Crafts and D.I.Y.

Winter Mantle Update and Metal Ladder Upcycle

Although this weekend was busy and hectic, I was able to change some of our fall decorations over to winter ones.  The first part of the decor that I changed was the metal gutter than we put on the mantle.  Remember how we decorated it for fall?

Here is the updated winter version!

To update this I was able to use a lot of the same materials.  I kept the moss (I actually added a little more,) the twigs, the brown wicker balls, the burlap, pinecones, and deer sheds.  Basically, I took out anything orange, red, or yellow, tossed out the squash and mini pumpkins that were in there and replaced it with extra moss.  I also added berry sprigs found at Hobby Lobby.  It was actually cheaper to purchase a strand of garland - only about $10 with the 50% off sale they had running - and use VERY sharp kitchen shears to cut the sprigs off the wire garland.  The letters spelling "Merry" are just 99 cent chip board letters found in the scrapbooking section of Hobby Lobby.  I didn't even paint them because I liked their original color!

Here's a little bit more of a close-up so you can see what's going on in the gutter. 
This weekend Patrick and I also scored a pretty amazing find at the Lucky Star Craft Market in Ames - an old metal farm ladder that had been cut down to be about 4 feet tall.  $28 later and we have a rustic little place to hang our blankets - a nice way to cozy up the living room for winter.

Hope you're staying warm and cozy!  It's been snowing all day in Iowa!  Looks like we'll have some shoveling to do this evening!

 Trash to Decor- Metal Gutter Fall Decor

Remember how I was going to blog before Thanksgiving?  Well, clearly that didn't happen, but hey!  At least I was close!

Even though it's a little late, I couldn't resist sharing some cute fall decorating inspiration.

Before the Thanksgiving, about that time when pumpkin flavored everything is on the market and shades of burnt orange, mustard yellow, and cranberry are everywhere, I was looking for something to dress up the top of our fireplace.  WHY was dressing up the fireplace so important?  If you're interested, then read below, if not, skip the next paragraph.... 

Somehow, before, during, or after P and I moved from Tucson to Des Moines, we lost the stand for our TV.  Don't ask me how, but we did.  Since we have a strange little corner fireplace, mounting the TV like we had before just wasn't going to work, plus buying a new stand proved to be expensive and not that easy.  Long story short, we ended up having to mount the TV on one wall with a swivel mount and the arm on the mount just isn't QUITE long enough to allow the TV to sit flush with the front of the fireplace.  Although it will likely annoy me forever, what is a girl to do?  Decorate to detract from the mismatched angles and cover up all of the ugly cords and boxes.  

... Anyway... while searching for a way to decorate the top of our fireplace, I found some inspiration at an adorable little store in Valley Junction called Vintage No. 35.  They simply have the BEST vintage/found
object/reworked junk pieces you can find.  While I was browsing for a few other items there, I noticed that one of their display tables had a gorgeous Thanksgiving set up that used an old metal gutter filled with pumpkins, gourds, and other fall items.  I purchased the gutter and started the quest to find items to fill the gutter to decorate our mantle. 

After some searching, finagling, and fluffing, here is the end product:

I must say that I love the end product.  I can't wait to decorate it for the other seasons.

Some of the items I used to decorate the gutter for fall included -
-a long burlap strip to decorate the front
 -large pinecones
-various gourds and small pumpkins
-small wicker and yarn covered decorative balls
-potpourri from World Market (the Mexican pumpkin had great leaves and berry-like elements)   
-decorative moss from World Market and Hobby Lobby
-various sized sticks and twigs
-deer sheds 

For the banner in front I used 1/4" yellow satin ribbon, small clothespins (can be found at Archiver's or Hobby Lobby - generally in the scrapbooking section), laminated burlap cut into triangles, and a black fabric pen. 

Here are a few more pictures of the finished product:

After adding the deer sheds. 

A close-up of some of the items...

Leaves and gourds galore!

