Holiday Cards 2011

Every year, I'm rushed for time. Every year, something goes wrong in the planning of my cards. This year, we used Carrie D Photography for our family photos. After one major mishap (I mistakenly put the shoot into my calendar for Sunday, when it was supposed to be a Saturday -- which left my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and nephew wondering where we were. Major fail on my part, but Carrie was more than understanding and scheduled to meet the next day to finish the shoot.), and one tantruming Daphne, we came away with some very beautiful photos of our family. Carrie did a great job at capturing us between those moments when Daphne was screaming. In Daphne's defense though, she had missed her morning nap and was also battling some sort of gastro bug. You'd never know it looking at our favorites though.

This year I designed a card that I could print at home, using minimal ink, and fasten an actual printed photo to. In years past, I've designed them and sent them to Overnight Prints. Last year, they got behind with the Christmas rush and I almost didn't have them on time. I figured I could eliminate that risk this year by printing them myself. I was wrong. Snapfish sent me an email a few days after I placed my order of 60 prints telling me that my order could be 2 weeks late due to the holiday rush. I called, got a refund on my prints, and uploaded the photo to Shutterfly. I picked the prints up later that day and was really happy with the color. Then I went to work at cutting them to size and fastening them to each card. That was a really good time.

So, here they are. I printed them on 80 lb white linen and mailed them in brown paper envelopes. Instead of designing mailing labels this year, I decided to handwrite addresses with silver metallic ink. I had big plans to include gift tags printed on the same brown paper, but time became an issue. That, and I was just getting tired and wanted to get these out. Maybe next year!


DIY Advent Calendar

Meet our newest advent calendar. Our first one, I think, doesn't count. It was an impulse buy at Trader Joe's a few years ago — it had chocolate in it and I think we bought it a few weeks in and had to "catch up" on eating the candy. We were close to buying a cute one from Target last year, decided to wait until it really went on sale, and then it was gone. Fortunately, there are so many ways to make your own advent calendar. I didn't want to buy one this time around. Not after I've seen so many creative ways to count down to Christmas.

I started out by purchasing an old picture from the thrift store. It was ugly. Really ugly. The cashier didn't think so (to each their own) and actually mentioned how beautiful it was as she was putting it in the bag. No one tell her that I got home only to pull it apart, discard the glass, and paint the frame white. The backing is foam core, cut to fit the frame and covered in thrift store fabric (I think it was a drawstring laundry bag before I took my scissors to it). I created the outline for the tags in InDesign and printed them, cut them, and stamped them with metallic silver ink and a stamp I used for our wedding invitations. The number tags, I also created in InDesign. Any of the things I did on the computer could be easily done by hand though.

The only other materials I used were sewing pins and ornaments. The sewing pins were multi-colored until I decided to dip them in glue followed by glitter. Some of the ornaments are really ornaments, others I made with materials I found around our house. I did strategically place few of them on certain days — the "D" is on the 17th to celebrate Daphne turning 18 months, the Hannukah ornament is on the 21st because that is the first day of Hannukah this year, and the tree is on the 25th for obvious reasons.

Before I go, I need to mention that this was based off Katie Bower's advent calendar — maybe last year's? Or the year before? Either way, it stuck with me and I couldn't wait to make my own version. My next big craft is a felt circle garland for our tree. I physically can't stop making Christmas decorations. Also, this calendar is a much healthier option than the chocolate ones — each day in December, you have to walk over to the tree to put an ornament on. Built-in exercise. Your welcome.


My New Eye Candy: Striped Built-Ins

One day, Brian was at work. That same day, I decided that I was going to get all crazy-like and paint stripes behind our built-ins. I didn't tell anyone. Not even Daphne. I thought about it all day and anxiously awaited Daphne's nap time. I knew I could get just one section done within that glorious window of time. I knew if I told Brian, he'd probably insist that I used those fancy measuring tools (aka measuring tape). I've known all along in my heart of hearts that I'm pretty good at eyeing things. 20/20 vision since '83...what, what!

I started with the middle section because I could reach it without standing on something and Daphne couldn't reach it when she woke up. I decided that if I screwed something up, it was easy to paint it back. I started pressing down painters tape. I figured that if I planned the stripes to be about as thick as the tape, it would be pretty easy to eyeball the distance between the tape. In the end, you'd think I'd regret my decision to avoid measuring tools because that is how stories like this go. Spoiler, I didn't.

The only thing I did regret is not testing out a better painters tape. We've had issues in the past with the blue painters tape. As careful as I was to really press it down firmly, white paint still seeped through a little bit. I've heard some good things about the green painters tape, so in the future, we may switch over. I'm not sure why the green would be better than the blue, but I won't try to analyze it too much.

Over the past 10 months, the objects on the built-ins have shifted around. Items have moved to other places, back to the built-ins, and then moved to the basement -- our graveyard of reject home decor items. I have a tendency to get bored with things where they are and feel the need to make changes. I used to rearrange my room a lot as a kid -- so I guess this makes sense.

I haven't been able to stop staring at the built-ins. They are like candy to my eyes. I am so happy with the finished product. Moral of the story: don't tell your husband when you are going to drastically change something in your house and don't EVER measure anything.


Fall is...

  1. ...pretending to be a famous photographer and taking photos of fall foliage.
  2. ...carving pumpkins (for the first time! because we have a porch for the first time!).
  3. ...snuggling up with daddy and reading a household favorite.
  4. ...playing with leaves.
  5. ...apparently a good season to sport a Starter jacket.
  6. ...hurling babies high in the air (and catching them).
  7. ...playing with wood chips that Mommy wishes weren't in her backyard.
  8. ...decorating with fake pumpkins, otherwise known as "Funkins".
  9. ...baking cupcakes and spending more time on the cupcake sleeves.
  10. ...setting up your tripod and trying to get a decent family photo together.


Repurposing College Artwork

I thought I'd whip up some spooky drawings in honor of Halloween.

Just kidding. I drew these in my figure drawing class in college. I think my best one is the foot. Pretty gross, huh?

At the time, these drawings were in-class assignments or homework. As I mentioned in the post referenced above, I was loaded down with studio art classes this particular term and was really just trying to get through it all. I don't remember appreciating the kind of "homework" I was able to do. Did I ever mention I never had to write a paper longer than 8 pages in college? I think I've polled around in the past, and it seems I am the only one this is true for. Kind of makes me sound like a slacker. But, look at these cool drawings I came away with!

