Monthly Archives: February 2012

Food, Lately.

Remember when I used to blog about food? Yeah, haven’t done much of that lately. Which is not to say we haven’t been eating good stuff, because we have. So, in the next few food-related posts, let’s se if I can round up some of the tastiest things we’ve eaten in the last… two months? Jeez.

Ok. January started off with an awesome dinner party. Ms. Bunny and Kinzie and their respective significant others were in town, so we thought we’d get together to eat and drink. Here’s what we served:

Roasted Beet and Apple Salad with Crispy Proscuitto and Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe below)
Butternut Squash and Basil Béchamel Lasagna
Mocha Marjolaine, loosely adapted from this recipe

Oh, and I made Pomegranate Martinis. Which I’ve since perfected. 1/2 shot each of coconut rum and triple sec, plus pomegranate juice (to your desired ratio of booze to juice) – shake over ice and enjoy!

Now, for that salad. Here’s what you need to make 6-8 servings:

1 or 2 large beets
1 or 2 apples (I like something more sweet than tart for this)
Mixed greens – a small handful for each serving
One slice proscuitto per serving
4 oz. or so goat cheese

For the vinaigrette:
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon good dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Coat beets in olive oil and wrap in foil. Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes.
3. Cook proscuitto until crispy (use whatever method you like, I pop them in the oven for the last 10 minutes of the beet roasting.)
4. While that’s happening, start the vinaigrette – combine all the ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Then reduce by half – so it’s thick and viscous. This will take most of the time that the beets are roasting. Strain the vinaigrette into a small glass jar to filter out the shallot and garlic pieces (totally optional, I don’t do it) and then shake vigorously to emulsify. (Bonus: the extra dressing will keep just fine in your fridge.)
5. Slice the apples into thin (1/4″) wedges. When the beets are done roasting, slice them the same way.
6. To plate, break a slice of prosciutto in half, and place the halves opposite each other on the dish. Top with a handful of greens. Layer 2-3 slices each of beet and apple across the center. Drizzle with vinaigrette and top with crumbles of goat cheese.

I’d show you pictures of all of these delectable things, but somehow I failed to take any. Instead, I offer you a photo of us on the night in question.

Kinzie, Me, Ms. Bunny

The B Word

No, not that one. I’m talking about the most dreaded word in all of Wedding Land: BUDGET. Specifically, yours. Are you clueless about what things should cost? Having trouble keeping expenses in line? People are telling you the only way to spend less is to cut your guest list, and you don’t want to do that?

We feel your pain. And – we have a solution. Introducing our newest service: Budget Strategy sessions. No matter what your budget is, you CAN afford to celebrate your marriage with a wedding you love. Let us help you figure out how.

Here’s the deal: We’ll sit down with the two of you and your wedding budget. Together, we’ll go through it, bit by bit, and find all the places we can save you some money on your wedding. We’ll help you decide, based on YOUR priorities, which of those things make the most sense for you. After we meet, we’ll set up a budget spreadsheet for your wedding, which you can access online for the next eighteen months, to keep track of everything as you continue planning your wedding.

Ready to crunch some numbers? Schedule an appointment in our online calendar now.

This is the third post in our series, All About Crafty Broads. We would love to answer your questions in the final post – please submit them here. Next up, we’re tackling DIY. If you missed a previous post, you can find it here:

1. What Does a Wedding Planner Do, Anyway?
2. Uh, What Does DOC Stand For?

RANT: Stay Home

Dear Sick People,
Are you sick? Ok, then STAY HOME. Don’t go to visit your friends, get your hair cut, and run to the post office. If you have no one to do it for you, you can go to the store for cold medicine and juice. You’re also allowed to visit the doctor, if you need to. But that’s it. STAY HOME PLEASE.

Self-employed? Then you need to have a plan for what happens when you’re sick. Because I guarantee your clients would not like a bonus cold with their purchase. (Work from home? Work if you must, then. But I suggest you take a day to rest if you aren’t up against a deadline, because it will make your cold go away faster.)

Can’t afford to stay home from work? I totally get that. Which brings me to:

Dear Employers,
Do you employ people? Did you know sick employees are less efficient at their jobs, and that costs you more than if you let them stay home and rest? (Also, you have to buy more Kleenex.)

You need to give them PAID SICK DAYS, so they can STAY THE EFF HOME and not spread their coughs and colds to everyone in your building. Because I guarantee your customers would not like a bonus cold as a take home gift for their kids.

Which brings me to:

Dear Parents,
If your kid is sick, no matter how “good” they feel at the current moment, do not take them to school, the park, playgroups, or birthday parties. They need to STAY HOME.

You know why? Because little kids, much as we teach them, do not truly understand the concept of germs and how they spread. They may be able to cough into their elbows, or even kind of wipe their noses on their own. But they are not washing their hands regularly, and I guarantee you that when you aren’t looking or when you can’t catch them in time, they are totally wiping drippy noses with the backs of their hands and then continuing to play with communal toys and touch the other little kids. Who are then putting their newly-germed hands into their own mouths. And later into yours, and probably Grandma’s too.

