Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas delivers tidings of comfort, great joy for 2012

I came out pretty good this Christmas. Unlike most years, I didn’t have much to unwrap, but that was okay. I got big stuff! Like money – and new mattresses.

My last set of mattresses was hand-me-down from people I barely knew. I won’t be sad to see them go, when the charity people (or neighborhood scavengers) haul them away. The springs weren’t poking through yet, but they were, well, too close for comfort, which is a pretty big part of going to sleep.

The other large gift I got was wrapped. My son used a whole roll of paper to cover the recliner he bought me this year. I got that present early, and I was happy to settle myself into it to enjoy the Christmas Day festivities with my family. Quite comfy I was, nestled in my new chair, full of joy and wanton with wonton from our traditional Chinese Christmas feast. Fa-ra-ra-ra-ra!

Here's where my old mattress belongs.
I really appreciated the call I got from my best friend, feigning surprise at the magnetic, CrinkledNose Christmas card she got from my son and me in the mail. For those of you who read my last blog, “’Tis a reason for the wrapping,” you’ll recall that I included an image of our holiday photo card in the blog. I was really happy that she liked our holiday card, but most of all, I was happy that somebody out there had read my blog. :)

It’s been another great year. As 2011 rolls to a close, I realize how blessed I am to be here at CrinkledNose.com, checking for typos and stringing holiday words together – much like lights on a Christmas tree.

True to its promise, Christmas this year brought me tidings of great comfort. Little did I know some of them would come in the form of a Serta Perfect Sleeper®. Now when I lay me down to sleep, I will do it in cozy cushioning of a pillow-top mattress. Ahh.

I look forward to the restful slumber I’ll find in 2012, and all the wonderful new things the new year will bring. In the coming months I will drift away to dreamland in peaceful quiet, resting with the joy of family, friends and more holidays down the road – and knowing that 2012 might be the year that all my dreams come true.

Happy New Year, Crinkled Friends!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

That's a Wrap! Magnetic photo calendars make great gift packages for 2012

A magnetic photo calendar is a great gift to give friends and family. It serves as a yearly reminder of the tons of things we have to do during the year, and features the ones we care about most our family, friends and/or pets.

A magnetic, at-a-glance photo calendar is truly handy, so make it extra special by embellishing it with a pretty design and a photo. Voila! It becomes a special adornment for the fridge.

'But it's so flat! How can I give that as a gift?' you might ask. For a gift that has so much meaning, you don't need to let it get swallowed up in uninteresting packaging. As they say in the biz, it's all in the presentation. Here's the question: how can you make this very ordinary-looking gift stand out in a sea of other presents?

I will tell you the best way to give a magnetic photo calendar as a gift. I've come up with a creative way to wrap these awesome magnetic photo calendars to give to those we hold dear.

Wrap your calendar like a piece of candy how cute! All you need is an empty toilet paper roll, light-colored tissue paper, clear wrap with a festive message on it, tape, ribbon and, of course, the magnetic photo calendar.


First roll the calendar up with the print facing the outside, and the magnet facing inside the roll. This will ensure that once the gift is unwrapped, the calendar will still stick to the fridge without having to be flattened out. Stick the rolled calendar inside the toilet paper roll. The toilet paper roll keeps the calendar from unrolling while you wrap it, and gives the flat calendar a three-dimensional shape.

To add the tissue wrapping, take the tissue paper and fold it into a triangle-like shape, then begin to roll the toilet paper roll/calendar contraption from the flat side of the triangle to the tip. Tape the tip to the finished roll so it stays wrapped. Then you'll want to take the clear wrap with the festive message, cut it to 12" x 18", and wrap it around the tissue/calendar wrap, starting at the corner so the ends will be at an angle, not just straight. Tip: when you wrap the clear wrap, make sure the message can be read once the package is all wrapped up.

Take your ribbon, any kind that will accent the tissue colors you chose, and wrap each end in a festive bow with tightly wound curly cues. Attach a tag to the ribbon. Your flat magnetic calendar is now a beautiful present nay, a gift presentation ready for delightful unwrapping.


Magnetic photo calendars are fabulous gifts to give, so be sure to add the extra special touch by wrapping it in an unforgettable package.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Deck the halls, trim the tree ~ It's time for a holiday party celebration

‘Tis the season to have a party.  The holidays aren’t complete without a whole bunch of parties and seasonal celebrations.  It doesn’t matter if you’re going to an office party, a church party or a neighborhood get-together – we all love to share a cup of cheer at a holiday soiree.  It's jingle bell time!

