Best of 2016: My Favorites

Today I’m wrapping up my Best of 2016 recap with a few of my personal favorite posts from the year! 2016 was definitely a rollercoaster of a year, and sometimes it has been tough to find the bright and happy moments with so much turbulence around the world. But when I look back at our posts from the year, each one below fills me with happiness and gratitude. I can’t think of a better way to say goodbye to another year (and welcome a new one!). I wish each and every one of you a very merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, and a wonderful New Year!

Best of 2016: Rainbow Watercolor Hologram Foil Party Invitations by Ashley Buzzy for Paper Party 2016

Rainbow watercolor and hologram foil party invitations for Paper Party 2016. Designed by Ashley Buzzy and printed by Bella Figura. The invitations that started my love affair with hologram foil!

Best of 2016: Paper Party 2016 Art Print

I’m still completely obsessed with the limited edition art print that we made for Paper Party 2016! Designed by Ashley Buzzy, and printed by Mama’s Sauce on Legion Paper lavender Color Plan paper. Hologram foil for life!

Best of 2016: Dip Dyed Letterpress Printed Baby Announcements by Swell Press Paper

I loved these two-color dip dye baby announcements by Swell Press Paper – with mint green edge painting!

Best of 2016: Behind the Stationery with Hammerpress

Our Behind the Stationery column continued to be one of my personal favorites – this installment with Hammerpress was a particular highlight from 2016!

Best of 2016: Brick + Mortar / Daydream Prints

Over in our Brick + Mortar column, Emily talked about why stationery matters in these challenging times. So much yes. Greeting card by Daydream Prints.

Best of 2016: How to Style Stationery for Photography by Coral Pheasant

How to Style Stationery for Photography – I learned a ton of new tips and tricks in this guest post by Nichole of Coral Pheasant

Best of 2016: Eleven Independent Etsy Wholesale Boutiques

I got to share eleven of my favorite independent stationery and gift boutiques across the country in partnership with Etsy Wholesale!

Best of 2016: Our Bathroom Renovation

On the personal side, I got to share our bathroom renovation! This was our first major home renovation, and we did our best to create a bathroom that both honors the age of our home and maximizes storage for a family of four.

If you made it this far, I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting Oh So Beautiful Paper this year. I love my job and the fact that I get to do it every single day, I love this blog and the amazing stationery community, and I love all of you for coming here to read our posts! The last couple of years have been incredibly challenging as I’ve tried to learn how to balance motherhood with entrepreneurship and try to figure out how to grow a business in an ever-changing environment. Your comments here and on social media are always a highlight on even the most difficult days. So thank you for supporting, commenting, sharing, and coming back. I may pop in with a couple of quick posts next week, but otherwise we’ll be back in 10 days. See you in 2017, my friends. xoxo

Enough

Artwork by Penelope Dullaghan via Instagram

Artwork by Penelope Dullaghan via Instagram

I normally try to avoid the news as much as possible. After eight years of working for the Federal government and thirteen years of living in DC, I often feel like I’ve had a lifetime’s fill of news. But when the news started pouring in about Alton Sterling and Philando Castile on Thursday, it couldn’t be escaped. Then came Dallas. I haven’t been able to think about much else since. Normally I don’t talk about big social issues here, because I try to make this website a bright spot in your day. But going forward without acknowledging all the heartache this past week feels wrong to me. We’ll get back to the pretty stuff tomorrow.

I’ve been a ball of emotion since Thursday: anger, grief, horror, sorrow, regret. My heart aches for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and for the families of the police officers killed in Dallas on Thursday. And I’ve had a hard time putting those thoughts and emotions into words, so it’s taken me a while to be able to write anything that I felt comfortable sharing with all of you. And there’s still so much more that I want to say but don’t yet know how to say. I don’t know how we got to this place. Where the use of lethal force by the police has become almost routine. I support our police officers and law enforcement, and I’m grateful for the very difficult work that they do every day. There are many amazing police officers doing great work around the country – including right here in my town of Washington, DC – but we need change in the places where it isn’t happening. Men should not be shot during a routine traffic stop in front of a four year old girl sitting in the back seat. Police officers should not shoot drunk drivers as they crawl out of the wreckage of a crashed car. Flash grenades should not be tossed into a crib during a drug raid. The frequency with which police use lethal force – with near-zero accountability – is staggering.

The police are here to protect and serve the community. And that means people of every color within that community. When black people are treated differently just because of the color of their skin, it’s wrong. And if the rest of us don’t stand up to acknowledge the problem and demand change, then we’re part of the problem. Supporting Black Lives Matter shouldn’t be about being anti-police or anti-white, it should be about demanding equal treatment and respect for all members of our community.

Writing statements of support on a blog or social media feels almost silly when I think about the scale of this problem. But if we don’t say anything, if we don’t talk about it, if we don’t acknowledge that there is a problem, we can’t fix it. I don’t have the answers to the larger issue of race and injustice in our country, but I do believe we have the power to make things better. Maybe it’s my policy background, but I think there are real things we can do to help. To push for change in our local police forces. To stand up for justice on all sides and demand accountability when the police do the wrong thing. To talk to each other so that we can feel more empathy towards each other.