I am so glad I didn't toss all of my art from college. And I'm glad that for the ones I did, I have photographs of them. I'm not sure if it will happen this year, but it might be nice to repurpose these as Halloween decor. Or more, give them a purpose at all. Right now, the originals are sitting on a shelf in our basement and the photographed images in iPhoto -- doing absolutely nothing. If you might like to do the same, email me and I'll send you the images. Seriously!


White Paint Frenzy

I've been on a white paint frenzy lately. I've painted fake pumpkins white, our bookshelves white, all of our frames in the living room white, and probably just about anything that got in my way last week—white. Non-VOC paint has changed my pregnant life. It's non-toxic and for some reason I feel like I need to take advantage and go crazy with it. Like I've never painted before. I honestly don't think we will buy anything other than non-VOC from here on out. It seriously has no odor. And this coming from someone who already has super-sonic smelling abilities combined with pregnant super-super sonic smelling abilities. I'm a fan.

Anyways, my first small project to tackle was to imitate something I found on Pinterest (shock). If you follow me, you can find it under "Home". A very simple project—white letters adhered to a white canvas. I bought an 18x18 inch canvas at Joann's as well as 3 very important numbers to us—927 for our anniversary of September 2, 2007. The truth is, I wanted to spell out something using our names or initials as it was shown in my Pinterest photo, but I was not very satisfied with the fonts available in wooden letters. If I ever come across some that I like, I can always add them on.

First, I painted 3 coats of white paint over the numbers. I considered painting the canvas white but realized the white paint matched up pretty perfectly with the canvas as it was. Once the numbers were dry, I laid them out on the canvas and fired up the ol' glue gun. One by one, I lifted up a number and quickly applied the hot glue. Hot glue dries fast, so I tried to get the numbers on there immediately. After I stuck each number down, I reached around to the back of canvas and pressed the numbers against the surface to make sure they were on there good. So far, they are still up there. Here's the finished piece. I still can't decide where I want to put it though.

I am definitely going to be keeping an eye out for wooden letters that I like. I think it needs something more. But, it was a good project to get me back into the swing of being creative again. More to come!



Wow, it's been that long? My last post was in August?! Can I be honest with you all? I haven't been very creative in the past couple months. I've still been taking photos and freelancing, so I guess that statement isn't entirely true. I just haven't felt very inspired. I think I've been revived though.

Long ago, I started on Pinterest. Then I got scared. I knew it would become an addiction if I got in too deep...so I tried to stay away from it. I'm not sure what pushed me to get back on, but I did. WOW. My head is exploding with projects I want to tackle now. My creative juices are flowing again and I think I'm ready to jump back in!

Can I hand out another excuse for my lack of creativity lately? In case you missed it --

Baby #2 is expected to arrive at the beginning of April 2012! It's hard to be creative when you spend most of the day laying on the couch trying not to throw up all over your toddler. Maybe there is someone out there that can do it, but that person isn't me. For the past few months, my focus has been on getting my freelance work done and caring for Daphne. There hasn't been much energy left for anything else.

I have a list of projects I want to tackle -- most of them are crafts and other around the house fix-ups. And now that we have another baby on the way, I'm starting to visualize the empty room as another nursery. Long ago, I slapped painters tape along the trim in that room so that any visitors knew that SOMETHING was going to be done about the faded lime green room with black scuff marks on the wall. Blue painters tape says, "this room is in progress" without me having to say anything at all. I'd say the tape has been up for about 6 months.

I also plan on sharing some recent graphic design projects on here. There aren't enough of those on here, and that is what I do.

Now that I've committed myself to actually posting again -- I better get started on something.

P.S. You can follow me on Pinterest by clicking the icon at the top right on my blog!



A few weeks ago, I made my very first purchase at Zulily. I'd been on the lookout for new sandals for Daphne. I was looking for a pair under $20 -- it's almost fall and I figured she won't get too much wear out of them before it gets too cold. Color me pumped when I came across these (I bought them in silver). And they were on sale for $15 -- over 50% off the regular price. I virtually snatched them up and pouted because it looked like it would be a while until I had them on my little angel's chubby feet. In my experience with flash sales, shipping is usually painfully slow.

Well, they arrived today. I tore open the box and pulled them out of the cute little shoe box they came in. Brian was sitting with Daphne on the couch. While I was walking over to put them on her, I started examining the soles. I was impressed. They had nice contour and they were sturdy. Then I squeezed the sole.

"SQUEEAKKKKK!" went the sole. Brian looked at me. I looked at him. "She CANNOT wear those," he said. I agreed. "She can't even wear those to the wedding! She'll be squeaking every single time she takes a step!". I disagreed -- I argued that maybe she wasn't heavy enough to make them squeak with every step. I looked at my chubby toddler and then over to the box, where the tagline read "Fun Shoes for Kids". Then we set her down on the carpet where she happily stomped continuously across our living room, admiring the loud squeak that came with every step she took. At this point, we realized that there was no way we'd send them back. It was just too precious to watch.

We talked about how horrible the design of these shoes were. Who in their right mind would want to walk around with a toddler that sounds like she has dog toys glued to the bottom of her shoes? We talked about poking a hole in the sole in attempt to disable the shoe's squeaking feature. Then I looked at the box and realized there was a simple solution. The makers of WeeSqueaks weren't out to get us -- all we had to do was remove a tiny white valve from the sole to disable the squeaking. See photo below.

And then it was decided that the design of these shoes is genius. $15 well spent. Now all I'm left wondering is, how did I overlook this when I bought these? They are called WeeSQUEAKs. Come on, Dara.

Note: I know this is walking a very fine line when it comes to art + design...but I did use the word "design." Not once, but twice. Plus anything that has glitter on it is technically art.



I love to love things. Here are some things I love right now:

1) There's a strong possibility that I like the idea of these Crocs more than I actually like them. Regardless, they deserve a spot here because I've had them bookmarked for a few months and frequently check to see if they are still available. 85% chance that I don't buy them.

2) Remember my rosette headband? This newspaper canvas artwork is pretty neat and I think uses a similar wrapping technique as the rosettes. The only thing that irks me about taking on such a project is the mess. Ink hands like whoa.