Which brings me to:

Dear Grandparents,
We know how much you love your grandbabies, but if YOU are sick, do NOT go visit them, kiss them, let them stick their fingers in your mouth, and share your grown up spoon with them. STAY HOME.

Because those little people spread germs like wildfire (see above) and I guarantee you that their nannies are really, really tired of getting every single cold in the universe because no one can keep their germs to themselves.

In summary:

Uh, what does DOC stand for?

Checking on the guest list with our wedding stage manager, Tim. Photo © Timmy Samuel / Starbelly Studios.

Today we are talking about the different services a wedding planner/coordinator can provide. There are numerous packages out there with countless different names, so how can you be expected to know what they are, never mind what you need?

At Crafty Broads, we think you should get exactly what you need, and not pay for anything you don’t. So, we start with a free consultation to talk about your wedding and figure out what we can do for you, and we follow it up with a personal quote for the cost of only the services you want.

Despite the plethora of different names wedding packages are often given, they all boil down to two categories – Planning and Day-of-Coordination (or DOC).

Let’s start with Day-of-Coordination. This basically means that you have planned your entire wedding, but on the actual day, you would prefer to enjoy it and not fret over any of the details. This is where the wedding coordinator steps in. It can vary somewhat – some coordinators literally show up on the wedding day, others work with you for a month or more before the wedding. Some let you contact them anytime once you’ve hired them, others won’t reply to you until a specific date arrives. Since this is about us, we’ll tell you what our Day-of-Coordination service includes:

  • Our initial consult, where we discuss your needs, priorities, and concerns for the wedding.
  • Ongoing (unlimited) communication with us via phone and email for any wedding-related things you want to discuss.
  • About a month before the wedding, we’ll have an in-person (or phone/Skype if you are not in Chicago) meeting to go over all the details and scheduling for the wedding.
  • If possible, we’ll also see your venue(s) at our meeting. If we can’t see it then, either because the venue is unavailable or because the wedding is not in the Chicago are, don’t worry! We’ll check it out at the rehearsal, look at photos, or whatever we need to do so we can figure out how the space will be set up and decorated.
  • Two weeks before the wedding, we’ll contact all of your vendors, give them a timeline of the day, confirm the details and prices of their services, and generally make sure they are good to go.
  • We’ll be there to coordinate your rehearsal, in tandem with your officiant.
  • We’re available the entire day of your wedding (with no limit on hours/no overtime charges) to manage setup, vendors, wedding party, guests, and all the details so that you can focus on what’s most important – getting married and celebrating your love!

Ok, onto planning. There is a lot more variance in this category simply because every wedding is different, and no two couples need exactly the same things from a planner. Within this category, there’s a little bit of a split between Full Planning and Partial Planning – let’s explain.

Full Planning is exactly what it sounds like – from finding a venue to picking a cake to booking a DJ to packing up the last gift, we will help you with whatever you need to make your wedding happen. We can have as much or as little involvement as you wish. Partial Planning services are for couples who have many of the details in place already, but need help with filling in some of the gaps in their plans, solving a particular problem, or those who want something a little beyond Day-of-Coordination.

The exact services provided tend to vary between clients, but can include:

  • budget development
  • creation of wedding planning timeline
  • vendor and venue research, including attendance at vendor meetings/site visits and contract negotiation
  • design and execution of décor elements
  • guest list and wedding website management
  • travel arrangements
  • assistance with DIY/DIT projects
  • coordination of additional wedding-related events

This is the second post in our series, All About Crafty Broads. We would love to answer your questions in the final post – please submit them here. Stay tuned – next time, we’re talking about the most dreaded word in all of weddingland, BUDGET. If you missed a previous post, you can find it here:

1. What Does a Wedding Planner Do, Anyway?

Choose Your Own Holiday

Ah, Valentine’s Day. The day when greeting card, flower, candy, and jewelry companies try to convince you that the future of your relationship depends on your choice of the perfect gift for your significant other. And the world becomes festooned with pink in every direction, and inexplicably, people love it.*

If you want to celebrate your love, I am completely on board with that. I love it, actually, that’s why I’m in the business of making weddings happen. However, I hate it when people** pressure you to put a price on your relationship. Whether it’s for a holiday (You must buy jewelry for Christmas! You must go out for a fancy dinner and give flowers and chocolates for Valentine’s Day! You must now replicate V-day in October for the recently-resurrected Sweetest Day!) or your wedding (You must spend a month’s salary on an engagement ring! You must have a white dress! You must have a cocktail hour with a string quartet followed by a cocktail hour with an open bar and a sit-down dinner with filet mignon and then throw your bouquet to a sad assemblage of 14-year-old girls before getting pummeled with rice on your way out!), there are always people** out there trying to shove their opinions down your throat and tell you you’re doing it wrong.

Eff. That. Noise.

