22 June 2011


We're married! It's official— I'm now a Mrs!

I have so many wedding details and fun things to share, but for now... I'll tell you that it was the best day of my life and I could not be happier!

More to come after I unpack & clean house. :-D

10 June 2011

Couponing, Take II

Hello, blog loves! I wanted to post an update on my venture into couponing-land. In my first post about this complicated new world, I showed the little accordion coupon organizer I started with. I've since collected many, many more coupons, and so I switched to the binder method to hold them all.

I'm still getting better at it, and saving more each time I coupon. But I'll be honest... sometimes it's just too much work, and so I'll tell Joshua, "Screw couponing this week, let's just go to the commissary and I don't want to even think about my coupons!" Then of course, I get home and find all the coupons I could have used on said shopping trip, and then I just feel guilty.

When I do actually have my act together though, I save tons! It's become such a game for us. Joshua helps too. He pushes the shopping cart and crosses the items off the list. I'm the psycho running from one aisle to the next, clinging to my stack of coupons and double checking the list a hundred times. Oh, I'm so annoying. And he's such a saint. :-)

Being the girly-girl that I am, I of course had to have a hot pink zip-up binder. Which I found at Walmart (but you can find here or here). Which included a matching hot pink pencil pouch. Then I got my dividers at Staples, and I ordered my coupon inserts in several different sizes off Amazon (one two three). I also got the folder to hold lists and things and the velcro folder for loose/extra coupons at Staples.

I shopped around a bit to find the right materials for me, because I have to be organized to get anything done correctly. I also re-did my coupon categories to better suit the way I shop. So far, so good! Now, the trick is to stay on top of things and up-to-date.

Hopefully I will get better at this after the wedding!

08 June 2011

Blog Business Advice Needed

So in the midst of all the last minute wedding planning craziness, I'm of course still working on my business and coming up with a plan to help it grow and be successful. But I'm at a point where I'm stuck now, and I could really use the advice of people who know me through my blog, since it is somewhat web-related.

A little background on my situation: I graduated college in 2007 with my BFA in Graphic Design. After college, I worked at corporate for American Greetings card company, then at corporate for a supermarket chain in the upper northeast. I designed cards at AG and food packaging at the supermarket. I loved both these jobs, and I love what I chose to do with my career. Design is my favorite thing ever. :-)

When Joshua returned home from Afghanistan, I left my job and started my own freelance graphic design business, Graphic Grace Design. Work has been steady but slow, but I was recently informed that my biggest client will no longer be hiring freelancers. In one way, this is a good thing— it forces me to put myself and the company out there more to get more clients, and pursue the type of work I really want. On the other hand, I'm scared shitless. This company has been my primary source of income for almost a year now, and I'm nervous and anxious about what comes next.

The question is now, what to do? I have this blog, Hard Corps Love, which is my personal blog that started as a deployment journal when Joshua was away. It is mostly military, wedding, and relationship focused. But then, I want to blog about my business and share my design projects and ideas, templates, giveaways, tutorials, etc.

Do I start sharing those things here, or do I start a new blog that is strictly business? Do I keep my personal & professional blogs separate, or do I combine the two? I've seen several successful bloggers who do combine the two, and their reader loyalty also helps their business.

But then, I don't want my blog to be all business.

And then again, I don't want to have so many different blogs, profiles, and websites to have to manage and keep up all the time.

As it is, I currently have this blog, my GraphicGrace website, our wedding/personal website (joshuandanielle.com), my personal Facebook page, a GraphicGrace Faebook page, a GraphicGrace Twitter page, and my blog Twitter page.

So I feel like the Facebook pages and Twitter pages are, whatever. Those are small things that are easier to manage, and not a big deal to me. But the blog/website issue is a huge deal.

What would you do?

I've thought about moving this blog to joshuandanielle.com, keeping all of our personal life together. Then I'd create a separate business-related blog for GraphicGrace and the website. But can I still make that personal? And if I move this blog to joshuandanielle.com, do I keep the name, Hard Corps Love, or do I change it?

