Friday, January 28, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #3

Happy Friday everyone!  It's time for the third edition of Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week!  

Hero of the Week: Pumpkin Spice Chai
     The snow this week was super pretty, but it was also really cold and wet.  Pumpkin spice chai with a dash of milk and sugar is the perfect hot beverage while watching the snow fall and working countless hours prepping for the Etsy Holiday Showcase.  Its aroma of ginger, clove, and pumpkin is soothing, and the caffeine is a nice pick-me-up.  I highly recommend it!

Villain of the Week: Bing
    This week's villain pick is courtesy of my little sister, Kristen, after months of hearing me complain about the new search engine.  Why am I so against searching with Bing?  Because I find it's claim to be a "decision engine" insulting.  I do not need a computer to make decisions for me!  I am an intelligent rational adult who is perfectly capable of sorting and evaluating data.  Plus, it's just kind of a sucky search engine.

Come back next week to see who will make the list.  And be sure to check out the Holiday section of tomorrow to see JA Greetings showcase!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow: a Love/Hate Relationship

As a small child living in Florida, I was always fascinated with snow.  A white Christmas was one of my fondest dreams!  Frozen precipitation that could make the world more beautiful seemed like a miracle to me as I bundled up in my heaviest coat in the 50-degree Orlando weather.  When I moved to Virginia 14 years ago (I feel really old right now!), I was so excited for the winter weather.  As a teenager, I woke up early on snow days and went outside to sled  and make snow angels and build snow forts.  When I eventually had to go out somewhere, my dad always shoveled out my car and turned on the heat to make sure it was warm for me when I left. 

When I went to college, I was slightly less enamored with snow.  I lived about 1.5 miles from my classes, and stupid college rarely had snow days!  Steep hills, ice, and my natural klutziness made for treacherous, albeit hilarious, treks to Grounds.  Thankfully, the University had a bus system so I didn't have to walk too far.  And normally I could leave my car sitting in the parking lot until the snow melted, so I didn't have to shovel anything.  (One time my car did get stuck behind a mound of plowed snow-turned-ice that didn't melt for weeks.  I had to break it out with a tire iron.  It took me hours and my hands were bloody, but I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment, like a pioneer woman.  But that's another story!)  While I didn't appreciate having to go out, I only had to be in class a few hours most days which left me plenty of time enjoy the view from my apartment with a cup of coffee and flannel pajamas.  

It wasn't until after graduation that I really began to dislike snow.  It turns out that real-world businesses are even less likely to close because of snow than college campuses!  There was no bus that would take me to my office, and I had to shovel out my own car.  Even worse than shoveling out my car was waking up the next morning to find that my stupid neighbors had knocked the snow off of their cars and onto mine.  It is ridiculously hard to dig a car out of a little apartment-complex parking spot in work-appropriate attire.  My aforementioned klutziness certainly didn't help matters!  

Last winter I finally had to break up with snow.  Huge snowfall after huge snowfall led to hours of shoveling, ruined boots, bloody feet, aching hands, hours without power, and more near-death traveling experiences than I'd like to recount.  Worst of all, I twisted my ankles so many times that they are now permanently misshapen.  I can no longer wear shoes with ankle straps!  Needless to say, that was the last straw.

Still, yesterday was the first big snowfall of the year, and I found myself getting excited.  It's so beautiful, and Jack loves the snow.  Since I work from home, I don't have to worry about getting to an office.  I got new boots for Christmas which will hopefully keep me from killing myself.  I'm tempted to reconcile.  But I miss ankle straps!  I think I'll have to put this relationship to a test:  I'm heading out now to shovel the driveway.  I guess I'll see if my newly-rediscovered appreciation can survive manual labor.  Bets are welcome.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Top 5 Valentine Gift List: an Ideal

I am very excited today for three reasons:  the incapacitating headache I've had for days has subsided to dull throb, it's snowing and I don't have to go anywhere, and JA Greetings posted its first Valentine today!!!  In honor of this tremendous occasion, I've decided to list what I think should be the top 5 Valentine's Day gifts.  Because, for serious, red long-stemmed roses and teddy bears are soooo cliche!

1.  Chocolate - Yes, it's a cliche, but it's a delicious cliche.
2.  Gilmore Girls on DVD - it's smart and sassy with a nice blend of romance.
3.  The Rules or He's Just Not That Into You - the perfect way to say, "We both know this is temporary."
4.  Gummy vitamins - because vitamin starts with "v" and gummies are yummy.
5.  Netflix subscription - aside from the fact that I'd marry Netflix if it was a man, is there any better way to fill the awkward silence than with a movie or clever television show?

