Creating Custom Evites with PicMonkey


I shared a couple weeks ago about the bridal shower that I planned for my best friend. Part of the way I saved money is by sending email invitations (evites) instead of regular invitations via snail mail. This worked because we had a younger crowd who all had emails. There are a lot of programs out there that have cute premade email invitations that you just customize with your information. OR if you're like me and have certain color schemes and themes in mind, you can easily create custom evites using PicMonkey. You can send evites for wedding showers, baby showers, bachelorette parties, birthday parties- you name it!

In the tutorial below I'll walk you through some basics of PicMonkey and then show you how to insert the invitation directly into your email so that guests see the invite right when they open their email.


1. For this project go ahead and go to www.picmonkey.com and click on the button that says "Design" and pick the square option.


It will bring up a blank white square and will automatically open to the "Canvas Color" tab. Here you can choose to leave your invitation white or make the background a different color. I'm creating a bridal shower invitation example so I chose to make my background mint colored.


2. Next, you can explore different overlays that are available by clicking on the butterfly tab on the far left. Overlays are a wide variety of pre-made designs like hearts, embellishments, and flowers that you can insert into your invitation. If you don't see one you like, at the top of the tab there is an "Add Your Own" option so that you can upload your own design or picture. This is especially great if you have a picture of the guest of honor that you want to include in your invitation. 


I used a corner embellishment above and used the color palette on the right to turn the design a light grey instead of black. Since I wanted the same design for all four corners, I went ahead and duplicated this overlay. As you see in the picture below, all you need to do is right click on the design, scroll down and click "duplicate overlay". You can do this for however many of the design you need whether it's one more or five more. By duplicating your overlay (instead of inserting a new one each time), you don't have to spend time changing the color, size etc. and it makes your design a lot more cohesive. 


After adding my corner designs, I wanted to add a banner at the top. This is a choice that you'll find under that butterfly tab. I wanted my banner to be the same grey color as my corner embellishments. The hard way to match the greys is to use the color palette and try to roll my cursor over the exact same color and try to match it with my eyes. The easy way to match the greys is to click on the design whose color you want to match and you'll notice in the upper right hand corner of your palette that there is a string of numbers and letters (see picture below- they're hard to see because they're written in grey but if you look closely you'll see them).



 These letters and numbers make up a hex color code which is the number assigned to a certain color on the Internet. All you need to do is write this code down on a sticky note, click on your banner (or other design element you are trying to match) and enter your code in the hex code area. Once you enter the code, click enter and ta da! You have an exact color match in about three seconds with hardly any work. 

Knowing about hex color codes is a great tip if you're doing any sort of online design because by writing them down you can ensure that you're keeping your colors consistent. I have a page of hex color codes that I use for my blog design, and in my design projects I make sure to write down the codes so I can keep my colors consistent. 

Okay, next step- adding text. You're going to click the "Tt" symbol on the left, hit "Add Text", choose the font you want, and then go ahead and type your text. The picture clearly shows the order that you want to follow in order to add text. This is how you'll add the bulk of your invitation- who and what it's for, the location, time, RSVP details etc.


The last tip I want to show you for PicMonkey is how to resize both your text and your design elements. If you click on a text or an overlay, you'll notice that the box that outlines your element has small circles on each corner. If you hover over these circles a double arrow that looks something like <=> will show up. You can click on that and drag it which way you please to resize your text or other elements. 


Okay! You go ahead and finish your invitation- make it your own, make it match the theme of the party! Once you're finished, head to the top of the page, click "Save" and save the project to your computer. 

-SENDING THE EVITES-

 When you send your evites, you want them to be in the body of your email and NOT sent as an attachment, If you attach it instead of inserting it directly into the email, people may not realize there's something to open and could likely miss the entire invite! Inserting a picture in the text of the email can vary widely from email service to email service but I will show you how to do it on Gmail, Outlook/Live, and Yahoo. If you have a different email service and can't figure it out, comment or shoot me an email and I can help you find out how to do it! 

