How to Plan and Budget for a Green Wedding: Part 1

This was an original post from my previous website and blog, The Green Queen! Original date is May 2012.

As the self-proclaimed Green Queen, I’ve always been a tree hugger (and labeled as one). It is and has always been very important to me to be eco-conscious in all areas of my life. This dates back to my early years when I would hide my grandmother’s aerosol hairspray cans so she couldn’t destroy the ozone layer anymore! I was going to save the world, one hairspray can at a time! Now from covert green ops to full-frontal mission: I embark on a new chapter of life, MARRIAGE! I am planning our wedding to be as ‘green’ as possible! I was nudged to share my ideas, tips and the process. Here’s plans from round 1 of brainstorming!

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The Future Mr. & Mrs.
(in 2012!…babies)

Our carbon footprint. My fiancé and I were born and raised in the Washington DC metro area and we both come from GINORMOUS families, (between the two of us we have 40+ aunts and uncles and that does not include spouses or their children- adding those numbers up and you’ve got about 160 right there). I mean we went 10 deep just to view the space which was bare bones! Sooooo, instead of having a crap-load of F&F (friends and family) fly to our home in California, the two of us and *hopefully* a few friends from the west coast, will be flying east for the fiesta!

Our venue. We are getting married on the campus of our alma mater, The University of Maryland, (gag so sweet, right?!) UMD has tons of resources. UMD is in the middle-ish of our respective hometowns so our F&F from the east coast can car pool or take the metro to our ceremony.  The ceremony, reception and the hotel are all located on campus, everyone will be able to use their feet and the clean campus shuttles as modes of transportation! The icing on the cake is…drumroll…that we will be married on the first stage we performed on together, (so sweet, right?), The Dekelboum Theatre, which is located inside the beautiful and nostalgic Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (CSPAC).

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Dekelboum Concert Hall
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A Rabbit’s Tale
(the Future Mr. is inside that giant puppet and I’m on the back of the little puppet!

Sustainability. I have already been in touch with the school’s Department of Sustainability and we are working together along with the campus’s catering, Good Tidings, to create a green catering menu. We will be trying to utilize only local and seasonal fare for the reception as well as having a mostly vegetarian spread (might have some seafood). We will also be setting up different disposal areas for compost, recycling and trash (the latter we hope will be the smallest of the disposal bins!). Within these areas we will post lists to let our guests know what is acceptable in each! Many people don’t realize how many things are actually compostable and recyclable.

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Veggie Gazpacho w/Pabst bear foam

Transportation. We will be utilizing the campus’s shuttle buses (the same ones we used to ride as undergrads!) to take our guests to and from the hotel. UMD has a fleet of over 60 hybrid and clean diesel campus shuttles and they seat about 40 people per bus.

DIY decorations. I’m currently in the R&D stage with decorations! I’ve joined and become insanely addicted to Pinterest– check out my creative flow. I’m looking at paper flowers, broach bouquets, boa altars, painted mason jars, etc etc- there are soooo many eco-friendly options!

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Broach bouquet

No flowers. Also in the same R&D phase as decorations. I’d rather have personal funky and colorful decorations, I’m not into cut flowers and for me, personally, I feel that they’re a waste. I live amongst living beautiful flowers every day, all seasons of the year in LA, I don’t want to see them cut and than quickly die. Cut flowers also have a negative environmental impact. See here.

Gifts. Still trying to figure this part out. For us -sending and/or taking the love home with us. For our guests – I want to have some kind of cute green party favors for all!

Website and e ‘save the dates’ + invitations. Much to the dismay of he, we will be utilizing technology to the fullest for all of our tech saavy F&F, especially those that like to misplace items ;). The website will save paper and time by having one concrete location for all of our information, i.e. reservation links, guest book, directions and updates. The e-‘save the dates’ will def save paper and can allow our F&F to have digital copies of pictures to send on, print out and post online.

So far so good…I hope, I pray! *Fingers crossed* Now off to Robeks in Hollywood to meet a friend and fellow green gal who has expertise in green event planning. Let’s see what ideas we can conjure up together on dresses, decorations, food etc.

– xOx

IUDs & other BCs

When we’re ready for each other // that’s the moment we’ll meet. // Arm in neck, hips on feet // The nectar from your body // is the most syrupy sweet. 

“Well we’re movin on doooown (the list) to the Southside, I finally have some peace of miiiind!” (to the tune of Good Times, naturally!)

