What Giveaways Are Really About

Oops...I wrote this post a few days ago and am just now discovering that I never published it! My head was in the clouds...or the CARDS would be more like it! Here you go...

Congratulations to Erica! You are the winner of the second LLH Designs Blog giveaway! I'm thrilled to send you a set of newly designed holiday thank you notes! Thank you for leaving a comment, sweet friend! And thank you random.org for making the "random" selections. I could never choose on my own!

If you're reading and wondering what this giveaway business is all about, here it is in a nutshell: one, it's fun to be a giver; two, it draws attention to a particular business or product...one that I'd like to share with you (even if it's my own!); and finally, the point of a giveaway is to encourage a habit of  comment-leaving.

So why do comments matter? Comments matter because they make a blog more interesting, inspiring and interactive (how's that for alliteration?!?!). Your comments are every bit as important as my posts, not because they make me feel good (though they do make me smile), but because they keep the conversation going. I wholeheartedly believe that you have as many inspiring ideas as I do, and I'd be honored if you'd consider this blog a good place to share them!

If you're reading a particular post and have a thought, even if it's weeks or months later, we'd all love to hear it! And by all means, if you are most inspired just reading and pondering quietly in your own heart, you are still welcome here!

Thanks for joining me in this adventure. I hope you enjoy what's left of October!


Let there be LIGHT!

I've got my cup of tea and have settled into my studio for a good day of card designing. Since it's a dark and rainy day here in Houston, I decided to add some LIGHT!

As an English major, I did a lot of reading, analyzing and writing about dark vs. light (a theme as old as creation that has always captured my attention), but in my card designs, I get to abandon darkness and be creative with light.  Here's one of my very favorite LIGHT designs...one that makes me happy every time I look at it:

And since it's a dark but peaceful day, I decided to add some light in a more peaceful way this morning:

I love the words: "Arise, shine, for your light has come..." from Isaiah 9:2; and "I am the light of the world..." from John 8:12.

Have I told you how in love I am with designing Christmas cards? I get to work with some wonderful photos full of emotion, beauty, artistry, everyday joy...but what I love most are the words. I think it may be the number one reason why most of my clients choose LLH Designs over all of the other millions of cards out there. With the rich treasure chest of words we have available to us at Christmastime, it's hard to choose which ones I like best, but for today, my word is LIGHT.

Wishing you LIGHT...in your heart...in your home...in your day!

P.S. You still have all of today (Monday) to leave a comment on Friday's post. One of you will win a set of newly designed thank you notes!


Inspired by Distraction

Some days don't turn out quite the way you planned, but don't you love it when the distractions are better than what you could have planned? I need a little work on my attitude toward unwanted distractions, but for today, I'm thankful for creative design bursts that came out of a not-what-I-planned kind of day.

Today didn't turn out to be as productive as I needed it to be in terms of Christmas card work (sorry to those of you who are waiting patiently...I promise today's inspiration will spill over into your cards), but I was unexpectedly inspired by a new design concept that I'm excited to share. I was given the opportunity to design a business card for a talented friend with exquisite taste. She shares my love of clean space, simple elegance and French influences, so here's what I created for her: 

I can't say enough about how talented Alison is. Everything she touches turns to gold, and I know her touch in your home would be no exception. By the way, this is the same talented woman who owns Essencia (more on that business in another post). 

Designing Alison's business card was an inspiring "distraction" in the midst of Christmas card season, a distraction that will find its way into the 2010 personalized stationery collection. But of course I couldn't resist a little holiday note card with a new font in cranberry red and that lovely little scroll in sage green:

In fact, I'm feeling so inspired that I'm going to GIVE AWAY one set of these holiday note cards to a lucky LLH Designs Blog reader!  All you have to do is leave a comment below. Don't be shy...just leave a little something today through Monday, October 26th and you'll be entered in the drawing.

Since distraction is the theme of the day (for me anyway), I'll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis. 
"The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasent things as interruptions of one's "own" or "real" life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life---the life that God is sending one day by day: what one calls one's "real life" is a phantom of one's own imagination." 
Let that settle into your heart. And thanks for letting me be a "distraction" in your day today! I look forward to hearing from you!


The Happiness of Orange

Today's inspiration comes from a color:

Bright, happy, no-doubt-about-it orange! It's an odd looking word, and for me personally, a hard-to-incorporate color, but I'm strangely loving it today. Frank Sinatra said, "Orange is the happiest color." Maybe that's why I'm wearing it today. I needed a little bit of happy!

