Love & Marriage
Q: Hey guys!! I find that I often look to you all on things DIY related, but more often than not, on things life related. I would love to hear items in or around your house that you are so glad you own because it helps with the day to day. I really enjoyed reading about how you saved money with Clara (what items you skipped out on or decided to go back and buy) and how you saved money with your wedding. I am getting married next June and it would be super helpful to hear what things my fancy (fiance) and I should register for. You guys are my favorite! – Tyne
A: Let’s do this. Haha. We thought it would actually be fun to search our brains to see if they would even stretch back to 2007 and remember what we got, what we still love, what we regretted asking for, and what we wish we’d asked for. Because friends and relatives can be amazingly generous (and at least in our family really seem to appreciate a list of things you love so they don’t have to guess), so it all comes down to thinking long and hard about what you actually will use and love for the long haul. No pressure, right?
Registry items are definitely one of those personal preference things (some people might love that they registered for formal china, while other folks like us are happy to skip it) but in general we think the key is to know how you live and what you will actually use/need (registering for a Kitchenaid mixer when you don’t cook/bake is probably not the best idea). So try to toss out romantic notions of who you “should be” someday (ex: don’t picture yourself as “a grown up” hosting a giant formal 20 person dinner if this won’t actually happen – not everyone grows up, gets married, and does that).
Instead, try to focus on how you live now and how you realistically think you will continue to live and entertain over the years. Whether you’re a casual couple or are fancy and formal, embrace who you are and think about what you’ll truly use and love. Chances are you’ll still be who you are in a few decades – you might evolve a little, but you probably won’t become a completely different couple with a completely different personality and lifestyle.
Also, trying to choose things that are classic never hurts, just so that if your tastes change over time, you won’t be completely over a bunch of style-specific stuff that you once loved but now loathe. It can be pretty expensive to re-buy everything instead of going with something timeless – and you can always add personality later with inexpensive and easy to switch out items, like patterned cloth napkins, table runners, etc. See? White dishes, clear glasses, and basic silverware can be dressed up a whole bunch of ways:
We also learned that it helped whenever possible to choose things that are attractive enough to be left out (ex: a nice stainless steel toaster or blender) because you never know what you’ll leave out for convenience’s sake. So skipping something in a crazy color that might clash with your future kitchen curtains or forgoing something super cheap that you’d never leave out in favor of something that looks a little more elegant is usually the way to go for lazy folks like us who tend to leave the blender out for three weeks after we make smoothies.
But enough chitchat, we thought it would be fun to share a list of the stuff we registered for and still love to this day, a few things that we regret putting on our registry, items that we passed on (and why), and items that we wish we had added to the list. So without further ado…
Kitchen Stuff We Registered For And Still Love:
- Basic silverware from Crate & Barrel
- White cloth napkins
- Basic white dishes that go with everything (we’re still loving that they’re classic and they’re not too precious, so if one breaks we won’t cry for days)
- Good serving bowls and serving ware (three salad/chip bowls, three large platters)
- Stainless blender & toaster (we also have a griddle)
- A cute strainer (ours is bright yellow)
- Chunky wood cutting boards (two, since we leave them out on the counter because they’re charming and use them all the time)
- Simple and small (easy to store) can opener (we didn’t want a giant electric countertop one)
- Cute clear pepper corn and sea salt grinders (classic, yet kinda fancy since they grind)
- Basic glass pitcher (we definitely tried to go for timeless basics)
- Stemless wine glasses (they’re more versatile, so they can also work for oj or smoothies)
House Stuff We Registered For And Still Love:
- Two Dolce lounge chairs from Target that we still use today (they’re in the guest room of this house)
- Two basic glass based lamps that lived in our first house’s living room and this house’s bedroom/entryway
- Organic bed sheet set (in white) and four nice bed pillows and cases
- Gorgeous large leather photo album that we used for all of our wedding photo strips
- Fluffy white towels (which we still use to this day, both in our bathroom and the guest bath)
- West Elm daybed (from John’s way too generous Godmother)
- West Elm parson’s desk (from my way too generous BFF Cat)
Stuff We Got And Later Regretted (all our fault – we wish we had chosen more wisely):
- Hepa filtered vacuum (regret: we registered for a cheap one that didn’t hold up very well, so we later upgraded to a Bissell Helix Bagless Upright)
- Set of knives in a knife block (regret: again, totally our fault, but we chose a cheap-ish set that we have since had to replace, but our current one is by Paula Deen from HomeGoods and we like it)
