Arizona Inspired Stationery Set

I’ve only just discovered the Southwest region of the United States as an adult. Arizona is a newly added state to my repertoire; having visited twice in the past three years. As a child, we traditionally vacationed close to home so the Grand Canyon still remains on my bucket list! The Southwest region is still a wonder to me and a place that I feel needs more exploration than the few visits I have under my belt. 

Photography courtesy of @clettis

As a tried and true Midwesterner, I am partial to the lush forests bursting with pine and birch trees, where the likelihood of chancing upon a freshwater lake is extremely high. When summer’s high humidity leaves the body drained and drenched and winter temperatures dip well below freezing with snow covering the landscape as far as the eye can see. The desert is the exact opposite. Its flora and fauna are scrub brush, cacti, yucca and scorpions, snakes and lizards. With little precipitation, the landscape can be a more hostile environment. Much different from what I’m used to and fascinating all in the same. Of course, I am aware that in high elevations it does snow in sunny AZ too!

I’m intrigued by the dry heat that occurs most months out of the year and the culture that the Southwest is so famous for; Native American heritage and influences in the artwork of the region, museums, and tribal lands, along with the area’s Spanish-American history and the Latino population, including the cuisine, Latino arts and music, cultural sites, and not to forget the region’s history of the Old West with cowboys and gold mining.

I designed a cactus inspired stationery line with the varied landscape and culture of Arizona in mind. In this collection is a thank you note card set, five distinct designs, and three desktop notepads, again each with a varied design. Arizona may have been my muse, but the concept of this collection looks good anywhere. If you’ve read the previous blog post on SoCal inspiring the Sarah Collection wedding invitation suite you’ll notice that I also took aspects from these funky Arizona plants too.

A nod to the Southwest is seen throughout the collection. It’s in the colors, in the succulent and cactus plants I created, in the varied colorful and terra cotta pots they’re sitting in and in the ‘tile’ design featured on the two of the notepads. I get all joyful and giddy every time I use one of the paper goods from this collection. I’m reminded of this warm, beautiful place that is so much different from my home. I hope you feel the same.

My goal is to design and create more stationery sets, mainly note card sets, for my Etsy site as well as wholesale accounts. Look for more designs later this year. If I say it out loud then I have to follow through, ya hear me!?! [self plug time] If interested in purchasing any of these awesome paper goods click here.

Finding Inspiration, Part One: SoCal

Where do you find inspiration for what you do? I find it in the smallest of places and largest of landscapes. Read on…

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Finding Your Team: Building a Wedding Vendor Taskforce One Mimosa at a Time

You just got engaged, Congratulations! You’ve officially moved your wedding Pinterest board from secret to public and the frenzy of purchasing bridal magazines is ON. So now what? Where do you even start?

You probably know who your bridesmaids and maid of honor are, but what about ALL of the vendors that will help you throw the best party of your life? This is where your TEAM comes into play. I’m talking about cherry picking a group of individuals and businesses for your dream day. The best of the best. The Professionals. 

Budget is going to play a role in this dream team, but certainly does not dominate it. You can find the right people for all types of budgets. But, knowing your budget is key. Weddings are expensive, I get it, and a lot of couples underestimate what they will be spending on all aspects of the wedding. Perhaps your parents are helping you pay or maybe you’re paying for the entire wedding yourselves, either way you’ll have a number to work off of. I could go on and on about horror stories of couple’s wanting to save money and hiring all the wrong people. Don’t hire your Aunt Bev to be your wedding photographer if she’s not a professional photographer. Don’t create your own wedding invitations if you’re not skilled in graphic design. You get my point.

One of the first bookings you make should be your venue. Both ceremony and reception as they may or may not be in the same location. Venues can book up a year plus in advance so make sure to snag your dream location(s) early. If the venue is a popular site, they’ll typically already have a Preferred Vendor list. This is a list of other vendors that they enjoy working with, do an amazing job and have a great rapport with. Do your homework, but this list could help kick-start your search for the Best!

What are your thoughts on hiring a wedding planner? I think, in my humble opinion, that this is a fantastic idea! Most of the stress and OCD overload occur during the planning process as well as the day of the wedding. Seriously, hand over the baton and let someone else do the fretting. Whether that means hiring a wedding planner throughout the entire process or just the day of, you’ll thank yourself a million times over. A minor detail gone awry can set a bride into bridezilla-mode real quick. Having a trusted planner by your side will allow for a smooth day where you are relaxed, sipping mimosas and able to soak in all of the amazing details of the day.

