Graduating on the Cheap: Invitations

A few days ago, I realized how little time I have to write my paper and study for finals. Now I'm completely on panic mode. On top of that, there's graduation planning to do. Stressful time, indeed.

If you have a May graduation and haven't started inviting people, do it now! You'd be surprised how long it takes to write out invitations. It took me 2 hours to write a handful of notes to family and friends yesterday, not to mention the time spent writing more invitations before that, and I'm not even completely done yet because I have to call people up to ask for addresses.

It took me a while to decide how to invite people this year. I never cared for buying the graduation excess peddled to us time after time, but this time I thought about going out with a bang. Nothing extravagant, but perhaps something nicer than before. At first, I toyed around with the idea of announcements. I've never really liked them, since they're expensive and comes across as somewhat cheapy. Sure, there's a nice foil seal of the school's logo, but I can't get past the fact that it's really just a sheet of paper folded in quarters, and you have to do the folding yourself. Good thing by the time I contemplated buying them, it was a bit late--the estimated shipping time was 11-15 business days, and I needed them like right now. Besides, who knows how expensive the shipping by UPS was going to be. I had a feeling that it was going to cost me another arm or leg.

Since I've been very attracted to the beautiful stationery on Etsy, I thought about doing a custom order. The cards are slightly more expensive than the announcements per unit, but the cardstock and personalization is much better in quality. Besides, I get to do it my way, and I didn't need that many announcements. However, I didn't know how long a custom order would take, and I needed my cards pronto. So, I contacted one of my favorite paper goods sellers, Courtney from Just Another Day. All it took was a span of 2 days to hash out exactly what I wanted, then I got my cards in the mail 2 days later (and I didn't have to lose another arm or leg to shipping). I was so stoked when I got them:

I got a few Thank You cards to go along with them--it was so sweet.

On the inside, I wrote something like this: "Dear so and so, you're hereby invited to my 'release party,' known by some as graduation. It's on..." and all the other details.

There are other nice and inexpensive (or even free) alternatives as well. You can send out invites written on regular nice note cards and letter papers--stationery that you can use all year round since it isn't graduation-themed. By now, I'm extremely busy and frazzled, and there are still more people to invite. I'm probably going to invite people by Evite or email; one of my friends has already done a mass email invite for his graduation. It's quick, easy, and free!

Now that I've covered the methods of invitation, another thing to consider is what to pack in it. Date, place, and time are requisites, but I've also made printouts of directions and other information about the ceremony so that people will know what to expect. I can't believe all that packed into a small envelop--wasn't easy, but I made it work. It's best to cover all your bases now so that you won't have a bunch of relatives calling you when you're already stressed out from studying.


Getting Hooded

I'm technically getting a doctorate-level degree, but I don't know if there's a hooding ceremony involved like Ph.D.'s do. When I was sitting through my undergrad departmental ceremony, there were many awkward moments--the long dissertation titles (my family got a real kick out of them; for one dissertation, the announcer actually told people to look in the program for the rest of the title), the random "We love you!" cheers from the audience, and the moments when the graduate advisor couldn't get the hood to go around the candidate's head, resulting in an embarrassing tangle. Hence, I wouldn't mind if I don't have to wear one of those chunky things on my back.

Speaking of hoods, let's turn to the more common type. I definitely appreciate it when I can buy hooded jackets with detachable hoods. The hoods themselves look really cool, but if I were to layer, say, a vest, it's impractical to have a hood get in the way. That's part of the reason why I love Mike and Chris hoodies. Hooded blazers are cool, but sometimes I feel it's more professional to do without the hood.

Yesterday I had to stock up on jewelry supplies. Since I was just a few blocks from the Mike and Chris sample sale, I decided to pop by. Based on past prices, I didn't think I'd be able to get much, let alone 3 things, but that's what I walked away with. There were many hoodies from past seasons for $10, and in perfectly good shape! I love bright colors, but when it comes to big ticket items, I tend to be rather conservative because I want them to last. Sample sales like this give me an opportunity to go with the more daring choices.

This is what I wore today:

I love this shrug! I remembered that I liked it at the first Mike and Chris sample sale I went to, but the price tag made me like it less. At $10, it's definitely worth it. I've been really into shrugs lately because it is very practical for the day-and-night fluctuations of California weather. I love the cute ruffled lapels.

