Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011!!

From Martha Stewart

Dear 2011,

You have not been a typical year; and I mean that mostly in the best of ways. It seems that you were the year of growth. Growth of family, since I got to marry my best friend, my now husband, and my forever buddy. You've given me the chance to grow as a designer, mostly through the wonderful world of Minted, where I now have a few designs for sale. You've nurtured Miss Juliet, who has grown into a beautiful little lovemutt. You allowed my stationery business to grow, while also quickly developing the growth of my professional "corporate" career. My waistline is growing. Shit. Maybe I'm not so thankful for that.

Overall, you've been good to me. Although, you have challenged me in new ways, and you almost killed me with Carbon Monoxide, but I forgive you, because I learned a valuable lesson. Although at times I thought you hated me, and I'm sorry for stomping my feet and cursing at you. Now maybe I understand why you added three inches to my waist.

Thank you, 2011, for being a kick-ass year and for giving me memories I'll cherish forever. Cheers to you, and also to the future!

With Love,

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Post Holiday Update

Miss Juliet, waiting for company, at my parents home, on Christmas morning

Thank you, everybody, for making this holiday season such a great one! Business was booming, music was playing, and love was overflowing. I'm actually a little sad about taking down all of my holiday card listings from the shop - but they'll be back next year, and believe it or not, but I'm already thinking up new ideas for the holiday 2012 line!
For those of you that remember my previous posts (here and here), where I gushed over all the white and gold watches, I'm excited that now only does he actually read my blog, but that my husband also took the hint & I'm now sporting a new Michael Kors watch! It's the silicone/rubber banded one I lusted for in this post; and despite the bad reviews, I am absolutely in love with it. *Sigh*, I might just have to buy myself a second watch, that isn't silicone, just to make sure this one doesn't get too worn.

Anyway, we spent our holidays with friends and family, jumping from house to house to house. I love seeing everybody, but I am definitely wondering when we'll be able to stay in one place for an entire festivity. The jumping around is exhausting. Maybe someday I'll have a big enough house to host EVERYBODY in.
Hope you’re all enjoying your after-holiday-lull! I’m sure enjoying the time to catch up and relax!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

This is my husband and my first Christmas together, and we've already spent lots of time baking cookies, decorating our home, eating said cookies, wrapping gifts, and listening to cheesy holiday music. Today and tomorrow we'll be spending time with our big ol' family, and we're darn happy to do so!

Merry Christmas to all! I hope you're surrounded by love and joy this holiday season!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Moment With Believe Notes...

Right now it's about 7:30am on a Saturday morning. That's a sin, I should be sleeping at this time on a day off! But no, I'm not sleeping, I'm working hard to get a few last holiday orders out the door and in the mail by noon.

For me, the past two weeks have been a little head-spinningly busy. Hence the lack of blog posts. I've been teaching classes at the day job, and the end-of-semester rush at grad school has included 2 in-depth research papers, a few group projects, and two finals. I'm almost done though...just one final left! (wish me luck, please!)

Christmas is in full swing here at the casa de Mangiolino. Our tree is up (and hasn't fallen, not even a once!), Trader Joe's has their Dark Chocolate Peppermint Joe-Joe's on the shelf, Juliet has on her red velvet color (thanks Mom!), and tonight we make cookies, cookies and more cookies.

I thought I would share a few iPhone shots from the past few weeks:

Hope everybody else is enjoying their holiday, whichever one it is they celebrate!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Kitchen Update: The Expensive Part is Over!

It really wasn't long ago that I posted this post, about our upcoming kitchen remodel. Well between then and now, Mike and I managed to purchase EVERYTHING we needed for the remodel.

