Changing My Legal Name w/ CapitalOne, Southwest Airlines & Identity Guard

In this age of identity theft and data insecurity, changing one’s name is an unpleasant and time consuming task. Which is why I put it off until my driver’s license expired. I had to do a lot of hunting to track down the information I needed, and spend a lot of time randomly jabbing numbers on interactive phone systems in my quest. There are a lot of posts about name changes in general, but I was unable to find a number of specifics online. Some of the information below is specific to Colorado, but much is specific only to individual companies.

To change your name due to marriage in Colorado– (this kind of name change is free, and does not involve petitioning the court).

This one is fairly easy, as long as you have current government issued ID and an official copy of your marriage license.
Step one is the Social Security office. You can find your local office here.  This part is free. All you need is your ID and marriage license.

Step two is the DMV. YOU CAN GO TO ANY LOCATION! YAY! Unlike registering your car, you can hit any location in the state, rather than the country you legally reside in. This one costs the same amount as renewing your driver’s license regularly would. Again, you need your ID and marriage license, and I would advise at least 48 hours AFTER your visit to the Social Security office. The name change has to propagate through the system- you do not need to have your new Social Security card in your possession.

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Brushed Nickel Spray Paint & Tracklights

We had some old track lights in the living room, that I would have loved to replace. However, I wanted a closet and fresh more, so we had a tight budget when it came to replacing tracklight heads. We would need four at ~$20 a pop…. that’s a good 2 gallons of high-quality paint.

I like silver and nickel a lot. About as much as I dislike gold and brass and bronze. Oil-rubbed bronze is ok, but not my most favorite, and certainly not a good fit for my vision for our home.

Cue the spray paint.

Our old, whiteish tracklights
Our old, whiteish tracklights

Our old lights were a matte off-white color, so thankfully, I didn’t have to sand or prep them much more than wiping them down well.

Unadulterated and ugly.
Unadulterated and ugly.
Half primed and half original.
Half primed and half original.
All the heads primed and waiting
All the heads primed and waiting

I primed all the metal with Rustoleum Metal Primer. It dried to a uniform matte, battleship gray. It was a smoothing formula, so it went on very nicely. I only needed one coat.

Nickel Trackheads
Between the primer and the spray paint, they only needed a single coat of each.

For the metal paint layer, I used Rustoleum Universal Paint+Primer in Hammered Nickel. The can design was just awful. I had to return the first one, and the girl at the return counter at Home Depot had a whole box of defective ones. I got the hang of getting an even spray by the time I got to these. You have to sweep the can side to side, because it produces a thin vertical fan of paint. Who knows why. But I was very pleased with the end result.

For an hour and some spray paint, I was happy with how the track heads turned out. The paint was even and not so shiny that it looked fake. Considering the track heads were ugly in the first place, I didn’t have a lot to loose, but they exceeded my expectations.

The makings of a closet

The master bedroom was so large, and the existing master closet was rather petite (and the rest of the house has very limited storage space), so we decided to close the bedroom-side door to the existing closet and open it from the hall by the kitchen. And a new walk-in closet. YAY!

Thankfully we have a friend at our church who is a great contractor, Trevor Hieb, owner of Hieb Construction, whom we have recruited to build a new closet.

The master bathroom cave (the closet)
The master bathroom cave (the closet)
Behind Bri is the space where the closet will go.
The ceiling and wall were opened to expose the studs, so the new walls had somewhere to attach
The ceiling and wall were opened to expose the studs, so the new walls had somewhere to attach
New closet frame
New closet frame
Resizing the door
Resizing the door
Our new master bedroom closet with a rolling barn door.
Our new master bedroom closet with a rolling barn door.
Our new closet with the door open. Clearly we still have some painting to do.
Our new closet with the door open. Clearly we still have some painting to do.
A door in the hall
A door in the hall
Closing off old master closet
Closing off old master closet
Old closet new opening
Old closet new opening

Our new old home

As oft requested, some pictures of our new home… they are very “before”.  If you know me well, you know my love of “before and after” shots, so there will be many more posts to follow!

