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

Our latest adventure, hubby going back to school, has taken us to one of the most affluent cities in the state. This place is gorgeous and I feel blessed to live here, but it is abundantly clear that the community was designed to price people out. 

According to Area Vibes the cost of living on average is 50% higher than the state average. More than ever fabulous budgeting is necessary. Even basic amenities cost more here. My task as CFO for my family is to not only make our dollar stretch, in a place where it seems status quo to throw money away, but to also make it grow. This is no easy task considering we are here as  students and veterans, meaning we are already way behind the income curve. 

To put it in perspective:

 Cost Of Living Index

Each cost of living index is based on a national average of 100. If the amount is below 100, it is lower than the national average. If the amount is above 100, it is higher than the national average.

Cost of living index

City: 157

State: 115

Goods & Services index

City: 136

State: 106

Groceries index

City: 125

State: 107

Health care index

City: 128

State: 119

Housing index

City: 215

State: 135 

I choose to look at this as a challenge to put my Sadity Cents to the test and get back to my roots. Wish me luck and follow along as I figure out life outside the military and in wealthy suburbia. 

{February 1, 2017}  

You know that time where life is happening so fast and all of its blog worthy but you can’t seem to keep up with it all? Yea, me too. The last six months have been a blur of blogable events and yet I haven’t really blogged. So I figured maybe if I just list everything that’s been going on then I can organize my thoughts and pump out some posts. So here we go:

  1. Husband and I developed a fertility diet for me after weeks of research based on some great books and blogs. 
  2. We found out we were pregnant after one cycle on the diet. Which was wonderful because we’d been trying for awhile and had received really distressing news from the doctor. I attribute a lot of this to faith in action. I had faith God would make a way, but I didn’t sit on my laurels either. 
  3. We celebrated a milestone birthday for hubby with a trip to Yellowstone National Park. It was amazing and we loved it. 
  4. Then I went about finding the right care provider by of course researching. Who would have know this sadity girl is crunchy when it comes to her baby. I wasn’t impressed with the apathetic or overly medical options I was being offered with traditional medicine so we picked a midwife. What! It’s actually becoming more common but mine is not associated with a hospital so for me that meant I could seek the care I want and not the treatments dictated to me. 
  5. I have had to do a lot of traveling for work and family in the last few months. Which has helped me come up with a pretty stellar travel “must haves” list for the pregnant woman. 
  6. I also switched my fertility diet and exercise routine to a prenatal one. I didn’t follow one particular plan but rather I took practice options from several to create a plan for a real pregnant person. You know one who is has a  below average fitness commitment and likes food (even if it does make her sick right now).
  7. I put together a registry early on based on great advice from my sister and mother, two vets in the game. It’s also gender neutral!
  8. I’ve resisted the new mom stereotype of everything must be new and instead opted for a Sadity Cents type nursery and baby preparation. 
  9. I’m prepping for taxes because organization and life don’t stop with a baby. 
  10. And of course cooking! I will say that’s fewer and far between because standing and smelling for too long just aren’t working right now. 
  11. As a bonus I figured out the man I married is awesome! And really is the best daddy-to-be. He’s consistently take on a number of chores and pampering techniques to make this a wonderful pregnancy. 

Follow the links, which I will add as I write the relevant posts. Said posts will be written in between naps, so please be patient. 🙂


{August 17, 2016}   Sadity Cents: Patio Set Find

It’s been awhile since I blogged about the topic that was the nexus of this site: Great deals at a steal! It isn’t that I haven’t found great deals, but I intended to help people find deals that they can replicate and most of mine I stumble upon or sweet talk my way into them. Still, I feel like fellow savers will enjoy hearing about my great finds. I think I’ve written about the fact that my husband and I are setting up house with one another for the first time. When we met, he was doing a tour overseas and I had a practice to take care of, so we spent a good deal apart with our own places. When we married and moved in together, we were stationed overseas. Many apartments, like ours, came furnished. So there wasn’t much we had to do. Now we are combining his stuff from two apartments (he left stuff in storage before going overseas), and my stuff from overseas. So finding furniture, getting rid of furniture, and organizing just a lot of stuff will probably be the them of many of my Sadity Cents posts.  

