Tuesday, March 31, 2009

30 Days and Counting…

Yep, I can’t believe it either.

What started out with the days passing SO SLOWLY…seriously slowly here, as each and every movement of my body HURT…and now the days just seem to fly by. It’s like I blinked and all of a sudden I’m at our 30 day mark. I was VERY excited to take our 30 days pictures and tally up our progress thus far.

But before I share with you how I did, I have to talk about the things that you can’t necessarily measure. I’m sleeping better, really soundly especially now that I’m no longer waking myself up when I roll over on sore muscles. I’m drinking more water now that I’m working out (which is SO good for me!) and I’m making better food choices. This is something that’s slightly unconscious on my part, but I’m enjoying this side benefit all the same. And lastly, I feel a little more graceful. I know, I know. There are some people out there (Mom CC) that might be rolling on the floor laughing right now, but I promise you that I feel tighter and more “fluid” in my movements. Which might not be “actual” grace, but a type of grace…but work with me here people!

Now for the fun stuff…

My grand totals to this point in our plan are as follows:

4 pounds lost
½” on my waist is lost

I don’t love you enough to post my Day 1 picture against my Day 30 picture – sorry ladies, that’s really for your benefit, maybe it should be that I love you TOO much to post those pics! I need you here, reading my blog, not running the other way! But I did some work in Photoshop after we took our pictures putting the before and after shots side by side, and I do have to admit to being both amazed and disappointed all at the same time.

Amazed at all of the smaller changes that I can notice, especially on my arms and back. Disappointed because I was expecting to see more results – especially around my tummy area. Oh well. Just gives me something specific to work towards in the next 30 days, right? And maybe I’ll be brave enough to post those 60 Day pictures at that point…

But I need your help with something this week…I’m travelling this week, on the road and away from my workout regime. I was a good girl and packed one set of weights and my resistance bands. I also brought along my workout notebook, where I track my reps and exercises and all…so I’m going to struggle and TRY to do my workouts this week. And being on the road means eating out three meals a day…so I’m going to also TRY to eat right. Keep me in your thoughts and drop me an encouraging line or two, if you have the time. Thanks!

How do you get through times like this? When you’re away from your program and your workout buddy?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Oops! Did I Do That?!?!?

Sorry, ladies, but I couldn’t resist that title when I thought about writing this post…images of Steve Erkel just came running to the forefront of my mind…

You see, I ALMOST made a mistake with my STD envelopes. Well, in actuality, I DID make a mistake, but since it’s correctable, it turns into an almost mistake…you like the way that my mind works? I thought it worked out nicely for me! Anyway, back to what I did. Or didn’t do.

When I first started thinking about what I wanted for our Save the Dates, I fell in LOVE with embossing. Being a scrapper (like I’ve mentioned previously) you would think that this is something that I would be familiar with. Turns out, I’ve never even thought about it before. But I love the finish that it can give to your paper goods. Love…love…love the wedding invitations and STD stationary that I’ve seen where brides have added a touch of embossing to their project and saw what a change that little step can make. I knew immediately that our wedding stationary would be embossed in some way.

I’ve also been very good at reading what they did right and wrong and trying to learn from their mistakes. So in that frame of mind, let me share with you what I think that I did WRONG…and how I found that I could correct it!

I wanted something embossed on my STD, but with the postcard ordered and the magnet small enough that my stamp of choice for our stationary set was too large to use, I was bummed thinking that I would not be embossing anything on our STDs. Then I came up with the idea to emboss the envelopes with the scroll that I wanted to use. Cool! Back in business.

I read all that I could, and bought my supplies. I already had some stamping stuff, for my scrapbooking, but not an embossing gun or any powders. I followed the advice of other bloggers and went with colored ink and clear embossing powder, and picked up the gun at Hobby Lobby for a cool $20.

I thought that a “test drive” was in order for my new toy, and proceeded to stamp some scrolls and stuff on some test paper…dumped the powder on…shook off the excess…turned on the gun. Low and behold, that stuff works! And it’s easy! Cool. Miss CC is ready to do some embossing.

But I also noticed that my stamp was bigger than my ink pad. Hmmm…when I bought the embossing tools, I seem to remember a large black ink pad…maybe I could get a new one of those…since my black ink pad is old…kind of drying out…yeah, I can talk myself into anything! Off to Hobby Lobby for the BIG ink pad and back home again.

I worry about running the envelopes through my printer after the embossing process, so I proceed to print out the return address and all mailing addresses onto the envelopes first. The envelopes were just cheap cream envelopes that I picked up at Office Depot for about $8, so they ran through my printer like a charm, and I loved the font that I chose to do all of the addresses in.

I take out my new toys again and get to stamping and layering on that embossing powder. But to my surprise when I shake off the excess, almost no powder stays on the envelope…hmmm…scratch my head. Chalk it up to me not being fast enough. Try another two or three envelopes…same result.

The first thing that I decide was that the envelopes were such a cheap quality that the ink was just drying too fast. They were thin, after all. And they weren’t specifically an invitation weight paper or anything. Could be….but since it worked on regular computer paper, I think not.

I decided to live with it. The envelopes looked fine as they were.

But then, the other day while “killing time” at Hobby Lobby, I notice my big mistake. Embossing apparently requires embossing ink. Guess what I bought? Archiving ink. Yep, that’s right. My big black SUPER stamp pad was the wrong. kind. of. ink.

Boy do I feel dumb…

Luckily for me, I remember from my previous research that another way to do embossing is to use clear embossing ink and colored powder. Hmmm…since I’ve already stamped the scrolls in black, I wonder if I can stamp over it in clear embossing ink and cover with clear powder and get close enough that you won’t be able to tell the difference. Since all embossing supplies were on sale this week for 50% off at Hobby Lobby, I gave it a whirl.

Did another “test drive” last night with the already stamped envelopes and clear ink and powder…works like a charm. So now I know what I’ll be doing this weekend…fixing the other 70 envelopes…oh well. Live and learn, right? At least it’s fixable.

See? You can't even tell that I did this in two steps...

And don’t get me wrong. There’s not a thing wrong with leaving my envelopes just stamped. They look great. But I think that they look BETTER with the stamp being embossed! Yeah, Type A personality…bridezilla…whatever you want to call it…it’s peeking its head out right about now!

