DIY Tassel Garland to spice up your next celebration!

DIY Tassel Garland to spice up your next celebration! Cardstore Blog

I’ve been seeing DIY tassel garland everywhere lately, and with my own baby shower coming up in a few months, I really wanted to learn how to make these myself.

Turns out, this garland is super easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of supplies. And the best part is, since the main supply is tissue paper, you can customize the colors to perfectly match your party!

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The 10 most creative ways to document your baby’s first year

The 10 most creative ways to document your baby's first year | Cardstore Blog

Back when Carter was first born, I bought a set of month-by-month onesie stickers from Etsy that I used to document his first year. At the time, I seriously thought I was the MOST creative mom on the block.

The 10 most creative ways to document your baby's first year | Cardstore Blog

But boy, oh boy, have some of these other moms outdone me by a mile! There are a ton of amazingly creative ideas floating around out there—so inspiring, that they almost make me want to have another baby. (ALMOST. We’re not even out of diapers yet, after all.)

In any case, here’s a countdown of the 10 most creative ways (according to me, and Pinterest) to record your baby’s first year.

10. Month-by-month Comparison Photos

Kristen Honeycutt’s collage of little Max is sort of similar to my attempt with Carter, but she did a couple other interesting things. First, Max’s raccoon is helpful to be able to gauge Max’s size by comparison. (Either Max grew a lot, or the raccoon is shrinking, because the difference between months 1 and 12 are huge!)

I also love how you can see Kristen’s style coming through with the blanket and Max’s clothing. Any little guy can pull of a white onesie, but Max is pulling off some serious style in some of these outfits! Did you see  month 3?!

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9. From Belly to 12 Months

I always love when parents get in photos with their little ones, and Rosie’s month-by-month series with Logan is especially creative. Her first photo is of her belly when she’s still pregnant, and by holding him in the same spot every month, you get a better idea of how much he’s grown by comparison.

This is one of the easiest ideas to pull off by yourself – just prop your camera up on a counter or a tripod, and use a timer or remote to take a shot every month!

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8. ‘My First Year’ Poster

I spent the entire first year of my son’s life dealing with a serious case of mom-brain. I could barely remember to put pants on every day before leaving the house, so the chance of me remembering the date Carter crawled for the first time was less than zero.

That’s one of the reasons I love the ‘My First Year’ poster—simply fill in the blanks, and voila! You have a record of all your baby’s first milestones, and a personalized piece of artwork for their bedroom!

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7. Baby’s 1st Annual Report

If you like the idea of the ‘My First Year’ poster, but you’re looking to take your baby-tracking to another level, the Baby’s 1st Annual Report might be for you.

Inside this 13-month calendar, you’ll find spots to add photos of your little one, as well as clever prompts for tracking important stats like “Mood By Time of Day” (baby’s and parent’s), and “Toys vs. Floor Space in Main Living Area.” This is one calendar you won’t  be able to throw away when the year is over.

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6. Custom Year One Infographic

I’m pretty sure this summary that Ami at Lifelove & Lucy made for her daughter’s first birthday is the cutest infographic in the history of the world.

This is quite the hefty DIY project, but lucky for the rest of us, Ami is now offering custom designs on Etsy!

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5. Clean + Simple Baby Books

Most of the ideas in this post can be turned into a book pretty easily, but there’s something unique and refreshing, yet simple and timeless, about the books Johanna McShan made.

Documenting her pregnancy and the first year of each of her daughters, Mia and Ausha, each spread of the books displays one large photo, paired with her thoughts about that month. Joanna sells templates of all her books, and you don’t even have to have Photoshop to use them!

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4. First Year Quilts

When I was pregnant, I could get lost in the baby clothes section of Target for hours at a time, looking at all the adorable onesies that I couldn’t wait to buy for my baby-to-be. As it turns out, I could’ve saved a LOT of money, had I realized just how quickly he’d outgrow one size and move onto the next. So, finding out that there was something creative I could do with all those outgrown clothes was music to my ears!

