Tag Archives: arizona

Our Grand DIY Intentions

Standard

I must admit, I’m not much of a crafter.  Sure, I dabbled in cross stitching, rug hooking, and sewing back in my middle and high school days.  This mostly led to a bunch of abandoned-while-only-half-finished projects.  My creative talents mainly revolve around cameras, not quilts or paints.  Basically, Martha Stewart, I am not.

However, a budget backyard wedding definitely calls for some crafting, whether I like it or not.  I do want our wedding to be pretty, after all!  With the overload of wedding “Pinspiration” out there, Zach and I tried to restrict ourselves to a select few important DIY craft projects.  Here’s what we’re hoping to accomplish:

Dip-dyed tablecloths!
Source: http://www.housetohome.co.uk

I really didn’t know what to do about tablecloths until I found this beauty online and fell in love!  Our plan is to dip-dye white cotton tablecloths in several different jewel tones.  I already have all the dye and all the tablecloths, but we’re waiting until we arrive in Arizona the week of the wedding to dye them since we don’t have space for this project in our apartment.  I really hope it works!  We’re also hoping we can resell the tablecloths later if they turn out well!

Lighting!
Source: http://www.younghouselove.com

We definitely need some romantic white lighting to transform our very “driveway-ish” driveway into a magical fairyland!  Luckily, Zach’s parents already have a ton of white string lights.  Since Zach used to be an electrician, I’m delegating this project to him and hoping it will turn out as pretty as this picture!

Photobooth!
Source: sharonlovesthis.blogspot.com

This is our most ambitious project, and, I feel like, the most likely to get axed if we run out of time and energy.  But seriously, how awesome is this photobooth?  We want to use old family wedding photos to celebrate our loved ones and also get some funky props and costumes for people to pose.  I’m hoping we have time to construct this!

Arbor focal point
Source: apracticalwedding.com

We need some sort of focal point for our outdoor ceremony.  Zach’s also taking this one on, hoping he can construct something simple and pretty from some old wood and flowers!

Easy cake stands!
Source: number-2-pencil.com

At first I wanted to scour antique stores and thrift shops for vintage-y looking cake stands and serving plates.  I soon realized that was more expensive than I originally envisioned.  Then I stumbled into this idea on Pinterest.  You just buy some fun, colorful plastic plates and cups, glue them together, and voila!

These are most of the craft project we hope to accomplish, although this is not all we’ll be DIY-ing, by any means.  We’re also going to make all of our food and all of our desserts, do our own flowers, design our own playlists, and write our own ceremony.  Uh-oh, I’m getting overwhelmed just thinking about it!  The most stressful part about these crafts is that we can’t really do any of them until we arrive in Arizona.  It’s going to make for a busy pre-wedding week, but there’s really nothing we can do about it.  Thankfully we’ll have lots of able-bodied friends and family members arriving early to help!

What do you think of our craft list?  Too ambitious?  Anyone have tips for any of these projects?

Advertisements

A Venue Decision!

Standard

Remember my state debate from this post?  Well, here’s the follow-up…

Time was ticking away.  More and more people kept asking me if we had set a date yet, as their calendars were booking up for next summer.  My online search for an affordable spot in California was proving fruitless.  More than anything, we just wanted to decide on a place and set a date so that we could give people enough advance notice in this over-scheduled day and age.

So, after much discussion, we made the decision I somehow knew in my gut we would make all along:

We’re getting married in Arizona!

After examining all factors, we decided that having our wedding at Zach’s parents’ house in northern Arizona would allow us the most freedom to DIY and be the most affordable, despite the cost of renting tables and chairs.  We talked to his parents about the idea and they were thrilled!  They’re happy for an excuse to do more work on the house and give some of their relatives an extra reason to come visit.  We’re happy because we know there’s lots of fun stuff for our guests to do in the area, and the hotels are affordable.

I’m already drawing inspiration from gorgeous photos of backyard weddings.  The mission now is to turn this:

into this:

Source: Young House Love

 

It’ll be a challenge but I think we can do it!  I’m so excited to dance the night away under the gorgeous Arizona stars!

Did anyone else have an at-home backyard wedding?  Was it worth all the DIY work?

Location, Location, Location: Debates on What State

Standard

I’ve got this dream wedding location in my head, and I’m hoping it’s not imaginary.

You see, we have a really small budget.  But we still really like to party.  We’re not opposed to DIY.  And we want to spend as much time with our friends and family as possible.

