Your Wedding Decor For LESS

What seems to be the most daunting task is also in my opinion the most fun when it comes to weddings. The decor. From picking colors to theme to the little details. These things can also often come at a hefty price. It doesn’t have to however. If you plan enough in advance you can actually do most if not all of it yourself. I know there is the dreaded “Pinterest Fail” but fear not; there are plenty of easy to do craft ideas that will save you money.

When putting together your wedding remember that all inclusive or renting might seem like an enticing option and my guess is, it is easy, but I have found out that when purchasing the items you need like chair covers, table runners, decorations, place settings at a similar price as renting would be it is more cost beneficial for you. When you are done with those items you can turn around and sell them afterwards. The awesome thing about that is even if you don’t sell every piece after your shindig you could effectively not pay a dime or at the very least much less than had they been supplied for you. These items you could even save for later use. Maybe you like to host brunch or a party; you would be all set. The best part is you spend less on your wedding!

a centerpieceLet’s talk about flowers. Most brides can’t wait to have fresh flowers throughout but we all know that those truly cost an arm and a leg. If you can’t live without and are determined to have fresh flowers for your wedding I suggest finding simple arrangements that you could do yourself or just a couple single flowers for your table settings. Rather than calling up your local florist try your grocery stores or budget stores that do fresh flowers, Sam’s, Costco, just to name a few. You should go ahead of time to order the flowers in bulk for the day you need them. Discuss with them the state (bloomed or not and how long before they do) that your flowers will arrive so you can make a decision on when you need your order to arrive and the care to take so they will be beautiful for your big day. This one thing alone will save you hundreds!

The decorations throughout don’t have to be lavish. If you are willing to have similar but not identical set pieces thrift stores are your best friend. If you haven’t figured it out yet; I LOVE THRIFT STORES! Have an idea for theme and you can find some great pieces at fractions of the price that will fit your style. Craigslist is another great resource. Like you will hopefully be doing, other brides will sell off their pieces after their big day. Another fun personal thing you can do is place tiny photos of your relationship on the tables; this adds a nice touch to let your guests into some of your adventures as a couple. It is also relatively cheap to do at Walgreens. You can even make your own table ornaments by saving glass sauce jars and fashioning them to fit your style.

Each of these are things that Richard and I did for our wedding and it came out beautifully. What have you done to save on your wedding decor or have you tried some of the things we did? How did it turn out? Let us know in the comments! Til next time Pengminions!

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Finding A Wedding Venue

When starting to plan for your wedding one of the biggest choices you have to make is the venue. Venues come in all shapes and sizes and determine when, where, and how you get to celebrate your wedding day and reception. When picking a venue Richard and I knew we did not want to break the bank but since we were going to be inviting about 60-70 people we knew we needed space. We also knew that cost was our greatest concern. To start we definitely, for s’s and g’s, looked at your more traditionally utilized spaces for weddings. They were: $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 and often they didn’t include everything unless you want to pay even more!

*Dead*

So, once we reinforced our gut feelings we sought out alternatives. We knew that we were not looking for an all-inclusive venue because food, alcohol, decorations, cake, flowers, ect. we could and wanted to do ourselves; besides knowing we could find it much cheaper than if we had it included in the venue. We went with a basic, bare community center in Texas knowing we could turn it into something all our own. All for the great big price of, $350. There are many community resources out there that offer spaces indoor and outdoor to hold your event and for a fraction of the cost of most wedding venues.

Before: Venue

Some alternatives can be, depending on size and what you are wanting to do, are:

1.) A local or even destination park – You can often rent spaces at community parks for almost nothing. You might not even have to pay if it is super small.

2.) A beach – Just do your research early on for potential permit requirements or restrictions.

3.) Community centers -They offer spaces that are sometimes really basic and bare and other times quite beautiful. They almost always will be many times cheaper than a true wedding venue.

4.) Have a backyard wedding – If you, family or friends have a nice house that wouldn’t mind offering up their home for your big day you could make it an extremely budget friendly wedding.

