First Birthday Party Decor

Here are the elements I created for my daughter’s first birthday. I had so much fun planning and making everything! And it was even more fun to see the look on her face when she saw the decorated basement for the first time. You’ll recall the invite from my previous post (step by step instructions for how to make these invitations can be found here):


Photo garland using photos of Violette starting at birth and each month til 11 months old.



In the above picture, you will see that the TV is displaying a photo slideshow. I took a photograph of Violette on the same white blanket each week for her first 52 weeks. I absolutely LOVE looking at all these photos, and watching her grow and change. Our family loved seeing it, too.




The above photograph shows the mason jar time capsule we created for Violette to open in ten years. Everyone who attended the party either wrote down a favorite memory or a prediction of what Violette will be like in ten years.


Yep, I made party hats featuring her monthly photos. Very festive!


After seeing a friend of mine create an adorable cake, I decided to venture into cake decorating myself. With Pinterest inspiration, I created a two layer chocolate cake with pink butter-cream roses. It turned out really well so I think I may have stumbled upon a new hobby!

Here are the party pics. I used the iPhone app Flipagram to create:




Violette’s birth story

It surprised me when she came out. I didn’t realize after her head that the rest of her body would just follow. Lying on my belly was this screaming, squirming pink creature. “That’s it?” Sweet relief. Quick panic, “She’s a girl, right?”

“Yes.” Feeling so thankful. Thank God it’s over. Thank God she’s healthy. I lay basking in the glory—I did it and it was over. I looked up at my husband, Jesse, and he was wiping tears from his eyes. “We know what we are going to call her, right?” I asked Jesse. “Yes,” he said. I announced, “Her name is Violette.”

The next few moments were a blur. Nurses were buzzing about. Soon Jesse and my midwife Heather were cutting the umbilical cord. I was surprised how thick it was. Her belly button would later resemble a Fibonacci swirl, like a nautilus shell.


“This could be the day,” I thought to myself each morning during the 40th week of pregnancy. On Friday February 1, I went to my mid-wife appointment and ultra sound. I was 41 weeks pregnant and had barely even had braxton hicks. I was excited to get a peek at the baby, although I didn’t realize that it’s hard to get a photo-worthy ultrasound picture at 41 weeks since the belly is so full of baby.

After the ultrasound, we met with our mid-wife, Heather. She greeted us and then spilled the news—my fluids were low and it was necessary to be induced. My throat choked up and I started to cry. I had no expectations of what birth would be, but I was overcome with emotion—and a slight amount of fear. I had hoped to go into labor on my own and birth naturally without pain killers. Heather told us to go home, get our hospital bag, and eat lunch. We would check into the hospital in the early afternoon.

It was surreal. Jesse and I left the appointment holding hands. We hugged in the elevator. I called my boss to tell her I wasn’t coming to work. My boss’ excitement clashed with my nervousness. I called both of my parents and explained what was happening—I also told them that inductions can take a long time. It might be Sunday before their grand-baby would be born. Jesse’s sister Crystal was at our house to receive a delivery. We told her what was happening and took one last photo (Crystal had her baby, Grayson, five weeks later).


I checked my hospital bag one more time, although the planner in me knew everything was there. However Jesse was ill-prepared. He took forever to get his stuff ready. Jesse had to make a pit stop at Target to buy pens on our way to lunch. (I find it humorous that Jesse can’t be without a writing utensil.) We ate lunch silently at Panera. I sat across from Jesse and we just stared at each other. I was scared and nervous. If I even said one word to him I felt I would start crying.

Lunch was over and we drove to the hospital, a quiet car ride. We checked in on the fourth floor of Fairview Riverside and the nurse said, “We’ve been expecting you.” I got settled into my room toward the end of the hall, around the corner from the nurse station. I answered health questions and changed into a hospital gown. They checked my cervix and I was barely 1 cm dilated. The midwife discussed induction options with Jesse and me. The midwife suggested trying a cook catheter with pitocin. It sounded medieval with two inflated balloons. I repeated my mantra in my head and went along with the recommendation. “Trust God. Trust your body. Trust your medical team.” My ‘birth plan’ was to deliver a healthy baby.

