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SkipKid : Helpful New Brooklyn Website

We honestly love raising our children here in Brooklyn. I’ve always loved being a city girl – and now I absolutely love being a city mom!! There’s so much to do here, so many interesting people to meet. I think it’s impossible to be bored. Being able to experience the diverse culture and get to know the talented individuals in our community is wonderful…sharing it with my children makes it that much more fun. 

Becoming a mom is a life changing experience…an incredibly awesome experience, but, man, it isn’t easy. When I think back to those first couple months, it’s all a blur. Everything was new and I was just trying to get through one day at a time. I can’t really remember even leaving the apartment much. It was a cold February in 2011. Then one day I saw a woman carrying her baby in the same baby wrap we used. I basically ran over to her, stuck out my hand, and shouted “Hi, I’m Jackie!” Luckily, I didn’t scare her and she told me about the Yahoo Parent List Serve. It’s an online community of people in our neighborhood who also have children. That was the moment everything changed. I went home and immediately signed up.

Just to illustrate how populated Brooklyn is…our main group formed an even smaller group with the incredibly specific name of FortGreeneMomsFebtoApril. That’s only three months of births in just our specific neighborhood of Brooklyn and we had 34 members. That right there is why I love Brooklyn and the internet. We were all living only blocks from each other, but without the internet I’m pretty certain we wouldn’t have ever met. Those women I met in that group are some of my closest friends today! They have helped define how I experienced and continue to experience motherhood.

I recently heard about this new website, SkipKid, and I’m so excited to pass it along to everyone. I’m not sure if the woman in her baby wrap knows how she changed my Brooklyn Mom experience. I hope sharing this information helps some of you enjoy your Brooklyn Parent experience even more! Whether it helps you connect with your community, discover a class, or make a new friend, I think this site can make your life a little bit easier. 

The concept of the site is genius. I would have definitely used it in my early momma days and I just started using it now – even with a busier schedule. SkipKid is a website that lists events, classes, and play dates in Brooklyn, but here’s the genius part --- you can filter the events by neighborhood! 

Many people don’t know how big Brooklyn actually is. If it was its own independent city, it would be the fourth most populated city in The United States. When we tell someone we live in Brooklyn it seems like almost everyone replies with, “Oh, my cousin lives in Brooklyn” or “My mom grew up in Brooklyn” or “My dad’s best friend’s daughter lives there.” It is wonderful to feel the connection and definitely gives a sense of pride. However, when you are looking for things to do in the city, it’s not as great when you put the location in Google Maps and it’s a 45 minute subway ride away! Don’t get me wrong, I am always up for an adventure and my kids love taking the subway into the city to try out a new playground! There were so many occasions when I just needed to get out of our apartment and wanted to go somewhere close. That’s where SkipKid helps out.

The site was started by two Brooklyn moms, Denise Triana & Callie Wright, who all too often came across a “local activity” on the internet only to find it was too far away or, even worse, the information they found was outdated. They’d show up somewhere and the sing-a-long would be canceled or the venue would be closed. Denise says SkipKid is the perfect example of the saying “Necessity is the mother of invention…” It is the site they wish they had when their children were younger. They know it is helping many moms, dads, and caregivers plan their day.

Currently the site is maintained the best way possible: by these two women doing the legwork for you. They spend hours upon hours searching the internet, contacting venues and performers, and snapping photos of fliers posted throughout Brooklyn. They are essentially doing what you would be doing if you had the time but, let’s face it, for most of us there just isn’t time.

Events for SkipKid are posted a week in advance, so it’s perfect for those of you who like to plan out your entire week on Sunday evening. It’s also a great last minute resource for those days you wake up and have no idea what to do. A quick search and you’ll have options to choose from. Denise & Callie have helped make one of the best aspects of living in Brooklyn more accessible. If you’d prefer to have the latest updates emailed directly to you, you can sign up for SkipKid’s mailing list. Plus, be sure to check out their blog to find out more details and reviews about certain activities.

If you are a Brooklyn Parent I hope using SkipKid makes your life a little easier. I’d love to hear what you think of it. I believe this website could be the start to some amazing experiences. How awesome is the internet? Knowing what is happening in your own backyard can be difficult when you’re spending all your time taking care of your baby. SkipKid makes it easier and from there the possibilities are endless…a new class to enjoy with your little one, a community event that interests you or, who knows, maybe a new friend. I truly credit the woman in the baby wrap to opening my eyes to see Brooklyn as the home for our family, my life as a mother, and the community I absolutely love. I can see SkipKid being that impactful to others and I hope you will help spread the word.

 

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Conroy's 2nd Birthday Pirate Party

“Shiver me timbers,” my baby turned 2! This year we celebrated Conroy with a pirate party in our “backyard.” I put “backyard” in quotes because we live in an apartment complex and our backyard consists of a community grill and picnic area. It was the perfect August morning and we had the right amount of shade to mingle with friends and honor our little guy. 

OK, if you know me, you know I love party planning! It just makes me happy. I enjoy scrolling through Pinterest, brainstorming with my husband, and getting crafty weeks before the big day. Georgia is now four-and-a-half years old and I can happily say I have passed my love for party planning on to her. I feel like I just met a new best friend who LOVES to do exactly what I love to do. But it’s even better because she’s my kid! I can easily say planning this party was the most fun to date because we did it together.

I wanted to make sure Georgia was involved in all aspects, so we took full advantage of Conroy’s naps and started almost two months before the party. This gave us plenty of time. We’d work on a couple projects a week and fit them in whenever we had the time. Before having children I imagined crafting with my kids to be just like a crafternoon with my girlfriends. Let me put it bluntly – crafting with kids is NOT like crafting with your girlfriends!! But I promise you, if you change your mindset, it can be even more fun. And planning this party was just that… FUN!

The inspiration for Conroy’s birthday party this year came from the most amazing bathing suit I found at H&M. It was almost like a pirate costume. He wore it when we were on vacation at Disney and right after I took the photo I knew this would be the perfect 2nd birthday party. I mean he had his “shiver me timbers” down and was really great at his “arrrrgh”.

INVITATIONS:

Obviously, the most suitable invitation for a pirate-themed birthday party is a treasure map! After a couple sketched ideas, we decided to make the map more conceptual and less realistic. We used elements from our “front yard” but arranged them artistically instead of accurately. Combined with a photo of Conroy in his pirate bathing suit, plus some creative writing, the invitation turned out to be even better than we imagined.    

I knew we would hand draw or paint the elements and then bring them into Photoshop. I put Georgia in charge of the components I knew she could get completely creative with and I drew the more detailed images. She painted the brown for the map itself and then she took full creative control of the water!

We used different shades of blue and added lots of glitter. After everything was dry I started scanning our art into the computer. She said, “Hey, mom, can I try?” I quickly replied, “Of course, you can!” Then the next thing I knew she was doing it all by herself! I was so impressed.

We love giving the party location a special name so we called it “BBQ Island.” We used a photo of Conroy in his pirate bathing suit and added all the text in Photoshop. To let our guests know they didn’t need to buy us gifts, we kept it playful and wrote, “No Gifts or You’ll Walk the Plank” on the back.

We chose blue envelopes and addressed them to all of our “buccaneer,” “matey,” and “captain” friends. Conroy joined the fun by being in charge of the postage stamps.

Georgia handled actually mailing the invites!

Once the invites were sent, the fun really began! Pinterest is full of great ideas for pirate parties. I spent a couple days pinning and then picked a few projects to make. A blissful trip to Hobby Lobby & Target sans kids really set the tone to fully enjoying this entire party planning process.

