A Minted Holiday!

Guys, I’m really excited to share something with you all! This past year I’ve been submitted designs to minted.com challenges. My main goals were to bring in a little extra money for our house reno projects + stretch me as a designer.

For the first part of the year, I was really growing as a designer and trying new things as I entered into the Minted challenges. Then finally I found out I would have four of my designs in their 2013 Holiday Collection! That meant prize money and commission. Cha-ching. Cha-cing.

While having four designs in their program seems amazing now, it was not always easy. To be honest I was really discouraged thru most of the year with my minted entries. I would spend almost every night working on them and see the same few winners win and felt like I’d never win. But I was determined to win and I’m glad I stayed the course. They have a great community forum section and I also recently discovered it took most people a year or so of submitting to finally win.

Now that I’ve won four, I feel much more confident and determined to keep submitting. I’ve really grown as a designer this year and I’m thankful for the opportunity to submit all 61 of those entries even if I didn’t win all of them.

But now seriously, go check out my winnings and share them! PS I’m also open to design custom Christmas cards this winter – so don’t hesitate to contact me with some ideas!

plaid red gray holiday christmas card

mail vintage holiday christmas card stripesmail vintage holiday christmas card stripes LOOKING BACK TIMELINE
timeline christmas holiday card business cardtimeline christmas holiday card business card COMPANY YEAR IN REVIEW
business holiday christmas card that shows stats and figuresbusiness holiday christmas card that shows stats and figures

H&M Home Line Opening

Doing my usual morning inbox cleaning of marketing emails before work, I was quickly surprised by one marketing email. This one was from H&M announcing that you can FINALLY shop online in the U.S.  which got me saying hip hip hooray! I’ve been a fan of the European line since high school when my friends Morgan and Raisa would talk at lunch about their most recent trip to Chicago and their finds. Call me jealous.

Finally a year or two later, an H&M store came to my home town mall and I was thrilled. Two thumbs up for cheap, fashionable clothes. At first it when it opened, it was just women’s clothes, but now a few years later boasts men’s clothes, which Drew has also taken a liking too.

But last year while shopping for decor for our home, I came across H&M’s home line and fell in love until I realized those items were not “purchase-able” in the US. Boo for all the Europeans keeping their lovely cheap home decor to themselves. Well FINALLY, today I saw that they opened it up to the US. And I have just about looked at everything I could have. Here is my wishlist so far (keeping it realistic for what our house actually needs)…

I LOVE me some cheap pillows – you could probably call me a pillow hoarder, though I’d say most women could say the same. PS what is it about guys not liking pillows, seriously the first thing my husband and his friends do when they come over is throw the pillow son the floor. I’m also loving the typography on some of the accessories, towels and linens. And BONUS for having some special $4 items for their grand opening. Love!

And while I was drooling over the home items, I took a look at some of the other great deals they have going on for clothing. I think I’m going to have to get me some more skinny jeans to complete my collection of 100 pairs + I’m loving these kids sweatshirts and think I may have found an early Christmas gift for my niece, Reese!

Seriously… you’ll want to get over there and get these deals, and no H&M totally didn’t pay me or anything to say this, but I truly LOVE all this stuff.

Trip to Oregon

At the end of May, I had a chance to visit Portland and Salem, OR for work. My job was sending me to a Bearded Iris Farm to take photos of every variety of Bearded Iris I could find! One of my jobs as the graphic designer is to maintain the look and feel of the site and that includes updating product images. Our images of Bearded Iris were what I’d call “old and crusty”. So it was my hope to get better photos that looked more realistic, group photos and lifestyle garden shots.

So here is the rundown…

6:20am on Tuesday, we fly out of Milwaukee. We make a stop in Denver and Reno before we get to Portland at 12:00pm (pacific time). Flying into Portland was basically a scene out of twilight. No vampires to be seen, but definitely had the setting of a moody, foggy northwestern indie film, and of course we arrived and it was raining (story of the entire trip). We got our rental car and hit the freeway to Salem which in theory was only an hour away.

Due to the rain, there was a few accidents on the freeway and kept stalling us in traffic. We finally got off and ate lunch at a small cafe. We finally get to Schreiners and it’s raining (of course), but we decide to check out the gardens and we spend an hour or two taking some images before the rain gets worse. Then we head to the hotel and order pizza. I was passed out at like 8:45pm… it was a long travel day.

Basically most of these photos are of flowers (hence why I was there), sorry + enjoy! I however was pretty proud of myself that I shot on manual mode the entire time…. that is why it doesn’t really look rainy (except for the awesome raindrops) because I’d adjust the light settings to still let in a bunch of it. Taking photos with great light is key! Overall I’m pretty proud of myself!

6:00am Wednesday… we both wake up early – probably because we are still stuck on central time and the fact that we went to bed so early didn’t help. We figured we’d get a head start on the day since it’s raining (of course) and it was only supposed to get worse as the day went on. We stop at Walmart (to get a golf umbrella) and grab Starbucks.

