Thursday, November 26, 2015

Free Printable Gift Planning Worksheet: Intentional & Stress Free Shopping

Happy Thanksgiving!!! 
But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

I put together a printable shopping/gift guide for the holidays to hopefully help keep things more intentional as Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday sales flood our social media accounts and mailboxes.

The first page serves as a simple list to write out each recipient and the obtained or planned gift. I highlighted mine to show who I have completed and who is still missing. **Family members if you zoom into this....I'll respect you.**

The second page is a table to fill in shops and sales you want to check out over the weekend (or whenever) it gives you space to write down a promo code or sale time and then items you're looking at.

Here is mine filled out but with a somewhat obstructed view to make it slightly more difficult for my gift recipients to zoom in. You can save and print the two images below if you'd like to use it for yourself this holiday season!

What would you add to make this work better for you? Happy Thanksgiving and happy intentional and stress-free shopping! 

PS digital floral clip art from SmallHouseBigPony check out their beautiful and affordable collection!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Mompreneur Life: Launching a Holiday Line at InsieMama

After my daughter entered the world I never knew my heart could love so much - but I also did not expect continuing to manage my small business to be as difficult as it was (is). I have a particularly bad sleeper (No thanks, don't need any sleeping advice. Still love ya'll but don't need it!) which has made the naptimes and early evening time that I thought I'd have to myself everyday practically non existent. Or, let's be real when I do get a moment... Naptime = personal time? Nope. Naptime = cleaning the house like a madwoman, preparing food, picking up cheerios that have been practically fully digested then spit up and smushed into the carpet (sorry landlords if you're reading this..............)

Image from InsieMama.
Anyway, I was connected by Heather of Heather Booysen Photography  to Danielle of InsieMama. As soon as Heather mentioned that her friend was starting up a business to specifically help mompreneurs (loving this word) think strategically about their business I emailed her. I don't normally talk about my business with anyone else or seek advice, so the fact that I emailed her right away actually caught myself off guard. Well, fast forward and this partnership has been amazing! It was just the right amount of support and encouragement I needed that I could be both a mom and small business owner.  

Danielle also runs an online boutique showcasing her clients which I highly suggest taking a look at, and particularly now because I've just launched a holiday line on InsieMama and wanted to give you all the full details! 

The items available are pictured below and will only be available through her InsieMama boutique, not through my Etsy shop! They are also limited and will only be around for this Christmas season. 



What do you think?!

Small Business Saturday Shopping Guide - A Highlight of My Favorite Shops

I'm pretty conflicted on how I feel about Black Friday. You know the common statement that it seems so wrong to spend time thinking about how thankful we are for what we have and then rush out to buy what we want only a few hours later. Well, just because everyone says it and you're probably tired of your Facebook friends "taking a virtual stand about it" doesn't mean I'm not partially agreeing. However, I've also scored some amazing Black Friday deals so I can't hate on it too much...

But, I have come to really love Small Business Saturday. As a small business owner myself, I try to shop almost exclusively at other small businesses and especially for holidays and gifts. Throughout the past year I've stopped by quite a few shops and have gotten to know many of the owners behind the scenes. I've rounded up some of my favorites in a full list below and also featured a few specific gift ideas here: 

Featured Items: 

And below you'll find the full list of favorite shops I shopped at this past year. Take time and look through these - so many categories and fun things to find! 

Chesapeake Tides Nautical Items Inspired by the Chesapeake Bay
Clever Betty Keepsake Calendars, Plushes, & Wall Signs
Culture Flock Clothing Retro and Funky Clothing (think sloths and E.T.)
DoBee Designs Metal Stamped Jewelry
Fancy Free Finery Felt Flower Hair Accessories
Fox and Owl Designs Custom Order Dolls
Gulush Threads Hand Embroidered Jewelry 
Galarples Miniature Hand Crafted Creatures
Kristin Schmucker Shop Candles, Bible Studies, Study Accessories & More
Life Lived Beautifully  Bible Studies, Journals, Mugs, & More
Mini Backdrops Small Backdrops for Photography & More
Oh Deer Creative Art Prints, Printables, Wedding Accessories, Totes & More
The Olive Tree Designs Jewelry, Art Prints & Journals
Pancakes & Glue Guns Paper Flower Party Decor & Gifts
Vine & Branch Design Hand Painted Wooden Signs & Digital Prints

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Hot Topic: Virtual Wedding Invitations? And a blue & peach wedding inspiration board.

