Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Celebration of a Life

So...there are some days when getting a blog post up is easier than other days. Last week, I intended to get a blog up on Thursday about our home. It didn't happen. Please forgive me (I know you are still very sad about this. I'M SORRY). 

Today, I started off with a huge to-do list (not even complaining...so thankful for my work) and then realized that I still needed to write a blog for the week (since a weekly blog is one of the things I stated in my yearly goals that I wanted to do). I feel like after a wonderful family/friends filled Memorial Day weekend, I was starting out the week behind. I'm under no illusion that I'm the only one who has felt this way. 

So here's the deal. Last week's home blog post will probably be up in the next couple of weeks. I'm working on getting another room in our house put together right now and so I'd rather wait and include pictures of that. 

As far as weekly posts - I think for a while I am going to just go back to one post a week. I'm in the midst of wedding season and it gets a little hard at this time to keep up with a couple of weekly posts. I'm pretty confident that you all will forgive me for this, yes?

Having said that, I have a different kind of invitation to show today - one unlike any other I've shown on the blog thus far.

My great-grandma passed away last December. She was 99. She lived a full life and from what my dad and mom told me, she was ready to go.

My great uncle (my great-grandma's son) asked me if I would design an invitation for my grandma's "Celebration of Life" party that they were going to have on what would have been her 100th birthday. I gladly accepted. 

When great-grandma died, I was in the middle of an eight week teaching assignment. I was teaching world history and U.S. history to 9th and 10th graders. It was a very challenging assignment for me, mostly because I had decided long before that my true passion was in this invitation business. I had reluctantly agreed to take the teaching position and I often felt like I was stumbling through my days, just trying to stay afloat (all the while really just wanting to get back to working on invitations).

But during those eight weeks, I taught some pretty incredible stuff. In world history, we covered things like the Spanish Inquisition, the Scientific Revolution, and the Renaissance. In U.S. history, I taught WWI, the Roaring 20s, and the Great Depression. Even if I wasn't 100% thrilled to be in the classroom again, I couldn't deny that these were fascinating historical events. 

So when I read the eulogy my dad gave for my great-grandma at a small grave-side service they held right after her passing, I couldn't help but marvel at everything that happened in grandma's 99 years, from a historical perspective alone.

I'd like to show you the invitation that I designed with bits of my dad's eulogy in between. As much as you might like to hear about the colors and fonts (Copperplate and Melany Lane Bold, blue and brown, btw), I was so amazed as I read about all of the changes great-grandma watched occur in her lifetime that I couldn't go without including them in this post. History lovers, enjoy.

Here's my great-grandma's "Celebration of Life" invitation - the design does not even come close to doing justice to the long life she lived, but I sure did try. The words spoken in between are straight from my dad's eulogy. 

"Grandma began her life in 1913.  How much her world changed!  When she was born, Woodrow Wilson was president.  World War I was still in the future.  The Great Depression was almost 20 years away.  Movies were in their infancy.  TV was a dream.  No planes flew overhead.  No one had ever heard of computers or cell phones or I-pads.  When Grandma was born, Ford was making Model-T’s, milk was 32 cents a gallon, a loaf of bread cost six cents, a dozen eggs 30 cents, a car cost $500, and if you wanted to buy a gallon of gas for it, you paid twelve cents.  On the average, Americans paid 1% in income tax, and they didn’t like that.  In 1913, if you wanted to talk with your neighbor, you would walk outside, across the yard, and have an old-fashioned conversation over the fence, next to the lilacs."

"...And what a life she lived, what a time to be alive.  She lived through two world wars, a depression, numerous recessions, a Korean conflict, a Viet Nam War, two Gulf wars, and 17 presidents.  She endured Naziism, Fascism, Stalinism.  She witnessed the birth of the USSR, saw it develop into a world power, and watched it disintegrate.  She saw a republican President resign; she saw a democrat President get impeached.  She saw three presidents die in office, one of them assassinated.  She lived to see the first black President.  She lived to see billions of pieces of information jammed into a microchip.  It’s as if God dropped her into the world, slapped her on the bottom, and said, “Clara, you are going to see some unbelievable stuff in the next 100 years.”

