30 December 2010

11 in '11 | The Plan

{Take for your blog!}
This year, I've decided to make a list of 11 resolutions and goals I want to accomplish in 2011. I plan to update on my progress on the 11th of each month. If you'd like to join me, grab the icon I made!

These are my goals for the new year. More details to come.

  1. FASHION | Fine my personal style and be more fashionable.
  2. DIET | Reach my goal weight.
  3. LOVE | Plan for & have the perfect wedding.
  4. BUSINESS | Launch my design business.
  5. BLOG | Redesign & upkeep my blog.
  6. EXERCISE | Work out 3x a week, minimum.
  7. MONEY | Spend less, save more.
  8. TIME MANAGEMENT | Be 5 minutes early. Everywhere.
  9. SCRAPBOOK | Get up to date with j&d scrapbooks.
  10. KINDNESS | "Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty."
  11. KEEP IN TOUCH | Regularly update email, photos, Facebook, & website.
It helped me to categorize them by the words in bold so that I didn't have 5 exercise goals or 2 scrapbook goals or whatever. This way, it's one main goal for several different areas of my life.

What are your goals for 2011?

29 December 2010

Fave Wedding Blogs

For those of you who are obsessed with both weddings and blogging, I thought I'd share some of my favorite wedding blogs that I check often for ideas & inspiration. So many of these are absolutely beautiful and completely inspiring. I hope you enjoy!

Right now, Joshua & my wedding is less than 6 months away.... more like 5 1/2 months! We have nearly everything set except the florist, which I'm presently starting to freak out about. We met with 2 florists in late October... one gave us a quote way too high (over $4,000!), the other never got back to us (unreliable, I'm thinking). I called and left a message for a florist who did my friend's wedding this year, and I'm hoping he'll get back to me this week.

Aside from the florist, we're just finalizing the table linens and chair back covers, and coming up with our music list. Those are our hot ticket items as of late!

28 December 2010

Back to Scrappin'

Ugh. I've seriously been slacking with my scrapbooking. Here I thought, "Oh, I'll have so much time to work on my albums when I move to NC and start freelancing!" Right? Wrong. Oh, so wrong. When I'm not working on my website or current jobs, I'm perusing the internet and reading blogs. Serious addiction. Must put an end to it, soon.

Not. :-)

And then, when Joshua and I are home together, we're too busy making new memories for me to sit around scrapbooking old ones. Sigh. Yet there is still so much I want to scrapbook! Like our relationship, for one. The past three years of our lives together!

So this is what my scrapbook situation looks like now. I have all albums from high school (1999-2003) completed. I have a few pages of my sophomore year of college (2004), a few pages of when I moved to Cleveland (2007), and a few pages of my "Joshua" album done.

Rather than backtracking to 2003 when I started college, I want to scrapbook what's current while it's fresh in my mind... then I'll go back and do those other years. So I've started working on our travel album. This is how I want the scrapbook situation to end up:

  • Travel album— The first 2 1/2 years of our relationship were long distance, traveling state-to-state. I want this album to be all of those adventures.
  • The Story of Us album— Key moments of our relationship, from they day we met to milestones today.
  • USMC album— An album for Joshua of his deployments and Marine Corps events.
  • Wedding album— All things wedding, including the big day, once we're married.
  • Family album— Events with family.
  • Friends album— Events with friends.
I like my plan. This way, everything will be up-to-date and our future children and house guests will have fun things to look at someday. I'd also like to do separate Christmas and Halloween albums to break out with the decorations at that time of year... but that's not priority on my list right now.

Here are some snapshots of my last scrapbook session last month. It's the first page of our Travel album, of the first weekend we ever spent together in St. Augustine, Florida. Lots more pics for this event to share, but at least I got it started!

