Monday, December 30, 2013

January Is Officially Coat Season

In the last few days, I've felt a new chill in the air that seems to crop up around Christmas time and stick around until the end of January. Baltimore is mild in terms of winter weather, but it always seems that January is guaranteed to be freezing. You know, the kind of freezing where your toes don't ever feel warm and the tip of your nose is a constant icicle. After nearly seven years in this city, I have realized that my body has finally acclimated. If I were to go back to Syracuse or Indiana, I'd struggle with the long, cold winters. 40 degrees is now the new 20 and I find myself longing for the 70s of spring more than I did other years.

I've also come to realize that along with hating the cold, I hate my coats. The long, black Michael Kors pea coat that I currently have makes me feel way too professional in a conservative way and not stylish enough. And for as cute as my bright teal Columbia ski jacket looks on the slopes, I'd rather not look like a ski bunny while I'm out and about in the city. So the search has begun, mid-season of course, which always seems to make things a little more difficult. I've been looking for something slim and fitting, with some interesting details to make it a little less plain and here is what I have found so far.


I've pretty much narrowed my options down to these three coats, but am having the worst time deciding. I think I like the first one the most, but I'm not a huge fan of the faux leather on the sleeves and I love the hood option on the other other two. Originally the last one was my favorite and the one I was going to go with, but then I found the other two. The second coat has a great cut to it and the breast pocket details are a plus. However, I'm not a huge fan of the black pockets. What do you guys think?

What kind of coat have you been wearing this winter season?

Friday, December 20, 2013

No Photos Please!

Recently, the biggest issue that I face at handmade shows are the people that want to take photos of my cards. They see the cards, laugh, whip out an iPhone, and then state to their friend, "I'm totally taking a picture to text to so and so! This is so perfect for them!" This scenario is my biggest pet peeve of shows. To me, it's as if they are stealing my art rather than spending $4 for the actual thing. I tend to get a bit snarky with these people. I have no problem stopping them dead in their tracks with a "No photos please! This is my art and I'm sure your friend would actually really like to be surprised with the real card instead of a text message."

The offender usually puts away the phone and apologizes, but do they buy the card? No. Usually they don't because that wasn't their intention to begin with. This is something that has really bothered me a lot along with random people tagging their friends in my Instagram photos of my cards (ummm, no, I will delete your comment, you cheap jerkface with a face of a jerk!).

While preparing for Richmond, I decided that something needed to be done. I thought about signs that I could make or things that I could say to battle the issue, when I suddenly realized that I should just make a card, obviously! So make a card I did, and I placed it front and center of my display for all to see. Did anyone attempt the photo op this time? No. Was it completely related to the card that I made? That is up for debate. But either way, I was a happier card maker in the end.

And it is true. Wouldn't we all prefer a little surprise snail mail in our lives over a quick text message? Cards are more thoughtful and meaningful than the few seconds it takes to send a text.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Handmade Holiday in Richmond

I know I'm a few days late with this post, but I've been incredibly swamped trying to get orders out for the last day of shipping before Christmas. Now that I have, I'm taking a breather, remembering to eat lunch for once, and preparing to work on some design projects. However, nonetheless, I still wanted to give a big shout out to Richmond, Virginia and the Richmond Craft Mafia for their amazing hospitality, loads of laughs, and creative energy.

I spent this past Saturday at the Handmade Holiday show that the Richmond Craft Mafia puts on and it was easily the best show I've had to date. This was my audience for sure! I was so thankful to have people appreciate my work and LAUGH. I always have plenty of laughs at shows, but this one had quite a few less of those side eyed looks of disgust.  Aside from meeting many new people, I was also able to test out five new cards, four of which will be new for Valentine's Day. You can catch a sneak peek here.

These cards went over extremely well, so I can't wait to share them with you in the coming weeks. And last but not least, I was thrilled to get to meet my friend Ayla! We have gotten to know each other through our blogs and the handmade world, but had never met, and it was a real treat to be able to finally make that connection. She actually wrote a bit more about the Handmade Holiday (and took much better photos as I forgot my camera) on her blog.