GMAIL


Once you open a new message in Gmail you'll notice that there's a little button to the right of the "Send" button that looks like a little picture. Click this and then you'll be prompted to choose a picture (choose your invitation) and then it will insert it directly into the email. 


OUTLOOK/LIVE


Open a new email and at the very top you'll see a button labeled "Insert". Clicking on this will bring a dropdown menu and you'll click "Picture inline". Click this and then you'll be prompted to choose a picture (choose your invitation) and then it will insert it directly into the email.

YAHOO!

There are two ways to insert a picture in yahoo. The first way is to send yourself a copy of your invitation and open it. Then go back to your invitation email and click the "+" sign in the bottom right corner. This will pull up a variety of picture options that you can choose to insert into your email. If you do not email yourself the invitation first, it WILL NOT pull into this grouping of pictures. 

The second way is to open the invitation on your computer copy (Right click + "copy"), go back and click the cursor into the main body of your email and paste the invitation (Right click + "paste"). 

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Regardless of which email you're using, you shouldn't have to resize the invitation at all- I've found out that emails work well with the standard square invitation you make through PicMonkey. Don't forget to double check all the email addresses before you send it, and be sure to check your Spam folder frequently to make sure that no RSVPs get routed there. Lastly, be proud of your finished project and get creative! 


**I was not paid by PicMonkey to promote their editing program. I just genuinely love it for the variety it offers, the freedom it allows me to use my own texts or overlays, and of course because it's FREE**

Have you ever designed an evite? Do you like evites or do you prefer snail mail invitations? Do you have any questions on the tutorial?

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What I Learned When My Patient Fired Me


When I tell others that one time a patient fired me, I usually hear "I didn't even know you could fire your nurse!" Well, you can. It's not very common (at least at my hospital) and I wouldn't recommend it unless you're having a really hard time with your nurse. Sometimes people will ask for a new nurse immediately, and other people will wait until your shift is over and request to not have you again. 

The second situation is more common and is how I got fired. The particular night I got fired was an off night for me. I had just come back from having two weeks off, had a really busy patient assignment, and definitely missed a couple of things that I shouldn't have missed. I did my best to fix what I missed (both things were not a big deal and were fixed a couple hours later), and apologized several times to the mother for my mistake. I almost expected to be fired and, sure enough, when I arrived at work the next evening I learned that the mother had requested not to have me back. This was my first time getting fired (and hopefully my last!) but it taught me three important lessons I hope we all can learn from. 

We all need a little grace. 
Everyone makes mistakes and, though we all know this, it can be hard to remember when those mistakes are concerning you or someone you love. I am so thankful for the grace that Jesus extends to me, but for me extending grace to myself and to others can be a challenge. 

In this situation, I was struggling between learning to give myself a little grace and wishing that the mother had extended me a little bit of grace. Extending grace to others, especially when they hurt us, is so hard yet so necessary. I find that the closer we allow someone in, the harder it is to extend them grace when they hurt us. The next time you have to extend grace to someone around you, remember that should you be in the same situation one day, you would want the same kindness extended to you. We all need a little (or a lot) of grace sometimes; let's be a people willing to give that to each other. 

Learn to forgive yourself
I'm a typical oldest child- driven, type A, and a wanna be perfectionist. Accompanying those traits is the tendency to be really hard on myself. It's much easier for me to ask forgiveness from God or from those I've hurt than to forgive myself. Getting fired was the ultimate test in forgiving myself and letting the situation go. I was reminded in a very real way of my humanity and my inability to be perfect. The following days after getting fired, I learned a lot about the need to forgive myself and remembering that I'm only human. It is certainly easier said than done but there is sweet relief in releasing yourself from the perfectionist standard and forgiving yourself when you make mistakes. God doesn't expect me to be perfect- why do I expect that of myself? 