Here’s a quick vid about my various birth control experiences!

Oh birth control, how much I owe you for keeping me free from unwanted pregnancies for the last 10+ years. Also shout out to Planned Parenthood for helping me plan and keepin it safe fo free.99! I have tried a variety of birth control methods in this lifetime, including the pullout method. PS. it doesn’t work. PPS. You can get pregnant off pre-cum, I have a teenage daughter that proves this theory. Sooooo after becoming a teen mom and to keep it really real, (because that’s how I likes to keep it) a miscarriage, 2 abortions and a couple of Plan Bs later I got my shit together and started some damn consistent birth control using.

First for me was, the pill, and for me, was #theworst, I could never remember to take it, let alone at the same time everyday. I don’t even remember what pill(s) I took, I tried a variation of at least 4-5 different ones over the years, I sucked at taking them all. Add to that lots of hormones and breakouts. Ugh. I am not even going to pretend to be an expert on the pill, so HERE is an amazing link with more details then I will ever know!

NEXT…The patch was cool for the duration of which I endured it. It did it’s thing and made my period hella predictable, and I only had to think about it 1x a week when I switched out the sticky patch, but then Moms called and told me about women getting blood clots from using it and asked me to stop, I willingly obliged. I also had to frequently scrub around it, because it got that gross band-aid gunk around the edges. I typically wore it in my bikini line area, but I saw girls with them on their arm like a damn nicotine patch…I never got that one. “…chicks with birth control stuck to they arm like Nicorette // You really fuckin’ that much or trying to get off cigarettes?” – Talib Kweli

NEXT…The NuvaRing was my thing thing! I loved it, it was like hear no evil see no evil. I didn’t have to think about it but 1x a MONTH! You wear it for 3 weeks and take it out for 1 to get your menstrual cycle OR you can put in another one to skip your period! I did that for the Bahamas and was stoked that it worked! Many months later I started realizing that I was becoming a psycho with crazy moodswings…well like more than normal anyway and I told my partner I didn’t want to use any hormonal birth control anymore because I wanted some semblance of sanity, they of course were totally cool with that idea and we said adios to the ring!

  • Oh GAWD- side story: My homegirl took the bartender home from the club one night and as he was fingering her, he felt her NuvaRing, freaked, pulled it out and chucked it across the room in the dark! She promptly turned on the lights and made him help her find it before they proceeded!

NEXT…Condoms are pretty classic. If you use them right and there’s no accidents, they definitely do the job. Just make sure that they fit your mate accurately, not everyone needs a magnum no matter how big their ego is, trust and make sure that they’re rolled down all the way with space at the tip for that precious cum or it definitely can/will bust. You can tell it’s on upside down if it doesn’t easily roll down and the slack is on the other side. With condoms, you do give up the skin to skin contact, which is the best when you’re with a partner you know and trust! Expert tip: every now and then, especially when you’re having a real intense sesh, reach down and make sure that the condom is still up to the base of the penis!  I can tell you from personal experience, that they can slide off and get pushed up and stuck inside the vaginal canal. That was 2 embarrassing trips to the health-center on campus during college.

NEXT…The ParaGuard IUD was my faaaaaaaaave! This was the shiznittal bang for me. Once you set it, you can forget it! I got it and kept it in for 6 years without one scare or one problem, minus getting the strings trimmed when my partner said he could feel them at first. After that, it was easy peasy. The IUD I chose is good for 12 years (previously 10 years), is made of copper, absolutely no hormones and immediately reversible upon removal. I’m a huge fan and will sell the IUD to anyone who is even thinking about getting it! (not literally selling it!) The “negatives”, the insertion and removal, neither are comfortable. The first, you have to be on your menstrual cycle so that you cervix is slightly dilated, breathe through it girl, it only lasts a few seconds with some cramping to follow for a couple of hours, it was by far the worst day of the IUD. “Supposedly”, what they tell you is that it can lengthen your cycle, make it heavier and you could have more cramps. None of that happened for me, but I also have always had a longer and heavier period then most and no cramps. The removal, you can get at any time of the month, not the chillest feeling when they pull it out, but it’s seriously it’s like 2 seconds and you’re done! No cramps, no bleeding and they asked me if I wanted to see it…I did and gave thanks and a heartfelt goodbye to my little kung fu karate-chopping sperm killer!

