wedding series – 10 ideas for food

First I want to emphasize that YOUR wedding should be what YOU want, not what everyone else thinks it’s should be. If you start fishing for ideas, people will let you know their ideas. They’ll also let you know their thoughts about your ideas, good or bad, without a filter. They’ll also give you their opinion whether you ask for it or not! So either ask someone who can think outside the box, or don’t ask anyone. Trust me, in the end it will stress you out. I always say that weddings, babies and death bring out the best and worst in people. You will get many opinions of things you HAVE to do or things you SHOULDN’T do or, “grandmas not going to like that.” But it’s not anyone’s day but you and your fiancĂ©s. Don’t let anyone push you into thinking your ideas are anything other than amazing!!

When I think about food for weddings, I try to think about a few factors. What time of day is the wedding? How many guests will there be? What’s your favorite food?

First, never think of food in terms of what “everyone else” is doing. When most people think of wedding food the first thing they think of is a catered meal. If you’re trying to save money on your wedding I can guarantee that the results you find by Googling “wedding caterer” in your area, will NEVER get you options that are going to save you the most. Granted, if it’s within your budget, I think that a sit down catered meal has its place, but I’m not here to give you the traditional wedding. I’m here to help you think of creative ways to save some money. Think of options in your area that suit your needs and are within your budget.

1. Ask for a friend or family member to cook/prepare the food, beforehand of course.

2. Purchase the main dish through a restaurant that doesn’t require staff or a service fee. You can prepare the side dishes or appetizers ahead of time.

3. Provide finger foods such as sandwiches and meat/cheese trays from a grocery store.

4. Cook ahead of time and freeze, only requiring heating on your day.

5. Hire a caterer that’s new to the game or someone you know who wants some experience, a friend or a culinary team at a local college.

6. Use disposable plates and utensils.

7. Serve a buffet meal rather than a sit down service.

8. Negotiate the catering bill – if possible.

9. Invite less people.

10. Serve inexpensive foods such as pasta and chicken, rather than meats and seafood. Hell, you can serve pizza and tacos too. Be different!

Tip: If you are providing a hot meal that’s not catered. You can sometimes rent warm boxes from your local party store to keep it hot after it’s picked up and delivered. Make sure you remember serving utensils.

Also, try to keep things simple. At my own wedding we bout food at a local Thai restaurant and paid them like $50 to deliver it. We rented chafing dishes that we dropped off to them to put the food in. Which looked great. However, no one washed them for us the night of the wedding. When we pulled them out the day after the wedding we had to spend time washing them before they could be returned. Not the end of the world, but in retrospect, I should have just bought the disposable stuff to be done with it. We also rented champagne glasses and should have just made do with disposables. Keep your work to a minimum!

With that I will say that I would never recommend grilling food for your day, because while inexpensive, the food generally taste better right of the grill and has to be constantly manned, taking away from someone’s time at the wedding.

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wedding series – 10 venue ideas

I used to love weddings. I loved them so much that after my own, I took on wedding planning for a couple of years. My own wedding cost $7,000. We had all of the bells and whistles of a traditional wedding, although I know I could do it for half that now after doing it. If you’re willing to put in some work and lower your expectations, you can have one hell of a wedding, on a budget.

Although I’m no longer wedding planning, I’m still the go-to helper and idea/advice lady to many friends and family. I thought I’d post some helpful tips for those brides to be that need some direction (and some cost savings).

If you want a traditional wedding and reception experience, you’ll need a venue, food, decor and music. That said, you don’t HAVE to have all of it. Make your wedding you and don’t stress!

Weddings can cost a lot of money, A LOT. My advice is to think about it differently. You don’t need to spend a lot to have a great wedding. In fact, my favorite wedding I’ve ever been to was a simple beach wedding with 15 people. The reception was dinner and cake at a restaurant afterward. The restaurant even had a small dance floor so they were able to have their first dance. We spent the weekend visiting with good friends and their immediate family. It was intimate, laid back and glorious. I always say, “if I had to do mine over, that’s the way to do it.”

I want to kick off my budget wedding series with 10 ideas for venues, other than your traditional “wedding venue.”

