"Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will."
George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cynical Sentiments: Brace Yourselves!

Happy almost Wednesday! (Can you tell I'm ready for the long holiday weekend with neither job!?) Tonight I spent an insane amount of time posting my new "Cynical Sentiments" cards on Etsy. And, because my readers may have varying degrees of sensitivity and/or humor, I thought I should explain them before you go running to find them and get a little shock. Here's the premise of these cards: cute, simple, catchy fronts. For example:
But the insides are hilarious, unexpected and irreverent: 
I have 10 different ones posted on Etsy right now. The photos don't really do them justice this time--lighting was really off and I don't know what all to do with this crazy camera yet. But regardless, you'll get the idea. These came about with help from lots of people. This idea has seriously garnered more attention and excitement than any other thing I have ever created or discussed creating. There's probably at least half a dozen people quietly thinking of more sayings to use for this type of card. 

There seems to be a fair amount of the world that is tired with sappy, over-the-top cards that don't seem to convey the right fun message. And, apparently I hang out with a lot of cynical people who have a slight mean streak as well! (myself included) :) So I hope you enjoy them. I hope they're different from most anything you've seen before. Have fun with these! Don't take them too seriously. Here's another one for your viewing pleasure: 
Aaaaaand the inside: 

Also, check out the cards on Etsy and let me know if you have an idea for something that would work well on the inside of one of these cards. I'd love to share your creativity. Leave a comment below with your fun ideas! 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

It's Been a Food Day :)

Hi Everyone! 

I spent most of today in the kitchen, which was a nice change from sitting at my desk. It's been a really busy weekend. Yesterday was Pete's funeral. It wasn't as emotional as I thought it would be, probably because it as a Catholic mass. I was distracted making sure I was doing everything right rather than actually processing why we were there and what I was experiencing. The Homily was wonderful though, and did make me tear up a couple times. But I figured I'd made it that far without losing it and I was going to try my best to make it to the end. It was a beautiful day out--couldn't have asked for a better one. And Brian and I really left feeling more positive than we've felt all week. There's no question where Pete is, and there's no question he'll be missed. But things are going to be okay. Here's the card I made for Pete. We gave it to his wife obviously, but I made it for him: 
This photo isn't the greatest. It says "Mere words cannot express the Hurt my Heart feels for You in your time of Loss." Everything looks kind of dull but the roses are a very vibrant red, and the text is stamped with a gold shimmer ink. It was really nice. :) 

So back to today and spending most of it in the kitchen. First, I made some Amish white bread with the help of my KitchenAid mixer. That thing makes bread SO EASY. Here's some photos of the process from beginning to end. Bread dough is just so beautiful. Here's an older photo that is my favorite of yeast rising: 
Here's one of the dough once it's doubled and is ready to be divided into two loaf pans: 
And here's the finished product. The texture today was perfect, with a crust that wasn't too crisp. We ate probably a quarter of one loaf as soon as it came out of the oven. You have to take advantage of that warm bread-it's just not the same if you microwave it later!

After the bread was done I made Crispy Salted White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies. They are probably the best cookies I've ever had (or made for that matter). The recipe for this came from Smitten Kitchen. Several of my friends are obsessed with the site, and since I'm jealous because the woman is doing what I would love to do for a career, I don't check it very often. :) So anyways, I also used my KitchenAid for this project (first time using it for cookies) and it made things so FAST! Look at the Ghirardelli white chocolate below. Isn't that amazing? Chopping it into little pieces with a big, sharp butcher knife was like cutting butter. 
I don't know how I've lived for so long without one of these mixers. 

And finally, the finished cookies, ready for Brian to do a quality control check. 

You would think my evening might be done there, but no--I still had to make dinner! This was another Smitten Kitchen recipe: Martha's Mac and Cheese. It's made with fancy (i.e. expensive) cheeses, sharp white cheddar and gruyere. It was wonderful. I used part of a loaf of bread I had just made for the topping, and those little crunchy bread bits tossed in butter might be my favorite part of the dish. We're going to be eating leftovers of this mac & cheese for days!

Hope you all had a great weekend! It's back to the daily grind tomorrow. But with a holiday weekend coming up (and most of us off on Monday, right?) we have much to look forward to. 


P.S. Two sets of new thank you cards are up on Etsy. Check them out! :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My First Commission

So yesterday my lovely friend Mary stopped by to see the new apartment, and asked if I would make her food place cards for her housewarming party this weekend. How exciting is that?! We had paper picked out within approximately 3 minutes, and I finished them up about an hour ago. Here's some photos for your enjoyment: 

HOW-TO: These are really very simple to make, and are such a nice touch if you're having a mix of appetizers out for a party. I printed the titles off on colored scrapbooking paper from my computer. The adorable font is called "jellyka estrya's handwriting" and you can download it for free from dafont.com (Warning: if you like browsing fonts, and downloading new ones, this site is super addicting!). The little swirlys above the titles were just a random wingdings-type font I downloaded awhile ago. Cut out the words, cut strips of patterned paper and you're almost there. I made the strips twice as long as I would need to nicely center the text. Fold in half and then fold up each end about a 1/2 inch so that it creates little "legs" for the card to stand on (see the middle picture above). For finishing touches I added little foam pads to the back of the text pieces so they stand out from the patterned paper (also see photo 2 above). And then there are color-coordinating sparkly gems that I used to dot i's and accent different letters.