It wasn't totally expected, but it worked out pretttttty darn amazingly. We decided, after shopping around a whole bunch, that we were going to use Home Depot for the cabinets. So this past Saturday we made an appointment for them to measure our kitchen, and the unplannedness started from there. The following Monday some dude was knocking on my front door - he was the measurer, who I totally wasn't expecting until Wednesday, but really happy to see! The very next day somebody called from Home Depot to schedule a time to sit down and create our design, and we decided to go that day. So, we decided to go in on Wednesday to do our kitchen design, and as luck would have it, Wednesday was the very last day of a big kitchen sale they were having. We ended up staying at Home Depot for over 4 hours, but at the end of the 4 hours we had ordered all of our cabinets (white painted maple), our counters (quartz), our back splash (marble and glass), our sink and our faucet. And the best part? We got everything for almost 30% off!

crummy iphone picture of our back splash tiles
I can't wait for everything to be delivered and installed! Now I just need to get through the floor remodel first, ugh!

Deal of the Day: Swiss Legand Watches

Remember this post about my obsession with white ceramic Michael Kors watches?

Well Gilt Groupe must have been reading my mind because right now they are hosting a super sale on Swiss Legand watches, and more than a few are white ceramic! Be-still my heart! Check out this watch, marked down from $995:

Swiss Legend Karamica watch - $224 on Gilt Groupe

I am smitten!!! But hurry up, the sale ends under two days!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Now for Sale on Minted: Sweet Hearts Birth Announcments

My "Sweet Hearts" birth announcement design is now for sale at Minted.

Now For Sale: Bookmarks

I really don't like the idea of throwing out paper. Call me a tree hugger if you must, but at the end of the day I try to be as environmentally friendly as possible. When you come to my home, don't ask for a bottle of water; I refuse to buy them.

While some of my designs get sent out to be printed, almost all of my invitations and stationery are printed in house. That means I cut the paper down myself. That also means I end up with tons and tons of scrap paper. I refuse to throw out the long, narrow scraps, so I have drawers and drawers full of them. And then I started using the scraps around the house as bookmarks. And then my husband started using them as bookmarks. And then I took a few to work to use as bookmarks. And then it dawned on me, these odd sized scrap papers can be recycled! How perfectly efficient!

So, new to the shop are bookmarks - totally recycled in every aspect, and the perfect stocking stuffer!

The best part about these? They're only $5 for the set of three! So head on over to my Etsy shop and grab some!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Enjoy the Rain

I've always enjoyed rainy days just as much as sunny ones...especially on the weekend, when I can sleep in just a tad while listening to the rain hitting the windows.

Here's a design by the very talented Danielle Kroll, I simply love her hand lettering:

Kitchen Remodel: A Prelude

I've been a homeowner now for a year and a half. It sort of feels like no time, and then it also feels like forever.

I'm super happy with the home Mr. Law and I decided to purchase, and it was an incredibly hard decision to make. We looked at houses on Long Island, where we were both born and raised (and where our hearts still reside), we looked at condos (and almost bought one) in stunning pre-war buildings that were total restorations (aka gut-jobs), and then reality set in and we decided to purchase something that maybe wasn't our dream home, but it was our perfect first home. So, we now call our little two bed and two bath condo home sweet home, and we love it.

Our unit was the least updated unit in our entire development, so we knew right from the start that we would need to be doing some updating. We knew the two bathrooms and the kitchen needed total remodels. They were originals from the early 80s when the condo was built. Ick!

Within three months of moving in we decided to redo our main bathroom, here are the before and after pictures of the bathroom:

ps- we did eventually find a light fixture to go above the mirror!

Next on the renovation hit-list is the kitchen. We had planned on doing it this past fall, but we've had a few other things pop up that have caused us to push the reno into mid-January. It's ironic because the one and only thing the previous owners updated in our unit was the hardwood floors; and luck would have it that our neighbors had a leak and all of our floors buckled. Right now we are having it out with the insurance company to get our floors replaced. We are hoping to have that done before the kitchen work starts.

I'm hoping that once the floors are done I'll actually be able to start updating the rest of our home. I had partially done the living room, which I talked about in this post, and I'm really upset that after all of the hard work to build our TV unit, the sucker needs to be taken apart in order to have the floors done over. Just my luck. I've decided not to do any other decorating or anything until the floors are done, it's just too much of a pain to take everything apart.

Anyway, back to the kitchen....I'm looking forward to this project the most. Our kitchen is a disaster. It's a tiny little "pocket" kitchen, as one of our friends once put it. But even if she is pocket sized, she is super efficient!