Artwork by Kal Barteski via Instagram

Artwork by Kal Barteski via Instagram

Silence and complacency are easy. Cultural change is not easy. But as long as we keep choosing what is easy, people will continue to die. We can support Black Lives Matter and work for positive change in our police. These things are not mutually exclusive, but they require action. Write letters to your local elected officials. Attend local council meetings and police community meetings. If you don’t have those meetings in your area, work with your local council members and community leaders to organize them. If we don’t show up and make our voices of support heard within our communities, nothing will change.

Thanks for listening.

Best of 2015: My Favorites

Oh So Beautiful Paper: The Best of 2015 / Calligraphy by Cast Calligraphy

Image by Cast Calligraphy

Today I’m wrapping up my 2015 recap posts with some of my personal favorite posts from the year! 2015 was, for me, kind of a chaotic year. I feel like I spent most of the year chasing deadlines and constantly running around in an effort to just keep up, which didn’t leave much time to think about the future or how I want to grow my business. So while I’m still trying to wrap my head around my thoughts and goals for 2016, I know that at least part of what I want for the new year is to slow down, simplify, and focus on doing things intentionally rather than constantly reacting to everything around me. In the meantime, I’ve been looking back at 2015 to figure out what worked, what brought me joy (like the posts below), what I want to change, and what I want to do MORE of in 2016.

Hand Painted Rose Gold Foil Baby Announcements / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Alice’s Hand Painted Rose Gold Foil Baby Announcements

Okay, so I’m obviously totally biased, but I’m still completely nuts for Alice’s birth announcements! Each individual announcement was hand painted by Jenna of Mon Voir, meaning no two announcements are the same, and feature Jenna’s calligraphy and text printed in rose gold foil by Bella Figura on their gorgeous smooth cotton paper.

Brick + Mortar: All About NSS Mailers / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Brick + Mortar: All About NSS Mailers

Emily‘s Brick + Mortar column continues to be one of my favorite bright spots on OSBP! Two of my favorite installments from 2015 are the post that Emily and I co-wrote in March about NSS mailers and Emily’s post in September about the importance of the word “no” in growing your business.

Brick + Mortar: How Saying No Can Help You Grow Your Business / Art by the Dancing Cat / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Brick + Mortar: How “No” Can Help You Grow Your Business / Artwork by The Dancing Cat

Paper Party 2015! / Oh So Beautiful Paper / Photo by Charlie-Juliet Photography

Paper Party 2015!

This year’s Paper Party was a huge undertaking and SO much fun! We went with a subtle tropical theme with a color palette of cobalt blue, gold, and shades of pink, and plenty of tropical details like palm fronds, flamingos, and tropical fruit. The invitations were designed by Moglea with a hand painted background, hand painted envelope liner pattern, and text printed in matte gold foil by Bella Figura. Michele of Meant to Be Calligraphy addressed the envelopes in gold ink, and I dip dyed them in pink Kool-Aid!

Hand Painted and Matte Gold Foil Invitations for Paper Party 2015 / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Paper Party 2015 Invitations!

Tips for Working from Home / Bright Room Studio for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Tips for Working from Home from Bright Room Studio

Love these tips from Kim of Bright Room Studio for anyone working from home!

The Earth Laughs in Flowers / Oh So Beautiful Paper + Mon Voir Calligraphy Collaboration

The Earth Laughs in Flowers Art Print

Our very first limited edition art print! I collaborated with Jenna of Mon Voir on these gorgeous art prints featuring her floral watercolor artwork and calligraphy printed in matte gold foil. I can’t wait to do more of these collaborations in 2016, and in the meantime you can pick up your very own print right here!

Annual Family Photo Books for the Holidays

Time seems to pass at light speed these days. Sophie started preschool at the end of August, the girls celebrated their third and first birthdays back in September, and Alice is getting ready to take her first real steps any day now. As we get closer to the holidays and the end of the year, I want to preserve and cherish our family memories and keep them from getting swept away in the daily blur. I’ve been wanting to make an annual family photo book for a while now, so I was thrilled when Mixbook reached out about trying their beautiful new Montage photo books!

Annual Family Photo Books for the Holidays with Montage / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Photo books also make beautiful and memorable gifts for the holidays, especially for grandparents and aunts and uncles! We have the hardest time shopping for our parents, and I love the idea of making big annual family photo books each year and gifting a copy to close relatives that are always begging us for more photos of the girls.

Annual Family Photo Books for the Holidays with Montage / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Instead of doing a typical family yearbook, I chose to organize our book around the girls’ birthdays. Sophie and Alice’s birthdays are just four days apart, so it made sense to use our book to chronicle Alice’s first year and Sophie’s third year. I just want to stare at these pages forever and sear the images of my girls at this stage into my memory. Our first year with Alice was such a blur; I love looking at photos of her from the very beginning when she was so teeny tiny! I can’t wait to make more books every year and look at the pictures with my girls over and over.

