Crockpot Mexican Chicken

My last post was almost a month ago. I’m not going to go into the reasons for the delay, but if anyone is curious, go to the site my mom and I have been keeping here. We’ve been through a lot in the last month, but we are trying to praise God through everything . . . even when it seems this journey will be endless.

Today I’m sharing one of my absolute favorite recipes. I got back from Ohio last Sunday, and I really haven’t felt like cooking much. This awesome recipe is perfect for those days: throw it all in your slow cooker and forget about it for eight hours. When you’re ready to eat, the chicken completely falls apart and shreds itself as you stir it. Plus it tastes fantastic no matter how you eat it. We usually do burritos the first night, but we’ll eat the leftovers as salads, burritos, or plain with tortilla chips. It’s incredibly versatile. I forget where I found the original recipe, but I’ve added and subtracted lots of ingredients to suit our tastes.

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This is perfect for our single friends out there . . . simple, filling, tasty, and lots of leftovers. You can eat it for a week, or freeze some! We’ve frozen half of it before to have a few weeks later. How much better can it get? It’s also a great meal for guests. Not only do you not have to worry about dinner, but it’ll be a hit, I promise! I’ve served this to my in-laws, other family, and friends of ours many times, and pretty much everyone has said they love it.

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In the age of Chipotle, everyone probably knows how to fold a burrito, but I thought I’d show you anyway. The trick is not filling the tortilla too full, no matter how tempted you are. (1) Put your filling in a straight-ish line; (2) bring the [short] sides closest to the filling in; (3) holding those sides in, fold over one of the long sides and push back against the filling; (4) roll your finished burrito!

We’re pretty simple with condiments: sour cream, cheese, and spinach. Because it’s so versatile, this can be as healthy as you want it to be, though. Hope you enjoy!

Crockpot Mexican Chicken

  • 3-4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 or 2 bell peppers (color of your choice), diced
  • 1 jalepeno, seeded and diced (optional)
  • 8-oz. frozen corn
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 T. minced garlic
  • 16-oz. salsa
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 1 t. oregano
  • 1/2 t. cayenne pepper (more or less, depending on taste)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 c. dry rice (I use Minute Brown Rice)
  1. Place chicken in crockpot.
  2. Mix all ingredients except rice; pour over chicken. Make sure chicken is covered.
  3. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
  4. Stir and shred chicken.
  5. Cook rice and stir into chicken mixture.
  6. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, tortillas, tortilla chips, and anything else your heart desires.

Love Languages

I do not have an aptitude for languages. There are so many people out there who know English along with their native language, and others who are fluent in more than two languages. It blows my mind that people enjoy learning how to speak other tongues, but I definitely admire them. I took French for three years in high school, and pretty much all I remember is “Je t’aime” and “Tu t’appelle comment”, which I think means “I love you” and “What is your name?” . . . maybe. Don’t quote me on that.

Despite the fact that languages aren’t my “thing”, I really love this design. I started working on this print months ago and only just got around to finalizing it. The idea popped into my head one day when I sat down at my computer: saying “I love you” in a way that celebrates languages and how the world communicates love in a very simple design.

Sometimes I think we forget about the rest of the world. It’s so easy to be self-centered and focused on our own problems and trials. This print will be hanging above my desk shortly (when I print it and find the perfect frame) to serve as a reminder to think about others before myself. So many people are hurting. They don’t have food or clean water or roofs above their heads, no access to modern medicine. The world is so much bigger than me.

1picLoveLangThis print is available at my store! Head on over to check it out.

Mexican [Meatless] Lasagna Cups

Today I’m sharing a favorite recipe of mine. I’m kind of proud of myself, because this one is 100% my creation. I’m sure others have done this before me, but I haven’t ever seen this exact recipe.

The very first blog I ever read was Kevin and Amanda. It was right after we were married in 2010 and I was always scouring the internet for recipes. That blog popped up, and it started my journey into reading blogs every day. I’m addicted to a lot of food blogs and DIY blogs. Maybe in a future post I’ll talk about my favorites, but for now I’ll just say that there are some awesome bloggers out there who are incredibly talented.

