crafty girl {100% Homemade, With Love}

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This Christmas, I received several homemade gifts from a few of my wonderful, creative friends. They were just so sweet, I couldn’t help but share them with you. These are all 100% homemade, and admittedly, I am soooo incredibly impressed!

First up, we have these stylish and darling earrings that my friend Ali made by hand. I love the wood beads, and the subtle pop of green that the glass beads add! Next, we have this amazing plum jelly and some white chocolate drizzled pretzels that the talented Miss Jamie made. I haven’t opened up the jelly yet, but the pretzels are long gone (and they were very tasty!). And lastly, we have this yummy strawberry jam and this adorable apron that my friend Crystal made. I love the huge button and the bright and punchy fabric she used.

The most impressive thing about these gifts is that each friend made the same things for the ladies of our Bible Study group… which means Ali made 5 pairs of earrings and Jamie drizzled white chocolate on countless pretzels and canned plenty of jelly, and Crystal sewed 5 cute aprons (and they were each unique) and also made lots of jam. I am just blessed so greatly by their friendships, and by these beautiful, thoughtful and 100% homemade gifts. Thank you Ali, Jamie and Crystal for your friendship, hard work, and creativity!

pieces of life {be dazzling}

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My dear husband’s birthday is exactly one week after mine, so each year around this time, we like to do something special to celebrate both of our birthdays together. Since it’s Christmastime, there are many fun, festive activities going on. This year, like many in the past, we decided to head to downtown Minneapolis to be dazzled by the lights and holiday cheer that glitters and sparkles there.

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As is tradition, we watched the Holidazzle Parade on Nicollet Avenue. Which, for anyone not from Minneapolis, is a night time parade featuring floats decorated with bright, sparkling lights. It’s all set to music, and the atmosphere at the parade is just buzzing with energy and excitement. Thousands of hardy Minnesotans bundle up to celebrate the holidays in style! This parade runs four days a week for four weeks, so it’s quite the production.

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In addition to the parade, we make sure to visit Macy’s Santaland! This used to be a Marshall Field’s production, and I must say that I was greatly relieved to hear that Macy’s would be keeping up the tradition after their buyout of Field’s. It’s on the 8th floor of their downtown store, and is a magical, wonderful display of annimated characters that tell a different story each year. For 2009, the story was “A Day in the Life of An Elf”. These photos don’t even come close to doing it justice. There are several scenes that are intricately detailed with darling props and little figures that move and dance and tell a story. I could get lost in the styling of some of these scenes. What a fun job it would be to help create and prop these sets!

After our adventure at the parade and in Santaland, we shopped Macy’s and visited their chocolate shop for a treat (also a tradition of ours!). It was a wonderful birthday celebration, and more importantly, a memorable time with the one I love. I was admittedly giddy with delight as we walked the skyways and watched the parade, laughing and holding hands. Oh, how I love this time of year, and how I love my dear hubby!

Are there any special events or celebrations that you particpate in during the Christmas season?

cottage life {mirror images}

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It’s been awhile since I shared any snapshots from the cottage, so I thought that today I would give a little glimpse of the bedrooms in my home. The photo above shows our guestroom, which is a small room with one dormer on the south wall. In that nook is a small wooden chair for guests to set their bags on. The bed has a nightstand and lamp on each side, and at the end of the bed are two vintage suitcases, which hold all my sewing supplies. On one wall is this antique mirror, which was given to me by my parents. Hanging above the bed, is a small portion of my collection of antique postcards. The bedspread was a wedding gift, and the two throw pillows are ones that I sewed a couple years back. I love this room because it is cozy, and snug, while still feeling bright and airy due to the dormer window.

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This is a photo of a small portion of our bedroom. It does not really give a proper view of the size of this room, but I wanted to stick with the mirror image theme! There are three windows in our bedroom, one on either end, and one in the middle. Our bed is now against the west wall, and there is a dormer to the south, and another window to the north. The room is very spacious, and I love it because it collects sunlight almost all day. This photo was taken from the mirror on our dresser. In it, you can see our antique metal bedframe, and the matching lamps and nightstands. Almost everything in our room is white, or subtle in tone. I love the warm gray/brown on our walls, which contrasts nicely with the cool blue on the facing walls. The simplicity of this color scheme fits with the rest of the house perfectly, and makes for a calming retreat in our bedoom.

I hope you enjoyed the mini-tour of the bedrooms in the cottage. The third bedroom currently serves as my studio. You may see it here and here. I hope you each enjoyed your weekend… I will be back tomorrow with a recap of my own activities during the past couple days!

pieces of life {Q&A}

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Thank you, ladies, for your questions for m… Below are my answers, which will hopefully shed a little light on the things you asked!

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Em asked :: Do you have any suggestions for starting out [in graphic design/designing stationery]? Where do I begin? Is there anything I can do before I start taking classes?

