The FIRST EVER Catholic Journaling Bible.

At the end of August, I woke up to a text from Jenna of Blessed is She asking if I thought it at all possible to design the entire Bible in a month. I remember thinking "I don't know if I can, but I will make it happen."

We got contracts signed and a game plan in place and then I got news that my grandfather was declining quickly and I needed to get home to say my goodbyes. The Bible was going to require some work that I hadn't anticipated (ie adjusting every single footnote and endnote on every single page). 

The rest is quite a blur. My grandfather passed away. I went home twice. I grieved and I drew and I knew this project was the biggest I'd ever been given. 

And the result blows my mind and my heart. How my hands were chosen for this task. How quickly I had to work, which was a blessing so that I couldn't get in my own way. It was all divinely cared for and I was just the vessel. 

You can purchase the Bible on Blessed is She. I've been getting a lot of messages about what pens to use in the Bible. The pages are slightly thinner than we hoped, but luckily they won't bleed. Here are some good options:

My hope is that this is a Bible that can be passed down from generation to generation. Where all your notes and experience can be given to your daughters and your daughters' daughters. 

Saint Andrew's Christmas Novena

For my confirmation, my grandmother framed a prayer that was written by hand by her mother and gave it to me. Years later it has become my all time favorite month of prayer in the whole year.

Everyday from Nov 30 to Christmas, you pray this prayer 15 times in a row. It becomes very meditative and I'm usually pretty sad on Christmas when it's the last day of reciting it.

I've only told a few people this story, but three years ago, I was really unhappy with my job - was perpetually trying to figure out my place in the world, what I was called to do. For my Christmas Novena, I prayed about it and asked guidance. In the last days, I started thinking about being a calligrapher. Don't ask me why. I still didn't even know how to use the pen correctly (I always tell my students that I used the wrong side of the nib for FOUR months before figuring it out).

Case in point, this present that I made for my spiritual director that year. I mean, it was really bad:

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But at the end of the Novena I told this guy I was talking to "I know this is crazy, but I think I'm going to be a calligrapher." He literally laughed at me and told me that wasn't a real job and asked me if I would just put a sign on my bike saying "calligrapher." I kind of brushed it off and went about my life.

A year later when people asked me what I did for a living, I honestly was able to say, "I am a calligrapher." I still don't understand how that all happened, but I can say that it has all felt as a divine grace that carries me.

Last year 10 seconds (literally) after finishing my last of the 15 times of the day on Christmas, the guy I was currently talking to facetimed me, switched the camera for me to see where he was and asked if it was my parent's house. I swear I had just talked to him earlier that day when he was in New York City. He brought presents for my whole family and asked me to be his girlfriend. It was so magical. I wanted to be bitter about it (I'm good at that) and say well, that went sour a few months later. But holy moly what a year it has been. That relationship and breakup taught me more this year than I'd learned in almost any other year about relationships and life and love. I have grown exponentially and don't even know if that man standing there a year ago would recognize the woman I am today. In all of that I see the answer to my prayers.

So a day late because yesterday was pure insanity over here, I wrote out the prayer that you can put on your phone and desktop to remember to pray each day. I hope it brings you many many blessings as it has for me. You can download below:

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saint-andrew-novena

Hold Me in the Uncertainty.

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happy-people

Last night I texted my spiritual director (God bless that man for putting up with me - I mean who texts a priest at 8pm and gets a response). I was feeling a little sad because the chilled air and dark evening reminded me of this time last year. I met a man who I really truly, more than ever before believed I would marry. And so there I was feeling the sadness growing in my body. I know myself pretty well by now so I know that I cannot sit in the sadness too long without reaching out to someone. I told him I was sad, but that I also knew that the sadness was that same old fear that I'd never find anyone. Father Michael responded to me, "Fear preys on us when we allow it to fester. Why waste time in sadness and fear? You need to literally count your blessings."

Oh, right - Marylouise had just shown me a quote earlier in the day "it's not happy people that are grateful, it is grateful people who are happy." I know this. So I got to counting my blessings. My oh my, I really do have so many. Who cares that last year I had a million hopes for my future with S, it does not make this holiday season bad - just different.  The sadness lifted. I became grateful for the experience of a man flying across the country and showing up on my doorstep Christmas night - because really, how many people get to experience that kind of excitement in life?

Father Michael also sent me his homily from this weekend. It was brilliant, per usual, but the part that I can't stop thinking about today is the idea that God works in uncertainty. The whole world seems a bit uncertain these weeks. But it is in the uncertainty that we allow room for God to work, to fill that empty space.

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last-minute-thanksgiving-tips-for-the-most-memorable-gathering-ever-1984225-1479508885-640x0c

This morning I opened my inbox and saw an email from MyDomaine, which I get every day, but today my name was included. I get to work a lot with this particular client - she's very faithful to me. I knew my work would be in the article, but I didn't know she would say such nice things. I was filled with the kind of good pride that recognizes that I am using the talents I have been given.