WALK THE PLANK:

Currently, one of Conroy’s favorite things to do in life is walk across anything that slightly resembles a balance beam. When I saw this on Pinterest I knew we had to make it. We found some crates in my parents’ garage and used a scrap piece of wood for the plank. Everyone loved it.

We painted the “Walk the plank” sign in their driveway. This project is the perfect example of my theory on crafting with kids. It is so much fun. However, if you are at all slightly a perfectionist or enjoy being in control, doing crafts with kids can be a little tricky. Here’s what I’ve learned: take a deep breath and let them take the lead. While we were painting the sign, Georgia dunked the paintbrush in the paint and a huge drip completely covered some of the words I had painted. I told myself it was fine and asked her what else we should do. She suggested we paint the whole thing red. I loved this idea (and I was able to touch-up the wording by filling in the negative space with red). We did a little more Jackson Pollock dripping to make it cohesive and the sign turned out amazing.   It was very “pirate-y”!! And she was so proud!

PIRATE AGE NUMBER:

I loved this craft. It was simple, modern, and a perfect summary of the party. I bought a cardboard #2 from Hobby Lobby along with some red craft paint. We covered a table with newspaper and painted it on my parent’s back deck. I love doing crafts outside!!

PIRATE SHIP FRUIT BOWL:

My mom is an excellent party planner and always up for a challenge. The moment I saw the Pirate Ship Fruit Bowl on Pinterest, I knew she’d create the perfect centerpiece for the party. In true Cathy Conroy form, she did a test run with the kids one weekend when they were on a camping trip. Georgia and Conroy loved helping and, of course, taste testing. 

The rest of the menu was pretty easy to figure out since we were having the party at the grills: BBQ food!! We decided to go with hot dogs and beef tenderloin. My husband Chad isn’t as much of a party planner as I am, but he sure knows how to entertain and really enjoys it. I think the only thing he kept talking about for the party was cooking a really good beef tenderloin, cutting it up, and a serving it off the cutting board so everyone could just grab a piece. He executed it perfectly and everyone raved about how good it was. We also had pasta salad and a veggie platter.

THE CAKE:

Oh, man, I really wung the cake! Two hours before the party started I still didn’t know how I was going to decorate the cake. We had already made cupcakes and decorated them with cute pirate flags, but I wanted a special cake. I kept thinking I was going to make his actual cake look like an open treasure chest full of gold and necklaces, but it was going to be too much work. At what seemed liked the eleventh hour, I thought, “I’ll just make it a closed treasure chest.” I used one of the gift boxes as inspiration and had it down in a half hour!

DRESS UP:

There are so many different options when it comes to dressing like a pirate. I bought several different hats and some eye patches, and made some telescopes out of paper towel rolls. And, of course, we ordered Tattly tattoos and had an adult help apply the tattoos. We ordered this setthis ship, and my mom & I wore these.

We put everything in a big bucket right by the entrance. As people arrived I let them choose something to wear and snapped a quick family photo. I love doing this, especially for years later when we can look back at everyone. Also, I feel like getting a family photo is pretty difficult to do in the busyness of life so making a point to do it is always a great idea.

THE CRAFTS:

For crafts we did our usual coloring book page with a photo of Conroy. This time I positioned him on a pirate ship. We put out pirate stickers in addition to the crayons for this party. I also found the great plastic stained glass set that included little paint buckets. Since many of his friends are Georgia’s friends, this was a great craft for four-year-olds.  

My Aunt MaryAnn from Florida came for the party and brought a simple pop-up tent for the kids to play in. They loved this. Any place that can be “just theirs” is a hit these days.

We also laid out a picnic blanket and a small Busy Zoo toy for the little ones who were just learning to walk. 

Since it was such a warm day, we also set up a water activity table.

FAMILY TREASURE HUNT & PUZZLE:

Most of Conroy’s friends are 4 years old, even though he’s two, because the majority of his friends are Georgia’s friends and their younger siblings. I knew I wanted to do something special for the older kids. At this age, they completely understand an egg hunt and Hide & Seek is pretty much their favorite game so I figured they would totally love a pirate treasure hunt. I was right. We hid “treasure” puzzle pieces and handed out treasure maps. Each family had to find their piece of a puzzle and then work as a group to solve it and discover the picture! This was such a hit. I wrote a tutorial post for anyone who wants to create one for their next party.

THE PINATA:

What says birthday party more than a “piñata?” And I found the perfect treasure chest piñata at Hobby Lobby. It was the kind that has strings you pull instead of hitting it with a bat. But here’s the thing: we live in Brooklyn and NO ONE we know gives their children candy here. I am all about fun and, naturally, you think you must put candy in a piñata for it to be a good time. Then I thought: you know what?…I bet most of these kids don’t know candy is supposed to be inside so it’s not like they would be disappointed. So…I put clementines inside!! It was a huge hit!...with both the kids and the parents. And even our friends from the ‘burbs, who have mastered the candy collection after the piñata, is opened loved the clementines!! I was so happy because, honestly, that could have been a party foul for sure!

THE QUIZ:

This is still one of my favorite memory keeping mementos. I love thinking of the different questions to reflect on the past year of Conroy’s life. I almost forgot to hand the quiz out this year because we were all having such a great time. Then, because it’s kinda what we are known, for someone said, “hey, did you do a quiz this year?” Grandpa again scored well and so did our good friends the Sterns!!

Overall, this whole party experience was ideal. I could tell Georgia loved making Conroy feel special. I could also tell Conroy liked having a party to celebrate him. For weeks after the party, he would look out our windows and say, “We had my birthday party there. We sang ‘Happy Birthday To You’ and I blew out the candles.”

As with every party we plan, it keeps getting easier and more fun. We have gotten the swing of having enough for the kids to do but not overscheduling it. We love that everyone had a wonderful time with all their friends…Georgia, Conroy, and us, too. When you have children you get to make a whole new group of friends. These people become part of your village. Celebrating with them, catching up, reminiscing, and making new memories is so important to us. We are grateful for everyone who came and spent the morning together.

We hope this inspires you in one way or another - whether it be crafting with your kids, new ways to enjoy party planning, or a fun game to play with your friends. We believe any event is a great excuse to have a little extra fun. We’d love to hear about your latest celebration!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pirate Treasure Hunt Game Tutorial

Since our Family Pirate Treasure Hunt was such a success with everyone at Conroy’s party, we thought we’d share how we created it with you.

Our son Conroy turned two years old this past August and to celebrate we threw a Pirate Party! Most of his friends are 4 years old, thanks to his older sister. Since they are at an age where they can truly play and enjoy party games, we wanted to do something special for them. At this age, they completely understand an egg hunt and Hide & Seek is pretty much their favorite game so we figured they would totally love a Pirate Treasure Hunt.

Here’s how the game was played: 

Each family would work as a team. This essentially consisted of the four-year-old and their younger sibling. We gave each team a map of the grill area featuring an image of the treasure in the middle and an “X” that marked where they could find that image. They were to use the map to locate the same image on a treasure marker and then look inside. Inside there was an envelope with that family’s photo on the front (so they knew they found the correct one). Inside the envelope was a puzzle piece. Once they found their piece, everyone had to work together as a group to solve the puzzle in order to reveal the image. All the kids loved this!