25 December 2010


"Santa" was incredibly good to me this year. He spoiled me for the second year in a row. I'm so excited for all the incredible gifts Joshua gave me, because so many of them relate to the goals and resolutions I have for 2011! We're both really looking forward to the new year and all it is already bringing us: moving to Virginia, Joshua's new duty station with the Marine Corps, the launch of my design business, and our wedding, to name a few! 

Here are some of the beautiful things I was gifted from my love this year. I feel so blessed and loved and thankful for not only the things he gave me, but mainly for Joshua himself. I've found a man that I adore, respect, and would do anything for... and I know the feelings are reciprocated.

1. The most beautiful, sparkly, diamond earrings I could dream of. Such a surprise! They were hidden in the very bottom of my stocking and the last gift I opened. I never want to take them off!
2. Domino: The Book of Decorating, to make our new home pretty! The subtitle is "A room-by-room guide to creating a home that makes you happy." 'Nuff said.
3. A soft & fuzzy white bathrobe! It's soooo soft and makes me feel like I belong at a spa.
4. A gift basket full of Japanese Cherry Blossom scented goodness from Bath & Body Works.
5. The Nest Home Design Handbook, also to make our new home pretty! This subtitle is "Simple ways to decorate, organize, and personalize your place." We're both excited for this since it will be all our own furniture and belongings!
6. Burberry Sport perfume. My favorite scents are those with fruits & musks mixed together. This scent is perfect!
7. The Versace sunglasses I've been lusting after for over a year now... these were actually an early Christmas gift he gave to me on Black Friday when we scored an awesome deal!
8. A Canon 50mm lens I asked for that's great for portrait photography, along with a UV filter he surprised me with... I can't wait to use these for the engagement shoot I have coming up next month.
9. Lauren Conrad Style. One of my goals for 2011 is to be more fashionable and really find my personal style. Joshua, being the fashion nazi that he is, approves!
10. Another fashion book! The Lucky Shopping Manual: Building and Improving Your Wardrobe Piece by Piece. I can't wait to read this!
11. Riesen in my stocking. Mmm. So delicious.

He also put little handwritten notes in each gift, saying some special about each one. It was pretty much the sweetest thing ever. I'm just so in love with him, and our lives together. Merry Christmas, everyone!

24 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

These are the Christmas cards that I designed (with Joshua's help, of course!) and sent out to family and friends this year. I made them at the same time I made my Christmas blog header... it totally inspired me to make our Christmas cards, isn't that great? Otherwise, I don't know when I would have found the time to make them.

I think we sent... 46 cards? Phew. I made them similarly to how I made the save-the-dates and I mounted them on brown craft paper. And then I printed on matching brown craft paper envelopes. We loved the final look!

Today on Christmas Eve, it's just Joshua and I. As much as I miss my family, I'm so happy to have this time together. The past week has been a blur with lots of things getting done both at home and with Joshua at work, and now we have some down time to just relax and enjoy each other.

Have a wonderful Christmas, everyone!

22 December 2010


Hello friends! So I thought I'd share how I made my save-the-dates, since it was a fun & interesting process and I like reading other blogs about how people make their own save-the-dates. Now that these are all shipped off and in the hands of our future guests, I figure it's safe to share them here! Let's get started.

Step 1. DESIGN! Come up with your concept, theme, colors, fonts, etc. Or, if you're not a designer yourself and/or don't have the programs to use, hire a designer like me to design them for you! To save money, you can have someone design them and you can put them together yourself.

I used Adobe Illustrator for my save-the-dates, since working as a packaging designer for the past few years it's become my go-to program. But Adobe InDesign would work great, too. Or even QuarkXPress, if you're old school like some! (I have and use both programs for various projects, depending on the client's needs.)

Buy or download a cool font to make your save-the-dates unique, too. You can even suggest a font to your designer if you find one that really suits your style or speaks to you. I personally am a font freak and I adore fonts. I didn't want to use the same font as anyone else, so I purchased the script on MyFonts.com and had the other two from previous downloads/purchases. MyFonts is my fave site to purchase fonts. DaFont.com is my fave for free fonts. Anyone can download them, Mac or PC.