As for now, I'm tying up some loose ends for the holidays, working on new designs, and breathing a sigh of relief that I'm done with my holiday shows and will (hopefully) have a little more down time for a few weeks.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy Holidays Giveaway

This past weekend, Andrew and I went to see The Book Thief in the theater in Harbor East. As we left the movie theater, we couldn't help but notice that people seemed a little more cheery, more willing to hold doors for others, and in general a bit happier across the board. We decided that it must have to do with the arrival of the holiday season. There is something about the holidays that just seems to make people slow down from their daily lives and really enjoy the here and now. And as we made our observations, we agreed that this sense of happiness is one of our favorite parts about the holiday season.

To spread that holiday cheer, I have teamed up with some fabulous handmade artists and friends for a fun Christmas themed giveaway.

The loot:
1. Felt ornament from My Hideaway 
2. Burlap Santa gift bag from Oh Nostalgia Designs 
3. Pencil set and 3 Christmas gift cards from Row House 14 
4. Your choice of woodcut ornament from Memories for Life 
5. 3" heart hoop/ornament from Milo and Molly 
6. Christmas keychain pouch from Eyelah

Simply enter through Rafflecopter- one winner takes all! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cyber Monday Sale!

Thank you all so much for your AMAZING support so far this holiday season! To be honest, I have been completely overwhelmed (in a good way) by the fantastic support I've had thus far in this self-employment journey of mine. For those of you that may have missed Friday and Saturday's sale, today's Cyber Monday deal is definitely one you don't want to miss. It's for one day only, so be sure to take full advantage of it! In addition, don't forget about the Instagram contest that is currently running. It is open until the end of the year, so be sure to enter! Again, happy shopping to you all!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday and Small Business Saturday Sale + WIN Cards for a Year!

It's that time of the year! I have lots of fun promotions going on this weekend for my shop. In addition, I'm giving away a year's worth of greeting cards to one lucky winner! Woot woot! The Black Friday sale coupon codes are valid both Friday AND Saturday, so enjoy. Plus, be sure to check back here on Monday for my Cyber Monday deal. I have a feeling it's one that you definitely don't want to miss. Hint-- it involves greeting cards. Lots and lots of greeting cards. I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving and happy shopping to you all! :)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Newsletter and New Pencils and New Cards

There are a lot of things to catch up with you all on today. I still feel as though I've been flying by the seat of my pants these last few days. I spent this weekend at a local craft fair, but also had my busiest weekend in the last two month this past weekend in my Etsy shop. After all was said and done, I've been playing a huge game of catch up. With the biggest shopping weekend of the year soon upon us, I have even more to prepare.

Recently, I've started a newsletter for all of my amazing customers. My goal is to send out information about new products and promos to all of you newsletter readers first, so that my most loyal customers can get a sneak peek of those products and exclusive offers. In addition, just by signing up for the newsletter, you get a coupon code to use once in the shop for 15% off. Needless to say, later this afternoon, I will be sending out information for my Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday sales as well as information about an upcoming promotion that begins on Friday. I am SUPER excited about this promotion as it is something entirely new that I have never offered before and it may involve cards-- lots and lots of cards. Either way, in order to get that promotion info, simply sign up for the newsletter here.

Ok, phew! See, I told you I had a lot to catch up on! Next up? Pencils. I have added a few more stocking stuffer sized pencil sets to my shop that many of you are already eating right up. These are some of my favorite sets yet because they also serve as little daily reminders for myself. Sometimes (actually most times these days) I need a little extra boost of motivation to get everything on my checklist done as the busy season is currently in full swing. It is really hard for me to choose which of these are my favorite. I have such a love for mint, but the dark, dark purple pencils are fabulous as well.

And finally, as I prepare for one last show in Richmond on December 14th, I have been adding a few new card designs to my stock. I tested these out this past weekend and people seemed to like them, so I would say they got the seal of approval.

What have you been up to these days? Are you feeling just as busy as I am?