Here's the daring color I was talking about:

I tried green, but it just didn't look right. Orange is just right. At $10, it's another great piece. It actually keeps me warmer than some long-sleeved hoodies.

This one looked questionable on the rack, but I decided it wouldn't hurt to try it on. I'm so glad I did:

Initially, I thought cropped pullovers like this would look horrible. Not only can it make someone look stumpy, but the bottom portion tends to be loose and just doesn't look right. This one fits really well--snug but doesn't cut off the circulation (there's a zipper on one side and an elastic band on another). Also, it's the perfect piece to carry along when I'm out all day. I usually dread carrying bulky sweaters, but this one is small and it keeps me very warm. I love it! This might seem like a novelty sweater, but it's definitely functional. Well worth my $15.

The sale goes on until tomorrow. I was tempted to go back and get another shrug, since it's something my cousin likes, but I just don't have the time.


Mike & Chris Sample Sale TODAY!

Actually, the sample sale runs from today to Saturday. I haven't decided if I'm going to try my luck again, but those hoodies are awfully cute and functional; I love my olive-colored Ryan hoodie and have to stop myself from wearing it all the time. I want a long-sleeved one this time if I can get a good price for it.

For my lucky fellow Angelenas, the address: 834 S. Broadway, 2nd floor.

[UPDATE: I ended up going, since I was in the 'hood to procure supplies. There was a sizable stock of items for $10, $15, and $25. Many smalls are gone and I don't know if they'll replenish, but the sizes run small anyway. I ended up buying 3 and wore 1 of them right away since the classroom was frigid, as usual. Pictures are forthcoming.]


Guide to Graduating on the Cheap: Prelude

It's down to the home stretch! I finally realized how close I am to the finish line when I got my Bar/bri and PMBR books. For those of you who aren not familiar with what those are, they're the bar review courses that just cleaned out my bank account. It's too late for graduating 3L's, but here's a bit of opinion for future reference: I've heard from numerous people that the PMBR 6-day course is useless, and since it's the week right after finals are done all the way up to graduation day, I decided to skip it. That decision saved me a couple hundred dollars, which makes me happy. I might have mentioned it before, but in case I didn't, join the ABA before you sign up for PMBR. The $20 membership can save you around a hundred bucks (if you're doing the 3-day and the 6-day).

Anyway, back on topic: graduation. Some people can care less about the pomp and circumstance, but their families want to make it a big deal. Personally, I like to attend my own graduation because I want to feel like there's some kind of payoff to all the work I've been doing. However, I don't a lot of fuss, and I don't want to spend a lot of money. Some people spend money on all the graduation brouhaha (Grad Night, class ring, announcements, class trip, etc.) just because they're things that you "have to do" before graduating. If you have the money, it's not much of an issue, but if you don't, don't fall for the trap. To me, most of the commemorative stuff are just schemes to make money off of you, just like the "buy this commemorative video to celebrate your favorite professional team's world championship win!" nonsense--you'll spend all that money for something you'll look at for all of 5 seconds and then promptly neglect.

There are many meaningful ways to celebrate your accomplishments or your loved ones' accomplishments. True, there are certain things worth buying, but there's a lot of junk that are not. If we plan carefully, the money we save from not buying junk can go toward, say, the party for friends and family. To cut down on costs, it's best to watch what we're buying as well as what we're doing. Some methods are more cost-effective than others. I'll parse out what I know and what might work.

Since I'll be cramming for final exams, I won't have time to write out my typically long diatribes (I can hear some of you rejoicing right now). Instead, I'll break the topic up to manageable bits over the next few weeks. I'll start with the more pressing matters that the would-be graduate should do first (as in NOW for those who are in my shoes), and then progress to things that can wait until the last minute.

My fellow graduates--it's hard to get motivated, but let's push hard and finish strong!


Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day, everyone! It's not a day for just hippies and treehuggers. It's an important day of awareness for all.

I've always advocated scrimping, saving, reusing, and recycling of everything under the sun. Not only is it economically sound, it's environmentally crucial. Even if something is cheap, I don't see the point in letting good resources go to waste. More importantly, many resources are not renewable. If we aren't cognizant of our habits now, it may be too late in the future. That future appears closer than ever.