3) I haven't had much (read: any) experience with taking group photos. So, I googled. And I love these tips and examples. I'm adding these ideas to my arsenal.

4) I looooooove this nursery. When am I going to stop obsessing over stripes?

5) Did you know that I love chocolate? I want to make this two ingredient chocolate mousse. It looks simple. Which is right up my alley these days.

6) Sweet Baby Daphne.

7) When Daphne is in school, I'd like to think I'll be thoughtful enough to show her teachers our appreciation. Some cute ideas.

Stay tuned for next installment.
(but don't hold your breath, it might be a while)


A Very Long Birthday Post

Gosh, I've been wanting to do this post for quite a while. And like it usually goes, I got busy. It already feels like Daphne's birthday was ages ago. I think I've also felt a bit overwhelmed by the idea of sharing the details of the party -- there is so much to show and say and that much writing scares me. Lists do not scare me. And so here goes:
  1. The party hat set up. I posted about these. Super easy to make, and good thing -- pretty much no one wore them. I wasn't trying to mess up my 'do. And apparently, neither was anyone else. That's okay though, they looked pretty on the wall rack. Also, do you see that little card with the pink border? I taped up random factoids about our princess all over the house. I figured if our party was super lame, it would give people something to do. 
  2. The party favors. Yeah, I know, a lot of people do bubbles. It was hard to come up with party favors for ages ranging from 8 months to 2.5 years. I bought the bubbles from Party City. After scouring the shelves, the only pink bubbles I could find had Hello Kitty labels on them. Nothing against Hello Kitty, it just wasn't the look I was going for. I knew I could easily remove the labels and stick on my own. Each of the bubbles had Daphne's face on them with the words "Thanks for coming, [insert name of baby/child]." I placed them by the door, and before anyone walked out, I shoved the bubbles in their faces and made them take their designated party favor. Like it or not.
  3. The decorated dining room. I designed a flag banner several months before Daphne's party. It's made from cardstock and ribbon. Each flag piece is two layers -- the top layer is either white or pink with the second layer being a grey striped background. I used hot glue to adhere each flag piece to the ribbon. Before purchasing ribbon, I measured the bay window area so I could determine how much ribbon I'd need. So not like me. You know, to do things the right way. I created the tissue pom-poms myself via Martha Stewart instructions. Hers look way prettier than mine, and it turns out you can actually buy her tissue pom-poms at Joanns. Also in the mix, white paper lanterns from Party City (they have a good assortment of colors). The day before the party, I started frantically cutting out dark pink, light pink, and grey circles to add into the decorations also. I cut out hundreds and hundreds of circles by the time it was all said and done. And now I permanently have scissor hand.
  4. The cupcake tree! I snagged the tree from Target for $20. I later learned this was a rip because you can buy disposable cardboard ones at Party City for much less. Now we aren't sure where to put this thing and it's been taking up residence on top of our fridge. It's driving me nuts -- I'll take it down and put it in the center of the dining room table hoping Brian will find a place for it and it always ends up back on top of the fridge. I'm sure we'll use it again though. I placed the tree on top of a mirror we had sitting around and tossed some of my colored circles as confetti around it.
  5. The cupcakes. Again. They couldn't all fit on the tree so the rejects sat on the sidelines. Because I'm a gluten-free girl, they were are GF vanilla with whipped cream frosting. I got fancy with an icing bag and tried to act all Cake Boss on them. I used even more of the circles I cut out and adhered them to toothpicks and stuck them right in the center of the cupcake. Because if you forgot whose party it was before you picked up your cupcake, the "D" would remind you.
  6. The smash cake. It's pretty ugly. I took it too far with the icing. I should have left it pink without the white globs. My head was getting pretty big after my cupcake success. Serves me right.
  7. Not much to say here. If your 1-year-old daughter goes digging in the beer bucket, I think it's always your responsibility to take a photo of it. Future Daphne: it's only cute now.
  8. The birthday girl. Shot right before guests started showing up. She never would have posed for this photo if people were over. She pretty much wanted nothing to do with us once the party started because she was having too much fun!
  9. Smash cake success. I decorated her highchair by covering it with old fabric (using safety pins to secure), plopping a tissue pom-pom on top of it, and securing yet another circle thing to the front. I knew there would be many photos taken in it, so I wanted it to look nice.
  10. The crash. This was the ultimate playdate of Daphne's life so far. She played and she ate a load of cake and other goodies. It was only a matter of time until this happened. And when it did, I snuck up to her room and placed the last circle I'd photograph for the day near her dear little head. I prayed the camera's shutter wouldn't wake her and snapped away.
The end. Happy 1st Birthday, little angel of ours!
Edited to add: Check out all of the photos here!


Kitchen Phases

We finally did it. The biggest home improvement item on my list since we moved in was to update the kitchen. It was my top item to be completed before Daphne's birthday party -- and wouldn't you know, we finished the job with one measly week left before her party. That's how we do, I guess. Maybe we were both dreading the cabinet paint job and subconsciously kept putting it off. Whatever the case, it's done. And what a long way this kitchen has come.

  • Phase 1: Border ripped down and tile backsplash covered with white contact paper. Remember this post?
  • Phase 2: (Temporary-ish) vinyl flooring added. Granite countertops and new sink installed, along with glass mosaic backsplash. That task was completed by the professionals.
  • Phase 3: Our turn. Cabinetry painted white. By us. It was not fun. In case you didn't know, we have a lot of cabinet doors. Job required toddler removal for the day. We are all fine and good with exposing ourselves to harmful chemicals, but not our Baby Angel Princess. She's too precious. Grandma took her for the day.
  • Phase 4: I should have mentioned the addition of knobs to the cabinet doors. That IS happening. The tile flooring and stainless steel appliances (hopefully) will happen at a later date. I just feel the need to make semi-frequent mentions of these coveted updates to ensure that Brian doesn't get too comfortable with what has been done. It does look good. But it is not over yet.
So that's it. Project-by-project, we are de-previousownerizing our house and making it feel completely ours. Still so much more to do in here...but I'm starting to realize that's how the story goes in the big fat book of homeownership.


Natty Light

Not much to say here. It's been a little while since I've posted "before and afters". I think the first set shows the most dramatic transformation.

