Brittani & Peter’s Rustic Montana Wedding

Brittani and Peter got married today in rural Montana and I could not be more excited to share their invitations! Inspired by a previous custom project of mine, Brittani and I incorporated details specific to the couple to create a suite that truly represented them and their big day.

My favorite details are the unique watercolor touches, especially on the reverse of the main invitation card (it’s the first thing guests will see when they take them out of the envelope) and the RSVP. How great is that cow?!

Advertisements

Custom Wedding Map

It’s time for another weekly installment of custom wedding work! Kelly and Suzannah got married today with the Idaho mountains in the background. While they ordered their invitations from Minted, they knew they needed custom work when it came to a map insert, so the bride’s sister reached out to me. Lucky for me, the driving directions from one venue to the other weren’t too complicated, so I got to have fun hand-drawing each landmark and include some gorgeous modern calligraphy, along with typography that ties into the invitation itself. Since color-matching the existing invitation would be problematic, we kept the design black and white and the results are striking!

Need a custom map for your upcoming event? Get in touch or shop here.

Save

Travel Guide: Santiago & Easter Island

IMG_3421

Finally: the long-awaited Chile post! Long…that’s a good description for the journey there. Living in Bermuda of course adds a minimum of two hours to almost any flight path, one more jump to the southern U.S. and then we had eight hours direct to Santiago. I didn’t sleep very well, but check out our sunrise view of the coastal mountain range (above)!

I think your brain is always trying to make associations with things that are familiar to you, so my first impression was that it felt just like flying into Salt Lake City. And then, I saw the Andes.

IMG_3440

They are absolutely breathtaking and indescribably huge… unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

We stayed at the W Santiago, which was sort of in the business and financial area of the city, so it was a pretty quiet neighborhood. Because we arrived bright and early in the morning, we couldn’t get into our room right away, so we checked our luggage and explored the city for a few hours.

First stop: coffee (remember that part where I didn’t get much sleep?). I was looking forward to practicing my Spanish, but almost everyone we encountered spoke better English than my broken, and I’m sure terribly accented, Spanish.

IMG_3434

Andrew and I both like to walk through neighborhoods to get a sense of a place. We slowly moseyed toward the mall at the base of Costanera Center Gran Torre—the tallest building in South America. Seriously, a mall? I know. I used to avoid them like the plague, but living on a small island makes you appreciate being able to do all your shopping in one building. We got a few things like rain jackets (those came in handy later on the trip, plus we both needed a new one for back home!), and discovered Cruz Verde, which is sort of like a Walmart (again, I know, gross, but we needed some packaged snacks).

Then, we took the elevator all 64 stories to the very top of the tower—your ears pop on the way up. The view is incredible: You’re eye-to-eye with the tops of the Andes (that first picture of them was taken from the tower), and the entire city sprawls out in front of you. We could even see our hotel!

IMG_3438 copy

By the time we got back down to solid ground, we had killed enough time for our room to be ready so we headed back to shower. Yay showers! We had a big day tomorrow, so we headed for an early dinner at Happenings, which was a lovely steakhouse. When I say early, I mean we left the hotel at 6:30, which is just barely on the early side for us… but apparently early bird special status for Chileans! There was only one other (English-speaking) table seated when we arrived, and the host looked downright surprised to have guests already. You guys, there were families with young kids just walking in while we were paying our bill a few hours later. We were so not on Chile time.

IMG_3592

But we did have an awesome meal—a delicious prawn appetizer, Andrew had a steak (of course!) and I had a lamb entrée that could have easily fed two people. Like proper old folks, we had one drink at our hotel before heading up to our room for an early bed time!

The next day was wine tour day! This ended up being our favorite day in Santiago—but not for the reason you might think! We hired a guide, so he drove us through the stunning valleys that surround Santiago, and we also enjoyed some of the best food of the entire trip.

Our first stop was a darling restaurant, empty at 11 a.m. except for the owner and her dog, who was cozied up by the wood stove (it was winter in South America, remember!). We had our first authentic Chilean empanadas, and THEY. WERE. AWESOME. Seriously so good, and exactly what we needed to start the day. Our guide had also brought a really nice red that went well with the meal and was mild enough to drink before noon.

IMG_3458

You guys, this place was legit. Our tour guide even called his wife to see how many empanadas she wanted him to bring home!

