design: wedding invite

I sent off my sister's test wedding invitation this week. I am really digging it. It changed quite a bit from the original sketches (of course). The final design is loose and casual which is just what the bride and groom were looking for.

I purchased the paper materials from a company called paper-source and am happy with the quality. The white paper I used is "Eco-White" which is 100% recycled with 30% post consumer waste (PCW), and is a nice cool white with an eggshell finish. The black cards and envelopes are also currently produced with the new recycled content. My printer is slightly low on ink so, once I replace that the ink it will print without any lines.

I am very curious to see how the invitation arrives and whether the post office with be happy with the tiny shell placed on the cover of the invite. It pokes the envelope a little but, I'm hoping it is placed in a location that doesn't bother the postal machines. If not, and the envelope arrives in poor condition (or with a nasty postal note, haha) we'll rethink that embellishment and find something a bit smaller but, hopefully everything will arrive a-ok!


total money makeover

I have been Ramsey'd! The library had a long waiting list for the book The Total Money Makeover so, I checked out his audio version and started listening in the car.

The "baby steps" he explains sound very do-able. Take it one step at a time, finish step 1 completely then move to step 2. Making the process uncomplicated and focused. I beleive Dave has the right idea. Dave's quote "It's not complicated but, it can be difficult" says it all. Another quote of his I have been reciting in my head is "act your wage".

This book is a great step by step plan to help you get control of your finances by walking you through the 7 baby steps.

  1. Small Emergency Fund of $1000
  2. Pay off all debt except house with debt snowball. List ALL debts in the order of smallest to largest. Pay the minimums on those needed and place you energy and focus on paying off each debt one at a time starting with the smallest.
  3. Fully Funded Emergency Fund to cover 3-6 months of living expenses
  4. Invest 15% of income for retirement
  5. Fund kids college fund
  6. Pay off mortgage
  7. Have fun, give and invest
I have faith that following the baby steps to our total money makeover (along with Bert's help!) will give us a way to manage our money and celebrate pay day instead of dreading it.

We'll see ... I tend to get amp'ed up, jot notes, make a plan and then slip back into falling short of the goal with these kinds of books. I hope that knowing that is my downfall will help me overcome my chronic money management issues.


lighter and loving it!

I am so very excited to say I have met my 2008 weight loss goal! I made a goal for myself in Jan 2008 to lose 1 lb a month for a total weight loss of 12 lbs for the year. As of today, I have met that goal with 13 lbs lost!!! I intend to keep my goal at 1 lb a month for 2009 to continue a slow and steady downward spiral.

It wasn't easy, as everyone knows. I have a few times throughout the year were that 1 lb a month seemed unobtainable. But, at the beginning of the New Year I couldn't be happier knowing I actually reached the goal set. I am know at the same weight as I was before becoming pregnant with Hudson, who is now 2 years old. By 2010 I will strive to be at the same weight pre-Ethan!

I decided 2 years ago not to diet per se, but to concentrate on engaging in regular physical activity and maintaining healthy eating habits, emphasizing lowered fat consumption, and an increase in vegetables, fruits and whole grains. I have tracked my weight loss journey on http://www.my-calorie-counter.com/ since 2006. I find when I stay focused and actually use my calorie counter I feel accountable for what I put in my body, eat less, drink more water and work out more regularly. For me, journaling makes it easy to see how far I've come and keep track of where I'm going.


yes, we can!

Obamicon.Me is a neat-o Web app that lets you put your image in the style of the famed Shepard Fairey Obama poster. Just upload a photo, then choose a word to go with it. So fun, I couldn't resist trying it! Make your own at obamiconme.pastemagazine.com.

I tied to volunteer my time last night at the Mesa United Food Bank but, unfortunately there was a mix up. I arrived at 6:30 pm and saw a note on the door that United Food Bank did not post the call to volunteer on the usaservice.org website. They apologized and gave me a name of someone to call and sign up to be notified directly from United Food Bank when they need volunteers. I was happy I got out and tried to help but, bummed I didn't actually get to do anything. I would have offered my time elsewhere had I known. Since they didn't post the event on the website they had no way of contacting the 37 people that signed up to let them know not to come.

