Monday, November 5, 2012

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Living in GA, and having traveled quite a bit, I have run into a lot of people who have been to, or know someone that lives in New Jersey. We always play the what town game, and the do you know so-and-so game. It's always funny the different reactions I get when I say I'm from NJ. Do you know the Sopranos, do you fist pump, and once I actually got an "Oh, all Yankees I've met are the same" After an actually enjoyable conversation with this guy for 2 hours (at a friend's party then later at a bar), when he realized I was from Jersey, he didn't want to talk to me anymore. I held back my Jerseyism and thought I couldn't even dignify his ignorance with a response.  I pocketed my fist and just turned my back on him and continued to talk to the realest person in my life, my Jersey Husband. haha (love you david!)

What has always remained the same in these interactions is my PRIDE in being from this awesome state. It has SO much to offer... Being the suburb of Philadelphia and NYC, home of Atlantic City, the Appalachian Trail, Hoboken and our beloved Jersey Shore. We have mountains, cities, beaches, and plains, and some of THE BEST FOOD IN THE COUNTRY. People with tough exteriors, but big hearts. You're naturally born with street smarts, quick wit and a left hook if you're born in NJ (more or less ;))

So many great movies, and not so great, but still as addicting, reality shows are based in our state. There's not one person I've met that doesn't have something to say about NJ.

Sadly, there's not one person I know who hasn't been affected by hurricane Sandy. Countless friends from all over the state still don't have power for over a week now. My brother, sister-in-law and cool ass nephew have been pretty much raising their new little girl Amish style since she came home. She was born just days before this storm hit. Thank goodness, not during!! My parents are also without power. And so breezy about it. Every time I call they're "just fine". Coming from the humble means they grew up with in the Philippines, hot water and electric weren't always an everyday thing. "We've got the gas grill outside to boil water and a bag of ice in the fridge" seems to be the only thing they need.  My mom says "God always provides."

I have another friend, she may likely be a friend of yours as well, who lives in a small shore town Tuckerton, NJ - one of the areas predicted to be hit the hardest when this storm was coming.  When she was told to evacuate, I asked her if she's brought anything with her. She said my photo albums and the important framed pics I have of Sami, her sweet and sunny 6 year old daughter.

Hurricane Sandy literally washed through her house filling it up with water.

The days after the power went out, I would get texts from her.  Worried and nervous,  4:00 am: "I can't sleep. I am so anxious and sick to my stomach over the local pics I've already seen. I know my house is going to get wiped out from all this flooding." She sat for days not being able to even drive into her town to see the wreckage Sandy had left. She sat for days, holding her breath, and all of us praying that her home, her life, were salvageable. All the while she kept up a positive outlook and strength I don't think I could even have. "They're just things, they're replaceable.  We are safe."  Me, always bubbly and seeing the bright side of things... My heart was breaking for her and her daughter.

Nicole finally got to go "home" on Saturday, November 3rd. Almost a full week after they evacuated. And there was barely anything left that wasn't water logged or washed away. The entrance of the house is crooked and the foundation has a crack. No more plumbing, electric, heat - it's all shot. And that is just the structure.

Her yard looks like an old abandoned sea town.

What was once a sweet little home for her and her daughter looked like trash just strewn about.

Permanent damage to her prized possesions.

Some of her neighbors were not this "lucky"

What she and her family built over 12 years of making this place their home is now a pile at the end of the driveway.
And despite all of this, her heartache and burden of where the heck to start to build her life and home back together, she hasn't asked for anything... yet posts this on Facebook with the caption: "This movie was way at the top of my closet. Forgot it was up there. I'm totally going to be paying it forward!"

After the insurance adjuster, and meeting with FEMA and trying to figure out how to start putting the pieces back together again - she is told it could be about 3 months before they can even start to rebuild, and a year, at the least, before she can go home. Many friends and family have asked for a list of things she's lost that they could send and donate, but sadly she doesn't have anywhere to put anything. Thankfully she is staying with family nearby, able to get to work and her daughter to school. But after all this, and the dust is settled, it is just the beginning of what else she must endure and go through to get back to normal. After tiring days, she still doesn't have the comfort and security the rest of us may have to GO HOME!

She text me again yesterday and said "the song Home by Phillip Phillips is so appropriate, but it brings me to tears."

