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

An Epic Weekend for Love

This past weekend my very best friend (since birth!) tied the knot to the love of her life. Sarah and Giancarlo have been together for 9 years and have known each other since elementary school, how cute is that?! Sarah was my maid-of-honor nearly five months ago, and I was honored to be hers this weekend. We've also been lucky enough that now our men have become fast friends as well. Her husband was also a groomsman at my wedding, and my husband was a groomsman at theirs. Such an honor!

For the past (almost) decade the four of us have become partners in crime. Mr. Law and I are so blessed to have such wonderful friends, and we were both so happy to be to be standing at their sides for their special day. We're all pretty sure that the rest of our lives will be friend filled, adventure packed, and incredibly memorable!

The newly weds are off on their honeymoon now, but I can't help but relive their day by listening to their first dance song. It's so unique and perfect for the two of them! It's called "Home" by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros....

And here are a few pictures of the beautiful couple that I stole from their amazing videographers, Moho Creative:

CONGRATULATIONS Sarah and Gian! I love you both with all my heart, may you enjoy icing for the rest of your lives!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Moment With Believe Notes...

Right now it's 9:13am and a brisk 40 degrees on this sunny Saturday morning. My husband picked up some flowers and bagels on his way home from work this morning - I think that's my favorite part about the weekends, having breakfast with my husband. Sometimes he brings me the paper, although I never really touch it, unless it's the Sunday paper, and then I tear into it with a pair of scissors, clipping out coupons I'll probably never use.

We've already had our coffee & breakfast, so now I'm working on another holiday card design - there will probably be a few more cards added to the shop in the next few days. I'm also hoping to revamp the selection of stationery I have for sale in time for the holidays - some lovely stationery would make a pretty good gift, right? I thought so, too!

My dog just brought me her rope toy to play with. Doesn't this dog ever relax?

I feel old. I know I'm not, but I feel like I am. Next weekend is my best friends wedding and I cannot believe it. I almost don't want it to come, because then it'll be over! It's silly to wish for life to slow down, because it's a wish that I know won't come true. Oh well.

My dog is toy obsessed. They say she would have made a great K-9 because of her intense focus. She cannot greet somebody unless she has a toy in her mouth. She will not eat unless there is a toy near her food bowl. When it thunders, she takes her toys in the bathroom with her as she hides. She will not go to bed unless she has a toy to cuddle with. I love her a ton, but maybe not as much as she loves her toys.

As you can tell, my mind is all over the place this morning. Coffee, I need you right now!

Juliet napping with her favorite ball

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

We're All Human

I love this, because it's so, so, so true.

Think about, smile, and remember that we're all human after all.
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