Saturday, March 31, 2012

Easy Canvas Prints

Easy Canvas Prints Product Review

After I got married, I had incentive to write reviews of my vendors over at Wedding Wire. At the time, the free gift you'd get for reviewing at least five wedding vendors that you used was a code for a free 8x8" canvas print at Easy Canvas Prints. The smallest print at 8x8 starts at $40 and they have sizes that range all the way up to 30x40" for $175, as well as custom sizing. These prices do not include changing your photo to black & white, sepia color, or "retouching" which all add to the price in ridiculous amounts (you can do these things for free in online photo sharing sites like Photobucket or play with Windows Photo Gallery as well). Here is a chart for a guide to their "most popular sizes" and pricing, including how much they charge for the special features. At the moment they have a sale going on (which I suspect is akin to Michael's constant framing sales--so never pay full price and just wait a few weeks until another sale is on): 25% off and free shipping. The free shipping is actually something to really take advantage of, as I will explain later.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Herbed (but not too herby) roasted turkey breast

We bought a deboned turkey breast from costco, so I went searching for a recipe since I had never cooked one before (it was actually precooked, but, ya know what I mean....). I found a recipe for Moist and Tender Turkey Breast that included, of all things, mayonnaise. Sounds nasty, but the mayo makes it so that you don't have to baste the turkey and it stays moist.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Project Runway All Stars 3/22 Finale!

Did I call it or what! I totally did! Mondo deserved it from the beginning of his original season, let alone the All Stars. I did genuinely like his collection the best, so I'm not just being loyal to Mondo for the sake of it. I really enjoyed his collection! I actually really liked Michael's collection too. There are so many ways that "Safari" could be overdone, but I didn't think it was over the top at all. I thought the safari theme was more subtle than outrageous and costume-y. Austin's, however, was what I've come to expect from him--more for costumes on Broadway or outlandish outfits for stars who really want to draw attention to themselves. Entertaining, but like one of the judges said, I didn't see the connection between the pieces very much (though looking at it a second time, I think I can see the connection better). Overall, the designers made it very easy for me to pick out first, second, and third place for my opinion. I was surprised that Michael got 3rd place, but whatever I guess....the winner was who I wanted it to be and that's what matters most (to me!).

Sunday, March 25, 2012

DIY Dry Erase Board

Just a quick post for this because it's so wickedly easy.

I wanted a chalkboard for the kitchen so I could write down the dates of foods in the fridge. So where did I go? Michael's, of course! But when I got there I couldn't find any chalkboards! I asked about them and apparently they had just gotten rid of them. I have no idea why because Michael's always has chalkboards! People need them! People like me!

Oh well. So I went to Walmart and found a cheap magnetic dry erase board instead so I could just put it on the side of the fridge. Easy, right?

Friday, March 23, 2012

A few tips on formatting a written manuscript

I've been doing tons of research on how to format a manuscript properly. It's frustrating because in order to get published, you've got to follow dozens of rules just to get your book/paper/whatever glanced at before thrown in the trash. And it's doubly frustrating because one website will tell you to always do it one way, where another website will tell you to always do the opposite, if you want to get published. Example: one website told me to always put two spaces in between sentences, whereas another website said not to do this, and another website said it doesn't matter either way. Annoying.

I'm going to list here a few things you need to do to at least start formatting your piece the correct way if you need to submit it electronically (If you're simply printing and mailing, you probably won't need to bother with this and instead follow the rules for formatting a hardcopy, such as coverpage, font selection & size, margins, paragraphs, etc...)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ash Meadows NWR: part 2

During the year I spent at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, I took a remarkably small amount of photos of the scenery. Most of my photos were of flowers and animals, and here is a collection of my favorites. Even though the Mojave Desert is hot and dry and prickly, I couldn't help but love all the flowers and the animals we found there.

Ash Meadows NWR: Part 1

My sister and I worked at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge for 11 months between 2009-2010 as Ecological Technicians. It was an amazing experience and a lot of hard work. Ash Meadows is home to at least 24 species of plants and animals that are endemic to the refuge--meaning they are found nowhere else in the entire world. Erin and I worked on eradicating--or at least trying to control--the crayfish population (which are an invasive species that like to eat the endangered species), sprayed and pulled weeds, planted hundreds of plants, put together irrigation for said plants, helped create a new habitat for the endangered pupfish and dace, and lots of other fun stuff. You can also check out Ash Meadows at their facebook page. It's right next to Death Valley National Park, so if you're passing through you really must stop by for an afternoon to see the amazing springs and wildlife.