I recently discovered the idea of first year quilts—quilts created out of your favorite pieces of clothing from your baby’s first year—and I can’t wait to go back through Carter’s old clothes and start making something memorable out of them!

Craftastical offers a tutorial and a size guide if you’re interested in taking the DIY route, or you can send all the clothing into Etsy sellers like Southern Charm Quilts or Heart and Sew, who can create a custom quilt for you!

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3. Chalkboard Adventures

Downhill skiing, running track & field, and figure skating in the Olympics is a lot to do in the first 20 weeks of life! These photo illustrations made by Kara at Life with Fingerprints are beyond creative, putting baby Cannon in a different scene every week of his first year.

Worried about your own drawings skills in creating 52 photo scenes that are this creative? Just keep it simple! Your baby’s adorableness will do most of the work. Can’t think of anything to draw? Maybe try using words instead of drawings.

Oh, and just to give credit where credit’s due, not only is Cannon Kara’s fourth baby, but she already has a 52-week series under her belt from her son Bennett’s first year, and a 12-month series from her daughter’s first year!

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2.  365 Days of Baby

If you were inclined to think Kara was in over her head with 52 weeks of photos, you’re going to think Jennifer is downright crazy—in the most awesome way possible.

Jennifer’s project is called 365 days of T, and she takes a photo of her son every day, with the day’s number shown somewhere in the photo. This takes some serious creativity and dedication, and the result is just amazing.

You can follow Jennifer’s project on her blog, Baby Making Machine, or on Instagram.

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1. 365 Love Letters

This project was also done by Jennifer Borget (the mom who did 365 Days of T), but I couldn’t not include it. It’s so beautifully done. In her 365 love letters, Jennifer paired photos of her daughter with a loving thought, message or quote. Each individual photo is amazing in itself, but the project as a whole is remarkable.

I can only imagine how much her daughter will appreciate having all these photos (and the resulting book she created) when she’s older.

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Is that one, giant boatload of cuteness or what?!

I hope these ideas inspire you as much as they’ve inspired me, and I’d love to see or hear your unique ideas about how to capture your baby’s first year in photos, too!

Happy documenting!

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How to make photo coasters {DIY}

How to make photo coasters {DIY} | Cardstore Blog

**We’ve created an update on how to make coasters with an epoxy finish. Perfect for a no-stick finish :)**

I’m an Instagram junkie. I LOVE me some Instagram photos. What I’m not so great at is actually getting them off my phone and doing something with them!

So, Emily and I set out to the craft store last weekend, and we came up with this fun and inexpensive DIY photo coasters project!

How to make photo coasters {DIY} | Cardstore Blog

What You’ll Need:

– (6) 4×4 white ceramic tiles (we found ours at the local hardware store)
– (6) 4×4 printed photos (I used the PostalPix app)
– Mod Podge (glossy finishing spray is an alternative option recommended by one of our readers!)
– Small, 1-inch foam brush
– Self-adhesive felt pads
– Washi tape (optional)

***EDIT: we’ve had a few readers have problems with the coasters sticking to each other when stacked, so we’ve created an update on how to make coasters with an epoxy finish (there’s sure to be no stick there!).***

How to make photo coasters {DIY} | Cardstore Blog

Step 1: Apply 1 coat of Mod Podge to front of tile

Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to the front of each tile, making sure to spread it all the way to the edges. (Note: This step is important! We made the mistake of skipping it on the first couple coasters, and the photo didn’t feel like it was fully adhered to the tile in the finished product.)

Step 2: Place photo on the wet Mod Podge

Place a photo on top of the wet coat of Mod Podge from step 1, and let it dry for about 5 minutes. (Decorating your photo with washi tape is optional, but it’s an easy way to add a fun & unique twist!)

How to make photo coasters {DIY} | Cardstore Blog

Step 3: Apply 3 coats of Mod Podge to back of tile

This part is a little tricky with the washi tape. When you apply your first coat of Mod Podge to the back of the coasters, it may seem like the the tape is starting to unstick from the coaster. Just wait about 5 minutes until the first coat of Mod Podge has started to dry and become tacky, and press the washi tape down with your finger. Wait about 15 minutes in between each coat of Mod Podge.