I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving and be sure to check back here starting on Friday for all of the upcoming sale information. And of course, again, if you want a preview of all of that info, be sure to sign up for the newsletter! Now go and enjoy your holiday! :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hello from the Studio

I've been in overdrive these past few weeks as the holiday season is upon us. The shop has been busy and I'm preparing for two shows-- one at Fort Meade this coming weekend as well as the Richmond Craft Mafia's Handmade Holiday on December 14th. In addition, I've still been hard at work launching a few new products here and there and getting my new newsletter in order, so I thought it would be fun to get a little peek into my studio.

My studio is located in our historic Baltimore row house. I get to enjoy lots of natural light coming in from both a large window and a glass paned door that leads off to our second story deck. One wall in the studio is exposed brick, and Andrew put up salvaged wood shelving for storage. It is definitely a space that helps keep the creative juices flowing as well as being tranquil and relaxing.

And of course, arranging to have all of these photos taken was no easy feat. Andrew was my sort of fabulous photographer, which involves many photos being taken when you're not even close to being ready or ok with the fact that he is snapping the shutter. And then, my friends, you end up with this.

After all was said and done, there were obviously many photos that were still salvageable. I was able to use some of them, including a new head shot, to update my Etsy shop About Page, my Twitter profile, and my Instagram profile. In addition, you may see some of these photos pop up in an upcoming feature that I am excited about! It feels good to have a little more cohesiveness across the board when it comes to all of my outlets.

Do you have any photos of you creating in action? I love getting glimpses into the studios of other artists!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cockatoo Island

When I last wrote about our trip to Australia, I left off with some beautiful photos from Bondi. The following day, we spent some time strolling throughout Sydney. We took the metro into the city and went exploring. In the afternoon, we decided to take a ferry out to Cockatoo Island. Cockatoo Island is located in Sydney Harbor and has a history as both a convict prison as well as being an old shipyard in which they drafted plans and built ships. The entire island's history was incredibly interesting to learn about and the remnants of the buildings left for some pretty fantastic photo opportunities.

After our day at Cockatoo Island, we headed back to Sydney for some record store shopping so that I could snag a few records that I can't get in the US. We took the metro back to our apartment, took a nap (we were ridiculously tired and the jet lag was catching up big time!), and then got ready for dinner. We headed to Manly, again by ferry, where we had a delicious meal and beer, of course, at a local microbrewery called 4 Pines. The next morning we would leave to fly into a totally different part of the country for a new adventure.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Christmas Pencils and a Big Thank You!

Now that Halloween is officially over, I'm even more so in the mind set of the upcoming holidays. I shared with you my holiday card line last week, and this week I was up to a little fun with the hot foil press and have two new sets of pencils in the shop that are perfect to use as stocking stuffers.

I had a lot of fun pressing these! Not only will they be in the shop this holiday season, but you'll be able to snag them up at a few shows that I'll be doing in the upcoming months.

In addition to sharing these pencils, I also wanted to say a big thank you to all of you for such an amazing October! This past month was the third busiest month I've ever had, right behind January and February. That says a lot since January and February are truly the busy season with Valentine's Day cards being the big thing. After some really unexpected issues cropped up after our trip to Australia, I worked the hardest I ever have on my shop to try and make the best of it, and it paid off.

I am feeling incredibly lucky to have such amazing customers that continue to come to shop with me, and to be able to realize this big dream of mine. I wasn't sure that this would work as a full time endeavor because it was such a huge risk, but two months into the school year, I know now that I made the right choice not to go back to the classroom. I'm looking forward to even more exciting things throughout the holiday season and into the new year!

As a big THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart, I want to pass on a 20% discount to you all. Use the code THANKYOU20 today only on any items in the shop. You guys continue to make me feel grateful to be able to do what I love and what makes me happy!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Being Late, Being Too Busy, Or Being 'Cool'?

In the last few days, this article about being late, from Greg Savage on the Huffington Post blog, has made the rounds on social media almost everywhere I have looked. The question at hand as made obvious by the headline-- How did it get to be 'ok' for people to be late for everything?

