Party Planning with Paperless Post (Product Review)

Wedding season is coming up fast! I'm excited to be working with some amazing couples this Spring and Summer to help them with their special events. It's always fun for me to see what people come up with for their events, and to see their style. It gets my own creative juices flowing as well to see what new and inventive ways people create to celebrate their big event, whether it is a wedding, birthday party, or just a really fancy dinner party.

One thing I've always been curious about are the invitations that people chose to get the word out about their event. The digital age has seemingly taken over, so it makes sense that how we invite people to our event should change a bit as well. From basic invitations to join in on a community even like the Wanderlust 5k that my sister invited me to join her on, to events at a local winery or brewery, to a simple dinner party, getting the word out is how we make things happen. There are a huge variety of ways to get the word out digitally as well. Most people are aware of things like Facebook Events out there for setting up events and sending out digital invitations, but they take away a little bit of the personal touch that can come from a custom designed invitation. That's where Paperless Post can come in and save the day!

Paperless Post is amazing with it's beautiful invites, designed by some of the top names in the design industry. They have curated a collection of designs from Kate Spade to Oscar de la Renta, Vera Wang to Rifle Paper Co. They're choices in design are perfectly curated to meet almost any atmosphere you can dream up. We know, first impressions matter. When you're sending out an invitation the design of your invite can speak volumes. With their beautiful design choices you are sure to have a win with your guests from the time their open their invitation in their inbox, (yes, their email inbox!), to the time they arrive at your event. And there are options for all your invite needs; Wedding, Birthday, Dinner Party, or simple gatherings!

Their system is pretty simple and easy to use. They use a coin system to purchase cards, and to add premium items like the liners for the digital envelopes and other designer touches. You can be as simple or fancy as you'd like, even down to the postmark on the envelope. I used mine to send some beautiful Thank You notes. You can also custom design your own, which gives you boundless opportunity to come up with something truly unique.

As I mentioned before, wedding season is coming up. This is where I am a little hesitant to encourage the use of this product. I know that times are changing and the way we invite people to events has evolved, but I can't get past the desire to still hold something as precious a wedding invitation in my hands. This is a life event that calls out to our hearts, and is a moment that will speak volumes for years to come. Call me old fashioned, but my heart and hands call out for something as precious as this to be given and received in person, through snail-mail, and to be filed away in a scrap book for family history and sentimental value. Paperless Post's sister site, Paper Source can help fill that gap, though!

There, too, they have incorporated the beautifully curated designs and ease of of browsing into their services for those invites that you prefer to send the old fashioned way.

I'm excited to use Paperless Post for future events. It's fun to get something more personalized in your inbox, to know that someone took more than 5 minutes to write up an email invite. You have the opportunity to make the digital invites unique, and add your own little touch with the click of the mouse. Make sure to check them out!


Minecraft Party + Printables

My kids birthdays, all of them, fall within the Holiday season and it can be a challenge to figure out what we're going to do to celebrate. The weather comes into play quite a bit. Is it going to rain? Be freezing cold? We have birthday's the last week of November, the first week of December, and the last week of January. Unlike my birthday, which falls in July, we can't run to the beach for play (unless you love cold days at the beach!) or have water balloon fights. It's a beast of a different kind. This year my children have chosen for the first time in my parenting-life to have birthday parties. You can imagine how that weighs on me! What can we do with lots of kids, mostly indoors? Well, my younger son made it a bit easier on me by choosing a Minecraft theme! So I took to finding some fun Minecraft themed things to do inside. (And an extra something for outside so they could squeal and run around a bit!) This wasn't a party for the weak of heart. We made a ton of messes and it was a ton of fun for everyone.
We started with making Minecraft pops. (Which coincidentally, even though the melting chocolate seized up, was still a win...because who doesn't like candy pops?) For the stand for the pops, I covered a cereal box in construction paper and made fake grass for the display top. They dipped their pops and stuck them in to set up.