5.) The great outdoors – Even some National Parks offer the ability to hold your event in beautiful locations. Check out some of these suggestions, here.

6.) Have your wedding on an off-peak day (during the week) or during the off season.

7.) Use your creativity! You can get married almost literally anywhere! Use venue search terms that don’t include “wedding” and you might find something perfect that you may have missed otherwise.

The greatest key here is start doing your research early. Some of these ideas fill up swiftly like normal wedding venues so getting the process started early is important. Some don’t require as much prep or any permits but you should make sure you find out ahead of time so you know what you are getting yourself into.

Find out the requirements and restrictions when you are researching so you know what you can and cannot expect from a particular site. You don’t want to have paid for particular elements like a band, decorations, alcohol, ect to find out the day of they are not allowed. Know what you want and what you are willing to do without. Not every THING is as important as it may seem. Save money and just enjoy spending time with the people you are sharing this all with.

Remember it is supposed to be an experience of a life time not an experience you end up paying for for a whole life time. What are some unique ideas you have for a wedding ceremony, reception, or both? How were you able to save money planning your wedding? Let us know in the comments; we love hearing about your experiences. Til next time Pengminions!

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The Gym Isn’t the Only Way to Workout

~Kristen Furleigh

Don’t give up your dreams of being healthy and strong just because you can’t afford a gym membership. Money or lack thereof can have a negative impact on our ability to believe we can still achieve. When funds get tight one of the first things to go straight to a wish list is a gym membership, and with it our willingness to think beyond to what we will do in it’s place. The whole possibility of being fit seemingly vanishes but it does not have to.

There a plethora of tools out there you can utilize that won’t cost you money but can still give you the health benefits of having a gym membership; so don’t fret. You can make things happen if you are willing to do the slightly unconventional. Richard and I haven’t ever budgeted for a gym membership because we would rather put that money towards an experience or artistic materials which often don’t come cheap. We are still able make working out fun and beneficial for us.

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The great outdoors is a typically free resource available to you almost anywhere you live. Weather can be an obstacle here depending on where you live but for most of us we can suck it up when its a bit warmer or colder than our preferred state of comfort. Go for a run to get your cardio in and utilize the space in a park that has workout stations along the course. You can usually find out where your city parks are by visiting your city website or GoogleMaps works well too. Go scope them out to find out which one offers what you are looking for. We even saw an outdoor workout facility in San Francisco that looked like a crossfit gym!

Did you know that YouTube, besides offering music and cute cat videos, is also a hub for countless exercise videos? You can find workout videos for just about anything you can imagine. From Yoga to full length exercise classes to short, specific muscle focused instruction. If you get bored you can always switch it up with something else.

On the topic of video instruction, if you can rely on yourself to cancel, BeachBody offers free 30-day access to a large number of their programs that you can stream on just about any device. Just remember to schedule a reminder in your phone before your offer expires to avoid being charged! This can be great to get you started with an at home routine. If you are afraid you will forget the steps of the work out you can write them down to reference after your trial period.

If you can find a gym buddy! If you have a friend who has a gym at their apartment complex see if you can join them. Many don’t require a sign in so as long as you have the access code or card to get in you can use their equipment. We did this when my parents lived in an apartment complex that offered these amenities. Remember to always be respectful of others and the equipment in the gym.

Capture

If you are in college or live in an active community be on the look out for free events. We were able to learn acroyoga by joining a club on campus. Summer is a great time to find free outdoor events where they offer instruction that gets you moving. Take advantage of these opportunities and write down what you learn so you can workout on your own.

Investing in yourself will always take time but it doesn’t always have to cost you money. What are some things you do to stay fit on a fitness budget of $0? We would love to try our hand at your approach. Leave your thoughts in the comments; we love to hear from you! Til next time Pengminions!

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Budget Chandelier for our Living Room

by Richard Furleigh

Come with me on a DIY/Home improvement story in electrical work!

*Disclaimer! I am not a professional electrician, I’ve acquired skills over the years through practice and learning from others that I feel confident enough to do these things and try to teach you. If at any point it feels like it’s too much call a certified electrician! That being said I promise this isn’t complicated and is about as simple as basic safety and color matching and can be done with very simple tools.

