Hoi’s Bridal Shower Invitation

When I think of my friend Hoi, the first thing that pops into my mind is mango!  She loves all things mango (which is why I threw her a mango party in a box for her birthday), and one of her favorite things to say is, “Aloha,” so when it came time to think of a theme for her bridal shower, Hawaiian/beach-themed was an obvious choice. :)

For her invitations, I tried to put an elegant spin on the usual tropical theme by combining script fonts with soft pastel colors.  I threw in a touch of gold for an extra luxe feel.

Hoi’s shower was just last weekend, and we had a blast!  I’ll share pictures soon in another post. 

Must-Have Crafting Tools Countdown #8

#8 – Sewing Machine

My mom and I got this little Kenmore Mini Ultra 3/4 Size sewing machine several years ago when it was on sale during Black Friday.  I think it must’ve been $50 or something ridiculous like that.  It only has 6 stitches, but honestly, I don’t even use all of them!  

This little guy has been faithful all these years, helping me make things like my first quilt, stuffed fabric birdies, paper garlands, scarves, and all sorts of baby stuff.

A sewing machine is perfect for whipping up handmade gifts in a few hours’ time, especially when you’re working with felt, as it requires no finished seams.  Stitching on paper is also a nice touch for homemade cards or invitations with a cozy, DIY feel.

I don’t think I could live without my sewing machine….I’m still trying to convince Dean to let me take it to the Caribbean with us. :P

For Elijah: DIY Watercolor Birth Announcements

Once in a while, I’ll commit to a project that ends up being just a little more than I had bargained for. What starts out as a simple, “Hey, I can do that!  It’ll just take me an hour or two” usually turns into my slaving away at two in the morning to finish what I started. Take, for example, the Super Mario cake I made for Dean that ended up taking me two entire days. Or our hand-letterpressed wedding invitations that took the two of us a whole day just to feed through the letterpress machine. In the end though, it’s these same projects that I really pour myself into that end up being the most memorable and meaningful pieces that I make.

For my nephew Elijah’s birth announcements, I wanted to create a piece that could be kept as a keepsake, not only for his parents, but for each friend and family member that received them. I decided to hand-watercolor his announcements so that each one would be unique. With some watercolor paints, paintbrushes, and painter’s tape in hand, I set off to begin a project that ended up taking about two weeks. Here’s the finished announcement!

And here are a few process pictures to give you an idea of how it all came together:
*Edit: For those curious about more of the process, here are a few more details on how I made the announcements.
I was experimenting with my watercolors and was intrigued with the idea of masking off areas to reveal positive/negatives spaces with paint.  I played around a bit and discovered that painter’s tape worked perfectly with watercolor paper (other tapes tend to stick too much and peel off paper when you remove it).
In order to cut out the shapes I wanted, I ran the tape through my Silhouette SD cutter and cut out hundreds of stars and the name “ELIJAH.”  For the stars, I used the actual star cut-outs to tape onto the paper, and for the name, I actually use the outlined part.
After taping everything down exactly where I wanted, I watercolored away!  In order for the outlines to look crisp, make sure that your brush is damp with watercolor paint, but not sopping wet.  You want it to be just wet enough to move around the page.
The funnest part, of course, was removing all the tape and seeing the shapes and words appear!  I used tweezers to help make it easier to pick up all the little pieces.
Some alternative ways this could be done:
1.) A way that you could make this without a Silhouette SD is to tape the painter’s tape down onto some cardstock and use a craft punch to punch out star shapes.  Then, peel the painter’s tape “sticker” off and use that to stick onto your watercolor paper.  Of course, you could always try to use an Xacto knife to cut out stars (but I don’t think I have that kind of patience!).
2.) Another way to do this might be to use pre-bought stickers at the craft store in the shapes of stars and letters.  In order for them not to stick permanently to the watercolor paper, simply peel them off the sheet and stick them on your pants or shirt a couple times. They should attach to some fibers from your clothing and not be quite so sticky.  Try sticking them onto the watercolor paper and make sure that they stick firmly so that paint doesn’t seep through, but also make sure that they can be peeled off without taking any paper with it.  (I learned this trick for “making” painter’s tape/drafting tape in architecture school from one of my professors. :D)
3.) I just saw this yesterday on Pinterest, and I think it’s so smart and lends itself to a lot of possibilities. Using a wax pencil, you could also draw each of the stars directly onto the paper and write out the words very carefully (or trace them).  Just watercolor on top of the wax and dab lightly to pick up all the paint.

Wedding Photography + Stationery Giveaway

I’m really excited to tell you about a fabulous giveaway my friend Shang has started over at ShangChenPhoto! It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Shang’s work (she did such an amazing job on our engagement and wedding pics!), but I haven’t really had a chance to mention how much I’ve been inspired by her courage and determination to pursue her dreams. My admiration only deepened all the more when she recently told me she was planning to give away an entire wedding photography package! Her grand prize includes not only full-day wedding photography coverage, but also an engagement session, guest book, print credit, and a $400 travel credit! The grand prize will go toan awesome couple who has an extraordinary love story.” There will also be something for the runner up!