Here’s how we made the game:

TREASURE MAPS: We were very fortunate to have an actual sketch of the grill area that had been emailed to each resident when our complex was improving our community space. We brought the image into Photoshop and simplified it a little by covering up some of the details. We added a red square to the bottom of the map. This is where we placed the different symbol on each map. We knew we really couldn’t decide where we were going to actually hide each “treasure” until the day of, so we had all the maps printed and wrote the family’s name on the outside. The morning of the party we placed the “treasure” in the spot, marked the X on the map, and then rolled it back up.

TREASURE MARKERS: Each piece of treasure was hidden in a disguised piece of decoration. To make these “treasure markers” we printed out each symbol on a regular sheet of paper as an image roughly 9in x 9in. We glued it to black poster board and then folded the poster board to create a folder-like pocket. We stapled the sides to make sure the treasure didn’t fall out. We then hot-glued a tongue depressor on the bottom so we would be able to easily stick it into the ground. 

PUZZLE & PUZZLE PIECES: In Photoshop we created the image using a photo of Conroy, the words “Happy Birthday Conroy Watson”, and two different balloons. We had it printed as an 8x10 photo through Snapfish. We ordered two prints in case we made a mistake the first time.

There were 9 families coming to the party, so that made it easy to divide the picture into pieces. We first made a grid pattern with regular white paper. Using a ruler we measured out 9 rectangles and then hand drew with a pencil the different shapes to make the shapes into puzzle pieces. Once we had it how we wanted it to look, we outlined it in black sharpie.

We numbered the pieces and cut them out. We laid them on the back of the photo face down and traced in between the pieces with a pencil. We then cut the photo into pieces. The key here is to make your cuts smooth. You want it to fit back together perfectly so you can’t accidently cut off a piece.

We wanted the pieces to be thick so we then glued them to cardboard and cut the cardboard with an exacto knife and scissors. We purposely attached the cardboard secondly because we knew we wouldn’t be able to make a smooth cut to the thick cardboard. This way the photo pieces had a smooth cut and then we were able to make many cuts to ensure the cardboard matched exactly.

ENVELOPE: We placed each piece of puzzle in a separate envelope. We used some red envelopes we had in the studio and decorated them with washi tape. We used iPhoto to turn a photo of each family black & white, cropped it to be 3x4 size, then printed them at CVS – using our favorite mini-prints feature. Having the name of the family, plus their photo, let the kids know they found the correct treasure.

This game was a big hit. It was so fun to watch the kids search for the “treasure” symbols and then work together to solve the puzzle. We plan to save the puzzle as a memory of the party.

We also need to mention that the puzzle idea was inspired by my aunts. On my 10th birthday at my sleepover party they had a photo puzzle made of my brother and me. All my girlfriends worked together to solve it. At the time it was slightly embarrassing because the photo they chose was of us kissing, but today it still hangs in my parents room glued together and I think it’s super cute.

If you have children around the age of four years old, we highly recommend doing a treasure hunt! You can alter the game however you like and cater it to your party or playdate. You can use prizes as the treasure if you don’t have time to make the photo puzzle or just make a photo puzzle as a stand alone activity. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. We’d love to hear about your favorite party games for children, especially now that our kids are old enough to truly enjoy them.  

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My First Capsule Wardrobe - Fall 2015

I first learned about a “capsule wardrobe” from Elise Blaha Cripe and was immediately intrigued. A couple months later I discovered Jess Lively and, while binge listening to her past podcasts, I came across an interview with Caroline Rector – the founder of the capsule wardrobe. The whole concept behind the idea was so meaningful I knew I had to do it.

For those of you who haven’t heard of a capsule wardrobe, it’s pretty simple. For each season of the year, you pair down your clothing options to a specific number. Then get rid of (or store away) all your other outfits.

Caroline started it because she felt that she wasted too much time shopping and wanted to spend her energy doing more meaningful things. Intentionally selecting her capsule wardrobe made her happier. Yes and yes! Doesn’t that sound lovely?

I initially found it intriguing because even though my closet was overflowing and my drawers were completely stuffed, I basically wore the same look every day: shorts, a nursing tank top, and a t-shirt. My son recently turned two and I feel like I’m finally getting “out of the trenches.” NOW couldn’t be a better time to make this happen.

WHY I WANT A CAPSULE WARDROBE

#1. I want to be proud of how I look. I want to put in the effort and not have to apologize for my appearance.

The first New Year's after my son was born, I made a resolution to not be at risk of being ambush madeover. I was nursing so often back then and constantly covered in spit-up that it seemed silly to get dressed nicely. That January I told myself I would put in a little effort. I would text my friends photos of myself in the morning to stay accountable. 

Then I bought myself 5 new non-Tshirt shirts and started a hashtag #puttingalittleeffortintomyappearance.

That time period was a year and a half ago and I do feel like I’ve made real strides. However, I was still wearing the same style nursing tank top and often didn’t feel so great about myself. While my in-laws were here visiting, I took the opportunity to go get fitted for a bra. Once I knew my actual size, I was like a kid in a candy store. I believe that was the first step to my new confidence.

#2. I want to get out of the “mom clothes” funk!

I want to wear things that look good on me and elevated my life. With two children, four and two, I have been really caught in a “mom clothes” funk for what seems like the last four years. I don’t mean for that to sound negative because let me tell you…I love my life! I love sitting on the floor in music class or rolling around with my kids at The Little Gym. Thanks to my Delia’s high-waisted denims, aka my “mom jeans”, I can do everything I want to and not worry about my butt hanging out. I love being able to feed and comfort my children at a moment's notice. My nursing tank top makes that possible and I don’t have to feel self-conscious that my belly is exposed because with the tank it’s always covered. That tank was good to me. I could breastfeed in public - and often no one noticed. My “mom clothes” helped allow me to be the best mom I could be! (ok, that’s a little cheesy, but it’s true). I am now ready to step it up. 

#3. I want to put in the prep-work to curate a collection of clothing that makes me feel great.

Like everything else in my life…with a little pre-production I knew I could do it. To me, a capsule wardrobe is the perfect example of how taking the time to plan makes the outcome so much better.

#4. I want to make it public & hold myself accountable.

I knew I didn’t want to just have a capsule wardrobe - I knew I wanted to blog about it. Having a photo of all my options nicely presented as a Lucky Magazine spread is exactly what I need. I love the idea of seeing all my outfits on a computer screen just like Cher in Clueless. That movie was so ahead of its time! 

HOW MY CAPSULE WARDROBE CAME TOGETHER

My capsule wardrobe came together in three steps.

Step 1: The Initial Purge

First, after listening to The Lively Show, I emptied my entire closet and all of my drawers creating an enormous pile on my floor. With the help of a wonderful friend, we went through each item and successfully got rid of nine bags of clothes. Nine! Most of them were shirts, dresses, and skirts I hadn’t worn in over five years. Since that process was slightly exhausting, we simply put the rest of the clothes back and I went about life as usual.

Step 2: Does it Spark Joy? 

Then I read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” while we were on vacation in North Carolina and mentally my life changed!! My husband had also read the book, so when we got back to Brooklyn we tackled it together! Once again, I piled up all my clothes, plus my husband’s clothes. I knew this would take a couple days, so we paced ourselves and we put everything in Love Jac Headquarters so that we could emotionally escape from it when it became too much. Instead of using all the western organizational logical that was ingrained in us – “I wore this on our first date, I can’t get rid of it” and “I might need this if we go to a wedding.” -- we mustered up the courage and used Marie Kondo’s eastern philosophy of “Does this spark joy?” In theory, this makes sense. In execution – it ain’t easy. But we did it. I was able to get rid of two more bags of clothes and my husband donated four bags. We used Marie Kondo’s clothing storing techniques and, honestly, we are so much happier!

