I’m saying no to pnina tornai

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Big news over here, guys! I scheduled a wedding dress appointment. It turns out you need an appointment to try on wedding dresses – I guess they don’t trust just anyone to come in and try them on.

Since I got engaged everyone has been like aren’t you sooo excited to go try on dresses? To be honest, it’s been excitement mixed with nerves. There are a lot of ugly wedding dresses out there, so finding one I like in my budget kind of makes me nervous. I’m always drawn to the most expensive stuff. I also have really high expectations for my wedding gown. When I appear at the end of the aisle, I want everyone to be overcome by my beauty and radiance. I expect the dress will have a lot to do with that.

Shopping for a dress comes with its own set of rules. I’ve seen every episode of Say Yes To The Dress on Netflix – I know what this shit is like. It is serious business, and if you screw it up your wedding is basically ruined. Let’s go over the rules:

1. Don’t bring a posse. They will just offer confusing opinions, back handed compliments, and hate the dress you love. I have already broken this rule as I am bringing a bunch of people to my first appointment. They are not total assholes like the posses on Say Yes To The Dress, though, so I think I’m going to be okay.

2. Don’t try on a million dresses – trust your gut. I’m probably gonna break this rule too. I am terrible at making decisions – I need to see literally every option available before I can even start to narrow it down.

3. If you don’t cry it is a garbage dress. Considering I teared up standing outside a wedding dress shop the other day, I’m not sure what to expect, but I’m pretty sure my mom will make fun of me if I cry.

4. This is the most important dress you will ever wear. Is it?

Now that my appointment is set, I’ve been getting pretty excited. I even had a dream about it last night! I don’t think I’m going to find ‘the one’ on my first appointment so I don’t have high expectations, but I am excited to try on fancy dresses and have people tell me I’m pretty for an hour.

Good Lord, Just Make Up Your Damn Mind Already!

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This is what I’ve been doing lately – arranging my work on slabs of marble. It’s pretty fancy.

I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging lately. Thinking about it, but not actually doing it. What I was doing was just not working for me, it turns out. First, it was a ton of work, and not necessarily work I enjoyed. To be honest, I just want to blog about whatever’s on my mind at the moment, not adhere to an editorial calendar, or think about how that will look on Pinterest or boost my followers or whatever. I’m not like, putting out a lifestyle magazine, so I’m going to try something I haven’t done in a long time – just blogging for fun. I think that’s why I like instagram so much – it’s just for fun, no pressure!

To be honest, this is the busiest I’ve been in a long time. I don’t mean that like oh I’m SO busy and important, feel bad for me. I love it. I’m feeling really fulfilled with my job right now – Gabrielle and I are working so hard on growing our business, and I spend a lot of my time being creative, which is just the best. Being a small business owner is really uncomfortable in the best way. I spend 90% of my time thinking about my business, and it feels like the only thing holding me back is finding the time to get all this stuff done. Even though I’ve been freelancing for a while, I have never felt this consistently inspired and motivated, which makes me think that I’ve finally found the right fit. We decided to start doing this in October, but it was only when I was editing photos recently that it all sort of fell into place for me. I love everything about it.

Anyway, I had kind of decided to take a blogging break until I missed it or decided to just quit, and… I missed it. So you might be hearing from me a bit more, although it’s pretty well documented that I am a filthy liar when it comes to declaring that I’m back to blogging, so I’d take what I say with a grain of salt, if I were you.

 

Introducing One & Only Custom Stationery!

wedding stationery calligraphy

Hey guys. Or probably more accurately, hi Mom and Elizabeth, the only two people who still bother to check this site after I abandoned it (and you, I’m sorry!) for a couple months. I’m back! I didn’t realize when I stopped blogging how much I needed a break, but on the other side of it, I totally, totally did. I decided to not come back until I missed blogging, and it’s taken me this long to miss blogging. It probably helps that I’ve been doing some home improvement projects that I’m excited to share/brag about, but the point is I’m back, and the same as ever.