Then the kids moved on to making slime. Don't expect this to go perfectly. It was a perfect mess! They loved it, and honestly I did, too. It was all about making memories. I provided little containers from the dollar store (pack of 10 for $1), with a Slime sticker on top so they could take it home. I also provided paper bags for the kids to put their goodies in to take home. The link for the printable stickers is at the end of the post. 
Matthew and some friends decided to spend some time playing video games, so while they did that some of the other kids moved on to making Minecraft keychains with Perler beads. To be honest, I had more paranoia over this than the mess of the slime. I didn't want anyone to get burnt with the iron. (Stay close, adults, to help out! Have the kids let you know when they are ready to melt their project!) I had images of beads everywhere, but I kept everything in a tray on the table which kept everything pretty contained. This was a great activity for the kids who may be a bit on the quiet side or just like the mellowness of sitting still doing something fun and still feel like they're part of the party. And they had another crafty item (or two or three) to take home with them at the end of the party. You can find some fun printable instructions for Perler beads on Pinterest. I printed some out in case they wanted to do those!

 My decorations were super simple. Just a few items from the Dollar Store. And strategic placement of the Ender decor (because my kitchen was a mess. Can I just put in a word here about being real with a house mess? We're all real here. I have kids. We make messes and we don't live in a museum. Dirt and grime, yeah yuck. I try to stay on top of that stuff. But the sink of dirty dishes and piled up mail and some clutter or laundry going in the laundry room? Well, that's real life. I want people to feel welcome in my home, so I'm not making a huge deal out of having a spotless house. No comparing in my little world. You come over to hang out, I'll hand you a cup of Joe or a mimosa and we'll chat real life while I fold a basket of laundry.)

The last hurrah, after cake and presents, before we started wrapping up the party was to let the kids go out and explode some soda. I've got to say, even I was excited about this. We don't have it down to a science, and it wasn't the big explosion we were hoping for (maybe more Mentos???Shake the bottle of soda first???), but the squeals of delight were still worth it!

 Eventually, when they saw there wasn't going to be the spray of soda everywhere, they took it upon themselves to help it along a bit. It was a huge hit, just the same! Yay for messes!

There were a lot of other great ideas that I had in mind, but I figured if we got through these, we'd be good. We sent each child home with their slime, key chains if they had made them, and a little goodie bag with some treats.
 It was a blast. Ultimately, we wanted a happy bunch of kids on a cold rainy-ish day, and that's what we got!
Printables are for private use only. 


Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna (Meatless Meal)

Fall flavors are upon us. Come on, you know you love it! I do love the bounty that the summer provides, but I also love the flavors of Fall. And with it comes a bounty of squash. Big ones, and little ones and all the sizes and colors of the rainbow.

We were recently gifted about 10 lbs of Butternut squash. I am a huge fan. But I also looked at it once I got it in the kitchen and wondered what the heck I was going to do with all of it! Fear not. It's a lot more versatile that I first imagined. Sure it is great simply roasted, but it is also wonderful to use once it is pureed. You can make pie, breads, muffins, ravioli, and in this case, lasagna.

When I first mentioned to my daughter that I was making lasagna with it, she asked if it was going to be sweet. Valid question. Who's heard of sweet lasagna? Maybe a dessert lasagna? But the flavor is actually very subtly sweet, and not overpowering at all.  It's very moist and filling. I only layered Mozzarella between the layers, but it would lend itself to a stronger flavored cheese as well. It would be especially good with a goat cheese, or a Gorgonzola.

I will definitely be making more of this to freeze and take out when we have after-school activities, or when I know I'll need something to pop into the oven in a hurry. It would also be a lovely meal to gift to a family!  

Recipe follows the picture.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna

Feeds 5-6 (maybe more if your family don't eat very large portions)

  • 2 small squash, peeled, cleaned, and chopped
  • 1 lb bag of frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
  • 2 cups of grated Mozzarella
  • 1 cup of Ricotta
  • Oven Ready Lasagna Noodles
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan, optional
Salt and Pepper your squash and douse with a little olive oil. Roast the butternut squash on a baking sheet for about 1 hour, or until fork tender. 