An orange shirt. Who even knew I had one? It stands out like an apple on an olive tree in my otherwise subdued and predictable closet, and I've been on the verge of giving this shirt away all year, but for today, I'm glad I kept it! It's amazing how a color can change your mood. I know there are experts who study the psychology and meaning of color, and I'm not one of them, but today's little experiment with daring to wear an orange shirt affirms that color does move, inspire and affect us.

There are some fabulous interior designers who encourage adding a little "punch" with orange - in a pillow, a lamp, a whimsical accessory (and since it's October, how about pumpkins?). A splash of orange is always a happy surprise. I'm not feeling inspired (yet!) to add a touch of orange to my home, but here are some of the ways I've added orange to my stationery designs:

And here's a sneak peak of some new designs (to be released Spring 2010):

How about you? What's your "happy color?" And how does that color show up in your life?


Be Still

These small words are inspiring me today. Words from Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God."

Be still.

It's like learning a new vocabulary word back in your school days. Suddenly, the word is everywhere (or it was always there, but now you have ears to hear it).

On Monday, I heard "be still" in a song. On Tuesday, I heard the words as a wise woman, a new card client actually, shared her delight in raising her children peacefully and purposefully (without all of the activities and extras we so often pursue for our children these days). On Wednesday, I heard "be still" from a group of women who gathered together in my home, one of them reminding me that I embroidered Psalm 46:10 for her nearly eight years ago. And this very morning, I heard "be still" from a friend who read something to me over the phone. Her reading began, I kid you not, "BE STILL."

So yes, I'm starting to get the message....loud and clear and in quiet whispers. I'm trying to listen and learn what these words really mean....what they might look like in day-to-day life. And rather than tell you what being still should mean for you, I'm just going to give them to you "straight up"and let them do their thing!


And the winner is...#4!

Congratulations to Stephanie, the fourth one to leave a comment on the giveaway post! A handmade, French burlap pillow is all yours from Petit Coterie. Thanks to all of you who participated and have been leaving comments on various posts. I hope we'll keep the dialogue going!

For those of you who didn't win, there will be more giveaways down the road, so keep leaving those comments! And don't forget these discounts when you mention LLH Designs: 10% at PetitCoterie and  15% at Dreams of France (who sells Petit Coterie and other small items). I just received my Dreams of France order...even the packaging was lovely! And I've placed my first Petit Coterie pillow at the very front of my house for all to see!

Before I go, I have to show you the most clever desk calendar I've ever seen. 
That was the photo I snapped with my phone. Here's the official product photo from Anthropologie:
How cute is that?!?!

I hope you have a fabulous, full and INSPIRED day!


What is REAL?

Today, I'm inspired by the voice of an old friend...a voice I haven't heard in nearly eight years, but simply the sound of it reminded me of what is real and true. Thank you, friend. Thank you for being real and for inspiring me to be more genuine and true.

Do you have a friend like that? Someone who can "make it real" with simply the sound of his voice or the look in her eyes? It's such a comfort, and such an inspiration to think about what it means to be real everyday...real with ourselves, our children, our spouse, our neighbors, our God.

When I got off the phone, I went to my closet and dusted off the shoebox on a high shelf to see if I still had a letter or two from our college days. (Why don't we write letters anymore? They are such treasures!). Whew...kept a few! Attached to one of the letters (a letter that brought tears to my eyes because it was a "goodbye" letter and I'm terrible at goodbyes) was a copy of the words from one of my all-time favorite stories: The Velveteen Rabbit.

Instead of continuing to reflect out loud with you about what it means to be real (I'm still learning), I'll leave you with my favorite part of the story:

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
"The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."


A Giveaway for YOU!

Last week, I shared some of my latest online French finds with you and told you to stay tuned because one of those creative women was offering a giveaway. How sweet is that? And even sweeter, there are more giveaways to come, but your first gift comes from Petit Coterie.
Michelle from Petit Coterie (who shares my love of all things French) is giving away one of her fabulous handmade burlap pillows to one of YOU! Here are a few of the pillows from her shop:

And how cute is this little detail added to the corner of every pillow?
I first found Petit Coterie on Etsy, an online shop for buying and selling all things handmade. [Hint: if you aren't familiar with Etsy, here's my advice: decide what you're looking for and stay focused on your search or the site can be overwhelming.] And last week, I was super excited when I spotted several of Petit Coterie's pillows at Marburger! Her cute little saint medal made her pillows easy to identify!

TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY: Simply leave a comment at the end of this post between now and Friday, October 9th. You don't have to say much...maybe a word about the pillows, a comment about the LLH Designs Blog in general, an online find, or a word about where you're finding inspiration these days. I'll then use random.org to generate a random number and will announce the winner next week! Such fun! Thank you, Michelle at Petit Coterie! And for those of you who don't win, Petit Coterie is offering a 10% discount (in the form of a refund) when you mention LLH DESIGNS.

Bon chance, mes amies!
(Good luck, my friends!)


Do You Hear What I Hear?

Inspiration is a crazy thing. One second you're all excited about this, the next second you're thrilled by that, and then, all of the sudden...inspiration takes over and you're in a zone. That's what happens to me anyway, especially when it comes to designing Christmas cards! I feel like some kind of mad scientist and can't rest until I've stumbled upon the perfect combination of fonts, colors, decorative elements...and words. I love words. Can you tell?

So there I was enjoying my week of French finds and happily sharing them with you when inspiration spilled over into Christmas cards. Seemingly unrelated to French finds, but remember...inspiration is a crazy thing! And yesterday's craziness came in the form of a Christmas carol. Yep, Christmas carols in October! That's when you know you're doing what you're meant to do...when what would be a bother to everyone else absolutely thrills you!

So yesterday's song that kept dancing around in my head was "Do You Hear What I Hear?" I was hearing alright, and seeing too! Seeing the words in my mind's eye in ways I've never seen or heard them before. Here's what happened when I sat down and let the inspiration flow:

And the same words with a different font (because a classic hymn begs for a classic style, especially when the photograph is more formal):
And because I was still inspired, singing and savoring the words of this fabulous song, I decided to add some punch to the last word:

The hardest part is knowing where to stop when you're inspired! I'm sure I'll make some tweaks to these designs along the way, but for today, I'm loving the way that inspiration looks on paper!  I can't wait to see who will use these new designs for their LLH Designs Christmas card! Even better, I can't wait to see the photos that beg for these particular designs.

Imagine a little one whispering a secret in someone's ear...or that "I know something you don't know" look that children convey so innocently. Oooh...I can't wait to pair these designs with a good photo!


French Finds Online

If you can't go to Provence or don't want to spend the money on the things that dealers have imported, there is hope! Thanks to the the current love affair with all things French and the many talented women who are putting their passions to work, you can find plenty of French-inspired goods online for a price that makes you smile! 

As you might imagine, I love to promote small businesses. I'm especially fond of the creative businesses run by talented moms. I know first hand the challenges and rewards of loving your children to the max, keeping your marriage alive and pouring your passions into a creative business, so I'm proud to promote talented women who are doing all three of those well. And when those businesses are French-related products, you know I'm inspired!

Here are a few of my recent finds...
Love these French market baskets from Painted White. And I love what they did with them. For the fall, you could fill them with gourds and miniature pumpkins...or just go with simple bundles of wheat.

I don't know when grain sack and burlap pillows became so popular, but I do know that the "real deal" can be a budget breaker. Thanks to some fabulous entrepreneurial spirits, you don't have to pay a fortune or travel far! Take a look at these vintage-inspired reproductions:
The photo above comes from Dreams of France. Jackie was kind enough to offer all of you a 15% discount on anything in her online shop for the entire month of October. Just mention LLH Designs when you order and she'll honor the discount. Thank you, Jackie!

Dreams of France is a great resource and she'll be restocking soon, but it you'd like to know who's behind these fabulous pillows, here's the secret: Michelle at PetitCoterie. I'm going to tell you more about Petite Coterie real soon, but while you're waiting, Michelle has offered a 10% discount to anyone who mentions LLH Designs. What a treat! 

And in case you're thinking this is just a random, late-night, online find, get this...I saw Petit Coterie's pillows at Marburger...AND at Beadboard Upcountry, a high end shop in downtown Brenham. Here they are!

And moving on from pillows to other household happies...
Enamel street numbers from Faded Plains. These are actually imported from France, so I bet they'll go quickly. And if you haven't noticed, numbers are a kind of "mini trend" right now, showing up on all sorts of different objects.

These lavender dryer bags come from Essencia. The owner is a super-talented friend of mine who shares my love of all things French as well as my pursuit of excellence. I especially love using them with towels and linens. Mmmm. It's like hanging your laundry out to dry in the lavender fields of Provence!

Do you have any French finds you'd like to share? Leave a comment and let me know! And stay tuned...one of these online shops is offering an item as a giveaway to one of my readers! More on how to enter the drawing next week. It involves leaving comments, so start practicing! Wink!
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