Its not just finding things cheaply, but also finding items that fit into my idea of classy and sophisticated. Thus Sadity Cents!

 I have always had champagne taste on beer money and often a fountain water budget. LOL.  Thus, my passion for finding great deals. You don’t always have to pay an arm and a leg for nice things. Thus, my latest find:


I’ve been wanting a patio set like this for some time. Most are propane, but I really wanted one that could host real wood and even charcoal. It wasn’t easy. But we did it. I saw this set at Albertson’s (of all places) a few weeks ago. Even further back , years ago, there was one at Kroger that I loved. I couldn’t justify the price as a graduate student. Fast forward to now, and I saw this set. I wanted it immediately, but again I couldn’t justify the price. Not because we couldn’t afford it. It’s just that I plan on completely replacing several rooms of furniture and I don’t want to spend a significant portion on patio furniture. Not to mention, I just have a slight allergic reaction to paying full price for big ticket items. I spent time searching for something similar or pieces I could put together to create my patio…Nothing. I found cute items, but they were so expensive or they weren’t exactly what I wanted. See my ideal was a real wood fire pit table that I could grill on. Items that matched that description costs around $2000 on the cheap side. Other fire pit tables were propane, so they were cute, but useless. And most fire pits didn’t have a real table element around the fire pit, rather they usually had a ledge where you could place small plates and glasses.

Then as luck would have it I stopped at Albertson’s on the way to buy another set. A set, I didn’t really love, but felt was “good enough.” I talked to the department head and they only had one set left, the display. Well, people have not because they ask not. I make it a practice to ask and walked away with my patio set $250 cheaper than its original price. The best part, because it was a display, it was already put together. Less work for me (and by me, I mean hubby)! It took three trips back to our new place since it didn’t come in the flat boxes, but worth it to me. For about $20, I found a camp fire grill to put over the top to grill food and the table I wanted came to fruition.


I love a good deal. Look at the name of my blog after all. And the best deals are on large purchases. When I can write about a shopping experience two weeks later and still feel like I got the best deal in town. Hubby and I were in desperate need of a mattress. Our household goods was somewhere sailing the seas from Korea and our household items that were left in storage had yet to be located. We bought an air mattress, but after the first night I knew that that was not the solution to our problems. I was willing to tough it out at first, but after about a week I realized two things: 1) I’m getting old, I used to be able to crash anywhere. 2) Our marriage was not going to survive long if we kept waking up sore and cranky. So we went mattress shopping. We got a great deal, during and after a large purchase I like to check the internet to confirm I truly do have Sadity Cents. I was determine to get high quality at a great price. After all my marriage depended on a good nights sleep. Here’s how I did it:

Start with the high end shop first. Find the mattress type you love. We went to a Sleep Number bed on a recent date night and fell in love with adjustable beds. I like the sleep number concept, but we walked out knowing we needed an adjustable base for our bed. Next we went a store that had a large variety of foam mattresses. My husband loved them, I could take or leave them. One of the benefits of our Sleep Number adventure was that I learned I truly enjoy a very firm mattress. My husband likes a soft mattress. What’s a couple to do? Meet in the middle. By the time we were ready to purchase we knew we wanted an adjustable base and a firm mattress with a foam top. I’d also been gathering prices at the two different stores. So the Saturday of our purchase we stopped at one store and found the mattress and base combo we wanted. I was ready to purchase, but my money saving rule is that I never make a large purchase on the spot. So we left to discuss it. In the mean time, we went to their main competitor. They are slightly more high end so we looked at their deals. They almost had us with an amazing all in one adjustable base, mattress and accessory deal. But I called the first store and told them that we were at the competitors and I told them what they were offering. The salesman matched their price, but with his mattress we got a warranty and a mattress cover to protect the warranty of the bed. I also had him throw in some foam pillows (best decision) I’d been admiring. So he got his sale, I got my mattress almost two hundred dollars cheaper than the great price he first quoted (which was $200 less than the sale price because of military discount) and some extras. It pays to comparison shop.


