02 March 2015

So You Think You Can Dance?

If you know me personally, you probably know that I once aspired to teach dance. I knew I wasn't good enough to pursue it professionally, but the passion was there and my thirst for knowledge of technique surpassed anything I had been interested in before. During my second year in college, I was involved in a car accident that left me with an injured knee, several fractured vertebrae, torn cartilage in my chest and the new knowledge of my allergy to CT contrast. Sadly, the bones were not my only fractures...

My planned career would no longer be something I could accomplish. I tried to return to my advanced classes, but after only a few weeks, the pain increased and my doctor advised against dance. I felt lost and had no idea what I was supposed to do with my life. It wasn't until I poured myself into Youth Ministries that I felt the call of God strong. I knew that losing dance helped me gain GOD's vision for my life. I was so focused on what I wanted to do, that I failed to see what GOD wanted for my life.

Although I have moved on from dance, the appreciation for beautiful expressions of movement still remain. Every year I look forward to the newest season of "So You Think You Can Dance?" to find my fix for expressive dance. These are some of my favorites!! I hope you take the time to enjoy the beauty in our humanly ability to portray messages without words.

SYTYCD Season 7 - Bryan Gaynor Audition
Bryan is a talented guy with spina bifida. I find him truly inspiring and amazing. Even if this style of dance is not your cup of tea, I hope you can appreciate all he has overcome.

SYTYCD Season 10 - Teddy Tedholm Audition
Teddy is an amazing dancer and I love watching his work, but his audition piece in 2010 was by far one of my favorites.

SYTYCD Season 5 - "Gravity" with Kayla Radomski and Kupono Aweau, Choreographed by Mia Michaels
It's a Mia Michaels piece. Need I say more? Nope, but I'm gonna. I thought this dance was a quite effective portrayal of addiction and what it does to people. The epic battle between the abuser and the drug, fraught both with need and need to escape. Kayla and Kupono do an amazing justice to this wonderfully choreographed piece.

SYTYCD Season 5 - "Cancer" with Melissa Sandvig and Ade Obayomi, Choreographed by Tyce Diorio
I'm not a big fan of Tyce Diorio in general, but this piece inspired by Breast Cancer really spoke volumes to a sensitive side we didn't know existed in him. Sadly, we live in a world where we ALL know at least one person affected by cancer, if not more. It was moving to see the struggle in terms of dance. I know it definitely touched my heart.

SYTYCD Season 7 - "Collide" with Lauren Froderman and Kent Boyd, Choreographed by Travis Wall
I didn't feel like I had the experience I should have had at my high school prom, but looking back I was grateful that they were not my glory days. I never dreamed of having the crown so many girls fought over.. I didn't even really want to attend the darn thing.. But this performance made me feel what they were portraying. That young love full of adventure and hope and amazement, faced with the future pulling them in different directions. I think these wonderful dancers did a great job.

20 February 2014

Disney Party Invites

I recently began planning a surprise 30th Disneyland themed birthday party for my favorite person ever, my handsome husband Nathan. Being adult, as I am, I started to plan things out about 5 months in advance. When you're on a budget it's important to plan early, purchase piece by piece and have a clear vision.

The first step was to decide on the invitations. While thinking about my options, I considered the fact that my husband and I created our own wedding invitations on Microsoft Excel and they came out great! We had so many compliments and they fit our theme perfectly, so why not explore some homemade ideas?

I remember seeing something some time back on a wedding blog where a couple used Disneyland Fastpasses as their seating cards. I went in search and found them available on Etsy, but when I saw the prices I almost had a heart attack! $60 for 40 Fastpasses... and these were just the PDFs, mind you. This did not include the paper and the color ink to print them out. Outrageous!!! So I did the next thing anyone in my shoes would do, search online for a free template. To my dismay... nothing.

