A Fresh Perspective on Wedding Planning

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On September 4th, 2016 Jon and I put it on paper and threw a party like never before. Really that’s all it was. We wanted a wedding that truly celebrated who we are, individually and as a couple, our love for each other, and all the amazing people in our lives as well though!

While I thrive on planning and decorating and cooking and hosting – the list goes on and on – I did not want to give in to the trap of incorporating certain things just because it’s tradition. So much of the culture around wedding planning has, in my humble opinion, diluted what it’s really all about! Two people, committing their lives to each other and their community coming together to celebrate that commitment. All too often that beautiful focus is lost in the sea of invoices, appointments, budgets and fulfilling the never ending list of traditions and expectations.

So, in case you’re curious, here’s how we did it…

Set measurable goals for yourself.

Figure out what your priorities are first. For us, the biggest priority was a beautiful and flexible venue. The prettier the venue, the less we’d have to decorate; the more flexible the rules at said venue, the less money we’d spend trying to jump through hoops. We eventually chose to rent a six bedroom home in Gatlinburg, TN.

Maybe for you the most important thing is the honeymoon, the photographer, or the food. Talk about it and reach a compromise before making any big decisions.

Now you can set goals based on your priorities. Being able to measure your goals is important to being able to hold yourself to them, especially with budgeting. Here are the main goals we set for ourselves:

  1. Keep the budget under $10,000
  2. Spread out the planning as much as possible to avoid stress
  3. Spend more time and less money
  4. Keep attendance under 100 people
  5. Write our own ceremony and vows

We were able to meet all of these goals, and it was all because our community of generous and talented friends and family surrounded and supported us in making it happen.

For our bachelor/ette parties we went out for dinner with a small group of close friends and our two parties met up at one of our favorite bars after dinner. We had a cookout at the venue for the rehearsal dinner. A family friend and one of my biggest heroes came in to coordinate for me and I didn’t worry about a thing! My mom, mother-in-law, grandmother, bridesmaids and friends helped with decorating and set-up, one friend in particular put together all the floral arrangements, and my aunts led the army that prepared all of the hors d’oeuvres. All hail the matriarchy! My brother walked down the street from the rental house where everything was held to ask a neighbor if we could borrow a weed-eater! Other friends of ours also helped according to their own talents: one friend who works for a wine distributor gifted us a case of wine, another (Shane Hunter) did the photography, another did my makeup and help my bridesmaids with theirs, and yet another friend last minute offered to come do videography for us which we were planning to skip altogether!

The most overwhelmingly beautiful thing about that weekend was knowing how much love our friends and family put in to make it happen. It wouldn’t have been nearly as meaningful to us if we had simply paid a bunch of strangers to do everything for us. And the most important thing? Everyone had SO much fun! There was way too much food (which both the mothers had worried about) and the kegs and wine ran out just when they needed to haha! We played music off of my computer through a sound system that my brother-in-law loaned us and danced on the patio under lights my dad, grandfather, and brother were able to string up. It was all beautiful. Perfect really if you ask me. 🙂

Some cool things we did that I would recommend for EVERYONE:

  • Rent a house – NOT a “venue” Doing this ended up being about the same price as getting a venue, but we got it for four days instead of one! This also gave us a ton of freedom when it came to decorating, food, and booze. We weren’t limited to a venue’s requirements for a caterer, bartender, florist or photographer which happens often. Talk about a money saver. PLUS we got to stay there the whole weekend.
  • Kegs, cases, and Costco. When it came to food and booze, we saved a ton of money by buying and prepping the food ourselves. My aunts and a couple friends helped with prepping it all, but I planned the menu and specified the shopping list. All in all we ended up spending around $700 for food for the whole weekend, and we had WAY too much honestly. (That price doesn’t including the cake.) While the majority of the food came from Costco, we also purchased some items from Aldi and Gordon’s.
  • Alter your mother’s dress. Yup, I went there. I understand that not everyone can do this, but I only spent $350 for a custom veil and major alterations to a lace neckline and sleeves. And it looked gorgeous. Other than that I spent $20 on a pair of sandals at Target that I still wear and $15 on a pair of earrings at a boutique and viola! I did get lucky because I’m practically a carbon copy of my mom and there were no changes to the size or hem needed, but I’m so glad I did it!
  • Don’t do tuxes. Just don’t. It’s expensive, you have to return them, and they will all be miserable wearing them. My husband picked out the same pair of pants for our groomsmen to buy, asked them to wear brown shoes and a white shirt, and gifted their ties and suspenders to them. It was all pretty simple if you don’t count my husband toiling over what he wanted. ❤
  • Don’t squish all your bridesmaids into the same dress. I think this is just mean… to each their own but… not all women are built the same. I specified the length and color at David’s Bridal and asked them to confirm with me before they bought it just in case I hated the style or something, which I never did. Because I did this, two of my bridesmaids were even able to buy second hand dresses for way cheaper!
  • Buy your flowers wholesale! Everyone knows someone that can throw a flower arrangement together like nobody’s business. And boy did I! I bought all of our flowers at Costco, some online and some in store. Altogether I spent $250 on our flowers plus some small expenses for things like ribbon, floral tape, wire, and foam.
  • DIY people!!! Some things we did ourselves? I made chalkboard signs, wine bottle tiki torches,  and put together our guest book in a gorgeous blank leather book my mother-in-law bought for us. My husband made seed packets for our favors by printing the labels on blank seed packets and harvesting seeds from plants he propagated himself. My father-in-law built an arbor for us that was masterful. My mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, and myself all brought decor items and serving-ware from home. My grandmother made a silk flower arrangement for the the foyer. AND we made our own invitations!!! I purchased 200 blank invitations that had envelopes, R.S.V.P. cards, and pretty little silver stickers for $13. My husband painted a watercolor mountain scene that we then scanned in for the background, then I designed the the text and hand wrote the addresses with a calligraphy pen.

There were a lot of ways that we could have done things even more affordably and opted not to, but ultimately I think that we successfully planned and hosted a wedding that we feel genuinely shared our love for each other and  the values we share as a couple with our friends and family. That is what made it perfect for us. Check out the pictures below and feel free to ask questions or share your wedding planning wisdom in the comments!

Cheers!

Shelby

Decor & Venue

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Pre-Ceremony

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Ceremony

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Reception

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Photo Credit: Shane Hunter

 

My Type 1 Pregnancy

I am slowly learning that being a first time mom is full of surprises – and lots of belly butter! – but being Type 1 Diabetic adds some extra tidbits along the way. My conception story is a little less than conventional for a T1. You really pick up on that when the doctor seeing you at your third prenatal visit asks you, “So when are you planning to get pregnant?” … #awkward

When you have T1, pregnancy is supposed to be SUPER planned for. Or should be at least. When I found out I was pregnant I was still working to get my body into optimal baby mode. My sugars were wacky and my A1c was way too high…. 8.2 to be exact. At 8 weeks and 5 days (about a month and a half later) my A1c was down to 7.7! Small victories.

Today, at 10 weeks, I got set up on a Tandem insulin pump and I’m loving it already! I’m hoping that not having to deal with rounding my bolus units and having a flexible basal will fix the over/under correction problems I’ve been having and eliminate the crazy nighttime lows.

Because of my somewhat less than conventional T1 conception I was scrounging for resources as soon as I saw those double lines. I hadn’t had the month’s of tight control and training from a high risk OB to tell me what to expect! For any T1 ladies out there who are having a little surprise, or even if you are planning on getting pregnant, here are the things I couldn’t have lived without that first month! (both diabetes related and not!)