A little while after I started reading Amanda’s blog, she posted this recipe for Lasagna Cups. I think I made them the next week. They were a hit! The hubs and I both love them. There’s something about the wonton wrappers . . . they bake up crispy and golden brown on the edges, soft in the middle . . . they’re just really, really good. So that recipe got me thinking: what else can I put in these wonton wrappers? The possibilities are endless! Pretty much my first thought was something Mexican. I grew up in a Mexican-food-loving family and was pretty spoiled to have authentic Mexican restaurants minutes from my house. Even now, I probably make one or two Mexican dishes a week. I knew I could whip up something delicious with those wonton wrappers in a muffin tin, and keep it relatively cheap by going meatless!

If you’ve never done this before, you have to try it!

photo_2You just place the wrappers in a sprayed muffin tin and layer from there! These would be fabulous as a party appetizer if you just did one layer. When I make these for a dinner, I always do two layers like the original Lasagna Cup recipe.

photo_5Mmm, mmm. They are so good with a little sour cream on top. These are incredibly easy to make and only use seven ingredients!

*Side note on the photography: Yes, I would love to take amazing pictures like so many food bloggers do. But in this season of life, I work during the day and am typically making dinner anywhere from 6:15-7:30 pm. Up here in New England, it’s dark by then. So maybe someday I’ll have naturally-lit, beautiful photos. For now, I’m choosing not to be hindered by the light and I’m sharing what I love!

Without further ado, the recipe:

Mexican [Meatless] Lasagna Cups

  • 1 15-oz. can black beans (or any bean of choice)
  • 1 c. frozen corn
  • 3/4 c. salsa
  • 1 t. garlic powder or 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/2 t. chili powder
  • 24 wonton wrappers
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese (more or less depending on your preference)
  1. Combine beans, corn, salsa, and seasonings in small saucepan over medium heat. Stir well and heat through.
  2. Spray a 12-tin muffin pan. Place one wonton wrapper in each cup.
  3. Place one large spoonful of the bean mixture in each cup. Top with a bit of cheese.
  4. Place another wrapper on top; layer bean mixture and cheese again.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 11-15 minutes until edges are golden brown and cheese is melted.

We Belong Together

Well guys, it’s been a few weeks! It’s been a longer break than I intended. Life has been busy lately. I think everyone can attest to that. Between working 35-40 hours a week recently and a bunch of design projects, my time has flown out the window! Don’t get me wrong, I love having design projects to work on. I never take that for granted. However, I’d love to get rid of this pesky day job . . . I work at a bank. I hate it. But I’m dealing with it, and thankful everyday for my side projects that will hopefully, hopefully turn into a full-time gig.

I had so much fun creating the print I’m sharing today. It’s a few months old now, if you can’t tell from the date on the design. Jared is my husband’s roommate from college. He and his now-wife, Linnea, got married on the beach in Cape Cod. It was absolutely beautiful and perfect.  For the past few weddings we’ve attended, I’ve tried to create something unique for each couple. I knew that Jared was a huge coffee lover, and he and Linnea stopped at a coffee shop the night of their engagement . . . what’s more perfect than illustrating with some coffee mugs?Banz_ol

Is there anything better than sharing a yummy drink and chatting with someone you love? Nope, especially with fall here and the cold weather setting in.

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This is available at my store here! Colors are, as always, completely customizable, and this can even be rotated to landscape orientation.

And now I’m craving a hot drink . . . I think I’m off to make myself some chai tea!

A Creative + Thoughtful Birthday Gift

Before I say anything else this morning, I have to get this out of the way. One of my friends pinned this on Pinterest, and I saw it last night. Maybe it was just the time of night (and I really needed to go to bed) but . . . I could not stop laughing. Just look at it.

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I had tears running down my face. Then when I did get in bed, my poor husband was trying to sleep and I just kept laughing, seriously, for like five minutes straight. Then I kept trying to say “let’s eat ice cream” and that would just start me all over again. So, thank you, Pinterest, for making me laugh uncontrollably and making my husband think I’m completely psycho.