Here are some pictures of our kitchen as it is now (don't mind the mess, I was preparing dinner when the pictures were snapped):

Makes you want to puke a little, right?

We've decided to go with white painted wood cabinets, quarts counters, glass tile backsplash and stainless appliances. I can't wait to see the finished product!

Here are some of our inspiration pictures (more can be found on my kitchen board on pinterest)

So, even though things are stressful right now, I keep telling myself: "February, February, February. It'll all be over in February."

Alright everybody, enjoy the rest of your Monday! 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Coming to Terms: I'm Not Everybody Else

Lately I've been feeling really conflicted about my expectations vs my abilities. Until now I seem to have been able to keep afloat, but barely. I think I am starting to realize that I cannot keep comparing myself to everybody else and what they do or how they live their lives. I need to focus on me, and what I can do and how I life my life.

So let's stop beating around the bush - up until this point I have been able to swing working full time, maintaining a home, running a small business and going to school two nights a week after work. I don't care if other people can go to school six nights a week - this girl can't.

I don't know how some people manage to juggle ten thousand things at once, it's truly a talent, and I don't have it. Maybe other people are like human-versions of honey badgers; capable and ready for anything. However, I might be a little more like a stiffy goat. Right now I feel like I'm in survival mode, which means I'm really not paying attention or learning during classes, I'm just attending and going through the motions because I have to. I don't want to be in survival mode anymore. So, next year I am changing my schedule around - just one class per semester for me. I might take one or two over the summer sessions as well, but at the end of the day I need to start focusing on what works for me; not what everybody else is doing.

I'm looking forward to having a more balanced amount of time next year to focus on all the aspects of my life. I'm especially looking forward to having the time to let my business continue to grow! I don't care if it takes me ten years to get my masters, one day it'll be done and I'll be proud, proud, proud!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Super Lust: Michael Kors Ceramic Watches

It seems that this is the year that I've fallen in love with watches. Actually, not just any watch, but with ceramic watches, and when I think of ceramic watches, I think of Michael Kors. I'm really loving the combo of white and yellow gold, and I think I need one. I've had my eye on a particular watch for a while, but it isn't ceramic and, unfortunately, it gets HORRID reviews....but isn't it amazing anyway??

MK5145 Watch from Macy's - $195
I love the watch to pieces, but I really want something ceramic - and almost ALL of the reviews on this watch say that the band (some kind of rubber material) gets dirty & stained almost instantly. Such a shame, it's too pretty to be of such crummy quality. I'm a little heartbroken, but I don't want to spend my money on something that won't last long....soooo I kept on searching for something better, and have found the following, which isn't Michael Kors, but is almost IDENTICAL (and OMG less expensive?!):

Fossil's CE1006 Ceramic Watch - $130
I'm coming to terms with the idea of not having a Michael Kors. Actually, I am surprised at myself for even wanting something name brand, since I typically don't care about brands. And the below watches show exactly why I shouldn't care about brands, there are so many AMAZING watches available!!

Here are some other white ceramic watches with gold accents:
Fossil's CE1004 - $130

Akribos XXIV Women's AKR484WTG - $89.99

DKNY #NY8215 - $172.29

AK 109310RGWT Watch - $150
Armani AR1417 - $398.88
Michal Kors - MK5269 - $283.90

So many lovely watches! I don't know which is my favorite! But I love all of them and I love that there is a great watch for almost any budget.....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

Thankful Forest card by Rifle Paper Co.

This year I have a few extraordinary things to be thankful for:
  • My husband of almost six months, who would do anything in the world to put a smile on my face
  • My amazing family and my equally amazing in-laws. Yes, I absolutely LOVE my in-laws! 
  • Having a home and sharing it with the person I love
  • Miss Juliet, the most loving little pup in the world
  • The opportunity to create beautiful paper and stationery items
  • And of course, I am most thankful that my husband comes home from work safe and sound every day
 Happy Thanksgiving everybody! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Small Business Saturday!