"In the last 100 years the world has exploded, several times over.  It has turned into a chaotic mess.  Not Grandma.  While the world was falling apart and coming undone, she was building, building stability, building relationships.  Building an environment that would give her family a sense of belonging, and a sense of security.  What Grandma did, she did for those around her."

"Whatever has gone wrong in this world, you can’t blame Grandma.  She didn’t bomb anyone. She didn’t invade any countries.  She had no enemies.  She concentrated on her family and her church.  She built her legacies there.  If they would pattern the world after Grandma’s house, it would be a lot more peaceful and loving. 

Grandma was a remarkable human being, a special gift from above.  She was a woman of simple faith and goodness, and she leaves behind not just longevity, but a legacy that we can all be proud of."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Amy Sayre Photography's Thank You Cards

I love postcards. Like, LOVE them. Every time I talk with someone about a fun side project (moving announcements/thank you cards/whatever), I'm always like, "have you considered a postcard?" 

Postcards are just so simple and easy. Write a message. Throw a stamp on it. Mail it. Done.

So when Amy - the best friend - came to me and asked if I could help her with a Thank You for the Referral card, I was giddy when she said she'd like it on a postcard. 

I helped Amy make over her website a while back now. We wanted to stick with the same theme to come up with these thank you cards. See, she'd been re-vamping her business for a while and it was really paying off. She was getting more and more referrals and as they came in, she wanted a way to say thank you to those who had sent those referrals her way. 

Enter this little postcard. 

When someone sends a referral to Amy Sayre Photography, Amy can easily fill out this postcard and stick it in the mail.

It's as easy as filling out an address and a couple of lines. Anyone who owns a business knows how important referrals are and how important it is to show your appreciation to the person who is responsible for them. The problem is when you have a small business and you're doing all of the work by yourself. Here's what happens with me:

Referral comes in.
I do a little celebratory dance of appreciation directed towards the person who sent the referral.
I go about my day.

But what if I had a postcard like Amy's that I could just send off to the person who sent the referral to let them know how much I appreciate them? My life would be easier and people would know they were appreciated.

And that's what Amy can do now - show her appreciation to all the people that have spread the word about her stellar photography skills. With a cute little postcard.

One more picture, just because that little bird is so sweet.

Amy now has in her hands a good amount of these postcards and I know she's already sent several out. She is such an inspiring business woman and I will be following her lead and designing my own referral postcards soon (I'm declaring this right now so I will actually knock this off the to-do list, where it has been for a good few months now. :/).

I hope you're all enjoying your weeks so far. I'll be back later this week with a random house post. :)

Want to see more postcards? Check out these that I did for my sister-in-law's appreciation brunch or these I did for moving announcements. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Jessica and Jeffrey's Sparkler Wedding Invitations

I just realized that I have two brides that I worked with that have weddings in July and are named Jessica and have fiancé's named Jeffrey. How weird is that?

Also, how weird is it that I only just noticed it when I went to write their blog posts?

I do hope you all enjoyed your Mother's Day weekends (and may I just say a late Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there?). I just got back on Tuesday evening from Virginia, where my mom and I drove to visit my grandparents in Williamsburg as well as my brother and his wife in Richmond. We had a great time and enjoyed the beautiful Virginia weather (seriously...in Michigan it was in the 50s this past weekend. not sad I missed that).

So even though it is Thursday, it feels like Tuesday to me, which we can all agree is the best feeling in the world (much better than thinking it's Thursday when it's actually Tuesday).

It usually takes me a day to get back into the swing of things, so that's what I did yesterday. Now I'm back and ready to share some invitations with you that I absolutely adore.

Jessica came to me a few months ago to talk about her wedding invitations. Her and her fiancé are getting married on the Saturday after the 4th of July and she wanted to incorporate some sparklers and hearts into their invitation. Here's what we ended up with.

Jessica kept it so simple. We have the main invitation.

One insert.

And the RSVP card.

The fonts are Lavenderia and Antipasto. We printed on a textured ecru card stock - I love that it's such beautiful paper that you can actually see the texture in these pictures.

Jessica also kept her directions card simple, just listing the addresses. In a world where everyone has a GPS (which my dad actually calls Global Positioning Systems - amazing), most people will just plug the address in and go.

So that's it. I absolutely love the color, the simplicity, and the fonts that Jessica picked. She was such a sweet bride to work with. Next week I'm going to show off some side projects I've been working on. Have a great weekend!

