Monday, December 27, 2010

A simple thank you

Thank you.  Two ordinary, easy words that we often forget to say, let alone write.  
The simple thank you note has been forgotten, saved for weddings and showers.   Something happened over the last couple decades that this customary etiquette has gone to the wayside. Email, Facebook, Twitter.  Has modern communication replaced the hand written note? No, it hasn’t and nor should it.  Whenever you receive a gift or an act of kindness it is considered good manners to send a thank you note.  
Etiquette aside, wouldn’t you want to let someone know their efforts were appreciated, noticed and enjoyed.  What a wonderful way to show your gratitude.  It doesn’t even need to be fancy or flowery, just a genuine, handwritten, thank you.  And who doesn’t like getting correspondence in the mail instead of bills and advertisements?  What an easy way to brighten someone’s day.
So let’s end 2010 on the right foot and start 2011 with a new habit, showing our appreciation and sending a thank you note.
Happy New Year,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Capturing unique beauty!

After only 400 years, we were treated to a total Lunar Eclipse on Winter Solstice. And what a treat it was, lasting three and a half hours.  The reddish-orange hues on the moon's surface made it worth standing in the chilly night at 3:30 in the am.  
If you take this occasion and turn it into a greeting featuring the Eclipse and first day of winter scenery just think of the joyous expressions on the faces of those with whom you correspond.  Turn your awe into their Wow!  Belle Announcements can help you capture exactly what you are looking for.



Sunday, December 12, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree…

I really enjoyed Ed’s blog about the history of the Christmas Card.  There are many holiday traditions that we participate in but we don’t know the origin.  So I thought I would find out why every Christmas my family is compelled to chop down a beautiful pine and string it with lights in the living room; besides the fact it looks amazing.

Evergreen branches had been used by the Druids to decorate for the Winter Solstice. As time passed this custom was adopted by Christians. The modern Christmas tree came out of Germany.  In the 1600’s the German’s started decorating evergreen trees with paper and small toys. As they emigrated they took their tradition with them, even to the United States.  The earliest recorded Christmas tree in the United States was in the 1830’s. It was put on display by German immigrants in Pennsylvania. The tradition was most likely going on for longer, as the German community had been there since 1747.
Even though the Germans had brought over their tree tradition in the early 1700s, Christmas trees were not popular and still thought of as a pagan symbol.  That all changed when a picture of a woodcut showing the British Royal family with their Christmas tree was published in Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1850 and then again in 1860. By the 1870’s the Christmas tree was an American tradition as well and still is.
So when taking your photos for your Belle Announcement Christmas Cards, you might want to include that beautiful, big, old tree in the shot. I’m sure your friends and family would love to see how you decorate one of the oldest Christmas traditions. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Importance of Snail Mail

Daily in the museum profession we read old letters, cards, business records, military reports, etc. Without these we would have no history.  Sometimes these hand-written documents provide us with the necessary information to track a business or follow the flow of a battle.  At times, they provide us with the information to follow a migrating family from the coast to where they settled on the continent.  Letters tell us of family, religion, education and yes, even romance.

So take the time to reach out in writing to those you know and love. They will certainly appreciate it and who knows, you may be leaving an historical record that posterity will use to form that so critical bridge between today and tomorrow.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The history of Christmas Cards

One of the most enjoyable parts of the Christmas season is receiving greetings cards from friends and relatives. This British custom quickly found its away across the "Big Pond" and this time-saving sentiment has grown from selling a thousand copies in 1843 to untold millions today.   During the Civil War a familiar opening was, "I seat myself to drop you a few lines" and those early messages usually bore the Christmas salutation "A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to You" much as ours do today.

Many of the early mass produced cards were of a floral design or seashells and butterflies and later religious themes and Santa began to appear on covers.  That tradition of eye-catching high quality continues today with your cards from Belle Announcements printed on cards of quality stock and the finest of printing standards.





Saturday, November 27, 2010

Snow Babies!

