Monday, November 30, 2009

Meet Designing Mom: Abby of Style Me Pretty

Our newest Designing Mom is one who is dear to my heart as a designer, entrepreneur and beloved friend. She is Abby Larson, the uber talented visionary behind the cult status wedding blog Style Me Pretty. I'm sure you've heard of her blog (and if you haven't you absolutely must check it out!). I don't have to be biased here, just ask any is simply the best one out there. It is filled with stunning one of a kind inspiration boards, real weddings and my latest favorite, a series called "From Inspiration to Reality." I personally don't know how Abby does it...she manages to scour the ends of the wedding world for the best content, manage a thriving business, respond so honestly and positively to her readers and be a mom to her beautiful little girl, Audrey. She is an inspiration to all. Overjoyed isn't even the word to describe how I feel about Abby joining us on Designing Moms. Please help me give her a big welcome!

A little bit about me:
I am so excited to be joining such an amazing crop of women...creative, energetic (albeit a little tired), smart women who are balancing their two loves. Family and Business. My name is Abby Larson and I am the editor of Style Me Pretty, a wedding blog for the style savvy bride. I have a 15 month old daughter who has more spunk than I ever thought possible in a child and more personality than I could ever imagine. And she is all girl, which you know I love. Poor thing has no idea what's coming when we start planning HER wedding.

Originally from Houston, Texas, I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My dad has built and sold so many businesses, it's hard to keep track. A frozen yogurt company, a costume jewelery line, an ear laser company. My dad single-handedly taught me just how fun, just how challenging and just how incredibly rewarding being an entrepreneur is, so at the ripe old age of 24, I dove in head first. I started in the wedding industry while living in San Francisco by launching a line of wedding invitations called Abby Jean. I refer to that time in my life as my hard knocks school of business because it was during those three years that I learned everything you can imagine about running a small company. From working with very little cash flow, to marketing yourself, dealing with clients, sales, operations, outsourcing, the works. I sold my business in February of 2007 and although I miss it every now and then, I am very glad to be running a blog instead.

Typical day-in-my-life:
My work day now is from 8AM to 5PM. From 5PM to 7PM, it's all about Audrey. After she falls asleep, I usually pick back up working until about 10PM or so. We have a nanny come in 4 days a week and although I do mostly work from home, we also have a small office down the street. My husband, Tait, quit his Silicon Valley job a year and a half ago to work full time on Style Me Pretty. We have about 10 employees, 4 of which are family members. It's a complete and total zoo of a life but I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. Like many of you who are running their own businesses...we grocery shop without lines, we visit the museum without the Saturday crowds. We can stop at any moment and give Audrey a hug or a kiss and we get to hear her squeals of glee from the next room over. As Kate (yes, of Jon and Kate plus 8...lame, I know) would say, "It's a crazy life, but it's our life." And we love every bit of it.

What inspires me:
...people who are living their dreams and succeeding. Babies who wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning. Perfect details, amazing typefaces, succulents. The crisp Fall air, the sound that my computer makes when I hit "publish," the artists and designers who are finding motivation and drive in this sad, sad economy. There is so much that really inspires me but mostly, it's the life that I am living. The fact that I can run a business like Style Me Pretty, with my husband and my daughter one room over. That I get to travel all over and meet such interesting people. That I get to work in my PJ's and watch The View while I write. It's a very, very good gig and I am very blessed little girl to call it my own.

Giveaway Extension:

Because of the short Thanksgiving holiday week, the International Sanctuary giveaway is being extended until this Wednesday.
It's not too late to enter for your choice of earrings or bracelet and Tori Higa cards from their online shop.

Click here to enter!

Giveaway Winner:

Thanks to everyone for participating in the February 13 Creative giveaway!
Congrats to:
Kawaii Crafter and

Each of you will receive your pick of a set of holiday cards!
Please contact me at

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Story: A Mom's Thanksgiving

We are ending this week short due to the Thanksgiving holiday and will be back Monday with lots of great posts! Before signing out: Designing Mom Tori had recently requested for us to write about our holiday traditions and this is my contribution...

by Designing Mom Cat

It was the day after Thanksgiving last year that I received the call from my dad that my mother had passed away. I was in the second trimester of my pregnancy. My sister was in her third. To be honest, I can't even quite remember what we did last Thanksgiving...just that everything was chaotic, pensive, incomprehensible as my mother lay comatose from a sudden brain hemorrhage in hospice.

In the weeks leading to her hemorrhage, my father said she was frantic, insistent on completing a set of albums that chronicled my siblings and my childhood. He remembered she had a look of utter relief when she placed the last photo into one of our books as she breathed, "finished." On the plane ride back to San Francisco I carried my set back...two albums filled with meticulously documented photos from the time I was a newborn. These were the photos I pored over after the birth of my son, staring at photos of myself at 6 weeks, 3 months, 5 months to see when I was rolling, propping myself up on elbows... Finding answers to all of the questions I would have asked my mother about.

