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).


On Sunday, I decided to make tacos for dinner.  Except, we didn’t have any tortillas.  Fortunately, Jess of The Tale of Two Kitchens has a flour tortilla recipe, and I decided to try it.  After all, it’s not like tortillas are a common staple here in Amish country, and I figured that Jess, being New Mexican, would have a good tortilla recipe (and Alan was on his way to pick up the boys, so I couldn’t ask him).

Mine turned out a bit puffier than Jess’, so they look a bit like naan (in which case, I’ll add some garlic and herbs next time!), but my dad has declared them “excellent” and I tried them with some of my mom’s taco soup.  If that’s not a perfect combination, I don’t know what is.  The saltiness of the tortilla really brings out the flavors in the soup.  It’s like MSG in a little dough circle.

Taco Soup

  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
  • 3/4 T. garlic powder*
  • 1/2 T. onion powder*
  • 3/4 T. cumin*
  • 1/4 T. paprika*
  • 1/2 T. oregano*
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 2 15 oz. cans whole kernel corn, undrained
  • 2 15 oz. cans ranch-style or chili beans, undrained
  • 2 14 1/2 oz. cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheddar cheese

In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, brown beef on medium heat; drain.  Stir in seasonings and vegetables; cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

*These ingredients were not included in the original recipe, but I usually add them (though the measurements listed are approximate, as I don’t measure when I cook) to meat when I make tacos.

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

+ On Friday, I submitted my an article to the final round of the application process for a journalism program.  I was really excited until I read over my submission and noticed three mistakes.  This is what happens when you work between three different word processing programs, copy and paste and then fail to review your work because you’re so stressed out about deadlines and the possibility that the time difference between New York and Pennsylvania is 15 minutes.  If I’m freaking out about an application process, I’d hate to see me when I’m actually working.

+ I really want to attend the Women of Purpose Conference in Hershey.  I’ve never been to a women’s conference before, and I’d like to go before Alan and I move to Texas.  Plus, Kari Jobe will be there.  She sings “Revelation Song,” one of my favorite songs.

+ Speaking of Texas, Alan and I perused house listings in the Belton area a few nights ago.  We’re still debating whether to live on- or off-post (as it would be cheaper and obviously closer to work for him), but one of the houses we really liked is within walking distance to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.  I had never even heard of this university before reading the house description, but not only does it offer undergrad courses in most of the subjects for which I am internationally certified to tutor (I’ve been toying with the idea of tutoring as a temporary side job), but it also has a graduate program in counseling/psychology (I’ve also been toying with the idea of earning my master’s degree in psychology)!  Plus, UMHB is a Christian university.  While we obviously need to pray for God’s wisdom and will in this situation, I’m torn between wanting to live near that campus (and possibly start earning my master’s) and wanting to live on base and save money.