As a mom of a winter baby, I understand the limitations on what you can do for your child’s party. You can forget the giant bounce houses in the backyard, the barbeques or the pool parties; you are having an indoor event!
Yikes! Does the idea of 15 kids running around your house make your hair stand on end? No worries!  We just need an action plan.
First, make sure you put an end time on the invitation.  Not only will this insure parents collect their children at a reasonable time, it will be your guide on how many activities to plan.  For a child’s party I would suggest a 2 hour limit, less if the child is under 5.

Assume the first 15 minutes of the party is going to be occupied greeting guests and allowing for late arrivals. You now have an hour and 45 minutes left to go.
I’m a big fan of theme parties.  It gives me a spring board for all my planning.  So for the sake of showing examples I’m going to plan a winter festival for a 5 year old.
I like having the table set up for a themed craft right off the bat.  Not only does it corral the kids, but it gives them a take away from the party.  For the next 15-20 minutes the kids will be making Paper Plate Snowmen.  You now have roughly an hour and 25 minutes left to go.  Plenty of time to let that glue dry!
The kids have been sitting for a while and getting restless, time to stand up, stretch and play some games.  Pin the carrot on the snowman, frozen snowball (hot potato) and snowball toss (bean bag toss). Depending on how many kids you have that should eat up about another 20-30 minutes.  Yay!!!! Just about an hour left!
It’s time to sing and eat some cake. Now I’m not delusional, I’d like to say that will take a bit of time. However, I’ve seen how fast a 5 year old can inhale a piece of cake. We’ll be lucky if it takes 20 minutes.  Counting down, I still have 40 minutes to fill. 
Let’s hope that opening presents will take a bit longer!  Probably about 15-20 minutes.  OK, that’s not so bad. It’s only about 20 minutes left.
There is something to be said for letting kids be kids. So I leave the last 20-30 minutes as unstructured play time. 
That’s it! They all go home and you reclaim your house. But you now have a very happy birthday girl\boy.  Makes it all worth it, doesn’t it?


Monday, November 22, 2010

3 Ways to a Greener Christmas from Little Green Bits

1.     Ditch the boxes and wrapping paper.  Purchase festive colored reusable bags or try holiday fabric instead of wrapping paper.  Or if you're crafty, make your own gift bags!
2.     Follow the three R's:  reduce, reuse and recycle.  Reuse gift bows, recycle cardboard and reduce the amount of waste you produce.  It's quite an eye opener to save all the cardboard from Christmas.  Try it and see how much lighter your trash bin will be!
3.     Choose a recycled Christmas card!  Belle Announcements offers recycled cardstock on all of their Christmas cards.  Better yet, ask for your chosen design in a postcard format.  You'll save lots of envelopes and some 'green' on your postage as well! 

 

Learn more about making your Christmas a Green Christmas with Holiday Postcards!

Tonya

Little Green Bits

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Christmas Portrait Tips from Marissa Laurence Photography

We contacted Marissa Laurence Photography and asked for the inside scoop! Here are her top five tips for capturing a gorgeous Christmas portrait whether you are setting up the tripod or hitting the studio.



  1. Shoot outdoors in the late afternoon for the best lighting.
  2. When considering attire, keep it simple! Marissa strongly recommends not wearing patterns or stripes. 
  3. Want to take a photo that is outside the box? Dress the family in your favorite Christmas PJ's and have a blast! This makes for a really unique, one of a kind portrait. 
  4. The kids are the #1 priority. Keeping them happy means a happy portrait. Photo sessions with small kids should not last longer than an hour because the kids are naturally going to get tired and restless. Consider bringing some small prizes such as stickers, a sucker, etc. to reward them for their patience. Also remember to have non-messy snacks and drinks for the kids.
  5. Bring a brush! It's easy, it takes a second and can make all the difference when it comes to your child's hair as well as your own!



Thank you Marissa Laurence Photography! Marissa is a natural light, on location photographer, serving the Alabama Gulf Coast including Mobile, Fairhope and surrounding areas. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Addressing your Photo Christmas Cards

Addressing those cards!
Everyone loves to get hand addressed letters and cards.  But what about the 40 plus Christmas cards you want to send?  That is a lot of writing; I’d rather spend my time penning personal notes on the inside of my card.
I decided to see what the United States Postal Service had to say on the subject.  I found a nifty little section on how to properly address your letters.  
“Proper addressing is the start of effective mail delivery.” USPS
The USPS recommends that you print (with a pen or marker) or type so that the address is readable from an arm’s length away.  Make note my friends; the USPS does not want you to use commas or periods, who knew?