Seeing as I work with colorful paper everyday and am constantly looking for wedding color trends, building this wedding mood/imspiration board was an excellent business exercise for me. First of all, can I just say, I am so in love with this color combo. Peach was an accent color at our wedding and is the main color in my business branding - but wow peach + these shades of blue is really just gorgeous - artsy and eclectic, but timeless. I haven't used peach and blue together in any of my paper flower creations in the shop  but you can bet you'll see some soon. 

Check it out. The details are listed below the image.

And now, what if I told you this was a virtual wedding invitation? Paperless Post provides the option to order paper invites as well - but in more interesting news, provides a virtual option. Ask me three years ago as I was planning my wedding and I would have unequivocally told you no, that was not an option for me. However now, I'm 90% sure I would go with a virtual option. Listen, I love stationery (recently pointed out to me that you spell it with an "e" whoops, did you know this?!) but it seems like wedding invitations are stuck on the fridge and then remain there for an awkwardly long time.
(For instance: oh my goodness did you hear so and so had a baby?! Wow, it seems like just yesterday we were at their wedding. Oh, wait - look, here it is, the invite from four years ago still on our fridge! It was September 8, 2011, how sweet. Wait, why do we still have that? We should trash that....) 

Anyway, I think I'd opt for a small magnet save the date that matches the invitation and then have the formal invitation be delivered electronically. I'm not giving up on a hard invite entirely, that save the date magnet is still there - or maybe a postcard.

But listen friends, you can either save money utilizing this option (about 125 for $90 on this particular card pictured above) or save it and spend instead on your photographers or fresh flowers (my two main priorities). And not just an afterthought, but a serious consideration - you save yourself the headache of collecting and arranging RSVPs. The electronic system Paperless Post has is easy to use and professional. It doesn't make it seem any less like a wedding, in fact, the layout of their system is very formal and aesthetically pleasing and utilizing the system to send and coordinate invites seems like a wedding related task, not like managing a random evite asking your guests to bring their favorite side and a lawn chair.

Oh and let me repeat again about the easy part. Having all of the invitations and guest count listed out right there for you? That's a game changer. Figuring out RSVPs is a last minute task, and listen - last minute bride you is a lot different than the bride who picked out her formal stationery six months prior. You have a lot less patience for the little details, and coordinating the guest list and seating chart is not little details!

Also, consider this - you can still order a printed invitation from them or another printer, maybe just a handful to send to grandparents who aren't real thrilled about this internet craze and give as a momento to parents and for yourself of course.

Like I said before, I'm 90% sure I'd do it this way if I could do it again. What do you think?! And what do you think about this color combo? What other combos would you like to see inspiration boards for?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Inexpensive Gifts: other ideas for digital downloads & printables

I'm not sure if you are an Etsy or Instagram shopper, but several times a week I find myself interested in yet another art print that is usually a digital download (aka print it at home yourself). We are definitely out of wall space in our home which means I never gave these awesome prints a second thought, until now. 

Recently I found a few that I just couldn't say no too and had to figure out a way to do something with them. I came up with three ideas: notecards, a dry-erase to-do list, and a non-traditional picture frame collage. 

First, notecards are a fantastic way to use printables! You can purchase two or three different printables and create a whole set of cards. If someone in your family is an avid card-giver you could really get serious with this idea finding printables for various occasions and creating a whole set of these. I grabbed a printable from one of my favorite go-to shops for cute and inexpensive printables, Pretty Print Shop. Once you have the image I inserted it into a Microsoft Word document. I changed the margins of the page to "narrow" at .5" all around and then resized the image until two would fit on one page on the right side of the document. 

Now I usually prefer Microfost Publisher for these kind of projects but went with Word here as I think that is what most readers are comfortable with. 

I printed four pages of this document. Two on cream cardstock and two on white cardstock. If you think you might start doing this often keep an eye out for the sale at Michaels when their packs of cardstock go on sale for 5 for $10. I've never seen a better sale and it actually happens quite frequently! 

Alternating white and cream gave it a fun look:

Second idea can really be adapted in quite a few ways. This is for a dry erase list board. This is really as simple as buying a clear glass frame, or any frame really, and putting a printable alongside a plain lined piece of paper.  

