Yesterday John and I went on a little trip to the Carolina Tiger Rescue in Pittsboro, NC. I love cats (and so does John, despite his constant threats to box ours up and ship them away), so seeing big kitties is always fun. The tour lasted a little over 2 hours, though we only saw a portion of the 76 big cats at the sanctuary. The animals they have were mostly rescued from private ownership or from failing zoos. Surprisingly enough, it’s actually perfectly legal to keep a tiger in your backyard in most counties in NC, and some people are actually stupid enough to do it. Because so many of their animals came from private owners who had no idea how to take care of a big cat or couldn’t afford to feed one, some of their animals are smaller than they would be had they they not been malnourished and some have other disabilities from being kept in tiny cages most of their lives. It was very interesting and informative, so if you’re in the area I highly recommend going.
Of course, since the sanctuary isn’t a zoo, it’s not set up for your optimal viewing pleasure. As a result, it was a bit difficult to take photos and, of course, they’re all through chain link fences, so I apologize for the quality.
First up on the tour were the caracals. They’re kind of like tawny house cats on steriods. They weigh between 30-40 pounds are are pretty cool looking. The guide said that they have to feed these guys separately because one of the females always tries to eat all of the food, and John and I both said, “Lily?”
Next we met the ocelot, Magoo. He was about the same size as the caracals. They feed the animals by inserting meat into a tube with a lid on it, and opening the lid seems to have the same effect on Magoo as opening a can does on our cat, Lily.
Raja Ji was the first tiger we met. The tour guides can give some of the animals treats (except for the ones on diets), so he was quite happy to come right up to the fence to ask for some chicken. Of course, we were informed that sometimes he likes to spray on tour groups. Our guide assured us that it really wasn’t that bad if it happened – it smells like buttered popcorn and goes away after a few minutes. John and I had to restrain ourselves from calling bullshit audibly. There’s no way a 500 pound tiger’s SPRAY smells better than our cats’ regular pee. Luckily, no one had to find out exactly what it smelled like that day.
We also met a few servals. Elvis was one who had a rather interesting story. He was actually abandoned in a dog crate in the Carolina Tiger Rescue’s parking lot with a note that said something like, “My mommy loves me, but can’t take care of me,” and was signed with his name, Elvis. When a vet examined him, they found out he was extremely underweight, had scars from rubbing against the sides of the crate, his hind legs were largely atrophied, and he’d been declawed on all for paws. So yeah, don’t buy big cats as pets.
They also have a couple of non-cats at the sanctuary – kinkajous and binturons. Kinkajous are pretty cute, but despite what Paris Hilton seems to think, they’re also very aggressive. Carolina Tiger Rescue has aggressiveness ratings for all of the animals with 1 being the least aggressive and 4 being the most. Tigers, lions, and kinkajous are all 4 on the scale.
Jellybean is the white tiger at the Carolina Tiger Rescue. Another interesting bit of information we learned is that all white tigers in captivity are inbred. The white coloration gene is recessive, so when they caught a white tiger in the 50s they could get any white offspring when they bred him. They decided to solve the problem by breeding him to one of him orange daughters. Creepy, huh?
We didn’t get to see the lions, because apparently lions are lazy bastards who sleep 20 hours a day in the wild and probably more in captivity. Despite the lack of lions, we still had a really great time, though it was quite hot outside. We saw some really cool animals, learned a bit, and didn’t get sprayed by any tigers. If you’d like to see any of the other pictures, the link to the slideshow is below.
I’ve been thinking about wedding cakes recently. We want something to put our cake toppers on, and we want something cheap, but that’s about as far as we’ve gotten. According to the Bridal Association of America, the average wedding cake and cutting cost was $543 in 2006, and I doubt that number has gone down since then. We are NOT spending more than a quarter of our budget on cake. Luckily, there are a lot of options out there.
Cake is, of course, the most traditional wedding dessert option. It can also be the most expensive. Wedding cakes are priced by the slice, and those prices vary by city and bakery.Wedding cake slices are not the same as, say, birthday cake slices. The typical slice of a wedding cake is 2″ deep by 1″ wide. In other words, pretty damn small. Most wedding guests will partake of cake during a reception and some may want a bit more. I’ve read that you should order one extra slice of cake per every 10 guests. Of course, if you’re having an afternoon tea or just heavy hors d’oeuvres you might want to count of people eating a bit more cake. Also, if you’re planning on keeping the entire top tier of your cake for your first anniversary, take that into account too.
In my area, most of the wedding cake bakeries start at $4.25-4.75/slice for iced cakes and $5-5.75/slice for fondant. Most of the beautiful, intricate cakes you see in wedding magazines and on The Knot are made with fondant. Personally, I’m not a fan of fondant because it doesn’t taste that great and it’s more expensive. However, if you have your heart set on a cake like the one above, you’re pretty much stuck with it.