We can't always please people.
I'm a people pleaser to a fault, so getting fired affected me pretty deeply. I know that I'm a people pleaser and finding the balance between pleasing others but pleasing God first has been a constant challenge for me. I'm the type of person who wants people to like me and the thought of someone not liking me gives me a knots in my stomach. We (I) need to realize that Jesus never lived to please others, but He lived to please His Father. However, I think swinging the complete opposite way of people pleasing and saying "It doesn't matter what anyone thinks of me" can be damaging as well. 

In this situation, I had to realize that I had done my best and it was the mother's choice to fire me. Often I take the choices of others and blame myself when, in reality, it is their choice. If I took responsibility for everyone's choices, I would have the weight of the world on my shoulders. Jesus never intended me to take this burden upon myself, and I have to remind myself that others have free will and their decisions are not my responsibility. Choosing to take responsibility over my own actions and let go of the decisions that other people make about me is a huge step in getting over the crippling effect that people pleasing can have on me. 

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It's been about a month since I got fired, and I can say that I've forgiven myself and truly let it go. Now it serves as more of a funny story when I tell it in person. It took a couple weeks to get to the point where was able to let it go and not think about it every time I went into work. From that single situation I learned countless lessons on grace, forgiveness, and remembering that if I do my best, the rest is up to God. 

(Sharing on Modest Monday and Tuesday Talk)

Have you ever had a similar experience? What did it teach you? 
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Summer 2015 Highlights


Is it just me or did this summer just fly by? I'm sort of shocked (and slightly depressed) that it's August already. It was also a pretty chilly and rainy summer for Colorado so that didn't help summer seem any longer. I'm sort of  really ready for a warmer climate than Colorado. Despite the rain and clouds, it was a great summer- highlights are below! 

MY BIRTHDAY!
I always considered my birthday (May 28th) to be the official start of summer for me. After spending the past couple years in a class for my nurse boards and then working, this year's simple birthday that launched me to my mid-twenties was so wonderful.

{#birthdayselfie}

HUSBAND GRADUATED 

After two years in school (AFTER his 4 years of undergraduate), the boy behind the blog graduated from his radiology technologist program. I'm proud of him and so excited that we're both out of school at the same time!



CAMPING

You can't really live in Colorado without camping in the summer. Well, you can, but it wouldn't actually be living. We did one trip with my family, one trip with our best couple friends, and I did a quick trip with a girl friend. 




Can I just say campfires are mountains are my jam? I wasn't a huge fan of how rainy our trips were, but the company was great, and I discovered THE.BEST.CAMPING.RECIPE.EVER. It's peach cobbler that you bake in a cast iron skillet over the fire- tell me that picture below doesn't just make you drool. 



ARIZONA

It's become a tradition with my husband's family to go to Phoenix each year to have a true vacation where you rest and rejuvenate. I read, ate In n Out, took naps, and played spades for an entire week. And it was glorious. If you've never taken a vacation just to relax, you're seriously missing out; try it sometime. 



I returned to Arizona in early August for my best friend's bridal shower and bachelorette party. My friend has lived in Tucson, AZ since 2009 and I had never been. So besides the wedding festivities, it was great to see where she had spent the last several years. 




WATER WORLD

We get season passes to our local water park and we made it well worth it this year. We had date days, brought friends, and most recently brought my brother and his girlfriend. 





FAMILY
All seasons are a time to be together, but summer gives us a little extra breathing room to gather with those we love. Alex being done with school meant that we had a lot more days off together. There's nothing I love more than being around family, and these past couple of months have given us time to be with them.

{Pictures from my brother and girlfriend's recent visit}




How about you? What have been some highlights of your summer? 

{Linking up with Kiki and all the wonderful people over at The Circle Link Up}

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A Teal Bridal Shower: Games & Door Prizes


In my last post, I talked about the menu and decorations for my teal themed bridal shower. This post is dedicated to explaining the games that we played. We played a lot of games and the shower landed up being longer than I had planned. I would recommend a couple less games than we played, especially if you have more people (we had about 20), and/or a lot of gifts to open.