I’m not much of a partier, personally, but even I venture outdoors for the occasional Christmas bash.  One year I even attended, albeit begrudgingly, six different Dirty Santa parties in one year!  Come to think of it, I’m not sure I’ve been to a single Dirty Santa party since that year. The idea of opening and stealing presents at that frequency just overloads my brain. 

Besides, I’m more of a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas. I’d rather eat holiday treats with loved ones, talk about how much the kids have grown, and just enjoy my time with those I hold dear.

I understand, however, that my personality doesn’t necessarily reflect that of the many social bees and butterflies around me, so we are happy to meet the increasing demands of our festive, merry-making customers with our new line of holiday party invitations.  If you need Dirty Santa invitations or White Elephant Party invitations, we’re your place to personalize, customize, print and ship.  Every day we’re expanding our selections.  Soon we’ll include Hanukkah party invitations and more Halloween party invitations.

My wonderful family!
In the meantime, if you need a Christmas party invite or a New Year’s party invitation, check out our selection.  If you don’t find what you need, give us a ring, and we’ll whip it up for you in the blink of an eye – and a crink of the nose.

Merry Christmas!
Ben Fineburg
Creative Director

Thursday, December 8, 2011

'Tis a reason for the wrapping; Sneaky mitts spoil Christmas surprises, but not sentiment

I love surprises. I’ve always loved them, even as a small child. Yes, I knew where my mother hid the presents for Christmas, but I didn’t go into the closet looking for them. Not intentionally.

In the natural course of things, however, I did find a few. I remember one gift in particular. It was a doll head mounted on a molded plastic beauty stand. She had long blonde hair, her own make-up collection, and girly hair accessories; my friends and I had great fun “dolling her up,” so to speak. That is, until somebody came along with a magic marker and ruined it all. Why do kids do that? Magic doesn’t wash off!

Sigh, I digress. I’ve recently learned those dolls are called “styling heads,” and they still make them, which makes me feel better, like my doll is somehow redeemed from her ill fate by continued mass production. But here’s my point: I found the doll before Christmas, so when Christmas Day came around, I had to act surprised when I spied her golden locks under the tree. I’m not a great actress, mind you, but I pushed my guilt aside and did a decent job of it.

Now my brother, on the other hand, he was a present peeker. He was always sneaky about stuff. He knew where the presents were, same as I, but unlike me of the reasonably clear conscience, he didn’t think twice about plundering the goods.

As an adult, I’ve taken an informal survey about how folks handle surprises. Some, like me, are big fans of the surprise element, and all the suspenseful steps leading up to it. Other peeps, well, they’re all about peeping. They don’t believe in the sanctity of the “Wrapped Gift.” These offenders readily admit their bad childhood sneakiness – e.g., finding "Santa's" secret stash, unwrapping the gifts, playing with the toys, and rewrapping them with deceitful glee, only to pose as innocent, surprised children, full of wonder Christmas morning.

There are those, however, who still cling to the sneakiness in adulthood. These are the truly shameless, the ones who really deserve to shoot their eye out.

My love of surprises did bite me once. My birthday was coming up, and my erstwhile boyfriend wanted to tell me what he had gotten me. “No, no, no, absolutely not,” I told him with na├»ve enthusiasm. “I love surprises.” Oh, but not this one. Looking back, I should’ve just let him tell me what the present was – then I could’ve saved two weeks and broken up with him right then.

My son is the same way about surprises, so it must be genetic. We have great fun every year building the suspense to great heights, planting small clues outside the packages, hazy, indiscernible hints as to what’s wrapped inside. It’s delightful torment.

As wonderful as the surprises of Christmas are, I love the openness too – shared greetings with family, well wishes to strangers, the hearty, pine-scented, clean air of winter, and the pure, philanthropic joy of giving.

This year, as always, I’ll send up my heartfelt prayers, and send out my holiday greetings – good tidings I’m cheery to share, with special thanks to my customized, magnetized, CrinkledNose holiday photo card (pictured below). To all who will read this, I wish you a Merry Christmas! And to all who will also get this card in the mail, you can get some practice acting surprised when you open up the envelope. :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas in Dixie: Treasured keepsakes, cherished Southern memories

My love and excitement for the holidays was etched in me early on by my mother. Mother adored Christmas!! She would painstakingly select each and every gift. Our Christmas was very Southern, and by her generous example, all about the giving.

