Thankfully these days it seems that the dogs & cats for profit market is becoming about as socially acceptable as ...smoking cigarettes. The huge national chains petco and petsmart have banished sales of these pets, and now only host adoption events put on by local rescue groups. The public as well as the police have seriously cracked down on puppy mills. You are not allowed to sell a dog or cat on Craigslist (though you can charge a small "re-homing" fee).
However, much like smoking, there are still quite a few hold-outs who continue to engage in this business, despite all the evidence that it is extremely harmful. It is my aim to address those people in this article, and snuff out this bullshit from the dark corners where it now resides.
The Humane Society estimates that currently between 3 and 4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters each year in the United States. An exact number is difficult to obtain because not all shelters report data. But even if we take the low end of the range (3 million), that means more than 8000 are killed each day. 8000! If you are a cat or dog lover, that knowledge should sicken you.
In northern Utah alone there is an animal shelter for every city. Salt Lake, South Salt Lake, West Valley, Bluffdale, Murray, Sandy, Draper, Riverton, West Jordan, Herriman. They each have their own animal shelter for stray/abandoned pets. That is over TEN shelters in Salt Lake County alone. And I can tell you that they consistently run near-capacity or full. This does not even include the Humane Society, and the many rescue groups who have homeless pets temporarily placed in hundreds of foster homes across the state.
This overwhelming problem is almost all because of humans who either A) backyard breed their pets for cash or hobby, B) Allow their pets to roam, un-neutered/spayed, or C) Buy a pet and then abandon that pet at the first sign of inconvenience to their lives. Humans created dogs and cats. We bred them to be dependent upon us and see us as family. And now we turn our backs on them by the thousands, dooming countless animals to end up in the equivalent of prison, and often times have their little lives snuffed out in their prime.(capital punishment for no crime committed)
So now that you're feeling sufficiently ashamed of humanity and possibly open to suggestion, let me answer your specific hypothetical objections.
But I want a puppy!
First of all, you can find plenty of puppies for adoption in shelters and rescue groups. So go ahead and get yourself a puppy! But second... I hope you have considered what you're getting yourself into. A puppy is a lot of work! They hate to be alone, and like infant humans, they often will not accommodate your sleeping schedule. A puppy usually wants to wake up in the middle of the night to be let out, and if you don't hop to it, you get a special stinky surprise on your fresh carpet. They will assure that you rise with the sun each day, or pay the price. A puppy will chew up everything. EVERYTHING. Nothing is off limits, and if you turn your back for a single minute, you will often return to find a beautiful collage of your possessions in tiny bits all over the floor. Also a puppy is a big wild card. You cannot know their innate temperament.. until it's too late. Take this from someone who has raised two puppies from 8 weeks. One turned out to be a great, obedient, and calm dog. The other has been a holy terror for all ten years he's had on this earth so far. (and both were the same breed). It's such a gamble.
But if after all of that you are still set on getting a pup, I can direct you to 50 homeless puppies in your area right now. Read on
But I want a specific/pure breed!
This is totally understandable. Our individual tastes and lifestyles will often guide us to a particular breed, and that is fine. There is no reason for you to have to give that choice up. It may surprise you to know that around 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred. In my years of adopting and fostering I have personally seen homeless beagles, chihuahuas, poodles, pugs, labs, retrievers, pomeranians, great danes, saint bernards, shepherds, and on and on. Every major breed is represented in shelters. Now please recall the first section's list of 10 shelters within a 20 minute drive of your front door. Well most of those shelters have their own website where you can search for the kind of dog you're looking for, so you don't even have to leave the comfort of your living room. There is http://www.petharbor.com/, which is the google of homeless pets, where you can search by breed, size, age, shelter, etc. That site has current pet listings for many of our local shelters as well as the rescue groups and fostered dogs in the area. If you would like a particular local organization's website here is a big list http://www.utahpets.org/nmhcms/BestFriendsUtahHome/Adopt/UtahRescueGroupsShelters/tabid/85/Default.aspx
If you can't find the perfect dog/breed you're looking for, give it a little time. New dogs are listed daily, and some rescue groups regularly transport homeless dogs in from out of town. Ask around. Hell, shoot me a message.
And let me just take a moment to advocate for the mixed and mutt doggies! Mixed breeds tend to have fewer health problems, longer life spans, and more even temperaments. They are more unique and special, and you can probably still find a blend that includes your favored breed... with a twist!
But shelter dogs are all sick/damaged/traumatized!
If you want to be absolutely sure that your new dog is none of the above, that's a perfect reason to adopt from a rescue group! These groups have already done the dirty work for you. The dog will have already seen a vet and had any significant health concerns diagnosed and treated. The dog will have already been away from the traumatic shelter long enough to heal from the experience and return to their normal behavior. The dog will also have been monitored by a fellow dog lover (the foster parent) for long enough to be able to get a good sense of their personality and temperament, and can pass that info on to you.
Everyone should experience the rewarding feeling that comes with rescuing a pet. To take in an animal that came from a possibly neglected or rough life, and has been in a cold and scary cage for days or weeks. This creature will now see you as their personal savior. Every time you look at your little furry friend you will be able to feel good about yourself for saving them and giving them a second chance.(you can't say/feel this if you bought from a breeder) This kind of bond will be worth any period of adjustment, healing from trauma, or a week of kennel cough. Doggies (and kitties), like people, all have the potential to heal and rise above. And it is so special to be the person to support them through those initial moments.
And lastly let me just plug the organization I foster through. CAWS is a local non-profit rescue group that saves hundreds of animals every year. They are run completely by volunteers who selflessly give so much time, energy, and love every single day. Caws saves the death row pets, the full shelters, the seniors, the pit-bulls and chihuahuas (breeds that dominate shelters), the pets who need vet care to get well. Their fosters open their homes and nurture and rehabilitate these sweet little guys until they can find their forever home.
So before you buy your pet from a breeder, keep in mind that for every cat or dog bred/bought, one dies alone in a shelter. Be part of the solution! I promise you won't regret it.
When I was younger I often felt the victim of lack of a lack of respect, or proper acknowledgement for my skills and abilities. I felt like I was not at all taken seriously, in many scenarios. However, I chalked it up to some mixture of the fact that i was young, small statured, often very counter-culture looking, and lastly, female.
Now that I am an adult, fully grown into my skin, (though still kinda alternative looking), I can confidently say that I have experienced some annoying bits of straight up sexism.
Classic example: Car shopping. When I was 19 I went car shopping with my dad. He was there just as a support, and because i needed a ride to the car lot. He was greeted by the salesperson, and though we told him immediately that it was my car we were seeking, my money, and my decision, he continued to ignore my input and addressed my dad throughout the evening. I was almost irritated enough to leave. But.. this could have been an age-ist thing, being just 19 (and looking 16). Now that I am pushin 30, I had to endure my second car buying experience. Again my husband was assumed to be in control, and the salesperson had to be corrected multiple times. This particular dynamic basically repeated itself during our home-buying process (see Homebuying article). With each interaction we had with these various white male business people, their eye contact, attention and focus always defaulted to my husband. Even when it became clear that I was the primary decision maker, they seemed to gradually drift back toward attending to him.
The most recent examples of this obnoxious dynamic come from my current project. Landscaping (see upcoming article). Each time we go to the home improvement store and have to ask for help, I get to experience being not taken seriously yet again. The landscaping has been pretty much entirely my project. My ideas, my time, my sweat and my money. Of course my husband helps and gets involved when I need it, but I am the one who cares about the project and enjoys it.
Last night at the Home Depot I was looking for a particular mortar applicator for a brick laying project. I approached an employee in an aisle, with my husband behind me, and I asked him about the item i was seeking. He asked a clarification question, and directed it straight to my husband behind me. Didn't even look at me, even though I was the one who posed the question. So I answered his inquiry anyway. Then he AGAIN looked at my husband to ask another question. I literally leaned over and stuck my face between them and irritatedly caught his gaze to direct it back to me. This is MY project. My husband doesn't even know what it is i am looking for. My money, my choice, and my question. What the hell??(I communicated this bit through my glare)
Later in the evening we arrive home and a relative of my husband (old white male), who is very sweet and has the best of intentions, pulled the same shit. He mentioned the large landscaping project underway in our front yard. Husband corrects him "It's all her thing *points*, haven't done any of it". Me: "Yup, my project". No recognition. A few moments later after unloading something he looks at my husband and says "You should go into the landscaping business". Arg.
Granted none of these moments by themselves is an egregious affront or insult. But man does the theme of minor dismissals sure build on ya. Older white men, could you please become a little more conscious of this dynamic? You're turning me into a bitchy feminist!
I always enjoyed the idea of composting. This is a form of recycling that comes to fruition within your control, in front of your very own eyes!