-GAMES-

Guess a Memory
I had guests write memory on a 3x5 card as they walked in. We started off the shower by having the bride go through the cards, read them out loud, and guess each memory. The memories are usually not hard to guess, but it's a good way for everyone to get to know each other and get introduced. I would skip this game if you have more than 20 people because it can take awhile. 



Toilet Paper Bridal Gown 
This is a classic game where you divide up into teams and have each team make a wedding dress out of toilet paper. I gave each team 10 minutes which landed up being too long- 8 minutes was about perfect. At the end of creating their dresses, each team had to model their dress and the bride chose her favorite. This is one of my personal favorite games because it's silly, gets everyone moving, and breaks the ice a little bit.

And the Bride Wore
In this game, you write down a series of questions about the bride's outfit and at some point you ask her to step out of the room. I passed out the questions and, without her in the room, I had the guests answer a variety of questions about her outfit. The person with the most correct answers wins. I found the original idea for this game here .



Not to Burst Your Bubble (Gum)
This game is for the bride only and was probably one of the two crowd favorites. For this game, I compiled a list of questions that I sent to the groom in advance and had him answer. Questions included who is his celebrity crush, where would he love to go on vacation, and what is his favorite thing in his wardrobe. I then asked the bride the same set of questions and for each question she got wrong, she had to put a piece of bubblegum in her mouth (you can also do marshmallows instead of bubblegum). My one word of advice on this game is to make sure your questions are hard enough! My bride knows her groom really well- obviously a good thing for real life but not so good for the game. I panicked towards the beginning because she was breezing through all my questions! Out of 21 questions, she only missed 6 which is pretty remarkable; I think I would have missed more than 6 had I been asked the same questions about my husband. I got the idea for this game here.

Love Bingo
This was the definite crowd pleaser and probably my favorite game that I've ever played at a wedding shower. I got the original idea over at The Lady Okie Blog (thanks Amanda!) I will say that this game is super time consuming to make (my mom made most of it for me), but it's reusable and totally worth the time. You create bingo cards by creating squares and randomly labeling each square 1-16. You then compile 16 questions that you can ask the bride and groom (you ask them the same set of questions). Some examples included, who's your favorite athlete, chocolate or vanilla, if you could go anywhere in the world on vacation where would you go?


Each of these questions is labeled with a number 1-16 and put into a bowl where you'll draw out each question individually. The other part of the game you have to make is your guessing sticks. I chose to create "bride" and "groom" sticks so that I can use this game again in the future. You'll need a bride/groom set for each bingo card that you make.

To play the game, you hand each guest a bingo card with markers (you can use candy- I used smarties), and a bride/groom guessing stick. You draw out a question that is numbered, read the number, and read the question. For example, I drew out question seven. I would say that this is question number seven and read, "this person's celebrity crush is Channing Tatum". The guests would then hold up their guessing stick as to whether they thought the bride or groom's celebrity crush was Channing Tatum. This is so fun because you get to see what everyone else guessed. In this case, the bride's celebrity crush was Channing Tatum so everyone who guessed bride would get to put a marker on number seven. You win the game by getting four in a row either diagonally, horizontally, or vertically. Depending on how well your guests know the bride and groom, there were about three winners in this bingo game.

**NOTE: On a few of the questions the bride and groom had the same answer. For these, we said that you had to put both of the bride and groom guessing sticks up to get it right. To make it a little easier, answers that say both can be considered a "freebie" if you consider either stick correct.

-DOOR PRIZES-

Considering the amount of games (and prizes) we had, we chose not to do favors. We instead had prizes for each of the games and instituted a one gift maximum. If you're on a budget, I would suggest looking around your own house for things that could be used as door prizes. We landed up not having to buy a single door prize because we had enough things that were unopened that worked great. 

Door prize ideas:
-Candles
-Lotions
-Chapstick
-Notebook
-Pens

I would try to keep your door prizes about equal in value so no one feels like they got shorted in their gift. If you do have some bigger door prizes than others, I would assign them to the winner of a more difficult game. 