My mother was absolutely beautiful, modest, hard-working and she adored my father. I'll be sharing those details about his paw-paw and the albums of my childhood with my son each and every Thanksgiving. We will make her favorite cranberry orange relish together. We will indulge in the luxury of simple pleasures and memories which were all the things my mother treasured most. There is so much to be thankful for.

It is hard to believe I am writing this on the one year anniversary of my mother's passing. But I wanted to share this because this is how Designing Moms started. As an ode to my mother. An outreach to surround myself with moms for creative and personal support when all I wanted to do was retreat. For that I am so grateful to have the support of all of my Designing Moms, read their amazing posts and projects, and to have the support of all of you readers out there. I wish all of you a heart-filled Thanksgiving with your family and little ones.
xxx-ooo, Cat

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Make: Count Your Blessings Sheets

by Designing Mom Tori
I love the idea of having traditions around the holidays - I think that traditions are especially fun for kids. Now that we have a toddler, my husband and I want to come up with new family holiday traditions that our son can have fun with now as well as have fond memories of later. Thanksgiving is no doubt one of my favorite holidays and a great holiday for kids and grown-ups alike - I think it's the perfect holiday to start to integrate family traditions both old and new. Thanksgiving is all about family, friends, and gratitude which perhaps is why I love it so much. I try to live my life with gratitude and count my blessings on a regular basis - it's not always my first instinct, but it is definitely something I strive for because I think it is so important.

Remembering to be thankful is something that we want to teach our son (and any future kids we may have) so I think that a fun way to do that is to make it a tradition to keep a list of everything we are thankful for each Thanksgiving. I made these little "count your blessings" sheets and thought I would share them with you. Feel free to print some up (for personal use only) and have fun filling them out with your little ones. Wouldn't it be cute to have one of these at each place setting of the "kid's" table as sort of a place card?

I also think it would would be fun to have a gratitude brainstorming session with your kids and have them (or you if your child is too young) write down everything they are thankful for. You can then keep it in a special box or jar and refer to it the next time you or your child needs to remember to count your blessings.

To print your own "count your blessings" sheets, simply drag the the high resolution image to your desktop and print. I also made some longer sheets in case your kids are REALLY thankful.

Meet Designing Mom: Erika G

When I first interviewed my trusted design assistant for her position I asked who her favorite designers were. Her eyes lit up and without hesitation she said "Erika Givens at Gleaux!" She proceeded to tell me how her love of paper was inspired by Erika's print work and gorgeous invitations. Inspired is right... Erika's work is downright amazing. It has a soulful quality to it...layers upon layers, narrative, resonance. If you haven't had the privilege of seeing her work, click here to visit her site. I am so excited to have Erika (Erika G here since we have two!) join us as our newest Designing Mom. Please help me give her a big welcome and read about her work and daily inspirations!

above: wall art Atelier LZC

Hi! My name is Erika Rhein Givens and I am delighted to be joining the Designing Moms blog! Thank you so much for having me! I am a graphic designer running a small design studio called Gleaux (pronounced “glow”) specializing in cards, invitations, maps and anything else deliciously creative. I also run a small zoo. I have three year old twin boys. No need for further explanation!

I was born, raised and currently live in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area and still find this place to be alight with inspiration at every turn. I love the City by the Bay. But then again, I love most cities, as long as they are noisy, congested, filled with nooks and crannies, over-ridden with signage of every language, simmering with sauces from every region, colorful, layered in flavors and textures, bordered with grubby industrial spaces, checkered with hot spots and neon reminders of every known vice, hi-tech handheld device and travel destination, dimly lit alleyways laced with birdcages, clothes lines, lingering music, wet newsprint, and the sound of distant honking cabbies, common spaces that house bizarre and gritty public art, hushed chess tables, vendors pedaling their eclectic wares.... ... basically very messy, elaborate, grown-up versions of the Sesame Street set!

Cities give me chills. So does the rain. Everything takes on a beautiful, melancholy meaning to me in the rain. Everything begs to be photographed. If I could, I’d wander around whenever it rained, listening to war-era jazz on my iPod and taking pictures. Then rush home when I got waterlogged and cold, to build a fire, get cozy with my fellas and cook something cockle-warming. Architecture inspires me. Especially the new Cathedral of Christ the
near Lake Merritt in Oakland. It is the most magnificent structure of wood, glass and metal imaginable. It is all about lighting, macro-imagery, scale, harmony and peace. It not only totally commands your attention visually, but it touches you spiritually as well, whether you are religious or not. A visit is a truly remarkable and humbling experience.

