Hello New York City! (Update: One Month In!)

Wow, what a month! We officially landed in New York on June 1, around 1am, greeted at JFK by a waiting line for taxis about 200 people deep. We crossed the threshold of our apartment about 2 hours later, and crashed on our air mattress. Welcome to the greatest city in the world! The following morning we started the battle with our moving company over the arrival date of our truck and all our belongings, and I started working out of Manhattan's finest coffee shops (ok, I might not have been in the finest, but I did see some celebrities in my travels!). Two full weeks, and about thirty $5 lattes later, our moving truck finally arrived, and we spent 36 full hours unpacking and getting settled. We were determined to just get it over with so we could start to feel "at home". Since then, life has been a bit of a whirlwind--lots of catching up with family and friends here on the East Coast, a fantastic 4th of July fireworks show from our roof, and a brand new City with lots to get used to.

Running a business out of my home has always had its ups and downs, but never have I felt the highs and lows more than in our new setting. HOLY MOLY its amazing to be able to take a 10am NYC dance class (which I only just started this week!) without "missing" work. And my new studio.. ahhhh, we'll get to that in a minute. In New York City, everything is right at my fingertips, and yet it's not. Shipping packages has been my biggest challenge (Picture me walking down 42nd street with a thirty pound, two foot high stack of packages during rush hour. Because that happened two weeks ago.) BUT, the Post Office at Penn Station is open until 10PM! What?! I'm an East Coast girl, so the pace of life here doesn't shock me. It's actually refreshing and feels a lot more like home than the Midwest did (sorry, STL!) In general, we're absolutely loving it, and are so excited to get comfortable enough to really call it home.

More photos of the apartment will come soon, but since this is my KEEvents blog, I'll start with my studio/home office/(guest room).

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The room is, for the most part, the same set up as my office in St Louis. But the room has more wall space, and is slightly bigger, and somehow it just all works so much better. The desk that Anthony made me folds up and has it's place against the wall for when we have guests (a much more frequent occurrence in NYC!) There is a ton of natural light from the floor to ceiling window, and the closet is a dream.

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In St Louis, we had a bunch of built-in drawers and shelves in a small hallway off my office that I used for supply storage. Before the move, I went through all those "catch-all" spots and decided to come up with some more mobile storage solutions. I hit up the Container Store and organized all my supplies, and then purchased some new cabinets and shelving to house it all. Doing all this before the move was HUGE. I can't even imagine trying to figure all that out in our new space, especially after waiting two weeks for everything to arrive. I was able to unpack the neatly packed bins and boxes and set up the entire office in under an hour!_MG_2520

The view isn't exactly spectacular (we're on the 6th floor) but I can see the Hudson River and the sunset from my window.

_MG_2529My plant is SO happy in that window, and the ledge is perfect for temporary storage when we flip the room for guests!_MG_2526

The accordion doors on the closet is the perfect spot for a small display of my favorite projects. I still have a lot of friends and family who don't really understand what I do for a living, so I like to have a display up that's easy to point to and say, "this is what I do!"

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I love my new studio and our new apartment, and I've loved setting it up and making it feel like home. I'll share some more photos of the whole thing, just as soon as I get a chance to vacuum and take some photos!

Do you (or did you) live in New York? Where/what do we have to do? What's your favorite part of living in the big city?

More updates to come as we take this new adventure by the horns!

*New!* Foil Printing (and The Most Personal of Personal Stationery)

_MG_1900 Ok, ok. Foil Printing isn’t exactly new. But it’s new for Katherine Elizabeth Events and I couldn’t be more excited! Foil has been a hot stationery trend in the last couple of years, so quite honestly, I’m a bit behind in offering it to my clients. But in keeping with everything I do for my business, I was adamant about finding a way to do it completely in-house before offering it as an upgrade. From design to printing and assembly, and even the packaging of my orders as they go out the door, I do it all myself. I like knowing that I have full control over the quality of my product, and I have trouble trusting outside sources to take over any of my production. (I’m well aware this is going to have to change at some point soon, since I do only have two hands and I am a growing business. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.) After much research, some financial investment and lots of practice, I am officially adding foil as an upgrade option as of TODAY! Woohoo!!

