When I was seriously ready to start my weight loss journey after the baby. I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I also knew with the holidays coming up I was setting myself up for failure if I tried to diet during the food fest that is Thanksgiving, Christmas, and in my family makeup a few other holidays and birthdays as well. So I joined Weight Watchers.

What?! I know Weight Watchers during the holidays? I didn’t join so much to lose weight as I did to avoid gaining weight. I needed accountability and a plan to keep me at least on a healthy-ish trajectory.  Considering that I love a discount and a savings, you have to know I was serious because Weight Watchers doesn’t offer a discount during the holidays, at least they didn’t for me.

I joined from October until January, to gather tools, get my mind right and just not gain the inevitable 5 to 10 lbs I gain every year. I’m happy to report it actually worked. I even lost a couple pounds. So why didn’t I stay?

Well, for one it’s expensive. The constant marketing was another, I wanted to train myself to eat healthy, not figure out how to cheat the point system with manufactured food. But most of all, I needed active support. I went to the meetings and really you hear a lecture and receive a little bit of nutrition education and then you talk about ways to skirt the system and then you leave. I saw people in my group who had been in there for years and really hadn’t lost much weight according to their own reports.  They stayed for the camaraderie. That was great for them, but I needed a little push and I needed people who were active. I found that, of all places, at my local YMCA, for free (It’s included with a YMCA membership)! They have a program Lose to Win and you meet with a small group weekly to discuss progress and nutrition. The kicker is, you are already at the gym so you might as well get an hour workout in. So far, I’ve lost 15lbs in 10 weeks of active weight loss effort (Just writing that makes me realize the accomplishment. It doesn’t feel like much in day-to-day life). It’s not all this program, but I think that this program has helped. I believe a large portion of that is being in the gym, having familiarity with the leader, and the people. Participants are usually people in your own neighborhood, so there is familiarity. Also, you develop workout groups and that alone is an encouragement. It’s a more multi-pronged approach, which was necessary for me.

I’m not knocking Weight Watchers, because I actually really love their program and I am quasi- mimicking it even now. But I am encouraging others to seek the support they need, don’t just try to fit into a program that isn’t giving you what you need to be successful. What does your support look like? Let me know. Give me some ideas!

I have some more support elements in play right now and I will discuss them in future posts.



Man, it feels like forever since I did a Sadity Cents post. You know a post about being fabulous and frugal. Anyways, my family has gone “plant-based.” I hesitate to say vegan because there is so much that comes along with that monicker, but food wise I avoid meat, dairy, and processed sugar. We’ve been at it for more than a month and I’m loving it. Part of the reason I think we’ve been successful is that I went in with a plan. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this. In fact I do it almost every year as a fast and cleanse except; this time I’m continuing beyond my typical 21-day fast (I usually do the Daniel Fast with my family).

This time I ordered the Thrive Market vegan starter kit to help spark ideas and creativity. In past years boredom has been the major roadblock that has prevented me from extending my fast into a lifestyle.

The Thrive Market kit was such a pleasant surprise! I’ve tried other kits or vegan packages and they just have snacks. But this one had actual staples that were useful and versatile. Below I will list the products that were included in the kit and the recipes in which I used the items.

Also here is a 25% discount code for anyone who wants to give it (or any other Thrive product) a try.

Discount code:

The vegan kit typically costs $47.95 for about $70 worth of product. With our first order discount code we paid $33. Not bad, it allowed me to try new products without a major investment.

Thrive Market Vegan Starter Kit

Sea Tangle Noodle Company Kelp Noodles — The only ingredients in these easy-to-eat raw noodles are kelp (a sea vegetable), sodium alginate (sodium salt extracted from a brown seaweed), and water. Kelp Noodles are fat-free, gluten-free, and very low in carbohydrates and calories—and no cooking is required to make them! Just rinse and add the noodles to any dish. Their traditional shape and neutral taste allow for a variety of uses in salads, stir-fries, hot broths, and casseroles.

Thrive Market Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

Ethically sourced from a small farm in the Philippines, Thrive Market’s organic virgin coconut oil is made from only the highest-quality ingredients. Organic, cold-pressed, and never refined, our coconut oil is just the way nature intended it to be—and at a fraction of the usual price tag. With a medium smoke-point of around 350 degrees, coconut oil is wonderful for baking, frying, and sautéing. Plus, it’s high in lauric acid, which helps to raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

Native Forest Vegan Coconut Milk Powder

Native Forest spray-dries fresh coconut milk for the perfect dairy-free alternative. This milk powder is great for traveling, camping, or an on-the-go lifestyle since it doesn’t require refrigeration and dissolves quickly when stirred in hot water. It tastes heavenly when used as a coffee creamer or mixed into soups, curries, sauces, desserts, and beverages.