Savage hits the nail on the head with something that I have noticed with growing annoyance. People showing up half an hour late for meetings, friends always running behind for a dinner meetup while I'm sitting solo at the bar waiting for them, and having to purposely schedule dinner parties to start a bit early, knowing that the guests won't arrive on time. Am I guilty of some of these things too? Absolutely, but I don't make a habit out of it, nor do I continue on without apologizing first. And, in most instances, I strive to be a few minutes early because the thought of being late induces incredibly anxieties.

While Savage discusses the routine lateness as being rude, he doesn't delve much deeper into the reasoning as to why this is a growing trend. I stopped to think about why this might be, and thought about the instances in which I was late. In the past couple years, I would say that the majority of my lateness occurred with weekend plans with the same couple that are good friends of ours. Unfortunately, and horrifyingly, the lateness always occurred with them. It had nothing to do with them as people (we love hanging out with them!), but all about the events leading up to whatever it was that we were doing with them.

via Hairbrained Schemes

I have found that in instances of recent lateness, our schedule for the day was so full of things that we thought we could (or rather Andrew thought he could) fit into one day, but in reality was just too much. I'm not one to try to fit everything in. It's too hectic and intense for the introvert in me. Andrew, on the other hand, is like a motor that doesn't stop. If he has an idea, he'll add it to the list of things to do, or start in on it because he thinks he can squeeze it in before we leave.

In our last instance of lateness, were were 45 minutes late to the aforementioned friends' house because an hour before we were supposed to leave, Andrew started waxing his car. He thought he would get it finished in an hour despite my suggestions for him to save it for another day. As we hopped into a freshly waxed car, 25 minutes after the time we were supposed to have arrived, I remember saying over and over again, "I can't believe we're going to be so late! I hate being late!"

This makes me wonder, is our lateness due to the fact that we are leading lives that are too busy? Should we be taking this lateness trend as a sign to slow down? What if we just got rid of one or two things a day in our busy schedule to be done at a later date? What if we said no sometimes instead of yes?

Thinking from the other side of the fence, I have been in the shoes of those who are waiting for late friends or colleagues. Some are apologetic and sincere, and others come racing in, smart phone in hand, and a quick "Oh my god, I am just so busy these days!" which is their sort of version of an apology.

For the latter, I think being late is cool. You're cool when you're late because it shows that you are busy. If you're busy, then you must be super duper cool because all of those people and places need you. This, I think, may be one of the greatest reasons for lateness being "ok." It is almost like common knowledge these days that the "it" people are just simply so awesome that they are always busy and because they are so awesome that makes it ok.

When did the number of activities, meetings, events, dates, and all of those wonderful things bring about a social status that makes one friend better than the other? And when did the busy lifestyle trump being on time and respecting the time of others?

via minthouse
In general, Savage's article really provoked a new idea of living a happy lifestyle. It made me embrace the fact that I like slowing down, and that in a society where we stress to live every day to the fullest, maybe we have gotten carried away by our daily lives a little too much. When I think about my day to day life, I'd rather spend an hour at lunch with a friend, arriving on time, rather than dealing with the stress of trying to cram one more thing in beforehand, in hopes that I'll save time later. The reality is, slowing down and taking a breather just might make us all a little happier, especially if that means being on time becomes the new cool.

How do you feel about people being late? What are your reasons for being late? Do you think we should all slow down too?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Style: Wedding Edition

As you know, this past August, Andrew and I got married. We decided that a big wedding just wasn't us, and opted for a short and sweet courthouse wedding with a close friend in tow as our witness. After our wedding, we decided to take an epic trip to Australia instead. For us, traveling seemed to make much more sense in terms of where to spend our money. Travel is something that we both enjoy immensely and we knew a trip would make us a lot happier than a wedding that would be over in just a few short hours.