This is where I ask for help from my friends, her friends, the community that I have had so much pride in being a part of and growing up among, some of the biggest hearted and bad ass people in my life. If you can, please donate to helping Nicole and Sami to get back to normal. 100% of your donation will go directly to her for the things she needs to save for that have washed away, bills that need to be paid and contractors who need to be signed to start rebuilding their life so she can go back home. Every little bit counts and will make a huge difference in the life of our friend. Thanks for reading. Thanks for helping. Nicole - we are all sending you the biggest of hugs, and the strongest of prayers. We love you.

I have created a donations account under Nicole's name and I will keep this fund open for a few weeks so the article has enough time to circulate.  Thanks to Holly Campbell (Pelt) for helping me whip this together.  We know everyone is doing all that they can to help so many people, a prayer and positive thoughts go a long way too!

UPDATE 7/1/13:  Thank you to all those who donated and sent prayers for our friend Nicole.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Announcing.... Announcements!

IT'S A BOY!!!!  I am SO proud to announce one of my BFF's Nichole Rice, and her husband Jimmy had their first child this past November.  James Peter Rice, III  aka Baby James.  I posted James Taylor's song Sweet Baby James on Nichole's fb as soon as the little guy came into the world.  It's now playing in my head...

Having our own little girl, it is amazing being able to share in parenthood with my dearest, sweetest friend!  We've been lucky, quite a few of my long time and bestest friends and us have had babies all right in a row, literally.  Some of us with in 3 weeks of each other.

I had the honor to design the birth announcement for Baby James.  Being 850 miles away from my best friends gives me a heartache, but knowing I can still be involved in such important times in their lives, and able to put my personal touch on something coming right from the heart, from me to my friends means the world!

So, Nichole had an at home photo session with Baby James with Jo Anne Cobb from Jo Anne Cobb Photography.  Check out her web-site: and like her on facebook !!!  Jo Anne was able to capture all the sweetness bursting out of this little guy.  If I could've jumped through the screen to smother him with hugs and kisses I would.  Even only weeks old, his bright blue eyes are so attentive, and look right into you! 

I am still craving the day I get to actually meet him in person, and share in the joy of holding a little baby with my best friend... but for now, I at least get to tote the proud 'aunty' honor of showing the world his birth announcement... designed by yours truly!  Congratulations, once again, Jim & Nichole Rice, you have done a WONDERFUL job, he is just the cutest!!!


Love that many of my friends seem to be having babies at the same time... and that I'm so lucky to be a part of sharing in each others' mommyhood.  It has been AMAZING also rekindling my oldest friendship in the book!  Seriously the person I have known the longest is Monica.  Growing up across the street from each other, we have shared in A LOT... Plenty of ups and downs, boys, vacations, driving, school, college, and a little falling out a few years back (did I mention the downs) and unfortunate circumstances that brought us to reconnect again, but all in the circle of life... we also found out we were having babies around the same time.  Her son Ryan was born 2 months after Gia... and then shortly after, lo & behold... TWINS! 

She asked me to do their birth announcement too.  Such a contrast to the one above, but just as elegant in the simple/chic way that Monica does things.  Here is what I put together for her boys Sean & Liam... photography, once again by the talented Mrs. Jo Ann Cobb ( and on facebook  Hope you like the designs and that you think of me (us!!  GO JO!) for your next good news to share!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Getting into this paperie business is all because of my own wedding.  I LOVED all the DIY work of programs, invitations, favors and table settings.  My husband, David and I got married June 13, 2009... One of the best days of our life!  It was full of family, friends, laughter, dancing and love!

AND PURPLE!!!  Purple flowers, purple butterflies, purple favors, purple programs


I even designed our own cake with purple accents.

I still LOVE doing this stuff... one of my recent projects has been helping a friend of mine with her own wedding.  Rosangela Viana is marrying Daniel Robinson on Saturday, March 31, 2012.  About 4 months ago, we started IM'ing, emailing, chatting and visiting to brainstorm and come up with invitation designs, and in the recent weeks had a mimosas and craft day finally putting them together!!

Pretty exciting... we're now working on the programs and favors... another crafts and mimosas day on the horizon!!  Can't wait to share in Rosie's special day and see all the hard work and collaboration come together!

Another wedding related project I've been doing is bridal shower and bachelorette party decor! 

