Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Another lesson in patience

It’s been a really exciting week for Jason and I in regards to wedding planning.

One of the things that I adore about Jason is how much he cares about the details. Most men are more than happy to let their future bride take the reins with wedding planning, making every decision and taking on all the stress. But in life in general Jason cares a lot about certain aspects of every project that I do. He is a great partner for me because he lets me go for it, doing whatever I think is best, but then provides really helpful input and advice on the things that I come to him for.

I don’t take this quality of Jason’s for granted at any moment, and knew that our wedding would be significantly more special for him if he had some input on the things that he wanted to. It was his choice for our main wedding color to be Orange (his favorite color), he told me 3 or 4 details he would really like for me to have on my wedding dress, and he was the master-mind behind the wax seals we used on our Save the Date inserts.

Those inserts were actually a team effort on our part and I can’t say how much his influence on me improved their final look.

I first decided to design a “timeline” of our relationship to include with our Save the Date magnets after seeing similar examples on sites like etsy and Pinterest. The timeline was my first real project that I decided to give a shot at – after seeing people charge close to $150 design fees for them online, I wanted to see what I could create on my own.

The two images below are the two main designs we worked with. The first on the Left was created over a few days while brainstorming on the key moments in our relationship and looking at various examples online. I wanted to truly design something of my own,  but with little experience I had to start off combining the various aspects of different ones that I thought were best. I was proud of what I created and showed it to Jason and asked for his real opinion on it. While Jason thought it was great, he told me that he knew I could make it even more fantastic if I allowed myself some time to work on it and let me creative energy work itself out. Jason giving me that freedom allowed me the patience to let my ideas marinate and become something that wasn’t merely a copy of someone else’s work…what resulted was the image on the Right.

I have already received some very sweet responses from those who received our save the dates; saying that they truly gave an impression of our love story and the joy, passion and excitement we have for one another. I know that Jason will continue to teach me the value of patience for years to come; but it was cool to have a physical project that I could concretely look at when my creative-sense felt satisfied and see its true benefit. Everyone says that they have the "best" guy but I really think mine is :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

This week’s experiment: Photoshop

I made an exciting discovery this weekend while cleaning out the mess that we call our bookcase. Over the years Jason and I have crammed countless CDs of software into his case that was bursting at the seams. And little did I know that hidden within there was Photoshop Elements 2! Now granted, I know Photoshop is on version 13 at this point, but for a novice like me that really is of no concern.

Finding this was especially exciting because I have been on a mission to learn how to create my own chevron pattern to use in future designs. I am being adamant about not using anyone else’s images, etc. for my designs but all the tutorials I had found on Pinterest for this were getting me nowhere.

I am proud to say that after many hours of googling tedious Photoshop functions, I have my own chevron template 100% created by me! :)

My first project with it was some lined envelopes to go along with some stationery designs I created for my friend Aimee. 

Aren’t they cute!? 

Friday, January 18, 2013


When it comes to progress, I live life in the fast lane. If I can do it faster, I’m game. Meeting Jason has taught me a lot of valuable lessons in how this is a risky approach to always take. Since he loves projects, I’ve seen many more of them in progress while being with him – and a few more examples of projects gone wrong (and the disastrous effects).

To Jason’s credit, one of the biggest lessons he has deliberately taught me is the importance of taking things slowly. Not only is there more to be enjoyed in taking your time working on a project you enjoy, but you can also prevent a lot of mistakes from happening if you give each step the time it deserves.

Unfortunately I had a case-in-point example of this recently when working on some crafty things for our wedding reception.

I invested in a circle-cutter because circles are my arch-nemesis in the crafting world. I can’t draw or cut a perfect circle for my life. So when the circle-cutter came in the mail I was SO EXCITED to see how much easier this was going to make my life! The excitement was so overwhelming that I decided to just go full speed ahead, not watching the extremely helpful tutorial the company had posted on YouTube or reading the customer reviews for helpful tips.

Well…you wanna know what happened…

This is a picture of the table I decided to arrogantly try the circle-cutter on. This is also the table that Jason’s siblings ate numerous dinners at while growing up, and the table that Jason spent hours staining the perfect color black to match our apartment two years ago…my heart STOPPED when I saw what I had done.

So now after watching that previously mentioned YouTube video, and refraining from using the circle cutter until my self-healing cutting mat came in the mail (per the advice of many happy circle-cutter users) I am forever changed.

