Category Archives: How to

The time has come to take control of my money!

So I haven’t posted in a long while! Eish!¬†Between balancing family and business life, I hardly have had time to write! However, it is never too late to start again! ūüôā

As of late, I have felt my money affairs spiral out of control. ūüė¨¬†In between managing multiple budgets (I am sure you know about that), I found it was just not working. Day after day, I felt more and more confused as to the cash in my pocket. Especially as I am also running my business and needing to keep cash money separate from our household money.

In an attempt to take control, I spoke to the person I know manages her money the best…my Mom-in-law. She is a super efficient money manager! I have been observing her for years, and cannot believe I didn’t speak to her sooner! I think people, in general, are just embarrassed to talk about money.

Anyhow, she gave me some great tips! On top of that, I took a few hours out this past week to research an easy budgeting system. Well, I found one that definitely spoke to me. Watch this great video!

This is really a basic but effective system and I felt so inspired by this video, I immediately decided to take action! I NEED A WALLET!¬†ūüėú

So yesterday I went shopping for one! All the while, being Lilly Loompa, I kept thinking of how I can make one with waste! Hehe! I quickly canned that idea as I hate sewing! Anyway, I didn’t find a wallet big enough to hold the standard size envelope. So in true Lilly Loompa style, I decided to make my own envelopes!¬†ūüėĄ

Here follows my picture tutorial:

This is how small my daily bag is!

I just loved the practicality of wearing a smaller bag…it felt easier to keep safe and close to me. I love this bag! Below is the contents of my bag. More cards than anything else! But…they are all debit cards…I am pleased to say not one credit card!


I know…time for a bigger bag!

I started looking for on-line templates and then realised my printer was out of order. Thus I measured and cut my own template based on the size of our South African money notes. I didn’t have thick paper, so I used a promotional book about an international school of design I picked up at an expo recently.

Here is a link to an on-line tutorial I found useful.

Fold your envelope and secure the bottom side with double-sided tape. I used magic tape as it is all I had on-hand. The idea is to get started. Do not be fixated on getting it perfect. Use what you have! I made two envelopes to start off. I also kept my original template safe for future use.


Then I realised I forgot to make one for my business.


Since we still have a few days over for November, I decided to start now. You will see I allocated only a small amount for the week, to start training myself to be disciplined. I am very excited to start this new journey.

Now to go wallet shopping!¬†¬†ūüėú¬†Let me know what you think? Is this doable in SA? What do you think is a reasonable grocery budget?

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How I upgraded to junk-status

Junk-status Рthe word of the moment…or maybe it has been for the last few months.

As an ordinary South African, I have some idea of what it means for our country. In a nutshell, it means that we have been flushed down the credit drain by a plague of bad leadership decisions. And a reshuffle.

This news spread unwanted doom and gloom in an already unstable economy. Instead of wallowing over something I have no control over, in a strange way, this news immediately reminded me of my own downgrade I experienced about 10 years ago.

I was blacklisted and cast out of the credit system through a bad financial investment. This caused me and my family many years of financial trouble and sleepless nights. Inadvertently, our lives changed forever. For many years it was a struggle to survive…we literally lived from hand-to-mouth.

About 6 years ago, I started building furniture for my own home, out of necessity. Guess what I used to build it with? RUBBISH…JUNK!

The strangest thing happened – out of lack and with some creativity, I started my business, Lilly Loompa.

I decided to use the resources I had and started building beautiful, useful pieces that made my home better. It made me feel better about my situation. These pieces made out of junk, was the manifestation of the mess I found myself in.

Unknowingly, I UPGRADED to junk-status, and I loved it! This is what this experience has taught me:

  1. Use what you have! I am a firm believer of this and it has become one of my life-values. When you have nothing in your grocery cupboards, start growing a food garden! Live off the earth!

Made with junk! Tin can lamp by Lilly Loompa

  1. Stay positive ‚Äď It is so easy to become downcast and depressed when you find yourself in an unwanted situation. Read motivational books and autobiographies of people that inspire you. Exercise more and eat healthier.


  1. Downgrade your lifestyle ‚Äď Do not even attempt to keep up with the Jones‚Äô. Learn to live with less. Sell your fancy home, and buy a more affordable one. Eat less at restaurants, and have more picnics.


  1. Live simpler ‚Äď Get rid of complications in your life. Try to break away from the rat race by going to the park after work. Why not try to cook outdoors tonight? Instead of being cooped up inside the house?


  1. Be creative ‚Äď Creativity grows more, through adversity. I have said this before and I still believe it now more than ever. Being strapped for cash should be an opportunity to start multiple income streams. Make a list of your skills and investigate and pursue income opportunities in those industries.


  1. Be content in the situation ‚Äď Be happy. Laugh more in spite of what your reality says. See the lighter side in every situation‚Ķa good laughter session can cure the saddest heart.


  1. Don‚Äôt let depression rob you ‚Äď I remember clearly many days I just wanted to get under the covers and stay there. I wanted to wallow and sulk. I felt like I was entitled to be depressed. Surround yourself with positive people that will decline an invite to your pity party.

Made with junk! Block lamp by Lilly Loompa


  1. Rags to riches ‚Äď believe it can happen to you. Believe the unthinkable. Believe that through hard work and commitment, you story can change. Also know that your success story can free someone else from their prison!


‚ÄúIf people throw stones at you, pick ‚Äėem up and build something.‚ÄĚ


In my case, I have adapted it to read:


‚ÄúIf life throw stones at you, pick ‚Äėem up and build something.‚ÄĚ

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How to organise a small kitchen: DIY kitchen caddy

Kitchen caddy~{Organising aid that helps to streamline operations in kitchen.} 

Having a small kitchen comes with its own challenges. We are still building our home, thus there are many things that still needs to be done. Including our kitchen. We do not have cupboards yet, thus I have had to improvise.


Kitchen area

We have had to cleverly divide the big room into different functional areas. Behind the kitchen is Ashley’s office. To the left is the dining area.

I needed a solution to hang our keys and hang paper towel, foil and cling wrap. I picked up an old spice rack a while back at the local charity store. They were actually throwing it out. (the pic below is not the original spice rack. I forgot to take a before pic! Uuuugh! This one I got from the internet.)