- Basic white mugs (regret: we didn’t think about scale at all, so the set that we got is so small it was sort of like teacups – we’ve since replaced them with larger mugs that actually work for tea and hot chocolate without feeling like you’re at a kid’s tea party)
- Cordless hand vac (regret: we wish we had done more research before randomly choosing something, since ours bit the dust pretty fast – we later replaced it with a Dirt Devil Kurv)
- A few basic pots and pans (regret: they weren’t great quality and got scratched and beaten up pretty fast – we later learned about Greenware pots and pans, which are eco-friendly and teflon free, so we asked for them for Christmas in 2009 and have been enjoying them ever since)
Stuff We Passed On (mostly specific kitchen gadgets after we realized we just wouldn’t use ‘em):
- Coffee maker (we’re a tea household, and even when coffee folks stay with us we all go to Starbucks)
- Kitchenaid mixer (as much as I’d love to buy one in a fun color, it would totally collect dust)
- Monogrammed towels and robes (we’re not robe people and basic white towels sans monogram did it for us)
- Espresso machine (same as coffee maker, just wouldn’t get used)
- Ice cream maker (didn’t think we’d ever use it)
- Toaster oven (after thinking it through we decided a stainless steel toaster and an oven were all we needed, and five years later we’re still happy without one)
- Rice cooker (much like the ice cream maker, we just didn’t think we’d use something so specific)
- Panini press (ditto)
- Waffle maker (ditto)
- Martini glasses (ditto)
- George Foreman grill (ditto)
Stuff We Have Since Bought (if we could turn back time, we’d have registered for these too):
- Nice set of wood spoons and spatulas for a caddy next to the stove (get things in sets whenever possible, our old ones were all mismatched and later we updated to a matched set and appreciated how much better they looked)
- Immersion blender (we didn’t miss any other gadgets but we did end up yearning for this one – and we use it often enough to warrant storing it)
- Cute “Cucina” soap and lotion set from Anthropologie (so charming on the counter in a kitchen or bathroom)
- More specific things as rooms evolved and our taste became more clear (ex: green cloth napkins, J & S mugs, metallic holiday glasses, etc)
- Sonicare toothbrushes (wish we had thought to register for these guys)
- Two big clear glass containers for cereal, flour, sugar on the counter
- Clam shell fruit bowl from ZGallerie (it has been our fruit bowl for years)
I’m sure we forgot a few items (it was five years ago!) but that’s a pretty good idea of what we registered for, what we regretted/replaced, what we skipped, and what we wish we had added. And after compiling that list it made me want to poll some friends and relatives to hear their five favorite registry items (you know, because I’m nosy) so here are their responses. It’s so interesting to see who loves what the most (and it definitely reinforces that knowing what you will love and use is more important than putting too much stock into what works for someone else (like slacker chefs and non-coffee-drinker like us, haha).
- My BFF Katie: white dishes, white platters, white towels, stainless toaster, and basic silverware
- My other BFF Cat (you’ve seen her wedding here): basic white towels, a silver goes-with-everything serving platter, everyday dishes (colorful Fiestaware bowls, plates, and serving dishes), a brightly striped ceramic pitcher from Crate & Barrel, and a cute bowl set from Anthropologie.
- My friend D from All Things G&D: my crockpot, a good set of knives, good pots and pans, an Aerobed (air mattress) and G’s heavy bag (for boxing – it was his “guy” gift from all of his groomsmen).
- My friend Heather (you’ve seen her wedding here): everyday dishes, a blender, nesting bowls, picture frames, a Rainbow vacuum cleaner. Things I never use: martini glasses, electric knife, cake stand, and ice cream dishes (why did I register for special ice ceam dishes when basic bowls work even better?!).
- My friend Cody: plush white towels, a 9 x 13 baking dish, a throw blanket, a welcome sign wall hanging, and of course white dishes.
- My friend Kristin (you’ve seen her awesome house here): white everyday dishes, knives/cutlery, small electronics like toaster/hand mixer, serving platters that don’t go out of style (plain but nice), and basic glasses. All boring kitchen stuff! But I have friends who got married 8-10 years ago and registered for trendy everyday ware (in a specific color and style) and are now replacing it all since they no longer like it!
- My friend Lisa: a nice set of knives, pots and pans, flatware, and an ice cream maker (we’ve been married 13 years, so nearly everything else has been replaced).
- My brother (who’s officially Doctor Dan, not Almost-Doctor-Dan – woot!): basic towels, a good knife set, simple flatware, a coffee maker, and picture frames.
- My sister-in-law Katie: coffee maker (still going strong after 9 years!), casual dishes, stainless steel silverware, serving dishes that match our casual dishes, Wustof knives (we surely would have put pots and pans on this list but we already had those before we got married, but those are still going strong too).
- My mother-in-law Kathy: wow- who can remember?! Haha. Crock pot, hand crank ice cream maker, big woven basket that we use as a laundry basket, glass canister set, and a beautiful bowl. We were very practical and did not register for fancy china.
