Saturday, July 7, 2018

Passport invitation

My cousin recently got married, and she and her husband are living in Japan for a few years.  We had a travel-themed shower for the globe-trotting couple, and my mom asked me to find an invitation that went with the theme.   I browsed around on pinterest and found a few ideas that I liked, but couldn't find a way to purchase my favorite one that looked like a passport, so I decided to design one. 
 I got some inspiration from the samples I had found on pinterest, as well as looking up images of actual passports.  

For the cover, I went with the traditional navy of passports, and put together a monogram "seal" for them.  The border is a wreath of cherry blossoms, inspired by the couple's love of Japan. 

For the inside, I tried to blend passport details with a dash of wedding patterns.  

I replaced the eagle found on passports with a dove, and on the top half I put a world map as the background texture. "We the people" was replaced with "we the family" and I tried to keep the font looking close to the old fashioned script used on official documents. 

For the background on the bottom half, I pulled an image of a quilt pattern used for the "wedding ring" styled print (trying to be subtle but still marriage themed).  I also added some splattered blue with a low opacity to soften the pictures and to hint at the iridescent finish that is on passports. 
(I did not take the picture of the couple, that was harvested from her facebook account) :) 

I was able to find a local printer in Central Illinois to make these come to life and I could not have been happier with the results!  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if you are in need of a passport-style invitation for an event you are hosting! 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

a Nesting Shower

one of my sisters recently had her 2nd child.  She had a long commute to and from work, and her husband’s job requires some evening hours as well, so we decided that they needed a boost that would save them some time.  We decided to host a “nesting shower” where friends and family would get together to prepare freezer meals for them to use during the last couple of months of her pregnancy.  People will typically think to bring meals AFTER a baby is born, so we figured they could use the meals sooner rather than later. 

Since this was a shower for a 2nd child, we did have a smaller group of people.  We also didn’t focus as much on decorations and treats as we usually do for a shower, as we wanted to emphasis to be on the food preparation.  Obviously those details could be customized however you wanted. 

Here is the invitation that I designed (contact me at if you would like this design customized for you!)

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We had a group of 7 women, and in just a few hours we were able to prepare 25 meals and 2 dozen muffins to use over the next month (baby made her arrival a few weeks early).

For decorations, we used some grapevine wreaths that my mom had already and lined them with brown tissue paper to make a “nest.”  We had to add a few touches of pink here and there (it was her first girl, after all!).  We also made some “bouquets” of twigs inside some pink gift bags.  The nests and bouquets were decorated with little items that Hannah could use for the baby (cute AND functional).  

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Each guest was given this tea light candle as their favor

(simple, but very cute!)  The tag read:

Burn this tea light on the night

Once the Stork has made its flight

With a flicker of the flame

Please say a prayer in Baby’s name


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The refreshments were pretty simple as well.  I did make some birds’ nest cookies (Chow Mein noodles covered in melted butterscotch chips, then mold them into a nest shape and add egg-shaped candies).  Other than that, we just did some veggies and dip and crackers. 


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We tried to choose recipes that we knew would freeze and thaw well.  Some were ones that we were familiar with, others were Pinterest finds. 

Stuffed pasta shells

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Chicken Enchiladas

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Cilantro/lime chicken dish and Carrot Applesauce muffins

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One of the ladies put together a recipe for some FANTASTIC black beans and rice after visiting Costa Rica (shhh- the secret is green bananas!) So we put together some plates with leftover seasoned chicken from the enchiladas. 

(hint- canned chicken saves a LOT of time.  Pre-cooked and shredded! Make sure you find it on sale)

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we had stuffed pasta shells, chicken enchiladas, white chicken lasagna, a Cilantro/Lime chicken dish, Apple Butter pork chops, Chicken Broccoli Rice bake, Black beans and rice, and a few batches of muffins (Carrot Applesauce and banana.)

this picture doesn’t even show all of the meals that we were able to prepare!

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that’s me on the far right- had to wear my bird sweater!  it fit the theme Smile

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This is a great idea if you are hosting a shower and looking to do something a little different than the traditional shower of gifts, games, and cake.  Hannah and her husband loved have the meals ready to go with little to no prep work on their end.  The meals were packaged so that they could be put right in the oven, or be put in a crock pot in the morning and ready to eat when they came home in the evening. Most pans even had enough in them for one or both of them to take leftovers to work for lunch the next day.  It was a great way for us to help her out during the last several weeks of her pregnancy without being right there for her (they live a couple of hours away).

