Monthly Archives: October 2013

SIMPLE PLEASURES: Chai Tea Recipe

Chai Tea Recipe | We Made it Home

I find a lot of joy in simple pleasures, one thing that I have been enjoying lately is Chai Tea. My friend Lindsey of Coco Love Homemade posted a few photos of the tea and it inspired me to make my own. When I looked up a recipe I was surprised that I already had everything on hand.

This recipe makes about 3 servings.

A note on ginger before we get started. I always keep a chunk of it in the freezer to use whenever I need it. It seems to stay good for months and it also grates easier with my microplane.

Along with the other ingredients listed above you will need 3 cups of water 1 cup of milk and 1/4 cup of sugar.

  • Start by adding water, grated ginger, and the rest of the spices in a pot.
  • Cover the pot with a lid and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add the tea bags and let them steap for 5 minutes.
  • Remove the tea bags.
  • Strain the tea through a fine mesh or coffee filter.
  • Add sugar and milk and bring back to a simmer.
  • Serve with your favorite fall pastry.

LESSONS LEARNED WHILE PAYING OFF OUR HOUSE

Exchanging Resources

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I went through an Anne Lammott phase last year where I wanted to read everything she had ever written. I knew that there had to be someone in my network of friends that owned her books so I sent out a post on facebook and my friend Kacey got back to me and graciously lent me her copies. She also shared her enthusiasm with me about the books and we even went to hear Anne speak later that year together with a few more friends. If I had ordered the books on Amazon I probably would not have gotten to share that experience with her. I believe that borrowing is a sign of a healthy community.

Another example of sharing within our community is an extension ladder. Everyone in our neighborhood lives in a row home and you need an extra tall ladder to get on the roof, they cost around $250 for a new one. You only use it a couple times a year so it would be silly for everyone in our community to have one. So about 5 guys went in and bought a ladder together. It stays in our garage and the couple times a year that someone needs it they call us and come and grab it.

Our neighbor Phil also keeps his motorcycle in our garage and in return we get grass fed beef that his family raises out in Lancaster.

Another example of sharing resources that I have experienced are clothing exchanges. Someone volunteers to be the host, then the guests bring snacks to share and clothes that they are ready to give away. Then you get to go through one another’s clothes and whatever is left over when you are done goes to the thrift store. It is a great excuse to hang out and catch up and also get more use out of things that you are not using.

We also regularly share tools, food, cars and extra hands with our neighbors. It’s a way that we can tangibly meet one another’s needs without having to buy anything. It connects us and brings us closer. It forces interactions and makes us aware of what is going on in our friend’s lives. It is also way more satisfying than going to Target.

I’m curious, what kinds of things do you exchange with your friends?

NEXT POST ON OUR JOURNEY Vactations

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Debt Free Wedding

Harmon Wedding

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When Jason and I were planning our wedding we were adamant about paying for everything ourselves, which also meant on a super tiny budget. We wanted to do everything for under $4000. Of course you can throw a wedding for less than that, this is not a post about the world’s cheapest wedding but it is about how we worked within our personal constraints and got creative with what we had.

We had only two goals for our wedding. Priority number one was to GET MARRIED! Priority two was to make our friends and family feel comfortable and have fun while celebrating with us.

The biggest takeaway that we had was to avoid the wedding industry whenever possible. We had to throw out everything we knew about weddings, avoid the wedding blogs and magazines, and start thinking about it as throwing a party with our friends.

THE VENUE

This was the most stressful part of the entire process. We racked our brains trying to come up with a great place to have a wedding. Places that are known as wedding venues are expensive and the cheaper options were super cheesy. So we started to think about large spaces that were not typical wedding venues like the beach, barns, yards, parks, libraries, museums, fire halls etc but none of them were right for us. At the time Jason was renting a row home on a tiny street and I don’t remember what caused the revelation but at some point we looked at each other and said BLOCK PARTY! It was perfect! We thought we were really original but there was already a clause in the block party permit that you file with the city for a block party wedding. We just had to get all of our neighbors signatures and pay $20 for the permit.