So, our A+, #1, ideal wedding venue would be some kind of camp, B&B, or conference center that we could take over for a whole weekend and have everyone stay in the same place!  Someplace that included a beautiful outdoor ceremony site, a kitchen we could use to self-cater, someplace for people to eat, drink, and dance, and cabins or a lodge that everyone could stumble off to after partying all night.

Look at this gorgeous summer camp wedding!
Credit: http://www.theweddingwarriors.com/?p=1012

I know, we dream big.  But I can’t help hoping that if the amazing Sara and Matt of 2000 Dollar Budget Wedding (a HUGE inpsiration to me!) can do it, than so can we!  So that’s the goal right now.

With that in mind, the first thing we had to do was decide which state to get married in!

Option #1: Ohio. 😦 See, Zach and I are both from Ohio and so our families naturally assumed we’d be getting married there.  However, while we both agree that Ohio was a great place to grow up, we’ve since broken away and don’t intend to live there long-term again in the future.  Honestly, it’s just kind of (REALLY) boring.  However, most of Zach’s friends and extended family still live in Ohio.  AND wedding stuff is significantly cheaper there.

This is Ohio. We’ve got some corn. And some barns.
Credit: http://kellybanik.blogspot.com/2011/04/other-peoples-lives.html

Option #2: California!  Although we’ve been working summer jobs in Ohio this year, the weeks are quickly ticking by and our planned move to San Diego, California is getting closer!  We both love San Diego, the sun, the waves, the perfect temperature, the proximity to Mexico!  This is where we can finally see ourselves “settling down” (which, for us, may only mean staying somewhere longer than a year, who knows) and where we’d like to get married.  It will be so much easier to plan a wedding close to where we are living.  Plus, I have a lot of friends and family scattered around the country.  When I sketched out my side of the guest list for our wedding, I realized that more than half of my people will have to get on a plane, whether the wedding is in Ohio or not!  Do I really want to make those poor people pay for a plane ticket and take time off to go to Ohio?  Heck no!  The downside to this, however, is that a lot of Zach’s extended family may not be able to afford to come to California.  The brutal-but-true upside to that downside: it would definitely help keep our numbers in check since his family is HUGE.

Option #3: The Arizona back-up plan.  Before we left on our long Latin American odyssey trip, Zach and I were living in northern Arizona.  See, his parents bought a house out there that they are planning to move to when they retire.  But, they haven’t retired yet!  So we got to live there for a year and house-sit for them!  During that year, we really grew to love the area.  The house is within an hour of the Grand Canyon, Sedona’s red rocks, mountain climbing, swimming holes, and tons of other awesome stuff!  Plus, the house is pretty big and we could definitely clear a section of the yard for the ceremony.  The problem here would be that we’d still be long-distance planning, we’d have to rent all the tables and chairs, and people would have to stay in hotels that are at least 15 minutes away from the house.  But it’s a good backup plan because we know it won’t book up and it’s still an awesome vacation spot.

View from the back porch of the Arizona house

What do you think, people?  We’re clearly leaning towards having the wedding in California, and hoping to find a great venue there.  If you were in our situation, what state would you choose?

So long, Arizona

Standard

Do me a favor.  Start here.  Meg’s post about doing things we’re afraid of is so well written and TRUE.

There was a short but bright rainbow in the sky tonight.  A sign of good luck for the start of our journey tomorrow!  It’s been a weekend of goodbyes and wrap-ups.  Packing sucked.  As usual, I found myself with a way-too-big pile of “essential” clothes and a way-too-small suitcase.  Trying to convince myself that I don’t need these, I really don’t need these, I don’t!  Who cares about variety?  The car is packed to the gills with camping supplies, clothes, food, and camera equipment.  But I’m sure we’re still forgetting something.  The rest is in boxes in a closet here.  So of course I’ll come back, because after a year of only what I stuffed in one suitcase, I’m gonna want to see the rest of my clothes again!

It’s been a year.  A seemingly quiet one compared to last year, but I still can’t believe all that’s happened.  I’ve learned how to live with someone in a real, day-to-day, “in this for the long haul” relationship, survived our first real fights, and found myself more in love than ever.  I’ve worked two new jobs and started my own business.  I’ve learned to snowboard, tried rock climbing, hiked long distances, cliff jumped from 50 feet, and climbed my first two mountains.  I’ve been to Mexico for the first time.  Biked many miles, saved many dollars, made new friends, started to integrate into a whole other family.  Tasted western microbrews and Spanish wines.  Shared so many homemade pizzas with couchsurfers from around the world.  What a year.

