A Mish-Mash of Life Lately

We still have some of our Christmas decorations up. Don’t judge. Life has been busy lately, or at least it seems that way. I’m usually up by 7am every weekday to help Brett get out the door (a.k.a., make his lunch), and while I typically don’t head into work until 10 or 11am, I use that time to get the majority of my design work done. I’m loving having consistent design projects, but not loving that I get on a roll, lose track of time, and all of a sudden I have to leave. Talk about major motivation to keep growing my business and blog . . . someday, someday.

Anyway, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, mainly because of some hefty design work that I can’t wait to share with you in the future. I thought today I’d just share just a few snapshots of life lately:

pizzaloafI can’t help sharing pictures of good food. This was taken about a month ago when one of my best friends came to visit. I almost always have some sort of pizza on the menu every week, whether it’s stromboli, regular pizza, pizza bagels, pizza loaf . . . you get the picture. It’s so easy and cheap to make. In this case, we went with two pepperonis, one veggie, and one barbeque chicken. Let’s just say that last one was amazing. I had the leftover shredded barbeque chicken in the freezer, so once that was thawed, all I had to do was heat it up and throw it on the loaf before it was baked. SO good. Pizza loaves are always crowd pleasers. Just make sure you have plenty of cheese.

cookieThe Superbowl. We had Brett’s family over, and I wanted to make something cute but also really easy. Hello, giant cookie. You were delicious. I was going to just buy pre-made cookie dough for this, but I knew I had all of the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies already. When I Googled “giant football cookie” this was the first link. The only change I made was using all chocolate chips because I had no peanut butter chips, and I just used canned chocolate frosting. The white decoration (courtesy of Brett’s artistic side) is just melted white chocolate chips since I couldn’t find those cake decorating pens anywhere. This cookie really did turn out huge — we were eating it for weeks afterward, bits at a time. Yum.

olympicsSay hello to my nice old Mac. You better believe I brought it out to the living room to work while we watched the Olympics. We’re a little obsessed over here. I mean, it only happens once every few years — how do more people not care? Not a single person I work with has watched any of the events. I’m not a very athletic person, and normally the only sport I truly enjoy watching is football (and gymnastics and figure skating, duh). But some of these sports are insane! I can’t believe people actually do some of these things (going 85 miles an hour down a hill?!) for careers. We only watch NBC’s prime time coverage, so sometimes we accidentally know who wins medals, but most of the time we have fun guessing who will win each event and trying to say the athletes’ names. I’ll be a little sad when it’s all over this weekend.

mexicanfoodA lot of people go all out for Valentine’s Day . . . yeah, we’re just not those people. We did little things to make it special: Brett got me a box of delicious chocolates and I got him a metal cup he’s been wanting. I know, you’re thinking, “Seriously? A cup?” My husband’s been obsessed with survival kits lately, and the cup can be used for boiling water. Yep. I’m impressed with myself for just knowing that much. And what does that have to do with a picture of half-eaten food? This was our Valentine’s dinner, a day late. We went to our favorite Mexican restaurant and stuffed ourselves silly. I tell him pretty much every time we get this food that I couldn’t have married someone who doesn’t like Mexican cuisine. We eat way too much of it.

eggsHere was my Pinterest project this past week. I was really craving hard-boiled eggs, and since Brett hates them I get them all to myself. The reason they have weird brown spots on the shells is because I baked them in the oven — yes, you read that right! I saw the idea on Pinterest and had to try it. I would link to the website but the pin only had a description and no clickable link. Basically, all you do is put a dozen eggs in a 12-cup muffin tin, set your oven to 325, and bake for 25-30 minutes. Seriously, that’s it. I think I cooked them around 26-27 minutes, and while a couple of them were difficult to peel, they turned out perfectly! I’m totally doing this in the future. Way easier than boiling water.

So there was a tiny look at our life lately, and I just realized it’s mostly food. Exciting stuff, people. Anyway, this coming week is Brett’s winter break from school, and we’re flying out to Ohio to spend some time with my family. Even though our flight is literally at the crack of dawn, we’re so excited to see loved ones and relax. The forecast says there will finally be a break in the seemingly constant inches and inches of snow up here, so we shouldn’t have any problems flying this weekend. Is anyone else ready for spring? Me too.

A Creative + Thoughtful Birthday Gift

Before I say anything else this morning, I have to get this out of the way. One of my friends pinned this on Pinterest, and I saw it last night. Maybe it was just the time of night (and I really needed to go to bed) but . . . I could not stop laughing. Just look at it.

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I had tears running down my face. Then when I did get in bed, my poor husband was trying to sleep and I just kept laughing, seriously, for like five minutes straight. Then I kept trying to say “let’s eat ice cream” and that would just start me all over again. So, thank you, Pinterest, for making me laugh uncontrollably and making my husband think I’m completely psycho.

Anyway, now that that’s out of the way . . . today I’m not sharing a new design or recipe, but one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received. It was from my hubby, and it’s probably my favorite thing he’s ever gotten me. Besides my plaid winter coat. And my boots. Okay, so it’s up there on the list of things he’s gotten me. Top five for sure . . . (just kidding, Brett!)

The short story is that I really need a new Mac. The long version is that I entered college with no major — I had no clue in the world what I wanted to do with my life, and let’s be honest, most 18-year-olds have no idea. So I took my gen eds first semester. Then I took more second semester. By then I knew I needed to pick something. I loved my college and the friends I’d made, so I knew I wanted to stay no matter what. I went through the catalog so many times, narrowing down what I thought I wanted to do. I knew I wasn’t cut out to be a nurse, business major, or teacher. No way. I thought briefly about Communications, but when I realized that would mean a lot of speeches in my future, I pretty quickly scratched that from the list.