Spray a 9x9 inch baking dish with oil and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350.

When the squash has cooled slightly, add it to a blender with the ricotta, garlic and some salt to taste. Blend until smooth. Mix together with the chopped Spinach in a bowl. I didn't bother to drain the Spinach before mixing it together with the squash knowing that the pasta would absorb the moisture.

Start assembling the lasagna by placing about ½ cup of the squash and spinach filling in the bottom of the baking dish and spread it thinly to cover. Lay out a layer of the noodles, then ½ cup of the Mozzarella. 

Spread about a cup of the filling on top of the cheese using a flat spatula. Repeat until you have filled the pan. Then put a layer of cheese on the top. (If you have leftover filling, save it and freeze it for another time!)

Last, I sprinkled some Parmesan on top. 

Cover the lasagna with foil and place on a baking sheet, and into the oven for about an hour. During the last 15-20 minutes remove the foil if you like some color on your cheese. 

Let rest for ten minutes before serving.


St Januarius Printable

Today is the feast day of St Januarius, a bishop, who died as a martyr. Find attached a simple print out that can colored. I think we might use some bubble paint to color the vial of blood.

Some stories say that not only does his blood liquefy, but they say some times that it boils. Arts and crafts, and some church history all in one!

Grab your copy here.


Journaling Freebies #2

Time for some fun freebies for August, my friends!

Included are some beautiful quotes by the lovely Gemma Galgani, JPII, and Rose of Lima. This time I also included some little journaling cards in pretty pastel colors that have cactus pattern as the background. Some other sweet little goodies, too.

 Enjoy, and I hope that they are beneficial for your time spent in prayer!

Click here to download


Appreciating the Artist

There is a common misconception that anyone will be willing to work, donate or volunteer their services....for free or for exposure. Because, "I really appreciate your work and thought you could add to the atmosphere". Because they are a creative. Because, "I'm your friend". Because, "This will be awesome exposure!", or because the consumer thinks that they are doing you a favor because they see you struggling to put your work out there. I don't want to begin to talk about how much the price tag is for creatives to make their art. Anyone willing to take the time to appreciate those numbers is to be commended. 

Here is why I'm covering this subject right now. One thing I've been working on in the last few years has been appreciating myself, my efforts, and my successes. I've worked hard. I've struggled. I've overcome a lot of things. And yet, my focus has always been on just getting the next thing done. I've never taken the time to sit back and appreciate much of what I've done. Society, inner voices, some less than stellar people push this notion that no matter what you do, you'll never be enough. Those things make it easy to bypass feeling good about your work and your efforts. It's important to appreciate our successes, though. Even the little ones. How we see ourselves, how we value ourselves and our work radiates out from ourselves. So if I see value in my work and appreciate the value in my struggle whether it is in making or creating something, or whether it is a personal and private struggle, then likely others will see the value in it as well. How we present ourselves tells others how to value us and our work. If they choose to devalue or not appreciate the value in what I've done or who I am...well that is their choice. But I believe it is right and just to appreciate people and appreciate how they value themselves and their work. My time, my effort, my expenses for my work...others will not appreciate their value if I don't first set a standard for it. It's important to set a standard for how you want to be valued.

It is also equally important to appreciate the standards that others set for themselves and for the value of their work.

Teachers come to mind when I think of artists. Teachers are oftentimes expected to work for little and put in their own money to pay for school supplies, etc. The teachers that I'm friends with have spoken about the lack of appreciation for their work, and have shown frustration with how their work is viewed. Undervalued. Does the general public not understand all the extra time and effort and money that the teacher puts into the care of their students? Likewise...Is the artist/musician/photographer/graphic designer expected to put in the time, effort, and cost of supplies...only to be reimbursed for only part of what they've invested? Or no reimbursement at all? You would see it as incredibly rude to say to a teacher, or a musician, or any other number of creative people that you'd have them donate what costs them money... We all need to survive. Our arts need to be appreciated. 

