Thursday, June 27, 2013

Blender Bender

I'm no smoothie junkie that puts flaxseed and green stuff in their drink but if I have fruit, milk and some ice cream I want to blend it!

Because of that I spent $30 on a blender about 3-4 months ago.  I like it, gets the job I want done.

I didn't mind taking the blender apart to clean. But my problem is that I can't remember where I put things. 

This Oster blender comes with its parts: 

The Blade

This is called a gasket

The O ring/rubber seal

I couldn't find this ring ANYWHERE after washing dishes last Tuesday.  Without it, the contents in the blender will leak!

I was frustrated because I wanted a drink and wasn't about to go out to pay for a drink.  I had everything I needed for my shake!

I looked at the warranty and I didn't have my receipt for a replacement. 

So when you buy a fancy kitchen gadget, keep the receipt too. 

I also looked into replacement o-rings online but leery of the validity of buying them online.

After doing some dumpster diving with my poor husband to look for this seal, (thinking I threw it away by accident) I toyed with the idea of buying a blender where I wouldn't have to separate its parts to clean and never run into losing parts again!  That seemed like the best of all available options.

We looked online, and asked for recommendations.

I ended up ordering this last Thursday. With a gift card and coupon I saved $60.  It looked promising and within my budget for a new blender.

After making my purchase I emptied the dishwasher





I swore I looked in the dishwasher before!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The new blender arrived day before yesterday but I returned it yesterday to get something else.  

Monday, June 24, 2013

A baby can do no wrong in this world...


I'm pregnant!

Surprise if you haven't figured it out already!

Idiot-proof pregnancy test
Our beanie at 8-9 weeks

We're expecting a little girl. :-D

We're halfway there!!  Everything is going great.  The baby's heartbeat is at 157 beats at the 20 week appointment today.  Good baby!!

I hope it looks a lot like Dave.  We can all agree that Asian babies are the cutest.

Since I'm Latina....quiero una chiniiiiiiiiiiiitaaaaaaaaaaa!

One surprise was how much I'm enjoying pregnancy especially my own changing body.  I think I look better now than I ever did.  My pregnancy made me realize how important it is to not only exercise but eat healthier.  My change in diet and exercise helped maintain a normal weight, normal blood pressure (SO important during pregnancy) and no pregnancy stretch marks. The secret really and exercise!  Lots of water and fresh fruit.  NO COKES.

I had a goal to get my black belt this year but my martial arts training is on sabbatical since I felt it would be better for me and baby to switch for a bit to avoid injury and overheating. I now walk, do leg presses, and water aerobics/swimming.  I loooove being in the water.

Aww...where's the bump?!

There it is

Before visit today

Since I'm wondering...and everyone's wondering: "HOW WILL THIS BABY LOOK LIKE?"

Some ideas below.

I would be surprised and disappointed if our baby girl is born BALD.  I want to do more than put a flower headband on a baldie....

Baby mugshot of Dave before adoption

Alina with alien eyes

Will she have curly hair?

I'm a triplet! I'm in the middle.  Will she look like me or
like her tias?

My poor sweet baby Dave arriving from S. Korea
He came with nothing but the clothes on his back!
He got everything with a beautiful new family!
Will she have his angelic round face?

Let's hope she has his eyes ^_^

Now I can get ready for this!!

Princess fairy!!

What we would have picked out if it was a boy

But it's going to be PINK!  

Sending positive baby dust for everyone who's planning for babies!

Babies, however they may come through our lives (surprise, planned, adoption etc)...can do no wrong in this world.

What's the best thing about having a baby?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Financial Mistakes to Avoid with Catering

This was originally part of an older post but I felt it deserved a post of its own.

Usually the reception can be about 40% to 60% of the wedding budget.  The biggest cost is on food and drinks.

In the event that doing DIY with your food at the wedding isn't feasible, the option is to go to a reception hall and/or hire a professional caterer.

