Alex's First Day of Freedom

It’s September 2nd and summer has flown by in a flash. This year I tried my best to pack our summer with as much fun and adventure as possible while squeezing some contract work in the crevices between travel, camping, hiking, biking, swimming, and sleeping in. We spent a week with family in California. We camped and hiked with friends. We went on bike rides (which are way more fun now that I actually have a bike!). We had a real, week-long vacation in Lake Tahoe (the first in many years). We spent lazy Sundays fishing in high mountain lakes with Daddy. We had shave ice dates, frozen custard dates, gelato dates, and lots of swimming play dates.

Now school is back in session and my youngest and last baby started kindergarten! Since I make a sign for both of my kids every year, I figured that after eight years of being a WAHM (work-at-home-mom) I deserved one for myself. In case you can’t zoom in, it discusses how I would like to be on vacation when I grow up. My favorite foods are anything I don’t have to share and hard lemonade. My hobbies include quiet time, hiking, reading, cooking alone, and anything without an audience. My teachers are Netflix and Amazon and I’m 40 years young. I thought it was fitting to take the photo from my hammock overlooking a beautiful alpine lake… which is where we spent the whole Sunday before the first day of school.

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Next summer I’ll add this sign to my Etsy shop so fellow parents can have a sign of their own.

All summer my youngest has had nothing but positive things to say about how awesome kindergarten would be and I’m so happy that his first full week lived up to the hype. Every day he came home tired, but ready for another day of fun.

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My kindergartener is kind and smart and quick to laugh off scrapes of bumps that might slow him down, but fully admits that a BandAid will take the pain away. He loves Crocs, Lego, Paw Patrol and anything his big brother is into. He often narrates whatever he’s doing or playing with and when asked who he’s talking to, he’ll tell you he’s narrating a YouTube video for his subscribers. He loves taekwondo and his flexibility allows him to kick higher than his own head , much to his brother’s chagrin.

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My oldest started fourth grade and is really excited for what this year will have to offer. He is so smart and wants to know EVERYTHING and show everyone that he knows EVERYTHING. We joke that he’ll be a Jeopardy! champion some day. He continues to train in taekwondo every week and is currently one belt below a black belt. He will be eligible to test for his black belt next year. He loves history and we watch YouTube videos about random history together and discuss the historic places we can visit. He also loves to play soccer and run cross country. He adores fishing and camping and has rather suddenly fallen in love with exotic cars. He is also becoming a foodie and loves to cook and try new foods.

Since my printer is down at the moment, I had all of our signs printed on card stock at my local Office Depot (it was less than $2 total). They did an amazing job and in photos they almost look like real chalkboards. These signs are available in my Etsy shop in the summer and ready to be customized for your kids.

Happy first day!!

First Day of School Signs - 2018

I was thrilled to get to create a bunch of First Day of School signs for so many awesome kids this year. First Day of School signs are available in my Etsy shop in the summer months through the end of September. They also can be ordered by sending me an email if you’d prefer to not go through Etsy. I customize the text using your child’s information and their favorite colors. Then you print the sign yourself.

Here’s a sampling of this year’s kids with their signs:

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Here are my two boys this year. I wonder how many years they’ll let me keep doing this??

First Day of School Sign

There will be three different font styles to choose from when they are available. The backgrounds look like a faux chalkboard and they’re set to print on 8.5x11 paper. If you want it to look more like an actual chalkboard, you can trim off the white edge and/or print onto thicker card stock. Or your can back it with a piece of cardboard. The colors print most vibrant on glossy paper, but then you have a potential glare when taking a photo. It looks more like a real chalkboard when printed on matte paper. The choice is yours.

If you live in a country where A4 paper is the norm, just let me know and I can send it at that size.

Happy First Day!!

Cecile & Francis

Cecile and I have been friends for just over 20 years. She grew up in southern France and we met when she stayed with my family through an exchange student program when we were teenagers. The following year, my brother and I saved our summer job money and spent a couple of weeks exploring France with her family hosting us. It happened to be the same summer that France was hosting the World Cup and while we didn't have the funds to attend any games, we got to watch from bars and public venues as France made their way through the quarter and semifinals and eventually won the World Cup. It was an amazing trip, and one I still have very fond memories of. 

Cecile went on to attend college in the United States and fell in love with Francis; an expat from Uganda. They settled in Minneapolis with their kids and this past summer, I was honored to work with both of them on the printed items for their long-awaited wedding. 

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Their wedding invitation paid homage to their backgrounds with a world map marking Uganda, France, and their home in Minnesota using their wedding colors in teal, navy blue, coral, and copper. I absolutely LOVE how this turned out.

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They went with Panel Pockets from Cards and Pockets in Imperial Blue with matching envelopes. These are an awesome solution for wedding inserts if you don't want the pomp and circumstance of a traditional pocketfold. The 5x7 panel simply has a pocket on the back for any inserts.

