As this October approached we brainstormed ideas for Halloween costumes. We wanted to do something that reflected what the kids were into and, as of late, that is The Berenstain Bears! When the idea came to me I was over the moon. I mentioned it to Georgia and she was immediately on board!
Chad & I both grew up reading the Berenstain Bears and when Georgia started showing an interest in them we were so excited. It started last Christmas when her MaMa (Chad’s mom) introduced her to “The Spooky Old Tree.” Georgia loved the repetition and the way MaMa would emphasize when each bear would get “the shivers!” We loved that book so much we brought it back to Brooklyn with us. After that we have steadily increased our Berenstain Bear book collection, picking up one each time we visit Greenlight Bookstore and checking out multiple books from the Brooklyn Public Library. The books are slightly longer than what we had been reading, but Georgia’s attention span has lengthened and we love cuddling on the couch or on a park bench to read for a while.
The Bear Family is our type of people. They have good manners, follow the rules, and talk respectfully to their parents. Each book has a great lesson and is easily relatable to events in our lives. We’ve had some great conversations after reading these books.
What better way to remember our love for The Berenstain Bears than be them for Halloween! So I got to work.
(pink overalls, polka-dot shirt, and hair bow)
The light pink color was key to making this outfit look perfect. While visiting my parents, we took a trip to Wal-mart and found the perfect pair of sweatpants! I bought two pairs so I could cut the straps out of the second pair. I picked up a long sleeve white shirt and a white hair bow with pink polka-dots.
When I got back to Brooklyn, I cut a scalloped shape strap out of each pant leg. I machine-sewed it shut on the outside. Typically when you make a strap, you will turn it inside out when you sew it so that your seam isn’t seen. Since I wanted the scalloped shape to be very clear I just used a light pink thread and followed the shape of the fabric. I then sewed the strap onto the pants. This time I did turn the pants inside out so that the extra fabric would be hidden inside.
For the shirt, we used a round sponge brush and stamped on the polka-dots. I did the front by myself, eye-balling the dots so they were equally spaced. One of the main reasons I love DIYing Halloween costumes is the sense of pride you get from doing it yourself! I really wanted Georgia to have some ownership of her costume as well, so together we did the back. Now – if you’ve ever done a craft project with a child it’s important to give up a little control…try your hardest not to be a perfectionist. Remember the point of all this is to have them involved and create an experience and not to have a perfect polka-dotted shirt. This isn’t the easiest thing to do, but I took some deep breaths and was okay with the dots being right on top of each other and some lines mixed in there too. She insisted on using an actual brush to fill in the dots so I took another deep breath and watched her beam with happiness.
(red long-sleeved polo shirt and blue pants)
Brother Bear was by far the easiest. We didn’t even have to buy anything. We simply layered our red short-sleeved polo shirt over a red long-sleeved onesie and paired it with blue pants. Not gonna lie – I did go into every store on Fulton Mall that sold children’s clothes looking for an actual long-sleeved red polo, but could never find it in Conroy’s size.
(blue dress with white polka-dots & yellow hat)
Mama Bear’s costume was fairly easy – once I found a solid long-sleeved blue dress. Thanks, Forever 21. I made a stencil using cardboard and a round hole-punch and used white fabric paint to sponge on the polka-dots. I cut the collar out of white felt and hand-stitched it onto the dress.
Mama Bear wears two different hats: a blue polka-dot shower cap-looking hat and a stylish yellow and red hat with a flower. I chose to make the latter.
Luckily, I had a similarly shaped hat already. I wore it for many summers – so I did not feel bad sacrificing it in honor of Halloween fun! The kids and I painted the majority of it yellow. Georgia really enjoyed an afternoon craft of painting. I covered the bottom part of the hat with red felt using hot glue. (My original hat has a black bottom). To finish it off, I made a quick flower out of felt and a green pipe cleaner!
(yellow shirt, overalls, and a brown floppy hat)
Papa Bear’s outfit was also very simple. We bought a yellow button down shirt at Banana Republic Factory Outlet and, thankfully, my mom had a pair of men’s overalls from an old Halloween costume that she let us borrow.
The tricky part was the hat. After going to numerous stores on what seemed to be a scavenger hunt for a hat similar to Papa Bear’s, it finally occurred to me that I could buy two brown winter beanie hats and make Papa Bear’s hat fairly easily. Since we live in Downtown Brooklyn where there are many street vendors selling hats, I was able to buy the hats moments after I had this epiphany! I cut the bottom off of one hat and inserted some thin cardboard I had cut into a ring shape to make the brim. I then hand-stitched the brim to the bottom of the other hat. To hide the seam and finish off the hat, I hot glued a light brown ribbon. In order to allow the hat to stretch when put on – I cut the ribbon twice so that it wasn’t one continuous loop. I disguised the cuts with loose ribbon. This enabled it to conform to Chad’s head. It was still a little snug, but it looked good!
The final touch was a simple black circle on each of our noses drawn with eyeliner. Conroy surprisingly sat completely still while I drew on his nose. Love that kid! To replicate some bear feet, we wore shoes that most resembled bear paws…my Ugg’s, Chad’s Tims, Georgia’s brown boots, and Conroy wore a pair of Georgia’s Ugg’s (yes they were big, but that kid loves shoes so he didn’t mind.)
We truly enjoy making our Halloween costumes. We attended a Halloween party in our building that we helped organize. It was a lot of fun and was the perfect end to our Halloween weekend!
We must give an extra shout-out to my amazing husband & the best Papa Bear around! This picture might illustrate his true feeling about dressing up on Halloween, but besides this one snapshot - you couldn't tell. When someone asked Georgia if Chad was going to dress up she confidently replied, "Of course he will!" We all want to make sure he knows how much we appreciate his participation!
