I would have written about our fun weekend at the beach earlier, but I was too upset about the whole Amazon thing. I started writing this post yesterday, but then this happened.
We had a horrible storm that seemed to come out of nowhere. I downed a lot of trees including that one in front of our apartment. Oh, and there’s normally not a river in front of the apartment – that’s a rock lined drainage area that completely overflowed. We lost power around 3:30 and didn’t get it back on until nearly midnight.
Anyway, last Thurday we went down to North Myrtle Beach to meet my dad and step-mom since it was his birthday on Saturday. John and I originally wanted to go to the aquarium on the way down to see the penguin exhibit. Unfortunately, we discovered that the penguins aren’t at the aquarium near Wilmington, but the one at Pine Knolls (NC has four aquariums on the coast) which would have added an extra three hours to our trip. Instead we opted to visit Battleship North Carolina, which was on the way.
The ship was built in 1937 and served in WWII, so it’s a very interesting piece of history. Of course, it was quite hot in Wilmington that day and the temperature below deck was astronomical. We were marveling about how men lived on ship when there was no AC and everything was running. I can’t even imagine how hot that galley would get if all of the ovens and stoves were on. It was really interesting (if also slightly claustrophobia-inducing) inside, but we had to cut our tour a bit short because I felt like I was going to pass out from dehydration. Apparently they normally have a little concession area to buy bottled water inside the ship, but it was closed when we were there.
After wandering around the ship for about three hours, we got back on the road and went to Myrtle Beach where we had dinner with my parents, played pool, and talked until the wee hours of the night.
The next day John and I went to Ripley’s Believe it or Not, but I apparently didn’t take any photos (either that or they were inexplicably deleted from my camera). Anyway, it was a fun way to spend a few hours, though many of the exhibits were ridiculous. Other exhibits, though interesting, really made you think that people just have too much time on their hands. Was it really necessary to dress that dead grasshopper in miniature Samurai armor?
On Saturday, we were planning on going to see some tiger cubs then heading to a car museum John had heard about before meeting up with my parents for a river boat tour. Unfortunately, the tiger cubs are only at Barefoot Landing between 5 and 9 at night (and it costs $249 a person to tour the actual tiger preserve). The car museum was really cool though, even to me (and I know next to nothing about cars). They had a lot of muscle cars and several older cars as well. All of the cars were in great condition with the exception of the Joe Dirt car.
After the car museum, we met up with my parents to go to Conway for a river boat tour.
It was gorgeous on the river and the tour was on a small electric boat, so it was more like having a conversation with a very interesting acquaintance than the sort of tour I was expecting.
After the tour we had a delicious dinner and went back to the beach house. I was determined to get in the water at least once (I needed to break in my new bathing suit anyway) so John agreed to accompany me to the beach. And guess what? He actually got in the ocean! Apparently it was a first, but hopefully I’ll be able to convince him to go swimming with me again in the future.
We went to the aquarium near Wilmington on the way back from the beach. It was neat, but much smaller than we expected. They still had some cool exhibits though.
We also got to touch some bamboo sharks. They’re little tiny sharks – these were maybe 8-10 inches long.
When we finally got home, we saw this guy in front of our apartment as we were unloading the car.
Dad – thank you for inviting us! It was a really great trip and I hope we can do it again sometime!
Don’t buy Frontline from Amazon, or at least be very careful when you do so. I recently had an awful (and ongoing) experience with counterfeit Frontline Plus for Cats.
As some of you may be aware, we got fleas when we brought Dave to the new apartment. We dosed them all with Frontline before he came, but there were a few stragglers, which can apparently sometimes happen the first time you treat your pets with Frontline. We got some more Frontline Plus for Cats from Amazon to try a second round. The price was good – only $57.99 for six doses. So we dosed them all again and treated the apartment with some other flea stuff. Sounds typical, right?
Only the cats went from having a few fleas to having a full-blown infestation.
Dave, who has a flea allergy, was ripping himself to shreds. Jude, the oldest, got sick around the same time – vomiting far more than usual and having diarrhea. We actually thought for a while that we might have to have Jude put down soon, since he seemed to be doing so badly all of a sudden.
