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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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Entries in Best of 2010 (3)

Friday
Jan212011

The Best of 2010, Part III

This is one of my most favorite posts of all time. The women, the mission, the product - all so freakin' amazing. I am proud to say we donated a nice sum of money to Thistle Farms, thanks to all of your comments and tweets and spreading of the word. It makes me so incredibly proud and happy that this post is included in The Best of The Thirty-Something Bride 2010! It gives me hope that all of us are here to do more than post pretty pictures or bitch about our lives, that in truth we are far more blessed than we can ever imagine.

And don't forget...Monday I'm announcing a KICK-ASS contest!

How Love Can Heal

OK, so a couple of years ago The Candyman and I were invited to a backyard wedding in East Nashville. This East Side wedding was lovely, as all weddings are. The bride wore a lacey white top and a light colored, long suede skirt and cowboy boots. The invites were paperless, as was the RSVP. A friend officiated. The couple requested that no gifts be brought. However, since people are insistent (and they are), they allowed guests to bring a bottle of their favorite wine for the reception (brilliant idea) or they could donate to Thistle Farms.

Uh. Wait a second. Donate WHERE? I looked it up online and their website was crap and I didn’t understand it and so I opted to bring the wine.

Fast forward a year or so. The Candyman and I were engaged and one weekend I popped into The Frothy Monkey for a much needed latte and the line was just killer long. As I was waiting to order I was browsing some of the shop’s items for purchase and l noticed some Thistle Farms product. I made the connection and did a little reading about the place. I was floored. And I knew RIGHT THEN that The Candyman and I needed to include Thistle Farms as part of our registry.

So that’s what this introduction leads us to: ALTERNATIVE REGISTRIES and specifically, Thistle Farms.

Like I mentioned a few weeks ago, I went on a field trip. I buddied up with Tabitha and Ashley from Ashley’s Bride Guide as well as Jonathon and Sharon from Jonathon Campbell Photography.

The ladies of Thistle Farms, Ashley's Bride Guide and The Thirty-Something Bride!

I had met Carolyn Snell, one of Thistle Farm’s volunteers at the ABG Sex and the City party. We talked excitedly about how I had come to know them and I just KNEW I had to blog about this and tell everyone I possible could about this amazing place. So what is it? Here we go:

The Story of Magdalene and Thistle Farms
Magdalene is a two-year residential community founded in Nashville Tennessee in 1997 for women with a history of prostitution and drug addiction. Magdalene was founded not just to help a sub-culture of women, but to help change the culture itself. We stand in solidarity with women who are recovering from sexual abuse, violence, and life on the streets, and who have paid dearly for a culture that buys and sells women like commodities. 
At no cost, we offer women a safe, disciplined, and compassionate community for two years, paid for by the gifts we receive from individuals and private grants. Magdalene stands as a witness to the truth that in the end, love is more powerful than all the forces that drive women to the streets.


What is Thistle Farms?
Thistle Farms is a non-profit business operated by the women of Magdalene. By hand, the women create natural bath and body products that are as kind to the environment as they are to the body. All sales proceeds go back into the program.
Through Thistle Farms, the women of Magdalene gain much needed job skills, and learn responsibility and cooperation. Into every product goes the belief that freedom starts with healing, and love can change lives. Our dream is that people will come to see Thistle Farms as a humble but powerful business synonymous with women’s freedom.


Why Thistle?
Considered a weed, thistles grow on the streets and alleys where the women of Magdalene walked. But, thistles have a deep tap root that can shoot through thick concrete and survive drought. And in spite of their prickly appearance, their royal and soft purple center makes the thistle a mysterious and gorgeous flower.

Carolyn Snell, our wonderful Thistle Farms liaison!

Our group was invited to tour Thistle Farms. At 9am, a large group of people circled a lighted candle and started the Daily Meditation. A woman read a passage from a book about secrets, the topic for the days’ meditation.  From there, we went around the circle and introduced ourselves, much like an AA meeting. Sometimes that’s all that was said: a name.  Other women elaborated about who they were, the secrets they had kept in their lives and how it became toxic in both body and soul. It was one of those moments in life where I absolutely know for certain that I:

  1. Will never be the same.
  2. Recognize the courage it takes for a person to truly acknowledge themselves, faults and all.
  3. Am overwhelmed that places like this exist and were built to help.