Moving into our most recent apartment we found the lighting situation to be lacking to say the least. No ceiling fans, no hanging lights, just an outlet that worked based on the light switch and a hook to suspend a light from. Kristen had wanted a simple hanging light and in previous explorations had found a Habitat for Humanity resale store that had extras they couldn’t use as well as donated materials to sell and raise money with.

We ended up coming across a rather nice looking chandelier that was small enough to fit and with a quick internet search saw it going for up to $100 new. So since it was $20? Score! The only small problem was that as a chandelier it was made to be permanently wired in, not plugged into the outlet we needed it to go into. Since I’ve worked lighting crew for some of my theatre shows as well as done other minor electrical repairs at other places I’ve lived this wasn’t particularly daunting (ask Kristen though, she was less than certain!). So along with the chandelier I picked up a $1 appliance that had a longer cable on it and headed home to get started.

Since nothing was already wired in or plugged in the safety check was already done, so using a pair of scissors I gently cut through the housing for the wire to expose a little more (they make special tools for this, but since I don’t do this often it would be a waste of money).

Second I matched up the wires from the chandelier and my cord according to color. Red to red, black to black, green to green, and twisted them together. Some wires aren’t color coded, but have ridges to indicate which one is the “hot” wire and which isn’t, and in my case the chandelier used this method. So for me it was ridged housing to red, smooth housing to black, and exposed to green. Check on the packaging of anything you buy as it should guide you if you aren’t sure.

Third I secured the twisted wires together one at a time with electrical tape back to the cord. Because this was a patch job in the middle of the cable it wasn’t pretty, but you have to make sure there is a good layer of electrical tape in between the wires so you don’t risk a slew of awful problems later.

Lastly for aesthetic I wrapped white duct tape around the whole thing to help the two different colored wires blend in with the wall better and cover the massive black lump in the middle.

So there you go! For $21 and about 20 minutes of work we got a very nice light for our living room area that we can take with us anywhere else we move to! As I said be careful when dealing with electricity, but simple steps mean you can make simple repairs or fix up your own place for a lot less than you might have thought!

Any questions on my steps here? Let us know below and I’ll try to clarify for you, and I hope this encourages you to try things out for yourself next time something around your place isn’t working too well. Until next time Pengminions!

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Gifts Made with Love: and sometimes blood, sweat, and tears

~Kristen Furleigh

Sometimes gift giving can be stressful “Ahhh, I have NO. IDEA. WHAT. TO. GET. (Insert person). Life is awful!” Other times gift giving can be brainless ex: Run to the store, pick up first item you see, purchase, leave. When it comes to gift giving, second to the experiences and time option from my previous blog post, DIY items offer a token of love unparalleled with every detail you put into it.

Don’t get me wrong it can get stressful at times especially if you feel as if you don’t have a creative bone in your body but trust me you do; well really its a muscle. In order to find it you’ve got to work those creative muscles in order to build a stronger set of skills. We all have to start somewhere and believe me YOU CAN DO IT.

Here are a few tips when trying to come up with a DIY that works for you and your gift recipient:

1.) Much like with experiences it means more when you can think of and incorporate their interests.

2.) Pinterest is AMAZING! All you have to do is type in key words and it populates links to numerous DIY projects.

mugs

3.) Start simple. Don’t overwhelm yourself your first go at it. This can be discouraging if you are trying to incorporate this into your repertoire of gift giving. It doesn’t have to be the hardest tutorial; what matters is the heart that is put into the project.

4.) As you go and get more comfortable with your homemade creations challenge yourself. You can’t improve your skill set without having a few Pinterest Fails under your belt.

5.) If you found something at the retail store that you think would make a great gift come up with a way to make it yourself; hopefully cheaper than retail. It is even more awesome when you find something that doesn’t come in the color or style you are looking for and can make it customized to fit their style.

6.) Just because it is homemade doesn’t mean that includes only arts and crafts there are a ton of DIY tech ideas out there too!

wine lights

Before you know it your skills will be Pinterest or even Etsy worthy!

