The clock is my worst enemy right now. Life is hard. Insomnia sucks. Babies who don’t sleep make me LOSE MY FRIGGIN’ MIND and sometimes I take to facebook to complain about it and then I feel guilty and want to hide in a hole out of embarrassment and there is lots of illness when you have three little kids who hang out with other kids and sometimes you JUSTWANTTOBEWELL, OKAY?!?! And sleep. And be able to go to church again because you haven’t been in two ENTIRE months. The end.
Okay not really.
All of this non-sleeping business has given me a whole lot of quiet time to think. The last three nights I’ve been struck with maybe the worst case of insomnia I’ve ever had. Three nights ago I got up at 3:30 (that’s a.m. for all you young folks), last night I was up from 1:30 to 4:00 and today I’ve been up since 1:30…A friggin’ M.
I’m also sick, which makes me particularly crabby when you layer illness and a few hours of sleep a night. All with a baby who also doesn’t know how to sleep. Oh, it’s fun times up in here.
So I’ve been trying on positivity for size this year. It was a goal for 2012. I think I’ve mostly mastered it thanks to a WHOLE lot of prayer and humbling, but there are times when I blow it big time and I become a giant ball of negativity. Like now. But I have been resisting the urge to write a blog post about how tough life has been recently and how difficult a time I’m having coping.
So this all got me to thinking (you know, during all this awake time I’ve had) about why we choose to show the good stuff and hide the bad.
It’s practically a syndrome in this crazy country of ours. Blogging has made motherhood HARD. Because now it’s not good enough to just be a mom. We have to stay home with our kids, make their glittered play dough from scratch while sewing their clothes, crafting with them daily, keeping the house beautifully organized (because organized isn’t enough; everything must have color-coordinated labels perfectly placed on each gorgeous, matching jar throughout our homes) and filled with homemade laundry soap, toothpaste and shampoo. Oh, and don’t forget to take professional-quality pictures of all of this on your $1000 camera! Ah, and edit them. Perfectly. In an $800 photo editing program. And then put it on your blog. That you paid someone $2000 to design. Because that’s now a pre-requisite to motherhood. But make sure that your house is spotless. When documenting every wonderful detail of your life to share with everyone on facebook and your blog, you certainly wouldn’t want anything out of place. What would people think?
Don’t forget to get to the gym. You should have a flat belly, after all. And don’t cheat on that Paleo/WAPF/Vegan/Atkins/Weight Watchers/Zone/WHATEVER diet!
Also, how’s your homeschool curriculum coming along? Have you made sure that homemade tent matches Susie’s handcrafted comforter? You wouldn’t want them to clash, after all. And don’t forget that Johnny is almost out of his homemade yogurt from grassfed cows and that Susie wants you to fill her bento lunchbox with tiny organic snacks formed into fun little animal shapes.
You also probably want to refill your etsy shop. It’s getting sort of bare.
Oh, and your chalkboard wall needs to be updated with some more hand lettered witty quotes and it’s about time to get a new handmade wreath on your front door. That one is so fall-ish. It’s winter, for pete’s sake!
I am as COMPLETELY guilty of this as the next Mommy Blogger. I mean, I pretty much pulled all of those examples off my own blog. And I seriously hate myself for it.
Our blogs have become a representation of ourselves. It’s our branding, if you will. And who on earth would publicize their weaknesses? You never see companies branding themselves as “Some really good stuff intermixed with some normal flaws and sometimes we suck at these things.”
But the problem is that we are PEOPLE. Not companies. We have feelings. We are raw. We are emotional. We are sensitive and especially as women, we are self-conscious. We so easily twist everything around into a negative. Oh, Sally can sew? That means I am a lousy mother because I can’t sew.
But guess what? Sally can’t cook. To save her life.
Sally doesn’t talk about that on her blog. She advertises her beautiful sewing projects. And that’s all Jane sees when she reads Sally’s blog. Suddenly Jane, who can bake anyone into a corner, feels like a complete and utter failure just because she can’t sew.
One of my friends was just telling me how she wishes she was funnier, like someone else we know. If she only had so-and-so’s personality, she would be more successful at her business. It broke. my. heart. My friend is beautiful and thoughtful and amazing with children and awesome in a million ways. She was comparing herself to someone who is totally hilarious but has her own flaws that my friend doesn’t have.