The next one is going to be even better.  A circular journey that will take us through two continents and back.  The western US, Ohio again, all of South America, and back to Ohio by August 2012.  After that, who knows?  These next six weeks we’ll be living out of the car, couchsurfing, exploring new national parks, and going to Burning Man.  I do have several goals for our time on the road:

1. Study Spanish every day.

2. Hike or run every day.  Work my way up to running a 10k.

3. Dumpster dive.

4. Keep the car clean and organized.

5. Take amazing photographs.

6. Keep up this blog.

7. Eat healthy.

8. Enjoy myself!!!!!

So tomorrow we begin.  First a quick stop in Las Vegas, for Zach to sell some of the scrap copper wire he’s collected at work.  Yes, we really are that poor.  And as Zach said “What great story doesn’t start with driving to Vegas to sell something?”  Lol.  Then to Death Valley NP in California, where apparently the highs can be over 120 degrees this time of  year.  Yikes.  Now it’s time to share a bottle of wine in hopes of being able to sleep tonight.  I’ll catch up with you again from somewhere in California!

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”-Christopher McCandless

Support Letter for La Aventura Project

Standard

Hi all! This is an easy post, but important. We finally got our fundraising underway for La Aventura Project.  I figured the easiest way to share this is just to copy and paste the same letter I sent out to family and friends detailing what we’re doing and what we need.  Of course you should also click over to the La Aventura Project website (link in the right sidebar) to see the trailer and more.  And please, please ask questions if you have them!  I’m feeling the vibe of a lot of doubts expressed by non-supportive silence by certain people who are close to me.  And it really hurts.  I’ll probably write more about that later, but for now, here’s the letter:

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings!  I hope you all are well!  What is going on in your lives???   Since I’m fairly bad at keeping in touch, I wanted to write to you about what is going on in my life at the moment.  I’ve been living in Williams, Arizona (near the Grand Canyon) for almost one year now with my amazing boyfriend Zachary Minnich.  This is the first time for both of us to live out west and we’re loving it!  The many mountains, creeks, and canyons to hike and explore keep us endlessly entertained and active.  Most of our time is spent working, however.  We both work in Flagstaff, Zach as an electrician and me as a server at a nice restaurant.  We are saving as much money as possible for travel.  We both have the same desire to see the world.

That brings me to our other main activity right now, which is planning a year-long backpacking/filmmaking/volunteering adventure in South America.  On October 27, Zach, our good friend Melissa, and I will be departing from Chicago and flying into Colombia (which I assure you has become very safe and pleasant for tourists recently).  We plan to work our way around the continent in a counterclockwise direction through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and Venezuela.  We have budgeted $17 per person per day for an entire year of travel.  In order to live cheaply and really learn the language and culture of these countries, we will be doing lots of volunteering, mostly through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (www.wwooof.org).  We so look forward to building relationships with locals this way, and to learning about and contributing to sustainable agriculture on our planet.  We also will be finding other volunteer opportunities at orphanages and schools along the way, couchsurfing (www.couchsurfing.org), and camping.  To finally put my film degree to use, we will be filming our experience every step of the way, telling our personal stories and searching for everything else worth documenting.  Because it’s hard to predict what will happen on a journey like this, it’s hard to say exactly what our film will be about.  Right now the working title is La Aventura Project and we are focused on telling the personal narrative of our journey and showing how travel and exposure to different cultures affects three 20-something Americans.  I am hoping to tell our story and eventually edit a feature-length documentary to show in film festivals.

And now the part you probably knew was coming and that I hate to write…the request for money.  Although Zach, Melissa, and I have all been working hard and saving, leaving on a year-long trip is quite expensive.  We are each trying to raise $7000  for travel and living expenses, plus cover our loans and US obligations for the year, plus purchase some filmmaking equipment.  Our film equipment alone will be about $6000 once we have everything we need.  We are so, so close to having the money ourselves, but we need just a little bit of help.  We are trying to raise just $5000 to split between the three of us to assist with equipment and travel costs.  We really feel that this project will make the world a better place by enabling cross-cultural learning, challenging and growing ourselves, and telling what is sure to be an awesome story through film.  We believe that world travel is the best education you can get, and that explorers and artists have and continue to change the world for the better.  If you believe this too, and can spare even $1 to help La Aventura Project, we would greatly appreciate it.  We are accepting secure, tax-deductible online donations via indiegogo.com.  Our project link is www.indiegogo.com/LaAventuraProject.  You can get some awesome perks for donating!  Please also visit our website, www.laaventuraproject.com, where you can find our film trailer and blog updates throughout our preparation and travel.  If you know anyone who would be interested in our project, please pass along those links!  And if you have any questions, please reply and ask away!