Hopefully these tips were helpful. I know we enjoy coming up with different creative ideas for gift giving and putting our personal touch on what we compose for others and each other. We would love to hear some of your favorite DIY gifts both given and received! Need some help coming up with an idea after these tips?  Leave us a comment we would enjoy brainstorming with you.  Til next time Pengminions!

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Experiences are the Best Gifts

~Kristen Furleigh

The best gift you can give some one is your time. Rather than spending your hard earned money on things that in most cases only offer short term fulfillment why not think differently next time a holiday or birthday come around. We as people remember most the experiences we had and the people we had them with more readily than the gift items we get. Why not give the gift of experiences and/or time when the next gift giving event takes place?

great basin

Around here we prefer just that. Any chance we get we are trying to come up with a meaningful experience in which we can gift our time when these milestones hit. This year was my Dad’s 50th birthday and what we came up with is for me to take him out to a different spot once a month for the whole year and we grab a beer together . This encourages us to make time for each other; which with our busy schedules can get away from us sometimes. For the year we are dedicating once a month to an experience and quality time; which is better than any ol’ tie or bottle of aged whiskey could offer. It’s just two months in and it has been a blast!

If you are looking for some grand adventures or experiences and don’t know where to look try out Groupon. You can get ideas and even try something new for a fraction of the original cost. They have offers in most cities.

snow

Christmas this year was a great year for Groupons, one of my favorite gifts, my parents got each of us ‘kids’ a voucher for go-kart racing! And for my parents I got us an adventure for a group snowshoeing adventure up in Lake Tahoe. For Richard and I we purchased one for parasailing this summer up in Lake Tahoe also. I can’t wait to go on these epic adventures with people I love.

cpAnother place to start when trying to come up with gifts that are more along these lines is to think about the person’s interests and how you can incorporate those into an activity or outing. When my birthday came around last year Richard remembered my love of arts/crafts and weakness for a sweet Moscato and signed me up to spend time with my Mom at Crafted Palette (a local paint and sip establishment) since he had to work.

These are just a few of many ways you can change your gift giving habits that we encourage you to try out. What are some of your favorite non-traditional gifts or some ideas that you have come up with that we didn’t talk about? We would love to hear about them. Having trouble or feeling stuck; lets brainstorm some ideas together! Til next time Pengminions!

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The Magic of the Thrift Store Pt. 2: Housewares

~Kristen Furleigh

Thrifting part dos! Richard and I have been able to furnish our rental primarily with finds from the thrift stores around town. It takes time and you have to be patient. You have to be willing to go without for a little bit when what you are searching for isn’t readily available. The pay off for you patience is grand!

Some of your finds will take a bit of elbow grease to turn it into something you will like in your home but the upside is you won’t pay nearly as much as a brand new item and you can tailor it to your specific home decor. Here is an example of a couple of my favorite pieces I happened to find separately.

dresser

$7 thrift store dresser

I had found the dresser for around $7 and when I stumbled upon the night stand for a whopping $2.50 I had to have it. The styles were just too similar. Both were originally a cream and gold color when I bought them and I was able to turn them into what you see now for an additional $10 in re-purposing materials.

 

night stand

$2.50!

 

The savings compared to new are astounding. You can find pieces like this too if you take the time to go look and are willing to put in a bit of elbow grease!

bar

Thrift store finds

Not all items need work though. I found this red piece for under $5 and felt the vintage look was perfect and now we use it as a bar/liquor cabinet. It also keeps my candy too but that’s another story…

 

When you allow yourself to open up to all the possibilities thrift stores can offer you there are thousands that can be saved by buying used items. Outside of furniture you can buy many other housewares if you can get out of the mindset of needing brand new things or needing things to come in perfectly matched sets.

Silverware and kitchen items can be found at pennies instead of dollars. Do your forks, knives, and spoons really need to match??? You need them to transfer food from your plate to your mouth and whether or not they match honestly is trivial. If someone is going to judge you for not having matching plates you can just wave your plane ticket at them as you jet off on yet another adventure with all the money you save by thrifting.