Did anyone else run into a little snag during a DIY project that you were also able to fix? Better yet, did anyone else realize that there were like 5 types of ink on the stamping aisle at your local craft store? And that it mattered which one you used? I didn’t!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Adobe Photoshop...Love It? Or Hate It?

I really don’t know which camp I’d like to take residence in. I originally wanted the program because I was interested in doing digital scrapbooking. The frugal side of me was just overjoyed at the thought of being able to purchase digital paper that you could use over and over and over again. Do you realize how many solid pieces of paper a scrapper like me has in her book of papers? A LOT! I’m a BIG fan of matting pictures out…I tend to scrap with patterned papers for the background and matting the pictures on solids on top of that. Just a style that I personally like. I can’t tell you how many pieces of Bazzill black textured paper I have bought over the years since I started scrapping…

So this thought appealed to me…and I did some research into which program was the better one to get. Hands down, Adobe Photoshop won. But the part that I didn’t like was the big price tag that comes along with it…lucky for me, Mr. CC stepped up and got the program for me last Valentine’s Day (2008). Then I was a BAD fiancĂ© and didn’t actually try to use the program until this Valentine’s Day. Yep, you read that right – I let the program sit for about a year. You see, he got a great deal from a friend of his. The family owns or works in computers and has access to lots of programs, and this friend just downloaded the program onto Mr. CC’s home computer for him via the net. Then he put a folder on the desktop that would allow us to burn another copy of the program and install it on my own personal laptop too. Mr. CC’s friend was up front about the fact that doing it this way meant that I wouldn’t get the user’s manual.

Uh, who really cares about a silly user’s manual when this expensive program is mine for free? Not me…

Yeah, I actually had that thought. Silly me.

You see, I didn’t realize how complicated Photoshop would be to work with. It was overwhelming. At the time, Mr. CC and I didn’t live together and there were several nights when I would have little CC that we would not spend together. This was the perfect time in my mind for me to put Photoshop on my laptop and “teach” myself the program. No big deal.

Until I ran into a snag on getting the program to load. It downloaded just fine, but when you get to the part of registering the product, the number that our friend gave us didn’t work. Mr. CC tried for several weeks with no luck to call his friend back and get it straightened out. I think that we did make contact with said friend one time, but something was going on and he would call right back…so we waited…and waited…we’re still waiting.

So I guess you could say that I got a bad taste in my mouth right away with my new beloved program. What’s the fun of this if I have to sit at a desktop computer to do this? None in my mind. The fun of scrapping for me is doing it in front of the tv…involving others – since I scrap with several friends at given times…being mobile is part of the new era in computers. So now that I’m stuck upstairs at the desktop without even a tv to keep me company, this is no fun. Plus, splitting my time between travel for work, time alone with little CC, time with our whole family, and time alone with Mr. CC just didn’t leave me a lot of time to sit down and learn this.

Then I got engaged…and several wedding projects popped up in my head, and I became determined to conquer Photoshop. I mean, it’s just a program, right? I can’t be THAT hard…yeah. I know, silly me.

In a lot of ways, Photoshop is easy to use. On the same hand, in a lot of ways it’s really hard to use. Learning the ropes takes a little bit of patience and practice. And the manual REALLY would have come in handy, it turns out…because it’s a graphic design program, something that I know nothing about. There are a lot of little tips and tricks that you can do with this program, but you have to know that the tricks even exist and then how to do them…to say that it is a bit difficult for a newbie is an understatement.

But I have this wedding project for the centerpieces in my mind that would be SO easy if I could conquer this monster…so slowly but surely I’m learning. I’ve been able to find a lot of free tutorials by surfing the net, but that’s time consuming as well. And I can still only do it at our desktop which annoys me. I spend all day long on a computer at work, so there are days that I just DON’T want to be on the computer at night. And even though I’ve now decided that spending $80 for the newest version of the program is really NOT that expensive…I don’t have my personal laptop anymore and can’t load the program onto my work laptop…so I’ll just stick with the version that I have at the moment.

So, I slave away…upstairs in my “tower”…all alone. With the help of my webinars that are slowly teaching me the ins and outs of Adobe Photoshop. Luckily for me, I’m a quick learner and I’m really not afraid to just push buttons until I can get it to do what I want…I’m stubborn like that. LOL! Due to my progress, I’ve also been able to design our magnets for the STDs and come up with a monogram that Mr. CC and I love that we will use in our invitations. And the thought of doing my own invitations no longer gives me terrors or weak moments…

Adobe and me? We’re progressing. We might not be tight and close and all, but we’re on a first name, acquaintance-type of basis for the moment…

Which camp do you fall into? Or did you attempt something like this just to discover that it really was easier to “hire” out the design portion of your DIY projects to the many designers that are available on places like etsy.com? I’d really like to know…

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dreaming of Pocketfold Invitations...

Where do you get your inspiration from when you’re trying to make decisions?

Some people like to look at magazines…some look at books…some drive around looking for inspiration. I guess that it depends on what you’re trying to get inspiration on. If it’s wedding inspiration that you’re trying to find, then I seriously doubt driving around would help you all that much. Well, I guess that any given Saturday you could try to crash some weddings to pick up inspiration, but that seems like a LOT of work…

Me? I go to the web…surf the internet and “stalk” websites searching for inspiration on ideas that I’m looking for…one of my recent favorite searches has been for wedding invitations. Now that I can see the end in sight for my STDs, I am trying to start the focus on my wedding invitations.

You see…I have a confession to make…I’ve had SO much fun making my own STDs that I can’t imagine not trying to make our wedding invitations. Since one of my hobbies is scrapbooking, it just seems SO logical to me that I would be able to do this. In order to do that I needed a little inspiration for what exactly I was looking for in a wedding invitation. Because obviously, if I fell in love with something too complicated then I would have to hire at least a portion of the invitation out…

So I went to work searching…and searching…took a few weeks off to work on STDs…and went back to searching.

Yesterday I finally decided that my initial love of pocketfold invitations was something that was going to stick around, so I started looking into the cost of doing them myself…or buying them pre-made.

