Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas

{This card is now available at Vivian Elle's Etsy Shop. Click here to visit!}'s not Christmas anymore. But, I am still hearing a Christmas song or two on the radio and it's currently snowing pretty hard outside, so I think I'm safe to post this Merry Christmas blog, a day late. 

I truly hope your Christmas was a merry one with your family and friends. My husband and I spent Christmas Eve with his family and Christmas day with mine. However, we actually didn't get to see my brother and his wife yesterday, so we're about to leave to go see my family again and do one last little celebration together.

But first, I just wanted to show the Christmas cards that I designed for me and my husband this year. 

You know those cards that are all over Pinterest? The Year in Review cards? As you can see, that's where the general idea came from.

This year has been big for us, so I thought that another year in review card would work well, just like last year's card.

The beginning of 2012 had us wondering where we'd be living at the end of 2012. We knew we had to be out of our condo by April, but we had no clue what would come after that.

Well, on June 1, we moved into our new house. A house that I seriously still get a little giddy about each time I pull into our driveway.

And then in October, my husband got a full time teaching job, after we had just spent the summer discussing how we were completely content with him growing his guitar business (he had about 30 students and was doing really well with it) and substitute teaching on the side.

And then in November, I got a call from my regional rep from The Knot, who told me that my business - yes, this here little business - had been selected as one of The Best of The Knot for 2013. I have honestly never worked harder on anything in my life, so to say that I was excited about this honor is a complete understatement.

So it's safe to say that our year held a few surprises for us. And I just wanted to document that, so that one day when we're 80 and look back, we can remember that this was an exciting chapter in our lives.

Here's hoping that your year held a few surprises for you, too. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Laura and Aaron's Christmas Cards

{All of these cards are now available at Vivian Elle's Etsy Shop. Click here to visit!}

I have to show off this Christmas card.

It's totally one of my pre-made designs (you can get it right here from my Etsy shop) and I previously stated that I would only show custom Christmas designs on the blog.  But this card is a little extra special to me, because of who I made it for.

Meet Laura, and her little girl, Liya.

Laura and I became friends in college. We suited together our senior year, and along with our friends Ruth, Amanda, and Lisanne, we kind of became a little group. After college, we decided that we needed to make sure we kept in touch, so we planned on taking a trip once a year to visit each other.

So in 2005, we all met up in Seattle, where Amanda and her husband, Jason, lived.

In 2006, we met up in D.C., where Ruth was living, and took a quick trip to Annapolis, Maryland, to visit Lisanne's home, too.

In 2007, we met in Charleston, SC, where Laura and her husband, Aaron (a pilot in the air force), were stationed.
In 2008, we came back to D.C. to celebrate Ruth's marriage to her Australian army man, Andrew. I would put a picture here if I had a picture of us from that wedding (sad, I know). Instead, here is a random photo of us that I like.

Our friend Ruth is eating an apple in this photo. For some reason, that gets me every time.
Unfortunately, after Ruth's wedding, we lost her to Andrew (stupid marriage!) and they moved to Australia, where they're still living today.

So in 2009, when we got together in Michigan for my very own wedding, Ruth wasn't with us, but we still managed to have a little fun with help from some more college friends.

And the last time I saw these girls was in 2010, when we got together in Dallas, and took a few days to go up to Altus, Oklahoma, where Laura and Aaron were stationed at the time.

The trouble with asking some random person outside of a saloon to snap a picture of you.
Because of all of our trips together (and emails and phone calls), we knew when Aaron and Laura started trying to have kids. We also knew when they were having trouble trying to have kids. Then we knew when they started undergoing tests to see why they weren't having kids.

And it was really hard to see that happen to our friend. It was hard to know that she was struggling. It was hard to know that some of her other friends were having kids and she wasn't able to be as happy for them as she'd have liked. It was just hard to know that there was something that so many people had no problem doing that she was having such a tough time with.

But then something great happened. Laura and Aaron attended a conference where they found out more about adoption. After years of struggling, they felt like it was time to move forward. It was time to step out of their comfort zone. It was time to start filling out paperwork and getting references and waiting and hoping for a referral to come their way.

I'll never forget when Laura called and said that they had decided adopt. There was a peace and joy in her voice that I hadn't heard before. There was a sense that this was what all of those hardships had led them to.

And I'll definitely never forget the call when Laura told me that they'd received a referral from Ethiopia (after they had waited so long and been so patient). She told me about the little girl, about what she looked like, about her travel plans (Aaron deployed around the same time they had to fly to Ethiopia so Laura ended up bringing her sister-in-law along).

So, after nine and a half years of marriage, a trip to Africa, and a two month stay with a family in Ethiopia, Laura brought her little girl back to the U.S. where Aaron was waiting at home for them. There was something special about knowing that Laura had met her daughter for the first time, but there was really something special about knowing that Aaron, Laura, and Liya were home together, just like they should be.

So here are Laura and Aaron's Christmas cards. She picked the 'Year in Review' design, which I think was perfect, since so many people were invested in her year and I know they would want to read a little recap of it.

I so want to let these cards speak for themselves, but I do just want to say (for you font lovers out there) that the fonts are Cafe Rojo and Antipasto.

I couldn't believe how stunning this picture was when Laura sent it to me. But as beautiful as the photographer's work is (Mallory Krieger, by the way), the most beautiful thing about the picture is the huge grin on that baby girl's face. And let me tell you, she should be grinning, because she hit the jackpot with parents like Laura and Aaron.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Kauri's Christmas Cards

We're moving right along this week with the Christmastime shenanigans. Today I have a custom design that I did for one of my best friends, whom you have previously heard about a time or two on this blog. 

