Brand · Product · Review · Series · Wedding

FREE Wedding Websites Part 1

First post in the Engagement/Wedding series from the schedule! Come back every Wednesday for more info. Wedding season creeps over the horizon (if not already here for those living in warmer locations). One of the first places people scour for info aside from your Save the Date or Invitation is your Wedding Website! In New England we’re still waiting for the remainder of the snow/ice to thaw now that’s officially “Spring”. There are plenty of PAID websites that offer services, but I’m just going to focus on the FREE choices since you’ll probably be spending a lot of money in other areas. I’ve linked the sample website demos for you to peruse. However if you want to see the layout options you can check out the main page. After digging into some more research for this post, I’m actually thinking I should have picked a different website… a little too late now!

If you are planning on having an engagement party or a celebration shortly after the exciting news, I advise starting on the website early on! Even though we shared the website link early on (Save the Dates, Invitation response card), it still required a considerable amount of goading for people to actually visit. Hate to break it to ya, but your big day won’t be as important to anyone else so visiting the website can fall to the wayside. You can also buy your own domain name so the URL is easier for your loved ones to remember. Ingrain it into their minds anyway you can.

1. WeddingWire – One of my go to resources for forum Q&A discussion! Love searching for my wedding dilemma issues. Someone else usually has a crazier story on here.

  • No RSVP option online.
  • So many free themes and you can choose whether you want the menu to go horizontally (stacked), vertically (paged).
  • Photo album shows full screen photos.
  • Guestbook & Contact form included!

2. eWedding – Easy layouts to navigate, not very many theme options! Everything is on the main page, so many unique features!

  • Photos allow guests to “like” with a heart and leave comments.
  • Share other forms of media video
  • RSVP online option available.
  • Fun polls to add on your website for guests to interact, timeline of your love story
  • Guests can submit information such as song requests, collect their addresses!
  • Blog feature, really nifty if you want to post what you are up to and events leading up to the wedding. (I love writing! This would have been great for announcing wedding website updates.)

3. SayIDo – streamlined interface of all your key info in one place! Cool flash features. Not too many people are using this so your website will be unique and you can have a simple and short URL!

  • Minimalistic layout. Sleek design looks great on mobile interface.
  • RSVP feature for guests.

4. Weduary – are all of your contacts on Facebook? This website integrates all of your contact info already on Facebook to allow you to send out invites.

  • Obviously this is an issue if not all of your guests are on here, but for the very social media active this could be a very easy option!
  • Privacy control integrated with Facebook so only those invited can see the wedding details.

5. TheKnot – most popular/default option I’ve seen used among friends, colleagues. There are a few annoying glitches, but overall it’s reliable!

  • Variety of themes, some of them also have matching stationary available from Minted to order.
  • Custom pages for you to share your love story and other fun tidbits & guestbook.
  • Wedding Checklist & E-mail reminders
  • Guest List Manager / Collect Addresses / Online RSVP
  • Registry integration, donation to charity of choosing for guests who purchase through the link. (No specified % or amount though.)
  • Photo albums feature drives me crazy since the size of the photos is so small.
  • Privacy protection, you can set a PIN for guests to enter. Also your website will not be searchable if you’re paranoid like me.

Drum roll please… no surprise for my friends and family but I chose TheKnot! Don’t pick it just because it’s the default option though! Take a moment to look through all the features of the other free websites to decide which one would be best for you. You don’t need to to go with the mainstream choice like me. Hope you found the options useful. I hate it when the movie industry splits the last movie into 2 parts to get more revenue (when they could have made a slightly longer final movie), but expect the Wedding Website TheKnot: Part 2 for next week!

Announcement · Ideas · Movie · Series · TV Show · Wedding

Schedule Announcement!

Over 1 month in and we are still going strong since my First Post on February 10th with the ambitious goal of posting 2-4 times a week!*

Thank you for the positive response on my Engagement & Wedding Series idea! Me and my Guest Author (or more like co-author) at this point have come up with a schedule that we hope you will enjoy! We’ve even made alliterations so that it’s easy to remember. If you check the TOP MENU, I’ve also added quick links so you can pull up all of the posts under our featured categories. Don’t forget to check out my Rating Rubric page too where you’ll get an idea for how I rate items.