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All in all, the shower was a success- everyone landed up with a prize and had a blast playing the games. If you need more inspiration or want to see all the pins from this post and the last one, head over to my winning wedding showers Pinterest board

What other games would you suggest for a bridal shower? Would you do door prizes and favors or just one or the other? 

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A Teal Bridal Shower : Decorations & Menu



I shared last week how in July I planned and executed my very first bridal shower. I've helped with multiple wedding and baby showers, but this was my first go at planning the entire thing. It was a ton of work, and in an effort to make it easier for the next person I thought I would share my theme, games, and menu. 

THEME

Teal

My friend's wedding colors are mint, peach, and grey. I loved the idea of going with a mint theme for her bridal shower but mint is really hard to find unless you special order everything (and who has the time/money for that?), so I landed up going with a teal theme instead.

I loosely went with the tea party theme but that really only extended as far as the tea sandwiches... it sounds nice though doesn't it?

Designing a theme doesn't have to be hard or expensive. I suggest choosing one main color and a couple complementary colors and then perhaps a theme to guide your menu. 

Keep it simple- the simpler your theme, the easier it will be to plan. 

DECORATIONS/INVITATIONS

I created the bridal shower invitations using my favorite design tool of all time, PicMonkey, and emailed them out instead of sending them via snail mail. I know a lot of people are still fans of snail mail but I'm not one of those people. Sending evites worked beautifully and helped keep me within budget. One day I'll do a tutorial on how to make evites in PicMonkey because it really is so super simple and produces great results.

teal bridal shower invitation
{This was the shower evite; sorry about the black boxes covering information}

Having a teal theme worked out really nicely with white and black accents. I bought teal, black, and white balloons at Walmart, as well as teal, black, and white paper goods (napkins, plates etc.) and streamers. We twisted the streamers along the tables and added balloons around the room. The mother of the bride found this lovely chalk banner that is reusable and that was the perfect final touch. I can tell you from this bridal shower and my own that decorations need not be a big deal or big expense. There are so many other things to take in on the day that keeping it simple is really the best idea.  


I used PicMonkey to design cards for our food items and little signs to place by the table as they walked in. 



"BEST IDEA EVER" (according to the bride)

I placed blank envelopes at the table right as people walked in, and instructed them to address an envelope to themselves. I later collected the envelopes, put blank thank you cards inside and handed these to the bride. She has pre-addressed thank you notes which makes things SO much easier for her, and in her words "was the best idea ever!" 



I almost skipped this step, but then thought that my goal in all of this should be to help the bride and help her enjoy her special day. If I can decrease her stress by giving her pre-addressed envelopes, then I should totally do it. I got a huge pack of really cute blank cards at Hobby Lobby and was glad that I decided to implement this simple idea into the bridal shower. 

MENU

I had a really hard time with the menu because I love food but I didn't want what I prepared to take a long time. The recipes I chose worked really well and provided enough food for everyone on a decent budget. It's really easy to get overwhelmed by all the lovely ideas on Pinterest, especially in the food category, so I would have an idea of what you're wanting to do before jumping on the Internet to look. 



Egg Salad Sandwiches - This is your very basic egg salad sandwich recipe that turned out great. We cut off the crusts of our bread to add a little more elegance, and I doubled this particular recipe. 

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches - I CANNOT find the original link to this recipe so I made a google document where you can access the same recipe. These have a couple more ingredients than most of the cucumber tea sandwich recipes I found but they're things you most likely have on hand (Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice etc.). They were absolutely DELICIOUS and I highly recommend them. 

PB & J Sandwiches - I needed one more tea sandwich and decided on these because they're easy, both kid and adult friendly, and cheap. 

**We prepared the mixtures of all the sandwiches the night before the shower and made the actual sandwiches the morning of the shower so that the bread wouldn't get soggy. 

Turkey wraps - This was a recipe that a friend from work told me about and it was SO easy to make. They were a huge hit and will be on my list for my own lunches/snacks that I take to work! 