**We’ve created an update on how to make coasters with an epoxy finish. Perfect for a no-stick finish :)**

Step 4: Apply 3 coats of Mod Podge to front of tile

Apply 3 coats of Mod Podge, again waiting about 15 minutes between each coat. Apply each coat as a thin layer, making sure to wrap all the way around to the sides, and smoothing out the front. It’ll look very opaque until it dries, but rest assured that it will dry clear!

How to make photo coasters {DIY} | Cardstore Blog

Step 5: Stick felt pads to the bottom of each coaster

The felt pads just help to make sure that the coasters don’t scratch your table.

Step 6: Let sit for 3 days before using

It’s normal for Mod Podge to feel tacky for several days after it dries. If you wait about 3 days, you’ll give the coasters plenty of time to seal completely & make sure no water will seep in.

How to make photo coasters {DIY} | Cardstore Blog

I love the way these turned out, and they make me smile whenever I see them on my coffee table. With the right photos, coasters like these are going to make great DIY Christmas gifts!

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Make your party pop with DIY giant display numbers (or letters)

Make your Party Pop with DIY Giant Display Numbers (or letters) | Cardstore Blog

Even though I have a little over a month to go, my 30th birthday (eek!) is fast approaching! Taking a cue from Elizabeth’s tip to plan ahead for parties, I’ve already gotten a head start on some of my party decor. That’s right, with the help of my boyfriend, I’m throwing my own birthday soirée!

Since this is such a milestone birthday, instead of hiding my age, I decided to embrace it and really show it off. What better way then to display a giant 3-0? Read More »

Plan a party like a pro: 6 super helpful party-planning tips

Plan a party like a pro: 6 super helpful party-planning tips | Cardstore Blog

I love a good party. I mean, who doesn’t? But over the years, I’ve learned a few ways to increase your chances of success, and minimize your level of stress, without jeopardizing the wow-factor you’re aiming for. Become a pro on how to plan a party (well, partly, anyway) and save some time and money, with these six easy tips.

1. Give yourself enough time

By starting the planning process several months in advance, you give yourself an opportunity to save money and allow time to focus on the details that will really set your party apart from others. For example, I knew I’d need eye-patches, swords, skulls, and tablecloths to use as decorations for my twin boys’ pirate-themed birthday party. Since I was planning in advance, I knew I could score most of these things on clearance right after Halloween, even though the party wasn’t planned until December. There was an abundance of pirate-themed accessories available at that time, and I was able to get them at awesome prices.

Plan a party like a pro: 6 super helpful party-planning tips | Cardstore Blog

Early in the planning, I focused on designing a message-in-a-bottle invitation. A scroll was placed inside the bottle and sealed with a wax skull and cross bone. Since I had plenty of time to wait for shipping, I was able to save money on the wax seal by ordering it on eBay.

Plan a party like a pro: 6 super helpful party-planning tips | Cardstore Blog

I was also able to convince my husband that his new favorite beer was Sierra Nevada—their short bottles were exactly what I was looking for to hide the scroll invite inside, and I knew that the “bottle-gathering” job would take more than a weekend, even for the biggest  beer enthusiast!

2. Look for inspiration all around you

There’s no shortage of great party ideas out there, and accessibility to these ideas has been made even easier with the likes of Pinterest. However, I think that some of the best inspiration comes from unexpected places right around you. When I settle on a party theme, I immerse myself in learning as much about the subject as I can. The result is that the details feel a lot more authentic to the theme. When starting the planning of a Superhero Monster Truck birthday party for my boys, I went to my local library and got a stack of comic books to read. I had already experienced two Monster Jam Shows (I did mention I have twin boys, right?), so I knew that there were Superhero Monster Trucks that would work perfectly for the theme.