But before I set out to see if this was something that I could do or not…I decided that I needed to make sure that Mr. CC was going to love the pocketfold as much as I did. Probably not AS MUCH as me…but you know what I mean.

So I pulled some pictures off of the internet for him to look at, some different options that I liked. Actually, the first thing that I did was try to get him to give me “free reign” of this whole process…no such luck. I think that I messed myself up with the words “free reign.” He immediately got suspicious and wanted pictures since he had no clue what a pocketfold invitation looked like, and my descriptions didn’t really clear anything up for him.

To my pleasant surprise, Mr. CC liked the pocketfold concept too for our invitations, and even went so far as to pick out my favorite shape – the square invitation. Nice, Mr. CC – don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t have any taste!

So now that the biggest question has been settled on – back to my project of seeing if I could do these as cheaply as I could order them pre-made (which is NO fun at all!).

Cardsandpockets.com is a company that I found that will make JUST the pocketfolds for your invitations, so that you can DIY the rest. And the cost of fairly minimal – ranging anywhere from $.75 to $1.38 per pocketfold. A great deal, if I do say so myself…and they can be ordered in a wide range of colors, including shimmer/metallic papers. A nice alternative if you don’t want to do it yourself.

But what happens if you don’t happen to like the sizes that they offer? Can a handy DIY gal do it herself for the same price?

I set out this morning to figure out the answer to that question. I made a “trial” pocketfold (including all the mattes and invitation paper too) just to see it all together. Perfect – JUST what I had in mind…

Now for the cost…I can order the larger, heavier paper from here and get enough for all of my invitations for less than $40 (including shipping). Sold! That’s only $.40 per pocketfold…a thrifty gal like me with a paper cutter and scissors and tape can totally make these! Even factoring in cutting charges and tape, the total cost of my pocketfolds should be less than $60, which makes 100 of these come out to $.60 a piece.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. I can’t WAIT to get started on these…and my BMs are chomping at the bit to start helping me with things – this is the perfect project for that!

Have you found a project that would be easy to purchase already done, but just can’t justify the cost when you actually figure out the savings that you could have if you do the project yourself?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Attaching Your "Flowers"

When first reading about this project, I got it in my head that Styrofoam would be a better medium for the ball than a paper lantern. I don’t know what I was thinking. Not only is it heavier and harder to work with, but Styrofoam balls are also expensive!

So I stuck to what the girls that had already done this project told me to do and went with paper lanterns.

I ordered my paper lanterns from paperlanternstore.com in the sizes of 10”, 12” and 16”. I was actually going for either 10”, 12” and 14” or 12”, 14” and 16” but the 14” paper lanterns were always sold out. I ordered in either white or off white, depending on what was in stock. And keep in mind that each paper flower stands about 2-2 ½” off of the paper lantern, so a 10” lantern becomes a 14” pomander. Even in varying sizes, the total order (with shipping) came to less than $20.

I would make a good pile of flowers before I did this stage of things. I actually kept a box of flowers in our living room. I would “fluff” flowers while we watched television at night and then throw them all into the box to wait until I had enough done to finish a pomander at once.

So, I already owned a hot glue gun. I used a mini glue gun, but size doesn’t really matter, whichever you’d prefer. Heat up the hot glue gun and open up your paper lanterns. They ship to you flat and you have to assemble them. This is easy and hard all at the same. Well, that’s not true. It’s not hard at all. I was just worried about sticking that metal bar through the fragile paper and ruining things…

Obsessive much, I know.

Anyway. Once your paper lantern is constructed, I would recommend starting at the bottom of the lantern. I did this backwards on the first one, and the poor flowers at the top got all smushed by the time that I finished because I kept sticking my arm into the lantern and smashing them. For me, it was easiest for me to get my hand inside the lantern at the top…if it’s easier for you to go through the bottom, then start at the top. Just start at the opposite end of where you plan on getting inside the lantern from. You’ll just want to make sure that the bottom of the lantern (since this is the part that when hanging you can look up and see) looks the best and is really full. (you can barely even see the opening, huh?)

Take a paper flower and fluff any smushing that may have happened while in the box.

Find the middle of the flower and stick your finger into it.
Keeping that finger in the middle, fold the fuzzy wire down flat.
Add a good dollop of hot glue around the head of the wire.
Allow the glue to cool for a minute before attempting the next step or else you WILL burn your fingers. Please, learn from my mistakes!

Once ready, position the paper flower on the “top” of the lantern and ease your hand other hand inside the lantern to apply pressure from both sides. See, why you have to cool the glue off? Now you are pushing from the center of the flower on the top and the center of the hot glue dot on the back. It will still be warm. Trust me. Just be careful and take your time. When the glue cooled a little and becomes just warm instead of hot, the flower is probably pretty firm. You can test gently.

Repeat the process for all of your flowers. When placing the next flower, I recommend getting them nice and close in together. This helps them look more real, and “fluffs” them even more. (The “mums” cover more ground than the “roses” seem to, which was also another reason that I went with them for my flower.)

Here’s a shot of a nearly finished lantern…just to keep you encouraged on your progress…
Also, you’ll notice that I alternated white and cream flowers. My artistic little sister and I thought that blending the two colors might make it more “real.” I have to admit that she was right. The first pomander that I did I alternated one to one. But it was too much white. Not enough to re-do the whole thing or anything, but just not quite right. So all of the other ones I have just put a white one in every once in a while. No real pattern or anything.

I will attach these to the underside of the roof of the arbor at our ceremony site with some black satin ribbon that I can find at any craft store.
So what do you think? Do you think that they look as classy and neat as I do? I LOVE them! And they have been worth the work. And since I can watch Platinum Weddings, Rich Bride/Poor Bride, My Fair Wedding and various other wedding shows while doing all of these activities; I have to ask the question…is it really work? I think not.

Did you have a project that when you started it you really weren’t sure how it was going to turn out, and then as it progressed you just fell in love with it?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Promised Instructions on Tissue Paper Flowers

Ok – this post is also coming a little bit after the fact. Not that I’m already finished with this project, but I’m over the halfway point! Yea me!