Thank you all so much!  And for those of you in Ohio, Zach and I will be back in early October and would love to see you before we leave!

Sincerely,

Carrie Hoffman

“What’s the difference between exploring and being lost?  The journey is the destination.”  –Dan Eldon

My BFFL

Standard

The best part of my birthday was having my best friend and her hubby visit. They flew in from Ohio on Monday night and stayed until Friday night, hoping for a week of fun in the AZ sun. Well, that didn’t pan out exactly. As luck would have it, the weather was pretty terrible. We had one nice day on Tuesday, then the rest of the week it was a combination of snow, sleet, rain, clouds, etc. depending on what elevation we were at. Yep, that’s right, it SNOWED on my birthday. Big fat flakes actually accumulating on the ground on May 18. Crazy! I tried to look on the bright side and just chalk it up as another birthday “first.” First birthday I’ve ever had with snow falling! Despite the weather, we had a great week. I was off work and acting like I was on vacation myself with lots of good food, drinking, and tour guiding them around northern AZ. We cooked together, played beer pong in the dining room, went to the cowboy bar, jumped in FREEZING Wet Beaver Creek, ate at Criollo, and made S’mores in the fireplace.

The best part though, was just having my best friend there, and having everything feel right between us. The past few years have brought so many changes in our lives and strained our relationship. It’s natural for these years to do that, I know, seeing as the early 20s are when most of us choose the path that we will follow throughout the rest of our lives. Choosing different paths (for her marriage, a career, and a house in Columbus and for me the Peace Corps, moving around a lot, and working just to travel) definitely made things hard for awhile, as we had less in common, found it harder to get together even when I still lived in Columbus, and there was a thin but tangible layer of tension between us.

I was a little nervous that things would still be like that when they visited. But from the moment Zach and I picked them up from the airport it was just like old times. The four of us have made so many awesome memories together over the years (camping, ziplining, whitewater rafting, and many many happy hours) and this trip just continued it. I feel like having the past year (her first year of marriage, my first year back in the US/living with my boyfriend/in a new state) to grow into our adult lives allowed us to become comfortable in our own skins and accept each other’s differences. While growing apart and disagreeing in some ways is inevitable, we still have that special best friend connection of knowing each other better than almost anyone else. We can talk about the hard things and learn from each other’s perspectives. We can still remember our old high school inside jokes and laugh about them long into the night. We can still team up and make fun of our SOs to no end. I could tell that we both have matured in our lives and in our friendship. I love her so much and it was so great to have her here and feel like everything was “just like old times.” Here’s to many more years of adventures together!

May in Flagstaff

Standard

Seriously???  I really thought we were DONE with snow!  Apparently this “one last surprise snow” always happens here though.

In other news, our Internet is broken so posting may be lacking until we get it fixed.  I’m writing this from the coffee shop in town while sipping a delicious Raspberry Mocha (flex day!!!!!!!)

Wet Beaver Creek

Standard

I went on an 11-mile hike on Monday!  And it was actually not too hard.  I definitely worked up a sweat and huffed and puffed up a hill, but all in all I felt great.  I went with a work friend who turns out to be such a kindred spirit.  We had a great time talking and sitting by the creek for a wine break.  And our destination was the coolest, most hidden-away swimming hole!  I love finding these secluded Arizona spots that are breathtakingly beautiful yet no one knows about!  We swam despite how cold it was, and cliff jumped off the 15 foot canyon walls!

Here is a picture (taken by said friend):

Easter/Gross Sensory Memories

Standard

Zach and I started a new tradition today…an Easter picnic!  We drove down the mountain to Sedona after I got off work at 3 and had just enough time to find a nice trailhead, eat a delicious picnic dinner (deviled eggs mmmmm!!!), and go for a short hike among the red rocks.  It was peaceful and lovely.

On to the second half of the post title…we saw a jeep tour vehicle drive by and joked about the company name: “Arizona Safari Company.”  I was like, “Ha, I wonder how many animals they saw on their ‘safari’!”  A moment later the jeep zoomed past us and kicked up a ton of dust from the dirt road, flooding our car with it before I got the sunroof closed.

As soon as I felt the layer of dirt settle over the seats, my forehead, everything, I thought, “Wow, it kinda does feel like Africa now!”  I remembered something my friend Kristie said when we were in Kenya about how her boogers were black from the inside of her nose being constantly coated in dust.  I totally felt that way after that jeep gave us a dust-bath and it did bring me back to Africa in such a quick, sensory way.

So yeah, black boogers and a sweaty layer of dust on your face.  That’s the feeling.