Anyway, now that that’s out of the way . . . today I’m not sharing a new design or recipe, but one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received. It was from my hubby, and it’s probably my favorite thing he’s ever gotten me. Besides my plaid winter coat. And my boots. Okay, so it’s up there on the list of things he’s gotten me. Top five for sure . . . (just kidding, Brett!)

The short story is that I really need a new Mac. The long version is that I entered college with no major — I had no clue in the world what I wanted to do with my life, and let’s be honest, most 18-year-olds have no idea. So I took my gen eds first semester. Then I took more second semester. By then I knew I needed to pick something. I loved my college and the friends I’d made, so I knew I wanted to stay no matter what. I went through the catalog so many times, narrowing down what I thought I wanted to do. I knew I wasn’t cut out to be a nurse, business major, or teacher. No way. I thought briefly about Communications, but when I realized that would mean a lot of speeches in my future, I pretty quickly scratched that from the list.

One of the only majors left on the list that sounded appealing was graphic design. But . . . I’d never really taken any art classes after middle school — my high school classes were filled with band and newsmagazine. I couldn’t draw (and still can’t). I didn’t even know much about what graphic designers did, besides seeing some projects a friend of my family’s had made. I was definitely unsure of everything at this point, but, funnily, my friends kept encouraging me to just go for it. They could see the potential in me even though I had no idea what that looked like. One of my unit mates even asked me almost every day in March and April if I’d gone to talk to the head of the graphic design classes yet. Finally, I came to the conclusion I just needed to jump into it. It was literally the only major on my list by this point. And I did.

That’s the long version of my story because I started college with a Dell laptop and no Adobe programs. I didn’t own a Mac until after I graduated! I just used my college’s computers the entire time, and I’m pretty sure I was the only one who did so. It was inconvenient at times, but it worked. The Mac I have now was a huge blessing in itself. The summer after graduation, I worked at the company I’d interned for every summer during college. A few weeks before my last day, the IT guys sent out an email informing everyone that the company was getting brand new Macs, and that there would be a silent auction on the old ones. This was my chance! I was getting married in a few weeks and couldn’t afford to spend money on a lovely new Mac, so I sent in my bid and was able to grab an older iMac. I feel extremely blessed to have gotten it when I did, but it’s starting to get extremely slow. It’s so old I can’t even get the most updated versions of the Adobe Creative Suite. Most new versions of everything (downloads, software, Chrome, Firefox, etc.) don’t work on it. And while I love having the iMac’s big screen to do design with, I’d love to get a MacBook Pro at this point. That way I can work from literally anywhere.

So, I’m saving up for a new Mac. I told Brett not to spend money for my birthday, because any extra cash we have I’m putting towards the computer. I refuse to take money out of our savings for it — I’m literally just using money from my design store, projects, and anything else to buy it. Knowing all of that, Brett made me this as a birthday present:

frontSeriously, how creative was he? I was planning to just shove cash in a container I hadn’t found yet. But he went to Hobby Lobby and grabbed this container, the lettering, and some burlap.

backIt was the perfect container to use. He even cut a slot in the top to slide money and gift cards into: top

No, it’s not perfect, but he spent about an hour trying to cut that thing. It feels like plastic, but once he started cutting, he realized it was aluminum or some type of metal that made it pretty difficult. (And yes, there’s a slot cut in the burlap as well.)

So there you go . . . a creative, thoughtful gift trumps something expensive any day, am I right?

August Insta-Lately . . . (a little late)

Oh, you know . . . my August Instagram feed, now that we’re almost halfway through September:

steakI was bragging on my husband with this picture. I’d come home after a long day at work and all I wanted to do was take a nap . . . yes, at 6:30pm. Brett volunteered to make dinner while I napped — major brownie points for the hubs. I had already marinated the steak the day before, and we’ve cooked steak together a few times, trying to figure out how we like it best since we don’t have a grill. Sometime I’ll share our cooking method, but for now I’ll just say this steak was pretty darn good.

pieClearly I’m one of those people who like taking pictures of their food. I know, I know . . . but this is Tollhouse Cookie pie. It was served at the rehearsal dinner for this wedding. It was to die for, still so warm it was almost hot. I was so excited to eat it that I took a bite before I remembered I wanted a picture of it!