We gave it some time, but the Frontline never kicked in. We honestly thought we might have some sort of medication-resistant super-fleas. Finally, I got a bit suspicious and started looking up counterfeit Frontline online. I discovered pretty quickly that we had gotten a counterfeit product. If you think you may have gotten counterfeit Frontline or Advantage, check out these fact sheets from the EPA for retailers (which contains information for identifying real products) and for consumers (which includes information about how to alert the EPA to counterfeit products being sold).
Needless to say, I was upset about it. However, I didn’t really blame Amazon, because the medication came from a third party seller on Amazon, Bargain OTC. I contacted Amazon to find out what I should do about it. Their answer: contact the seller. Several days went by and I contacted Amazon again. They told me to give it another week and if by x date I still hadn’t heard back from the seller, then I could file an A-to-z Guarantee Claim with them. I waited until they said I could file the claim, then I did so.
A little while later I heard from them saying that I could ship the item back to the seller at my expense. I wrote back saying that I didn’t see why I had to pay for the return shipping and telling them that I only had the three doses left.
This was the response, “You have stated that the complete order cannot be returned. Please understand that we cannot verify that there was anything wrong with this item if you cannot return it. We also cannot ask the seller to reimburse you.”
First of all, I was supposed to ship it back to the seller, so how could Amazon verify anything anyway? Secondly, it was a counterfeit item! If you can’t get a refund on a counterfeit item from their “A-to-z Guarantee,” what does it cover?
The response I got back from the next email informed me that the seller’s policy was to not accept returns on opened items. My next question – why do the seller’s policies matter when they’re selling COUNTERFEIT items on your site? – was met with silence.
Today I called Amazon to figure out what the hell they’re problem is. The guy I spoke to was actually quite nice and he told me that I could still get the refund if I send back what I have left of the Frontline. So I printed a shipping label and was actually about to drop it in the mail when I got another email from the A-to-z Guarantee people (it’s never the same person – I think I’ve gotten responses from about 6 different people at this point). The email said this:
“Hello from Amazon.com.
We can certainly understand your concerns about this claim being closed. However, as stated in our previous message, we cannot verify that there was anything wrong with this item if you cannot return it. We also cannot ask the seller to reimburse you.
Amazon.com strives to maintain a marketplace that is fair to both buyers and sellers. Due to the fact that you cannot return your item or verify your claims regarding it, your claim has been closed.
We understand that you may not agree with this decision, but this claim will remain closed. Thank you for your interest in Amazon.com.
A-to-z Guarantee Program”
I can’t begin to describe the fury I felt when I read that. How can someone tell me that I can just send in what’s left to get a refund, then maybe 5 minutes later get that email from someone in the same company. Clearly they’re operating on different continents, but that doesn’t really improve my opinion of their customer service.
I called Amazon back and spoke to a woman, who was also very nice and clearly doing her best to help me. She told me to file an appeal on the claim and not to send back the Frontline until that has been approved, which will probably take 7 days if it gets approved at all.
My issue with Amazon isn’t that the product was counterfeit – they had nothing to do with that part of it. My problem is the morass of red tape and awful customer service surrounding the return when the product is clearly counterfeit. I’ve offered to send them photos of the packaging so they can see for themselves, but apparently they “can’t accept photos.” They also told me that they prefer it if buyers and sellers can work things out themselves, which I take to mean that they don’t really care if sellers in their marketplace are selling counterfeit products.
I’ve been an Amazon customer for years and have spend thousands of dollars on their site. I’ve been getting my textbooks from them since my freshman year of undergrad, I buy crafting supplies from them, I get electronics from the site, not to mention any household items I generally need. It has really been my go-to online shopping destination. Now I’m wondering if I ever want to shop with them again. Unless they make this right, I really don’t want to give them any more of my money. I need to order textbooks for next semester soon, but I think I’m going to go to another site for those. I might pay a few dollars more, but I’d rather do that than give Amazon another $500 of my money. I rather regret that I have a Kindle at the moment, and I think I’m going to take the Amazon items off of our wedding registry.
The answer: it depends.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for DIY, especially for weddings. I’ve always loved making things and when I got engaged I went a little overboard with it all. That’s how Haus of Ariella and my brand new bridal shop, Lace Over Heels, came into being. I’m making our cake toppers, my veil, a wedding/reception dress (I haven’t decided which it will be), and many of the decorations, but there are a lot of things that we are buying/hiring someone to do or omitting altogether.