Have some metal gutters laying around that you're inspired to use or do you have some good ideas for the winter decor?  Send your ideas!!!

Happy Decorating!

Zombie Mob in a Flash Tutorial

It's been a while since I've had a change to write a blog post because life has been crazy!  Last week was homecoming week at my school and since I work as part of a residential program, my goal was to go all out and really make homecoming week special for the boys on my dorm.  We had a blast bringing in clothes to help the boys dress up.  My favorite day, by far, was walking dead Wednesday.  Another teacher and I were faced with the task of making 32 teenage boys and 4 staff members into zombies in about the span of two hours.  Our goal was to make each "zombie," or student, look a little bit different.  After a lot of face paint, fake blood, latex, and a monstrous mess, we created our zombie mob.

Unfortunately I can't post a picture of my zombie clan and handiwork, but here's a list of what we used.

-Ben Nye face paint in three different colors of corpse-esque gray (found at a local theatrical store).  This paint promised to be more hypoallergenic.  (We thought this would help some of our acne prone kiddos not break out so much.)
-Target Halloween face paint (the $10 multi-color pack.  You'll use the yellow, green, purple and blue from this palette a lot!)
-cheap black eye shadow (I used the Rimmel London brand)
-cheap makeup brushes ($1 E.L.F. brushes from Target)  I bought several blush and eyeshadow brushes
-fake blood (either purchased or created)
-a squirt bottle
-a LOT of wedge shaped makeup sponges
-liquid latex (purchased from a Halloween store)
-cotton balls

We followed these steps:

-Using one of the three colors of the Ben Nye gray face paint and a wedge shaped makeup brush, paint the subject's face.  Don't worry about being neat - sloppy is fine, remember, you're likely in a hurry.  The sloppiness kind of adds to the effect in the end, too.
-Take one of the E.L.F. eyeshadow makeup brushes and the eyeshadow and place black shadow all over the eyelid to the brow.  Sweep the shadow under the eye to create the effect of a recessed eye socket.
-Using the blush brush, sweep the black eyeshadow under the subject's cheek bones to create a sunken effect.
-Brush the remainder of the black eye shadow from the brush and blend the face paint and the eyeshadow together.
-At this point, if you would like to add some structural detail, liquid latex may be used to quickly add a "rotting skin" type of texture.  While the latex is still wet, you may add small bits of cotton from cotton balls to exaggerate the texture.  Latex should be dabbed over the top of the cotton to create a more skin-like appearance.  Allow the latex to dry for several minutes before adding face paint over the top to blend the latex into the skin.  The cotton balls and latex can be shaped to create scars, open wounds, or peeling flesh features.  I usually added green, yellow, purple, and blue face paint to these areas to create a more bruised or rotting color.  FUN TIP: Place a few layers of latex on the skin, then use tweezers to rip blister-like semi-round holes in the latex.  These holes can be filled in with red, purple, and black face paint then covered with fake blood to create a chemical burn/ blister effect.
-To make the subject's hair look gray, we rubbed a bit of flour in.  The flour may be set with hairspray if you want to ensure that it will last for a little while.
-The last, but most fun part, is adding the fake blood.  We asked all of our students to dress in clothing that could be ruined.  We had several jugs of fake blood and a few squirt bottles.  For each student, we chose to identify specific types of injuries, like gunshot wounds, slit throats, etc. The blood was placed depending on the wound.  By letting the blood drip onto the clothes, the injuries seemed more realistic.  The final touch was spraying all of the students down with fake "splatter" from the squirt bottles.  FUN TIP:  Coat the subject's arms with flour and then add the fake blood.  If you rub the flour, the fake blood will clump in some places and create an even grimier, clotted texture.

I followed some slightly different steps for my own zombie makeup, however it will give you a better idea of some of the techniques that can be used with the latex.

