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!

11 November 2010

Thank You, Veterans!

Another engagement photo! I desperately felt the need to be creative today... so much business research and serious design work left me needing an out! Not only today, but everyday, I am so very thankful for the love of my life, Joshua, as well as all the men and women who serve with him. Thank you to all the veterans today!

05 November 2010

Tagged & Answered

Awhile back, the lovely Newlywed & Deployed tagged me to answer a post of fun questions. I know I'm answering these late, but here are my answers!

1. Name your favorite place in the world.

Lake George, New York in the beautiful Adirondack mountains! It's the place my parents met, the place I was brought on many vacations as a child, the place my parents bought their second home when I was a teenager, and the place Joshua and I chose to have our wedding! I ♥ LG.

2. If you had to recommend one book or movie, what would it be?
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume has been my favorite book since forever. But more recently, I'm loving this one:

3. What is your newest favorite song on the radio?
Mine by Taylor Swift... and might I add, her new album is fantastic? I love Taylor!

4. Describe your favorite pair of shoes.
Sexy, peep toe, and jeweled. I got these Nine West gems for a holiday work party last year, and they're the perfect shoe to pair with a little black dress. I wore them to a wedding last weekend and I'll be wearing them to the Marine Corps Birthday Ball this year!

5. If you could only live with one beauty product, what would it be and why?
Without a doubt, mascara. I have blonde eyelashes and I just look blah without it. I love mascara! I'm currently making my way through this collection of minis from Sephora.

6. If you had to choose between going without your cell phone or not showering for one week, which would you pick?
Now that Joshua is home, I'd go without my cell phone. But if he were still deployed, hell yes I'd go without a shower for a phone call!

7. I love blogging because...
It holds me accountable for the things I want to accomplish, and introduces me to new friends with similar interests.

8. The best advice I ever received was...
"You can't discover new oceans unless you have courage to lose sight of the shore."

Thanks for the questions, that was fun!

Taking Care of Business!

So I'm not sure how much I've gone into this, but I'm a graphic designer... and I've recently branched off from the corporate world to start my own business.

I had a completely awesome job in New York designing food packaging— it was so fun! I loved my job and the people I worked with. I was there for about 2 1/2 years, and before that I worked at American Greetings in Ohio, designing greeting cards. I've also done various freelance jobs in between and had lots of internships before I graduated college (seriously, I interned for fun... starting my junior year of high school. I just loved it).

I love graphic design. When I was little, I always used to want to be an "artist." I love that design is art that is paid. I love that it deals with computers & technology, but is so creative. All in all, I love what I do. :-)

As much as I loved my job and working in New York, I left so I could move to North Carolina to be with Joshua when he returned from Afghanistan. I set up an office in the corner of our bedroom, and it's from here that I'm working on starting my own business and branding my company.

It's tough work, let me tell you! I have stacks of business books, dozens of post-its scribbled with notes, and monster to-do lists. This is something that I've been planning to do for over a year, but it's only now becoming a reality. I would love to be able to be successful enough to keep working from my home and to be able to do this when we have children, too. Design pays pretty well, but I hope to stay home with my future kids instead of sending them to daycare!

For the record, what I really love designing is stationery... invitations, cards, announcements, etc. But since I haven't been doing that for long enough yet, my current portfolio mainly features logos, packaging, posters, brochures, magazine spreads, etc.

I guess, in a way, this happened by accident. Ever since I met Joshua (coming up on 3 years ago this January!), I've looked for design jobs here in the Lejeune area. Nothing ever really came up, aside from a few places I sent my resume to and the occasional interview. So that's what I realized— hey, I'm soon to be a military wife and I need a "portable career," so why not work from home as a freelance designer?

Joshua wanted me to be with him and still keep doing what I love, so he was more than on board with the idea. A few months ago, he bought me a beautiful new iMac computer, since my 5 year old Powerbook laptop was slowly on its way out. I was close friends with my boss in New York, and she gave me all the necessary programs I didn't already have. When I left, her and my other teammate's parting gift to me was a brand spanking new Pantone+ swatchbook... any designer's dream.

So I came to North Carolina prepared to work, and that's what I've been doing! I started with my business name... Graphic Grace Design. My middle name is Grace, fyi. Then I bought the .com address. And then...

I finally, finally completed my logo... thanks to my incredible husband-to-be. He has the best input and I value his opinion so much! Especially since I find it terribly hard to design for myself. I'm so overly critical and never satisfied with anything. I go back to it a million times to revise it. So actually completing this was huge! Phew.

After that, I ordered my business cards, and I'm currently working on my in progress website. Web design is definitely not my forté, so I'm taking the time to learn Dreamweaver and design in the process. After all, you can't be a designer and not design your own website! It's just wrong.

I'm working out all the legalities, too. That part is my least favorite. So many lawyer terms and copyright/trademark info and tax business.

Anyway, that's what I've been up to! I'll update again soon when I have the time... I've also been designing our wedding save-the-dates, creating a new wedding website for us, freelancing for my previous job until they fill my position, and getting all sorts of inquiries from newly engaged friends asking me to do their wedding invitations or Christmas cards. So fun!

Those of you who are military spouses or soon-to-be, if you've ever had a dream to start your own business and create your own "portable career"... DO IT! Just jump right in, as scary as it is. It's the only way! 

As always, feel free to email me for advice or design tips if you ever want help!