Alright, enough blabbering and to the good stuff.  This video is our “peek i do” video which is just to one song, so it’s short and very sweet.

Unfortunately our full version of highlights from the day was too big of a file for Vimeo.  It’s about 15 minutes long. So we’ll work on getting that up here in some other format. But just know that it is even better than the sneak peek!!!

So, at the top of this post I was trying to explain how amazing Ashley and Brian are at what they do with their videos.  But now, you’ve had a little taste and I can assume you now “get it”.  I love their laid back style and how they obviously spent so much time editing the video so it fit perfectly with the songs.

Lucky me, I get to see Brian and Ashley in action AGAIN this summer!  They’re filming my friends’ Brad and Kendal’s wedding in August.  Even though you may not know who Brad and Kendal are, you actually just saw them a ton!  They were both in our wedding party 😉  Can’t wait to see you again soon, Brian and Ashley!

Cake Pop Craze
By • Filed In: Recipes, Sweet Tooth, Weddings

Cake pops have become such a craze lately. So much so that they’re everywhere you turn. Books, stores, molds, you name it. Well apparently our family caught the cake pop fever last summer right around Kal and Brian’s wedding. Kal decided that instead of buying a desert for the rehearsal dinner, she wanted to make them. And perfect enough, they became the table centerpieces. Booyaa for double duty!

Cute right! They look like a bouquet of colorful flowers but taste much better! We got a bunch of smallish, cheapo, and colorful flower pots and used them as the base. I’ll explain more on that later, but first let’s talk actual cake pop action. We made them again recently so we could take pics of all the action for you guys.

You’ll need a box of cake mix. Any flavor would work, but for the wedding we used vanilla, chocolate, and lemon. You’ll also need a can of frosting, again any flavor will do (if you use chocolate cake and vanilla frosting it tastes like an Oreo). And then you will need, candy melts/chocolate, sucker sticks ( you can get them at Michaels), ribbon, mini plastic bags, sprinkles, and flower foam for both letting the pops cool and to stick in the flower pots.

First thing you have to do is bake the cake according to the box directions. You could get all over achiever-ish and bake a cake from scratch. But we were making these in mass quantities for the wedding so that was way too much for us. Then after it is completely cool, take two forks and crumble it up it to very small pieces. Yes I know it seems weird to bake something and then destroy it, but just trust me.

Once you crumbed up your cake, poor it into a mixing bowl and add in the can of frosting. Mix it all together.

Then scoop out the cake mix by the spoonful and roll them into little balls and place them on a lined baking sheet. We usually make them so that they are 2 or 3 bites per cake pop. You just don’t want them too big or they won’t fit in the little individual bags. Once you have them all rolled out, put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes so the firm up just a bit.

In a bow or mug, met a small amount of the chocolate. Dip the end of one of the sucker sticks into the chocolate and push into the cake balls. This helps the cake stay on the stick. It would probably slide right off when during the next step if you didn’t do this. Then put them back in the freezer for another 15 minutes.

Melt a bunch more of the chocolate in the mug and dip and swirl the cake pop into it so that it becomes completely covered. While the chocolate is still wet add sprinkles. We just used multicolored ones this time, but for the wedding we used a bunch of solid colors so they looked like individual flowers.

Then the flower foam comes into play. We got a ring of green flower foam and used it to set the cake pop sticks into while they were drying. That way you don’t have to set them down and get one side that has a smashed/flat chocolate. Make sure to keep the plastic on so that you don’t get little bits of flower foam on the cake pop.

Once they’ve dried all you have left to do is decide how you want to display them. They look great just laying on a pretty tray, tied up into individual clear bags, or as a pretty bouquet in a pot. For the pot, just take more green flower foam and cut it to the size of the pot so that it sits closer to the top of it. Then just push in your cake pops and add some frilly paper so you don’t see the foam.

So there you have it! They taste aaaa-mazing, my mouth is watering just thinking about them.

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Beautiful Bella Bridesmaids and More Wedding Attire
By • Filed In: Fashion, Jewelry, Weddings

Last week I explained some of the things I did for my wedding welcome hour here, here, and here.  Today I’m sharing the all deets on everyone’s attire.