Nuco Coconut Vegan Mayo

Whether you’re vegan, avoiding eggs, or just trying to get more coconut products in your life, this real-food vegan mayo—made from pure, non-GMO avocado and coconut oils—is sure to be a new staple in your kitchen. Cider vinegar and organic rosemary extract add that tangy, savory flavor that makes mayo so irresistible.

Thrive Market Pinto Beans, 2-pack

Thrive Market’s prepared pinto beans are grown, processed, and packed right here in the USA. They’re a great source of plant-based protein and are completely organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, and contain no preservatives or artificial ingredients—just wholesome pinto bean goodness. Try them in a number of recipes for added nutrition and rich flavor.

Pacific Foods Organic Seitan

Some vegans have a love-hate relationship with tofu, but there are other meat substitutes like seitan that can fit the bill. Made from a blend of wheat protein, red beans, and sprouted lentils, Pacific Foods’ version goes great in spicy dishes like tacos, fajitas, and stir-fry. Plus, it boasts 15 grams of plant-based protein per serving.

Thrive Market Plantain Chips, 2-Pack

When you open a bag of Thrive Market Non-GMO Plantain Chips, you’re getting nothing but a wholesome snack that pairs perfectly with dips. Try them in place of potato chips, too! These crisps are made with just three simple ingredients—plantains, non-hydrogenated vegetable oil, and sea salt—making them vegan-friendly and gluten-free.

Thrive Market Sprouted Brown Rice

Our sprouted brown rices’ rich, nutty flavor puts bland white rice to shame. Try it as a side on its own, or as a base for soups, salads, and stir-fries. It’s official: Thrive Market is taking over your pantry in the best possible way. We now offer a variety of wholesome baking ingredients and nutritious grains. It’s the perfect collection for all dietary needs and healthy cravings

Upton’s Naturals Chili Lime Jackfruit Carnitas

Jackfruit is a giant, fleshy fruit native to South and Southeast Asia. When cooked, it has a consistency similar to that of pulled pork, making it a great option for vegan-friendly tacos and burritos. Not only is this jackfruit carnitas flavorful and filling, it’s also a timesaver in the kitchen. Just fry with a small amount of oil and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until heated, stirring occasionally.

Louisville Vegan Jerky Co. Pete’s Bourbon Smoked Black Pepper Jerky

“Jerky” and “vegan” are two words that rarely go together—until now. Pete’s bourbon-smoked black pepper flavor tastes like the real deal, but is made from meatless soy protein that’s marinated in gluten-free tamari, sweetened with locally-sourced sorghum grains, and smoked in real Kentucky bourbon barrels. The result is a salty, robust, and chewy snack that boasts seven grams of protein per serving.

Follow Your Heart VeganEgg 100% Plant Based Egg Replacer

What’s breakfast without eggs and toast? Now vegans can get in on the American staple with Follow Your Heart’s 100% plant-based egg alternatives that offer the same texture and taste as the real deal. Simply whisk or blend with ice-cold water, and use in any and all eggs recipes, including scrambles, omelets, quiches, cookies, cakes, and more! This 4 oz. carton makes a dozen cholesterol- and dairy-free “eggs” that the whole family will enjoy.

Sophie’s Kitchen Black Pepper Vegan Toona

Savor the fresh taste of the sea without harming any fish in the process. Plant-based Toona by Sophie’s Kitchen is a delectable fish-free alternative to conventional canned options, made with non-GMO, all-natural ingredients like Konjac root (an ancient Asian superfood), pea protein, agave, and spices. Along with black pepper seasoning, this veganized tuna has a flavor and texture that works wonders in salads, casseroles, sandwiches, and more. Plus, it’s an excellent source of protein and fiber.