Many of us recycle, which is great, but we should also focus on generating less waste by not acquiring what we don't need. High Fashion Girl wrote an excellent post on waste and the fashion industry. In this day and age of "disposable fashion," we may be tempted to buy lots of cheap and trendy things and then cast them off 2 months later. I've always maintained that 1) Σ (lots of cheap) = expensive, and 2) many "trends" are actually perennially recurring themes, so it makes no sense to throw out clothes after every season. We hurt ourselves in more ways than one if we become slaves to trends.

Nobody likes to be told what to do, but we don't conserve voluntarily, government regulators will step in. California may soon impose a tax on those who buy SUV's, because they contribute to so much air pollution. A lot of people scream that it's unfair, but SUV ownership isn't a natural right. The government impose taxes for regulatory purposes all the time. If you want an SUV, fine, but you'll have to pay more for it. Of course the tax is high--otherwise it will have lost its deterrent effect. A basic tax like this is nothing like the more drastic measures that may follow. I heard on NPR this week that Hong Kong restaurants may impose a fine on people who waste food by ordering way more than they can eat. Since food is cheap, some people get greedy. I can't find the actual broadcast (I believe it's on Friday's geoquiz segment), but the reporter on the story was from the Christian Science Monitor. After reading the CSM article on the subject, I can see why the restaurant industry is going to such lengths; the economic motivation is certainly high, but there's also an environmental component. I'm quite shocked at the actual environmental impact that food waste is creating. The government hasn't taken a hold of this practice yet, but I won't be surprised if it does in the future, given the high population density and the magnitude of the problem.

Pretty soon there might be a new meaning to the term "fashion police."


Good clean fun

Many of my friends and family have summer birthdays, so it's time to buy presents again. Since I just paid thousands (yes, thousands) of dollars for my bar review courses, I'm quite broke.

My sister's birthday is the first in the series. Instead of getting clothes for her from the mall, which I'm sure she'd love, I'm getting her next favorite category of things: bath and beauty products. I wanted to get her something fun. She mentioned that she likes glycerin soaps, so that's what I looked for.

I've been trying to find the perfect excuse to buy something from Naiad's shop, and now I have one. The seller is a nice person and she makes the coolest soaps. I've been so tempted by the Chocolate Coffee Scrubby Bar for the longest time, but since I still have plenty of soaps, I want to use up what I have first. This time I'm sticking with my sister's gift.

These very cool soaps were on sale, so I snagged them up quickly. I paid just shy of $8, including shipping (which was really fast). I think my sister will approve of them.

I was tempted to keep these for myself and get her something else, but I'm going to be good. The lip balm sample is an incentive to be good:


Life and Debt

Glad to have my taxes finally done and over with. Dealing with them has not been fun this year, but online resources certain make life easier.

I've been too busy and lazy to cook decent meals in the last couple of weeks, but coincidentally, there were many great lunch-time events on campus. Yesterday was pizza during a talk given by the General Counsel of the Los Angeles Dodgers (very interesting; the career trajectory was nothing I expected). Monday was lunch from the Corner Bakery, complete with sandwiches, salads, and dessert (mmm...best free lunch I've had in a long time), served with a lecture on the "War on Terror." Sunday was pizza (again) when I was at school carry out my mandatory editorial duties for the last time...OK, so this isn't exactly "great" in terms of being enjoyable, but I'm proud of how things ran smoothly and we got the job done quickly. Last Thursday was pizza (again) for a talk on student loans, presented by a student loan "portal" that bills itself as different (as in they want participating lenders to provide full disclosure). Since I don't know enough about this very young company, I'm not going to reveal who it is lest someone thinks I'm giving a recommendation--I'm not. I just thought the factual information presented at that talk was very enlightening.

Since many graduate and professional students will incur 6-figure loans, it's best to shop around for the best rates. Even slight percentage points can make a huge difference, as in thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, many companies don't tell you what the APR percentage is, just a certain percentage plus, say, the LIBOR index. What's more complicated are the terms after you graduate. Some offer a percentage reduction after a certain number of consecutive payments, others offer a percentage reduction up front, and still others do a combination of both. Unless you set up an Excel spreadsheet to calculate out all these numbers, which many of us lack the acumen or time to do, we'll never actually see what the best deal is. The company (let's call it G) offers to crank out the APR of all the different student loans (that allow themselves to be listed in the database) so that people can compare more easily and see what they're getting into. When a student signs up for a particular loan through the G, G gets a commission from the loan company. This service wasn't available when I started school, but at least I keep track of what my interest rates are by paying attention to the rise and fall in interest rates in the news.