Step 3: Curate My Clothing

The summer continued, but I still didn’t technically have a “Capsule Wardrobe.” Once I had my new bras I felt like I could wear anything. As I learned from many Rachael Ray episodes, “Having a good foundation makes every outfit.” My clothes fit better. My posture was straighter. I went on two mini-shopping sprees while my in-laws were visiting. I tried to focus on buying dresses and pretty shirts. I didn’t allow myself to buy one single basic t-shirt.

Step 4: Photograph & Review

During this whole process I never really focused on the number. I wanted to curate my wardrobe. I wanted to be proud of every piece. One Saturday I laid out my clothes again and was able to eliminate one more batch of shirts. I took the time to iron my clothes and asked my husband to take photos of me. What I thought would take fifteen minutes turned into an hour, but we got it done. (Thankfully, my in-laws watched our children.) 

(this is Georgia "directing" me for the photos...can you guess what i'm suppose to be?)

Since the second shopping trip occurred after we took the first batch of photos, I then had to take the second round of photos with the timer on my camera while my son napped. And then I remembered I needed to take photos of my shoes...and did that with Conroy's help! Not the easiest thing, but I got it done!

(i used a broom as my stand-in so I could focus the camera and use the timer function)

 

Originally I thought I would just take a photo of the clothes on a hanger, but then I remembered the purpose of this for me was to feel good IN the clothes. I am so glad I made this decision. Here’s a little secret: we currently don’t have a true full-length mirror in our apartment. I am not one to look at myself and inspect my appearance before I leave the house. So, to go from that to posting photos of myself on the internet is a huge leap - a leap I highly recommend. As with everything I blog about, it has held me accountable. I’m not going to post a photo of myself looking like a slob, so why was I going out into the world like that before?

And here’s the best proof that it is working. The first day I wore one of my capsule wardrobe outfits my four-year-old Georgia said, “Mom, are you going on a date today?” I smiled with pride and said, “No, just taking you to school!” I want her to see me as a confident woman who knows the importance of self-care. By no means am I going to become someone who spends hours doing my makeup or obsesses over myself in the mirror. That’s just not who I am. But I will take five minutes to brush my hair and put on a little bronzer! This capsule wardrobe has already given me more confidence without adding any extra time to my daily routine.   

I will walk Georgia to school in my “mom jeans” and a super cute top! I will wear dresses on the days we aren’t at The Little Gym. I will push that double stroller with my shoulders back and my head held high! (well, unless we are going uphill – then I really have to put my whole body into it.)

MY FALL 2015 CAPSULE WARDROBE

So, without further ado, I present you with my Fall 2015 Capsule Wardrobe. There are 50 pieces, including 24 tops, 3 pairs of jeans, 2 overalls, 12 dresses, 2 skirts, 1 jean jacket, and 6 pairs of shoes.

24 Tops... 

 

3 Pairs of Jeans...

2 pairs of overalls (and 1 long dress)...

11 Dresses (and Jean Jacket)...

6 Pairs of Shoes...

I still plan on paring it down even more. Evaluating how I look and feel in each piece will help me figure out if I really want to keep it. Seeing what I actually end up wearing will also be interesting. I am so excited to get dressed each morning! Thanks for letting me share this process with you!! If you have a capsule wardrobe as well, I’d love to hear all about it.

 

I need to thank Elise for introducing me to this idea, Caroline for creating this concept and sharing it with the world, and Jess for explaining it so thoroughly on her podcast. I recently signed up for Jess’s Life With Intention Online Workshop. For me, it’s an extension of my participation in Ali Edward’s One Little Word project. This year my word is “push” and I have been so happy with all I’ve been able to accomplish just by staying connected to this word. I’m now going to push myself to live with more intentional values. I look forward to sharing more of what I learn during this process with all of you. Please let me know if you are participating as well. Here’s to this next chapter of life!

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Disney Vacation Memory Book

This has been by far my favorite scrapbook to create. The more I scrapbook the more I learn what makes me happy during the process as well as flipping through the album after it’s complete. Since learning about pocket-scrapbooking, I’ve completed two (Summer 2014 & December Daily 2014) and started another (Project Life Sept 2014). I have enjoyed making each book and have learned something from each one. I hope by sharing my process and some of my techniques it inspires you to create your own pocket scrapbook for a trip, an event, or even to document your whole year. You can watch my YouTube Video walk-through here.

This past June we took our children to Disney World for the first time. Georgia was 4 years old and Conroy was almost 2 years old. Before we left I knew I wanted to make a 6x8 album for our trip. So far that’s been my favorite size album to use. It fits nicely on a shelf, but is still big enough to include many different photos and sufficiently tell our story. For most of the trip I had my “big camera” (aka my Canon Rebel DSLR). I wanted to get great images, so I committed to wearing that what feels like a 5 lb camera around my neck or over my shoulder the entire trip. I am very happy I did.

The main difference between this scrapbook and any other memory book I’ve made in the past was that I gave myself a deadline! By doing so, it allowed me to enjoy each part of the process. I was able to fully indulge in saving every single piece of paper, ticket stub, and brochure I could get my hands on! I took a special shopping spree to Michaels just for specific supplies. Best of all, within under 3 weeks I was able to show our album off to my family and friends.

My Process:

As I said, I knew I wanted to make this album before we left so I had the album in the back of my mind while I was taking photos. I used my “big camera,” my iPhone, plus any photos my parents or my aunt took while we were on the trip. Knowing these photos wouldn’t just be lost somewhere on my computer made it that much more exciting to take them in the first place. I wanted to remember the little moments and big ones. This meant taking an extra minute to get the photo. When we were all packed into the back of the airport shuttle bus I asked a stranger to take a photo of us. Many times I’d subtly snap a shot when no one was paying attention, but I’d also ask people to get together and pose more than usual. I knew I wanted to show our trip through the eyes of our kids so there was lots of squatting down to take photos in order to get on their level. Knowing the purpose of your photos before you take them often helps you get the photos you want. Also, thanks to digital, my new philosophy is “just take the photo.” If you don’t like it you can delete, but if you don’t take it you’ll never have it.

 

While on the trip I uploaded the photos at night and collected my favorites that other people had taken. Once we were back in Brooklyn I spent two evenings, after the kids were in bed, narrowing down the photos and deciding which sizes I wanted to print them. Thanks to some advice from Amy Tan, I downloaded the app PicFrame, which allowed me to put six 2x2 photos on a 4x6 print and two 3x4 photos on a 4x6 print. This took a little bit of time, but was much faster than doing it in Photoshop. I ordered all my photos from Snapfish and they were here in a couple days.

Then I took several hours from the weekend to lay out all the photos in chronological order and put them into the pocket protectors. I’ve found that if I break things down into steps I am much faster and it is more enjoyable. I don’t worry too much about if the layouts are exactly how I want them just as long as there’s space for photos and journaling cards.

Once I got all the photos roughly into pockets, the fun part really began. Embellishing and memory recording!! I like to lay out all my stickers, markers, extra paper, and stamps so I can see what I have to work with!

Supplies:

Before we left for the trip I saw these amazing Disney themed cards on the Big Picture Classes Instagram feed. I LOVED them, so immediately went online and ordered them. Yes, I paid more in shipping than on the cards themselves, but I really wanted to support the company. I have taken classes from them in the past. Plus, they have wonderful content and products. I couldn’t be happier with them and would do it again in a heartbeat. If you are ordering online, I’m sure you can buy more and possibly get free shipping.