Walking in the redwood forests of the Oakland Hills with my boys inspires me. Luke and Reid have a raw curiosity and energy, turning over leaves, collecting bugs, seeds, pine cones... they (for an all too short period of time!) become these small gentle extensions of nature, speaking softly, treading lightly, like baby deer. I become inspired watching and listening to them. History inspires me. I could just kick myself that I didn’t pay more attention to history in college. I get this overwhelming feeling of nostalgia when seeing or holding something from decades or centuries gone by... like imagining the crumbled fragments of history just under the sidewalks as you walk thru the Barbary Coast in San Francisco... or exploring the forgotten, overgrown military structures still barely marking the Bay's forts and bases from WWII, or flipping thru an old accounting ledger and wondering how handwritten script could be so delicately beautiful and the leather bound covers so plush and soft, or sifting thru old stamps and paper currency in amazement at the micrographics and pen-drawn, feather-fine linear etchings, the worn but still somehow vibrant colors. I sometimes think I was born in the wrong era... but then again, I probably wouldn’t experience half the awe in these details if living amidst it all.

My boys are quite lucky to have their 97 year old great grandma Evelina in their lives. I often send her questionnaires to fill out about her memories living almost a century in San Francisco. Her alert mind and vivid recollections are priceless gifts that inspire me. My life, work and home incorporate bits and pieces of the things I love. Below are a few snapshots... come on in!

above: wall art by Anne Wilson

Giveaway Reminder:

Just a reminder to enter the February 13 Creative giveaway (which ends tomorrow). Click here to enter to win you choice of holiday cards!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Giveaway: International Sanctuary

This is a good one for you all, just in time for the week of Thanksgiving. International Sanctuary is an amazing non-profit organization created to help fight human trafficking. I am definitely going to be keeping them in mind for my holiday gift giving this year. Their pieces are all made by survivors and Designing Mom Tori and the organization are offering one lucky winner the chance to win:
Your choice of one bracelet or pair of earrings and three thank you cards.
Pretty special right? To enter: visit their online shop and site here and comment below on your favorite piece of jewelry and card.

This giveaway ends Friday and is open to all Designing Moms and readers alike. Help spread the word about this special organization!

by Designing Mom Tori

International Sanctuary is a non-profit organization that is near and dear to my heart. My good friend from college, Wendy Hicks, co-founded the organization with Stephanie Pollaro to help survivors of human trafficking get a fresh start in life through healing and positive opportunities. One of the best forms of both healing and opportunity is through their "Purchase With Purpose" program. Each survivor is trained in the art of jewelry making, which any crafter knows is a very therapeutic act in and of itself. Once the jewelry is made, it is sold in select stores throughout the US as well as holiday boutiques, home parties, craft shows, and online. I have had the exciting opportunity to sell my handmade greeting cards to benefit the brave survivors in the program. My handmade cards are currently sold through wholesale markets, but iSanctuary has recently added a select number of designs to be sold on their website.

To learn more about International Sanctuary, please visit the iSanctuary website and to browse their collection of jewelry and cards, please visit their online boutique, (I think their jewelry makes perfect little holiday gifts - they offer such great prices, too!)

Make: Thanksgiving Cards

by Designing Mom Tori
Thanksgiving has always been a favorite holiday of mine because of the emphasis on gratitude, counting your blessings, and spending time around a dinner table with family and friends. The cozy feeling of Autumn and the smell of comforting food always makes for a great holiday as well. We have recently moved out of state - far away from family and life long friends - so this will be our first Thanksgiving in a long time that we won't be spending it in the traditional way. And because our family is so spread out now, I thought it would be the perfect time for my two year old son to start his greeting card design career in order to keep in touch with all of his loved ones throughout the country. Because he is only two, the thought of making multiple "original" cards for everyone seemed a bit daunting. (He is a boy after all - in his "twos" - and would rather play with cars or run in the dirt than make crafts for too long with his mommy.) It was the perfect solution to paint his little hand (he thought it was hilarious), stamp it on white paper, scan it, add a few photoshop touches, and import it to We were able to make ten "handmade" Thanksgiving cards in one afternoon. Even if we can't spend Thanksgiving this year with our usual family members, they will know that we are thankful for them.

This is such an easy project to do with your child - I highly recommend it. It's fun, not very messy or time consuming, and the grandparents will love it!

Giveaway Winner: Earthy Beginnings

What a great way to start off the Thanksgiving week. I wanted to announce the lucky winner of Designing Mom Guissell's wonderful tees at Earthy Beginnings.

Congratulations to: BCTripletMom!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Foto: TGIF

This Friday foto is Designing Mom Erika in all of her creative glory at her Delphine Studio.

Have a happy Friday and weekend everyone! We'll see you on Monday.