On another note, a lot of people have messaged me asking what camera I use. Let me tell you -- you do not need a fancy camera to take amazing photos. Turn your flash off and use that natty light. Keep your hand as steady as possible. Use the continuous shooting mode if you are photographing a fidgety child. If you think you've got something pretty good, contact me (click the "Contact" tab) and I'll offer up my Photoshop skillzzzz for free. If you used a flash, I won't help you. Seriously. This offer disappears July 13th.

Don't be shy!


Virtual Home Makeover

We've spent a lot of time updating the interior of our home. The exterior? Looks blah. It was not taken care of by the previous owners -- the shrubs are overgrown and dead in some sections. The shutters need to be repainted. The white trim needs repainted. Our grass has been overtaken by weeds. For two people straight out of a condo, these things are overwhelming. We are clueless.

One thing I do know how to do: Photoshop things. (The horrible bush cloning -- please ignore. I was only trying to quickly prove to myself that our exterior CAN look better). Instant makeover. Instant gratification. That is, until I walk outside and see our reality. During walks with Daphne, I take mental notes on the things I like about other houses in our neighborhood. There are a few houses with INCREDIBLE grass situations. I tried to get Brian to ask how they grew such a luxurious lawn (they were out gardening while we took Daphne around the 'hood), but he was not having it. I will continue to stalk our neighbors' lawns until I figure out the secrets. And to do so, I'll need to man up and just ask.

I'd like to take our shutters a few shades darker. I'd like a new lamp post out front. And I'd like the sky to be perfectly blue for our down-the-road real-life "after" pic. The landscaping needs a lot more work than what I've photoshopped here. I just have no idea about anything regarding landscaping. The best I could do is brighten up the shrubbery. Those two pink roses? Random. The tree next to our steps? I'd like it cut into a swirly thing, thanks.

Our neighborhood has a contest each year -- the house with the prettiest exterior/lawn wins. SPOILER ALERT: we didn't win. At least, I don't think we did as we've received zero notifications telling us that we did. Maybe next year.


Get Your Party (Hat) On!

I guess this is technically Part 4 of the "Somebody's Turning One" posts I've been doing, but I'm getting so excited to celebrate Daphne's 1st year of life that this seemed more appropriate. It really is Part 4 though. And trust me, there are many more parts than what I've shared -- I've been a busy bee.

I've never bought party hats, and after realizing how easy it is to make them -- I never will. Here's my party hat template if you'd like to make your own!

How I did it: I first created a zig-zag pattern in Illustrator at standard letter size (8.5x11). I printed the pattern on one side, then flipped the paper over and printed the template on the blank side. (Be sure to use a thicker paper than the standard computer paper.) I could have printed the template on top of the pattern, but I wanted to avoid having any lines from the template showing through on the pattern. Hey, I'm not the best at cutting!

After everything was printed, I cut out the template (if you are following the template I've provided, remember to cut on the pink lines also.) Then I rolled up the paper into a cone, pulled both tabs through the slit, and slapped some invisible tape on the crease to keep everything in place. Voilá!

But don't get too excited. You still need to add the elastic. Poke one hole on each side, about 1/2-3/4 of an inch up from the bottom of the hat. After you've determined the right length for your elastic, knot one end. Thread the knot-free end through the hole from inside your hat. Now thread it through the other hole from outside the hat. Knot that end. The end.

You can attach anything or nothing at all to the front of your hat. You can add even more bling if you want -- cotton balls around the bottom, a pom-pom at the top. Or literally, bling. Nothing says "Happy Birthday" like diamonds...

Random notes about this project:

  • My elastic is too thick. It's what I had on hand so it is what I used. I recommend something much thinner.
  • Do you want a custom made party hat template? If you do, email me at everythingdesignish@gmail.com and we can talk.
  • Size the elastic to your head before you start cutting. Don't guess. I did, and the first time I put mine on, I almost strangled myself. Most people probably don't have a larger head than you.
  • After you poke the holes for the elastic, place scotch tape on both sides of the hole. Poor man's reinforcements (does anyone still use those things?!)
  • I'm really excited to celebrate my Angel Pie's birthday. Sorry, had to throw that in there.


Somebody's Turning 1: Part 3

I started making tissue pom-poms a few weeks ago for Daphne's party. I really just wanted to make sure I could pull it off -- so I made only two. I have to say, they didn't come out perfectly. I don't think I did anything wrong. I really struggled to get them to look full enough and ended up ripping them in a few spots. I'll use them anyways – I'll probably end up arranging them so that the sections I ruined aren't showing. Hopefully the next batch will turn out better.

I have to say, at times, I've felt silly for going to so much trouble for a first birthday. I worry that I'm coming off obnoxious or even over-the-top. Decorations are really important to me – they set the mood, in my opinion. This party for Daphne will be small. There will be no moon bounces. No clowns. No DJs. No photographers (except me!).

I've even felt guilty for asking people to attend birthdays (mine and Brian's included). I feel like I'm asking too much. Until I read this post at Kelle Hampton's blog Enjoying the Small Things

She says: "Here's what I think about birthdays: Celebrate them. Plain and simple. Whether you are two or forty-two. It's not a promotion. It's not a graduation. It's the anniversary of freaking life. And the older I get, the more I'm not okay with hearing people downplay their big day like it's no big deal."

"There may not be grand parties every year, but there will be celebrations--the confirmation that yes, I'm so glad you were born. A cupcake with a candle, a toast with paper cups, a lighter in the air floating to the chorus of a birthday anthem. I'll make it special because it is so worth recognizing. And I'm going to try and do better at remembering others' birthdays too. Less half-ass day-after texts. More showing up at random places with obnoxious balloon bouquets. Yes, that."

Our little angel is turning one next month and it IS a big deal. I will repeat this over and over when I start to second guess the time and effort I'm putting in to making her day special.

*P.S. Tissue pom-poms make great decorations for babies/kids rooms! These are hung in Daphne's room for now to keep the cats from devouring them, but I have a good feeling they'll be back in her room after the party!


Somebody's Turning One: Part 2

I can finally share Daphne's invite – they went out early this week. Can I just tell you how hard it is these days to get a shot of Daphne facing the camera? It seems like most of my photos these days are blurry. She is moving so quick! I must have taken a hundred photos of her in this outfit.