I would say that from the start, you need to work to develop a unique and distinct personal style. Start reading design books and magazines, and soak up as much as you can. Keep a folder of inspiration and things you gravitate towards. I would also recommend starting an informal style blog, even if it’s just for yourself. Blogging is a good way to accumulate inspiration, and begin to meet others who are like minded. Starting out in this business can be terrifying, especially in today’s world. There are so many, many talented people out there! It’s hard to find your place among them. You, as a designer, should have a “personal brand” that is evident in your work, so that you stand out from the masses. I could write pages and pages about this topic, but I would say, in a nutshell, that as long as you are passionate about this career path, you should continue on with your education and saturate yourself in the design community!

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Danielle asked :: What devotional are you reading?

I am currently reading Pursuing the Christ by Jennifer Kennedy Dean. I can’t recommend it enough. I would honestly read it over and over again, during any time of the year. The devotions are short, but packed with many powerful things to think about and ponder. You can purchase it on Amazon for under $10!

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Jamie asked :: How do you keep everything organized? Do you keep an online calendar? A “Daytimer” book or an app on your phone? Also, with being a full time wife, homemaker, employee and business owner what are your ‘can’t live withouts’ to keep you functioning? What is the snack/sweet you go to when your stressed?

Believe it or not, I really am not extremely organized! I am very much a big picture person, and often, the details overwhelm me. So, keeping everything organized can tend to be a challenge for me. I usually have no less than 6 post-it notes stuck to my computer, as well as a couple lists jotted down on a notepad. I keep reporter-style journals in my purse at all time for keeping track of ideas. My calendar is from Target (Real Simple brand) and it’s nothing too fancy. More often than not, I forget to write important things down, and somehow just miraculously remember them!

My “can’t live withouts” include, but are not limited to :: getting plenty of sleep; hot baths several times a week; good music to listen to while I’m working (Mat Kearney is a favorite of mine); time OFF to spend thinking about things besides work, the business, the blog, etc (usually happens on Sundays); weekly bible study and church to keep my mind and heart centered on the One who gives me hope and peace.

When I’m stressed, I tend to eat for convenience, and so I head for the cupboard that contains cereal (my favorite is honey nut cheerios), granola bars and oatmeal. I also really, really love Red Vine licorice!

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Ashley Maureen asked :: How did you came to be where you are today? What advice do you have on being able to follow your dreams and still make ends meet?

I started out by going to a small design school. What was lacking in “educational clout”, was more than offset by the connections that I gained here. To this day, many of my design collegues and friends are those I made through school. The teachers I had then continue to mentor me now. Starting off at this school really made a difference in the path that I chose later down the road. The rest of the story has more to do with being raised by parents who are very entrepenurial and showed me through their actions that setting a goal and acheiving it is entirely possibly as long as you are willing to work hard. I spend a good portion of my time defining what my goals are, and charting ways to achieve the,. Emmy Lu and this blog grew out of a passion for design, business, and writing. All of those three are areas of interest for me, and so this was a natural path for me to follow.

I must point out, that probably one of the greatest misconceptions that some of you may have is that I stay at home, and live a fairy tale life in the cottage, designing cute stationery and playing with Emmy the rest of the time. While I’d love to say that this is the case, reality is a bit different. I actually work a full time graphic design job in addition to running Emmy Lu Design Studio and this blog. So my piece of advice to you is pretty much that you need to be willing to work extremely hard/long hours until you get to where you really want to be. Working hard, putting in tons of hours, and ultimately, loving what you do and having a goal in sight can go a long ways. Also making measurable goals for yourself is very helpful when it comes to continuing in the day in and day of what can sometimes be a very hectic routine. While I haven’t yet “arrived” at where I want to be… I am on the path, and really loving every minute of the journey!

thrifty tip {wrapping for less}

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I haven’t officially starting the present-wrapping process yet, but earlier this week, I did wrap up one small box containing an ornament for an exchange I am going to this evening. I packaged up the box in a unique and fun way, using pages from an old book, and some twine that I had leftover from this project. I wanted to share my method with you, since it’s totally DIY and darling, not to mention very thrifty!

First of all, I would only recommend wrapping small gifts, as book pages aren’t very large. That being said, this would be a perfect wrapping solution for stocking stuffers! To spiff up my little box, I started by ripping three pages out of the book, and simply taping them together on the back, leaving the ragged edges exposed. I then carefully wrapped the box up in the pages. Be warned that old book pages can be brittle! I ripped my first set and had to start again. Next I cut a length of twine and twisted it around the box to add a little extra personality.

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I love the look of this gift, and think this wrapping method might just have to be used again! It would certainly work for other occasions beyond Christmas. The best part? It didn’t cost me a dime!

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