Friday, December 19, 2008

paper ball ornaments

How cute is this ornament?! I can't get over that I actually made these! And it was pretty easy! Every once in a while I try to be crafty, but until now none of my projects have ever turned out the way I expect them to. A few days ago I came across directions for making paper ball ornaments on DesignSponge, and I just love how they turned out!
If you head over to Design Sponge for the directions, I just have few tips of my own to add...
  • I used 12" x 12" scrapbooking paper from Archivers, and I think something a little thinner would have worked better. But you'll definitely want paper that has a design on both the front and back.
  • While I was at Archivers I used their 3" and 4" circle punches to cut out the circles - much easier than cutting out each circle with scissors! And I really like both of those sizes.
  • I tried using mini glue dots, but because of the thickness of the paper, they didn't hold the paper together. So I bought 1/2" glue dots, and those worked perfectly.
  • Before stapling the circles together I folded a ribbon in half and placed it on top of the crease, stapling it along with the circles in the middle and at the top.
It's probably hard to tell from these pictures, but the above ornament is made with 3" circles, the rest are made with 4" circles.

This last one is my son's favorite, made with the dinosaur paper he picked out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

handmade goodness

I've been meaning for a while now to post about some of the Christmas gifts I found on Etsy... I had so much fun shopping for handmade gifts this year!
I'm not sure if I'll be able to part with this cuckoo clock and a pink one just like it... probably the orange one will end up in my office and the pink one in my daughter's bedroom.
These felt cookies from nanaCompany for my daughter, Emma. She's going to love them!
I fell in love with this skirt and was so bummed out that it was too small for Emma, but it made a great birthday present for my friend's daughter who just turned two last week.
A superhero gift set personalized with the letter "R" for my nephew, Ryan. If he's anything like my son, I have a feeling this will get a lot of use!
A couple of Monster Kittys... I haven't decided yet who these will go to, but I'm sure I'll have no problem finding loving homes for them!
Emma's been doing a lot of this lately, hugging my legs, and generally being a lot cuddlier than she was as a baby... I'm loving every minute of it! I just had to get this print from L.J. Ink for myself, and one for my friend who this reminds me of as well.
A personalized long-sleeved onesie for my nephew, Shane. I love how clean and simple they are (surprise, surprise!), and it turns out this Etsy seller lives just down the road from me!

Friday, December 5, 2008

a tutorial: making notepads

Over the past year I've gotten a lot of requests for personalized notepads, which I always thought I'd need to have done at a print shop, so I never offered them. But a few weeks ago I learned from the very kind and generous Kelli at The Hootie Coo Card Company that I could make them myself (easily!) so I began offering them on my website.

They've been selling pretty well, and today I thought I'd photograph the process and put together a little tutorial. So here's what I do...

First I cut an 8.5" x 11" chipboard sheet into fourths for the backs of the notepads (my notepads measure 4.25" x 5.5").
Then I print the design 4-per-page on 24-lb 8.5" x 11" paper and cut those into fourths.Next I stack 40 sheets of paper on top of each chipboard sheet and top each notepad with a blank page (so the top page doesn't get messed up).
I had considered buying a padding press like this one, but I decided to just use some heavy books or something similar to weigh the pads down until I see how well these sell.
Next I just brush on a couple of coats of padding compound, letting it dry completely in between coats.
Once the final coat is dry I gently peel apart the notepads and peel off the blank top sheet...
add a Sarah & Abraham sticker to the back...
and package them in a clear plastic sleeve... easy-peasy!

Friday, November 7, 2008

personalized gift labels

My new 2" x 2" stickers arrived yesterday, and I was so excited to post some personalized gift labels in my shop that I spent pretty much the entire day printing sample stickers, gift wrapping whatever I could find around the house, taking pictures, editing them, and then creating the new listings (kids, kids sledding and family).
I'm really happy with how the photographs turned out. I keep learning new tricks in Photoshop that make me want to go back and re-take all of my other product photos, but I think that's going to have to wait a while.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

gift sets

One of my favorite artists, Sarah Jane, posted some absolutely gorgeous photographs of her new stationery sets on her blog this morning, and it reminded me of one my favorite suggestions offered as a Bloggy Giveaway entry last week... a new mom gift set.