When we moved into our own home this fall, I knew that it was something I would try. I began with some research around the internet as well as listening to the advice of friends. Almost an equal amount of sources recommended using a tumbler of some kind, as recommended just making a pile in the corner of the yard.
I decided to purchase a used tumbler online from KSL. One primary reason being that my dogs were liable to sniff out scraps and dig in any readily accessible pile. Also an open pile is more likely to attract other small creatures such as rats, etc.
I knew that you were supposed to fill it with all your organic kitchen waste, and that in a few months you would be supplied with some rich soil for your garden. The timing of my introductory experiment happened to coincide with the time I needed to dispose of 5+ pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns. It also happened to be the time when we needed to rake our yard. I had read that dried leaves are great for compost, so I saved several bags and planned to introduce them incrementally to my bin.When I began, my expectation was that the bin would mostly be filled with kitchen and yard scraps. However I learned through research that the ideal compost has ___ percent green waste (kitchen scraps) and __ percent brown waste. The fields are left blank because every site has a different recommendation. Some say 50/50, others 60/40 green to brown, and others recommend a huge majority of brown (25/1!). Obviously this is an inexact science, and you should probably just aim for a balance. It is not especially convenient to weigh each type of contribution, so this will come down to eyeballing it.
Kitchen scraps (fruits and veggies)
Lawn waste (grass clippings, green leaves, flowers)
Hair (dog, cat, contents of broom dustbin or dryer lint trap)
Manure (from an herbivore farm animal)
Dead dry leaves
Pine needles and cones
Non-glossy/dyed paper and cardboard shredded to bits
Sticks, hay, straw, sawdust
Do not use:
Plant materials with pesticides or other harsh chemicals
Dog or cat poo
Dairy, meat, or bones
As soon as I started to get into the swing of things, winter began. When you read about composting, they neglect to mention that it is impossible during the winter (which in Utah means around 6 months of the year). So even as I filled my bin, the temperature was preventing any progress being made. In fact, for several months the compost tumbler was covered in snow, and frozen shut, so we had to put the project on hiatus.
In the spring as the pile thawed, it became clear that my compost was still extremely wet, and had a scent of ammonia. This is apparently because I began with a large majority of green waste. I utilized the turning mechanism to try and drain the bin of excess liquid. I also read up on the causes of this, and made an effort to incorporate shredded boxes, newspapers, and pine needles into my compost, in order to dry it out.
In the kitchen I utilized what my husband calls a "stink jar" to accumulate that week's scrapings, until it was full and I was ready to deposit the contents in the composter. This ended up being fairly gross, and any time I have to dump the smelly mold-fest, many cringes are had. If you are going to have a decent amount of scraps to contribute I would recommend a larger lidded receptacle like a plastic bin.
Sources online recommend rotating the composter anywhere from once a week, to three times daily. I landed on an average about once daily, 5 days a week. This is the reason I am grateful for the choice of rotating bin. I know that if I was obligated to oxygenate the pile by digging in it with a shovel, it'd be sorely neglected most of the time.
Later in the spring the pile lost much of it's stench, and was no longer soaking and saturated. But as we entered April, another challenge arose. Fruit flies. Every time I opened the latch on the tumbler, hundreds of fruit flies rose from the pile. Highly unpleasant. Again the internet advised me that I was using insufficient browns! So in went more stored fall leaves, and one tore-to-pieces phonebook (who uses phone books anymore anyhow?).
After spending hours shredding this phone book by hand, I decided that a paper shredder was a worthwhile investment. And so now, whenever I receive junk mail, flyers, etc. (that aren't dyed or glossy), they go directly into the shredder, and later to the compost bin.
I noticed that while the leaves and small shredded papers seemed to become one with the black mush , the pine needles (the type that are two-pronged and around 5 inches long) didn't appear to be breaking down much, even months later. Now we are finishing with summer and most everything has broken down but those damn long pine needles! Take it from me, use these sparingly. I gradually became more creative with the additions, including used paper-towels, eggshells, teabags, and dog hair. The fruit flies continued though their numbers greatly reduced.
By the time May rolled around and through all the shifting attempts at creating the right mixture and balance, the bin was completely full. I know that a significant amount of break-down occurred, because as I look back on these 9 months, the sheer volume of items I put in that bin would appear like a circus clown-car, in a time-lapse video. However even after 9 months there are still large chunks of something now unidentifiable. I would recommend that anything you put into the bin have no more mass than a golf ball, or they are going to take some serious time. Also eggshells are apparently very slow to break down, so smash them to bits first. Happy composting, friends!
You don’t know it, but you came to be in our lives by way of many unexpected twists and turns. The story begins with a local news report of 150+ chihuahua-mix dogs being rescued from a hoarder in Ogden. They were in a bad situation, and in need of foster homes ASAP. I had been toying with the idea of starting to foster, since we got settled into our new home. This opportunity arose and I was pushed/inspired over the edge from contemplation, into action.
I began making phone calls and trying to arrange my fostering of one of these hoarded chihuahuas. I called several organizations and individuals involved, but could not get anyone to return my calls. Finally I googled “dog fostering in Utah”, which directed me to the CAWS website, where I submitted a general application to become a foster parent. I was contacted very quickly afterwards by a helpful representative of that organization. II let them know I was interested in fostering one of the chihuahuas from Ogden. They informed me that I could go down to the Weber shelter in two days (the next day was thanksgiving), and that they would be expecting me there to select one of the dogs to take home.
The day came and I was ready to drive up north to find a special dog to help. However, I had heard several conflicting reports that there were only a few left (after over half were euthanized immediately, and the rest already scooped up by rescue groups and foster homes), so I wanted to get ahold of someone at the shelter to verify that I was still needed. I called throughout the day, leaving voicemails, but no one got back to me. I assumed perhaps they were closed for Black Friday, and made a plan to call the next morning. I again called the shelter several times Saturday morning, but was still unable to reach anyone. We decided to make the hour long drive anyway, and take our chances.
When we arrived to the Weber Animal Shelter, we were greeted by someone who seemed extremely irritated with our presence. She repeatedly said that there was no indication or information about my arrangements to foster one of the chihuahuas, and that there was no way she could/would help me. She said there were just two left, and they were both spoken for.
I offered to rescue and foster any other small breed dog in need, and she harshly turned me away. I left feeling very sad and confused, and was later informed that this shelter is generally unkind toward animal rescue groups, and they have an exceptionally high euthanasia rate.
Though I was rather disappointed in how difficult the world was making it for me to do a good thing, I remained committed to the idea, and reached out to my contact person at CAWS. She let me know that they had a good relationship with the West Valley City Animal Shelter, and that I could simply go there, and pick out a dog, and they would release the animal to me to foster.
So my very patient husband and I embarked on the long drive from North Ogden, to West Valley. When we arrived we were greeted by a friendly and laid back staff, who were informative and completely helpful. It was so unlike our experience in Weber, and I wished we had just come here from the start.
They led us to the room with all the dogs. I was hit first with the awful smell. A combination of feces, urine, and noxious cleaning supplies. The smell was matched by the deafening sound of angry, excited, and/or fearful barks, cries, whines, and whimpers. We had to yell just to hear one another. We walked up and down the rows of cages. The mixture of emotions I felt in that moment was overwhelming. First the immediate joy I always feel when I get to see dogs. Quickly followed by the pain of seeing them upset and stuck in cold hard cages. Then a bitter resentment toward humans who allow their dogs to breed, or who abandon them in the “drop boxes” outside. The breed of dog which heavily outnumbered all the rest? Pitbulls. A full row of pitbull after pitbull. I have always felt a sharp anger when I hear of backyard breeders making more pitbulls. That anger will now forever be accompanied by this visual. An image of faces in cages, most without hope of rescue, burned into my retinas.
We bypassed the large dogs, while I did my best to ignore that little voice in the back of my mind that knows very well that large dogs have the hardest time finding homes. But I knew that my two little ones at home would only be tolerant of another in their own size category.
And here, Archer, is where I admit to you that you were not only preceded by a desire for an ogden chihuahua, but you failed to make the cut of second choice, or third. Second place fell to what my husband refers to as.. a “smile dog”. The happiest looking dog of the 50 in the shelter, was of course a fluffy orange pomeranian. My husband is enamored with this breed, because of their clown-like attitude and facial expression. They are rarely found in shelters, and so of course, this one was already slated for adoption by another family. This is fine with me, because no fluffy pomeranian needs our help in finding a home.
We continued on down the line of small dogs. So many little ones looking up at us, some fearfully, some protective, many expectant. I became overwhelmed by the experience and the “flight” urge flooded over me. I choked back the tears, hugged my husband, took a deep breath, and stuffed those hard emotions somewhere deep down inside, so that we could press onward.