OK, so if I want to insure that all my friends and loved ones get my beautifully designed Christmas cards, I should probably use my computer.  
What? You don’t have your address book transferred to your computer yet?  Just do it!  You will thank yourself for many holidays to come.
Now you can certainly print your addresses directly onto your envelopes, but it’s not my preferred method.  I like my labels!  Stick in one sheet and out comes thirty labels, nice.
Not sure where to start?  It’s not difficult, just go to www.avery.com.  On the left hand side under quick links, go to Template and Software Advisor.  They walk you through everything, easy.  
So, I have my Belle Announcements Christmas cards, my labels, and stamps (which you can purchase online from USPS). Now all I have to do is wait until December 1st.  I still have a turkey dinner to enjoy!
Jenna~

Monday, November 15, 2010

Quick, easy steps to snap photos like a pro

Christmas is right around the corner! Time to get that perfect photo for your Belle Announcements holiday card.  Now you don’t have to be Alfred Stieglitz or Ansel Adams to take a great photo.  Understanding a few basic concepts will have you snapping pictures like a pro!
Read the manual.
Well maybe not the whole manual.  But honestly, become friends with your camera.  Learn the different features it has and experiment.  Any camera can be a good camera if you know how to use it.
Show me the light.
Pay attention to the lighting around you.  Avoid shadows over your subjects.  For outside shots, try to keep your light source (the sun) behind you.  For the most dramatic lighting try sunrise, sunset, or when the sun is just peaking out from behind the clouds. Honestly, I’m not getting my kids up at sunrise so the partly overcast day is my favorite.
Flash Gordon!
Many people have their cameras flashes set to automatic or automatic with red eye reduction.  Basically, your camera is deciding for you if the flash is appropriate.  While that is fine for an ok photo, it doesn’t make for great photography. If you have an adjustable flash, try bouncing it off the ceiling. If you have a built in flash, consider using a diffuser. You can find how to make an inexpensive one here or here. Practice using the flash in different lighting; remember making friends with your camera.  
What’s your angle?

As a mom, I’m used to looking at the tops of my kids’ heads.  I don’t need to take a picture of it. Get down, I say! Bringing yourself down to the level of your subject is a must.  





Let’s focus, people. focus.
I use a basic point and click camera.  Love my auto focus, but it doesn’t always focus on my subject. Most auto focus cameras have a feature where you can hold the shutter release half way to focus. Focus on the subject you want then, while holding the button, recompose the shot. Voila! Your loved one’s face is in focus and not the tree in the back ground.
KISS
Keep It Simple Silly!  Props and dramatic backdrops can be fun, but don’t clutter your frame.  You want your subject to be what people notice first.


Lastly, here at Belle Announcements we can tweak almost any photo. Red eye, not a problem! We can crop, brighten and adjust, just give us your best shot.  
Jenna ~
Guest blogger for Belle Announcements

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Santa came early this year!! Welcome baby!

When we become new moms, whether for the first time or the sixth time, we often find our new families pressed for time. Eating with two hands is a thing of the past and sleep gets pushed to the back burner. Our lives are filled with work, school and play. On occasion we’re able to sneak out a few free seconds for a bathroom break, but sending birth announcements can be tricky. First you have to find time to snap that just perfect gorgeous photo of your new bundle, then you have to research the best deal and ultimately you have to address, stuff, lick and mail all those precious birth announcements.

Did Santa arrive early this year with that bundle of joy the Easter bunny promised last Spring? Now there’s birth announcements to go out, as well as Christmas cards this year! Maybe you just feel like there’s not enough time for all of it. Do your friends and family really care if you send these cards? They will probably say no, you're busy, we understand but would they love to receive the gorgeous photos of your baby? Yes and if those gorgeous photos are printed on quality cardstock, your friends and family will keep them on the fridge and in their memory books for years. 