While money spent throughout the life of a loan is a big concern, the thornier issues for me are the terms of the loan--I'd rather spend a little more money now than to deal with trouble later. Most people don't know that their loans can be bought and sold by the loan companies; I have a friend who had to deal with problems springing from this. Another issue is what happens if you're having a hard time financially--does asking for a forebearance terminate the percentage decrease benefits, even though you've been diligently paying your loans and had trouble for just one time? These are things hidden in the fine print, and it's best to read it carefully. It's like drinking icky medicine, but it's better for you once you do it.

Consolidation is another issue. The rules have changed--students can no longer consolidate while they are in school, only when the loan enters the grace period (after graduation). For those who consolidated before this change, it's important to think carefully before consolidating again. It used to be a no-brainer option, since it locks in the low interest rates of days past, but now that interest rates are high, it might be a good idea to keep separate consolidated loans. It's something worth chewing on.

Choice of loan is also important. Last summer I talked about the federal Graduate PLUS loan program (GPLUS), which has a fixed 8.5% rate for the life of the loan. Sounds high, but compared to private loans that run from 9 to 11+%, it's a good deal. My school did a great job letting us know about this before it was time to apply for loans. However, other students may not be so lucky and not know about it. Last year things were still in flux and many school administrators were trying to sort things out, but now they should be more knowledgeable about it. It's definitely important to learn about it if you've been saddled with tons of private loans.

Last but not least, there's the issue of loan management while we're in school and after we graduate. It's common knowledge that there's bad debt (credit card debt being one of them) and good debt (student loan falls into this category), and it's important to manage them. It's common knowledge that there's bad debt (credit card debt being one of them) and good debt (student loan falls into this category), and it's important to manage them. The speaker advised students to take out more student loans to wipe out credit card debt, and I agree it's the right approach. The interest rates on credit card debt are so high that it would be stupid not to get rid of the debt as soon as possible, provided that the student loan rate is lower.

What I have a bit of difficulty with is the advice of taking more time to pay off your loans. The rationale behind taking time to pay off your loan is this: the money you use to pay off your loans could have been used to generate savings, and in the long run, you'll save more money than if you pay off all your loans at once early on. I believe this is a valid theory--I've seen the numbers--but I just don't like being saddled with a loan like this. I haven't decided if I should change the way I'm thinking. After all, a lot of people have mortgages; some debts are just facts of life. But it would definitely make me feel better if nothing is hanging over my head.

I guess the best solution is to make tons of money. Easy, right? ;-)


My eyes! My eyes!

Thanks for being so good and patient, folks. After my camera revived, I wasted no time in completing the experiment. S. had a few good guesses, but the shiny purchase wasn't the American Apparel leggings or hot pants. I find gold leggings strangely attractive (though I much prefer the Alice+Olivia gold lurex version), but there is no way I'll go out in hot pants. I will, however, go out in the (drumroll please . . . ) silver cropped jacket purchased from Charlotte Russe.

The cropped bomber-like jacket looks very Michael Jackson, and I'll be the first to admit it. I'm not into the 80's style at all (and Jacko is negative 18.5 on a scale of 1-10), but I saw a lot of potential. I was curious how something like this could be worn by normal, everyday people. At $8.50, the price for good fun isn't all that high. A movie ticket costs about that much, but the experience is fleeting. A jacket like this, however, has a somewhat longer shelf life.

When I first saw the jacket, I envisioned this outfit:

[Charlotte Russe jacket, vintage mod dress, Capezio boots]

Much too go-go dancer in the actual execution, and I doubt I'll go out looking like this, but it's a fun outfit to try. It's got that futuristic cool, and it'll make a good outfit for a costume party.

Let's rewind to my original challenge: how to make this more suitable for everyday wear. There are two ways to do this. One is to let the shine make the outfit, but dress it down. The other is to tone down the jacket with other elements in the outfit such that the shine becomes an accent rather than the focal point.

For the former approach, a simple graphic tee and jeans will do the trick:

[Puma retro logo tee, Charlotte Russe jacket, Jak & Rae jeans, Aerosoles sandals]

I went with a ringer tee, sporty bag, light-washed jeans, and wedge sandals for a casual vibe. A dark pair of jeans and a pair of heels would have made this a good casua dinner ensemble.