I had the pleasure of being a bridesmaid in one of my great friend's weddings... Jessica Gunter, is now Mrs. Jessica Gunter... she had a wedding no one will forget through the blizzard of Halloween weekend 2011 in north Jersey.  Even long distance, I was able to be a part of her bridal shower planning.  We did a wine tasting theme.  I designed the banner, and hand made the favors - wine glass charms!  Wish I could've been there, but the happy look on the bride's face was enough for me!

Here's a sneak peek of another bridal shower banner.  The wedding color is cobalt blue, so I have lots of white, creams, sparklies, pearls, and of course, BLUE!!  Hope you like, I couldn't stop thinking of my own, WONDERFULLY thrown bridal shower when I was putting this one together, and how for the first time in all the planning, THAT day - I really felt like a bride!  Best wishes to Marisa!


Last, but not least - is this SUPER fun design I got to work on.  The design, layout, colors, idea is 100% the handy work of the bride.  She and her soon to be husband, are very free spirited, music loving Atlanta bred love birds.  The bride's parents are throwing them an engagement party at the end of March.  I love the feel this invitation gives, just a fun good ol' time!  Makes me think of a summer time, outdoor music festival.  We can not wait to party down with the Dinoses and Gregorys!

Monday, January 30, 2012


Pretty happy that January is almost at an end.  Not that I want time to go by faster, with an almost 2 year old, I'd be happy to have time stand still just for a while to enjoy my little baby as a "baby" for a bit longer.  It's amazing how quickly it goes!

Sharing in the joy of a new child is one of the best things EVER!  I've had the pleasure to work on TWO baby showers this month for some very special people. 

One shower is for a baby boy.  A dear friend of mine, Jillian, and her her husband Jarrod are expecting their bundle of Joy any day now - they're due March 1st.  Jillian & Jarrod Johnson have been calling him "Baby J" ever since they found out they were having a boy.  They already have the nursery set up with a Ships Ahoy! theme.  Really cute little boy pirate ships and monkey on a palm tree.  So, to keep with the theme of their nursery - Jillian's sister and friend and I collaborated to design their invites, decor and favors to reflect the same look of the baby's room.

Here is the invitation:

The ships and monkey
on the palm tree are
directly from their bedding. 
(Click any of the pics for a larger view)

And here is the banner:

I also made these cute buttons for the guests of honor to wear:

It was a pleasure working on this party.  Jillian has been a great friend of mine for many years now, however we live on opposite sides of the country.  I really wanted to be there for her on their special day, and although I couldn't physically be there, I was so happy to be able to surprise my friend and have my 'presence' there with the decorations.

Happy mommy & daddy to be!

Another project I have been working on is a baby shower for a long time family friend Kristen.  Her mom is my godmother <3 - our parents became friends in the late 60s while both our moms worked at the same hospital in Newark, NJ.

I am sure our mothers were delighted to have kids at the same time and happy to bring us all together for special occassions growing up.  And even more delighted that they get to share in grandparenthood together!

Kristen and her family are waiting to be surprised to find out if they're having a boy or a girl.  I worked with her sister Karen to come up with a neutral colors theme for this party.


 I gave Karen 2 options -
one was a pea in a pod pink/green design,
and the other was this one
she chose with browns, yellows and greens.
 Each flower had a mini felt flower with crystals and pearls at the center
 Pin for the guest of honor
 Favors - Hersheys with custom designed wrappers

I even got a request for thank you cards which I'm sending off to Kristen this week!

Thank you ladies for letting me be a part of such a special time in your lives!

Warmest wishes,

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Lots o' orders!

Well, a long time friend of mine took the plung and opened up a bar in St. Petes Beach, FL with her husband. I offered to help with any design work and she requested a logo.  The name of the bar is Beer Belly's Beach Bar, and she wanted a fat guy sitting at the bar with the bar name on his belly... So, I came up with a sketch.  And sent her a quick text with my sketch in it, and she said she liked it...

...from there I scanned the sketch into the computer and drew him up in photoshop and made him a little piece of clilp art!

My friend loved him!  Within 48 hours she had him up on the bar window, and they were ready to open.  So proud of her and the new adventure she's on... And that my fat guy is there with a smile welcoming all their patrons!!

Friday, January 13, 2012


Working on loading the MelloJoy product line to my google album, of printable graphics and designs for your parties and announcements.  Here you will find a unique way to customize your events and announcements.  I will work with you one-on-one to create something that is one of a kind and all your own.

Stayed tuned!

Warmest wishes,