I'm going to take a mid morning break and go
watch the historic inauguration of Barack Obama with CNN. An estimated 2 million supporters have gathered to watch Obama take the oath of office at noon! January 20th, 2009, we will all stand together with a new President in celebration of our common values, shared aspirations and the hope Americans feel that the course of our nation will change. I hope you too are able to watch history unfold!


design: reflection

While working on some freelance design this weekend for Ultimate Online Backup, I managed to get in a quick tutorial for making a logo reflection in Illustrator.

I can also do a reflection in Photoshop, but I wanted to learn how to do it in Illustrator (vector). The advantage? I can scale it up for billboard if I wanted. That’s the power of vector graphics. All you have to do is make it once and you can change the size as many times as you like, without losing quality. And typically, logos are best created in Illustrator for this very reason.

This is a new skill I'm sure I'll use time and time again. It creates a very clean and shiny end result that has become ever so popular!


design: tropical flowers

My sister Kelly is getting married this year. I have been working on her invites and am almost at the point where I can finally print everything out and assemble. Kelly and Joe are having a destination wedding in Mexico. Her colors are a striking black and hot pink and she wanted to incorporate tropical flowers.

I drew these tropical flowers on the computer with my wacom (really need to use this more!!!) and they will be printed on the final invite as part of the background with the accent of hot pink. I sent Kelly 3 options for the closure today and am awaiting her feedback. I'm excited to see the final invite come together!


renew america together initiative

I just signed up for updates about Barack Obama's Renew America Together initiative. Check it out for yourself at: http://www.usaservice.org

I will be volunteering my time on Monday night at the United Food Bank Hunger Busters to help end hunger in the East Valley! I will sort and pack donations from food drives to distribute to those who need it most. Volunteers act as quality control - making sure food products are in good condition. I am excited for the opportunity to participate and give much-needed support.

Starting January 21, Starbucks will salute everyone who pledges 5 volunteer hours with a free Tall brewed cup of coffee. Starbucks and HandsOn Network are launching a campaign to support the President-elect’s call for national service. Working together, we can create the change we all wish to see.

i heart telecommuting

This week at work has been all about going green! Soft Flex Company has explored the green work environment for some time but, we have never formally expressed these practices to each other or to our customers. The New Year presented the perfect time to discuss what we do as a company and individuals to tread lightly on this wonderful planet. Check out Soft Flex Company's green practices.

Bert & I telecommute for Soft Flex Company, as do 1/3 of the Soft Flex staff. This means a strong reduction in vehicle emissions and fuel consumption as we are not adding to the congestion on the road. Our home-based office is very close to being paperless as the majority of our work is performed online. We, as home-based employees, also add to the conservation aspect by not packing lunches or eating out, waste incurred here includes: food containers, plastic baggies, cups, plastic eating utensils, and paper waste, such as napkins. It feels great working from home for many reasons and having the additional bonus of helping our environment makes it all the more merrier.

I hope telecommuting gains more momentum for companies in the future. Many people ask how do we get any work done, but really how can we not? Bert & I still have deadlines and goals to meet. I enjoy having the freedom to plan my day and the trust to be able to work unsupervised. The trust given to you to be able to work on your own accord is enough to motivate me. The discipline needed to work from home may seem like a lot but, ultimately you have things to get things done. If you do them, they aren't going away so; you might as well get to work! I honestly wouldn't want to jeopardize my position with the company by not completing the tasks asked of me. Why would I want to "slack off" and get laid off when working from home is a gift in and of itself that I don't want to take for granted.