The steps I followed as well as the materials and some pictures of the process are below: 

First I coated my face with the lightest foundation I owned (several shades lighter than what I normally wear.)  Then, using a wedge shaped makeup sponge, I dabbed liquid latex on my forehead and under my eye.  You may need several coats of latex.  Be careful that you do not get the latex too close to your eye.  BEWARE!  The smell of the latex will likely make your eyes burn and water  For my hair, I used cheap, strong hold hairspray to make my hair crunchy, gross, and tousled - I also stuck in a few leaves and sticks on the way to school.  

Once the latex on my forehead and under my eye dried, I used tweezers to pull some of the latex away from my skin.  On my forehead, I was going for a chemical burn/blistered look, so I used the tweezers to create round, blister like spots of open skin.  Under my eye, I wanted to create an effect like the skin under my eye had been ripped away.  To do this, I gently pulled the latex down away from my eye with my tweezers.  After I finished using my tweezers, I dabbed the foundation on top of the latex to make it closer to the color of my skin.  To add some more architectural detail, I added some latex and cotton on my cheek to create an open wound effect. 

Once the latex was dry, I filled in the spaces with red face paint.  After this picture, I added black and purple face paint inside the "wounds" to create a darker, more realistic color.  I also added some yellow and green face paint stippled and blended around the "wounds" to make the surrounding skin look a little bruised and rotten.

Once you have finished shading in the "wounds" with face paint, add fake blood to the wounds.  don't be afraid to let some drip. I also added black eye shadow around my eyes, up to my eyebrows and below my eyes.  I pulled some eyeshadow around the sides of my nose, around my hair line, and under my cheekbones too to create a more skeletal look. 

And, there you have it.  Zombie makeup in a flash! 

Weekend Adventures and Design on a Dime

A snapshot from my Monday night walk with Patrick and Iroh.  There isn't a thing that I don't love so far about living in Des Moines.
Let's just say I LOVE the fact that this weekend was a long weekend!  I was able to get ahead with my lesson planning, finish some decorating and DIY projects, spend some time with friends, and relax a bit with Patrick.  What could be better?

A bit of motivation for finishing a few decorating and DIY projects was the fact we had some friends coming over on Saturday for a Labor Day weekend grill-out.  Plus, the more time I have away from work usually means at some point I'm going to start tinkering with some sort of DIY project.  Amazingly, I've found that Des Moines literally the best junk/vintage/antique/found object stores I have ever seen.  I'm pretty thrilled with the way our new house is becoming a home.  Take a virtual tour of some of my favorite parts.  

My pretty little workspace in the office with a DIY dry erase memo board above it made from wrapping paper purchased from RSVP in Iowa City and a discount frame from Michael's.  Table: Pier 1 as-is clearance, desk calendar: Anthropologie, Pug book ends: T.J. Maxx, lamp: Target.
Our little library.  The books look like they're placed randomly, but they're actually organized (somewhat) into categories.  I like how the pops of color of the bindings gave me the opportunity to add just about any color to the room.  Bookshelves: IKEA.
A cozy reading nook in the office, complete with pillows, an ancient chair that I picked up years ago from Artifacts in Iowa City, and Sheldon, my stuffed otter that Patrick picked out for me at the Phoenix Zoo.  The breeze and the natural light from the window makes it a pretty comfy place to curl up and read a book... or write a blog post. 