I sanded it down, and spray-painted it. I wanted a muted colour to fit in with the room divider, as I did with the spice rack I am currently using.

Kitchen caddy

Kitchen caddy

It has enough space to hang the keys, a resting place for the firelighter (which I use to light the gas stove), the paper towel roll and cling wrap, etc. I used the dowels as the rails to slide the cling wrap on.

Caddy next to black spice rack

Caddy next to black spice rackre

Besides the fact that it blends so well into the background, it is really practical too! Another great way of up-cycling an old spice rack.

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DIY – Salvaged chest of drawers

Chest of drawers ~ {Furniture with drawers for keeping clothes}

I love going to the rubbish dump. Last year I got this beauty from the local dump by chance.


Just a skeleton

So I used it as is, without drawers, in our bathroom. About a year ago I did not have the skills to restore it. My training in carpentry has definitely paid off! I have managed to make 3 drawers to fit!

Drawer front

Drawer front


Drawer inside

Front view

Done – Front facade

Side view

Side view


Up close

Up close

I used Saligna wood and decided not to finish it with handles. I wanted a simple look and just made big holes for our fingers to pull it out. I have also decided to not paint the drawers white. I just love it!

Another great up-cycled project that cost me very little!

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DIY side table – love red!

I have learned to love red. It is my husband’s favourite colour…but not really mine. But I do admit, it has wonderful qualities I have realised. So when I design, I try and incorporate hints and accents of red, as it is a really strong colour.

I scored a bunch of pine off-cuts from my local carpentry a few months ago and as you might know, I have a fascination with building tables with puzzle pieces or blocks. As seen here. So I decided to make a cute side table.

I started off by taping down a square using masking tape.

Off cuts

Build within the masking tape square

Off cuts1

Pack blocks tight like a puzzle

Off cuts2

Number the blocks


Start painting

Table off-cuts1

Needs some colour…almost done!

Table done1

That pop of red just did it!

Table done

Beautifully accented table done!

Done and dusted! Beautiful and practical!

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Building a shipping container home: Week 3

Although the last few weeks have been extremely busy, it has certainly been the most exciting time of our lives. My husband and I have build numerous homes for clients in the past, and finally we have the opportunity to build our own. A debt-free, off-the-grid house that will be home to ourselves and our children. Now although we have some experience with this kind of build, we still have a lot to learn. Our motto has become: “Trial and error…we learn as we go along.”

The build of a shipping container home should be fairly quick as it is a building block in itself. As a rule, we do not work on holidays and weekends, thus yesterday was our 10th actual day of working on the structure.

In this time we managed to get the house livable. We now have all of the following:

  • Running water (pulling from main house until we have a suitable off-grid solution)
  • Basic electricity (also pulling from main house until we have found the right solar solution)
  • 2 Bedrooms
  • A mini-kitchen
  • Painted walls and floor
Bedroom walls are up using the cut-out steel from the main walls

Bedroom walls are up using the cut-out steel from the main walls

Tinted floors and painted walls

Tinted floors and painted walls

Gas stove

Our big purchase this week was an entry -level gas stove

Solar lights

We bought a basic solar lighting system for our outside bathroom


Polystyrene pieces we are buying for insulating the roof

My design philosophy has always been one of recycling and re-purposing. We are negotiating with the owner of these polystyrene pieces above which is currently unused. It was previously used as a refrigerator. We will be using it as insulation for our roof. During the coming week we are hoping to source major items such as insulation, exterior wood cladding among others.

Guys about to paint exterior feature

Guys about to paint exterior feature

Keeping in mind our inspiration:

Our inspiration house

Our inspiration house

We are happy to say we are moving in tomorrow! Whoop-whoop!

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DIY: Picture frame tray

Picture frame: {A framework which a picture is mounted}

Tray: {An open receptacle for holding or displaying or serving articles or food}

* The holidays are almost here! Yeah!

Chances are you are expecting some visitors for the holidays. You might have your parents over and you would like to surprise them with breakfast in bed. Use an old picture frame and turn it into a beautiful tray to serve them and make them feel extra special.

What you need:

  • Big square picture frame (with glass still intact)
  • Beautiful fabric in the same size (I used a printed plastic place-mat)
  • Handles
  • Cordless drill and screws

Gather materials


Sand down the picture frame to reveal some of the old paintwork. Use the handles and measure where you need to drill the holes to secure the handles to the frame. When done, slide the glass into place. Then after neatly lay the fabric on the glass and cover with the backboard.


Beautiful and functional


Easy and practical

Easy and practical

Easy and your family will love you for it!

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DIY: Spice up your kitchen!

Spices ~ { Aromatic substances of vegetable origin used as a preservative}

A friend of mine recently asked me to make a spice rack for her.  Now, although I am quite nifty with the power-tools, I do not really have the correct tools for the job.  However, I could not say no to the challenge!

She briefed me and this is more or less what she required:





So those of you who know me, know that I recycle. ¬†I found loads of off cuts at a local carpentry. ¬†So I didn’t have to spend a fortune on buying the wood.

Let me get cracking!

Material list:

Supawood (MDF), cut to size

Super-strong wood glue

Wood screws

Panel pins

I started off building a block.  Then I proceeded to add the shelves on the inside of the block.  I also added the small blocks that creates the interest of the otherwise boring rack.




This is all I could complete today.  Next is the finishing and painting.  Canary yellow it is!

Stay tuned…I will post completed product later this week!


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Getting off the grid!

Power Grid ~ {A system of high tension cables by which electrical power is distributed throughout a region}

Getting off the grid…sounds very easy and idyllic. ¬†Grit your teeth…cause its not for sissies!

We have been without electricity for the last 2 months. ¬†I partly feel elated…another part of me not.

Two months is a long time, especially when you were not prepared for it. ¬†But it is not all doom and gloom…it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

I have been saying it for the longest time:”I want to get off the grid!” ¬†Now I am…willingly or not. Once again a testimony that our words carry power! ¬†So I am sure by now you want to know what happened? ¬†In a nutshell, our landlord unfortunately passed on in May, leaving behind a trail of unpaid bills. ¬†The electricity bill being one of them. ¬†Now many people suggested we move out, and find alternative accommodation, but it is easier said than done. ¬†We have settled and have no plans to move soon.