Mmmm.  Tasty. 

Here are some things to consider when seeking out a caterer and not losing another dime.


Image found HERE

Walk away if the caterer refuses to do this.  Some caterers prepare the food on-site (ideal) or hours before the event.  You can taste the difference.

Seriously, you expect to shell out all that money and just expect that the food will come out okay???

Don't book a caterer until you taste their food.

ASK HOW MUCH IS THE SERVICE CHARGE (and before you reverse with a NON-REFUNDABLE deposit!!!!)

Soooooo many people forget to calculate this when estimating the reception costs.
This is how a buffet reception that you thought would cost $2500 turn out to be $4000.

Most caterers/reception halls charge ENORMOUS service charges from 18% to 25%.

Some of them apply it to food and drink only, other caterers apply it to the ENTIRE BILL!

Service charge is also taxed, (the restaurant sales tax %).  Can you imagine how much more money you have to spend in the end?

You can look up sales rate tax information for Utah HERE.  The sales tax is generally lower in Provo than in Salt Lake or Park City.

And if you are throwing a big event, a lot of caterers don't like to negotiate the service charge but they are not going to turn down a big event even if it means turning down the service charge from 18% to 10%.

It's all fair game haggling on venue and food.

So put your negotiating powers to use!


I don't think it makes sense to have market price changes on a dessert bar.  It does make sense for fruit, beef, chicken, beef, or seafood.  But there should be a buffer on how much the market price should change, perhaps no more than 3%.  Make sure that is stated clear in your contract.

The goal is to make sure that your consumer rights are protected, so caterers won't take advantage of jacking up the price of food at the last minute.

The "corking fees"
Caterers do this since you're not using their preferred vendor for booze but supplying your own.  (so that you can return your own unopened bottles).  Plus you have to make sure there is control in how many bottles are opened...if they're making $5 extra on opening a bottle, chances are they're not going to bat an eye with serving to minors and especially to people who had way to much to drink.

The "cake slicing fees"
Caterers do this if you are not using them as their caterer or not using their "preferred baker" aka, someone who paid them a kickback so that they show up on their list.  I think it's stupid for a vendor to charge $1.50-$4.00 for A SLICE of cake.  How can you control how big or how little a slice of cake is??

Research the slicing fee, and get. this. out. of. your contract!!

Slice of our cake.  I just realized we've been married a year and forgot to eat a slice of it on our anniversary.
Oh well.
Somebody please bake me a new cake.  It was really good. 

With all of this, that was a reason why we went the cultural hall route.  It is a bit of more work making your own food, but less financial hassle and drama.

It is a business after all, and vendors will look for ways to have you pay more than you really need too.

Remember to read everything on the contract, and ask all your questions before booking a caterer.  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Thoughts on Wedding Photography

When I started looking for a wedding photographer, I was shocked that some of them cost more than what  I paid for my eye surgery!

I don't see photography as an investment, even though I read and heard everything that it was.  To me, it was an expense...almost a gamble!  It does involve a high degree of risk since you are paying the service in full without really knowing how your photos will turn out.  

Investments are when you purchase an asset or item, with the hope that it'll generate income or appreciate in the future to be sold at a higher price.  Wedding rings fall in this category of an investment.  I'll blog more on rings on another post.  

Our rings.

So here are some thoughts of what I conclude about wedding photography.  

First: It's important you have pictures of your big day.  Every photo counts, even the ones taken by your friends on their smartphone!  You'll want to have and see the photos your friends and family took too.

Second: Pick the nicest photographer you can afford, whose services you're comfortable paying at.  

If you aren't okay with what the photographer charges, then:
(1) keep looking or 
(2) cut other things in your wedding budget to accommodate that expense. 

There's a lot of talent at all price ranges.  Ask other brides for references. 

Third: Use a credit card. I say this because you have to pay the service in full before the service is rendered.  You need to protect yourself as a consumer if the service was less than stellar and you can dispute the charge.  

