Action Bronson Valentines Day CardThere’s no doubt I love all the cards I post on 8Balloons, but every so often one shop stands out from the rest and I found that with the awesomely witty illustrated cards by Diamond Donatello, based in Toronto. Her cards resonate with everyone because of the pop culture and hip-hop references. If you follow me on Instagram, it’s no secret I have an affinity towards all things paper and hip-hop…especially Wu-Tang Clan. Don’t believe me? Just review all the Wu-themed birthday cakes I’ve had over the years.

To continue our Valentine’s Day card series, I wanted to highlight Diamond’s Valentine’s Day cards for the hip-hop romantic in your life. However, as you’ll see below, I couldn’t resist featuring a few others because, well, they are just that good!

Wutang Clan Valentines Day CardKanye Valentines Day CardAndre 3000 Valentines Day CardAir Jordans Valentines Day CardSteve Jobs Valentines Day CardKim Kardashian Birthday Card

valentines day cup wrappers

With January almost in the “books,” it’s time to get prepared for a fun-filled February!

To help get ready to turn the “page” for the year’s shortest month, here are some sweet February-themed Printables that you’ll hopefully heart as much as I do.

read my lips printablesEat Drink Chicvalentines-day-free-printable-NoBiggie.net_NoBiggieFree-Valentines-Printables-GoldA Night Owl Blog

Hooray Today Better Together

I frequently look to my fellow 8Balloons blogger, Andrea, for new stationary companies. The reason is obvious: because she just has such darn good taste and she never disappoints! This is especially true with the shop she has shared with me for today: Hooray Today! I adore Hooray Today’s line for the simple fact that they understand the everyday card and that you don’t have to have a specific reason or holiday to send one and brighten up someone’s day. Allison Black and Alyssa Nassner, the lovely ladies behind the brand, fill their illustrations with happiness and a contagious wit that spills off the card and is passed on to anyone who so much as glances at one of their delightful creations!

Hooray Today Kitty Cone CardHooray Today Balloon AnimalHooray Today You're The ShitHooray Today Hang in ThereHooray Today Dots

Hartland Brooklyn You Rock

I can’t believe the Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hanukkah/New Years holidays are over and January is coming to a close so soon. I feel as if I was just navigating through the end-of-the-year holiday months. Not to worry though, because that means another one of my favorite holidays, Valentine’s Day, is fast approaching. Valentine’s Day cards brings the best out in so many of my favorite shops because it’s a holiday that we can have fun whether single or attached! Not to mention who does’nt appreciate a good pun! These are just some I adore:

{First Image via Hartland Brooklyn}

La Familia Be MimeLa Familia Greengotamagogotamago You're the One Pho MegotamagoFat Bunny Press Love Note CityFat Bunny PressInk Meets Paper So Glad I Found You Letterpress CardInk Meets Paper

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The “Creative Space” — one of the most essential parts to one’s creative process. It could be anywhere that brings you your best ideas. Whether it’s a traditional desk/office area, a coffee shop, library, subway, or even washing your hair in the shower. For me, it is my desk area because I dedicate that space to productive time. I don’t dilly-dally while there. I must admit the real ideas don’t come in a perfectly organized space, they come at all times during the day. Especially in the most chaotic settings. That’s life though. Messy. But when it comes time to organize these wonderful ideas, I like to do so in a clean, organized and dedicated space. I keep my walls bare (also because I rent my walls) and I only leave a few items out in view, such as my favorite cards I’ve received or ones I’ve yet to write to write about. And my computer, where all my inspiration is stored and where all things can become possible.View More: More: More:

Hooray Today

Last year, around this time, I decided to take on a challenge from Fawnsberg – 60 days of letter writing. New(ish) to Instagram at the time, I began to document my letter writing there. Through documenting my progress, I met other people who were taking part in Fawnsberg’s challenge; two in particular were as avid about letter writing as I was.  As 60 days drew to an end, one of the women suggested that we continue the challenge for 365 days. I couldn’t resist the idea. In the first 60 days, I’d met lovely people, and found penpals! The last time I had written a penpal was sometime in the 1980s, so I was very pleasantly surprised to find that there are still loads of people trading letters.  It turns out snail mail is alive and well! I love that it takes the connectivity of the internet to bring people together to send missives the old-fashioned way.

I have loved everything about the 365 days of letter writing challenge. Besides feeding my already mildly out of control stationery and washi tape obsession, this challenge has allowed me time to reflect each day while sending a little love out into the world. I’ve reconnected with old friends who share a passion for snail mail and I’ve met such lovely, generous people who send mail that brightens my day. I’ve also discovered card lines that I wasn’t previously aware of, some local to me, and some international. Over the course of the 365 days, I have received happy mail on days when I truly needed a smile. I’ve continuously seen the kindness of people. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet Julie, and to contribute to this blog. Here are some of my favorite cards from #365daysofletterwriting. First up (above image) is this smile-inducing, super sweet card from Hooray Today. This has to be one of my favorite lines of cards.  This card went out to Kristine, one of the lovelies who I met at the beginning of my letter-writing journey, a fellow paper lover, who I so enjoy corresponding with.