The cook catheter is a 24 hour process. After 12 hours, one of the balloons is deflated, leaving the balloon in the cervix inflated. After another 12 hours, if it hasn’t fallen out, it is considered a fail. If it does fall out, the cervix is 4 cm dilated and labor will be in progress. With two tubes hanging out of my huha, it was time to wait and see. Jesse and I ordered dinner. We watched the contraction monitor, watched the heart rate monitor, and watched television. My contractions were impressive on paper but didn’t feel like anything. Around midnight, the midwife thought it would be a good idea to give me some drugs to help me sleep because who knew what the next day would bring and I would need rest. They gave me a morphine-laced shot in the butt. It was powerful, to say the least and I was out. At 4:00 am, they checked the cook catheter and it was still stuck. They deflated balloon one. 12 more hours to see if it will work. We began walking the hallways. Jesse pushed my pitocin IV.

In my mind, I was trying to will the cook catheter to fall out, meaning I would be 4 cm dilated and on my way to birthing a baby. Four o’clock pm rolled around and the cook catheter was still stuck, therefore, induction method one failed. The next method required waiting two hours so the pitocin would be out of my system.

At 6:00 pm they gave me a drug that was placed directly on my cervix. It worked. I was having contractions! We walked the hallways—easier without the IV but much harder with the contractions.


By 10:00 pm I was deep in labor and needed relief because my contractions were so close together. Relief came by soaking in a warm bath tub. Finish a contraction. Take one breath. Start the next contraction. It was intense but the bathwater somehow helped. When the water would get cold, Jesse drained and refilled it. Jesse was always there with my water bottle to make sure I stayed hydrated. Kat, my doula, arrived at midnight. I had reservations about having her come because I was very independent about managing my labor pain. With focused breath and eyes closed I went to a place in my mind that made the contractions feel bearable.

I remember wishing for a one minute or two minutes break between contractions. It was tough. At 2:00 am things got crazy intense. “Call the midwife!” I announced to Jesse and Kat, “I’m going to need pain management!” I had no idea how much longer the labor was going to go on and I didn’t think I could continue for hours. Heather, my midwife, confirmed that things were indeed progressing and that some drugs could be helpful since my contractions were so strong and so close together. Heather said before she could offer me options she needed to check my cervix. I dreaded this check because the contractions were so close together that I was bound to have one while being checked.

As Heather is checking she says, “It’s all gone,” with a look of shock on her face. “What??!!” I exclaim back, “What does THAT mean?” Heather exclaims, “You’re at nine and a half centimeters. You’re in transition labor. This is the worst it gets. Would you still like the drugs?”

“The end is near,” I thought to myself, “I can do this.” The only way I could handle those last contractions was standing at the sink with a 90 degree bend at the waist. I rocked my weight back and forth from one foot to the other. Bits of blood were beginning to drip, but my waters hadn’t broken. The contractions began to change and I felt the urge to push at 3:00 am. Heather said that breaking my waters would make the delivery happen faster. The instrument resembling a crochet hook did the job with a whoosh of liquid and goo.

I tried all the pushing positions: standing with the bar, on all fours, on my side, on my back. Time passed. Minutes. Hours. It wasn’t ending. At some point they called a tech in to give me a new IV so they could administer pitocin to get stronger contractions. Jesse and Kat gave me cold washcloths that I held to my forehead and face to cool off. I was so hot but everyone else in the room seemed cold. Heather was at the base of the bed, Jesse and Kat to my right and nurse Kim to my left. Through out the entire birthing process, baby Violette had the heartrate of a champion. The nurses commented on how happy our baby is.

Over three hours had passed since they broke my waters and it was time for Heather, my midwife, to consult with an OB at 6:00 am. At that point if they had offered me a c-section, I would have taken it. I was exhausted. Thankfully, the OB didn’t want to do that. Heather, my midwife, and the OB doctor disagreed about the way Violette was presenting. The OB thought she was sunny side up and Heather was sure she was facing the right way. Since Heather and the OB didn’t agree on Violette’s position, no forceps or vacuum was used. Heather asked me, “Can you push another 30 minutes and we’ll see what happens?” I reluctantly agree because what other choice did I have? I gave it all that I had. They cranked up the pitocin and we started to make traction.

Her head started to crown. I was so thankful and wanted to push my hardest to get her out. But my body slowed down, which Heather said was good. I was given instructions on when to push and when to stop. The pain of the crowning was the absolute worst part of the whole thing. Thank goodness that part was fast.

And just like that, she was born. She cried and I loved the sound of her voice. Jesse gave me a kiss. We took a couple photos and made a few phone calls. I briefly nursed her for the first time before I was taken to the operating room for repairs. My sweet baby was finally here.