We can confidently say October is our favorite month! The fall is here and that means sweaters, crisp air, and pumpkin-everything!
October is also the month of my birthday – which is what made it my favorite month as a child. And to be honest, I’ve had some pretty amazing adult celebrations as well. We are birthday people in our house!!
Chad, Georgia, Me, Scott, & Shannon Trapeze-ing on my 30th
It’s also the month Chad & I got married. This year is our 5th year anniversary and we are celebrating it kid-free in the city where we fell in love!!
Finally – October is when we celebrate Halloween - our favorite holiday. Yes, we are those people who like to celebrate Halloween as much as possible!! We have already made a list of Halloween crafts we plan to do. Plus, there’s our actual Halloween costume!
Another fun addition to October’s agenda this year is my personal #exercisemymoneysworth challenge. After the success of our #cartercarolinacrunch, I joined the gym here in Brooklyn – thinking I would go. It was a three-month membership and for the first two months I went a total of ONE time! When I realized I just paid full price for 3 months for just one actual visit, I decided to set a plan in motion. Determined to get my money’s worth, I decided to lean on the encouragement of our Instagram and Facebook friends to hold me accountable. I drew up a calendar and planned out ten days I could go to the gym before my membership expires on October 22nd. So far, I’ve been three times and it feels amazing!! I am actually one visit ahead of schedule. If you are interested in cheering me along, I’d love to have the support!
We hope you are all enjoying your October as much as we are! If you are looking for a fun craft project – don’t forget about our favorite Apple Stamped Jack-O-Lantern Cards.
Halloween is our favorite holiday. We love a theme and we love an excuse to get dressed up!! As this Halloween quickly approaches we wanted to take a second and reflect on the Ghosts of Halloweens past! Georgia is three years old now and has a definite opinion! Since this holiday is really about the kids, we are accepting the fact that our influence on the Halloween costumes has come to an end. We might try to sneak in one last family costume for our building’s Halloween Party, so stay tuned!
Georgia’s 1st Halloween: Our Georgia Peach
She was 9 months old, a master crawler, and beginning to figure out how to walk. Her interests were just developing so we went with a costume that highlighted her name. Our Georgia Peach! Yes, we more often call her “Georgia Pie” but my sewing skills were more apt for creating a peach.
I sewed the costume out of silky peach fabric. I love sewing. I grew up around my grandmother, a true seamstress. She made many, if not all, of the costumes for my brother and myself. She taught me the basics. Then in my twenties I took a week-long intensive class in the Garment District one summer. This was obviously pre-kids. Even with this education my sewing style is best described as “Winging It” and “Good Enough.” I would love to include a tutorial on how I made this costume but, honestly, I just winged it. I pictured a ball in my mind, thought of it like a beach ball, and sewed four segments together. I did an inner ball and an outer ball so I could stuff it with filling. I left room for her head and cut out arm holes. I used some elastic to make a hat and sewed on some felt leaves to complete the outfit.
Because we love a theme, I got some overalls, a floppy hat, and went as the proudest Peach Farmer in Brooklyn. My husband Chad, not as into a theme, kinda dressed as a tree at the last minute for some fun photos at our friends’ home.
Georgia’s 2nd Halloween: Janitor Georgia
For her second Halloween we wanted to play up something she was truly into and at 1 year and 9 months – this kid was OBSESSED with keys! So, obviously, a janitor was the perfect costume for her. After looking online and at several stores for a one-piece janitor outfit – The Gap came to the rescue!! I must have looked like I won the lottery when I found it. I was so excited.
We then had a local embroidery lady sew a patch that said Georgia. I then hand stitched it onto the Gap jumpsuit. Chad sent an email to his co-workers to gather up some old keys we could use. We wanted to jazz them up, so we took a page from P.S. I Made This and used sparkly nail polish to make them truly special.
If you’ve been around an almost 2 year old you know that they are non-stop, so I gave myself a pass this year on getting into the fun. I guess you can say I went as a janitor wrangler cause I spend the whole day chasing her everywhere.
Georgia’s 3rd Halloween: Lady Liberty
Year three – our almost three-year-old was really into the American Flag. She could literally spot them out everywhere…flying at schools, post offices, and in windows. I quickly learned we live in a neighborhood very proud of our country! Chad is from the South where our flag is more affectionately know as “Old Glory”!! So while strolling through Brooklyn, I’d see that little hand point and say “Hey Mom, there’s Old Glory!” We had to celebrate this in our Halloween costume! But how do you dress up as the American Flag?....so we went with the next best thing - The Statue of Liberty! As soon as I suggested it, Georgia was onboard.
I got a silky bluish-green fabric from our local store and did what I do best – winged it. I folded the fabric in half, held it up to Georgia, and cut it to the right width and length. I then cut a hole for the head and cut out a triangle (so it looked like a snow angel) for each arm. I then sewed the sides up so she now had the bottom of the dress and sleeves.
I next made two sashes and hand sewed them to the dress. For the crown I cut and hot-glued foam to form the shape. I then laid fabric over it, cut and sewed so that it was completely covered. For the tablet, I simply used one of our books that was a good size and sewed a quick cover. I used a sharpie to write on the fabric. For the torch I used a lightweight flashlight. I sewed a simple sleeve to slip it into – using a ribbon to keep it tight. I then scotch-taped some tissue paper to the top to make the flames!
That year I had the energy to join in on the costume theme. Conroy went as Uncle Sam. My mom had bought a stars and stripes outfit around the Fourth of July that fit perfectly. I used felt to sew him a top hat and even attached a white felt beard to it.
