Create Unique, Beautiful, Victorian Christmas Cards (and more!) with Basic Invite

This post was sponsored by Basic Invite, and I am thrilled to share their beautiful products with you!

Every year growing up, I can remember my dad setting up his tripod, my mom perfectly styling (and often sewing!) our outfits, and our whole family coming together take annual Christmas Card photos. Once I got married, I continued the annual tradition making sure to mail out cards to our loved ones each December. I think it’s such a special way to check in with everyone, reflect on the year, and spread holiday cheer. With Christmas just around the corner (yes! Only 83 days! 😯), it’s time to start planning our annual cards! It’s never too early to start planning, right? 😂 Below are some of my tips for picking the perfect card to represent you and your family!

Customize Your Color Scheme
In the past, I’ve selected the perfect picture for our Christmas card, only to realize all of the pre-made designs clash with my image. At that point I have to settle with weird, mixed colors, change to a worse picture, or try and design my own card. It’s so frustrating. Good news! With Basic Invite, you can select the color of EACH element to make sure your card perfectly matches your favorite family picture! How amazing is that?! With 180 colors to choose from, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect match. Plus, I love that you get an instant preview instead of imagining how it will turn out. If the online preview isn’t enough, you can order a printed sample to see a tangible version of the colors and quality of your custom Basic Invite product.

Share Your Year Creatively
Each year, I include a poem with our Christmas card summarizing our year. It’s a fun way to recap our year, and it’s something I enjoy writing! I’ll include our card from last year to give you an example. If poetry isn’t your forte, you could use an acrostic with your family’s last name, share a blurb under a picture of each family member, or make a Top 10 list for the year! I always love reading our friends’ annual highlights when I receive their cards, so I put a lot of effort into how I share ours.

Add Special Details
I think it’s always fun to add special extras whenever you can! One easy way to do that is with your envelope color. Basic Invites has over 40 colors of peel and seal envelopes that can perfectly coordinate with your card. Wouldn’t it be fun to open your mailbox and find a shimmering red envelope holding your friend’s Christmas card? Sign me up! The shimmer doesn’t have to stop with your envelope either. Basic Invite has an entire line of holiday cards with foil, and (no surprise here!) they can be customized to be silver, gold, or rose gold! Perfect for reflecting the magic of the holiday season.

Don’t Forget Anyone
The first year I sent out cards, I compiled a spreadsheet of names and addresses to make sure I didn’t leave anyone out. Each year, I refer back to my list to add and edit as needed. It’s a great way to make sure I don’t forget to send a card to someone special in my life. An even more convenient solution is the Address Capturing Service that Basic Invite offers. All you do is share a link on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other form of social media to request addresses, which will be stored in your account and can then be selected during the design process. Basic Invite offers recipient address printing at no cost on all Christmas card orders. Since addressing each envelope is the most tedious part of sending out cards, I think that’s a service everyone can appreciate!

Whether you also send out Christmas cards, love beautiful stationery, or create personalized invitations for every event, this post is for you! Basic Invite has a product for almost every major life moment with everything from personalized Halloween party invitations to Thanksgiving Dinner invitations. No need to wait for December…you can enjoy their beautiful designs year-round!

As you can see, they have something for everyone, and I can’t wait to explore their designs even more to find the perfect card to send out this year! I already have my eye on some of their stunning victorian Christmas cards. If you’re currently planning your cards too, Basic Invite is offering 30% off holiday cards with coupon code: holi3. That can add up to some major savings, so hurry and place your orders! With over 500 completely customizable holiday card designs, you’re bound to find something perfect. Happy shopping!

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iFLEW at iFLY San Antonio!

Louis and I have been together for 11 years. Yes, over a decade! We’ve done pretty much every date night in the book, so we’re always looking for fun, different activities to try. Enter, iFLY. They reached out to me, and asked if we’d like to come in for some complimentary flights, and we JUMPED at the chance…get it? 😉

In case you’re unfamiliar with iFLY, they are an indoor skydiving facility. Yes, you read that right. They provide flyers with the thrill of skydiving, without the risk of jumping out of a plane! Sound too good to be true? It’s not.