The recipes I made are:

  1. Jap-Chae: Made with the Kelp Noodles and Seitan
  2. Cubano Sandwich with Pinto Beans: Made with the Chili-Lime Jackfruit Carnitas, Coconut Oil Mayo, and Thrive Pinto Beans
  3. Polenta, Eggs, Chorizo and Stewed Tomatoes: Made with Follow Your Heart Vegan Eggs
  4. Vegan Meat-Lover Pizza: Made with Chili-Lime Jackfruit Carnitas
  5. Vegan Nachos: Made with Seitan
  6. Coconut Hot Chocolate: Made with Powdered Coconut Milk
  7. Tuna and Hummus Plate: Made with Vegan Toona and Thrive Plantain Chips
  8. French Toast: Made with Follow Your Heart Vegan Eggs and Powdered Coconut Milk
  9. Thai Coconut Curry Soup: Made with Coconut oil and Kelp Noodles
  10. Butter Chicken Chickpeas: Made with Coconut Oil and Sprouted Brown Rice

Today was by far one of our best days if not the best day in NYC so far. We started off kind of late, choosing to sleep in since we knew we’d have a relative late night. We did the most quintessential thing you can do in New York… Broadway! Then we went to our favorite part of Manhattan… Harlem and at the famous soul food restaurant Sylvia’s. Finally, we ended the evening at the Apollo, which was an amazing experience. But the best part of it all was doing it all without breaking the bank. Here are some tips for plays and performances in NYC:

1) Broadway on a Budget. Finding reasonably priced Broadway and Off-Broadway tickets really isn’t that difficult, even if you are not military. First, let me define “Broadway” v. “Off-Broadway.” I heard a woman say she didn’t want and off-Broadway show because they’re amateurs. Not true! Broadway v. Off- Broadway has very little to do with the caliber of the performance or its location (there are off-Broadway shows on the street known as “Broadway”). In practical terms the difference between the two is the seat capacity of the theater in which the performance takes place. Broadway theaters all have at least 500 seats, while Off-Broadway theaters have 100 to 499 seats. Theaters with 99 and below are considered Off Off- Broadway. There are few exceptions to this rule and only Broadway shows are eligible for Tony Awards, but that’s the most important difference for the lay person.

With that said there are a few great resources for cheap tickets to live shows. First the USO for military travelers. They often have tickets to free shows and/ or access to discount codes you can use for tickets. While we were in NYC we watched the musical Trip of Love courtesy of the USO.  The tickets range from $45-107. We were in the $107 section which is Front Orchestra and our tickets were FREE! We also received free tickets to a sketch comedy show free, but the theater had a 2 drink minimum. Still, both great deals and greatly appreciated.


Next, is the TKTS booth run by the Theater Development Fund. Same day and next-day matinee tickets are made available at a 40-50% off discount. The website is a live-action website so you always know exactly which tickets are available.  

I was told to prepare to stand in line for an hour to 2 hours, but the trick is to go to one of the two booths outside Time Square. I went to the one near Battery Park and spent maybe 15 minutes in line and received my first choice of tickets. We chose the matinee so we wouldn’t have to change plans for that day. We saw The Color Purple and it was truly transformative. I’ve read the book, watched the movie, and seen the musical. But this particular Broadway performance was amazing!


Finally, a little know tip about theaters is that they like to fill there seats. Artists hate performing to empty chairs. So if you know what you want to see, check the TKTS website, because if they are selling tickets, that means there are empty seats. Then wait until about 15 minutes before the performance walk up to the ticket counter. They will often sell the tickets for even steeper discounts that the TKTS booth and you avoid the fees. If you have a student ID they have $25 last minute tickets at some theaters and some even do military discount, but the TKTS rate is usually better than the military discount.

2) Beyond Broadway.  There are also other performance beyond Broadway. I already mentioned the sketch comedy. But go outside the traditional tourist activities. We went to the Apollo for Amateur Night.

The historic theater goes out of its way to make sure you get your money’s worth. Regular priced tickets range from $20-33 dollars, so its a good deal no matter what. However their student and military discount tickets are probably the best deal I saw in NYC. $12 dollars gets you the best seats they have open with ID. We sat in the second row, so seats that should have costs us $66 total, for two people, were $24. For that price we got a lively pre-show with great music, a hilarious DJ and MC, and interactive dancing and fun. Then they always have a musical guest who is a great profession and often a recognizable face. The night we went Deborah Cox was the performer and as lover of 90’s music that was a big deal for me. We were even able to meet her and get autographs during the intermission. IMG_0383 It was nice knowing you could be viewing the next big artist with the amateur performers. Let me tell you, most performers may not have made it big yet, but they are anything but second rate. The performances were amazing and even when they weren’t we had the fun of “booing” people of stage in the tradition of the Apollo As they say, “Be good or be gone!”

