a new look for vallarina creative

You may have noticed a new look around these parts, and I am soooo excited to share today all about my new logo + branding! It's no secret that my BFF Chelsea over at 23 & 9 Creative is a rockstar at what she does (branding small businesses) so I knew when I started thinking about a new look for my little brand, I HAD to have her. I was sooo excited to be one of her July clients and could not be happier with how my new logo + branding package turned out!! I am also so amazed that we were able to pull this off; I jokingly put "rebrand vallarina creative" on my "to-do before maternity leave" list, but had zero expectation of it actually getting done. Thanks to Chels, I'm putting a giant checkmark next to that particular line. Woohoo! Now for the 47 other things on the list... I thought it'd be so fun to share the evolution of my logo over the last 7 years. It's hard to believe I've been doing this business thing for SEVEN YEARS, but it's true! I started as a little baby senior in high school back in September of 2007, when I called my budding photography business "Valerie's Photoshoppe," because I was so fancy with my old English spelling :) I hesitate to even call it a business, but people were paying me for a service so my mom insists I call a spade a spade. Whatever. The photography business grew through college, changed names to VM Photography (VM standing for my first and middle names, Valerie Marie) and I added design services along the way. After graduation, in March of 2013, I relaunched it with a new name - Vallarina Creative - as a dual photography + design studio. And then in fall of 2014, I dropped the photography part, and in January of 2015, I dropped the custom/corporate/freelance design, focusing solely on stationery. It's been QUITE the journey, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. As my business has grown, changed and evolved, my style and tastes totally have, too. I have poured more time and money into my little brand this year than ever before, but I'm feeling really good about where it's going and what it stands for. I just revamped my website, have been adding a ton of new products to my shop and couldn't be more excited about all that's in store!

Are you ready for some hilariousness? Here was my first-ever logo, created by cutting out + glueing together letters from magazines, then scanning into Microsoft Paint. Insert crying-laughing-emoji here.

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From there I polished it up a bit, used the trusty "Impact" font (oooooh, Impact) for this bolder, cleaner look. Still hilarious. Not sure where I got the Purdue-esque black and yellow from? Who knows.

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In college, I rebranded again to this beauty:

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Which became this at some point:

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And then when I relaunched it with the new name, this was my first stab at the Vallarina logo. I wanted something playful and fun, but I am clearly not an artist (that balloon?! what the heck!)

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Last summer, I worked with the incredibly talented Jordan Boesch on this revised Vallarina logo, which I loved (and still do!) At the time, I wanted a more organic, brush-y feel to my logo and thought I'd be moving more in the direction of hand-lettered goods and elements. As it turns out, my true style is much more clean and streamlined with some playful elements thrown in, so although I absolutely love what Jordan created for me, by this summer it no longer quite fit the products in my shop.

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So here is where I ended up after Chelsea worked her magic. I ADORE it and think it speaks perfectly to the Vallarina Creative brand and the style of my products and shop. It is SO fun and makes me want to throw a party all day long!

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Here is the style guide Chelsea created to go along with the primary logo. I have been using the patterns EVERYWHERE (as you'll see on my site and in my shop) and I just looooove how it all works together. Like I said, I couldn't be happier!! I am so excited about the visual representation of this little brand and cannot WAIT for all that is in store for Vallarina Creative!!

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Natural Beauty Month

naturalbeautymonth-01 In December, I purchased my first essential oils. I haven't shared much here yet because I'm still learning about them and figuring out how we use them in our daily life, but I really love them and love that they've launched me into this journey of learning more about holistic care and the products we use in our home. When I purchased the starter kit, I was added to the team of Casey Weigand through my friend Wynne Elder, and have really loved being part of Casey's team and all the resources she offers. One thing she's doing this month that I'm SUPER excited about is sharing all about natural beauty throughout the month of March. When I saw her post, I knew I had to join in! I've been slowly transforming the products I use to more holistic and less toxic options, and am so excited to share all about them over the next month.

So far, I've overhauled my shampoo and conditioner, face wash and moisturizer, lotion, deodorant and toothpaste. I'm still on the hunt for hairspray and dry shampoo, and makeup products (although I've found some great options, just haven't purchased yet.) One resource that has been a HUGE help as been the Enviromental Working Group's SkinDeep database. It's a free database with thousands of products that are rated based on tons of data for toxicity. All the products I've bought to replace my old ones are rated as a 0 or 1 on the database (the lowest, best score is 0 and the highest, worst score is 10.) They also have a free SkinDeep app you can download to your phone so you can easily scan products as you go through the store! Typically, I use the database in two ways. I either search for a generic product (i.e. "face wash" or "blush") and browse the lowest rated products, searching them in another browser tab to see how much they cost. OR, I find products on Amazon or elsewhere that seem great, pull up their ingredient list, and search any ingredients I don't recognize in the database to see how they rank. That has been super eye-opening, because I've realized that tons of products labeled "natural" or "plant-based" have hidden, icky ingredients in them that I don't want on my skin.