IMG_3475 IMG_3476

Our first winery was Emiliana—which is an organic, sustainably run vineyard. After a very impressive tour given in both English and Spanish by this lovely young lady below, we enjoyed a flight of some of their most popular wines.

IMG_3483 IMG_3528

Oops, I accidentally drank from that first glass before I took a picture. Couldn’t wait!

IMG_3521

Part of Emiliana’s commitment to sustainability is also a commitment to their employees. They offer personal garden space and the fruits of their olive trees to the workers, and sell the resulting olive oil in the shop, with all the profits going to directly to the growers. Oh, and they also had alpacas (the workers get to keep the wool), so that was entertaining!

IMG_3514We then headed next door to Vina Morande for a gourmet four-course lunch paired with their wines. This was definitely the best meal we had on the trip—featuring lots of fresh seafood prepared by an amazing chef, who even came out to our table after the meal. Below is a squid ink risotto in an incredible broth, topped with mussels, shrimp and the most flavorful grape tomatoes. So tasty!IMG_3548

IMG_3555

Our last winery was Bodegas RE—another organic winery, which makes their wine in giant cement vats. Similar to the ancient tradition of storing wine in clay containers, it creates a decidedly different, fresh flavor.

On the way home, we stopped at a road-side sweet shop and bakery, where we picked up amazing confections featuring home made dolce de leche… my new obsession!

IMG_3574

By the time we got back to the hotel, we were recovering from both a wine buzz and a sugar high, so despite our best intentions, that was the end of our night!

IMG_3610

The following day was our last in Santiago, so we wanted to take in a bit of local culture. We took the metro (which was totally seamless and easy to understand) out to Pueblito Los Dominicos market. It was actually a collection of small, permanent shops, which was different than what I expected, but we had an awesome traditional lunch and then shopped local artisans’ work. I bought some jewelry—lapis lazuli is the thing here—and a few textiles. The alpaca knits were so incredible, I wanted to buy them all… but they’re just not something I need in Bermuda!

IMG_3605

IMG_3623After that, Andrew wanted to check out the old part of the city where all the government buildings are, so we hopped on the metro again to check that out. Not too much happening there on a Sunday afternoon, but the architecture was beautiful!

Then headed to the Santa Lucia neighborhood, where there was supposed to be another market, but it was late afternoon and it had closed for the day. Completely by accident, we stumbled upon the Neptune Fountain, which is another tourist hot spot I didn’t even know about!

IMG_3633

IMG_3637

The next day was our travel day to Easter Island! Also known as Isla de Pascua (in Spanish) and Rapa Nui, after the native people, it’s a nearly six hour flight from Santiago—about twice as far as I expected when we were first planning this trip! In fact, it’s nearly equidistant to Tahiti, which is the only other place you can catch a flight to the island.

IMG_3641

After being greeted at the teeny tiny airport with leis from our shuttle driver, we had a five minute ride to our eco-resort, Hotel Hanga Roa. Andrew had booked this one, so I didn’t really know what to expect, but the campus was absolutely gorgeous! The lobby and rooms had concrete and river stone floors and trees incorporated into the walls—the perfect mix of modern and natural. And the rooms had grass roofs!IMG_3657

Our room looked across the coastal road right out onto the water. We could watch the waves crash on shore and the sunset every night! In fact, we did twice!

IMG_3684

 

IMG_3670

That afternoon, we walked into town to stretch our legs and get our bearings—and not 10 minutes in, we saw our first Moai! We were pretty excited, but that’s just because we had no idea what was to come. IMG_3726

The next day, our tour guide José Ika (that’s him mid-sentence above) picked us up at our hotel, grabbed a couple other tourists in town and headed for the far side of the island. Easter Island is only about 15 miles at its widest point, but since we weren’t on the main paved road that cuts through the center of the island, it was a little bit of a drive.

Since much of the island is a national park, the land in front of us seemed vast as soon as we left town. According to Ika, centuries ago the island was covered in forests, but now the rocky rolling hills are mostly grass. The coastline is almost all rocks and cliffs too, so the waves crashing were mesmerizing and epic on such a windy day. IMG_3691 IMG_3703

Our first few stops were at ahu (the sacred platforms on which the statues sit) where the moai had been pushed over. More on why further down, but I thought it was great that our tour started here, we felt an awe for the face-down moai that I think would have been lost had we already seen dozens of them standing tall.