Anyhow…back to the details of “living green!”

It is actually great!  It has forced us to become creative in our living arrangement.  We cook on a little gas stove.



I have to boil water on the cooker for bathing purposes etc and that takes a little time.  On the other hand, it has made me more conscious of the amount of water I use.  So after a few weeks I grew tired of cowboy splashes and thus I developed a shower-system.

After doing some research on YouTube, I first started with a prototype.


Juice bottle sealed with silicone

This worked well; it was just a mission to get the water in the bottle at the right temperature.  Also, it only holds 5 liters so doesn’t work well when you want to wash hair etc.  The idea I got on the internet would work well in summer as I could leave the bottle outside and the sun would heat the water.  Unfortunately it is now winter and although very mild temperatures, not enough to heat it sufficiently to shower.

Then I developed this system.


Ice bucket as shower system

It might not look so grand, but it works well.¬† You actually feel like you‚Äôre taking a shower.¬† I used the fitting of a hose pipe so I can close and open as I wish.¬† However, the steady, straight stream does not distribute the water as a conventional shower head would do.¬† I am still figuring out an alternative… but quite chuffed with this.

We have portable solar-panels that we use to charge batteries during the day to have light in the evening via an inverter.


Portable solar-panels


Inverter with light

Our next-door neighbour has been very generous and supplies us with enough electricity to power the fridge and charging our mobiles, etc.


This helps quite a lot in the meantime while we source alternative solutions i.e. solar panels etc.

I am well aware that there are loads of renewal energy solutions on the market already, but many of them are very pricey.  Part of my mission (and has always been a desire of mine) is to find alternative power sources for the normal folk, and those less fortunate.  Millions of my fellow-countrymen are in a similar situation purely because of lack of resources or poverty.  So I believe this event, that some may view as a mischance, has happened on purpose.

I have learned from previous life lessons to embrace such events…they end up being turning points for the good.

I embrace, thus I am (em)powered!

Do you have any ideas for alternative power solutions? ¬†I would love to hear from you! ¬†Also remember to switch off…its the right thing to do!

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Clever decorating tricks: Using mirrors

Mirror ~ {Polished surface that forms images by reflecting light}

Every home needs a mirror…primarily for personal grooming and admiring oneself. ¬†Then, secondary we use mirrors for architecture, decoration and design.

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with mirrors…they can either make you feel good, or you might hate the sight its reflecting! ¬†They almost mimic the character of a best friend…and they tell the truth without saying a word!

However mirrors are a vital part of Interior Design and Decorating. ¬†It can transform a space from drab and dreary to fabulous! ¬†They can do wonders‚ÄĒfrom illuminating dark corners to adding elegance and drama to an area, to creating the illusion of space. They can even serve as works of art.¬† Here are some pics of clever use of mirrors.


Venetian style mirror above bath


Playful, yet elegant mirrors as headboard


Small square mirrors joined to form one big unit

Whilst studying, my final assignment was also my very first Interior project.  It was a newly-build house and the clients wanted a warm, cozy living room.



The one side of the room had some dark corners that needed some light.


My solution: Add some mirrors on the opposite wall!


I installed two mirrors on each side of the folding, sliding door which reflected light back to the dark corners


This illuminated the whole room.

The mirrors reflected light in the direction I wanted.

The mirrors reflected light in the direction I wanted.

I’m very proud to say that the decision to install the mirrors landed me full marks in this assignment!

Suffice to say…you can never have to many mirrors in your home. ¬†If they are carefully and tastefully placed, they can take totally change the feel of a room, and take your decor to another level!

Have you used mirrors in any clever way before…share!

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“Why don‚Äôt you do it yourself?”

How many times in frustration and sarcasm have you said this? Maybe in a fit of anger at someone who made a comment about your sad attempt of frying an egg!

But I refer specifically to DIY. Do-it-yourself.

We live in an era of empowerment.¬†“Empower yourself”, they say.¬†Who are they‚Ķthe media and all those other people.¬†They say find your own way in life!¬† Drill your own holes … do not wait for a man!

Imagine my surprise when I found out, there are men out there who cannot DIY. Do not misunderstand me, these men are successful in their careers and short nothing in terms of material things. But for some strange reason they never got a chance to develop their DIY talents, if any!

However, where there is a woman, there is always a picture to be hung … or curtains!¬† Aaargh!¬†A nightmare for any DIY dummie! ¬†Take my friend, actor, Solomon Cupido, as an example. ¬†Last week he called in a bit of a panic … he must hang a curtain rail. ¬†This is a newlywed … and the pressure is on! ¬†His wife expects him to hang the curtains, and perhaps she doesn‚Äôt even know that he is clueless! ¬†He needs to impress!

So my otherwise quiet Saturday afternoon was recently interrupted when I heard him screaming at the gate … he must learn drill today! ¬†He and his co-actor, comedian, Bradley Olivier, came along for moral support … really? ¬†


Solomon and Bradley

I realized the depth of Solomon’s problem when he asked what a “bit” is.¬†My husband jokingly explained to him step-by-step on how to use the drill.¬†Solomon listened attentively while Bradley chirped background‚Ķ¬†“I knew that man!” Yah right‚Ķ!¬† We know you know everything Brad!

Eventually they leave, equally proud and empowered!¬† And believe it or not … he gets it right.¬†And just to prove he did it … he sends me a photo:


Solomon shows us he can drill!

The whole debacle made me think. The whole era of self-empowerment has always been focused on the woman. Have we become so empowered that we never let the men do anything for us? It may be part of the problem.  

We are often referred to as the “fatherless generation”.¬†The reality is that a lot of young men grow up without their fathers around to teach them the skill.¬† But there is hope!¬†Nowadays you can just “Google” your problem and immediately there are thousands of videos and tutorials to show you how.

Why don’t you do it yourself?  Or if all else fails, come around and we’ll show you!

*This post was also written in Afrikaans


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Shopping with little (or no) money!

I have been thinking about this lately! Winter is here and a girl needs to up her wardrobe!