Keeping with the pink and grey theme, I dressed the soon-to-be birthday girl in a grey top with white hearts and a pink chiffon flower headband (from Etsy!). I'll come clean and say that her headband is actually not that shade of pink. I had to adjust the color to match the pinks I was using in the card. Since this photo was taken, Daphne has sprouted a top tooth with three more up there waiting to bust through! I'm still waiting for that hair to grow in though...

In my life, the invite package doesn't stop at just the actual invitation. I printed out a grey and white stripe design to cut out and use as envelope liners. Even though the save-the-date only went out to family members (and it was digital), I wanted to tie the two pieces together. That's just me being lame.

More to come. I don't want to spoil anything for our guests!


Bye-bye wine rack. Hello, wall collage.

We've been wanting to do this for quite some time, in fact – dare I say it – we thought about doing it before YHL went all out and did it. A variation of the wall collage was in my photo book, the one I talked about here. After seeing the gallery that YHL created, seeing ours may be quite anti-climatic. Our wall is smaller and our collage is still in the works. We plan to add as we go.

I'll be honest here. We don't usually do things the way you are "supposed to". I'm an eyeball-it kind of gal. Brian holds the frame up where I want it and he puts an indentation in the wall with the nail. It's very technical and very exact. We didn't go out and buy new frames – we used what we already had. Some were dark brown, some multi-colored. We painted them all the same bright white and went on our way. We even painted one of them the same color of our bedroom. I think we are finally getting to the bottom of that paint can.

As you can probably guess, we already have wall-to-wall photos of Daphne, our family, our friends, Daphne, us, Daphne, Daphne, and Daphne. I went searching for keepsakes we could frame in lieu of photos. I came up with a 1st anniversary card (from Brian) and a Costa Rica postcard from our trip a few years ago. I hope to add more things like those as the years go on. In the mix – a photo of us from Senior Week circa 2001 and Junior Prom circa 2000. There aren't many any photos of that caliber gracing the walls of the Packer household. And probably for good reason...

I should add that the wall ended up so empty because we were forced to move our wine rack down to the basement where Daphne can't get to it. It was just a matter of time. And we knew it.

P.S. Points to the person who noticed the new button on my sidebar. Even more points to the person who visits MRG Foto. I studied Graphic Design with Micky in college and was always an admirer of his work. His photos are stunning – see for yourself!


Circle Takes the Square

Open layouts are tough spaces to design. I've decided this. You may disagree -- and that is okay. I've just had a really difficult time with our main floor. It looks good, but I'm just not satisfied quite yet.

There is no beginning or end to any wall. That is why we painted the whole first floor Greige. Yes, that was the paint color name. Grey + Beige = Greige. I think I'd probably be friends with the person who was responsible for naming our paint. Before Daphne was born, whenever we'd receive more swag for her, we coined it "Dwag". As in, Daphne + Swag.

Anyways, we took a trip to the (newish) Hobby Lobby near us. I had been before, and I had sung its praises to Brian. Think Joanns + Michaels + HomeGoods. After a few minutes spent in there, we had already grabbed an awesome mirror (see it on the fireplace wall?) and circular wire art (see it in the background near the couches?). When we got home, the mirror went up first. What a difference it made. It used to look so empty and neglected in that corner of our dining room. That square area above the fireplace really needed...something. Then, the circular wire art went up in the living room. And I was in love with this view from the back of our dining room. You see the circular mirror, and then you see the circular wire art at almost the same level. They really compliment each other from this angle. See?


Peeps Wreath by Audrey

In my first Loving series, I mentioned wanting to make a Peeps wreath. I wish I could say that the reason I didn't was because I was right about Brian being opposed to wasting that many Peeps. For the record, I was right about that. I just have a really hard time getting into holiday decorations. You put them up, and then have to take them right back down. I know that kind of thinking goes right along with not-cleaning-because-it's-just-gonna-get-dirty-again, but I'm a neat freak. I don't usually think that way.

Anyways, my little sister (who actually isn't little at all -- she's 15!) picked up my slack and created this scrumptious looking wreath. I wonder how many she ate in the process? She did a very nice job -- and she's also credited with taking the photos here. I love the creative angle of the first one. Good job, Audrey!

If you missed it, here's how to make one.


I heart thee, contact paper.

Is it lame that I could go on and on about my love for contact paper? To quote Rihanna's risqué song, I love the smell of it. I'm not kidding either. I literally LOVE the smell of contact paper. New shower curtains will do, but a good fresh roll of contact paper? I could die, it smells so good.

Contact paper really pulled through for me when we first moved into our new house. Our kitchen was rose-themed. Rose-themed border, rose-y colored tiles, rose themed vinyl flooring. Rose-themes and the color mauve are probably BFFs. And we all know how I feel about mauve -- the opposite of how I feel about contact paper.

Pulling down the border made an instant improvement in the look of our kitchen. My eyes no longer bounced from rose-themed floor, to tile, to border. Just from floor to tile. As a (hopefully) temporary solution to the flooring, we bought self-adhesive vinyl tiling to cover the rose vinyl. Brian conquered that task in a few hours. All that was left staring at me in the face was mauve tile backsplash. Fortunately, most of the backsplash was white tile, with accent mauve tiles. We had some contact paper left from lining our kitchen cabinets and I decided to cut the contact paper to size to cover the rose tiles. I'd be lying if I said I didn't take on the this project just to sit and smell the wonderful aroma that contact paper has. I knew the contact paper would be a temporary solution to hiding the mauve designs -- I just didn't want to feel physically ill every time I looked at the tiles when I walked into the kitchen. A month or so after I covered the tiles, we splurged for a new glass mosaic backsplash and granite countertops. I'll show those after we paint our kitchen cabinets. I don't want to steal contact paper's thunder. Here are some shots I snapped before and after the contact paper and vinyl was "installed".

*I wouldn't recommend using contact paper to cover anything in your kitchen permanently -- but it is a quick fix until you can get around to tackling the project you really want done. I googled around and came across tile decals. I considered buying them instead of cutting my own, but it was a bit pricey and completely not worth it when I knew we'd be changing our backsplash anyways.


Loving (said like Charlie Sheen's "winning")

Who doesn't quote Charlie Sheen these days? Anyways...

Thought I'd share some things I'm loving/stalking on the internet these days:

1) Pinterest. I am a newbie to the site, but I'm loving it. You have to request access and several days later you receive an invite. Inspiration central.

