PROJECT VINEYARD VISTA

This year, I have a special project that I'm excited to share with you! You may have heard that my husband and I sold our home earlier this year. We've been  t e c h n i c a l l y homeless this summer. In early January, we had an opportunity to talk with longstanding friends of our family regarding their parents home that they were preparing to sell. The home just happens to be on a private drive and one house away from my sister (along with other friends living on the same drive) and directly across a small valley from my parents home. With our eyes having been constantly on that area and the house and land itself being absolutely ideal, we knew we needed to jump on the opportunity. The home happens to be in a great location in our city, just minutes from the middle of town, but with some of the rural neighborhood feels and space to run. And what's more fun for a designer, than an exterior and interior renovation?! 

So the home sits on a 3.5 acre lot with a beautiful view to the west and a gorgeous backyard and rolling field and valley behind it. I have this vision that someday the backyard will be used for many parties under the stars and that the field would be full of beautiful grape vines. Hence, our Vineyard Vista! The wheels have been turning and I've been working this summer on the concept boards and plans. I'll share more soon!

PROJECT VINEYARD VISTA

Via Pinterest

I've been working my way up to showcasing my projects as of late - though it's been a busy year and I haven't documented some of the smaller projects I've worked on. I, personally, only take on a couple special side projects per year as you'll typically find me working as an interior architect for a local design firm and where we work on everything from small residential design to large commercial spaces. There's not much time for anything else in my life while also running the creative and customer service departments of Creative Maison by evening.

However, I'm H O P I N G (that's a very optimistic 'hoping' if you didn't catch that) to change that just slightly and ever so often, to show you what I'm up to!

I thought I'd share a sneak peek of what's to come! No worries - you'll get more of the low-down in a few weeks on this special project. But here's the very very beginning concept stage of Project Vineyard Vista's Exterior Renovation! All of the images below are conceptual images and I'm excited to tell you more and share photos of the actual home soon!

Via Pinterest

Via Pinterest

Via Pinterest

Via Garden Studio Design


LITTLE LUNCHES

Yay for the start of school! When my daughter began preschool two years ago, we would send lunch everyday due to the half-day program and no proper cafeteria for lunchtime for those that stayed after the program. After two years, I feel like I've got the routine down! So this year, my daughter has begun Kindergarten (big stuff!) and now has the choice between school lunches (I know what you're thinking, but her private school lunch choices are actually great!) and taking her lunch. I'm not really sure which one we'll do more than the other, but I still love sending her lunch with her. I like knowing how much she's eaten that day and let's face it, the control of what she eats. Ha! She's always had friends in her classroom with peanut allergies so her lunches are always nut-free. In conversation, other moms and I have discussed what we send and how to easily pack lunches. So I thought I share here in case it's helpful to any of you!

I don't know about you, but at one point, I was practically feeding the ziplock monster at the dump from packing a lunch for Elaina. I felt funny sending two pieces of cucumber and carrots in a whole snack bag. We went through 200 snack ziplocks like they were flying out of the box. It's not the money, because they're like $2 a box. It's the waste! Yuck! So I finally invested in a stainless steel bento lunchbox. When Elaina went to Grandma's house, we sent her with a plastic bento full of food for the refrigerator, but there weren't enough compartments and there was no way to cool the box because it didn't fit in a lunchbox. So we used ziplocks even then. 

I found this great box on Amazon (LunchBots brand) in the $30-40 range after passing on the similar Pottery Barn bento with lunchbox. We didn't need another lunchbox tote so I didn't feel the need to drop $50 on one.  I thought $30 was a little pricey but being that we went through $4 in snack baggies, I figured eventually it would pay for itself. And it did! Our stainless steel box is still going strong two years later. And we're not dumping ziplocks every day. (I realize that me as one person not using as many ziplocks may not make a difference. But I still felt wasteful using them.) 

Lunch packing routine changed slightly after the first few weeks, but it's so easy! And super fast when you plan ahead. I thought I'd share in case anyone needed ideas. We had been packing 2-3 weeks worth of food in ziplocks and storing them in bins in the refrigerator. That made it super easy to grab them, pack her lunch and go. The baggies are really the only downfall to that. And it didn't really make lunch time easier for Elaina - my little pokey eater. Now, I've got tried and true foods that I know will fill her up and I can buy her lunch groceries once every two weeks as most of them will last that long!

Elaina's typical lunch consists of:
Sliced lunch meat/chicken/or leftover meat from dinner - occasionally a sandwich
Grapes (always) and a second or third fruit (something in season)
Carrots and Cucumbers, sometimes Broccoli (which I cut up and store in containers once every two weeks)
Cheese - Usually mozzarella string cheese or cheese cubes
Cheddar Bunnies snack crackers or Veggie Straws
Dannon Simply Yogurt Smoothies (or we like the Simply Strawberry Yoplait Yogurts typically)
Mini box of raisins - Or other dried/freeze-dried fruit
And lastly, I throw in a boiled egg most days and something leftover that she enjoyed at dinner the previous night. 
Then she gets a pouch of water thrown in the lunch box. 

