Thursday, March 20, 2014

How To: Create a Chalkboard Printable (without Photoshop)

As you may know, my wedding is this September. I am getting married at the Newland Barn in Huntington Beach. Naturally the "theme" of my wedding is Blush and Burlap (country/rustic chic). 

I love the idea of having chalkboards displayed everywhere. Personally I have so-so handwriting and no patience to make sure every line is straight, there are 0 smudge marks and every letter looks the way I want it to. I also don't have the time, energy or budget to buy or make DIY chalkboards. 

With the internet, a paint jpeg and free fonts, I made the perfect printable "chalkboard" signs to display at the wedding. 

My favorite printable I made was the INSTAGRAM sign.

Here is how I made it: 

The first thing you need to do is open your web browser and search for "chalkboard backgrounds" choose the blackboard you like best, but make sure it is a large size file. Copy the image, open paint and paste. 

Next, go to and choose a few "chalk-looking" font and download them to your computer. I downloaded three, but only used two. 
Now, all you have to do is choose the font and color you want and start typing. I created the Instagram logo first by using the shapes at the top of the tool bar. The rounded square, the circles, the heart and the rectangles were all put together through paint. 

This project is really easy to do. The best advice I can give you is when you use the text box, make sure your sentences are centered. There is no option to automatically center your lines like there is on a Word Doc. Once the text box is gone, you cannot move your words without messing up the chalkboard background. If you do mess up, hit undo and start again. 

An example for those who don't use paint very often: 

Friday, September 20, 2013

How To: Book the Newland Barn - Huntington Beach


My ceremony and reception will be held at the Newland Barn in Huntington Beach, CA

It was the only venue I researched and the only venue I fell in love with,  but let me tell you what I had to go through to get my dream venue.

First, a little bit of background on the location:

The Newland House Museum (above) is the oldest residence built in the city of Huntington Beach and is maintained by the Huntington Beach Historical Society for all to see. This house was built in 1898 for Huntington Beach pioneers William and Mary Newland and their ten children. The original Newland ranch extended from Beach Blvd. to Magnolia and from Yorktown south to Atlanta for a total of 500+ acres in which they planted lima beans, sugar beets, celery and later chili peppers. The house is open for tours to the public.

The house it's self is not available for use during weddings, but the barn, gazebo and lawn (below) are used. For more pictures, visit their yelp page.

To book this venue, renters can do so exactly one year to the date, in person (they do not accept reservations over the phone), with the total amount due at the time of signing. I went into booking this venue blind. There were little to no reviews or how-to's anywhere on the internet; all I had to go on was the website. The few people who had answered questions on how to book the Newland Barn were through wedding bee. The only tip that was given was to be at Huntington Beach City Hall 4-6 hours before they open because multiple people will show up to book the same date you are looking to reserve, especially if you are trying to book a Saturday date.

So you want to book the Newland Barn for your wedding and like me you did your research, but found nothing to help you prepare. Hopefully you found this post in time for your reservation.

The first thing you need to do is pick your date and save your pennies to pay for the rental in full on your booking date. Below is the chart with all of the fees required to book the Newland Barn. If you know a Huntington Beach resident that is willing to use their name and address for the reservation, contact them. It will save you A LOT of money. My amazing boss is a Huntington Beach resident and let me use his name and address to book the venue (he had to be there for address verification purposes of course).

(Hourly Rate with Alcohol) x (number of rental hours) + Deposit with Alcohol + Liability Insurance (based on guest count) + Alcohol Filing Fee

If you would like to book the Gazebo, you can do it when you book or no later than 2 weeks before the wedding.

Here is what mine looked like: $60 x 15 hours = $900 + $500 + $141 + $5 = Grand Total: $1546

The next and last thing you need to do is book the venue at the Huntington Beach Civic Center one year to the day of your wedding.

I recruited my maid of honor to go on this venue-booking-adventure with me and we agreed that we would arrive to Huntington Beach City Hall  12 hours before the Community Services Department opened. We called it a camp-out!

The morning before the camp-out (a Thursday), I packed my car full of stuff. Snacks, drinks, movies, a kindle fire, blankets, my UGGS, flip flops, make up, a fresh change of clothes for the next day, a folding chair, phone charger, and my pillow.