Still, this is the same lady who would sneak downstairs and unwrap her presents ahead of time because she couldn’t stand the wait. Then she’d rewrap them to perfection, and with just as much poise, feign total surprise Christmas morning!! It does make me ever-so-childlike that I, like her, can hardly wait to open my gifts, but so far I haven’t resorted to the unwrap-and-rewrap scheme…..yet.

All the delights of the holidays – the wonderful sounds and smells – are a comfort to me. The song “Christmas in Dixie,” by the group Alabama, stirs my nostalgia for childhood Christmases. The scents of lingering holiday spices remind me of putting cloves into oranges with my Grandmother, something she did as a child with her Mother. And to this day, I still put cloves into oranges.

The joys of my childhood are many, and well preserved for me. Every year my mother would drive my brother and me to Pizitz Department Store in downtown Birmingham to see Santa. What a thrill it was that Father Christmas himself would come all this way to hear our Christmas wishes! I'll always cherish this photo of my brother and me, sitting in the comfort of red velour and St. Nick's lap.

Likewise, I still keep the felt Santa I made in the first grade. My first Christmas mug was a stocking that held hot chocolate – I would only drink from this mug on Christmas Day. Even now it rests in the sturdy protection of my Grandmother’s china cabinet. I still keep the notes and cards my Mother and Grandmother sent me through the years. Holiday cards to me are treasures that I pull out from time to time, read and reflect on all the wonderful Christmas memories they hold. I’m so glad I saved them.

Keepsakes are different for all of us – but the memories and love they reflect are universal. So I’ll continue to send – and keep – my special holiday cards for all the Christmases to come.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A year of Thanksgiving definitely worth the climb

Black Mountain Crest Trail (BMCT) is one of the most difficult hikes in the Eastern U.S. I’d been rehabbing a sore leg for half a year following foot surgery, when my friend invited me to join in this epic hike that would conquer several summits and accumulate over 6,000 feet of climbing over 12 miles. My first thought was, “Ulp, it’s been six months, am I ready for this?” Preferring to “think positive,” and hopeful my Achilles was healed proper, I cautiously asked for more info. about the trip.

Being an avid hiker, surgery had been my only option after a year of chronic pain and inability to train for a Grand Canyon trip with my kids. The more I learned about the Black Mountain Crest Trail, the more excited – and worried – I became. Descriptions about the trail are all pretty similar: grueling, challenging, not to be underestimated, extremely difficult. My friends jokingly likened the trail to “a little scramble.” Eeeks.

A few weeks ago, with packs loaded for an overnight with water, tents and food, we set out from Bowlens Creek trailhead for an immediate 3,000 foot ascent for three and a half miles up to Celo Knob. The challenge of this trail comes from a straightforward approach. You go up, relentlessly up, with very few switchbacks and little opportunity for recovery. From Celo Knob we rested and took in the view of the entire range, which ended at Mt. Mitchell at 6,684 feet, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. We covered Gibbs Mountain, Horse Rock, and Winter Star and then descended to Deep Gap to camp for the night. We were all ready to shed packs and rest for the evening after covering the first leg of the journey, about eight miles.

My leg held up all day under the weight of a full pack and perpetual climbing. With each step, I gave continual thanks for being able, again, to push to the top. There were many days following surgery when I wondered if the past strength was gone for good. Thankfulness came over me in an emotional, spiritual flood. I’ve always felt a sense of reverence out in the woods for our Creator, such majesty and beauty lies in the forests of our country. I prayed repeatedly, “Thank you, thank you thank you,” realizing not only that the foot had healed, but the procedure worked.

We were in sleeping bags by 8:00 p.m. and woke occasionally as the wind buffeted our tents. In the morning we started again uphill on the 900-foot climb out of Deep Gap to Potato Hill, then down and up to Cattail Peak, again to Balsam Cone, again to Mount Big Tom, then Mount Craig, and finally to Mount Mitchell. All in for day two, we figured four miles would keep us going until lunch; well it was more like a late lunch.