footballThe first from our vacation in Ohio. This is at my high school stadium. I loved football games growing up, and while the new season hadn’t started yet, there was a scrimmage one night that we went to with my parents.

breakfastThis was my birthday breakfast! Yes, more food. Brett took me to one of my favorite places, the Daily Grind Cafe. We each had egg, bacon, and pepperjack cheese bagels, with a warm cinnamon chip scone to share, a smoothie for him and a Toffee Turtle coffee for me. So delicious.

hpFor those of you that love Harry Potter like I do, this shirt is pretty self-explanatory. One of my good friends gave it to me for my birthday a few years ago, and I wore it on my birthday this year. It’s one of my favorites.

minigolfMy parents took us mini-golfing on my birthday as well! Or as we say in Ohio, putt-putting. Is that just an Ohio thing? People in New England think it’s weird. Anyway, my dad killed the rest of us, but my mom ended up getting a free game in the end by putting her ball in the basket. It was hot but a lot of fun!

BrettEllaCuteness alert. We visited lots of our friends while in Ohio, and these are just a few shots I got of Mr. Brett and Ella hanging out. Adorable.

sunflowerAnd last but not least, this gigantic sunflower. It had to be at least six or seven inches across the center. One of my customers from work brought these to me and a couple other co-workers. They decorated our kitchen table for about a week.

Mr. and Mrs. Card

While designing a few different cards for Father’s Day, I realized we had a few weddings to go to this summer. And if I was designing cards, why not design something unique for our gifts as well? Here’s what I came up with:

cardThe idea was something slightly whimsical but elegant as well. I didn’t want a typical wedding scene on the front — you know, a bride in her gown with a groom, a wedding cake, etc. After finding a few inspiration photos, I went with a couple sitting on a bench. To me, it was “cute” without being overly lovey-dovey, and the other line graphics added some fun.

When I design cards, I send them to get printed on cardstock and cut them myself. For the first wedding we went to, I didn’t leave myself enough time to think through the cutting process, and I ended up using a completely dull x-acto knife. Whoops. The edges turned out awful . . . hope you didn’t notice, Jared and Linnea! For the second wedding I was prepared and it turned out much better. I even put my own logo on the back of the card.

“Wedding season” is pretty much over with the end of summer, but for any of you who need a unique wedding card soon, just check it out over on my store!

Easy Meatless Lasagna Pasta

Well, my goal was to blog while on vacation . . . clearly that didn’t happen. We were having too much fun relaxing and hanging out with my parents, friends, and family. We spent time with dear friends we hadn’t seen since our wedding day and were also able to see some of our college friends for a fun reunion. Towards the end of the week, we agreed that we could’ve used at least another week in Ohio, but my job wouldn’t let me take more time off, and Brett had to dive into football coaching the day after our return.

Speaking of our return, it was awesome fun (hint: that was sarcasm). We found an unbelievably great deal on plane tickets this time around . . . normally we drive because the price of driving doesn’t even compare to flying, and we were so excited to not have to make the 12-hour trip. Our first trip took 3 1/2 hours, including a layover, which was wonderful. On the way back, however, we were supposed to land in Boston at 10:30pm. Because of some issue with our plane, it was still in Orlando, instead of being in Pittsburgh to take us to Baltimore. We’d miss our connecting flight, and I had an interview the next morning at 8:00am.

Cue a bit of freaking out. Brett was able to talk to someone who switched our flight, putting us in Chicago instead of Baltimore, and then landing in Manchester, N.H., instead of Boston, around midnight. It sounded great in theory. We landed in Chicago with no more issues, ate supper, and were ready to board at 9:00pm Chicago time. This is where it gets so fun. We ended up sitting on the plane for TWO HOURS, waiting for passengers from a connecting flight. When they finally got on, we then had to wait for all of their luggage. We finally took off after 11:00pm, which was midnight our time, landing at 1:45am. I think we finally fell into bed around 2:45am. I got three hours of sleep before my interview, and went on to work for another eight hours.