You might wonder what the hell I’ve been doing in my absence, and the short answer is: a LOT. The long answer is:

wedding stationery calligraphy

Back in October, around my birthday, I started to have a minor life crisis. Things weren’t going so well in the career department, and I was feeling stuck, uninspired, unfulfilled, and unsuccessful. I briefly contemplated a total career change. After a lot of thought, I decided that website design as a full time career simply was not working for me. I loved the actual designing part, and I felt lucky that my clients were great people, but I hated the other 75% of what web design was for me – promoting myself, maintaining people’s websites, the feeling that projects just dragged on and on and on… and that’s kind of the nature of this work – websites are always evolving. When I took a good hard look at what truly inspired me, and what my favorite projects have been over the past couple of years, it always came back to print. My happiest work days have been spent at my desk, lettering, drawing, and making wedding invitations. I love the tangible quality of a handmade invitation, and I love working with brides to make their vision come true. I’ve mentioned this before, but it is so special to me when brides choose to make my work a part of their big day – it’s an honor and a responsibility I don’t take lightly.

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Around the same time that I was coming to this idea, my good friend Gabrielle was facing a similar choice. She was working an office job, and trying to figure out how to transition into a more creative job. Looking back, it’s kind of dumb how long it took me to figure this out, but it literally hit me like a ton of bricks one day – why were we not working together?

wedding stationery calligraphy

We officially teamed up in November, and it has been such a game changer for me. Gabrielle is incredibly creative and so talented – her calligraphy just blows me away – and she also just happens to be super organized. I’m definitely a big dreamer – I have a lot of ideas that I’m really passionate about, and I can always think of more exciting stuff that could be just over the horizon. Gabrielle is a big dreamer too, but more importantly she’s really good at focusing on how to make big dreams happen, where I tend to be more ‘yeah yeah, details details, we’ll figure it out later’. Basically, we’re an awesome team, and I didn’t realize until it was happening what a relief it is to have a business partner, someone just to be in it with you, and push you to be your very best.

wedding stationery calligraphy

This is a long introduction to officially announce that One & Only Custom Stationery is open for business. We are excited to bring you handmade, bespoke stationery that will include carefully considered details and always be made with love. Along with our custom stationery, we will also be offering ready-made stationery through our Etsy shop – which is coming soon! We have added a bunch of new projects to our portfolio so be sure to check those out – and let me know what you think!

 

A quick note…

To say that things have been kind of busy, and I’m hungry all the time, and I’ve been hating everything I’ve written lately (probably because it’s all written in a state of hanger), so I’m taking a little break and I’ll be back in a couple weeks. Eat a cookie for me!

The Wedding!

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this is the photo that best sums up our state of mind about our upcoming nuptials.

So as you might imagine, I’m pretty pumped to get married. It is very strange to type out those words, as in my mind I’m still a total kid and nowhere near old enough to get married. It’s also really surreal feeling – I was definitely surprised when David proposed, but it wasn’t totally out of the blue – and it feels so natural to be in the stage of my life right now, and yet I feel like I’m not supposed to be actually planning my wedding. I guess since I’ve been kind of in the wedding industry for a while I got used to looking at inspiration pics and ideas and not ever seriously thinking of them in the context of my own wedding.

Anyway, let’s be real – I’m obviously going to blog about wedding stuff because CLEARLY  a wedding is the craft project of a lifetime – and I do wedding stuff for other people, so I’m excited to talk about my own! However, I don’t want it to totally take over the blog (or my life..?).

So to kick things off, I thought I’d lay out my mindset right now – I’m afraid of descending into bridal craziness, so I think it would be good to have a reminder for myself to refer back to.

1. I’m more excited for the marriage than the wedding. I think the wedding is going to be awesome and I’m definitely enjoying planning and anticipating that day/weekend, but I think the most exciting part is at the end of the day, when it’s all over, it’s just going to be me and David taking on life together. I don’t want to get too gushy but that’s what makes all this so special for me.