Step 2.  REVISE! I'm never satisfied with the work I do for myself, so I go through rounds and rounds of revisions until I like what I have. I hang them on the wall so I can take a step back and look at everything. Don't forget to ask for advice from your fiancĂ© or mom! They both helped me make decisions and gave me honest, positive feedback.

Step 3. Start cutting paper! I love the look of layered papers (it must be the scrapbooker in me), so I chose to print my design on textured, cream colored paper from Archivers (their Yours Truly line is my favorite) and then mount them on a textured navy blue cardstock. So first, trim your cardstock. To make it easier, I used a paper trimmer.

 Step 4. Keep cutting paper! For the most precise trimming on the papers with my design, I used an x-acto knife and a ruler. Remember to keep changing the blade for the cleanest cuts... I'd say every 20-30 sheets of paper, if not earlier. I printed two 5x7 designs on one 8.5x11 piece of paper to save paper.

Step 5. Keep cutting. Seriously, this took the longest of the entire process. Okay, well, maybe designing them took the longest. But then this!

Step 6. Break of your adhesive and start gluing/taping/mounting your printed designed paper onto the solid cardstock paper. Honestly, most adhesives work the same. You could probably even use double sided tape, but I just feel better knowing my adhesive is scrapbook-quality and archive safe. The one I used above is discontinued, but any of the tape rollers are definitely your best bet! They go on quickly and are very strong. This Scrapbook Adhesives E-Z Runner is another of my favorites.

 Step 7. Ta-da! Once you've adhered your papers together, you're all done!

Step 8. Just admire your hard work. I felt so relieved when I finally had them all together. One step in the wedding stationery process complete.

Step 9. If you're so inclined, print your enveloped for an extra personalized touch. I set up a file on my computer to print on a 5x7 piece of paper, and I just ran my envelopes through, one at a time. Just make sure you aren't printing on the side of the envelope with the flap! It definitely helps to do a test run on a plain piece of paper first before going all out on your actual envelopes.

Step 10. Oh! Last but not least, I added a sticker to the back of each save-the-date with our wedding website for guests to go to for more info on our wedding. Since we have a lot of out-of-town guests coming (and lots of questions from family & friends), we found it easiest to direct them to our website for all the details!

Did I also mention that I designed our website to match our save-the-dates? I know. I'm a little nuts. Just a little.

If any of you have designed your own save-the-dates, please share! I'd love to see what everyone's look like.

16 December 2010

Life After Deployment

[Note: I've had this post written for almost a month now. I just wasn't sure if I was ready to share it, since it's quite personal and hard for me to write. But after a fellow mil•spouse blogger posted a similar post, I've decided to share mine as well.]

Since this blog began as a deployment blog to help me share and connect with others while my fiancĂ© was in Afghanistan, I think it's only fair to do a follow-up post on how life really is after deployment. One thing I learned after his first deployment to Iraq was that things don't go completely back to normal when they first return... it's never the fairy tale romance we expect.

First off, let me say that life after deployment has been FABULOUS. I love it— I love having him here with me, safe in our home every night, up early to work every morning. I love being together— we have so much fun! We go places together, we work out together, we eat together, we stay in together.

But we also both have our own lives. And we balance each other out. He's here for me to bounce ideas off, to show my latest projects to, to ask his opinion or advice about my work or my latest endeavor. I'm here for him to talk about his day at work, the people, the PT, the scheduling, routines and online classes.

When Joshua first got home from Afghanistan, I think I had a harder time adjusting than he did. Weird, right? Well, from day one, Joshua has always taught me to prepare for the worst. Prepare for the absolute worst case scenario in every situation, because that way if something better happens, you won't be disappointed and you won't be overly hopeful in the process.