No seriously, YEA ME! My parents think that all that I do is make tissue paper flowers because of this project, but it’s been SO worth every minute of hard work that I’ve put into it. The good thing? I started early. In reading other posts about this DIY project, I knew that I would need time to complete it all. So, since I finished the fourth pomander last weekend, here’s the tutorial.

First of all, a finished product snapshot so that you know what you’re working towards. Our venue has a fantastic arbor located at the ceremony site which will need just a little bit of dressing up for our wedding. For the most part, we don’t want to do a lot of extravagant decorating of the ceremony site –think soft, simple, rustic elegance. On a budget. Which for me, these tissue paper pomanders are just a lifesaver for my budget! Talk about bang for your buck! (On this one I tried to take it further away - more like the actual angle that it would be viewed from...)

So the process is actually not that difficult. You can buy tissue paper that measures 20”x30” and it works best. You can do any color that you want to use, but I read several posts during my research on this project that all stated that the lighter, softer colors seem to look more real. Since I wanted to construct 6-8 of these pomanders, I knew that I was going to be making LOTS of tissue paper flowers, and I went to papermart.com and purchased some tissue paper in bulk. I would highly recommend this if you’re making more than two or three of these. (Each ball can take up to 150-200 flowers depending on the size that you’re making.) And while I may not need all 400+ sheets of tissue paper that come in their standard pack of paper, the $25ish price was better than $2 a pack at Target or elsewhere and only buying just as many as I would actually need…

The rest of the supplies needed I found at Wal-Mart, but any crafting store will work. I purchased a package of the fuzzy wires (you used them as kids all the time to make things) in white so that they didn’t show. You also need some scissors. Since I had a good pair of crafting scissors that were nice and sharp, I didn’t buy any new ones.

OK, so we’re ready.

Take your sheets of tissue paper (I usually was able to cut 4 or 5 pieces at a time, but be careful because they tend to slip and slide.) and cut them into smaller rectangles that measure 10”x5”. This is easiest by laying the paper down longways and measuring off 5” increments and then cutting those new strips of 5”x20” in half. I marked the paper off along the bottom and top and right along the middle of the paper and just eye-balled the cutting between the ticks.

I then folded the paper over on itself to get the length cut.

Some paper has a shiny side and a flat side. I’m probably totally showing my Type A personality here, but stack them all up the same way. (This is mainly for any paper that has an iridescent sheen to it)

When you’ve got a good sized pile of paper, you can take a break from measuring and start to assemble flowers.

Take 4 sheets of the smaller tissues and stack them together.

Fold them with the short side down, in an accordion fold. Just back and froth all the way down to the end, making each accordian about 1/4" in size.
When you’re done, you can take a fuzzy wire (I did pre-cut mine into quarters) and tie off the paper fold. Just place the wire across the top of the fold and fold in half down the paper.
Twist it at the bottom to close it.
I chose to make my flowers a little more special by cutting the ends into a rounded point, which you probably noticed in the pictures. You don’t have to do this step, as it is hard on the fingers that use the scissors. I just preferred this look on my finished flowers. But you can make one of each and decide for yourself which look you’re going for. Not cutting them makes more of a “rose” look, and cutting them made them look more like “mums”

I would fold all the paper that I had cut before I made any of the actual flowers. Doing things in stages like I did isn’t necessary, but it was easier for me to focus on one aspect at a time, and I felt like I made more progress this way.

When you have a stack ready, it’s time to “fluff” the flower. Simply pull the accordion fold apart a little bit so that the paper handles a little easier.
Taking one layer of paper at a time, pull the paper up and away from the other papers. You have to be careful to pull hard enough, but not so hard that you rip the tissue paper. It’s not as fragile as you think that it is, but it will tear. So just practice with this step and don't be scared to ruin a few the first go-round. On the last layer it’s more like you’re pulling the other layers down, but you get the idea.
Repeat for all four layers. Keep in mind that the better you pull the first two layers, the more the second two layers will be able to “fluff.”
Repeat on the other side.
(A side view - so that you can see how tall it will stand up)

Viola! You have made a paper flower. Cool, huh? Next, I’ll teach you how to attach them together and make a pomander out of the pile of flowers that you’ve gathered…

Workout Update - Week #3

Yep, it's Tuesday...which means that you get two posts from me today! One regular post, and one to update you on my workout status.

This last week was hard. The workouts are getting easier (or I'm getting accustomed to pain, I don't know which!) but this week I overdid it a little bit one night. As a result, I've been dealing with a really touchy left knee. I'm not even sure what I did or when I did it, but last Thursday morning when I went to work my knee was all swollen and I had to keep ice on it all day long.

Because of that, I actually had TWO days off this past week! Yea me and poor me all at the same time...why poor me you ask? Because that meant that first workout back was THAT much harder! But I used a knee brace and worked through it. I did what I could and didn't worry about the rest.

So, enough chit-chat, this is supposed to be short and sweet...

At the end of Week #3, I have lost another pound and 1/2" off of my waist line. VERY COOL!

Next week, Mr. CC and I will have completed our first month. That means that we take a 30 day picture to compare against our Day 1 pictures, and we total up our progress for the month. Although I might love you enough NOT to share those pictures, you can count on me tallying up my progress for the first month!

Thank you for all of your help and support - keep it coming! It really helps motivate me to continue on the painful path of working out! Talk to you later...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Save the Date Magnets...

I gave you the sneak peek at my Save the Date magnets the other day, so I figured that I could share a little DIY Instructions for those that might be interested. These were SUPER easy to make and they turned out REALLY well!

The first thing that I did was come up with the concept. I knew that I wanted to do either a card or postcard and since I was still working that part of the STD up, I moved on to the magnets. I knew that I wanted to incorporate a magnet into the STD somehow, but didn’t want the whole thing to be a magnet. I came up with the idea of just attaching the magent to the STD via glue strips (like the ones that you see gift cards attached to the little envelope with).

So the first thing that I did was the mock design in Photoshop. Since I knew that I didn’t want the whole thing to be a magnet, I set the size for my new file around 2x3 inches (the size of a standard business card). Then I played around with fonts until I came up with the one that I loved:
Ignore the typo on October – I fixed that before the final draft, but can’t find it at the moment…

Once I had that done and was satisfied with it (minus the typo!) I saved it as a pdf file and imported it into Word. From Word, I was able to copy the image onto a standard size of paper 8 times. This was important to me, and I had to play around with the margins a bit to make them all fit, but I wanted to get the most out of the paper that I was purchasing.