Cort and I first headed to jcrew (the store Brian once said I might as well have my paycheck directly deposited to) and left thinking we found the bridesmaids dresses and were done shopping.  But I had an appointment at Bella Bridesmaids right after to so we decided to still go and check it out.  Oh my god, it was the most adorable boutique shop I’ve ever been in!  I cannot wait to go back to get my dress for Cort’s wedding!

It’s a franchise so there are other locations (check ’em out here) but I can say the ladies at the Chicago location are the most helpful and sweetest girls ever!  They were so fun to work worth.  I actually looked forward to my appointments.  They have such a wide collection of dresses.  I’m going to go back to get some party dresses for myself!

I had the bridesmaids choose their own style from the Thread line in navy.  They wore their own nude heels to polish off the look.  Don’t worry, I still let my inner jcrew set stage.  Part of the girls’ gift from me were a set of brushed gold earrings from jcrew. They don’t carry them anymore, but if you’re in the mood to shop you can find some adorable ones here.

The purple dress I wore for the welcome hour is also from Bella Bridesmaids.  My mom got her dress there, too!

The boys wore khaki dress pants with navy blazers and green ties.  I ordered the ties from thetiebar.com.  Brian strutted his navy suit from Tom James (alright, that “British” model needs to take it down a notch).

I got my dress at a Chicago suburb dress shop.  It was Angelina Couture.

Isn’t that Mrs. Lomas hanger just the best?  Cort got it for me as a shower gift.  You’ll find them all over Etsy in different colors and styles.

I explained my jewelry here and here (scroll down to the bottom of this past post).  Now about the shoes… I just about had a heart attack passing over my credit card at Stewart Weitzman, but Cortney and my mom heavily persuaded me.  I’m so grateful they did!  I lasted all day and all night in those bad boys.  My feet had never been so comfy in heels!  I had seen other brides in red and pink heels to make them pop and loved the look.  So I went with navy.

Wow, this post turned into something way longer than I anticipated!  But hopefully you got something out of it.  Feel free to blame me on your credit card bill this month :)

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Painted Barn Wood Wedding Signs
By • Filed In: Projects, Weddings

You all caught a glimpse of my wedding welcome hour here and here.  Today I’m sharing signs my friend Lauren and I created for the welcome hour, ceremony, and reception.  I had seen wooden signs in wedding magazines and wanted to create some of my own.  So with the help of Lauren, my mom, and her boyfriend… we did!

My mom and her boyfriend were driving to Wisconsin and had passed an old, worn down barn.  Knowing about my wooden sign vision, my mom and Mark walked up to the owner and asked if they could take some of the wood and the owner said yes!  How perfect to have real barn wood signs since my ceremony was taking place just outside an 1800’s original hay barn!

I wanted to keep a lot of the original barn wood coloring, so we just painted the wording in white paint and left the rest alone.  I love how they turned out.


I had the “to keep cool” sign near the ceremony site where guests found fanned programs and parasols (I bought them in bundles from oriental trading company), since my wedding was in the middle of humid heat central on July 3.

The signs also made a small appearance at the reception.  I had one for the escort card table and another for the guest book (I don’t have a pic of that one, sigh).

Again, all these awesome photos were taken by the amazing Kevin and Kelsey from Primavera Studios.

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Non-Traditional Photo Booth
By • Filed In: Etsy, Party, Photography, Weddings

The other week I shared my idea behind the wedding welcome hour at my wedding.  Two fun details about the welcome hour come your way today and tomorrow.  Today I’m dishing out the details behind the photo booth I had set up (well, minus the actual booth as this all took place outside).

I got the idea while browsing one of Martha Stewart’s wedding magazines.  A bride had a camera on a tripod before two wicker chairs outside near her reception.  Guests were then able to sit in the chairs and use the self timer on the camera to take pictures of themselves.  I took this idea and twisted it into something more.

I asked a girlfriend to be my photo booth photographer.  Some of my younger cousins gathered people over to the photo area and my girlfriend snapped away.  I had a table full of goodies for them to play with in front of the camera.