There were a few comments made that rocked me hard and I wrote them down to share: 

Freedom ain’t free.

Turns out, the only person I was keeping secrets from was myself.

I’m not ashamed of my past, I'm proud of my future.

I learned early on that I don’t have to dance with everybody, but I have to dance with somebody.

I am breaking the cycle of secrets.

When you put these statements into context – a long history of abuse, drug addiction, crime, broken families and lives – they MEAN something. Something big.  It was truly an amazing experience.

Once the mediation time was over, they went into some general business and house-keeping issues: pick up your trash, make sure the back door is locked, thanks to the candle folks who worked overtime – just like any other staff meeting at any other business. There were ladies who were clearly ready to get to work, others who wanted to socialize – just like any office.

The "no nonsense" supervisor. As a graduate of the program, this lady knows what she's doing. I was impressed.

 

A Thistle Farm employee prepping bottle for labeling.


Happiness found in candle making!

We got a lovely tour of the work space, the packaging and shipping areas and I had the opportunity to stop and talk to two women.  Neither of the women is considered a graduate yet, but I was moved to share their stories.

“Mary” is 32 years old and had been at Magdalene house and Thistle Farms for 9 months.  She had been on probation for drug use, got caught using and the courts took her son away from her.  In order to keep her son out of child services and with her mother, Mary entered the 2-year program at Thistle Farms. She got her GED and was just accepted into cosmetology school. Her number one motivation is her son.

Listening to Mary's story.

“Alice” is 39 years old and has been at Thistle Farms for 2 months. She started using crack cocaine at 13 years old. After 8 years of addiction, she was able to kick the crack habit, but switched to alcohol. This is her 5th program and she was order by a judge to Thistle Farms. The judge pulled her order, but Alice has decided to stay. It’s her goal to “break the co-dependency cycle.” Her big news?  She’s just gotten her driver’s license back.

Inspired by Alice!

Thistle Farms creates  a myriad of amazing products. They have yummy smelling candles, lip balms, shower gels (my personal fave), lotions, body balms and essential healing oils. The products are all natural, made by hand and smell and feel great. Honestly, they do.  I was scared to try them because I have really sensitive skin – but they are glorious! They feel and smell so good! And you know what else? They have built partnerships with other women’s groups in Rwanda and Uganda to import the little bags they sell their “Summer Survival Kit” in! So cool.

So what is the point of this blog post? You can help. Today. Right Now.  For every comment, tweet, Facebook post or link to this article from your blog  (either here with The Thirty-Something Bride or on ABG or BOTH!), Ashley and I will team up and donate a $1 to the women of Thistle Farms.  That’s right!  Do what you gotta do – we’re picking up the tab.

What I want to stress the most about this post is the fact that you CAN register for something other than stuff.  You can link directly to Thistle Farms and donate on-line. I would love for you to choose Thistle Farms. But if you choose another, more personally meaningful charity, that’s great too!  While I was in love with the idea of Thistle Farms, we actually ended up choosing The American Cancer foundation. The Candyman’s mom died of cancer and my aunt was unable to come to my wedding as she was undergoing chemo at the time (she’s now in remission!).  We made a tough personal choice on this one. Hopefully, your choice will be easier. And I can’t tell you how happy we were to get cards from our friends and family who donated. It felt so wonderful and I encourage all brides to do the same.

Some other choices that Thistle Farms is offering:

In lieu of favors – framed signs and post cards for donations made in the names of your guests. Printed on handmade, thistle paper (natch).

 

Wedding Favors – Lip balms and postcards.

 

 Gift Baskets - Perfect for your maids!

Bridal Showers – Thistle Farms employees will com come to you to share their personal stories of hope as well as samples of goodies to buy!  You can also bring groups to Thistle Farms for tours, just like we did!

The easiest way to support Thistle Farms is to leave a comment and help spread the word!  When you share today's post on Twitter or Facebook or as a link on your blog, The Thirty-Something Bride and ABG will donate $1 to Thistle Farms. Fan-fucking-tastic, right? So share and mention @T30SB and @thistlefarms and link to this article (http://bit.ly/cgFQAP). EASY-PEASY!

Celebrate your wedding day with products that truly say, “Love heals.”



Thursday
Jan202011

The Best of 2010, Part II

For all you DIY junkies, here's another Best of The Thirty-Something Bride 2010!

