Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008- I Will Miss You!

2008 was good to me. And thanks to another great assignment from Melissa at Operation Nice, I was inspired to sit down and make a list of all the wonderful things that have happened or I've done in 2008. Looking back, I worked a lot, but I managed to sneak some fun stuff in too!

So here is my list:

rang in NY 2008 with my parents in Florida, introduced Bill to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, launched Designed By M.E. Stationery, worked A LOT, jumped up and down when I got my first customer who wasn’t related to me, Philadelphia Flower Show, opened my Etsy shop, my 40th birthday, saw Eddie Izzard on my birthday, still being told I don’t look my age, celebrated 5 years with Bill (3 years married), survived gallbladder surgery and can now eat whatever I want without pain, busted with pride when Bill crossed the 10K finish line, discovered I love working from home, vacation in Mexico, took Jackson to the dog park, bought Rock Band & am proud to say I can hold my own on drums, lots of fun nights hanging out with friends and playing Rock Band, celebrated Nick & Irene's engagement, my first bridal show, started this blog, realized it’s ok to let the housework go a little bit, found a great group of paper peeps who inspire me, went to the Phillies Parade, discovered and became addicted to Facebook, same with Twitter, helped my sister when she needed it, lots of long walks with Bill & Jackson, had a great day with my college roomies, Steven Lynch at the House of Blues, received the most beautiful holiday cards from my paper peeps, realized how thankful I am to have a husband and family who believe in me

Happy New Year! Here's to health, happiness and prosperity in 2009! Cheers!!
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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ask Them With Style


Deciding who will stand beside you on your wedding day can be a difficult decision. When you finally decide which special ladies you want to have in your wedding party, giving these cards to them is a creative and memorable way to ask them to be a part of your special day. And you can coordinate the ink colors with your wedding colors. You can find them in my ArtFire Store and my Etsy Store.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Taking A Break

Bill and I are taking a much needed vacation and heading to one of our favorite places, Riviera Maya, Mexico, to do a lot of nothing and recharge our internal batteries. We'll be back on Monday, 12/22. Adios amigos!
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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Chemical Romance

The folks over at DNA11 have figured out a way to make DNA romantic. They can create a portrait using you and your significant other's DNA. They also do portraits with lip prints and fingerprints. Who knows, maybe one day you can hang the art in a child's room to remind them what they are made of.
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Monday, December 1, 2008

Take a Peek!

I updated the Designed By M.E. Stationery website this weekend with a new look and I added some new designs! Our new designs are presented in basic sets that are very budget friendly. And as with all of our designs, they can be customized according to your budget by adding or taking away elements of the set. Hope you like them!
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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm making my famous brandied sweet potatoes today (I'll have to post the recipe) and going to Bill's sister's house to get caught up in the chaos of lots of children running around and lots of food. I can't wait! Hope you have a happy day too!
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Filled With Gratitude

I love the homework assignments that Melissa at Operation Nice gives. They are very inspirational and a lot of fun! The newest assignment was to make a gratitude list. I found myself going on and on, but I condensed it because you may have a turkey you should be preparing. So here it goes...

I am grateful for my husband who is almost always in a good mood and is always supportive and loving. I am grateful that (with the urging of my husband) I have finally started to let some things go and ask for help when I need it. I am grateful that my parents raised me to be kind and thoughtful, because that is how they are. I am grateful that my family is relatively healthy; nobody has anything that isn’t manageable. I am grateful for the small community of talented women I’ve found who inspire me to reach inside myself and become better. I am grateful for my sister who will never let me quit. I am grateful that people actually read this blog. I am grateful for being creative. I am grateful that I can honestly say that I love what I do for a living. I’m grateful for my dog who keeps me company all day and loves to hear me sing. I am grateful that I have a home filled with love and that I never miss a meal.

Please let me know if you have a list...I’d love to read it.
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Monday, November 24, 2008

"....Just Like Pasta Fagiolle, That's Amore!"

I’ve been sorting through my little recipe box and picking out my favorite recipes from friends and family to add to the recipe book I’m putting together. Unfortunately, the company I blogged about that makes the cool books is closing and is no longer taking new orders. If you know of someone that makes those books, please let me know! I can design the pages myself and have them printed, but I really liked the format of that book! Anyway, it was a chilly night last night, so I pulled out my favorite Pasta Fagiolle recipe and made a pot of it.

This recipe is from an old friend, Claudette, who I used to teach with many moons ago. Although I’m Italian (my maiden name is Nardello), and my mom has given me a bunch of fabulous recipes, she never made Pasta Fagiolle because she hates beans. I think the first time I ever had this delicious soup was when Claudette gave me the recipe because she thought I'd like it. It was love at first taste for me.