I have been fortunate to have had a couple of guinea pig clients to try out some designs on and perfect my technique. The first piece I wanted to upgrade, obviously, was my own business card.

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I knew I wanted to keep the navy, but since I was using foil I was going to have to simplify the design. So, I got rid of the rose in the top corner and the square shape, and designed a more traditional card (boring, I know, but it is easier to read).

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After lots of different tries, I settled on a navy card with copper foil, duplexed with smooth white paper on the back and “papaya” digital ink. I love how it came out!

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Next up was the hubby’s business cards. He works full-time for Anhueser-Busch In-Bev, but in his spare time he cooks and writes a blog about what he’s been up to in the kitchen. He’s always telling people about his blog, but has never had any cards to hand out. I had to change that!

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I am obsessed with the black on black foil. I think it’s so badass and perfectly simple and masculine for Anthony and his blog.

My first official foil order was hand delivered this weekend (my friend Alex offered to be a guinea pig for me before I made it “public”). This girl is obsessed with her English Cream Retriever, Macy:Macy

She had talked about wanting stationery with a Macy motif for quite a while, so I decided to whip up a sample and surprise her one day. To say she was excited would be the understatement of the year. There were definitely some squeals.

We worked together to design her perfect stationery, complete with a gold foil Macy motif at the top, and a collection of colors befitting her personal style. The border is digitally printed on the front, and the whole card is duplexed (think double thick) on a matching colored backing. The gold confetti liners were sort of an afterthought, but I think they really take the set to the next level!

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The Macy stationery is now available on the Etsy shop! Don’t have a retriever? No problem! I’m hoping to add more to the official collection in the coming weeks, but I’d love to make something custom for you!

That Time I Made a Huge Life Change: One Year Later!

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boothOne year ago this week, I quit my full-time job. After uprooting my life to St Louis, I had started my third job in 9 months and I was miserable, again. I was working for an organization that overworked and undervalued its employees. I worked a Monday-Friday work week that frequently pushed into nights and weekends, and I didn't make nearly enough money to justify my frustration. I managed an enormous staff and hundreds of labor hours, but someone else held the purse strings and wrote my budget, leaving me with little say in how I actually managed my employees. Not enough time for proper training or supervision, not enough staff hours for the size of the business, and not enough management to handle emergencies. I had been seriously reconsidering taking the job after only 35 days, but I told myself to stick it out at least 3 months. JCC St Louis

My mom and sister came to visit last February (for wedding dress shopping!) and they got me talking about what I really wanted for my life. I talked about wanting to follow passion and creativity. They asked about my business--the hobby I had turned into Katherine Elizabeth Events. How about following that and really trying to make it a career? We talked it out, and over the next couple of weeks I kneaded the idea around enough that it turned into something. Anthony encouraged the challenge, and promised to support me if I had trouble paying the bills. 

 Around the same time I gave my two weeks' notice, I found out Paper Source (where I have always bought all my paper supplies) was opening a new store in St. Louis. Great news for my materials cost! I could buy from the store instead of paying shipping fees! And then I realized, what a great opportunity for a part-time job!  Turning a very part-time second source of income into a full-time career doesn't happen overnight. It's a lot like the chicken or the egg. You can't afford to quit working for someone else without having enough business to be full time, but you won't get the amount of business you need to be full time until you have the time to dedicate to building it. I decided a part-time job was the right next step, and I was hired at Paper Source for a 20 hr/week position.

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The combination of building my business and working at Paper Source part-time has been perfect. I've met some of my best friends in St. Louis at Paper Source. I've had the opportunity to work with creative people every day, it gets me out of the house a few days a week, and it ensures I've been able to pay the bills every month. I get a great discount on anything I'm not reselling (not my materials for my business, but there's SO many other things to use it on!). And the bonus is that I'm working in the same industry as KEEvents--keeping up with trends, and getting sneak peeks into what's coming down the pipeline from some of my competitors. At first I was afraid of Conflict of Interest, but rest assured--I've been entirely open about my business, and I make sure to keep the two separate. 