This happened to me. I shouldn’t say “happened” so much as “happens every single day.”
I can sew basic stuff. I am not a seamstress by any stretch of the imagination. If a pattern says easy, I sew it. Decently. I can cook pretty well. I’d say it’s my biggest domestic strength. I am a lousy housekeeper. I have literally never in my entire life kept up with laundry more than two days. I have heaping laundry piles that sometimes span the entire GIGANTIC sectional. I’m not lying. I clean my house like a madwoman for a few hours before anyone comes over. God blesses each of us with strengths…and weaknesses. And yes, I think it is a blessing to have weaknesses. What’s that saying? Without the rain there’d be no rainbow? Or something like that. If life was all rainbows and butterflies and glittered hearts, we couldn’t even appreciate it. I appreciate the fact that I can sew some basic stuff because I can’t knit. Have no clue. Know nothing about it. But I’m in awe of those who can! It’s humbling to have a weakness (we all need to be humbled!), and it makes you appreciate the things you’re good at. Most people don’t know that my house is usually a mess. Why would I advertise that? Why would I let anyone see my house like that?
It was so relieving last week when a friend stopped by and I didn’t know she was coming. She had called me, but I wasn’t near my phone for a few hours. So she got to see my house a hot mess. I was so embarrassed at first. But then I found myself relieved. Like, hey, she knows the “real” me and she’s still my friend.
What is it exactly that keeps us from showing the real sides of ourselves? It’s the fear of not being accepted. We want everyone to like us and accept us, but the problem is that if we’re not being real, then what does their friendship mean? It’s all based on a facade.
If my friends can like me despite my lack of style, my messy house, my old van, my inability to knit, my terrible handwriting, my struggles with depression, my small house, the fact that I sometimes complain on facebook, that my marriage isn’t perfect, that I sometimes flake out on commitments because my family comes first and my forgetfulness, then they are my real friends. And those are the only ones I want.
We say that. It’s a saying, you know. You lose a friend and people say, “Oh, you’re better off without them. If they can’t accept you for who you are, you don’t need them.” It’s easy to say, hard to put into practice. I’ll never forget a pretty monumental point in my life, when one of my very best friends turned her back on me when I went through my first depression episode at 22. She told me I was, “F’ing crazy” and began spreading a whole lot of untruths about me. That was so deeply scarring for me, because instead of recognizing that she was not a true friend, I took it as meaning I was not lovable; I was undeserving of friendship because of this illness. I learned to keep it inside and not talk to anyone about it. If I did, I would be alone and have no friends.
When I was pregnant with Landon, I learned to open up about depression and its debilitating effects. I didn’t open all the way up and I certainly didn’t share everything I went through, but I did at least write one really hard blog post and I tried to be as raw as I knew how. I was completely terrified of the outcome. I expected to lose friends. I expected negative comments. But I didn’t get negative comments and I only lost one friend. I don’t even know if it was related, only that it was about that same time that our friendship sort of dissolved. But the truth is, you truly are better off without the people who can’t accept you for you.
It doesn’t even mean that those people who can’t accept you for you are bad people. We all have our limits. We all have our own capabilities. I myself have severed friendships because I just couldn’t do it for one reason or another. I don’t blame people who don’t want to be close to someone who has struggled with depression. Perhaps they’ve had a tumultuous past with someone who struggled from depression or maybe your dissolving marriage reminds them of their own failed relationship. It could even be that your pregnancy is too much for a friend struggling with infertility to bear, and she needs to step away from your friendship. Whatever the case, let us not judge those who can’t be friends with us and our weaknesses (or even strengths!).
The point is that you don’t want fake friendships. They don’t mean anything, they won’t do anything for you except possibly give you an illusion that you are grander than you are. We are weak and we are sinful and we need Jesus. He came to rescue us because we AREN’T perfect. We are far from it, and we do a disservice to ourselves, to others and to God when we pretend that we are; that we have it all figured out. That we have no weaknesses.
There is something so comforting about sharing a weakness or a struggle and having someone else come out of the woodwork to say, “Hey, I get that. I understand. I’ve been there. Hang in there, it gets better.” Or whatever. If you don’t share your weaknesses, not only do you cause someone else to feel crappy about themselves because they think you’re perfect and it makes them feel like they can never measure up, and you cause yourself pain because you’re now trying to keep up this facade of perfection or hang on to all your blog followers (who cares?), but you deny yourself the chance to form a bond with someone who has or has had the same struggles as you.