Interested in something like this for your next party? Leave a comment, send an email, or convo me on Etsy and we'll get it all coordinated for you. As you can imagine, the possibilities are endless when designing these!

There's a lot happening so I'm sure I'll have more updates tomorrow. Have a lovely night!


Helllooooo Business Cards

Hi Everyone!

It has been one rough, emotional week with Brian's band parent, Pete, passing away on Monday. But one cool thing has happened, and it's really made us feel like maybe God uniquely placed us at LaSalle solely for this period of time right now. And if it's for no other reason than what's happening now, I'd be completely fine with that. Pete's son and his girlfriend are just wonderful kids, and they've been reaching out to Brian and I for support. We are so thankful that they're reaching out to adults, and honored that they've chosen us to help them in any way we can. 

In other news, I have been super busy getting some loose ends tied up with the business. I ordered my first BUSINESS CARDS today! I feel so legitimate. It was extremely cool to be like "Oh, I'll upload my business's logo, thanks...." What's really awesome is the site where I ordered them: MOO. This site is incredible! They just strike me as the coolest, most down-to-earth people. I've decided to order my business cards in two phases. Tonight I got some "mini-cards," which are a fairly new thing (possibly started by these Moo people?). They're small, almost like calling cards. (If you don't read Victorian historical fiction like me, a calling card was something that would be left at a house if the family was out, or for a lady by a gentleman who had come calling [get it?] to spend time with her.) Today, sometimes there is just a name on it or maybe an email address or website as well. These little suckers are genius: sweet mini cards

Next, I'd like to get full-size business cards here: big guys!. The really amazing thing about this company is that they do sweet things to your business cards because they think it's fair to help make your product really nice at a reasonable price. They put them on a heavier premium stock, print 4/c process on both front and back at no extra charge. And there's this free thing called printfinity that allows you to upload up to 100 images that go on the back of your business cards. So you could put your entire portfolio on there, or samples of your cards, like I did. It rotates through them for whatever quantity you get. I also added some really nice photographs we have taken since we bought our good camera. And one or two cool things from our wedding. It took FOREVER to upload all those images and crop them correctly, but it was totally worth it. These are going to be so amazing. 

I took a page out of my Mom's online shopping book and googled "moo.com promotion codes" and found a 15% off code that worked! With the priority shipping I'm hoping they arrive by Friday. Hope to see you soon so I can show them off. ;-) 

And since I don't have any photos of the business cards yet, I'll post a photo that I put on the back of one. Isn't Vivienne such a babydoll? 

P.S. Aren't you glad I figured out how to change links into text for this post? It looks so much better than URLs hanging all over the place. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sad Day

Today started out like any other day. It's a Monday, and I try to keep those low key. Within about three hours of getting to work, I heard two things that made me really sad. 

1. The daughter-in-law of a friend at work recently miscarried a few weeks into her second trimester. 
2. One of Brian's band parents died unexpectedly this morning. This parent was one of the first super-supportive ones. He was a musician, he got music, you know? He understood how much Brian was challenging the kids. It was such a happy experience when we met him, together, out in the parking lot. I remember it pretty clearly because afterwards we just looked at each other like "WOW. There is hope here. This can be built up to a great program." And I really think it started that evening, with knowing that there was at least one person 150% on our side. 

What I spent most of my day thinking about, and preoccupied by, was his family. His son is one of the field commanders in the band--the leader. He's about to start his senior year of high school in two days. I thought about all the dreams and hopes and plans his dad had for him that are just gone. And about the plans and dreams and hopes he had for his own life with his wife. Those just don't exist anymore. They are gone from the universe forever and will never have a chance to play themselves out. I had such a sense of finality and heavy, heavy sadness. 

It also made me that much more determined to do whatever I can to create free time in my life to spend as much time as possible with Brian and the friends and family I love. I will not be consumed by expectations of how much I should be working or what kind of job, or even how much money one needs to be really happy. (From my perspective it's really only "How much less student loans.") You just really have no idea when it will be your time. I'm beginning to wrap my brain more and more around the idea that every single day is super special, and should be treated that way. I'm trying really hard not to be upset by petty things, or let negativity in any form take away from the gift of another day in my extremely blessed, lucky, happy life. 

So I had to go shopping today for sympathy stamps, because I really only have one or two that might remotely qualify, and they're more on the "make you smile side." Not the caliber of emotion I'm looking to convey. It was hard. I kept thinking about how the potential cards would make me feel if I received them; quite a sad experience. I've never had such an emotional craft supply shopping trip. I feel lucky that I haven't really had the need to buy these kinds of stamps until now. I've been trying to feel the appropriate amount of grateful for that all day. I hope you're not having a sympathy-stamp worthy kind of day today. 

Here's the card I ended up making for both situations. I just liked it so much I decided to use it for both. I also bought a stamp that says "Mere words cannot express the Hurt my Heart feels for You in your time of Loss." I love it. It is just so darn sincere--and that's something that can be hard to find in a generic "Hallmark card." Also, I'm not sure if you're able to see it in this picture, but I got a glitter pen tonight and it's awesome, and way overdo. I colored in the punched out "stars" with it and outlined the words "stars" and "shines" to give it an extra "something." 

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