Our next choice was a cute fluffy brown terrier who appeared to have a good temperament, but it turned out he was also already spoken for.
You were in a cage all the way at the end of the row. You had another older and much larger dog with you, who looked like a bigger and more terrified version of you. He sat in silence at the back of your cage, shaking violently with the most sad look on his face. You came right up to the front, obviously timid, but wanting our love. You jumped up against the chain link toward me, and let out some very small cries, which broke my heart. You were a dirty and scraggly thing, but appeared to be good natured and obviously filled to the brim with potential. Your info sheet simply said “Stray. Terrier mix. 1 year 7 months old”. No name, no story. This was your sixth day at the shelter. This meant that you were available for fostering/adoption exactly that day. However when we went to the front desk to tell them our final selection, they let us know that your time wasn’t really up for one more hour. Another obstacle! We had come this far and were not about to let a measly hour delay defeat us.
We drove around West Valley, got some breakfast, and stopped by a Petco to get you your very own leash, collar, and toy. We picked a bright blue collar with bones on it, to compliment your pretty cream colored fur. I attempted to size the collar to your neck during the ride back to the shelter, but I turned out to be way off. (Update: In the three weeks since that day, we have fattened you up so much that the oversize collar now fits you perfectly!)
One of the nice young ladies who worked with you homeless pets escorted us back to get you. You had been separated from your large and terrified friend for dinner time. I felt a twinge of guilt and sadness for him, knowing that when he returned, his tiny protector would be adopted, and he’d be left behind. So many difficult emotions, in that room.
We opened your cage and you cowered down against the ground. The employee showed your some tenderness and you immediately crawled upon her lap, again so scared, but still wanting love and protection. It became clear that you were not about to walk on any leash, so she handed me off to you. You scrambled up my lap, nearest to my shoulder as possible. It reminded of what a cat or ferret might do. You wanted the highest point on my shoulder you could get to. You clung to me and shook like a leaf in the wind. I carried you carefully, like an antique porcelain doll, out of that awful room. It was just now that I realized how deathly skinny you were. From a distance your fluffy curls hid the fact that you were nothing but skin and bones. I could feel every rib, and every notch in your spine. Your hip bones were so close to the surface that they were sharp to the touch, and seemed about to burst through your thin skin. It was painful even to pet you, on many levels.
The shelter girls gave you a rabies shot, provided me with your info sheet (with nearly no info on it), and sent us along our way. We got outside and took you over to the grass. You were on high alert, but seemed confused about what to do on this grass. You were happy to be back in my arms, which immediately turned to immense unhappiness at being stuck in a crate in the back of our car. During the drive home your tiny cries became too tough to bare, and I opened the crate door and let you ride on my lap. You acted as though you had never been in a car, and tried repeatedly to crawl up onto the dashboard. Again you sought out the highest point possible, which became an awkward bridge between the my headrest and shoulder We laughed for the rest of the ride home, as you scrambled all around like a wild squirrel.
When we got home, I strategized the best way to introduce you to my dogs, and not have them completely overwhelm you. Of course it ended up being total chaos with no right answer, as they clamoured all over me trying to get a peek at you. After the initial two minutes of drama, you easily became one of the pack. The dogs accepted you among them, and I tried my best not to completely ignore them in favor of you, and incite any jealousy or rivalries. Luckily my beagle Ernie doesn’t usually care for pets, and for you and leroy, I have two hands.
After two or three attempts on your part to “mark” the corners of the couches, you heeded our scoldings and learned from watching your pack mates to run toward the back door to be let outside. However, that afternoon became clear that something was wrong. You seemed unable to stop yourself from having accidents, and we could see that you had diarrhea, with bright red blood in it. You also vomited several times that evening.
So as we trained you to let us know when you needed to go out, you trained us that you needed to go out every hour, on the hour. This learning process came with a plethora of small dark stains on our new white carpet, to remember it by. After two sleepless nights and a few rolls of paper towels, your symptoms improved, but they did not go away. We researched the possibilities on the internet, but they were too numerous to provide us any conclusions. We contacted the CAWS organization and they agreed to pay for a veterinarian exam to determine what was making you so sick, and we made an appointment for the following morning.
The vet kept you there all day, and called to recommend lots of additional tests. CAWS generously agreed to pay for over 300$ of tests and care. They were unable to find anything obviously wrong with you, except that you had a moderate heart murmur, which we were told could affect you later in life. They sent us home with some medicines and creams, which we gave you at regular intervals for the following week.
You were a little trooper, and after a few days, your symptoms improved completely! You began to act like a brand new dog. We were able to get you groomed, and free of the dirty mats embedded in your fur. We hardly recognized you. We decided to name you Archer, after the brave captain of the Star Trek series that we have been watching recently. (we also call you Fluffer, and Scruff puppy, from time to time)
We found out from the vet that you were significantly younger than the shelter’s estimate, which was verified by your new lively behavior. We suddenly had a puppy on our hands! You began bounding around the house like you had springs on your feet. You bit and chewed our fingers with your tiny sharp teeth. Each passing day you became less nervous, and fell more into constant play mode. Suddenly one afternoon, after two weeks of consistently ignoring you, my fiesty little chihuahua finally fell prey to your lovable antics, and the two of you wrestled for 20 minutes straight! Since that day you two play like beloved siblings, every single day.
My husband, who was quoted in the past as “disliking dogs”, began carrying you around like a little baby, gazing into your furry face. He started saying “How can we give him up now?”. It meant a lot to me to be able to save you, and I wanted to continue saving other dogs. I wasn’t sure we’d be able to do that if we fell in love with our very first foster dog. How cliche! However I also teared up at the thought of saying goodbye to you, and likely never seeing you again. We had such a journey together in just a few short weeks! You got us into quite the pickle.
I made my husband a deal. We could keep you, as long as we could at least foster a few more times. Even though this means we may have FOUR dogs in our house at once for a while, he agreed to this term, and we broke the news to CAWS, who kindly referred to us as “foster failures” (which is apparently a good thing). When I began writing this letter two weeks ago, it was to be our ‘Goodbye letter’. Now on Saturday we will be taking you down to the Super-Adoption, paying your adoption fee, and you’ll officially be the latest edition to our little family. If I am reading your body language correctly, I think you are saying “Yes! Yay! Please please please! I love you all forever and ever! Weeee!! <3<3”
There are hundreds of books dedicated to the process of purchasing a house, as it is a fairly lengthy and complex endeavor. This article will seek to simply explain the process, and personalize it to a conscious SLC-ite on a budget.
Where to begin your search:
You must first get an idea of what it is you want and need in a home. Amount of bedrooms and bathrooms desired, preferred area of the city, and price point range. If you nail down these items, you can filter any internet search to suit your needs. We began looking within the city limits, with not much out of the question other than the west side, and further south than Murray. As we came to find out, the closer you get to downtown, the less house you get, for more cost. The houses are often older and come with various issues both apparent and some likely unseen. The yards are smaller, as well as the bedrooms. If you are willing to expand your search either further west or south, you will broaden your options, especially if you have a conservative price estimate. Tip: When you type in an acceptable price range, put your top limit 10k higher than your desired top price limit. There is a chance you will find a house that you can offer less for and have your offer accepted. Tip 2: In order to figure out your budget, utilize an online mortgage calculator (google it). You can insert your desired downpayment, the current national interest rate, and various possible home prices, and it will calculate your overall monthly payment. Make sure you use a calculator that also includes/shows the amount you will owe each month for taxes, as well as mortgage insurance (if you put less than 20% down) We wanted an overall billed amount of not much more than 1000 per month, which gave us a top price bracket of 170k.
During this search it is important to keep your mind on the aspects which are most crucial, which I call 'the skeleton'. This is the core elements of the home that are not easily changeable, and therefore you must be happy with these variables in order to consider the home. The first exampled of the skeleton is: Square footage - both of property and of the yard space. You will never be able to grow or shrink the square footage, so be sure you are happy with it. Another thing is the amount (and size) of bedrooms and bathrooms. While this may be possible to slightly alter with some major home renovations, it should be considered a constant and core issue. Another piece of the skeleton is major home elements such as the roof and the foundation, and even overall plumbing and electrical quality. An issue in these areas could easily tank the value of your home.
It is easy to get swept away in the beauty of the cosmetics, such as landscaping, appliances/fixtures, and paint job, but all of these things are superficial and can be changed for a reasonable price. Of course it would be ideal to find a home which was the best of both worlds. But when comparing homes, be sure to first consider the crucial skeleton elements to find the best option.
There are many websites to utilize when searching for homes on the market in your area. Each of them gets their listings from a public access MLS database, so it is likely that each website will have most of the same homes listed, if they stay on top of their updates. Word of caution: Every time you put your information into one of the sites to begin a search, they tend to add you to their aggressive sales campaign. One site I checked out had THREE different people suddenly calling me repeatedly to try and set me up with their realtors, bankers, etc.