Meet Kauri.

To be specific, Kauri of "Rachael, Heidi, and Kauri." The girls who are my BFFs. The girls who know what seems like every part of me and love me anyway. The girls who I keep in touch with weekly, even though we are miles apart. The girls who have been nothing but supportive of this business since day one. And most importantly, the girls who I get to see in just over two and a half months when we all come together in Boston for a much anticipated reunion. #cannotwait

These are the girls who I can't imagine navigating life without, and as much as I wish that we lived much much closer to each other, I think the distance makes us really appreciate what we have.

But this post is about Kauri in particular. 

I thought it might be fun to ask Rachael and Heidi to sum up Kauri in one sentence, just to see what they say. Here are their answers.

[Kauri is the] perfecter of the side heel-jump, like the coolest snuggie evah, the belly laugh that you don't want to end, like that drink of cold water after a long work-out and of course the friend that everyone wishes they had and you're so grateful that you do. - Heidi

Kauri is a food connoisseur, a loyal friend, an expert event planner, an insightful listener, a perpetual student and teacher and a truth seeker. - Rachael

The thing is that we are all just very aware of what a great friend Kauri is. She's hilarious (she was often asked to make announcements in our college's chapel because they were ten times funnier when she made them), she's practical (I've called her before and was like, "Kauri, wouldn't it be great if I flew down to see you girls next weekend!" and she'd respond, "I'd love to see you, but think about this..."), she's empathetic (she's a counselor, for crying out loud), and you just know that she values your friendship just as much as you value hers. 

Kauri is a great friend and I'm lucky to have her. When she told me that she wanted to use me for Christmas cards this year (I didn't even have to force her to!), her support meant the world to me. 

So I set off designing something for Kauri, knowing that her only wish was to incorporate Isaiah 9:6 into the design. 

A side note about designing something for a friend:

The advantage to custom designing something for someone you're close to is that you already know their style and can use that to design a card that you know is "them."

However, the disadvantage is that if you are off and design something that's not so much "them," it could be potentially awkward. So when I emailed Kauri the draft of her card, I said a prayer that she wouldn't respond with the following:

Hi Jenny - 

Our friendship is over.

Take care,

Luckily, I heard back from Kauri right away and she loved it (phew...crisis averted). 

Here's Kauri's Christmas card.

I knew when Kauri gave me the verse that I wanted to make the names of God a lot larger than anything else (she also may have requested this...I can't remember). I also knew that I would like to use a picture of the world on the card, to represent the gift that was given to all mankind that first Christmas, with no exceptions.

While I like things as bright as can be, Kauri's color choices tend to be a little more muted, which is why I chose the brown and light blue, and added just a little bit of color for the names.

As far as fonts, I'm on a Clarendon Bold Condensed kick lately, so that's the font I used for the verse. I also used some of my favorites for the names. Wonderful Counselor is Context Reprise. Mighty God is BD Hanover. Everlasting Father is Samantha Pro, and Prince of Peace is Antipasto.

This card reminds me of all the friends who have been so supportive of this business from the beginning. Whether they've bought from me or not, they've encouraged me and loved me through each step and I am so grateful.

More Christmas cards to be shown next week!

{Click here to visit Vivian Elle's Etsy Shop!}

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sarah's Custom Christmas Cards

Alright, y'all. It's time for some Christmas cheer up on this blog.

I have to be honest. So far, my Christmas cheer has been a little up and down. There have been some great Christmas-y moments, like going ice skating at Campus Martius in Downtown Detroit with my family.

Me, my husband, my brothers and their foxy ladies.

My sisters. We cracked each other up this night. It helped that our cocktails at the restaurant beforehand were a little strong.
(I would have included a picture with my mom and dad, but my mom kept her coat's hood on in the picture and she thinks she looks like a Conehead. We don't speak of this anymore.)

And going back downtown a week later for 'Noel Night' got me all in the Christmas spirit again. Our night ended with singing Christmas Carols outside of the Detroit Institute of Art, which was beautifully decorated for Christmas.

(I straight up stole this photo right off a Facebook friend's wall. Without asking. No shame.)

But as far as Christmas spirit on the home front, this is what's going on.

(Cue the collective WOMP WOMP.)

I could write a whole post on how the above picture makes me feel, but that would suck the life right out of this blog. Instead I'll say that I'm glad that Christmas is more than just the state of your Christmas tree, and I'm glad that tree stands are returnable. 

Moving on. 

As you all know by now, Vivian Elle opened an Etsy shop, right in time for the Holidays. I don't plan on sharing any of my pre-made designs that were purchased, since you can see those by visiting my shop, but I did want to share some of the custom designs that I did this year. 

Like this one for Sarah from L.A. 

Sarah emailed me all of the cute things she bought to set the stage for her perfect Christmas card. First up were these adorable aprons. cute are those?

She also bought that amazing Holiday Blue Velvet Cake, which apparently was on one of Oprah's Favorite Things Lists.

Font?'s my new fav, Samantha Upright Script. It is the best.

She wanted the colors to match the colors of the apron and the cake, so I went to work to make sure they did. I love using different Christmas colors (Except for at my mom's house. Her house MUST be the traditional red and green, always.).

The back. Love it.

More Christmas cards to come in the next few weeks!