The stats:
Born at 7:19 am
7 lb 13 oz.
20 1/2 inches
39 hours and 20 minutes from induction to baby
9 hours of labor
4 hours and 20 minutes of pushing

Make MY musical dreams come true

Take a journey back in time to the year 1990. I was a fourth grader ready to join band. With excitement, I announced to my parents that I wanted to play the drums, when they said I could choose any instrument and join band. They rephrased the question: besides drums, you can play any instrument you want. I asked, “how about flute?” No. Saxophone? No. “You can play the clarinet like your sister,” my parents demanded, “That way, you can share her sheet music.” Bummer dude. Needless to say, band was short lived, I participated for two years.

I’ve never forgotten percussion instruments. I believe NBC was my favorite network because of their great 3 note sound tag line, played on bells. Ding, Ding, Ding.

Fast forward to about a year ago. At the wonderful Minneapolis store “I Like You,” I stumbled across a tongue drum. I had to have it. With no parents present to deny my purchase of a superfluous musical instrument, I brought it home.

I began dancing to the beat of my own drum (although many would argue I had already been doing this all my life). I played the drum daily after work and fell in love with its earthy sound.

Now, thanks to my extremely talented musician friend, Noah Hoehn, I have the opportunity to play on a real album, with a real musician’s credit to my name. Sure, I am purchasing this right on kickstarter, but my dream of becoming a real percussionist may be coming true.

This dream is only a maybe because in order for the album to become reality, Noah Hoehn needs his kickstarter to be fully funded by December 2, 2012. He is getting close! Please visit his kickstarter page, watch the video and consider backing the project.

With your help, I just might become a real percussionist.

In Memory of my Grandpa: Andrew Timmerman

My Grandpa was a joyful man—quick to smile, crack a joke or give a little tease. Grandpa never missed an opportunity to poke a little fun at me!

My favorite memories of my Grandpa revolve around camping—definitely a Timmerman family pastime. Each summer, like clockwork, the Timmerman family gathered at a campground near Marshall, MN. We shared many campfires, s’mores and stories. I remember being a young child perched on Grandpa’s lap while he was sitting on a lawn chair beside the campfire.

On camping trips, it was very special to visit Grandma and Grandpa’s camper. It was fancy and large—like a house on wheels. It was great to duck into during an afternoon rain for a game of cards. I’m sure Grandpa would rather be playing bridge but he’d play a hand of UNO with the grand kids. The best (and most coveted) trips to Grandma and Grandpa’s camper involved breakfast. They always had single serving boxes of sugar-filled cereal stocked up. Frosted Flakes. Corn Pops. Apple Jacks. Oh yeah! It was a treat to eat breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa—and not just for the sugar rush!

My Grandpa was a hard-working, God-loving, family man. Nothing was more important than family to him. On Saturday—my last visit with Grandpa—he said, “I have the best group of grand kids.” And I think all of us would agree—we had the best Grandpa.

2011 Family Picnic. Grandpa with his signature look: slightly askew baseball cap.


AIGA Minnesota Design Camp 2011 Re-cap: The Extended Version

Get ready for the E-X-T-E-N-D-E-D version re-cap of AIGA Minnesota’s Design Camp 2011!

Most of us live in a word of traffic jams, deadlines, undue stress, and hours upon hours of staring at a glowing screen. We keep many hours at work and we work them hard. We compartmentalize our life and leave the smallest containers for leisure, free thinking and enjoying other people’s company. We book our friends and families into our calendars, like a stadium reserves sports games or concerts. We don’t wait for life to happen, we orchestrate it.

The more I think about it, something tells me that, perchance, this isn’t quite how the universe wanted us to spend our limited time on this amazing planet. Generally speaking, it takes a major life event for us to slow down, smell the pine trees, and feel grateful for our lives. We might experience an accident that leaves us immobile. Or we lose a loved one. Or we simply escape to the woods, to nature, to connect to something deeper, which reminds us to slow down. To pause and reflect. And then, like perfectly engineered gears, we revert back—back to traffic jams, deadlines, stress, and work.

In my post-camp bliss, I’m reflecting on my notes and memories from the keynote speakers and the activities of a most glorious of weekends. My thoughts center on two themes: time and choices. How we spend time and what we get out of it.