Now not all thrift store furniture is under $10 bucks, but their prices will be a fraction their traditional cost. Our couch was the most expensive purchase, it was a 5-piece sectional in exceptional condition for $150, but had we bought that same exact couch new it would have cost over $1,000 easily.

It takes patience and a long term outlook to get exactly what you’re looking for, but that will be worth it for your bank account and as we talked about in our previous blog the environment since you will be utilizing things that would otherwise end up at the dump.

The next time you need a new dresser or something small like a food processor I challenge you to check out your local thrift store first and see what you can save! Are there any questions you have about thrifting? Leave us a comment below and we would love to answer them for you. Til next time Pengminions!

 

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PENGMINIONS….

WE’RE BACK!!!!

This is The Mrs. Furleigh!
And we have sooo much to share with you. Really so much has happened in the last month I don’t know where we will begin. Then again I do….

Firstly, We would like to thank everyone who was a part of our special day! Thank you, thank you,

THANK YOU!

We cannot say that enough from everyone who helped pull everything together before hand (like my MOM who was always there to spring board or bounce ideas off of), day of, and clean up. Especially both our families and friends. We could not have been happier with the outcome. I was over the moon with the whole thing. So many of the details came together, of course, nothing is perfect and a few things didn’t happen that were originally planned but there were also many wonderful surprises throughout the evening. An appearance of sorts by my little sister through song (Its amazing how the things she left behind keep her present) Thanks, Dad. A swearing in ceremony for the presidents that was masterfully crafted and orchestrated by our MC (one of Richard’s cabinet members), my VP, and I. And also, a karaoke song dedication to the lady president by her mister president at the end of the night, right before the home made steampunk cake (blue velvet)!!!

With everything being crafted top to bottom ourselves and having never orchestrated something of this scale before it was amazing to see it all come to fruition. It wasn’t always easy though there were moments but it was worth it. For such a wonderful day there was also a great sense of accomplishment in it and I wouldn’t change it at all except maybe wishing we had known somethings ahead of time. 😉

Maybe this will help you or someone you know:
~The internet was our BEST FRIEND! (Pinterest!)
~Research, research, research…ahead of time. It will save you money and sanity so you aren’t rushing last minute.
~Make a list. Work up a spreadsheet. Have a plan. Share it with your other. It won’t always be 100% right on but you will at least have some direction/point of reference so you don’t feel like you are floating around in a sea of EVERYTHING!
~My best advice is to be flexible. You might find something you have to have or do but it might not be plausible but that doesn’t mean something like it can’t happen. Use that wonderful brain and work that creative muscle.
~Talk to friends they can help get those wheels a-movin’ and know somethings that all the research in the internet world you wouldn’t find.
~Make delegation lists of what needs to get done, when, and who is doing it ahead of time so you don’t miss anything the day of.~Above all remember what this day means to you and don’t get caught up making it more than that. The “things” are nice but they aren’t what is special about this day. I won’t define it for you because it is going to be slightly different for everyone but give it a bit of thought as you head into this big day. Write it down. It might help you in the long run when it gets to be a bit stressful in the process of everything. 😀

If there is anything we can help you with when it comes to planning one yourself we will gladly share our knowledge with you just send us a message!

Love you all and here are some pics pre and post set up of our venue:
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Penguin DIY bonanza!

Greetings one and all my favorite Pengminions!
Richard here with your new delve into the deep complex inter-workings of a bird brain (more penguin puns, I know. I’m so good at them).

First off we have some lovely glass jars created by the misses.

painted glass jars done by the misses

painted glass jars done by the misses

Through the magic on Pintrest she found an exceptionally easy way to make these using the following

Gloss Mod Podge, your color food coloring, and a paintbrush!

Gloss Mod Podge, your color food coloring, and a paintbrush!

This is it!