I think it’s wonderful that Shang is so passionate about giving back in such a generous and meaningful way. And so when she invited me to partner with her in this giveaway, I was absolutely honored and excited about the opportunity to participate. Included in Shang’s grand prize package, I’m excited to announce, is a $200 credit toward custom stationery design and paper products from Lavender’s Blue!

I’ve learned from my own journey that wedding stationery is what sets the tone for the big day, with the save-the-date cards and invitations (and oftentimes, a corresponding website) being the first things that your guests see long before the wedding arrives. I’ve worked with several couples in the past to do custom wedding stationery, and the collaboration process is always a privilege for me. I appreciate people opening themselves to me, sharing their vision and dreams with me, and trusting me with their stories. My task is to find a design that will, at a glimpse, convey some of the depth and beauty in each couple’s unique journey. It’s been such a treat creating looks for the playful romantics that Esther and Ben are, Karina and Bryan’s refined elegance, and Cathy and Daniel’s bright and sweet personalities. And to the lucky couple who will win Shang’s grand prize, I’m really looking forward to getting to know you and working together to tell your story.

Do you know somebody who might be interested in this giveaway? For eligibility and complete details on how to enter, visit Shang’s blog here. And be sure to spread the word!

Grace + Trevor’s Baby Shower Invitation

I remember meeting Grace in Mr. Anderson’s 7th grade Social Studies class back in junior high. I was immediately struck by her friendly, bubbly personality, and I knew instantly we were going to be good friends. We braved through the vast, unknown halls of high school together, attended the same university, and even got married within six months of each other! Now, she’s entering into a whole new world of motherhood, and I couldn’t be happier for her! :) (But no, I will not be joining her anytime soon :P)

So, of course, when Grace’s mom contacted me about helping out with Grace and Trevor’s baby shower invitations, I said absolutely!

Their nursery will be a jungle/safari theme, so I wanted to create a set of invitations that would match that theme. I wanted it to be distinctly girly, yet still adventurous, cute, and modern.

For the invitations, I created a set of icons with four different jungle animals that I hope to use throughout the shower decorations. The invitations were printed on my printer at home and backed with Chartreuse cardstock from Paper Source. They were paired with Khaki envelopes to match the safari theme. Grace’s mom also requested a map for guests unfamiliar with the area.

For the envelopes, I also printed out some matching sticker labels with the animal icons.

I love how they look all lined up!

Cathy + Daniel Wedding Invitations

Cathy contacted me several months ago, asking me if I’d be interested and willing to help design the invitations and stationery for her September wedding at the New York Botanical Garden. I was only too happy to oblige, and so we worked closely together for the next few months to put together her complete invitation suite and coordinating stationery products!

Cathy mentioned that her friends often referred to her and Dan as being “two peas in a pod,” so she really wanted that image conveyed in her wedding stationery. We played around with a couple of different designs, and in the end, Cathy chose this one! Here’s a look at their complete stationery set:

Some photographs of the invitations:

My friend Shang was a guest at Cathy and Dan’s wedding, and she so kindly shared these photos with me to show you. (Can you believe she took these with just her point and shoot?!)

Cathy and Dan, it was such a pleasure working with you! Congratulations and best of luck to you as you begin your new life together.

Aileen & CT Wedding

A couple weeks back, we attended the wedding of our good friends Aileen & CT. Their wedding was held at the gorgeous Crystal Cathedral, designed by architect Philip Johnson. Beautiful California sunshine filtered gently through the sanctuary’s 10,000 panes of glass and filled the entire space with breathtakingly beautiful light. It was the perfect setting for a wedding!

Aside from being really warm, caring people, Aileen and CT are some of smartest, most talented people I know – they dance, they sing, they play musical instruments (extremely well), they cook, and they’re super smart! So, of course it’s no surprise that they are also artistically gifted. :) I believe CT did all of the awesome graphic design work for their wedding himself! Here’s a look at their invitations and wedding stationery:

wedding invitation suite

ceremony program

place cards – Aileen did the calligraphy for all 300 of the name cards herself! (Didn’t I tell you she was talented!?)
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to take too many pictures of the wedding details that day because I was helping out behind the scenes. But trust me, it was gorgeous! Aileen’s parents have a florist friend who did most of the flower arrangements, and she did such a beautiful job. Aileen and several of her friends and family helped out in making centerpieces and boutonnieres too! I helped out with the bridesmaid bouquets and as one of the coordinators for the day.

Here are a few pictures that I was able to get from the wedding:

When I was young, I went to so many Chinese weddings with my family (I was actually the flower girl for most of them because my dad always officiated) and we would eat so many Chinese wedding banquets, that I quickly grew quite tired of them. I think I haven’t been to a Chinese wedding banquet in over 15 years now, so I was REALLY happy to eat Chinese food again!

crab claws

shark fin soup


with the newly married couple
Congrats, Aileen & CT! :)
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