Archives for category: diy

We ordered our save-the-dates on Thursday!  In between writing my submission for round two of the USA Today Collegiate Correspondent Program application process and spending time with the boys, I worked on a save-the-date design, using one of our favorite photos from our engagement shoot earlier this summer.  We decided to order them from Vistaprint.  Mainly because Vistaprint was having a buy-100-postcards-for-free sale.  Except, I decided the word “free” meant that I should just ignore the website’s thousands of pre-designed options and do my own thing.  Which definitely wasn’t free, and sort of made the whole point of FREE a bit, well, moot.

Firstly, I’d like to note that we are only sending save-the-dates because:
A. Only two of Alan’s family members live in Pennsylvania.
B. Some of Alan’s family live as far away as California.
C. I wanted to design something.
D. They were free.  Sort of.  Not really.

Since I spent all day and a good part of the evening pouring my soul into working on the postcards that most people will probably throw away after realizing they don’t want to travel all the way to the middle of nowhere save for the rest of their lives after marking the date down on their calendars and circling it with a heart, I learned quite a bit about the entire process.

First of all, if you’re designing your own save-the-dates, you don’t need an expensive program suite like Adobe CS5 (not that I would complain if I owned a copy of CS5).  I used the free-to-download program GIMP (because my own expensive program crashed and I’m holding out until I can afford CS5), and I’m quite pleased with the way they turned out.

Second of all, when saving a file, there are huge differences between .jpg (best for photos), .gif (best for graphics) and .png (a combination of the two).  By the time I finished our save-the-date design, the .png file (I saved it as both a .jpg and a .png) was huge and Vistaprint was unable to upload it.  In the end, I opened and saved it in Paint as a .jpg, which compressed it enough to be considered usable by Vistaprint, but still retained the photographer’s quality and the crispness of my designs.

In all, with the sale and my uploaded designs for the front and back of the save-the-dates, I paid $21.43 for 100 postcards (and our guest list is just shy of 100).  That’s $.2143 a save-the-date!  Or, it would be, if there were such a denomination as $.2143.  I’m pretty proud of that fact, since the other designs I liked were $.99 a save-the-date.

Our save-the-dates are due to arrive on Aug. 25.  I have to admit I’m a bit nervous about how the back of the postcard will be rendered, as I noticed that it looked a bit off, but the photo on the front looks lovely and for the price I paid, I’m willing to take that chance.  If they arrive and we’re not satisfied with the quality, we have enough time to order them through another company (because there’s no way I’m mailing out save-the-dates that don’t do Jonathan’s photography justice).


Last Thursday, I packed a bento lunch for C to take with him to a day camp.  He took some ring bologna/summer sausage, a scrambled egg shaped like Mickey Mouse (with ketchup in the sauce bottle), grapes and Cheez-Its.  I explained my philosophy on food when the boys asked why I didn’t just buy something from the store – preparing a meal is one of my favorite ways to manifest love and care.  It only takes a few dollars and a trip to the grocery store (or a nearby convenience store) to buy a lunch, but it takes time to carve someone’s name out of slices of ring bologna when you’re using a chef knife (for future reference, use a paring knife).  I also like the satisfaction of knowing exactly what I’m serving (except for the ring bologna, and even though it’s been a staple of my Pennsylvania diet, I don’t want to know what’s in it).

For the same reason, I don’t like to use too many chemical-laden products.  We even mixed our own insect repellent to use at Ricketts Glen by mixing 16 ounces of witch hazel, 20 drops of citronella java essential oil, 20 drops of lemongrass essential oil and 20 drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle, which worked quite well and smells wonderful (and, it’s safe for pets!).  I’ve also heard that rose geranium essential oil is an effective tick repellent, so we may try that.

But, back to bento boxes.  The boys started TKD summer camp today, so I packed a bento box for each of them.  They each received some strawberries and yogurt-covered pretzels, though C has a star-shaped ham sandwich and scrambled egg, while T has mini burritos (I mixed salsa in with the meat after I cooked it to reduce the chance that the tortilla would become soggy by lunch time).

I have to admit, packing bentos for Alan is so much easier than packing for T or C, simply because the boys are still developing their tastes (which seem to change weekly).

Tomorrow, I think I’ll pack tamagoyaki and apples with a tuna salad pocket sandwich for T and a peanut butter and jelly pocket sandwich for C.

A few days ago, I attempted to make a t-shirt bag.  Having not used a sewing machine since sixth grade, I realized that I was sorely out of practice (the massive amounts of thread in the trash can and the slightly-bent sewing needle can attest to that).  Nevertheless, I ended up with a usable tote.  And the Phantom mask on the front (which glows in the dark!) is obviously an epic win.  I bought the shirt after the first time I saw The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway for the first time.  Unfortunately, the “small” was large even when I was in high school, and now I could probably tie it off as a minidress.

The only alteration I made to the finished project was to create a bottom in the bag by flipping it inside out and sewing along the sides at a right angle.