If you have a larger group, you could definitely make even more meals (or not take as much time, I think we were working for about 2 1/2 hours).  One thing you want to consider is how much freezer room your guest of honor has!  They did have a small deep-freeze so it worked out great for them.  We had enough guests pitch in for food that all of that cost was covered (we spent less than $100 on all of the ingredients). 

Feel free to comment if you have any questions!  Or let me know if you host a nesting shower for someone and what ideas you used or came up with!  I see plenty of shower-hosting in my future, so I’d love to hear what works for all of you Smile

Friday, October 4, 2013

Our kitchen makeover

Our kitchen was in need of an update.  The house we are living in was Justin's great-grandpa's house, and I think it is safe to say that no redecorating has happened in this house for about 30 years.

Now we did have a limited budget, so there a few things we didn't mess with.  Mostly, the cabinets.  They were nice cabinets when gramps installed them and are still in pretty good condition. Also, I didn't want anything to do with painting cabinets.  We did remove the metal pane from the upper cabinets in the lower picture, so they are just glass doors now.
Basically, we painted the walls, the tile backsplash, updated the light fixture/fan, and tiled the floor.  We also removed the door in the lower picture (it leads to the laundry room/pantry, which used to be a porch, and has to be left open in the winter anyway because there are no vents in that room).

These pictures were taken right before we started painting, so they show the room as it was "lived in"

The walls were a melamine (sp?) paneling that had a very slick finish.  We wanted minimal mess while in the process, so we had to find a way to get paint to stick to it without sanding.  We went with a Zinsser brand oil-based primer.  Two coats and it was ready for color (horray!)  Now, oil-based has a LOT of fumes, so make sure your area is well-vented.  We did this in the summer when it was un-seasonally cool so I was able to have the windows open.

I originally wanted to put something over this tile, but we decided to try painting it white first and see how we liked it.  I used two coats of the Zinsser primer on it and two coats of dutch boy high gloss white.

So we started painting.  Again, I used two coats of the primer, since there was a lot of color and pattern that needed to be covered.  Then the wall color is "melon wedge" by Dutch Boy, and we went with a semi-gloss (recommended for kitchens and bathrooms because it cleans up well).  The fabric for the curtains is all from JoAnn Fabrics, and the panels above the sink have clip rings on them so that they are easy to open up for light during the day. 

I am very pleased with how well the tile backsplash turned out.  Who knew that a few coats of primer and white paint could make it look new(ish)?  

The chairs got a facelift as well!  Remy is a fan of the new seat covers. (this was done with a screwdriver and a staple gun.  Very simple!) 

This pictures shows more of the room at a time.  You can see the new floor (I even helped with the grouting!).  I also repainted the cover for the dishwasher.  The panel slides out and was ivory, so I pulled it out and used a couple coats of the Zinsser on it (I really am thankful we found that stuff!).  

So a quick before/after.  The floor was the most expensive part of the updating, but overall we spent about $500 on the whole project.  I have a couple more things to add to it eventually (I'm looking for a little white board with a tray that we can hang over that old phone jack), but for now I am LOVING the new look.  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Cleaning our Micro suede couch

It was time.  We got our couch a couple of months before we got married, so it has been in our household for right around five (!) years now.  We have never cleaned it or had it cleaned.  It hasn't been through any major spills or bad stains, so I guess it never felt like it needed it.  Well this morning when I looked at the couch, I realized that it needed it.  The winter has been especially rough because Remy's paws are impossible to get clean and dry after he has been outside.  Lots of wet paws have left sediment and dirt and whoknowswhatelse all over the couch.  So I did some asking around (and browsing on pinterest, of course) to see how I could go about cleaning the microsuede.  
This blog post caught my eye because it used supplies I could get at our dollar store here in town.  
I have to admit, I was pretty impressed with the results!  
Here are some before pictures (please don't judge me!)

(I don't even know what that stain is!)

dirty doodle paw prints...

(the dark spot is still wet from a stain that needed immediate attention)

this one makes me not want to take my naps on the couch anymore

supplies  (the original blog post said to use white sponges and bristle brush so that there would be no color transfer, but since our couch is brown I wasn't concerned with using the yellow)

So I went to work.  And I will be doing this MUCH more often.  The three sponges on the top are the ones I used, the bottom sponge is new.  eww

And here are the after pictures!  There are still some dark spots from the rubbing alcohol not being all the way dry, and you can tell that I didn't bristle brush the same direction all over, but you can also see that the stains are gone!  :)

He looks so innocent, doesn't he?