Simply pour a little Mod Podge in the bottom, but not too much, this stuff goes a LONG way as she found out early on. Just dip your paintbrush in the bottom and pull the color up the side in straight lines. Don’t worry about a little clumping at the edges of the brush, it actually turns into slightly more tinted color after it dries which adds to the tinted glass effect. Make sure to give it plenty of time to dry too since any left over paint in the bottom will take a while to completely dry.

If you want to take it to the next level and really turn it into a Moroccan lantern, you can take a metal color of fabric paint and dab it onto the top and bottom to create a hammered metal look.

Just dab the fabric paint right on the jar and let dry

Just dab the fabric paint right on the jar and let dry

She’s pretty crafty for sure!

On my side of things I have spent many evenings over the last couple weeks cutting out gears of various sizes and shapes for use around the venue. One of my more interesting projects in this area has been creating cardboard negatives for use in spray painting a mass amount of gears on various surfaces.
To start out I would hit a tack with a pencil tied to it into the center of a piece of cardboard.

A little duct tape at the end means you don't have to tie the end onto the pencil, making it easier to adjust the length

A little duct tape at the end means you don’t have to tie the end onto the pencil, making it easier to adjust the length

From there just hold the pencil as horizontal as possible while keeping the string taunt. In my case I also had to spin the pencil slightly to counteract the string winding around the pencil and shrinking the circle size (great for a spiral, but not for circles). Repeat this process a few times with smaller circles each time, depending on how large you want the gear teeth, spokes, and center.
circlesOnce here you can pull the tack out, from here create a X in the center. An easy (but not 100%) method is to line up a ruler over the hole in the middle. From here eyeball, or use a carpenters rule to find a right angle and finish off your X. Now that you have a starting point you can go a couple different directions depending on how many teeth you want your gear to have. The easiest way I’ve found to get accurate spacing for everything else is to measure the distance between the two points on the outermost circle. simply divide it in half and make a small hash mark. Repeat this process in between each mark. When done simply place your ruler across the middle and line it up with opposite hash marks. This will give you all the marks you need for a basic 8 tooth gear. For a 12 tooth, take the measurement between the X and divide it into three equal parts and repeat the process of matching up hash marks and marking lines across the center. When done it should look something like this

This is marked out for a 12 tooth gear

This is marked out for a 12 tooth gear

Should you want any more teeth, simply continue to measure the distance between the closest lines and make a mark at the halfway point. Match hash marks across the center again and make another line.

This gear had the most with 32

This gear had the most with 32

To create the teeth place your ruler perpendicular to one of the lines extending from the center and find measurement that extends a little less than halfway toward the next line (you want to leave room so you can taper the edges outward a little). Make a line along this distance and hash marks on the edge of the line extending up away from the center. Repeat this process for each line.
To create the taper coming down from the teeth I lined up my ruler between one of the hash marks and the edge of the smallest circle on the inside. Go ahead and make a line from the outer circle into the next one down. Repeat this process making sure to measure from the same side of the ruler for each line (made that mistake the first time and ended up with a couple teeth that were REALLY off, lol)
You should now be at this point.

Your gear should look something like this.

Your gear should look something like this.

From here, just measure a couple spokes from the center to the next circle. Now just take your time with your exacto knife making sure not to cut outside of the lines. Once it’s cut, just turn it over, make sure all the cut lines match up, and pop it out!

From here to create the negatives for my project however I had to find a way to make sure the parts in the center would stay put even while moving it from surface to surface. To make sure everything stayed put I decided to attach everything using small craft sticks with glue.

Make sure to attach each piece that isn't the whole gear to each other and to the edge for stability

Make sure to attach each piece that isn’t the whole gear to each other and to the edge for stability

After making sure that each piece could be popped out I reassembled the gear and missing pieces (which I had labeled so that I could match them back up easy) I cut out small pieces of cardboard to provide a little distance in between the bottom and the craft sticks so it would be easier to make sure spray paint would get underneath them.

So there you have it! Two unique DIY projects that we have been utilizing to make sure our little soiree is as well decorated as possible (on an awesomely small budget)

If you have any awesome steampunk projects we could use, or need any clarification on any of the above instructions leave us a comment below!

Til next time Pengminions!!
Richard