I purchased a chalkboard speech bubble and felt glasses, lips, and mustaches on sticks from Etsy.  My fabulous mom painted and distressed two picture frames.  It was (and still is) a blast looking back at all the photos.  Here are a few for your enjoyment :)

Then, after the ceremony we had a couple hours before the reception began so we could take pictures.  During that time my friend who took all the photos went hard to work on my mac.  She imported all the pictures and created an iMovie with all of them.  She handed the DVD over to the DJ who had a projector set up and played it during cocktail hour.  Everyone loved seeing the photos that had just been taken of them.

The key to making this all work is having an amazing friend to do all the work the day of.  Thanks Beth!!!!!

Wonders of the Web: Engagement Gifts
By • Filed In: Gift Guide, Weddings

Ever wonder what to get a friend as an engagement gift? While it is definitely not expected or necessary to give engagement gifts, sometimes we just want to show that we are happy for them with a little something special. Here are a few ideas, some of which are similar to gifts that I’ve received and loved!

  • A subscription to a bridal magazine. What bride-to-be doesn’t love flipping through the pages looking for cute ideas? Even with wedding blogs all the rage, it’s sometimes nice to have a tangible magazine to browse. And there are so many out there to pick from!
  • An adorable ring holder for that shiny new bling she has just acquired. ETSY has plenty of adorable ones, but this one can be customized with the couples name or initials.
  • Champagne flutes for toasting the special occasion. There are so many adorable ones out there and in a wide price range. You could go with anything from fun and hand painted to classic crystal.
  • A new set of stationary showing off what will be the brides new last name. Shutterfly.com has a wide variety of custom stationary sets that are so reasonably priced. My sister actually gave me a set of these that say “A note from the future Mrs. Lindell” with a capitol “L” in the star. They are perfect as thank you notes for all the showers.
  • A return address stamp to reduce the amount of writing for all those thank you notes they will have to write.

I hope this gives you a few fun ideas! Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

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Wedding Welcome Hour
By • Filed In: Weddings

When it came time to planning our wedding, Brian didn’t have any strong opinions except for one thing – he didn’t want to see me before the ceremony.  I, however, wanted as much time as possible to take pictures since I am a memory saving freak.  So, to accommodate both our wishes, we decided to have a welcome hour prior to our ceremony in lieu of a receiving line after the ceremony.

For the first half hour I mingled and greeted guests.  During the second half hour the girls and I went into the barn house so I could change into my wedding gown and Brian arrived with the groomsmen to visit with guests.

Our ceremony site was Oak Hill in Apple River, IL, just minutes away from the lake house Cort and I grew up in.  The grounds had the perfect country/rustic/chic blend I wanted.  Because I’m a teacher, the lawn by the one room school house was a perfect location for the welcome hour.  I had to incorporate something with the school house.  Brian and I came up with a list of facts about our relationship.  I purchased scrap book paper, die but them into leaves, and had Cortney write the facts on them.  We then pinned the facts onto granny smith apples (since my colors were green and navy) and set them on desks inside the school house for people to read.

I also wrote a message on the blackboard.

Later in the night my photographers had set up a laptop with some of the day’s photos.  I was ecstatic when I realized one of my photographers had grabbed a handful of people and had them sit in the school house and act as students.  The best part, he had randomly chosen all my teacher friends from work!

A few of my mom’s friends had made finger food for people to nibble on.  These were placed on old quilted wagons.  We also served bottled water and beer from antique buckets.  To incorporate our alma maters, we created Wisconsin Sangria (for Brian) and Hawkeye Lemonade (for me!).  After the welcome hour we had a 30 minute transition period for guests to walk to the barn house for the ceremony.  People said it was the first wedding they had gone to where guests were drinking beer during the ceremony.  Love it!


The welcome hour allowed Brian and I to talk with guests before the wedding.  Not only did this calm our nerves for the ceremony, but it also allowed us to enjoy the reception more.  We didn’t feel the need to visit each table during dinner since we had already spoken with many people beforehand.  And the best part, I still got my couple of hours in between the ceremony and reception to take some phenomenal photos.  By the way, all the photos from this post are from my amazing photographers (and soon to be Cortney’s!  I’m so excited!) Kevin and Kelsey from Primavera Studios.