Archive for the ‘Bits and Pieces’ Category


Tutorial: Printing Square Photos

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

If you’re an avid iPhonographer, you probably have your fair share of square photos from Instagram or Hipstamatic. Printing them is a hassle, as most of the common photo printing services don’t offer square prints, and instead blow them up to fit the standard 4×6 size! Here’s an simple tutorial for creating a Photoshop action that will add a white border around your photos that can be easily sliced off.

Tutorial: Printing Square Photos



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My New York

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

I've spent the weekend working on a scrapbook of my New York adventure. More accurately, I've been procrastinating by scouring Pinterest for travel book inspiration!

New York Scrapbook
I saved every last ticket stub and map and pamphlet. The had part is writing; I'm no good at captioning or “journaling” cause it always seems so cheesy (this is my main beef with scrapbooks!)


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Wanderlust: New York City

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

It’s been a little quiet around here, but that’s cause I spent the week in New York City!

I got to see my sister perform with her choir in Carnegie Hall, and we did all the typical New York things. I had never been there, so it was quite the experience!

Now to sort through 1000+ photos and get them on Flickr! Have a good night, everyone!

Radio City Music Hall

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Indie Inspiration: Dog Lovers

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Indie Inspiration: Dog Lovers

1. BW Barkery //  2. RodaLuLu  //  3. Dogtails  //  4. Rockstar Puppy  //  5. Bacon Square Farm  //  6. Mimi Green  //  7. Billets-Doux


Today I’m featuring some of the incredibly cool accessories for our furry friends from Etsy (I’m just in love with number 7!)


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Hello, Sadie!

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Yesterday we received an unexpected phone call from a family who was looking to rehome their lovely dog, Sadie. Having recently moved to a small home, they no longer had the room for her. I had originally replied to the couples’ Craigslist ad, but Matt was hesitant to jump into dog ownership again, and we decided not to go through with adopting her. They let me know that they had another family lined up.

When they called, they said the other family lied about their situation (said they lived in a house with a big yard, when in reality they lived in a hotel; had a bunch of other big dogs, etc.) and decided they didn’t want her anyway. Knowing from our previous conversation that we had a big yard and recently lost Rory, they asked if we’d like to meet her. We agreed and instantly fell in love!

Her name is Sadie (short for Mercedes), and she is a one-year-old german shepherd mix. They thought she might have some lab in her, but it almost looks like a bit of collie, doesn’t it? She is the sweetest dog, and literally the softest one I have ever felt. When Matt walked in the door yesterday, she literally leapt into his arms. We’ll have to work on that!

She’s already such a good girl; she’s never been on a leash and stays near you outside (though we’ll be working on leash training stat!) She immediately comes when she’s called, but things like “sit” and “lay down” are foreign concepts. She seems smart, though, so I’m sure she’ll figure it out in no time!

The cutest thing is that she loves to sit on my lap and press the side of her face into mine. It’s ridiculously adorable.

I’m confident she’ll be a great dog with a bit of training, and I am so, so happy to have another canine family member!

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A Hazy Shade of Winter

Monday, January 7th, 2013

I thought I’d start the second week of 2013 with a quick roundup of what I’ve been up to.



My brother is off to China for a whole year! I made Hobbes for him for Christmas before I knew he was going. He took it along. I think it’s safe to say he enjoyed it!




I started playing around with a label design for my husband’s homebrew for fun, and this was born. I might go back and redo it later, but he was quite pleased with it in the meantime.


I’ve been working on the Juneberry Triangle only halfway done with the edging. It’s exhausting! It’s beautiful, though, and I’m sure it’ll be worth it.



I fulfilled some of my Maid of Honor duties and went dress shopping with Jenna. She found the perfect one on our first trip! Don’t worry, this isn’t the one!

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A New Kind of New Year’s Resolution

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Penny Street Art in Amsterdam. Image via Sagmeister.


Like most people, I’ve been thinking about what I want to accomplish in the new year. I’ve never been one for resolutions, as I’m notoriously terrible at sticking to them, and they generally just make me crabby. This time, however, I’ve been thinking about what I can resolve to *not* do.

My mom and I were talking about all the projects we did this past year, and how most of them were for other people. The vast majority of these projects were “commissioned” in some way. Friends or acquaintances would be impressed with our skills/talents/abilities/whatever, that they would ask for one of their own. Often it would be a barter of some kind, or even in exchange for money. Sometimes, and I’m more guilty of this, they would be presenting a problem and I’d jump in to offer a solution – usually one that involved me sewing or knitting or building or designing something.

Now, the problem with these opportunities is that while I like to make gifts and surprises for people, having a commitment usually leads to resentment. It’s not that I don’t want to help – I do! In fact, that’s the problem! I want to help everyone with everything. It obviously becomes a matter of validation. I feel like my friendship is of no use to someone unless I can offer a tangible service. Silly? Definitely.

Unfortunately, I’ve damaged quite a few friendships because of this. I underestimate the time and money I’ll have to invest in a project, and offer it in exchange for something that’s not nearly comparable. For example: a dear friend wanted a cute, Anthropologie style dress. I insisted that it would be quite simple to sew, and we arranged to barter. I would sew the dress and she would color my hair. ¬†We would both pay for our own materials. I’m really not sure what I was thinking – even if the dress had been a simple endeavor, it’s just not the same amount of work that goes into a color appointment. The dress ended up needing multiple fittings and alterations… it was too long, then it was too short; the bust was wonky, I didn’t know how to fix it… I spent so much time and energy stressing about the stupid project that I started to really resent the dress and my friend. ¬†She was frustrated because it was taking so long, and I already “cashed in” on my side of the bargain. It was a mess.¬†Was it her fault? No. I truly believed at the beginning that it would be a relatively simple undertaking.