Since the design was fairly simplistic on the magnet, I wanted a little punch on the paper! I don’t think that I’m a paper “snob” but I did want to see it in person and touch and feel it before buying it…so I went to my favorite local scrapbooking store, Memory Depot. I had looked online at some paper sources, but really needed to see it…

I found just what I was looking for there. A nice, plain cream paper that was pearlized, so that there was some gleam to it in just the right light. I spoke with the salesperson about printing onto the paper and she said that it shouldn’t be a problem. Just in case, I only bought one sheet as a trial, knowing that if it worked she had plenty more. While there, I also picked up some textured Bazzill black cardstock (my favorite cardstock) to use as a mounting for the design.

I tested my sheet of paper back at home and it printed beautifully. One more trip back to Memory Depot and I had the paper that I needed to complete the project for a mere $13! Score!

I found the magnets that I needed for the project here at a very reasonable price, and they came in the mail within three days. Once I had all of the materials needed, the rest was pretty simple.

I printed out the pages of images on the pearly paper and then used a straight edge blade cutter (I own this one from Creative Memories) to cut the individual images out, and then used my Personal Trimmer (also from Creative Memories) to do the more detailed size cropping on the images. Once I had the first one sized down, the rest were all easy to follow the same final size cuts. After that, I took my large blade cutter again and cut the cardstock into strips the width that I wanted to frame out the STD image in. once again, once I figured out the first one, the rest cut smoothly. From there, I used my PT again to make the smaller cuts and followed the sizing of the first one on that also.

I used Creative Memories double-sided scrapbooking tape to attach the STD image to the cardstock, being sure to put some tape on all four corners. Once I finished those, I was ready to attach the magnets.

I had purchased business card sized magnets that already came with adhesive on one side, to make the whole process smoother. The only surprise that I got was when I went to attach the first magnet and realized that I had never compared the size of the full STD (with the mounting on it) to the size of the magnet. There was a little more magnet than STD, but it was no problem for my personal trimmer (that sounds SO funny to say!) to take a ¼” off of the magnets. I didn’t have to actually take off that much, but I wanted to be sure that the cardstock hung over each side of the magnet. Then it was just a matter of peeling off the paper covering the adhesive and centering the STD on the magnet. Press hard, and viola – you have a magnet STD! Little CC even got in on the action and she became my official paper peeler for the magnets. She went a little faster that I could center and press, but we found a rhythm that worked for us…a nice little mother/daughter project.

Here’s a breakdown:

Paper (from Memory Depot) – $13.29

Magnets (from ) – $20.95

Glue Strips (from Michael’s) - $5.40 (I haven’t used these yet)

Total cost - $39.64 for 80 magnets - they come out to $.495/a piece – a VERY good deal!
The tape and cutters I already owned, so there was no extra expense for me on that one…
A cheap and really cute project! I apologize for the lack of step-by-step pictures, but since it was pretty self-explanatory, I didn’t think to take them. As soon as the STD postcards get here, I’ll show them off and show the final product with the magnets attached!

Did anyone else have a DIY project that ran smooth with no major bumps in the road? This was is hopefully the first of many for me… J

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Miss Cotton Candy Needs to Vent...About My Ex

Allright, what’s the point of having a blog if you can’t just vent every once in a while? Right? Right.

Proceed with caution…not to anyone in particular, but I’m just really upset…disappointed…angry…I’m not really sure what I feel right now. Is all of the above ok?

You see it started out so innocently. For the last few years little CC has mentioned wanting to do a sport. But she didn’t know which sport that she wanted to do. We’ve done gymnastics and cheerleading, but unfortunately she is “blessed” with the natural grace and agility that both her mother and her grandmother possess…what a LUCKY girl. Did I mention prone to accidents too? Oh well. Moving on. So about 6 months ago, she got on this kick to join what she calls “soccerball.” Unfortunately at the time, it was mid-season so she had to wait until I could get her registered and on a team.

So last month, I sent in her registration to the local YMCA, and last week received an email from the YMCA’s organizer. He emailed the parents the team roster and let us know that at this time, there was no coach for this team. If any parents were interested in volunteering to coach, he would gladly help them through the process and there was a little seminar that the Y offered to help you be a coach and all. Like a dutiful ex-spouse, I forwarded the email on to my ex. (I mentioned earlier that little CC got her lack of grace from me, right? So I obviously can’t be the coach…)

I don’t know why, but I really expected my ex to step up here. He’s been hounding me and hounding me about this soccer deal. He was upset that I didn’t register her with the league out of Austin in the first place. In my defense, the price was triple what the YMCA wanted and since we don’t even know that she’s going to like “soccerball” I figured it wasn’t worth the price this first year. So he bugs me to get her signed up for soccer and then when he has the opportunity to be more involved with his child and something that SHE wants to do…he totally drops the ball. He says that he doesn’t have time. Well, that was his initial response. Then, when he found out that he (as the coach) would get to set the practice days and times, said he would think about it and contact the organizer about being the coach.

A week passes…the parents receive another email stating that we STILL don’t have a coach and our first game is Saturday, March 28th…

I forward the email on to my ex AGAIN, with a note this time asking him if he intended to do this or not. You see, what happened is when I went home the week before and told Mr. CC about little CC’s team not having a coach, he literally jumped out of his chair and said “I’ll do it!” I’m not kidding. Leapt out of the chair with excitement and enthusiasm for this opportunity.

To be fair, and to support Mr. CC in this endeavor, I did “clear it” with my ex. No, I didn’t ask for his permission, but I let him know that Mr. CC was willing to do it, and wanted to do it, just so that my ex couldn’t come back later and make a stink about it. I was honestly afraid that when my ex found out about Mr. CC’s interest in coaching, that he would then “all of a sudden” be interested and available to do it. His exact words over text to me concerning coaching were “I don’t know if I can. I know we want her in soccer but taking on a coaching job wasn’t really in my mind.” So I was afraid that once he found out that Mr. CC was willing to do the job, my ex would suddenly find the time. And that’s the wrong reason to coach her team.