Movies and more. If movies are more your style, then the New York Parks offers free movie night just about every day of the week and at several different parks. The one I was interested in was the HBO movie series at Byrant Park every Monday, but they have just about every genre and kid-friendly nights as well. Pack food and a blanket and have fun.

We didn’t attend, but there is also a free concert series and theater series through New York Parks.

3. Other Discount Venders. There are also websites that have tickets allotted specifically for military and vets, such as: VetTix; GovX; and Veterans Advantage

We signed up for one before our trip but they didn’t seem to have tickets to any major attractions, rather minor league baseball and small venue rock concerts, but it’s always worth a shot.

All in all, we had a great time and there’s even more tips to come…




We are on our 30 day leave in between South Korea and our next base. Yay!!! These next thirty days are going to be whirlwind. We plan to visit my family, his family, New York for our anniversary, and finally road trip to the next duty station. Yep, we’re crazy. LOL

  1. Airplane Tickets. Anyways the first big stop on our tour is New York. We found cheap seats to NY on and booked to red eyes to NY for less than $650. We were pretty flexible with our dates and times so that helped. From the airport we took the subway to our hotel. A little note about the subway. I read online that Military ID holders can receive 25% of off passes if you buy them from an MTA office. But the clerk there said there was no such thing, but did say showing ID would let you on buses and subways free. This seems like a big hassle because we would have to stand in a long line in front of the MTA counter, then show our ID and then the clerk would push a button to let us in free. I’ll probably ask a couple more people to make sure this guy knows what he’s talking about.
  2.  Accommodations. Then because we are military we booked rooms at the Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines, & Airmen’s Club. It’s an old hostel for service members turned hostel for service members and dependents. The accommodations are spectacular but the draw is that they are located on Lexington Ave. and within walking distance of midtown Manhattan. The price is also a draw $130-$165 for a room. Just don’t expect a smiling staff or warm and fuzzy feelings. But considering the next closest hotel runs about$400 a night and we don’t plan to spend much time in the room anyways, it’s a good deal for us.
  3. Manhattan USO. We flew in to the JFK airport and attempted to visit their USO, but it was locked and no one seemed to be scheduled to man the facility. It’s a shame because a few people came by looking for assistance. However, I did find the best help at the Manhatten USO which is located a couple blocks from time square in the Port Authority Building on the second floor (43 Street & 8th Ave.). They have free tickets to shows, discounts on tours, helpful tips from New Yorkers. We met the sweetest woman named Emma and she was amazing, telling us how to get places free, and where the best discounts were. It’s almost too much to describe. So here is a link to them and they have an entire booklet of discounts offered for Active Duty ID holders. Here is a link to the discount booklet.





I have to say this last weekend was pretty amazing. My husband and I definitely needed it. While many brag about how fun South Korea is and all the benefits of being stationed here, what they sometimes over look is how stressful it can be. Being stationed in South Korea has unique challenges. For one you are technically still in a war zone and there is a layer of stress that never really goes away while you’re here. I had one seasoned wife say that Korea will either make your marriage or break your marriage. I didn’t understand until I started to see almost weekly postings on the local flea market Facebook page of spouses looking to sell large amounts of household goods quickly because they were unexpectedly moving back to the states early due to separation. I have my theories of why this occurs (long hours, tons of rules and regulations, always on call, too many bars, too many women), but the point is it occurs. And even if you aren’t on the brink of divorce just the fact that you, as the spouse, spend large amounts of time alone (welcome to military life in general) can add a layer of stress. For us there really hasn’t been too much tension but as a newlywed couple I wouldn’t mind seeing my husband more than the almost weekly schedule we’re on. I try to keep a brave face because, one, I have it better than many spouses who came here only to find that their service member was being sent to neighboring countries  for an undetermined amount of time, and two, I’ve used the time to develop my own adventures. Still sometimes you don’t realize how much you’ve missed someone until you are actually back with them. This week my husband had four days off resulting in a long weekend, yay! So far it’s been one of our best weekends yet. 

First, I’ve been taki cooking courses at the Airmen Family & Readiness Center. I fancy myself a pretty good cook but the spouse teaching the courses is a graduate of the Cordon Blue cooking school, so there’s always more to learn. I used our first night together to practice an Italian meal we made in class. The dish received reviews. 