Claudette’s Pasta Fagiolle

serves 6
Ingredients:
· olive oil (enough to swirl around the bottom of a big pot)
· 4 garlic cloves, minced
· 1 onion, diced
· 2 celery stalks (with the leaves), diced
· 1 large can tomato sauce
· 1 tbs garlic powder (I don’t measure, I just eyeball it)
· 1 tbs dried basil
· 1 tbs dried parsley
· 1 large can cannelloni beans (with the juice)
· salt and pepper to taste
· pasta (I like to use small bow ties because I think they are pretty)

Directions
1. heat oil in pot
2. add celery, onion, salt and pepper and saute until tender
3. add tomato sauce and ½ can of water
4. sprinkle garlic powder, parsley and basil over top, stirring after adding each spice
5. bring to a fast boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes on low
6. cook pasta separately
7. add beans and juice and cook 5-10 more minutes
8. add pasta to soup and serve

Garlic bread, salad and a glass of wine (or 2) go perfectly with this! Best served on snowy nights. Enjoy!

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Color Me Greener

I truly believe that if we all chipped in just a little bit and did our share to reduce our carbon footprints, it really would make a difference. Every week when I pass the recyclable shopping bags at the grocery store I think, "I should...", but I never do. Well yesterday, I did! And let me tell you, I bought five bags thinking no way would my cart full of groceries fit in them. The bags are really big! I was pleasantly surprised that everything fit. They have a bottom to them and, unlike the plastic bags, nothing fell over and out and all over my trunk while I was driving home. And carrying them into the house was actually easy because of the handles. I love them, and I love that I did a little bit to help our planet.
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thinking of Having a Holiday Party?

Nothing fancy, just something small, fun and festive? Go ahead and do it! Oh, and I think this invitation would be perfect!
You can find it in my Etsy Shop .
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Monday, November 17, 2008

Proud Moment

A few weeks ago Bill ran in a 10K across the Ben Franklin Bridge, into Philadelphia and back across to New Jersey. He signed up with a friend of ours and had been training for months. I was excited for him the day of the run and I charged the battery in my camera so I could take lots of photos. On our way to the run, I realized that I’d forgotten to put the battery back in the camera. Needless to say, I was pretty bummed that I wouldn’t have any photos. I don’t have a photo of it, but I watched him come across the finish line in time under what his goal was and it was truly a proud moment for me. Thankfully, our friends had their cameras and were gracious enough to share the photos with me this weekend. I’m a happy girl.
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Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy Friday!!

This may be old, but it's the first time I'm seeing it and it's making me laugh.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Free Shipping for the Holidays!

You can take a peek at the Holiday Cards in my Etsy Shop. New cards are being added in the next week, so check back often!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Recipe for Happiness

Being organized makes me happy. When things aren’t organized I get edgy. So, when I have to search through my old tattered box of recipes, I go crazy. I’ve got quite a collection of recipes from family and friends that I love but every time I want a recipe from the box, I have to search through this mess:

Things are going to change because I found this...

A personalized cookbook! It’s from Secret Ingredients and you can submit up to 250 recipes. You can include photographs and a list of contributors. You can also choose your recipe layout and there are different font options. I haven’t started Christmas shopping, would it be too horrible if the first gift I bought was for me?

Because I work with fabulous brides every day, I can’t help but think how they could use this wonderful find! I think it would be a great gift for a bride. Guests of the wedding or shower could be asked to submit a favorite recipe along with their rsvp’s and the bride and groom can make a book that they will to enjoy until happily ever after. I’m off to start putting my book together!
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Friday, October 31, 2008

Good Things Come In Small Packages

Being a vertically challenged woman, I truly believe good things come in small packages! However, I’m not sure if I’m sold on this Spring 2009 wedding dress trend. I do think a short dress would make great second dress to change into at the reception or a fabulous dress for a destination or informal wedding. If you are an unconventional bride, these dresses may be just what you were looking for!

photos courtesy of fabsugar.com

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jumping on the Facebook Bandwagon

I finally did it. I joined Facebook a few weeks ago. I absolutely love it. I love that I am reconnecting with people I haven't seen in weeks, months, even years!