Crockpot meatballs - There are several variations of this recipe but this one is my favorite because you only need three ingredients. We made them the morning of the shower and these were very filling for everyone at the shower. 

Veggie platter with dip. The dip I make is one 16 oz container of sour cream with one packet of dry ranch mixed in. It's delicious with veggies or chips and we make it probably once a week during football season. We bought veggies that were in season and chopped them up and put them in a platter that we got from the dollar store. 



I had planned on including a fruit tray in our menu, but because I was on a limited budget decided to skip it. Between the twizzlers and mints we set out for snacks, along with cake, no one seemed to miss it. 

Tres leches cake. This was the choice of the bride, and one of her guests so graciously bought it for us at a bakery. It was delicious and beautiful, and the only thing I can say is do not attempt to make a tres leches cake for a bridal shower unless you've done it before (it's time consuming and really easy to mess up). 



Mint lemonade. This was an idea I saw on Pinterest and it worked beautifully. You just add a bit of blue Kool-Aid (or in our case blue water flavoring because we couldn't find blue Kool-Aid) to lemonade and mix until you get the right color of lemonade. It worked brilliantly with our theme! 



Iced tea. We bought cans, it was the easiest way to go. 

Water. This was a must for this non-alcoholic bridal shower. 

WAYS I SAVED MONEY:

-  Kept decorations simple and bought all my balloons, streamers, and paper goods for under $1 each
- Bought white paper cups and had a sharpie next to them so that people could label their cups (eliminating the need for multiple cups for each person) 
- Sent evites instead of snail mail invitations
- Kept the menu simple... unless you promise them lunch on the invitation, don't feel like you have to provide a four course meal! 

If you need more bridal shower ideas, check out my Pinterest board here

What are other winning shower recipes that are simple and easy? Have you ever planned a bridal/baby shower entirely on your own? 

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5 Camping Lessons... learned the hard way



I've been camping my whole life. But I've only been camping without my parents for the last couple of years. There is a lot of work that goes into making sure you are prepared to live in the woods. Over the past couple of years, I've made a lot of mistakes while camping. I'm hoping to share them today so that you will have a successful camping trip. 

1. If you have rain flaps on your tent, make sure they're closed. 
Seems simple enough right? Well as I found out just a couple weeks ago, you get busy cooking, playing games, or just having fun doing nature things and the last thing on your mind when it starts raining is closing the rain flaps on your tent. Basically, if it starts raining, go through a mental checklist of covering everything that you want to stay dry and be sure it's covered. 

2. Bring a can opener. 
A lot of camp friendly foods come from the can (pork and beans, spaghetti-os etc.), so make sure you throw in a can opener. The trip we forgot one, we used our GIANT chef knife to punch holes in the can. Very, very primitive. Also reminds me of the scene in Denis the Menace movie where the bad guy just stabs his can of pork and beans with a knife (anyone?) 

3. Bring soap and/or hand sanitizer. 
The last camping trip we went on with our couple friends we remembered Dawn dish soap but none of us brought hand sanitizer or hand soap. My friend and I are both nurses; that fact alone clues you into the fact that we're the type of nurses who aren't germaphobes. I'm pretty sure I don't even own any hand sanitizer at all. 

4. Don't forget the bug spray! 
We've forgotten this on multiple occasions and for some reason, we still haven't learned our lesson. So we just cover every square inch of our body in clothes, or the friends we meet always seem to come to the rescue with their giant can of OFF! 

5. If you're camping in a popular area, reserve a spot ahead of time. 
Otherwise, you might spend five hours driving around trying to find a vacant campsite, and get so desperate that you think about renting a hotel room in the nearest town. This is a hypothetical piece of advice of course. 

I'm sure I'll learn plenty of other things the hard way in the years to come. My Mom has perfected the art of camping and I have years before I master it myself. 

Have you had any mishaps while camping that the rest of us can learn from?? 
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