A DIY chalkboard art project.  My inspiration came from My Vintage Window's perfect "imperfect" tutorial "How I Letter In Chalk".  I used a chalkboard marker for sharper detail.  Chalkboard marker: Michael's, Frame: World Market.
The "bigger picture" of where I displayed the chalkboard art.  Also, Patrick and I thought it was fitting to set up a cabinet to showcase the rest of our wedding wine.  Liquor cabinet: Target. 
What happens when Hobby Lobby has 50% off all their lanterns?  You make terrariums!  We picked up some small succulents at the Des Moines Farmers market and added some dried moss and rocks around the bottom to hide the plastic pots. 
The "bigger picture" with our couch, coffee table, and map.  Polka dot pillows: IKEA, brown pillows: Pier 1 clearance, sofa: LazyBoy coffee table: IKEA, wall art: World Market with added hearts created using a heart shaped paper punch and white card stock.  (Ignore Patrick's computer cable.)   
A few finishing touches in the living room.  I love our tiny little cloche and plant (yes, it's real) from Seed.  The glass jar was a steal found at Found Objects (East Village) with faux moss from Hinge (Valley Junction), a letter "T" wooden letter press block from Vintage No. 35 (Valley Junction) and river pebbles from Target. 
One of my newest obsessions- fairy gardens.  This cute container was found at Earl May.  We added some polished rocks Patrick found in the desert when we lived in Tucson.  Can you spot the little gnome hiding in there? 
Patrick and I had TONS of Polaroid pictures from our wedding and I had been looking for a good way to display them.  After a trip and some inspiration from Vintage No. 35 in Valley Junction, we have some "artwork" that anyone can find something to comment about.  Metal grate: Vintage No. 35, Vintage postcards, game pieces and grocer's tags: Vintage No. 35, Clothes pins: Walmart. 

It seems like every time Patrick and I move, we find that the average bathroom has one towel rod.  Let's get real.  If two people are using that bathroom, how are your towels going to dry if you have one towel rod?  Instead of installing a towel rod that wouldn't match the first one, we opted for this guy a towel "hanger" found (on sale) at World Market. 
...And this was by FAR my favorite DIY project we've done in the house so far - a vintage ladder with hanging lanterns.  A few weeks ago, Patrick and I walked into an expensive home decor store that shall remain unnamed and spotted a rustic ladder hanging above one of their display tables.  We fell in love with the look, but the price was out of the question.  We took the inspiration and created a similar look for about 1/5 of the price.   Vintage Ladder: Vintage No. 35 (cut down to size), Eye hooks and rope: Home Depot, lanterns: Hobby Lobby (50% off!), candles and dried moss: Hobby Lobby.  Didn't Patrick do a great job tying those different knots?  I love the light fixture feel this project created above our table.  I can't wait to redecorate it for autumn and winter. 

Well, there you have it!  A few of the projects we've completed with the house so far.   I can't wait to add more as we complete them!  Relax and enjoy the last few hours of your Labor Day weekend!  

Happy Crafting!  

Hopefully your weekend was as relaxing as Iroh's! 

   DIY Farmer's Market Totes

Everybody loves some homegrown produce.  One of my favorite past times in Iowa City was perusing the local farmer's market and I was pleased to find that Tucson has some pretty great local markets as well.  Since my summer is pretty much free (woohoo - the life of a teacher) and I had some extra blank tote bags lying around after making bridesmaid gifts for my wedding last year, I decided to draw up a few designs for farmer's market totes.  I thought they were a little more stylish than the plastic grocery bags the vendors hand out - plus it never hurts to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Here are the materials you can use to make your own:

-Blank canvas tote bags (I purchased mine from Hobby Lobby, but you can find them at almost any craft store)
-Fabric markers (I used the black from a set of Marvy fabric markers I picked up at Michael's)
-Embroidery floss
-Embroidery needle
-A pencil (to draw your design)
-A lot of imagination

Let me know how your projects turn out!

Happy crafting!

 State Pride Embroidery Tutorial

Let's be honest... when I mention Iowa, people either say "oh, the potato state," "where is that again?", or they make some joke about cows, pigs, and corn.  Throughout the rest of the nation Iowa has a pretty bad rap for lacking diversity and being a whole lot of fun.  How wrong people can be.  Yes, Iowa does have a lot of cows, and corn, and pigs, but it's also pretty beautiful and there's a lot to do if you know where to look for it.  I suppose Arizona has a lot of the same things, but I've really found that I have an attachment to grass, trees, and I suppose even humidity.  And sidewalks... hello, Arizona?  Where the hell are your sidewalks!?!  Anyway, my homesick thoughts about Iowa inspired this little bit of hand stitched art.  You can easily create one for your favorite state, too.