I love the idea to potentially use this as a way to memorize scripture as well. If you're looking at a to-do list daily, glancing at scripture each time is a great way to ground yourself when those tasks start piling up. I didn't glue anything down in these frames so it would be easy to change out every so often. The picture below shows one of my all-time favorite printables from Vine & Branch Design. 

What I did do is place a piece of white cardstock behind my lined paper to make it appear less transparent. You could use this for a grocery list, prayer list, to-do list, birthday list, etc. 

And you can always put paper flowers on anything!! ;)

Last, but potentially my favorite because of the adorable baby making an appearance, is a way to make a more personalized and less traditional picture frame gift. 

First of all, I am so in love with that baby and that print about motherhood from Echoes of Mercy. So what better than to put them together? You could look for prints about particular family members, locations, bible verses, special occasions, etc. A few other ideas that come to mind is a picture of a cityscape or landscape paired with an engagement picture or graduation picture at that location, a printable about what a name means paired with a newborn picture, a printable with a bible verse about family and a family picture, etc. See?! The possibilities are endless! I put this in the same type of frame as the second idea here, but you could find any frame you desired to dress this up a bit more if you wanted to. 

More about the shops: 

Kind, Thoughtful, Thankful print - Pretty Print Shop 
Website | Etsy Store | Facebook | Instagram: @prettyprintshop

Fruit of the Spirit print - Vine & Branch Design 
Etsy Store | Facebook | Instagram: @vineandbranchdesign

Motherhood print - Echoes of Mercy 
Etsy Store | Instagram: @echoesofmercy

Monday, September 28, 2015

Fall Gender Reveal: white pumpkins & paper flowers

This time last year I was 16 weeks pregnant and anxiously awaiting the 20 week appointment on October 24th where we would find out if baby L was a girl or boy! We went back and forth about the idea of a "gender reveal party." I'm the girl who literally melts in a puddle at work when the office has a cake for birthdays (not just my birthday - but the entire month of March birthdays) yeah, so drawing a lot of attention to myself wasn't something I was totally interseted in.

And then once we had decided that gender reveals were kind of silly and just asking for attention, I rolled over in bed one night (I was still able to roll side to side, unlike my later beached whale of a self) and said "HI, so, remember how we don't want a gender reveal? I think we DO want a gender reveal!" And then I never looked back. The planning began that night as I laid awake.

Since we are displaced right now and living out of state while the husband attends law school, this was a perfect reason to get to see a few friends and family.

We had our ultrasound appointment on 10/24/14 and then the reveal was scheduled for 11/1/14. Talk about a week of madness!! I put together this box for a friend and asked her to open the envelope, use the clip, write on the chalkboard, and lace up the hockey skates with pink or blue!! You might remember the hockey skates from our pregnancy announcement here.

Finding out on the 24th and waiting a full 8 days until November 1st was easy about 5% of the time and difficult the other 95% of the time. However, at this point in my heart I was almost completely sure baby L was a girl. We even had our name picked out and occasionally called her by her name before the official reveal. And no, I swear we didn't peek.

I would be lying if I said we didn't think about opening up the envelope and finding out ourselves before the actual gender reveal in front of our families...but ultimately we stuck with the game plan and waited until the first.

One of the toughest moments was getting this text from our friends who wrapped up our box, knowing they had seen the confirmation of our little peanut's gender and knew before we did!!! In this picture the skates are all laced up and the box is full of the pink or blue goodness!

The friends we asked to help us with this were a couple, where the guy attends law school with my husband. His fiance-now WIFE-(how cool! and confirmation again that I wait too long to blog) sent him in with the box. No one in torts, or civil procedure, or whatever legal class it was had any idea that the silver box with the big white bow on it sitting in the aisle held the biggest secret about our new addition!

Instead of keeping it with him, my husband brought the box out and left it with me while I waited for him to finish class.

I then had to sit there in the cafe staring at the box for the entire duration of the class and consider that I could definitely, most certainly, peek and it would be fine - in fact I think I even justified that it could be funny since I always unwrap all of my Christmas presents early and then wrap them back up. But I didn't. (Or did I?.......???)