Conroy was only 2 months old so he was so young he just wore the hat. It was so cute! At the last minute I decided to go as Rosie the Riveter. I cut some red fabric to put in my hair as a bandana and wore a button up shirt with the sleeves rolled up. I had this dream of getting Chad an Abraham Lincoln get-up, but with two kids (and a husband who isn’t super into dressing up) it just didn’t happen.
With an almost three-year-old who is in many activities, this costume was well worn: dance class, school party, neighborhood activities, play dates, friend parties, and trick-or-treating …by the end, Georgia had that pose mastered!
And that brings us to this year…I have something in mind that again plays off the interest of both kids and our family of four. It does include Chad dressing up, so you will have to wait and see. Georgia also has a couple ideas of her own, so we might have two costumes!! Regardless – I better start sewing now!!
Drum role please…..I finally finished my first Project Life Album!!! I am so excited to share this post with you because (1) I am in love with how it turned out, and (2) sharing it means I actually finished it. So, I must thank you for holding me accountable and helping motivate me!
You can watch a quick Flip-Through Video here!
I fell in love with the concept of Project Life as soon as I saw the promotional video on Becky Higgins’ website. I love to scrapbook, but it seriously takes so much time I find myself thinking about it a lot more than actually doing it. I have made a couple SMASHbooks recently (one for a friend & one for Georgia), but with Conroy here I knew I’d have even less time.
That’s the genius behind Becky Higgins’ Project Life! Simply put, it is a scrapbooking system that includes different plastic sleeves, in which you slip cards or photo to tell your story. No need to cut or paste! The thought is to devote one spread per week to your life and when the year is complete you have everything chronicled in one binder.
Since I discovered Project Life while I was pregnant with Conroy, I thought – done and done. I will make a Project Life of his first year and then, when he turns one, I’ll have his baby book all set! Then reality set in…I had an infant. As much as I tried to create folders and choose the pictures from the first couple weeks of his life, after about 6 weeks I found myself slipping (plus, I hadn’t even printed anything yet – let alone put it in a sleeve). I was ambitious and took a Big Picture Class ran by Elise Blaha Cripe, Annette Haring, and Megan Anderson. I learned a lot from them, but couldn’t find time to actually put something together. Next thing I knew it had been 3 months, then 9 months. By this point, I finally admitted to myself that it just wasn’t happening.
That’s when I came up with the idea to make a Summer Project Life Mini-Album. I figured you have to start somewhere – and the best time is now!
The first thing I did was buy a mini-album and some pocket pages. I already had journal cards from the core kit I originally bought. I knew I had to start with the photos so I made a folder within iPhoto and the process began!
Overall, I found that I worked best by creating structure. Making the process more methodic kept me moving along and gave me specific times to get creative. I broke the entire process down into three major steps: (1) Photos (2) Cards, (3) Journaling & Embellishments, and then divided up each step within it.
I worked on the photos in three batches. (1) Before North Carolina, (2) Visiting North Carolina, and (3) the end of summer. Each time, I made one folder in iPhoto and dragged in all the pictures that I loved which told the story of our summer. I then went through that album and whittled it down a little. Then I’d take those photos and divide them into three separate folders…4x6s, 3x4s and 3x3s (since a lot of my photos were also Instagram photos). I used Photoshop to put two 3x4 photos on one 4x6 print. I did the same for the 3x3s. I then had them printed at CVS.
I would start by putting the photos in chronological order choosing between my two pocket page options (4 3x4s or 2 4x6s). I’d later go back and round the corners so that they matched the cards. Photos – Done!
I used the Sunshine Kit that Emma & Elsie from A Beautiful Mess designed. I love the bright colors in this kit. The core kits offer so many cards you don’t have to worry about messing up or wasting one. There are PLENTY! Off the bat, I took 11 cards and labeled them per week so I could keep track of what we did each week. I like the idea of using this in a regular project life book, but honestly I didn’t love it in my summer album. I ended up going back and re-writing the information a little neater because the messiness was really bothering me. At this point, I’m glad the information is in there for documenting’s sake, but honestly feel that a summer album would be ok without them. Adding the cards was enjoyable and relaxing. I simply flipped through the album and filled in the holes with cards that coordinated nicely.
Bonus: Traveling with the cards was so easy!
I added the first batch of cards while we were in North Carolina. Another great thing about the system Becky Higgins set up is that traveling with it is so easy. I loaded up my page pockets with multiple cards, so all I had to travel with is the mini-album itself. This also helped me contain my “mess” while we were staying at my in-laws.
JOURNALING AND EMBELLISHMENTS:
Getting all the photos and cards into the album felt like an accomplishment in itself. Now my reward was to enjoy the memories and make it pretty. I struggled initially with HOW I wanted to tell the story. I really enjoyed writing to Georgia when I made her the SMASHbook, but it just felt weird to write a lot in this book. After a little back-and-forth with my creative self, I decided to stick to using words or phrases to capture the memory. The cards in this kit work better when one embellishment is added or I glued white card stock over the patterned card. They make great backgrounds and are good for creating textured looks. I bought two sets of colored letters…aqua and yellow…plus, this fun Amy Tangerine sticker packet. I gathered all the wooden stamps I thought would be helpful, plus the Stazon ink pad Elise recommended. I set up a “journaling station,” shut the door to my office, turned on some music, and got lost in crafting! (This YouTube Mix was my go-to music playlist)
Thanks to the format of this method of scrapbooking it was a lot simpler than staring at a blank sheet of paper. However, I ran into two big hurdles that I feel are pretty common. Here’s how I got through them…
Challenge #1: Too Many Photos
The second batch of photos I did back in Brooklyn. I was slightly overwhelmed because in addition to my regular iPhone photos, plus a few DSLR photos, I had all my mother-in-law’s photos. To say she likes to document life is an understatement. I like to joke that we can make a flipbook out of her photos. She always has her camera around her neck and that results in some of my all time favorite candid shots.
