11.30.2010

An Advent Tradition: The Jesse Tree

With a big deadline tomorrow (last day to order custom cards) and TONS of emails regarding orders, I have no business blogging right now, but this is worth sharing before it's too late!

Download your free copy HERE
Read the blog post about it HERE.
{Great blog, by the way!}

This Jesse Tree family devotional is one of the best Advent resources I've ever seen. I printed all 80 pages and can't wait to share it with my girls tonight.

I love meaningful traditions, especially at Christmastime, but sometimes I get too perfectionistic. Like the time I tried to hand embroider 30 ornaments for my first ever Jesse Tree. I had two very young children, was starting a card business and wanted to have the perfect Jesse Tree that would last for generations. Of course I never finished the embroidery...and not one has been sewn into an ornament!

No worries! This devotional has printable symbols that don't require any time or skills on your part! I'm so relieved that diving deeper into the meaning of Christmas isn't about how pretty I can make it! Why did it take me so long to figure that out?

I think we'll hang the symbols on our little Thanksgiving Tree (one that otherwise holds gift tags in my studio).


But you can also find a branch outside. And you can even make it cute if you want to...the way Seleta did here:


A HUGE thanks to my friend Missy who told me about this devotional today. {Missy makes me laugh out loud with her well-written blog called It's Almost Naptime! Check it out!}

We'll read three devotions tonight to catch up, but it'll be worth it as we prepare our hearts to receive our King, which is what the Advent season and Christmas are all about. Ah...that reminds me of a song, which reminds me of a card inspired by the lyrics!


{available on my website here}

Joyfully celebrating and designing,

11.29.2010

Tree Trimming Fun

Forget shopping the day after Thanksgiving...we like to decorate! It's our family tradition! Christmas music piping through the house, hot apple cider, pumpkin spice cookies and even a fire (thanks to a cold front that blew in the night before)!

{When it's not cold enough for a fire, we've been known
to crank down the A/C just to make it feel like winter!}

As always, the highlight of the day is hanging ornaments on the tree. "Oooh...I love this one! Remember when...." Listening to my girls reminded me so much of my sister and me when we were little. Good times!

I confess, I used to micromanage and move the ornaments only minutes after the girls hung them, but this year, I just let them have their fun (and only moved a few). They did a fabulous job! My brilliant tip: use a step stool! {Unless you like having only the bottom half of your tree decorated. Wink!}


New to our tree last year...a train!


For those who can't stand decorating for Christmas in November, perhaps you'll give me grace since my home is my storefront this time of year (and Christmas cards are my main business). It helps get my clients (and me!) in the spirit! Look at the difference twinkling lights and a little greenery makes!

Thew view from my front door BEFORE...


...and AFTER!



And our family room BEFORE...



...and AFTER!



All this sparkle makes me want to have a party!
{Just not sure when I'll fit that in with cards!}

So how about you, Sweet Readers...do you have any tree trimming memories or traditions? I hope your decorating day (or maybe your decision not to decorate at all) brings you great joy!

Happy Monday!
P.S. Stay tuned for some of my favorite ornaments...and where to find some like them!

11.26.2010

Thanksgiving Tree

I woke up at 5:45 this morning (very uncharacteristic of me on a cold, rainy morning...or any morning for that matter!). I was half-thinking and half-praying about all that's on my plate between now and Christmas, when suddenly my "half prayers" turned into no prayers and my "half thinking" turned into over thinking (aka "anxiety"). You know the feeling?

So I got up, got dressed, tiptoed down the stairs to make my tea and get to work on some card orders when I ran into this:

Our little Thanksgiving Tree.

I'll be honest, I threw these little "I am thankful for..." cards together and loaned my girls the tree from my studio just to occupy them while I worked on Christmas card orders. But as children often do, they took it to heart...and warmed my heart in the process. Here's an up-close look at some of the things they added to the tree:


How's that for starting your day off right? Thank you, my precious girls, for reminding me to replace my anxious thoughts with thanks and praise.

Between my last post and this one, I'm beginning to see a theme: giving thanks really does make a difference in our hearts and minds. It's not just something we should do on Thanksgiving Day...but every day! In fact, our little Thanksgiving Tree may become a part of our year-round decor!

Happy Day to you, Sweet Readers!

11.23.2010

Giving Thanks: A Cure-All

I'm having one of those days. The kind people don't usually write about because it's not inspiring, encouraging or pretty. A mix of overwhelmed and discouraged with a touch of irritated and hurt. I told you it wasn't pretty! So why share it with you? Because I'm hoping for a heart change as I write.

As I woke up this rainy morning and walked past heaps of laundry I don't have time to do, my thoughts began to take a downward turn. Then as I carried my stinky trash and rotting pumpkins out to the curb while my neighbor's nanny did it for her, I felt a pang of "I could use a little help over here!" irritation. And as I remembered a broken friendship, I tried to push the hurt aside but couldn't. Then there's the pile of orders I've yet to fulfill...all with a headache and brain fog hovering over me.