Yesterday I made a page for Designed By M.E. Stationery. Here is the link if you'd like to check it out and become a fan: My Facebook Page . I hope to see you there!
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Friday, October 17, 2008

The Early Bird Gets the Pink Clouds

I wake up around 5am every day. I don't set an alarm and I blame the dog for waking me up. But the truth is that most of the time, I'm waking him up. Weekends aren't excluded, my eyes just pop open, no matter what time I go to bed at night. And then I can't get back to sleep. If we have plans on Saturday or Friday night, then a nap is mandatory during the day so I can keep my eyes open past 9pm.

I enjoy the quiet time in the morning. I usually drink my coffee, read and blog. I'll sort through my email and plan my day. And of course, I get to see the sunrise. Yesterday morning, I was lucky enough to catch some beautiful pink clouds as the sun was rising. Bet you slept right through it!
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thank you!!

A big thank you to all the fabulous brides and grooms who stopped by the Designed By M.E. Stationery table at the Bridal Show at the Merion last night. I enjoyed meeting you, and hope I was able to answer your questions. I look forward to working with many of you in the near future! For any local brides who were not able to make the show last night, the redesign of the Merion is absolutely stunning! I encourage you to check it out if you haven’t been there yet.
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Monday, October 13, 2008

Pumpkin Decor

We went pumpkin picking last weekend. Well...actually, we picked our pumpkins from the parking lot of Johnson's Farm last weekend. We bought apple cider doughnuts too...but they didn't stick around long enough for a photo. They were warm from the oven!


I love the Fall. I wish we were married in this beautiful season. We were married in June and it was a wonderful and beautiful day, but not full of the colors of Fall.

I found some photos of ways to incorporate pumpkins into wedding decor if you are lucky enough to be planning a Fall wedding. I hope they inspire you! I know we aren't carving our usual triangle eyes and nose Jack O'Lanterns this year.
Monograms
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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Spreading Cheer

Happy Wednesday everyone! I am spreading cheer tonight and having a small gathering at my house for the Brides to Be in my sister's circle of friends. I guess you could call it an "Invitation Party". We're going to have some pizza and wine and they are going to check out my wedding invitation portfolio and pick my brain for a little while. I'm looking forward to it as they are all crazy girls and it should be fun (and loud).

I added some Holiday cards to my Etsy shop.
It isn't too early to start spreading holiday cheer you know...or at least start thinking about it!




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Monday, September 29, 2008

You Are Cordially Invited

If you are a bride or an event planner in the Southern New Jersey area, I invite you to come visit me at The Merion in Cinnaminson, NJ on Tuesday, October 14th. There will be a ton of great vendors, I'll be giving away a great stationery prize and I would love to meet and chat with you. Details can be found here: Bridal Show. I hope to see you there!
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Friday, September 26, 2008

Rainy Weekend Elixir

In honor of today being Friday, and the new season upon us, I’m posting a recipe that I would love to try this weekend. I originally wanted to go apple and pumpkin picking and get some apple cider doughnuts this weekend, but the weather is not going to cooperate. What better way to spend a rainy Saturday than mixing up and drinking some Sangria? It sounds so delicious and it would make a great signature drink at a wedding or bridal shower.


Cheers!

Apple Cider Sangria

1 bottle light Red Wine
1 bottle Sparkling Apple Cider
1/4 cup Apple Brandy
2 Apples (cored and sliced into thin wedges)
1 Lemon (sliced)
1 Orange (sliced)
1 Cinnamon Stick

PREPARATION:
1. Place lemon and orange slices at the bottom of a 2-quart glass pitcher. Top the lemons and oranges with the apple slices.
2. Pour the red wine and Apple Brandy over the fruit. Add the cinnamon stick and refrigerate overnight.
3. When ready to serve, add the sparkling apple cider and stir gently. Slowly pour the sangria over ice.
4. Garnish with a few slices of the apples from the sangria.
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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Troublemaker

Meet Jackson.


I've posted photos of him before, but I'd like to you meet him formally now. We don't have children, so he is our baby. And I think we have spoiled him rotten. He is four years old, we adopted him when he was two. He is very friendly, sweet and cuddly and sits at my feet all day while I'm working. I love having him around. Although he is very cute, he's also a troublemaker. He loves to steal socks, towels and any other dirty laundry he can get his little paws on. He thinks nothing of sticking his entire head in the trashcan in my studio and stealing a wrapper to a granola bar. I find him chewing on paper (which is always on my floor) at least once a day. We don't dare leave food unattended...he can reach the middle of our kitchen table if he jumps. He isn't allowed to do this, but he does it when we aren't paying attention. I know these are all normal yellow lab behaviors.