 The last 12 months have definitely been the most challenging, rewarding, and exciting of my life. I spent a significant portion of the year planning our wedding and learning a lot about the other side of the bride/vendor relationship. Some days I don't remember what it was like to be in the wedding industry before I was a Bride. I don't know how I did it! There are definite challenges to working from home and being your own boss that I didn't expect. It's not always as glamorous as it sounds (keep an eye out for a future post about this!) I spend way more time on finances and paperwork than I'd like, and this spring I've been so busy that I'm working early mornings, late nights, and almost every weekend. 

 For the first time in my life, I reap the direct benefit of my hard work and long hours, and that feels better than I ever could have imagined. Last week I looked back at the business goals I wrote down for myself a year ago, and I've reached Every. Single. One. And more. Today I closed out Q1 of 2015 with 55% of the gross revenue I had in ALL of 2014. Quarter 1 Last Year brought in 30% of my total revenue, but in 2015, I have enough orders in the pipeline for Q2 to surpass Q1. 

 But enough of the financial mumbo-jumbo. Business is on the up and up, and I have so many ideas for growth down the line. The possibilities are kind of endless, and I'm PUMPED.

Long story short, I'm happy at the close of every single day. My stress level, even when I have a lot going on, is completely manageable. I swear less and smile more. Many, many days my work doesn't feel like work. I honestly LOVE what I do. And that's so much more than I can say about where I was a year ago when I chose to make this huge change. 

 So... April 24, 2015 will be my last day at Paper Source. I will officially work full-time for myself at Katherine Elizabeth Events (with a couple of A Bride's Ally weddings to close out the spring in St. Louis). And June 1, Anthony and I will move back to the east coast and set up our home (and shop) in New York City. We are SO excited for the next adventure, and I am so proud of myself (which is not something I say often) for making this HAPPEN. Pinch me!  

If there is something in your life that you love doing, find a way to do it as more than just a "when I have free time" hobby. Our "free time" seems to disappear more and more every year, and if you neglect your passions, you won't ever be as happy as you could be. 

 What's your passion? How do you make time for it? 

 Have a great weekend! 

 XO, 

 Katie

  Katherine Elizabeth Events


The one GENIUS idea that makes the home office/guest room combo REALLY WORK.

_MG_1799By a show of hands, how many people out there have a home office that doubles as something else? Is it a guest room? I don't have any statistics on this, but I'd guess there are a lot of hands raised. If you're anything like me (working from a home office, in a relatively small apartment in the city), your office is also your Guest Room. It may act like a home office and feel like a home office, but on most days it looks like a cramped bedroom with a lot of crap lying around. I don't have a picture of it at the "end of the day" because I'd never publicly admit to how much of a slob I can be when I'm busy, so here are a couple pictures of it looking pretty. From the first month we lived in the apartment, in 2013:

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Our Office/Guest Room is 110 square feet (10X11), with four large windows (a MUST for productivity), and two sets of french doors and one more doorway not shown in the above photos. Needless to say, there is really only one wall of the room that can be classified as an office... four pieces of furniture all crammed together to store all my office supplies and equipment for my work.

The bed, which takes up 40% of the square footage, is situated in the center of the room, and really makes the room look and feel like a bedroom. (After a year of working here, I can proudly say I've never given into the urge to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon). The bed is also right across the narrow aisle from the neatly organized shelves and office fixtures, and takes the brunt of the mess (which coincidentally helps fight the nap urges). As I pull freshly inked pieces from my printer, they are placed on throw pillows to dry. I prep my Silhouette mats on the bedspread. When I get a delivery of supplies, reams of paper and stacks of envelopes find refuge at the foot of the bed until they're put to use. Oh, and I forgot to mention--the closet in this room is my husband's. So, when his laundry is lying in wait to be put away, guess where it sits? You got it--the bed.

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My desk in this room would be fantastic if my business was just graphic design. But because my business includes printing and full assembly of stationery and invitation suites, as well as the Paper Florist work, I simply need more work space.