I don’t really know if I’m shocked or not that he said for Mr. CC to go ahead and do it.

Typical, to be perfectly honest. He’s never followed through on most other things in life, so why start now? Take the glory, if there’s any to be had, and let someone else do the hard work. Then look back later and not be sure why everyone doesn’t like you…yeah, pretty typical.

So I started out being upset over this whole thing. But you know what I realized? I realized how lucky I am. How truly blessed I am to have Mr. CC in my life.

I love this man. With all of my heart. I love that he loves my child this much. That he is willing to be in whatever awkward situation that my ex will make of this…he knows how my ex is, and still offers to do this for little CC. I can’t say enough. I literally have tears in my eyes writing this post…I just never thought that I would be this lucky. I say a prayer of thanks as I finish up this post…

My special angel was really watching over me when she sent Mr. CC my way!

Friday, March 20, 2009

An "Easy" Wedding Decision...our Photographer

I had written a previous post about how I "auditioned" and booked our wedding photogrpaher already here. But I realized that I never posted any of her amazing work in the post. And I didn't give her a typical review...

So please give me some leniency and allow me to do so at this time...you're here...you're reading...might as well have some "eye candy" to look at!

Enter on the scene: Christina Carroll of Christina Carroll Photography. I found her on a vendor search on theknot.com and visited her website (she keeps a blog too!) to view her pictures. I fell in love with her work. (All photo credits obvisouly need to go to Christina Carroll Photography.)

I mean who wouldn’t love pictures like this?

Or this?
And what about this one?
And OK - I have to put one more...becuase I LOVE the way that she seemed to capture this bride's mood in a picture...
For our personal shoot, I have to admit that Christina was such a JOY to work with! AND she was endlessly helpful in getting me ready for the shoot - bonus points. Not only did she email with some suggestions for props, but she had locations in mind (in case I didn’t) and was willing to travel to two or three locations with little CC and yours truly to capture all that we wanted to do. She even checked in with me a few days before the shoot was scheduled to happen to make sure of what I was thinking about wearing, and had suggestions ready for me to make the most of the shoot.

The day of the shoot, she arrived on time, and was ready to work. She spent a few minutes getting to know little CC (as kids can be tempermental at best to photograph!) and then she set to work. She has an easy style – managing to direct you without telling you exactly how to do it, and she sort of blended into the background most of the afternoon while little CC and I played. I followed her suggestions and had a bag full of props for us to use for the pictures and we did three wardrobe changes. For some shots, Christina directed the whole thing, and others she listened to what I was thinking of doing and managed to capture the shot that I had dreamt up in my head, which was such a testament to her fabulous talent.

Check out some of my favorites from that day:
I knew right then, that I had found our wedding photographer. And I was thrilled with the way that I had chosen to research her further. I got a great Christmas gift for my parents and a wedding photographer “audition” all in one!

Were any of the vendors that you chose for your wedding this easy to decide on? Did anyone else do a “trial run” with your photographer?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wait a Minute Mr. Postman...

I’m SO excited, and I have to share!

I’m almost done collecting addresses for the wedding!

Yea, me!

For those of you who have been around this merry-go-round before, you KNOW how truly time-consuming and aggravating this entire process can be…but I have to say that because of some well-organized family members and VERY cooperative friends, this has been a lot simpler that I had feared.

You see, I started the wedding database file in Excel on my computer LONG before I was actually engaged. It was one of those things that I thought that I could get a “head start” on so to speak without having the official ring on my finger. I mean, I didn’t have to tell anyone exactly why I needed their address, just little innocent me, asking for an updated address….whistle…whistle…looking inconspicuous…

Ok, maybe not so much. But still. When I first started this process it was because I realized that in my search for our venue, we needed to know about how many people we were expecting to have at the shindig. But I guess-timated as this could be a rough number. But then when I got serious about it, I really needed a more “solid” number.

Then I started trying to project costs and work on our wedding budget…and I needed REALLY solid numbers…I learned that there was a big difference in catering costs and rental costs between 100 people and 150 people. So it would matter if we included everyone or limited the budget a little bit.

In the end, we were able to find a caterer that worked within our budget without causing us too much strain (hopefully!) and we are not going to have to limit the guest list too terrible much. So once the guest list got opened up, I made sure to color code it so that I could take a glance and easily see whose address I was still missing. When I started this project, there was of course more yellow (missing addresses) than white lines…now I’m down to only 12 or 13 yellow lines!

I have to send a BIG shout out to FMIL on this one. She is SO organized! She had a database already created for her side of the family that they use and update regularly…and she was in the process of making one for FFIL side of the family, so within about a month of me mentioning that I would need addresses eventually she had two databases turned in to me. And in there was more information than I could ever ask for – names, addresses, phone numbers (including cell phones), kids’ names, birthdays and email addresses. Yep, I was excited to get those…and to see my name and little CC’s name already included on the database along with our birthdays…what a nice surprise!

Then with my mom’s help and friends responding to emails right away, I’ve been able to knock most of those addresses out this week. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And of course, a BIG thank you to Mr. CC for getting on the phone/text with his buddies and getting their addresses for me! You rock, honey!

Now that I have all of this gathered, and can hopefully nab the remaining few addresses before the weekend, I should be able to finish printing the STD envelopes…not that I’ve ordered the post cards that go IN the envelopes yet…but they’ll be ready to mail once I get them in! LOL.

What's that? You want a sneak peak at the STDs??? Is that what I heard? Oh, allright, but keep it to yourself....
That's a picture of the front of the STD magnet that will be attached to the back of the postcard, and I promise to have a step-by-step instruction post within the next few days.

Is it odd that I had the magnets made and the envelopes printed before I ever ordered the postcards? Who else out there does things in reverse order? Come on, I can’t be the only one…

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Just a Lazy Day...

Haha! I've got you hooked!

I just got an email from a friend of mine (MOH) to check to make sure that I was okay today since there was no post...that's when you know that you've got someone reading your blog each and every day. (Or at least checking in on it once every few days!)