Archivist Press

I am such a sucker for letterpress cards. I love the feel of these cards and the idea of the cards being printed this way. Archivist Press is a stationery line from the UK. These cards are truly a thing of beauty.Little Otsu

I’m such a fan of florals. I also have the habit of card shopping while travelling. One of my fave shops is Wild Card in Pittsburgh. This one came from there, and went out to a penpal I met via a Valentine’s Day card swap. She is one of the most creative and thoughtful people I’ve met.  This Little Otsu card features a painting by Becca Stadtlander.Flakes Paperie

Repping for my hometown. I found a number of great Toronto cards featuring the city’s landscape. This is one of the holiday cards I sent out from Flakes Paperie.This card went out to another old friend I reconnected with through this project. She’s living in Brooklyn now, but a piece of her heart will always be in Toronto.Warren Tales

This Warren Tales card is so sweet. Lindsey, the creator of Warren Tales is the wise person who suggested that we take on #365daysofletterwriting. She is a poet with an appreciation for puns and good design. I feel a kinship with Lindsey though I’ve never met her. We believe in something simple: send more mail. This card went out to a dear friend, who is always supportive.

This project has brought me such joy. I’m not sure what I’ll do in 2015 – if I’ll send a letter a day. I know I’ll still be snail mailing though. I can’t help it. It’s pure joy.

Continue to follow Andrea and her beautiful finds on:

I can’t believe 2015 is only hours away! This year has strangely felt as though it has gone by quickly at times and at other times slowly. I guess that is life though. I still find it so fascinating that we can feel stagnant and that things cannot change and then within a blink of an eye, so many changes can happen. That is what this year has represented to me. New job, new apartment (now moving once again), 8Balloons back up and running, traveling, and so many beautiful new friendships along the way. Although I am still in the process of working towards my goals and dreams, I feel a little smarter, clear-headed and confident this year. So, in looking back, I have gained something from this year. I don’t typically like thinking about New Years too much because I don’t like the pressure it puts on one’s self. Today, tomorrow, in two week’s from now can represent a new year for you. However, it is nice to reflect on the full year and hopefully have gained something from it. Since I don’t love putting pressure on myself about this new year approaching, I also don’t love the idea of New Year’s resolutions because for the most part they don’t stick. I rather think of resolutions as more of a compass of what you plan your intentions to be throughout the year. Some of my intentions this year are to work more efficiently on my passion project, volunteer more often, make 8Balloons even better, learn to cook, become a little more fearless, spend more time with loved ones, and learn to be present in the moment more often.

I am also just so grateful for my online community and the inspiration I have gained from so many of you! Happy New Year to you and your family!

xo, Julie
Parrot Design StudioParrot Design Studio

I hope everyone is looking forward to a fresh beginning in only a matter of days. I know I’m ready! I tend to reflect a lot around this time and I also look to prepare my year ahead and what I want and need to achieve. With this, comes the ever so needed planner for all things work, play and passion projects and I think I found it in the 2015 Passion Planner. The Passion Planner is described as the life coach that fits in your backpack. It not only tracks your daily needs but helps you achieve your goals. How you may ask? It balances both your personal and work projects while prompting you to prioritize and focus on one item to focus on every day, week, and month. I finally feel as though I found one solid planner that will allow me to plan out all my freelance jobs, daily life, plus my passion projects. Here are just a few more pros:

  • Weekly appointment calendars that run from January 2014 – December 2014
  • Two prioritized to-do lists (one for personal and one for work)
  • Designated sections for annual, monthly, weekly and daily focus goals
  • Weekly “good things that happened” log
  • Weekly inspirational quotes and corresponding weekly challenges
  • Blank space to tailor the journal to your needs (draw, journal, take notes, etc.)
  • Annual goal setting guide to help you brainstorm, define, and create actions for your goals  your lifetime, 3 year, 1 year, and one month goals.
  • Monthly check in reflection pages and questions
  • Annual and monthly overview calendars 2015 Passion Planner

image via Kate eats cake

Last week I shared some wonderful gift ideas from Anthropologie for under $25 that reassured me it’s very possible to give something unique to a loved one without breaking the bank. I wanted to share some more beautiful gift ideas that are from $25-$50 this week for those people you wanted to splurge for! Rest assured though, it’s not the amount you spend, it’s how you treat them throughout the year too! Okay…now for the pretty eye candy!

Henri BendelHenri BendelLaura MercierLaura Mercier Almond Coconut Honey BathMaiLin JewelryMai Lin JewelryKate SpadeKate SpadePeppermint BarkWilliams-Sonoma

One of my all-time favorite shops and the reason for my love of letterpress is McBitterson’s. They display everything I love about letterpress: cute, detailed designs, and most importantly sharp wit. My all-time favorite holiday card to give is the “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” card so much so I order extras to keep for myself. Every time I think they can’t come up with any more clever creations, McBitterson’s does and this year they certainly didn’t disappoint! Not just with the holidays, but year round fun occasions.

McBittersons Shop GrandmaMcBittersons MistletoeMcBittersons Your BirthMcBittersons You Go GirlMcBittersons ShaveMcBittersons Unicorn BabyMcBittersons Penguin