In the past two weeks, he's been a particular pain in the neck. He broke our screen door by running through it. He dug a small hole in our carpet. I hate the carpet so I'm not that upset, and it is a very small hole. The woman at Pet Smart told my husband that he tried to "attack" the hair dryer thingy while being groomed. We aren't sure what she meant by "attack", but my husband could hear him barking like crazy when he went to pick him up. Nothing like getting a bad report on your dog at Pet Smart. Yesterday, he pulled me up to a neighbor's door to say hello to their dogs who were barking at him. Very embarrassing.

I don't want to be the mean Mommy and stop spoiling him. But I must if I want to have a dog I can live with. Wish me luck! And if you have any advice, I'm all ears!
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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Keeping Me Warm

It’s going to be cold here in NJ before long and I am in desperate need of a new winter coat. I was window shopping online and came across these cuties at Anthropologie.



Whenever I go to their website, my ADD kicks in. I just love everything so much. I start out with coats and poke around and end up wanting to buy a new bedspread too.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Love List

Melissa over at Operation Nice gave a great homework assignment- make a list of things you love.

There are some rules:
You can't include a single person you know on your list. No "I love the way my husband laughs" or "I love hearing my little girl call for me." It'll be tough, I know. But this particular little exercise is about stripping away everyone who defines you and figuring out what you (not his partner; not their mother/daughter/sister/friend) love.

Here is my love list...this was the best homework assignment ever!

I love the way it smells outside after a thunderstorm. I love seeing new tomatoes growing in my garden. I love sitting on our patio for hours on a summer night. I love snuggling into bed early and waking up early. I love watching elderly couples kiss and hold hands. I love Dunkin Donuts coffee with cream and sugar. I love TV shows and movies that make me laugh out loud. I love weddings. I love taking the first taste from an ice cream cone. I love the way the house smells when I make my gravy and meatballs. I love winning at Scrabble. I love the colors of the leaves in the Fall. I love taking naps. I love wearing flip flops until my toes can’t stand the cold anymore. I love finding pants off the rack that fit me in length (I’m 5’0, not easy). I love finding the perfect pair of shoes in my size (I’m a 5.5, not easy again). I love using coupons at the grocery store and actually getting stuff for free. I love my quiet morning time. I love pink and brown together. I love the feeling of the first day of vacation. I love to dance (I’m a silly dancer but I still love it). I love finding a close parking spot in a crowded parking lot. I love walking my dog. I love making lists of things to do on pretty paper. I love paper- the way it feels and smells and the things I can create with it. I love going to the library and puttering around for an hour or two. I love having the freedom to do what makes me happy.

If you have a list, please share...I would love to read it!
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Monday, September 8, 2008

Are You Ready For Some Football?

We are in our house! Bill was like a little kid yesterday, so excited about the first game of the season. He took down our American flag from the front of our house and hung this one in preparation. Some wives feel like they lose their husband during football season. Bill is so into football that he’d rather watch it at home on our couch than at a bar because he can’t see or hear at a bar like he can at home. And season tickets are WAY out of our budget. So, he spends Sunday on our couch, completely content. I hope this doesn’t sound selfish, but it allows me some “me” time. I can catch up on some work, or my scrapbooking or read or whatever my little heart desires. Sometimes I will sit and watch with him, but I’m usually busy with my own thing.

Yesterday I organized my studio, completed an order for a customer, and took a long nap. I love Football Sundays.
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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Get With the Program

I love making wedding programs. They give me a tiny peek inside my client's wedding day, more than making the invitation does. I especially love when a client comes up with unique wording or ideas for me to play with.

A comment was made to me that people will just throw them away after the ceremony. WHAT?!! Now, this may be true, but I choose not to believe it after all the time I put into designing and assembling each one.

Here is a program I made for a client this summer. Can you even imagine throwing this little program away? It will fit right into your purse (or pocket if you are a man)!




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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Shiny, Happy and New

I love this time of year. I consider September more of a “New Year” time of year than January. September just smells good and feels good. I like that it is a little chilly in the morning and I have to wear a light jacket while walking this precious one.

We do a mile and a half walk every morning and it is my favorite time of the day. This morning there were children at all of the bus stops in our neighborhood for the first time in months, a special treat for Jackson. He loves to say good morning to the little ones who aren’t afraid of his size.

My love for this time of year started when I was a child. My mom would take my sister and me shopping for new school clothes and new school supplies. Oh, the brand new notebooks just waiting to be filled with doodles!! We used to cover our school books with brown paper bags and I could never wait to decorate them with my drawings. A clean slate, a new beginning.

