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Advice For My Brother: Baby Gifts

July 13, 2012

This is my brother:

He’s at that age where his summers are full of weddings, bachelor parties, and engagement parties. His vacations days are spent traveling to weddings. He is a pretty proper guy with a big heart, and always wants to do the right thing. In order to do the right thing, he often asks me questions. I am going to start answering his questions here – because I am sure other people have the same question too!

Today’s Question: “I just found out that my buddy’s wife is 6 months pregnant, I had no idea. Is it too late to send a gift?”

Answer:
Lucky you! It is not too late to send a gift, in fact, it’s too early. First, if you are friendly with the wife, send her a quick email of congratulations. Admit that you had no idea she was pregnant, but that you are excited for her and the buddy. Wish her well. Quick email – she will appreciate it.

Then, wait. For about 3-4 months. When you get word that Little Buddy is born, then we can talk gifts.
Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Pottery Barn Toddler Hooded Towel – I love giving a bigger towel, because the kids will use it past those first few months.
2. Burp Cloths: Monogrammed from Moonbeam Baby – Parents are proud of the name they came up with for their tot – help them show it off.
Burpy Bibs from Aden and Anais – These last forever. When baby is done with the “spitting up” phase, they have cute snaps and can be used as bibs during the messy eating phase.
3. Board Books: Send your favorite childhood books from Amazon.
4. Baby Clothes: I love to get an outfit that a parent probably wouldn’t buy themselves.
Softest ever PJs from Kissy Kissy.
Sweetest bubble from CPC Designs – monogrammable!

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How to Buy Stationery

April 16, 2012

It may seem like writing a note is a lost art. It is so much easier to dash off a quick email than find a pen, write the note, look up the address, find a stamp and find a mailbox. Plus, you don’t have stationery in the house.

Let’s fix that one.

Everyone should have a few notecards on hand to dash off notes of thanks, congratulations, well wishes or condolences. Here are my tips on buying paper that you will actually write on.

Step 1: Think about why you are writing
A sympathy letter is different than a thank you for your new Kitchen Aid mixer.
The paper your note is penned on should reflect that.
A sympathy note calls for simple, unadorned stationery. I recommend a flat card – because I am never writing an epic novel – just a few words to let the recipient know I am thinking about them.

A thank you note can be a little more fun, and a reflection of your personality. If your favorite color is bright orange – go for it!

Step 2: Think about what you are writing
If the thought of finding a pen is daunting – then the idea of writing a long note will be even more daunting. Just remember – it really is the thought that counts — and not necessarily the many, many thoughts that count. If you are not a man/woman of many words – get a flat notecard. Just writing Dear So-and-so, will take up half the card.

However, if your best pal just got engaged, and a simple “congratulations” won’t cut it – write the history of your friendship on a foldover note. (The fold over note also applies if you have a lot to say in a thank you note for a week at the beach, or wishing your sister-in-law a speedy recovery from that tumble she took on that double black diamond last week.)

Step 3: Think about who are you are writing
If you are job hunting, and need to thank a potential employer for an interview, your note should be simple, and no-nonsense. A hand-bordered note with your monogram or name at the top is appropriate. Depending on the industry, you can go traditional (navy blue, red, hunter green) or something a little more fun (pale blue, lime green).

If you are writing friends and family, you can have something that reflects you. Are you an avid sailor? Do you love elephants? Little things that speak of you, will make the recipient smile.

Step 4: Would you like to receive it in the mail?
Lastly, and importantly – if you don’t like it, you won’t use it. If your favorite color is blue – don’t stray from that. If you are more casual – go for a more casual notecard. There are so many styles, colors, kinds of stationery to choose from, there is no reason to settle on something you don’t love.
Personally, I recommend two kinds of stationery – one more formal, and one more fun. This way you have something on hand for every occasion.

If you simply can’t decide, or have questions – don’t hesitate to contact me, and I can walk you through the process!