I also tried a female condom once and only once…idk if I wasn’t using it right or what, but they (scientists) have a long way to go until that thing is comfortable or usefully wearable.

Spermicide was a thought at one point, nothing says sexy time like shooting foam up your vagina and then asking your partner to wait 15 minutes before getting it on. It stayed in the paper sack from whence it came.

So what does this tell you about me and people like me? That the best form of birth control, for us, is something we don’t have to think about, ever. Now I see it, now I don’t! There are at least 7 other forms of birth control that I didn’t try and that you can check them out at this snazzy site with a pretty extensive list here.

I’m an advocate for safe sex, duh! I think teaching abstinence is dumb (does that sound judge-y?) and especially dumb with the exclusion of birth control education. That being said, I do think everyone should wait to have sex until they’re ready, which is different from person to person. We each need to respect our partner’s or want-to-be partner’s choices. Sex is AHH-MAZING when enjoyed by all those involved, which means consent is mandatory! Remember, yes means yes and the absence of a “no” is not a yes! This goes for all genders, sexual identities and preferences. If someone seems iffy, don’t push them, thank them for taking care of themselves and when you get some alone time, pleasure yourself if you want to. Solo-play is actually the safest sex possible! Mutual respect, safety and trust are the only way to go in Sex Land!

– xOx

Financial Freedom

Money is a useful tool and I am the craftsman. 

 A micro slice of my journey towards Financial Freedom!

Everything I learned about the almighty dollar, I learned at home, like most of us. There were no personal finance classes in school (though there totally needs to be!), no one to teach us about debt and credit or how at 18 I would get those oh so tempting credit card lures in the mail, which I would totally bite, hook, line and SINK! I bought 3 fresh to death leather jackets at 18 which I’m pretty sure I paid on for years after. Although my father was good with money, he was an accountant for the military, I didn’t grow up with him and he was more or less a bit of hoarding Scrooge McDuck when it came to money anyway. My super loving generous mother was at the opposite side of the spectrum, holding the belief that you can’t be buried with your money (kind of true, but I mean have you seen the Egyptian tombs?!) She taught me that you might as well spend your money now, enjoy yourself, treat yourself, treat your friends. It’s a fine concept for living in the present that unfortunately doesn’t roll over into any type of savings account. With that philosophy, I grew up living check to check with bill-paying days being pretty tense times to say the least. Sometimes we had to wait for payday to turn on the heat or the AC and there were times we had to go without things that we wanted. Now, I never starved or went naked (though fine with it now, I would’ve mortified me back in the day!) and my mother spoiled me when and where she could. I reflect on the above not to shit talk my parents, they did what they could as young divorcees and probably didn’t have a whole lotta formal financial training themselves, but I’m sharing to say, I didn’t know what the F I was doing when it came to money. I loaded up my credit card(s) and then when I couldn’t pay da bills…I just stopped. Just like that. Stopped paying, stopped answering phone calls, moved. PS. Don’t do that. I never even had a savings account, I mean I had one, but there was never any money in it. When I started dating my boo thang, It was a huge turn-on for me that he had a savings account AND he had money in it!! Like more than $100! His savings game was strong and it was important to him. However, I would say some of my bad money habits rubbed off on him over the years, using credit cards for things we didn’t need, not paying bills on time, etc. When the inkling of thinking about the potential of a starting a family came to mind, I knew that I didn’t want to continue the cycle of money like water especially when I was living in a draught! And I wasn’t in a draught because I wasn’t working, I was in a draught because I didn’t know how to manage my dinero. Something needed to change.

I heard about Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) through a friend years before and how she had been able to pay off SO much debt so quickly, she shared with me the steps that I tried to incorporate without having to actually invest time, money and accountability into the class! Basically…you get what you pay for, believe that. So finally, last year, I was like “Bae, we takin this class and we taking it together!” After a little convincing on why we were going to pay for a class to learn about saving money, he was down. I’m not even doing this class justice when I say, it’s the ish, but it is! FPU completely revolutionized how we handle and think about moolah. The #1 thing we wanted to do before we even attempted on gettin it on (baby-making) was to pay off all of our consumer debt, aka credit cards, we had 3 between us. FPU, legit has the simplest most practical steps to follow, in fact they’re so simple, they’re called “Baby Steps”. I’ll say the one piece of advice I have if you take this class is just listen to Dave, don’t do things your way, this man is pure financial genius and the steps are in an order for a reason. Having debt is normal, not having debt is WEIRD! Let’s be weird!

