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In DIY, Freebies, Graphic Design, Holidays on
February 16, 2018

Happy Chinese New Year 2018! (FREEBIE!)

 

Xīn Nián Kuài Lè! Happy Chinese New Year friends! It’s the Year of the Dog!

As an ABC (American Born Chinese), I love sharing my heritage with my non-Asian friends and now that I’m a parent, I want to definitely pass down the cultural traditions to my half-Chinese kiddos.

I think it’s safe to say every Chinese kid always looked forward to getting red envelopes! These envelopes were filled with money, usually LOTS of money! I didn’t really get allowance growing up so you can imagine how excited I got when I received red envelopes from my parents and other adult family members! So, I decided to make a red envelope printable so YOU TOO can get excited! Unless you live near an Asian market, it’s a little hard to find these envelopes but now you can print them from your home!

Download this FREEBIE that comes in two color options by clicking here. Happy Chinese New Year! 🙂

In Birthday, DIY, Graphic Design, Parties, Silhouette on
January 31, 2018

Camp Ethan (aka 5th Birthday Party)

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you probably saw little sneak peeks of Ethan’s 5th birthday party decor in posts and Instastories! Birthday party over the weekend was a success! Last year’s theme was dinosaurs and this year’s theme was camping/hiking/adventure/the great outdoors/all of the above! I like to do things more uniquely (I blame it on the only child syndrome) so I thought getting his friends together for a hike at his favorite hiking spot would be special and different. It’s always a gamble with a winter birthday but we sure lucked out! Weather was perfect! 75 degrees of beautiful sunshine!

 

 

As guests arrived at the trailhead, Ethan passed out little scavenger hunt snack bags to his buddies. This simple DIY project was created using a regular home printer and small kraft bags. You can certainly use colored bags to match party colors. I created the design/list with a design software program, loaded the paper bag one at a time, and sent it to my printer. I loved the little mountain graphic so much that I decided to make it his party “logo” and used it throughout the party decor. A great way to create visual cohesion!

The hike portion of his party was a little crazy with 15 kids, of which 8 were 4/5 year olds running WAY ahead of the group! Then you had the “me-do-it” two-year-olds wanting to walk the trail but at half the older kids’ pace. Fortunately, we all hiked the canyon part of the trail together and all the kids did great scaling the steep canyons! At the very top is a viewpoint overlooking a lagoon and ocean views in the distance. Totally worth the hike up! The kids LOVED it!

After the hike, we headed to the party space half a mile away for some pizza, small bites, and of course cupcakes! In a previous post, I shared about a DIY doormat I created to greet our arriving guests. Welcome happy campers!

The majority of the party design and decor was incorporated in the party space, which was the perfect size and layout for our group! The kids played in the main party room while the parents had the option of also hanging out in the adjacent lounge area.

As with all of my parties, I start my planning with a focal piece (aka the main party table). I was inspired by super cute camping style wrapping paper by Averie Lane that I spotted at a local makers market. I knew framing these sheets would help “fill” the table in both directions, horizontally and vertically. When I saw the black and white buffalo check pattern, I fell in love with it! It is on trend and immediately incorporated that pattern into the design palette. The party colors were: black, white, various shades of green, and brown.

 

 

Party planning can get expensive so if you can get some stuff for free, dooooo it! For example, in December when we bought our Christmas tree, I picked up leftover cut tree slices in various shapes and sizes. On our frequent neighborhood walks, I gathered pinecones. All of these were great pieces that brought a nature element to the party decor!

 

 

One of my crafting goals this year was to learn how to make and decorate with royal icing. I don’t normally make cookies without a reason so this was the perfect (and also a little risky) opportunity to try it! Luckily, they turned out pretty good! I used Wilton’s Moss Green gel food coloring for the #5 cookies. With leftover royal icing, I added little dots which created a fun textural look. To carry the buffalo check pattern, I painted horizontal and vertical stripes using Wilton’s Black gel food coloring mixed with vanilla extract. Pretty and tasty cookies! Check that one off my crafting bucket list!