A small hand embroidery frame 
2 colors of embroidery thread
An embroidery needle
A pencil, fabric marker, or fabric chalk
Thin fabric 

The outline of your state
Printer paper 
Black printer ink 
An interesting font
1. Depending on your artistic abilities, you may have to take some different steps to complete this project.  Since I didn't want to attempt drawing the outline of my state free hand, I googled an outline of the state of Iowa and copied and pasted the picture into a word document. 

2. I then chose a font on my computer to place the word "home" inside the picture.  I chose the font "English Essay" that can be downloaded for free from  I created a small text box, typed the word, and changed the appearance of the text box by hiding the lines.  This can be done in Microsoft Word  by right clicking on the text box, scrolling down to "format shape," selecting "line color," then clicking "no line."  

3. Print the stitching pattern you just created. 

4. Cut around the edge of your pattern, leaving a margin around the edges.  Place the pattern under your fabric  If you find that your pattern is slipping, tape may be used to temporarily hold the pattern in place.  

5. I used thin enough fabric that I could easily see the black outline created by my pattern.  If your fabric is thicker you may need to use a light box or hold the fabric against a window so you can trace the outline on your fabric.  

6. Place your fabric in your embroidery frame.  Pick out your embroidery thread and start embroidering.  I used a back stitch for the majority of the project, but you can use whatever stitch floats your boat.  There are great stitch tutorials online and on Pinterest for your browsing.  

7. Cut the excess fabric around the back of your frame if you wish to leave your project in the embroidery frame. 

Enjoy your new hand-stitched art!  

Happy crafting! 

Showered With Love (and two easy peasy paper pinwheel tutorials)

My girlfriends that helped so much to make the bridal shower and wedding a success.  Ignore the bad haircut... I, not so smartly, decided to get my hair cut and colored by someone new right before my sister-in-law's wedding and what you're seeing in this picture is the aftermath.  At least it was growing...
Like I've mentioned before, we have amazing friends that helped us IMMENSELY with our wedding as did our family members.  Another amazing thing they did was plan a bridal shower at my parent's church and a bachelorette party the weekend before the wedding.

First of all, I have some amazingly talented people that I hold close to my heart.  They came up with games to entertain people of all ages, helped decorate to make everything absolutely gorgeous, pulled together food and snacks, and showered us with a lot a lot of love.

Because we didn't want to spend a whole lot of money on the bridal shower, we used a lot of items that we could re-use for the wedding.  As you look through pictures, a lot of the wedding decorations were vintage thrift finds, Etsy scores, and DIY projects.

To cover the tables, I bought light blue plastic table cloths from Oriental Trading Company for about $1 a piece, then threw down lengths of burlap to act as a runner (purchased from Michael's) and used vintage handkerchiefs found at various thrift stores around town and on E-bay to add some color to the tables.  Patrick and I spent a lot of time wandering around thrift stores in the Iowa City area collecting items that we would be able to use for the wedding.  We found a TON of inexpensive glass and milk glass vases to use as our centerpieces for both the wedding and the bridal shower.  Here's where I'll tell you something that definitely surprised me - sometimes buying your own items is cheaper than renting them.  I was a little stunned to learn that it was cheaper for me to buy mason jars and own them than it was to rent them through our venue.  What?!  It certainly seems a little backward, but the best part is you can either make money off of selling them after your wedding, pass items along to your guests, or another person that might want to use the items at their wedding.  So a word to the wise - definitely check out how cheaply you can find items elsewhere.  In our case, it was cheaper to buy nearly everything, and we definitely lucked out that we were working toward a more vintage-y vibe to begin with.  If you're looking for thrift stores in the Iowa City area, we had luck at Goodwill, Artifacts, Stuff Etc, Houseworks, Crowded Closet, and Decorum. 

Table cloths, paper plates, and napkins from oriental trading company for cheap, cheap, cheap!  Also, a few of our thrifted cake stands and borrowed platters.