  1. JDRF’s Pregnancy Toolkit was so informative and comforting. If you are a type A Type 1 Diabetic this is the most comprehensive and least complicated guide to what steps you should take before pregnancy and how pregnancy changes the way you manage you diabetes – and it’s FREE! You can download the PDF from the link above and they’ll also send you a paper copy in the mail.
  2. What to Expect When You’re Expecting, I realize seems a little cliche and typical, but I LOVE how this book is organized and the way things are explained. Some books explain things in a more confusing way than your doctor, but this one talks you through things in a realistic and comfortable way. This latest edition also has great sections for your partner!
  3. Joining the Type 1 Diabetes and Pregnancy group on Facebook has been so comforting! I am only the second in my friend group to get pregnant and I don’t have any Type 1 friends near me that are women. In other words – this group is a wonderful resource for advice, product recommendations, and even just emotional support! It is a closed group so you will have to request to be added but it’s definitely worth the wait!
  4. My CGM. I’m not sure that I would recommend starting on a CGM after pregnancy because, since conceiving, my numbers have occasionally been inaccurate. HOWEVER! Since conceiving I have also had a much harder time feeling lows coming on and, had I not been wearing my CGM, I may not have noticed until it was too late. I’m very confident that my CGM has saved me from going to the ER on multiple occasions.
  5. SNACKS! I haven’t really struggled with morning sickness all that much but I am FOREVER hungry. We shop mostly at Aldi and some of my favorite snacks are their unsalted almonds, SimplyNature Organic Popcorn, Fit&Active string cheese, and oranges… or just fruit in general really!! My favorite thing about these snacks is that they’re all low carb and contain healthy fats and fiber.
  6. Coconut Oil and Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter – Two words ladies: BUTTER UP. My mother in law has had four kids and she told me to start lathering early. Not that I would argue with a little pampering, but this is one thing where I’m not really sure I want to take my chances. I like these two products because they don’t have crazy smells mainly, but I’m planning to try at least one more recommendation that I got from my cousin before I set my heart on one product. I’ll update when I do! 🙂

**disclaimer: I have not been paid by any of these companies to review their products, this is all my guaranteed very biased opinion.**

Real talk. Weird things are happening to my body AND my diabetes. Highlights? I had a lot more low blood sugars, my CGM readings were occasionally WAY off, and my bellybutton feels weird all the time! Haha 🙂

I’m so excited to be joining the ranks of motherhood and hope you fellow first time moms out there find this post helpful!

Cheers!

Shelby

Apps for Type 1 Diabetes

Let’s just admit one truth – record keeping is the bane of T1D life. Shots and pricks and site changes are a pain, but they’re what keep you alive. Keeping accurate records often feels like an UNnecessary evil. When you’ve been dealing with T1D long enough, you become confident enough in your carb counting and dosage calculation that it just doesn’t feel worth it to add writing every little thing down… at least that’s been my experience.

Part of my frustration has been that, with all the technological capabilities at our fingertips, it seems that there is no one app, website, or program that really covers all the bases. Of course, some are better than others and, used in tandem, can be rather helpful.

Please keep in mind that my review is very biased and entirely my own opinion. I have not been paid by any of these companies to review their products, I simply want to share my experience with my fellow diabetics!

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I have been on injections for 5 years (previously used an OmniPod pump) and have used a Dexcom G5 CGM for the past 7 months. Not having a pump has definitely changed how I keep records and made it that much more important since I don’t have a handy device that centralizes all my data. I would certainly recommend the OmniPod for anyone considering a pump or thinking of switching to one. The convenience of tubeless sites and customizable settings that calculate dosage based on the carbs and BG that you enter – among other things – however, the system can be expensive if your insurance doesn’t cover it fully and I had a lot of trouble with my sites bruising and bleeding because I didn’t have enough subcutaneous tissue.

The apps I describe below are only a few of many, however they seem to be the most user friendly and comprehensive. Feel free to share your own experiences, questions, or request other reviews in the comments!

Image result for dexcom g5 app iconDexcom G5

I absolutely love my Dexcom system, but there are definitely a lot of things on my wishlist for future updates to the app. I use the app on my iPhone instead of the provided receiver because it would be just down right silly to have to carry around yet another thing if I don’t have to. The visual representation of blood sugars is very intuitive, however any other data is rather inconvenient to access after 24 hours. Even the reports from Dexcom Clarity don’t show reported carbohydrates, exercise, or insulin with the respective daily charts other than a tiny icon on the charts. Because of this I don’t even bother to use the app to log  most of the time.

FAVORITE FEATURES

  • The simplistic and user friendly design.
  • The Dexcom Share App – absolutely fantastic. My husband has it and is especially handy for nighttime lows or when my phone is on silent at work. Every once in a while I get a text from him warning me that my sugar is rising. This would have been a dream as a kid when I was first learning too and I’m sure it is wonderful as parents with T1D kiddos.
  • Clarity also allows you to share an access code with your provider so they can log in any time and see your data.