The one website which I liked the best, also happened to have the best realtor attached to it. The website is http://homefinderutah.com/. I did receive one email from Kenny, but it was not pushy at all, and just asked to let me know if i wanted to see any of the houses on the site. He was extremely quick to respond to my emails and questions, and was able to take us out on several home viewing trips in the evenings, when we wanted and were able to go. Many realtors will make you sign an agreement stating that you have chosen them as your official realtor, and that you will continue with them until you find the home you want. Kenny did not even bring this up. We could have ditched out after multiple assisted trips around the city, and hours of home-showing, and he would have gotten nothing for this work. However we really liked him, due to his mellow style, his honest assessment of the homes (flaws and all), his sense of humor, and his willingness to educate us on certain issues. I would highly recommend him.
Once you've started looking at homes, and you've got an idea of your price point, it's important to meet with a loan officer to get pre-approved for your maximum desired loan amount. Whichever realtor you end up using, they will likely have a loan officer to refer you to (all the people in this industry make referrals to each other either as favors, or for a kickback. Or both? Who knows.). You could simply choose the bank you would like to work with, or call around, or go with a referral from your realtor or a loved one. We went with a friend referral and did not end up with great service, so I cannot recommend him here. Unfortunately he amateurishly flubbed the handling of this process for us in 3 or 4 different ways across our experience. At your first appointment they will ask you to bring you recent pay stubs, your last two years tax returns and 1099s, your currante checking account statement, ID + SS card, and anything else that can help prove your loan worthiness. They will run your credit score at this time, and calculate the type of loan and rates you may be eligible for. If they are a good ally, they might advise you as to your best option. If all goes well, they will "pre-approve" you for the maximum loan amount you may need, and then fax that approval letter to your realtor. This is so that if you find a house you love, and want to make an offer quickly, you can provide them with the pre-approval letter in order to show that you are serious and actually capable of following through with the purchase. This first step does not lock you into any loan, and you are free to change the specifics later on.Once You've Found "The One" While it sounds like the end of the process, this is really just the beginning. When you find your perfect house, you will work with your realtor to make an offer on it. Basically this involves signing and initialing about 10 pages of paperwork. Whether you offer their asking price, or a lower price, is up to you. I would advise you to ask your realtor's advice. The home we found was obviously underpriced, and likely to be scooped up very quickly, so we offered the seller's asking price, so as to avoid being quickly outbid by someone willing to do so. If the house you like has been on the market a long time, or appears to be overpriced, you may consider offering them a lower amount. Then they may counter-offer, and you can go from there. Keep in mind that it is industry standard to request in your bid that the seller pay all the closing costs. This means they pay your realtor's fees, the appraisal fees, the loan officers fees, etc. etc. This can work out to the tune of 5000$, so make sure you are mindful of whether the seller is accepting of this standard. If they accept your bid, you may then have a 30-45 day period to complete all the following procedures. Tip: If the house you like is a "short-sale", this means the seller owes more to the bank than the house is worth, so in order to sell it, they must get the bank to agree to accept whatever amount they are able to sell it for. This is a lengthy process and will draw out your homebuying experience over 3 months. However you may end up with a great bargain if you played your cards right.The Home Inspection If the seller accepts your offer, the realtor will let you know the following day, and it's off to the next steps in the process. It is highly advisable, though not mandatory, for you to obtain a home inspection. Unfortunately this is at your own cost (a little over 300$), but if they find some major issues, you can ask that the seller to repair or correct the problem as a stipulation to the final sale. Or if you need to, you can back out of your offer. A home inspection person knows everything there is to know about foundations, roofing, electric, plumbing, heating/cooling, and every minute detail about the construction and elements of the house. They will set up a time within the following week to go to the home, and spend a few hours examining everything, and writing up a full detailed report. They will ask that you come along for the last half hour or so, and give you a walk-through and explanation of the issues they discovered. It is likely that your realtor will refer you to someone to do this home inspection, or you can shop around online. I did some price comparisons, and then called one of my realtor's referrals, who low-balled the other offers on the table. He turned out to be a great choice. (Tom Rees http://acloserlookhi.vpweb.com/) He was extremely thorough, plus he was kind and patient and explained all the nuances of the home to us (we were clueless). Something to keep in mind is that the inspector is there to flush out every issue, big and small, and that every house is bound to have plenty of issues. Our report contained at least 20 negative notes, however he assured us that the house was great, and that none of the problems were major items, and none that needed immediate attendance. The report specified the primary issues to consider attending to within the next year or so, including some outdated piping in the basement, some window draining issues, lack of sufficient smoke alarms, etc. He submitted this report to our realtor, who followed up with us, asking if there were any deal-breakers, or things we wanted to request that the owners fix. I threw out a few ideas to possibly request, but that if they said no, we would still move forward. My realtor advised me that sometimes a seller will offer to fix many of the issues, and other times they deny the request. But it cannot hurt to ask. We asked, and the seller offered to fix a few minor things. When more was requested, we were informed by our realtor that our allowed time frame to request repairs or changes had expired.Securing the Loan
Once you know that there are no major issues with the house, you can move on to securing your loan. You will meet with your loan officer once again, where he will outline the rates and hopefully the details of various options to you.
You should already know how much you have saved up toward a downpayment. It is best if you can provide at least 5%, so that you can obtain a traditional 30 year loan. If so, though you might be very poor for a while after, your rates and monthly obligations will be significantly lower. If you simply cannot come up with that amount of money, you can do an FHA loan at 3% down or less, or some other options along those lines. Keep in mind that you will have to pay a monthly tax fee, a monthly mortgage insurance if you put down less than 20% (and until you have paid off 20%), and a monthly home owners insurance. If you are in my price range, each of these fees is nearly 100$. Presently if you have good credit (700+), and you put down 5%, you can get a mortgage rate of around 3.7%. The rates fluctuate weekly, and you can choose to either lock in the current national available rate at this time, or you can wait a few weeks til you finalize the loan and lock it in then. This is like a gamble in the stock market. Luckily for us, we selected not to lock in our rates, and three weeks later when we were ready to do so, the national rates hit a 50 year low. If at any point in the process you decide you want to lock in your rates, you can contact your loan officer and do so.
Once you decide on the particular loan plan you want to go for, you will sign a bunch of preliminary paperwork, and they will advise you not to accrue any additional debt, or make an large unaccounted for deposits into your bank account. You must prove at the final sale time that you have the 5% in the bank, as well as enough to make the first mortgage payment two months later.Appraisal and Home-Owner's Insurance When the inspection is complete and the loan is being processed, the bank will set up an appraisal to be done on the house within the following week. This is because a bank does not want to lend you money unless they are sure what you are getting is worth that amount of money. My realtor advised me that the bank would fund this, however, Bank of Utah's policy is apparently to charge the client the 375$ cost, and then later deduct it from your downpayment amount owed. This is something to keep in mind if funds are tight. Once the appraisal is complete, they will email you a report, which you can use to obtain homeowner's insurance. They provide a lot of specific information such as the type of frame, electrical system, etc. which you may need to refer to, in order to obtain an insurane quote. Your banker or realtor may have yet another referral for you on this one, or you could choose to go with the company you use for car insurance, etc. I would recommend shopping around for rates. However, "I just saved a bunch of money by switching to Geico.". That is to say, by bundling my husband's geico car insurance with my geico car insurance, and adding on homeowners' insurance. Our rate is about 55$ per month, which is 45 less than we were told to expect. After a couple thousand deductible, this would cover the whole value of the home, plus a certain value in possessions, in lieu of fire or other certain natural disasters. We did take a small hit due to our fire burning stove and outdated electrical system.Finalizing the Loan (a bigger pain than you might think) If the appraiser gives the bank the go-ahead, you move on to finalizing the loan. Unfortunately for us, we had a hiccup in the form of some electrical issues of concern. In this case we had to have a professional electrician sent out to evaluate, then the seller had to fix the issue of concern, and then the appraiser had to return to check that the issue was addressed to their satisfaction. When this was finally complete, a final credit check was obtained, and the total amount owed adjusted. It was time for us to prove that we had enough cash to fully fund the down-payment on the loan, and all that entails. You must again provide your bank account activity for the past 1-2 months, and account for any deposits other than payroll. For us this meant scans and photos of the checks from family members that we received from our wedding. And any cash would have been a problem, we were told. This also meant that the transfer from my savings account had to be verified with an account statement for said savings account. And if you are like me, and you decide you need to borrow a grand from someone in order to meet this down-payment in time, they must be a blood relative only (which was told to me only after the fact), and they must sign a form that says it is a gift toward the house, and not ever expected to be repaid. You must fax this signed form, plus a scanned copy of the check. You must also provide any new pay stubs, and if you have been divorced, you have to get a copy of the decree that says nothing is owed, and fax it both to the loan officer, and the title company. Basically they make it as hard as possible to give them many thousands of dollars. But if you are committed, and hold close to your online banking system, email, and fax machine, you can get through it. Once you have faxed every scrap of paperwork requested of you, they will provide the information to a loan underwriter, and you will finalize the loan. When this occurs you must also have your homeowners insurance lined up and set to activate the day the loan is final. When they have confirmed that this is the case, they will contact the Title company and set up a time to meet (with your realtor, loan officer, and title person) to sign a very large stack of paperwork.Obtaining the Title and Keys Once the loan is finalized a meeting time is arranged, you are informed of the exact amount you must provide via cashier's check to the title company. You meet at the designated time and location (title company) and sign about 50 pages of.. stuff. The loan officer and realtor are basically there for looks, because they are silent the entire time (save for the endowment of a man-oriented gift basket (duct tape, tool kit, WD40, etc.)) from the loan officer. At this meeting you are advised that they need 24-30 hours for the funds to clear, and then you will be advised of how to obtain your house keys. Our luck was such that we had this meeting on a friday, followed by a saturday, followed by a sunday, followed by a Columbus(notorious for screwing good people out of their homes) Day. Because of this it was Tuesday afternoon until we were able to obtain our keys. And now, after 45 days of stress, paperwork, meetings, saving every dime, etc. you are not the proud owner of your new home. Call to set up all the utilities and start planning your housewarming party.