Completing this “little scramble” with men I respected before the trip and looking back on the year behind us, I wanted to commemorate our time together. I chose the perfect gift, our recent addition of personalized, micro-roasted coffee gifts at CrinkledNose.com. Our coffees made the perfect gift for our manly group of mountain men – a personal, robust, festive, CrinkledNose blend! Come a cold winter's morning, that's something we'll all be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from CrinkledNose.com!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Many members make a very Merry Christmas!

I was as an only child to my parents. When I was eight, my parents got divorced and honestly, I was okay with that. As I've grown up, my parents have remarried and begun new lives with new significant others, and my family tree has grown a ton. I now have stepmothers, stepfathers, stepbrothers and stepsisters, lots of stepcousins – even stepgrandparents. You name a step, I've got it.

And then I got married, so let's just quadruple my family tree. . . WOW!

When the holidays roll around, I have to lock down a schedule of when we’re getting together, where and with whom, and what all our people are getting or not getting, depending of course on which branch of the family tree we’re talking about. It's crazy hectic and uncomfortably packed with family holiday events alone. But there are all also the presents I have to get for other people we exchange gifts with. I’ve got to get all those gifts ready on time too, wrapped and prepared for the designated holiday party they goes with. There’s a lot to do during my holiday season!

The party invitations to all sorts of Thanksgiving and Christmas events start rolling in around mid-November. My husband, two boys and I are literally invited to nine different family events beginning the week of Thanksgiving, and ending the third week of December.

All you children from divorced families understand where I'm coming from. I don't mind it so much anymore, but my husband, who comes from a parental unit who has stood the test of time, has had a challenge getting used to the enormous amounts of get-togethers we are obligated to attend during Thanksgiving and Christmas season. And because my family at large is so large, he’s committed to spending quality time with a whole lot of folks we only see once a year and make meaningful chitchat about life. Whatever it involves, holiday time is mandatory family time every year – no excuses allowed.



It's hectic, no doubt about it. It's a task just keeping up with all the magnetic party invitations I've got stuck on the front of the fridge. But I get lots of beautiful holiday photo cards in the mail, and I get to have Christmas dinner a week before Christmas with my Dad, which involves 30 people (literally), and Christmas Eve dinner with my Mom, which involves only a few family members. Then on Christmas Day we get together with my husband's parents and throw wrapping paper at each other while opening presents, and I enjoy the new family members I have been linked to. I'm definitely not an only child anymore.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Magical, numerical, mathematical – these numbers go to 11, several times

As long as I can remember, I have loved numbers. I love numbers in repetition, numbers in sequence, and random numbers that somehow work themselves out mathematically in my head. 

Every day I am entertained by the quantity of cool number series I encounter.  The magic can happen anywhere – license plates, zip codes, digits on the clock – anywhere numerals converge.

The ultimate kismet for me, numerically speaking, happens every day at 11:11.  I love to see this particular time of day (and night) appear on my phone, digital clock or the lower-right corner of my computer screen.  I can’t exactly explain why, but I do.  When I see it, I’m compelled to shout it out loud – “11:11!” – or else it doesn’t “count” somehow (no pun intended).  I even set my clocks a few minutes apart throughout the house, so if i miss it on one clock, I can see it on another.

If it’s close, I’ll also sit and watch the clock until it hits 11:11.  My really good friends call or email me at 11:11 to make sure I don’t miss the experience.  Now that is love!  It’s actually a bit contagious, my love of numbers, and now that you have read this, I will go ahead and say it:  you will forever be aware of the 11:11’s that cross your path.  YOU ARE WELCOME! 

In celebration of the dearly anticipated date, 11-11-11, we at CrinkledNose.com are hosting the numerical party of the century.  As part of our countdown, we started our celebration on 11-10, complete with chili, cheesecake, and my own awesome brownies (pictured above)!  (We didn’t want to wait until the last minute.)  We’re blowing it out, Times Square ball-drop style, when the time hits 11:11:11 on 11-11-11. 

You see, I’ve been waiting a long time for this day!  I see the time 11:11 every day, but to get to see it on the day of, well that’s a bit overwhelming for someone like me.  

And I really appreciate the excitement and enthusiasm of all my co-workers hosting the festivities, mostly on my behalf.  It’s a special holiday for me, and even though we at CrinkledNose don’t have a holiday photo card for a single day that happens once every hundred years, what other photo greeting card company has a fraction of the groovy coolness to say, “I love you, Vicki,” by turning carrots and celery into number 11’s on a paper plate?  