And here it is all cozy and ready to eat!
Oh, and her extra was the previous nights French Toast! :) She loved it! 


So here's what we buy:



And it's stored like this: 


PRODUCT HIGHLIGHT - WATERCOLOR PET PRINTS


Raise your hand if your a fellow dog-lover! Dogs really are the most playful pet and everything from their loyalty down to their oblivious slobbering all over us for centuries, they really are mans' best friend.

This year, Creative Maison turned a corner by growing our third section (but equally beloved), of the triad that is Creative Maison - CM Paperie and Gifts. We've been working on products for our customers over the past few months that are simple, clean, meaningful and pocketbook-friendly.

We wanted to find a way to celebrate your extra kid, fishing buddy and under-table vacuum in a way that stays remains true with our goals as a shop and is unique for you.

So, if you're in the neighborhood for a gift for the dog-lover in your life, check out our watercolor pet prints! With 32 available breeds to choose from (more in the future), you're sure to find one for you or that special someone. These are perfect to frame in the mudroom dog's room or to keep handy on your desk at work.

I'm super excited to bring a few more gifts in to the mix, and we've just begun!

As always, a small portion of your purchase from the Creative Maison Paperie and Gifts shop, goes to our sponsor kiddo through Compassion International.




PRODUCT HIGHLIGHT - GROOMSMEN PROPOSALS


Every few years or so, new wedding trends/traditions emerge forth, giving wishful brides and bridezillas everywhere even more to plan for.

Today, we're talking Bridesmaid and Groomsmen proposals!

For this episode, we'll take the pressure off of our beloved bride and focus on the dudes.
So now, not only does the Future Mr. find himself proposing to the Future Mrs.; he also has to gets to plan to propose to his groomsmen as well. Never fear young sir. We've got you covered with the most simple and classic proposal you'll need with our Instant Download and Print "Suit Up" cards! Whether you pair the card with a cool gift or not, you can keep your manhood in check and assure your Future Mrs. that your proposal is Insta-worthy. Suit Up man!

BIRCHBOX - JANUARY


Let's just start off saying, this January's Birchbox was awesome. It contains every product that I usually love receiving in my box and I'm enjoying using the products! Again, I never claim to be a pro when it comes to makeup or beauty, but I do like to share my experiences and how much Birchbox really does benefit me. Since joining back with Birchbox, I haven't purchased any makeup products in a retail store. I'm usually looking for a eyeliner pen, etc, but since I've gotten two in the last two months, I'm set for a bit. When I want to mix up my makeup or eye makeup a bit, I pull out a sample shadow or sample palette. And I love trying new products without the commitment of buying a full size product, and I've found a few items that I would actually spend money on (the eyeliner pens for sure!).

My freebie this month was the Milk Makeup Highlighter which I REALLY LIKE! And I'm pretty sure it's the full size, and looks like it will go a long way for me. The freebie alone, was well over worth the $10 subscription. 

I pulled the descriptions below from Birchbox's product descriptions and reference the full size product cost and my thoughts are italicized.

Milk Makeup Highlighter - Full-size $24
Sweep on this flattering head-to-toe highlighter wherever you need subtle, dewy sheen. Hydrating ingredients like mango butter, peach nectar, and avocado oils will quench skin all day long. Bonus: ​Milk Melt Technology means the product melts on contact for easy application, no brushes required.​ Really like this one, though, I'm a sucker for any type of highlighter. I do wish it had just a little more shimmer to it, but it's great! I still use my beauty blender to blend it in, though it may not be needed.

Klorane Dry Shampoo - Full-size $20
Made with softening oat milk extracts, plus corn and rice starches, this ultrafine powder spray leaves nary a trace of residue behind. It performs a heroic array of functions: It soaks up oil and sweat from your roots and helps revive second day hair, amps up volume and helps extend the life of blowouts, and can be used as a texturing aide when you're trying to perfect a tricky updo.
I really liked the Dry Shampoo. I wish there was a bigger can included because I only used it a couple times and couldn't decide if it was worth it or if I really liked it enough to buy again. Just a bit bigger would have helped me. 

Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner - Full-size $18
Features a pen-style applicator that's completely goof proof, allowing you to control the thickness of the line you create and vary the intensity of your look. Plus, the fadeproof formula will hold up all day and night. Beauty editors adore it too: This liner is a Teen Vogue Beauty Awards winner.
Well, I'm still using my pen liner from last month because I like it so much, so I haven't tried this one. As long as it's easily applied (I don't have the steadiest of hand when applying eye-liner usually), I'm sure I'll like it.