A few days before the bridal shower, my mom and I started working on some paper centerpiece ideas.  Again, if you haven't noticed, I'm all about strangely whimsical pieces, so we made a ton of paper pinwheels and flowers and tied everything together with paper flowers and vintage buttons my mom and I had hanging around.  I also made a few banners using hearts from a paper pack I bought at Michael's, a white Sharpie paint pen, a single hole punch and some twine.  Pretty simple, right?  Since I've used the same idea with any paper I choose by making a cardboard heart template first - to date I've used the template to make birthday banners, graduation banners, and a going-away banner.  It's a super quick and easy way to make a party a little more festive.

A glimpse at one of the pinwheel centerpieces my mom and I made using paper from Hobby Lobby, paper flowers, and a few buttons.  (A simple tutorial for how to make a traditional pinwheel is located at the bottom of the page.)

A different approach to the paper pinwheel.  (Tutorial posted at the bottom of the page.)

Like I mentioned before, I have a lot of talented friends, like Kelley, who made these scrumptious scones and cupcakes.  We were certainly well-fed that day!

Cupcakes made by Kelley
Amazing, savory brunch scones made by Kelley

So, if you're looking to make your own paper pinwheels for a bridal shower, wedding, or just for the heck of it, the steps are actually fairly simple.  First, let's start with the traditional pinwheel.


Decorative scrapbook paper (I found mine at Hobby Lobby) 
A wooden dowel rod, straw, pencil or object to hold your finished pinwheel 
Paper flowers (found in the scrapbook section at Michael's) 
Scissors or a paper cutter 
A ruler 
A pencil 
A high temp. hot glue gun 
Hot glue sticks 

1. Start with a square piece of paper.  I used an 8 x 8 piece, but any size will work - just remember that the smaller your paper, the harder the project will be to work with.  You will see both sides of whatever paper you use.  Since the back of my paper was white, I chose to use adhesive scrapbook tape to tape two pieces together.

2. Using a straight edge and a pencil, faintly draw a line using pencil that connects two corners of the paper. Repeat on the other side.  You should end up with a "x" across your paper.

3. Using a ruler, measure in approximately 1 inch from the center "x" on the paper.  Repeat on each line.  When you are done your project should look about like this.

4. Using scissors, cut along each of the lines from the corner to the 1 inch mark.  Repeat on all four sides.  Once you are done cutting, you will see four "flaps."  

5. Put a small dot of glue in the center of your paper (where the x makes a cross.) Fold the left side of one of the flaps to the center.  Hold the end of the flap on the glue with the tip of the hot glue gun for approximately 30 seconds or until the glue sticks.  Repeat on each "flap," folding down just the left side. DO NOT fold down the right side.  I don't worry about being too neat with the hot glue because I always decorate my pinwheels with flowers and buttons, which typically cover up any unwanted goobers.  

6.  Attach any buttons, paper flowers or other decorations to the center of your pinwheel.  I find that these decorations dress up the project a bit more and also help hold everything together.

7. Because I wasn't worried about whether or not my pinwheel would spin, I hot glued the finished product to a wooden dowel rod.  I did, however, recreate this project with a group of second graders using construction paper, straight pins, and cardboard straws.  After completing the pinwheel, we used carefully poked the pin through the pinwheel and both sides of the straw.  We then bent the end of the pin parallel to the straw.  I hot glued the pin to the straw so the kiddos would not poke themselves.  Make sure you leave a little space between the pinwheel and the straw and you should be able to make your pinwheel spin.

Enjoy your finished pinwheels!



Decorative scrapbook paper (I found mine at Hobby Lobby) 
Paper flowers (found in the scrapbook section at Michael's) 
A ruler and pencil OR a paper scoring board
A high temp. hot glue gun 
Hot glue sticks

1. Create a square with decorative scrapbook paper.  I used one that was 5 1/2" square.  Using a paper scoring board (or a ruler and pencil) score the paper in an equal pattern.  I chose to score the paper every 1/2", but depending on the size of your paper, you may choose to score the paper every inch or even two inches.  If you are using a ruler and a pencil, make a mark with the pencil in the same pattern.