I am learning so, so much and my eyes have totally been opened to what we're putting into our bodies through our skin. It's something I've gotten really convicted about, because it doesn't make any sense to me that I'm willing to shell out tons of dollars for free-range, organic chicken and organic vegetables, yet I'm putting crazy toxic chemicals straight into my bloodstream every day via the products I'm putting on my skin.

It's true that it can be SUPER overwhelming, so my advice is to do it little by little. As I run out of products, I've researched better options. For me, it's too much to overhaul my whole bathroom cabinet at once. But I'm hopeful that the products I and other members of our team will be sharing over the next month will be helpful if you're looking to make the switch to more natural products, too!

Be sure to check out the hashtag #naturalbeautymonth on Instagram as we'll be sharing lots there, and check back here throughout the month for different posts on the products I've been trying. And if you want more info on essential oils or you're interested in trying them, leave a comment and I'd love to chat with you more! XO!

*photo via Casey Leigh essentials

one year with Scout the dog

View More: http://caitlin-sullivan.pass.us/keinsley A Letter to Scout the Dog:

Happy one year anniversary, little pup! I can't believe we've had you for one year.

I remember when we went to the shelter the first time. We went to look at a different dog, a senior Australian cattle dog named Susanna. She was old and not that cute, and I felt bad for her, like no one would adopt her. We visited with Susanna but didn't click. (Sorry, Susanna.) As we were walking down the long line of kennels, glancing left and right into the cages, I stopped in my tracks in front of one particular cage. A sweet, copper-colored dog with the saddest, most soulful eyes was staring up at me. His ears were pinned back. He wasn't jumping or barking or whining. Just sitting there, defeated. I turned to Matt. "Let's visit with this one!" Of course, that dog was you.

We found a volunteer and she led us into the visitation room, and they brought you in. Your name was Major at the time. Do you remember that? Major. Such a funny name. You sat in the corner the whole time. You didn't move, you didn't interact with us. The volunteer told us that they didn't know much about you, but your were surrendered by your owner. You were timid and so scared. The volunteer told us that you'd never be a cuddly dog, and probably not the most playful pup. Of course, we wanted a dog that we could play with, but there was something about you. I looked at Matt and said "he's the one. Can we take him home?"

I had to come back later by myself to sign the papers and take you home. I led you out to my car. It took me so long to get you into that front seat, because you were so scared and I was afraid of pushing you because I didn't know you yet. I wasn't sure if you'd bite me or what you'd do.

We got home and #lifewithscoutthedog began. And oh, what a year it's been. You bring us so much joy, sweet Scout. I love your snores and your "drunk run" as we call it, when you're chasing a ball. I love the way you sit in the window for HOURS, just watching the world go by. I love your grumpy old man face. I love your million nicknames--Bucks, Bucko Magoo, Scouty McCreary, Scouty dog. You make me laugh every day. I just can't imagine our life without you in it.

Sure, there's so many things we can't do because of you. We can't up and go to Chicago for an impromptu day trip without thinking through a plan for you ahead of time. Our comforter is usually dirty because of your muddy paws. We spend an hour vacuuming your dog hair off the couch each week. We spend money on your fancy food, your obedience classes, your silly toys. People who aren't dog people won't understand. But we understand.

You taught me so much in one short year. You teach me to slow down and savor simplicity--a nap in the sunshine, the breeze on my face. You teach me about loyalty and unconditional love. But most of all, you have taught me that love and patience can overcome anything. You were so timid and terrified of everything when we adopted you. You didn't trust us and had so many scars leftover from whatever your life was before us. But we didn't give up on you and now I know, 100%, that you will never give up on us.

We love you, Scout the Dog. You make our family whole. I can't wait for many more Christmases, walks in the snow, Saturday morning snuggles, introducing you to future kids and loving you as you get old. Happy "birthday" (gotcha day? adoption day?) -- we love you!

View More: http://caitlin-sullivan.pass.us/keinsley

orphan awareness month!

5.Uganda Cover As you may or may not know, November is orphan awareness month! Well, I think technically it's national adoption month, but I think orphan care constitutes a ton more than adoption, so I decided it was National Orphan Awareness Month :) I have the power to decide these things, you know.