When I wrote about prenatal depression, I had quite a few people reach out to me who had experienced the same thing or something similar, and I had a lot of great, deep, meaningful conversations with others who could relate. And it was therapeutic. And beautiful.
Stop being fake. Start being real. Share your struggles. We all have them. Mine might look different than yours, but I have my own just the same. I don’t want to read about your perfect life. I want to see your raw, unedited life and I want to be there for you if you need someone. You are beautiful just as God made you.
I’ve been wanting some large photo canvases for the wall above our TV for, I don’t know, ever. Practically since we moved in. It’s been close to four years since buying this home, and the big wall behind our TV has set blank all this time. I had a really tough time justifying spending something like $30 a PIECE on the canvases I wanted…when I wanted at least 8 of them.
My friend takes amazing pictures of our family, and it’s always bummed me out that I’ve never been able to appropriately display them. So one day, I decided I was going to figure out how to fake a photo canvas once and for all. I rummaged around the garage and found some large pieces of leftover MDF from our laundry riser project. I believe it’s 3/4″ thick MDF, and I asked Tim to cut me 8 12×12″ boards using this leftover wood. I knew I could get 12×12 prints at Costco for $2.99 a piece, and I really liked the idea of squares, so that’s why I chose this size. I cropped my photos into square shapes in iPhoto and sent them off to be printed.
Once I picked them up, I collected all my supplies: Mod Podge, black acrylic paint, some foam paint brushes and a whole lotta newspaper. This was a quick Saturday morning project and it really was so easy a caveman could do it.
I chose this acrylic paint, which I have no allegiance to whatsoever, it’s just what I could get from Hobby Lobby with my 40% off coupon, making it cheap (though I can’t remember how cheap, probably in the neighborhood of $2 or $3 and I only ended up using like 1/4 to 1/2 the bottle).
I painted all the edges of each board black to keep them from looking too much like wood boards (and also because my pictures are black and white).
I also painted up onto the front of each board in case they didn’t align perfectly with the pictures (they didn’t, and I think it would be impossible to make them).
Not a perfect science at all, obviously. Can be as messy as you want because this is all getting covered up.
Then I Mod Podged all over the front of these boards so that I could adhere the pictures next.
The pictures aren’t going to line up perfectly, but you get the idea. You have a few seconds to push the picture around before the Mod Podge makes it impossible.
Then I put a layer of Mod Podge on the front of each picture to finish it off.
The Mod Podge got goopy on the side and I almost missed a few spots, so if you make these, make sure to smooth out the globs on every side.
I put them all on plates/books/whatever I had lying around to dry for a few hours.
And when they were done, they looked nice and pretty and mostly streak-free!
My hubby put these “picture hangers” (he calls them; I don’t know if they have a more proper name) on the back of each one.
And then we used the toothpaste method to make hanging them SUPER easy (well, in comparison at least). And…voila! I am so much happier with the end result than I had pictured it in my head.
It’s the perfect bold look I was going for on this wall that sat empty year after year (also: SOB! Look at that teeny, tiny newborn cutie on the upper right!)
The cost breakdown looks like this:
$1.10 per board, at 8 boards: $8.80 (hubby says it’s $35 for a full 4×8′ sheet of 3/4″ thick MDF, and you could get 32 12×12 boards from that)
8 pictures at $2.99 each: $23.92
Mod Podge at roughly $5 or so for the bottle (I used most of the small bottle)
Acrylic paint at, let’s just say $3 a bottle for 1/2 the bottle: $1.50
A couple of foam brushes: $0.60 or so
8 picture hangers at about $0.09 each: (you can get 100 for $8.75 here): $0.70
The TOTAL cost would be about $41 for 8 photo canvases, or $5 a piece! It cost me about $25 because I already had the boards, the foam brushes, the picture hangers and I used 40 or 50% off coupons for the paint and Mod Podge.
When you consider that 12×12″ canvases run a minimum of $25 a PIECE, that would be about $200 at the minimum for 8 of these canvases, for a savings of about $160!
I knew I wanted Christmas to be different this year. Less materialistic, more about showing the people I care about that I…well…care about them.