Adding to the reasons this book is my favorite so far was my mini-shopping spree. Typically I have a decent amount of supplies in my studio. But for this book I took a special trip to Michaels. I bought a Mambi sticker set specifically for travel, plus a set that included some chipboard stickers that I loved. I first discovered this company’s modern designs and relatable sayings while making our December Daily album. I even had some stickers left over from that project.

I splurged on some Disney related stickers, including a red sparkly alphabet pack and a really nice embroidered “Disney” sticker for the cover.  I chose a 6x8 SN@P album with a black spine and picked up a pack of multiple colored SN@P alphabet stickers. I loved having multiple colored letters in the same font. I was able to easily mix and match while keeping the page cohesive.

Mementos:

Since I had given myself a deadline, I allowed myself to keep everything I wanted….and I mean everything! I knew I would come home, use what I could use, and trash what I didn’t. Oftentimes I hoard so much paper memorabilia and never get to put it in a book. For this project, I gave myself a rule: I’d either use it now or get rid of it. Knowing that, I was able to fully enjoy myself.

Below are some of my favorite mementos that made the cut.

Souvenir Pins 

When we arrived at Disney both kids were given “1st Visit” souvenir pins. I knew right away that I wanted to keep them. We attached them to our stroller for the day and I put them in my keepsake bag when we got back to the hotel. At home I used an exacto knife to cut the back of the pin and then popped out the paper. I trimmed it with scissors to make it smooth. This is the second time I’ve preserved a pin using this method and I love it. It takes up so much less space and allows me to save the memento.

 

Tickets

 Our tickets to the park were credit card style cards with images of the classic Disney characters on the front. Immediately I knew I wanted to save these. I ended up cutting them to fit into the 2x2 pockets. I used a large paper cutter to do this and made sure I pressed firmly when cutting to ensure it stayed in place.

 

Drink Umbrella 

Georgia had a smoothie with an umbrella in it the day she spent at the pool with my mom. When she brought it upstairs I giddily slipped it into my pile of memories. This is the perfect example of something I might generally tell myself not to keep because “I would never actually use it” but, since I was determined to create this scrapbook as soon as we were home, I didn’t feel guilty at all. To incorporate it, I simply cut the middle off so it would lay flat and then I used a Mambi Chipboard embellishment to cover up the hole. I put it right next to the photo of Georgia with the umbrella in her hair drinking her Mango Smoothie. Perfection! (Seriously, this probably shouldn’t make me so happy.)

Emergency Room Reminders 

Ok, the more I write this post the more I realize how deep down I truly am a paper hoarder!! After our visit to the ER (don’t panic, Conroy just had a fever and my cousin works there) I saved both our wristbands, plus the extra tongue depressor they gave Conroy to play with!! But seriously, I think it adds so much to the two-page spread. Plus, since they are securely glued to the photos and inside the plastic pocket, I know they won’t fall out or get lost.

Gold Confetti 

At the end of the Disney Junior show, gold confetti fell from the ceiling. Georgia spent a good 5 minutes collecting the “treasure” before we could convince her to leave. She nicely asked if we could “keep them forever” – which is something she says often these days. Knowing I was going to make this scrapbook I, of course, replied “definitely” and Chad put them in his wallet. When it came time to make this spread I forgot where they were since they weren’t with the rest of my stuff and almost didn’t include them. When I was almost finished, Chad found them in his wallet and reminded me he had them. Knowing how important they were to her, I changed a couple things and made sure to include them. I loved that they were slightly transparent, so I made sure I didn’t completely block them on the backside. I love how, because of the pocket pages, you can see through them.

 

ReCrafting Memories:

Even though I had my big camera around my neck and my iPhone in my back pocket there were a couple really great memories that I didn’t take a picture of. It actually makes perfect sense. I was so “in the moment” that I didn’t even think to snap a photo. I really wanted to capture these memories so I simply “reCrafted” them!

Ariel Ride

The first one was the Ariel Ride. We went on it once and then when it was time to pick another Fast Pass ride, Georgia chose the Ariel Ride again. Since this trip was about her I said, “Ok, let’s do it.” Chad, Georgia, Conroy and I all squeezed into the beautiful seashell. To reCraft the memory I did a quick Google Image search for “Ariel Ride.” I found a photo of some people on the ride and I had two copies printed at CVS. The page I had to work with was the twelve 2x2 page. I chose one section of the 4x6 image I had printed and cut it into four 2x2s. I inserted 3 of them. Then I cut another 2x2 from the second copy I had printed. If you look closely you can see how the people on the ride appear twice. To customize this memory, I cut out small photos of our heads from some of the extra photos and then glued them over the faces of the people from my Google Image. Looking at this page makes me smile from ear to ear.

Handsome Gaston

The second reCrafted memory was the photo of Gaston. We probably spent close to 15 minutes watching Gaston take pictures with people while he boasted about how handsome he was. He was very arrogant, but pretty funny. Georgia found it very amusing. When we got home I couldn’t believe I didn’t take a photo of her watching him. To remember this memory I did a quick Google Image for “Gaston in Disney World.” I really think the photo I found was of the same exact Gaston that we saw while we were there. To embellish the photo I added some cardstock with the word “Handsome” written on it.

The Art of The Dillydally 

Georgia has perfected the Art of The Dillydally. This is such a part of who she is right now I knew I wanted to remember it. She has seriously taught me to slow down and smell the roses. I documented this in two places and because this is so her, I didn’t have to reCraft any photos. I did change up the layout a little bit. The photo I took of her smelling flowers was so good I didn’t want to cut it into 6 squares to fit the current layout (and honestly this wasn’t posed…she was really smelling the flowers and I snapped the photo). I took a page from Kelly Purkey and allowed myself to mix layouts. She often glues two different pocket page layouts together. Since I liked the small photos on the top and bottom, I simply cut an extra pocket page so that the 4x6 photo fit and then glued and stapled it to the middle of the twelve 2x2 page. To keep things consistent I purposely used the same green card stock on the page behind it. This is one of my favorite photos in the whole album.

My Dad & his GoPro

My dad is kinda known for his gadgets and gizmos. For this vacation he bought himself a GoPro Camera. He took it everywhere with him. While we were on the Dumbo ride, he had his camera flying high right with the friendly elephant. A staff member came over the loud speaker and said, “ALL GO PRO CAMERAS MUST REMAIN IN THE VEHICLE AT ALL TIMES.” I don’t think my dad heard him the first time, so he said it twice. It made us all laugh and I knew I wanted to remember it. I simply used some alphabet stickers and an ultra-fine point sharpie marker to write the words. I included this memory next to a couple photos of my dad and his GoPro and the spread turned out perfectly! 

Completing the embellishments and memory recording took about four sessions. I stole a couple hours from the weekends and stayed up late a couple weeknights to make sure I met my deadline. Making my deadline public on Instagram truly helped me finish the project. To be completely honest, I actually finished the album on July 3rd, instead of the 1st, but without the deadline I doubt it would have ever been completed. Plus, since I made up the deadline it was totally fine if I didn’t hit it exactly!

I hope this inspires you to make your own pocket scrapbook. I’d love to see them or hear about them. One of my guilty pleasures is watching other scrapbookers walk through their Project Life Albums on YouTube. It’s a little embarrassing how many hours I’ve spent watching them. However, I learn so much and love seeing how people tell their story. I hope you enjoyed my walk-through video for this album. If you have any questions, feel free to email me or leave a comment! Happy memory keeping!