2) Anything and everything seersucker. I'm a sucker for seersucker. I am loving this cross-body handbag.

3) I'm thinking of making one of these.

4) I know Daphne won't remember her birthday, but I am really getting into the decorations. I'm thinking of using these paper flowers in some way.

5) I want these jeans pretty badly -- but I'm not spending $198 on them and they are out of my size. Let me know if you spot them somewhere!

6) Um, just LOOK at this wreath made from Peeps! I'd like to do it, but Brian might faint if he sees how many peeps I'd waste. He loves Peeps.

7) This is almost exactly how I feel about my design decisions. Plus, I like this gal's style.

8) My inspiration for Daphne's party.


Somebody's Turning 1

Here's the Save the Date I designed for Daphne's party in June. This was sent via email to our local family members so that they could mark the date in their calendars. Too bad I had to send the email THREE times to get the image to go through. I embedded the image instead of attaching it in hopes that it would show up in the body of the email. Major embedded-image fail. It's worked in the past, so I'm not sure why it didn't this time. After trying one more time, I ended up attaching it. Totally lost the effect I was going for with that whole debacle.

I think her theme will be a color scheme -- pink and grey. I've already designed a flagged banner, and I've started with the invitation. It's 2.5 months away, but I'd rather get these things done now while I have time. Plus, it's fun for me.

I can't imagine I'll share anything more until after the party, so stay tuned!


My Favorite Room

Is our master bedroom.

This room started out mauve. I don't know what it is with mauve -- but it followed us here. Our condo's largest wall was painted mauve before we moved in. And just like the mauve before, the mauve in our bedroom didn't last very long. Mauve and I? We can't exist in the same house.

We painted our room a calming green tone and as I mentioned before, we refinished our bedroom furniture and adorned it with new hardware. We took down the bulky brown fan with brass hardware and after some searching found this chandelier.

The chandelier is my favorite part of the room. Until we had it hanging, the room did not seem complete. I still have a few pictures I'd like to hang -- but the chandelier keeps me satisfied for now. It even helps me look past the several mauve paint mistakes on our ceiling.


Oh, hey. It's been a while.

I once read that you should never apologize for a long gap in blogging. So I won't. I never read that you can't hand out excuses for it though -- so I will.

I've been busy, busy, busy. Daphne, freelancing, having the flu, and keeping up with general household duties have kept me away from EDI. I've thought about it, wanted to do something about it, and instead have plopped down on the couch after a busy day and watched TV. I'm on top of things now, and it's Friday, so here I am!

The photos haven't stopped around here. I always find time to grab my camera. And with Daphne's mobility increasing with each day, I'm having more fun photographing her. It's a bit more challenging because she NEVER sits still anymore, but fun nonetheless. She is crawling, pulling herself up, gravitating towards electrical outlets, and feeding herself finger foods. All of these things happened so quickly, and almost simultaneously. Sometimes I just stare at her wondering what she is going to do next. She probably thinks I'm a bit creepy.

I took these photos last Friday, when the weather was perrrrrrrfect. I laid a blanket out on our deck (not because I wanted it to look pretty, although that was a nice bonus, but because the wood is very splintery) and we "played". Parts of the day were overcast -- which makes for great lighting. There is almost always brightening up to do, as you can see. And of course, I had to throw in a B&W for good measure. Everyone knows those are my faves.

Hoping we can get back outside soon. Spring is here, but it really isn't. Such a tease.


Hand Drawing

Here is another one from my figure drawing class in college.

Towards the middle of the trimester, I learned that we would be heading to a local medical college to draw. The subject: cadavers.

I went along with the whole thing until I saw another classmate reaching her gloved hand into a cadaver's body. I realized I didn't want to see what I was about to see and dipped out. I spent the entire class sitting in the hall drawing my hand. It was a fun time.

This drawing predates my horrible finger-in-hand-blender accident a few months back. Hi, straight and unscarred index finger. It's nice to see you again.


Partying Like It's 1931

My grandmother is turning 80 next month and we are celebrating! Apparently she was given the choice of having a family dinner to celebrate or a big party (so I've been told). Naturally, she chose the party.

Grandma is hip. She's fresh. She uses email, and I swear she IMed me in college once. This invite had to reflect just how hip she is. It's bright and energetic -- just like my Grandma. A muted color scheme was just out of the question for this gal.

Sorry, party crashers -- information changed.


6 Little Details

Sometimes, the little details need some appreciation. And sometimes, I need to focus on them so I can forget the deep sea of to-do lists that I'm currently drowning in.

One: A view from the foot of our bed. This room started out as mauve and our bedroom furniture used to be a dark oak color. Brian put a lot of hard work into painting the set (and me, a little, but I consider myself more of the 'art director' of all things involving the decor of our home). The frames are from a shop I found on eBay. They were custom made for dirt cheap. And now the shop doesn't exist anymore. Hmm. The photos: our wedding, our princess angel, and us at a wedding. The duvet cover came from a place that rhymes with Hi-Smea.

Two: A close-up of the duvet cover that came from the place that rhymes with Hi-Smea. I spot a cat hair.

Three: A glass arrangement I have set up on our nightstand. All from the thrift store and one originally from Crate & Barrel.

Four: Princess Angel is loving to slide herself under the couches. Which reminds me that I need to Swiffer.

Five: Yellow damask throw pillows. The pillow covers are from Etsy and are a great way to change up your decor while still using your old pillows.

Six: Wedged where the two couches meet. This is where you end up when you've slid half your body under the couches. Oh hey, front split.


Those Beautiful Feet

I am very proud of Daphne's feet. Those feet mean so much to me.

We found out I was pregnant with Daphne in September '09. I just knew from the very beginning that we were having a girl. I'm not sure why or how I was so sure, I just was. Our 18 week detailed anatomy ultrasound was scheduled for mid-January. I waited on pins and needles up until then. This ultrasound, to me, was all about finding out if my maternal instincts were right.

I think every soon-to-be parent assumes that their child is going to be perfectly healthy. Brian and I are young -- it never crossed my mind that something could be 'wrong' with our baby. Until something was. As we waited for the final verdict on the sex, it seemed that the ultrasound was taking longer than normal. When the technician finally asked us if we wanted to know the sex, my heart jumped. This was what I had been looking forward to for months! She told us and I yelped, "I knew it!" and she excused herself to go and review the ultrasound results with the doctor.