My instagram is full of photos that people have tagged me in with the Advent Journal and Jesse Tree Cards that I designed for Blessed Is She. All the women are saying how excited they are to join us for the 4 weeks of Advent leading to Christmas. I am filled with the kind of good pride that recognizes that I am using the talents that I have been given.

I spent my day painting a wedding invitation for a sweet couple as well as a holiday card for a client who is opening a new children's boutique. I got four email inquiries for upcoming projects. I am filled with the good pride that recognizes that I am using the talents that I have been given.

What a joy. I have so much to be grateful for.

But you see, it wasn't always that way. I was thinking about the time that I lived in Brooklyn at Heart's Home. They so kindly let me rent a room in their house upon my return from Brazil as I figured out what in the world I was going to do with my life. I would come down for breakfast at the big table, everyone else had already been up for an hour and had eaten breakfast so I would sit at the table with my laptop. And I would search for jobs. And I would apply for jobs. The others would come in and out and ask me if I was having any luck today. Sometimes I would tell them about "the perfect position for me" that I had just found and sometimes I would sigh and say "nothing."

I started nannying right when I got there and had 4 really lovely babies who I spent my days with, but I hadn't gotten a very expensive college degree to do the same thing I did when I was 10. (Don't get me wrong, I love those children like they are my own, to this day). Times were so uncertain for me. It took me 10 months to find another job. I really thought that a salaried job was the ticket for me! I would finally feel settled and happy. I quickly learned that I didn't like it and I wanted to know how those people were at a coffee shop in the middle of the day on a Tuesday.

I eventually moved to Los Angeles. Again so much uncertainty. Another five months of job hunting and coming up with nothing that was going to fit my desired commute time, salary and position. My anxiety was through the roof and I just had no idea which way to turn. Nothing seemed right.

And only in this uncertainty did I allow any room for God to work. I took this leap of faith (it was as scary as jumping off a cliff) and I would send a plea of desperation in my daily prayer. Today I am in awe of what has happened. I am filled with the kind of good pride that recognizes that I am using the talents that I have been given.

All the questioning and searching and begging and hoping and wondering led me here. Right here at my desk, typing on my computer (sitting next to my best friend also over there typing on her computer). I get to teach (my lifelong dream), make things for non-profits who are helping people, design things for women seeking to grow closer to God, make name cards for pretty dinner parties, design books, write a book and go to a coffee shop on a Tuesday afternoon.

Awe and wonder is my only response.

But, of course, I still doubt. There is just that one tiny area that too often think that God won't take care of, that will be doomed forever. I despair in the uncertainty. 

Today I remind myself to remain in hope. To prepare the way. I am so grateful to be in a Church that meets me in the cyclical nature of life. It provides me with this upcoming time of Advent that is all about hope and peace and joy and that is exactly what I need.

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print4of63

I will be bringing the uncertainty of life to the manger in the morning.

Ralphs Friendsgiving.

Last week we styled the Ralphs Friendsgiving for some amazing food bloggers. We turned Eat Street Culinary into a cozy place for friends to gather around the table. Amber Thrane and Karla Sampson of Dulcet Creative took gorgeous photos and Lex and Loren Brinton of Brinton Films caught it all on video. You can check out the video released over at Ralphs today!

We started out with this as our canvas:

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And turned it into this:

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I bought all the florals at the Los Angeles Flower Market to make a eucalyptus table runner, a few bouquets and

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and a garland for the Give Thanks sign.

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The Apple Butter Cocktail was our signature drink for the evening.

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Since the room was so stark, I wanted to create a little living room type scene to welcome the guests in. I found some chairs on Apartment Therapy Classifieds and paired them with a simple coffee table and gorgeous bar cart.

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The bloggers all cooked a new recipe, which you can find over on the video page.

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I got the wooden plates at Crate and Barrel and collected purple and amber goblets. I used my gold flatware from CB2 and purple napkins from Cost Plus World Market. For a take home party favor, I wrote on white plates with each blogger's handle and the #ilovemyralphs hashtag! (I used this pen)

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It was such a fun collaboration! Hope you have a beautiful and lovely thanksgiving full of many things to be grateful for!

Vectorize Your Hand Lettering.

hannah-hoggatt-photoraphy_0025 It is one thing to be able to do calligraphy, brush lettering or any other hand lettering techniques, but it is another to be able to digitize it.

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When I learned how to do that, it was a real game changer for me. It took my hand lettering hobby and made it into a viable business.

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I am so excited to finally be teaching a class of my best techniques to do this easily. In this class you will learn how to take your work on paper and vectorize it, enabling you to make beautiful prints, holiday cards, lettering photo overlays for your social media, logos and more.

You will learn how to fix common errors and keep your lettering looking natural and hand done.

Please note that you will need to already have basic skills of hand lettering and bring your own favorite supplies to create something at the class or come with a few pieces of work prepared to digitize. Plus, you will need to bring your own laptop with Adobe photoshop and illustrator - if you don't have those programs, it's okay! The day before the class, you can start a free trial of the Adobe Creative Cloud.

You can purchase your ticket over at Makers Mess here!