After work, with my car already packed, I went home, took a shower and got into my camp-out clothes (jammies). At 7 PM, I picked up my maid of honor on the way to the Civic Center and she loaded all of her goodies into my car. You could have swore we were leaving for a week.

When we got there at 8 PM, there were still people hanging around the police station and the civic center. We didn't unload all of our stuff until we scoped out the place. Since the police station is directly in front of the Civic Center, we were worried about the police telling us to leave the premises. The entire time we were there, we stayed hidden behind giant pillars.

Once we decided where we were going to set up camp, we took turns unloading the car. We brought everything. We set up shop and waited.  My favorite part about the night was finding out the Civic Center had free WI-FI!

My maid of honor, Kaitlyn brought a portable DVD player and we watched Joe Koy until the battery died (about 30 minutes in). After that I whipped out the kindle and we watched Pitch Perfect, Forrest Gump and Netflix. People were coming in and out of the Civic Center, but they were really nice and knew exactly why we were there. We just hung out all night, talking and snacking until about 4 AM, Kaitlyn made a little cot out of our chairs and fell asleep for a bit (WARNING: THERE ARE NO BATHROOMS!). I stayed up and watched Netflix I was scared I would sleep through my alarm. There were two other people who showed up at 4 AM and 7 AM. The person at 4 AM left because he knew he didn't have a shot. The one that came at 7 AM was there to book the 20th, but ended up booking the 19th, since we were there first. I was so proud of us and it felt really good to be the first ones in line.


At 7:30 AM, my boss drove down to the civic center to meet us (he was sweet enough to bring us Starbucks). Shortly after that, a lady from the Community Services Department came down and asked who was the first to arrive, took my name down and went back inside. When the doors opened we went to the 5th floor and booked our venue! Two other people came after 8 AM, since the venue was technically booked by me, they were turned away.

The woman booking the reservation gave me a packet to fill out. When I completed filling out everything (in my boss's name, with him there), they asked him for an ID for proof of Huntington Beach residency, they asked for the rental fee ($1546) and that was it. My date was set and my venue was booked! The woman gave me the option to book my rehearsal date then or to call at a later date. I booked it right then and there, got copies of my paperwork, my receipt and I was out of there.

I dropped Kaitlyn off at home when we were through and I went to work. Yes, I went to work after being up for 24 hours straight. (I worked a full 9 hours too).

Friday, August 9, 2013

Date Night Jar

My fiancé and I are currently saving for our wedding venue. Saving is tough and for us, we cut out entertainment expenses, like our date nights. We used to go to the movies every weekend, but before the show, we would go out eat, buy candy, popcorn and soda, and sometimes a Grande White Chocolate Mocha. Date nights are important for every couple and with our crazy schedules and cutting our date night allowance meant we had to find something else to do. So, I found the date night jar via Pintrest and picked up the supplies while I was shopping at Michael's for the accessories for Let's Make a Deal.

Here is what you need:
Mason Jar (at least a 16 oz. jar)
Popsicle Sticks
3 different paint colors
Ribbon (to match your paint)
Paint Brush
Date Ideas (several for each category)
      1. At Home Dates
      2. Out of the House Dates (Cheap)
      3. Weekend Getaway or Day Trips

The first thing I did was make a list of dates for each of my categories. I typed up my list and , here is what I came up with:

At Home - $
Homemade Pizza and Italian Movie
Nerf Gun War
Play a Board Game
Chick-flick and Popcorn
1,000 piece puzzle
Chopped Challenge
Netflix TV Show Marathon

Out of the House - $$
Comedy Club
Dinner and Games at Dave & Busters
Go Karts at Boomer’s
Pick a Groupon
Drive-In & Sushi in Riverside

Weekend/Day Trips - $$$
Apple or Berry Picking
San Diego Zoo
Couple’s Massage

The next thing I did was paint my popsicle sticks. I started with one color at a time and I painted one side at a time. While one color dried, I painted the others, and so on. By the time I was done painting with all 3 colors, my first batch had dried. I painted the unfinished side and repeated my steps. When I was done, I let them sit over night.

The next day, I took my painted sticks and wrote each date on the popsicle sticks. (It is really hard to write on those bad boys!) I let those dry for a few minutes and I put them into the mason jar.