Instead of running yourself ragged this year, combine that brand-new-baby announcement with your family Christmas cards! Introducing “Santa Came Early”!






As a doula, the number one piece of advice I give to all new moms is to accept help when it is offered. This year, sit back and let the designers at Belle Announcements take the worry and stress out of your announcement and card needs. With unsurpassed quality and attention to detail, the designer you work with will present a completely custom Christmas card announcing your new baby!  

So, remember that Santa Came Early and the designers at Belle are ready to help you announce your gift! If you see a birth announcement you love, the designers can turn that card into a Christmas card just like the sample above. Likewise if you see a Christmas card you adore it can become your birth announcement. Remember that you are getting a custom card design, you can have the designers at Belle Announcements transform any style with font, color, word or graphic changes and combinations of designs. 

Happy Christmas from

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Daylight Savings Time is here!




Dark Fall mornings make it tough for most people to climb out of bed feeling well rested. With daylight savings ending this weekend, waking up gets a bit easier, but everyone can always use some extra help.

1. Go to bed earlier so that your body gets used to the time change quickly. In the morning, resist the urge to sleep in; it will only make you feel even more exhausted! Put your alarm clock across the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off.

2. Eat a healthy breakfast packed full of energizing nutrients and vitamins. Think of food as fuel and choose something high in protein and fiber.  They metabolize slowly, thus giving you hours of energy. Peanut butter and bananas on whole wheat toast or a tasty, fresh fruit and yogurt smoothie are great meals to start the day feeling energized, and they keep you feeling great all day long.

3. Make sure you keep on schedule with your exercise routine. If you’re feeling drowsy in the morning, it might seem impossible to lace up your running shoes, but exercise actually helps boost your energy. Now that there’s a little more sunlight in the morning, get some fresh air and beat the blues with a bike ride or brisk morning walk.

4. Always prep for busy mornings before you hit the hay. Lay out your work clothes, pack your lunch, and set your coffee maker to turn on automatically so you smell the delicious aroma as you awake in the morning.

5. Don’t surf the web or watch TV right before bedtime. The glow from the computer or the TV might prevent you from falling into a deep slumber. To help you attain a restful snooze, take a warm bubble bath. If you can’t sleep because you’re thinking about the next day’s activities, write down any worries in a journal to ease your mind before finally drifting away to restful sleep.

Don't forget about Belle Announcements Savings time! 20% off your order by November 10th using the code post20!

What are some of your best sleepytime tips? Please share with us in the comments section!

Thanks for visiting!
Diana B.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Introducing Christmas postcards

Belle Announcements is excited to introduce a new line of designer Christmas postcards. These postcards are beautifully designed and make sending your Christmas greetings easy and fun! There are many reasons why Belle’s Christmas postcards are a fantastic choice for your holiday greetings this year:

1) Enjoy a 20% discount with coupon code post20 on orders before November 10th.
2) The postcards are adorable and beautifully designed.
3) You don’t have to enlist your kids to lick a hundred envelopes.
4) Think of how much you will save in stamps...enough to buy a little Christmas present for yourself.
5) No envelopes equal a greener Christmas!

See below for a preview of our gorgeous new postcards. They will be up this weekend on www.belleannouncements.com





Here are 10 easy tips for a green Christmas:

1) Send Belle Announcements Christmas postcards.


3) Decorate naturally with festive fruits like pomegranates and go outside to scoop up some pine cones. I suggest putting them in a clear vase or bowl to truly display their beauty.

4) Organize a Secret Santa for your family. At Thanksgiving, have everyone write their name on a piece of paper and place it in a hat. Everyone chooses one person and buys him or her a gift. A Secret Santa is exciting and also makes life a little less stressful for everyone come Christmastime.

5) Purchase homemade and/or antique items from the sellers at etsy.com. Also, give a gift card to a restaurant, a certificate for lessons, or a membership to a local museum as a gift instead of packaging material gifts.

6) Turn Christmas tree lights and outdoor decorative lights off at bedtime.

7) Recycle your live Christmas tree at a local recycling center. Fake trees are not recyclable.