THe Graphics Fairy Rocks! Or a DIY Tutorial.

For all you DIY brides out in Wedding Planning Land (it's a magical, mysterious land), there are an incredible amount of resources out there to be inspired by. Please don't be limited to wedding only sites. The Graphics Fairy is just such an example of a go-to place for all craft-inspired beings, not just brides. She basically offers up freebies and tutorials. We likey! She shares mostly vintage artwork with very few limitations or copyright issues. Hell to the yeah. We likey even more!

I used one of her freebies for my match boxes and while I mentioned the project during my wedding planning, I really didn't give a great tutorial on it. I've decided to do that now, mostly because my match boxes got featured on The Graphic Fairy's Brag Monday yesterday! Woo! Hoo!

So here we go! First of all, there are lots and lots of templates out there for match boxes and match books. I printed out several different versions on-line and none of them quite fit. Most were too small. I found that odd and annoying. Maybe because I bought my matches in bulk at The Dollar Store? Did I have defective match boxes? Who knows. They were a buck so I adapted! I decided to make my own template. If you would like to use my blank Word template, you can find it here.

Do you not know how to make your own template? Well, I'm here to help. This is the way I set up templates. It might not be the best, fastest or easiest way, but for those of us who are PC users, who are NOT graphic designers and who don't feel like becoming proficient in Photoshop for stupid match boxes that for some reason you just have to have, this pretty much works. Here is a how-to on how to set up a template for custom labels in Word. Go here.

The original artwork that I used from The Graphics Fairy was this Sheet Music Frame:

 I do not know how to use Photoshop. I do know how to use ACDSee, which is like a watered down Photoshop. It's similar but slightly better than the dreaded and lame Paint application. I could probably have done this in Paint, but I might have had to drive nails under my eyelids since it's not the most user-friendly application. I basically used the following tools to re-create this label: Cut, Copy, Paste, Text Box, Clone.

Once I had this formatted as a jpg, I dumped it into my Word template (INSERT→PICTURE→FROM FILE), sized and centered  it the best I could (it was NOT an exact fit) and copy and pasted it into all the cells on the template. In order to account for the fact that it was not a perfect fit, I added shading to the background of the label (see tutorial) to fill in the white space. This ended up being a really good thing when I was putting these together!

Once I had them ready to print, it looked like this:

 I printed these out on regular 'ol paper. Nothing fancy needed. Then, I cut along the black lines to create the individual labels. You might be able to do this with a really sharp and accurate paper cutter (I don't have one of these). I used super-sharp, small scissors. Once I had all my labels cut out, it was time to glue. Oh, what fun! Here's what you'll need:

Take a label and lay it on the wax paper. Run your glue stick along the outer edges of the label, overlapping onto the wax paper to make sure you get the edges good and covered. You don't need to worry about adding glue to the center of the label. In fact, you'll want to hold the label down in the center while you glue stick the edges.

Take the glue stick and add adhesive to the center of the box body, along ONE of the striking strips and then on the opposite side of the box.

Place the label on the top of the box, with the top edge lining up next to the striking strip that does NOT have the glue. Carefully wrap the label around, smoothing it as you go, and lining up the edges. This is totally annoying and you'll mess up a few before you get into a groove. If you lay it wrong, gently lift it up as soon as you can and realign. The glue doesn't dry super-duper fast, but you don't want to let it set either.

Did you cut your label a little goofy? Is it a little too big? No matter. Once the labels are dry, go back with your super sharp scissors and just trim the edges up against the edge of the box. Because I had the darker background, any unsightly mistakes were hidden. Because I had an antique-y style label, my mistakes were well hidden. I'm not sure I could have done this if I wanted everything to be pristine and perfect!

This was a great project for sitting in front of the TV, watching House or American Idol or Desperate Housewives (God, I love those NY and NJ bitches-they actually make me feel totally sane and normal) or The Dog Whisperer - whatever your tele-poison is. Here's how mine turned out:

 

 Photos by Jonathon Campbell Photography.

Many thanks to Karen over at The Graphics Fairy for both the inspiration and the feature! Where have you found your inspiration? Share it - every bride needs a little help!