Obviously this article will not have totally wide appeal, but perhaps some brides-to-be will come across this post and find it useful. I have put countless hours of thought and energy into this project, and the following is the lengthy catalog of those efforts.
Like any properly brainwashed American girl, I have pondered over my wedding for decades. I am not often one to follow traditions, but there are some drives instilled in your youth from which you cannot break free. Finally this past year I met someone worthy of marriage, and so the nebulous visions of my girl-brain slowly began to condense into real-world plans. However, being that I have no family to financially assist me in this (and his parents probably already met their lifetime wedding spending obligations on his 3 sisters) we were largely on our own. I hate wasting money, so I began with some research, and formulated a solid but realistic low-budget (detailed later) DIY plan. We were actually able to stay within this budget, except for the one item which launched it all, and is the beginning to any wedding story.
It is considered tacky to discuss the exact cost of one's ring, but I will just say that he spent 2-3x what I felt was reasonable. However, the money went to a completely local company (The Vug), who treated us well, and had no problem with my extreme rigidity about avoiding (real) diamonds. So even though I apparently have expensive taste, the ring would have been many hundreds of dollars more if I had not made the conscious choice to use lab-made diamonds, and to find a local, family owned shop that would accommodate that choice. You can read more about the details of the ring in this previous slconscious article.
We went to many shops and many more websites, struggling to feel good about
any of our options, before arriving at this choice. We simply brought him a photo we had found online and he constructed it from scratch), and it is warranty'd.
And in the interest of gender equality, here is the boy's ring. Again made in that shop, but much cheaper. It's titanium with a carbon fiber crosshatch center, and a cheesy personal engraving. :)
The biggest unknown and possibly budget busting variable in most weddings is the venue. I spent several months trying to figure out this one. Most of the wedding receptions I have been to were in local ward houses or suburban back yards, and now I realize why. Any reception hall, of any decent quality, will run you $1000+. If you happen to want it on a weekend during the summer, plan for closer to 2000$. Considering that my car isn't even worth a grand, it seemed unreasonable to dump that much money into a one evening event. Though there were a few that caught my eye, I simply could not justify the price. And so began the search for an alternative location.
We wanted something with access to outdoor space, so our first research began with parks and campsites. First, campsites nearby that could accommodate a large number of people were already booked for all the weekends in August. To the tune of a couple hundred dollars! Something feels wrong about having to pay that much money just to be amongst a natural setting. Also... even in August there is always a chance of rainy weather, and without any significant shelter, that would equate to a sad day in a hurry.
As for parks, again we encounter the inclement weather risk. Also I have been to receptions held in the park, and it seemed to lack something. Privacy? Class?. I didn't really care for the idea of random strangers and children playing 100 ft away. The second issue is that alcohol is not allowed in any public parks. At all. That means a reception without so much as wine or champagne. And if I know my friends and family. (and myself. and my fiance), that is not ideal.
The last best option we began to consider was the backyards of friends/family. We had a few top contenders, that would have suited our needs sufficiently. However there was one standout location which I had been intrigued by from the beginning; a beautiful cabin up Millcreek Canyon owned by my fiance's family. This option had some logistics issues such as parking and space, which needed to be worked out. With his family's encouragement and blessing, we went ahead with this option, and decided to arrange a shuttle to run people from the parking area up to the cabin. Which brings us to the next topic.
In order to conserve space, we decided to divide our invite list into "Family": 4:30-6:30pm, and then Friends: 6:30-8:30. This made our guestlist into approximately 30 + 30, rather than 60 all at once. Which suited the.. cultural differences between our friend group and family group as well. While some would mix well, some of the more conservative family members indeed expressed concerns about the presence of alcohol.
We made a guestlist which underwent many revisions, as we discussed which family members and friends we truly wanted there. While it would have been nice to give a blanket invite, this would have taken our guestlist to 100+, which we could not and did not want to accommodate emotionally, spatially, or financially.
I began looking around at the invitation options available online. All of them seemed rather expensive, and often had minimum orders (100+). Having recently ordered some very cute business cards, I decided to consider that route. I found a company that provided me with more than enough full color, extra wide business cards, that could cover all the necessary information, for 30$. I then purchased craft paper which would compliment our color scheme, and some craft scissors and glue, and backed each card. I found very cheap metal heart-decals to glue onto the corner of each, and there you have the core of our invites. (2 pictured)
We decided to use a photo of us that had already been taken, to save time, energy, and money. In this case it was a photo strip we both love, taken in this first month we were dating. I took the scanned image of the strip on a USB drive to a photo-lab, and we created a .jpg with three strips each, which exactly fit one of their pre-sized sheets. I ordered 12 copies, (38 strips), and they turned out great (20$). I sliced them myself, and also backed them with the same craft paper as the invite cards, and trimmed the festive edge with the craft scissors.
I created directions cards that fit 6 to a page, and printed them on green paper. I also purchased inexpensive regular printer paper - sheets of 20 customizable stickers, on which I put our names, with the same color scheme, and used them as return labels.
I made address labels with the leftover brown craft paper, and hand wrote the addresses in silver paint-pen. I ordered stamps from the postal service website with white roses on them.
Here you have the finished product. All told the cost ended up being less than what it would have costed to do it traditional style. However it took many many hours of labor to create and assemble them. But they are unique and 100% custom, and the project was enjoyable and rewarding.
The next big thing to consider was of course, the dress. Again it did not seem practical to spend many hundreds of dollars on a dress to be worn one single time. I started by browsing some online sites, and limiting the price range to less than 400$. I got an idea of styles I liked, and did not like. Then my best girl friend and I visited two wedding dress stores in south Salt Lake; A Bride Beautiful, and David's Bridal. I knew I would end up purchasing a dress online, but thought it would be best to get an in-person idea of how different styles looked on my body.
A Bride Beautiful had a fairly small collection, 95% of which was .... awful. Unless of course you are old, and into super gaudy sequins everywhere, and an obscene amount of beading and extra fabric. There was nothing hip, simple, or modern looking. The staff person was extremely sweet and helpful, but unfortunately they could not help their terrible selection. Also there was nearly nothing under 700$ in the store.
David's Bridal was a large warehousey store, that had 5+ brides in various changing areas, with each staff person helping multiple brides at once. Their selection was much larger, with more options under 500$, but still far fewer nice/cheap dresses than I expected. Additionally, they take down your name and phone number, and proceed to spam you with calls multiple times between your visit and your wedding dress, which was rather annoying.
Ultimately I went back to the internet for my search, narrowed it down to a few, asked for opinions from my friends and fiance, and chose the dress that was my favorite from the very beginning. The company/website (Landy Bridal) I used seemed to have an endless array of options, the vast majority of which were very inexpensive. However, before you jump at this referral, read the rest of the article.
I ordered the 279$ dress, and was then informed that it would be coming from china, so after several weeks to custom create the dress, it would take up to a month to ship. Additionally, the shipping cost was over 50$, so this is a fee to consider when ordering online.
My dress arrived within the appointed time frame, all balled up tight into a shipping bag not much bigger than a basketball. And to my horror, on the hip was this obscene gold and silver flower abomination. I was pretty devastated there for a moment. There was not enough time to find/order a new dress, and either way I would be out over 100$ for shipping both ways, and restocking fee. At this point I did some additional research online, and learned that Landy Bridal actually uses stock photos of designer dresses, and then attempts to recreate them. Nowhere on their website says this though, and they clearly lead patrons to believe that they are getting the exact dress pictured.