Before anyone starts celebrating their small guest list, keep in mind that many bakeries have minimum charges for wedding cakes, usually $200-300, regardless of how many guests you have. Also, the starting prices are for the bakery’s most basic, minimally decorated cakes. Those beautiful fondant flowers are tedious to make, so they really add to the cost. One way to work around that if you want flowers on your cake, but don’t want to add a lot to the cost is to supply your own real flowers for the baker to decorate with. Not all bakeries will let you supply the flowers though, so ask before you settle on anyone.
There are also cheaper wedding cakes out there, though they’re less likely to have listings on The Knot or The Wedding Wire. The best way to find out about these places is to ask around. A family friend of ours recommended a really great local bakery. I had no idea they did wedding cakes (they don’t say anything about it on their website), but I contacted them and found out that most of their wedding cakes are $2.25/slice. Of course, they only use natural ingredients and don’t work with fondant, but I see both of those as a plus.
Cheaper wedding cakes are also available at some grocery chains like Publix and Walmart. Prices vary based on location, so call your local store to find out more. Don’t assume that just because it’s from a grocery store that it’s automatically going to be the cheapest option. A cake from Walmart was only going to be slightly (about $20) cheaper than the one from the local bakery for us and would have far fewer options (white, chocolate, or marble cake), and the one from Publix would have been rather more expensive (though still cheaper than the bakeries that specialized in wedding cakes).
The cheapest option is to not get a “wedding” cake at all. While there are some legitimate reasons for tiered cakes to be more expensive, part of the price of wedding cakes is simply the “wedding tax.” If you aren’t stuck on having a tiered cake, you can always get a “special occasion” cake from a bakery at a fraction of the cost. Of course, if you have a lot of guests, you’ll have to get several separate cakes, but the extras can either be kept behind the scenes until they’re needed or you can offer different flavors.
Of course, if you really want the “wedding” cake, but don’t want to pay $5/slice for your 100+ guests, another good option is to get a pretty wedding cake to have on display during the reception and to bring out sheet cakes in the same flavor when the first cake is finished. That way you get the beautiful wedding cake for your pictures and have a lovely cake to cut, but you also feed all of your guests without breaking the bank.
Check out the video below for a hilarious look at the cost of wedding cakes.
Cupcakes are becoming a popular alternative to the traditional wedding cake. They’re usually cheaper than the traditional wedding cakes, though cupcakes with more decoration or in specialty flavors can cost as much as a basic cake. Another advantage of serving cupcakes is that you can serve a wide variety of flavors.
My issue with getting cupcakes is the size of most cupcakes. We’re having dinner at the reception and I don’t think that people are going to want to eat a huge, sugary cupcake afterward. Most people want to have a bit of the cake or whatever other dessert at a wedding, even if they don’t want much, so I thought having regular sized cupcakes would create a lot of waste. Then I went to a bridal expo and was served mini cupcakes. They were the perfect size – about two bites each. The place that was serving them there only served them as samples, but my mom told me about a new cupcake place in Hendersonville. Their mini cupcakes are only $0.88 each! Of course a lot of people will want more than one, but it would still be cheaper than a cake.
Now the issue is which option we’re going to go with. I’m considering getting a small wedding cake from the local bakery so we have something to put our cake toppers on and cut, then supplementing it with mini cupcakes. What will/did you do for your wedding dessert?
Clearly, I love my fiance dearly. I wouldn’t be marrying him if that weren’t the case. Sometimes though, I find him a bit trying. For example, I get a little frustrated when quick trips to the grocery store for taco stuff and beer turn into hour long excursions because he has to wander down every aisle and can’t decide if he’s more in the mood for Dos Equis or Landshark beer.
It’s also becoming a bit of a frustration for me in with wedding planning. I want him to be involved, and he has come up with some great ideas. When I ask his opinion on things though, he hems and haws and never actually tells me anything. Part of it is the “it’s your wedding” thing and part is indecisiveness on his part. As far as I’m concerned though, it’s OUR wedding, I value his opinion, and, perhaps most of all, I don’t want to be responsible for every freaking decision.
Let’s jump to the most recent issue – wedding invitations. I have to have these designed and ordered by June 5 because that’s when my Living Social deal for Vistaprint expires. I came up with two variations of the Keep Calm and Marry On design above – one with the crown and one with a Tardis. Now he’s saying that it might be too kitschy and people might not get it. Has he offered any other solutions though? Of course not. He’s a good artist – why doesn’t he come up with a new design?
The other issue is that things aren’t getting done. He’s come up with a lot of awesome ideas, but they’re all still just ideas. I think part of that is because he thinks that four months is more than enough time to get everything done. He’s right that four months is enough time, but if he leaves everything until the last month it’s going to be bad.
What’s the best way to approach this? Should I just assume he doesn’t want to be that involved and I’m going to do it all myself one way or the other?
And most importantly for the moment, what should I do about the invitations? Should I scrap the design and start over? If so, what kind of design should I go with instead?