 

 

 

 

 

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Our 2nd National Stationery Show - 2015

This year’s National Stationery Show was amazing!! We more than doubled our first year’s orders. We were nominated twice for Best New Product. Our “Bumps in the Road” card was acknowledged for the Paper Love category and our new Inkable Envelope Stamp Set was featured in the Do It Yourself category. We met many talented, influential people and caught up with old friends. We were able to enjoy all of this success because we went into this year’s show with more realistic expectations and the confidence of who we are as a company.

This was our second year exhibiting and the overall experience was as different as night and day compared to last year. I do not mean to diminish last year’s experience. It was certainly wonderful (you can read more about it here), but I am beyond proud of our company for the fact that we decided to exhibit a second time.

Last year was a great experience, but it was a huge expense for our business and initially we weren’t sure if it was necessarily worth it. But, here’s the thing, I’m a competitive person. I knew we could do it better. You can only learn so much from listening to webinars, reading blog posts, and asking other people. Doing it was really the only way we could truly know if it would be worth it for our company. We saw first hand what worked and what didn’t, what was worth the investment and what we should have spent more money on. So, for that reason alone – I knew we could do it better - we decided to exhibit at the Stationery Show for the second time.

I joked a couple times we did the show a second time just so we could use a small notebook and tiny stapler to collect business cards.  Last year we used a three ring binder and a huge stapler. It as almost comical.  

Best decision ever! We took strategic actions and made informed decisions to improve the outcome of the show this year. Each one led to a boost in our morale and in our sales. We consider that a win-win!

We wanted to share some of what we learned in year one and how we executed in year two, so we have made this post two parts. Scroll down or click here to read our top two misconceptions from year one.

THANK YOU’S:

If I wasn’t so competitive we may have not exhibited at the show this year. I had to prove to myself we could learn, grow, and continue to take Love Jac to a new level. We have to thank all of our family and friends who constantly support us, this company, and exhibiting at this trade show. They trusted us that this was the right decision and supported us in every way possible. 

Chad Carter – I can’t tell you what a great husband this man is. He is constantly putting our family and my crazy ideas first! He shows his love in his actions and that does not get overlooked! Who he is always makes me strive to be a better person as well.

Cathy, Tom, & Tommy Conroy – My family…what would I do without you? Who would I be? Thank you for being amazing and in this case taking our children on the best adventures while we were working at the show. Also, thank you for the garage space, the cargo van, and the weekends of prep work!

Jen Jones – There are people who would love to spend an entire day with the one and only Jen Jones!! I feel honored that I had the opportunity. This woman is inspiring on so many levels – plus, she’s a true friend!!

Thanks to what feels like the entire staff of an Emmy Winning Talk Show! -- You know who you are and I am beyond grateful for how you without hesitation have supported and helped us out. Everything…from your encouraging Instagram likes to physically helping set up our booth. I thank all of you. I honestly think one of the reasons your show is so successful is because it is produced by such wonderful, talented, and good-souled individuals.

Our customers – and our friends. I am purposely listing these two together because I believe that our customers are our friends. Thank you for your text messages, emails, Instagram comments, and Facebook likes. Every single one is like getting a big hug. And thank you to all our friends who actually came by to give us a hug! Thank you, thank you, thank you! 

OUR NEIGHBORS

Once again we met many new people at the show this year. We wanted to introduce you to our neighbors this year!!!

Print Arms

Caz was one of the first people we met at the show this year. She was setting up next to us and, wouldn’t you know, she’s based in Brooklyn too!! She makes some wonderful cards, prints, and of course, the pillowcases that got everyone’s attention.

Ink Meets Paper

Allison and Daniel run their letterpress company from their studio in South Carolina. They want you to Text Less and Write More! And with their beautiful and well designed cards, you will be happy to oblige. Our favorite new addition is their line of fill-in invitations – making it more affordable for you to get the luxury of a letter-pressed card. Genius!

The Best Card Company

The people behind this company are veterans in the industry. They launched this branch of their company at the show. They offer themed sets of 10 unique notecards.

Sweet Domino Designs

Emily is the owner of Sweet Domino Designs and she is a fellow Trade Show Boot Camp Alum. Her color scheme and sweet sayings make her cards stand out. 

Draw me a Lion

Lisa is a very talented illustrator who has a great esthetic. Her cards, prints, and calendars are whimsical and bold. We particularly love her colour me postcards.

La Familia Green

I met Mollie when I first walked the National Stationery Show in 2007 -- when Love Jac was just an idea.  It was her first time exhibiting and she was hand cutting the beautiful paper images on all of her cards!  Now, her company has grown and her cards can be found in over 200 stores nationwide. We've kept in touch over the years and it was wonderful to have dinner in Brooklyn and get to know her a little better.  Oh - and we also ran into Nick Lachey on the way to the Paper Party! So that's pretty amazing!

Paper Bandit Press

We met Kim online. Ok, that sounds weird. But after last year’s show we both commented on each others blog posts and then we found each other again in one of the NSS webinars….or was it on The Oh So Beautiful Paper post? Let’s just say if the Internet was a city, we kept running into each other at the same parties.   You must check out this great video showcasing their business. Kim and her husband Brett make beautiful letterpress cards and prints in their Utah studio.

Trade Show Boot Camp

We knew about Trade Show Boot Camp during the preparation of our first show, but felt a little pricey and we couldn’t justify spending the money. This year we decided it would be a good investment. We had a little extra money in our budget and we had heard nothing but positive reviews.  Plus, we looked at it as supporting another small business as well.  Let me tell you, after the first five minutes of the first webinar I knew it was worth every penny. Katie Hunt started Trade Show Boot Camp after she exhibited at her first trade show. She felt that new companies could benefit from the knowledge of professionals in the industry. What she built is an amazing community of talented designers, store owners, and members of the press that all want to help each other succeed. We 100% recommend this program. If you have any questions, feel free to email me directly! 

Year two at The National Stationery Show was awesome. We are proud and so happy with where our company is right now. Please be sure to check out our new retailers: Read Between The Lines Shop in Dallas, TX; Verde in Philadelphia, PA, Cocoon in New Platz, NY, Curate in Millburn, NJ, NOMAD in Cambridge, MA, and The Coop Arts & Antiques in Peekskill, NY. When you stop by make sure you tell them we say hi.

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Our NSS Misconceptions Evaluated

As we stated, this year’s National Stationery Show was as different as night and day compared to last year’s show. The experience from doing it once gave us such a better understanding of how things worked. We’d like to share our top two misconceptions about The National Stationery Show with you. We hope sharing our experience and how we improved things year two will help anyone who is considering exhibiting in the future.

MISCONCEPTION #1: Buyers walking by will stop to browse, take the time to read all your cards, and then place orders.

The biggest misconception of The National Stationery Show for us was that buyers come to the show to browse and discover new companies. In our opinion, that is just not true. The Jacob K. Javits Center is enormous and no one walks in and thinks, “Ahh…I can’t wait to read every card in every booth.” It’s not happening. If you are a stationery lover, you walk in and first think, “I’ve died and gone to heaven.” Then, after one or two aisles, you begin to get overwhelmed and most booths begin to blur together. Even if each single booth has beautiful, funny and unique cards (which is 95% the case), how can one person take it all in?

ACTUALITY #1: If buyers know about you ahead of time and are interested, they will stop to take a closer look.