I hope this gives you all something to think about while you're planning your holiday!  And remember to check out our Etsy shop:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Dream Life

This morning Jack told me about a dream he had in which he ate a red crocodile head that tasted like apples.  The last dream I can remember having is about assisting Joel McHale as a veterinary assistant.  Naturally, these reflections led to consider the fact that my 10-year high school reunion is only 2 years away!  If I want to pretend to be super-impressive, it's time that I start working on my story.  Today, I had an epiphany:  I'll just string together various parts of my dreams to tell the story of my made-up life.  Here's what I have so far:

After graduation, I went to college where I befriended a ghost named Lila.  Shenanigans ensued and I changed from a student to a famous actress to a princess to a monkey trainer.  After graduating college, I became a vampire and raised sheep in Scotland.  I also worked in a bar where I sang karaoke on a nightly basis.  I married a handsome man who changes personality and appearance very frequently.  We have a wonderful life fighting crime and slaying supernatural forces together.

I could totally pull off that story, right?  And by tomorrow, I'll have at least one JA Greetings Valentine posted so I'll have something to give my shape-shifting husband!  

Monday, January 24, 2011

Go Eat Your Teddy Grahams, Gilla!

I don't so much like kids.  Don't get me wrong--there are a few kids that I like, but it's more the exception than the rule.  But I love being an aunt!  My favorite thing about being an aunt is that I get to play with Jack and give him candy and then send him home.  I get to watch him stain his clothes with magic Fun-Dip  but I don't have to clean him up!

Now Jack is getting old enough that he appreciates nicknames and phone calls and text messages.  Okay, he can't text actual words, but he loves to try!  We call each other "Gilla" which means "Crazy" in Indonesian.  A couple of weeks ago, Ashley called me because Jack wanted to "talk to Gilla on the phone."  When she put him on, the shouted, "Gilla, I'm doing a puzzle!" Last week, he was sick so I told my Gilla I hoped he felt better.  His response:  "Go eat your teddy grahams, Gilla!"  I'm not really sure if that was directed at me or himself.  This conversation took place via text message (with Ashley typing for Jack), and I didn't have to wipe his drippy nose or anything!

I adore my nephew, and I adore that fact he is not my sole responsibility.  We just renewed a card inspired by my darling Gilla.  Ashley and I are developing another line of cards inspired by Jack's toddler art.  We just want to help other people celebrate that bond of love without responsibility!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #2

Another Friday, another edition of Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week!  This week's article features feats of heroic creativity and deeds of dastardly destruction!  Read on if you dare!

Hero of the Week:  ABC Family's marketing department
   This may seem like an odd choice, but you have to respect a group of people who can spin shows about sex, drug use, and murder into a "family drama."  I remember when family television consisted of shows like Boy Meets World and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.  Now it's high-quality productions such as Pretty Little Liars (and yes, I totally watch the trashy show, so I'm not really being that judgmental.  But I'd never have been allowed to watch it as a kid.  I'm just saying.).  However, this week, the sheer genius of this marketing team came to the forefront earlier this week when I saw a promo for the show Greek (also never would have been allowed to watch that one as a kid).  In the midst of a bunch of hyperbolic and unverifiable statements ("The most hilarious college kids..." etc.), a celebratory quote flashed across the screen boasting that "Greek is #1!"  Why is this so brilliant, you may ask?  After all, this is a really common technique.  This particular commercial was so extraordinary because the quote came from a FACEBOOK USER!  That's right, no pesky critics or entertainment industry professionals here!  Just the one girl who admits to watching Greek on her Facebook page.  I admire the boldness of this move more than I can say.  I one day hope to launch a marketing campaign around the fact that my mom thinks my cards are really nifty.

Villain of the Week:  The tiny demon that lives inside all Adobe products
   It's true; there is a tiny demon (maybe I should call it a sprite?) that lives inside all Adobe products and makes my business life a living nightmare.  It uses it's tiny yellow little claws to destroy my hopes and dreams.  And, you know, make my pictures look grainy and stuff.  While is really helpful in editing photos (thanks for the tip, Jessica!), Ashley has had a more difficult time finding a replacement for the Photoshop upgrade she purchased that isn't compatible with her current software.  Thanks for all of your lies, you Sprite of Deceit!  Thanks to bad information from Adobe and inexplicable software glitches, the super-awesome Valentine's we designed won't be posted in our shop until next week (fingers crossed!)  Shame on you, Adobe!  Shame.