This blog post will be photos from my recent visit last week. A lot has changed! Part 2 will be photos from when my sister and I worked there, which will have plant and animal photos (it was the wrong time of year for that this time!).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars!

I've never made any cookies or bars that are no-bake because every recipe I've seen has always included oats. Oats oats oats. I hate oats! I came across this recipe from Six Sisters' Stuff, which is a great blog and you should check it out!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Origami envelope instructions

These are the instructions on how to make your letter into its own origami envelope in 10 easy steps! I got the original idea here, but the instructions are missing a step so I thought I'd post my own. I thought it came out looking neat for the OWL exam results, and was an envelope that I could see being delivered by owl post. ;)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Harry Potter documents gift

sure what I should give to my twin fI thought I'd get creative and make somethieptance letter. After I got that idea and started Googling, the whole project grew into more than just the letter. I decided to make the Hogwarts acceptance letter and the envelope to go with it, an Ordinary Wizarding Level results letter, a deposit slip for a checking account (vault) at Gringott's, an Undesireable No. 1 poster, a letter from the owl postmaster, a few origami envelopes, and a Hogwarts diploma.

First off, here is a list of the fonts I downloaded for this project and the links where you can find them:

Aquiline (harrypotterfanzone) or Aquiline Two (dafont)
Colwell (dafont)
Fortunaschwein (dafont)
Hogwartswizard (fonts2u)
Jane Austen (dafont)
Lumos (dafont)
Nathan Condensed (dafont)
Olho_de_boi (dafont)
Parseltongue (dafont)
Zenda (dafont)

The rest of the fonts were already in Microsoft Word/Publisher.

To upload a font to your computer for use (using Windows), here is a list of steps:

  1. Download (save) a font from a font site (ex: and save to whatever location you prefer (I usually download them to the desktop to begin with so that I don't have to scroll through all the already-existing fonts to find it).
  2. The font folder on your computer will be a zip file--to unzip it, right click on it and choose "extract all"
  3. A new folder should appear that is unzipped--trash the zipped file (you won't be needing it).
  4. Go to Control Panel >> Appearance & Personalization >> Fonts (or simply Control Panel and type font into the search bar).
  5. Right-click on the blank/empty/white space in the window where you do not select an already-existing font, and click on Install New Font...
  6. A small "Add Fonts" window should pop up. In the boxes where you find the location of your font.  Follow the various folders to find the location of your font, double-clicking all the way. My computer usually has it pre-set to show the hard drive (c:) but the folder is not usually in the location I desire. In order to get back to my desktop, I double-click on the c:\ in the Folder window >> scroll down and double-click users >> double-click on April (my desktop) >> and then desktop (where the new font's folder is).
  7. Double-click on the folder of the font you want to install in the Folders window. Sometimes when you download a new font, you can elect to download others that are "alternate" or "condensed" or "expanded" etc... of the same font. Simply choose which font you want to install in the "List of Fonts" box. You'll be able to see which font it is by a sample sentence they show below. You can install more than one version of the same font at a time, but you can't install multiple separate fonts (folders) at once.
  8. After you select the font you want, click the Install button. Voila! Font is installed and you should see it show up in Microsoft Word. You can now move the new font's folder to the location of the rest of the fonts if you haven't already, but don't delete it. 
Just FYI, installing and using a new font on your computer will not transfer to another computer unless you install it on their computer as well. I did all this work on my laptop, transferred all documents and new font folders to my USB, then copied it all onto my husband's computer to print. I had to install the new fonts onto his computer before they would show up in my documents.
However, a year and a half after I made this it occurred to me that you can make these on one computer and save it as a PDF, then print it on a different computer. It won't be editable, but that way you won't need to put a bunch of new fonts on another computer in order for it to work!

For the whole project I used cardstock paper from Michael's since I couldn't find real parchment. I had two different colors but the photos make it look even worse because of flash/non-flash/night/day. I tore off the straight edges of the paper to give it a more authentic look. 

I searched the internet for the different crests and seals and I think I found all of them on Harry Potter Wiki (click here  for the Hogwarts crest and house crests). I will post the links to the crests and crests as photos too. I don't know if there is any copyright infringement involved in this--I assumed if there was, they wouldn't make it so easy to "right-click-and-save" these little pictures.