 

 

For the kids’ table, I kept the decor simple because A) the kids will undoubtedly make a mess within 7.32 seconds of sitting down and B) we would be doing a craft later and didn’t want to crowd the table space. I had the light bulb idea of having my printer print animal tracks on a table runner (cut from a $1.50 Michaels’ kraft paper roll) but alas, I am just full of great ideas that just aren’t possible. Apparently my printer can only print sheets, not rolls. LAME. Well, I ain’t letting that stop me in my tracks (ha!), so I grabbed a Sharpie and black markers and colored in my own animal footprints! Take that HP Officejet printer!

 

 

Sometimes the simplest decor pieces are made with stuff already found at home! I saw these cute paper tents on Pinterest and with the help of my handy hot glue gun, I glued a piece of scrapbook paper to trimmed bamboo skewers. So simple and totally fits the theme!

I have two Tolsby frames from Ikea that is seen used all the time for events and weddings. It’s a great way to provide information like menu items or table numbers and pull in theme elements. In this case, I didn’t have anything important to share with the guests. They are kids 5 years old and under after all! And they can’t even read! Ha! I used the frames as a way to pull in theme colors and another excuse to repeat the logo.

 

 

Last but not least, the party favors! I try to focus on this piece a lot for kid parties primarily because it’s very common to get goodie bags with party store items that I end up throwing away after a month. Confession: I have thrown away some favors right after getting home from the party. T-shirt party favors is actually the first thing that popped to mind for Ethan’s party. I think it’s because it’s all I remember from going to tons of summer camps as a kid. Shirts are from Jiffyshirts.com, which has a great selection, the best pricing, and fast shipping! I will definitely use them again. My Silhouette CAMEO cut out the decals which I then ironed onto the shirts.

While the kids didn’t wear these during the party despite my husband’s request, we did pass these out as kids headed out from the party. Again, I reused the mountain logo with a little modification and added “Camp Ethan” in very tiny font on the side of the mountain. I’m hoping these will last for awhile until the kids outgrown them!

All in all, this might be my favorite birthday party I’ve thrown for my kids. Loved being outdoor with Ethan and his buddies! Happy 5th Birthday E!! We can’t wait to see all the awesome things you do this year!

 

In DIY, Graphic Design, Holidays on
November 25, 2017

DIY Envelope Addressing

 

One my “crafty” bucket list goals is to learn modern calligraphy. I took a shot at it earlier this year and even practiced a bit on my whirlwind trip to Paris…how romantic and idyllic does that sound? Well, despite being a creative person, I have a long ways to go. It definitely is one of those “practice makes perfect” kind of activity. And I just need to make time for the practicing to happen.

Until then, I am going to stick to my secret weapon when it comes to addressing my Christmas card envelopes. The irony is that my secret weapon really isn’t that secretive. You probably have it in your own home. I’m talking about a printer! 😱 Yup, I have used my home printer to address all my special occasion envelopes. Hooray, no more hand cramping that leads to sloppy handwriting!

In addition to a printer, you just need either Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, or if you’re fancy-schmancy, Adobe InDesign. I have a PC so I can only really vouch for Word and InDesign but all three should work just fine.

Below are the basic steps:

  1. First, set up your file to match the size of your envelope.
  2. Then add text (aka your recipient’s mailing address) using your favorite font(s) and playing around with the formatting.
  3. Once you are happy, insert your envelope into your printer paper/envelope tray. NOTE: you may need to flip it upside down depending on how your tray feeds your envelope.
  4. Do a test print to see how your text lines up and make any adjustments if needed.
  5. Once you have your finalized style, print again and the rest of your envelopes.

If you’re like me, you have a long list of addresses. No problem! You can use a “merge” feature that will auto-fill your addresses so that you are not typing (or copying/pasting) each one in. NOTE: After your program merges and autofills, I do recommend going through each record to make sure everything looks right.

For MS Word, check out this youtube video with step-by-step instructions on  using the MS Word’s “Mail Merge” feature.

For InDesign, watch this video to see how to use the “Data Merge” feature (different name across programs but all the same function).

 

You can even have a little fun and add color plus some vector graphics on your envelope template. The possibilities are truly endless! These little design elements will surely make your envelope and Christmas photo card stand out! 🎄

 

 

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In Birthday, Graphic Design, Parties on
November 16, 2017

Hubs’ Surprise Birthday Party

For the past couple months, I have been sneakily planning my hubs’ 35th birthday party. I really couldn’t wait until his 40th to throw a big bash. Having seen how much has changed (euphemism for how much we’ve aged) since having kids, I feel that a celebration midway through a decade is worth celebrating!

