Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Favorite Flicks

So Dan, Ben and I got into a conversation the other day about our favorite movies. While I don't feel that my "top 10" list is yet complete, I felt like sharing some of my favorite flicks. Maybe you haven't seen one of these and are interested in expanding your movie horizons... who knows?

As you can see by the below, I am not one who's much into romantic comedies or the like; so if that's your dig, maybe my list isn't for you.
  • American Psycho (Perfectly exquisite blend of 80's tunes, dark comedy, witty one-liners and a little bit of, well, psycho)
  • Donnie Darko (Odd drama, great 80's music -- am I seeing a theme here?)
  • Big Fish (Tim Burton does a great job; feel good, whimsical and "tall tale" kind of movie)
  • Boondock Saints (I am not sure why this movie hasn't received more critical acclaim. What a beat 'em up, sock-it-to-em movie); my brother told me this weekend that a sequel is coming out!
  • Good Fellas (Yes, I am a sucker for gangster flicks)
  • City of God (Amazing cinematography, wild story of Rio de Janeiro... you almost forget you're reading subtitles)
  • The Departed (Scorsese did it right)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wedding Blues - Sort Of...

I truly feel like the first page of any wedding planning book should say (in big/bold/engraved letters) the following statement or disclaimer: "Know right away that choosing your guest list and having friends be understanding of your limitations will be the most difficult parts of the planning process. Now that you've been forewarned, go forth and plan!"

When Dan and I became engaged in August 2007, we had a few married friends tell us to be prepared for awkward moments. None came sooner than with one of my coworkers. This girl, though very nice, seemed to feel some kind of entitlement toward our wedding and being on the guest list. She and I have hung out together outside of work once--and again, while she is very nice, we aren't that good of friends. The first Monday back to work after the big popping of the question, this female coworker asked if she could come down and see my ring. I obliged of course, only to find myself in deep regret for sharing the news at work. She didn't only inspect my ring; she went on to look me square in the face and say, "Katy, I know that you have lots of people you need to invite to your wedding, but I would really love to come. Can you invite me? It would really mean a lot to me if I were invited."

I guess I didn't really prepare myself for a moment such as this. Do people really want to attend weddings this badly? I was awestruck and tried to respond as quickly as possible. I believe I murmured something like, "Well, I will see... but we have lots of family and probably won't be able to invite as many friends as we would like..."

Okay, maybe that particular situation is a bad example of the point I am trying to convey, especially because not many people are exactly walking up and point-blank asking if they're invited. And because many of the people I wish I could invite are indeed close friends and people who mean a lot to me.

I feel that I have been blessed to meet many people (friends, coworkers, family friends, classmates, etc.) over the years. I am trying to find a way to say this as poignantly as possible without being off mark (I wouldn't want it to appear that I think I'm popular)... hmmm. I am still struggling with my words today.

Between Dan and myself, we have more than 100 family members. Add in the bridal party and their dates and you have about 120 people. Trust me, there are so many people, too many to count, that I wish I could include. Sometimes, I wish I could spill my guts to friends and say, "Instead of there being a white elephant in the room, I just wanted to let you know that you are a good friend of mine - or insert relationship here - but there's only so much room any wedding can have." It's a tough position to be in sometimes. If I could invite everyone that has ever meant a lot to me, trust me, I would.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Stretching a Young Professional's Salary

Yes, I must start out this post with another one of my world famous disclaimers…

I am by no means “good” with money or a big saver of money (this is something I am still trying to work on). I can at least say that I am good at stretttttttching my money—so I thought that these tips may help some other young professionals who need to make their money go as far as possible.

  • Don’t be afraid to buy shoes online. I’ve bought many a great pair for a great bargain, even with the shipping included. Consider Make Me Chic and Gotham City Online.

  • Realize that finding good deals may not be a timesaving event. Sometimes, you have to dig. This advice is best to keep in mind at stores like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Ross and Goodwill. The “winner” items are not just going to pop out at you; you have to look for them.

  • Speaking of Goodwill, don’t be afraid to shop there! Believe it or not, Goodwill has many a brand new or lightly used item. I recently bought a super fabulous eyelet lace skirt, a funky pair of heels and a work sweater with a houndstooth collar—all at Goodwill—all brand new. (See my fun and funky shoes at the bottom of this post)

  • Shop at Kroger or a farmer’s market. While I do enjoy the shopping experience at Publix, Kroger just offers so many more generic brands and overall options. Why not buy Kroger-brand pizzas, sugar, flour, eggs, etc.? (Note: you just can’t go generic with some things, such as ketchup, oatmeal and face wash) Farmer’s markets have produce for such a bargain compared to any local Whole Foods.

  • Leverage the power of the Internet. Many online-only retailers save money by not having physical stores. No leases, salespeople, parking lots and light bills to pay for. Enjoy shopping from the comfort of your own home, which is an added “plus” right now with the ever increasing gas prices ($3.39/gallon today. WTF?)

  • Plan gift giving in advance. You can find an incredibly thoughtful gift for a friend that isn’t as expensive as waiting until the last minute. Funky jewelry, luggage tags, home goods, purses and bags, stationery, etc. can all be found at a better deal (in-store or online) if you give yourself some lead time in the hunt.

  • Take a chance on an “amateur” hair stylist. At Van Michael, for example, a “New Talents” stylist can cut your hair for about $25 to $35 (depending on the level of skill) and a color stylist can do your color for about $80. If you’re going to a nice city salon, you’re probably spending a lot more than this. The New Talents professionals at Van Michael have attended cosmetology school, been through rigorous VM training and are tested regularly on their skills.

  • Have your friends over for dinner instead of going out. A great homemade meal, wine and friends make for a nice, yet inexpensive, evening of fellowship.

  • Pack your lunch. Yes, it is important to get out of the office every now and again, but this can be dangerous to the pocketbook and to the waistline. Try making a tuna sandwich or throwing a Lean Cuisine into your work bag on the way out the door. Three dollars for a packed lunch versus $7 for a restaurant one really adds up over time.