Annual Family Photo Books for the Holidays with Montage / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Annual Family Photo Books for the Holidays with Montage / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Annual Family Photo Books for the Holidays with Montage / Oh So Beautiful Paper

I also wanted to include both professional photos taken during the year along with the candid photos from our phones and Instagram accounts. I loved how easy it was to create our Montage book by uploading photos directly from my computer and importing directly from my Instagram account. Montage also works with Facebook, Dropbox, Smugmug, Amazon, and Flickr. Once I was done uploading my photos (more than 250 of them!), the Montage software artfully arranged the photos into an album. Montage calls the process auto-magical, which is a pretty accurate description. The whole entire process was almost effortless – and I definitely didn’t have to spend hours trying to create the perfect book layout. Montage offers the ability to adjust layouts and swap out particular photos, but the original Montage-generated layout was so good that I barely had to make any changes!

Annual Family Photo Books for the Holidays with Montage / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Annual Family Photo Books for the Holidays with Montage / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Annual Family Photo Books for the Holidays with Montage / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Annual Family Photo Books for the Holidays with Montage / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Annual Family Photo Books for the Holidays with Montage / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Annual Family Photo Books for the Holidays with Montage / Oh So Beautiful Paper

The Montage comes in four lay-flat album sizes ranging from 6×6″ to 12×12″ (we chose the 10×10″ size), each with 20 to 100 matte printed pages, and features a gorgeous leather cover. You can even choose from a bunch of different colors and patterns for the interior pages, although I went with the clean and classic Magazine layout in white for my own Montage. I was impressed by the super fast shipping (only 4 to 6 business days!), but the holiday cut off deadline is coming up pretty soon – so get started now if you want to make your own photo book to give as holiday gifts this year!

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper, and our family photos are by the lovely ladies of Sweet Root Village

This post was created in partnership with Mixbook and the Montage book. All content and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that make Oh So Beautiful Paper possible!

Productivity and Daily Routines

Hi Everyone! Today I thought I’d do something a little bit different and share a glimpse into my everyday routine. It’s a fairly new routine, since it has only been a couple of months since Sophie started preschool and Alice started full time daycare, and I’m still trying to figure out what works best for me as a mom and creative entrepreneur.

Productivity and Daily Routines / Oh So Beautiful Paper

My day starts with getting the girls dressed and ready to go to preschool and daycare. We’re a single car family, so I drive and drop everyone off in the morning and then pick them all back up at the end of the day. In between I work out of my home office/studio. The round trip drop-off and pick up commute usually takes about an hour, which is tough since that’s a good chunk of work time. Sophie gets out of preschool at 3 pm every afternoon, so my challenge is to squeeze in as much productive work time as possible before I go pick her up. I normally work for a couple of hours at night after the kids are asleep, but I try to get as much done during those daytime hours as possible!

Productivity and Daily Routines / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Productivity and Daily Routines / Oh So Beautiful Paper

If you talk to any creative entrepreneur, they’ll tell you that email is one of their biggest productivity challenges. There’s just so much of it! Responding to incoming emails, organizing and archiving messages, and sending outgoing messages can eat up a huge chunk of my day. I use a service called Unroll.Me to help clean out my inbox and keep it manageable. Unroll.Me allows you to unsubscribe quickly and easily from unwanted newsletters and combine the rest of those newsletters – the ones you want to receive but don’t want crowding up your inbox – into a once daily email digest called “The Rollup.” I’ve actually used Unroll.Me for a few years now and I absolutely love it. I was thrilled when Unroll.Me reached out about helping to spread the word about their new iOS app!

Unroll.Me for iOS / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Unroll.Me is fast, simple, and totally FREE – and it really couldn’t be easier to use. After you sign up, Unroll.Me will scan your inbox to identify subscriptions. Then with a simple click of the mouse you can choose to unsubscribe (Unroll.Me does it for you), add the email to your Rollup, or keep it in your inbox. I even use my Rollup to keep all the newsletters from my favorite stationers and artists in one place! The entire process seriously takes about five minutes. When I first signed up for Unroll.Me years ago I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Unsubscribing from those emails –instead of having to delete them every single week – got them completely out of my mental space so I could focus on the things that matter. It sounds silly, but that kind of mental weight can have a huge impact on your productivity!

Productivity and Daily Routines / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Productivity and Daily Routines / Oh So Beautiful Paper

After responding to emails and sorting through any editorial submissions that came in overnight, I turn my attention to my to-do list for the day. Every day is different when running a blog depending on what’s on the agenda for that particular week. Some days involve DIY project production and taking photos, while other days involve searching for cards and products to feature in round up posts. I like to keep a colorful notepad on my desk for jotting down reminders and ideas along with a desk pad calendar to keep track of things like doctor appointments and visits from out-of-town relatives. I also find that I’m more productive if I keep a few pretty or inspirational trinkets on my desk, like vintage stamps and business cards from my friends that make me smile every time I look at them.

Productivity and Daily Routines / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Productivity and Daily Routines / Oh So Beautiful Paper

That’s my day! What do you do to stay productive during the day? If you want to give Unroll.Me a try you can sign up right here! I’ve used Unroll.Me to manage over 1200 subscriptions over the years – I’d love to hear how many subscriptions you find!

This post was created in partnership with Unroll.Me. All content and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that make Oh So Beautiful Paper possible!