So I scrambled to put a few sets together and photograph them while both of my kids were at school this morning (and before it started to rain!) It started raining just as I was taking everything back into the house, and I had about 2 minutes to spare before I had to pick up my son from school, but this afternoon I was able to post some new gift sets in my shop.
It's so time consuming to create, photograph, and post new items, but in a life filled with never ending dishes, laundry, vacuuming, errands, etc. I absolutely love the sense of accomplishment it gives me!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

2009 desk calendar

I'm so excited to finally have a calendar posted in my shop! I think this would be a cute gift for a teacher or daycare provider, and I'm especially happy that it's another non-customizable item... I have so few of those!
A BIG thank you goes to Stacy from Inkspot Worshop... not only was her desk calendar my original inspriation, but she also helped me tremendously by encouraging me to create one of my own and sharing where she bought her materials. Thank you, Stacy!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

mommy calling cards

I'm finally offering mommy calling cards! I've been asked for these occasionally over the past year, and I seem to be getting more and more requests for them lately, so I went ahead and created some. I'll probably add more styles over time, but for now I've posted some basic ones in my shop to see how they do.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

calendars and mommy calling cards

Once again I'm completely amazed by the generosity of strangers! I was hesitant to put any requirements on my latest giveaway besides just leaving a comment, but now I'm so glad I did. I'm absolutely thrilled with the response - there have been so many great suggestions that I never would have thought of on my own!

I'll definitely be doing 2009 calendars and mommy calling cards; I hope to have them in my shop by sometime next week. And then there are about 20 more ideas I'm excited to start working on! Thank you so much to everyone who has entered and taken the time to share their ideas with me!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

$50 gift certificate giveaway!

It’s time for another Bloggy Giveaway...

Prize: A $50 Sarah & Abraham gift certificate! Here are a few examples of Sarah & Abraham products:

:: personalized stationery, folded or flat
:: invitations
:: birth announcements:: personalized holiday cards and return address labels:: 8x10 Personalized Prints

Requirements: I'm in need of some fresh ideas and inspiration! I've received so many great suggestions from my blog readers in the past, so for this giveaway I'm asking you to post a comment with any sort of suggestion for a new product or a variation on any of my existing products. (If you're not already familiar with my current products, please visit my website before posting your comment!)

If you like an idea that's already been suggested in a comment before yours, feel free to mention that, but comments that are merely repeating a previous suggestion won't be considered as entries for this giveaway.

Be sure to include a way for me to contact you if you're the winner! You don’t have to have a blog to win, but be sure to leave your email address if you don’t have one.

Details: This contest ends Saturday, November 1st, 2008 at 12pm CST. I'll draw one winner at random from all valid entries and will notify the winner by blog or email that they've won. The gift certificate will be sent via email.

Thank you for your time and consideration... I'm really looking forward to reading your comments and creating some new items for my shop!

*** UPDATE: Thank you so much for all the great suggestions! I've already posted Mommy Calling Cards in my shop and will continue to add more new items in the coming weeks including calendars and gift tag stickers. I've also picked a winner at random... congratulations to Alaina!!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

I {heart} Daily Candy

I was featured in the Chicago Kids edition of Daily Candy this morning! The article was posted/emailed about two hours ago, and I've gotten 8 orders and several inquiries already!

Friday, October 3, 2008

my little helper

My 3-year-old daughter didn't want to leave my side this morning, so I started showing her what I was working on, and she was thrilled to help me fill some orders and re-stock supplies. She eventually got bored and went off to play, but for a little while at least it was really nice to have some company!

Monday, September 29, 2008

lima bean kids

I just found out this morning that a customer of mine, who also happens to live just a few towns over, has an Etsy shop with super cute onesies and t-shirts. As soon as I saw them, my first thought was, I have to remember these for birthdays & Christmas gifts, and my next thought was, I have to tell someone about these!

Friday, September 19, 2008

new website

I’m beyond thrilled to announce that my new Sarah & Abraham website is going live today!

I still plan to sell on Etsy, but my hope is that the ordering process will be a lot easier on my website, especially for ordering various quantities of stationery items or adding options like return address stickers or gift wrap. And I’m really excited to be able to offer gift certificates and a wish list feature!