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The two inserts included R.S.V.P. information along with maps and directions to each of the two venues.

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A fun detail that I have been doing more and more for clients is a custom return address stamp. I created what we later named their "family logo" and had it made into a 2" rubber stamp with Hello World Stamps.

Don't stress, the magic of Photoshop allowed me to change their home address.

Don't stress, the magic of Photoshop allowed me to change their home address.

Kelly with Hello World Stamps is amazing to work with and HIGHLY recommended. Cecile went so far as to emboss the stamps for all 200 envelopes that were mailed out. They look wonderful with the metallic copper finish!

My oldest son and I had the privilege of attending Cecile and Francis' wedding this past August. My son is eight and had never attended a Catholic wedding ceremony before. He was confused about why we kept standing up and sitting down, and why he couldn't use the rail for kneeling as a foot rest. But he made it through and had fun dancing with new friends he made at the reception, including Cecile's oldest son.

When guests arrived to the reception there was a red carpet and this step and repeat backdrop that Francis had printed with their "logo" and their wedding hashtag. It was so fun to take photos!

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Cecile sent me a few photos from their wedding photographer: 

For wedding favors, Cecile was originally planning to use traditional Ugandan kikoy fabric and sew it into small bags to hold Jordan almonds. But the fabric connection fell through. Then I suggested we create our own kikoy print and have fabric custom printed. She sent me a few photos of different kikoy stripes and I created one that used their wedding colors. Cecile ordered the fabric from SpoonFlower and it tuned out really beautiful! 

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In this process, I also learned that Jordan almonds are originally from France! I will try and find my favor and take a closeup photo.

There were also a handful of Reserved signs for family.

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These little signs were scattered throughout the reception too, reminding guests to share photos with their wedding hashtag. 

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They printed this giant map in lieu of a traditional guest book. Everyone was encouraged to sign with well wishes and love. It will look wonderful in their home with messages from their guests!

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Finally, a few weeks after the big day, we created this thank you card that they sent out to guests.

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We continued the travel theme with the map and turned it into a mock postcard with two of their wedding photos. I really love how this turned out. The back was left with empty space so they could handwrite a thank you message.

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Cecile and Francis, thank you so much for thinking of me when it was time to create beautiful printed items for your wedding. It was truly an honor to get to play a tiny part in your big day and to actually be there too was just the icing on the cake! Congratulations and I wish you many, many years of joy. XOXO!

Emily & Shane

Emily contacted me last summer about creating a wedding invitation for her December wedding. She and Shane are both avid cyclists and they fell in love with the invitations I created for Melissa & Patrick. So I was happy to create something that fit the colors and style for their wedding. 

Emily was gracious enough to send me one of their invitations. They went with a gatefolded invitation with just one RSVP card insert.

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The sillhouettes of the bicycles and the tandem bicycle are all of Emily and Shane's actual bikes!

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They had everything printed on a lovely linen card stock, it really added a classy texture.

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Don't stress, I changed their address.

Don't stress, I changed their address.

For the wedding itself, we also created some fun signs. These photos were taken by their awesome wedding photographer Ashley Russ. If you click on any of the photos below, you'll head over to her website. 

This sign is my favorite: "I've got a fever! And the only prescription is more BIKE bell!" I wonder how many guests got the fun SNL reference. Guests wrote their well wishes onto the wood boards displayed in the background. It will make for some really cool wall art for their home.

Rather than print out a hundred or so programs for guests, they printed one large program that sat in an entryway for guests to know the afternoon's schedule.

They had a local food truck that specializes in fancy grilled cheese providing dinner for the evening. Yum!

It looks like it was a really lovely wedding, congratulations Shane and Emily!!

Julianna's 2nd Birthday

For her second birthday, Julianna's mommy JoAnna wanted to do an ice cream party. So we had fun with some watercolor textures for her invitation and the other items she had printed for the party. I love how it all turned out!

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We did favor tags:

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And an ice cream sundae sign.

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Lastly JoAnna had a big backdrop printed for the big day.

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Happy happy birthday Julianna!!

Gary's 60th Birthday

Gary's daughter, Cari was planning a 60th birthday luau for her dad because he loves to wear Aloha shirts, and I was thrilled to get to design these awesome invitations. Cari wanted a little bit of a Tommy Bahama vibe, but still relaxed. I love a good hibiscus pattern.

She mailed the invitation in #10 sized envelopes in a dark blue color and I created a wraparound address label to coordinate.

A welcome sign graced the front door of the party.

Folded tent cards labeled the food for the buffet.

And a couple of 5x7 signs labeled cupcake flavors and drink options for guests.

It looks like the party was a blast, happy birthday!!