After a flurry of angry and retribution-threatening emails to their limited-english-speaking customer service representatives, they told me they were unwilling to refund any of my money, but that they would send me a replace hip flower attachment. (which they never did). I ended up loosening some threads and cutting/ripping these flowers off, and the dress underneath turned out to be ok, afterall.
I took the dress to Elegant Tailoring downtown, and a nice young woman with lots of seamstress related tattoos, charged me 60$ to hem the dress for my 5'3" self. I learned here that it is extremely expensive to have a wedding dress dry cleaned (quoted me 70$), and so I borrowed a DIY hand steamer from a friend, and spent an hour steaming the wrinkles out of the dress myself.
Pictured is the final product on the day of.
From the beginning I really wanted the food to be a DIY project too, even knowing it would mean a lot more work for me. I really like to cook, especially good healthful and vegetarian food for friends and family, and I rarely get an opportunity to do so.
The most simple plan was to provide self-serve buffet-style food, most of which to be room temperature. For the two items served warm, we used one 25$ electric warmer, and one 10$ warmer kit with a fuel/flame underneath, purchased at a party supply store. We bought plastic faux-crystal plates and cups, plastic forks, and green napkins to fit our theme.
We provided one fruit tray, and one vegetable tray, with ranch dipping sauce. There was a mixed cheese tray, and cracker tray, and bowls of greek olives with nice toothpicks. I made a large batch of spinach artichoke cheese dip (a week ahead of time and frozen), and a baked penne pasta with oven-roasted veggies and cheese, and garlic bread.
For beverages I bought two glass juice dispensers, and put lemonade in one (with floating sliced lemons and limes), and sprite mixed with fruit punch (with floating berries) in the other. We also had 7 bottles of varied wines, 7 bottles of champagne, and a cooler of good locally brewed beers.
For desert we did not want a large gaudy and expensive cake with plasticky colored frosting, so we sought an alternative. We both enjoy fruit tarts, so we decided to purchase 60 small fruit tarts, displayed on our three tiered holder, with one on top for us to cut together. I also made a little JK topper with some leftover foam board, silver paint, and a couple of toothpicks.
For serving trays I took a few trips to the D.I., and bought a varied assortment of sizes and shapes. I spray painted them all silver, and affixed bases to some, so that they would be of varying heights. I also sprayed them with a food-save coating/sealant. Total cost: 15$
The Photos and Entertainment
A professional wedding photographer can be another hefty cost. My recommendation is to find a friend (or friend of a friend) who is currently studying photography, and has been an amateur photographer for a few years. They have to have a portfolio, preferably including a wedding they have shot. This is exactly what I did, and saved hundreds of dollars for it.
And a fun idea which combines wedding photos and entertainment plus a small gift for the guests: A photobooth! When I learned of this idea, I researched several local companies, but each was around 600$. Luckily during this time frame, I received a groupon offer for half off! (coincidentally, I saw a livingsocialdeal yesterday for this service as well). (however I did have to put 150$ down on a credit card to reserve the date, though I was assured this would be refunded after the wedding, which still has yet to be refunded despite many phone calls and emails. Beware of "Complete Music/Photo")
A nicely dressed young gentleman arrived 45 minutes before our reception, set up a photobooth in a flat pre-arranged area outside, and took photostrips of our guests for four hours. Each guest keeps one copy, and we keep a second for our own memories.
As for the DJ, we again mined our friend resources. One of my long time friends is an electronic DJ, who owns the necessary equipment, was happy to do it for us, as a gift. We provided him with about 50 mp3s we wanted played, as well as some requests, and some additions by him. We decided to get him a gift certificate to a local vegan restaurant to thank him for helping out with this.
Flowers, Tables, and Decor
Another great example of drawing on one's friends as a resource, I luckily enough had a good friend whose family business is flower arrangement. We were able to get 5 medium sized bouquets for the tables, one "throwing bouquet", and one for our guestbook/gift table. I simply specified that I wanted white and green flowers that were on the less-expensive side. (usually meaning currently in season). We also got a small boutonniere and a silk-flower hair barrette. Because our friend ordered wholesale and didn't charge us for having them arranged, we were able to get everything we wanted and needed for less than 200$.
For tables and chairs I shopped around and price checked quite a bit. There are many companies and websites in the SLC area that rent out tables, with slightly varied pricing, and delivery policies/charges. The company that we ultimately chose is called AllOutTentEventRental. The pricing is laid out on their website, and they have lots of individualized options. Overall they were less expensive than every other site, plus they delivered up Millcreek canyon for free. Also they brought everything a day in advance, and picked up the items a day later, which gave us plenty of time to set up and tear down. We ordered 5 round tables and 30 white chairs for guests, 3 banquet tables for food and drinks, plus white tablecloths, and green silk table runners. This way we could have everything match, look very classy, and not have to worry about trucking things around or washing linens. Total cost was under 300$
I created each DIY-tastic centerpiece for the five round tables out of mostly second-hand items. 5 bouquet arrangements were in 5 different vases (some I had, and some purchased from the DI thrift/secondhand store). Alongside each was a unique jar, with a particular kind of green candy at each table. (andies mints, spearmints, green tootsie roll thingies, russel's sugar-free toffees, and mint+dark chocolate M&Ms) I included a champagne glass (DI) at each table, half filled with beige sand, and a green battery operated tea light candle (ebay). Also included were small white or green porcelain dishes (DI). I framed each setting with a rectangle cut-out of Elmer's brand foam cardboard, spray painted dark brown, and affixed with leftover metallic heart decals from the invitations. Lastly I sprinkled green and white faux jewels from the party store.
One decoration that seems to be very in-style right now, are chinese paper lanterns. However, if you buy them from a party store, you can expect to pay 5-10$ per lantern. I found every size and color available for less than half the price, on ebay. I also found small keychain lights to hang inside them. Both of these, plus the tea-light candles for the centerpieces, and 30ft strips of white LED lights (8$) all shipped from China. They were somewhat low quality, and prone to break, but perfectly suitable for a one time use in mild weather. I may even get a few more uses out of them, actually.
Another more personal decoration idea is to take a usb drive with all of your favorite pics to the local photo lab. I was able to get about 20 prints for less than 20$. Throw these in 20 frames for under 20$ (DI), and place them around the reception area. Gives guests the warm fuzzies to peek at your adventures together as a couple.
The following is the total budget breakdown, for everything needed for our wedding reception. Grand total: 2710$ (plus 60$ to get married at the courthouse).
Menu: (730$) (Self-serve buffet style)
Classy glass-like plastic wear for 60 (mini/plates, glasses, napkins, forks) (50$)
3 tiered wedding cake holder (25$)
Several silver serving platters of differing heights (15$)
2 Warming trays (35$)
Fruit tray + veggie tray - 40$
Cheese tray + crackers - 30$
Mixed Olives (+toothpicks) (25$)
Spinach-artichoke dip + chips(+ green guac chips) (50$)
Garlic bread (cut into strips) (10$)
Fruit tarts (1 medium, 60 small) (120$)
Liquor (7 bottles champagne, 7 bottles wine. 24 beers) 220$
Other drinks (lemonade, fruit punch, sprite) - 20$
Tables, chairs, tablecloths (300$)
Lighting(hanging lanterns, tea-lights, strung lights) (100$)
Printed and framed old photos of us out/around at reception: (30$)
Photo booth rental (300$)
Tailoring + shoes/accessories (150$)
I have worked in this particular industry for the past 8 years, and so I get a lot of questions and requests for referrals in varying circumstances. It is my intention that this be a brief guide to help you navigate some local options for addiction treatment. Some of the information is from direct professional experience, and some is from research on their websites, and phone calls made to their staff. Follow title links provided for more information.Where to Begin: This question is very dependent upon your individualized circumstances, so here are 5 options and the situation in which each choice would be the best fit.VOA Adult Detox This is a place for someone who needs to get away from their day-to-day situation for a few days/weeks while detoxing off of drugs. Think bunk beds in shared rooms, group bathrooms, and three square meals a day. The 56 beds are nearly always full, but there is a quick turnover, so they advise you to call a couple times a day to check on availability. Checking in will require a search of your belongings, and a UA. The center functionally doubles as a homeless shelter for substance abusers, so if you are expecting something classy, this is not your option. Because of this, and because of the nature of drug addiction, people are often able to sneak drugs onto the property. Essentially if you go in not truly committed to abstinence, there will likely be some temptation available. You are able to stay there from 1-2 weeks (but of course can check yourself out any time). While there, you can attend on-site 12-step programs, and meet with a case manager. If you are interested in some real treatment, the center has the added benefit of fast-tracking you to an appointment with ARS (more later) who will assess you for treatment, and find you a funding-assisted slot somewhere in the city.