We head to the farm again, but on the way we see the fields of Iris that we didn’t yesterday. The sign says no visitors, but we still pull over on the side of the road to take a few photos. Jenny, our operations manager, traveled with me mainly so I didn’t have to go alone, but also she could scope out new iris varieties we could carry. She also did a fabulous job of holding the umbrella over me at times the rain was heavy – we had to protect the really expensive work camera!

I also asked her to take this photo below…. however she claimed to be no photographer and she was right, at least she got the flowers in focus! Thanks Jenny 🙂

We spent the rest of the morning at the gardens photographing everything we found, even some perennials such as allium, hostas and columbine.

12:30pm Wednesday… the rain was getting worse so we decided to call it a day. We had gotten to every area of the farm with gardens, so we felt it was ok to leave. We grabbed lunch at Applebees and headed back to Portland where we spent the night to flight out in the early AM.

5:00pm Wednesday… we adventured out into Portland and tried Frank’s Noodle House for some Chinese dishes and then had dessert at Voodoo Donut. Voodoo Donut is a very popular food attraction within Portland. It’s been featured on various food network shows. After dinner, we head back to the hotel because we have an early flight back home.

3:45am Thursday… we are up and ready to head to the airport. As we fly out of Portland and past the clouds, it was the first time we saw the sun in a few days! We head to Las Vegas for a transfer then back to Milwaukee… it was amazing to fly over the rockies and other mountains in that part of the country!

Overall, Portland was a great city to add to the “places I’ve been” and would love to head back some day to really check out what makes Portland so weird. One of the things I couldn’t get over is how much Portland-ers love to garden and how crazy big things grow there. Literally, the hostas were up to my waist! Crazy.

What Grows II

Having a yard is a million times better than a balcony. Having a real garden is a trillion times better than having a container garden! Just about every night, once I get home from work, I walk around our yard looking at what’s growing or blooming now – there are always new surprises each day! Here are a few shots from our recent blooms… so thankful for a job at a flower bulb company that makes it easy for my yard to look like this!

And guess who watches me while I walk around the house…
 And here is a quick look at what I’ll blog about next… our additions to our backyard deck!

Vote: Christmas in April

Christmas in April? Why not?! It pretty much feels like it outside and especially nowthere is a chance of snow this week (boo)!

Minted.com is currently doing a Holiday/Christmas Card challenge for personal use and corporate use. Voting ends on Monday, April 15th, but I thought I’d share my designs with you and encourage to vote for me – click on the photo to go vote for it! Pretty please? Thanks!




Birthday Recap: Giving Back

So catching up on blogging here… my bad!

Last week (April 1) I celebrated my 24th birthday and for some reason 24 seems crazy old! I know it’s not, but it just seems like wow, just the other day I was still a kid, still eating Chef Boyardee and Lunchables… nevermind, that still occurs on a regular basis in my life.

To celebrate, both Drew and I took the day off, so it started with sleeping in. We didn’t really have plans for the day, and that is usually what I like best. Since my sister, niece and brother-in-law were in town, I decided to take the opportunity to spend most of the day with my sister, niece and mom. Drew wasn’t opposed to playing video games with Josh either – win win. We just hung out, went for a Target shopping trip and visited Yo Mama for a birthday treat. It was also Reese’s first time!

After Drew and I went to Olive Garden and enjoyed some delicious food – then came home and caught up on a bunch of Mad Men episodes to get ready for the season premiere which was Sunday.

When asked what I wanted for my birthday this year… from Drew, my parents and his parents, It was a challenge to think of things I really needed. There was definitely things I wanted, but it just sometimes seems so silly to just get things just because you want them when there is so much that other people in the word need. So this year I made it a goal to make my birthday gifts about giving back. From Drew I asked for these floral TOMS – I knew that TOMS gives a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair you buy, so I figured this was a good start – and these are super cute for spring!

Next, I asked Drew for this 31bits necklace. 31bits is a company that sells jewelry made by  women in Africa. It provides them a way to make an income without selling their bodies in order to support their families. Plus, all their jewelry is made from paper (how cool!?) and they have awesome designs.

Last but not least, with the money I got from my parents and Drew’s family I was originally going to purchase stools for our kitchen when we remodel this summer. However, I just kept thinking about how I really didn’t need those now and decided that part of the money I was going to give towards an IheartLC need – which would use the money to really help someone in need around our city or world and meet a need now, instead of a want I wanted later. The other part of the money I got from family will be going towards a new roof for our house this summer. Obviously, it is also important to take care of our own things God has blessed us with.

So there is my birthday of giving back – instead of making it about myself, I really wanted to think of others and bless them. Hopefully it inspires you to give back in someway whether in our city or somewhere in the world.

Vote: Greeting Card Challenge

Ever since I made it my goal to submit some design pieces to a minted.com challenge, I’ve been hard at work submitting things to multiple challenges. Currently I’m in the submission process for a few Holiday Cards, but right now is the time for voting for the Greeting Card Challenge. That challenge included birthday, mother’s day, father’s day and graduation greeting cards.