All this to say . . . we’ve been slowly recovering from all of that. I had to work Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, while Brett had double sessions coaching football and a scrimmage Saturday morning. Who’s had time to go grocery shopping? Not us. When we’ve had down time, we’ve slept, played video games (Brett), or read (me). We’ve been eating from our pantry and freezer, and I’m pretty proud of myself that we’ve had enough to make decent dinners without groceries. We’re missing milk and fruits/veggies, but we’ve also made ourselves smoothies from frozen fruit. Sometimes it’s fun to see what we can scrounge up without spending money.

This is one of those scrounging-from-the-pantry meals . . . it won’t knock your socks off, but it’s nice making something cheap and filling. I used a mix of pastas, a can of Italian diced tomatoes, water, minced garlic, lots of spices, sour cream, parmesan cheese, and mozzarella cheese. Pretty much anything along those lines would’ve been great in this, like onion, peppers, spaghetti sauce, etc. I almost used a can of tomato sauce, but at the last minute decided not to.

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No, my stove isn’t spotless, yes, we have a green kitchen floor, and yes, these are lazy iPhone pictures.

I didn’t measure any of the spices I used, but I’m pretty generous with all of them. I’d rather have a lot of flavor than not enough. The one spice I’m careful with is crushed red pepper; the hubby and I both like spicy food, but too spicy can ruin it for me.

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Yes, we ate off of one plate that night. Our apartment is a mess right now with half-unpacked suitcases and backpacks, so dishes are one thing we can try to moderate since we don’t have a dishwasher.

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Brett said the taste of this dish reminded him of lasagna, hence the name. We ate it with some garlic bread from our freezer and applesauce from the fridge, which was on its way out. I don’t often make dishes without some form of a recipe, but this was pretty fun.

Easy Meatless Lasagna Pasta

  • 1 – 1 1/2 T. minced garlic (I keep a big jar in my refrigerator)
  • olive oil
  • 1 can Italian diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 3 c. water
  • at least 1 t. of each of the following: parsley, basil, oregano, onion powder, garlic pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 1/2 t. crushed red pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 16-oz. pasta (elbows, penne, rotini, gemilli, etc.)
  • 1/2 c. parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese
  1. Saute the garlic in a little olive oil until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the diced tomatoes; stir well.
  3. Add seasonings; stir well.
  4. Add water; stir and bring to boil.
  5. Add pasta, stir and return to boil.
  6. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer 15 minutes until pasta is done, checking every so often that pasta isn’t sticking to the pan.
  7. Add sour cream and parmesan; stir until thickened and creamy.
  8. Sprinkle mozzarella on top; cover 5 minutes until melted.
  9. Enjoy!

Wedding Invitations Galore

I just thought I’d pop on here to share some wedding invitations I’ve designed recently. None of them were for anyone specific; I just sat down and created a bunch of unique styles for brides who don’t especially want to go with the “traditional” look. Personally, I love when brides want something a little different . . . the invitations can really set the tone for your entire wedding and show off your personality. I also love using a lot of color, if that’s not evident already:

INV_TealGold_7x5

A modern, text-heavy invitation. Found here in my store. A matching Save the Date is also available!

INV_flower

Simple and elegant, yet still modern in font choices. Found here in my store.

INV_gray_5x7

Chevron is a huge trend that’s been around for a little while now. I realize gray isn’t wedding-like at all, but I loved the look of it. Colors are always customizable for every order. Found here in my store.

INV_date

I wanted to do something that really showcased the date. Yellow and gray are so much fun together (but again, colors always customizable). Found here in my store.

INV_Story

I love this one. It’s about as far from traditional as you can get. I wanted to go for a pretty informal look, with a few different fonts that still work together well, and some elements to “break up” the design without taking away from the overall look. It would look great with a lighter background as well. Found here in my store.

INV_Stripe

On the opposite side of the spectrum, this one is formal, but in a unique way. I originally had this displayed with a deep red background and all white accents, but it looked too Christmas-y. It would be a great Christmas-time wedding invitation, but I didn’t want to limit its versatility. Found here in my store.

INV_2ColorPetals

Last but not least, another somewhat formal one. The simple flowers–to me–are modern enough to not look dated, but versatile enough to be used anywhere, traditional or not. Here it really adds to the elegance. Found here in my store.