Maybe next century we’ll have a “Happy 11-11-11 Day” CrinkledNose card.  Until then, wishing you good numbers, and a happy 11-11-11, from my house to yours.



~ By Vicki Davis

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Crinkled Christmas Coffees ~ Share a Cup of Cheer!

I’ve always enjoyed a good cup of joe. So much, in fact, it’s earned me a variety of nicknames and commentary over the years. That’s the great thing about having the name “Jean.” Yeah, it’s totally old-lady, but it also rhymes with “coffee bean,” “coffee queen,” and “coffee machine.” Old-lady or not, it’s pretty convenient.

I’m not a snob about my coffee, but I am serious about it. I drink it black, just like my mom, as I have since my teen years. See? “Jean the Coffee Bean Teen Queen.” Baby, I was born to brew.

At my last job I inherited a half-gallon coffee jug. It saved me a lot of trips up and down the stairs, though it was a cumbersome way to support my habit.

When I first started to work here, our PR director taped this picture to my inbox: it was me, drowning in a giant cup of coffee, only my arm reaching out above the black, swirling mass. Probably not the worst way to go, really.

You can understand why I’m so excited about Christmas this year at CrinkledNose. For the first time ever, we’re selling personalized coffees, with the help of award-winning O'Henry's Coffee Roasting Company! Made from micro-roasted Arabica beans, our coffees are festive, tasty, and even better with your smiling face right there on the bag. It’s a cool spin on our personalized holiday greeting lineup, bringing a warm welcome and roasty good morning to your loved ones every time they Crinkle up a cup.
We’ve even got matching holiday photo card designs to accompany your robust gift. Available in quantities of four or more, regular or decaffeinated, House or Christmas Blend, we’re calling our personalized coffees the best gift brewing.

Our personalized coffees make me feel good, not only because of the caffeine, but because they’re such an easy, economical gift. Every year I give coffee with my Christmas gifts, but this year we can really Crink it up. We’ll break out the Santa hats for the pets, and all pose for an attractive family Christmas photo my folks can enjoy as long as the coffee bag holds coffee.

At CrinkledNose.com, we’ve got coffee so good, it’d put a smile on Ebenezer Scrooge’s face. I can’t say I’ve ever had my picture on a coffee bag before, but it’s a real perk! I think I’ll have a cup or few to brighten my day, and my whole holiday season. I’m crunk on Crink!



P.S. ~ I've also heard Santa likes our coffee better than warm milk.



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

To Say I Love Christmas

To say I love Christmas is an understatement. I make most of my friends nuts year-round with my running countdown – beginning in January – of the total number of days and hours until Christmas!! Really, you cannot plan too early. I mean, we need to make the most of all the shopping days the calendar year has to offer.

But it’s not just the shopping I love (though I do shop on an expert level). I love everything about Christmas – the carols, decorations, holiday photo cards, snowmen, and all the sights and smells associated with this wonderful holiday. People are kinder, generous and more joyful.

As a child, I could not wait for the department stores to decorate their window for Christmas. And of course the trips to visit Santa and get my picture made sitting in his lap. I still display my Santa photos in their special frames every year!

And speaking of displays – I’m a little over the top with that as well. My home is bustling with Christmas everywhere. Alvin and the Chipmunks sing “Please Christmas, Don’t Be Late” to the backdrop of my Santa collection and fun, funky glass Christmas Trees. Just pulling the decorations out excites me – so many wonderful stories behind those ornaments and the Christmas decorations I’ve received over the years. I take good care of my trimmings – I try to keep everything in its original container, marked with the date I received it, and the name of the person who gave it to me.

To me, Christmas is truly about giving. Nothing is better than helping a child from the Angel Tree or bringing gifts to the senior centers.

At CrinkledNose.com, we have a very special way to give this Christmas. We have a whole division of holiday cards that directly benefit Children’s of Alabama. Proceeds from every order will go straight to the hospital to help sick kids get better. What makes these Christmas cards even more special is that each card was drawn by a young patient at Children’s. Holiday cards by kids, helping kids – at Christmas. What a great way to give.

This year there are many in our immediate area for whom Christmas may not be as bright, shiny or happy as those of the past. Remember to give all that you can, in any way that you can – at Christmas, and all through the year.

