I tell this story every year, each year a little differently because each year a different part of my own story resonates a little bit more with me.  I think we all change as the years go by, and the things that are important now, and were important in the past, change.

I am a Dutch girl, raised primarily in California. I am a mom of six (Soren, Nick, Christian, Cole, Tess & Dane). I am the wife of an amazing soldier, Dave. I love to snowboard, swim, kayak (this is new!), garden, photograph and quilt. I am my families memory keeper, not just my little family, but for my extended family as well.

I used to have an, if not important, a well-paying career in the corporate world. I worked for Hewlett-Packard, US Bankcorp and United Healthcare.  And then. Then we moved one time too many. I had one child too many. My resume fell apart. I moved into the discard pile and it turned my life upside down. A huge part of my identity came from my work “me”. A huge part of my self-worth came from financially contributing to my family.

I am blessed to have a wonderful husband. One who stood strong next to me and held me up when I felt weak, powerless, useless. I learned to make do with less, a lot less, and became a very creative cook, shopper, seamstress and I made every day trips into adventures (PetSmart entertained my crew for hours!).  Still, I missed work.

I scoured the internet looking for jobs, but back in 2007, with a newborn on my lap, it was close to impossible in rural North Carolina. I found solace in iVillage, in a new mom’s group. I found I wasn’t alone in missing work, the great debate over stay-at-home vs. working-moms was minor, we all loved & supported each other. And then. Then message boards changed.  Instead of just text,  you could add signatures. Pictures that automatically attached at the bottom of each post. I was enthralled.

I love taking photo’s! I spent hours taking the perfect photo of Dane and photoshopping it to be even cuter (as if that was needed!). I had photoshop thanks to my previous corporate marketing work, and our family business in New Mexico printing alien t-shirts for tourists. Soon the signatures became more than just pictures, they became works of art and I found a new message board on iVillage.  A Signature Maker board!

Suddenly I found myself sucked into creating beautiful signatures with moms & babies & photoshop.  Within seconds I found digital scrapbooking, and elements that would make those signatures shine. I was hooked.  Within a month I was lurking on Digital Scrapbooking sites, admiring Designers, layouts and all the things photoshop could do besides edit photo’s and create t-shirts.

I entered the second-ever Next Designer Contest at Stone Accents Studio in 2008.  And I struggled. It took every ounce of my being to create kits in the assigned color palettes, but I did it! And by a miracle, at the end, I placed third!  Good enough to become a really real Designer at The Studio! Sadly, soon after becoming a really, real Designer, the original owner of Stone Accents Studio (JulieO) needed to retire to care for her family. I could not let it close.  Not when I’d found my calling!

I offered to buy it, in installments of course, and I spent hours learning the ins & outs & errors of running a website and webstore. My dreams were filled with code, new software, hardware, retaining fleeing Designers, contracts, php, html… and the list goes on. I did learn. I made changes. The site grew. The team grew. And now, today, it is my baby: The Studio! I couldn’t be more proud, or more excited of what we have become and what we are becoming.

I now invite all of you to join us in our Annual Next Designer Competition and Annual Layout Artist Contest,  and our new Play Along (for fun). The main link is: Annual Birthday Bash + Competitions

  • Sign-ups start now! 
  • The first, pre-game, warm-up competition starts September 16.  
  • The first challenges will be posted October 3rd.
    Note: You must be signed-up to compete in the Next Designer Competition and/or the Layout Artist Contest by October 3rd.

Sign-ups are open NOW!

My very first attempt at Designing for the SAS-y Next Designer Contest 2008.

My latest work for the Annual Carol Blog Hop – Christmas 2015

The BIG PRIZE – every layout in our PLAY ALONG gallery = one ticket to win it!

I can’t resist, I fell into the deep well of my early Design memories and I’ve always had a fondness for my very first Alpha.  I’m sharing it today, because I still rather like it.  Probably because it is Fall, my favorite season.  Please forgive any imperfections and ENJOY!

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My very first packaging, logo & alpha! While pretty, this has not been QC’d.

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