When we first found out that Joshua would be deploying to Afghanistan, he told me that he probably wouldn't be coming home. Of course I had the appropriate freak-out session and cry-fest, followed by the obligatory anger and resentment and impending fear. He apologized, said not to think of it like that, told me he'd do what he could to come home and that he truly wanted to come home. I set it all aside so no more arguments or tears would ensue, but it stayed with me every day thereafter and throughout the entire time he was deployed.

I really believed he wasn't coming home. When I did get the sporadic phone call from him, I always answered and said goodbye as if it was the last time I'd ever speak to him. So many days, there were more and more stories from the news and the wives in the battalion of Marines getting injured, blown up, or killed. So many days, I stood in my family room stalking the front window, nervously staring up and down my street looking for the black car with the suited ones telling me my beloved was not coming home.

Even the day of homecoming, when I heard he'd landed in the U.S., I was afraid the plane would crash on its way to North Carolina. Even after he landed in North Carolina, I feared the bus on its way to base would be overtaken by the floods and awful rainfall we experienced.

And then, he was home. For the first week, I was afraid I was dreaming and I would suddenly wake up and it wouldn't be real. That was hard! What was also hard was adjusting to living together. This is the first time we've lived together, and as most of you know that alone takes a whole lot of getting used to!

So there have been lots of times when I needed "my space," because sometimes it's hard to be on my game/happy/supportive all the time. There have been nights where I haven't wanted to cook, and days where I haven't wanted to clean up the house. When he first got home, I felt like I was striving to be perfect at everything, to show him that I will be a good wife. Perfect at cooking, cleaning, working, entertaining, loving, relaxing, etc.

It's honestly taken a few months for me to finally feel normal, and like I could let my hair down for a bit. It took me awhile to realize I don't have to be perfect for him, and he doesn't expect that (thank goodness). If I don't feel like making dinner a few nights a week, we order take out or go out to eat. If I've had a busy day freelancing and didn't clean up the house, we wait until the weekend and clean up together. We visit with friends when we want to and we like to, not because we have to. And it's fun!

Joshua is a perfectionist too. He hasn't really cooked at all since he's been home... which is fine, but I think it's because he's afraid of messing up in the kitchen or making a meal that doesn't taste good. He came back from Afghanistan with a really positive attitude... much different from the one he left with! He's optimistic a lot and happy more... he says it's because he has a new appreciation for everything after what he experienced on deployment. This is good. :-)

We have our good days, we have our bad days. We have days when we fight, and days when we can't get enough of each other. But always, the good days outweigh the bad, and he really is the love of my life. He makes me feel like I'm the love of his, too, and we couldn't be happier together. It's been a long road to get here and I'm sure it will be much longer into the future, but things feel right. They feel balanced.

To those of you going through a deployment or whose loved ones have just gotten home... be patient. Stay true to yourself. Be open. Make compromises.

And be sure to give him a helluva lot of lovin'.  ;-)

15 December 2010

Wedding Wednesday #9

It's been 4 months since my last Wedding Wednesday post, can you believe it? But in just 3 days, the big day is already only SIX MONTHS away, eeeeeee!!!!! So I think it's time to get back into the swing of my weekly posts with wedding updates.

In honor of the return of my Wedding Wednesday posts, I've made a cute little header to use every Wednesday from now on. I also have a whole, big, long list of fun posts to share with you over the next 6 months!

My excitement this month is that I finally sent out our save-the-dates, a little more than 6 months before our wedding. I had planned to send them off much sooner, but alas, I procrastinated. Without further ado, here are the save-the-dates I designed for Joshua & my wedding!

A few things to note:
  • Our colors have changed from navy & yellow to navy & champagne/gold.
  • This change came about in September when my beautiful bridesmaids and I chose their dresses & shoes, and the champagne just matched everything so much nicer than yellow.
  • My new "Wedding Wednesday" header compliments the design a bit... I love themes!
  • Yes, our wedding is actually a cruise, on a boat on Lake George. 
I was so excited to send them out!