I was elated as we sat waiting for the doctor to come in. Then things get a little cloudy. The doctor came in and I remember hearing "there was a finding", and "clubfoot", and "could be indicative of other problems". I felt devastated as the doctor explained what clubfoot was to us. To me, it was the end of the world. All I could hear is "something is wrong with your baby, something is wrong with your baby". The exciting news that we were having a girl was tainted. We were handed pamphlets on clubfoot treatments and an appointment was booked with the genetic counselor.

I was supposed to go into work that day, but I just couldn't. This was not the news I was expecting to share when I came in. I cried a lot that day, off and on. I tried to keep it all in perspective -- I knew this wasn't the worse thing that could have happened. I knew that there were parents out there that had it much worse than us. I still wished that this wasn't going to be our reality. I didn't know much about the treatment for clubfoot just yet -- but I did know that my baby would probably have to be in a cast from birth to a few months old. And then she'd have to wear special shoes. I thought about what people would think when they saw me carrying a baby with a cast on her leg. I thought about all the questions and sideways glances I'd get when I brought my baby girl out with me and she had these shoes on. With time, those worries faded and I began to realize that Daphne would be fine and we would be fine. When I thought about her, I didn't default to thinking about her foot. Sometimes, I even forgot. We had frequent ultrasounds to check up on her and make sure nothing else popped up as a red flag. Each time, I hoped just a little that maybe they had been wrong about her foot. It became more obvious with each ultrasound that it was really there.

I went into labor the evening of June 16th -- a week after my due date. After 9 hours of labor, she was here. And the last thing on my mind was her foot. I was just happy she was here. We had one week of a cast-free newborn. Daphne was put in her first cast at the Rubin Institute at Sinai on June 25th. I sat next to her on the car ride home and couldn't help but cry a little. She was so tiny and that cast was so HUGE. I knew it didn't hurt her, but it looked like it should. It just looked sad. She had a total of 7 casts. One a week until the 7th cast. Before her 7th cast was put on, a tenotomy (which is the clipping of the Achilles tendon) was performed. That was awful for us to watch. It was a simple procedure -- but to watch Daphne scream like that was really painful. Like a stab to the heart. Once it was over and the cast was put on, she was fine. She wore that last cast for 2 weeks and then it was into her special shoes. Her foot was fixed, but to prevent relapse, the shoes would be necessary up until age 4 or 5.

The casts and special shoes definitely created challenges for us that new parents don't usually have to deal with. Those days seem like ages ago now. Daphne wore the special shoes for 23 hours a day up until she was 5 months old. Since her 5 month appointment, she was given the go-ahead to wear them only for sleeping. I was careful to keep photos of her in the casts and shoes off Facebook. Not because I was embarrassed, but because I didn't want to have to answer questions about them in such a public space. Every night we strap her up in her special shoes. Some nights, I think about how lucky we are to have the money and insurance to have her foot treated. How she would be handicap if we didn't have coverage and couldn't afford treatment. Other nights, the shoes are just part of the bedtime routine and I have to remind myself that other people don't put these shoes on their babies before bedtime. So far, Daphne doesn't know any different and the shoes are just as normal to her as her bath is. Things could get interesting in the next couple years though.

I'm always going to remember what we went through to have her foot fixed. What she went through. I remember a Target cashier asking me what happened to her leg. I looked at her matter-of-factly and said "Nothing. She was born with a foot defect." I know what people assume when they see a baby in a cast. And why wouldn't they? Casts are for broken bones. It didn't bother me like I thought it would. I told them about her foot and that was it. As she grows up, her feet will always be very special to me. Probably a lot more special than they will ever be to her. I can't wait to see what she does with them!

Daphne's left clubfoot the day before she was put in her 1st cast.

Daphne's 1st cast. Each cast was dated and numbered. I liked putting a sock on it to keep her exposed piggies warm.


Displaying Photos

My family gave me this book as part of my birthday present this year. I love it. It has a lot of unique ideas for displaying photos. I'm planning to pose off a lot more of the arrangements in the book --  I'll be sure to share.

I really liked the horizontal arrangement of photos in the spread I've included here. Do you see how the series is all in B&W?! Every single one of the frames shown is a different size with different sized mats -- and all the photos come together perfectly.

Because I liked the horizontal arrangement, I decided to try something of my own on our (newly painted!!!) dresser. The frames are all from Ikea. I painted 2 of them white, and 3 of them the same green as our bedroom walls. I'd like to say the decision to paint them green was purely a design decision -- but it was largely influenced by the fact that we have almost a whole gallon of bedroom paint leftover. Good thing I'm a huge fan of green.

I could have kept the photos all B&W, but I wanted a little more variety. Besides, our house is getting a little heavy on the B&Ws. I've proclaimed my love for them -- and I will forever -- but I wanted to keep things fresh and live on the edge. I'm such a risk-taker.


Our Bathroom Makeover

Vines. Dirty white walls. Vines. Vines. Vines.

As soon as I set foot in this bathroom when we were looking at the house as potential buyers -- I knew this bathroom would HAVE to be changed. Our first priority, however, was making all the needed updates/repairs on the main floor. For weeks, I spent as little time as I could in this bathroom. I didn't want anything to do with it. I closed the door that leads into our bedroom so I didn't have to look at it. It wasn't just the vines that bothered me -- it was the dirty handprint smudges on the walls that the previous owners left behind. Those smudges not only disgusted me -- they were a constant reminder that this house didn't feel like ours yet.

Unfortunately, I didn't snap a photo before we removed the two medicine cabinets that hung there. One over the sink and the other over the toilet. They were both the same finish as the vanity. They were bulky and old. And dusty. Like 10 years worth of dust on the top. I think I gagged when I saw it.

So here's the list of things we did:

1) painted
2) hung a new mirror and light fixture
3) painted the vanity white
4) replaced old faucet with new one
5) hung new shower rod and curtain YHL style

It almost feels spa-like in here now. I still remember the vines. I still remember the handprints. But with time, I'll forget :)


Drama, Drama, Drama

You are probably thinking I need to step away from the B&W photos. I can't. I love how they instantly unite with other B&W's like they've been friends forever. Old photos can mesh with new ones and they can look great in a series of frames all in close proximity to one another. You just can't mess it up.