It doesn’t take a psychologist to determine this isn’t healthy.

So, in 2013, I’ve resolved to not take on a single commissioned project for anyone else. If I make or do something for another person, it will be as a gift. There will be no expectation on their part. If they ask, I will politely turn them down. Maybe I’ll even explain why, though I’m sure it sounds silly.

In the end, I think this will only strengthen my relationships with people. They’ll be based on mutual respect and genuine interest in one another’s personalities. Additionally, I’ll get to focus on things for myself. I have so many unfinished projects!

Are any of you doing a similar thing, or have you done it in the past? I’d love to know what your experiences were.

Here’s to an awesome, productive 2013! Happy New Year, everyone!

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Ridiculously Easy Recipe: Beer Cheese Dip

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

I’m sure you need a last-minute dish to bring to a New Year’s party (oh wait, most people are more prepared than I am??) so I present you with one of my favorite ridiculously easy recipes: beer cheese dip:




2 8-oz. packages cream cheese
2c. shredded cheddar cheese (sharp is better!)
1c. beer
1 package ranch dressing mix




That is seriously all. It’s like heaven on a cracker.

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Goodbye to my Best Furry Friend

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

I’m heartbroken to have to tell you that my furry girl, Rory, was put down this past Tuesday. She was a mere three years old; just barely out of her puppy phase (it seemed).

About three weeks ago, I noticed a lump on her back. I know some dogs are prone to fatty lipomas, so I wasn’t terribly concerned, but I thought I’d ask my friend (a PA student) what she thought. She told me that squishy is a good sign, but hard is bad. Rory’s lump was definitely hard. I made an appointment with the vet for the following week.

By the time her vet visit rolled around, a Friday, she was climbing stairs like an old lady, and her one lump had turned into ten. The doctor ran a whole panel of bloodwork, but everything came back negative. The stumped doctor prescribed some antibiotics and we left, frustrated. Since the lumps didn’t seem to be painful, the vet recommended holding off on a biopsy until we determined if the antibiotics had an effect.

Come Monday, poor Rory couldn’t climb the stairs to go in and out of the backyard. She would cry and wail like a baby. I had never heard a dog cry before – it was heartbreaking. We called the vet and she prescribed some painkillers. We started letting Rors into the front yard instead, which has a two step stoop instead of a full staircase. She still whimpered and whined when climbing up and down, then she would press her body into me, shaking and trembling like a leaf.

A few more days passed. By now, Rory was crying constantly when she moved, and just howled and shook violently on the stairs. Attempting to lift her caused the same pain. It was obvious that the pain started about halfway down her back and radiated down her legs and tail. We took her back to the vet.

The vet now believed that it was a ruptured disc, based on how she was holding herself and the location of the pain. She prescribed tramadol and carprofen: just a step under morphine, she explained. The disc would heal on its own (hopefully) in 6-8 weeks. She said we could address her lumps after her back healed, as they still weren’t painful. They were, however, popping up at an alarming rate.

I put her bed in the living room, near the front door, so she wouldn’t have to walk far to go outside.¬† Still, she wailed and cried each time she went out. She started refusing to get up. Normally a ravenous eater, she stopped eating entirely. She would even spit out peanut butter. She wailed horrible, haunting cries all night if I wasn’t near her, so for the last week I slept on the couch, with one hand dangling off and resting on her shoulder.

This past Monday, I knew she had reached her end. I was able to coax her to go outside, and instead of going potty, she just flopped down in the snow and laid her head down.

I called the vet’s office, and was able to speak with a different doctor. She said that her symptoms were consistent with vertebral cancer, and that we could test for it, but even if we decided to treat it, the prognosis wouldn’t be good. She listed the other possible diseases, and explained that none of them were easily treatable, if at all.

We made the decision to give her some peace and put her down. I was devastated, but relieved at the same time. All of the days she cried and looked to me for relief I couldn’t give her were so hard.

On Tuesday, we wrapped all 75 lbs. of her in a blanket and carried her to the car.¬† She didn’t even struggle. Once inside, she pushed herself up and rode with her head out the window one last time. For a few minutes, she seemed happy and carefree.

At the vet’s, we sat on the floor with her and her favorite toys while they injected her with the sedative and the drugs. It was over quicker than I expected. I hugged her and kissed her shaggy face one last time.

Rory was literally an almost perfect dog. She was smart, sweet, and always happy. She didn’t chew, growl, bite, or destroy things. The very worst of her offenses involved catching a few bunnies and occasionally getting into the garbage. She even got out of the back yard once, and sat on our front stoop until I noticed her there. She didn’t have any weird phobias, or get carsick, or pull on her leash. She was a good dog.

I know we’ll be lucky to find another dog even half as good as her. We’ll have to wait awhile, but for now it feels so weird to be alone in the house. Yesterday I even went to the back door and called her inside after I made coffee, out of habit.

In any case, she gave us so much. I know we gave her a good life, and I am so grateful that in her final weeks she didn’t become afraid of me or lash out, despite the pain. She was a good dog.

RIP Rory. We will never forget you.

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Tutorial: Winter Terrarium

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

This is a super simple and adorable winter terrarium. You will need:
Glass container
Sisal Trees
Animal  Figurines
Other decorative items

Pour sugar into bowl to desired depth, and top with a thin layer of glitter

Use a pen or pencil to push the glitter down along the sides of the glass. It’s like the sand art you used to do as a kid!

Decoratively arrange your items in the snow.

Step back and admire your work.

Bask in the adorableness.


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Hazel & Agnes is the creative blog of Natalie Matz. Click above to learn more!