Challenge is…there is never enough money to buy whatever I like. Don’t get me wrong…I don’t lack anything…in fact my wardrobe is running over. ¬†Just with outdated¬†apparels!

So the other day I run off to the store…just needed some retail therapy. ¬†Shopping is so therapeutic sometimes…even if I buy for someone else…it still does wonders! ūüôā

Got me thinking…how do you shop with little or no money? ¬†Trust me…it is possible! ¬†First of all, buy clever. ¬†Buy classic items that will never date.

1. Wear comfortable shoes and easy on/off clothes the morning of your designated shopping trip(as you will be trying on things), and also do your hair and makeup like you would normally do when going out (so when you try on things you’ll look your best in them) and don’t bring your life savings.

 2. Bring the minimal money (just enough for food or gas is good) and MAYBE enough for that perfect dress. If you have no money whatsoever, eat at home, bring snacks and water, or stay home. And pack your self-control.

 3. Make a mental or physical list of stores you want to go to and things you want to buy.

¬†4. Go directly to the stores you want to when you get to the mall/shopping center. Pick up whatever you like and try it on. Pick up things you weren’t sure would look good on you, or things you normally think are too expensive. Choose whatever! and try it on!

 5. Try to make outfits in the fitting room or as you shop.

¬†6. Tell the lady in the fitting room that you didn’t like anything (or if you have a lot and are too embarrassed, leave some with her and take some with you, then as you continue to “look around” the store casually hang up the rest).

 7. Repeat those steps for the rest of the stores you want to go to.

 8. Stop for food/water at some point since you may want to rest a bit.


(tips courtesy of:

According to my experience…you don’t have to have loads of money to look good. ¬†All it takes is some clever planning and a little cheating!

  • Patience is a virtue! ¬†Wait for sales…you will be surprised at how much you save!
  • Buy seasonal clothes and boots after the season is passed. ¬†Usually they are marked down quite a bit.
  • Buy from charity shops. ¬†You are bound to find a bargain here and there. ¬†Read the article below on buying at charity shops. ¬†When we visited the UK a while back, I unintentionally visited a charity shop and found a designer shirt for 12 pounds (sadly, after two babes it doesn’t fit me any longer!)
  • Window shop on the High Street for ideas and go tho cheaper shops to actually buy a¬†similar¬†item. ¬†Above picture shows me window shopping on the High Street in Milan.

Also check out this article:

Charity Shop Secrets |

This article was just a frivolous conversation starter.  Do you have any tips on how to shop clever?

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DIY: A twist on the classic black and white floor

We recently signed a new renovation project.  Our clients are a working couple and finally have time to tackle the renovation after buying the property about 2 years ago.

Firstly, the lady of the house is almost 9 months pregnant and they have been living without a proper kitchen for almost 24 months!  Thus the kitchen is priority.

Kitchen in much need of work

We firstly replaced the small windows with bigger frames. I proposed a different version of the classical black and white floor.  Then we got our very capable tiler to start the work.

Proposed pattern for floor


Tiler at work

We faced some challenges as the floor wasn’t level and we had to join the previous tile work to have the lines¬†cohere. ¬†The area is 20 square metres and the job took about one day.

Almost done...

This is the end result:

Completed floor

The floor is different but I really love it!  We are currently busy doing the kitchen cupboards.  I will keep you posted and will publish some pics as the project progresses!

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How to make a place mat with a cereal box


This week’s project is once again a penny-saver. ¬†You need the following:

Cereal boxes in different colours


Metal ruler (or paper guillotine)

Cutting mat

Glue or glue gun

  1. Start with flattening the cereal box

Flatten the cereal boxes

2. Start cutting the box in strips.  I just eyeball the measurement.  If you want, you can cut it in strips of 1.5cm.

Cut the boxes in strips

3. When all the strips are cut, lie them all flat and seal them with¬†sellotape. ¬†(Or you can laminate the whole unit when done, but I haven’t tried it yet.) ¬†Will try one and let you know.

4. Start weaving the place mat.  Start by gluing the two ends together.

Glue the ends together

5. Weave…weave…weave

6. Try to use different shades all around so it doesn’t become monotonous.

7. When you’re done, glue the ends and tie it up.

Completed place mat

8. I unfortunately don’t have a better picture of the completed¬†place mat. ¬†We moved last week and it is somewhere in a box. ¬†I will load a better picture when I find it!

Fun, cheap and colourful!  The kids will love this project!  It will brighten up any table!

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Another heart matter: How to make a wall of hearts

{Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.  Oscar Wilde}

A few months ago I did a post on making paper hearts.  In honour of the month of love, this is another DIY post on making hearts and extremely easy to do:

Material needed:

Soft wire

Wire cutter


Dried grass

  1. Start by cutting the wire in the  length you require to make the hearts.  You would want different sizes.

Cut the wire in different sizes (excuse the picture quality)

2. Shape the wire into a heart form. ¬†Wrap grass around the frame of some of them. ¬†And then you’re done!

Wire hearts

I added some stone hearts I bought for…wait for it…99 cents each!! ¬†Bargain!

Ashley at the desk...can you feel the love? {wink-wink}

There you go! Another cost-saving project that is sure to add some romance and affection to any room…go ahead and try it!!

PS: It is moving day…#sigh

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Get a move on: How to move house…

This is the first DIY post for 2012, so I thought it fit that I give some tips for moving. ¬†If only it was so easy…

If only moving was this easy!

Moving house can be extremely stressful and emotional. ¬†Believe me…I know. I am about to move for the 17th time in 9 years.

By now I should be able to do this with my eyes closed but it is different¬†every time. ¬†I have sort of developed a system which naturally progressed over the years. ¬†Here are a few pointers I hope you’ll find helpful:

  1. Prepare. ¬†Make lists of what you’ll need like boxes, koki’s, buff tape, newspaper etc. ¬†Start collecting them a few days before you plan to start packing. ¬†Get boxes from your local grocery store.
  2. Involve the family.  A friend of mine, Stacey Holland, told me about her nomadic childhood. The one thing she really loved about moving is that her parents got them involved in the process.  So it really became an adventure, choosing paint colours, decorating and meeting new friends.
  3. Work room by room.  Draw a mental map of your existing home and what you need to prioritise first.  Decide which room you will pack first and stick to the plan.
  4. Work out a system. Try a colour coded system to mark boxes which you will need to unpack first at your new home.  Use coloured sheets of paper and write on it exactly what is in the box.  For example: Mark the bathroom box in red and write on the sheet:

Work out a colour-coded system

Note: Be sure to stick the paper sheets to the front of the boxes so when they are stacked you can easily see what is in there.