For all of my blog readers I’m offering FREE SHIPPING on any order placed in the next month - just enter code B91908 at checkout (expires 10/20/08). And please feel free to pass this coupon code along to your friends!

I’ve also posted all of my new holiday items on the website - I'd love to hear your thoughts and/or suggestions for additional holiday items!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I {heart} organized workspace!

I bought some new shelves and wall files for the workspace area in my office, and it feels like a whole new office! I used to keep all of these supplies in drawers and on the lower shelves of this storage unit, and it makes such a huge difference to have everything in sight and within reach. I can't believe it was only 10 months ago that I moved out of my 3' x 5' "cloffice"!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

a day in the life of a WAHM

A few people have asked me recently how I do it all, and my answer has mostly been, "not very well!" I've made a conscious effort lately to put my family before work, trying not to work in the evenings or much at all on the weekends, and it's been a real struggle to fit in the work that I'd like to get done each day.

I felt like I hardly had any time at all for work today, and I started thinking about everything I did today that women who work outside of the home don't do or have to cram into the evenings & weekends. As I wrote this list I started thinking... this also looks like a list of reasons why my husband doesn't want to work from home!
  1. wake the kids up, make breakfast, help them get ready for school
  2. walk my son to school
  3. order waterproof name labels for the kids' umbrellas & water bottles and sew-in name tags for their coats, gloves, hats, etc.
  4. drive my daughter to preschool
  5. call a landscaping company about moving a lilac bush in our backyard
  6. meet with the brick paver guy to get an estimate for extending our driveway
  7. exchange emails & voice mail messages with the architect, engineer, and general contractor for the new detached garage we're building
  8. walk to my son's school to pick him up, talk with his teacher while he plays with a couple of classmates
  9. drive to my daughter's preschool to pick her up
  10. make lunch
  11. meet with the landscaper and show him the bushes in our yard that need to be moved
  12. shampoo the area rug in the basement that got soaked with rain
  13. change into gym clothes and pack my gym bag
  14. reply to customer emails & fill a couple of orders
  15. take the kids to the post office, library, and Target - shop for Fall clothes & shoes for the kids, look at Halloween costumes, and pick up some groceries while we're there
  16. get so stressed out with their awful behavior at Target that I decide to skip the gym and come home for quiet time instead
  17. clean the house, do dishes, fold laundry, and put away the deliveries that arrived yesterday (envelopes & shipping supplies) while keeping an eye on the kids playing in the backyard
  18. work on my website a little bit and take a shower (finally!) while the kids watch a movie

I'm not complaining... I love my life, I love my family, I love my business, and I'm very fortunate that I get to stay at home with my kids AND do something challenging that I love. I guess I'm just stepping back for a minute, once again, to ponder this concept of "balance" and what shape it's currently taking.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Canadian Family magazine

I just found out (from Susan at Kiddlebug, who was also kind enough to scan the above page for me) that Sarah & Abraham note cards were featured in the September 2008 issue of Canadian Family Magazine - what a lovely surprise to return home to! I don't think it'll ever get old seeing my products featured in a printed magazine like this!

Friday, August 8, 2008


I've decided to take a much needed week-long family vacation before school starts - my first vacation since opening my Etsy shop! I'll be posting my vacation dates in my shop announcement and setting up an out-of-office auto reply for my email, but as much as I'd love to completely unplug for a week, I have a feeling I'll end up checking email occasionally and probably doing some work for my new website when the kids are napping or in bed for the night.

Any orders placed between 8/9 - 8/17 will be shipped when I return on 8/18... see you then!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

another giveaway!

It’s that time again, the Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival is here! The details of my giveaway are below. To check out a list of hundreds of other giveaways, head over to Bloggy Giveaways.

Prize: I'm giving away a set of 24 personalized note cards (flat or folded) with 24 return address labels. Here are a few examples:

Requirements: Simply leave a comment here including a way for me to contact you if you're the winner. You don’t have to have a blog to win, but be sure to leave your email address if you don’t have one.

Details: This contest ends Friday, August 1, 2008 at 12pm CST. I will draw one winner at random and will notify the winner by blog or email that they've won. The winner will need to let me know their address and how they'd like their set personalized, and I'll ship them free of charge to anywhere in the US.