In fact, anyone from ages 3 to 103 can skydive, according to iFLY! (Sorry, if you live to 104, you’re out. 😉 I kid, I kid. ) It’s as easy as filling out a waiver, checking to insure you fit within the other parameters, selecting your flight package, and you’re in! They’ll even let you wear bright red lipstick, so you can unintentionally match your flight suit! I know, it just keeps getting better.

The iFLY team greeted us immediately upon arrival, got us quickly checked in, and minutes later, we were getting our flight training from our amazing trainer, Dave. The training was quick, but thorough, easy to comprehend and remember, and entertaining (thanks to our great trainer!). Next, we got to suit up! Your flight equipment includes a jump suit, ear plugs, goggles, and a helmet. (Make sure you wear lace-up shoes, as well! No flats, flip flops, or bare feet in the tunnel, please!)

Then, BAM, we were flying!! I mean, we had to go into the tunnel, wait our turn, yadda, yadda, yadda, but our flights came up even quicker than I was expecting! Louis went first and looked like a pro! At 6’4″, I was worried the tunnel would be too small for him, but he fit perfectly and did such a great job!

I’m definitely a daredevil, but something about the tunnel had me scared at first. Thankfully, about 5 children flew right before me, so they put my fear in its place. Thinking, “If they can do it, surely I can!” I stepped/fell/leapt into the tunnel, and I was flying!

Okay, full disclosure, our instructor was helping/holding me every second of the way, but still! I did it! And it was so fun! The time FLEW by, and before we knew it, our flights were over, and I was staggering around jelly-legged from the adrenaline rush.

We checked out the kiosks for our flight pictures and videos, got our super official flight certificates, and grinned from ear-to-ear! I love that they take high quality photos and video of your flight, so you don’t have to worry about trying to snap a blurry, grainy phone shot!

Tips from a self-proclaimed pro:

  • If you have long hair, BRAID IT, SLICK IT BACK, SHAVE YOUR HEAD (kidding.). I braided mine, but the few tendrils of hair that slipped out got twisted up like dreadlocks in the tunnel! Thankfully, they were easily brushed out, with minimal-to-no hair loss ;), but I can’t imagine if I had left it down!
  • Wear lace-up shoes! Not flats, flip flops, or slip ons…lace-up shoes only! I wore my trusty Mickey & Minnie Mouse sneakers, and they worked great. Thankfully, there are tennis shoes on site if needed, but I’m sure you’ll fly more comfortably in your own shoes!
  • Don’t be scared! Try and relax in the tunnel. If you hate the feeling you get in your stomach when you go down a rollercoaster drop, don’t worry! You won’t experience that sensation at all in the tunnel.
  • Trust your trainer. They will be within an arm’s length from you (or in my case, constantly holding your flight suit) the entire time you’re flying, and they do everything they can to make your flight experience safe, fun, and amazing!

iFLY San Antonio was such a cool, unique, fun, original, thrilling experience! If you’re looking for a new date night, an awesome birthday party, a great team-building event, or just want to try an exciting experience yourself, definitely check out iFLY…you won’t be disappointed!


 I received complimentary flight packages from iFLY San Antonio in exchange for this review, but, as always, all opinions are my own!

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on these links or make a purchase using these links, I may receive a small percentage of the profit at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Hoots of a Night Al!

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Night Al Migrations: Black’s Barbecue


Hi y’all! Sorry I’ve been MIA for a bit! I started a new job, so that has definitely taken away my blogging time! I’m back today to talk about a mini road trip Louis and I took last week to Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart, Texas. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, so we hopped in my Sunfire and drove up, get this, PICKLE PARKWAY. That was the name of the toll road we took! How cute is that? It has the fastest posted speed limit in the United States…85 miles per hour!

1We enjoyed the quick drive and wound up in quaint, downtown Lockhart. If we ever make another trip out, I’d love to spend an entire day there. They have antique shops, gift shops, and three other popular barbecue joints. Maybe we can make it back one day to do a “barbecue crawl?” Sort of like a pub crawl, but more our style, since we don’t drink? I’ll add it to our “To Do” list. 😉


When we drove up, there was a line extending at least 20 people out the door! We were starving, but we figured the long line was a good sign. We only waited about 30 minutes, and it was SO worth it.