IMG_3727

IMG_3828

When I say dozens, I’m not exaggerating. This is Ahu Tongariki, the most impressive collection of restored moai, courtesy of the Japanese government. That little guy in the foreground of the photo above was loaned to a Japanese museum for a year, and in return they restored an area that had been devastated by an earthquake.  IMG_3859 IMG_3830

So, what is the deal with all these statues? They’re huge, they weight literal tons, they were obviously a huge undertaking and very costly in ancient times (and would be even now!). So why bother? Religion, of course.

Ika is a descendant of the Rapa Nui, the native people of Easter Island. I loved hearing the stories from someone who still has a vested interest in the history of these sacred lands and sculptures. So, here’s how he told it:

From about 800 to 1800 AD, the Rapa Nui people built moai to house the souls of their deceased chiefs. The moai were carved from basalt rock from one of the island’s three volcanoes, as dictated to them by the Makemake god. The statues took years to carve, as each was created by a single specialized craftsman. When a chief died, the tribe bought a moai from the quarry (the size depended on the wealth of the tribe at the time), and then it was transported to the tribe’s ahu. How statues with an average weight of 14 tons were transported by ancient people is still up for debate—read all about the various theories here.

IMG_3762

Once they were in position, the new chief—the deceased’s son—described specific characteristics to the craftsman, who turned a generic face into a likeness of the former chief. They added a red stone topknot (chiefs never cut their hair, just wrapped it around and around on top of their head), white coral eyes (most of which are now gone), and performed a sacred ritual to transfer the chief’s soul into the moai, which is now called an aringa ora, because it represents a specific person.

The new chief could now consult with his father and other former chiefs on tribal matters and seek their advice. Pretty handy, huh?

IMG_3770

So that belief system served the Rapa Nui well for a thousand years or so until European explorers, as they tend to do, arrived and ruined it all. Basically, Ika said, the aringa ora had never seen the explorers’ ships and guns, so they could offer the leadership no insight about them. In awe of their technology and disillusioned with the lack of wisdom coming from the old chiefs, many tribes abandoned their beliefs, took the eyes from the statues and pushed them over. Others were toppled by natural events (like that earthquake I mentioned), and still others were plundered by other nations.

IMG_3906

Our last stop for the day was that quarry on Rano Raraku, the holy volcano. More than half the moai (and these are actually moai—just generic faces) are still in the quarry, either abandoned before completion (check out sleeping beauty below, still attached to the base rock), or never purchased by a tribe. Still others toppled over or broke during transport, and there’s a trail of abandoned moai leading away from Rano Raraku.

IMG_3937IMG_3928

This is the place for all those iconic Easter Island photos—and why a lot of people believe they don’t have bodies. These moai are just partially buried—they have bodies just like the aringa ora.

The quarry was my favorite part of the island because you could get so close to the statues. They are so big and so ancient, and although you have to stay on the path, you are often within just a few feet of them (and can do ridiculous things like this). It was all seriously amazing!

IMG_1435

Phew! Are you sick of these giant heads yet? Me either :) But the next day, we rented scooters (thanks for making me an expert, Bermuda!) and drove up to check out some of the dormant volcanoes. These giant calderas give the moai a run for their money as the coolest thing on the island!

IMG_4036

The only bodies of fresh water on the island, these long-dormant volcanoes are also its highest peaks. Here’s the view of Hanga Roa from up there!IMG_4019

IMG_4022

And the rest of the island… so gorgeous!

IMG_4078

Along one side of the Rano Kau crater are the remains of the birdman cult, the religion that filled the void left by the moai. Each spring, competitors swam to the island to await the arrival of migratory birds. The first person to return to the village of Orongo with an egg gave it to his wealthy sponsor, who would then offer it to the gods by way of the volcano.

Since this religion was more recent than the others, and they lived in stone houses, there was quite a lot left of the village, which was very cool to see. (Kind of reminds you of our hotel, no?)

IMG_4070

We spent our last day revisiting some of our favorite sites and checking out a few more maoi we hadn’t had a chance to see.