4. Make sure fragile stickers are clearly visible.  Nothing is worse than opening a box and finding the salad bowl you inherited from Gran in pieces!

5. Pack a separate box of needs for moving day.

List of needs for moving day



Tea or Coffee





Toiletries (Don’t Forget the Toothpaste!)

Money coins and notes

Toilet Rolls

Light Bulbs

Small Tool Kit



Pen and Paper

A few pieces of basic cutlery, crockery, can opener. You may fancy a takeaway on your first time at your new property

Keys, car etc

First Aid Kit

Cleaning aids (cloths, cleaners, etc)

This is just an example.  You can customise your list according to your needs.

6.¬†Unpack! ¬†I like to unpack as soon as we get to the new house. ¬†Keep the momentum and try to unpack one box at a time. ¬†Pace yourself and don’t¬†overexert yourself. ¬†I’ll even go as far as decorating some rooms on our first night!!

7. Change your address.  Contact your bank, insurance companies etc to change your address as soon as you can.

These are just a few tips that make moving easier for me.  Try to make the new house a home as soon as possible.  Hang up some pictures and pack out familiar things in your rooms so the kids feel at home immediately.

Moving is an adventure.  It is an opportunity to meet new and interesting people.  It also forces you out of your comfort zone and it is a chance to start over and try new things!  Come on, get a move on!

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“When-cash-is-available” works for me…

It’s the festive season and in the spirit of¬†benevolence¬†we thought to give ourselves an early Christmas gift…a new bathroom! ¬†The renovation process to this house has been a slow, relaxed one. ¬†Although the house is liveable it still needs a lot of work but we have decided to do it on a “when-cash-is-available” basis.

Thus we were blessed to have a little bit of spare cash available a few weeks ago to tackle the much-needed work in the bathroom. When we moved in we could only afford mostly cosmetic changes.  This is what the bathroom looked like when we moved in:

Bathroom before

I don’t need to tell you what a mess that was! ¬†We cleaned up a whole lot, did some painting and we had to settle for that, or at least till we had some money available again.

This is what the bathroom looked like after:

Temporary bathroom

As I said it was mostly cosmetic. We chopped off the old, ugly tiles and just painted the wall. ¬†That look lasted for a few months until the mould and soap scum spoiled everything. ¬†(Don’t know why I thought it would last forever!) ¬†This is what it looked like before we started the new renovation:

How embarrassing!

Uuuurhhh…this really looked hideous but we were tight for cash so we had to wait until we could re-do it.

Then we started gutting and chopping up those poorly-laid tiles:

Chopping 'em up!

We planned the project to the T. ¬†We shopped around for classy tiles on promotion to make our money stretch even further. ¬†I’ve always wanted to experiment with corrugated iron sheets in the bathroom and this was my chance. ¬†We got a professional tiler and I asked him to lay the wall tiles in a brick pattern to add some interest. ¬†Ashley and I put up the corrugated sheets ourselves. ¬†After¬†2 loooong and messy days, the project was done!

I hate the quality of the pics…I cannot stop apologising for not having my camera ready yet. ¬†Another case of waiting till I have cash to actually get it sorted! Sorry!

Almost complete bathroom

Corrugated sheets

Window sill

The best part is we spent very little money…you know I’m a penny pincher!

Budget breakdown:

Wall tiles:                      approx R600.00

Floor tiles:                    approx R 250.00

Corrugated sheets:                    R248.00

Wall & ceiling paint: ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†R 0.00 (Sponsored¬†by friends…thanks Claude & Jo!)

Total cost:                               R1098.00

Pretty cool for an almost new bathroom! ¬†Still wanted to replace the shower head and basin mixers. The photo’s do not do it justice! ¬†It has a clean, light feeling now. Kind of like a Scandinavian¬†design. ¬†It smells fresh and new! ¬†I love it!

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You are invited…

to another wedding!  Yes another one!

Two friends of ours are tying the knot in December and asked me to assist them with creative ideas.  When I visited Paarl for my infamous 3 weddings in October, I made their wedding invitations.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how I made it.

Material needed:

– A4 Handmade paper in the colour of your choice

– Paper craft Scissors

– Paper off-cuts

– Centrepiece to finish off your envelope

– Paper glue

РClear double-sided tape

  1. Cut your A4 paper in half.  This will allow you to get 2 invites per sheet. Then serrate the edges with a paper craft scissor.

Silver hand-made paper

2. I showed them a few examples of invitations I have made over the years and they immediately liked the one I made for my own wedding 9 years ago.

My wedding invitation

3. Gather your paper off-cuts and play with a colour scheme you like.  We chose black, pink and silver.  Cut them in lengths.

Paper off-cuts

4. Fold your silver paper like an envelope.  This will save you on buying and using envelopes.

Folded envelopes

5. Paste the paper strips on the back of the envelope.  For an added personal touch, print the names of your guests on tracing paper and use double-sided tape to stick it to the paper strip.

Paste strips on back of invite

6. We also printed the wording on pink tracing paper and pasted it inside the envelope using double-sided tape.


7. Fold your invite and complete it by pasting your centrepiece in our case a butterfly like a seal on top.


Ready for delivery!

And that is it!  Easy and cute.  The black gives it a stylish edge.  I love it!

The project cost less than R400,00.  The hand-made paper is quite pricey but very worthwhile.  The clients are happy so now we look forward to a great wedding in a few weeks time!

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Holy Spirit afresh

Some of you might remember a post about our updated dining room¬†a while back. ¬†I mentioned an inside joke about the “Holy Spirit” branch. ¬†Well this week was significant in that I re-committed myself anew to my Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Yesterday we had a prayer session and I was so overwhelmed by His presence in the very same dining room. ¬†So I thought it fitting to update the room with a new branch. ¬†After all, that teeny branch was no where near representative of the Holy Spirit’s magnitude.