Would anyone be interested in seeing a "how to" post for how I made/assembled them? I took photos throughout the process and I'd love to share them here if you'd like to see.

One last thing to note:
  • My wedding posts always have an abundance of exclamation points. I just can't help it! Apologies. :-)
More to come next Wednesday!

14 December 2010

Holiday Decorating

It's Christmas time in our household, and Joshua and I decorated together last weekend! I also "decorated" my blog for the holidays... including a new header with more of our engagement photos! It's actually inspired me to make a similar Christmas card to send out to family and friends... hmm, we shall see if time permits!

My love and I will be spending this Christmas alone here in North Carolina, just the two of us. We'd love to be able to see our families, but Joshua is in a course until the 21st of December, and then of course it's the month of the move! It will be our first and only Christmas here on the island. Yay!

07 December 2010

Quantico, anyone!?

It's hard to believe that it's our last month here in our beautiful beach condo. It is though!

Joshua received orders for Quantico, VA this past summer when he re-enlisted in Afghanistan. But we're having trouble finding a place to live! Everything is either too far away or too expensive, and neither of us know the area well enough to know what to do.

We've been in contact with the housing office on base, and they're sending us a list of apartments to look at. We're still waiting on that... I'm getting a bit nervous though.

Does anyone have any suggestions on apartments or areas to look in the Quantico vicinity??? 

03 December 2010


This is me. Staring at my computer screen. Thinking, "What was I supposed to be doing?"
I just don't know what to do next. So much to do, but not a clue where to start. I hate when this happens.

I seriously spend way too much time online. Most often, I call it "research." Research for my website, research for work, research for my blog, research for inspiration.

But really, I need to stop "researching" so much and start DOING.

I have so many ideas for projects, blog posts, business concepts, etc. and I need to put them into ACTION! Like starting an Etsy shop? That's something I've been wanting to do for awhile. And getting my site up and running? Another on the list. Updating my scrapbooks? Eternally on the list. It goes on... and on... and on.

Right now, just a few of my top [non-work related] projects include:

  • completing/sending my wedding save the dates
  • launching the wedding website I made for Joshua & I
  • completing/launching my new design website
  • creating a new blog for design/business/craftiness/fun
  • deciding what to do with this blog (keep it separate? delete it? merge it with the new blog? help!)
  • my December Daily album
  • Inspiration Everywhere workshop
  • Blog Love e-course
  • scrapbooking the last million years of my life

How do you stay motivated and make the time to get your projects done?

I think I'll go organize my closet. ;-)

24 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful this Thanksgiving, that the love of my life is home safely from Afghanistan. I am thankful for the amazingly supportive family we both have, and for the friends closest to us that have become our family over the years. I am thankful for the home we live in, and the life we're creating for ourselves. I am thankful for our health and our youth, and the feeling that we have a lot of time {together} ahead of us. I am thankful I have an education for something I love, and that I'm making my dream of owning my own business a reality.

I am thankful for so much this year, more than I ever could have hoped for. Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers!

What's on Dani's phone?

I almost always forget to save/share photos from my cell phone. I guess other people do, too, because there is a linkup going around to post photos from your cell phones! Join the linkup hosted by Jessica at the Lowe Family News! Here are some random pieces of my life, in no particular order:

{waiting at the Verizon store for my new Droid 2 to be activated}

{beer sampler at a brewery in Charleston}

{breakfast Joshua made & arranged for me one morning while I was working ♥}

{Halloween costume shopping @ the party store}

{at our beach to watch the sunset}

{silk flowers to get ideas for wedding centerpieces}

{she & he}

{waiting at Honda for my oil change}

{the mess that becomes my kitchen after grocery shopping}

{living room at Mom's house}

{road trip to South Carolina}

{engagement photos I received in the mail— & still have yet to post}

{just another day in paradise}

{busy farmer's market}

{watching TV with my love}

21 November 2010

Who Loves Free Music??

