DIY Save the Dates

As a bride-to-be with champagne taste on a tap-water teacher salary, can I just say… the struggle is extra real.

During my 6 months of thrifty, DIY wedding planning I have made it my goal to save as much money as I can without sacrificing the aesthetic of one of the most beautiful and special days of my life. Oh, and my fiancé’s too…

When it came time to order our Save the Dates I thought to myself, “I got this“.

I was going to go online, select one of the hundreds of Wedding Etsy shops, find a design that we both loved and click order. $200 and up?! I even looked at other “thrifty” printing services and the price wasn’t any prettier.

I get it. People need to make a profit off of their hard, creative work, and by all means keep on creating! However, I couldn’t justify spending even $100 on a partial invitation that really can be avoided with just a group text… let’s be real. Plus, I would rather put that money towards something else. Like food.

We debated on not even sending out Save the Dates, but again, champagne taste.

So naturally, I took the DIY route. I’m so glad I did!

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Let me just tell you, I am by no means a painter. I will credit myself for being a creative person, but definitely not a vpainter.

This took a bit of trial and error, but the beauty of watercolor is that it really is just an impression of what you’re painting. My translation: as long as these reddish brown strokes kind of look like Sedona, we’re good. (tying the knot in Sedona, AZ!)

Oh, and I definitely roughly sketched the image lightly with pencil prior to painting, because I love having guidance in my life.



Once my little painting was dry, I scanned it with my iPhone and uploaded it onto my laptop. From here, I used Fotor Photo Editor (free version) and added my text. Literally, that easy.

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Finally, I uploaded the final product onto VistaPrint.com. I was able to create a postcard out of my design which saved on envelopes (which aren’t that expensive, I know…) We chose our paper option and ordered! Voila, DIY Save the Dates!

Total Cost With Vista Print:

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Cost of other Materials:

Total Materials with tax: $9.94

Total Project Cost: $46.40

That’s over $150 saved! That, and our guests are LOVING them. Maybe they are just buttering up the bride, but some of them are telling me that they are such a keep sake!

Will we DIY our invitations? umm, YES!

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I hope this was at least somewhat helpful and encouraging to any of you brides on a budget! Check back to see what I “DIY” for our invitations!

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Healthy “On the go” Breakfast Muffins – Eggless!

There are two kinds of people in the morning

A. People that wake up after their 1st alarm. Their only alarm.

B. People…that after 7 failed attempts to be woken up by “Twinkle” (via iPhone) have finally shot out of bed, because they now realize that the sun looks a little too up in the sky for them to make it to work on time. F bombs included.

As a teacher with a 5am wake up call… I am definitely a B type. 

I love preparing healthy breakfasts and snacks ahead of time. Not only does it save me time throughout my busy day, but it also keeps me making good food choices! Let’s be real, without a good meal prep I’d probably be eating Mexican food takeout daily. (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.)

After trying a few clean eating muffin recipes, I couldn’t quite find one that actually had the texture of a muffin without being too dry.

So I improvised and came up with this recipe.

These muffins are SERIOUSLY my go-to breakfast, snack and pre-workout nom nom. Even my fiancé loves them! (…and he’s a picky eater!)

Recipe below.

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Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 12 muffins

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups of Old Fashioned Quick Oats    
  • 2 teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Unsweetened Apple Sauce – or 2 ripe bananas (You will taste the bananas)
  • 3/4 cup of Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of Almond Butter or All Natural Peanut Butter

Muffin Add-ins (your choice!):

  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • Honey glazed on top for added sweetness
  • Chopped Pecans
  • Blueberries
  • Any chopped fruit or nuts

Simple Instructions:

  1. Preheat Oven to 350º
  2. Mix Dry ingredients & Wet ingredients separately.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix. (if batter looks too thick, add a splash of almond milk)
  4. Add any additional add-ins (fruits, nuts, chocolate chips…)
  5. Fill each muffin tin cup with 1/4 cup of batter. (Use muffin liners or spray/grease cups)
  6. Bake Muffins for 22-25 minutes in oven
  7. Let them cool and enjoy! I store mine in a plastic container in the refrigerator for freshness.

 




 

(Each muffin starts at 80 calories, 3g fat, 13g carbs, 2g sugar & 3g of protein. Nutrition will be altered once you add in your toppings.)

Enjoy!!