When I graduated college and started teaching kindergarten I think I looked forward to the first day of school as much as the children in my class did. I taught for ten years, and every year I hardly slept the night before the first day of school. New children to teach and brand new crayons that were still pointy on top! There was such an excitement in the air on the brand new, shiny first day of school.

I stopped teaching about seven years ago, and although I do miss the hugs from my little kindergarten peanuts and the new crayons, I still love this time of year. It still feels like a clean slate to me. I feel more motivated about my business and have a ton of new ideas that I am going to start implementing. I look forward to wearing cozy sweaters, making a big pot of chili and trying new recipes on Sundays while Bill watches football (go Eagles!).

Here’s to the end of the summer!! I’m ready for the beginning of a shiny, new September!
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Happy Again

I’m happy to report that I am back in my little studio, feeling stronger each day and eating well.

I don’t want to keep talking about the gallbladder. In fact, I want to forget it. But I do want to mention that something good came out of the experience. I realized how very much I love food. I knew I liked to eat, but I never knew how much I would miss NOT eating. And I didn’t just miss eating food, but I missed cooking it too. I spent the entire summer miserable because I wasn’t able to be an active participant in food. I could only eat plain grilled chicken and pasta with one kind of sauce and fruit salad without having pain. So, that’s all I ate, and that’s all I cooked and boy was it was B-O-R-I-N-G! Thankfully, my gallbladder was truly the culprit, because since it’s been gone, I haven’t missed it. I’ve been enjoying food again! It’s like some kind of a miracle. I could list all of the food I ate this past weekend, but I’m slightly embarrassed by it. I will say that I definitely need to start working out again as soon as I’m all healed.

This realization has inspired me to write more about food. I hope I don’t bore anyone too terribly, but I’m going to be trying and posting new recipes and posting lots of photographs of food on this blog. I’ve decided it needs to be a bigger part of my life. I’m a much happier person now that I can eat whatever I want.

And to start off...I’m going to share a recipe for Rice and Beans with Pesto that I made last night. It is from my old Cooking Light, Five Star Recipes, The Best of 10 Years cookbook. I changed the recipe a little bit and I make this often. It’s quick, good for your body and your budget, and pretty tasty too!

Rice and Beans with Pesto

1 tbs olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped onion
1 ½ cups instant brown rice, uncooked
2 ¾ cups water
1 (15 oz can) diced tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup pesto basil sauce (I like to use Classico...I hope to be making my own soon with all of the basil from my garden)
2 (15 oz cans) red beans, drained and rinsed

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion and sauté 2 minutes; stir in rice and water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.
Stir in tomatoes, pesto sauce, and beans. Cook over medium-high heat 2 minutes or until mixture is thoroughly heated. Spoon into a serving dish; garnish with fresh basil, if desired. Makes 4 servings.
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Monday, August 11, 2008

You're Not The Boss of Me!!

I'm reading a great book right now, The Boss of You by Lauren Bacon and Emira Mears. I'm only halfway through the book and I've learned so much already. It's a very easy read and I have a hard time putting it down! I recommend it to any woman who has started or is thinking about starting her own business. Oh, and there is a Blog also, if you want to check it out.
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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Rock The Reception

A few days ago I discovered a new TV show on TLC called Rock the Reception. It's a reality show about couples who learn a choreographed dance and surprise their wedding guests at the reception. The dances are choreographed by Napoleon and Tabitha, who also choreograph for So You Think You Can Dance (which I love, love, love!).

Bill and I watched it the other night and turned to each other and asked, “Why didn't we do this?!?"

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Etsy Shop Addition

I added these dragonfly thank you cards to my Etsy Shop today. I got inspired this past weekend while making a 1st birthday card for my friend Lynda's little one, Brooke.

While I was working on putting the cards together and taking photos, I was listening to this...
It took me waaaayyyyy back! The CD was laying in Bill's huge collection, so I popped it in. Does the fact that I still like Duran Duran make me a geek?
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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Celebrating Independence!

This weekend was the first weekend I've taken off from Designed By M.E. Stationery since I opened for business back in February. It feels good, but I can't say that I don't think about working every few hours. But then I remind myself some time off is a good thing and onto the next round of Rock Band I go. It's been rainy since Friday. I'm getting quite good on the drums.
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Monday, June 30, 2008

How I Spend My Days

A typical Monday afternoon (& Tues, Wed, Thurs, & Fri) in the Designed By M.E. Stationery studio is usually spent with...

my trusty papercutter...

and my not so trusty assistant, Jackson. He keeps falling asleep on the job.
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