Branch before

I once again took a trip outside in looked in God’s backyard for inspiration. ¬†I found this branch with great shape a few metres away from home:

Saved the branch

I vigorously removed the leaves and took it inside the house:

Ready to be hung

I used fish-line to give it the effect of hovering…and there you go!

Quick and easy

That is really a quick and easy project to update a room.  Once again a freebie from nature.  Go on and try it!

PS: I hope you didn’t notice…we haven’t done cornices yet. ¬†Hopefully soon!

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You may kiss your bride!

That might be one of the most nerve-racking moments in your life. ¬†The Preacher finally pronounces you husband and wife. Now while you know your new wife’s lips from end to end, suddenly the pressure is on. ¬†After all, your Mom & Dad are watching, the Pastor and all your friends. ¬†Usually you kiss in private and now you have to stick your tongue in her mouth and woo her as you supposedly share your first kiss. ¬†It is quite a show to behold!

Kiss your bride!

So this is another wedding post because I just love weddings…especially coloured weddings! ¬†I attended one this weekend. ¬†It was great. ¬†Many congratulations on your special day, Randall & Lydia! ¬†We had so much fun! ¬†We wish you loads of happy years together!

Mr & Mrs Gordon!

I hate differentiating between the races, but there is just something special about coloured weddings. As usual you meet up with people you haven’t seen in some time. ¬†It feels like a reunion and everybody is happy and expectant‚Ķlooking forward to a ‚Äúlekker‚ÄĚ reception and a free meal!

Usually the Master of Ceremonies is a funny guy.  He could be a friend or family member.  He’ll crack up everyone with advice and jokes about marriage.  He might be daring and might even dish out the dirt on either one of you too!  So be prepared!

One thing is for sure, there is always a joker around.¬† He stirs up the crowd and gets everyone laughing.¬† He might also get on some people‚Äôs nerves.¬† Then there is always a girl (or a few) that likes drawing attention.¬† She will be wearing a daring outfit and all the men will be checking her out.¬† Also, be warned!¬† There is always an Aunty trying to ‚Äútake‚ÄĚ something home.¬† If you‚Äôre not careful, she‚Äôll take home the vase you hired or even a glass.¬† She will definitely use a serviette and pack some food in her bag for the kids at home!


When the DJ opens with the first song everyone will be rushing to the floor.¬† Hopefully he plays some classics that get the crowd going.¬† Classics include a track from the Jimmy Hendricks band, definitely a Grease song and Brenda Fassie‚Äôs ‚ÄúWeekend Special‚ÄĚ.¬† You can bet yourself that there will be a middle-aged guy, who will pull out some dance moves that we haven‚Äôt seen ever.¬† It is evident that he might suffer from a mid-life crisis.¬† He will be trying to dance with that girl with the short dress and she will happily oblige!

Aaaah…you gotta love weddings.  It did however get me thinking about the general etiquette that goes along with the order of a wedding.

1. Firstly let’s talk about dress code:  Depending on what the bride and groom indicated the wedding invitation, it is usually a formal affair.  Ladies can wear smart cocktail dresses and gents usually a jacket and smart pants.  However ladies, please do not wear a white dress or a veil!  Try not to steal the show as it is the Bride’s day.

The Mother of the Bride usually has first option for choosing the style and colour of her outfit after the Bridal party has chosen theirs.

2. Seating at the ceremony: The bride’s family sits on the left side of the aisle while the groom’s family sits on the right.  The mothers always have the best seats…usually in the front row with the fathers beside them.  The Bridal party joins them in the front row.

  1. The Processional: When the bride is ready, the appropriate wedding music starts and the procession begin with the youngest attendant. Flower girls, ring bearers and young bridesmaids enter first. They can walk in pairs or alone, although it is often best to have the smaller attendants in pairs, closely followed by a bridesmaid.  Older bridesmaids and maids of honour (married bridesmaids) follow.  The bride enters with her father (or close male relative) as her escort.
  1. The Recessional: At the end of the ceremony, the celebrant will pronounce the bride and groom married and might introduce them as husband and wife. At this stage the ceremony is over.  Before they leave they have to sign the wedding register.  After this they are ready to leave the church.  The couple walks back down the aisle first.  Then the flower girl and ring bearer and then the bridesmaids and best man.  The parents of the bride should leave next, followed by the parents of the groom.  The remaining guests leave row by row. If there is an usher, this can be organized from the front row to the back.

Here are a few general tips:

  • Turn your cell phone off in the church.
  • Make sure you don’t run out of food or drink!
  • Don’t walk off with the flower arrangements on the tables unless you’ve been given permission to do so (especially if you leave early).
  • Stay sober for the formal bits – like speeches and photographs (and the wedding ceremony).
  • Don’t seat divorced parents who hate each other side by side.
  • It is poor wedding etiquette if the groom is not standing at the bottom of the aisle when the bride arrives.
  • Do not interrupt the preacher/minister whilst busy with the wedding ceremony.

That was a mouthful. ¬†A wedding is also the joining of two very different families. ¬†Keep in mind that each of you grew up with different traditions so learn to accommodate each other. ¬† Above all…enjoy the day, a wedding is a celebration!

PS: Apologies for skipping a post yesterday.  I had endless problems connecting to the Internet.  

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How to make a grocery bag holder

I guess DIY Friday can also be Crafty Friday?  I have been wanting to make this cute grocery bag holder I found on the Internet.

Grocery bag holder

If you have a sewing machine and nice fabric, here are the instructions:

You’ll Need:

  • If you want your holder all one color ‚Äst1¬†piece of fabric, 51cm x 64 cm. If you want strips like pictured here, you‚Äôll need¬†9¬†pieces of fabric, 51cm x ¬†8.90cm.
  • 2¬†pieces of narrow elastic (1/4 wide or smaller).
  • 1 piece of ribbon ‚Äď 36cm long.
  • Thread
If you’re using strips, sew all of them together along their long sides. Iron all of the seams open.
Then make a seam for the elastic on both ends.