The trick, I think, is to prioritize your DIY projects much the same as you prioritize items in your wedding budget. If you’ve spent much time in the wedding blogosphere, you’ve undoubtedly read about amazing couples who had their 100 person wedding in the rustic barn behind their cottage. They’re the ones who made their own wedding cloths, hand painted 10,000 mason jars, folded 1,000 paper cranes, wrote the wedding ceremony, hand cut every invitation, brewed their own beer for the reception, baked a wedding cake, and self-catered a full-meal for their wedding. Oh, and they did it all in about 3 months.
Most of us realize that as cool as all of that is, those people are also freakin’ nuts. Everyday life doesn’t stop just because we’re getting married, despite what some bridezillas might think. Just because you can DIY something doesn’t mean you have to or even that you should. Here are a few things to ask yourself when deciding whether to take on a DIY project or leave it to the professionals.
How important is it?
One of the great things about DIY wedding projects is that it gives your wedding a personal touch and makes the items you made even more special to you. If you’ve always dreamt of baking your own wedding cake or sewing your own dress , and you have the ability to do so, then do it. If you think that making your own bouquet would make it that much more special to you, then put it higher on your list than the decorations that you think will just cost less if you DIY them.
The importance of the item can swing the DIY factor in the other direction too though. If you’ve been fantasizing about the perfect tiered wedding cake with intricate fondant flowers, but you’ve never decorated a cake in your life, go with the pros and DIY another project instead.
How much will it cost?
The most common misconception about DIY projects is that they always save you money. In fact, some of them could cost you more than it would to buy the items in the first place. As any crafter who’s ever spent a bit too much time in Michael’s or Joann knows, crafting supplies can add up fast. Plus, you may only need two feathers for your fascinator, but your going to have to buy the whole bag anyway. If the material is something you’ll use again, then it’s not a big deal to buy more than you need, but if it’s something that’s just going to sit around your house until you get sick of looking at it and throw it away, you need to take that into account.
Of course having some extra supplies is a good thing when you’re DIYing something, because you have to take the learning curve into account. Even experienced crafters who’ve made something 100 times before mess up every now and then. If you’re completely new to making a particular item or using a certain technique, then you should count on a few failed experiments before you get things right.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t do a DIY project just because it won’t really be any cheaper to buy it/pay someone to do it. However, it’s
How long will it take?
Don’t forget that your time is valuable. If you’re DIYing something to save money, just ask yourself how much an hour you would expect to be paid if you were doing the project for someone else, then add your “hourly wage” to the cost of materials for it. Will you still save money in that calculation? If not, go back to “How important is it?” and decide if it’s something that DIYing would really make special or something that you would really like to DIY.
When does it have to be done?
Your time is valuable anytime, but even more so in the weeks leading up to your wedding. You’ll probably be chasing down those last RSVPs, coordinating everyone’s schedules, and finalizing details. You also might be stressing/freaking out a little bit. The last thing you want to be doing the week before your wedding is making 500 paper flowers that should have been done months ago. It’s important to try to start DIY projects for your wedding as early as possible (I should follow my own advice here).
Some projects, however, can’t be done that far in advance. Making your own bouquets with fresh flowers, baking your own cake, and self catering your wedding are all projects that can’t really be done more than a few days in advance. If you decide to take on a project like that, try to make it easier on yourself by not procrastinating on other projects that can be done ahead of time. Also, do a lot of advance preparation. Don’t just assume that the alternation to the recipe you’ve made 100 times won’t be a big deal – try it out well in advance of your wedding.
Will you enjoy making it?
To me, this one trumps the cost/time factors. If you don’t like making things, then don’t start just for your wedding. DIY weddings may be all the rage right now, but I assure you there are plenty of brides out there who still do things the old-fashioned way and just buy items or hire people for their wedding needs. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Even if you’re a crafty person who enjoys making things, not everyone likes every type of project. If you love sewing, but making paper flowers bores you to tears, don’t make the paper flowers and spend your DIY time making the ring bearer pillow or accessories for your bridesmaids. Keep both your strengths and your preferences in mind when deciding what to DIY.
And remember, DIY doesn’t have to be all or nothing even for individual projects. If you’re dying to have a wedding dress that’s uniquely yours but don’t have the time or sewing ability to make your own from scratch, buy a plain dress (which you can often get relatively cheaply) and ad d your own lace appliques, beads, or flowers. The same goes for items like veils, shawls, and clutches.
