Monday, November 28, 2011

I Know This Much To Be True...

I love to bake. I don't like eating sweets (though I love sneaking bites of dough), but I love baking them. I love trying new recipes, though I tend to get irrationally upset when the recipe doesn't turn out properly.  I will gladly sit hunched over a table for several hours, until my back hurts and I can't stand up, decorating Christmas cookies into little works of art.

I adore the Christmas season, but adore it because of the true meaning. Christ's birth, a Savior born unto us, God's love. Black Friday and other things sicken me because they clearly demonstrate a loss of the real meaning. Let's be realistic, how many of those people are shopping purely for gifts as opposed to scoring an awesome TV for themselves?

I find it very hard to get in the Christmas spirit when it isn't snowing, or even cold. It's currently about 56* here in the DC area, and our high the last two days has hit 70. It seems strange to see my tree and lights with the windows wide open.

I truly prefer to give gifts than to receive. I haven't made a Christmas list in years because it seems silly and rude to me to make a list of my demands. My mom scolded me for being too eager last year, when in reality, I was jumping to get my gifts that I'd bought for the family. Today I realized that I can't even afford my own fixed expenses, and have no idea how on this earth I will afford gifts for others. This realization sent me as close to a breakdown as I can get these days.

I think "It's a Wonderful Life" is the most dreadfully boring movie ever. And it's not even remotely uplifting. I mean, when the movie ends, he's still f*cked, he's just somehow happy about it because he got a temporary respite from his troubles.

I didn't mean for this post to be so focused on Christmas.

When President Obama announced the swift removal of troops from Iraq, I was incredibly jealous because the only person I know with someone in Iraq suddenly had a year long deployment turn into a 5 month one, and they won't even miss Christmas.

I get random urges to move all my furniture. Occasionally, I feel a pang of disappointment because the current setup in my apartment really can't be improved upon, so I know I can't move my furniture for the sake of moving it any time soon.

I blame myself for everything that goes wrong. Especially right now.

I have no idea what I want to do with my life anymore, but if there is a profession I'm considering and certain other people start that profession, I immediately lose all interest in it.

I don't like ice cream much, but if I'm going to have it, it better include sprinkles or mini gummy bears.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

DIY - Wedding Programs

I keep working in reverse on this wedding...  admittedly, I designed the invitations and Save the Date cards in inDesign. So, while I can show you pictures in a later post, I can't exactly tell you how to make them.    So today, wedding programs!

They're probably the first impression your guests get (after the invitation of course). So they need to be cute! But you still have a decent amount of information to convey. I can't quite take credit for this one... I found it online and made adjustments.  I do not remember where I found it, or who to give credit to, but just want to be clear that I'm not taking full credit.

Also, I lived at Paper Source during wedding prep. If you're not lucky enough to live near one, you can order online.

Here are our wedding programs!

Of course, we were supposed to get married in Killington, VT..  and the Killington Grand had chairs for their outdoor ceremonies that are not rounded. So the initial plan was for the invitations to actually hang on each individual chair.  But don't worry, they looked almost as cute tucked into a basket. 

The backing for each was a note card in the Half-Moon and Enclosure card (4 3/4" x 6 7/8"). Here is the Paper Source page  I used Chocolate for everything, but you can see they have tons of colors. 

Here are the tools you'll need. The tap runner below was from Target, but there is a Thermoweb brand available at Paper Source or Michael's that I felt worked better.  The hole punch is from Paper Source and is specific to the size brad available from PS. The brad setter (the little silver thing) is also from PS. 

I hate brads. I really do. Buy more than you think you'll need. I completely ruined at least 25 over the course of 110 programs.

Using the hole punch, punch a hole in the upper center of each Enclosure Card.  I punched one as a guide and used that to ensure each hole was in the same spot.

Place a brad into each hole, wider side down. Lay this on a hard surface that you don't mind denting. I had a cutting mat on top of a table.  At this point, you should have an Enclosure card, with a small hole in the top center and a brad in the hole with the smaller end facing you. (This is the end sticking up on most of the brads above).

Set the brad setter into the small hole on top of the brad. (You will see a small knob on the end of the brad setter that is clearly meant to fit into the brad). Hold the setter firmly in place and hit it with a hammer. (Trust me, use a hammer. If you don't have one, go buy one!). It will take a couple to get the hang of it, but you should end up with a cute little bracket around the hole.

Cut approximately 10"-12" lengths of 1/4"-wide ribbon. Put ribbon through the bracket and use a candle, match or lighter to melt the ends. (this will keep them from fraying).  Tie into bow or knot.  Ta-da! Enclosure card on ribbon!

Now, the program part....

First, I apologize, so far, I haven't been able to upload the actual template. I will keep trying.

But the Belly Bands are very easy...  In Word, create a new page. Set the margins as small as they will go, then create a table with 3 columns and 5 rows. Ensure that each row is 1.25" tall. The columns should be 2.25", 4.75" and 4".  Make sure to set the border between rows so that it will print (you need a guide for cutting) and the border between columns so it doesn't print.

In the largest box, print the names and date to your liking. We did our names in large, bold font, with "The Wedding Ceremony Of" above our names and the date below. Center this within the cell.

In the 4" box, we printed a message to our guests, welcoming them and thanking them for joining us.  I printed the belly bands on regular 8.5 x 11 paper from Paper Source in the color Sunshine.  You should have 5 bands per page, and I simply cut them with scissors.

Belly Band:

The actual invitation was also done in Word. Set your margins to 0. It is probably again easiest to insert a table. This one can be 2 columns and only 1 row. Use the ruler guide to ensure your sizes are right. The first column I started at .1, and ended at 3.5. The second column ended at 7.4.  (Sounds like it wouldn't work, but it did once everything was folded).