WISHLIST

  • The ability to view log entries for carbs, insulin, and exercise within the app.
  • Specific quantifiable data associated with date in Clarity for carbs, insulin, and exercise.
  • The option to specify time periods for alarms – such as a low alert that goes off when BG is below 90 between 11pm and 7am but doesn’t go off until below 70 between 7am and 10pm.
  • The ability to make notes regarding specific log entries, this would allow you to specify what you ate when entering  carbs, why you took a little more or less insulin than normal, or record what type of workout you did. All of these things can be important to know when looking at trends for the purpose of correcting your regimen. Maybe certain foods are spiking your sugar more than normal or maybe swimming drops your sugar more than biking.
  • Similar to the previous, but also being able to make notes and record questions for your endocrinologist on the Dexcom Clarity reports somehow would also be great!

 Image result for diabetes kit appDiabetes Kit

I love the interface of this app and that it’s compatible with Apple Health. Because of this I can actually import my blood sugar data from my Dexcom app to Apple Health and then to Diabetes Kit – a little round about but it gets there with a 3 hour delay. The logging options are wonderful, but it’s all added separately instead of just filling out whats needed all on one page. It also has some pretty great graphing features and counts your steps – although if you don’t carry your phone with you at all times that wouldn’t really be accurate.

FAVORITE FEATURES

  • Trends reporting within the app tracks some very helpful statistics including, my favorite, a line graph that shows glucose and insulin hourly averages.
  • Real-time data sharing via a unique URL created through the app.

WISHLIST

  • App connect options with Fitbit and Dexcom directly
  • Ability to enter several different types of data at the same time
  • A more condensed view of the log and ability to search  and filter the log

 

CaloImage result for calorie king app iconrie King

This is by far the most useful and convenient resource for carb counting EVER. The only downside is that they still don’t have an app for Android users which is just so unfair – sorry guys. But they do have a great website!

FAVORITE FEATURES

  • Ease of search ability
  • Comprehensive nutritional data
  • Ability to change the serving unit
  • Variety of preparation options for each food

WISHLIST

  • Ability to save commonly eaten foods
  • Ability to scan and add new foods

 

Image result for calorie king diabetes appHEALTHeDiabetes

This app seems to be a lot more geared toward Type 2 users, especially when logging insulin. My least favorite thing about this app is that the carb entry is made rather complicated by requiring you to select certain foods from their database rather than just entering the amount of carbs counted and some notes about what you ate. You can create foods and recipes but either way the process for tracking carbs has too many hoops if you ask me. Otherwise it has all the nuts and bolts but it’s not the best for type 1 users in my opinion.

FAVORITE FEATURES

  • Great exercise tracking feature that allows you to pick a start time, type of exercise, duration, and write down any notes about the workout which is always handy!
  • If you want to be meticulous about meal tracking, this is the app for you. While it takes a bit longer to do, entering specific foods allows the app to give you a daily nutrients summary which is pretty nifty.
  • This app also has a rather extensive “learn” section with lots of information – but again it’s entirely geared toward people with Type 2.
  • Lets you customize target ranges and goals – but again there isn’t the option to enter insulin dosages.

WISHLIST

  • Needs a similar version or customization options to make it more user friendly for Type 1 users! Need to be able to track insulin in units, have information in the learn section that is geared toward type 1, and the ability to enter data for bolus and correction doses in the settings.
  • When I’m in a rush I just want to enter a number for carbs. Maybe I’m just lazy but going through and picking every single food is sometimes just a little too over the top.
  • Add reports that show blood sugar trends PLEASE.

 

Image result for mySugrmySugr

I’m personally a little too OCD for this app, but I think it would be great for kids! It makes a game out of logging, giving you points for every entry. Unfortunately to get reports you have to pay for either monthly or annual pro membership. The pro membership also offers coaching from a CDE, which is an interesting feature, but I haven’t personally tried it out. This is definitely one of the most comprehensive apps that I have found, however I would recommend biting the bullet and going for the pro membership to really get the best use out of it.