The front side. We're the top left. And yes, it looks like a retro beach time share
The front side. We’re the top left. And yes, it looks like a retro beach time share
The living room and fireplace-the front door is just to the left of where this image ends
The living room and fireplace-the front door is just to the left of where this image ends
The other side of the living room (taken standing just right of the fireplace)
The other side of the living room (taken standing just right of the fireplace)
The fire place
The fire place
kitchen nook
kitchen nook
The kitchen
The kitchen
The kitchen
The kitchen
The dining nook
The dining nook
master bed window
The master bed and window. To the left is the door do the master bathroom, which needs a whole lot of work itself.
The master bedroom window
The master bedroom window
Behind Bri is the space where the closet will go.
Behind Bri is the space where the closet will go.
The master bathroom shower nook
The master bathroom shower nook
The master bathroom vanity
The master bathroom vanity
The hallway bathroom
The hallway bathroom
The view from our balcony
The view from our balcony
We have a pool!
We have a pool!

Making Our Wedding…Ours. Letting Our Personalities Shine Through.

One of the categories that I found that I had a hard time not going crazy with, were those little wedding details like favors, and so on. While I was planning, every one who had been involved with a wedding told me that the longer the engagement, the more expensive and complicated things would become.

Since we had a relatively short engagement ( a little over four months) there wasn’t a whole lot of time for things to get out of control. There were a few things that we decided we wanted to do though.

Some receptions have wedding favors for all of the guests-others do not. I am not sure what the protocol is, or when the situation calls for it. A lot of the favors I have received at weddings were sweet, but when I got home, I wasn’t always sure what to do with them. A wineglass monogrammed with someone else’s initials is something I see often at Goodwill. The same goes for picture frames, throw blankets and stationery. We really wanted something that was going to be genuinely useful.


For a few years now, I have been the informal designer for custom lipbalms, sold by a company out of Fort Collins, Colorado. StampWorldOnline sells all sorts of customizable products (I’m pretty sure they sell everything), and their lipbalms are made by Sweets Cosmetics with all-natural ingredients.  I got to design the label, and pick the flavor. For anyone who doesn’t already design their labels, customers get to chose their flavor and have a label custom-tailored to their request. They range in cost from about $1.80 to $.90, depending on the volume of the order.

Picture of custom sunflower lipbalm While I’m no commercial photographer, you can see that the label is unique to us.

Getting a household ready to move (or just getting organized).

Whether you are a frequent mover like I am (college does that to a person), or getting ready to move after being dug in for awhile, there are a lot of the same challenges to address. The amount of stuff you have, how transportable that stuff really is, and how to get all that stuff ready to go can be a lot to conquer.

Take this approach one task at a time – most people freak themselves out, and are either too overwhelmed to get started, or bounce around too much to get anything really completed.

My approach to these issues is pretty straightforward. Like should go with like, and never rely on your memory. Also, label everything.

*** This is a storage-bin based approach. I tend to keep my bins around all the time, with the items inside. It keeps everything cleaner and of course, are easier to move around.

As you go through this process, you will always be bouncing around. Going through drawers of random items is going to cause that. Make sure that you can access all of the bins/boxes you’ve created for the entire process. Everything needs a home, and should go to a home- this requires patience and discipline, but it is totally worth it.

After nine moves in not quite seven years, I have learned a few things.

I only have a few supplies that I like to use:
– A really big Sharpie
– Broad-width masking tape
– Notebook paper & a pen
– Sturdy, medium-to-heavyweight Rubbermaid storage bins.
(The clear ones are nice to be able to see into, but I find that the plastic gets brittle and breaks more easily. The silvery ones seem to have the most rubbery and durable. Don’t go for the biggest sizes either. If a 4-year-old could nap inside of it, it’s too big. They are harder to fit into cars and closets at that size.)
These are my mainstay, they come in various colors, but silver/gray is the most common.

 For all of the various bins and boxes, you should do a few things.

Use masking tape strips to make a place to label what’s inside. You likely will re-use the bins at some point, and you don’t want to constantly be scribbling out what was there before. Write large, and label two sides. That way, no matter how things are stacked, you will be able to read what’s inside.

I like to tape over any holes, at least in the plastic bins, as I am scared that bugs will get inside and chose to live in my clothes. There  generally is at least one hole on either side, where the handles are. I think they are to make it easier to put on/remove the lid when the pressure changes.

Make a manifest. This has been the single most helpful thing I have learned to do. As I pack a bin, I write down every single item, in detail, on lined paper and tape that paper to the inside of the lid. If you are ever searching for one item in particular, you will know right away that you are on the correct track to find it. I cannot express enough how helpful this has been.