Wednesday
Jan192011

The Best of 2010, Part I

Hey everyone! I've sneaked away this week to do that thing. Remember? That really cool thing? In my absence, I've decided to run my best of the best. That's right,  because we all love "The Best of..." recaps (at least I do), I figured I'd use the tail end of this week to share the Best of The Thirty-Something Bride 2010. These are my most popular posts as YOU, the readers, have called it. Click on the title  to see the original post. And, on Monday, January 24th? Make sure you come on back here because I am going to be hosting one killer effing contest. Fo' reals. Until then, enjoy your favorites!

Save Yourself the Thirty Bucks

You know,  if I had researched this particular aspect of getting married as I did say, my wedding shoes or our centerpieces, I could have saved myself some time, energy and thirty bucks.

While I never really thought that I would ever get married, there was one thing for sure that I always imagined and that was changing my last name. I have never been a big fan of it. I'm sure this might shock my family members who share that same last name, but I've never really liked it. I don't like the letter it starts with. Never really have. I dont' like words that start with that letter, in general. Yes, I'm an alphabet bigot.  My maiden name rhymes with words that as a kid were tortuous at times, and as a teenager - even worse. Combine the rhyming thing with the fact that I go by my middle name (it is such a Southern thing) combined with the fact that my Dad was a Marine and we moved ALL THE DAMN TIME, explaining exactly who I was, was a total pain in the ass.

All that being said, I wasn't about to hyphenate, so knew I had to change it. If I knew now what I didn't know then, I'd kinda re-think changing my name at all. WHAT A TOTAL PAIN IN THE ASS. It might be easier if I was a 20-nothing with only a credit card and a driver's license to worry about. But no. I own a  home. I have investments. I have multiple insurances. I have banks, doctors, garbage men, Home Owners Associations, voter registration...the list goes on and on and I am constantly tripping over yet another thing coming to me under my maiden name. What a bitch it is. Some things I don't even know HOW to change - like my work voice-mail log-in name. Someone set it up for me and now I have no idea how to change it. Apparently the person who set it up no longer works for the company and I can't find a damn soul who knows how to do it. The whole thing is a total time-sucker.

A lot of the "bigger" wedding blogs are all about the website in question. You can't miss this website  now that you're a missus.  These "bigger" web sites talk about how easy it is to use, how all you have to do is fill out the forms, click your mouse and PREST-O-CHANGE-O you are now Mrs. Candyman! Bullshit.

The forms are helpful, but the work you have to do to fill them in is ridunkulous. Stupid, in fact. I was working my way through the forms and they wanted the addresses to all my credit card companies. Ever try to find that? I called the phone number on the back of my card to get the address, the helpful guy gave it to me and asked why I needed it. I told him and he said, "Oh, I can do that for you now over the phone." Done. No need to fill out a form, which drops the stuff into a pre-formatted letter, which you then have to SNAIL MAIL to the credit card company. That's when I stopped filling out the forms and started calling. Why? Because some places you can do over the phone, easy-peasy. Others require a copy of your Social Security card, driver's license, marriage license and first born child. Every entity is different and thinking that a catch-all form will handle it is just dumb. 

Here's what you need to do:

All things start with your Social Security Card and Driver's License. Do those first.

Go here to get the SS-5 form for your Social Security Card.

You'll need to go to your particular state's DMV website to get your form. 99.9% of the time you will need your marriage license when you submit. In person. At the DMV. Suckage.

The other biggies?

The U.S. Postal Service- but really only if you're moving in with you're honey and changing addresses. 

Passport (You will need to mail in a physical marriage license, but you get it back. I highly recommend getting one or two extra notarized copies. In Tennessee you can request them in writing with a handy dandy on-line form and they are $5 each. It takes less than a week to get them back.)

Credit Cards

Banks

Health Care Providers

Frequent Flier Cards/Membership Cards (this one has quite honestly been the most difficult group)

Mortgages

Student Loans

Car Loans

Your place of employment (they'll need a copy of your new SS card)

Investment Houses (401K, IRA, etc)

Legal documents (wills, trusts, power of attorney, etc.)

Voter Registration

There are also some web sites out there that offer all these forms for FREE.

http://newlastname.org

http://namethatbride.com

Now, the webiste that I wasted my money on does have a handy checklist that lets you know when you're done filling stuff out. But please, any moron can do this. eHow has a free check list that you can use - that again, is free.

I'd say save your $30 for a spring t-shirt or two at Old Navy and DIY this one, ladies. It's just not worth it.