However, despite our quick wedding affair, we still decided to have fun and be a little classy. Many people commented on our wedding photos and loved our color theme and attire, and some even asked me to do this post (you know who you are...). To be truthful, we always travel on a budget, and our wedding attire was also on a budget... ok, except maybe not the shoes. Buuuuut, would you expect any less from me? So without further ado, here's the breakdown.

Her /// Dress - Nordstrom, $148 // Sandals - Kate Spade, $228 (splurge!) // Clutch - Milo and Molly, gift (similar) // Earrings - Target

Him /// Pants - Express, $59.90 // Shirt - Michael Kors via TJ Maxx, $19.99 // Tie - Macy's, $49.50

The total new cost of our attire was $445.49, which was half due to my splurge for shoes. We had a little money left over from our budgeted travel expenses, and Andrew insisted that I get the shoes and dress that I wanted. He knew that the shoes would be worn more than once and get some good use, so despite my qualms, he insisted I get them. This in itself is amazing as he most recently was heard saying, "You already have too many shoes!" as we browsed the new DSW that opened up nearby. I also say "new cost" because Andrew already owned the pants as part of his work clothes wardrobe.

I chose the mint cork wedges and tie to compliment the clutch that Kristen made for me as a wedding gift. I had initially found a mint dress at Nordstrom Rack that I was going to wear, but in a last minute fit of wedding panic (I say this jokingly of course, as this was the most stressful part of our wedding and it wasn't even really stressful!), I decided it'd be more fun to do a traditional white dress.

For me, this was a bit more than I wanted to spend on our wedding, but at the same time I realize that our entire ensemble cost less than all of the actual "wedding" dresses I looked at. I'm not sure why they can charge more just because it is dubbed as a wedding dress! And with a mere $15 needed to use the courthouse for 10 minutes, why not splurge a little?

Were you on a tight budget for your wedding? Anyone else out there do a courthouse wedding like us? What were your splurge items for your wedding attire?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Food Frustrations

Food is obviously one of the most important aspects in our daily lives. Without it, we cannot sustain life. For me, food has become not only something of importance for living, but for for other aspects of life as well. Food is what everything pivots around-- conversation and company of good friends and family, exploration in travel, and just enjoying the basic element of life. Savoring food slows us down and brings us away from the daily grind. Enjoying time in the kitchen at the end of the day is something that Andrew and I do together almost daily. There is a joy in that companionship, over discovering new flavors, and challenging ourselves to new and innovative recipes.

My love for not just food, but good food comes directly from my mother, without a doubt. I think back to time with my mom's side of the family sitting at the dinner table for hours, eating, drinking, laughing, conversing, and just enjoying. I remember coming home from elementary school to a house filled with the smell of fresh French bread, ripping off a piece of bread from a baguette, and devouring it just as is because it was just that good. I think of hours over time spent sitting with my dad at my mom's bakery enjoying a flavorful afternoon cup of coffee along with one of my favorite cookies or pastries.

Food is not just food.

via Old English Company

In the past years, I have begun to see a startling trend. Food becomes restricted, becomes the enemy. Clearly, to be healthy individuals it becomes necessary to restrict the amount of food that we consume. It does no one any good to overeat. However, restricting food in other ways by excluding things from your diet is a trend that I will understand the least. Every few years it seems that we're "supposed" to exclude yet another thing from our diets or we will be deemed as unhealthy or simply not caring about what we put into our bodies. And then, the next year, it's fine again to eat that, but we need to exclude something else.

These food trends sadden and frustrate me. After all, we only live once, so why not enjoy all that there is to offer, but eat with moderation to remain healthy? Recently, the trend that has cropped up is the gluten-free diet. It is very possible that I'll get myself in trouble for posting my opinions on food trends, but it seems that these days no one can share their opinion without being considered offensive. Sure, there are benefits for some people in which a gluten-free diet makes most sense. However, studies show these benefits are not proven to make any difference for the majority of people's health. (Yes, I'm sure that there are articles that would say the opposite, but isn't that how the media always dictates food trends? I mean last year coffee was bad for you, and this year it's good for you!) In addition, most people who have gone gluten-free are self-diagnosed which in itself can be dangerous. In the majority of cases, when we exclude things from our diets, we lose out on important vitamins, fibers, fats, sugars, nutrients, etc.