New experiences are exciting, and new tools can make you feel like a kid on Christmas morning, but my god, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS PEOPLE! The circle-cutter I bought didn’t say anything about using a mat underneath it or anything like that, but if I had taken a few minutes to let my common sense kick in, I probably would have thought to cut on a better surface than the one I chose, and we would still have our desk sans-circles.

So anyways, lesson learned :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Currency kills the Creativity...

Many people in today’s world LOVE money, I on the other hand have a much more complicated relationship with that dollar sign.  While today’s society subconsciously associates money with happiness, I am fully conscious of my association between money and stress. When money is good, I constantly feel the singe of it burning a hole in my metaphorical pocket. On the other hand, when it’s tight, it brings my blood pressure to a constant state of anxiety.

This is why I am on a mission to NOT let the joy I experience from expressing myself creatively be stifled by $$. I think that this is probably on my mind today because of how much time I spent working on my Zazzle store yesterday (the Zazzle store truly was created as a means of displaying my work for potential requests – that I would continue to not charge any fee of my own for) and realistically I know I will separate this more and more from the money aspect as time goes on
But I also realized today that I have a great community of friends and acquaintances to seek guidance from! So many of you have started your own creative ventures based on your natural talent for photography, jewelry design, illustration…so I wanted to take today to ask: 

What have been your most successful tools in keeping the passion in your creative venture alive (once money becomes involved)?
this picture sums it up perfectly for me :)

Any comments below are greatly appreciated and highly encouraged :) hugs and kisses from me and the furry child!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The wisdom of a cat: Part One

If you know me personally, you know I adore my furry child Mya; but besides her undeniable cuteness and hilarious mannerisms that little ball of fluff proves to be a tool of Godly wisdom. In today’s fast-paced world, it can take something as comical as a cat to make you stop, relax, and take in a deep breath. I'll explain further...

My daily 9-5 is spent in the high-energy recruiting world, where every second is about driving down the “time to fill” open job positions and simultaneously driving up hiring manager’s satisfaction ratings. Put simply it’s a hamster wheel on crack.

I was blessed with the opportunity to begin working from home on a consistent basis around the end of last year, and while it was nice to sleep in a little later and work in my yoga pants, there is another undeniable benefit of doing this kind of work from home. Every day, in between the constant conference calls, review meetings and performance assessments, I was faced with this picture of utter indulgence from Mya. It didn't matter if I had a noisy conference call on speaker, or the dog upstairs was having one of his barking fits, Mya is an animal hard-wired for personal enjoyment; she puts relaxation at the top of her list of priorities and she's darn-well going to accomplish just that.

I'm putting it out there --- I admire my cat for her ability to chill like it's her job

And that's what made me think...While I've done a great job at growing professionally and experimenting with different professional roles the last two years, I have totally abandoned my creativity. Like many people in today's economy, my Job has become my purpose, and the things I just utterly indulge in have gone to the wayside. 

I am excited to see what re-opening that door of creativity will lead me to finding in myself this year. So today as I finish typing this I am sending some major thanks to God for giving me that moment of clarity when I decided really do this, and the silly avenue of my cat to speak this message to me. 

Whether it's your children, your furry children or even just pictures of your favorite memories, remember to put those things that keep you centered on your true joy and happiness all around you as you spend your 40-something hours in your professional world. Because any time you can step out of that career world, you're instantly reminded that it is those things that truly bring us happiness and fulfillment.

Much love today from me and Mya :)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

How paper crafting has improved my relationship with my Fiancée

Paper crafting has improved my relationship with my fiancée. Let me explain…

I am engaged to a man who loves to tinker. Whether it’s with his car, his iPhone, the lights in our apartment…if it’s something mechanical, Jason wants to tinker with it (whether the tinkering is necessary or not).  And one major thing about tinkering is that it gives you this great appreciation for the right tools. It’s just plain and simply not safe to re-wire the electrical system of your car without certain safety items, and it can take four times as long to hang a picture straight without a laser leveling tool. But, unfortunately these tools can be very expensive….

I should also mention that my money philosophy has always bordered on mild deprivation. If I don’t need it, I won’t buy it. But Jason is just not like that. He tinkers so much, that tools are his guilty pleasure. It’s probably not hard to imagine that my money philosophy mixed with his love for tools has caused a few heated discussions about the importance of saving, saving, saving. But it all changed once I started really getting into this paper stuff. I can’t express how wonderful a circle cutter is to someone who can’t cut a good circle for her life. Or how great it is to cut a perfectly straight line on 15 pieces of paper with one swipe of a paper cutter. My life has changed!