I submitted a few designs recently and now is the time to vote. I’d appreciate it if you could vote for my design (pretty please!) – but do it soon as voting ends on March 11 at 9am PST. Here are the designs I submitted, to vote for them, just click on the photo to take you to the link… I do believe you’d have to make a minted.com account, just so they can keep voting legit.

Pinterest Challenge: Napkins to Pillows

I have a few obsessions. Target, pillows, pinterest, and the blog Young House Love. Put them all together in a nice sandwich and you get a YHL Winter Pinterest Challenge where I take four napkins from Target and make two pillows.

It all started when I was working on transforming our lower level guest room and figuring out a color palette. I went to Target and since they had a million decor pieces in one of the hottest colors right now, coral, I decided coral and gray was my palette. I found lots of pillows with coral, but so much of it was geometric and so harsh. I was really wanting to add some floral when I found this Target floral print (below). However they didn’t have this print in pillows which I wanted, so what did I do… bought a pack of four napkins (20″x20″ each) for $9.99 and said I’d make pillows out of them… real funny since I haven’t touched my sewing machine in over 2 years.

So then I hopped on Pinterest and began searching for tutorials on how to make pillows from napkins… and I found many different methods. You can sew the pillow mostly with a machine and then the methods to close the pillow after the stuffing include hand sewing, velcro or putting in a zipper.

I was ambitious and thought a zipper would be the best way to close it, while making it still look nice. Here is the pillow tutorial I followed to a T… besides the fact that she didn’t use napkins, but napkins in my case just equaled a piece of fabric. PS I also learned that for zippers you use a “zipper footer” which so nicely came with my sewing machine.

I was crazy surprised how easy it was… even my mom (who is like a pro sewer) was impressed! So once that part was done, the rest was easy, just sew it shut. And I just used the existing hem as my guide which helped keep things pretty straight.

Then I just stuffed them full of soft stuffing that I picked up for about $3 and zippered them shut. Presto. I magically turned 4 napkins into 2 pillows.

And look who came to watch as I finished this project… his eyes were on the pieces of thread the entire time, he has eyes like a ninja. I’m thankful for a pet who loves craft time too!

New Fave: Coral

If you’ve been to our new home, you’ll quickly realize I have a love for grey and yellow hues. While I could decorate each room to scream out my love for that color duo, I wanted to stretch the color palette of our home.

One of the only two rooms left to be painted was the downstairs spare bedroom and the bathroom down there. And after Drew recently professed his desire to have a space for a computer set up, he convinced me to start working on our next project: operation finish the downstairs bedroom.

First set of business was to find some inspiration and create a color palette. I browsed thru my some hundred pins on my “home style” pinterest board to remind myself of what things I’ve been loving lately over there. I settled on the palette of Coral & Gray (plus tiny bits of yellow and a light blue, think: this moodboard, that I made for myself to hopefully re-do my portfolio site this year). But then I also had to convince Drew that this color is definitely not pink! Here are a few images that inspired my game plan for this room…

Suzie: Kerrisdale Design - Woven magazine basket, Robert Allen Dwell Studios Gate white & gray ...

Coral and Grey...or Navy Blue

gray and tomato

Next, a trip to Target to score all the coral decor possible made this room start to come together very nicely and easily. And if you follow my instagram, you probably saw all the things I found there…

And now to today… Drew and I were able to finally say goodbye to the flesh colored walls (gross) and painted up a fresh coat of a medium gray color Martha Stewart Bedford Gray to be exact. Here’s a quick image of how it was coming along.

Now that the paint is dry, the next step is to clean up the room and put it back together – also to make the bed with all the things I found! A few other things on the list to do before it is more finish are…

  • Create a striped upholstered headboard
  • Hang some white/floral curtains
  • Get a white Parsons style desk
  • Re-do/paint the Mid Century Modern dressers in there
  • Spray paint a round mirror to go above the headboard
  • Add more decor/storage elements
  • And probably much more…

Minted Goal Complete

Another goal for 2013 smashed by me, Vanessa!

It’s been on my list of things to do for about 3 years or so… submit a design for a Minted.com challenge. I’ve loved the idea, but the actually sitting down and looking at the current design challenge, thinking of an idea and creating the said idea, just never came about. Until yesterday, I just sat down and started sketching on the ipad’s paper53 app and my new bamboo stylus from my parents for Christmas.

The challenge this time is an art print, versus their standard more invitation/greeting card theme. From yesterday, I have a full sketchbook of ideas, but the one I created for my first submission was the most solid design, one that I could see it in a lot of little nurseries. Here is what I created…

Now I need all my lovely family and friends to go check it out and vote for me – yes please! I’m hopefully going to try to submit a few more ideas before the deadline on January 31, then voting begins. Critique, comment and when voting begins, vote! Here is the link to my design “Bowtie Essential