2. Following either the score lines or the marks you made with your pencil, fold the paper back in forth in an alternating pattern (just like folding a fan.)  Your paper should look like this:

3. Once your paper is completely folded, fold both ends together.

4. Using your hot glue gun, glue the sides together to create a "fan" shape.

5. Repeat steps 1-4 to create another "fan."  Depending on how squished or stretched you want your final rosette to be, you may need to create more than 2 fans.  For this project I used only two.

6. Using your hot glue gun, glue the sides of the fans together to create one rosette.  You will need to hold the paper for a few seconds to make sure everything sticks.  

7. Decorate your fan using paper flowers or buttons.

Happy crafting!

Tackling Wedding Stationary Without Breaking the Bank 

I am a Pinterest addict.  Seriously, the number of pins that I have is embarrassing - well, maybe not for me, because I have no Pinterest shame, but I've been told that I have an embarrassing number of pins and all of this began when we started planning our wedding.  My theory: if I think I might make it, be inspired by it, or use the pin later in some way, I pin it. Well, long story short, I fell in love with all the gorgeous letter press wedding stationary I saw on Pinterest and after a quick trip to a few places around Iowa City I decided that the letter press option was going to be WAY too stinking expensive.  With everything else going on, I definitely was not going to have time to craft all of the invitations, save the date cards, and everything else you have to send out for a wedding, so I went with a suggestion from made by my sister-in-law, I checked out a website called Wedding Paper Divas.  Wedding Paper Divas has great customizable templates at a variety of prices, plus I was really pleased with the fact that someone proofreads your invites before they start the printing process.  In some cases, you also have the opportunity to make everything match.  I wasn't too concerned with this, because we wouldn't be sending everything out at the same time.  So, after we finished ordering everything, we ended up with thank you cards, save the date cards for the wedding, bridal shower invitations, and save the date announcements for a second ceremony we had the day after our wedding.  Remember how I told you we got married on a Friday?  We decided to have a second ceremony, the day after our wedding so anyone not able to come on Friday still had the option of celebrating with us that Saturday.

Here's a look what we used: 

Pictured above is our save the date card for the wedding.
Pictured is the design we used for our save the date for the second, separate reception. 
When you're inviting some people to only the second reception, the wording can be a little tricky.  We chose to call it a celebratory reception.  The wording we used on the back was "Please mark your calendars for an open house reception celebrating our marriage." 

Although the prices on Wedding Paper Divas were pretty affordable, we opted to use kits we found at Michael's to make the formal invitations for the wedding and the separate reception the next day.  We decided to use two different invitations so they would be easier to tell apart.  Keep in mind that you can think outside the box a bit.  We used different ribbon and fonts to make the invitations a little more unique.  If you're looking for some great fonts that you can download for free, check out the cute ones posted on the blog Kevin & Amanda

If you're having a hard time getting those fonts to a useable point on your computer, there are quite a few handy tutorials on YouTube.  

Here's a look at what we used.  Let us know what you think!

The wedding invitations we made from kits found at Michael's art and craft supply store.

 How to Take Engagement Pictures - the cheap way (and directions for how to make a wedding date banner)


Photo taken at Wilson's Apple Orchard, Iowa City, IA.
Once you get engaged, everyone wants pictures and you'll likely need pictures for your invitation or save the dates.  After looking into a few photographers around our area, I learned that having pictures professionally taken is really expensive, especially if you add the words "wedding" or "engagement" into the sentence.  Now, don't get me wrong, photographers have to do a LOT when it comes to traveling to the site of your pictures, supplying props, editing the photos, so they definitely earn their money.  Frankly, another aspect that scared me was whether or not I would get the pictures I wanted.  I was worried that working with a photographer would mean that I wouldn't be comfortable asking for the poses and I had a fear that we would end up with something worthy of the Awkward Family Photos website.  So we opted to take our photos a different way.  After spending hours on Pinterest with Patrick looking through engagement photos that we liked, we met with a few of our friends who agreed to take snap some pictures for us.  Luckily, Patrick had started dabbling in photography and had gotten a decent Cannon DSLR camera for graduation.  We showed our friends Katy, and S.J. what we were looking for and off we were to take some shots.