I’ve really grown to embrace the crafty side of myself in the last year and a half. I love being crafty. I love taking my two hands and some raw materials and turning it into something. Anything. Few things are more satisfying. So this year, I went the way of what has become oh-so-popular and we had a handmade Christmas.
Not every single thing we gifted this year was handmade, but I did at least try to be eco-friendly and buy used things from Craigslist for the kiddos.
The objective wasn’t so much about saving money, but about being mindful and intentional and kind to the planet.
I had a lot of fun brainstorming what to make. I started back in April or May. I was gigantic pregnant and knew if I didn’t get a head start, I’d be coming out of the cloud of the newborn phase staring a whole bunch of Christmas projects in the face.
Up above is lavender foot soak, lotion bars, vanilla extract, a shave bar, goat’s milk soap, oatmeal milk bath, beeswax furniture polish and a chocolate chip and oatmeal quick bread mix. I had so much fun designing labels for everything, but I ran out of time (and waterproof labels) and the poor oatmeal milk bath never got a label.
I also made laundry detergent that never got labeled, either. I even designed labels for this. :(
Let’s take a minute to laugh at my ridiculous typo that I didn’t catch until the labels were made, printed and put on the bottles. What, haven’t you ever heard of lavenDAR? It’s sort of like lavenDER but much more foot soak-y.
I fell in love with the idea of lotion bars a few years ago when I first discovered MadeOn. Obviously my kids have awful skin, so the idea of using a lotion bar that contains only beeswax, coconut oil and shea butter is stupid appealing. And what was doubly cool about it was that it wasn’t one of those “sacrifice” sort of products. You don’t have to sacrifice moisture to be green and non-toxic. This stuff works…and it works better than the lotion filled with chemicals. And it’s easy to make! I’ll post about it soon.
I checked out two books from the library to help in my soap making endeavors and I highly recommend both! The first was Soapmaking The Natural Way and the second was Smart Soapmaking. I got my supplies from BrambleBerry (including the waterproof inkjet full sheet labels I used for most of my labeling).
My friend Melissa inspired me to make my own vanilla extract last year when she made a big batch. I bought some from her and love knowing that it’s completely pure with no additives. While making your own is definitely a beginner’s project, it takes about three months of sitting-in-a-cupboard time before it’s ready. Here’s a tutorial. I got all my bottles (except for the mason jars) for everything at Speciality Bottle. It was the cheapest I found and I was really happy with them. Even the shrink wrap bands came from Specialty Bottle – you just use a blow dryer to secure them on the lids.
I, like everyone else, pinned this recipe for Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Quickbread ages ago. I knew last year I wanted to make it for everyone for Christmas, but I never had a chance. So this year I started early and asked a friend to recreate the label for me. While she did an amazing job (honestly, it was practically identical), I lack all photoshop skills so I couldn’t get it to print without sort of a dotted looking background, so I just went simple, created a label and printed it on kraft paper, which I then used double-sided tape to stick to these mason jars. I had to work like mad to cram all the ingredients in this jar. I ended up using a wooden spoon to press each layer down a little. You can feel free to print my labels, too. Scroll down to the bottom of this post if you want to download them.
I found the recipe for the beeswax furniture polish in one of my favorite books I own, Little House in the Suburbs. It has just a few ingredients. Easy, peasy. I made it and poured it directly into these hinged tins I got from Speciality Bottle.
The lotion bars were also really easy. I didn’t have a ton to spend on a nice soap mold (which, um, dang, I should be in the soap mold making business mkay), so I just used a drawer organizer (think those little Rubbermaid tray organizers). It worked just fine, and I did purchase one of these crinkle cutters to cut the finished, dried lotion square into small bars. I did the same when I made soap. You use this just like a soap bar and the heat from your hands instantly melts a little of the lotion.
Everyone got a variation of the above stuff.
My parents got Adalyn this cradle for Christmas. The bedding that came with it was a joke. It was flimsy, tacky, ugly and I knew would be demolished in no time at all. The cradle itself was surprisingly well made and I’m hoping will hold up, but I wanted something a little nicer for the bedding. I have so. much. fabric (honestly, it’s a problem). So I went to work over the weekend to make a little matching pillow, crib mattress and blanket.