Don’t tell me that floofy isn’t a word, because I think it describes these fabric flowers perfectly. I love the way they look on my Record Birdcage Veils, but they can be used for all sorts of projects.
They’re quite easy to make, though it does take a little while. They also don’t require many materials. Chances are the only thing you’ll have to actually buy is fabric.
What you need
- Fabric – you can make these flowers with just about any kind of fabric, but keep in mind that very lightweight fabrics won’t be as crisp and will require more fabric to make the flowers full. How much fabric you need depends on the type of fabric you use and how full you want your flowers to be. For this one, I used a fat quarter (18″ x 21″) of cotton. You can use remnants from other projects in coordinating colors too.
- Needle and Thread – about 20″ of thread. The thread won’t be visible when you finish, so feel free to use whatever color you have laying around.
- Cardstock – you need a square of cardstock that’s the size than you’d like your finished flower to be. You can use a lighter paper if you want, but I like cardstock because I can tell when I’m starting to cut into it instead of around it.
- Scissors – I’m pretty sure you already have a pair of these.
Cut a square of cardstock so that it’s about the size you’d like your finished flower to be. This is going to be the template you use to cut your fabric. I used a 4″ square for this flower. You’re going to fold the cardstock the same way I described in my sheet music flower tutorial. If you need a refresher (or didn’t read it in the first place), this is how you do it.
Take one of the squares and fold it in half diagonally to make a triangle. Fold it diagonally two more times until you have a triangle that’s about 2″ on the shorter sides. Find the corner that’s at the center of the sheet (I often unfold the triangle just to make sure) and cut off the corner. Starting under the corner closest to the hole you just made, start cutting in a semi-circle across the top and under the other corner. To finish your template, cut a line from one fold to the hole in the center.
Put your template over the fabric and start folding it back up with the fabric between the folds of the template. Cut the fabric around the template. Next, with the fabric still between the template, sew the thread through the fabric where the hole is.
It should look like this once it’s on the thread.
Repeat step 2 until you have between 15-25 pieces of fabric on your thread. How many you need depends on the type of fabric you use and how full you want your flower to be. I used 20 for this particular flower because that’s how many pieces I can get out of a fat quarter. Your thread should now look like this:
Pull the thread on either side and push the petals close to each other. Once they’re nice and bunched up in the middle, tie a knot in the thread.
Congratulations – you have a Floofy Fabric Flower!
Sorry it’s been so long since my last post. The exam period officially ended on Friday, May 4, which was when my 20 page paper on domestic violence law was due. I wish I could say I’d just been lounging around the house relaxing since then, but I had a number of Etsy order to catch up on. I still do actually, but the Dalek cake toppers have to dry between coats of paint (and my god the white ones require a lot of coats of paint!), so I have some time to take a breath right now. Also, Mr. Darcy has made a full recovery from his kitty cold, so he’s back to “helping” with my craft projects. I found a few cool new ways to make fabric flowers during the exam period, so I’m going to try them out soon. I may have a DIY post for one way if it works out well for me. For the other method I found out about, check out The Bitchy Bride‘s post How to Personalize Your Bridal Clutch – she put a fabric flower with her awesome, custom-printed book fabric on her clutch, but she also used the same method (and same awesome fabric) for bouquets.
In other news, I worked out for the first time in forever today. I wrote in my Bridal Weight Loss Rant a while ago that I wanted to get back in shape, not just for the wedding, but because I wanted to feel – and look – better in general. John and I have been trying to be more active, but it’s hard sometimes. With the stress of moving and the end of the semester, I just didn’t feel like I had the time or energy to do much of anything. Now that I’m feeling more normalized, I thought it would be a great time to get back into the habit of hitting the gym. The little fitness center at our apartment complex isn’t much, but it has everything I need – namely an elliptical machine. I got on it today and did a moderately vigorous half-hour workout. It seemed to go by pretty quickly (of course Queen makes everything better) and I didn’t feel like I was going to die during the workout. Now, I can tell that I worked out (my thighs are probably going to be a bit sore tomorrow), but I feel good. I definitely need to start doing that a few times a week at least.
In other, other news, we went to the Asheboro Zoo on Sunday. It was fun, though they didn’t have as many animals there as we were hoping. I like the fact that many of their exhibits try to mimic the animals’ natural environments, but they should have the viewing areas set up better so that you can actually see the animals. I meant to take lots of pictures with my awesome new camera, but I forgot to bring it. However, I thought I share some revelations we had about my cat, Lily. Lily is a sweet cat, but she’s a bit tubby. She also desperately wants to be an outdoor cat. This is a picture of Lily as she actually is.
This is what Lily thinks she is – a terrifying, roaring lioness.
This is what Lily would be if she were a sea creature – a harbor seal.
Alright, enough rambling for today. I thought of several good blog posts that I didn’t have time to write during exams, so those might go up soon. I also will try to post a DIY fabric flower tutorial soon.