Try not to over-stuff the bins or boxes. They may seem like they can fit more, but if they start to bow out, the lids won’t fit right, and things won’t stack well. They tend to start caving in if the lid isn’t seated properly.

Start pre-moving a few weeks in advance. That way, if you need a break, you can take one in good conscious. When you are on a deadline and feel rushed, you are far more likely to just toss stuff in boxes, which will only perpetuate your problem. And you have more time to give items away to the proper places. (Books to a library book sale, clothes to Goodwill, furniture up on Craigslist, etc.)

I personally like to begin with out-of-season items. That way, I know I won’t need what I just packed.


Pull out all of the items you aren’t using and won’t use for a few months. Wash everything that needs it and mend any tears or button or whatever. You have time to make things right, so do it!

Any items that don’t fit, won’t fit or are missing a mate, either set aside to donate or trash. Mittens that haven’t found their mate in three years aren’t likely to this year either. Don’t trash things yet though – by sorting through your whole house over the next few weeks, who knows what will turn up. Just put the strays in a box in the corner, and the to-be donated items in another spot.

Fold and place each item in the bin, recording them as you go. That way you will be able to glance at your list and know that the first items listed are going to take some digging for.
Label the bin, and stack it somewhere accessible.


Move on to decorations, either event-related, holiday or stuff you have for your everyday home, but aren’t currently using.

Follow the same process as with the clothes. Pack carefully, as you are going to be stacking these. You can write “Fragile” on the bin, but they need to be able to not be babysat. You need to pack, stack and forget.

 Education related-

Next come old school papers, books, notebooks and supplies. These you will need to ask yourself some questions to get through.

Are you really ever going to look at that textbook again? And is the information available online? Anything you aren’t going to consult should go to the donate bin. A lot of schools collect old textbooks to recycle or send to a Third-World county.
Are the school supplies even usable? And will you use them in the next few years? If you babysit or have kids who will start coloring in a few years, keep the crayons- but not in the school bin. Set any craft items aside that you will use.
For old notebooks, if there are just a few pages you need stuff from, take pictures of those pages with a good camera, and keep them on a computer. Recycle the old pages and use the notebook. Or donate it.

Craft items-

This is where those crayons go. As well as half-finished projects, be they painting, sewing or learning to crochet. If you have lots of stuff for one particular type of craft, consider creating a bin just for paints, or yarn, etc. Just make sure everything is labeled accordingly.

 Books and magazines-

Move on to books and magazines next. If they are ones you love, and have sentimental value, they can go one of two places: the books bin, or the future kid stuff bin (which comes next).

If you have books you read once and won’t return to, donate them. If they were alright and you will read again, but will be easy to get from the library, donate those too.

Magazines are much harder to get copies of, so I am inclined to say keep those if you actually care. If they are around because you hate throwing away so many pounds of shiny, colorful paper, they can be donated to a school or recycling center. Anywhere that takes newspaper to recycle can also deal with magazines.

I like to pack a few of the silica packets that come in shoe boxes in with the paper items to protect them from moisture. Those things actually have a good use after all!

Again, label everything.

Sentimental items-

These are important. A lot of people tell you to toss old things, but I for one, loved going through my parent’s old stuff. Just make sure you don’t get out of control. If it mattered to you as a kid, keep it, but if you didn’t care then, it’s not worth the space.

This is where old toys, clothes, books, school projects or knick knacks go. If there are things you want to give or use with your kids, this is where they should live until that time. For example, my old crib mobile is in my sentimental box.


Nothing special here. Make a manifest, label, and toss in a bar of soap or a few dryer sheets to keep things smelling nice.

The categories you didn’t think of right away-

Now we are getting to the point where it’s time to create categories of things and bin them accordingly. Some of the categories are best served with the smaller, clear roughly shoebox-sized containers. They are about 3 for $2 at places like Big Lots, and Target/Wal-Mart often put them on sale for $1 each.

 Gift wrap and standby gifts-

This one doesn’t need a manifest, but labeling it is still important. I would find a flatter, clear container for this, as you don’t want items to get crushed or damaged when you dig around.

 Photos, frames and artwork-

Treat these similar to the gift wrap bin. I have all my stuff in an under-bed box- that way it all gets to lie flat, and I don’t have to worry about anything getting stacked on top of it.