Anti-pasta with bruschetta and grilled pineapples with mozzarella. I even bought a nice bottle of wine for the occasion. 

The next day we were up early to join the chapel on a trip to the seaside city of Busan. I highly recommend couples taking trips through the chapels on their bases. It really cuts the cost and it was nice to have travel and hotel arranged for us. We only spent one night in Busan but it was a really nice trip, I hope to go back soon. 

We followed up our trip to Busan with date night! We tried out a wine bar we’d been looking at for a while I  was a little disappointed in the food selection but not by the cocktails. It’s such a cute and cosy atmosphere but you should probably have dinner before hand. 

Afterwards we went to one of our favorite sushi restaurants where I tried the fabled drink soju. I enjoyed it but couldn’t finish the tall glass. Probably because it isn’t a dive bar, I didn’t find the drink as potent as some claim. Either that or I can really hold my liquor which is also true. 

Finally we finished the weekend up with a free bowling, the bowling alley on base offers free bowling during lunch. It was fun just to do something silly and carefree. 

It was a great weekend which ended with the great news that my husband’s schedule might be stabilizing soon and that he’ll actually get to sleep at home! Yay!


Wedding and Events by the Williams

Weddings by the Williams was my florist and day of coordinator. In this post, I will just focus on the floral arrangements provided. Its hard for me not to go on a thousand-word rant. I had some pretty disappointing moments in my wedding and I feel that they pretty much all tie to the Williams’ services. It’s hard for me not to be bitter. But I just try to focus on the overall day and not the specific failures… Except when I am writing reviews.

Jade is the front man and co-owner of the company with her husband Michael. We all spent a significant amount of time talking about the flowers I wanted, specifically I interacted with Jade and discussed my floral arrangements with her. I knew pretty specifically before meeting Jade that I wanted a broach and flower bouquet with pink roses and pink tea roses, and ivies and pearls as accents, and I told her so. Another reason I went with Weddings by the Williams was because I didn’t want a lot of flower arrangements beyond bouquets, and a few special table arrangements. Every other florist was trying to sell me packages with far too many flowers for what I envisioned for my wedding and not enough lead way to customize said packages.  Jade on the other hand, priced each bouquet and arrangement individually so it was a la carte.  Not to mention that Jade gave me a discount because I used two services from the company and my husband is in the military. So I felt like it was a good deal that combined to services, which meant one less contract and one less vendor to deal with. Not to mention the company website and Jade’s portfolio featured gorgeous pictures. I was pretty excited. She told me to trust her with the creative design, but I thought she would use the guidelines we talked about.

We discussed blush and pink flowers with ivies and broaches. What I received were mostly white flowers with a few that were a very light blush. They were browning and wilting around the edge when I received them on the day of the wedding. She said it was because it was a hot day, but I’ve had others in wedding business arena say they looked old and that’s how they looked to me too. My wedding theme was reminiscent of spring day in Paris. Yet, my floral arrangements all had dead and brown sticks and other fillers that would have been more appropriate for a fall wedding. I was glad I found broaches to be added to the bouquet, I think that saved it. That and the fact that I had an awesome photographer. The flowers don’t look drab or dead in her official photos, but in other people’s photos you can tell that the arrangements were dying. It was just one in many disappointing events working with Weddings by the Williams, but I will save that for the day of coordinator post.

These pictures were taken shortly after I received them, before the wedding, before guest even saw my bouquet and they were already wilting.

These pictures were taken shortly after I received them, before the wedding, before guest even saw my bouquet and they were already wilting.

Notice the browning around the edges. This picture was take shortly after I received the flowers and before the wedding.

Notice the browning around the edges. This picture was take shortly after I received the flowers and before the wedding.


Dana of Urban Utopia Photography

I loved my photographer! She is genuinely one of the best, if not THE best, decision of my wedding (besides my husband lol). Dana is amazing and such a fun person. She is so thorough. Of all my vendors, I felt she was the one who really cared about her work and making my day special. During our first conversation we talked nearly two hours. She was keeping notes the whole time and she did this with every conversation. I was so thankful for this. I was a very thorough bride, and I found most vendors seemed to resent the fact that I was fastidious with notes and could recall details they’d promised. Dana loved that quality and was even better at it than I was. I really liked how thorough she was with taking notes. I never had to repeat things that were important to me. In fact, she reminded me of details and picture ideas we’d talked about months earlier. Because of this I never felt like she was trying to take advantage of me or capitalize on an emotional time. She never tried to hard sell me on things I couldn’t afford.

