Extraordinary Hand Lettering Book

About a year ago, I met Doris (from Love Lettering and now the author of Extraordinary Hand Lettering) and we became friends fast. There's some people you meet that you instantly feel like old friends and that's exactly what happened with Doris, she is so genuine, hardworking, kind and caring that it would be hard not to want to be friends with her. She also has a daughter who's a year older than mine and they love playing together too.

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We had already worked together before on some shoots before meeting in person and after hanging out a few times, Doris shared the exciting news that she was writing a book and asked if I wanted to be a part of it. I honestly didn't even hesitate, I was so proud of Doris to see another mom entrepreneur chase after her dreams that I wanted to do whatever I could to help. It has always been one of my dreams to one day write a book so it was really inspiring to watch Doris make this dream come true!

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Her book Extraordinary Hand Lettering is all about inspiring people to letter beyond paper, to take an everyday object and personalize it. It could be something simple like a monogram or something more intricate like a quote or illustration, she really shows all the endless possibilities in her book and makes it look achievable. 

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I photographed two projects in her book, the first one was of a vintage secretary desk that was repurposed into a breakfast nook. The outside was personalized with a fun quote and inside was a special little surprise that I absolutely loved. 

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Actually the day we photographed this there was a blizzard happening outside which actually created beautiful even natural lighting but the entire time we were hoping the storm would stop since we had to go pick-up our kids after the shoot. The storm didn't stop but it didn't stop us mamas from getting our kids and safely! Thank goodness for winter tires! Even a year later we still talk about how that storm kept things interesting to say the least.

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No breakfast space would be complete without some delicious hot tea!

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For the second project, chalkboard mountains were painted in a little girl's play room which was then personalized with an inspirational quote " She may be little but she can move mountains", how cute is that? I need to incorporate an inspirational quote like that for my little girl! Hopefully next year I'll be able to tackle the decor for her room, I'm currently hoping and praying to finish our main floor renovations! You don't know how much I miss having a kitchen!

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This was so beautiful to watch Doris create this from start to finish. It started off as an idea, then pencil to paper, and then paint to wall. She free-hands everything too, which is so amazing. 

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The perfect little place space for a little girl and her sister! I would have loved something like this growing up, kids are so lucky these days. And now I sound like my mom, anyone else guilty of that?

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Thank you Doris for having me part of this incredible journey and dream come true! It honestly sounded so daunting and a bit overwhelming when you first told me about it but it all came together because of you! Now so many people near and far can enjoy your gift!

Also as a PSA, the Extraordinary Hand Lettering makes a wonderful holiday gift if you're still shopping around for one or a beautiful book to add to your own collection.

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YOU CAN PURCHASE THE BOOK FROM 

Love Lettering (Signed by Doris Wai, Hardcopy)
Chapters (Paperback or eBook)

CREDITS

Photography | Heidi Lau Photography
Author | Doris Wai, Extraordinary Hand Lettering
Styling for the Secretary Desk Shoot | Madison & Ella
Food and venue for the Secretary Desk Shoot | Sweet Esc
Styling for the Chalkboard Mountains Shoot | Confetti & Bows and Love Lettering
Cloud Marquees for the Chalkboard Mountains Shoot | Pulp Function

One Year After my Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis

It's hard to believe but it has been one year since I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. I shared in a previous post how I discovered it through our struggles with unexplained secondary infertility. And in this last year, I have learned so much about how common thyroid diseases and cancers really are even though no one really talks about it. Thyroid diseases like hypothyroidism. Many of us live with it without knowing we do, while it silently affects our daily life. Like exhaustion, how many of us equate our lack of energy with our lifestyle? I know I sure did. Fortunately, I've been given the chance to make changes in my life and not take this whole experience for granted. Besides a small scar on my neck, you really can't tell that anything is wrong with me from the outside but internally I needed a lot of damage control. So for the first time in my life I really focused on self-love and self-care. Previously I was really reluctant to do so because I felt selfish and guilty but I've learned that in order to be there for others I have to first be there for myself. 