Enter the dining room table. And the encroachment of my "personal" space. One of the biggest challenges of running a business out of your home is keeping your work and personal life in separate spaces. Especially when you're sharing your space with your significant other and/or your family, it is important to draw physical boundaries between "work" and "life", or you run the risk of your work equipment, supplies and product littering the entirety of your home. As my business has grown over the last year, so has the amount of physical space it takes up. Having company over for dinner or even just a drink means I have to sweep the apartment and toss everything back into the Office/Guest Room, which means it lands... dun dun duuuunnnnn... on the BED.

With my business continually growing, something had to be done. About six months ago, I had this idea to find some sort of folding or portable fixture that would fit OVER the guest bed, creating a counter-height island-style surface in the middle of the room. I wanted to be able to have a work space where supplies I use every day (paper cutter, score board, Silhouette mats, adhesive, etc) could stay day to day. Maintaining a tidy apartment meant taking out and putting away these supplies every single day, which may not seem like a lot, but added up to probably 2 hours a week of set-up and clean-up. ("Genuis", as mentioned in the headline of this post, may be a stretch.. but it is a true sanity saver..keep reading!)

Last week, I looked at the next two months of my production schedule and decided I couldn't wait any longer. If I was to survive March, April and May, I would need to find a table. I did a ton of research and found that nothing of the sort exists out there. Even if I were to build a table top and legs, it was proving difficult to find the right folding legs to fit over a full size bed properly and at the right height. I drafted a plan to build the whole thing out of wood and hinges, and asked Anthony to borrow his truck so I could pick up materials. And there the buck stopped. My husband comes from a family with three generations of talented carpenters--it's in his blood, and he's pretty freakin' handy. So he offered to "think about it" for a couple of days and work on it over the weekend.

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Fast forward to last Sunday morning in St Louis--a sunny 65 degrees, and a perfect day for some outdoor carpentry. He decided on a relatively simple design--a table top with solid boards as sides, on hinges that would fold inward so the whole thing would fold up to a mere 2 1/2 inches thick--perfect thickness to tuck behind a door or lean against a wall when we wanted to use the bed as a bed!

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The table is made to fit perfectly over the bed frame, and he even made it so it can overhang the end of the bed, which created a standing desk for me! It's made out of MDF, so it is not exactly light-weight. But what it lacks in the easy-to-move factor, it more than makes up for in the stability factor. This thing is SOLID. And it's plenty easy to move with two of us. The MDF is dense enough that it can butt up against the perpendicular side with a 90 degree hinge and stand very sturdily. Anthony offset one of the sides so the boards lay flat against each other when folded.

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_MG_1803Long story short, this is a game changer. My office feels like a real, functional design space. I've always loved the natural light in this room, and now I can really work in it. And the best part? We have our dining room table back! Work/Life balance is SO important, especially in a home office. This new work space allows me to truly spread out my work and have a solid surface to work on, all the while staying out of my "living" space. And I'm obsessed with the height of the table. At 3 feet high, I can stand while I work and not have unhealthy back pain at the end of the day, and it's also the perfect height for our bar-height chairs if I need to sit!

What do you think? Comment below if you'd like more information about the construction specs or a tutorial on how this was built! (I'll ask the hubby to write up some instructions) Katherine Elizabeth Events

The Best Kind of Winter Blues: Roses and Calla Lily Bouquet

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_MG_1715 I'm not about to whine about the winter in St. Louis, don't worry. We cannot hold a candle (or a snow shovel?) to the winter they're having up where I'm from in Boston. But, most US cities have experienced some pretty frigid temperatures lately, and St. Louis is certainly among them. As I sit here bundled up inside with a solid winter head cold, it's a brisk "feels like" 8 degrees outside with occasional flurries, and temps are expected to drop to around zero overnight. Lovely.

Luckily, this time of year is what we in the biz like to call "crunch time". (The Breakup reference? Anyone?) Seriously, I'm BUSY. Like, I-forgot-to-brush-my-hair-today kind of busy. Which is amazing for so many reasons that deserve another post entirely. Being swamped with work in the depths of winter means I'm never at a loss for things to do while I'm stuck inside for hours at a time. And for me, that means opportunities to be creative every day, and more and more often it means stepping away from my computer screen to spend time working with my hands on my floral collection. I am so grateful to have made this huge change in my life a year ago--there is nothing like spending the day making a beautiful paper bouquet of flowers to fight off the winter blues.