Exhibit A: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry Acceptance Letter

I did a little research on the internet to see how others have formatted this letter. The text, itself, is from the first book. To make the envelope look "sealed," I used an a plastic Hogwarts seal/sticker that I had saved from the scrapbook I had made for our trip to Harry Potter World last year. If you don't have one, I've seen a lot of tutorials online about making your own by melting crayons or getting a kit.
I think I got McGonagall's signature from this Harry Potter wiki page, but there are a lot of places on the internet to find it and save it if that one doesn't work for you--all you need to do is Google "Minerva McGonagall signature."
I've blocked out my sister's last name in all of the photos.

The font for the envelope is Lumos.
The font for the acceptance letter is Nathan Condensed.
The font for the "written" student's name is Aquiline.

Envelope Crest

This is the scroll I used as a separator.

Exhibit B: School Supplies List

The font for the school supplies list is Nathan Condensed.

Exhibit C: Owl Postmaster Letter

I borrowed the idea from this person because I thought it was cute. I didn't have an owl (stuffed or otherwise) (and I'm evidently not talented enough to fold an origami owl), so I thought it'd be funny to make an excuse for the lack of owl. It's a letter from the Owl Postmaster, whose name and signature I fabricated.
Go here for a list of seal designs for different departments of the Ministry of Magic.
Here is the link to the Owl Post seal.

The font for the Owl Post letter is Fortunaschwein.
The font for the Postmater's signature is Jane Austen.


For the Owl Post letter, I thought it would be nice to make an official envelope since it was from the Postmaster and, by extension, the Minister for Magic. I found an easy origami envelope online that I made out of more cardstock, and the instructions are on this blog.

Exhibit D: Gringotts Deposit Slip

I got this idea while searching for Harry Potter documents (this seller on Etsy sells a whole set including a "bank book" and deposit slips). It's supposed to show a deposit of a certain amount of wizard money into a vault. On the back I wrote the warning that is posted when you walk into Gringotts, and thought a goblin would probably have to approve the deposit so I made up a goblin name (Gapnug Kugrat) and created a signature for it with another font. I got the Gringotts crest and the corner logo from HP wiki (here).

The font for the Gringotts Check is Blackadder ITC in Microsoft.
The font for the "handwritten" part of the check is Freestyle Script in Microsoft.
The font on the back of the check (the warning) is Parseltongue.
The font for "Approving Goblin" is Nathan Condensed.
The font for Gapnug Kugrat's signature is Olho de boi.


Exhibit E: Ordinary Wizarding Level Exam Results

Who doesn't love the scene where Hermione has a black eye and makes her owl tremble as she gets her OWL exam results? I made up the grades for my sister according to what I suspect she would achieve.

The fonts for the OWL Results are Nathan Condensed, Papyrus (in Microsoft), and Poor Richard (in Microsoft). 

Since I didn't have a seal with real wax and I had already used the scrapbooking plastic one, and I didn't want to roll it up like a scroll (how I'd imagine it was attached to the owl's leg in the book), so I decided to fold the paper iteself into an envelope. I found the instructions for this one online as well, but they are missing a step and not that great so I will post my own instructions and put a link in here for it. I liked this origami envelope because it reminded me of an owl's beak. The crest is a rub-on decal that you can get for scrapbooking.

Exhibit F: Undesireable No. 1 Poster

Warner Brothers created this program on their site so you can make your own "wanted" poster. All you have to do is upload a photo and they make you Undesireable Number One! It's not the best picture, but It's hard finding a straight-forward shot that is the right size because they don't let you zoom in or out or crop it when you upload it.
The link is here, and you can skip the video that plays automatically if you want.

Update: When I made this they had the program to make your own poster, but I'm not sure if you can make it anymore on their website. It probably wouldn't be *too* difficult to make your own though with some creativity!

Exhibit G: Hogwarts School Diploma

This was my favorite one to make. Here is the wiki link to the crests of Hogwarts and the houses again. (By the way, I "faded" the large Hogwarts crest in the background on Photobucket to make it look like a sort of watermark). I did a lot of research (Googling) for this one since I'm not all that creative and tons of people have made plenty of versions of the diplomas already. It was mostly inspired (copied) by this diploma on's amazing what someone can print at home and sell online--and people buy it! She sells these for $12, plus $3 shipping. The shipping price, at least, is honest according to my calculations (from Seattle to Miami in a large envelope at 12oz). Assuming the piece of cardstock cost 59 cents (which is what I paid for it because I bought just a dozen pages from the open stock. If a value pack was bought, it comes out to about 14 cents per page IF the 50-page pack was a whole $7, which is a gross overestimate for most regular cardstock + coupons), and the ink to print the page would cost, say....the rest of that dollar (so, 41 cents--another overestimate)....that comes out to a 91.67% Gross Profit Margin with 1,100% markup (I know I'm pathetic for working this out). Must be nice to sell to suckers. Instead, I suppose I ripped off this person's idea and made my own for a dollar instead of shelling out $15 to order one. And mine is better anyway.

