Sunday, December 7, 2014

Free $5 From Sears & Kmart (and how I was able to get snacks for our welcome bags for free)

When you have out of town guests coming to your wedding, it's customary to block a set of rooms at a local hotel for them. And then, it's nice to create wedding welcome bags for them.

We made our guests amazing bags that only cost us just over $2 each. And part of that was because I'm really good about spending free money.

Yes. Free money.

A lot of snacks we put in our bags were free from Kmart, thanks to free money. If you look, you'll see the chips and crackers all say zero. How? It's easy, but it takes dedication.

Kmart and Sears are sister stores (if you didn't know, they have the same parent company). They have a loyalty program called Shop Your Way. You can register, for free, and you'll earn points for every dollar your spend there. Points turn into credit you can use (1,000 points = $1).

But it gets better.

If you join Shop Your Way by December 9 via that link, you'll get 5,000 points for free, deposited into your account on or about December 12. That's a free $5 for doing nothing. Lately, Shop Your Way has been giving members a free 5,000 points every month. You can use it on anything up to and including $5 and get the items for free. So something like the Austin Cheese Crackers that are $1.39 for a pack of eight, you can buy three for $4.17, use your $5 credit (although only $4.17 will apply) and that's 24 packs of crackers for free. Or, if you need more, buy four packs for $5.56, use your $5 credit, and you're left paying $.56 for 32 packages of crackers. Your guests will love the snack and you'll love the price. And, if you pick "in store pickup," there won't be a shipping cost.

We did this constantly. Every time I got free points from Shop Your Way, I took a look at our wedding "to buy" list and figured out what I could cross off the list. It was so much better than actually paying for stuff. I mean, when it comes to weddings, the cost can really add up ... but so does the savings. Sure, $5 here and there doesn't seem like much, but I did it anyway. And when it came time to tally up my savings after our wedding was over, my gosh, it really did add up.

If you signed up for this last time I posted this, you will still also get the free 5,000 points ($5) in your account on or about December 12. So be sure to use that to get more wedding freebies.

BRIDAL BABBLE: What are you gonna buy with your $5 credit?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Top 5 Tips For Newlyweds (based off my five months of wedding bliss) -- and an I Choose Love t-shirt giveaway (ends 12/16)

The day after Pete and I got engaged, we were standing in the kitchen of our apartment. "Does it feel different to you?" he asked me.

It did. For some reason, we felt different. It was the same us, living in the same apartment, the only noticeable difference was I had a ring on my finger for the last 18 or so hours. But we felt different. It's a strange thing to explain until it happens to you. Every time one of my friends gets engaged now, I always ask them if it feels different. And they say yes. There's just something that's different, even if you were already living together or already knew the ring was coming.

I felt the same thing on our wedding night. Pete was going to meet his friends at the resort's bar and I just wanted to crash, but I felt like I had to go with him. I felt responsible for him now. Not that I didn't feel that way before. The day before, if anything had happened to him when he met his friends at that very same bar, I would have been devastated. But that night, something was just different.

Being married, it's different than dating or being engaged. And, I'm no expert at it. I mean, it's been five months so far. We are living in the same apartment with the same cat and lack of children. Not much has changed (not my last name, our bank accounts, or our credit cards), but we have changed. We've gotten a lot better at choosing love and choosing marriage because marriage is a choice and a job and work, just like Ben Affleck said in that awards speech. People gave him a lot of flack for it, which I think is ridiculous because marriage is work. It's not always rainbows and roses. So, I put together a list of my Top 5 Tips For Newlyweds (based off my five months of wedding bliss).