8) Wrap any gifts in brown bags from the grocery store and add a festive bow. Even better, save bows and ribbons that you receive throughout the year to decorate your gifts.

9) Always bring your own reusable shopping bags when you head to the stores to purchase gifts.

10) Use metal flatware and real drinking glasses and dishes at your holiday parties.

We would love to hear your green Christmas tips in the comments section! 

Looking forward to hearing from you!
Diana B.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Thank you Funky Monkey!

We sent The Funky Money blogger a set of our stationery to preview and hopefully write a review. We were very excited to hear back from them and to see this fabulous review posted!! Thank you so much!!!

http://www.thefunky-monkey.com/2010/09/belle-announcements-beautiful.html

View more stationery at: http://www.belleannouncements.com/stationery.html

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Jungle Photo Enclosure Cards- Hot Pink!


How cute is she?  This Enclosure Card design is called Mini- Jungle and matches our recently posted Jungle Girl Photo Invitation

Enclosure Gift Cards are the best accessory to all your gift giving. You'll save money because you won't have to buy birthday cards and your gifts will be super cute with this unique gift tag!

Thank you Casey Cooper Photography for your gorgeous photos!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jungle Invitations coming to a computer near you!

Here is the first of many jungle invitations we are going to be offering on the website. The beautiful photos were taken by the very talented Casey Cooper.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Belle announces Photo Paper Invitation Options!

As a test run, we are offering our Save the Date cards on Photo Paper. These will be one-sided, flat 5x7 designs printed on Kodak Professional Grade Matte Paper. 

This is in response to the many requests for an option with less quantity restrictions. Currently cardstock orders must be made in multiples of 25. Photo paper cards will only require a minimum of 25 cards. If you only need 28 cards, you can order 28 cards. The perfect solution for those that want affordable, customized Save the Date Cards. 

We will continue to expand the Photo Paper design selections in the coming months. Look for Christmas Cards to be included in this test run beginning in mid-September. 

As always, envelopes and stationery box are included in every order.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Vibrant Cupcake Invitations coming soon...

The Tier of Cupcakes has been a popular design. This is a custom design that blends Vanilla Frosting and Pixie Sticks per a client's request. We will be adding it to the website for purchase this week. We thought this was a good example of how we can customize our cards. 
And the second design is a custom design that blends Vanilla Frosting and Pixie Sticks per a client's request.





Monday, July 26, 2010

Bold Save the Date Card

Here is our newest Save the Date card. It is stunning and bold! Announce your wedding with this Save the Date card titled, Bouquet. We can design matching Wedding Invitations, RSVP cards, Programs and more! Contact us for a custom quote.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Save the Date Photo Cards - New Arrivals!

Our April Birth Announcement was so beautiful that it inspired this Save the Date card. We have had fun designing new birth announcements, party invitations and save the date cards. It is hard to believe that August is almost here. We are starting to see Christmas items in stores already... but fear not! We won't be advertising any new Christmas cards until mid-September. Let's get through Labor Day before we start thinking about Christmas!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Three Photo Birth Announcement

April is a colorful, trendy birth announcement featuring three of your child's photos in a clean, crisp design.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Precious Love Save the Date Announcement

How sweet are they!? It almost makes me want to get married again! :)

Classic Save the Date Announcement

Introducing, Hearts Collide, part of our summer collection. We highly recommend printing these on the crisp, bright linen cardstock for a stunning finish!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Donations made by Belle Announcements

Belle Announcements is proud to donate 10% of our profits to a few small non-profit organizations including Brock Rocks and ChemoAngels. We have recently jumped on board with First Book North Alabama


First Book North Alabama was formed in April of this year and is "committed to making a difference in the lives of children right here in the Tennessee Valley". It is shocking and sad that there are homes with no books at all. One of the cutest things my 16 month old does right now is read books with us. She selects a book from the shelf, plops down in our lap and turns the pages. When the book is done, she gets up for another one until we have a pile of 15 books next to us. If you sit on the floor with her, she will let you read to her for hours. It is my desire and the desire of Belle Announcements to bring that joy to all children,


Here is a card design that we printed on folded cardstock for First Book North Alabama. While we would love to take the credit for the design, it was designed by Mecca M. 