SO, long story short, in less than a year we saved up our emergency fund and paid off all 3 of our credit cards! Paid off, cut up and CLOSED OUT homie! Neva eva to be used again. We now cash flow every big purchase, meaning, we save up for that shit or we don’t get it. Sometimes it sucks, sometimes we have to say no to eating out with friends, going to concerts, vacays, you know fun life stuff, but it’s temporary, “you’ve got to live like no one else, so you can live like no one else” – directly from Dave. We had to save up our emergency fund twice, because we had a freakin random, he’s too old to be gettin wisdom teeth emergency extraction. We used cash, paid for those suckers and it only took us 2 pay periods to get our fund back in place!

In closing, (don’t I sound all lawyer-y?!) One of the most useful tools FPU teaches is the envelope system. You budget for everything, groceries, gas, entertainment, clothing, pocket money and you withdraw cash and put it in envelopes. Once those envelopes are empty, that’s it, you’re done, and let me tell you watching that beautiful green bill leave your hand never to return the same is a lot harder than mindlessly swiping right or left…oh wait, that’s tinder ;)~ but you get me, with swiping you don’t see the money go, go, gooooo until the day you get declined!

Caveat: this class, as wonderful and beneficial as it’s been for me is very heteronormative, focused on couples and has a lot of Christian scripture references. I happened to be married to a man and I was raised Christian, but I also identify as a member of the LGBTQ family as well as have many different spiritual beliefs outside of the Christian faith as do many of my framily. One of my besties who does not identify as Christian also took the class with us and we both believe that anyone regardless of religious, sexual orientation or relationship background can benefit from the practical steps outlined in this class. I say all this because I don’t want anyone to be deprived of these super simple steps to live in financial freedom! Dave is a devout Christian (hence the Biblical references) and he’s also a practical money man, it’s worth checking out however you identify!

The Baby Steps:

  1. Save $1,000
  2. Pay off debt
  3. 3-6 month fund
  4. Invest 15%
  5. Step 5 college
  6. Pay off home
  7. Give!

Listen to *Dave’s 3 daily podcasts* OR *Watch him live on youtube*

And remember in times of financial temptation...WWDD (what would Dave do?)

– xOx

Consciously Conceiving: Baby Prep

I began planning for *hopeful* conception about 10-12 months before my *ideal* gettin dat bun in the oven date! Whaaaa?! Planning? What a concept. Definitely something foreign to me, as I grew up around a lot of “Oh S%@T! I’m pregnant” unplanned pregnancies, including myself. So this time around, if planning was an option, I wanted to make sure me & my partna got our mental, emotional, physical and financial health in order! Here’s the checklist list I created on my notes app in January 2016.

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Here’s a 60 second snappie video!

Now, that list broken down with LOTS of helpful links!