Jamie Koval of VSA Partners shared this quote from his childhood days at camp: “Take what you want, but eat what you take.” Direct link to the dinner table? Yes. But it also totally applies to how we choose to spend our time. Do you want to gorge and binge on work or do you enjoy it in bite size amounts? Life isn’t about efficiency and working all the time. Work is necessary to live in modern society, but we should remember to do it in moderation, balancing it with the other aspects of our life. This will allow us to experience all the parts, like in a chef-crafted meal: smell, temperature, visual, texture, taste, aftertaste. Sometimes I barely have time to enjoy the euphoria of having finished a project before I’ve already started thinking about what’s next.

Jamie said, “Whatever projects we get, we make them great.”

As a Converse devotee, I enjoyed hearing Jamie speak about his work at VSA in turning around the brand after Nike purchased it eight years ago. VSA Partners: thank you for helping save the "t-shirt for your feet!"

Jan Wilker takes the time to experiment with his designs, even using the liquify tool in photoshop! It may not be profitable to spend so much time “playing,” but if life isn’t a little about playing, what’s there to live for? He describes this playful way of working as “enjoyable but inefficient.”

Jan is the coolest designer ever. His company Karlsson Wilker has worked on some awesome projects, including the MTV motion orb you see pictured here. Now, Jan is a celebrity in both MN and Serbia. Loved hearing about his calendar project for the country Serbia.

Michael Osborne of Mod SF provided a good reminder to choose to spend our time and resources doing something worthwhile. In addition to running his own design firm, Michael owns a letterpress studio and runs a 501c3 non-profit design studio providing design services to other non-profits. Check out Joey’s Corner here.

Michael Osborne Design re-branded Archer Farms for Target, creating a new logo, brand style guidelines and package designs. Michael praised the Target in House team for how well they implemented the brand across hundreds of SKUs. Good lesson: give credit where credit is due.

Peter Buchanan-Smith lives in Manhattan but is alive in the wilderness. He turned in his 9–5 design job for an entrepreneurial opportunity he’s passionate about—Best Made Co. Best Made is known for axes. If you’d like to know more about how Best Made Co came to be, read my blog post on Peter’s presentation at the 2009 Insights Lecture Series. Peter’s words have encouraged me to meditate on finding out what makes me tick in the same way Best Made Co does for him. He also inspired me to set a goal and make a plan. See, Peter adds one new product to his website each and every week. If we wait to do something, we miss out. So set a goal and start right away.

Best Made Co sells high quality goods. I have always loved the painted axes, but LOVE the new products he is adding to his website all the time. The steel enamel cups are great. And I love the message of the patches. This stuff would make great Holiday gifts.

Jolby is design studio collaboration between Josh Kenyon and Colby Nichols. They reminded me why the people in our lives are important. Even though we arrive and leave earth naked and by ourselves, the journey on earth is all about companionship. Collaboration is important and two heads are always better than one. As I “ooo-ed and ahhh-ed” over the fun, fresh visuals they shared, some of their illustrations reminded me of my husband’s style of drawing. I felt the urge to come together with my husband (that’s what she said!) and collaborate. I want to collaborate on an art project, one that is not photography related.

I could browse Jolby's website for HOURS. I see joy when I look at their work.

Shel Perkins taught me many legal lessons and reminded me to always have solid footing before leaping into the unknown. Solid footing and excellent use of contracts will allow you to live freer, free from the fear of scary legal problems. Shel’s book Talent is Not Enough: Business Secrets for Designers is super great. I’ve already polished off two chapters! Buy it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Time to slow down for just a minute and appreciate a well crafted object. We already learned this from Peter’s axes, but the craft of letterpress teaches the same lesson. Who doesn’t love running their fingers across the depression in a thick paper stock formed by the kiss of a letterpress plate? I’d like to send a shout out to Studio on Fire for printing the design camp materials and also to Spark Letterpress for teaching the letterpress workshop.

If you read the abridged version of my Design Camp 2011 re-cap, you learned that the board did indeed call a 3 am (unofficial) board meeting. The AIGA board is filled with talented, interesting and extremely fun people. I’m so glad for all the conversations: some centered on design, others were just crazy and silly and some were really deep conversations about our lives. I feel a deep camaraderie among my teammates on the board and I look forward to serving another year with this wonderful crew.

It was, indeed, another great Design Camp. While sitting in stopped traffic on they way to camp, I cursed the time it took to travel to the woods. But the woods provide an amazing backdrop for taking time away from design work to reflect on design thinking.