2. I’m not going to be stressed about the planning process. It’s supposed to be fun, and if I find myself making it not fun, I need to take a step back and remember that this is all totally optional and it’s going to be fine. It’s like when you see those girls on Say Yes To the Dress crying because they just don’t know what dress to pick and they’re ‘overwhelmed’ and you’re like bitch, please. Stop ruining it for yourself! Or at least, I am.

3. The wedding is probably more about our loved ones than it is about us. And I want it that way! Our number one goal for this wedding is for everyone to have an awesome time. Our friends and family are really important to us – and I’m really looking forward to hopefully having all of my favorite people in one spot. I want to make it clear how much I appreciate them! Don’t get me wrong, I’m realistic enough about myself to realize that I’m going to have my princess moments, but I think that the best weddings I’ve been to are the ones where the focus is NOT on the bride having her ‘princess’ day, but where the focus is on celebrating the merging of two families, and appreciating the people who helped you get to that point.

4. Probably my biggest weaknesses are that I tend to underestimate how much time it will take me to do something, overestimate my abilities, and procrastinate. So as I actually start planning, my goals are to: Prioritize what is important to me, and not waste time/money on what’s not. Do things as they come up – I tend to think ‘oh, I have plenty of time’ and end up doing it at the last minute, which rarely turns out the way I’d like. And finally, I want to have everything pretty much locked down a month before the wedding – meaning all my big projects need to be done at that point, or scrapped, or as my friend Jessica says, not worrying about glitter when I should be spending time with my family and friends.

So, that is my wedding manifesto. Please pass along any good wedding/marriage advice you have, and I’d love to hear about any books on relationships/marriage that you think are good – I’m kind of compiling a reading list…

 

 

A Quickie Lack Hack

ikea  lack coffee table hack

Happy Friday! The roughest week of the year is over – doesn’t it feel great to have that behind you? The whole transitioning-back-into-real-life thing has been especially rough for us as David has been battling some sort of illness that’s knocked him completely out of commission for way, way too long. He’s finally recovering, but it made it pretty hard to keep any kind of schedule for a while there.

Today I want to share a quick change I made in our living room. We have had this IKEA Lack coffee table for a while, as a side table, and we decided to transition it back into a coffee table. One problem – I totally hate the way it looks, and the way it, paired with our couch, screams ‘they shop at IKEA!’. So, I was happy to find these tapered legs for super cheapies, and swap out the squared off legs for a whole new look. I rubbed a little mineral oil on the legs to finish them, and we ended up adding these brackets for stability, (after my brother collapsed the table by putting his feet on it) but for a total of like.. 20 dollars we have a whole new coffee table look – perfect for the interim while I search for the ideal table.

I also love how this vantage point gives you a view into our ingenious storage system – flat packed linens under the couch. I swear you can’t see it unless you’re sitting on the kitchen floor, but real talk – I took this photo back in December so I wanted to crop out anything that indicated it was the holiday season, and this was the only vantage point… and I totally blew it by just telling you that.

Anyway, it’s really nice to have a coffee table again, and I thought I’d share in case you, too, are regretting your decision to purchase a Lack anything.

 

Aubrey and Brenton

coral navy and champagne letterpress wedding invitations designed by one and only

Today I am bringing you some invitations I designed last year for Aubrey and Brenton. They were married in Cary, NC (you can see photos from their wedding here), and wanted an invitation suite that would be glamorous and autumnal, but not use traditional fall colors. We started with a photo Save The Date, and used elements of that to move into the main invitation, which we kept a little more muted, but livened up with a coral ribbon.  Aubrey wanted to find a way to include lace without being too predictable, so I included a lacy border, which incorporated a little old world glamour.

coral navy and champagne letterpress wedding invitations designed by one and only

We had these letterpressed on navy blue paper with a shimmery champagne ink. It had such a nice glow without being too over the top. The envelopes also had a shimmer to them, which gave everything a luxe and textural feel – perfect for the high end look Aubrey wanted. You can click here to see the full suite.

These were letterpressed by Angel Bomb  – it was so fun to get them in the mail!