I also made a little matching zipper pouch she can use for her doll accessories, or just as a pencil pouch if she wishes. I used this tutorial for the pouch.
We put together a little tool bench for Ben for Christmas (and my parents got him a HU-U-U-U-GE set of tools), so I used some leftover denim fabric (felt like it should be heavy duty fabric) and a scrap of this guitar fabric as well as a piece of ribbon I saved when I ordered some fabric a long time ago (I have a stockpile and it has come WAY in handy) to make him a tool belt like Daddy. I just slapped this together with no tutorial so it is far from perfect, but Ben thinks it’s perfect, so that’s what matters.
Next year I want to make everyone something special, unique to them, rather than the same thing for everyone. So I’m starting, uh, now.
Did you make Christmas gifts this year? I’d love to hear what you made! I’m in the market for ideas. :)
Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Quickbread label – click on the image once opened to expand it to full size, then right click and save to your computer.
It was a weird Christmas. Not much family around, we mostly did our own thing. We never left our city. Our Christmas Eve was quiet, save for the sound of Christmas music playing softly and our daughter screaming, “I see lights, mommy!” and our son, “Are we going home yet?”
We took the kids out to see Christmas lights throughout the city on the “Minivan Express,” with hot chocolate in hand.
After we got home, we set out a couple of cookies for Santa, along with a glass of milk and the funniest note ever that I transcribed for Ben. Can you tell we had a stomach bug this last week? Ben picked out a toy to leave for Santa to take to a child in need. It was a proud moment as he happily grabbed his guitar, put it next to the cookies and declared that he wanted to give his guitar to a child in need (he LOVES his guitar).
Once the kids were all settled in for the night (save for Landon; this is a frustrating post just waiting to be written – our baby doesn’t sleep anymore), Tim and I rushed around all elf-like and got the house cleaned and the playroom re-organized. Christmas was so magical for me as a child; I get so excited to recreate this for my children, although striking a balance between the magic of Santa and the miracle of Jesus is something I’m still grappling with. Each year I tweak our Christmas a little more, striving for the perfect balance that I’m not sure if I’ll ever really find.
The washer and dryer were a cheap Craigslist find that Ben got for his birthday last week and completed their little “house” of a playroom.
Tim put together Adalyn’s new cradle from my parents so I finished off a little doll corner for her.
We used an old bedside table and some pegboard to make Ben a little toolbench for Christmas, so we set this up on Christmas Eve, too.
Christmas morning was hilarious as our kids, who normally wake before the sun, slept in. My stomach was jumping with excitement by the time they finally strolled downstairs at 7:20 or so. Santa’s present was discovered, and to my chagrin Ben could care less about the lego board Santa brought. Adalyn loved her Baby Stella, though, so at least we scored one win. Landon was too young for Santa (or maybe mama decided he has so many hand-me-down toys that he’s already drowning in them). ;)
We skyped with my mom, who didn’t come to Kansas for Christmas this year, while the kids opened their gifts from my parents.
Oh my hilarious.
Exploring his science kit.
A family Christmas breakfast was a fun new tradition that I’d love to do every year.
I know, I know. You’re jealous of my style. I can’t help it. I almost didn’t post it because I didn’t want to make people crazy with jealousy, but I thought, gosh, if I can just help one person be more stylish, it’s worth posting. You’re welcome.
This is as non-blurry as it gets these days with our little squirmer.
Landon does this hilarious new thing where he turns his head from side-to-side if you talk or sing to him; sort of like a dog does. But don’t ever tell him I told you that.
Later that day, we were set to host Christmas dinner for my grandad, aunt, uncle and cousin. I was in the middle of getting some things cooked and had run downstairs to change out a load of laundry when I noticed how cock-eyed our dryer had gotten. I nudged my hip into it to straighten it out and suddenly, water began to douse the entire laundry room, shooting straight up into the air, hitting the ceiling and splashing all over the floor. It made a loud hissing noise as I screamed for Tim over and over. He came running and quickly discovered I’d broken the water pipe. It was bad news. We had to shut off the water to our whole house as there was no way to isolate this one pipe. It was Christmas day; there was no way we could get (or afford, if we could) a plumber out.
Hilarity ensued as we devised a way to “fix” it enough to fill up jars of water to wash our hands, clean and finish cooking with, but I had to call our family to ask if they minded if they wouldn’t be able to flush the toilet while here. Awesome.