So now when Jason receives a UPS package containing some new $40 tool for his never-ending car projects, my heart no longer stops for a beat. I no longer want to ring his neck for buying yet another seemingly pointless tool. I quickly remind myself of how important I thought the self-correcting cutting board was when I spent $10 on it last week. And how I can’t wait to buy that $38 paper cutter that will now make it possible for me to cut 20 pages of card stock at once.  So not only has paper crafting given me this new outlet for my creative energy, it has allowed me to better understand my fiancée and I’d say that’s a pretty awesome bonus J

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

my first "assignment"

A few weeks ago I sent a message to a small group of friends and family members, introducing them to my love for stationary design and asking for their help in growing my portfolio. I still think that I want to keep this design thing as a hobby rather than a money-maker (because I tend to lose joy in things once money is attached) but I knew that in order to get some more experience and opportunities, I had to do more than continue creating things for my own enjoyment.

I was more than excited when my friend Stef asked if I would design some funky custom invitations for her upcoming birthday party. Being asked was an honor in that it validated that my friends were encouraging this new venture for me. But I also jumped at the opportunity because of the unique opportunity this presented. Any artist knows that it gets complicated when you are using your creative impulses to create a “product” for someone else. There are truly few times when you are faced with the task or creating something yourself, that totally “says” your client.

I am really excited to reveal the funky chic design we came up with for Stef’s party (after her official invitations go out obviously - don’t want to ruin the surprise for anyone who will be getting these in the mail next month) and I’m infinitely grateful for having friends that are such an awesome source of encouragement in this!

[If you have a few extra minutes, I included my initial message mentioned at the beginning of this post to give an idea of this journey I’m heading into…]

Hey Guys,

If you’ve noticed some of my facebook posts recently, you’ve seen that I’m 100% loving wedding planning. I’m neurotically organized and detail-oriented as it is, but I’ve discovered that another passion of mine is the meticulous craft of designing the billion paper products that go into a cute, personalized event. We’re still almost a year away from our wedding date and I already have a folder full of different invitation designs we might use once it’s actually time to send them out, lol.

After some thought and encouragement, I’ve decided to see what I can do with this enthusiasm. I am thoroughly grateful for the job I currently have and have no intention of leaving that any time soon. This is purely something I want to try out as a hobby and more of a passion than anything. That’s why I’m reaching out to you guys specifically first.

I want to give this whole stationary design thing a spin for a while and see if it’s something I would like to do for profit eventually, or even just keep as a hobby that satisfies my creative side. My main goal right now is to see if there are projects out there for me to pursue with this. Because of where I’m at with this I would be offering my services to anyone I decide to work with for free (no design fee or anything, simply payment for the materials used in creating the final product). The question of how I’m going to keep this passion going after my own wedding comes together has been really disappointing to me, so even if these efforts only result in me creating 1 or 2 projects for people I know I will consider it a success. I’m hoping you guys would be able to help me get my name and services out there if you or anyone you know would be interested in giving me some free experience with this kind of thing.

I can design projects that are classic or artsy, formal or creative. I also have a great friend who is a fantastic illustrator that can add her touch to any projects that come my way (potentially for a small fee from her).

Like I said, this is 100% a creative “journey” (if you will) that I’m feeling inspired to pursue right now. It would bring me so much joy to be able to share my love for this with others and bring my talents towards creating something really wonderful and special for those around me.

I’ve created a pdf document that I’ve attached to this to give an idea of the kinds of things I’ve worked on so far. Just taking the time to read this is really appreciated!

Thanks guys!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Nothing says it quite like paper...

I am a child of the internet age. I'm the first to post on facebook when something exciting happens in my life, and I'm all for an email over a phone call when it comes to pesky work messages. But this winter I discovered that I have a nerdy, borderline-creepy love for stationary and papery.

We all know that there are few things as exciting as getting something other than a bill or a catalog in the mail. And even when those things come at expected times (your birthday, the holidays) you never really know what you're going to get until you rip open that envelope flap and open what's inside.

I've always understood the importance of a hand-written thank you note over a quick text or email, but it goes beyond the handwriting. In using real, physical paper you're showing someone that getting this message to them was important to you. Not only were you willing to pay that $0.47 in postage, you took the time to thoughtfully pick something out that expressed the message you were trying to send. And then rather than file the message into their email's "trash," they now have this physical card to put on their desk and remind them many days after of you, and that message you were trying to get to them.

That's why I've decided to really put some time into this love of paper design of mine. I know I love getting a personalized envelope addressed to me with some surprise inside; and I'd truly LOVE to use my creativity and ability to tediously edit a document to perfection towards others receipt of such goodies :)