Can you see where I'm going here? Well, I'm here to tell you it needs to stop. Because friends, while all of this is true and real today, something important is missing:



In everything, give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus (I Thessalonians 5:18). God's will? As in...HIS PURPOSE FOR ME? No wonder I'm out of sorts today!

So here I am to confess that while I'd love for you to feel sorry for me today, that will not change my day. And it certainly won't help yours. What WILL change our day is taking God's words to heart: GIVE THANKS IN EVERYTHING...despite the circumstances. I'll go first:

I AM THANKFUL FOR...


My husband.

He's literally the glue in our family this time of year. He cooks, he cleans, he grocery shops...and sometimes even counts envelopes and packages cards. I know...it's almost too good to be true. I'm in awe of the man he's become in the last 13 years...a man who loves the Lord and pours that love out on his family as a humble servant, a strong leader, a tender father and a best friend. {I wish you could see my tears of thanksgiving as I write this, JD. I don't deserve you!}


My songbird.

My oldest daughter is not only sweet and smiley, but she fills our home with music on a daily basis. Not just any music, but praise and worship songs that she writes herself. Accompanied by a guitar she plays herself. All without any lessons or formal training. It's just pure giftedness, and I'm blessed to hear this gift in my home each day. {Someday I'll ask her if I can share one of her songs with you.}


My sparkle.

My youngest reminds me that life isn't meant to be as predictable as I'd like to make it. Her passion challenges me daily. And she sure knows how to make a mama feel loved with her hugs, hand-made cards and sweetest-ever nicknames. One of my favorites: "Sweet Angel Mama." Something I admire about her: she knows how to live life to the full and is teaching me to do the same. {Thank you, precious one.}

I'M ALSO THANKFUL FOR:
  • a sister who "gets" me
  • parents who've given much to me
  • new friends who've surprised me
  • old friends who've stuck by me
  • a prayer partner who will go to the depths with me
  • teenage girls who've taught me
  • clients who've returned to me
  • a card helper who's blessed me
  • YOU...who've "listened" to me
I could go on, but now it's your turn. What are you thankful for today?

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. I should add that I was feeling rather grumpy when I started this post, but in the process of giving thanks, something began to shift. Why am I so surprised when obedience brings blessing? Thank you, Lord.

11.18.2010

My New Dining Room Table

The dining room table drama wore me out! I started here, tried zinc here, almost had one made here, burnout happened here, sticker shock happened here (are you tired yet?). Then card season started and everything else faded away...so I haven't had a chance to show you what's sitting in my dining room!

A TABLE!!!


Just when I had given up, a table angel intervened. Isn't that how it always happens? Here's a better look at the base (wish my end chairs weren't hiding it...may have to leave one pulled away):




Does it look familiar? Kinda like the one I saw in Dallas? That table was just over $12,000! Gulp. So I had to get creative and design my own...a little more slender and to my exact specs:



I was flattered when the builder asked if I had an architectural background after seeing the precision of my sketches. Nope...just overly detail-oriented and a little too particular! Wink!

But there's more to the story...and more talent required that what I possess. Here's how the table looked just after it was built:


The top is a bit too "barnish" (150-year old barn wood from Virgina) and the base all new, so I called the very talented Tamara Moore to come over and work her painting, antiquing magic.


Not only is Tamara amazing at what she does, but she's a pleasure to be around. She inspires me with her passion for painting, her attention to detail and her friendly, fun disposition. I've put her to work all over my house (chairs, an armoire, maybe some antiquing on my bathroom cabinets...). Oh, and Tamara also has a booth at MAI and Antiques and Interiors on Dunlavy...both are great places in to shop in Houston.

I'm thrilled with my new table. It will definitely hold me off until I find my authentic French antique in Provence...if that day ever comes! Until then, I'm beyond content and blessed...and thankful for the people I met in the process. As we all know, PEOPLE MATTER MORE THAN TABLES!



Now back to card designing! Have a great day!

11.15.2010

The Music Behind the Cards

I've never tried anything like this before, so it may be a technological flop. But if it works, I thought this little slideshow set to music would be a fun way to give you a peek into my world.

TO VIEW SLIDESHOW:
Click anywhere in the black space; play button doesn't work.
{Enjoy the music...Holly and the Ivy by Andrew Peterson.}


{designs can be ordered and personalized through my website}

Christmas tunes are playing round the clock in my studio these days. It's hard to pick a favorite, but here are my "go to" albums for design inspiration (depending on the style of the card or the client):
  • George Winston's December
  • Amy Grant's Home for Christmas
  • Steven Curtis Chapman's Music of Christmas
  • Faith Hill's Joy to the World
  • Andrew Peterson's Behold The Lamb of God
  • Aaron Neville's Soulful Christmas
  • Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker
I know it's early for most of you to start listening to Christmas tunes, but I'd love to know your favorites. I'm always looking for new ones!

Wishing you a joyful week!



11.11.2010

Trauma In The House

Yesterday was by far the most traumatic day we've had in the Hasenbank House. We're all okay, but I learned a few lessons, so I thought it might be worth sharing with you today.

I was home as usual...working in my studio on a card for this inspiring woman. I had a sick child here with me...curled up under my desk with a pillow and a good book. We had our tea, and all was well.