Mark your calendar folks:

  1. MOVIE Mondays OR (TV) SHOW Tuesdays** – We’ve watched so many of these
    lately so we’ll continue the trend to bring either me or Dana’s opinion.ncbeblaai

    • Split – because we haven’t done enough Shamalyan movies, but I love me some James McAvoy
    • Moana – I’m not sure if we’d contribute anything that hasn’t already been said at this point but we’ve watched it so much! Even got the soundtrack.
    • Spartacus (TV Show) – underrated (because it was on Starz) and currently on Netflix. I can watch those gory fight scenes on repeat ad infinitum.
    • Fresh Off the Boat – it significantly deviated from the book, but I still find it enjoyable. Speaking of that I need to read that before probably reviewing.
  2. WEDDING Wednesdays starting March 22, 2017 – As of right now I have enough potential content to make a weekly series over the course of 10 topics! I’m hoping to get even more ideas to help stretch this series through the peak wedding season months in the summer. Please refer back to the original post of ideas! Here’s what’s in the works currently:
    • Free Wedding Websites – options for free wedding websites
      • TheKnot – Finding the right wedding website, specifically TheKnot website features, what to put on wedding website
    • Bridal Show – Strategy of how to maximize your efforts and avoiding spam
    • Davids’ Bridal Exposé – lovingly coined by one of my good friends. I will need to do a bit more research and interview my bridal party/former brides before posting this one!
  3. FREEFLOW Fridays** – Catchall for all of the other random topics I conjure up.
    • Money Saving products I use (i.e. Ebates, Cash back credit cards)
    • Random reviews (& comparisons between similar brands/products)

 

*The downfall of most new blogs seems to be establishing consistency in a posting schedule. Also getting discouraged with lack of engagement with readers. I don’t have a ton of time to seek out other similiar blogs, and interact but I am determined to respond to any comments you have!

**Staying in line with the 2-4 posts/week we might not have a post every week for categories 1 and 3, but the Wedding series due to popularity will definitely be weekly!

Beauty · Brand · Coupon · Promotion · Review · Rewards · Ulta

Ulta 21 Days of Beauty Review

To all my beauty lovers and (low-key) addicts trying so save some money and look good. It’s here again Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty! Starting this Sunday, March 19th through Saturday April 8th!

They have several of these 21 day events throughout the year with hair care and skin care, but of course this beauty one is my favorite by far! They feature amazing daily deals from the prestige brands for online and in-stores. I’m hoping to share my excitement for y’all to pick up some awesome beauty steals as I’m trying to save money these days for upcoming large expenses. I’ve participated in several of these in the past couple years to accumulate quite the stash…

Here’s the calendar for your reference! I’ll let you know which ones I think are the best deals. I LOVE the Ulta rewards program and special deals like this much more than Sephora’s Beauty Insider program. See my post about the silly Rewards Bazaar Review.

Platinum Perk (P): If you’re an Ultamate Platinum rewards member like me, you’ll get free shipping on all of these orders too! Along with some platinum exclusive items. Think about if you have anything else you need/want to add to your order too! Might as well with the free shipping! If you want to join you can use my referral link. Maybe I will do a separate review of the Ultamate rewards program juxtaposed against the Sephora Beauty Insiders program as well as a future post.

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Hanna’s Daily Deal Picks – set a calendar reminder! Good for one day only.

  1. 3/19 – Too Faced: Love Flush Blush ($13) – I’ve only got deluxe samples in a set, but I might snag one in I Will Always Love You!
  2. 3/29 – IT Cosmetics: Naturally Pretty Vol 1 Eyeshadow Palette ($21) – You need this matte palette in your life. There’s a shimmer transformer too. Such a great array of colors for everyday and bold colors. Love the transition shades too!
  3. 4/1 – IT Cosmetics:  Your Skin But Better CC+ Airbrush Perfecting Powder SPF 50 ($17.50) – I love this brand and I’m in the market for a new powder foundation!
  4. 4/2 – Shiseido: Eyelash Curler ($10) – I own this and got it not as much on sale at Sephora. Great deal! Tied with Tarte for favorite curler for my stubborn lashes.
  5. 4/5 – Cargo Swimmables (Waterproof) Collection 50% Off \ $9-$14.50 – I already know I’m going to end up in a puddle of tears on the wedding day so I’m looking for waterproof everything to lock in my make up look.
  6. 4/8 – Anastasia Beverly Hills – Brow Wiz Pencil ($10.5) – Love this stuff! Last year they had the brow powder and I picked up a back up since it looked like I might hit pan soon.