To view more examples of these note card and sticker sets, please visit my Etsy shop.

UPDATE: Wow, I'm completely overwhelmed and so grateful for all the entries and the super nice comments! Thank you so much to everyone who entered, and congratulations to the winner... Meredith!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I feel so loved!

When I first started selling on Etsy last October I was constantly checking to see who "hearted me". It was such a thrill to watch that number go up, and I spent a lot of time looking at the profiles and shops of the people who hearted me (something I had time for back then because I had so few sales!)

I just realized today that for the past few months I've forgotten all about hearts, so I took a peek this afternoon... and 2,001 people heart me!

So I sent a message to the 2,000th person who hearted me, letting her know that I'd like to send her a free gift. And then I realized that what I'd like to do for my 1,000th sale is just play it by ear. There will definitely be some sort of refund/free shipping/free gift or some combination of those things, but I'm just going to wait to see what the order is and figure it out then.

But I will take trammie81's suggestion and offer FREE SHIPPING (free in the US, discounted for international orders) to my blog readers between now and my 1,000th item sold (I'm currently 18 items away!) Just mention this offer when you place your order, and I'll send you a refund through PayPal for the shipping charges. And thank you again for the comments & emails - I really appreciate it!

UPDATE: I've reached 1,000 sales and the free shipping offer has ended. But please let me know how you found my shop, and I'll include a free gift with your order!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

what should I give away?

I noticed recently that my Etsy sales are approaching 1000, and I've been thinking that I should come up with some kind of fun prize for the person who purchases the 1000th item. I'm guessing it's about 2-3 weeks away, and I'll post again when it's getting closer. Any ideas?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

the coolest thing yet

On Friday afternoon I was on my way out the door to take the kids to my mom's house to spend the night, and I decided to take a quick peek in the mailbox in case there was anything interesting in the mail. There never usually is, but on Friday there was an advance copy of the August/September issue of Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion magazine featuring Sarah & Abraham mailing labels in the "Noteworthy" column (#5 in the middle):
This was even more exciting to me than the kids spending the night at Nana's house! It's such a beautiful magazine and features so many talented artists - I feel so honored to be in such good company!

** UPDATE: This issue can now be viewed online.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sarah & Abraham goes Hollywood

I received an order yesterday for 300 personalized thank you notes from a woman who's expecting her second baby soon and is planning on sending out 200 birth announcements. I mentioned it to my husband, Mike, marveling at how someone could know that many people and receive that many gifts. We received lots of gifts we didn't expect when our children were born, but 300??

Later in the evening, as I worked on the order, Mike suggested I Google them. It turns out the husband is a screenwriter & producer who has worked with lots of A-list celebrities! So as I printed and cut the note cards I kept wondering whose hands they'll end up in... very exciting!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sarah & Abraham signature gift wrap

I've been having to make so many decisions lately as I get everything ready for the photographer who will be taking the product photographs for my new website. On the one hand it's been a little overwhelming having to make so many decisions at once about the website layout, what products I'm going to offer, what options, etc. But it's also good to have a deadline. For example, when I started Sarah & Abraham I couldn't decide on gift wrap, so I ended up never offering it.

But now that I'd like to have a nice professional photograph of the Sarah & Abraham "Signature Gift Wrap" for my website, I finally made a decision. I'll be using these pretty blue stationery boxes (and matching wrapping paper for 8x10 prints) and gorgeous 1.5" chocolate brown satin ribbon. I think this is perfect for just about any gift giving occasion, and I'm so glad to have this decision behind me!

Friday, June 6, 2008

shop update

I've had several items lingering on my to-do list for the past few weeks, and I'm so happy to say that I've finally caught up on a couple of them. I've really needed to take some new product photographs, so while the kids spent the day at my mom's house yesterday I created over 50 new sample note cards, invitations, birth announcements, and return address labels (it's amazing what I can accomplish when the house is quiet!) Then today I photographed them and updated about half of my Etsy listings with new pictures.
Not all of the pictures turned out as well as I would have liked, but these are a few of my favorites.
I also updated my Etsy shop so that I have separate listings for several different types of invitations, and I created sets with invitations, thank you notes, and return address labels - I love when people order those things together!