As usual, I start every party planning with a theme of some sort so that there is some cohesion throughout the party. For this particular one, I chose to (lightly) focus on the decade my husband, Ryan, was born…the rad 80s! I had an 80s pop Pandora station playing in the background, a DIY “Totally Tubular Dude!” light box sign, and some Rubik’s cubes scattered as decor. I even made goodie bags for the kids that each included a mini Rubik’s cube and a slinky!

The centerpiece of this party was the DIY chili bar because food is of utmost importance! Our guests ranged from babies to preschoolers to adults so I felt that the chili bar would work for all. Would you believe me that the first type of bar I was thinking for a party was a poke bar?? How cool would that be?! Oh well, another time, another party!

This party was quite easy to pull together in terms of food preparation. The hardest part was getting Ryan to get out (and staying out!) of the house for several hours. Thank goodness I have an equally sneaky mother-in-law who “needed to shop” and look at not one but multiple open houses nearby. Ha!

To begin, I cheated and purchased a dry mix by Bear Creek called “Darn Good Chili” that my sweet (and also sneaky…there appears to be a theme!) neighbor made in her home. She prepared two batches, one with ground beef and the other without, in crock pots. Once my hubby left the house, I pulled everything out for the party. Days prior to the party, I had bought various items and stuffed them in every nook and cranny in our house so that he wouldn’t see any bulk products. I even hid a huge box of 50 individual Fritos bags inside our suitcases! I did forget to pull out one item, which Ryan found the next day…a whole tub of Red Vines! Well, y’know you can’t return a tub of fresh red vines! YUM!

I got my toppings inspiration from this Buzzfeed article and placed them in individual bowls on top of kraft paper (roll from Michaels by the dollar bins). I added a bowl of fresh fruit, a tower of Fritos chip bags, and a plate of hot dogs (to make chili dogs because why not?). Lastly, I used a large sharpie marker for food labeling and voila! The DIY chili bar is all set up!

Another element I like to add to parties are printed goods, primarily because I love to design them. For Ryan’s grandfather’s 80th birthday earlier this year, we made a “Back in <insert birthyear>” sign that was quite the hit! So, I replicated the idea, incorporated the trending Memphis patterns, and found some fun stats for the year 1982. Everyone loved reading it!

We ended the night with the ultimate ice cream birthday cake from Baskin Robbins and playing a round of modified Telestrations, where we drew/wrote about our fondest memories of the birthday boy! Fun times all around!! 🎉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In DIY, Freebies, Graphic Design, Holidays on
October 12, 2017

Test Tube Treats (FREEBIE!)

 

Something about test tubes just scream Halloween, doesn’t it?! Totally right up Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’s alley. My alley too. I’ve been eyeing these test tubes for years (yes YEARS!) but haven’t found a way to use these for my children’s birthday parties, especially since these particular test tubes are made out of glass. But alas, Halloween is a couple weeks away and I’ve waited long enough so I treated myself (ha, pun!) and bought them to give away to my galpals! This is a cute little gift idea for teachers, co-workers, and even neighbors!

I purchased the glass test tubes from Michaels from their dollar bins (although I believe they’re $1.50 each. These were located near the checkout aisle at my local store, FYI). TIP: Buy ones where the labels are new and easily peel off. Otherwise, be ready to wipe down with Goo Gone.

Next, simply fill with tiny Halloween treats (the test tubes are not very wide so the skinnier the candy, the better). I whipped up these fun printable labels that adds a festive finishing touch to your mad lab creation. Today’s FREEBIE even includes a label where you can write in your or your child’s name.

 

 

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In Freebies, Graphic Design, Holidays on
October 1, 2017

It’s the Most Frightening Time of the Year (FREEBIE!)