VOA - Center for Women and Children This option is similar to the above, only there are no men, and women can bring their young children along. There are only 30 beds here, so the wait can be several days. Additionally, they are more strict in requiring that you are indeed homeless (though they take you on self-report). Another difference is that the women can stay here longer than 1-2 weeks, though it is still just a short-term initial treatment option.UNI - Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute. This is a better option for someone who has insurance, and expects a more refined experience. There is a unit for adults, and one for adolescents, but both have very limited beds
. (20). For self pay clients they require 3000$ down. They do not have any funding assistance, and medicaid does not pay for this. The average length of stay in their detox program is 5-7 days, and then clients are referred elsewhere in the community for residential treatment, or they can begin outpatient treatment on site, at the University.LDS Hospital - Dayspring This option is highly comparable to UNI, above. Just think.. at LDS hospital instead of the U of U hospital
. They also claim to have a longer term inpatient treatment option available.ARS - Assessment & Referral Services & Interim Group This is your front door to getting a funding-assisted bed/slot in a treatment center, according to your needs. To begin, you simply show up at the group and speak with the facilitator. Through this channel, you will be provided an appointment for an official assessment with a therapist/social worker, in order to find out what level of treatment is needed/appropriate/available. Available assessment appointments can be about 1 month out, and available treatment beds up to three months, so in the interim(get it?) they prefer/require you to attend this group for support. Groups are located at 450 South 900 East in Suite 300. You can attend as many as you want, and the schedule is as follows: Monday 7-8pm, Tuesday 6-7pm, Wednesday 5-6pm, Thursday 7-8pm, Friday 3-4pm, Saturday 11am-12 noonLonger term treatment:Odyssey House One title here for a plethora of locations and options. Odyssey house has an adolescent inpatient program, a women & children inpatient program, and adult inpatient program, an adult outpatient program, and a transitional housing program, all within a mile or two of the center of downtown SLC. It has become the largest conglomeration of substance rehabilitation services in the valley. Most of the clients here are court ordered, and typically if they are self-referred, they do not last very long. Odyssey house as a tradition of toughness that borders on militancy. One must basically have permission to eat, sleep, and breathe, along with a set of rules on how to do each of these activities. They run on a model that could be considered 'break you down so that we can rebuild you properly', comparable to the function of boot camp. Highland Ridge This is a brand new for-profit substance abuse and psychiatric hospital in Midvale. They offer a short term detox program, an inpatient program, a day treatment program, an outpatient program and an aftercare program. 1-800-821-helpFirst Step House First Step is a non profit, with an inpatient program for men only, and an outpatient program for both men and women. If you are low-income and referred by ARS, there is county funding assistance available. Otherwise they have a (very pricey) private pay option.House of Hope/Serenity House Primarily inpatient treatment for women and children, but they also have outpatient programs, and programs for children only, and all adults. They are a non-profit organization, with locations in Provo and Ogden. Again, ARS can refer you in with county funding assistance if you qualify.Cornerstone Counseling In a new partnership with the VOA, Cornerstone provides individual and group therapy for low-income people with a substance abuse disorder.Opiate Addiction:Project Reality Of the 12+ methadone clinics in utah (surprised?), this one has been around the longest, and is the most widely trusted, respected, and referred to. It is also the only non-profit clinic, which has county funding slots available, and accepts Medicaid as 100% payment for treatment. If you self-pay, the cost is 15$/day, or 75$ a week. There is also a location in Provo. You do not need a referral to begin here, and they do intakes every weekday morning at 6am. Sometimes there are low-income county funded slots available at intake, but often you must self pay for 1-2 months until you are able to show progress in treatment, and earn funding. They provide medication assisted treatment with either Methadone, or Suboxone. You are required to participate in therapy (weekly or bi-weekly) in order to receive medication. You can do a short term (14-30 day) detox/taper, or a longer daily medication/maintenance program. You begin by coming to the clinic daily to receive your medication, but you can earn take-home doses over time, according to performance.Other clinics include: Discovery house (locations in South Salt Lake, Taylorsville, Orem, and layton), Tranquility Place, Metamorphosis (South Salt Lake and Ogden), Bountiful Treatment Center, St George Metro Treatment Center).
I want to tell you guys why I've been shutting down everyone who is joking about this shit in Colorado and I want you to actually listen to me. I don't want you to sit and think about what you want to say back and I don't want you to think I'm making this about me, because I'm not. This is a horrible tragedy and I have no interest in attaching myself to it for attention.
But I want you to understand why I've been the way I've been because I'm hearing a lot of bullshit today about "Well, how long am I supposed to wait?" and "Why do we care about this but we don't give a shit about the people dying in Darfur or Syria or Afghanistan?"
I'm going to cover a lot of ground here, so strap in, because it's going to be a long one.
First of all, I believe in free speech without limits. The only exceptions would be:
1) Hate speech, which is a pretty broad term, but the way that I'm intending it here is to mean speech which is directly intended to cause harm to a person or people based on their race, religion, color, creed, sex, or sexual orientation. This doesn't include poking fun or teasing based on those things, I'm talking about the kind of speech that riles up a crowd and encourages them to go do harm to other people. And..
2) Fighting words. This is pretty self-explanatory. Words which are intended to incite violence between two or more people.
Outside of that, go wild. Even in this case, it is your prerogative to have a laugh over a tragedy. That is your inalienable right in this country, and I think that that is fucking titties, I really do. Without free speech, we don't have an America. So, now that we have those ground rules laid, let's move on.
The first thing that I want to address is the issue that people love to bring up whenever a celebrity dies unexpectedly or a tragedy happens on American soil. "Why do we care so much about [insert tragedy here] but nobody cares about deaths happening every day in [insert far away place here]? Why should I care about this, but not about that?" The social fabric that holds humanity together is incredibly complex, and I think that some people like to ignore that it exists when something like this happens.
Just because it isn't tangible, doesn't mean it's not there. It's a very powerful force and it's one that has to be acknowledged. If you don't believe me, go ask someone on the bus to give up their seat, like these students in this classic study tried to do. http://richardwiseman.wordpress.com/2009/01/16/try-the-seat-study/
We don't feel the same things for people in Syria as we do for people near to us, simply because of a lack of proximity, both geographic and social. Try to imagine what Syria is like. Try to imagine their culture and their customs. See if you can imagine what is on the table when a Syrian family sits down to dinner. Try to think of what their clothing looks like at that meal or what they talked about. Now see if you can imagine what it looks like in a Syrian movie theater. Unless you're a student of world cultures, I bet you can't even begin to do it. The picture is muddy. The audio won't come through.
When I was at the grocery store last night, the night of the shooting, just before midnight, I saw a big group of teenagers in shitty Batman and Catwoman costumes stuffing candy into their pockets and laughing and having a really great time on their night out to a movie. I know what they'd be talking about. I know what the interplay of their relationships is likely to be. I know what they and thousands of other teenagers just like them look like on their way to a midnight movie in America. I know because I've been them. I am them. I can empathize with everything they do and say and feel. They are my friends, and my family, and my self.
So, I don't know these people, it's true. And I probably should care about those other people who are far away. We all should. But the force that holds us together dictates that we care more for the people with whom we identify, than those who we don't. It doesn't make you a bad person. It is just the way that things are. But you don't get to use that as an excuse for your narcissistic, self-involved behavior.
But, there are other reasons why I shouldn't care, right?? Of course there are. Time. Time is a thing, isn't it? I mean, everyone is going to be an asshole about this eventually, right? So what's the difference if I'm just an asshole now?
What difference does time make?
Well, time, just like the Great Social Force, time is something that people like to pretend is irrelevant in these situations. And, just like The Great Social Force, it isn't something that you can pretend doesn't matter.
"What's the difference between me making jokes today, and people making jokes six months from now?" or "I'm going to remember this six months from now when you all are making jokes about this?"
This paradigm disregards one of the most fundamental truths of our existence. Time is the one thing that you can't say "no" to. It is the single most irresistable force in the Universe. Time is the difference between a mountain, and a mountain that has been worn into a desert by the oceans. To act as if saying something horrible today is the same as saying something funny ten years from now, is to deny what makes our perception possible.
The difference between a joke today and a joke six months from now is massive. It's the difference between a lake and a riverbed. And you fucking know it. It is the difference between insensitivity and empathy.
And that brings me to my final, most important point, and the end of this article.
I've been watching people for a long time now. Something huge changed in me a few years ago, and I realized that every single person with whom I interact is important. Every single person has a long, long story that they could tell me, and I promise you, it would be interesting. Every person has some pain, and every person has some knowledge to impart.