And with children - the truth is - sometimes you need to take almost a hundred photos to get a handful of good ones. Instead of letting this overwhelming feeling halt my progress, I decided to break this process down even more. Giving myself baby steps let me detach myself slightly. But, seriously, how do you delete a photo of your child – even a bad one? Instead of deleting, I decided I would make a folder and only add the pictures that “said something.” I next went back through and only allowed myself to keep three pictures from a certain activity. I still had too many, but I decided to just print these and then whittle it down even more. I laid all the photos out on the table and put them in order. Then I slipped them into the photo sleeves, eliminating more photos as I went. I would show my husband two photos and have him pick the one he liked best. Sometimes the only way to detach yourself emotionally is to literally give the decision to someone else. (Still, I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away, so I just put them in a little box to mail to friends….I might have a problem here!). Regardless – the photos were in the album and I checked that off as – DONE!
Challenge #2: Pocket Pages Overload
While we were in North Carolina I kinda went a little pocket page crazy! The store didn’t have Becky Higgins mini-albums, so I had to buy a couple other brands. The other brands offered many different layouts, which got me really excited!! (Later, I realized that the different layouts definitely made the process a little less simple – but I tried to embrace it and let myself be a little more creative). I wasn’t even planning on using these for the album, but when it came time to add the last batch of photos I was running out of pocket protectors. I did not want this to be the reason I didn’t finish the album so I forced myself to seriously focus.
I went through the photos on my computer screen and drew small sketches on post-it notes deciding what photo would go where. This amped up my “pre-production” but let me tell you, once the photos were printed it couldn’t have been easier to put the book together. I just matched everything up to my small, sketched post-it notes.
These new pocket layouts did make the “card” step much harder. I got out the paper cutter, my stack of card stock, and just took it page by page! – This again is the reason Becky Higgins set up her dividers the way she did. The last section of my album isn’t as cohesive as the beginning, but I have to admit I LOVE all the 2x2 pictures of our Carter Carolina Crunch work out and having just one photo be the focus of a page really makes me smile! Plus those pages also allowed me to write a little more!
WHAT I LOVE:
Now for the fun part!! At the end of the day, I’m a maker!! I love creating. I love photography and storytelling!! Here are the top three things I enjoyed most about making this mini-album!
LOVE #1: Finding my voice – documenting
As I said earlier, it took me a little bit to find my grove but, once I did, I was in heaven! My documenting style for this album was to highlight the moment with a phrase and elaborate on a couple when needed. Here are a couple of my favorites.
“Good thing she’s TOUGH and has a great dad.”
We must say this 50 times a day. Any time either of my children takes a spill we always help them up and say “Good thing you are tough.” It helps them know they are ok and can get through life. Also – my family motto growing up was “Conroys are smart and tough” so I feel like this is just one way I’m passing that strength down to my children. The story behind this photo is that Georgia stepped on a rock playing at the splash pad (I may have forgotten her water shoes). At first I wrote all that in a little story, but it was just making me sad thinking about her being hurt – so I chose to focus on the positive and redo the card with this saying!!
“I love [ ]” Cards & “Hello [ ]” Stamps
I really love these cards and stamps!! I used them several times throughout the book. I think they are simple and get right to the point. I love [Katie Erno]. I love [Elmo]. I love [food trucks]. I love [Baby Miles]. Hello [luggage]. Hello [beach]
“Ella” That’s What He Said!!
One of Conroy’s first words was “Ella.” Pretty sure he is trying to say “Elmo” but for over a month he’d point to everything and say “Ella.” This HAD to be recorded so I used the aqua letters and cut out a word bubble. Amy Tangerine’s sticker, “That’s what he said”, worked perfectly here!!
Ok, the idea of the folded card is genius!! And truly helped me be completely honest and keep things looking cute! I only used a couple folded cards throughout the book, but there were some stories I really wanted to tell-- funny things Georgia said, reasons why I love certain people, the truth behind my experience at The Lazy 5 ranch, and my love for a mommy/daughter mani-pedi. I kept the front of these cards simple, with either a photo or a phrase, and then let it all spill out inside. Most people just flipping through the book won’t even think to pull the card out and open it, but it’s in there documented for those who want to read more!
Pre-numbered List Cards
The Sunshine Kit came with many cards that had numbers down the side. This was another chance to record some memories. We listed reasons we love school, qualities Georgia showed at Sesame Place, and our favorite Miss Nina songs.
“Let’s have a weekend with my favorite people in the world”
Towards the end of the album I used the different layouts to my advantage. I used the smaller squares to write a short quote and the single sheets to write more details of bigger events, such as meeting baby Emily and Molly’s wedding.
LOVE #2: Letting the Photos Speak for Themselves
While my husband was flipping through the album he must have said, “That’s my all-time favorite photo!” pointing to about every other photo. That filled my heart with happiness. Capturing an everyday shot of what life is really like is one of my favorite things. A photo can tell so much of the story on it’s own so I decided to let many of the photos do just that. I did try writing directly on a couple photos because I’ve seen that done and it can really look good, but I wasn’t loving it so I decided in this album I’d let the photos speak for themselves. (To fix my attempt at writing on the photos, I just tossed the original and reprinted the photo – super easy). Here are some of my all time favorite photos and why I love them.
On the Big Kid Swings
This photo of Georgia on the big kid swings makes me so proud. She didn’t hesitate at all and loved it so much, she went on twice.
MaMa Capturing the Moment
My favorite part of this photo of Conroy starting to walk is MaMa and her camera in the corner of the shot! It’s true that he gave his grandparents the best gift in the world by learning to walk at their house. Her pride is felt so much in this picture.