Jackie & Michael's Camping Baby Shower

My sister, Jackie is pregnant with her first baby I was thrilled to get to plan a baby shower for her along with our mom and our friend Joanna. Jackie and my brother-in-law, Michael wanted a coed baby shower and we took a little time brainstorming ideas for a theme. We decided on a camping theme, but there were a few stipulations. The lumberjack theme is popular right now, but none of us wanted to go that route. So no fake beards, no buffalo plaid, just simple camping with a few "tactical" elements thrown in for Michael. It was pretty hard to figure out, but we managed to sneak in a few.

For the invitation I reworked a birthday invitation I created last year (I'll get it up on the blog someday). 

The insert included where to find their registry and rsvp information.

Never fear, the email address and URL have been changed to protect privacy.

Never fear, the email address and URL have been changed to protect privacy.

I had these printed at Office Depot and I mailed them in Clover envelopes from Paper Source. I actually had most of this stuff printed with Office Depot. It was really easy to upload the files to their website and pick them up from my local store within an hour. I was even able to specify that some be printed onto card stock and some not. It was really, really convenient! 

We started with a sign for the front door (this is the only item where I wasn't thrilled with the print quality):

For the shower itself, my sister was adamant that it be a brunch because she loves breakfast food. So we had donuts, bagels, fruit salad, and an egg/sausage/hashbrown/cheese concoction that our mom has been making for years that she calls "Mountain Woman Breakfast." I made food signs for all of these, including the mimosa bar. 

We also had a big basket full of "s'mores mix" which is a mixture of chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, and Golden Grahams cereal. I don't know why I forgot to take a photo of it!

For table decor, the city my parents live in cleared away some fallen trees and left the wood slices out, free firewood for residents. Score!! We already had a few old lanterns and then we found these little plastic canteens on Oriental Trading. I created a new sticker for them by printing onto full sheet sticker paper. Voile!!

For a favor, we packed up some fixins for s'mores for everyone to take home. I couldn't decide between the two favor tag designs, so I printed some of each. Cello bags and twine came from Amazon.

We also had a station for folks to build their own trail mix. We called it G.O.R.P. when I was a kid, which stands for "good ole raisins and peanuts." Metal buckets and scoops are from Amazon.

To add a "tactical" element to the party, we had the materials and instructions set up so guests could make their own paracord keychain. 

It was only $1.49 to get each page of instructions laminated at Office Depot. Well worth it!

I created some fun signs for a few spots throughout the party venue. This one is my favorite:

Notice the pregnant mama in a few of these?

Bathrooms too!

Wishes for Baby. I love making these for baby showers and first birthdays! I can only imagine that the parents love to read them a year, five years, or more down the road.

We played a rousing round of The Price is Right and guessed the pricing on a bunch of baby items. Considering how much of these things I've bought in recent years, I kind of hoped I'd do better on this!

I'm really proud of how this trio of onesies turned out. I had created three camping-themed designs and I wanted to screen print them onto a few onesies. I wanted navy blue, dark green, and charcoal gray and I wanted them to all be heathered in texture. Apparently that's really not easy to find and definitely not very affordable. Getting them screen printed with my custom design was going to cost between $20 and $27 each. It was simply more than I was willing to spend. One of these days I'll be able to buy a Silhouette Cameo and do it myself, but not today.

I already had these three onesies in plain white. Since I've been dabbling in fabric dyeing, I blended some colors together to get these three. The green and brown onesies were dyed solid and then I added the designs with fabric paint. The space onesie was done with a method called ice dyeing. I wrote up the details on how I did it here. 

We also had a fun obstacle course that involved walking through Legos, changing a diaper, and assembling a breast pump; all for time!

It turned out to be a really relaxed and fun baby shower and I hope my sister and brother-in-law had as much fun as I had. Love you guys!

Liam's 2nd Birthday

Since Liam was WAY into garbage trucks when he turned two (so many toddlers are!), his mommy Joanna, chose a garbage truck theme for his birthday party. It was such a fun theme to work with! Joanna picked up miniature garbage can pencil holders from Amazon to decorate the buffet table and goodie bags were made with mini black trash bags! Perfect!

Here's his invitation:

We created a couple of welcome signs that were posted in a few spots in the house.

2" circle cupcake toppers for the cupcakes that Joanna picked up from Nothing Bundt Cakes. Sooooo delicious!

A pennant banner hung over the windows.

We created a super simple coloring book for kids to play with too:

My oldest thoroughly enjoyed the coloring book!

Lastly, I created a t-shirt graphic that Joanna ordered through Zazzle. They were the only shop that would let us order one custom t-shirt in navy blue. I usually recommend CafePress, but they didn't have navy blue. Taking a non-blurry photo of Liam actually wearing the shirt proved to be very hard, so this is my mockup of what the t-shirt looks like. Someday I'll try and get a better photo. Ha!

This birthday party was so much fun to create and even more of a treat to get to actually go to the party! Happy happy birthday Liam!