One of the only majors left on the list that sounded appealing was graphic design. But . . . I’d never really taken any art classes after middle school — my high school classes were filled with band and newsmagazine. I couldn’t draw (and still can’t). I didn’t even know much about what graphic designers did, besides seeing some projects a friend of my family’s had made. I was definitely unsure of everything at this point, but, funnily, my friends kept encouraging me to just go for it. They could see the potential in me even though I had no idea what that looked like. One of my unit mates even asked me almost every day in March and April if I’d gone to talk to the head of the graphic design classes yet. Finally, I came to the conclusion I just needed to jump into it. It was literally the only major on my list by this point. And I did.

That’s the long version of my story because I started college with a Dell laptop and no Adobe programs. I didn’t own a Mac until after I graduated! I just used my college’s computers the entire time, and I’m pretty sure I was the only one who did so. It was inconvenient at times, but it worked. The Mac I have now was a huge blessing in itself. The summer after graduation, I worked at the company I’d interned for every summer during college. A few weeks before my last day, the IT guys sent out an email informing everyone that the company was getting brand new Macs, and that there would be a silent auction on the old ones. This was my chance! I was getting married in a few weeks and couldn’t afford to spend money on a lovely new Mac, so I sent in my bid and was able to grab an older iMac. I feel extremely blessed to have gotten it when I did, but it’s starting to get extremely slow. It’s so old I can’t even get the most updated versions of the Adobe Creative Suite. Most new versions of everything (downloads, software, Chrome, Firefox, etc.) don’t work on it. And while I love having the iMac’s big screen to do design with, I’d love to get a MacBook Pro at this point. That way I can work from literally anywhere.

So, I’m saving up for a new Mac. I told Brett not to spend money for my birthday, because any extra cash we have I’m putting towards the computer. I refuse to take money out of our savings for it — I’m literally just using money from my design store, projects, and anything else to buy it. Knowing all of that, Brett made me this as a birthday present:

frontSeriously, how creative was he? I was planning to just shove cash in a container I hadn’t found yet. But he went to Hobby Lobby and grabbed this container, the lettering, and some burlap.

backIt was the perfect container to use. He even cut a slot in the top to slide money and gift cards into: top

No, it’s not perfect, but he spent about an hour trying to cut that thing. It feels like plastic, but once he started cutting, he realized it was aluminum or some type of metal that made it pretty difficult. (And yes, there’s a slot cut in the burlap as well.)

So there you go . . . a creative, thoughtful gift trumps something expensive any day, am I right?

Let’s Eat Together

Are you a wedding snob? You know who you are–those of you who take one look at a gaudy centerpiece, an ill-fitted wedding gown, or, gasp, a buffet–and turn up your nose? Is the DJ playing awful dance music? Is there no alcohol? Was that guest wearing shorts?? We’ve all been there. I’ll be the first to admit that when I see pictures of really tacky-looking weddings, I cringe too.

One thing I always remind myself, though, is the most important part of that whole day has nothing to do with the decorations, the dress, the food–it’s about the people. That couple standing up there has, hopefully, been anticipating this day with love and joy and excitement. There’s something about two people coming together and starting a new journey as a couple that just makes me so happy.

Sometimes I look back on my own wedding day (September 4, 2010) and wish there were a few things I could change. Then I remind myself of two things: 1) Stop comparing our special day to these crazy Pinterest/DIY weddings, because Pinterest wasn’t even around then, or at least I’d never heard of it, and 2) It was about us, Brett and I, making a commitment to each other before God and all of our dearest family and friends. Everyone we love most in this world was there, and we had an absolute blast that whole day. It was perfect.

Anyway, all that was to say that I love weddings and pretty much everything that goes along with them. Call me a typical girl, what can I say? It’s a good thing, I guess, since I design wedding invitations and all kinds of other wedding stationery. The design I’m featuring in this post is a rehearsal dinner invitation. It was my first one, and I loved it:

final

Mike and Alicia are friends of our family. Tim, Mike’s older brother, was actually the best man in our wedding, and Brett returned the favor in his wedding a year later. Now it’s Mike’s turn to get hitched, and I was so excited when he and Alicia asked me to design their invitations . . . but that’s a post for another day. For now, I’m just sharing this invite that Mike’s mom asked me to create.

I know I’ve used the word “love” a lot so far in this post, but I’m doing it again: I really love rehearsal dinners. It’s such a special time with the people that you’re closest with to relax and just have fun the day before all the “big” stuff happens. Ours was a sort-of barbeque in the hall at our church where the rehearsal and wedding were. It was loud and hot and so much fun. I love the relaxed feeling rehearsal dinners have–that’s what I wanted to portray in this invitation: fun and laid back.

This rehearsal dinner is at The Coach Stop, and I went to their website to feel out the atmosphere. The colors in the invitation are pulled from the site. Here are a few versions of the invite I went through before settling on the one you saw above:

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I really liked the “Let’s Eat Together” phrase because we eat together with the Smith (Mike’s) family a LOT. Plus, let’s be honest, Mike likes to eat. And that’s why his mom loved the “Let’s Eat” versions of the invite. Then we experimented with the shape at the top and having a border, and then further with how the text needed to be laid out. I personally enjoy taking a lot of information that needs to be read easily and organizing it from a design perspective. Call me crazy, but it’s so much fun.

I’ll do a post all about their wedding invitations and programs closer to the wedding or soon after, depending on when the programs are finalized. I’ll also be posting a version of these rehearsal dinner invites on my store soon! Stay tuned!