So for the decorations, the second best part to actually finding out! Because we were finding out the day after Halloween we didn't want to completely ignore the season and go with decor in bright florals as is my usual go to, but instead decided to go with fall neutral colors and pumpkins. We went to a great pumpkin patch near us that had unique colored pumpkins in pale shades of almost pink and blue and white!

We first picked out 30 small pumpkins for each guest to write their name on and place on the table next to either a girl or boy sign to show their guess. Here's our trunk full of white pumpkins. They are cute right?! A good blend of integrating the season but not being stuck with orange everywhere.

And here's how the table came out with two pumpkins - one a baby girl, and one a baby boy that we asked guests to sit their mini pumpkins by. We cut the tips off of the pacifiers and then glued what was left of the pacifier to the pumpkin. Now, although I knew, knew, KNEW in my heart it was a girl I couldn't risk being wrong in front of the whole crowd - so I put my pumpkin on the boy side. My husband was honest and put his by the girl pumpkin. 


I also made the chalkboard signs below to hold up once we figured out what he or she is and then a chalkboard sign that listed some of the wives tales. I tell you, I didn't get too much advice when pregnant, but boy did I get quite a few guesses about the gender with very serious explanations as to why they were 100% sure they were right based on how I was carrying, my attitude, complexion, sickness, etc. I think 9 out of 10 people guessed boy. And at the gender reveal almost all of the pumpkins except for 6 were on the boy side!


Here's how the table where we stood to find out ended up coming out. We also brought one of the canvases from the paper flower wall take 2 that is now currently housed in the nursery! Also take a look at those pumpkins - they definitely look pink and blue, right!?

And of course no party is complete without some baby head cake pops from Sweets & Treats by Shanelle. 



We were thrilled! Little L's cousin heard the news in Alaska...and was not as thrilled. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Trending Right Now on Romantic Radio...

Just dropping in to write a quick line about something that happened yesterday.  My husband and I were in the kitchen woefully discussing how we have all been sick this past week and hopefully how little L's lack of sleep was related to her illness and would soon be back to "normal."

L was sitting happily in her bumbo chair drooling and boogering all over the place while sucking furiously on the bumbo seat safety strap. Right then in the middle of our mess my husband starts dancing with me in the kitchen like we used to every day before my belly grew too large to move, much less dance.

We were laughing at L and her slobbering mess, commenting on how we used to dance like this all the time and we missed it and then just kept dancing away. It was adorable. He's adorable. He used to always hum the song we danced to at our wedding when we danced. But this time it sounded a bit different. I listened closely and realized that the romantic tune I was gliding around our miniature kitchen to was....

Pop Goes the Weasel.

Oh, parenthood.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Daniel 2:14 With Prudence & Discretion

I recently was reading through Daniel as part of a She Reads Truth study.  I kept returning to one verse that I completely missed when reading this chapter previously.

Daniel 2:14 (ESV) Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king's guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon. (Emphasis mine) 

A little back story, a decree had just gone out that all wise men in the kingdom were to be killed. The captain of the guard Daniel is speaking to here knocked on his door to kill him. Friends, to KILL him! And as we read, Daniel replies to them with prudence and discretion.

I'm not sure about you, but I cannot confidently say that if someone knocked on my door not only with the intent but the legal authority to kill me, that I would respond with prudence and discretion. Hysteria and panic? Probably. 

Now this story tells me something amazing not so much about Daniel, but about our God. Daniel surely wasn't able to collect himself with that level of poise on his own. Our God can provide the calm in the storm, the ability to speak with prudence and discretion when facing death; He is the ultimate comforter. 

Unlike Pastor Saeed , imprisoned for his faith and battling death daily, I would imagine that most of us don't find ourselves in a situation as dire as Daniel's every day. But maybe we do find ourselves in these: 

...having to face a tough colleague or supervisor at work
...feeling the need to defend ourselves in gossip among friends, family, or colleagues 
...having parenting decisions questioned by friends or family members ...receiving unfair blame for something we didn't do 
...feeling the need to defend attacks against the Word of God online (or any soap-box cause on Facebook really)

And in these situations, Lord, may we seek you first and respond with prudence and discretion!


And look at that, a nifty little image! Want to make one on your own? This is using PicLab for adding text on the image and eZy Watermark lite for the watermark. Both are free apps!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Looking Back: Hockey Baby Announcement

Can't believe it has been almost a year since we posted our baby announcement! We took this photo and shared it with our friends on 10/14/14. We did, however, tell our families right when we found out we were pregant. More about that decision and their reactions later.