While all the mega-big businesses are preparing for Black Friday, us small businesses are psyched for "Small Business Saturday" which is taking place this Saturday, on November 26th. This is the second annual Small Business Saturday, which is sponsored by American Express in an effort to boost the economy by boosting local small businesses. Their motto is "when we all shop small, it will be HUGE!" and I happen to agree!

So, since I am a small business myself, and in honor of Small Business Saturday, I am offering 10% off all items in my Etsy shop from now until Tuesday, November 29th. Just go to my Etsy shop and use coupon code BELIEVEINSMALL at checkout. If you purchase a custom listing within that time frame you will also be able to receive the discount.

Happy shopping all!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Vendor Review: The DJ

Wow! It's been almost 6 months since my wedding! I cannot believe how quickly it went, and I wish it would slow down - I'm enjoying it too darn much :)

I'll be honest and admit that I've been procrastinating the last two vendor reviews from my wedding. I feel like once I finish them, that'll be it for anything wedding related in my life. Kinda sad about that. But, I saved the best for last and I really do want to get the word out.

In case you missed it, I've already reviewed all the little fashion details, the location, the transportation, the ceremony and church, the cake, and the flowers. Now it's time for the DJ.

And, like almost everything else in my wedding, there is a story about the DJ. Actually, I had originally booked a different entertainment company, but I started hearing a lot about Michael Gentile of Funktion 67 DJs and after seeing Michael at my cousin-in-law's wedding, I decided I had to have him. I think booking Michael may have been the best decision I made for the entire wedding. He MADE the night! I have never heard such a fabulous mix of tunes, and the dance floor was packed all night long (and it was a 6 hour party, so that's no small feat).

Oh, and remember, this theater is no stranger to good music. It's hosted legends from Eric Clapton to Mariah Carey to the Red Hot Chili Peppers - and, for the record Michael Gentile rocked the place like nobody's business! 

Michael was awesome to work with from day one. He loves what he does, and he's so damn talented it's not even funny. I think every pre-wedding meeting we had with him turned into a jam session at his office. If I remember correctly, at the last meeting he even had my husband singing Adele. Yes, I remember correctly (although I maybe wish I didn't).  Of all my vendors, I get at least one email a week from a guest asking who my DJ was!

I remember at one point during the wedding one of my friends - on the middle of the dance floor - looked over at me and screamed "Is this for real? this is the best set-list EVER!" and yes, it really was!

The bridal party walked out to Deadmau5 "Animal Rights", which my husband picked, actually my husband also picked the song we walked out to, which was Martin Solvieg "Hello". They're laughable, but totally worked for us! And I'll always have the picture in my head of Michael and my husband jamming out to Deadmau5 during one of our meetings. How could I deny them the pleasure?

Here is my favorite picture of my MOH and the two best men being introduced. I love how all three are in totally different - but equally entranced - states of PARTY!

Here are some more of my absolute favorite pictures from the dancefloor:

my father-in-law, probably dancing to Lady Gaga
not a party without the ROBOT!

yes, my husband's got moves, and yes, he began to strip

Mr. Jake, breaking it down and not breaking a bone.

Our couples dance

The music made the night, so thank you, thank you, thank you to Michael Gentile and Funktion 67 DJ's - you rocked the night!

Small Business & Sacrifices

I was reading through my own blog this morning and I noticed that I seem to be busy, a lot. I also noticed that I've painted a very lovely picture of life, which certainly isn't always the case. I think I blog about maybe 5% of my life, the other 95% of my life is happening at the speed of light, and I either don't want to, or don't have time to, blog about it. What I haven't talked about much are the sacrifices I've made in order to keep my little business growing.

The hardest thing for me has been the distance that's grown between myself and my friends. Sometimes I blame it on the fact that I moved from Long Island to Queens, sometimes I blame myself for not inviting people over more frequently, and sometimes I don't blame anything, and just accept that this is what happens when you grow up. But, lets be honest, a huge part of why my social life has fallen is because I'm nurturing a business 24/7.

Since moving and starting my business, I've been able to really put my finger on the few friends that I know I can count on for everything. They've made the trip to hang out with me at my home, they've called me to see how I was doing and just say hello, and they've given up their Saturday nights to help me fulfill orders.