So there you have it. A whole lotta registry loves and a few shoulda-woulda-couldas. What are your favorite registry items? Anything you got that you wish you hadn’t? Or that you later purchased and wished had made it onto your registry? Hindsight is 20/20, huh?
Deck progress drags on, so we’ll be back with more details for you on Monday (wish we had more full days to devote to it, but it’ll probably be a weekly update situation like our first house’s bathroom reno and our kitchen redo since it’s such a big undertaking). But I just couldn’t resist sharing this in-progress picture of John and his dad telling the auger who’s boss:
Oh but the time it’s taking us to build this deck isn’t what I meant by the title of “half a decade” (at least we hope it won’t take us five years to get ‘er done). That has to do with our five year wedding anniversary, which is coming up on July 7th. How crazy is that? We can’t even grasp that it has been half of a decade since our little backyard wedding. And it means that seven years ago we shared our first kiss (we picked 7/7/07 as our wedding day because 7/7/05 was when we started dating – yes we kissed on the first date, haha).
There are some parts of our wedding that we remember so vividly it easily could have been a month ago. So funny how time flies. And as some of you know, it has been a little tradition to take a picture of our family on July 7th in honor of our wedding day, like this:
This was last year’s picture, with just one wiggly kid…
… and with both of them…
We like to frame each year’s picture in small differently shaped capiz frames that we’ve found over time (from Target, thrift stores, Hobby Lobby, etc). But our sink was getting cluttered with four full frames and the latest empty one that we snagged from Target a few weeks back in anticipation of our fifth photo. So we decided to tackle a little photo-hanging project to get them off the sink and enjoy them in a nice little grouping on the wall next to it.
For some reason hanging frames seems to be something we get asked about the most, so we thought we’d break down the process for getting these guys on the wall without any oops holes. Either folks are just plain intimidated to hammer a nail into a pristine hole-less wall or they’re not sure how to settle on “the right” arrangement. The good news is there are probably always at least ten arrangements that would look good, so we just like to put the frames on the floor and play around until we have a little grouping that we like. Like this:
The next step is to make little paper templates for each frame, so you can map out where you want to place them (and only make one hole in the correct spot for each frame instead of ten bad ones). We just laid the frame on top of white printer paper, traced the outline, cut them out, and taped them to the wall, shifting things around until we liked what we saw:
We had also taken a second to mark where the nail hole needed to be on each one by holding it up against the back of the frame before taping it up and pushing a nail through to rest on the hook on the back of the frame. So when we taped them up they already had these nail guide holes to completely take the guesswork out of things.
Some of our frames didn’t come with hooks for hanging them on the wall (since they’re meant to be tabletop frames) so we just picked up a pack of picture hanging hardware at JoAnn for 99 cents (for four of them). Then I crazy glued them to the back of the frame and pulled off the little flap that you use to stand them on the counter (since the flap would make them sit away from the wall more than we wanted them to).
Next we just hammered through the pre-made hole in the paper template where we knew the nail should go for each one.
Which looked a little something like this:
Then we left the nails in the wall and pulled the paper templates off. Less then a minute later we had everything hanging. And then I ran outside to grab some flowers, because I’m girly like that.
It’s sweet to see four anniversary photos all together on the wall, with that blank fifth one just waiting for our latest family pic in a few weeks.
Think Clara and Burger are going to cooperate this year? Nah, me either. But that’s half the fun.
Oh and we thought this could also double as a budget blooms post since we’re woefully overdue for one of those. See all these flowers I mentioned running outside for? Yup, they’re all free from the yard! They’re clippings from the hydrangea bushes out by the patio, and a giant man-eating (not really, but it’s huge) butterfly bush in the back yard.
I just stuck a little glass vase full of water in the middle of this giant ceramic planter (from HomeGoods a while back) on top of a cardboard box to lift it up so the stems of everything didn’t have to be impossibly long.
I love the little pointy butterfly bush clippings mixed in with the lace-like balls o’ hydrangea. I wonder if they’ll live long enough to see us put our next picture in the empty five-year-anniversary frame?
Probably not, but they sure are pretty for now.
I especially love how you can appreciate all the different types of capiz frames since they’re not all jumbled in front of each other on the counter anymore.
And come to think of it, hydrangeas are pretty fitting for that vase beneath them since they were in my little homemade wedding bouquet.
Oh my gosh, was that really five years ago? I’m in denial. Haha. Anyone else have any anniversary traditions or frame groupings you’ve been hanging up? Do you use paper templates to simplify things? Or do you have another easy hanging method? Share and share alike!
Psst- We announced this week’s giveaway winner, so click here to see if it’s you.