The day we posted this on Facebook was also the day that I realized I never before had ever received so many likes on one photo. Now, whenever I post a photo without the baby in it - 3 maybe 4 likes total. But with the baby? Guaranteed 50 every time, and within minutes. It's like Facebook actually quantifies the fact that I am totally old news now.

Anyway, back to the purpose of this post. We met playing hockey at the University of Maryland and hockey continues to be a big part of our lives so we figured why not let the world know we were welcoming a little one by purchasing a pair of baby Bauers from Canada?

I searched and searched online, and the smallest size I could find was from a Canadian seller on ebay. They are obviously way too big right now, but adorable none the less. You'll see these skates again soon in an upcoming post about the gender reveal!

For now, this is just a quick post to document the announcement. I still can't believe I'm sitting here in bed with the little creature cuddling next to me while typing this. I can remember taking this picture like it was yesterday!!!

Any other hockey announcements out there? I'd love to see them!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Babywearing Photos! What? Yes, like a mama kangaroo.

My wonderful photographer turned friend, Heather of Heather Booysen Photography recently took a few babywearing photos of little L and me :) I had never seen or heard of taking photos specifically of wearing your little one, but I wear L so much I really, really, love having these pictures!

Might I add Heather also took our maternity photos, "fresh 48" hospital photos, newborn photos and now these. So, I'm a fan -couldn't recommend her more!

One of the reasons I love these photos so much is because of a photo I found of my mom wearing me. I thought it was so sweet but also hysterical to see how things changed.

First of all, I straight up look like a bag of potatoes. And I'm pretty sure that's a drawstring around my head. I love it! I was only 3 weeks old in this picture <3.

And then here I am carrying L when she was 2 weeks old. I'm pretty sure I was wearing her completely wrong in this photo. I just sat her in there all squished and I think her feet were coming out the bottom where my hands are :O!!

So, these pictures really are precious, right?? Now you can likely understand why I was so excited when Heather told me about something new she was trying with the babywearing photos.

So, before I share the professional pics, a few things about wearing L:

1. I use an Ergo. I tried a Baby K'tan and some sling thing and I just looked like a T-Rex. I couldn't get any freedom with my arms (I know I was doing it wrong, but I just gave up). I seriously looked like this:

2. When L was 2 weeks old - 2 months old the only way she would sleep for more than 20 minutes is if I had her in the carrier. We'd take three walks around the neighborhood - each 2 hours long. Yes, you read that correctly. So I was walking 6 hours a day. And you know what that meant? That my mom got three phone calls a day. However exhausting it was, I was so thankful for a March baby which meant walking outside during the nice spring weather! And thankful that my mom didn't block my number. I'm pretty sure a lot of our conversations went like this:

Me: "So today....wait, I forgot what I was going to say."
Mom: "That's ok, what are you doing?"
Me: "Um...walking, yeah! That is what I was going to say! I'm on a walk."
Mom: "Ok great hunny"
Me: "So what are you doing?"
Mom: "I'm running some errands"
Me: "Cool, I'm walking."
Mom: "That's great hunny"
Me: "What did you say you were doing again? Oh right, errands. I'm on a walk - did I tell you that?"

And that ladies and gentlemen is probably the most detailed, scientific look you're going to get into the mom of a newborn's brain. It has improved slightly, but not much. 

3. L still LOVES to be carried. There are times during the day when she is just fussy and looking at me like "you know what I want." And I reach for the Ergo to strap it on and her excitement is visible. She used to get in the Ergo and fall right asleep, but now she'll stay awake and content for almost an hour and then drift off to sleep for a bit.




4. I carry her everywhere. The Farmer's Market in Colonial Williamsburg, through the entire church service, on every Target run, to story time at the library. I love it, she loves it. Now that she is 6 months, she is probably in it on average once a day for about an hour and a half.

5. I'm thinking about buying the Ergo 360 where she can be carried looking out at the world instead of facing me, but not sure I'm ready for that hefty investment. Anyone have one and think it's totally worth it?

And are the professional pics!




Heather Booysen Photography

Love. Love. LOVE!!

And just because they are adorable:

From: http://www.zooborns.type