Merry Christmas, Y’all!!

P.S. ~ There are exactly 59 days and 14.5 hours until Christmas! :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

CrinkledNose wedding invitations unveiled, better than red-sequined ex-girlfriends

It’s October, just three months shy of Christmas. But it feels like spring. No, not outside. It’s just that I’m suddenly bombarded with wedding invitations. Most of which, seem to have come up just as suddenly.

I love weddings for a lot of reasons. Yes, there’s the free food. But more than that, weddings are some of the rare occasions where the guests really share the joy of the happy hosts. Unless you’re a jilted ex, of course, and you show up in a red sequined child-size party dress, just to show the groom what he’ll be missing. This happened to one of my best friends at her wedding; thankfully she had the good humor not to let it ruin her special day. She’s classy like that.

I love seeing the many styles of wedding invitations and save-the-date cards couples choose to send out. My niece and her husband designed their own wedding announcements – a wonderful montage of snippets telling their unique love story. I’ve never seen another one like it. I still have it posted up at my desk, in fact.

Sometimes I get wedding invitations with typos. We won’t talk about those. I'll just call them shameful effronteries, like red-sequined ex-girlfriends.

There are so many styles I do like – it’s interesting to see how the flavor of the announcement fits the personality of the couple. You can tell which invitations were solely the creation of the bride, and which ones the groom may have had a hand in.

But I really dig the wedding invitations where bride or groom is a graphic designer. There’s got to be a special pressure on those guys to make really groovy invites. Me, I just need to spell stuff right.

I’m really excited about our new wedding invitation and save the date collection at CrinkledNose.com. It’s a relatively new category for us, but by the looks of things, it’s a good time to welcome our wedding invitation line. I particularly like our Spring Flower and Knot designs. The Spring Flower cards are available in our recently unveiled Z-fold format, which you will recall from our earlier, and very popular, Z-fold blog entry.

This year it seems our wedding season has coincided with our holiday season. You can catch both festive themes – and their respective greetings – in one setting (and sitting), right on our site. You don’t have to crash our party or receive a formal invitation either – you’re welcome to join us any time.

Good news all around.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Photo cards give back year-round

It’s not every day in business that we get the opportunity to give back. Every so often, we do pro bono work for a worthwhile charity, and it feels pretty good to know that we’re contributing to a good cause. Mostly, we design, create and print for pay. It’s how we put food on the table.

As part of the business of CrinkledNose.com, however, we’re working on our second Christmas of giving back to Children’s of Alabama, the only hospital in the state dedicated solely to helping children. In 2010 we gave them almost $11,000 in a marketing effort where we turned children’s art into photo Christmas cards. All of the kids who created this art were patients at Children’s.


This holiday season we plan to double the orders – and the dollar amount – we give back to Children’s. To join our effort, you can order your Children's of Alabama holiday cards here.

This year, as we thought about creating cards that give back, we wanted to build upon the success of the Children’s program. That desire led us to partner with St. Vincent’s Hospital, also in Birmingham.


At St. Vincent’s they deliver upwards of 3,000 babies every year. Their hospital slogan tells us they’re where babies come from. Since CrinkledNose.com already has a huge assortment of photo birth announcements, why not combine our artwork with their slogan and come up with another charitable campaign?

That’s exactly what we did. We’re delighted to announce that any day now, you’ll be able to order your custom magnetic baby shower invitations and adorable photo birth announcements right from CrinkledNose.com, and give back to St. Vincent’s Hospital’s Center for Women and Children at the same time.

Not only that, we’re also giving back to the hospital from orders from our wide variety of thank you cards and baby shower invitations. When your girlfriends order your baby shower invitations, we’ll give part of the proceeds to St. Vincent’s. And when you order your thank you cards from us, we’ll give again.

Hopefully, by next year we’ll be able to develop a unique, custom baby announcement line just for St. Vincent’s. For now, all our baby cards are eligible for the donation. When you order, there will be a special donation code to enter at check-out, and CrinkledNose.com will automatically donate proceeds from each order. (We’ll announce the code at a later date.)

It truly does feel good to give back. At CrinkledNose.com, we're making a habit of it every day.

~ By Ben Fineburg

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Well said and done, fellow greeting card fans

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Well done is better than well said.” I find this comforting. As a copywriter I often wrest with the improbability of cleverly nesting my topic into a nice, sellable, melt-in-your mouth shell.