IMG_4299

We also did a little off-road scootering followed by a hike to a cave! We actually had a little trouble finding it, because the exterior basically just looks like a pile of rocks, and as a less-popular tourist attraction, it wasn’t marked. Luckily, there were some Chileans who knew what they were doing about five minutes ahead of us, so we caught them before they disappeared and they showed us where to enter. IMG_4311

It was a small cave and not much to look at compared to the ones in Bermuda, but it offered two openings onto the sea cliffs which was really cool! IMG_4319

Writing this, I’m realizing how much we saw in just 63 square miles! The next day we took a four hour flight back to Santiago, did a little more shopping while we were in the city, and caught an overnight flight back to the U.S.

It was a truly awesome trip, you should definitely add Chile to your travel bucket list!

IMG_1627

Save

Save

June & July Card Club — and an update!

You guys, I have just been the worst blogger lately! A little bit of writer’s block, a little bit of being overbooked… a whole lot of super short or non-existent blog posts!

As you know (or if you don’t, scroll back through the blog, I’ve had some fun projects lately!), I have been super busy—wedding season is in full swing! In addition to the amazing paper flower project I posted about a few weeks ago, I’ve designed two non-letterpress save the dates for 2017 brides and hand-painted graphics for two more real wedding invitations, and three more for styled shoots! Check back to see all of those (and even more watercolor wedding invites!) in the coming weeks, and in the mean time, here’s a sneak peek of Julie’s invitations:

FullSizeRender(1)

In addition to all this bridal goodness, I’ve also been designing new cards! You’ll have to wait till the holidays to see most of them, but keep an eye out for new birthday, thank you and sympathy cards in the mean time! A few of the latest and greatest designs are sure to be included in next month’s card club, so now is a great time to join! Here’s the link.

And of course, speaking of Card Club, I forgot to post July’s collection—again! Last month I was feeling the beach vibes, so I built the collection around shades of yellow, turquoise and sand.

COTM_716_4676This week, I’m feeling all pink all the time (just check out my instagram feed!), and mixing in some bright orange—plus bikes and balloons!—feels just right for summer! For a fun surprise, subscribers also received a 5″x7″ print of my watercolor bloom design from the Digital Prints section of my shop!

COTM_816_5125I absolutely love putting these collections together each month, so if you or someone you know loves getting mail, join the club today!

Red Wedding Flowers

5R0A0960

Sorry for the radio silence, friends, I’ve been super busy playing catch up from being away and working on some really exciting new projects!

The day before we left for Chile, a big order for paper flowers came in, and I was so excited because it was my first full wedding order, and so disappointed because I figured I’d have to refund it, as I wouldn’t be able to work on it for nearly two weeks. Lucky for me, this bride was planning ahead, and we had plenty of time before her big day!

5R0A0877_sm 5R0A0880

So the day after we got home, I got to work on this gorgeous flower crown and a large bouquet for the bride, along with a smaller bouquet (pictured) and boutonnieres! 5R0A0910 5R0A0925 5R0A0950

I tried some new techniques with my poppies and I’m absolutely loving how they’ve turned out! One of the things I love most about making paper flowers is the problem solving, always striving to make them more realistic and more beautiful. 5R0A0971

A special thanks to Adrian Cunningham of Ballyknock Photography for taking a few quick snaps before I sent them off to Australia!

Houston’s History of Printing Museum

One of my oldest and dearest friends moved to Houston last year, and I finally got down to visit a few weeks ago. We did a bunch of fun stuff, but I though you’d all like to see photos from The Printing Museum! Here’s just a small selection of the photos I took—I highly recommend stopping in for yourself!

Closing up Shop

PEACE_4573

The end is near! Today is the very last day to order anything from my etsy shop until after Christmas. By tomorrow evening I’ll be in Wisconsin! I’m so excited to see friends and family and am very much looking forward to a break from the small-business-owner hustle.

I’m so grateful to have been so busy this last month as I always struggle this time of year. I think it simply comes down to seeing less sunlight, but aside from the holidays, November-March are just not my favorite. One evening last week I decided I needed something to re-energize me, so I bought myself a little present: A bundle of a dozen or so fonts and hundreds of decorative elements and illustrations!

I’m so excited about my new toy and actually stayed up late last Friday night working on some new designs (I know, I’m pretty cool). So stay tuned for lots of new digital downloads in the shop soon—including this one, available here—which actually are available while I’m away!

seven_days_P35