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Stationery for Kids

March 19, 2012

It’s never too early to get your children in the habit of writing thank you notes for gifts they receive.
It’s polite, and you know that Grandma is hanging that note proudly on the fridge!
If you get your child writing notes early, you will have the most polite teenager in high school. And who doesn’t want that!

BABY
If you are sending thank you notes from your baby – then choose a note that you like, but since it’s from your baby, it can have a nursery theme. For personalized baby stationery, a first and middle name is sweet and not too formal.

TODDLER
At this age, your child may be able to contribute to the thank you note, by either signing his name, or drawing a picture of the gift. Make sure you leave room on the notecard for his contribution. Stationery for toddlers can be adorable but it doesn’t have to be cutesy. Don’t be afraid to show your child’s interest. If your little guy is into animals – go for a note featuring an animal from the zoo. If your sweet girl is into fairies – embrace it! To personalize the note you can still do a first and middle name here, or simply the first name or nickname.

CHILD – TWEEN
Once your child can start penning her own notes, I strongly recommend the foldover note. The amount of paper may seem daunting to you – but you have little handwriting. For your little guy the more space the better! You can still stick with something the child likes, or you can go with notes to grow with – i.e. – notes that feature a favorite color – but maybe not the fairy anymore. For your younger child, I recommend the first name or nickname.

CAMP NOTES
If you are sending your kid off to sleep away camp – definitely encourage them to write! Do so by sending them off with some cool stationery, some pens – and pre-addressed and stamped envelopes! Address some to mommy and daddy, aunts and uncles, BFFs and grandparents.

TEEN
At this point, your teenager can pick his or her own notecards. They still do not have to be formal – and they should certainly be something that your kid is attracted to. If they don’t like it – they won’t write on it. And if they aren’t writing on it, then Great Aunt Mary will never be thanked for the gift card she gave at graduation. Go with mature themes, and colors – simple borders. At this point the note should be monogrammed or personalized with the first and last name. A flat notecard is good for this age group – as they never want to say too much anyway.

I had a really hard time picking favorites for this post. There are just so many fabulous notes for babies, children and teens! Check out the website for more!

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You Nailed The Interview – Now You Need to Say Thanks

March 8, 2012

I recently read an article on businessinsider.com by a person who does frequent hiring. She encouraged writing a thank you email over a handwritten note after an interview.

She makes some good points (read the post here) – mostly about lag time between the interview and the arrival of the note, and she thinks that the handwritten note is antiquated.

Here is where I agree with her. If you go on an interview – you should absolutely, 100% write a thank you note. The interviewer took time out of their day to speak with you, and they should be acknowledged for that. Also, a follow-up shows that you are interested in the job – and keeps your name fresh in the interviewer’s mind.

Here is where I disagree – that the thank you should come in an email. Is writing a handwritten note a bit antiquated? – sure – but how many times do you simply skim over a non-urgent email? I have found that the thank you email gradually falls to the bottom of my inbox, and is soon forgotten.
On the other hand, a thank you, an actual note that arrives in the mail, that has to be delivered to your actual desk is an incredibly memorable piece of paper. I find it hard to read a handwritten note and then toss it in the trash. I tend to save it on my desk for a week then, eventually throw it out. But for that week, that note is staring at me, a constant reminder of the writer.

Of course if you have a question, or a need to confirm a second interview – send the email. But I would send the pen and paper note as well. Your interviewer will read your email right after you meet, then 2 days later, receive another reminder of you. A reminder that shows that you organized, and interested — interested enough to find a stamp and take part in an antiquated tradition of thanking someone for their time.

Classic Notecards

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Dumptruck Party

February 22, 2012

Two weekends ago we threw Charlie’s first birthday party. (I am still recovering.)
Since the squirt is only one, our options on themes were green beans and blueberries, or trucks. Since Charlie is the only one of his little pals that actually likes green beans, we went with the truck theme. The stationery we chose gave this theme a good start.