This task can be especially challenging when there’s a special theme attached to the project. For instance, pitching medical services using navigational terms – “Need help riding the dicey tides of medical transcription?” Or selling cosmetics using spy lingo – “There’s a new agent in town, and she’s on a make-up mission.”

Some of my assignments require me to write intelligently about topics I am impressively unfamiliar with, like building construction, or engine work. I’m reminded on these days how glad I am for Wikipedia.

But there's one niche of writing I take special notice of: the greeting card.












I always enjoy this market because it's so varied, yet so universal. Funny or serious, cliche or poignant, these cards are like micro-abstracts of grander works. In my life I’ve perused the greeting card aisle about as many thousand times as the next guy, and I always wondered where they get the folks who pen these sappy couplets and cheesy sentiments.

I think perhaps these people just run on a perpetual deadline, having to come up with something – anything – really quick, good or not. Maybe they have a card quota, and have to churn out so many well wishes an hour. I guess in that case a barrel of monkeys proclaiming, “I go bananas over you” might count just as well as truly eloquent prose.

There’s also the mean card category. These are the cards that make terrible fun of someone’s age when they have a birthday: “You look really good for your age – almost lifelike.” Or what I like to call the cross-cheese: “I thought your house was on fire, but it was only the candles on your cake.”

One of the coolest things about CrinkledNose.com is that our greetings are so personal. That’s because with our photo holiday cards, save the date magnets, birth announcement photo cards and birthday party invitations, we don’t write the greetings – you do! So you not only get to fancy-up your photo cards with your own picture, but the message is yours too. Much better than buying a card out of the box, right?

Also, I don’t mind saying, it kind of takes the pressure off me – I’m not too great at couplets, as it turns out. So every little bit you can do, helps me. You may not be a trained professional, but no one can express your thoughts quite the way you can. You say it; we make it happen. Well said, well done.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The New, The AmaZing, Z-Folded Cards

When we started CrinkledNose.com, we only had a small stock(ing) of Christmas cards. Over the next few years we branched out, adding birth announcements, wedding invitations, moving cards, personalized note pads, graduation announcements and party invitations. Still, every card was either two-panel, or flat out flat. All very pretty, but alas, a little 2-D for me.

But then, in the fall of 2011, we brought in another D, the mac daddy of the holiday card world: the Z-Fold announcement card.

I was going to write this blog about a woman who was saved from a burning building by a Z-Fold card; however, this didn’t actually happen. Instead, I shall talk about the real heroics of a Z-Fold card: it’s bigger than other cards. It’s got three panels, so it can stand up on its own. It fits nicely into an envelope, and can even fold out flat for a keepsake worth framing.

Yes, Z might come last in the alphabet, but in the folding community, it’s at the top of the heap! Because the Z-Fold cards have three panels, there’s more room for photos and personalization. They also make a ready, stand-up (or stand-out) display for your birth announcements, wedding invitations and holiday cards.

Now that’s what I’m crinkling about!

Ain’t nothing crinkling like the leaves on a tree – and the panels on a folded up Z... card.

Check it out: Jean-Z, my new rap name. :)


*********************************************************************************************

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Autumn falls, poses handsomely in the Carolina mountains


October is fast approaching, and leaves on the trees will soon be flaming in a short-lived fire of red, orange and yellow. From my vantage point as a photographer, there’s no better place to be than the mountains of North Carolina when fall paints the Appalachian canvas.

Every autumn I carry out my two-fold pursuit of trekking to the Nantahala National Forest and biking the Tsali Recreation Area. As much as I enjoy mountain biking with my buddies, I also enjoy fall’s changing leaves. To prove the point, here's one of the pictures taken across the street from the diner we eat at between morning and afternoon rides.

And another one riding in the dirt.

These are the kind of pictures that work well using the Create-Your-Own option at Crinklednose.com. I want to use the whole panel to take advantage of the photo quality print to create my own picture postcard invitation for the next big event. Hey, I might even make one for our next mountain biking expedition.

Tsali is about the best place in the eastern U.S. to hit the bike trails. Known for undulating tracks bordering Lake Fontana, there are four trails that all come back to the main trailhead, offering almost 40 miles over overlooks, quick descents, grinding climbs and cloaked rhododendron. After a strenuous ride, relaxing at a place like Lakeview at Fontana makes for regenerating energy for the next day's ride. Not to mention world-class kayaking right up the road on the Nantahala River.