For the latter approach, bolder prints are necessary. I love how the stripes draw attention away from the shiny jacket without clashing with it. Here are two versions of the outfit:

[Charlotte Russe jacket, Papaya tube top, Juicy Couture highwaisted flare jeans, Adidas sneakers]

[Charlotte Russe jacket, Papaya tube top, Geren Ford shorts, Aerosole sandals]

I like how a change of pants and shoes creates two very different vibes. I can see myself wearing the first outfit for errands and things and just want to be comfortable. In fact, I did wear it to go out to study. The second outfit can be something for a day on a pier somewhere (though not on the beach).

I thought I'd show a close-up of my new $20 sandals from Ross. Who knew that Aerosoles can make shoes that look this good? They've really stepped up their design game. I've been looking for a pair of brown sandals for the longest time. The wedges are really comfortable and they look sleek, just the way I like 'em.

Finally, this wacky jacket can be worn as gaudy as it was made. You've already seen how it's done with the blue dress--both colors are very bright, but they deserve each other. Sometimes two wrongs do make a right. Here's another crazy as crazy does combo:

[Charlotte Russe jacket, old shirtdress from KMart, Capezio boots]

The shine and the print are equally glaring, but the blank slate of a jacket tones down the print. This doesn't look as good as the first outfit, but it sorta works on some abstract level.

This lab session is over. Further studies may be performed in the future to ascertain the true potential of such a jacket. I believe that the lessons gleaned from this experiment will work not only with shiny clothing in general, but anything with bright colors and bold prints. Given the right combinations, different prints, colors, and finishes can coexist in harmony.


The Tax Man Cometh

For those of you last-minute slackers or avoiders out there, it is now time to get your taxes done. The last thing you want is to be slapped with some huge penalty or have to go through a byzantine procedure to sort out your mess. As the saying goes, prevention is the best cure.

With e-filing, gone are the days of rushing to the post office. Many people buy Turbo Tax and get a tax write-off for it, but if you you're poor like me and don't even make enough to use that deduction, there are free and very good options out there. For federal returns, the IRS has a list of websites that allow you to e-file for free, provided that you are below a certain income threshold. Many of the sites sound like no-namers, but there are couple of reputable players: TurboTax and H&R Block. I've filed using the H&R Block one and I give it a thumbs up. It is very easy to use, and you can save our information and come back anytime. There's a sidebar for helpful FAQ's if you're unsure about something. It even handles more complicated things such as Schedule C calculations. It's a breeze to e-sign and send it off, and you have the option of saving and printing a copy of the return. These commercial websites try to make money off of you when you file your state taxes with them. It's very easy and certainly tempting, but since state taxes are easy to do, I'd rather pocket my $25.

I don't know about other states, but I know that the state of California offers free e-filing for low-income taxpayers through its own CalFile system, instead of third party vendors like the IRS does. However, CalFile is limited to very simple returns; if you have income from sources other than a W-2 and a few common sources, you'll have to use other options, which are free only if you file your federal taxes with them. However, the Orange County Legal Aid Society does have a free biligual (English/Spanish) program for both federal and state taxes, but you can't use it to file state taxes alone.

This has been a Hot Off the Sales Rack public service announcement. If you know of good, free options, feel free to share.


Camera Cliffhanger

Friday the 13th, indeed.

Right now I feel like I've watched a TV show and it ended on a cliffhanger. Remember a while ago I mentioned that my camera was taking pictures that looked like blobs, but the problem was momentary? Well, today's problem was not momentary. I'll wait until tomorrow to see if my camera revives, but if not, I'll have to get a new one. That means I won't be able to post pictures for a while.

I guess the upside is that my camera-buying adventures will serve as a good topic to blog on. Last time I got my dear camera for a really good price, and with technology advancing so much over the last few years, I think I can get a bang for the buck camera like I did before.

Let's see what happens. I hope that my camera isn't dead-dead. I hope that it's just a fake-out.

UPDATE: Fortunately, Friday the 13th ended on a good note. Instead of having to wait a long time for a resolution like, say, of what's in The Hatch or what that bright light Michael Scofield was walking toward, I found out near the stroke of midnight that my camera lives to see another day.