Sure, there are some downsides - of course there is. I do not get out much (if at all some days). I rarely meet my co-workers face to face. I have to dedicate a portion of my home to "work" and essentially never leave work. And, I sometimes feel like my design skills get stale because I do not have any design colleagues sitting next to me to bounce ideas off of and learn from. However, all these things can be overcome.
  • Instead of getting outdoor time to and from work, I need to take some time outside after work or open my windows!
  • Instead of making friends to go out with from work, I have to get involved in social groups with people that have similar interests (which means my friendships may be longer lasting as they are people I have more in common with then just were we work).
  • I have purchased an armoire that can be closed when the work day is done and I have to shut down my computer. This prevents me from feeling like I have to sit at my desk off hours.
  • And, I have to frequent design sites and blogs to work on tutorials (my 2009 goal) to keep ideas fresh and my skills sharp!
I love working from home and I love that Soft Flex Company has been open to telecommuting for over 5 years. And, I really love that this arrangement also helps out our environment in big ways.


weekly reflection

I just finished 30 min of Dance, Dance Revolution for the Wii (aka DDR). It is pretty fun and definitely gets you sweating. I also took a hip hop dance class at my gym on wendesday night. Now, that was a lot of fun! The instructor was really energetic, totally enjoys dancing and she threw in a little freestyle time. I love to dance and being that I don't "hit da club" very often, on wednesday nights I'll have some have fun, work it out and maybe learn a new move or two for when I get out on the dance floor! I went to the gym every day this week and did a mix of cardio and yoga and I lost 4 lbs. 4 lbs in 1 week - that NEVER happens and it feels amazing!

In even more amazing news, my friends Chris & Wendy welcomed the arrival of their adorable little boy, Quinn, on Jan 6th! I am so happy for them. He is beautiful and I wish I could visit and give Quinn a little snuggle. But, they live on the other side of the country so, that won't happen anytime soon. Thank goodness for facebook so, we can keep in touch, see pictures and hear stories of their life together.


silver and gold

Make new friends,
but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.

A circle is round,
it has no end.
That's how long,
I will be your friend.

My good friend and long time co-worker with Soft Flex Company, Sara Hardin brought her boyfriend Josh, her dog Honey and another member of the Soft Flex team Jamie, to our house for a post holiday celebration. Although Jamie & I have been working together for over a year...and although I know Jamie well from our "internet friendship" of emails and online chats...we have not gotten to meet each other face to face. So, while Jamie was in Arizona visiting her family I'm so very happy she came to our home to share a nice afternoon with our family. It was wonderful to meet one another. Funny, how Jamie & I wore the same color shirt - that was not planned but, it was a pleasant surprise ;)

Truly my friends are the silver and gold in my life. I am blessed to work with wonderful people. I cherish the friendships I have with my co-workers. For me, having honest friendships with those I work with creates an environment I want to go to each and every day. Many of my past co-workers are still dear friends of mine today.

I seek out spiritual friendships, a relationship with common interests and that is the responsibility of both friends and both bring something to it. I enjoy engaging in mutually helping behavior, such as exchange of advice and the sharing of ourselves. Sara and I have this kind of friendship and I am so grateful for it.


Chihuly: The Nature of Glass

On the evening of December 26th my friend Egor, my mom and I headed out into the bitter cold (it really was cold - I think it was in 30's brr!) to enjoy the Chihuly: The Nature of Glass exhibit at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden. It was well worth the shivering! This is Chihuly's first exhibition in an outdoor desert environment and he was clearly influenced by the desert surroundings and catered many of his sculptures to reflect the imagery of the native plants.

Dale Chihuly is known for his innovative glass sculptures, and his work is immediately recognizable for its grand scale and vibrant colors.

Here are some pictures I took at the garden:

Desert Wildflower Towers, 2008 (detail)

Chiostro di Sant'Apollonia Chandelier, 1995

Orange Hornet and Eelgrass Chandelier, 2008

Float Boat, 2008

Blue Fiddleheads, 2008

Neodymium Reeds, 2008

The Sun, 2008 (detail)

This was a spectacular exhibit and I encourage all those in the area to see it. I would like see this again with Bert and also treat his mom to a visit when she is feeling better. She was supposed to go with us this evening but, an unforuntate fall left her with a broken knee and unable to go.