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…




{October 23, 2015}   Market Shopping in Korea 
A Dapper Dog at the Market

A Dapper Dog at the Market

As a military dependent, shopping overseas isn’t as tricky for us compared to others who don’t have the connection and support of a local base. We of course have the base commissary.  When I was in the states I loved the commissary because of their great prices. Overseas they have an awesome coupon policy (you can use expired coupons for up to six months overseas), friendly service (for the most part), and products from home. But the truth is there are somethings the commissary can’t achieve; like fresh local produce. You see the commissary is ran under an arm of the Department of Defense, which means it has government contracts it must fulfill, which for me means my fruit is often frozen, shipped, and defrosted, only to prematurely rot. So while I buy many of my staples at the commissary I like to shop locally for my fresh items. And to tell you the truth it’s almost always cheaper.

Almost every town or province in South Korea has a local outdoor market where farmers and shopkeepers set up booths and sell their produce and goods. Where I live the market is known to the locals as the Songbook market. The Americans call it the “4/9 market” because vendors set up on any day ending in 4 or 9 of every month. Another base has the 3/8 market;  you get the pattern. I reckon the same vendors travel to many local towns.

Anyway the 4/9 market can be intimidating. There are flurry of people pushing their way through the crowds, a lot of yelling from vendors trying to make a sell, foods you don’t recognize and what seems like general chaos. After frequenting the market almost weekly for a few months I’m starting to understand the method behind the madness.

An example of unfamiliar foods: If anyone knows what this is please let me know.

An example of unfamiliar foods: If anyone knows what this is please let me know.


First understand how the market is set up. One thing to note is that for the most part vendors are always in the same spot. This becomes helpful as you build relationships. That way you can find the same tomato vendor over and over. Also don’t be afraid to go down alleys and side streets. Many times vendors who are not on the main drag are more willing to bargain because they don’t get the same amount of traffic. Once you find that special vender ask for what you want. This may seem elementary, but sometimes the vendor is set up in front of their brick and mortar shop, so if you don’t see an item they would likely sell, just ask. They have more items in the back. 

Learn how to bargain. The greatest appeal about open air markets is the ability to bargain shop and haggle prices. I learned from a Korean national that it’s part of the Korean culture to haggle.  The thing she didn’t tell me was that as a foreigner the same bargaining rules don’t apply. When Korean vendors see Americans they know our method of shopping is to see a price and pay, so many won’t haggle with you because they know that’s not your culture. This doesn’t mean haggling is impossible it just means that your shopping experience isn’t going to be the same way as your well-meaning Korean friend’s trip.

Here are some tips to improve your haggling experience.

1) Get a Calendar – Make yourself familiar with traditional Korean holidays. The market tends to be more crowded and vendors are far less likely to haggle with you on those days. They don’t need your business that day and they don’t have time to waste going back and forth with you for fear of losing another sale.

2) Get the Worm -As in the early bird… Get it?! Anyways, I just mean go early. The earlier in the day the better. The earliest I’ve been is 8 am. Sure some vendors aren’t set up yet, but the truly committed die-hard vendors are and they are ready to make their first sale. There is a cultural belief that your interaction with your first customer is how the rest of the day will go for your business. So theoretically they are more willing to bargain to get a sale. Superstition aside, in my own experience I have found that vendors are just nicer in the mornings and therefore more likely to give you a deal, even if you aren’t their first customer. Another plus is that the market is less crowded, though still crowded, in the morning; so it makes for a more pleasant shopping experience.