I hope you enjoyed this week's installment.  Stay tuned to see who will make the list next week!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why I Should Be a Superhero and/or Spy

Hello again everyone!  I hope you all enjoyed Ashley's post yesterday, which, judging by the stats, you did.  I also hope that you enjoyed Fuzzy Slippers Day as much as I did.  Were your feet as cozy as this?

I thought not!

Gilbert is being deceptively sweet and docile.
In addition to wearing my fuzzy slippers yesterday, I also worked on embellishing and re-listing one of my favorite JA Greetings cards.  This card was inspired by my abundance of impractical shoes.  One day I was wearing a particularly gorgeous pair of lacy 4"pumps to the office.  I came home at the end of day with sore but beautiful feet to take care of my uber-crazy dog, Gilbert.  Gilbert was so excited to see me that I decided to take him out for his walk right away instead of changing into more sensible/ugly shoes.  As is typically my luck, the ground was soggy and my elegant heels sunk deeper into the mud with every step.  I suppose I should be grateful because that extra bit of grounding is the only thing that kept Gilbert from yanking me off my feet altogether.  He's really much stronger than he looks.  

Anyway, this experience inspired me to create a card that shows the need to wear fabulous shoes even when it doesn't seem practical.  That line of thought (along with hours of spy/sci-fi viewing) led me to wonder what kind of lifestyle requires the constant wearing of amazing footwear?  The answer was obvious.  Spies and superheros always wear amazing shoes!  Stiletto heels both support the cover as a wealthy and sophisticated jet-setter, but also double as a weapon should someone discover by my secret spy mission.  And a superhero's sleek and sexy boots make it possible to fight for truth, justice, and the American way in stylish comfort!

It's more that just the shoes that makes me long to be a spy and/or superhero.  Have you seen the accessories?  Incredible!

In honor of all of the fabulous spies and heroes out there, I think tomorrow's made-up holiday is going to be Beautiful Boot Day!  Everyone enjoy, and be sure to let me know about the beautiful boots you decide to wear!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Am Not Jamie

Hello, everyone! I am not Jamie. I am, in fact, Ashley, the other half of JA Greetings. I draw things. Some might call me an illustrator (those included being the government and my college diploma) but they are naive. I am nowhere close. I am somewhere between Mike Meyer's "Simon" character from Saturday Night Live and that crazy lady that lives down the street and only emerges when she needs another box of wine and cat food.*'s a party in a box!

Jamie is taking her life (or blog, I guess) into her hands by me to write something. So here it is...

The other night we (my husband, son and I) were sitting around the living room, watching Shreck 4 while the wind howled and shrieked around us. Suddenly, darkness. No more lights, no more space heaters, no more Shreck! Jack was terrified, and immediately burst into tantrums, made worse when my husband stepped on him while going for the flashlight and shouting that it had been moved. Eventually it was found (it has been in the same spot for months). Jack and Daddy proceeded to do manly-man things, like check the breaker box and see whether other houses had power (they did not). We lit all of my candles (I have a bajillion, and they are all scented) and soon the house was filled with the warm golden glow of a pre-1900 evening scene and the stench of a thousand Bath and Body Works.

Jack was still upset by the lack of electricity, and, in spite of our assurances that yes, people did once live by candlelight, he did not believe it was possible and was positive that they hearkened the end of the world. In the face of such fear, he was allowed to sleep in our bed for one night. It started out cozily enough, my baby boy snuggled between us like a sleepy little angel. An angel with cold feet. Who kicked. And stole pillows. After a while it went a little like this: "Jack, I Suwanee, if you kick me in the chin one more time you are going back in your bed for the rest of your life!" (I'm less rational with my threats than normal when sleep deprived). Finally, everyone seemed to settle down, and I drifted off to sleep. I was awakened, however, by a small hand rubbing my head. Not in a loving way, but as if my head was the belly of a Buddha
statue, and the hand was trying to gain every ounce of luck possible. I opened my eyes to find my son nose to nose with me, his eyes wide and staring, expression blank, like a child from a horror film. I have never been so creeped out by my own offspring before. I got even less sleep after that bit of emotional disturbance that when I was being kicked in the face.