Hanna’s Hot Buy Picks – Available for all 21 days, almost forgot about this page! I will need to stop by my local Ulta to do some swatches so I can get the right shades before the event launches.

  1. Tarte Double Duty Confidence Cream Powder 40% off ($21) – torn between this at the IT Cosmetics one above. This one doesn’t have SPF though, but it seems better for dry skin.
  2. Smashbox Photo Matte Eyes 40% off ($29) – do I really need another neutral palette? No. Maybe you might benefit though! I love how Smashbox always includes diagrams and a how-to guide for their palettes.

In the past I’ve snagged some amazing finds from this event in particular! Learn from my mistakes and check early in the day for these items, as the popular items tend to SELL OUT quickly in (all shades)! They also make great gifts for your loved ones if you know they love a certain brand or product. Those Becca blushes are still the ones that got away for me last year… Don’t forget to also check their Gifts with Purchase page for excellent add-ons, to get some extra freebies! Oh and check the coupon codes you may be able to use a code too if you have some drugstore items too!

There are so many goodies! What items catch your eyes so far on the calendar?!

Rating: 5/5 ★★★★★

Guest Author · Review · TV Show

The OA – Take it Off Your Netflix Queue

So far all of my posts have been of films and series that I like, so it’s time to shake things up a bit.

The OA is a series on Netflix which consists of eight episodes, with only one season having aired so far. The plot revolves around a woman named Prairie/The OA (Brit Marling) who reappears after having been missing for seven years. At the time she disappeared she was blind, but now can see since coming back. Throughout the season she tells a story to five random people about how she became blind, how her life changed as a result, and what happened over the last 7 years to help her regain her sight.

Image result for the oa
Are you my mummy?

Mild spoilers from the first two episodes follow.

First, the positives. All of the actors (with one exception) range from competent to excellent in their roles, with my two favorites being Phyllis Smith as the schoolteacher Elizabeth and Jason Isaacs as Hap, a doctor running experiments.

Smith’s character has an extremely sympathetic and effective character arc throughout the season and I wish that she had been the protagonist, maybe someone who had been through Prairie’s story in the past and it came back to haunt her. Her sadness and hope to make circumstances better for her and those close to her stands out throughout the season.

Isaacs brought a charisma, intelligence, and ruthlessness tempered with slight Continue reading “The OA – Take it Off Your Netflix Queue”

App · Brand · Product · Review · Series · Social Media

Instagram: At least it’s not as bad as Snapchat

Ah Instagram (IG)… it makes our mediocre photos look slightly better with their array of filters. Anyone can be “artsy”. I’m not quite sure why I even signed up for this app in the first place? I attempted Twitter too and failed at having engaging posts that weren’t laundry lists of my life. The app has drastically changed since I first joined in the tail end of 2012 for APO Nationals photos on a horrible LG Virgin Mobile phone! The premise is that you take photos and “instantly” share your photo “gram”. IG used to have a strictly square interface, where users would use apps to fill in the background with negative space to bypass the limitation to upload landscape or portrait shots. Nowadays they have copied Snapchat basically feature for feature (aside from the range of wild overlay masks i.e. flower crown, dog mask, face swap) allowing me to consolidate and delete the latter.

 

Continue reading “Instagram: At least it’s not as bad as Snapchat”

Announcement · Ideas · Review · Series · Wedding

Engagement & Wedding Series

Despite all my initial protests the wedding is happening! My poor friends and family know all too well the struggle of my Anti-Bride tactics. Posting this moments before my bridal shower hosted by my bridal party! The wedding countdown on TheKnot alarmingly marks 50 days away. As my wedding is relatively early in 2017 (most popular month is June), maybe this series will help whoever is reading. Newly engaged, future brides, bridal party, those who want to live vicariously through my experience?

I plan to write several posts (based on interest) and share them leading up to the wedding and while Dana and I are on our honeymoon in Italy. You can use this post as a landing page to link to all the others in the series! I can also make this a main page in the links at the top menu.

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Please take a look at the listing below and COMMENT with the related bulleted #  you would be interested to read about info/reviews and if you have any questions.

PRE-WEDDING TOPICS – Mostly enough info to make an informational post!