I took these photos of Daphne late late in the afternoon when the light was harsh in our bedroom. The shadows were kind of crazy and I thought for sure that this little photoshoot would be a bust. For the majority of photos, it was -- but for a select few, it was a complete success!

When converted to B&W, these photos really took on a dramatic effect. I used the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop to lighten up the areas I wanted brighter and darken those I wanted darker. The more contrast in the photo, the better. I love how the design on the duvet cover almost points to Daphne. Definitely unintentional. Luck.

As her Momma, I am wired to believe that Daphne is the most perfectly beautiful being in the entire universe. With that said, I joked with Brian that she kind of looked like Eddie Munster in the first photo. Brian's response, "Who is Eddie Munster?". And his next response? "Shocker, it's an old TV show probably from the 50s." In case you didn't know, I watched a lot of Nick-at-Nite as a kid and enjoyed old sitcoms like Bewitched, Get Smart, I Dream of Jeannie...and my all-time favorite, I Love Lucy. The Munsters was a good one too. As I tried to argue that The Munsters wasn't THAT old (after I googled the theme song and began giddily humming along)...I had to bite my tongue when I realized that its last episode aired 17 years before I was born. In my defense, I wasn't allowed to watch a lot of the shows other kids were --The Simpsons and 90210 were off limits. Even the 6 year old down the street was allowed to watch 90210. She had a Dylan pillow. Man, was I jealous.

So, dramatic B&W photos. Yeah...


Shameless Plug

Here's an invitation set I worked on almost a year ago. The bride wanted something current and classy. Fuchsia was her main color and after I showed her my card stock swatchbook, she was sold on the paisley accents. One thing that threw me for a loop -- my paper manufacturer discontinued the paisley while I was designing these invites. Luckily, they were able to scrape together the last of what they had to accommodate my order. I was definitely sweating.

This set is sans-RSVP envelope. The reverse side of the RSVP card was set up like a postcard. This can help cut costs. I also designed a tabbed directions card so that it wouldn't get lost behind the RSVP card. The invitations were packaged up in a white linen envelope (all custom addressed) with a fuchsia envelope liner.

So here's my shameless plug -- know anyone needing wedding invitations? Send them my way! Contact me at info@blueseptemberdesign.com.


Teary-Eyed Faceplant

Now that we live in a house, we have easy access to the outdoors (duh). With the most recent snow, I decided it was time to finally let Daphne discover what this stuff is all about.

I bundled her up and took her out to the backyard. I plopped her down in the snow and started to turn on my camera and got into shooting position. As I was making my adjustments, I started to see her tip. I wasn't fast enough. When I got to her (I was seriously only a foot away), she was face down in the snow. Only the snow wasn't so soft anymore. In fact, it wasn't soft at all. It had hardened over night. It was icy. And it hurt. Her poor little face was a tiny bit red where it came in contact with the ice and her eyes were glazed with tears.

When I finally got her to calm down, we switched locations. I trekked up to the deck and this time, learning from her teary-eyed faceplant, I dug a little hole for her to sit in. I'm not sure why I didn't think of that in the first place. I managed to get a few good photos of her and we quickly got back inside. We were outside for less than 10 minutes.

The original photo was dark. I never realize just how dark a photo is until I compare it to the one that I've just adjusted. I lightened it up and de-saturated the color in her fuzzy hat and coat. Nothing wrong with the original colors -- I just wanted something a little softer. I also took some of the shadows out of her eyes to bring out the hazel that I just KNOW is there.

I could have left it at that. And don't worry, I kept all three versions. I thought I may want a B&W version also. I still wanted some color to show through though. I used layer masks in Photoshop to bring through a bit of color in her hat, cheeks, eyes, and lips. I just love the contrast of the B&W mixed with the subtle color showing through. I am running out of frames in this house...


Don't Be Skerd of Pattern

I picked up this book on Patterns at Tuesday Morning the other day. I was on the hunt for some fun coffee table books. Bonus points to any coffee table book I find that I actually think is interesting.

Patterns can be scary. At least, I think so. When paired together correctly, seemingly very different patterns can look amazing together (what I learned from this book). Sometimes pattern pairing can also turn out to be a disaster. I tend to keep colors simple and often avoid any type of risk associated with patterns.  I like to live in the safe lane.

I've started to take more pattern risks since we've moved. I've done some of my own successful pattern pairings with throw pillows (maybe to be shown at a later date?). Yesterday, after being inspired by my new coffee table book -- I finally decided to fill the empty shabby-chicesque photo frame that we picked up from the trusty ol' thrift store. And what did I fill it with? Pattern! I had leftover fabric from the curtains we hung in our master bedroom. I measured the size of the frame and cut the fabric accordingly, leaving an extra inch around each side. I folded the fabric over a piece of heavy card stock and hot glued the excess fabric onto the backside and DONE. Took about 5 minutes.

I'm already thinking of ways to evolve this project -- maybe I'll add photo corners to the fabric and insert a photo? I'm not skerd.



This post isn't very designish of me. I just had to share the awesomeness that was my thrift store find yesterday.

I had popped into one of best local thrift stores to look for frames and white ceramic items. While I was paying for my items, I peeked over into the glass case. I probably did a double take. I pointed over to the handbag and asked the cashier how much it was to which she replied $35.

I examined it really well. I had a clutch by the same designer and won't say how much I paid for it. I knew this bag was worth a LOT more than $35. I scooped it up, repeating over and over to the cashier that I couldn't believe I just found it and that it is probably the best find I will ever have in my life.

It was a Gustto handbag. Dark wine color -- tags tucked into the pocket and seems like it was never used. Soft, supple leather. I checked the style number online and was not surprised to find that it retails for $595!

I realize this is the only time something like this will happen to me. I'm okay with that!


Getting Framed Part II

Remember this post? Here's the big reveal! I know you were waiting.

Just as I had planned, we (and when I say "we", I really mean Brian...) hung the gallery frame collage over our white buffet table in our dining room. Laying out the photos in InDesign first really helped me decide which ones to order in B&W and at what size. We are both really happy with how it turned out.

Oh, and we are proud owners of a dining room table (partly pictured!). I think this means we are officially grown ups.