His Brave Little Girl
These two photos make me so happy. Our little girl was so brave and rode on the raft all the way out to the middle of the lake. She didn’t think twice when the big kids asked if she wanted to go!! She’s doing her “Miss America” wave and beaming with pride! The second best part of these photos is Chad - standing up on the boat that is pulling the raft. He’s got the stance George Washington had when crossing the Delaware. He was like Michael Phelps at the ready waiting to dive in and win a gold medal. That little girl is his world. He constantly simultaneously encourages her to do anything and everything while protecting her from anything and everything!
Ikea Sums Up Our Life
Oh my goodness! This photo from Ikea!! Often Ikea is our go-to escape. We make a day of it, have lunch, and do some browsing. I’d say 90% of our visit is joy, 10% of the visit is a little chaotic. This photo captures that 10%. The family bathroom has this seat on the wall so an adult can use the bathroom while the child is safe. I have no idea why it’s so high on the wall. I couldn’t NOT put Conroy in the seat while Georgia used the potty (with her travel potty seat of course). This is my life right now. You just gotta laugh sometimes.
Concert in the Park
These two photos from the park are also some of my favorites. Georgia looks like a teenager listening to the coolest band. The photo underneath was taken by my friend on our way to her house after the concert. This is how we roll these days – everyone looks out for each other’s kids and we travel in a pack. The shadows from the trees might be in our faces, but the fact that I had four kids on this crazy stroller just makes me so happy.
LOVE #3: This album is done
I feel so accomplished that this album exists. I’m so glad I put in the time after the kids went to bed and on weekend while my husband took them to the park. It didn’t happen overnight but took way less time than a typical scrapbook. Thank you for letting me share it with you. I am starting one for this year (Sept 2014 – August 2015) and I already have some great ideas!
Going forward I will be sharing some of my Project Life once a month!! If you have any questions or any suggestions, feel free to comment below or email me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org)!! Hope you enjoyed the glimpse at our summer album as much as I did putting it together.
This past Saturday we set up shop at The Pitman Craft Show. The day was perfect!! The weather was a crisp 70 degrees with the sun shining brightly. The show was so organized that it couldn’t have run smoother. Our directions were spelled out on a bright yellow leaflet (that also served as our admittance pass). Police escorts and show volunteers directed our van right behind our assigned 10x10 booth space. Unloading could not have been easier.
We set up next to booths filled with autumn themed decorations and handmade accessories. Our neighbor to the left was an older woman, affectionately referred to as Me-Maw, who had her team of adult children and teenage granddaughters helping her set up her displays and products. Our neighbor to the right was an eclectic gentleman with an elaborate set-up, which included mannequins and spinning racks. Everyone was friendly which made setting up at 7am as delightful as possible. Plus, with my Wawa Mocha in hand, I knew this day was going to be great!!
After we did all the heavy lifting my dad brought Georgia, who jumped right in as head cashier and promotional front woman! I took her to check out the booth we luckily were positioned across from – Dazzling Doodles – a face-painting artist. Georgia did not hesitate and immediately chose to have her face painted like a cute puppy!! Then it was back to work. She handed out postcards and thanked people for shopping! Having her by our side was so much fun. She’d occasionally take a break to climb the big tree in the middle of Pitman or to check out who was getting their face painted at Dazzling Doodles. Georgia has been asking to help sell my cards for months now. She absolutely loves going to work with Chad, so having her help me out as well was so much fun!
The day was filled with visits from family and friends! My Aunt Karen & cousin Jane were the first to arrive! Jane found Georgia and of course had to have her face painted to match! Once Conroy woke up from his nap, my mom brought him by –dressed in his Pitman Orange. My Aunt Patti and Uncle Dave stopped by as well. My cousin Elizabeth came around to say hi and introduced us to her boyfriend and Katrina’s mom and dad drove up to stock up on their greeting card supply. Seeing the faces of all these people I love so much made a day of selling cards that much more meaningful.
We were happy to meet many new customers as well. This is, in fact, our favorite part of doing a craft fair. We met locals who were “card people”…from people who made their own cards to ones who loved sending cards. We talked shop – collaging, stamping, hand embossing!! We loved hearing about the future card receivers too… weddings, birthdays, and good bowlers!! We met teachers and other entrepreneurs. We met people – who if they lived in Brooklyn – we are sure we’d be friends with. It’s always fun to meet people with cool jobs (i.e., Trader Joe’s) and cool kids (i.e., interning at Philly’s hottest radio station – Q102.) There were lots of children in strollers and families spending the day together. We feel so fortunate that we can also include ourselves in that group! Spending the day with our family – whether it’s in Brooklyn at a Volleyball game or in Pitman selling cards at a craft fair – is by far our favorite thing to do!
Thanks to everyone who came out, said hello, gave hugs, and bought some cards!! If you live in South Jersey and are looking for a fun unofficial kick-off to the beginning of fall – The Pitman Craft Show is the place to be! Hope to do it again next year!!
We are excited to announce we will be participating in this year’s Pitman Craft Show. To my mother’s delight, we’re taking it back to our roots and selling in a town neighboring the one in which I grew up – Pitman, NJ.
Saturday, September 20th 2014
9:00am – 4:00pm
Booth: BAL 19 on Ballard Ave
We hope all of our South Jersey friends, family, and customers can make it out and say hi in person!!
Pitman has a special place in my heart because my two amazing aunts both live there with families. My five incredible cousins - Kate, Elizabeth, Rose, Caroline, & Jane – all call this small town their home. I am so proud of each of these young women and I am thankful selling my cards at The Pitman Craft Show gives me another chance to see my family.
If you are in New Jersey and free on Saturday, please stop by and say hello!!