Once you get inside, the sides are served up cafeteria style and the meats are sliced as you request them. They had all sorts of sides including pinto beans, mac ‘n cheese, deviled eggs, and more, but I just couldn’t resist the green beans. I mean seriously, look at my plate. Our cashier looked at me like I was crazy, but they’re my fave veggie! Get off my back, man.


After waiting in line for so long, we didn’t want to miss out on trying anything, so we got a sliced turkey sandwich, an original sausage link, and a half pound of lean brisket. Oh, and a million green beans (but still not enough for me. Never enough.). The brisket was FOR SURE the best thing we tried. It was so moist and juicy that it didn’t even need barbecue sauce! I loved the sliced turkey sandwich, and (obvi) the green beans were probably my fave part of the meal. Who drives an hour for barbecue and fills up on green beans?? This girl. The sausage was just meh.


Overall, our meal was completely delicious, and we agreed it was totally worth the trip and the wait outside in the Texas heat! If you still need more proof that this is a quality establishment, check out this picture below of the owners…


They’re Aggies! No wonder the food is so delicious!! 🙂 The entire restaurant was filled with memorabilia gathered over the years including countless family memories. Black’s Barbecue is the oldest continuously family-owned barbecue joint in Texas (since 1932!), so it was great to see their family history represented throughout the establishment. It’s nothing fancy, but it serves its purpose by providing tons of checkered tablecloth covered tables for people to sit together and enjoy some delicious Texas barbecue (and green beans, of course).

7We loved our mini trip our to Lockhart, and we can’t wait for our next trip out to Black’s Barbecue! Let me know if you’ve ever tried it, or if you know of any other Texas barbecue spots we need to try!



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Night Al Migrations: Government Canyon State Natural Area


I’m back to share our most recent adventure! This past Sunday, we took a short, fifteen minute drive from our apartment to Government Canyon State Natural Area. After almost two years, we had no idea it even existed, let alone how close it was! The area is almost 9,000 acres and boasts over 40 miles of hiking trails for biking, hiking, or running (if you’re asking for a twisted ankle.). You can also camp overnight if you’re just wild and crazy.


As soon as I realized how close Government Canyon State Natural Area was to us, I mentioned it to Louis, and he was eager to go. We’ve been trying to explore San Antonio more lately, so this jumped to the top of our “To Do” list. After some research, we found out that there are DINOSAUR TRACKS IN THE AREA. What!?!?!? So magical. We made that our #1 destination and set off to achieve our paleontologist dreams.


As soon as we hopped out of the car, Louis pointed to some animal poop and said, “Scat!” I immediately told him if we were part of a nature troop, he would be awarded the Scat Badge, and we spent the rest of the hike pointing out scat. Anyway…after our scat discovery, we came upon the visitor center. It was very quaint and housed a gift shop along with a rentable picnic pavilion and restrooms.


After asking a ranger the best way to reach the dinosaur tracks, we headed out on Joe Johnston Trail to begin our 5-mile hike. The trail was very well maintained, with benches every mile or so to rest. There were some rocky patches, and I almost busted my face about 78 times, but thankfully I managed to stay upright the entire journey. So much for looking outdoorsy and adventurous in front of Louis. (Like he doesn’t already know me after 8 years. Wishful thinking.)


Our hike was mostly flat, but there was some beautiful cliffside scenery along the way. It was so peaceful; we barely passed any other hikers on our journey. All we could hear was the wind rustling through the trees, birds singing, and the occasional “Oh crap!” from me as I tripped over another rock.


Before we knew it, we reached the dinosaur tracks! It was so cool! They were just out there in the open for anyone to admire! I feel like stuff like that is usually behind glass at a museum, so we felt pretty special getting up close and personal with the giant footprint? Clawprint? Track…?


Look at how little our feet look! It was basically a modern day Jurassic Park.


The tracks were located next to a beautiful bluff, along what is probably a creek during rainier months. We spent at least 30 minutes wandering around the area, and we had the whole place to ourselves! It felt like a hidden oasis.


Louis even miraculously found this adorable, teeny, tiny, itsy, bitsy frog! How precious is it? Have you ever seen anything so tiny??