Electronics related-

Use a manifest for this one, as you will go nuts looking for the extra ear-bud covers otherwise. Put all the cables you have, manuals, extra accessories, connectors and warranty information here. Include install CDs and game boxes as well.

Smaller everyday items-

These I tend to keep in containers year-round. They are small items that get lost easily and suck to dig through. I like the clear shoebox containers, baskets and those plastic carts with drawers in them. Sterilite makes them in lots of colors.

Create spaces for:

  • Nail polish and related tools
  • Stationary
  • First Aid
  • Office supplies (pens, markers, scissors, extra staples)
  • Hair accessories
  • Pet care items & toys

For household care goods, like hammers and Spackle and whatever else, designate a bin for it all, but keep it accessible. Especially when you are about to move, you will need these items, and it will be inconvenient to have to work to find them. But they should all end up in the same home. Items like those tend to get scattered far and wide easily.

 The everyday life stuff-

With all of these categories sorted though, you should be approaching the point where you have just the day-to-day living stuff around still.

For those items, methodically go through all of the clothes and pull out those you don’t wear.

Re-home dishes and appliances that are never used and just taking up space.

Repeat this process for whatever other major categories of things live in your house. Snowboard gear, outdoor stuff, sports equipment, etc., etc.

All dressed up.

One thing that I oddly wasn’t worried about being able to find something I could afford was a wedding dress. I know a few people who have managed to find things for really good prices. My future sister-in-law went the eBay route. Her dress cost $100, and she spent another ~$200 on tailoring.

A co-worker’s niece lucked out with a new dress. Apparently David’s Bridal has some pretty epic clearance sales. She got a new dress for $99. I had to see for myself.

I had a few ground rules I had set for myself. I’ve seen enough “Say Yes to the Dress” to know that things can get emotional quickly.

  • I went in with the attitude that I was going to be wearing this dress for under 2 hours, max. I tried to think of things in a “cost/hour” way.
  • No matter how pretty the dress, if it was out of my price range, I wasn’t going to try it on. I know people fall in love with dresses all the time, and I didn’t want to have the heartbreak of one costing more than I could afford.

Please come to my party- invitations that didn’t cost the farm.

It’s pretty impressive how expensive invitations can get. Especially when you consider that most all of them will be thrown away after the event.

Since I like to play in Photoshop, we decided that I would design ours. As a result, our invitations were a do-it-yourself  assembled project, with elements from items from lots of places.

First off, I ordered 4×6 pictures of the two of us to include in our invitations. gives new customers 50 free prints. I’m highly skeptical, and researched it, but it’s legit. All I had to pay as shipping.

You can also order from Walmart, either in the store or online. In my experience though, I don’t think that their prints look as crisp or high of a quality. Adoramapix is another site that has impressively high-quality prints. I was introduced to the site by our photographers and it lived up to my expectations. They are about $.22 for each 4×6.

I didn’t want our invitations to look like we scraped the bottom of the barrel, so we did more than just postcard invitations.

I have become a big user of coupons from Michael’s and Hobby Lobby. Both have 40% off coupons nearly every week. Michael’s has a phone app, and Hobby Lobby a decent mobile site, so you can use the coupon on the fly. Michael’s is where I bought that semi-transparent paper that seems to always make its way in to invitations. A pack of 20 sheets of 8 1/2 x 11 is about $6, so the coupon helps. Plus each of the sheets can be cut to 4 or so smaller sheets. I didn’t want the pictures rubbing up against the invitations, so the vellum paper was the perfect solution.

The envelopes I ordered from While the invitations that I ordered came with plain white envelopes, I wanted something with more pop. I ordered from seller JAM Paper. They have dozens of colors and lots of sizes, so there’s something there for everyone. I paid $5 for 25, and they only charged for shipping one item, despite their policy stating that there was no discount for multiple items. Shipping was just under $8.

My real accomplishment was the invitations themselves. I ordered from They allow you to design your own from scratch or use one of the existing templates. The normal prices are about what you would find from Shutterfly or, but they often have coupons.  I’ve seen invitations on sale for 60% off at least twice in the last yer. And I got free shipping as well, by doing a 30 day trial of Zazzle Black, which is basically like Amazon Prime. I spent $16.80 on 15 5×7  invitations.

Parties, parties, everywhere. Divorcing the wedding from the reception.

The single biggest thing we  changed about the traditional wedding schedule was throwing the typical reception out the window.