3) Get an expanded definition of bargain. Many people only think they got a good deal if they paid less than the asking price. Sometimes that’s hard to achieve. I frequent vendors who throw in free items or who who give me significantly more for the same price compared to other vendors. This takes some trial and error and a good memory.  I try to remember specific vendors for specific items because of their generosity with portions. Like my raw nuts lady. She puts more in the bag than other vendors and puts a free item in as well. I also appreciate vendors who will fairly cut an amount down for me. Sometimes the vendors pre-portion their produce (say that five times fast) and you pick the basket of produce that looks best. But it’s just my husband and I at home, so often their portions are too large and I know a large amount will go to waste. There are some vendors who try to force you to buy the whole amount. It could be because they’ve already weighed out the produce, but it doesn’t serve my purposes. Others will cut the fruit in half to their advantage. Meaning the entire pound was 5,00 won but for 3,000 won they’ll give you half. I don’t use them. I like when I get just a little more than half for about half the price. it means they value you me as a customer and want me to come back. Either way, there are more than one way to get a good deal. For instance, we use a lot of organic Korean honey (seriously, whatever these Korean bees are doing, it’s life changing). So rather than ask my vendor for a cheaper deal on the honey, I buy double the portion and then cut a deal on that. I know I’m going to use all of the honey, so it’s a win for me, and he moved merchandise, so its a win for him.

4) Get o.k. with “N.O.”. Sometimes you have to walk away. I’ve heard stories of Americans buying items and not knowing what they bought because a vendor started putting it in a bag as they were talking and shoved it in their hands. I can’t even imagine being bullied into a purchase just because I’m afraid the vendor won’t like Americans afterwards. I think that’s a simplistic and insulting view of people in foreign nations, to think that a seasoned vendor won’t know how to handle a “no thank you” (but that’s a different, more political view that would probably be titled: Polite Paternalism). Anyways, the point is that if in the midst of haggling you aren’t getting the deal you want, walk away. It’s ok. I am not afraid to walk away from any vendor, nor am afraid to try several vendors to see whose willing to haggle. I’m also okay with hearing “no.” Some say no as a bargaining method. Try another number. But if they are insistent on the price, then I smile, bow, and walk away. No hard feelings. You don’t have to be rude to bargain, but you don’t have to be a pushover either. Sit back from a distance, you’ll see them bargaining with other locals. Many just assume that you won’t.

5) Get a basic vocabulary. I’m pretty horrible at other languages, speaking wise. But I have found that even recognizing a few words is helpful, even if I can’t respond. The vendors are less frustrated if you understand something, and actually appreciate a few words in Hangul (Korean). Words that I have found to be useful are:

Hello = Ann-yeong-haseyo (all the translation books say to pronounce it this way. Locally, I find Ah-naseyo gets a better response)

Thank You = Kasi-hamm-ni-dah

How Much = Ooh-ma-im-ni-kah

Please Give Me = Joos-Aa-Yo

Yes = Nay or Dae

No = Aneeyo

Once you get the basics of the marketplace down, it can really be worthwhile. Before the market our grocery bill could easily be $300 a month for 2 people and that was with little to no fresh fruits or vegetables. Now I spend about $250 on groceries and that is with about half being large amounts of fresh produce, and of course local honey (I use it for almost everything that requires a sweetener). Here are some pictures from a typical trip:


I think I spent less than 15,000 won on this trip with 10,000 won being the honey. Still a good deal, but this was one of my earlier trips, before I’d grasped the concept of bargaining.

This is a more recent trip. Even with the superior honey I spent about 30000w

I love seeing twists on foods I grew up with or foods I've never even heard of.

I love seeing twists on foods I grew up with or foods I’ve never even heard of.


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.