I am so excited to be back to blogging! I just passed the first anniversary of being a mom to two kids (aka Conroy’s first birthday) and I’m so excited for what’s next. As my friends and I say… our family has been “in the trenches” for the past year. Taking care of an infant leaves little time for anything else including the basics, such as showering and sleeping, let alone weekly blogging. As Conroy gets older and more independent, we get a little more sleep and are slowly getting our lives back. This time – since it’s my second go at it - I know what the next six months has in store for us and while I do see the light, I know we will basically have to climb our way out of this trench!! Conroy can walk now - which is amazing – but it also means I literally don’t stop moving all day as I follow him everywhere. I am up for the challenge and I am ready!
Over the summer we were lucky enough to spend two weeks in North Carolina with Chad’s family. During that time we were able to get some much needed rest, exercise, and the time to plan for this coming year. We have put a specific plan on paper so that we can share many things that have happened over the past year (most importantly, my best friend’s wedding), as well as things we are looking forward to (finally joining Etsy and introducing you to our newest retailers). In the past blogging has allowed us to truly enjoy the crafty moments of our life and we can’t wait to do it again. As Georgia gets older, the craft projects get more fun and we look forward to documenting and sharing it all.
Just before Conroy was born we bought all of the products to start “Project Life” to help us record his life. Project Life is a simple way of scrapbooking that consists of putting photos & decorative cards into photo sleeves…no need to glue, cut, or stare at a blank page. I thought this would be so easy to do. I guess I forgot I had an infant because 6 weeks went by, then 3 months, then 9 months, and now it’s been a year. Instead of trying to backtrack, I decided to fully commit to Project Life for his second year of life and share the process with you.
One post a month will be dedicated to Project Life. We chose to do this for two reasons. First- I have really fallen in love with the scrapbooking community – project lifers specifically. We want to be a part of that community and we feel lucky enough to have this blog to do just that. Second – blogging helps us stay accountable. While in North Carolina this summer we gave ourselves a workout challenge. If it wasn’t for our daily Instagram posts, we would have quit on day three. There are so many things we love about Project Life and we can’t wait to share it all with you.
Cards & Customers
We will also profile some of our favorite cards, feature customers who have sent them and friends who have received them. This, in fact, is the best part of creating the cards and running a greeting card company so it is a MUST that we dedicate some space on the Internet for it.
We will be emailing you just once a month! If you are like us, your inbox gets flooded with emails. By emailing you less, we will be able to give you more information per email.
Let’s Do This!
All being said, we are ready to START so let’s do this!! Right now you can check out our most recent blogs – My Best Friend’s Wedding (Invitations) and Blog Hop! Check back next week to see our Summer Project Life Album!
You can now see a list of all our retailers HERE on the new page we created. It also contains links to the articles about why we love them.
We are also excited to announce that we will be teaching Brooklyn Arts & Crafts again, in affiliation with Hank & Jojo, at a new location. You can find us Wednesdays at 10:15am at Brooklyn Music School. If you are in New York City and have a child between the ages two and four, you can sign up HERE!
Fall has always been our favorite time of year – and this year it’s even sweeter. We feel incredibly blessed - a growing business, a supportive husband, two hilarious and adorable children, a healthy family, and a place to share it all. Thank you all for caring. Let the blogging begin!!
We are so excited to announce that the fall semester of Brooklyn Arts & Crafts will begin on September 17th. Our class will continue to run in affiliation with Hank & Jojo, but this semester it will be held at Brooklyn Music School. In the bigger space we will be able to accommodate more students. The first session will run for seven weeks.
Each week we focus on a famous artist, create an age-appropriate craft highlighting that artist. We keep things moving with songs, books, play-doh time, and a color of the day each week. Plus, your little one will make a card that you can mail to a loved one. (Grandparents love this!)
Watch our video to see some of the work our children have created in the past!
And for all the reason we love teaching this class, as well as many reasons why the students and parents love it too check out this blog post.
Hope to see you in class!!
One year ago today my best friend, Katrina, got married. The wedding was perfection. She married Tom, an incredibly amazing guy. They complement each other so perfectly it often makes me grin ear-to-ear.
Katrina and I have been best friends since the second grade. We met wearing similar gigantic sized New Kids on The Block pins. At that moment, I had no idea this girl would be my soul sister, but I am so thankful she has been there with me through everything in life. Together we survived high school, lived it up at college in Boston, and created our lives in the real world! When she asked me to be her matron-of-honor I was so excited to take on all the typical duties, then she nonchalantly mentioned that I would have to do her invitations as well. This is why I love this girl. She was so mater-of-fact I truly believe that she had never even considered having someone else do it. I was 100% honored and couldn’t wait to make her dream wedding stationery come to life.
I am happy to share the process with everyone and we figured since the traditional one year anniversary gift is paper, there was no better time than today.
Save The Dates
Katrina & Tom’s engagement wasn’t long in today’s standards. He proposed on Christmas morning 2012 and they were married at the end of August 2013 (that’s 8 months for those of you counting) So, as soon as they found the perfect location and chose the date, we got to work right away.
Katrina knows style. She has a vision and knows how to execute it. She is elegant, classic, and always put together. This is her every day, so when it came to wedding planning I knew she would do it flawlessly. Our first conversation about the vibe she wanted for the wedding was simple – “Vintage Modern.”
I first learned about mood boards from Katrina – long before Pintrest was even a thing – in fact, I’m almost positive she had us making mood boards before we even used computers. Sometimes, I think she secretly invented Pintrest and is just being humble about it. Naturally, she started a Pintrest board right away and the ideas started rolling.