Dana from Urban Utopia Photography with my Matron of Honor.

Dana from Urban Utopia Photography with my Matron of Honor.

She knew all the details about my family, who liked whom, who could stand next to who. She asked questions about details I didn’t even think of. She was fantastic. At the event I had trouble with other vendors not doing their jobs, it was Dana who comforted me and helped out where she could. She has a way of taking amazing intimate and natural pictures, while using her personality to liven people up and getting their best shots. She’s both inconspicuous and interactive at the same time. Even at the reception, sometimes I didn’t even know she was taking pictures she’s so good at blending in. Yet she also gets right in and engages with everyone. At one point I saw her holding a baby, dancing, and snapping shots. LOL! It was hilarious! So many of my guests commented on how much they enjoyed her. But its not just her personality; her photography is amazing. I love her ideas and her photos. She is so creative. You don’t get the stuffy traditional shots, but you don’t miss any of the important pictures (like pics with grandma). I also appreciated the fact that she doesn’t have standard shots. I’ve looked through hundreds of pictures in her gallery and I didn’t feel like my photos were just cookie cutter shots from other weddings.

Dana is worth every penny. I had a budget wedding, but I am glad I invested in her services. Your pictures will really be the only lasting tangible thing from your wedding and I am so glad I hired Dana, I really feel I got the best by hiring her.


Wedding Venue – American Lake Conference Center

When we first started wedding planning, I was still overseas with my fiancé so my wonderful parents did some scouting for me. The two places we narrowed in on were the Thornewood Castle and the American Lake Conference Center. Both formidable options depending on your priority of wants and needs for your wedding.

Thornewood Castle (Runner Up)

I loved the Thornewood Castle instantly. I knew pretty immediately that I wanted a European themed wedding. The Thornewood Castle was designed to emulate a small European castle. It had old world charm and amazing grounds. I could see the photos that would come from this place. However, it was extremely expensive and offered little more than ambiance and a venue for the price. My priority for my wedding was for my fiancé and I to be able to pay for our wedding in cash. I didn’t want the bills from our wedding day to go any further than the actual day. After all we also had a marriage to plan for. It was an extremely difficult decision, but I passed on the Thornewood Castle. Rachel the proprietor was extremely sweet but shrewd business woman. We were originally considering a very short engagement. Even shorter than the six months that we eventually went with. Rachel really wanted to fill the one weekend she had available at the Castle. So she offered us an amazing deal and even a military discount on top of that. However, I would have 8 weeks to plan my wedding. That was probably the main reason I passed. I wanted to consider the Castle for our June date, but it felt like as soon as I passed on the winter date, Rachel was no longer interested. It was hard to get a hold of her. Later I wanted to spend our mini-honeymoon there, because it also serves as a bed and breakfast. However, we could never get a return call again and she was always too busy to answer. I felt pretty disappointed by this because I really liked Rachel and the Castle. However, for one day, nothing included it would have cost me a little more than $6000. I couldn’t justify that on a military bride budget. So we went with option two: the American Lake Conference Center.

Photo Credit:

American Lake Conference Center (Final Choice)

Photo credit: (I’ll put up better images once my professional photography is ready)

I was a little skeptical when my parents suggest the American Lake Conference Center. Military facilities aren’t always as nice as you’d want them. However, this newly remodeled venue was actually a pleasant surprise. The grounds were kept beautifully, its right on the water, right by the security gate, so guest could easily find it. An added bonus was that they had their own baker, caterer, and could help with civilian guest getting on the military base. Plus once you committed to a certain amount of catering about the amount to feed 60 people the building rental fee was waived. I am still pleased with my decision, but we did have some hiccups. I found the hard way, that when working with government workers there is a certain apathy among some people. So before I criticize I will say what went well: Ben the facility manager is a very nice young man. You can tell he really is trying to make his guest happy. However, I don’t know if he has the complete authority over his staff. Sometimes it seems like they just did their own thing. He promised us things, they did what they wanted. Also, the grounds at venue are gorgeous and well-kempt. They lend themselves to amazing pictures. The food was amazing and I am so glad, I made my bridal party fix me a plate to go so I could have seconds! LOL.