I have been to a few excellent weddings, where the reception was a hell of a party, but most of the time, things tend to get out of control. But that I mean that the reception gets overwhelmingly complicated, though I have been to one where I decided to leave before something happened that I didn’t want to be a part of.

Instead, we are broke our wedding extravaganza into three different events. By doing this, we kept things less complicated, and were able to spend time with all of the people we care about.

The first was our tiny, tiny ceremony. We had mostly just family there. Our thought was that some of them came from 2000 miles away to see us, so it’s only fair that we do our best to give them our time. The only thing big enough to dislodge some of our relatives is a wedding, so we really wanted to spend time with them. We had our ceremony, followed by a short brunch/lunch, then the rest of day the was free. As it is, there are a lot of moving parts to manage for the ceremony alone, so we were still in need of a nap that afternoon.

After we returned from our honeymoon, my parents hosted a dinner reception in my hometown of Grand Junction, Colorado. It’s was a lot easier for the two of us to travel to GJ, than it was for the 25-odd people we would have invited to attend a traditional reception in Denver.
Plus they got way more attention from us. I can’t think of a single wedding that I have attended, including ones I have been a part of, where I spent more than two minutes of the reception with the couple. We only have so much attention, and we wanted to give it to everyone we can, even if that meant we had to break our celebrations up.

We decided to hold the reception at a restaurant so that no one was in charge of setting up, cooking, tearing down or cleaning. We didn’t want to ask anyone to do so much for us. We were throwing the party for everyone to celebrate with us, not work for us.

Our grand finale was here in Denver, and was the event that we invited all of our friends to attend. Neither of us really want to have to draw a line on what people are close enough to invite, and which ones to exclude, so we chose to find away to make our budget stretch as far as we could.
We rented a large picnic shelter at Ruby Hill Park, in Denver. The standard picnic permit fee in Denver is $97. I reserved things a few months in advance, gave them my credit card and printed off the permit. We had more options of venues, since it we were in the warmer months, but most cities have some spaces that are available for rent for comparable prices that are indoors. Denver has several historic sites that are owned by the city that will even allow you to rent the kitchen. (Be prepared for a cleaning deposit if you do that though).

We had food catered (again, so no one is cooking) from one of the restaurants that we frequent. We knew their food is good, and they are not as likely to have strict catering policies and minimum orders and whatnot. That’s no always the case, but we found that by working with a family-owned restaurant, people were more accomodating.

Since we didn’t rent a large reception hall, DJ, dance floor, chairs or speakers, we had a lot more to spend on tasty food.

Where the magic happened.

Another thing that set our wedding apart, was the venue we chose for the ceremony. We got married in a meadow outside of Evergreen. The cost was totally free, since we had fewer than 50 people attending. If you plan on having more than, as long as the event isn’t held for profit, you can apply for a free event permit. The full list of rules and regulations for the area we are going to be [Jefferson County Colorado Open Spaces] are an easy web search away.

Most places have open spaces that can be used for such an event. The rates required vary significantly, and making your family stand in field or hike up a mountain isn’t for everyone, but it worked for us. We wanted to be married before God and family, and outside surrounded by family is about as close as we could get. There’s no roof to block the view or anything.

We chose to get married in the north meadow of Alderfer/Three Sisters park in Evergreen. This spot was particularly appealing, as it has abundant parking, is very flat, and is only a short walk to a beautiful backdrop to say our vows.  There is also a raised hard-packed berm that made it easy for a guest in a wheelchair to get out there. (Or stroller, etc.) Another couple was married there a few years ago, and I was able to find pictures of their wedding via Google. I found that Google Earth often has pictures of events that have been geotagged, so that is another good resource to figure out what things could look like.

Before settling on Alderfer, we looked into some of the more secluded parks and historical sites near Denver. A lot of the city government websites in Colorado maintain lists of places that might be suitable for a wedding, and prices/availability is easy to obtain, if people answer their phones! Just keep trying if they don’t-they can’t hide forever.

I would also advise finding a backup location to say the whole “I Do” thing. Colorado in particular is so unpredictable, so we have been asking around a local churches if we could reserve an hour or so in the morning. We are planning on a late-morning ceremony, so we don’t have that much competition.

A few images of our wedding site…
(Images courtesty of

There is also a neat old barn that makes for an excellent backdrop.