Thank You!

I am full of gratitude as I think about each and every card I designed this season, and am especially grateful for the clients who made it possible for me to create such beautiful, heart-felt, personal and unique cards!

From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU. I wish I could list each of my 2009 clients by name (I remember you, but don't know that you'd want to be listed here!). You are the reason that Christmas cards remain my greatest joy. Thank you for trusting my creativity and indulging me in my inspired moments. Thank you for giving me freedom to let your photos "speak" to me...and for enjoying the custom designs that followed. And to those of you who have returned year after year, a very special and sincere THANK YOU. I have loved watching your families grow, and have truly been amazed that God has given me fresh, new words and designs for your cards each year. What a blessing!

And now to all of you - card clients, new readers, old friends and of course, my family - I wish you a joy-filled Christmas and a New Year full of unexpected blessings! I can't wait to see what the New Year brings! See you in 2010!


A Few Days Left...and I Still Love Cards!

I'm full of joy as I near the end of another Christmas card season...not because it's almost over and I can do something other than cards all day (what will I do?!?!), but JOYFUL because even at the end of the busiest season ever, I still LOVE what I do! And I love the people who hire me to do what I do.

This very morning I had a client call me on her way to the airport. She hasn't had time to study online samples and complete an order form (and she's way past the deadline), so she said, "I love everything you do and trust you entirely. I don't even need to see a proof. Just do what you love and print." Wow. I love that! What a trusting woman...and what creative freedom she has given me! Exciting and a little bit scary, but JOY-FILLED!

Yesterday, I had a client who's living overseas tell me she loved the elegant proof I sent her. She requested classic and elegant, and I gave it to her. All was well. I could have printed and been done with it. Simple elegance...what's not to love?

But then I stared at her photo a little bit longer. Two very young boys bursting with joy and looking as if they wanted to squirm right out of that photo. All of the sudden, elegant just wasn't working for me (or for those bustling boys). So without her permission, I went all custom and crazy on her!

Same words. Entirely different design. She LOVES it...ADORES it! And so do I! I wish I could show you the photo so that you could how it all turned out, but I don't want to ruin the surprise for the lucky recipients of her card!

I find myself asking, "How do I do that? And how do I do it at the end of the season when I've spent three months living, breathing and dreaming Christmas cards?" It's a God-thing. Truly. There is no other way. I should be burnt out at this point and drained of ideas; I'm not trained in graphic design (I was an English major at Vanderbilt...no graphic design going on there!); I'm not even a very colorful person (plain jane is more like it); but I love the words of Christmas and I love being open to God's creative power.

I love what I do. And as long as God does what He does through me, I'll be doing it. Thank you to all who have given me the privilege of using my gifts to design your cards. I am OVERJOYED!


Essencia: Must-Haves and a Giveaway!

You know those days and weeks when you wish there were two of you? I'm having that kind of month, and it's a glorious thing because it means I'm busy doing what I love (designing Christmas cards), but I wish there were another one of me to write this post so that I could take the time to tell you how much I love this company: Essencia.

Here are a few of my favorites that will find their way into Christmas gifts (and gifts-to-self) this season:

You haven't SHAVED until you've shaved with Lavender Mint Shaving Syrup. Seriously. I'm not a big product girl (which is why you KNOW it's love when I dedicate an entire blog post to products), but this is one product every girl can use. And you know what? This product has made it into the "Gift Bags for the Stars" at the Academy and Grammy Awards! It's BIG-TIME!

Another body product you'll want to try...Rosemary Mint Body Polish.
Exfoliating, moisturizing...all that good stuff, but it smells good, too! And just after you rinse it off, try shaving (no shaving syrup needed this time). Two-in-one!

A product I can't live without: Honey Mint Lip Balm. It's better than Burt's Bees or whatever you've got in your purse!

I'm addicted. It's literally in every drawer - desk, kitchen, bedside, bathroom...you name it! It's the perfect combination of silky and moisturizing...not at all sticky or waxy. Owner/co-founder Alison McMurtrey works really hard to perfect her products, and it shows in this little power-packed tube!