I'm pretty in love with the way they turned out, plus they didn't cost us a thing.

Below are just a few of the photos we ended up using.  ( I won't bore you by posting all of them.)  

Photo taken at Mormon Trek Park, Iowa City, IA.
We used the picture featured above for almost everything.  I love how simple it turned out and how vibrant the colors printed. 

For editing, we used a website called Piknik, which unfortunately no longer exists.  Piknik allowed us to alter the appearance of our photos (to an extent), without having to pay for expensive software like Photoshop.  Now, Piknik and Photoshop are miles apart from each other when it comes to editing capabilities, but for the few bits we wanted to alter, Piknik worked well.  If you're looking for a similar option, Google + supposedly has similar editing options that Piknik once did.  If you choose to try Google + for some of your photos, leave a comment to let us know how it worked!

Photo taken at  Wilson's Apple Orchard, Iowa City, IA. 
One suggestion I have, if you wish to take your own engagement pictures, is to make sure you have props.  Patrick and I used a small chalkboard with a chalkboard marker (I found that the chalkboard marker was a great investment because the writing showed up more vibrantly on the chalkboard.  Just make sure you bring a wet paper towel to wipe off the writing), and the wedding date banner pictured above.  If you're interested in making a banner with your wedding date, follow the simple instructions at the end of this post.  Also, make sure you look at poses online so you have some ideas for pictures.  Ask your photographer to leave some space around the sides of some of your pictures so you can better size your photo to fit into templates if you choose to use it for your wedding invites or save the date cards.  Also, don't forget to take a LOT of pictures.  You won't use very many, but it's better to have more than not enough.  

Photo taken at Wilson's Apple Orchard, Iowa City, IA. 


Ahhh... the joys of back blogging.  Since I made this project almost a year ago, I unfortunately do not have any pictures to post of the process, however, the project is so simple, I doubt you will need them.  


-High temp. hot glue gun 
-Hot glue sticks 
-Wooden numbers corresponding to the scheduled date of your wedding (I found mine at Michael's) 
-Picture hanging hardware (The kind with the triangular loop at the top) 
-Yarn, string, or twine 
-Paint (optional) 

Optional first step: If you would like to paint your wooden numbers, do this first.  I would suggest painting the front and the back to make sure you don't see any unfinished edges in your photos.  I chose not to paint mine because I was comfortable with the natural color.  

1. Plug in your hot glue gun and let the glue warm to a usable temperature.  
2. While you are letting your glue gun warm, lay out your wooden numbers on a large, flat surface (I used my kitchen floor.)  From right to left, lay your numbers backwards.  (Imagine someone is facing you looking at the numbers.)  Space the numbers out on the floor how you would like them to be spaced on your banner.  Make sure you leave more space between numbers that need to be separated (where a comma would appear if you were writing the date.)  
3. Use the hot glue gun to glue one picture hanger to the back of each of your numbers.  Make sure you glue the hanger near the top so your numbers don't droop once you tie them onto your string.  
4.  Once you have glued a hanger to each of the numbers cut a piece of string long enough to hold all of your numbers and still give you space at the end to hold the banner.  
5. When the glue attaching the hangers to the wooden numbers has dried, string your string through each of the picture hangers, tying a knot with the string around each hanger to keep the number in place.  
6. Repeat typing a knot around each hanger until all of your numbers are tied to your string.  
7. Take beautiful pictures with your new wedding date banner!  Enjoy!  

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