We've become a society of people unwilling to listen. We each believe that ours is the only philosophy. We each believe that ours is the greatest pain. We each believe that ours is the truest knowledge. And we each believe that ours is the only way.
We have bred a sort of terrible narcissism and self-centricism this way. The Internet; specifically Facebook, 4chan, and reddit, has made each of us into a microcosm. In this process, we have learned to treat each other as faceless, nameless things. We regard others as things to be fought, or flamed, or bickered against. We casually use the word "faggot" and "nigger" in reference to people we don't know or understand and we've been doing it for far too long.
I promised myself that I would never say or print the name of the Aurora, CO killer, and I never will. I won't give him that power. But I will say this about him. I don't believe that he is crazy. That opinion is premature and it may turn out that I'm wrong, but I believe that he is sitting in prison right now, waiting to tell us exactly why he did what he did. And I bet when it comes right down to it, it turns out he just did it just for the lulz. He is going to tell us this week. But I already know why he did what he did, even if he doesn't.
He killed all of those people out of a lack of empathy and out of a lack of compassion. He murdered twelve people, and injured and emotionally scarred countless others. He did it because he didn't give a shit. It wasn't guns or mental illness that killed those people. It was a lack of empathy and compassion.
So, people have been making jokes about this tragedy. And that's their right. But I want you all to understand that the same lack of empathy that you use to joke about their deaths, the same lack of compassion that the Internet has been breeding and cultivating for the last fifteen years, is the same lack of empathy and compassion that has destroyed so many human's lives in Colorado this week.
I truly believe that.
Tread lightly with your words. That's as much as I can, so verbosely, request.
One event which nearly exemplifies all that this website stands for (local, health, fun, current, conscious-minded), and which you would be remiss in your human duties to not attend, is the weekly Farmers Market.
The 2012 Market hours and dates are as follows: Saturday mornings: June 9 - October 27, 8 am to 1 pm, as well as Tuesday evenings: August 7 - October 23, 4 pm to dusk. For more info: http://www.slcfarmersmarket.org/
First of all: Ride your bike there! It's a reasonable distance from most places in the city, and they provide a free bike valet service, so you don't even have to go to the trouble of locking up
. It's still cool enough in the morning to be a nice ride, and it kick starts your saturday with a little cardio and love to planet earth. This way you won't just cancel out your good deed with your carbon footprint for this day. Click here to learn more (previous article) about how to delve into the world of SLC bike riding.
"But isn't it just a bunch of vegetables?"
Nope! Aside from food, the market has nearly a hundred other booths including local artists, jewelers, and craftors, local non-profit organizations information booths, etc. And on every corner (and several spots in between) there is a local musician or group playing live for tips. I have seen drummers, pianists, guitars, banjos, a small child playing the flute, etc. There is even a clown of sorts making balloon hats for kids. It is basically a big festival every week right downtown.
And even if it were 'just a bunch of vegetables', vegetables are awesome! They are to be revered. So yes, there are plenty of those, and fruits. There is also food of every other variety, including booths cooking various breakfast/lunch options (thai, mexican, greek, and many more). There are also endless amounts of free samples, so many that you could fill up on these alone. (breads, olive oil, dips, hummus, jams, granola, cookies, chips and salsa, cheeses, sugared almonds, etc.)
'Buy Local' is NOT just a hippie bumper sticker!
As for this produce, it comes from nearby small farms, and is sold seasonally. (so don't expect ripe tomatoes in June, etc.) The fruits and veggies are all along the northern edge of the park. I recommend having a list of what you would like to purchase, and doing one walk through before deciding where to buy. Last week I bought a couple small zucchinnis for a dollar each, and saw them five minutes later at another stand for .50 cents each. Each booth is not priced equally. Tip: If you go toward the end of the market, the farmers will give you a deal, so that they don't have to truck everything back home. Haggle for cheaper prices. And don't be afraid to ask questions, if you are interested in how the food is farmed.
Yes, you will pay a little bit more than you do at the grocery store. But you are supporting local economy, helping the environment by forcing food to travel fewer miles, and likely being exposed to fewer pesticides and other chemicals used by mega-farms. The produce will always taste better, too, due to ripening on the plant, and not in the back of a truck.
Another tip: If you are into eating eggs, but you are educated enough to know that the "free range" eggs at the grocery store doesn't really mean a whole lot(though it's still a step up from battery cages), a couple of booths sell truly ethical eggs. I talked with the farmer all about how his chickens roam around his farm, eating leftover produce, bugs, etc. They are definitely not crammed into a warehouse by the hundreds.
Basically the farmer's market is most everything that is good in the world, and very little that is bad. So get your butts down there, pronto!
SLC Roosters - by Vinny Genovesi
I'm a guy with a lot of big dreams and big ideas. Of the hundred or so I have a year, I get really excited for about thirty of them. And of those thirty that I swear I'm really going to follow through with, I end up actually trying about five. And of those five, one works. Sometimes.
Last year I was back on one of my kicks of throwing boys'-nights-out every week or two. They were fun and we usually had a pretty good turn out, but every time I threw one, I'd have guys asking me why they weren't invited. "Well, I put it up on Facebook," I'd say, but because of the flawed Newsfeed, and because people hate event invites (seriously, Facebook, there's got to be a better way to do this), my invitations were not reaching everyone that I wanted to reach.
I then decided to create a Facebook group just for my guy friends where we could organize our events and, as a bonus, have a safe place to talk guy stuff. And, as a joke, I decided to call us the Fraternal Order of the Rooster, because the gravity of the name belied our lack of seriousness and everyone loves a good cock joke, right?
The first couple of months we kept it light. Went out, got drunk, partied our asses off. And it was fun. Really, it was exactly what I hoped it would be.
In December one of us had the idea to go out and do a shopping trip for Toys-4-Tots. We'd realized that we had some spending power and we wanted to do something good with it. Literally, not one of the Roosters expressed anything but extreme enthusiasm for the project. So, we set a date and we went to Toys R Us and made a day of it. And thanks to a lot of generous (some very) donations on the parts of Roosters and friends of Roosters, we were able to buy close to 500 dollars worth of new, nice toys for kids who might not have had a Christmas otherwise. And that was fun, too!
After that we all knew that we couldn't go back to just being a bunch of drunk jackoffs. I mean, we could be drunk jackoffs, but we had to be more, too.
We had a rocky month or two after that. Some of us didn't know where we were going, or if we were going anywhere. The Roosters seemed to be in trouble for a little while as there was some in-fighting about the nature of our conversations in the privacy of our group.
Thanks to a few of our members (Heh... members. Sorry, you can't take the immaturity out of this Rooster) who swept in and showed some serious leadership, we quickly put an end to all negativity inside of our fraternity. No talking shit, no misogyny, no bullshit. This wasn't what we were about in the beginning and it certainly wasn't going to be us in the future. I think we all agreed at one point that being for something doesn't mean that you have to be against something else. We were going to be a positive impact on our community, not just another sewing circle. The world has enough of those. We found our direction, once again, in charity.
And that brings you up to today. For the past two months we've been working with our local Human Rights Education Center in a campaign against bullying. Some people have asked us "Well, what good does money do against something as nebulous as bullying? Are we going to go to the schoolyards and pay bullies to leave the smaller kids alone?"
The answer to that is yes.
Half of our donations will go toward putting a little extra money in the pockets of bullied kids so that they have something to give the bullies when they demand lunch money. The other half is going to karate lessons. And the last half is going toward flying mounts for each of the Roosters. All of us have agreed that our lives would be better if we had level 70 flying mounts.
I kid, of course. Unfortunately the answer to something that is as hard to pin down as bullying is never that simple. It takes time and it takes education and awareness. And that's what the HREC does. Educate and spread awareness. And that's a cause that I think everyone who has ever been bullied can get behind.
Because bullying isn't just a kid punching another kid or taking his milk money. It's psychological warfare and it can be demeaning and demoralizing to the point where it damages a person for their entire life. It is brutal and it is relentless.
I remember being a kid in Jr. High and being beat up, whitewashed, and bullied almost every single day. I can remember running home every day as fast as my legs would take me. I remember sneaking out the side doors at school so that the kids waiting for me out front wouldn't see me. And I remember that tightness in my chest, that terror that I felt every single day in the last hour before school got out. Nobody should have to live that way. And all it takes is a little education and awareness.
So, starting this Wednesday, the 20th, going through Saturday, the 23rd, the Roosters are throwing a fundraiser in the name of putting an end to, or at least alleviating, a little bit of this nonsense. We're calling it Roosterfest and we'd love for you to join us. There will be live bands, DJs, open mic comedy (hosted by Yours Truly), and a drawing. For more information, to RSVP, or to find out how you can help, click the link below. The Roosters are looking forward to meeting you! Can't wait to see you there!