Wilma Schumann Skincare Hydrating Collagen Eye Pads - Full-size $18
The hydrating pads plump and restore the youthful appearance around your eyes and enhance eye contour naturally without any scary needles. These easy-to-use beauty wonders repair sensitive skin around your eyes after time in the sun, and help brighten eyes.
These kind of make me laugh, because, you know, collagen without the needles... I haven't tried them yet, but I guess this is the "fun" extra I wouldn't ever buy, but would treat myself with the sample. They could prove me wrong.

Shiseido Perfect Cleansing Oil - Full-size $32
This isn’t just any oil—its breakthrough formula can be used on wet or dry skin to efficiently whisk away all traces of makeup and dirt from deep within pores (even waterproof mascara). Plus, it helps maintain skin’s moisture levels and rinses clean to reveal a dewy complexion.
Okay, I love love Shiseido. I've used their cleanser before - the eye and lip makeup remover. I have to say, I'd spend money on this. The smell is great and it feels super soft and light weight. I remember adding the eye and lip makeup remover to a container full of homemade cleansing wipes. I was sad when I ran out. This cleansing oil is actually pretty similar from what I can tell.

Chella Eyebrow Defining Gel - Full-size $18
It’s simple: The gel lifts the brow hairs and locks them (and anything you may have applied underneath) into place for all-day arches. Plus, shiny brows give the illusion of density, which makes them look fuller without all the work. It’s the perfect low-maintenance option for daytime or weekends.
I've never focused on my brows until more recently, so it's been nice to try products that I've not been exposed to. I've been using this defining gel every few days. It's lightweight and doesn't cake which is nice. I wouldn't buy a full-size because I prefer a brow pencil, but it's been nice to test out.

So there we have January's box. If you're like me and need a mix-up without spending too much, but don't know where to begin, consider joining!

And if you're a newbie, the promo for February is a free full-size Lipstick Queen Hello Sailor Lipstick and pocket mirror with promo code "LIPQUEEN"
Join at www.birchbox.com

SHOP CREATIVE MAISON

It's time for a shop update! Most of you know that I have my hands in many buckets. When people ask about Creative Maison, I often start with explaining the trinity of creative outlets that Creative Maison (remember, "creative maison" = " creative house") was built upon. Interior, Images (I, too, enjoy being behind the camera), and Graphics. I love the occasional chaos it brings and how it always seems to keep me on my toes. I often have people telling me that if I just focused on one aspect of Creative Maison, I could go "all in" per say and work on that craft to near perfection - thus building a rock solid brand on one product or one creative outlet. I do realize the beauty of the idea, and I'm not saying I don't ever consider dropping everything and just focusing on one area. However, that's never been the goal. I wouldn't be myself without each outlet. From the day the idea of Creative Maison came to me several years ago, it just made sense that all three would be there. It may be a rebellious standpoint in the small business world, but somehow, I don't really let it affect me. Thus, I have to make sacrifices. I do what I can. I focus on each individual craft during different times of the year when all of the others are taking less of my time. And that brings us around to the shop update!

The early months of the year are much calmer on the photo shoot and project fronts. So I focus on graphics and give more love to my Etsy shop. I work on orders all year long of course, but now is the time where I build my products, focus on branding updates and any other new products to be added. I've been thankful this year that the Creative Maison Shop has been growing, on and off Etsy. I'm so grateful for each and every type of person I get to work with. Whether working with a bride-to-be, maid of honor, bridesmaid, couple, etc, I really enjoy be able to chat with them and sharing in the fun of planning their day (it's definitely the event planner in me), and giving that personal touch that every person deserves when making a purchase from our shop.

That being said, I've worked on some re-branding this year, keeping the best selling products and adding a few new types of products. I'm SUPER excited to be growing our wedding suites designs which I'm currently working on as we speak (well, you know, as YOU sleep at night really). I wanted to share what's going on and a few new products!

First, and foremost, new designs are making their way in to the Creative Maison shop! New designs are my fav. I love working with artists, watercolor and blooms in many different ways to create new invitation designs. I'm have this obsession with typography, that always gets fed by new designs. Below is only one of our many new designs on the way in to the shop over the next couple months! Keep checking back!