Although my thoughts of doing this easily and pain free seemed far off, I was pretty confident in my skills to pull this idea off on my own. First thing I needed was a few pictures of the Fastpasses available at Disneyland (and even maybe a few from Disney World - since there are so many more there), so I did a simple Google Image search for Disneyland Fastpass.
It took me awhile to comb through the possibilities, but I saved all the clean, usable images that I could find. I opened my favorite free online photo editor Pixlr (also available in a Chrome App) and selected one of the saved images to begin. 
I first needed to crop out the unwanted black areas (some of the images included fingers and/or backgrounds they were photographed on). You can do this using the crop feature or in some cases the eraser tool.
I then chose an image size I wanted to work with. Since all the images I downloaded would be different sizes, I knew it was important to pick one (I decided on the original size of the first image I worked with- which was 280x465). You can do this by selecting IMAGE from the top left of the horizontal menu and them selecting IMAGE SIZE from the drop down menu.
Once I did this I knew it was important to find the right fonts to make it look as legitimate as possible. If you do not have a lot of fonts installed on your computer, this might be a harder process than what I experienced. To do this, I opened the text tool and began typing in the info I needed next to the existing text. 
I then scrolled through my options until I found the desired font. (It may not be right on, but just get as close as you can.) Below are the fonts I chose to use for mine.

Once I decided on my fonts, I removed the rows of the words that were originally printed on the images and replaced them with the invite information. This was to insure proper set up and placement of the information. I wanted it to look as close to the original as possible. (In the following picture, I chose to just replace the word "Return" with the word "Arrive" in order to keep it as close to the original as I could. Also, remember to select BACKGROUND under the LAYERS box on the right when erasing things from the original image.)
I repeated this process for each line until I was satisfied.
Once I completed the first Fastpass I saved it like 20 times to make sure I really saved it. Then I used the crop tool to crop out the information. This will be used for the rest of the Fastpasses.
Once you've cropped as much as you desire, just double click in the center of your selection and save it under another name, such as "PARTY INFO."
Next, open up the remaining fast passes one by one, crop and resize to your preferred size.
Erase all the info you are going to replace. I used the eraser tool, but if you have a pass with a background color other than white, use the dropper to obtain the correct color, then use the brush tool to simply paint over the unwanted text.
On a few I had to use the eye dropper tool to color match and then use the brush tool to blend some edges. 
Next, select FILE from the horizontal menu and then select OPEN IMAGE from the drop down menu. Select the picture file with the Invitation Information. 
Once you do this there will be 2 images available to manipulate. (Note: When working/adjusting/altering an image, make sure you select the image you want to work with by clicking on the top title bar of that image. When you do this, the information in the boxes on the right will change to match that item.)
Go ahead and make sure the info image is currently highlighted. Select EDIT from the horizontal menu and then SELECT ALL from the drop down menu.
Select EDIT again from the horizontal menu and then select COPY from the drop down menu. This means that you have selected all of that image and now want to copy everything you have selected.
Next, highlight the Fastpass you are currently working on (you will know you have highlighted the correct image by the info displayed in the boxes at the right of your screen). Select EDIT from the horizontal menu and then select PASTE from the drop down menu.
All we need to do now is adjust and touch up. Use the move tool to move the info into the desired place on the Fastpass. This is why it is so important to maintain the same size for every Fastpass. This will ensure that your info will fit perfectly into each and every Fastpass you make.
Repeat as many times as you seem fit!!! I'm sure there are others ways to accomplish this without so much work, but this is just how I personally chose to do it. I'm not a computer whiz and I can't afford special programs, but I work with what I have. I think they turned out pretty good though. Check them out! I've blacked out some information of course. And in case you're wondering why the invite says Leah, these invites were a decoy to throw my husband off the scent. I actually made 2 complete sets of invites. One with his info and one with his cousin's info.


Just for fun...
In case you wanna make your own Disneyland Fastpasses but the entire process seems like a little too much, here are the fast passes I deconstructed. I hope this helps add that perfect little detail to your next party or event. Just right click on the picture to save it and open it in a photo editing site/program to add text. You could also open a Word document and insert the images into it. Just get creative.