Thanks for checking them out! I have so much fun creating these. Matching Save the Dates and RSVP cards are always available as well. Contact me to ask about pricing wedding packages!

Wedding Weekend

This past weekend was a big wedding weekend around here. Remember this post? Yep, the big event was a few days ago and it was so much fun. It all started last week, when the groom’s brother, Tim, flew in from Kentucky with his wife, Marie. They’re close friends of ours, and the hubby and I had them over for dinner Wednesday night. We had a blast, despite the fact that we still had to wake up Thursday morning and go to work. Real life stinks sometimes, am I right?

Friday night was the rehearsal. Alicia had asked me to be somewhat of a coordinator, mostly just helping out at the rehearsal to make sure everyone was where they needed to be when they needed to be there. I’ve done this a couple times before, and I have a list I’ll send to the bride a week or two before the rehearsal. It’s a big list. A little overwhelming for a bride who hasn’t thought through any of it yet. Things like, who is walking your maternal grandmother down the aisle? When is the aisle runner being pinned, and by whom? Are there candles that need to be lit before the ceremony? Should the bridal party find their places on the platform right away, or should they stay on the ground level (assuming the ceremony is in a church)? It might seem OCD, but trust me when I say that these things have to be decided before the rehearsal. Otherwise it’s utter chaos. Of course, smaller weddings are sometimes a different story.

Luckily, Alicia actually replied to my super long email (kudos, Alicia!) and she had thought through pretty much everything. We only had to make a few changes once we were actually at the rehearsal. The longest part was probably spacing the entire bridal party across the platform evenly and then figuring out the timing of the processional. It can get confusing with four sets of grandparents and two mothers that need to be walked down the aisle, sometimes by a groomsman/usher who had just walked someone else down the aisle. We ran through everything about three times until it seemed decently smooth. I only had to yell, “Michael! STAY!” from the back of the sanctuary to the front once, when the groom started to climb the platform instead of staying on the ground level. And props to Marie and my sister-in-law, Lindsay, for being stand-in grandmothers at the rehearsal when we didn’t have the real people there with us.

Did I mention it was pouring rain Friday? Like a monsoon, all day . . . I think it had finally stopped when we left the church to go to the rehearsal dinner, but otherwise it poured. It was humid and sticky, and the church was stuffy. The big day, though, was beautiful! Perfect temperature, sunny, gorgeous. I was a little nervous about the processional (and then the recessional) going smoothly, with various groomsmen/ushers rushing back and forth to seat people. Luckily, I don’t think anyone missed a beat and it was pretty perfect. The only bit of trouble happened before the ceremony when Tim’s rented tuxedo shirt didn’t have a hole for his cuff link. My handy husband, who always has a knife on his person, fixed that problem in about two seconds. The florist also pinned three of the groomsmen’s boutonnieres to the ushers, which meant three groomsmen had nothing until about ten minutes before the ceremony when we finally realized what had happened. It’s the little things that will make it funny later, I guess.

Overall it was a great day (and weekend), and Brett and I so enjoyed being able to help out where we could. Without further ado, here is the invitation I made for them:

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inviteWords

I originally sent Alicia images of a bunch of wedding invitations I designed so we could figure out what she liked and disliked. Her favorites had flowers and were very simplistic. Since the bouquets she and her girls would be carrying were all roses, I decided to try out a few different variations on roses. I didn’t like any of them as much as I liked these shaded ones. I used the same font as I had on their Save the Dates, and it took off from there. Here are a few invitations they didn’t choose:

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Once Alicia and Mike settled on their invite, it was pretty easy to make a matching RSVP card:

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There’s something about getting your own creations in the mail . . . seeing them fully printed and just how you imagined them. I felt that way seeing the programs I made yesterday as well. She wanted to go with the fan idea that’s becoming popular with summer weddings. I had a lot of fun making them to “match” the invitations but be their own design as well:

programFront

programBack

It was a great, busy weekend. Now we’re gearing up for the next “big” thing: flying out to Ohio this week! We get to spend my birthday and a little time (not enough, unfortunately) with my parents and other family and friends. We can’t wait!