I loved designing and making these invitations, and even better, I feel like I learned so much from the experience. To be completely honest, a lot went wrong in the process of making these, and while holding the product in my hand made the trials and tribulations worth it, I think the experience was really valuable as well. I’m heading into 2014 very confident now about what I want to do (and even more importantly) HOW I want to do it – I think it’s going to be a great year!

If you’re interested in talking to me about your own wedding invitations, head on over here and send me a message!

Happy New Year!

letsdothisphoto via unsplash

I hope you all had a wonderful New Year!

Not to totally brag, but I had a really stellar 2013. I take any opportunity to reflect, so obviously I’ve been doing a lot of that recently, and I’m just trying to really slow down and appreciate what’s happened, and what’s happening. I feel like I’m really gaining some clarity and direction for my business, I’ve pushed myself to try new things, oh, and I got engaged and it was perfect. I know everyone says that, but even just like, having that memory in the back of my mind to think about whenever I feel a little down has made me feel so much happier, and so aware of all the things I have to be grateful for. I still can’t believe it.

I love resolutions, and fresh starts, but I don’t think that resolving to do something for an entire year is necessarily the best way to go about achieving your goals. So this year, I am focusing on what outcomes I want, and working on creating systems to make those happen. What’s true for me today won’t necessarily be the same thing in February, and I think that consistently revisiting how I am going about achieving my goals and making adjustments is the way to go.

I also like the idea of having a theme, or a word, to set the tone for your year. This year, I want to grow.

I want to grow my business.

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘first they sleep, then they creep, then they leap?’ It’s meant to describe plants, but I like to think that’s how things are going to go this year – first it slept, it’s been creeping, and now it’s time to start growing by leaps and bounds! I’m in a good place, I have a good plan, and I’m excited to share the journey with you all.

I want to grow my skills.

In 2013, I tried a lot of new things, and in 2014, I want to keep learning and getting better. Work-wise, I want to get really good at calligraphy, learn more about how to best use my letterpress, learn to foil, and get better at the time management and organization side of business. On a more personal note, I want to get better at my hobbies, like sewing.

I want to push myself to grow.

Whether it’s forcing myself to face my deepest, darkest fears (like dying in a fiery plane crash) or coming up with ways to overcome my everyday obstacles, like procrastinating or being lazy and only doing laundry ever 3 weeks, I want this to be a year of personal growth. Being engaged has really made me consider what I’m bringing to the table in terms of being a person. I think being happy and healthy is a choice (for me) and I think it would be really nice to enter into a marriage feeling like the best possible version of myself, and feeling prepared for all the challenges life can throw at you. For me, this means focusing on actually trying to be happier, whether it’s being able to acknowledge problems without letting them consume my thoughts, building a morning and evening routine, or making space to do the things that I love. I also want to spend more time learning, and create a system for overcoming those nagging tasks that can drain away your motivation (you know, like paying off student loans, or getting your oil changed, or whatever.) Basically, I am so excited to be engaged, and I want this to be the best year ever.

I want to grow my confidence.

It’s hard to feel confident, and even harder to talk about NOT feeling confident. This kind of goes hand in hand with everything else I’ve talked about, but I think feeling confident has a lot to do with a positive outlook on life, and also maybe identifying some things that make you feel not-so-great and fixing them. I’ve noticed I feel a lot more confident when I consistently eat healthy foods (imagine that!) so I’m definitely going to focus on making that a part of my routine. I also want to start dressing better – even though I work from home and often don’t even see anyone, I’ve noticed I feel so much better when I’m well dressed. I’m going to try to start only purchasing clothes that I really love – and give myself permission to splurge occasionally, instead of buying sale items that don’t make my heart skip a beat. I’m also going to fake it until I make it. If I act confident, eventually I’ll feel confident… right?

That’s it for now – I feel like if I manage to accomplish all that, I’ll be doing pretty awesome this time next year! What are your goals, hopes and dreams for 2014? Please share – if there’s one thing I like better than making my own resolutions, it’s hearing about other people’s resolutions!