*I do not own cats, nor do I drink boxed wine. I drink vodka from a jug.** Classy!


Monday, January 17, 2011

Every day should be a holiday

I'm a fan (depending on my mood) of cheesy love songs about how every day is a holiday with the person you love.  However, I think that's kind of a load of crap.  Speaking as a member of the greeting card design community, every day is most certainly not a holiday!  If it were, I'd be a lot better off, financially speaking.    If every day is a holiday, then you people who are "in love" are really bad at celebrating.

However, I'm a dreamer.  I think that every day should be a holiday for everyone (that's right, it's time you love birds stop hogging the festivities!).  With that in mind, I'd like to declare tomorrow Fuzzy Slippers Day!  So tomorrow, wear your favorite fuzzy slippers, tie them together and sling them over power lines, or just talk about them with great affection.  Personally, I think I'll name my slippers.

I'm going to try to come up with a new holiday every day.  Feel free to provide feedback and submit your own ideas.  If I get a good response, I'm thinking of creating a fake holiday card line.

I hope everyone has a great week!  Remember to become a fan of JA Greetings on Facebook ( and follow us on Twitter ( 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week

I'm a big sci-fi fan.  Yes, I'm a dork.  But for serious, I write a blog about greeting cards; what did you think I was?  And remember:  people who read blogs about greeting cards shouldn't throw stones!  Anyway, I'm a sci-fi fan because I love stories about complex heroes I can root for taking down some dark force and making the world safe for democracy or freedom or breathing non-glue filled air or whatever.  So I thought it would be fun to recap each week with the top Hero and Villain from the past seven days.

Hero of the Week
The person who invented the fine-tipped glitter glue pen
This person has saved me hours and lots of frustration by making it easy to add sparkly detail without a huge mess.  I tried using loose glitter to embellish some of my cards and it was a disaster.  I spent a ridiculous amount of time applying tacky glue with a fine-tipped paint brush and then sprinkling the glitter over top of the whole mess.  Worst. Idea. Ever.  So thank you, inventor of the fine-tipped glitter glue pen, for making my life easier and saving me from pneumosparkliosis.  

Villain of the Week
There was way too much chaos over zodiac signs this week.  Have they changed?  Have they not changed?  Does it matter?  Really, it's a ridiculous amount of commotion over information usually found by the crossword puzzle in the paper.  And yet, I don't know who to blame.  Should I blame the astronomy professor who gave the initial interview?  The astrologers who make a living by perpetuating a myth?  The media who incited this War-of-the-Worlds-like panic?  There are too many players in this game to make any one of them a really good villain.   Consequently, I decided to blame the original source of all the hoopla--the stars.  Take that, Cosmos!

I hope you've enjoyed the first installment of Jamie's Hero and Villain of the week!  Check back next Friday to see who else will make the list!  As always, remember to check out  I've just listed a newly embellished version of one of our original cards.  

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sarcasm-Enhanced Technical Difficulties

I'm not a happy camper at the moment.  I know that is shocking since I'm normally all sparkles and rainbows. And yet, today everything conspired to irritate me, mostly by failing to detect the sarcasm in my tone.  Because I am so irritated and am experiencing technical difficulties, today's blog will simply be a list of things that irritate me and why:

--My dog, Gilbert:  He thinks when I say, "Yes, of course I made these eggs for you!  Please jump in my face and eat my breakfast!" that he should jump in my face and eat my eggs.

--iPhoto:  It said that it imported the pictures from my camera, deleted said photos, but in fact imported nothing.  Then when I said, "iPhoto, could you please do something even stupider?" it locked my computer.

--WiFi network:  When I said, "Millnet, could you please go slower?  I really want to spend all night updating a Facebook status!" it went slower.

Tomorrow I shall be cheerier to bring you the first installment of Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jamie v. Photoshop: the Epic Battle

I spent a good portion of the day the day today trying to make sense of Adobe Photoshop.  I never worked with the program much, because why should I have to wade through 15 different layers and 50 different "adjust color" options?  It's nonsense!  By the time the cards are photographed, Ashley and I have already made tons of artistic choices.  It should be simple to take a photo and display it online.

I'm sure all of you photographer types out there are cringing at my philistine comments.  Before you get too upset, I do realize that photography is an art form.  But it's not my art form.  I have a decent point-and-shoot camera that bought because it fits in my purse and is a pretty blue color.  