My sweet housekeeper was here working her Wednesday magic, and Tamara (who I can't wait to tell you about another day) was here painting.

Everyone was working joyfully until...Tamara heard something upstairs. It was my housekeeper crying out for help. I raced down the stairs of my studio and up the stairs in the house to find her lying on the floor unable to move. Her arm was clearly broken and she was on her back in tears, speaking rapidly in Spanish (which after seven years of having in her in my home for 5-10 hours a week, I've learned to speak a little, but not rapidly).

My housekeeper was cleaning my shower (it was still running). Her feet were wet (she always works barefooted), the bath mat was in the washing machine, so when she stepped out of my bedroom onto the hardwoods in the hallway, she slipped and fell. In a bad way.

My heart was breaking as saw this tough but tender, joyful but hard working woman lying on my floor in pain. What do you do?

I'm sure most of you are more prepared than I was, but just in case you haven't had a situation like this in your home, here's what I learned:
1. If someone can't move, call 911 right away. Obvious to some, not to others. My husband says if the answer to "Are you OK?" is no, call 911. That simplifies things.
2. Ambulance transport is WORTH IT. My housekeeper's husband didn't want me to call an ambulance because of the cost. But there was no way I was going to move an immobile person crying out in pain. I'll pay the bill, and every penny will be worth the care she received. There's a reason why you shouldn't take yourself or someone else to the ER just to save money: you receive critical care (and needed pain medicine) on the scene and on the way...care you'd otherwise have to sit in the waiting room and WAIT to receive. You also get to enter through a different door...and get checked into a room more quickly. Worth it.
3. If you have a housekeeper, NOW is time to prepare for an emergency. Who does she want you to call? What hospital can she go to? Have her show you where she keeps her ID and insurance card (or "Gold Card" in my housekeeper's case). It's VERY stressful to try and search for things in the midst of an emergency...all the while hoping your housekeeper has these things at all.
And here's what I learned about myself:
1. Trauma care is not my gift. My adrenals ache and I'm battling a migraine.
2. But if I'm the one on the scene, I have a VERY big God who can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). I prayed lots...and asked a friend to pray, too.
3. I still have a lot of healing to do related to my own near-death trauma. I nearly died after giving birth to my second child and never really processed all that happened, mostly because I wasn't conscious to know what all happened. But let me tell you...the body remembers. Even as I write this, I feel a wave of intense heat and weakness wash over me. As I climbed into the ambulance yesterday, I was white as a ghost. As we neared the medical center, I had a deep ache in my body. All from that day seven and a half years ago.
Pray for sweet Elsa...for healing, but also for provision. My hope is that all of the families she works for will recognize her need and find joy in providing for her while she heals. Her husband is out of work, and she cleans two houses a day to take care of her family.

The honest truth is that I couldn't do what I do this time of year - or any time - without Elsa. I shudder to think what my house will look like without her for the next however many weeks. I'm in the peak of card season, so house cleaning just isn't going to happen. I'm sure there will be lessons learned in that, too. Letting go of perfection and order and cleanliness. Scary! Pray for me!

That's a whole lot of WORDS, my friends, so how about a few images of CLEAN HOUSES to sooth our eyes:










{Not organized enough to know the sources today,
but I'm sure at least one is from Cote de Texas.}

Blessings to you, Sweet Readers.
And thank you for letting me share.

11.10.2010

Today I'm feeling...

...joyful, creative, inspired, busy, excited and privileged. Here's how that looks inside my head today (using some of my new favorite fonts, of course!):


And here's how that translates into a new card ideas:


{available here}

Allison at Feathernest Photography is responsible
for these awesome family photos!


{available here}


{available here}

I could go on and on designing variations on a theme (like I did here), but you get the idea! If you'd like to use one of these ideas, just send me an email and we'll get started!

Wishing you an inspired day!

11.08.2010

Peek Inside A Friend's House + A Winner

I took my camera to a friend's house intending to photograph children in their Halloween costumes, but was slightly distracted when I saw her FABULOUS dining room!


I can't wait to see the finished look with side tables on either side of the banquette and, of course the chairs, but isn't this space super cozy and glamorous at the same time?

I'm especially crazy about the chandelier and the antiqued mirror behind it:


How gracious of this friend to share her sources:
  • Chandelier is from Mecox.
  • Table, banquette and mirror are custom through Jerry Jeanmard with Wells Design.
  • Swing arm lamps are from Circa Lighting.
Thanks for indulging us with a glimpse into your beautiful home, Mrs. H! One more peek as the sun goes down...

Simply glowing!

And now to announce the winner of the $50 LLH Designs giveaway. Congratulations to "LindsB" of  Everything LEB. (Thanks to random.org for selecting #33.)

And thanks to all of you who took the time to leave a comment. Not only did you help me narrow down the design choices, but it was also fun to know who's out there reading my little blog. I wish I had time to make a set of cards or stationery for each of you!

The winning design was this one:

With these two tying for second:



I think this font combination of Budmo Jiggler and Compendium is a hit! Time to add these to my sample albums. Hmm....would you classify them as classic or festive?  

Thanks for taking time to visit me today!
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