Fourth: Film is beautiful and timeless but it's more expensive than digital photography.  You get more proofs with digital too.  It all depends on your preference but as you compare photographers, the ones that use digital generally charge less because there's more overhead costs to cover film.

Fifth: Check how much the photographer charges for the non refundable deposit, that was a deciding factor for us.  A $250 non refundable was more appealing than the photographers who charged $500 or even $1000 non refundable.  Crazy stuff can happen before or on the day of the wedding so you want to minimize potential losses there.

Sixth: Purchase what you need.  This is a tough one because you don't know how how things will exactly turn out the day of the wedding.

What helped us was asking other couples with how much time they spent taking photos at the ceremony (in our case, the temple) and then the reception.  It also helped looking at proofs of other weddings so that we could have a general idea of what to expect for pictures.  We selected engagements and 4 hour wedding coverage.  It was what we needed and within our budget.

Bridals/groomals: I didn't select this option because I thought it wasn't important or necessary to have to display at the reception.  Plus I couldn't afford more time off work to take pictures, get my hair done, clean the dress again (not cheap) before the wedding and the dress came a week before the wedding anyway.  Nixing this was a good way to save costs on photography. But if you know you'll regret not having them then don't skip it.

Taken on the wedding day.  

Thoughts after the wedding: Taking pictures in a huge heavy bridal gown was exhausting!  I was done after 40 minutes of pictures.  4 hours of coverage is plenty if you are doing ceremony and a 2-3 hr reception.

I also discovered that the pictures that got printed out the most after the wedding were the group shots.  For me, it was important to have photos where I could look back and show people how we and other family looked like when we got married. I loved them all, but these are my two favorites.

My husband and my in-laws

My side of the family

Dave and I are practicing Latter-day Saints so we had our marriage ceremony at the Salt Lake Temple. No pictures or recording of that allowed but the ceremony was simple and sweet.    

More on temple marriage HERE

Love is also simple and sweet!  I really felt that we were in heaven for a moment while we made our promises to each other and God to honor our marriage.

The photos turned out very nice and we were very happy with our choice of wedding photographer.  She was honest, professional, and fun.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Alina is Home (for now)


Last week I decided to quit my job for personal reasons.
(Disclaimer: IMO, don't quit your job unless you have a Plan B and have full support of those who really love and care for you) 
I was able to do this without fear or regret because we have a chunk of savings.

I don't have a secret recipe to save a lot money, or get out of debt.  And you don't need a high-paying job to do so.

It is more of deciding what can you live without to build savings/get debt-free.

Do you need to go out to a movie every weekend?
Do you need to go on lots of vacations?
Do you really need new clothes?
Do you really need to go to a salon to get your highlights and nails done?
Do you really need to smoke, drink, and/or eat crap to damage your body and end up paying more for healthcare and dentists?

A lot of our savings we still have because we didn't blow it all for the wedding reception.  (and we've been married a year!!  Hooray!)

Do you need to spend a lot on photography?
Do you need to have a videographer?
Do you need to have a luncheon/dinner?
Do you need to have your invitations engraved?
Do you need to have your honeymoon overseas?
Do you need to have chair covers?
Do you need to have an expensive wedding ring (while making payments on it)
Do you need to have your wedding reception at a place other than a cultural hall?  

Those are just thoughts of mine.  It just matters what's important to you and what can you live without.

During this time between looking for a new job and resting, I decided that is this the opportunity to try some different and enriching things while being domestic like cleaning, cooking, and doing laundry for my man! 

I want to learn how to sew!  I'm a bit intimidated by sewing but I got to try it now that I have a sewing machine.

I also want to get familiar with blog design since my blog isn't cute.  It is a nice break from spreadsheets while still working with my brain.  I do like spreadsheets though and make people believe that I am smart.  Dave says I'm smart ^_^.  

I also want to get more serious with my calligraphy too.