Having my business has made me realize that maybe I don't need a ton of super close friends, and I'm so thankful for the handful I have. I'm also happy for all of the other people that welcome me with excitement when I finally do make it out to a bar or party or whatever; seeing people that are as happy to see me as I am to see them, well, it makes my whole month!

Life's not always easy, and the older I get the faster life seems to move. I have a feeling that part of my 2012 resolution will be to spend maybe a little more time nurturing my social life.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Deal of the Day: Melany Lane Font

I've been lusting over the Melany Lane font for a while now, and had no idea it was 75% off right now!! All 5 fonts on sale from $120 to $30????? SCORE & SOLD!!!

How purdy is she:

I'm a sucker for a good script, and this one comes with tons of glyphs, ornaments and patterns. I cannot wait to use it! Maybe I'll create a new holiday card just in her honor!

Journal Now For Sale

Happy Saturday morning all!

My "Tipsy" journal is now for sale over at Minted. At only $16, it's a great idea for a holiday gift!

 The great design doesn't end at the cover; check out the inside:

It comes in two other colors as well:


Oh! And right now Minted is having a "Refer a Friend" promotion!

You refer the friend, the friend gets $25 off their purchase, and when they purchase something you get a $25 credit as well! I think the $25 credit would be perfect for purchasing a Journal!

Monday, November 14, 2011

New Holiday Cards Now For Sale!

Two new holiday cards are now for sale in the Etsy shop!

Check out the very classic "Tuxedo" design

And the very fun "Underlined" design

I hope you've started thinking about holiday cards! Only 40 days left!

Stationery Staging and Photographing

 I'm spending a lot of time lately trying to take better pictures of all of my designs. Pictures are a huge part of selling your product - if what you're selling doesn't look good in a picture, who's to say it'll look good in real life? It's mind boggling to me when I browse through "successful" websites and see the crappy pictures they have of their products. I'd like to think they are the exception to the rule, because I do genuinely believe good pictures sell better than bad ones.

So, with that, let me first say I am still learning the art of photographic my products. I've come a long way since I first started designing, both in my design skills and in my photography skills. Lately I've been photographing cards for the Believe Notes Holiday Line - I don't have an arsenal of props, so I have to try to make the pictures look good without much prop-age (is that a word? It is now!). I've been using a simple ribbon as my prop, and I think the cards have come out nice. But really, I give most of the credit to my camera for taking nice pictures. Although, the camera doesn't just take pictures without any futsting around on my end. So, here are a few things I've learned about taking pictures of stationery:

1- Use a decent camera. I have a Canon Rebel DSLR
2- Adjust your white balance. This allows the pictures to come out truer to life. Take a picture of something pure white, under the same lighting you'll be using to photograph your stationery, and then use that solid white to adjust your white balance.
3- Have a solid background that isn't white. Some designers can pull off white backgrounds, I can't. I use a slightly textured cream linen fabric and it adds just enough to the pictures without taking away from the designs.
4- Simple props are good. I use ribbon, candle holders, pens etc. My fellow Minted designer, Kimberly of Daily Sip Studios has a great blog post about how to use props. Check it out, learn it, live it. I'm working on it, too!
5- Make sure your lighting is good. I take pictures during the day, next to a nice big window, with three extra lighting sources, all covered in tracing paper to help make things all nice and soft. I try to minimize the shadows, since I want all the focus on my product and not on other contrasty things.
6- Take lots of pictures. I take on average 20 pictures of each design, from all angles.
7- Don't be afraid to digitally enhance. I'll brighten up some pictures, correct warmth and smudge out address information. Who cares? Do you? I don't. In fact, I'm glad I do it!
8- Oh, and lastly, make sure to take plenty of close up detail shots along with some shots of your entire suite/product. Don't be afraid to have things going off the screen, it looks nice and adds interest!

Here are some pictures I've taken recently:

Business Cards using tacks as props
thank you cards using a rock, antique spoons and a candle holder with pens

holiday card with simple red ribbon
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