FAVORITE FEATURES

  • Tons of logging options! (some not available in the free version though)
  • Ability to set reminders when making an entry
  • Separate log fields for long lasting insulin, food insulin, and correction insulin
  • Description fields for notes

WISHLIST

  • Simplify, simplify, simplify. This is entirely an opinion but I am not a fan of the user interface of this app. You do have the ability to customize which fields appear and in what order when making a new entry, but I prefer a  more clean cut look to the funky display mySugr sports.
  • The website does allow you to import your CGM date monthly… but I selfishly want my Dexcom app to sync with this app automatically. 🙂

Well there you have it! My unadulterated opinion of a variety of record keeping resources for my fellow type 1 diabetics, but it’s all about the best fit for you. You want to be able to track data that will help you, view your data for future reference, and have an interface that makes sense.

 

A Diabetic Foodie’s Lament

I love cookiimg_1062ng, and while having Type 1 Diabetes can really put a damper on exploration, lately I’ve been taking it as a challenge.

My first endocrinologist was the most inspirational woman and doctor I have ever met. She told you like it was, but that made you trust her even more – even if you just wanted to ignore what she said. She told me that diabetes didn’t have to control my life, but it would if I let it. Only now – as I begin to fear passing my illness to my children, worry about making my husband follow my diet unintentionally, and become overwhelmed by envy as my friends boast about hiking the Appalachian Trail, running marathons, and biking 100 miles in a day – do I realize what she meant.

It is not the disease that controls you, but your own fear of it and your anger toward it.

But I’m determined not to live in fear, anger, and envy. We have too many resources at our disposal to give in to those emotions that so easily consume us. So, my challenge to myself has been to conquer my biggest temptation – “I can eat whatever I want as long as I take insulin.”

Don’t kid yourself. You know what it feels like four hours after you give into a gourmet pizza because it’s a special occasion, a donut while you’re on a road trip, or pasta because it’s just sooo easy. These are of course things that I have learned to steer clear of because no matter how much insulin I take over whatever amount of time – I PAY.

BUT! My way of conquering is not just depriving myself of those scrumptious eats, it’s to find something better. American diets are so unbalanced in favor of starchy fillers like bread, pasta, rice, beans, and potatoes that we forget to EXPLORE. We should be bored of them by now! Really all this comes down to is I have some great recipe ideas to share for Diabetics who are tired of boring salads when their sugar is high and settling for raw carrots time and again when all you want is a friggen snack.

Best thing about it is – I’m no chef – so these are things anyone can make!

#LowCarbLife Recipes

Overnight cereal: 1/2 cup of oatmeal, 1 Tbs chia seeds, and 1/2 cup of milk then top with walnuts, blueberries, and cinnamon and soak overnight for a quick breakfast.

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Chicken Kabobs: Soak kabobs for at least 20 minutes. Cube chicken breast and marinate in olive oil, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and sriracha. (or whatever you want!) “Cube” (or chunk really) zucchini, summer squash, red onion, and baby ‘bella mushrooms then toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Load up the sticks and grill or bake (400) them for about 10-15 min.

 

 

 

Pasta ANYTHING: Spaghetti squash is the way to go whenever you’re craving something saucy and Italian. Always throw in the squash first though because it should bake for about 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400, halve the squash lengthwise, brush on some olive oil, and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. In the meantime, fix your sauce, protein, veggies, etc. When it’s done you should be able to stick a fork into the flesh and easily pull apart it’s stringy goodness! You can throw your sauce and toppings on right away or mix it all up and return it to the oven for that southern comfort of baked pasta. Best part? A comparable serving of spaghetti squash is 10-15 carbs as opposed to the easy 40-50 of any given pasta.

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Guac Burger: Bunless burgers don’t need to be boring. Sautee some onions and mushrooms and top with swiss cheese to mix it up. OR make my awesome guacamole and you can’t go wrong.

Cube 2 avocados, dice 4 cloves of garlic, 1/2 a red onion, chop a small handful of cilantro mash to desired texture (smoother is better for burgers), squeeze in half a lime and toss in some salt, pepper, cumin, and cayenne pepper – add a jalepeno if you like it spicy.

 

One more for my love avocados….

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Baked Egg & Avocado: Preheat the oven to 400. Scoop out a little extra of the avocado before cracking an egg into the center. Top with cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, pepper, cilantro, grape tomatoes, and white cheddar. Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on how hard you like your eggs.

 

 

 

 

I hope you all enjoy these simple recipes and are inspired by the revelation I shared.

Cheers!

Shelby