Up next, is a "new" permanent product. Maids of honor or bridesmaids planning wedding or bridal showers and ask me all the time about adding coordinating recipe cards to use at the shower or send with the shower invitation, so I've been adding these on all year to many orders. I listened to the need and decided to add a permanent recipe card section to the shop. My goal is to always offer a coordinating card with every invitation. And these are so easy! Once purchased, you immediately get the file with two cards perfectly laid out and ready to print, with cut lines for a quick and easy prep time. I, personally, love love this idea. Recipe cards were handed out at my shower almost seven years ago, and I still use them! And what a better way for a bride to reminisce on her shower theme than to have the beautiful blooms on the recipe cards that she'll always treasure.  Oh, and advice cards for baby showers are on the way as well!



Next, we have a completely new product to my shop. Customizable Watercolor Placemats! Personally, I love a great placemat for my daughter. They A.L.W.A.Y.S. help with clean up after a meal and protects our beautiful wooden table from water marks, paint, coloring and anything else our daughter works on at the table. And the prints I have available, are just precious! These make a great gift too!


Lastly, for now - MENUS! These yet another product that I've found myself doing so often. Again, I decided to jump in and make a permanent section for menus as well. Only a couple themes are in the shop at the moment, but we are working on getting that fixed!


Take some time and browse my shop! All items are fully customizable for birthdays, showers, wedding, baptisms, etc. The sky is the limit! 


ONE WORD 2017


Happy New Year to all! There's something so refreshing about opening a new calendar, a new start - a new year. 

When I began this post, I honestly didn't have a plan. I thought I'd maybe just write a quick "Happy New Year" post and explain to my readers about the year to come with Creative Maison (which will still happen, but not quite this week!). I wrote the post title and typed the first two sentences, paused writing and went about checking my email. I received an email from one of my best friends, a lovely woman with whom I've grown up with, titled ''The Power of One Word for 2017.'' The title sounded familiar. I opened it and read. The email was a reminder email about a ''new year'' devotional she had read several years ago. Here's a bit about the devotion in her words "about a simple discipline of developing one word to focus on for the entire year and how it can change you and your way of thinking, bringing clarity, passion and purpose. It cuts through distraction and keeps us focused on what really matters.'' This devotion began a yearly email chain within a small group of people since 2014. I wish I could say I remember which words I had chosen or felt called to choose for myself these last couple years, though I have to say I wasn't focused on committing to the "one word" for several of those years. I hadn't truly seen the beauty in the idea; until now. Here's to hoping she'll forgive me for being so distracted the last couple years. 

I thought about how appropriate this is to chat about this for the New Year. And I'm anxious to hear from you too!

One word as a guide and ''brand'' for you and your life that year. There are no other rules, so to speak, only that you write it down and begin to dwell upon that word throughout your every day life this year. You could use it as a journal or photo journal platform if you're into that sort of thing, or just simply remember it and think about how it pertains to you this year. And it's supposed to be fun, eye-opening and mind-changing!

I've never been a New Years resolution person. I firmly believe that if I want to make a change, I don't need a new year to do so (though I totally understand that some people find meaning in making changes for a new year). If I want to change something in my life or attitude, I tend to choose to start it right away. Likely because I'm an impatient person! However, the "one word" concept, is something I could totally get behind. I'll likely follow this particular devotion guidance and pray throughout the year that God will mold me this year by using that ''one word'' as a mirror for myself, to shape me and showing me ways in which I need change or guidance. However, if you aren't comfortable with the devotion/prayer format, you could still very well choose a word for yourself and examine how it changes your ways of thinking and your actions through the year. I think it's beneficial either way and it might surprise you! 

The word I've chosen, "balance,'' began to hit me this past Fall. My husband and I had a discussion about life and how well (and not well) we are balancing all of the ''stuff'' of life. There were some successes, but with how crazy this year was - with the beginning of the Creative Maison brand, the first exam of my certification process, family happenings and full-time careers, there were also many balancing defeats. We truly take one day at a time in our family. After this discussion, we really began to examine ourselves and what matters to us. 
There are many definitions for "balance." I like them all, and "balance'' really speaks to me in all aspects of my life right now, but I wanted to share these two. 

''Balance"
noun: an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something 
to remain upright and steady
verb: keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall

So my homework is done. I'm set to begin the challenge of finding the meaning of  "balance'' in my life in 2017!

I think it would be fascinating to hear from you all about which ''one word'' you would choose for 2017. I'd love to hear about why you've chosen the word or how you felt called to your "one word" for this year. Don't be afraid. Go ahead and keep it light and fun or heavy and serious - whatever floats your boat! Feel free to comment below or in any social media feed linked to this post! 

Also, thank you so much to the readers who have already subscribed! Keep them coming! I'd love to you all updated as soon as my newsletter begin! 
As a gift to all of you (and as a bit of a teaser for future monthly giveaways), I want to share this
free calendar wallpaper with you all! Right-click on the image to save it! 


And save this image for your iphone/smart phone wallpaper... Hold down on the image and save it to your phone!