Check out my most recent bouquet that shipped out this week. I love the color combination! I also did a matching boutonniere, but forgot to snap a pic before it shipped out. Carolyn's wedding isn't until the end of April, but her flowers are already delivered and ready to go!

_MG_1718_MG_1714 _MG_1720I loved this bouquet so much, I listed it as another sample on the Etsy shop!

Need flowers for your wedding or your dining room table? Have you considered paper? Contact me to place your order!

5 Reasons why I'm a terrible Blogger (and why I love lists)

So I love lists. Some might say I'm obsessed. My entire Notes app in my phone is just list after list after list, and most of my personal Google Drive is just spreadsheet after spreadsheet (which are really just more organized, detailed lists). If I'm having a particularly stressful day, the best way I find to immediately relieve stress is to write down all the things I don't want to forget, which is usually what causes stress for me. Once it's down on paper, I'm good. Whatever tiny little thing I just remembered to remind myself not to forget is now written down and locked in.

Lately, I've been thinking about how I can get myself to be a better blogger. I know I have a lot to share with the world, I know I'm a decent writer, and I know it's great for business. But HOW do I get myself to make time and space for writing on a regular basis without it feeling forced?

I think this calls for a list. And what better way to kick off my new activity (I know, we'll see...) than to follow in the footsteps of many a blogger before me.... ["Top 10 things you only know if you have a baby boy", "Top 10 Reasons to love (insert city/town/area of the world here)", "5 Easy Ways to Add Spark back into your marriage"]. Here goes.

5 Reasons why I'm a terrible Blogger:

1. I don't really read blogs. There, I said it. I stumble upon blogs. I read my cousin's blog. Pinterest (which I'm sort of over these days) directs me to blogs. I'm a big fan of photographer Michelle Gardella's blog, but I admit to only reading it a few times a year. It's just not my thing.. there are so many people out there who write, and many who actually have found a way to make money doing it, and so I am sort of a distant admirer of them. I have friends who have a daily routine of catching up with their favorite blogs like my fiance catches up with the news. I'm just not that into it. Obviously this poses a problem for me.. how am I going to get into blogging if I am not a blog reader? It's like trying to write a novel if you're not into books. Huh?

2. I don't have time. Ok, so this is everyone's excuse for everything, I know. I don't have time to cook, I don't have time to work out, I don't have time to clean the house, do the laundry, call my grandmother. It's usually bullshit and we all know it. How many hours do I spend mindlessly staring at my phone... on the couch, waiting in line, waiting for the coffee to percolate...? [Sidebar: My latest disgust with myself is in how much time I spend on my phone in the morning when I wake up. I keep telling myself I need to leave my phone charging in another room at night and buy a real life alarm clock. Maybe I should actually do it.] So maybe, just maybe, if I took some of those minutes out of my week and wrote a post, I would totally have the time. But then I have to ask myself, would I enjoy that?

3. My Blog Name. So, a little background (unless you've read the 3 posts I've written in the last 2 years and know this already). The blog idea came to me when I was starting to think about going into business in the wedding industry. I wanted a place where I could collect my work, sort of like a portfolio. So I got going taking pictures and telling stories, and.. then.... I..... stopped. I photographed and told stories about maybe 5 things I had created and then I stopped keeping up with it. Oops. And so the blog name, "Handmake and Tell" (which, by the way, I still think is super cute) is purely related to my crafting and DIY inner self, and not so much related to the business I now want to support by blogging (even though that part of who I am is WHY I am in business...) So, what to do? I could rename it and start over, but that just feels like every journal I started in grade school. I'd write two entries and the next Christmas I'd get a new journal and say, "This is the year I'm going to keep a diary".. and so on. I could re-brand the blog and change the tagline to something wedding-related or at least something that is more generic. I still love the idea of having a crafting blog. It's something I love, love, love to do, and after my own wedding is over, I'll have SO many DIY stories to tell. Or I could just. not. blog. I think option two is what I'll try to go with, but stay tuned..