Last but not least, I took all 3 colors of ribbon and tied them in a bow around the lip of the jar.

Here is the final product!

Anthony loves the Date Night Jar. Every Monday he picks a date; last Monday we forgot to choose, and he was the one who remembered. He brought over the jar as I was getting ready for work and I just so happened to choose "Chick-flick and Popcorn"... his response - "MAAANNN! I should have picked!"

Monday, July 29, 2013

Let's Make A Deal - The Game Show Experience

Amanda (one of my bridesmaids) and I went to a Bridal Expo in the beginning of June at the Orange County Fairgrounds. One of the booths at this event was for tickets to the TV game show, Let's Make A Deal. We signed up and got offered tickets three weeks later.

I got a call from Nina at LMAD Guest Services asking me if I would be interested in going to a taping on July 27th, 2013 at noon.  I accepted the tickets and she advised me that the ticket was good for me and 9 other people. I told her my bridesmaids would be joining me and she was ecstatic. She let me know that the show loves brides and bridal parties she then proceeded to tell me that we had to dress wacky and over-the-top with veils, diamonds, beads, boas, etc.After she gave me some ideas on what to wear, she told me that they also love fans of Wayne Brady (I had never seen LMAD with Wayne, but I LOVE Who's Line Is It Anyway because of him). Nina then conducted a 60 second interview where I had to tell her about myself. Let's just say that it did not go very well. Being put on the spot makes me extremely nervous. I totally sounded boring ("I like to read, scrapbook, play softball..."). She let me know that the producers are looking for wild and crazy people to be contestants.

When I hung up with Nina, I told all of my girls that this would be our first official bridal party outing. Once everyone was in (even my future SIL, Emily who lives in Arizona), I started to research the show. Ciara (another one of my bridesmaids) found the Yelp review and we started writing down tips on what to do and what not to do once we got there. Next, we had to decide what to wear. We finally decided to wear t-shirts, leggings and tutus. At first I wanted it to be my wedding theme: 09/20/2014, Future Mrs. Ledesma, Team Bride, etc., but then I remembered what Nina had told me about what the producers were looking for.That is when we created this masterpiece in Windows Paint:

I found a clip art of a bride and groom for our bodies and I went to IMDB for a good picture of Wayne. I used my engagement picture to get my head. It took a lot of work, but I saved it on my flash drive and drove down to The Outlets at Orange where I bought a white tee at Wet Seal and had Imagine That Graphics screen print the picture onto my tee. It literally took the girl 10 minutes to finish my shirt and it was only $25 + tax for an 8 X 10 inch image in color.

When my shirt was done, I headed to a T-Shirt store to pick up pink shirts for the girls and then to Michael's Arts and Crafts to get fabric paint, paint brushes, a bride-to-be crown, a garter and tulle for my veil. The next day, all of the girls, (Kaitlyn, Amanda, and Ciara) came over to write on their shirts with fabric paint. On the front, they wrote 'Bridesmaid' (Kaitlyn wrote 'Maid of Honor') and the back they all put 'Team Mrs. Brady'. In the picture above, I have the words typed, because I was going to have them printed on my t-shirt along with the picture, but it was a little pricey. I wrote on the front of mine with pink paint as shown above.
The night before the show, I finished up the back of the t-shirts which read 'Team Mrs. Brady' and mine said 'Future Mrs. Brady.' I also made a poster imitating a marriage certificate. (You'll see that later)  

Saturday morning, the day of, Ciara, Emily and I get up to start getting ready while Kaitlyn and Amanda are meeting my place since I am driving. We all get ready and head out, but first we take a ton of pictures, courtesy of the fiancĂ©! They aren't the most flattering pictures, but whatever, we had fun taking them at 8 AM on a Saturday morning.

Before we hit the freeway, we stopped at Walgreen's for snacks, cards (UNO and Regular) and alcohol (champagne, orange juice and Bud-Light Straw-beer-itas). We piled back into the car and headed to LA.  It was about a 35 minute drive from Anaheim to LA, which wasn't too bad. We laughed and joked the entire way there, making the drive feel like it was 15 minutes. When we got off the freeway at about 9:40 AM, we used our Yelp notes to find a place to park. We parked right across the street in a residential neighborhood. We got out and started tail-gating. We made mimosas and drank some of our Straw-beer-itas. We skipped breakfast on the way, so we were feeling the affects. Luckily, Arby's was across the street, so we had a beef and cheddar brunch and headed back to the car. Amanda and I walked toward a line that was wrapped around the building to ask what time they would be taking people for the 12 o' clock. We asked the worker and she formed a new line beginning with us! :) First in line, the other girls met us in line.