Want to hear more about the value of custom invitations? Check out this post

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Year of the Marathon

I remember very clearly one day back in 2008 thinking that if I wanted to remain somewhat in shape for the rest of my life, I better get moving (yes, this thought was just occurring to me at age 27. I was late to the game). 

So I signed up to run a race - the Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago. It was an 8K which seemed easy enough. My best friend had run it in the past and I emailed to see if she'd be interested in running it with me that year, too. She was, and so we both started training separately (she was, and still is, living in Chicago). 

My first day of training called for me to run two miles. This seemed HUGE to me at the time. I drove up to a local middle school one January evening (so less people could see me, of course) and ran around the track in the slush until I completed the two miles. 

Pretty soon I had completed the Shamrock Shuffle and decided to train for a half marathon that October.  I enlisted another friend to train with me and we began training using a Hal Higdon training schedule.  After a couple of weeks, we were amazed that we could run several miles without even thinking about it. We would chat and run and it was so great to have her next to me during those long miles. Here we are after we finished our first half marathon.

(It should be noted that my running buddy, Amy, is much faster than me, so after a few miles she ran ahead. This is us finding each other after the race.)

The next year, Amy and I thought we'd try out the half marathon again. Shortly after we started training, Amy found out she was pregnant. She consulted with her doctor to make sure it was safe to continue running (it was) and we started training together for a second time. And this time we actually ran the entire race together, side by side (yes, you read that right...it takes a pregnancy to slow a girl down enough to run with me).

So we completed our second half marathon and then Amy retired from running and had her little girl. This left me with a decision to make the next year - to try out the half marathon by myself or to sit it out.

I decided to give it a go. How hard could it be training without someone?

Turns out, harder than I thought. When Amy and I trained for two half marathons together, it seemed almost easy.  We said a million times during our training that having each other to train with was the best thing we could have done.

Now I was training alone. But even though it was hard, I tried my best to do the training sans running partner.

I failed.

Here is my story.

The race day was quickly approaching and I hadn't finished my training. The weekly runs weren't going that poorly, but my weekend runs (the long ones) were. So while I should have ran up to 10 miles before race day, I had only run eight. I started wondering whether or not I could do this race and I was seriously leaning towards sitting it out.

But then my brother-in-law came home from Brooklyn to run the race with me and my father-in-law. He was staying with my husband and me and was all like, "you should totally do it you can do it blah blah blah."

So against my better judgement, I decided to attempt the race even though I was so incredibly ill-prepared (this is where things start to go downhill, people).

Fast forward a few days, and there I stood at the starting line, in a crowd of people that all looked way more psyched than I was to be running this thing. I resented them.

The race started and there was a lot more cheering and excitement (picture me giving the stink eye to everyone around me). I kept thinking, "what am I doing?", but then would tell myself that 13.1 miles really wasn't that much and I could force myself to do anything for a few hours, right?

So I finally get the starting point and I begin running. My shins start hurting approximately .34 miles into the race. I remember the thoughts in my head like it was yesterday:

"You can do this."
"My shins don't hurt that bad."
"If I keep running the pain will go away."
"Just keep running. Just keep running. Just keep running..."
"Wait...I'm nearing the Canadian border. Uhhhh..."

Here's the thing about the half marathon that I was running. It's an international race. So about 3 miles in, you run across the bridge from Michigan to Canada, run 4 miles or so in Canada, then run through the tunnel back over to Michigan.

With my shins hurting, the international part of the race really started to concern me. What if I can't finish but I don't realize it until I'm in Canada and then one of those emergency cars has to come and get me? Suddenly being in Canada seemed like the worst thing EVER. Like, once I was over there, they might never give me back or something.

At that point, there was only one rational thing to do.


I scoped out the scene. I was towards the back of the crowd (naturally), so I knew it would only be a matter of minutes before the end of the crowd would reach me.

So here's what I did:

I ran over to the sidewalk, making sure to do it right around the porta-potties. I acted casual - "NBD, guys. I'm cool. I just have to go to the bathroom a mile and a half into the race. Nothing unusual about that."

I looked around, making sure no one was staring at me (why they would be, I have no clue). Then I slowly turned myself towards a wall where no one could see my next move - taking my bib off.  This was VERY important.