Plan a party like a pro: 6 super helpful party-planning tips | Cardstore Blog

I decided the best way to pull this all together was to create an invitation in the form of a short “comic book,” using an app that I already had on my iPad. The comic book invite featured photos of the boys in their superhero costumes from Halloween, combined with a few photos of Monster Trucks. The villain in the comic was the “Cake Monster” (or, in other words, my husband dressed up in a monster mask that we had lying around from Halloween). The party was set up as a superhero training camp, and when the Cake Monster made a special appearance, the guests used their newly acquired super-skills to defeat him. (I‘m still hearing about this villain showing up!!)

Plan a party like a pro: 6 super helpful party-planning tips | Cardstore Blog

3. Don’t try to do it all!

It’s really easy to get carried away in things like banners, gift bags, cupcake tags, water bottle wraps, and games… But a party can actually be “overdone”. Not to mention you can become “overdone” from trying to pull all those details together. I’d suggest picking a few details that you believe will really set the party’s tone (or better yet, set it apart from all the rest), and executing those things really well. When I decided to host a Dr. Seuss party for (you guessed it) my boys, I fell in love with the amazing topsy turvey Dr. Seuss cakes I had been seeing online, and I knew I had  to have one for this party. However, there were two big problems with this idea: 1. Dr. Seuss is a licensed property that not many bakeries have the rights to use, and 2. If I could  find a bakery willing to create it, I probably wasn’t going to be able to afford it.

Plan a party like a pro: 6 super helpful party-planning tips | Cardstore Blog

So, I decided I would focus most of my energy on teaching myself how to make my own Dr. Seuss-style topsy turvey cake. This meant I had to cut back on making a ton of other fun Dr. Seuss crafts, so instead, I kept the focus on easier things, like fun food-tags that emphasized the word play that Dr. Seuss is known for.

Plan a party like a pro: 6 super helpful party-planning tips | Cardstore Blog

4. Splashes of color go a long way

An easy way to tie a theme through your whole party is with the use of color. Picking two or three colors and incorporating them into things like your invitation, decorations, and food can really help set the tone for your party, and usually takes very little effort. This is the strategy I used to try and impress all my dear, creative co-workers when we decided, last-minute, to throw Emily (yep, the Emily who writes for this blog) a surprise bridal shower at my house.

Plan a party like a pro: 6 super helpful party-planning tips | Cardstore Blog

With little time to prepare handmade decorations, I used pinks and yellows wherever I could to create the color theme. The themed food included watermelon and pineapple, pink sherbet, and pink cake-pops displayed on a dish of yellow Lemonheads. Sliced lemons held yellow chevron food tags, and I also placed mini-vases of pink gerbera daisies and yellow daisies (from my yard) throughout the party. Even the gifts helped tie the color theme together with pink and yellow wrapping paper and bows!

Plan a party like a pro: 6 super helpful party-planning tips | Cardstore Blog

5. Use what you have

Before making a long list of items to run out and buy for your next party, take inventory of what you already have—either at home, or that you could borrow from friends or family. You’d be surprised at what you can find that would work perfectly as-is, or with just a few modifications! Many years ago I purchased (on clearance) these great wire photo-holders that I use for food tags and decorative signs. I’ve had them for so long, but I use them at almost every celebration I host.

Plan a party like a pro: 6 super helpful party-planning tips | Cardstore Blog

As part of the decorations for the Dr. Seuss party I mentioned earlier, I used old Dr. Seuss books from my childhood, as well as books my boys got as gifts–super cute, on-theme, and FREE! For my sister’s recent backyard wedding, I used glass mason jars (that she already had) for all the flower arrangements and candle lights. During the ceremony, the vows were exchanged under a wooden arbor I borrowed from a friend.

Plan a party like a pro: 6 super helpful party-planning tips | Cardstore Blog
Just a few weeks after the wedding, I hosted a Roaring 20s birthday soirée, and was able to reuse both the jars and arbor to create a speakeasy entrance and walkway.

Plan a party like a pro: 6 super helpful party-planning tips | Cardstore Blog

6. Have FUN at your party!

This might be the best piece of advice I can give anyone, because it’s so easy to get overwhelmed at the event you host. Is everyone having fun? Does everything look perfect? What about the food—does it taste good?!  But when you stop worrying, and start enjoying the wonderful celebration you pulled together, everyone else will enjoy and have fun, too. And as you might be able to see below, I’ve gotten pretty good at telling myself, “Work’s over, it’s time to party!”