One last word of advice – don’t be afraid to delegate! DIY doesn’t always have to mean do-it-yourself, it can also mean ask-a-friend-to-help. Friends and family are often very willing to help out with DIY wedding projects. Even if they don’t feel up to gettin’ crafty with it, they might be willing to help in other ways, such as tracking down those RSVP-less guests, leaving you more time for DIYing.
What did you decide to DIY for your wedding?
If you just can’t get enough of fabric, ribbon, and paper flowers, then I have another tutorial for you! These fabric flowers make great accents for purses and clutches. I wrote the tutorial for the Interactive Blogging Team’s Blog, so go check out it out here.
First of all, thank you to everyone who voted on the name of my new Etsy wedding shop. So far Ariella’s Getting Married is in the lead, but I’m a bit hesitant about it for a few reasons, one of which is that you can’t use apostrophes or spaces in Etsy shop names, so it would AriellasGettingMarried. I’m also a little worried that it makes the shop more about me than about my customers. What do you think? If you haven’t voted yet, I’d really appreciate it if you would. Go here and pick your two favorite names for the shop.
Now on to the Etsy finds!
As those of you in this part of the world may have noticed, it’s been a bit hot recently. As in Oh-My-God-My-Face-Is-Melting hot. So the other weekend when it was 105 degrees, I decided it was high time to go hang out in the pool. Unfortunately, I discovered that I may have gained a cup size since I last worn my bikini. My bikini top, which was a bit revealing when I wore a C cup, now makes me look like I’m vying for a spot in the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated, only with less silicone and Photoshop. Needless to say, it might have been time for a new bathing suit.
As I said, I’m really feeling the whole retro swimwear thing, so I searched for retro swimsuits and this beauty popped up. This Retro Swimsuit by Shermonsters is awesomely retro and can be made in the color of your choice. Sadly, it was also more than I could justify spending at the moment (not that $89 is that much for a good bathing suit, but it is when you’re broke).
This Army Green Bikini by PINKSTARswimwear wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it’s very cute and the price was certainly right. You can’t beat $15 for a bikini. I was going to buy it, but then I found this…
The Starlet by SheilaFrankSAMPLES was everything I was looking for – it has interesting lines and retro styling, and it’s cheap! I bought it and couldn’t be happier. It was only $16.80 and it came with a removable skirt. For such a low price, I wasn’t expecting too much from the workmanship, but it’s incredibly well made.
I’ve decided that my Etsy shop, Haus of Ariella, is going in too many directions and I need to open a separate shop for my more traditional wedding items. I also bought a great vintage wedding dress today that is unfortunately far too small for me that I’d like to put in the new shop. I’m hoping to get a professional photographer to take photos of my items for the new shop, because that has been my biggest obstacle with my veils. I’m a bit stuck about the name though. What’s a good, unique, and memorable name for a wedding shop on Etsy. I was asking for ideas on the Etsy Success team yesterday and these are the front-runners. Please vote for the one you like the most or suggest a new one.
Thanks for participating!
Well, I finally finished the bodice on my dress. And this was the result. The lumps on the edges are the result of it slowly creeping its way off of my chest. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed. I did a little research online though and found out that the issue wasn’t my sewing ability, but the pattern itself. Apparently I’m not the only one who tried this pattern with the strapless bodice option and found it creeping down. There really just isn’t enough boning to keep it in place (only the one piece on the side goes all the way down the bodice; the other four aren’t even all the way down the top half of the bodice). So my options are to make one of the other bodice options with that pattern or find a new bodice pattern. Considering the bodice pattern was extremely large for the measurements (I have a 37″ bust, but ended up using the size marked for a 32.5″ bust) and some of the instructions were actually wrong, I decided to find a new one. I’m happy with the skirt (though it’s not laying down in the photo), so I got this pattern.
Unlike the pattern I was using, this has boning that goes all the way down. As an added bonus, you can make it with a corset back, which was what I really wanted in the first place. I’m going to make the strapless version of view D.
In other Etsy news, I found a photographer who is looking to get into product photography and is willing to shoot my veils for free in exchange for the credit. Unfortunately our appointment for tomorrow had to be postponed, which is just as well considering it’s still going to be rather hot with a chance of thunderstorms. However, I made two new veils – a floor length veil and a cathedral length veil with a blusher – in preparation for it. I probably won’t be able to photograph myself in them since they require some positioning that I can’t do before a self-timer goes off. Hopefully next week they’ll be listed.