Help! Please?

02 June 2011

USMC Cake Topper? Check!

16 days: Together in North Carolina, Fall 2009

16 days to go. Final payments are due, final dress fittings, final phone calls, final touches. I still have a million and ten things on my plate before I can even begin to feel comfortable that everything will be smooth sailing... literally, haha!

To top everything off, two weeks ago I was in a car accident. My car is in the shop until the end of June, so I don't have any transportation until I learn to drive Joshua's truck... which is manual and ridiculously huge. When it rains, it pours... right?!

I'm fine, and no other drivers were injured. It's just a big deductible and a pain in the ass. ;-)

On the bright side, I picked up my cake topper!

Is this not the sweetest thing in the world? I had a few picked out, but the Precious Moments was Joshua's favorite. I got to choose our hair colors, the flower colors, and the rank and medals for the dress blue uniform! She got ALL nine of his medals on there... including his NAM and combat V!

I ordered from a woman I found on Ebay called "The Cake Top Lady!" She was so sweet and so nice to work with. The link to her store is Military Custom Caketops. It was definitely something that had to be budgeted for, but I found that the customized toppers were all about the same price in catalogs and online.

We're going to keep this cake topper forever... I just always remember being fascinated with my parent's cake topper that my mom kept on her dresser my entire childhood. It was so pretty, and such a special everyday reminder of their wedding day. I plan to do the same! ♥

01 June 2011

Facebook Wedding Countdown!

Happy June 1st! I can't believe the month of my wedding is FINALLY here. Yay, yay, yay! Everyday on Facebook since we hit the one month mark, I've been updating my profile picture to a countdown with favorite photos from Joshua & my relationship.

A little history on us: we met at American Greetings corporate headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio while Joshua was home on leave after he first joined the fleet. It was my first job after college and a big move for me from my home in Upstate New York. Joshua's dad and stepmom also worked at American Greetings, and brought him into work to meet me. I never thought I'd date someone in the military, never thought I'd be able to handle a long distance relationship, and never thought I'd be with someone younger than me! (Joshua is only a year younger, but still.)

That was in January of 2008. We did the long distance from Ohio to North Carolina where he was stationed, until I relocated home to New York and he deployed to Iraq in July of 2008. We did that long distance until February of 2009, and in July of 2009, Joshua asked me to marry him. :-)

Joshua has since deployed to Afghanistan from April 2010 to October 2010; I've since left the north and started my own design business to be with him where the Marine Corps takes him; we lived together in North Carolina and now through our first PCS to Virginia.

This wedding has been a long time coming, through good times, hard times, happy times, and the best love I've ever been given in my entire life. I'm so excited for the big day! The countdown colors, fonts, and compass image all go with the wedding theme that's been carried through our save-the-dates, website, invitations, etc.

You can click any of the photos above to enlarge them. If you're interested in the where/when/why of it, here you go!

30 days: First weekend back from Iraq, February 2009
29 days: Corporal's Course graduation, December 2010
28 days: All dressed up for Alyssa & Eric's wedding, Fall 2010
27 days: Post-deployment leave from Iraq, March 2009
26 days: Matching tops from Joshua's Grandma for Christmas in Florida, 2010
25 days: At the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, Fall 2009
24 days: Visiting Joshua's dad & stepmom at their beach house on Emerald Isle, Summer 2009
23 days: VFW Bar in Ocean City, Maryland— April 2008
22 days: New Year's Eve at Sharp Shooters, ringing in 2010 ♥
21 days: Our first weekend together EVER, St. Augustine, February 2008
20 days: Brave smiles the day Joshua deployed to Afghanistan, February 2010
19 days: 4th of July weekend in Lake George, 2008
18 days: Giving Joshua the "engagement" ring that everyone thinks is a wedding band, Christmas 2009
17 days: Marine Corps Ball, November 2009