Move over September, it’s time for October to shine!! My favorite holiday is just around the corner!!!!!! I love Halloween so much that I am dedicating a WHOLE month on this blog with Halloween-inspired crafts, DIY tutorials, AND freebies starting today! You best be ready for some spooktacular crafting fun! 🙂

I grew up with my mom making my costumes. She didn’t sew one-of-a-kind creations but rather combined various clothing items, accessories, and props and it totally worked. I’m pretty sure this is where my love for DIYing started. As long as you have supplies that work, an imagination to envision an idea coming to life, and a tenacity to keep trying. #makersgonnamake

So join me in kicking off the Halloween festivities and download today’s FREEBIE, a frightening 8×10 printable in not just one but two versions (black/white and color)! In my home’s entryway, I have a large frame where I showcase seasonal prints. It’s such a fun visual reminder of the upcoming holidays and celebrations! Instant holiday art!

 

[Click here to download black and white print]

 

[Click here to download color print]

 

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In Graphic Design, Parties on
September 22, 2017

For Susan (and life goals)

Customized projects are my jam! My mother-in-law had a dear friend/co-worker, Susan, retire several weeks ago and asked if I could help create three unique items to celebrate her 20 years of service in the hospital’s radiology department. I knew I had to incorporate x-rays of some sort into the projects.

The first piece is a super-sized greeting card made large enough for the entire department to sign their well wishes. The “peace out” hand x-ray is inside a rectangular shaker box that was filled with sparkly sequins and tiny diecut shapes. Creating the “peace out” hand was quite a task as I started with a open hand xray vector image and individually moved and placed each bone to create the “peace out” configuration. I definitely had a new appreciation for human anatomy!

 

A celebration isn’t one without cake so my next creation was a mixed media cake topper. Again, reiterating the x-ray theme, I printed a head CT scan on printable clear sticker paper, backed it with a clear acetate sheet, and trimmed off the excess from the acetate sheet. Next, a little shoutout using glitter gold cardstock was created with my Silhouette machine. Lastly, added a little yellow bow at the base of the cake topper which also helped hide the toothpick.

 

The last piece for Susan’s retirement party was a customized “subway art” wall sign. My mother-in-law provided the text and I went to town placing them wherever they looked best. The key to subway art signs is to use minimal amount of color (you can see I simply used two colors, yellow and white) and no more than 4 different fonts (any more and your eyes will go nuts). We had these printed on a 14in x 14in canvas via Costco Photo Center, which is affordable and rather quick. I really am pleased how this sign turned out! I just wish I knew what all those terms mean! Ha! 🙂

 

Congrats Susan on your retirement!

On a side note, how does one know they are ready for retirement? I’m far from retirement albeit I am not working a corporate job but I hope one day I will feel satisfied in my contribution to the world and be ready for retirement. #lifegoals

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In Birthday, DIY, Graphic Design, Parties, Silhouette on
September 13, 2017

For Baby Elaina’s 1st Birthday

This past weekend, we celebrated my dear friend’s daughter’s first birthday! Little baby Elaina came on Labor Day last year (oh the irony!) and has grown into such a little cutie with an adorable smile! To honor and acknowledge her Korean culture (she’s half-Korean, half-Chinese), a Dol celebration was in order! Elaina’s mama got a little DIY herself and made the Dol towers out of white and black beans. One tower says “Happy First Birthday” and the other is Elaina’s name in Korean. How cool is that?

Purple and aqua were the party colors and were sprinkled throughout the event. I love the idea of using just colors as your “party theme” because it makes party planning a cinch! And luckily, these two colors are very popular right now thanks to the mermaid trend.

It was such a joy to help my friend, Anna, with party decorations! She told me the items she needed and gave me total creative license in the design. A designer’s dream!

A traditional component of a Korean first birthday party is the Doljabi, where the child is placed in front of several objects and whichever one he/she selects will predict her future! The guests were asked to cast their vote so I created a little sign to go along with the game. And of course, a first birthday party must-have is the one year poster listing all the special favorites and milestones. Again, I used the trick of printing this custom design as a color engineering print and taped it onto a foam board bought from the dollar store. The color quality was great too!

 

 

Michaels had a cardstock value pack in the party colors so it made paper decorations super easy to coordinate! From the “Happy 1st Birthday” pennant banner to the smash cake and cupcake toppers. I added a little gold glitter on some of the cupcake toppers for a little sparkle…it’s a little girl’s birthday party after all! I also learned a new craft that I’ll for sure be making again for another party…tissue paper pom pom toppers! A tutorial for that will be on the blog later this month.