Giveaway Reminder: Earthy Beginnings

This is just a reminder that the Earthy Beginnings giveaway ends tonight! Click here to put in your comment to win a choice of any two kid tees.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Our Lists: Doe-C-Doe

by Designing Mom Tori

I simply love Gina's photography of Doe-C-Doe . I think her work would be fabulous in a child's room or playroom (she actually has a lot of work that grown ups would like for any room of the house as well) Who can resist her still life portraits of barbie shoes, matchbox cars, and other small toys that have been so loved by children over the years?

Have fun browsing through her Etsy shop and Flickr account . The good news is that she is willing to take custom orders, so If you see anything on Flickr that you want to purchase, just convo her through Etsy and she will make you a print. (Talk about great customer service...)

Be sure to check out her blog as well - she has lots of vintage embroidery patterns and free pdf downloads - I especially love the downloadable vintage children's book illustration tags.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Giveaway: Holiday Cards

The holidays are just around the corner and this giveaway will help get your seasons greetings underway.

2 Lucky winners will each receive a 20 card pack of february 13 creative Holiday and New Year Designs from their collection. Click here to visit their designs and comment on which pack you'd like if you win!

The giveaways ends Wednesday, November 25th and is open to all Designing Moms and readers alike. Happy picking!

above: these are just a few of their favorite
holiday picks

Our Projects: What's in My Sketchbook

Good morning! Today we get to peer into the whimsical sketchbooks of Designing Mom Liberty. And check back later this afternoon. I'll be posting another great giveaway (hint: think holiday cheer!).
by Designing Mom Liberty

Here are a few from (1) a book I've written and not published yet! and (2) from a t-shirt design I have and my thoughts getting there.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Make: Ribbon Badge

by Designing Mom "Make" Contributor Dana

I made this #1 ribbon badge for my niece's first birthday....this Make can be created using either a sewing machine or by hand...I'm thinking of making these for with my nieces and nephew's initials and using them on their Christmas presents.

Here's the list of items I used:
cotton fabric (2 different patterns)
felt (I used white wool felt)
ric rac (any color, I used jumbo ric rac in blue)
ribbon or ribbons
air erasable marker
scissors or pinking sheers
circle & number template (optional, templates can be created on your computer and printed out)
stick pins
safety pin for back of ribbon
sewing machine or needle and thread

1. I started by selecting my three different fabrics...two cotton ones and one felt. I chose to use a red & white polka dot fabric for the back, a white wool felt for the middle and a striped fabric for the top.
2. once the fabrics were selected, I figured out how big I wanted to make the bottom circle (the back of the badge). I then traced the biggest circle onto the back of my red and white fabric. I used pinking sheers to cut out my large circle. I then followed this same step for the remaining two smaller circles.
3. after all of the circles were cut out, I added the blue jumbo ric rac to the back of the bottom circle. i first pinned the ric rac onto the back of the circle and then machine sewed the ric rac. I made sure to sew closer to the bottom (or inside) of the ric rac so that the stitches would be hidden by the middle felt layer.

4. after the ric rac was added, I then pinned and sewed the white wool (middle layer) to the top of my red and white circle (bottom layer).

5. I repeated the same step with the top stripe fabric circle (sewn on top of white wool middle layer).

6. after all of the circles were sewn together, the next step was to choose a ribbon or ribbons to hang from the back of my circle stack. I picked the ribbons that I wanted to use and cut two stripes at a desirable length. I placed the two ribbons together making a "v" and then stitched them together at the top. this helped me to keep the ribbons together when placing them on the back of the circle stack. once the ribbons were centered, I pinned them to the back of the circle stack. I used my sewing machine to stitch the ribbons in place. The stitch was a small vertical line at the top of the ribbons. The line was made small so that when I later placed the white felt number on the center of the circles, it would conceal this stitch.

7. after the ribbons were sewn, I used a number template & my disappearing marker to trace a #1 onto my white wool felt. I cut out my #1 using my standard sewing scissors. (tip: if you don't have a letter/number template you can create one on your computer using Word. print out your desired number or letter onto paper and then cut it out. use this paper template to trace onto your desired felt.)

8. after my number was cut out...I then pinned it to the center of my circle badge and sewed around the perimeter of the number.

9. the last step is to add a pin to the back of the badge. I used a coilless safety pin for mine.

10. I pinned the finished badge ribbon to a special bunny that I made for my niece.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Giveaway: Earthy Beginnings

You are all in for a treat this week. We have two giveaways, the first of which is from very talented Designing Mom Guissell and her Earthy Beginnings collection.

To enter, click here to visit Earthy Beginnings and comment back here on which pieces you love the most from her collection. One winner will get to choose any two tees from her Spring and Fall collection!

The giveaways ends this Friday and is open to all Designing Moms and readers alike.
Guissell is also offering 10% off any purchases via her eboutique until December 1. Just use the code DM10 to shop.

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