4.  (I'm only at number 4?) No, but seriously. It's not that I don't have time, it's just that I am not great at setting a time limit for writing. I've been writing this for 30 minutes already, I haven't picked out a photo to include with it, and I am already stressing that I have to wrap this thing up and get to "work". I think the secret here is to see this writing as part of my business; part of my "work". Part of working for myself is finding ways to distinguish between work and life, and reminding myself that some of (ok, a lot of) the things I do for my work are actually FUN and that's OK. That's why I'm doing this! So even though writing this blog post is (ok, sort of) fun, and it takes up some time, it is still "work" and should be counted as part of my workday. Ok, I might be able to live with this.

5. What's my Message? What do I want this blog to be? I'm slightly obsessed with branding, and I really don't want to just start blabbing on here about the random stuff happening in my life. That's what Facebook is for, right? If this is going to help me take my business to the next level, I am going to have to have a message. Obviously I can blog about all different kinds of things on here and have them relate to each other in some way, but WHAT is that relationship? DIY? Weddings? Creativity? I think the re-branding of the blog is the first step in this process, and then I can have a clear answer when I ask myself, Does this belong on the blog? Because right now, I'd have no idea.

Well, that wasn't so bad. Maybe I'll just start with some "list" posts. Stick with the comfort zone until this post-writing thing becomes habit.

Wish me luck!

Launching the biz full time

Today marks the fourth day that I can say "I own my own business" when someone asks me what I do for a living. I have to say, it has it's challenges (I haven't showered, worked out or eaten a full meal in 3 days) but overall it feels pretty awesome to be doing what I love, and working these long hours for none other than yours truly. Day One: The Website. I took a day off a couple weeks ago (used up some sick time before I quit my day job) and spent some time getting started on a website. I've been on Etsy for a year, but my niche (and the most fun part) of my business is creating brand new designs for my clients from scratch. Etsy certainly serves a purpose, and without it I wouldn't have the confidence, the platform or the small savings I have now, to be able to try this full time. Through Etsy, I primarily sell designs I've already completed for past clients, which I can easily reformat for new customers who find me online. Again--it serves a purpose, but it's not the heart of my business. SO, I wanted to create a website where I could really explain to my potential clients what it is that I do, show off my previous work, and sell why working with me is super special :). I started a couple weeks ago by purchasing the domain and getting a feel for GoDaddy's website designer. (Yes, I know I live with a talented web guru. I wanted to do this myself, and he has enough on his plate. So I went with the dummy tool). I didn't get very far before I had to return to work  so this Monday it was full steam ahead. I think I spent 7 hours straight getting it 90% of the way there. 

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Day Two: The Portfolio. A project I've been meaning to get going on for a year (Yet another reason why I needed to commit to this full time). I am participating in the St. Louis Off-White Wedding Show in a month, and I'll need some physical materials for my booth. The portfolio serves two purposes--it shows off my work in the physical form, and it also provided me with an opportunity to re-photograph my items for the new website and Etsy shop. I picked up an 11x17 portfolio from the art store and, after spending 5 hours printing and assembling my entire portfolio of samples (impressive, if I might say so), started laying out page by page. It LOOKS AWESOME. And a solid 12 hour work day of FUN.

Day Three: Photography and Web Content. I spent the morning finding the perfect lighting in my apartment (on a cloudy day, this was not easy) for a photo shoot for my newly assembled portfolio. Then two hours of editing and re-sizing. Then two hours of adding all this content to the website, re-sizing again, re-formatting the website, re-editing, re-sizing, re-formatting... you get the idea. I capped the day off at 9:30pm with an ice cold Gin & Tonic and finally found the inspiration I'd been waiting for to write the welcome note on my landing page.

Day Four: Work for a new client, Website finishing touches, and Shopping. Ok, the third part isn't work-related. But I need some retail therapy after 3 and a half days of solid productivity. I spent the morning tweaking Jen & Andy's wedding invitation for a new Etsy client, sent off the designs, made some copy edits to the website (Thanks Mom and Stacy!), edited and re-sized some more photos (enough already!) and now I'm starting my commitment to keeping this blog current.

Build website, CHECK.

Build portfolio, CHECK.

New Photos, CHECK.

Update blog, CHECK.

Time to take advantage of working on my own time. Shopping awaits.