1. Remember, you married the man he is, not the man you want him to be.

So many women have this crazy idea that they want a man they can change. No. Just no. You fell in love with someone and that is who you are marrying. If he leaves the toilet seat up all.the.time, don't expect that when he gets married he will magically start putting it down. Sorry lady, but you married a man who leaves the toilet seat up. You can ask him to put it down, while explaining to him that you've fallen in during the middle of the night or you can just accept the fact that the man you love and married leaves the seat up and maybe you need to be the one to change and remember to turn the light on when you enter the bathroom. You can make that change in yourself. You can remember to flick on the light so that you don't fall in the bowl. They say, "Be the change you want to see in the world" and I'm saying, "Be the change you want to see in the bathroom." You can't expect him to start remembering to put it down and you can't get mad at him when he doesn't remember.

That's such a silly example, but it can apply to everything. Just because your man said "I do" doesn't mean he is going to turn into some magical Prince Charming who is everything you read in a fairy tale. He is still the man you said yes to when he proposed. That's the man you fell in love with and decided to marry. That's the man you need to let him be when you get married. And you can't get mad at him for being himself just because you wanted him to be someone else. If that was really the case, well, you need to figure that out before you say your vows.

2. Don't get overwhelmed.

Marriage isn't easy. You will have amazing days and you'll have bad days. You'll get frustrated at work and take it home. He'll burn dinner. You'll miss a turn and get lost. He'll get home late and you'll be late getting to a friend's house. This is real life, folks.

When you're planning a wedding, that's all you can focus on. You set your eyes on the ceremony, the reception, the cake, the toasts. You forget that when the guests go home, you have a lifetime of being married to your best friend ahead of you. It's a lot to take in and something that people tend to forget about during the chaos of planning. When the dust settles, you sit back and realize you're someone's wife and now you have to figure out health insurance and if you want to combine car insurance. It's a lot, especially at the beginning. Just breathe. You have a lifetime to decide if you want to pay your cell phone bill via autopay or not. And you can always change your mind. Don't let the zillions of tasks that come along with being married overshadow the fact that you have started your forever with your best friend.

3. Do stuff together.

Yes, you're married now, but you don't have to turn into an old married couple. Being married is like having a live in playmate. You always have someone willing to do fun stuff with you. Do it. Yes, you just spent a ton of money on a wedding and a honeymoon, but that doesn't mean you have to stay home every night eating Ramen. Take a cooking class together, go to the park and take a walk, go to the beach, take a weekend road trip, rent a Jaguar and kiss in front of the cemetery (I know, I know, what a silly background for this photo. I don't know why I didn't realize that until after we had taken them. But I absolutely love this photo, even though I had already changed out of my beautiful heels into much more comfortable flip flops. But look how in love we look, how our legs are crossed towards each other, oh I would frame it if not for that wacky background). Or stay home and watch a movie. Just make sure you spend time with each other and loving each other. You're married now, but that doesn't mean you turn into roommates who just come and go. Make sure you carve out time together to just hang out and have fun.

4. Move forward.

Just because you're married doesn't mean that you need to stop growing as a couple or as people. Life doesn't hit pause because you're married. Learn together, teach each other things, and tackle huge projects together. Maybe it's taking a move, buying a house, having a child, or just getting a pet. Whatever it is, do it. Don't think that just because you got married you are stuck now. Yes, you have to consider another person before you make decisions (which can be hard!), but you have someone in your corner to support your big ideas and vice versa. Do them. Support each other. Don't get stuck in a rut now (or ever).

5. Choose love.

At the end of the day, you have to choose love. This is marriage. It's not some fleeting relationship that you can just throw away when things get hard (and, unfortunately, they will). You have to choose love just like you chose each other. Tell your husband you love him every single day, and really, really mean that. Choose him and choose to love him.

I was actually really inspired by the Marriage365 t-shirt line on Sun Frog Shirts. The shirt above is actually from that line. It's a really great reminder to choose love and your husband and your relationship. I've known people who have given up on their relationship because it got hard, and that's horribly sad to me. Divorce is an option that many people choose, and sometimes it's because they've given up on the other person (and, always, I would guess, because they've given up on the relationship). They say 50% of marriages end in divorce. Talk about a glass half empty stat. I'd rather hear that 50% of marriages are amazing and incredible and work and have a couple who works at it. Choose love. Choose the better half of that statistic. Choose the man you said yes to, the vows you took, and the life you are building together.