It hit me that right around this time last year, I found out I was going to be traveling to Uganda with The Archibald Project on an orphan care media mission. I had NO idea that that trip would be so life-changing. I had never really thought too much about adoption before. Matt and I had never talked about it as an option for our family. In fact...it's kinda hard to admit this on the internet, but I really wondered how people adopted in the first place, emotionally speaking. In my small, narrow mind, I could not imagine loving "someone else's child." Oh, how grateful I am for the massive heart change the Lord has worked in me. Now, Matt and I chat frequently about adoption. We hope and pray that it is part of our story someday. I have seen firsthand the beauty (and heartbreak) that is adoption. And I am so fired up about this thing we call "orphan care."

The truth is, we are all called to orphan care. A year ago I would have said "well, we're barely married and don't have much money and we aren't called to adopt, so orphan care isn't for us." But that could notttttt be farther from the truth. The call to orphan care is all over the Bible.

  • "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling." Psalm 68:5

  • "Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed." Psalm 82:3
  • "Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless." Proverbs 23:10
  • "At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns,  so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands." Deuteronomy 14:28-29

It has become really clear to me over the last year that orphan care is for everyone. And orphan care doesn't just mean providing food for children whose parents have died. It means investing in communities so families are never disrupted in the first place. It means coming alongside parents who are alive, but can't care for their children, some of whom desperately want to. Orphan care can be as big and complex as foster care or adoption, or as small as purchasing something from a shop whose proceeds benefit orphans. Orphan care can be as small as sharing a blog post on Facebook or as big as traveling overseas to document an orphanage. Orphan care is limitless, and orphan care is for all of us.

In case you don't know where to start, I wanted to share a few resources and opportunities for YOU to become involved in orphan care!

  • The documentary "Stuck" was super eye-opening for me about adoption and the process. It's on Netflix
  • The Archibald Project is hosting an auction TOMORROW with all proceeds benefitting our orphan care media work. Get some Christmas shopping done, all while caring for the orphan!
  • This blog post brought tears to my eyes. So beautiful.
  • And this blog post is a really good way to look at adoption. It's worth celebrating, but it's also so very complicated and rooted in deep loss. Food for thought.
  • Jamie Ivey writes about adoption and she's super rad
  • Casey Chappell is another blogger who writes about adoption and I just want to listen to her talk all day
  • Proceeds from the Show Hope store benefit orphans, if you're in the mood to do some shopping

Orphan care isn't something we do one time, for one month. It's a mindset and it's a goal we all should be pursuing, and there are soooo many ways for every single one of us to get involved, no matter your status or income or where you are. Let us be a people that "defends the cause of the weak and the fatherless." It's a challenge to us all

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*top photo by The Archibald Project

Influence Conference 2014

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Oh, my gosh. WHAT a weekend. I spent the weekend at the Influence Conference, which I recommend x1000 for all you women/creatives/mamas/biz owners/believers out there. It was AMAZING. My best friend Chelsea flew in from New York for the weekend and we went together. There's roughly four million things I'm still processing and want to say about the incredible three days, but I have a feeling I'll be sorting through those feels and takeaways for awhile. Suffice it to say that it was life-changing, game-changing and soul-filling in every way. It was so amazing that I already bought my ticket for the 2015 conference. Haha!

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The speakers, revivals and workshops did a number on my head and my heart. I walked away feeling so refreshed in my spirit and also my business. I have sooo many ideas that, for the first time, feel worth pursuing. I met friends in real life that I'd come to know over Instagram. I connected with movers and shakers, thinkers and doers, big hearted believers and go-get-em women from all over the country.

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It was a sweet reminder that I don't have to TRY for God's love or approval. That fight has already been won! He loves me in my mess. And if that isn't freeing, I don't know what is.

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I feel re-energized. I used to write more candidly, more freely. My blog used to be a lot more vulnerable, open and raw. Writing has always been my first love. Before photography, before design. I loved to write. I string together words and blog posts FAR more easily than I create photographs or designs. But somewhere along the way, I convinced myself that my words didn't matter. That people were coming to my blog for photos and design. They didn't want to read my jumbled thoughts on life, marriage, faith, food, crafting, decorating and Jesus. And maybe that's true. But the difference now is that I am not letting that hold me back. Because I want to write about life, marriage, faith, food, crafting, decorating and Jesus. Those words are there, they've been there for a long time. And I want to start sharing them again.

I'm excited about all that is in store for me, my business and all the wonderful women I met. God is doing a BIG work here on the inter webs and community is the real deal, friends. I'm feeling so grateful tonight in the midst of moving, prepping for a craft show and roughly 8,000 other things I have going on. Because the truth is, I don't need a perfect business or house or marriage or life to be loved. God doesn't love me more when my house is clean or my inbox is empty. He doesn't! And the same goes for you. I hope you feel so loved and cared for, even in the midst of your mess, too. Happy Monday, sweet friends. Rest in your worth tonight!

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