We thank Mecca and the First Book North Alabama for giving us the opportunity to work with you and we look forward to the continued events!

"Unbelievably gorgeous cards for our non profit!  Belle Announcements was kind enough to donate their time and considerable design skills to turn our rough idea into beautiful thank you cards for our sponsors.  The cards are so appreciated, thank you Belle Announcements for your beautiful work!  We tell everyone we know about Belle Announcements!"  - Mecca M. for First Book North Alabama. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Twins Birthday Invitation with Classic Theme

We are celebrating our FIRST official Twins Birthday Invitation with Sweet Ride. We can of course edit any of the designs on our site to include twins but this is the first design specifically made for twins!

Baby Whale Birthday Invitations

Our third installment to the new birthday invitation line is William S. Squirt!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New line of Birthday Invitations

We are excited to announce our new line of birthday invitations as part of our summer launch! Here is the first of 6 new designs featuring adorable lady bugs, cuddly koala bears and more!

Monday, June 21, 2010

New Square Cupcake Invitations

Brightly colored and sweetly adorned with your child's birthday candle. We are especially excited about our new square cupcake invitations! Here is a preview of our favorite one! More to come at our Summer Launch.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Classic Cupcake Invitations

We are excited to present to you a few new cupcake invitations. All three have been added to our Cupcake Invitation Gallery and Birthday Invitations Gallery. Cupcakes have been a popular request this year. Look for even more cupcake invitations to be added this summer.

These are 4 by 5.5 cardstock. The backside is a canvas waiting for your beautiful photos to complete the invitation. Click on the links below each new cupcake design for more information



Sunday, May 23, 2010

Belle Announcements Testimonials

"I received the announcements today and they are beautiful.  Thank you for recommending the linen.  I'm so pleased with the quality.  It was a pleasure doing business with you."
Amy W.


"I can't tell you how happy I am with the cards!  They have arrived and I love them!  They are absolutely perfect.  You have been so great to work with and I will look to you for future needs.  Thank you so much for the envelopes as well.  You have gone above and beyond and are patient beyond belief."
Melody M.


"Thank you very much. They turned out great!"
Heather K. 


"Thanks for getting the invitations and rsvps to us so quickly! We are very happy with them"
Kristen W. 


"I needed a 50th Birthday Party Invitation and I knew what I wanted. I knew right then that Belle Announcements could exceed my expectations and they did! The birthday invitations turned out better than I could have imagined. The party theme is centered around the invitation and people are going to be talking about this for years! Thank you Belle Announcements once again for raising the bar with your work."
Lauren S.


New Summer Launch!

We will be launching our new logo and designs this summer so stay tuned! Please enjoy this sneak peak while you wait.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mini Magnet Birth Announcements

We recently had a client request business card sized magnets to match her Augusta Birth Announcement.  We thought this was a very neat idea! Here is the mini version. Mini Augusta measures 2x3.5 and was printed on pearl cardstock. We can do this on any of our current designs or design a new design. The magnets are sold in sets of 50 for $50. If you are interested in having one made, please email us as we have not added these to our website yet.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Enclosure Gift Tags

Does it seem like you have a birthday party to go to every weekend?  As a mom, you're busy with play dates, birthday parties, baby showers and more.  There's rarely enough time to buy a gift, much less search for the "perfect" card that won't cost more than the gift.  Belle Announcements has the solution; our enclosure gift tags are customized for you! Simply pick colors, add photos, text and more.  Then punch a hole in the side and attach it to your gift bag or box. Voila!  You have a trendy and personalized card sure to impress everyone at the party!  





View our gallery of Enclosure Gift Tags or E-mail us for a brand new design!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Customized Graduation Announcement for a Client

Here is an example of how we customize a card to match your specific requests. This graduating senior wanted to proudly display her University of Tennessee colors so we adjusted the design's colors along with some additional text changes she requested. We rarely say no, so please ask! At Belle Announcements, we want to stand out for all that we do for each order. There are no templates. We have galleries for you to purchase from but we are also happy to customize designs for you so please email us if you have questions!


Before




After