Here are some potentially inexpensive ideas:

1. Your favorite restaurant

2. A park with a pavilion

3. A beautiful view for the ceremony and a meeting space for the reception

4. A friend or family’s yard

5. A house rental (think airbnb or vrbo)

6. Public gardens/trails/beaches

7. A campground with a day use area

8. A city/state owned facility

9. A local museum

10. A hotel that doesn’t require the catering be purchased through it

The venue can be one of the more expensive costs of your wedding. It often amounts to thousands of dollars. Depending on where you live, you may be able to rent one of the suggested places above for $0 to less than $500.

Some additional notes:

Always check to see if you need a use permit in public space.

If you’re planning on having alcohol, always ask what the policy is and determine if you need permits/insurance/certified server. If needed, there are various sites that sell inexpensive event insurance.

Make sure you’re realistic about the size of your space compared to the number of guests.

Try to pick a space that doesn’t need a lot of decor to make it work. You will save a lot of money and time.

preserving food

I hate wasting food. Like it’s near the top of my all time dislikes. Especially fresh food. Last week my friend and I purchased plums, cantaloupe and peaches from a couple who drives fresh produce up to Alaska from California. The great thing is that it gets here in a few days and not picked before it’s ripened. So it’s more delicious than most of the stuff we get around here. The bad news is that you have to buy 25lb boxes of each! Luckily we’re there to split it with each other, but it’s still a lot (I’m talking 6 cantaloupe each).

I grew up in the Sacramento Valley in California and have a soft spot for tree ripened fruit. Nothing tastes like it and I’m forever disappointed when I buy a peach at the grocer and it’s tasteless. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a taste of my childhood!

There are so many ways to preserve food, most are relatively easy too. I made plum fruit roll ups and canned some for later baking. This week I’ll be canning some peaches 🍑 and making some baked goods to freeze up for later consumption. The plums are so pretty though! As for the cantaloupe, my kids can put a whole one back a day, so I’m not too worried about those going bad!

do you even eco?

I’ve been pretty passionate about eco-consciousness for over 10 years now. While I have a “throw-it-all-in” bin that I pay to have picked up at my driveway now, I used to have separate bins and take a trip to ye olde recycling center weekly. It was stinky and a pain, but when I consider my recycling load is far less than my recycling load, I feel good about it.

Should I though? I still don’t feel like I’m doing all that I need to. Straw wars anyone? I’m definitely a user from time to time.

What I really hate are those gawd awful obnoxious plastic containers that produce comes in at Costco. Come on! Get with the program already!

Really though, I doubt the end consumer is the biggest culprit when it comes to environmental concerns. However, our use of the manufactured product, is contributing more than we know. We can do our part, use less and recycle what we do use.

am i the worst mom (1)?

I say (1) because this may not be the first, “am I the worst mom?” post. Last week while camping, we were having a grand ole time when my 5 year old decided he didn’t want to listen. The thing is, when we’re camping, he has so much more freedom than when he’s at home. I feel like it’s “safer out there,” than home, plus he does need boundaries on a regular basis, so I just let him be a kid when we’re camping. We were in a large group loop at the campground, filled with friends and acquaintances. He was allowed to ride the whole loop alone, as long as he wanted and as long as he let us know when he was taking off.

Fast forward to when I told him one more loop around and we were taking a walk. Grandma and Grandpa were with us too. He said he wanted to ride his bike and I said, “no, we’re all walking.” He responded with a sharp, “NO!” and took off around the loop.

Now I’m always trying to teach him about the consequences of certain actions and the importance of listening the first time (I really feel like my parents when I tell him, “I’m not telling you to be mean, I’m telling you because I care about you!!”) So, I had this grand idea that we all step up the trail about 20 feet where he wouldn’t expect us to be. He comes around about 2 minutes later on his bike into the campsite and it’s quiet. He stops, looks around in a full 360, then runs in the camper. As soon as he comes back out, he’s crying. He really thinks we left him (we had a clear view of the whole thing!). If he were a little older, I might have let him fret for some more time, but thought it was enough to jolt him. I think it was? Lesson learned right? I assured him we’d never actually leave him on purpose, but that if he doesn’t listen, bad things can happen (like if there’s a moose next to him and I tell him to come here. Mama moose could stomp him if he didn’t listen!).