We made sure to snap plenty of pictures with our Dino Discovery and wondered together what the dinosaur was like and if he was running after prey, drinking some water, or just chilling when these tracks were made. Probably chilling.


We got creative with my iPhone and managed to take a panoramic including both of us! Aren’t we just the smartest.


Thankfully, a nearby rock kindly offered to take our picture via self-timer, so we posed together for one more shot before heading back to the car. (AKA another 1.5-hour hike back the way we came.)

12I’m so glad we went to explore Government Canyon Natural State Area together! Our hike and exploration lasted around three hours and provided exercise, great memories, and a fun, new experience together. The area costs $6 a person (free for kids under 12) and is open Friday-Monday, 7am-10pm. After 10pm you’re locked in the canyon to battle the wolves TO THE DEATH. Just kidding. You do actually get locked in though…and I’m pretty sure there are wolves, too. If you’re in the San Antonio area, I’d recommend visiting if you’re looking for something different to do! It really felt like we were hours away from the city, and I hope we return soon to watch a sunset with a picnic or do some stargazing!

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P.S. Make sure to bring sunscreen, mosquito repellent, and LOTS of water with you! Snacks may be a good idea depending on how long you’re hiking, too. We only hiked 5 miles on a relatively cool day, and we easily finished a gallon of water while there. It’s always better to be prepared!


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High Five for Friday #3!

Howdy! It’s Friday, which mean it’s time for another High Five for Friday! Here are five things that made me happy this week:

1. Cindo de Mayo: Monday was Cindo de Mayo, so I decided to throw a spontaneous, tiny fiesta for us! I made tacos, picked up Chili’s chips and salsa (so yummy if you’ve never had them), and got some glass bottled Coca Colas. Instead of stopping there, I put on the most traditional looking Mexican dress I owned (that had never been worn and will probably never be worn again…), twisted my hair up in a bun, donned my hoop earrings, and added some sassy makeup. Too much? Probably. With my getup on, I greeted Louis at with door with a loud, “Hola!” and mariachi music blaring in the apartment. He literally fell on the floor laughing, so I’d say Cinco de Mayo was a success!


I also whipped up this simple “banner” by cutting up some orange paper, adding the letters with a silver Sharpie, and taping them on our mirror. Easy as can be! Confession: it stayed there until Thursday when I finally took it down.


2. Being Married: I mean, this is a high five daily, but the past couple of weeks Louis has been leaving me super sweet notes for when I get home from subbing. It really makes my heart happy and reminds me what a loving, romantic guy I married. Also, yes, his handwriting is probably definitely neater than mine.


3. Pink & Polka Dots: This weekend is Mother’s Day, so we’re heading home to celebrate with our moms! I finally got a chance to wrap my mom’s gifts, and I’m in love with how they turned out! When I saw this wrapping paper and baker’s twine at Target, I just knew it was perfect for Sassy Kat! Pink and polka dots represent her perfectly. I hope she likes what’s inside the boxes as much as the wrapping!


4. Tiki Beach Candle: I picked this up during Bath & Body Works’ most recent 2 for $22 candle sale, and oh man. It smells SUPER yummy. It’s described as a “luxurious blend of toasted coconut, vanilla musk and orchids,” and I think it smells like the summer version of Leaves (which you know I’m obsessed with). It has a delicious, refreshing smell that totally fills our mansion apartment when we burn it, and it makes me want to eat watermelon and have a tan.  Tiki Beach FTW.


5. #LivinDatSubLife: Um, I’ve been obnoxiously using this hashtag on all of the pictures I Instagram while subbing, and I secretly love it. I love that I used a TI-83 for the first time in forever this week. I learned to love listening to the same four chapters of Touching Spirit Bear on audio book seven times. I laugh that during every class, every day, at least one student sees “Mrs.” written on the board and asks if I’m married and if I’m even old enough to be married, which leads to a series of questions about my age, my life, and my husband. They’re funny. I’ve been subbing at the same school a lot this month, so it’s great that I’m starting to remember several of the kids and to have them greet me in the halls.

6Hope your Friday is great! Mine will consist of packing and driving home to see family for Mother’s Day! Don’t forget to plan something special for the moms in your life this weekend! And if you’re a mom yourself, enjoy being celebrated! You deserve it!

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