  1. Free Wedding Websites Part 1 (3/22/17) – Ah wedding website… which one to choose? These days most couples have one! Hopefully this is the first resource that guests can use to get info on your event and yourself if they don’t know you directly very well.
    • TheKnot – I spent a tremendous amount of effort crafting useful and entertaining information.
      • Features – Guest list manager, collecting addresses, RSVP, pages
  2. Registries – Target, Amazon, Bed Bath and Beyond, Zola (Honeymoon)
  3. Save the Date & Wedding Invitation – Where to print these things that will supposedly live on your loved one’s fridges.
  4. Bridal Shows – Set up a separate e-mail before you go to this or else your personal e-mail will be inundated with offers forever!
    • FREE perks! – which ones are legitimate and potential scams to sell you more stuff (looking at you MaryKay)
      •  Boston Harbor Lighthouse Luncheon Cruise
      •  Engagement Photo Session with Kristin Griffin Photography in Larz Anderson Park
  5. Davids Bridal – They seriously have a monopoly on wedding dresses and bridal dresses. Should this be your default/ultimate choice?
    • Are their sales really sales?!

POST WEDDING TOPICS – We haven’t gotten enough info to make a full conclusion just yet!

  1. Raffael’s Banquet Facility – We chose a venue that included a package for catering, invitations, floral center pieces and various other amenities.
    • Konditor Meister Bakery – Cake tasting & wedding cake
    • Judy’s Village Flowers – Floral center pieces
    • Ceremony & Reception execution
  2. DB Studios – Dance lessons so we don’t look like we have no idea what we are doing for the first dance.
  3. Kristin Griffin Wedding Photography & Videographer – As mentioned above, I actually found her through a bridal show and decided to sign a contract for the wedding day.
  4. Honeymoon Gate 1 Travel – 14 day trip through Italy!
    • Optional excursions – Gondola ride in Venice, Day trips to Florence, Capri and Venice
    • Meals & Hotel Accommodations
  5. Q & A – Any burning questions about overall wedding planning process.

P.S. This is my 10th official blog post, 14th in total if you also count ones made by hannasotherhalf (Dana)!

Guest Author · Product · Review · Series · TV Show

Super Mario Bros Z (Exactly What it Sounds Like)

Full disclosure: I once donated money to the Patreon page of this series to help fund an episode. Now that that’s out of the way…

Ever wanted to see a Sonic and Mario crossover cartoon series? Officially, we probably never will due to licensing issues. Unofficially, a lot of fans have made a lot of series with this premise. The one that continues to stand out, however, is Super Mario Bros Z by Mark Haynes (AKA Alvin-Earthworm).

In 2006 on Newgrounds.com Haynes released the first episode of this series. It was okay with 2 main draws. The first were the crossover of the two franchises with the arrival of Metal Sonic in the Mushroom Kingdom. The second was the humor from poking fun at the formula seen in the Mario games.

Image result for super mario bros z
Who told you I want to kidnap Peach?

The next episode was significantly better and showed what Haynes could do with fight scenes. Both the humor and action improved as the series went on, with the final episode having a fast-paced, creative, and hilarious battle against Bowser’s army. Unfortunately, it ended in a cliffhanger which was never resolved. Years later the series has now been rebooted, which I think is a mistake. Yes, the animation has gotten even better with the newest episode, but I’d rather have seen that quality go into finishing the story that fans have wanted to see for a decade.

The work that was put into this series is astounding, especially when you consider that it wasn’t made by an animation studio but instead by some very dedicated fans who, at least at first, weren’t getting paid. Production time for each episode could take months due to the effort necessary to make the animation work, as well as writing the script and dialogue for the characters.

Haynes is clearly a knowledgeable fan of Sonic, Mario, and Dragon Ball Z as elements from all three franchises are present throughout the series. Sonic and Shadow’s personalities are tweaked enough to make them more closely resemble Goku and Vegeta, respectively. The chaos emeralds are a stand-in for the dragon balls, though a lot of fans have pointed out that this is the intention of the Sonic series anyways. The fighting abilities of all the characters are more fast paced using techniques from all three series and even the Super Smash Bros series a little bit. A fan of any one of these series, or better yet a fan of all three, can enjoy all the references and how the environment and characters are combined to make new possibilities for storytelling.

Image result for shadow super mario bros z
CALL ME VEGETA ONE MORE TIME!

Continue reading “Super Mario Bros Z (Exactly What it Sounds Like)”