First, I called and confirmed that I would be at the venue early to set up and start decorations (I had a day of coordinator, but that’s a different review). The venue only allows you twelve hours to set up, host your event and take down. I couldn’t come the night before because they had another group. They didn’t want to allow me a rehearsal time, which I thought should have been included. It was only until the week of that I could confirm my rehearsal because the conference center staff made it clear they would bump me for another event.

For the wedding day, I confirmed the time twice. However, due to security glitches working with the base, I didn’t arrive until almost an hour and half after my scheduled time. They still were not ready for me to start setting up. There was bird feces all over the gazebo area where I was to hold my ceremony. There were still deflated balloons and decorations from the previous event. In the bridal suite the trash had not even been dumped from the night before and there was a dirty diaper in the garbage. My tables had not been set up yet and I had to give instructions to the custodial staff about what I needed for my self-station and other extras, such as mics and a communion table, we’d previously arranged at our final meeting with Ben. So I had to wait to even begin setting up and I still had to get dressed for my wedding pictures.

At the ceremony we were supposed to have mics provided for the officiate, and one for my husband and I to share and one for the musician. Only one mic was provided for everyone. So unfortunately a lot of people did not hear the ceremony. A podium was also to be provided where we could plug in speakers, again, it was not, but without the mics it didn’t matter.

After the wedding we had a receiving line in the glass covered hallway. The day was hot so it ended up being like a greenhouse in there. I remember asking at an earlier meeting about the room in hot weather. I was told on hot days the overhead shades were pulled to keep the room cool, they were not. It was extremely hot!

At the reception the salad was brought to the table before an announcement of food was made. They also continued to serve while we blessed the food, which I just thought was absolutely rude. We had a lot of people who came without RSVPing so we didn’t have enough salad. That wasn’t the venues fault. However when we asked to quickly have extra tables set up they made a big deal about it. They eventually did it, but not without complaint. Then staff members informed guests that we didn’t have enough food because we as the bridal party didn’t buy enough for the number of people there. I thought that was wholly unprofessional and rude, because they made my guest feel unwelcome.

Finally, the cherry on the cake, was the cake. I’d worked extensively with the previous baker who’d trained in Europe. She was a major reason why I signed with this venue. I love her. She promised me a cake shaped like an Eiffel Tower, I was so excited. The she PCSed. I didn’t even know civilian workers with the military could do that! So military brides beware! You could end up with a completely different staff than the one you started with. I did. The chef, the facility manager, and the baker all were new because my wedding occurred during PCS season. I was nervous when it happened but assured everything would be as promised. I even separately confirmed with the new baker, Nicole about my Eiffel Tower cake. She assured me over and over she could do it. On the day of the wedding, if I wasn’t in the middle of my reception I would have cried. I asked for a cake shaped like an Eiffel Tower, instead I received a rectangle cake with an Eiffel Tower cookie placed on top! I was furious and embarrassed. The worse part was Nicole was completely unapologetic and defensive. She said she’d take 50% off, which I found to be insulting (Ben later compensated the entire cake). I told her, I would have rather had a nice cake that looked completely different than the joke she presented. It was ugly. She didn’t even attempt the color scheme of the wedding, it was grey. Who orders a grey cake! Not only that it was disgusting. The cake was supposed to be a real red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. Nope… it was a white cake died red and no cream cheese. It didn’t even taste good and only the top was red velvet, the rest seemed like just a white cake they had left over. I eventually walked away from Nicole with my mouth agape because she was so blatantly rude. They didn’t make enough of the European pastries I wanted because one in particular, the Dutch butter cake, she didn’t have recipe for. She was supposed to increase the number of the scones and macroons and confirm the number. She never called again and I had so much on my plate I forgot to call her. Even for the number we confirmed we didn’t have enough pastries. Nicole’s response at the reception was to shrug her shoulders, stating, quote, “I made my one phone call.” Meaning when she called me back after I reached out to her. She had no desire or care to do her job well. If I hadn’t asked to speak to her she would have never made contact. The first baker I dealt with was very involved and wanted me to have just what I wanted on my day. She offered suggestions and asked questions. She promised to do a trial run on the cake and let me know if things didn’t work out. It looked like Nicole slapped together my cake in a hurry. It was utterly disappointing and insulting. She was so rude and disrespectful that the other staff went out of their way to cater to me. They knew I was devastated and I even had a couple apologize to me after the wedding. They knew it was not my dream day, in part because of so many missteps by the venue.