See, in my mind, I could just picture myself walking back to the starting line wearing my bib and runners yelling, "no! you can do it! give it another chance!" And I was not having any of that. I wanted out of the race and no optimistic runner would stop me!

So I did it. I slowly took each pin out of my bib and then tucked it into my pocket. Then I started my walk of shame back to the starting line (picture me sad, with my head hanging low, only not really because I had really wanted to stop running).

There is a silver lining in all of this (I may just be forcing it, but I like to think it's there). Because I was back at the start so early, I was able to see the winners of the marathon come in. It was so very inspirational - in fact, I may have teared up at the first woman to come across the finish line.

And then I got to see my brother-in-law cross, too, which was also cool. He saw me, and a look of sheer confusion came over his face (he later told me that it was a mix of him having had a hard race and him wondering how the heck I beat him).

So I didn't finish the race. In fact, I didn't finish a fourth of the race. Let's call it exactly what it was - a failure to meet a goal.

But here's what I've learned in life (cue the sappy music): one failure doesn't negate everything else. I've run two half marathons in my life, and that's not bad. The third one didn't work out, but I guess I have a somewhat humorous story to tell people (depending on your definition of humorous. to many, it's probably just sad).

Having had a bit of a blow to the ego, I took a break from running for a couple of years and enjoyed other forms of exercise instead. But the marathon - the full marathon - stuck in the back of my mind.  I've just always wanted to do one. To say I was able to run 26.2 miles. To be a part of that group of people.

Well, folks, the time has come. This is the year of the marathon. Whether I run, walk, crawl, or am airlifted to the finish line, I will finish the Detroit Free Press Marathon this October.

I'm not only signed up for the marathon, I've teamed up with World Vision to run for a good cause.  Because as seen in the story I just told, I will need all the motivation I can get to actually finish this race, and I felt like helping people get clean water was a really good start.

So in the spirit of each post being somewhat related to paper goods, I designed this little guy to tell you some information about what World Vision does. I'm not asking for donations (as you can see, my info for donations is not even on there), but I just wanted to share something that has become near and dear to my heart lately.

I'm heading out of town tomorrow for a long weekend, but I'll be back next week with more invitations to show. Enjoy your weekends!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Jessica and Jeffrey's Pocket Fold Invitations

Sometimes I get ridiculously excited over the smallest things. Like this past week when I got out of work early (on a 70 degree day) and came straight home, removed every door knob in our house, and started oil rubbed bronzing them.

(You may not know what oil rubbed bronzing - or ORBing - is. Basically I spray painted things using this spray paint.)

So our amazingly beautiful gold door knobs (sense the sarcasm) are now oil rubbed bronzed. Every last one in our house. And I was so excited about it that I whipped up this before and after picture, just to give you a taste of how it updated things around our house. 

Even my husband said later that night, "these look really good, babe." (This was a surprise, as I was definitely not expecting him to have an opinion on door knobs.)

So there's one thing that was on the "summer to-do list" that's already crossed off pre-summer. Isn't that the best feeling ever?

I hope that you are enjoying your spring and are loving your time outside, doing whatever it is that makes you happy. :) 

Other than ORBing everything in sight, I've also been taking care of business, Vivian Elle style (what does that even mean?). 

I met with Jessica not so long ago now. She came to me feeling like she had done so much for her wedding, but had waited too long to take care of invitations. Luckily, we had just enough time to complete everything with a little bit of time left over.

The thing that I love most about Jessica's invitations is the floral artwork we added to it (courtesy of Envelopments).

The block font is Baskerville and the script font is Hiatus.

We used a textured matte card stock for the pocket and a metallic ecru paper for everything else.

In addition to purple, Jessica is having light green as one of her wedding colors, too. We brought that in with a couple of metallic envelopes.

We didn't want to overuse the flower, but we did bring it into the wedding suite one more time on the RSVP.

And we were done. A lot of brides ask how long it takes to design invitations. Ideally, brides will come to me six months before their wedding. However, brides have come to me three months before their weddings and we have been able to get everything done in time for them to be sent out. Jessica's invites are proof of that.

Besides ORBing and putting together invitations, there's something else I've been spending my time doing this spring. I'll be back on Thursday to tell you all about it. :)

Want to hear more about the value of custom invitations? Check out this post