Now, thread your elastic through each end and sew each end of the elastic securely to the opening of each end of the casing. Keep in mind, the larger piece of elastic is for the top of your holder (so you can shove many bags in) and the smaller piece of elastic is for the bottom (so that you only pull one bag out at a time).

Lastly, sew the 2 long sides together, with right sides together.

Hang…………….and stuff.

It is so nice I had to try to make my own version. ¬†Now let me get it straight…I don’t sew. ¬†I don’t even have a sewing machine. ¬†So this one was going to have to be made by hand!

I am extremely impatient and lazy when it comes to sewing. ¬†I try to stay clear of it except for the odd button or to mending a hem. ¬†That’s it.

So here is my very very simple version made by hand.  We had another spat with 5 mice last week.  They created havoc.  Among the items they chewed on was one of our South African flags!


So I decided to recycle it as I do everything else.  I was actually a bit nervous as I know there are regulations regarding using the flag in any other way as it was intended.  You can read about it here.

So after about an hour of sewing (and pricking myself with the needle twice) I managed to finish it!

It is too long! ¬†I guess I am going to have to stuff it with a whole lot of plastic bags now! ¬†I couldn’t even find enough bags to stuff it for the photo as the mice chewed through them when I stored it below the kitchen sink.

That’s it. ¬†It is not perfect…in fact it is too long and narrow, but it is really practical. ¬†And once again, it cost me nothing.

Would you try to make this? ¬†Please send me pics when you’re done.

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Shut it!

It’s DIY friday again! ¬†Wow, this week went faster than Usain Bolt in the 100 metres! ¬†Boy, that guy can run!

You’ll remember my post about insulating the girls’ room for winter. ¬†I had a challenge with two odd sized windows as seen below:

Odd sized windows

I had to think of a way to dress these windows for both insulation and privacy. ¬†I didn’t want to have curtains made as it would be a waste of material to have floor-length drapes. ¬†Thus I thought of making shutters. ¬†The house we occupied in Philadelphia¬†had shutters and I loved it. ¬†Mine would be much simpler and would serve more of a practical purpose.

Shutters in Philadelphia

Concept for window shutter

Firstly, I measured and cut the wood.  I used inexpensive plywood I found on site.

Then I was inspired by a idea I saw on the Internet by Emily Henderson.  She painted an antique table with an interesting motive as seen below:

Stencilled table

I had to try it!  I think she used actual stencils.  I just made cut-outs out of white paper and used pritt to stick it to the wood.


Flower cut-out

Then I painted the whole board white.  It needed 2 coats.  I hung it on the wall with two small hinges.

Oooh...I like that!

Then I painted a small border around the unit so it would look like an artwork when closed.  I hung a painting I did when Chelsea was born in the centre and pulled off the rest of the cut-outs.  Just a reminder of how the windows looked before:

Before shutters were hung

This is how it looks now: (click on the pictures to enlarge)


Lights on

Open shutter

Easy to operate

I love it. ¬†It took some time to complete…but I like the end result. ¬†The room is much warmer now and it is super-easy to operate. I just flip them open and use a stick to keep it open. ¬†Once again…a very cost-effective project:

Plywood:  R 0,00

Paint: R 0,00

Cut-outs: R 0,00

Hinges: R 0,00 (on site)

Artwork: R 0,00 (hand-made)

Masonry drill bit: R 12,00

Project cost: R 12,00

Would you try this project at home?  Do you have small windows that needs some TLC?  Feel free to ask me for advise.

Have a great DIY weekend! ¬†Take lots of pics and don’t forget to send them to me!

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Making memories

We love travelling and I am like a magpie.  I collect things and finds wherever we go.

I especially like collecting natural items like driftwood, stones, shells, etc.¬† So if not careful, I can quickly find myself with boxes full of ‚Äústuff‚ÄĚ.

A few years ago I thought of a way to display my finds that would appeal to my taste in décor.  So I came up with this idea to make a memory stick.

Collect all your finds and drill holes in the wood, shells etc.  You will need a long, interesting stick to be the main feature.  Grab some twine and start stringing the tokens in the order you like.  I unfortunately don’t have the equipment to make holes in the stones.  I just wrapped them double with the twine and used clear glue to secure it.  Be sure to space the tokens evenly.

Sticks & stones

When you’re done it should look something like this:

  1. This piece of driftwood I picked up in 2005 in the mountains in Greyton,Western Cape.
  2. These shells I collected while on holiday with my parents in Sedgefield in 2005.
  3. Driftwood from the beach in Arniston in 2006.
  4. These are burned guava’s I picked up in the Kruger National Park in 2006.  A guava tree caught fire and the gauva’s went stone-hard.
  5. These are precious stones I used when I still had my jewellery business.

The rest of the items are just random stuff I had around the house.

Below is the finished product.  These pictures were taken in our bedroom when we stayed in Philadelphia in 2007.

Finished product

I still have the memory stick but it is waiting for a place in our new home.  I cannot wait to paint the living room and hang it on the wall!

Waiting for a new home

You can also extend it and use it as a room divider.¬† I made one for a good friend of mine, Liana, and she uses hers as a ‚Äėcurtain‚Äô in her bathroom.

Go on, make some memories!

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How to have a stylish wedding on a tight budget

Last week my younger sister got engaged!  In honour of my sis, Ame, and her fiancé, Eddie, I have decided to do a post on weddings and the planning thereof.

First of all, it is soooo exciting! ¬†Congratulations to the two of you! ¬†I know you will be happy together! Ashley and I got married on 1 December 2002 and it was probably the hottest day of the year. We had three and a half months to plan everything. It was tight and money was even tighter! The good news is, a stylish and affordable wedding is doable. Definitely! (That’s my sister, Ame in the picture below).

Our big day

Allow me to give you some tips on what assisted us in making our day a reality:

1. Express yourself. 

Make up your mind that the day and decision to get married is about what you want.

Don’t let trends and other people influence you in such a manner that you think your personality and wishes are compromised. If someone you know is also getting married in the same year you intend to, steer away from comparing your day to theirs. ¬†Be yourself and do what makes you happy. ¬†Don’t feel pressurised to spend thousands more than is necessary to “keep up with the Joneses”. ¬†I had a yellow wedding with sunflowers and yellow vintage cars.¬† We rented the cars from a friend and a colleague and they charged us minimal.¬† I usually wear my hair curly and decided my wedding day shouldn‚Äôt be any different. Your wedding day should reflect your personality.