It's so good to know that I'm missed. You can't imagine how special that makes me feel.

So, to let anyone else know that might be worried (the other 5 people that actually read this blog!) there's nothing wrong. I had a report due to my boss that was muy importante to turn in today...so I was actually doing work! I know, I know...some of you (Mr. CC) are going to be shocked by that statement! Just kidding.

And it's kind of a lazy day for me. I was working on a post regarding the tissue paper pomanders, but keep forgetting to send the pics from my home computer to work...I'll be more on the ball tomorrow - I promise.

Catch you tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The End of Week #2...

Well, it’s Tuesday, so you might know what that means if you’ve been paying attention. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, don’t fret, I’m gonna tell you anyway!

Since today is Tuesday that means that yesterday was Monday, which equals to weigh in day at the Cotton Candy household.

Yep, that’s right guys and gals, we’ve finished week numero 2…

And my mantra is no longer “it’ll be ok” or “I’m gonna make it” or anything of the sort. Yep, you read that right, I feel good. I’m still sore, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve either gotten used to a certain amount of pain and accepted it as a part of my daily life, or my muscles are adjusting to the trauma that I’ve put them through in the last two weeks.

So enough chit chat. You’re not here for that…you want to know how I did, right?

(I’m proud of myself, I have to admit.)

I’m down two more pounds and I’ve lost ¼” off of my waist.

But more than those WONDERFUL numbers, I feel better. I feel tighter, Mr. CC and I both decided it’s not that we feel buff or anything – we’ve still got a LONG way to go – but we feel “less jiggly.” It makes sense to us…but that may just be further proof that we’re perfect for each other!

So there you have it – a little bonus post on accountability day. Have a great day!

The Elusive Eggplant...Tablecloths

So this post is coming to you a bit belated….the truth of the matter is that I had to figure out what I was going to do and THEN I could write about what happened. And although I still don’t know “exactly” what the plan is, I have a good idea in my head…which is the best that I can do at this point.

Ok – a few weeks back, I wrote this post regarding the quest for eggplant colored tablecloths. And at that time, my MOH came through with flying colors on finding a vendor that could supply these linens to us and NOT charge an arm and a leg for them. All of that changed a few Saturdays ago…

It all started out so innocently. We don’t have the kiddos this particular weekend, so early on Saturday morning we’re up and at ‘em…making our way down I-35 to get to San Antonio. I know that it might seem a little paranoid for me to check these personally, but in my defense MOH had not seen the color in person either; and we both were going to feel better knowing that the shade of purple that they were calling eggplant was the same shade of purple that I was calling eggplant. Most people are aware that color hues range from darks to lights within each color family and Mr. CC had only to see one really bright example of what I’d call “burple” to convert to my way of thinking on this one. And since I sold him on the idea of eggplant, he’s kind of taken with it all.

The store was busy when we went in, but we killed the time checking out their table set-ups and looking at different tableware, glassware and silverware options. Because if we’re going to go to all the trouble to rent the linens from this place in San Antonio, we’re just going to get it all from there, you know? Having made our selections, a salesman came over to ask if he could help us. I explain that my MOH had called earlier about seeing the example of eggplant tablecloths that they had and he led me into a room off of the main showroom. Once there, he showed me a very pretty tablecloth. That was not eggplant. It was a nice shade of purple, with embroidery and sequins or other such sparkly things, but not eggplant. Not the tablecloth that I came there to see. Hmmm…

I politely inquired about solid colored linens. To which he directed me to the napkin table where they had all colors of solid linens displayed with just the napkin from the matching set. Yes, thank you sir. I saw that display earlier, and though there are several nice shades of purple on there, there’s not an eggplant. Nothing darker than the dreaded burple color….now we’re starting to get worried. When I told him that we had been told on the phone that there was a new linen (not even in the computer yet) that was a deep, dark purple, almost a black, he politely (not really) told me that what I could see before me was what they had.

Hmmm…how disappointing. We thanked him and left rather quickly.

How disappointing. We were both bummed for the afternoon. I could tell that Mr. CC was just as upset as I was…probably not. Oh well. We still had some options of buying the tablecloths from the place online that I had found them…and I was certain that putting a post on weddingbee.com would help me find a good solution too.

Luckily for me, when MOH and I put our heads together on this, we both thought that before giving up all hope that it would be best if we called the initial lady back one more time to verify what the gentleman told me on Saturday. I told MOH that I would handle her this time, and called Adrianna right away. Adrianne was most helpful, and she assured me that there was another newer shade of purple that she would call eggplant. (somehow I just trust a girl’s sense of color over a guy’s…) And in fact, the color is so new that she didn’t even have a sample to show me at her main location.

I’m supposed to call her within the next day or so and see if she has an estimated arrival date on these new linens…so I sit patiently to hear the final verdict. Now with everything that’s gone on recently trying to track these down, I want to see them in person before I call the search off.

So keep your fingers crossed for me! I’ll let you know what I hear from Adrianna…I know that you can’t wait...

Has anyone else out there had trouble tracking down that specific item that you just KNOW will make the wedding perfect? I'm trying not to lose hope here...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Would you rather...?

Good morning to you, Good morning to you…

Yeah, I know. For those of you who aren’t morning people you’re probably hating my guts right about now. That’s ok. I’m not really a morning person either. Well, not this morning. I’m tired this morning, just didn’t sleep well, I guess. So you know what they say…if you can’t make it – FAKE it…so all that good morning cheeriness is just fake.

Does that make you feel better?

It should.

But probably doesn’t.

Oh well. It’s another week at work, and it’s a hard week for me. You know why? It’s SPRING BREAK! You know, right after college ended and this full-time working girl made it around to March, it was really sad to be gainfully employed. I still lived in the town where I went to college, and there was a notable difference in the air as Spring Break loomed closer. I think that I even took a few days off that first year – to transition myself. LOL!

Anyway, that’s just one of the many things that I miss about not being an adult. I mean, when you’re in college you think that you’re an adult because you live all on your own, you’re responsible for your choices and stuff, and you might be of legal age to consume alcoholic beverages. But that’s not what makes you an adult in my eyes. Being an adult is more about responsibility…not being able to “skip” work (which I was the QUEEN of skipping classes in college – oh the good ol’ days…) and doing what you don’t really want to do because you have to. It’s not always fun. Sure, there are perks along the way, but are they really worth it?