Plan a party like a pro: 6 super helpful party-planning tips | Cardstore Blog

With every new event I host, I always learn something new that’ll help me in the future. I hope you’ll find these tips just as useful in planning your next party.

And I’m sure you have a few great party-planning tips, too, so please feel free to share them if you do!

Cheers,
Elizabeth

All photos courtesy of Elizabeth Draeger and Tess Smith Photography

How to make newborn cheesecloth wraps for photo shoots (totally affordable and SO EASY!)

How to make newborn cheesecloth wraps for photo shoots (they're totally affordable & SO EASY!) | Cardstore Blog

Ever since Emily’s gender reveal a few weeks ago, I’ve been in newborn-photo-shoot-prep-mode, anxiously awaiting the day I get to take her sweet little baby’s photos! And that’s pretty much where the theme behind today’s DIY craft comes from: how to make newborn cheesecloth wraps for photo shoots.

A swaddle is a great thing to have on hand for a photo shoot because it’s such an easy way to get your newborn to relax and fall into a deep sleep, allowing you to move around them a little more freely. (Sound familiar? You might remember this from my post a few weeks ago, where I shared some of my favorite newborn photography tips.)

But before we get to the actual how-to, let me just start by saying that these are SO EASY to make. I was actually shocked just how easy and  inexpensive they are! The cheesecloth was only $1 per yard, and the dye was $4 per bottle. I was able to make 7 of these with the cheesecloth I had, and I still have enough dye left over to make approximately 3 billion more wraps :)

How to make newborn cheesecloth wraps for photo shoots (they're totally affordable & SO EASY!) | Cardstore Blog

How to make newborn cheesecloth wraps:

Supplies:

  • 2 yards of white cheesecloth per wrap
  • RIT dye (this handy RIT Color Formula Guide will tell you which dyes to mix to get your desired color)
  • A large bowl or bucket you don’t mind getting stained by the dye
  • A stainless steel spoon for stirring
  • Measuring cups & spoons
  • Scissors
  • Mesh laundry bag (optional but helpful)

Directions:

1. Cut the cheesecloth into 2-yard pieces. It’ll feel like it’s got some serious static cling going on, so unfold it, spread it out, and help it get unstuck from itself.

2. Fill your bowl or bucket with about 8 cups of hot water. (This seemed to be just the right amount so the cheesecloth could move freely in the water.)

3. Add dye according to the formula in the RIT Color Formula Guide. The formulas in the guide are per 1 cup of water, so remember to multiply the amount of dye times 8 to account for the 8 cups of water. (All my colors seemed to come out a bit darker than the guide showed, so if you start seeing that with yours too, you may want to add a couple extra cups of water to dilute the color.)

4. Let the cheesecloth soak for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Rinse it in warm water, and then gradually cooler water, until the water runs clear.

5. If you have a mesh laundry bag, put the cheesecloth inside the bag and wash it on the delicate setting, using free & clear laundry detergent. Then, place the bag into the dryer and dry on low using a free & clear dryer sheet. If you don’t have a mesh laundry bag, hand wash the cheesecloth and air dry.

6. Clean the sink or bucket with a chlorine-based cleaner.

That’s it!

Here’s the 7 colors I ended up with:

How to make newborn cheesecloth wraps for photo shoots (they're totally affordable & SO EASY!) | Cardstore Blog

Formulas used, from left: Light Blue: 1/8 tsp Evening Blue + 1/8 tsp Teal for every 1 cup water; Light Blue-Green: 1/4 tsp Teal for every 1 cup water; Dark Blue-Green: 1 tsp Teal for every 1 cup water; Light Pink: 1/4 tsp Cherry + 1 tsp Tan + 8 cups water; Pink: 1/4 tsp Cherry per 1 cup water; Bright Pink: 1/2 tsp Cherry + 1/2 tsp Tan + 8 cups water; Red: 1/4 tsp Cherry + 1 tsp Tan per 1 cup water

And as always, if you give this a try at home, come back and let us know how they turned out!