I got the Albus Dumbledore signature here, McGonagall's is linked in Exhibit A, and I made up the Kingsley Shacklebolt signature with a font. I know Dumbledore wasn't alive by the time Kingsley became Minister for Magic, but I wanted the best of both worlds so I did it anyway!

The fonts used for the diploma are Zenda, Fortunaschwein, Vivaldi (Microsoft), Old English Text MT (Microsoft), Jane Austen for Kingsley's signature, and Papyrus (Microsoft).

I faded the Hogwarts crest for the background of the diploma.

***On the diploma, the last line of the paragraph includes the date June 15, 2011 and you'll need to change this if you want to be a current date!***

I think that's everything that is needed to remake these documents.

If you leave a comment or send me an email, I can send blank copies of these documents through email so you wouldn't need to put them together yourself. Blogger doesn't have a function that would allow me to upload the documents and post them on here.
I have versions of the documents in both Microsoft Word and Publisher (I prefer Publisher but not everyone has it). I would hope that they would stay intact through email without any of the formatting getting messed up, but you would need to make sure that you have all of the fonts downloaded and installed for it to work! Otherwise, you could always use other fonts of your choosing. No guarantees, but we can always give it a try!

I hope you enjoyed this post!

Update 5/26/2014: Because it's been two years and I'm still receiving requests from people to send them my documents (which I gladly do!), I've decided to open a account so that the public can freely access it and download the documents from there instead of having to play email-tag with me. 

1. Go to
2. Sign in with this email:
3. Use this password: ExpectoPatronum
4. Read the Disclaimer
5. Download the documents you want and follow my instructions on this blog!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Project Runway All Stars 3/8

I didn't really understand the point of this challenge, and especially for the finals? They have to stay within budget for every single thing they do--so the staying within budget as a "challenge" isn't really that much of a stretch for them. I expected something more difficult than a simple limitation on material and I was disappointed in the whole concept. At this point in the show--especially as the LAST elimination challenge--I expected something more challenging!

On with the show.....

Friday, March 9, 2012

Simple Easter Wreath

Yay for fun crafts! Soon after I made my St. Patrick's Day wreath, I ended up going to a town that had a Michael's and I was able to get some supplies for an Easter wreath. They had two different kinds of eggs--the pastel shimmery kind and the pastel matte kind that were spotted like robin's eggs. I decided to go with the shimmery because I thought they were more fun. I bought some ivory ribbon as well, and a few other things that I didn't end up using on the wreath.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Kitchen is put back together!

....well, it's mostly put back together anyway. We still have to do the cupboards so half of the cabinets don't have doors right now. I'll post more pics when that whole project is done, which won't be for a while.
We painted the walls red and the ceiling and door frames a creamy white. The two doors themselves in the photos will hopefully end up the same color the cabinets will be eventually. We replaced the ugly flush-mounted light above the sink with a pendant light, and replaced the bright rectangular fluorescent light with a track light (which, by the way, was a huge PITA to install). The track light doesn't give off as much light as we expected so we are considering another light to go above the refrigerator on the wall where there is some empty space.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Kitchen update: ceiling's next!

Apparently, you're supposed to paint your ceilings first. This makes complete sense since you'll be able to repair and paint over anything that drips on your walls. We didn't know we'd want to paint our ceiling until we were half way through our walls, so we're doing it in the wrong order. Oh well! We are also replacing most of the floor moulding around the kitchen. There isn't very much and the moulding itself is super cheap, so that part is mercifully easy. Supposedly the trim is already primed when you buy it, but I didn't trust it so I primed it and I put one coat of the white paint on it as well--the same color we will be using for the ceiling--Behr's creamy white "Innocence."

Sunday, March 4, 2012

How are you changing the world?

This is probably my most favorite quote of all time. It's from the second book of one of my favorite series, The Farseer Trilogy: Royal Assassin, by Robin Hobb. It reminds me that everyone's life means something, no matter how exceptional and no matter how modest. Everyone is destined for greatness.