Year Round Wrapping Station

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A dream of mine came true the other day. An actual dream. The dream of someday having my very own wrapping station. I don’t even know why I dreamt of this since I was just a young girl, flipping through my mom’s home magazines, but I did, and now I have my own. I thought I’d need more space and like, more people to give gifts to, but it turns out all you need is a pegboard and some determination.

Before you think, ‘this girl is crazy, who the hell needs a wrapping station?’, let me just say – it is AWESOME. It is so awesome. Like, I didn’t even realize how tough I had it before. Tough in the sense of total non-problems, but still. I never had a clear space to work with, so I’d always end up on the floor with an explosion of supplies around me. I’d be done cutting my paper and not know where the tape was. I’d be measuring out ribbon and then the scissors would be gone. I’d finally be done wrapping and there would be a mfing dog hair taped to the present. Or one of my hairs.  Caspian would step on my presents. Nothing would get put away for weeks because I’m lazy and figure if I’m going to be wrapping more presents any time in the next year I may as well leave it all out. Things that were as annoying to experience as this step by step guide through the trials and tribulations of wrapping without a station probably was to read. I’m too sleep deprived and excited about life to write a good blog post!

Anyway, I had some space behind my office door and an eye for opportunity, so I seized the day and made it happen. After looking around, I realized a couple things that I’m going to share with you now. Contrary to what you might think, Lowe’s does not have ‘cool pegboard wrapping station kits’ just laying around. They also hide their dowels so don’t even bother. You can make everything you need with a couple dowels and basic pegs, so don’t bother buying fancy pegs, it’s not worth the money. I totally got this idea from Martha. I’m just here to spread the word.

I bought this pegboard (which came with all the pegs I needed, and was cheaper than the current price), these dowels, and this basket to throw extra stuff in. I am really liking it. It makes wrapping gifts way easier, since I am next to a big table and I can see everything I’m working with. I also have a great handle on my ribbon inventory and tissue paper inventory now, so I’m more likely to wrap cuter gifts.

I’m really happy with how this turned out. It makes all the little annoyances of wrapping gifts disappear, and leaves just the fun, creative part. It also makes me feel like a baller, since I thought wrapping stations were reserved for rich ladies with too much space to fill, but here I am, you guys. Livin the dream.

Okay you guys, that’s it from me – I’ll see you all next year!

Letterpressed Christmas Cards

santa letterpress christmas card

I am all about some holiday cards. I just love getting them in the mail, and I OF COURSE make a big project out of sending them. I have been working on this year’s cards since November, and I am going to share them here because unlike last year, when I did a terrible job, like, I don’t even know what I was thinking, this year I’m really proud of them!

I made them with my new letterpress. I haven’t talked about my press too much since I got it. It was a flea market find, and it feels like a miracle that it came into my posession.  I have loved letterpressing since I was introduced to it in college, and I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled since then. While it is definitely an investment, I am so happy whenever I’m working on a letterpressed product that I know it’s going to pay off. There is just nothing like the feeling of making something with your hands, and having dreamed about owning my own press one day, so to actually have one is pretty amazing. I am excited to keep making things with it.

santa letterpress christmas card

For my cards, I did a 2 ‘color’ job – one was a blind deboss, because Santa’s hat has white puffs, duh. I paired them with mostly red envelopes and did a more organic lettering style on the front. My favorite part is the vintage stamps I found! They are so cute and even though I’m sure the post office was hating on me, I loved how they added a special touch.

letterpressed calligraphy christmas card

I also letterpressed my mom’s cards. For these I hand lettered the front, and then scanned it into the computer to make the plate. We paired these with pale green envelopes and gold lettering – can you tell I am looking for any opportunity to address envelopes?

letterpressed calligraphy christmas card

I’m really happy with how these turned out. I learned a lot on the project, and it was great to work out the kinks on something pretty low stakes. Projects like these are so fun for me, because I think about my recipients as I work on them. That’s something I love about sending things in the mail. It’s so personal, and it gives you a great opportunity to think about your friends, and why they are your friends.

holiday card outtakes

Oh, and just for fun, here’s the outtakes from the pictures we included. Caspian really hated the whole process, but we had fun!