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A Care Bears gift guide with a little nostalgia and a lot of fun

Care Bears Stare…at all of these great gift ideas!

How can you not love these little bears?

Putting this gift guide together really brought me back to some great memories of growing up. And with all the great, new Care Bears stuff that’s around now, it’s so nice to be able to share those memories and make new ones with my kids.

There are so many options to choose from, like DVDs, the classic Care Bears, of course, and even costumes. (Do those come in adult sizes?!)

I hope you find some fun gifts for your next party and that this gift guide puts that childhood smile back on your face.

Happy Shopping!

How can you not love the Care Bears?! Here's a gift guide that'll take you back, and help you make some new memories with the next generation of Care-a-Lot.

 

1.| Build-A-Bear Care Bears 2.| Care Bear figurines  3.| Tween costume  4.| Personalized book 5.|  Book bag 6.| Card 7.| Chevron Grumpy bear  8.| Backpack clip 9.| Matching game 10.| Glow-a-Lot Bears 11.| Bearied Treasure DVD 12.| T-shirts at Khol’s (in stores only) 13.| Dune Buggy 14.| Bike

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Desktop Beautification Project – April 2016

April showers bring awesome patterns! Download our April 2016 desktop background wallpaper for free.

Hey gang, it’s Kate, and I’m back with some hand painted desktop wallpapers in honor of April.

Recently, things have been warming up and raining down around here. Storm clouds roll in over the horizon throughout the day, but thankfully, the sun has been hanging around a little longer in the evenings, departing in the most beautiful shades of pink and orange.

Today, I thought I’d share a few painterly patterns inspired by the ever changing skyline of April’s showers and sunsets.

Enjoy!

April showers bring awesome patterns! Download our April 2016 desktop background wallpaper for free.

Download Showers: 2560 x 1440 // 1680 x 1050 // 1440 x 900 // 1280 x 800 // phone

April showers bring awesome patterns! Download our April 2016 desktop background wallpaper for free.

Download Storm Cloud: 2560 x 1440 // 1680 x 1050 // 1440 x 900 // 1280 x 800 // phone

April showers bring awesome patterns! Download our April 2016 desktop background wallpaper for free.

Download Sunset: 2560 x 1440 // 1680 x 1050 // 1440 x 900 // 1280 x 800 // phone

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Desktop Beautification Project – March 2016

Download your free March 2016 wallpaper, and stop back on the first of every month to get your new, free background and iPhone wallpaper.

Hi! My name’s Laura Guardalabene.

As we get closer to spring, lets think about all those new projects we’d like to tackle. Lets challenge ourselves to learn something new, unleash our inner creativity and inspire others.

Go on, let’s get crackin’! 

Download your free March 2016 wallpaper, and stop back on the first of every month to get your new, free background and iPhone wallpaper.

2560 x 1440 // 1680 x 1050 // 1440 x 900 // 1280 x 800 // phone


Laura is a graphic designer who originally hails from Ohio, but now calls Austin, Texas home. When she’s not designing, you can often find her either curled up with her 3-legged pup watching a solid horror or sci-fi flick, or getting a quick game of tennis in–weather permitting.

Desktop Beautification Project – February 2016

Download your free February 2016 wallpaper, and stop back on the first of every month to get your new, free background and iPhone wallpaper.

Hi, everyone! I’m Ani.

Lately one of my favorite color combos I’ve been seeing is hot pink and gold metallics. It looks so fresh!

Lucky for me this is the season for celebrating love, and it’s the perfect time to show those colors off.

Enjoy!

Download your free February 2016 wallpaper, and stop back on the first of every month to get your new, free background and iPhone wallpaper.

2560 x 1440 // 1680 x 1050 // 1440 x 900 // 1280 x 800 // phone


This month’s background was designed by Ani Simpson, a designer in the Surface Design Studio at American Greetings in Cleveland, Ohio