Choose love.

I'm so in love with the I Choose Love shirts that I'm actually giving two away: one for you and one for your significant other. There are a trio of designs to choose from. To enter, leave a comment letting me know your tip for newlyweds. This giveaway starts now and ends at 11:59pm EST on December 16. The winner must be a US resident who is 18 or older. The winner will be contacted via email and will have 24 hours to respond before another winner is selected.

Good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

BRIDAL BABBLE: What tip do you have for newlyweds?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving Traditions Based On Your Relationship (And A $25 Target Gift Card Giveaway, Ends 12/12) #TargetWedding #Sponsored

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Target. All opinions are my own.

On Thursday, Pete jumped onto our bed. "Happy first married Thanksgiving," he said, before tumbling down. It was the cutest thing ever. And it's the truth, too. This year was our first married Thanksgiving. It was also the first Thanksgiving that I didn't spend with my parents. I just went up to New York in September for a wedding and decided I would go up for my cousin's baby shower so I would save my money and not go up for Thanksgiving. Plus, we'll be up for Christmas anyway.

So instead of spending Thanksgiving with my family, I spent it with Pete as our new family. Plus, we split time and went to two different friends' houses. I knew we were heading to one for the beginning of the day and one for the end of the day, so I made an appetizer for one and dessert for the other. I made caprese dip and cannolli dip. And then, of course, I laughed at myself. Not only did I unintentionally decide to make two dips, I also unintentionally decided to make spins off two Italian classics -- and I'm not Italian. But hey, Pete is, so our nationalities are fused together now. And so are our tastes, since items we scanned for our wedding registry were ones that we liked, not just ones that I liked or he liked.

And speaking of registries, did you know you can register at Target for a ton of different items? Check out my recipes for cannolli dip, a bit about Target registries, and a way to win a $25 Target gift card below.

cannolli dip recipe

Cannolli Dip Recipe

What You'll Need:
  • One 15oz. container ricotta cheese (part-skim)
  • One 8oz. block of cream cheese (regular)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla
  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
What You'll Do:
  • Mix together the cheeses and vanilla until smooth. (Mixture will be thick.)
  • Add in half sugar. Stir. Add in second half. Stir. (This thins it out.)
  • Fold in half the chocolate chips. Then fold in the other half.
  • Chill until its time to serve.
I brought waffle cones with us (well, waffle bowls that I crushed). I wanted to actually crush cannolli shells but down here, people don't know what those are so I didn't bother to look for them. Making this dessert was super easy -- just as easy as creating a Target Wedding Registry.

What I actually really like about Target's registry is the variety of items. You're not restricted to just kitchen items. I mean, you can get stuff for the kitchen, like the Threshold Bistro Ceramic 16-Piece Dinnerware Set or Calphalon Stainless Steel Cookware, but you'r e not restricted to those types of items. Love a home that smells nice? Register for some candles. Need to keep the bathroom tidy? Register for a plunger. Love music? Register for the SONOS PLAY: 5 Wireless HiFi System. No one is gonna stop you.

And, if you really like the sound of cannolli dip for your next family gathering, register for a chip and dip plate so you can make it. And register for a bowl and spoon, since you'll need those to make this (actually, though, I originally made this in a plastic storage container because I was transporting it. You can register for those at Target too).

Now that you know about some of the great items Target carries, it's time to win. One lucky person will win a $25 Target gift card (it will be sent as an eGift Card). The giveaway starts now and ends at 11:59pm EST on December 12. The winner must be a US resident who is 18 or older. The winner must respond to the winning email within 24 hours or a new winner will be selected.

Good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

BRIDAL BABBLE: Cannolli dip merges me (chocolate and sweets) and Pete (Italian) perfectly. What's the Thanksgiving recipe that merges you and your significant other?

A Bride On A Budget is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

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