THE CLOTHES

This is one of those crazy miracle stories that still makes me really happy. I was on a work trip with a couple coworkers on a break walking around Abbott Kinney in California and my coworker Lindsey pointed out that there was a shop with a few white dresses on the racks and that maybe I should try one on. I went in and pulled a dress/weird skirt off of the sale rack and tried it on. It was perfect, just fancy enough for a block party wedding. I came out and Lindsey and Alex’s reactions were amazing and totally confirmed that it was the right dress. It was the only dress I tried on and it was $260. I wrapped it up and stuck it in my carryon and brought it home. Shoes were gray flats from Urban Outfitters, my necklace was from Anthropologie.

My bridesmaids were amazing and I did not want them to have to spend a fortune on anything either so we went to H&M and they each picked out dresses in a complimenting color palette that they each felt comfortable in and I do not think that any of them spent over $50 and they all looked like total babes.

Harmon Wedding | We Made it Home

The guys bought matching grey pants, wore white button ups and bought some white Chuck Taylors for the occasion.

PHOTOGRAPHER 

Again we stepped away from the wedding industry and asked around for creative friends that took photos. We were steered in the direction of a super talented lady who specialized in product photography and worked out a deal where she would shoot our wedding and we would edit the photos to save on money. She was really wonderful and did a phenomenal job. But also a lot of our favorite photos came from friends, we joke that we had the most well documented wedding of all time since we have creative friends, everyone had cameras, the atmosphere was relaxed, and it was outside. Our photographer cost $1000.

I’m not going to mention her name because I’m not sure that she wants more wedding jobs and if she does she probably doesn’t want you to know about the great deal she gave us.

FOOD

We were having a Philly block party wedding so naturally it had to be catered with cheesesteaks and soft pretzels. We had Jim’s cheesesteaks come out with a food truck and it was the best idea ever. They were efficient, nice, and the food was delicious. Everyone really seemed to enjoy it. Our family was wonderful enough to make the sides of fruit and potato salad. One of the most amazing parts of our wedding was dessert. I am not a fan of cake so my friend and bridesmaid Lana made hundreds of tiny apple pies. It was the best wedding present ever. We went apple picking days before to get delicious fresh inexpensive apples. We got cases of beer from Costco and put them in some borrowed coolers. The total for food and drinks for around 100 people was the biggest expense at $1815

Harmon Wedding | We Made it Home

FLOWERS

We also bought the flowers from Costco. They have a delivery service where they send fresh flowers the day of your event. My Aunt Barb and cousin Kate made the hydrangeas into lovely bouquets. Our flowers were $95.

DECORATIONS

I purchased streamers in a little store in LA, and vintage napkins to be sewn by Jason’s Mom into bunting from ebay, and we bought some potted plants for the street at the grocery store. We also got some sidewalk chalk and bubbles for entertainment. We hooked out ipod up to some speakers for music. And my friends Sarah G and Sarah P played their keyboard and viola for the ceremony for us.

The other expenses were our pastor, rings which we honestly got from iweddingband.com, and a porta potty.

All of this totaled up to just under $4000, and we could not have pulled it off if we did not have so many talented generous friends and family. Their help is also what made it so special and memorable. We felt so loved and thankful. It was perfect for us.

PERSPECTIVE

Finally the biggest thing that I think about when it comes to our wedding has nothing to do with food or dresses or decorations it has to do with grace. We were able to be with the most important people in our lives on our wedding day and this was a HUGE blessing. The day that we got back from our honeymoon we found out that Jason’s Mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and my grandfather who walked me down the aisle was diagnosed with a brain tumor a month after our wedding. My grandfather passed away the following March and Jason’s Mom passed away after a hard fight last December. The fact that they were able to be at our wedding was a miracle, and the fact that we didn’t have to face those losses alone was a sign of grace. Weddings are great but being married is the best.

And here is the final product. The video was a wedding gift from my friend Michael Schwartz who captured the day perfectly.

Jason & Haley from Michael Ivan Schwartz on Vimeo.

Jason’s friend Allen Hampton also made us this mural with the permission of our neighbors.

Allen Hampton Mural

NEXT POST ON OUR JOURNEY Exchanging Resources

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