Some of the recent arguments that I hear for a gluten-free diet have to do with digestive issues. Certainly there is a connection here, as we know that gluten affects those with Celiac disease. However, we seem to have forgotten that indigestion can be caused by other aspects-- processed foods, stress and anxiety, and an unbalanced diet-- all things that seem to plague the American society as a whole. As a nation, we eat a lot of junk, we don't slow down to eat, we cram too much to do into the day, and we teach our children that good food and water is gross as we feed them McDonald's and soft drinks. However, at the end of the day, each person can choose what they want to put into their bodies-- that is a personal choice that we all make.

via Hero Design Studio
I choose to eat gluten. I would be lost without bread (among many other things such as beer), and bread has flour which contains gluten. And you know what? I feel healthy. I also feel healthy because I eat in moderation, make sure to eat fruits and veggies along with my grains, dairy, and protein, and try to maintain an active lifestyle. It just works for me. However, if that doesn't work for you, I wish you would stop making my choice in gluten sound as though I am choosing a death sentence. Recently I've heard and read the terms nasty, horrible, bad, unhealthy, poisonous, harmful, and toxic as descriptors of bread or wheat. I feel as if those who have made the choice to go gluten-free continue to hammer on the idea that if I chose to eat gluten I am damaging my body. Not so here. I am perfectly fine and healthy when I eat gluten and would attest to that fact by divulging that in the past at least 10 years, I've only had to go to the doctor twice due to illness.

Often, I liken this trend to any other trend. The way I feel a bit awkward wearing boot cut jeans in a crowd of skinny jeans. The way Wegmans made me feel dirty for purchasing regular yogurt instead of Chobani after they demoted the regular yogurt to the bottom corner of a shelf and filled the rest of it with Greek yogurt. The way people looked at me as if I was crazy when I declared that I hated Lady Gaga when she was first all the rage.

The point is that we all make our own choices, and eating ALL foods is one that I've made. Let me enjoy my food. Don't make me feel bad about that when I shouldn't have to feel that way.

What do you think about food trends? Are they really as healthy as the media makes them out to be? Do you follow food trends?

Thursday, October 24, 2013


It's taken me quite a while to get through all of our photos from Australia. Setting aside time just to sort through them all is hard to do, and then once I have the time, choosing the ones that I like the most becomes quite the chore! On our first full day in Sydney, we took a ferry to Watson's Bay for some lunch and then took the bus to Bondi. (You know you want to click that link. I was only singing this song in my head the whole way there...)

Bondi is home to one of the most popular city beaches and was a place I often went to just to relax and chill out. When we arrived, it was cloudy, which made me a bit sad. However, as we stayed for a little while, the sun came out and the weather warmed and we were able to enjoy a beer while watching all of the surfers take on the waves.

Our first full day in Sydney was busy as we took in the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Sydney Opera House before heading to Bondi, but we knew we were short on time for our entire trip. There was no better way to get over our jetlag than to just jump right in with all of the adventures.

Up next, I'll share some photos from our second day before we headed out to the red center.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New Holiday Cards Are Here!

It has been a crazy few weeks in my home studio as I've had one of the busiest months this year and have also been working diligently on my new holiday line. After several weeks of work, I'm happy to say that the full line of holiday cards is officially here! Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah combined, there's a bit of everything-- some simple, some funny, a few naughty, a couple bright and fun, and a lot of eco-friendliness going on in there too. Many of these cards are 100% recycled paper content, something I've been striving for recently. While not all of the cards are listed in sets, I am happy to do sets for you if need be, so feel free to get in touch with those sorts of requests! Now, here's a look at the full line of cards. You can click through the photos to find them in my shop!

What do you think of the new holiday line? Which are your favorites? It is hard for me to choose which ones I like the best because they all turned out just as I had envisioned, which is a super exciting thing! Are you preparing for the holidays yet?
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