Anyway, the photos on my Etsy site were terrible--the colors were washed out, huge portions were in shadow, and everything looked really grainy.  I read several articles that the most important thing in an online shop is the photography, so I dove into the murky swampland that is Photoshop to try to give the pics some much needed TLC.  I spent hours trying to figure out how to size the images so that I would be able to upload them to Etsy (stupid 2MB size limit!).  For some reason, when I opened an image, only a hugely magnified version of a tiny corner of the picture was displayed.  When I tried to zoom out, the corner got smaller, but the rest of the picture remained MIA.  I think it was hiding from my poor photo-editing skills.

I eventually managed to get the photo sized appropriately, but the quality was still incredibly poor.  I set about adding multitudes of adjustment layers and fiddling with light and contrast and color and saturation and hue.  Every time I adjusted one element another one went to heck.  I swear, Photoshop is like a boxing master who manages to knock me out while I'm blocking a hit from the other side.  How can it attack me from so many directions at once? I think I've developed a touch of Dementia Pugilistica.  And what did I get in return for all of my efforts?  Grainy neon-colored photos.

Apparently, it's really hard to make a poor-quality photo look great even if you know what you're doing with Photoshop.  I consulted Ashley (who understands the great mysteries of computerized art, like the difference between RGB and CMYK) and came to the conclusion that I really just needed to take new photos.  So that's what I did.  I did manage to use Photoshop to do a little polishing on the new pics, and the results weren't too bad.  I still have some learning to do, but at least I'm making progress!  Photoshop will not defeat me!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Most Beautiful Man in the World

I'm sitting in my family room watching the snow begin to fall.  My nephew, Jack, is sitting next to me playing a matching game on my iPhone.  He's so sweet (at the moment) curled up next to me giggling at his game.  "There's a mouse, Aunt Jamie!  Where's the other mouse?"  That's a hippopotamus with two teeth on it!"  He's really quite good at it now and rarely needs my help.

I wish I were as good at matching things!  I've been trying to match my greeting cards (and my sparkling wit) with an appreciative and financially solvent audience.  My friends and family have been incredibly supportive and even purchased some of our creations.  Still, I'd really like to sell cards because people like them and not because of a sense of obligation.  I read recently that to reach the audience you want, think of your ideal buyer/reader.  My ideal everything showed up at my door recently.  The most beautiful man in the world came to the visit, and my world became so much brighter!  He had piercing blue eyes, a firm jaw, and a smile that could melt a blizzard.  He's also smart and funny and kind and generous and humble, but I'd marry him for the smile.  I had thought that my cards should be mainly directed at women since most greeting cards are purchased by women and my company is run by women.  However, when I showed a selection to tMBMitW, he died laughing.  That amazing feeling was almost enough to make me rethink this new marketing strategy.  I know that's not practical, but I think I've already demonstrated that I'm not a very practical person.  Oh well.  

In reality, I probably won't actually remarket because of one man.  But I probably will write some cards about him.  Everyone could use some encouragement from tMBMitW, right?  I sure could!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Irony and Social Media

Happy New Year to everyone!  About a week and a half into the new year is when most people start faltering on their resolutions.  Not me.  This is the time I start deciding which of my resolutions I actually meant and start taking action.  This year, I'm focusing a lot of my energy on JA Greetings in the hopes that I will one day be able to financially support myself.  My parents have been awesome letting me move back home and stop contributing to society, but I'll probably start to feel guilty about being a freeloader one of these days.  

To avoid that future guilt, I've been very busy trying to develop a marketing strategy.  I was really gung-ho about it until I broke my brain!  No I'm just gung (or am I just ho?).  Part of my brilliant and oh-so-original strategy was to create a Facebook page and Twitter account for the business.  While I was doing this, I realized their is a certain irony in relying on web-based social networking sites to convince people they need to send an actual card.  That is made with paper.  That requires a stamp to mail.  

Thankfully, there is a techno-savvy subculture (that prides itself on being above fad of social networking while still using it constantly) that's kind of madly in love with irony.  Yes, I'm talking about you, Hipsters.  I think you'll appreciate the snarkiness of the cards, and I promise to stop wanting to punch you in your stupid faces if you assist me in my quest for financial independence.  

Anyway, (please!) feel free to become fans of JA Greetings, Purveyors of Fine Wit on Facebook and follow JAGreetings on Twitter.