From there is where the fun began. Again using the advice from Yelpers and Nina, we started dancing and singing and being BUCKWILD! (we use that a lot!) We stood in line being buckwild for about 2 hours until the producers of the show came out and gave us paperwork to fill out. We got our numbers, name tags and we gave our 15 second interview that consisted of my number, name, where I am from, what I do for a living and what I do for fun. Screaming at the top of my lungs, I said "I am number 5, my name is Trinity Sarmiento, I am from Anaheim California, I am an HR Process Specialist, and when I am not walking my buns *shakes butt* off for boobs *points to boobs* at the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, I am planning my wedding!" About 10 minutes after the interview, we went through security (no phones allowed in) and into the 'Tent.' It was a large tent that had 200 seats, a TV with music blaring out of it, costume rentals, a picture station with a green screen and an office space.

Being the first people in, we had our pictures taken for LMAD records and we proceeded to the group and individual photo station. We had to pretend we "just won a boat" and he captured our expressions. I took a photo by myself with my marriage certificate.

We sat down and did another 2 hours of buckwildness, singing and dancing, cheering and playing cards. We made friends, who we played NINJA and BULLSHIT (we changed the name to ZONK) with. Finally, a lady came out and gave us the scoop on how the loading process was going to be and the do's and dont's of the show. When she finished she loaded us into the studio by numerical number (thank God we got there early and were the first ones in). It took 20 minutes to fill the studio with 200 people. While we were waiting we were singing and dancing to the music playing and we got our final picture taken.

That is all for now, please come back mid-November to see a clip of us in the audience. ;)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Bridesmaid Proposal

I knew long before I got engaged, who my bridesmaids were going to be. When Anthony popped the question, I waisted no time preparing to ask them. I knew I wanted to ask them in a way they would never forget; that meant something to both of us.

I made each bridesmaid a treasure box with an 'Alice in Wonderland' theme. All of the boxes were the same except one, but we will get to that later.

Your wedding: date, colors, location
Unfinished cigar box.
Acrylic Paint (two colors: outside of the box and the inside lid)
A paintbrush
Burlap Ribbon (or any thick ribbon of your choice)
Card stock (Cream and the colors of your wedding)
Sticker Alphabet (one for the name and one for the inside lid)
Skeleton Keys
Jewelry Wire
Large bar of chocolate
Mini bottle of alcohol with a mixer
Color Swatches 
Bridesmaid dress inspiration pictures
A picture collage of you and your bridesmaid

The first thing I did was paint the cigar box. I used a cream outside and a bubble gum pink inside. While I let the box dry, I gathered all of the pictures I had of me and each of my bridesmaids individually. I put them together on a photo collage and printed them on a sheet of paper, the size of the bottom of the box. The example I am using is the box I made for my Maid of Honor. Kaitlyn and I have been best friends since we were 9 years old. I had to do a lot of digging for the photos from when we were younger. I scanned the hard copied onto my computer and created a word document.

While on the computer, I started making my 4 piece letter to go inside.
1. 'Our Day' - Here, I wrote the the date of the wedding, the venue location and the theme of the wedding. 
2. 'Your Role' -  On this page, I wrote about what I expected from my bridesmaids. I let them know that 
 they weren't required to to anything for me, but be there for emotional and moral support.
3. 'My Girls' - I made this page to let my bridesmaids know who else was going to be in the wedding. I
listed their name and title, along with something sweet about them.
4. 'Your Dress' - Everyone dreads a bridesmaids dress, but here, I let them know that they are allowed whatever style dress they choose as long as it is the same color, fabric (not satin or silk) and knee length.

When I was done, I printed them on the card stock I bought and cut them with shaped scissors.

 I did the same with a cute little note asking them to be my bridesmaid.

After I made the photo collage and letters, I put together all of the little items that go inside the box and their tags.