Well after debating for far too long, I decided that no one was supplying what I wanted in invitations for a price that fit my budget. I may have been over thinking things but to me the invitation is the first introduction to your wedding. Based on the invitation people will be able to determine the type of wedding event they are in store for. I wanted an invitation that would reflect the European, spring tea feel that I wanted for my wedding. Eventually after looking at literally hundreds of invitations and nearly ordering about 5 different sets, I decided to make my own invitations. I drew inspiration from this video:

and this video:

I will say with both I just gathered inspiration because my invitation didn’t look anything like them, but mine did have the same concept as far as the envelopes. The inserts for the invitations were original ideas. I decided to write an old fashioned letter as the invitation from my parents (the traditional hosts) to all of our friends and family.

Here’s How I Did My Invitations:

Some things I learned that could have saved me time and money:

1. Don’t Embellish Too Much – Don’t put the cute pearl button on if postage matters. Because of the button alone I paid $.70 per envelope.

2. Keep it Simple with Addresses – Don’t get fancy with the addresses. Even though the typical way of addressing envelopes is abbreviations of real words (i.e. ln = lane, ave = avenue), we are in a technology abundant world. Which means the computers mostly recognize the abbreviations. Unless there are postal workers who actually check the machine’s rejections (like there is supposed to be) then your envelopes can be rejected if you spell out the addresses directions in the old fashioned manner. For example: 123 N. 5th Ave. could get rejected if it is done in the 19th century manner of: 123 North Fifth Avenue. I had nice postal workers who resent my envelopes when that happened but it wasted time and sometimes money.

2b. Double Check Addresses – On that not check the addresses provided by family and friends. You’d think that people would know their own addresses but again because of the computer age, I had envelopes returned because the zip codes were wrong when everything else was right. I spoke to the postal workers at my neighborhood post office and I was told that the old way of doing it was just to look up the zip code if everything else was correct. However, the computer looks up the address by the zip code first. If that is incorrect, the postal workers are instructed to immediately reject the mail. My neighborhood postal workers told me that the veteran workers will still look up the address but the new workers won’t because this is a new way of earning revenue for the post office. This is just what I’ve been told, so don’t take my word for it, but from my experience this seems correct. I had quite a few that were returned because of simple mistakes like zip codes.

3. Don’t Buy Specialty Paper – I did a lot of research on my invitations, right down to the thickness of the paper I should use. It took me forever to find metallic silver paper card stock. When I did, I had to drive an hour out of my way before work to get the paper in time to do a weekend of invitation making.  It was only later that I found out that Office Depot had metallic paper. When I called the local Office Depot said they didn’t have what I needed. Well they had a thinner paper but it would have worked just as well without the hassle. I talked the Kelly Paper store clerk into a military discount so the difference in price wasn’t that different if you don’t count gas (which I do). Plus, I bough too much paper and didn’t feel like making the trek to return it. Thus, I guess I’ll have to try to sell the extra reams online.

4. Don’t Print Directly on Your Envelopes – I bought specialty envelopes along with specialty paper for my invitations. We had a major printing error occur that was discover until one entire, very expensive, package was wasted. In hindsight I should have bought the clear labels and printed the addresses on them. I ended up doing that but it was an expensive lesson as I had to drive the distance for more envelopes.

5. Don’t Personalize the Invitations – Others have said it and I will say again. DO NOT personalize your invitations. I had others helping me. No one is going to take the time with your wedding that you will. After awhile making invitations gets monotonous. So I ended up with people receiving invitations with the wrong names. Also, invitations that were returned and that I never did get a good address for, I couldn’t use anymore. So if there was any major waste with the invitations it was personalizing the invitations. Keep it general. Personalize the Thank You notes.

The total cost of the invitations with doilies, paper, printing, embellishments, envelopes, and stamps was: $2.18/each


The invitation that I liked the best but knew I could not afford was: $5.16/ ea

Lace Laser Cut Wedding Invitations Bridal Shower Invite Floral Customized Printable Design with Grey Ribbon - Pack of 50


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!


et cetera