We started with these invitations from Stacy Claire Boyd:

first birthday party invitation

Stacy Claire Boyd Party Invitation and Return Envelope Sticker

From there, we used toys from the toy chest, and quick shopping trip at Target to tie the party together.

Table

Birthday Lunch Table

We used toy trucks as the weights for the balloons:

Balloon weights

See, you can see the little trucks holding down the balloons

We picked up these plates and napkins from Meri Meri (not for sale by Brown Dog Ink, but I love them enough to tell you where to get them) :

Truck plates by Meri Meri

Truck napkins by Meri Meri

I was also able to tie in Charlie’s love for blueberries. I baked a blueberry cake with cream cheese frosting, and put a little dumptruck on top with the candle:

Dumptruck Cake and Cookies

I filled the little dumptruck with blueberries. I also used his favorite toy dumptruck and filled it with sugar cookies shaped like the number 1.

Everything made the birthday boy very happy! Who was wearing overalls by our friends at CPC Designs – with a little car on the front.

Birthday Boy!

We finished everything off by sending out custom Thank You notes by Stacy Claire Boyd.

Dump truck thank you note

Having a themed party was easier than I thought! I don’t know how I will top it next year – but I am sure I will be inspired by the stationery first!

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Sending Love Notes on Valentine’s Day

January 22, 2012

Valentine’s Day is cheesy and commercial.  Do I really need a holiday to remind me to tell people that I love them? Do I need a dozen roses, diamond earrings, and a romantic dinner?  Probably not.  Although… diamond earrings are always nice….

I love Valentine’s Day anyway.  I have great memories of making little “mail boxes” in grade school with shoe boxes and doilies, and red and pink construction paper.  I loved playing “mailman” and delivering all the Valentines to my classmates.

Now, I love any excuse to drop a little love note in the mail to the people that I love.

Charlie isn’t in school yet (he isn’t quite 1 for heaven’s sake!) – so I am not going to be staying up late helping him sign his name to little cards and scotch taping them to little bags of Skittles.  But, when he is ready, we are going to order cards with his name on them!  I can’t wait!

If you need sweet little Valentines for your school age monsters, I have some GREAT options!

Or, maybe Christmas was a little too hectic, and you didn’t get a holiday card out – sending a Valentine’s card is fun and unexpected.  And your card won’t get lost in the pile with all the Christmas cheer.

Here are a few options of cards cards for kids and cards you can drop in the mail to family and friends.

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Check everything out, and if you see anything you love, or want to talk about more options, give me a call!

All Valentine’s orders need to be placed by February 6th.

Send some love from the Brown Dog!

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Happy 2012 Everyone!

January 11, 2012

2012 will be my first full year working exclusively as Brown Dog Ink.  And I am excited!

I decided to make some Brown Dog resolutions, as well as my own personal resolutions.  I think if I post them here, I will have to follow through on them.  So, here they are.

First, I resolve to keep this blog a little more up to date!  I had a great year in 2011, and we were only officially open for 4 months.  So that means, that in 2012, there will be more products, more updates, and more exciting things!  And the only way for everyone to know what’s going on, is for me to update you.  So, keep an eye on this blog, and keep an eye on Facebook for all the new products that are rolling in.

 

Secondly, I resolve to have an online shop.  I still think that being a “concierge stationer” is going to be the most fun for me – I get to see my clients and help them choose stationery, what’s better than that? – however, the reality is that my clients and friends are all across the country!  Not everyone can come meet with me in person, but still want to shop my products.  This will take some time – but know that I am working on it!

Those are my resolutions – both are pretty big, but I think I can do it!

Here are the Brown Dog’s resolutions:

1) Sleep on the couch more.

2) Coerce Charlie to feed me more.

3) Sleep on the couch upside down more.

4) Go outside less.

His list is pretty ambitious as well.

Happy New Year everyone!  Keep an eye on us – we are just getting started!

PS – if you have some pretty ambitious resolutions as well, like losing weight, or getting organized, we have the best personalized notepads for $18 + shipping!  Email browndogink@gmail.com to place an order.