Here’s the truth: exhibiting at The National Stationery Show does show buyers you are the real deal and if you get their attention beforehand they will take interest. For NSS 2014, we mailed out 8 pre-show mailers. Eight! What were we thinking?!? Well, I’ll tell you. We wanted to really keep it personal so, instead of mailing directly to the stores, we contacted our customers and asked them to drop off a card at their favorite shops. Not a bad idea in theory, but in reality the odds of someone (a) doing this to begin with and then (b) that store actually planning on going to the show was not working in our favor. A couple weeks before the show I chose my top stores and dropped off a personal note myself. Truth be told – of the 8, we did get two orders; they just didn’t happen until months after the show.

Last year's mailers.

This year we mailed out 170 pre-show mailers. The best part of the process was we spent weeks researching stores and in turn discovered close to 200 fun, unique, and interesting stores across The United States. Identifying these stores as potential retailers for our cards was the win! Because of those mailers, before the show even started we received our first order via email.

This year's mailers.

The other small tweak associated with getting buyers’ attention that we think was extremely beneficial was enlarging 4 of our most popular cards. (We had this done at Print Icon – we highly recommend their work!) If someone doesn’t know beforehand to stop at your booth, it’s not very likely they will stop. Last year we felt like people didn’t even give us the chance to know if they liked or didn’t like us because they weren’t stopping to read our cards. This year, because we enlarged our normal 5’’x 7’’ card to a 15’’x 21’’ card, people walking by could quickly glance and know if they liked us.

This might sound like a simple statement, but the people who actually came into our booth were the ones with real interest...the ones who placed orders. The people who walked by probably wouldn’t place an order anyway, so we didn’t mind if they didn’t stop. People tell you to try to disconnect from your product and not take things personally at the show. This is incredibly difficult. Enlarging our cards was our way of getting our aesthetic across to those passing by so we didn’t have to feel badly if they didn’t stop.

We also made a couple other minor adjustments to our booth that we think made a big impact. This year we made each row of cards one color instead of choosing the card stock color based on the photo itself. We also ditched the darker furniture for a white toy chest, some plexi-stands, and our favorite yellow chair. Overall, the booth was brighter and more appealing from far away.

MISCONCEPTION #2: In order for the show to be successful we had to collect enough orders at the show to make our money back and turn a profit.

Our second misconception was that the number of orders we received at the show would be our barometer of success. When you put so much of your money into something it’s difficult not to be focused on making that money back and then turning a profit. Last year when the show finished we hadn’t come close to even making our money back. That’s a hard fact. After the show we followed up, continued getting several orders – including our largest store yet, Paper Presentation, and not only made our money back, but turned a profit. Not a huge profit, but still a profit. However, because we were so focused on the number of orders we received at the show, I still felt like a failure. It wasn’t until Katie Hunt from Trade Show Boot Camp and her wonderful panel of speakers said it directly to me that it clicked. “You cannot base your success of The National Stationery Show on your orders.” My friends and family had said similar things plenty of times before, but it took hearing it from other stationers who had exhibited at the show for it to really mean something. Thank you, Katie!

ACTUALITY #2: Exhibiting at The National Stationery Show is the success.

You’ve now brought your company to the next level, you will make connections with retailers, licensing companies, manufacturers, fellow stationers, and some really nice people. We went into this year not worrying about orders. It took many pep talks and a lot of re-shifting of our thought process to get here, but when we showed up at the Javits Center to build our booth we were not nervous, we were just excited. From day one we felt so much better…so much more confident. We had made it to the finish line of this leg of the race. It was time to enjoy it and be proud of all we had accomplished.

We need to mention that we did get orders – and, as my husband pointed out, you don’t worry about not having something when you already have it. But we do feel like the orders were icing on the cake -- icing that’s necessary for our company to thrive but, by not thinking about the orders, we really had a wonderful time.

Instead of focusing on orders, we focused on the people we could meet. The National Stationery Show is basically a big gathering of “our people” -- paper lovers, scrapbookers, and design enthusiasts. This year, especially with the release of our new Inkable Envelope Stamps, we did research ahead of time. We reached out to some of the bloggers we thought might be at the show. We looked at the show as an opportunity to meet individuals who we have admired for some time. It was nice to be able to congratulate them on the success they have created for themselves in their careers and thank them for sharing it with the world. 

The talented Amy Tan & her adorable son Jack.  They couldn't have been nicer!  We've been following Amy's scrapbooking for a while now.  We love these Amy Tangerine alpha stickers that she designed!  Her blog has been really helpful to us and we've learned a lot from her December Daily video.  Also, how cute are these baby onesies?

Kelly Purkey was as lovely in person as she seems online.  Her products are modern and fun.  We love this stamp set.  It's sold out in her shop, but we found it available here. We plan to use it in our summer mini album.  In the meantime, we just ordered this stamp set, which you can watch her use in this video!

While I was showing Sarah our Inkable Envleope Stamps, she mentioned she knew about clear stamps so I asked her if she scrapbooked.  Then I saw her badge! Studio Calico is our favorite scrapbook subscription plan! They recently teamed up with A Beautiful Mess and are producing the Messy Box!!  I felt so honored to meet such talented successful women including fellow Studio Calico team members Rachel & Cathy.

This being our second year, we also knew so many more people. Last year was like freshman year of high school. We didn’t know anyone and everything made us nervous. This year was our sophomore year and it was like coming back from summer vacation. We were excited to catch up with our booth mates from last year. Plus, over the course of the year we had met several people online that we were looking forward to meeting in person.

We met Melinda at NSS last year through a friend of a friend.  She was also exhibiting.  Her stationery and print line "Read Between The Lines" is wonderful.  (This is my favorite!  This is Chad's favorite.) This year she was walking the show for her new brick & mortar flagship store!  It was great to catch up, plus she placed an order!

I met Cyndie on Instagram.  She's an incredibly motivating business coach.  It was great to meet her in person at the show.  Megan is her friend and I found out later that she has a fabulous jewelry line & was on Elise Get's Crafty discussing Pintrest! It's a great interview! 

If you are considering doing the show, we hope our experience from year one to year two is helpful. Someone once told us you had to exhibit at a Trade Show for at least 4 years before you really started turning a profit. While we don’t know if that is exactly true, we do see their point. Year two was much better than year one and a large part of that is simply because it was year two. We learned, we grew, and people remembered us. We can’t wait to see what will be in store year three!!

 

 

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Introducing: Inkable Envelope Stamps

We are so excited to announce our newest product! Say hello to our Inkable Envelope Stamps™!

This set of 15 photopolymer stamps was designed specifically to decorate your mailing envelopes. If you scrapbook or frequent the craft store you probably know about this type of stamp already. Many companies make them and have talented artists create the designs. The first set I bought was a Martha Stewart Christmas collection! And, really, who is more trustworthy than Martha when it comes to crafts!

For those of you who don’t know, these stamps come on a plastic sheet. You peel them off and stick to an acrylic block.

This is what makes these stamps so desirable. Because you can see through the acrylic block you are able to align your image and stamp it in the exact spot you want it to appear. Sometimes that’s not as easy with your typical wooden block stamp. Once you are done, you simply clean it, peel it off, and put it back. The stamps are reusable and remain sticky allowing you to use them time and time again.

At Love Jac we strongly believe in having a fun envelope. All our envelopes come in bright colors so that when you get a Love Jac card in the mail you are immediately excited. Our Inkable Envelope Stamps take it one step further. We have designed them so you can embellish your envelope quickly. We have also given you “fill-in-the-blank” stamps that allow you to personalize your envelope even more. Below is a breakdown of each stamp, the reasons we love them, and examples of how you can use them to make your envelope that much more fun!