Create text boxes within each column.  I created a text box in each that was half the height of the page, then copied each one into the lower half of the column. Put in your information as needed. You can see ours below.

You will need to print this on cardstock, or you will be able to see through when you look at the program part. You will have two programs per page.

In order to trim this properly, you should only need to trim one inch off the right side of the page, then cut it in half to separate the two.     (Yes, my best friend was a guillotine trimmer).

Fold each program in half so it opens like a small book. Use the tape runner to put tape on the back of the right side of the program, then center it in the lower portion of the Enclosure Card.

Fold the Belly Band around the program so that your main part (names and date) is centered. Fold the other ends over so the note overlaps the other end of the band on the back side of the program. Use a tiny amount of tape from the runner to secure the two ends.

At the ceremony, these will hang on each chair, and your guests can simply slide the belly band off in order to read the program.

I know this post is long. The programs took probably two full days, but otherwise they were remarkably easy.  

Here are the templates for both parts. Please know that the spacing will likely not work immediately upon download. For example, when I download with my Mac, the Program spaces the columns incorrectly. I can quick fix by dragging the center line back to the left. I apologize for this, but hopefully you'll still find the templates helpful.

Once downloaded, you will want to play with the font and spacing until this matches what you want. With careful spacing, I was able to get two programs per 8.5x11. The template does not reflect this.

Download Belly Band Template:

Monday, November 7, 2011

This Week's Lesson...

I believe God is always speaking to us. Constantly. It's just we aren't always listening. Or maybe it's just we can't always understand what He is saying.   I think one of my most common prayers is asking Him to help me understand, to open my heart so I can hear, to help me figure out His plan, what He's teaching me.

Sometimes I can't figure it out, no matter how hard I try. I'm left feeling lost, confused, alone. I never stop doubting that God has a plan for me, and that it is good, because He told me so. But I have no idea what that plan is, or where we're going on this seemingly roundabout way of getting there!!

Other times, it just smacks you in the face. For all the times I've begged, I think I've been spoken to directly only about 3 times. Other times, I just know in my heart that I've figured it out. Well, maybe not "it", but part of it.

So what are you telling me right now God? What are you teaching me? With all this uncertainty, a situation seemingly perfectly made to keep me from moving forward in my career while my former co-workers seem to be finding wonderful jobs where they are clearly moving forward? With this incredibly challenging start to my marriage? With our cancelled honeymoon and Facebook photos from everyone else's honeymoons?  Facebook, you evil, evil thing. Where all these new jobs, honeymoons booked where we were supposed to go, surprises and dates to start everyone else's marriages are jammed in our faces.

Any guess where I'm going?  Jealousy.

I'm convinced I'm being 'tortured' and tempted because I need to learn to be genuinely happy for other people. (I can't say about everything...  other people's stupidity will still get me ranting) But for too long I've taken genuine injustices, and rolled the anger toward everything else. I've allowed things to get under my skin and get angry about situations that I shouldn't. I've certainly dropped into the "why me?" mentality on certain occasions.

So this week's lesson (or this month's, this could take a while)...  which will also be a big step back toward the optimistic person I used to me...  is to be genuinely happy for others. Regardless of what I'm happy about. Some things are very easy to be happy about, and some are far more challenging. But I'm going to fight and strive against that jealousy monster.  So I'm happy for your job, your honeymoon, your date night. I truly hope you enjoy it. And I'm going to keep counting the blessings in my situation Because it's really not that bad. For any of us.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Paleo Sweet and Sour Chicken...

Ok, who else craves Chinese fairly regularly?? Who else went paleo, and doesn't miss bread at all, but misses those breaded dishes??   Me, me, me!  I've googled recipes galore for Sweet and Sour sauce, but couldn't find anything truly Paleo. Everyone wanted sugar or ketchup or something...    Now, bear in mind that I asked if soy sauce is Paleo (probably not, maybe only certain versions), but the quantity is very small and I think it could be left out.

I had a craving, so I decided to experiment. It turned out really well!  The husband will get to sample my experiment tomorrow, I'll try to get him to comment with his thoughts.   Here's what you'll need (feeds 2): 

1 can pineapple chunks (look for organic!)
3/4 Cup vinegar
1 chunk tomato   (I cut about 1/8 off the tomato that sits in my fridge and gets used slowly for salads)
1/8 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp honey
Arrowroot powder as needed  (probably 1/8 Cup)

2 breasts Chicken   (you can substitute the appropriate amount of shrimp or beef)
1/2 large Green Bell Pepper
1/4 Onion

Add juice from pineapple can (should yield 3/4 Cup), vinegar, soy sauce and honey to pot or sauce pan. Simmer until warmed through, add ginger and tomato chunk. Bring to a boil and cook just until sauce begins to thicken. Reduce heat and remove tomato chunk. (I think you could also used tomato paste, but I'd use a very small amount, maybe 1 Tbsp.)   Add arrowroot powder as needed until sauce attains desired consistency.

Cut chicken into very small pieces. I did sliced, bite-size pieces. Cut pepper and onion into similar bite-size chunks. Cook chicken in 1 tsp. coconut oil until cooked through. Once chicken is cooked, add onions, pineapple and green pepper. Cook until green pepper just begin to soften (I prefer firmer veggies in my sweet and sour chicken).

Pour sauce over chicken mixture. Stir together and simmer for a few minutes.   Enjoy!

(as always, if you make this and have suggestions, please feel free to comment. I'm experimenting after all!)