This is what I was promised, complete with my new surname in the banner and glitter to resemble the Eiffel Tower at night:

Eiffel Tower cake

This is what I was given, complete with Nicole’s bitchy attitude:

Eiffel Tower cake at wedding (I don’t have many pictures of the cake because I thought it was hideous)

I will say, many of their failures could have been corrected had I had a good day of coordinator, who knew what was supposed to be happening, but that is another review… (I have to go cry now, after reminiscing about Nicole’s attitude)


If you read my first wedding planning post you know I had a lot on my plate. Well I survived, just barely, but I didn’t really log the journey. Surprise, surprise. Anyway, I did keep maticulous notes along the way. So rather than recreating my wedding planning process, I will add reviews of vendors for each step of the process. I think you can basically gather my sentiments for how the process went from that.

It was a very stressful season of life, but I am married to my love! And I am preparing for our next journey around the world as we speak. So everything worked out in the end!


{June 16, 2015}   Birthday Bash: All Week Long!

It’s my birthday ya’ll! What’s the best thing about a birthday? Presents! And why are presents amazing… because they’re free! Duh! Ok. So in keeping with the original theme of this blog (that I have never really stuck to) I thought I’d write about how I spend my birthday week. Since I am on a perpetual diet, I’m not going to lie, I eat my way through the week. Yep and I don’t feel bad. It’s my freebie, literally. See, I have become the queen of free birthday stuff. A good birthday year sees me receiving a free item everyday of the week leading up to my birthday. So I thought I’d share some of my favorite freebies with you. This is not a conclusive list, but an idea of my week so you can build your own based on the restaurants in your area. Also visit: to get your list started.  I already had most of these through trial an error, but they gave me some great ideas. Also, I should note that this does not include all of the shopping discounts I utilize.

My Birthday Bash Week-Long Food Dash

Sunday: IHOP – Free Rootie Tootie combo. I don’t like all of the syrupy fruit so my Ihop let me switch with their nut n’ grain pancakes and they allowed me to choose turkey bacon at no additional charge. *Make sure you still tip the waitress. 🙂

Monday: Red Robin – Free gourmet burger and bottemless fries. Talk about yummy! I went with the Prime Chophouse. Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum… It wasn’t free, but I also had the Khalua Jamaican Shake… Heaven! If you want to maximize your experience dine-in. You’ll get the bottom-less fries, plus a free sundae with singing. LOL.

Tuesday: Krispy Kreme – Free donut and coffee to start your day off right. The Gym! Then free scoop from Baskin Robins.

Wednesday: Buffalo Wild Wings – Free snack size order of wings. I have no problem eating alone, so their dine-in policy doesn’t bother me, all though I think its designed to force you to bring paying friends. Oops. LOL.

Thursday: Dairy Queen – BOGO on a medium blizzard. I don’t typically like any of the promotions where I have to pay, but you can freeze one blizzard or give it away so I don’t think its a total loss.

Friday: Johnny’s Seafood (local restaurant) – Free desert. I love Johnny’s and I love their happy hour. This is one of the few places I’m willing to pay. I have however, gone in and ordered my free desert and never felt the pressure to buy anything. I like them because the deserts are huge and definitely meant for sharing so you don’t have to eat alone. This year I’ve added Duke’s Chowder House (another local restaurant nearby) so I’ll have a free dinner there followed by desert at Johnny’s. Yay!

Saturday: Denny’s – Free Grand Slam – They only honor the free grand slam on your actual birthday, so bring ID!

Sunday: Pacific Grill (local restaurant) – $25 certificate – I like this place because the happy hour is all day. So I will do a Sunday brunch with my mom. The prices are reasonable enough that I can get away with paying for both of us, minus drinks with the certificate.

Monday: BONUS – I received a gift card to a swanky reservation only speak easy called Maxwell’s. They technically don’t offer anything free on your birthday but its free to me!

Note: I have added a few local restaurants. I find they offer the best deals and I encourage you to look into local restaurants or chains in your area. I have done this in Chicago and Columbus, OH and it has worked out marvelously. When I was in Ohio (which considers itself the restaurant capitol of the Midwest, some say the US) I was able to go a two-week period of time where I ate at least once a day for free, no BOGO’s.


et cetera