'Eat Me' was a large bar of chocolate (What girl doesn't like chocolate?).  I labeled the tag and tied it around the chocolate bar with the twine.

'Drink Me' was a little bottle of alcohol with a flavored Crystal Light packet. Kaitlyn's happened to be tequila with a margarita flavored packet.

'Wear Me' was a dress I made with card stock. I used the colors of my wedding, gray and yellow, to make the dress. As for the hanger, I used jewelry wire to molded it into a little mini hanger.

Two other items in the box were a scheme of Home Depot paint cards to show them my wedding colors and about 5 pictures I found on Google images of different style bridesmaids dresses and colors. I hole punched them with a shaped hole punch and tied them together with twine.

When the boxes were done drying, I put everything inside. It looked like this:

I put the girl's name on the top of the box with pink sticker letters and on the inside, I put 'I Can't Say I Do Without You.'

When the stickers were in place, I closed up the box and tied a burlap bow around it and added the skeleton key with twine around the bow, along with a tag that said 'Open Me'... and it was ready to give.

I took each girl out to dinner individually. I made sure to arrive 15 minutes before them so I could get us a table and hide the box. When we were finished eating, I read them a heart-felt letter I had writt
en before hand. All of them accepted and all of them cried tears of joy!

All I have to say is when you ask your bridesmaids, make it personal; make it meaningful and do something that will make them feel special during a time that is all about you.

Here are some pictures from two of the bridesmaids.

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Proposal

Every year, Anthony and I take a little mini getaway for our anniversary. In September 2012 I did the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in SB and decided we needed to experience it as a couple.

The weekend started on Friday night, we arrived around 9 PM. The original plan was to go to downtown SB and go to a few bars, but were exhausted, so we ended up staying in for the night. The next day, we woke up, had our continental breakfast and headed to the Historic Santa Barbara Superior Courthouse.
After the courthouse, we went kayaking around the harbor. The kayak rentals were from the Santa Barbara Sailing Center. The staff was exteremly friendly and the rentals were cheap. We spent about an hour chasing the seals that would swim right up to us and try to play.

When we finished kayaking, we had lunch at this amazing little restaurant called La Super-Rica Taqueria located on Milpas.

Full and ready for a nap, we continued onto our next activity on the itinerary, wine tasting. We went to the Santa Barbara Winery located on Anacapa Street. They had a large selection for the tasting and they also had an olive oil tasting booth. Anthony is not one for wine, so we did not end up staying that long, but we had fun.

We headed back to the hotel for a nap after we went wine tasing and when we woke up, we headed out to dinner. We ate at a restaurant right on the beach at sunset, it was gorgeous. After dinner, we walked up the beach and back until the sun went down.

March 10, 2013 was the last day of our anniversary weekend in Santa Barbara. To start it off, we had a nice patio breakfast on a sunny spring day. I had the chocolate chip pancakes (my weakness) and he had regular pancakes. After breakfast, we were headed to the Santa Barbara Mission, but tours didn't start for two hours due to Mass. Waiting was not part of the itinerary and we had no idea what to do next.

Anthony was driving around town when he said "Let's go on an adventure." I went with it and he drove through the hills of SB, or as the road signs stated, a "Scenic drive." We pulled up to a national forest parking lot; we got out and started walking around. As we get closer to the trail, we hear a creek. I have never seen a creek in person, so Anthony suggested we check it out.

We walked a little further and there were nature's stairs made of rock and a hand railing made of wood. We walked down to the bottom and there were rocks and trees everywhere. Water was flowing into a little pond, the pond was spilling water over its edges continuing the flow of the creek. It was really pretty. I pulled out my camera and started taking pictures. I took some of Anthony, he took some of me, and he suggested we take one together.
He set the camera up on a rock with the self timer and the “multiple” setting, taking 10 shots in a row. When he set it up, he ran back to where I was standing and we posed. We reviewed the pictures and he said that we needed to try it one more time. This time, he was taking forever trying to set the camera on the rock. He was shaking and making it fall over, finally he got it to sit still and he said "Hurry, look at the camera." I looked, but I didn't feel him next to me like he was the first time. I looked over and there he was, on one knee. Long story short, I said yes, and he did not capture the moment on camera. But that is okay because we will always have the memory.