This has been an idea of mine for some time now and, thanks to a little help from my “One Little Word: Push,” I decided to make it happen this year. The response so far has been wonderful. Our Inkable Envelope Stamps have been selected as a finalist in The National Stationery Show’s Best New Product Contest! We can’t wait to get them in stores and into your hands.

Currently, we are selling limited number of stamp sets right here through our website. The price includes shipping and a bonus greeting card.  We hope you enjoy them as much as we do and they make your friends smile the moment they open their mailbox!

FROM/TO (with large arrows)

We personally love the large arrows of this stamp and how the two words fit together almost like a puzzle. It balances your envelope, filling up the area that is usually blank.

FROM/TO (with small arrows)

We like using this smaller version for instances when we write smaller or use a printed sticker. This stamp connects both addresses in a fun, friendly way.

DELIVER TO:

We love that the text on this stamp is the negative space. There’s something very official about it - in a gentle way. We often use this when we write our return address on the back of the envelope, but it can definitely be used with the return address on the front too.

HAND DRAWN ENVELOPE

We could draw envelopes for days! This one is cute and is kind of ironic in that I-just-stamped-an-envelope-on-an-envelope type of way. You can also repeat it for a wallpaper-like pattern.

HAND DRAWN HEART

We are Love Jac, so we had to include a hand drawn heart! You can use this anywhere. We even like to pair it up with some of the other stamps!

HAND DRAWN POSTAGE STAMP HEART

There’s something romantic about the squiggly border of a postage stamp, no? We put a heart inside to make it even more loveable. We use this stamp often when we are hand delivering our card. We also like to stamp it in front of our return address.  

#HAPPYMAIL

If you know us, you know we are a little obsessed with hashtags. We often watch that Jimmy and Justin skit for a pick-me-up! And if you want to smile, just click on #HAPPYMAIL on Instagram. At the time of this blog post there are over 216,890 photos of fun happy decorated mail!! If we don’t control ourselves we’d cover the entire envelope with this stamp. Actually, forget that, we are going for it!

SNAIL MAIL

Some may consider it a lost art form but, if you’re with us (and since you are reading this you probably are), we are here to keep snail mail alive! Just seeing those words warms our hearts. We used the negative space for this stamp to make it that much more cozy.

LOVE THIS STAMP

Anyone else obsessed with finding a good postage stamp!?! We will stock up when we find the latest interesting stamp at the post office. We designed this one to celebrate that postage stamp. It fits perfectly around the bottom left corner.

Now let’s personalize….

SEALED WITH

This is our version of a waxed seal. Stamp it on the back and make it sweet or funny. 

OPEN FOR

Your friend just opened their mailbox. Your envelope has caught their attention and they have forgotten all about the bills and junk mail also in their hand. This is your chance to give them a sneak peek into the contents of your note!

HANDLE WITH

We love our mailman (his name is George). This stamp is a friendly note to your postal carrier. If seeing this envelope makes their day a little better, our job is done!

I MEANT TO MAIL THIS ON

Possibly our favorite of all the stamps, this one is designed to mimic your typical postal date stamp and is for all of us who write that card and then forget to send it for weeks!! This will hopefully soften the blow when your card arrives later than you intended. We also hope it gives you the courage to send that note even if it is late. You can stamp it anywhere on the envelope. And even add the postal waves to make it extra official.

POSTAL WAVES & DOUBLE CIRCLE

Because we love those postal waves, we wanted you to be able to use them as much as possible.   You can use them alone, add them to any of the fill in the blank circles, or even pair them with this blank double circle.

Designing these stamps was truly a labor of love and we can’t wait to see how you use them on your envelopes. Tag us in your posts or hashtag #inkableenvelopestamps so we can see your creations!!

 

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Visit us at NSS 2015 - Booth #1454

The National Stationery Show is less than a week away! As we finalize all the last details, we would like to share our mailer with you.

Going into the show this year we knew we wanted to dedicate more time in advance researching stores and contacting them so they knew who we were before they walked into The Javits Center.

We took the advice we received from Katie Hunt and her team of panelists during the Trade Show Book Camp webinar series. We also found this article written by Emily Blistein, owner of Clementine, and Nole Garey of Oh, So Beautiful Paper extremely helpful.

Many of the steps that are necessary when participating in the National Stationery Show can be a little overwhelming. Instead of making an elaborate mailer, we decided to keep it simple and focus on three main goals. We wanted to showcase our cards, make it personal, and use our newest product to decorate our envelopes.

#1 – SHOWCASE OUR CARDS

Since our cards are all photography based, we knew we wanted to show a photo of one of our favorite cards. We decided on our best selling birthday card. We met the extremely talented photographer, Tal Kagan, down by the Brooklyn Bridge one really cold morning. While there we snapped a handful of photos and ultimately settled on this one.

#2 – MAKE IT PERSONAL

For the back for the cards we wanted to write a specific note to each retail store. We knew this would take time so we created a fill-in-the-blank card to allow us to focus on making it personal.

#3 – DECORATE THE ENVELOPES

Our Inkable Envelope Stamps arrived just in time to decorate our envelopes. We printed the addresses in typewriter font to match the esthetic of our greeting cards, then stamped each envelope to make it stand out. Because we can’t throw away an envelope, we had saved up an entire box filled with a rainbow spectrum. This was the perfect opportunity to put them to good use.

We spent weeks researching stores and creating a master list. We then spent an entire weekend printing, writing, and decorating these mailers.

We finally finished them on a Monday morning spent at one of our favorite coffee shops. It was the best feeling when we finally slipped that rainbow of envelopes into the blue mailbox.

We are so happy to let you know that all the hard work has started to pay off already. We received an email the following week from one of the stores. We were happy to offer them the show specials and they placed an order. Our cards can now be purchased at NOMAD in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

If you know anyone going to The National Stationery Show, please pass our mailer along to them. Make sure you tell them to say hi at the show.  We will be in Booth #1454 and excited to meet and talk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Make an Egg & Spoon Shaker

We are so excited to be teaming up with Miss Nina once again. We have loved Miss Nina from the moment we met her at a friend’s first birthday party. We quickly became obsessed with her weekly children’s music videos.  Read more about why we love Miss Nina here.  Over time we became friends and together we ramped up her birthday party packages – creating a Step & Repeat, StickersTemporary "Tattly" Tattoos, & Thank You Cards!!

Today – we are debuting our first Miss Nina + Love Jac Craft Video!! The Egg & Spoon Shaker!!

These videos will feature simple craft projects that will make watching Miss Nina’s videos even more interactive. Now you can sing-a-long, dance-a-long, and CRAFT-a-long for some fun together-time with your little one.

This week’s video features an easy Egg & Spoon Shaker. The project takes less than five minutes to make and will produce hours of fun.

Materials List:

Plastic Egg

Un-popped Popcorn Kernels

2 Plastic Spoons

Tape (we used decorative Duct Tape)

Watch the video once and you’ll be able to make our version of a maraca! Then sing-a-long & dance-a-long with Miss Nina!!

Our friends from Tiny But Mighty Popcorn are getting in on the fun too!! They are giving away a bag of their Kettle Ready-To-Eat Popcorn and a box of their NEW Butter Microwave Popcorn to 3 lucky winners.  To enter: post a photo of your egg shaker on Instagram or Twitter and hashtag #TBMPopcorn.  Three winners will be selected at random.  If you haven’t tried their popcorn yet, it’s a must. Our favorite is flavor is Kettle Corn.

Hope you have fun!! We’d love to see the shakers you make with your little ones…tag us on Instagram or Twitter - @LoveJacCards or leave a comment below.

Happy Crafting!

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