Until next week when I have to find another way to teach him about consequences! So, am I the worst mom?

props to single parents

Mad props. My husband is a lifesaver, literally. He is hands on and a 50/50 parent. I’m thankful. He’s on a dad’s fishing trip for 3 days (sometimes I let him do fun things!). O.M.G. I usually either do curbside pickup for groceries or go alone on the weekends, tonight I was like, “I’ll just take both kids, after work, on a Friday. Simple!” While they were relatively well behaved, besides the car cart meltdown causing another mom to give it up (lady just say no!); oh and the “I’m about to pee my pants,” from BOTH kids at the register, just as I’m loading groceries. It still took over an hour, with a well organized list. Folks, I do not have my shit together when I can’t think. So then we hit up Taco Bell for dinner. Then we came home had some cherries and root beer floats (it’s like treat night all the way when dad’s gone! I did make them less sugar with Zevia root beer too!). Put those rugrats to bed and got all the laundry folded, so I am feeling accomplished. But I missed my workout because I’m tired!

Anyway, fo realz. I have single mom friends, I tell them all the time they’re super heroes. They are.

bomb sloppy joe lentils

I love lentils. They’re full of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and can be so versatile. Plus, they’re cheap! Bonus. While my family is not vegan or vegetarian, we try to limit our meat consumption for the simple fact that too much mean makes us all feel yuck. We live in Alaska and do eat our fair share of game meat (can we say moose and caribou?! Yum) and wild caught seafood (sockeye salmon, halibut and shrimp!) what can I say, it’s in our backyard and we take advantage!

Back to the lentils though, I can get down on some. They’re especially easy and quick in the Instant Pot. If you like sloppy joes, here’s a relatively quick and healthy recipe for weeknights! I like to add extra water because it helps with cooking, you can always cook it down if it’s too watery in the end.

Btw, I’m not going to pretend to be a good photographer.

Bomb Sloppy Joe Lentils

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup dry lentils

1 can tomato sauce

1 tbsp Worcestershire

1/4 cup ketchup

3 tbsp brown sugar or honey

1/4 of an onion, diced (I use yellow)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp cumin

1 1/2 cup water

Oil for sauté

Hamburger buns

Using the Instant Pot in sauté, cook the onion and garlic until fragrant and softening. Switch the pot to off and dump in everything else, stir well.

Turn on your Instant Pot to manual and set to 22 minutes. Start the pot and let it cook, letting the pressure release manually. Serve on the buns. If the lentils are too watery, cook down using the sauté feature before serving.

walking a fine line

…between sanity and insanity. I swear I wake up with a never ending list in my head. It’s the monotony of everyday life, not enough hours in the day to do the things that need to get done. I’ve been working to simplify our lives these last couple of years before my head explodes (my house might too). Then I turn around and painstakingly turn out what feels like 10 loads of laundry a week. As soon as everything is washed the baskets are full. I don’t even do my husbands laundry! “Enjoy the little things.” Is this something we should be enjoying? I try to change things up, a load of laundry every night. Inevitably I end the week with baskets of clothes to put away. Never ending cycle. You guys my kids are 5 and 2. The older helps but there’s no hope yet with the younger.

How is there time for quality family time, self love and a marriage? Cause dirty undies sure isn’t an option in this hizzy!

I’ll let you guys know when I find a miracle solution.

big ole hair

I have curly hair. I NEVER wear it curly. Anybody feel me? Ok, except on a beach vacation when there’s no way blow drying would work, I it dry natural and then put it in a bun. That’s it. When I tell people my hair is curly they don’t believe me.

It was pretty manageable until I was around 13. At that point it tuned into some weird frizzy crazy rats nest of partially kinky curls, partially wave, lots of cowlicks and just a big mess. So I’ve spent the better part of the last 23 years wearing it straight. I can’t find any product that “works.” Every time I try something new I end up with the feeling that I dumped a pound of waxy mess in it, and $15-$20 down the toilet.

Any suggestions? What are you using?

I started to straighten it in the days before nifty flat irons (1990’s anyone?). A friend and I reminisce about how we’d fold a towel on the floor, flip our heads over and use our moms clothing irons to iron it straight. K. What in the actual f? How lucky are we that our hair didn’t burn off at the roots? Dumb.

So now we have flat irons that are safer in many ways. Thank heavens.

I went in for my long overdue cover my grays coloring today and instead of blow drying and then having it done again, I let it dry naturally. She brushed it out and BOOM. Welcome to my life, my woes.

but then she tamed it, now it’s all good, and no more grays. Thank the lawd for straighteners!

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