Vintage cars

2. Secondly, set the date!

Make sure the date gives you reasonable time to save money and plan everything.  Many times the date will depend on the availability of the venue you desire.  If some of your friends and family that you would like to invite live in another province or country, be sure to inform them as soon as you can.  This will give them enough time to book air tickets and make arrangements to attend.

3. Choose an inexpensive or free venue.

I personally feel some venues are ridiculous with their prices. ¬†You do not need to pay an arm and a leg to have a nice, stylish wedding. ¬†Don’t get sucked in with the ‘latest venue’. ¬†Be realistic in what you can afford. Be creative. ¬†If you know someone who owns a farm or a property with enough space, be bold and ask them if they would be willing to rent their space to you for that day. You never know. ¬†People might surprise you. Drive around your town and ask the locals. The tourism offices also keep a list of all the venues in the area.¬† Also try venues where you are able to bring in your own caterer.¬†¬† Ashley and I settled for an unconventional crocodile farm for our wedding. The views were spectacular, the price was all inclusive and we were able to negotiate with the owners.

Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm

4. Narrow down the guest list.

Who to invite and who not?  Your family is quite huge as well as his…what to do?  Have you considered having a smaller affair?  Decide on a realistic total of people to invite.  Once you have decided, be fair and split the amount between the two of you.  Stick to the decided total and only invite those people that really matter to you.  No offense, you don’t need to invite Aunty Mavis and that distant niece you haven’t seen in 20 years!  Invite those who would make your day special.

It was really disheartening when some of our guests did not pitch.  If we had known sooner we could have invited other people who would have loved to be part of our special day.  Both of you know a lot of people like colleagues and friends of friends.  You might not be close but you would like them to be part of the day.  If you are really clever invite everyone you know to the ceremony at the church and invite only a select group (family and close friends) to the reception.

 5.      Avoid the busy days. 

Most people get married on Saturdays.¬† So venues will cost more on this day.¬† Look at alternative days like Fridays or Sundays.¬† Why not get married ‚Äėout of season‚Äô?¬† The South African wedding season is from September to April.¬† ¬†Venues and most services run specials during the off-peak months.¬† Ashley and I got married on a Sunday morning and we were treated to a Sunday lunch at the reception.¬† It saved us some money as we did not have to serve liquor (it was our preference) like we would have had on a Saturday night.

6.      Ask for moola!

If you really want to save money (especially for your first month’s rent), ask your guests to give you money in lieu of a gift.  This will prevent you from getting 5 toasters and they will love the fact that they don’t have to guess what you would like.  They can pop the cash in an envelope and this will really help you start your new life together.  Put an appropriate verse to add in the invite to bring your message across.  Here is an example:

“Don’t wonder about a gift all night,

A gift of cash will make it right,

All other gifts are welcome too,

As long as it‚Äôs with love from you.‚ÄĚ

Save on costs

7. Use Your Friends And Family

Within our families we all know an aunt who can sew, or a cousin who has a great camera.  Perfect!  Ask them for assistance in making a dress, taking pictures, providing music for the ceremony, and making your wedding cake. Always offer to pay.  You will be surprised that most of them might offer their services at discount or even for free as a wedding gift. Be careful though; don’t let your wedding and friendship be ruined through this.

8.      Something borrowed

It is great to use heirlooms from yesteryear. Give new life to your grandmother’s wedding ring and use it as yours.  If there is none, ask your family members for odd pieces of jewellery and have them melted to make a wedding ring.  My mom-in-law gave us her odd gold jewellery and the diamonds of her wedding band for my ring.  If there’s a wedding gown, veil, handbag, engagement ring or wedding band in the family you like, use it for yourself.  It is much cheaper than buying a new one and it has sentimental value.

9.       Go back to school!

Take advantage of students.  For every service you need, there’s a student willing to provide it for a nominal fee in exchange for experience.  You can use beauty school students for your make-up and nails etc.  Get a Graphic design student to design your invitations.  However, be sure to ask for samples before you commit. You don’t want to arrive at the ceremony with a ghost face!

 10.   Be creative!

  • Make your own flower arrangements.¬† I ordered sunflowers from the local flower lady and made my own table arrangements (with the help of my mom, aunt and mom-in-law).¬† I did however hire a professional to make my bouquet and flowers for the main table.

Self-made bouquet

  • Make your own invitations and keep-sakes.¬† My mom and aunt helped me with mine.¬† As my theme was sunflowers, my keepsakes were sunflower seeds in an organza bag with a thank you message attached.¬† The idea was that my guests should plant the seed in honor of our wedding and see it grow!
  • Skip the 3-layer cake that cost thousands!¬† Go for a large chocolate cake or cupcakes instead.¬† They taste better and the guests will actually eat it.¬† And it won‚Äôt gather dust in your mom‚Äôs sideboard as a display!

Alternative wedding cake

  • Email your guests with a nice ‚ÄėSave the date‚Äô message.¬† This will save you money on cards.
  • Have a stylish braai!¬† Or ask your guests to bring food in stead of a gift.¬† You will have a great variety of dishes and save even more money on catering.¬† Use the money you have saved for a well-deserved honeymoon!
  • A great idea is to buy a bunch of disposable cameras and ask your guests to take pictures of your big day.¬† They will enjoy this gesture and you will see the day through their eyes.
  • Skip the bridal shops and designer dresses.¬† Look for your dress in bargain or vintage shops.¬† Have it altered to suit your needs.¬† Buy shoes and a dress that you can wear at another event again.
  • Ask a few music students to play the Wedding march as you walk down the isle. ¬†This will give them exposure and they won‚Äôt charge you an arm and a leg.

That is quite a mouthful.  The bottom line is YOU, and your betrothed, saying your vows, expressing your love, and making a commitment to each other is what makes a wedding a wedding.  Be yourself and most of all…enjoy it!  After all this will be a once in a lifetime experience!

For more info check the following websites:

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