  Magnolia blossoms blooming in Paris.

Magnolia blossoms blooming in Paris.

PHOTOGRAPHING LIFESTYLE, INTERIORS AND TRAVEL

One major change I did this year that was really hard was reduce the amount of weddings I would photograph. I had a long hard struggle with this one, constantly going back and forth about my decision. I really love weddings, it encompasses so many elements that I love photographing but it was also constantly making me choose between my work and my family. K started school full time last September, meaning I wouldn't spend much time with her anymore during the day and I would be working during the evenings and weekends when she's not in school. I didn't want to feel guilty about not being there for her and my husband, I wanted to be able to spend time together as a family and so it made sense to slowly move away from weddings. Besides my lifestyle work, I've also been photographing a lot more interiors, products, and travel photography which has made shooting less weddings a little easier.     

BEING MORE ACTIVE

A couple months before my surgery, a couple of my good friends gave me a FitBit for my birthday in anticipation for my recovery from my surgery. They wanted to give me something that would motivate me daily to move and to get back to where I was pre-surgery. Little did I know this little black band would give me so much motivation. Honestly, I'm not breaking any records with my steps, I still enjoy my tv marathons a little bit too much but it does encourage me to choose stairs instead of escalators, park a little further, get up and take a break from my computer, just to add to my step count and see the little fireworks light up when I hit my daily goal. It has helped me become more active and actually makes me want to improve my physical health. I've also started working out again and joined my friend in running, it's huge because I am not a runner! And as much as I moan and groan about working out and running, I'm starting to see the benefits.

CUTTING OUT SUGAR

This is a more recent one because sugar and I go way back, wayyyyyyy back. My sweet tooth has a mind of its own and it's powerful. I struggled a lot with being tired and not having enough energy and I relied heavily on sugar to give me that extra kick whenever I felt my energy levels drop, plus I just love sweets, like put a cupcake in front of me and I can't say no. But I noticed that on days when I've had my tea with too much sugar or had too many sugary treats I would get headaches the rest of the day and then have trouble sleeping at night. The bad night of sleep would make me crave for sugar again and it becomes an endless cycle. I know cutting out sugar completely is not realistic for me so I'm taking baby steps, I stopped adding sugar to my drinks, stop drinking sugary drinks and trying to eat less sweets. I've definitely have had less headaches and my energy levels are more consistent so I'll see what other sugars I can cut out slowly too. 

HAVING QUALITY FAMILY TIME

G works a lot of long hours and during the winter it's his busy season, then spring rolls around and I start my busy season until late fall. When we had K, we thought this is perfect because there will always be someone to watch her and we continued to trade off busy seasons for years. But then we started to realize that we rarely had time together as a family. We basically had November and December together and then it would be back to the same routine. Well that changed this year, for the first time ever we took not one but TWO family trips this summer. We've been making weekend plans with friends and family and I have to say it's been really nice spending all this time together. I didn't realize how much I craved this quality time with the family and I'm now enjoying some much need slow paced living.

OUR FAMILY PLANS

You may be wondering what has been happening with our infertility struggles. We are still hoping to add to our family but have taken a break from pursuing IVF, after last year we just weren't ready to jump back into it. Thankfully a fellow photographer was kind enough to share her own struggles with TSH levels and unexplained infertility and introduced us to NaPro Technology which is a more holistic approach to fertility and infertility. They have a high success rate with diagnosing couples who are previously diagnosed with unexplained (secondary) infertility. We've started the program with FertilityCare in Toronto and hoping to get some answers in the next few months. In the meantime, I'm focused on keeping my stress levels low and improve my overall health.  