  1. Therapy! I knew that this was something I needed to do for me, and it was long overdue! I had a lot of suppressed sexual trauma/shame/guilt/denial/an alcohol problem and I knew that I needed to deal with allllla that first before I could ever be the wife, mother, family member, friend that I wanted to be and GUESS WHAT?!?! IT WORKED!! Therapy is the ish and if you’re willing to put in the work and get real uncomfortable for a bit, you’re entire life can change. Your relationships can change. I had put it off for decades b/c well, I didn’t want to deal with my demons and I didn’t think I could afford therapy. But GUESS WHAT ELSE?! There’s places that have a sliding scale based on your income which was my saving grace two years ago! Then couples therapy, I mean I am trying to co-exist and grow with another human, but that’s for a future v/blog! This article is chocked full of resources for finding mental health help on a budget!
  2. Financial Peace University was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken and hereby do declare that this course or similar, should be in every high school across the country! In 362 days, we have paid off all of our consumer debt, 3 outrageous credit cards and rebuilt our emergency fund 2x! Cuz, well, we had an emergency, buuuuut we were able to use our emergency fund instead of putting anything on a credit card! Hollllaaaa! Dave Ramsey, this financial genius, has a daily podcast and youtube channel!
  3. Yoni Eggs or holistic vaginal weights made of crystals were not only a part of getting my chocha right and tight, but also a part of my healing process in combo with intense therapy. I started out with the three traditional Tao eggs, Jade, Obsidian and Rose Quartz. Now I had been working with vaginal weights, but they were like the old school metal ben wa balls and these were healing crystals, so I was all in! Today I have almost 20 yoni eggs of all sizes and variety of crystals! PLEASE for the love of Holy Mother, just make sure whatever yoni eggs you buy are GIA-certified, there is A LOT of fake crystal dealers out there, effed up I know, especially when it comes to Jade. This is your precious temple we’re talking about, so don’t be cheap, get something that will make your kitty purr and heal.
  4. Let’s give it up for Planned Parenthood y’all! They have kept me baby and cancer-free my entire post-college adult life?! It’s called PLANNED parenthood for a reason! Thru these angels, I got the non hormonal, copper ParaGard IUD, which basically kung fu chops semen, at least that’s the visual in my head! These IUDs have a lifespan of up to 12 years and are immediately reversible. Now it hurts like a B going in, but for 6 years, not feeling it at all, my partner not feeling it all and NO pregnancy scares, it was so worth it! The removal is not a day at the beach either, I’m not gonna lie, but it’s hella quick and easy, which was surprising since my hypochondriac self swore it had definitely embedded itself into my organs. Nope! It’s outta there!
  5. Garden of Life mykind Organics Prenatal Multi baybeee! Literally for me and my baby, pre, during and post pregnancy for milkie milkie time! They’re still big as hell, but they don’t taste so bad going down. They also have a dude’s multi which baby daddy has been consuming to help with that healthy sperm game.
  6. I’m a hard core vegetarian whose a wanna be vegan most of the time…like 89%. Skinny Bitch Bun in the Oven and Kind Mama are my go-tos when making sure Imma be getting the proper nutrition to me and bae during conception and during preggo time. It’s also my go-to when I need to hit the naysayers upside the head with my kindle for poo pooing on my lifestyle choice of not eating potentially poisoned and rotting flesh, which is fine if that’s what you’re into. To each her own, I’ll leave your steak alone, if you leave my greens alone, capisce?! PS. Rando Fact: Alicia Silverstone wrote Kind Mama and is also responsible for the mykind line at Garden of life! Get it Alicia and thanks!
  7. We had a pre-baby vacay for our anniversary and spent a month in Italy this summer doing as the Romans do…when in Rome… straight debauchery! Vino, gelato, vino, food, vino and umm…whatever happens in Italy stays in Italy! Needless to say, we had us a good little cleansing when we got back, a vegan liquid cleanse- juice, smoothies and soups minus the vino! It was womb prep-time for the future tenet.
  8. Living in SoCal, I have a bunch of beautiful, natural-living, ahhhmazing Mexican amigas who hipped me to sobadoras. A sobadora is a masseuse, one that massages a woman’s uterus. Our ute can get all kinds of out of wack from sports, babies, carrying heavy ish, TRAUMA and plain ole stress. If the ute is not in the correct position it can F with implantation. The super amazing sobadora that I found specializes in Arvigo Techniques of Mayan Abdominal Therapy. Marcia is a gem and her website is True Healing Bodywork, tell her The Snappie Hippie sent you so she knows I love her and am in eternal gratitude.
  9. Yogaglo (at home) and Silverlake Yoga (in studio) has amazing prenatal classes, partner classes and baby and me classes…swooooon!! The great news for this very vain workout addict is that I found out I can pretty much continue with all my regular scheduled workouts like hiking, elliptical and swimming throughout my pregnancy, F yes! I am however going to take my outdoor cycling off the list, since it’s already hella dangerous on these LA streets and I’ll be pedaling for 2. Might have to cool it on the pole when I get too big to swing around or invert. Already thinking of when I can get back to working out after pregnancy and I’m not even pregs yet…oy.
  10. The midwife and doula search is ON like Donkey Kong! I’m SO grateful that there are soooo many good reproductive resources here in Los Angeles! Somewhere along the way since my epidural-heavy , pain-free first pregnancy, I’ve decided that I want to have a natural at home water birth…whaaaaa, never have I ever! I want that spiritual mama to babe soul connection on my terms, plus I heard there’s such a thing as an orgasmic birth and I’m gonna research the hell outta that! Masturbation while giving birth anyone? Here’s the midwife search thus far:

And dasss it (hella long tho, huh?)! My first post will be my longest post *promise* but I want to share ALL the goodies I’ve been collectin!

– xOx