Moving on to a few household favorites: Lavender Linen Spray.

I'm not a big fan of linen sprays because most of them have so may artificial fragrances ("parfum" sounds desirable because it's a French word, but let's call a spade a spade...it's not the real deal!). This linen spray puts the rest to shame. Lavender is known for its calming benefits, so go ahead...mist it on your pillow each night, your sheets between washings, your children's pillows...you can even use it as an air freshener.

Speaking of air freshener (don't get me started on how I feel about most "air fresheners" on the market), this little product is Essencia's hidden jewel in my opinion:
I know...it looks a little unconventional. I mean, really...when was the last time you used a lamp ring? When I first saw this product, I wasn't "sold," but the second I tried the Lavender Mint Oil with Aromotatic Light Bulb Ring, I was hooked. This is what you'll smell in my studio.

There are many more products I could list, but Christmas cards are calling, so I'll leave you with this: most of the products I mentioned are 25% off right now, and if you spend $40 and mention the code XMASSHIP, you'll get free shipping.

AND...if you leave a comment between now and December 11th about which of these products you'd most like to try (or a comment about any of the Essencia products), you'll be entered in the giveaway to win a little Essencia for yourself! Go for it!

Merry, Merry!


A Magical Day in Houston

If you've been looking for inspiration in Houston, it literally fell from the sky on Friday, December 4th. SNOW!!! Lots of it...big flakes...for hours!

I didn't get to do one of my favorite things that day (take photographs of my children) because I was inside hosting an Open House for my cards and stationery, but what a vision it was to look outside my windows and see snow falling the ENTIRE time!
This photo isn't so hot (taken with my iphone while trying to help shoppers), but the real view was beautiful!!! There were many times throughout the day when I stopped mid-conversation and said (with child-like wonder and urgency), "LOOK! Isn't it magical?!?!" Sorry if I cut you off in mid-sentence, but I was just trying to take it all in!

I had to laugh when the weather report said SNOW. I mean, really? In Houston? On December 4th? On the day of my Open House? Wasn't withdrawing from my major sales event of the year in order to serve friends in need enough of a sales sacrifice, Lord? And c'mon...I'm donating a portion of the Open House sales so that inner city children can have Christmas gifts, so please don't leave me with an empty house, Lord. SNOW?!?! Houstonians don't drive in snow! We don't know how! Who will come? What will I do with all of these cards?

Oh, me of little faith! "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?" (good ol' Matthew 6:27). I wasted precious energy on those empty house worries. Wouldn't you know, my house was FULL on Friday...in the snow! Full of cheerful shoppers, Christmas music, hot apple cider and JOY! I've always said I have the most wonderful clients EVER, and now I can say they are also the most brave and generous. I'm pleased to report that many inner city children will enjoy nice gifts thanks to your braving the snow and generously shopping. You exceeded my expectations in a BIG way...and reminded me of some of my favorite words in the entire Bible:
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us..." (Ephesians 3:20).


Open House this Friday!

Oh, JOY! Join me this Friday for some Christmas cheer, festive music, spiced cider and LOTS of cards...holiday designs and your year-round favorites!

Even today, I was bursting with creativity and designed some new things. They'll be hot off the press and ready to go home with you on Friday!

The key to a peaceful and joy-filled season is guarding your time and spending it wisely, so I consider it the highest compliment that you would spend a few minutes in my home on Friday. Here are a few good reasons to stop by:

1. Reasonably priced gifts that are only found here in my home...not on my website or in stores.

2. 15% of the sales will go to The Forge to purchase Christmas gifts for Houston's inner city children (and I'll personally match that amount, doubling the gift-buying potential).

3. My talented fiber artist mom will be here with her newly designed, one-of-a kind necklaces! People have loved them so much they've bought them right off her neck!
4. And my indescribably artistic sister is indulging us with hand printed onesies featuring her own designs...and a few of mine!
She'll also bring some new limited edition fine art prints...not to be missed! You've always heard about those people who have more creativity in their pinky finger than most of us have combined? My sister is one of those people!

See you Friday! (Send me an email if you need directions.)

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