Katrina’s family is from Italy and her first date with Tom was at an Italian restaurant, so we wanted it to have an old-world feel. This lead to the idea of making the “Save The Date” resemble a telegram. We started with a pattern that evoked the feel of antique paper. The back included a very condensed version of how they met, fell in love, and got engaged -- plus a friendly invitation to attend the wedding. Then we simply listed the hotel information, so people would be able to book their rooms ASAP.
On the front we featured 3 photos with the wedding date big and bold. Since they were getting married on a holiday weekend when people might be traveling, we were sure to note that August 31st was Labor Day Weekend. At the bottom we included the link to their wedding website, which had more information for their guests. As a final touch we attached a small magnet to the back so that people could easily hang it on their refrigerator.
Designing the invitation was by far the most fun. Katrina and Tom had recently moved to New York City and I was so excited to be living in the same city again, which we hadn’t done since college. One afternoon we met at Paper Presentation to look at the different options in person. We decided on an (5 ¾ x 8 ¾) invitation with two side pockets in opal. I designed the main invitation to be printed (5 ¼ x 8 ¼) and then mounted on a (5 5/8 x 8 5/8) gold leaf piece of card stock that would then be mounted in the middle space of the pocketed invitation. This gave us a tiny border (1/8 of an inch) between the opal invite and gold leaf and a slightly bigger border (3/8 of an inch) between the gold leaf and the print.
The design process was done through email correspondence. We knew we wanted the lace detail, damask background, and scrolls to bring the “Vintage” into the invitation and the fonts, dots, and layout to make it more “Modern.” Even the wording Katrina & Tom chose was both vintage and modern. They started with the traditional “Mr. & Mrs. Michael Koptiw request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their daughter Katrina Marie & Thomas Robert Delark,” but then listed the date, location, and time in a much more modern, easy-to-read format. We used the fonts Chopin Script (formal) and Bakerville (modern) in the colors gray and mauve.
The RSVP was a single sheet of printed (3 ½ x 4 7/8) card stock with a coordinating 4 Bar gold leaf envelope. So that it coordinated nicely, we printed the Accommodations Card a quarter inch smaller (3 ¼ x 4 5/8) and mounted it on a (3 ½ x 4 7/8) piece of Gold Leaf card stock. Both cards used the same damask pattern & lace detail to keep things cohesive. The RSVP card featured a hand holding a quill pen at the bottom and the Accommodations card pictured a couple riding in a horse and buggy at the top. Both of these images said “vintage” to us and felt very “Philadelphia,” which is where Tom & Katrina met.
We had a small dinner party when it came time for assembly, which made for a fun night of food, wine, and laughs. Often, assembling the invitations is my favorite part, especially if I am able to do it with the couple – so to have that couple be my best friends, it was perfect. We stuffed the pockets, wrapped the invitation in a delicate lace, and sealed the whole thing with a gold wax using a fleur de le crest. This now little package was then put into an opal (6x9) outer envelope. It’s the little touches like the lace and seal that set this invitation apart and gave the guests a true idea of what the wedding would be like.
This was our first time using a wax seal and we pretty much fell in love. If you know me, you know I love a glue gun!! If you have a glue gun, you MUST try sealing wax. It couldn’t be easier. They sell special glue sticks made of wax, the gun heats it, and then you just squeeze it onto your paper, press it with metal seal, and voila, it’s done. The wax comes in several different fun, metallic colors!! They make many metal seals you can buy or you can have one custom made. Don’t be surprised if everything we mail out going forward has a wax seal on it. It is addicting.
We wanted to keep the menu simple and have it tie into the design elements of the invitation, so again we used the damask and lace pattern with same fonts and had it printed on 5 x 7 card stock.
Rehearsal Dinner Video
As the matron-of-honor, I made a speech at the wedding. In all honesty (and as I stated in my actual speech) I had been practicing the speech for years. When your best friend gets married you look forward to the day when you can tell a whole room full of people how amazing she is. I truly wanted to make this special. One day I had an epiphany for my speech! You see Tom is a huge fan of old school rap music and I thought it would be a genius idea to change the words to the lyrics of The Notorious B.I.G’s “Juicy” and rap it as my speech. (You might remember we did karaoke this song together in South Philly on Trina’s 30th Birthday! Legendary!) After going back and forth, deciding it would either be epically awesome or a complete bomb, and then telling a few close friends, I quickly came to the conclusion that I am by no means comfortable performing in front of crowds of people, let alone rapping. I still thought this was a genius idea, so we decided to shoot a music video and show it at the rehearsal dinner. Lucky for everyone, I was about 8 months pregnant at the time and had the body of Mr. Biggie Smalls himself. A little DIY “Bad Boy Jersey,” the help of some incredibly talented friends, plus all of Trina & Tom’s wonderful family and closest friends and we had a pretty memorable video. Showing it at the rehearsal dinner was overwhelmingly the right idea. Today, with the risk of completely embarrassing myself, we decided to share it with everyone and put it on YouTube. There are many inside jokes, but we hope you still enjoy it, if for nothing more than a good laugh.
The wedding was perfect. Katrina and Tom were beaming with love and happiness. Their ceremony was outside and the weather was spot on. The reception was completely elegant…delicious food, memorable speeches (no rapping – on my part – well… at least, during the speech), and a lot of dancing.
I must give a small shout out to my amazing two-week old son and my parents who made sure he was happy and occupied during all my matron-of-honor duties. Georgia was a gorgeous flower girl and Chad was the best dance partner (as always…and in life).
For more amazing photos from their big day check out Maria Mack's photography blog.
It’s now been one year of marriage. Katrina and Tom are off to a great start. We love having Tom as a part of the family. It’s been filled with dinner parties, nights out in the city, a vacation at the beach, and lots of laughter. Happy Anniversary guys!! Looking forward to a lifetime of more good times. Love you both!