After the initial letdown this morning, I popped the batteries in my charger, went about my day, came home, popped the batteries in my camera, and kept my fingers crossed. I was still seeing blobs for the longest time, but just as suddenly as the pictures became blobs in the first place, the blobs clarified into coherent pictures. Needless to say, I'm quite thrilled, but I also know the camera's days are numbered. Hopefully it won't die on me on graduation day, like it did on another graduation I attended.


Lab Report

It's been a busy few days. I'm still waiting for a night when I can go to bed before 4am--looks like tonight is it. In the meantime, I'm look like a mess and my classmates told me so. I've exceeded my eat-out budget because I don't seem to have time to cook, but I did save some cash by going to on-campus events that serve lunch.

I'd like to try a few more things with my mystery new purchase before posting (hint: it's shiny), so bear with me! It's just too good to waste on just 2 outfits. I'll be back with the results soon. In the meantime, you'll find some fine reads on my blogroll.



My First Sale

Everyone knows how much I like to get a bargain. Now it's my turn to give a bargain. I don't like to pimp my shop very often, but this weekend I've put a few items on the sale rack.

I wish you all a wonderful Easter weekend. I'll be stuck researching and writing a paper. Have a good time for me!


Cheap Thrills and Spills

I haven't stepped foot in a mall for quite a while. The last time I did, I was proud of myself for not buying anything. All good streaks must come to an end. I did quite a bit of shopping this week.

This weekend I had to go to the mall at the behest of someone else. Since I had done a lot of driving that day, I figured I may as well wander around a bit as a break. I ended up picking up a couple of cheapies from adjacent stores. Not being one to leave things on hangers in the closet for months, I wore my new finds as soon as I could.

I think this is the prettiest of my purchases. Usually I'm not into empire-waist tops since they have the tendency to make one appear to be in the family way, but I found clothes from Papaya tailored to a more petite audience. I've been looking for something in mustard yellow for a long time, and I finally found something I like for $7. Sure, mustard yellow is so Fall '06, but you all know that I'm not a law-abiding citizen when it comes to fashion. To make it more seasonally-appropriate, I donned white pants and espadrilles (which, by the way, are still going strong after a good 3+ years of wear).

The fluttery sleeves are great, but what I really like are the contrasting lace trim and cute buttons:

The color happens to match one of my newest creations, so I wore it for my "photo shoot." Despite its practicality for business purposes, I doubt this top will garner a tax write-off.

Next: another top from Papaya, this time a $5 striped short-sleeved sweater. No, I do not have an addiction to yellow. I can stop wearing yellow whenever I please. Really.

I've been looking for a yellow and gray combo for a while because it just appeals to me. Now I finally have it. As you can see, I haven't gotten sick of the lapel pin/big button combo yet. This time it's a different combo of buttons:

Lindsay Lohan turned rehab into an accessory (in the form of the 90 Days button). Conversely (or similarly, if you are a cynic), I unbashedly aired my footwear dependency issues. That's right, I have no shame. My saucy lips lapel pin says it all.

Finally, another $5 Papaya top:

I love this cute little tank--it has pleats and buttons in the right places. The nautical stripe is a perennial Spring favorite. Skinny pants are also fitting of the times, notwithstanding the fact that my pair is more than a decade old. I'm dangerously close to looking hip and trendy. Of course I had to ruin it all and break the rules of fashion by pairing black with blue. Oh, the horrors! [Ed.: I stand corrected. What was once a colorific sin is now a hot combo.] But seriously, I think it's so much better this way than going with a purely red, white, and blue scheme.

My last purchase from the weekend hails from Charlotte Russe. It's so outlandish that it deserves its own post. Believe me, it's good. Come back in a few days and you'll be rewarded.


Getting Carded

I've gotten interested in notecards lately. It seems like all communications are either over the phone or electronic...very few people write these days. Every time I get a hand-written note or card, I get very excited. I'll try to get back into snail's mail one of these days.

In anticipation of my impending graduation, I've been buying some "thank you" cards to write to guests. There are so many cute ones out there! I found these from Pepperina Press:

I'm such a sucker for vintage and vintage-inspired things. The cards I bought are in the plastic wrap and the freebie is on the outside. They're sooo cute! They're not the usual bargain-basement cards that I tend to buy, but they're affordable, and I want to make this "thank you" special for family members who take the time and effort to come out and celebrate with me.