I’m not sure. You see, this weekend we played a game with the kiddos. It’s called “Would you rather…?” The way the game works is that everyone takes turns asking questions about what you would rather do between two choices. The choices can be silly, or in my daughter’s case not even remotely intelligent, or they can be on a more serious tone. And this was one of the questions that Mr. CC asked – “Would you rather be a kid or an adult?”

My answer was fast and bold. A kid. Hands down. No questions asked.

Mr. CC gave the same answer.

The kids I think had to think on it a little bit more. Our son probably gave the same answer, as he’s 11 and an astute 11 year-old boy and he knows that it’s not always fun and games to be the adult. My 6 year-old daughter on the other hand probably answered an adult. Then again, she also chose being pretty over being smart…so maybe her answer should be nullified.

So, here in Austin, it’s the first day of Spring Break. And there are at least ten other places that I can think of that I’d rather be than here at work, being the adult. In bed fast asleep tops the list. Followed closely either by warm, sunny beaches or fresh powder on the slopes. It’s a toss up between those two, but the bed beats both of them!

Where would you like to be on this Spring Break? Right where you are, or somewhere else? And what would your answer be – kid or adult?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dresses for the Maids...Part II

Now for part II of the Maids dresses…

Yeah, there’s more. You didn’t think that I’d stop there, did you?

To be fair, I also went online to trusty Alfred Angelo to take a sneak peek at their bridesmaids dresses. They have a great selection, and the prices are about what I would expect at a bridal store. And as a bonus, my bridal lady gave me coupons for my maids to use if they purchase their dresses at Alfred Angelo. To be perfectly honest, I can’t remember how much of a discount it is…it’s either $20 or 20%...about the same either way, since most of what I liked fell into the two flower or three flower price range.

For those of you who haven’t ever looked at prices for dresses online – Alfred Angelo rates their costs in ranges, showing bells or flowers for groupings of price. So one flower is the cheapest, and 5 or 6 flowers is the most expensive. Then they give you a range decoder – two flowers is under $150 and three flowers is under $175…

Here are some options that I saw on Alfred Angelo that I liked…

(The really cool thing is that I was able to change the colors on their website for the most part, so you can see them in all black!)

Short, sexy and sassy!

A softer, romantic flowing look that I LOVE!

Now, SHE looks sassy! Looks like a great salsa dress…

LOVE the rusching…very flattering and it combines short length and long…

Also a flattering style, but does it look too much like a bridesmaid dress?

VERY fun, flirty…looks like a great New Year’s dress.

I like this look, since it shows the ivory ribbon/sash…but not sure that the style would flatter me – you’d have to have the perfect body to pull this one off? I’d have to see it on.

Now, on this one, the color changer thing would only let me change the color of the dress. The sash and hemline didn’t change from the original. But it would be ordered in black and ivory…I like the flower, but once again, it looks a little too much like a bridesmaid dress.

That’s all that I saw at Alfred Angelo. Maybe this will help give my girls some of my vision that I’m seeing for their dresses. Once again, with the coupon, some of these dresses aren’t any more or less expensive than a good LBD from a department store. So it’s another option that we have out there. But then again, I saw so many of the dresses here that I picked out that greatly resemble a dress that I had already found at Dillard’s.

So there. Ladies, you have some things to think about. I know that David’s Bridal also has a LOT of good choices on the maids dresses, so I’ll check out their website too…just for kicks and grins.

So what do you think?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Now for the Maids...

Ever since I first started thinking about my wedding, I knew what I wanted for the bridesmaids dresses. I want them all to wear a LBD. Yep, you read that right – a little black dress. Each of their own choosing, and they can all be different.

There are several things that I like about this idea.

#1 – you can find a good LBD anywhere. Doesn’t have to be at a bridal store where the prices can run pretty high. You can find one on sale at a department store, and I’ve even gotten a few really great ones at ROSS.

#2 – they will more than likely wear this dress again. It’s the bane of normal bridesmaid dresses – the fact that you’ll more than likely never wear it again. You spend hundreds of dollars on a beautiful gown, and it looks great on you that one day. (Or maybe not so great – depending on the bride’s choices!) But no matter how hard the bride tries to pick out a dress that you can wear again, it’s hard. Many brides pick a longer dress, thinking in the back of their mind that the maids can have the dress shortened and wear it out again. But more often that not, this doesn’t happen. I know this because two of my own bridesmaids thought that VERY same thought when I was in their wedding. At the time, I agreed with them. In reality, I never had either dress shortened, as I didn’t have anywhere else to wear the dress to anyway – short or long.

#3 – I LOVE the idea of mixing the dresses, the fabrics, the styles. Everyone can choose a dress that fits their own sense of style, their personality, their body type and their budget. This doesn’t have to break the bank.

And I love the idea of all of my ladies and I making a weekend of shopping up in Dallas or somewhere equally fun doing some girl time and bonding over LBD shopping. Love it, love it, love it. I mean, come on – how cute are some of these?

Fun and Flirty? Yes, siree!

Sultry and Sexy....in spades!

I LOVE the ruffles/layering effect on this dress - might have to buy it for myself!

I'm not really sure about the one-shoulder thing, but the look of the whole dress appeals to me...and there is a maid or two that might pick this one for her personality...sassy! I'm not naming names, ladies!

The little cap sleeves on this makes this dress SO cute!

Simple and elegant - LOVE IT! Oh, right, I'm NOT shopping for me here....

This looks like the perfect black sheath dress - check out the sexy slit in the side! growl...

The rusching here reminds me a little bit of my own dress...and I LOVE the flare hem at the bottom!

This is just stunning...no other words are needed.

All images courtesy of dillards.com

So what do you think? What I like best about this idea? ALL of these dresses can be found at Dillard's. And in most cases, they were all under $120. LOVE IT! There were even a few that I looked at that were on sale for under $100....and something that you could wear again? I'm sold!

Did anyone else want to do something similar with a LBD? Is any other bride out there just as excited about your BM dresses as you are about your own dress? Sometimes I feel that way...