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How to take blog pictures with an iPhone





Before starting my blog, I was held back by the thought that I needed to invest a ton of money into my blog before even thinking about pressing that publish button. With all of the professional photos, fancy cameras and beauty guru makeup palettes all over Instagram, do you blame me?

As a band teacher at an inner-city school, I deal with low-income doubts daily. My students are creative, talented and full of dreams. They don’t need that brand new, $2k violin to make music. They are just as (if not more) powerful with the school-loaned, scuffed violin that has witnessed the 80’s.

Blogging does not have to cost a ton of money. Or any money at all. You do not need an expensive camera to do your photos just. Now, a smartphone camera will not replace a high end camera, but it will do the trick.

Look no further than your own iPhone.

1. Indoor lighting is everything

Unless you have a set of professional camera lighting equipment (which I assume is not the case) you are going to have to rely on some good old fashioned natural lighting.

Natural lighting is tricky. Too much window lighting will make your image look washed out, but not enough lighting won’t do you any good either.

I tend to have the best luck with my north facing window. As specific as that sounds, the sunlight is just on-point with that window! #northfacingwindows

No natural lighting
Curtains Closed. BRIGHT dining room lights on.
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Curtains Open (same spot, same dining room lights on)

2. Outdoor lighting is everything

Do not stand in the sunniest spot you can find! You will glow in all the wrong ways. That, and I don’t think the shadowy, squinty eye look is what you were going for. 

The easiest outdoor lighting is standing in the shade facing the sun. The sun will distribute it’s glorious rays evenly on you and you will own that photo.

Cloudy days killing your bright Instagram aesthetic? Don’t let them! Cloudy days are actually the perfect lighting situation! Think of the clouds as a giant soft box that perfects the sun’s lighting for your photo shoot. 

 

3. HDR on, LIVE off

Your HDR camera setting is your new BFF. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. Whatever that means, I wan’t all of it! Basically, your iPhone camera blends the best lighting and shadows into one photo.

Turn LIVE off. Side note, do iPhone live photos remind anyone else of Harry Potter?  Was that Apple’s point? Anyways, I find that live photos tend to distort the lighting a bit and kill my battery. 

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No HDR
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With HDR

4. Find Solid Background for objects

Unless you are taking an #ootd mirror selfie or feeling the #bosslady vibes in a candid street shot (Starbucks in hand), you are going to want to use a solid background to really optimize your photos!

I literally borrowed one of my fiancé’s math strategy posters (he is also a teacher). Luckily the back was solid white and the corners had hanging holes. Basically, I tied the poster to a dining room chair near my north facing window. (His students will miss out on those specific math strategies, but at least my pics look phenomenal!)

I’m sure there are easier ways of doing this, aka a foam board. I just love to improvise!

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Background looks a bit distracting.
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Crisp white!

5. Mirror Outfit Selfies or No Mirror Outfit Selfies

Go for it! When planning a blog,  take the approach of “What would I click on?”

I am constantly pinning cute outfits on Pinterest. More than half of them happen to be mirror selfies! Not all of them have outstanding lighting, but they still look good. They are mirror selfies!

6. Be EXTRA, with PROPS!

If you go on Pinterest (which will be a huge factor in bringing in traffic) you will notice most of the pictures contain props.

“Blueberry Muffin Recipe”. You will see the muffin, the muffin crums, the blueberries that never made it into the muffin and a random few lemon slices just chilling there, because lemons are cool. However, the picture just looks so pin-worthy! 

Stage those photos!

I could have done a better job focussing in on the cup, but with all things considered… it’s not that bad. If all fails, add lemon slices.

7. Edit like a Pro

Don’t feel discouraged if your iPhone pictures aren’t up to par. The final magic happens when you edit. I honestly just use what the iPhone Gods have given me.

Using the camera’s own editing app, I generally just adjust the brilliance, saturation and contrast. Depending on the photo I may even use the Chrome filter. (Chrome cheers any photo up). If the lighting feels to orange and brassy, I adjust the color’s cast until things look more normal. 

Really, that’s it! 

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Before iPhone Edit
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After iPhone Edit

I hope this helped you feel more confident with your blog photos! I will continue to post anything that I found helpful in my blogging experience. Keep checking back for more!  

If you feel that this post was even the slightest bit helpful, please give it a like or even share it to hopefully assist another blogger!

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