 

The smash cake topper was a tricky project but so glad I put on my MacGuyver thinking cap on and made it work! In order to replicate the style of the topper I made for my own daughter’s smash cake, I needed to find a way to make the sans serif letters on “elaina” and “one” stand on their own versus being connected to the letters before/after. For example, I could easily have the letter “e” of “elaina” touch the letter next to it (“l”) but it would not look right if I connected the letter “i” of “Elaina” to the letter “a” in front of it or the letter “n” after it. Luckily, I was able to “weld” the word “turns” with the word “one” at the bottom of the topper but the word “elaina” was still a challenge. So how did I do it? I glued the letters of “elaina” to a small clear acetate sheet. Then, I added two skinny “pillars” of acetate sheet behind the word “turns” and connected the two acetate sheets. You can kind of see it behind the “s” in “turns”. This created the illusion that the letters on the topper were “floating”! #crafthacksFTW

 

Little Elaina was surrounded by so many family members and friends. She might have been a little overwhelmed with all the excitement and overstimulation! But sorry sweet girl, it’s because you are so loved! Happy birthday Elaina!

 

 

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In DIY, Freebies, Graphic Design, Home Decor on
August 2, 2017

National Coloring Day (FREEBIE!)

Hello August!! Has your summer flown by too?

Luckily, I have a special FREEBIE for you that will help you slow down and enjoy the present. In honor of National Coloring Day today, I created a 8in x 10in coloring sheet that can also serve as pretty home decor. Or frame this print and give it to a friend for a special occasion or just because…who doesn’t like thoughtful and homemade gifts?!

Grab your colored pencils, a nice cup of coffee, and get lost in the art of coloring!

Click here to download today’s FREEBIE!

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In Graphic Design, Weddings on
May 25, 2017

Sam + Will Wedding Stationery Collection

A dear friend of mine, Samantha, married her sweetheart William earlier this year and I was so honored to play a part of her wedding as both wedding coordinator and stationery designer! I have created wedding print items in the past for previous clients but never a full collection that included Save the Date Postcards, Table Signs, and Wedding Invitations. I even created the couple’s wedding logo, which was sprinkled throughout the wedding decor so that it pulled together a cohesive look. Since I was their wedding coordinator, I understood their overall wedding design vision and was able to translate that into the stationery aesthetics. Their wedding took place at Ace Hotel, a modern retro boutique hotel nestled near the base of the majestic Palm Springs mountains.

Table Signs
The couple’s favorite and memorable cities were the inspiration for the table signs. The design was simple to suit the style of the wedding and the colors used were from the wedding palette. Lastly, the opaque geometric background pattern not only provides subtle visual interest but it pulls in that retro factor to match the venue’s ambiance.

Table Sign for Bride’s Best Friends (aka Bridesmaids). Photo by April Smith Photography

 

Couple’s Wedding Logo
Emphasis on geometric shapes were used throughout, especially hexagons and triangles. The couple’s wedding logo features a double hexagon framing their initials and wedding date. I loved how well the brush script harmonized with the hexagon’s clean lines. I feel like you can’t have one design element without the other, or if you went with one style, how differently the overall logo would feel/look.

Couple’s Wedding Logo featured on matchbook favors. Photo by April Smith Photography

 

Wedding Logo on Bean Bag Toss

 

Wedding Invitations
Sam, Will, and I went through a couple iterations with the main wedding invitation and I am SO thrilled how it turned out in the end! The circular design softened the angular geometric background. The mix of fonts was a playful touch. On the back, we highlighted local points of interest with the use of vector images. The RSVP postcard was a simple way to minimize extra inserts in the invitation suite. The couple loved receiving RSVPs with fun little drawings and wedding wishes from loved ones.

 

 

Photo by April Smith Photography

 

Wedding season is pretty good year-round here in Southern California but many couples like to take advantage of the summer breaks and long sunny days so we are entering peak wedding season. If you are engaged or know a couple who will be tying the knot, send me a message at studioxtine[at]gmail.com…I’d love to help create a story through personalized wedding stationery!

 

 

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