We've done a lot this summer so far, ticked off a few places that I've been meaning to visit for awhile including the Bruce Peninsula and Tobermory, Terre Bleu Lavender Farm and Prince Edward County with the stunning Sandbanks. These small trips have really been great for the soul and I'm excited to do more. Feel free to share in the comments some places you like traveling to in the summer or suggestions for Fall trips because summer is coming to an end all too quickly!!

Princess Unicorn Birthday Party

K turned 5 this year (pause while I go cry out all my mommy hormones)!! When they tell you kids grow up fast, it's hard to grasp really how fast. As cliché as it sounds, it seems like only just yesterday I was cradling her in my arms and now she's a mini pre-teen. Thankfully she still likes holding my hands and giving me lots of hugs and kisses, I'll take them for as long as she'll give them to me. 

We don't do parties every year for K, we've been saving them for milestones. So I knew for her 5th birthday I wanted to throw her a special party. As I mentioned in her birthday outfit post she said she wanted a "Princess Unicorn" party. It's not a realm I'm familiar with being that I generally prefer neutrals, understated and not overly girl things but I was up for the challenge. Now was the time to think over-the-top, I mean could it be any other way for a Princess Unicorn? The other challenge I was facing was the popularity of unicorn parties. I wanted K's party to be unique to her and was determined to make it different. Thankfully I had Toni from Confetti and Bows help me with planning the party and she really elevated the "Princess" status in this unicorn party!

My cousin had just moved into her new condo and it had the coolest party room with black walls and gold designs. Knowing that unicorn parties are generally light and pretty, I loved how the black walls would give the theme some contrast and a bold element. From there I added pastel rainbow colours, iridescent elements and accents of mixed metals for some shine and sparkle. Overall I wanted it all to feel non-uniformed in design but cohesive linked together with all the elements. 

I knew that I wanted the sweet table to be the focal point of the party but again I wanted it to be different, so instead of putting the cake in the centre I opted to do an asymmetrical table. Unicorns are free-spirited similar to K and they don't always go by what's expected so I thought this would be a fun twist. I also wanted to incorporate the secondary theme of rainbows, clouds and stars. For the backdrop I made felt puffy clouds and Doris from Love Lettering created the laser-cut wood "Kali is Five" lettering and painted them in rose gold. Toni and I had a craft day and DIY'ed the rainbow table skirt from pastel streamers and iridescent cellophane. Added sparkly stars on top for some extra dimension.

On the sweet table was everything K dreams about eating even though most days she's pretty good at avoiding the sweets and having fruit instead. The main unicorn cake was her favourite strawberry vanilla. The mini cakes were Earl Grey flavoured, a treat for the adults. Along with the cakes, The Purple Cupcake created whimsical and fun donuts, cloud pavlovas, unicorn macarons and star, cloud and rainbow-shaped sugar cookies. Normally that would probably be enough but we also had delicious organic, all-natural cotton candy from Fancy Pufs. And to top that off, I also made confetti popcorn and unicorn bark because you know, it's a unicorn party! Toni's collection of cake stands was amazing, so many different colours, styles, heights and sizes! She had this acrylic riser that was perfect for showcasing the unicorn cake, a big sparkly disco ball and acrylic trays full of fun sprinkles to make our sweet table dreams come true.

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For these glass milk jars, I bedazzled them with jewels and pom pom stirrers to make them extra fancy for the kids. There really is no other way to drink your strawberry milk when you're a princess unicorn. I have a simple DIY tutorial for these jars coming in a future post.

Toni also put together the prettiest kids table with their very own pink sequins linen. She also DIY'ed the geometric table runner and pom-pom arrangements. The kids were suppose to eat at this table but they ended up decorating the plates instead and turned it into an art table which I loved. I probably would have done the same since the paper plates that Toni carries are so cute and fun!   