Love is totally awesome. You should celebrate it whenever and however you want to. If that happens to be any of the above-mentioned things, then that is also awesome. But maybe it’s not. Maybe you don’t need all that pressure. Maybe you don’t wear jewelry or even like flowers or know what the hell a Chiavari chair is, and you would just like people** to stop telling you what to do already, so you can keep your intimate relationship… intimate.

Why not pick a day (or seven) that has a special meaning to you and your love, and celebrate that instead? Here are some options that we like to celebrate, and some I am making up as I write this just to show you that you can:

  • The anniversary of the day you met
  • Or of the first time you kissed
  • Or the day you got engaged
  • Or the first time you said, “I love you”
  • Or the day you first felt like the two of you were your own little family
  • Or when you feel like you’ve truly become part of your partner’s family
  • Or because it snowed for the first time this year
  • Or you had a great day at work, and it’s swell to have someone to share it with
  • Or you had a rotten one, and it’s even better to have a shoulder to cry on
  • Or because it’s the third Tuesday of the month, and Tuesdays are the best day
  • For any reason, or no reason at all!

Won’t it be nice when you can make whatever dinner reservation you like, because 11,872 other couples aren’t trying to do it on the same night as you are? Won’t it be fabulous when the store doesn’t force you to buy your sweetheart’s favorite candy in a seasonal red/pink wrapper? Won’t it be the sweetest day when you celebrate purely because you want to celebrate and not because society is telling you that you must?

I offer you one more extra-special idea: surprise. Tell your partner you’re treating him/her to a date night, but keep all the details secret. Then think about what that person really loves (besides you, of course, though I’m not saying you should rule out a bottle of wine and your sexiest underthings) – and plan that.

Point being – it’s YOUR love, celebrate it YOUR way.

*I don’t know about you, but I prefer not to walk around in a world that feels like the inside of a Pepto-Bismol bottle. But my general dislike of pink is a story for another day.
**Companies trying to sell you their stuff. Also friends/family who mean well. Most of them, anyway. Some of them are just being jerks.

What does a wedding planner do, anyway?

This is the first in a series of posts about our business, Crafty Broads, and what we do. Got a question for us? Submit it here.

Wikipedia defines “wedding planner” as “a professional who assists with the design, planning and management of a client’s wedding.”

If you believe Hollywood stereotypes, wedding planners mostly run around in really sexy business suits, dictating to the couple how things should and should not be done, ordering them to spend more money, berating their choices, and then breaking up their impending nuptials by falling in love with the groom.

As you might guess, we find both of these definitions lacking. Wikipedia is on the right track, but there’s an apostrophe in the wrong spot – “client’s” = one person, and we’re pretty sure it takes two to get married. This is a major problem with the wedding industry, both in fictional and real-life forms – everywhere you look, it is all about the BRIDE, and the groom just shows up. First of all – we think it’s critical to work with BOTH people who are getting married, and secondly, we’re not cool with excluding same-sex couples from the equation.

On to Hollywood. Well, there may be some planners out there who fit film and television portrayals and there are certainly many who will try to sell you on their ideas of what makes a wedding perfect (both in how it’s done and in how much it costs), but we are not those people.

So, what’s our definition of a wedding planner? Well, we define our job as doing whatever needs to be done so that your wedding happens the way you both want it to, within the budget you’ve set for yourselves, and you spend the day enjoying all the love and not stressing about the details. What exactly that is varies from couple to couple, but it can include budget development, creation of a wedding planning timeline, vendor and venue research, contract negotiation, design and execution of décor elements, attendance at vendor meetings, site visits, guest list management, wedding website management, travel arrangements, assistance with DIY/DIT projects, and coordination of additional wedding-related events.

Now, you can absolutely do all of these things without a wedding planner, but here are some reasons that you might not want to:

  • You’ve never planned a big party before, and you have no idea where to start or how to do it
  • You know exactly what you want, but you can’t seem to find the vendors to make it happen
  • You want to spend your wedding day basking in the glow, not setting up centerpieces, making sure the DJ plays the right first dance song, or telling the caterer which course comes out first
  • You need help figuring out how to get what you want within your budget
  • Your DIY projects have exploded in your living room and you can’t see how you’ll finish in time
  • You need someone experienced to talk through your ideas with
For a smart and sassy take on what a wedding planner does, please read this excellent post on Offbeat Bride from the awesome Ang of Lowbrow Events.

Whether you choose to hire us, someone else, or no one at all, we strongly encourage you to hand off all the details to someone you trust on your wedding day, so that you can be fully present for it.

That’s it for today! The next post will be about the difference between Full Planning, Partial Planning, and Day-of-Coordination, so stay tuned.

All About Crafty Broads

With the new year in full swing, and perhaps some new readers along with it, we thought we’d introduce some new things to the blog. Starting this week, we’ll have a series of posts explaining the details of our services, at the end of which we’d like to open it up to any questions you might have. So – bring on the questions! Anything you want to know about us, wedding planning and coordination, custom clothing, alterations, general craftiness, or us personally – GO!

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