There are so many people you’ll need to meet with, hire and coordinate with during this process. Your wedding planner will have an amazing list of suggestions for you and will help you keep that stress-less vibe flowing. From a stationer to florals to hair and makeup to photographer to videographer to baker to car service to musicians to DJ’s to…the list goes on…are you getting stressed? Please don’t! 

If you’re going off of a recommendation, stay true to what you like, what you want and what your budget allows. Here’s the thing, just because your college roommate used this person to custom design wedding jewelry doesn’t mean you’ll love that style and should too or because your fiancé’s sister hired a jazz band for their reception doesn’t mean you should too if jazz isn’t your thing. Maybe your cousin is an amazing makeup artist, then by all means hire her! Take the suggestions that work for you and politely say thank you and move on to those you know will not be a good fit. This is YOUR day and you get to decide how that looks.

Besides a preferred vendor list from various resources, do some homework of your own. Get inspired on Pinterest and Instagram. Follow hashtags that align with your wedding dreams, style and interests. You may find a gem in a sea of creatives on your own. Just make sure they’re legit and have a portfolio that is as well polished at their Instagram account. For instance, as a stationer, I may have clients from all over the state, country or world, because technically I don’t have to meet face to face with all of my clients. If I’m working with a bride that is not local to me, we have plenty of video calls, phone calls and email chats in order to build a great relationship. I’ll also send her samples of my work and direct her to my bridal testimonials. You certainly want to hire trustworthy people. How do you know you can trust them if you don’t actually get to meet them in person? Check out reviews on their website or schedule a live video chat to see if they will be a good fit for you. With a few exceptions, most everyone else you hire will be local and you’ll get a feel for their personality via email communication or in person meetings. 

Through your searches, interviews and decision making I strongly suggest gravitating towards hiring those you are inspired by, jive with and whom you won’t be supremely annoyed with while working together for the next year or so! There are a lot of talented people out there and the world is full of crafters and creators which is why it is so important to find the ones that you enjoy most! 

Curate the most amazing day, wear that dress like no one’s business and have the time of your life. 

Setting the Tone

I realized this year that summer is such a pivotal moment when you have school aged children. Our son, C, started Kindergarten this year and it was exciting, trying, eye-opening and boggling all at the same time. Come early June we were all ready for summer break! No schedules, no commitments, no homework. We planned a quick overnight excursion to see live music on a farm two hours away the day after school let out.

It was like caged animals being set free. Our plan was to stop for lunch along the way, enjoy the Lucille the Land Yacht concert series of the day and camp at a nearby state park. We threw things in a bag and hit the road. It was overcast and dreary when we left. We didn’t care, we were on the open road. Through farm country we went. Windows down, wind blowing and the smell of farm and country surrounded us. 

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We arrived at Four Sisters Farm in Rochester, Minnesota; an organic farm, who was hosting the outdoor event. Organized by the ever popular Dinner on the Farm who best describe themselves when they say they “create unique local food experiences designed to celebrate farmers, growers, chefs, brewers, distillers, makers and artisans dedicated to good, sustainable food. Through our roaming culinary events, we work to connect people back to the land and to the farmers and artisans who are making our communities a better place to live.’ The events Dinner on the Farm put on are unique, memorable, attract young and old and make you feel like you’re part of a community working for the good of our human race and the planet (insert me waving the peace sign). 

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The concert took place on the deck in front of Lucille the Land Yacht, a 1973 Airstream, which is parked on the grassy lawn at Four Sisters Farm. 100% of the profits went directly to the artists. The four of us found the perfect spot towards the back of the small crowd. The clouds had parted, the sun came out and the perfect breeze had blown in. We set up our picnic blanket, lawn chairs, grabbed a locally brewed beer from the vendor, our pre-ordered charcuterie board from The Forager and settled in. American folk artist Charlie Parr was the headliner with opening artist Bentley Gillman. 

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The intimate concert was one for the books. The kiddos danced, ran around, visited farm animals, snacked and truly enjoyed themselves. We took in the atmosphere, the sense of community and the sweet sounds of each one man show. We were sad to pack up as we could have stayed ALL night.

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A short 30 minute drive brought us to Whitewater State Park where we quickly set up camp, watched dozens of fireflies buzz around us and enjoyed an evening campfire. In the morning, we woke to the sounds of the Whitewater River and found a path from our campsite directly to the river. The four of us in our pajamas admiring the fresh water river, collecting rocks and exploring was the perfect way to start the day. A visit to the ranger’s station, a short hike up the bluffs and lunch at our favorite college town sandwich shop concluded our excursion.

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We drove home with full hearts and an appreciation for taking this time to ourselves; thus, setting the tone for the summer.