The rest of the day was a blur as the men (along with our amazing neighbors) tried to temporarily fix the pipe enough to turn the water to the house on again (they were able to) and I scrambled to finish cooking for everyone since we had a few hours of distraction dealing with the pipe situation. Everyone came over and in the end, it was a great time. We don’t have running water in our house this morning (the “temporary” fix was, indeed, temporary), but I’m already able to laugh about it despite a DISASTER of a laundry room that is covered in sopping wet clothes that are sure to mildew any minute now. It’ll be fun times cleaning that all up.
Look at that scowl he’s giving me! Sass!
My daughter is all girly-girl now. A tea set and a whole baby doll set-up. I’ve been waiting for this day forever.
It was, despite the lack of some of our family and the pipe disaster, a perfect Christmas. Thank you, Lord, for your incredible sacrifice in sending your only Son for us. The wonder and awe of it all was not lost on me this year. We did an advent with our kids each day that involved reading from their Jesus Storybook Bible (best children’s Bible ever!). We used this plan. It was as great for me as it was for them.
We finished off our evening last night reading of Jesus’ birth and singing Him happy birthday. :)
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” -Luke 2:10-11
Ben turned FOUR today. Four. He’s not a baby. At all. Although I suppose I’ll always call him a baby. Because he’s my firstborn. My little boy. My baby. Someday he won’t let me call him that, so I’m going with it for now.
I’d originally planned no party this year. I figured, hey, a kid doesn’t need a big, elaborate party every year, right? Now that we have three kids, we can’t exactly afford big, elaborate parties, either. And man…it’s a lot of stress.
Then, over the weekend, I got hit with either a case of Mommy Guilt or maybe I just have a certain quota of parties to throw and this year I hadn’t met it, but either way, I decided on Sunday evening that I wanted to do a small celebration. It hit me that this is the first year he will really, truly get and appreciate a celebration of him and his day. Last year we had to cancel his party because he was sick, so the last party he had was his 2nd birthday, and he surely didn’t get or appreciate that one.
Anyway, my gears got turning quickly and I knew what I wanted to do. Ben is a December baby, and more than that, a December 20th baby. Five measly days before Christmas. We could go out of our way to avoid acknowledging that, or we can embrace it and have fun with it. I chose the latter this year. A Christmas-themed party. A hot chocolate & Polar Express PJ party! We donned our PJs, drank hot chocolate jazzed up with fun stuff like marshmallows and caramel syrup, watched The Polar Express and ate pizza. I let him invite just a few friends. Our house is small and this wasn’t planned far enough in advance to find somewhere to host, so we had to stick to just a few close friends.
We had most of the stuff for the party already, so aside from borrowing a few things, baking a few things and quickly designing a few things to print off, it was pretty low-key and easy. And lots of fun!
I’m not a hand-letter-er, obviously, but I was at least proud of that banner at the bottom
The photo booth props
Can you tell how much Ben looks up to this kiddo (even literally)?
So sad his eyes were closed!
I’m looking quite lovely here, no?
Love these two girls.
Cookie dough party favors.
So. Much. Fun. Ben had a great time! I think he truly did get it, and I’m so glad I threw this together even though it was last-second.
And today, his actual birthday, we were greeted to a nice, fluffy snow. Perfect way to spend a birthday with a perfect kiddo.
(Remember to click on each image to expand them to full size for high resolution before you right click and save them to your computer.)
Blank red (I typed Ben on this one)
Hot chocolate bar (8×10)
The bell still rings… (8×10)
The Polar Express (5×7)
Syrup labels (I printed mine on full sheet labels that I stuck on little jars I had)
As for the other things we used at the party, you can find the following here:
I used the cookie recipes and labels found here for our party favors. I just edited them a little bit to fit our color scheme/font family
I used the photo booth mustache/lip props found here. I printed them on cardstock, cut them out and hot glued them to extra straws.
I used the table tents found here. I had to go in and edit them so that they would be foldable, since I didn’t want to glue them to sticks. I did that by deleting the first and third row, like this:
I use gimp for all my editing if you’re looking for something. I’m not fancy enough to own or know photoshop, so I make do and it’s surprisingly great for everything I need. And FREE, best of all!
The free fonts I used were:
SF Covington SC Shadow
KG All Things New