For the photo booth we wanted it to be kid friendly. Toni DIY'ed a large balloon backdrop and we kept it low to the ground so the kids could stand in front of it easily. Doris created a custom set of unicorn birthday themed Posecards for K and also came up with "MagiKali 5" which I loved! I ended up using that on the graphics for the water bottles and loot bags. The really cute unicorn graphic I customized from Creative Market. I love their creative assets so much I became an affiliate. Their assets are really easy to use and being able to customize them is perfect for little details that you want to create yourself.  I'll also be sharing a separate post later on for what was in the loot bags and how I (and my amazing family who were voluntold lol) made the unicorn headbands for each of K's friends.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, well it also takes a village to plan a princess unicorn party. I really do love styling and planning parties, lets me do something different creatively than what I normally do. And I know my friends and family tease me about how "crazy" they are, I can't plan a party and not care about the details. Maybe it's because I've been in the wedding industry for years and have been exposed to so much pretty and fun, I wanted to make sure I spoiled my little unicorn as much as I could (...within reason! G is probably shaking his head reading this lol) for her milestone 5th birthday.

FEATURED IN

Kara's Party Ideas
Inspired by This

UNICORN POOP DIY TUTORIAL

Confetti and Bows 

CREDITS

Styling | Heidi Lau Photography and Confetti and Bows
Cakes and Desserts | The Purple Cupcake 
Cotton Candy | Fancy Pufs 
Sequin Linens | Linen Closet 
Invitations | Tiny Prints
Party Supplies | Confetti and Bows
Lettering (Backdrop, invitation envelope and tags) | Love Lettering
Photobooth Balloon Backdrop | Confetti and Bows
Photobooth Props | Posecards
Birthday Girl's Hair | Puzzle Creations
Unicorn Graphic on Water Bottles and Loot Bags and Food Tented Cards | Creative Market (affiliated

#UptownMamapreneur

Princess Unicorn Birthday OOTD

Some of you might have read on my previous posts or seen on my insta-stories that we celebrated K's milestone 5th birthday 2 weeks ago. I've been mentally planning her birthday for months but really it all came together the last couple of weeks before the big day. I had every intention of getting everything ready sooner but I'm still working on the whole "balance" thing, I'll get there lol. It also didn't help that I got sick the week of her birthday, I was doing so well this winter too, it had to be that week of course. Thankfully I had a village of volunteers and some were voluntold but they all love K so they were happy to help. I'll be doing a full reveal of her party later on but in the meantime will share different parts of her party.

K knew that we were throwing her a party this year (we only have parties on milestone birthdays to keep them special) and since she doesn't remember her 1st one, her 5th was going to be a BIG surprise. She has been obsessed with unicorns this past year, her pretend character she calls herself is Princess Unicorn so I knew the party theme needed to be just that. For those that know me, know that I'm not very girly or over-the-top, I like simple and classic. And a Princess Unicorn theme was anything but simple and definitely girly and over-the-top, I really flexed my creative skills with this one. In the end, my inner secret girly girl had a lot of fun and really enjoyed having an excuse to buy all things sparkly! 

For K's birthday outfit I wanted it to be fun but practical. I got her things that she could wear all together for her birthday and then separately too when she's not in party mode. I found the dress at H&M over the holidays and it became the inspiration for the rest of the outfit. The dress had a lot of sparkle so I got her the fuzzy cream bomber to balance it out and to keep her warm. Added a little unicorn pin on it which made me think of the unicorn flying through fluffy clouds. My good friend Ming (Puzzle Creations) had offered to do K's hair as a gift for her birthday so I thought a big sparkly clip would go with her curls. To finish off her outfit I got her bunny tights (the only thing she loves more than unicorns is bunnies). And there you have it, my Princess Unicorn outfit.

SHOP THIS OUTFIT

1. Pink and rose gold sequin party dress : H&M kids (similar)
2. Pastel rainbow unicorn bow hair clip : Mimi and Mabel
3. Unicorn pin : Sparkle Collective
4. Cream faux fur bomber : H&M kids (similar)
5. White and grey bunny tights : Old Navy (on sale right now!)

#UptownMamapreneur