We love Instagram! It’s a fact. It allows us to preserve moments of our day and share it with our friends and family. (We’re also a little obsessed with hashtags, #seriouslywhatsfunnierthanahashtag #didyouseethatjimmyandjustinskit).
One of the most incredible things that Instagram has done is created a new community. I have been able to connect with other women just like myself – creative crafters, working moms, scrapbookers, and washi tape lovers! One of these amazing women is Margot Miller. This friendship wasn’t totally random - Margot is married to my friend Tristan, who I used to work with years ago on the one and only Tony Danza Show – but if it wasn’t for Instagram I doubt we would have met. Margot & I started following each other and became insta-friends! (pun intended). When we got together in person for dinner, I felt like I had known her for years!! Margot is one of those people who make everyone around them happier. She is a great friend, wife, aunt, and an incredibly talented illustrator. She uses a collage technique that is easily recognizable as her own. Just as Instagram has introduced us to a whole new group of people, Margot has introduced us to so many things we now love – everything A Beautiful Mess (the blog, Emma, Elsie, their apps, their books), E-Courses, and now a Blog Hop!
We were honored that she chose us to be a part of it. For those of you who don’t know (aka – us before we got Margot’s email) a “Blog Hop” starts with one person who profiles two other people that inspire them and answers a couple questions about themself. Those people then link back to the first person, answer the same questions, and profile two more people. The cycle continues. You can follow the chain back and find some pretty incredible people.
So here it goes…
You can find Margot’s post HERE!! Her creative process is very inspiring and knowing how she operates simply made me appreciate her work that much more. Below are some of my favorite pieces she has created. Visit her website HERE.
Questions & My Answers:
1. What are you writing/working on?
Businesswise - I am currently working on opening my Etsy shop. You can of course buy my cards right here, but having a store on Etsy has been a goal of mine for a long time now. I love everything about Etsy and the community of makers it has built.
Creatively – I am working on a Project Life Mini-Album. I have absolutely loved the idea of Project Life since I first discovered it via Instagram!! It is basically a more achievable way to scrapbook that consists of sliding photos and decorative cards into clear photo pockets!! The idea is to do a little each week and at the end of your album you have a beautiful, complete picture of your life. After thinking I could do this while taking care of an infant, I quickly came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t going to happen. So, instead of getting down on myself, I took some great advice – “Just Start”!! We’ve been making an album this summer!! It’s tons of fun and I can’t wait to share the completed album!
2. How does your work differ from others in your genre?
I would say our greeting cards are different from others because they combine photography, clever sayings, and a handmade aesthetic. I take all the photos myself so they are unique to my point of view. I use a bleaching technique to alter the edges and give the image a border. I type the sayings on an antique typewriter we found at a flea market in Brimfield, Massachusetts and affix it to the photography. I then scan and reprint the photo. Each photo is hand-mounted to a brightly colored piece of card stock. I truly enjoy this method. Using my hands to type, cut, bleach, and glue allows me to fully express myself creatively. Coming up with the sayings and daydreaming of our next card is one of my favorite things to do. Mailing our handmade cards to friends and hearing their happiness when it arrives makes the whole process completely gratifying.
3. Why do you create?
I create because it fills my soul with happiness!! Ok, that’s a little cheesy, but I do create because it truly brings me joy. I love using my hands and I love zoning out. It’s a moment to escape from the busyness of life and just enjoy making things. Whether I’m making a new greeting card, sewing Halloween costumes for my kids, or scrapbooking memories, it all makes me feel fulfilled.
4. How does your creative process work?
My creative process is ongoing. It pretty much never stops. I have several notebooks filled with card idea, DIY projects, and blog topics. Writing it on paper helps me not only execute what is flying through my brain, but it allows me to think clearly. When it comes to my greeting cards I often write the same saying several times. Every so often I take all those ideas in the many notebooks and compile them in an excel document. (fun fact: I used to be the Script Supervisor of The Rachael Ray show and consider myself The Queen of Excel). As a team, we then brainstorm what photo will best convey the saying. Sometimes we do this at a lunch meeting or on long car rides! I find that we are very creative while driving together. Next, I make a plan to take the photograph. Sometimes that means buying props and setting up a photo shoot. Other times it means taking a work field trip. While this is generally my process, sometimes it works out the other way. I always have a camera on me and many times I see something and think “that will make a great card.” I snap the photo and think of the wording later. One of our best sellers was created that way. After an afternoon photo shoot, I treated the team to ice cream cones from a Brooklyn ice cream truck. The cone and sprinkles were almost perfect. I had Chad hold it up in the sky so I could see the top of the trees and get a great depth of field. That photo was taken in pure happiness and I believe you can feel it in the end product. That card just makes people happy!!
Two Creative People Who Inspire Me:
We met Queenie Best at The National Stationery Show! She found us through Instagram (there it is again – connecting people) and introduced herself. Queenie is from Canada and makes THE cutest cards. They feature adorable cartoons with word bubbles and captions that make you chuckle. In addition to her greeting cards, she also produces key chains, buttons, tote bags, and notebooks. Plus, she has a Society 6 store where you can buy even more fun products with her illustrations on them – including baby onesies. She’s got her brand down!! Check out her site HERE and follow her on Instagram HERE.
Lindsey Warriner is also a new friend from The National Stationery Show, but it turns out we also went to the same college (Go, Emerson!!). We met at a cocktail mixer, so we got a glimpse of her humor via her charming accent and sly jokes before we saw her work. The next day we stopped at her booth before the show opened. Her cards are Lindsey personified. It was almost like we were having another conversation – laughing out loud once again!! She uses great colors and I’m looking forward to finding out her creative process!! Check out her website HERE.
Alright, girls – it’s your turn!! Consider this Blog hopped!!