Our time, our experience, our art has value.
What I'd like to propose is the Art of Appreciation. We need to see the value in the other and we need to appreciate it. Would we walk into the Louvre and proclaim that those artists didn't need to be paid? Or the Sistine Chapel? People who have spent their life invested in something greater than themselves deserve to be valued. Their value is higher than any dollar amount we can place on their work and yet....They only have value now, many years later because we decide that now it has value? Everyone needs to make a living and be appreciated. The Creative makes their living with what many consider something that isn't really able to be practically priced. To that I say, "What about the supplies? The time? The talent? Electricity?" Before we go and devalue someone and their art, we need to pause and appreciate what we are asking of this person. Let's practice lifting one another up in each of our chosen areas of expertise, valuing one anothers time and talents. 


Gratia Goodies-- Journaling Goodies

In the spirit of experimentation, I pulled some of my doodles and hand~lettering into Illustrator and PS to make some printable goodies for journaling and such. I'm totally new to this type of thing, so I'm still working out the kinks and learning my way. But I thought I'd share this set of cuties for you to enjoy in the mean time!

What I love about this sort of technique of sharing art is that I can basically doodle, paint or draw whatever I want and make it into something useful, practical and shareable! I can't wait to try it out with some of my color work, and some of the sayings that I've painting with watercolors and acrylics. Can't wait to bring some more of my ideas to life as well.

Enjoy guys!

Download your set here.

p.s. if you use them, tag me in your pictures so I can see what fun stuff you're doing! -->     @artisticceleste on IG


July Planner Printables

Welcome to my first set of Calendar tabs and printables! 
I'm so excited about this. It was so fun to make, I loved using my artwork for something useful, and I get to share it with you guys. All things that I love

This was something that I'd had on my mind for a while. While bible journaling and using my planner, I noticed that there are a lot of fellow Christians out there that are making fun calendar and printable stuff. But my frustration came in looking at the specifics of our Catholic faith. I love a lot of what I see out there but I wanted to add in more specifics to the Liturgical calendar, feast days, saints, and the like.

That said, it's my first go at this so I hope you'll be understanding of the imperfections. I am working specifically with Catholic Sistas Day Planner while I'm planning out my tabs and such, so they are specific to the calendar day-square size found within the planner. In the future I'd like to make it more adaptable to other planners to make it work for more people. I have a list of ideas that I'm working on for next months tabs, some small tweaks and size changes. Over time I think that they'll get better and better. And I'm hoping for your input, so bring me your ideas guys and leave me some comments with what you think would be fun to add in for the future! 

Grabs your copies for July at the links below! 


Month of the Most Precious Blood

Download your free desktop and phone background for July, the month of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. 


Nudgings from the Divine

Many months of pondering, and praying, and after many years of feeling nudged to do something have lead up to a moment...The moment that I finally give in and say "Yes" to the nudge that has been at me for years to do something. I've always used my talents. I've used them in the moments and in the ways that seemed to fit at the time. I've always been pretty generic about it though, but the nudge to use my talent in some faith-inspired way has continued on for years now. The struggle to actually do it...that is where I got caught up in this thing.

What is that thing? Judgement. Being judged. Being different. Doing something that is so specific that maybe no one will even want it, and then...then what? There has been fear. Fears that no one will care what I'm doing, and it'll all tank.

I had to get to this point in my faith journey where it was me saying to myself, "You have to do something one way or another. You can't live this fractured existence."

So I'm going to do something about it, friends. I'm going to embrace the nudging, which I can only guess is the Holy Spirit, to do what I feel I'm being called to. I know I'm called to create. And now I'm going to create for Him. There will be a hint of faith-inspiration, likely, in everything that you see from here on out. Because I can't get away from it. It inspires me. My hope is that, my friends who are of no faith, or a different faith will still be able to find some beauty and value in what I do. I hope you'll find use for what ever I may share to further your own journey.



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