I do! Especially if it's legal! I'm all about supporting the artists, which is why I never download pirated music. Enjoy these freebies I found floating around the internet! All together, over 120 songs!

Become a fan of iTunes on Facebook, and you can download 10 free songs on the Austin City Limits 2010 sampler and 20 free songs on the Artists on the Rise 2010 sampler.

Download 13 free songs from Spin Magazine's December issue (exp 12/31) and 15 free songs from Spin Magazine's November issue (exp 11/30).

Download 8 free holiday country songs from People Magazine (exp 1/7/11).

Download 24 free songs from Urban Outfitters LSTN #11 sampler (exp 12/31).

Download 6 free holiday songs from Amazon's Timeless Christmas sampler.

Download 5 free holiday songs from Amazon's Sugo Holiday sampler.

My favorite of the free downloads I've found is a 20 song playlist by Sister Hazel at Amazon. I've loved Sister Hazel for probably a decade now... their acoustic rock/folk music is my favorite.

20 November 2010

Our New Favorite Toy!

I'm all about digital reading lately. Joshua and I purchased a brand spankin' new Nook Color from Barnes & Noble the other day, and I'm completely obsessed. You can get magazine subscriptions on it! It's awesome for magazine whores like myself... as my friends and family know, I have quite the obsession. My bookshelves and coffee table are always stacked high with magazines.

Nook doesn't have every magazine under the sun yet, but I have a feeling they will eventually. You can subscribe monthly or buy per issue, which is cool. So far, I've purchased 2 books and sampled 3 magazines. Joshua has gotten a few for himself as well. It's so great! And it's going green!

I haven't started reading the books yet because I have two paperback books I want to read first, but I've been reading the magazines and they're SWEET! Yay for environmentally friendly reading.

December Daily 2010

I want to share with everyone a project I'm working on this December. It's hosted by Ali Edwards, an awesome scrapbooker, author, and all-around creative entrepreneur. I've been really into following crafty, creative blogs lately, and my Google Reader just keeps filling up with all these awesome and inspiring posts from all the great bloggers I've been finding.

Ali has a holiday tradition called December Daily. For details, check out her page here. It's an album project that documents the 25 days leading up to Christmas!

I'm excited about it because I need a creative outlet outside of the computer. I love scrapbooking, but I haven't had the time I'd like to put toward doing it and so this will be a nice way to make sure I do.

The first step is creating a "foundation album" for your December Daily. There are so many inspiring foundation albums posted on Ali's Flickr account here. It's recommended to set up your album prior to December so you're not creating it and filling it at the same time.

I personally do not have the time or materials to create a foundation album right now... with the business, freelancing, the website, the wedding, and the big move we have coming up (we're being restationed to Virginia!— another post on that at a later time).

So, I turned to another of my absolute favorite creative bloggers, Elise Blaha. Elise runs an Etsy shop and creates mixed paper books for all occasions. I'd been eyeing her Holiday Mixed Paper Book for some time now, and when I saw Ali's blog about the December Daily, I jumped at the chance and ordered one of Elise's books to use as my foundation for my own.

There are *almost* enough pages for me to dedicate one spread per day, but for the pages I need I'll be adding my own momentos and of course, lots of photos. You can check out Elise's original post on it here, as well as a peek into her process of making them here.

I was so excited when mine arrived, but I will admit it was smaller than I pictured it. It's 4x6, which I knew when ordering it, but for some reason I expected it to be a bit bigger. It's quite tiny, which I think will be okay because smaller pages are so much easier to fill. And the papers are so pretty that I don't even think I'll want to fill them!

This was also my first purchase from Etsy. What a cool place. I've been wanting to set up my own shop for awhile now, and I have lots of ideas of what to do with it... but for now, I've put that project on hold until 2011. First things first: finish my website!

If you decide to join me in creating your own December Daily, do let me know! I'll be posting photos of the finished album (and probably progress throughout) in December. Can't wait!