Another part of our adventure is hitting the Appalachian Trail, hoofing up to Wesser Bald for the 13-mile hike from Tellico to Wesser to the Nantahala Outdoor Center. It's a tough trail, but the view at the top is worth the final push to the summit for a 360-degree view. As seen from a wooden platform situated above the treeline, it’s a landscape idyllic for digital quality photo cards.

When I get a shot I’m really proud of, I like to get it printed on a magnetic photo card and stick it on the fridge – then I can gaze on the beautiful colors of fall all year long.


For more pictures of Tsali and fun in the Carolinas: http://gallery.me.com/muddawg#101012

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Born on 9/11

This weekend is an important and somber day of remembrance in our country. Everyone in our nation who’s old enough remembers where they were when JFK was assassinated, when Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon, and now – added to this list a decade ago – where they were when terrorists attacked New York City and Washington D.C.

I, like everyone else, have been asked over the past couple of weeks where I was on that fateful day 10 years ago. But unlike most other people I know, 9/11 has an additional significance to me, and did long before 2001.

On September 11, 2001, I was celebrating my 13th birthday. Wading the perilous waters of middle school, I was unknowingly growing into a new me – and about to meet a new America.

Celebrating the day of my birth filled me with guilt for the first several years after the terrorist attacks. If I got a birthday card in the mail, I cast it aside, almost disdainful of the happy message inside. I didn't want a birthday cake or a present from my family. To me, the nation was in mourning, and I should be too.

As I grew upward into my teenage years, I was unable and unwilling to be happy on any September 11th. I saw my sacrifice as a tribute to our nation's pain, and almost an apology for having been born on that day.

After a few years, the loving words of my family and the support of other loved ones helped me realize that in not celebrating my birthday, I was failing to honor the military fighting every single day to protect me and my ability to celebrate, and more importantly, I was not honoring the God who created me and the very day I was born.

Several of my friends and classmates who charged by me in the hallway that day in 2001 are now serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, still vigilant and fighting to protect me and all other citizens of this country. Today I celebrate my birthday, in part to honor them and also thank them. I now consider it a privilege to get a birthday card in the mail, and receive it with the love that was intended.

Now, in my new job at CrinkledNose, I get to help others celebrate life in so many ways. With every birthday party invitation, graduation announcement, or Fourth of July barbecue invitation I design, I have a part in the grand celebration of our blessed life in America, and all the occasions we all have in this nation to cherish. In so doing, we’re thanking those that make this life possible.

As I embark on year twenty-three today, I encourage you to embrace life along with me this year. After all, the best thing you can do to thank God and your country is to live life well!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Southern hospitality makes good neighbors

One of the benefits of living in the South is what’s known around here as Southern hospitality. This is a misunderstood and often elusive term to grasp. Some folks (Yankees mostly) think it means that all Southerners are syrupy sweet and life is all puppy dogs and rainbows. Of course, that’s not true. We Southerners can be as mean as a cottonmouth snake, and we can hold a grudge long enough to be counted by generations instead of years. True Southern hospitality – to me anyway – means that the people you know make an effort to know you back, to care and to help whenever they can.

We have some great friends who’ve shown us true Southern hospitality. We’ve lived next door to them in two different neighborhoods, and I’d say they know just about everything there is to know about me, my wife and my kids. Likewise, I reckon we know about all there is to know about them.

Funny thing, they’re not from the South. They’re from western Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh. They came down South to work for a car manufacturer who set up shop in Alabama. These folks are sure enough not from around here. They talk funny. They eat gravy from a jar. The stuff that comes from a cow that you put on your cereal – they call it “melk.” Despite all that, I’ve never met a more loving, caring, sincere family than our friends from Pennsylvania.

Sadly, they moved to North Carolina recently. Our loss, North Carolina’s gain. Family vacations and phone calls keep us close. But unexpected pictures and photos and web updates keep us smiling. Last year, they sent us a magnetic Christmas card with several family shots on a wonderfully designed card. It’s still on our fridge, so every time I go for some melk, I am reminded that we Southerners don’t have a corner (well, not the whole corner) on our famous Southern hospitality.

I miss my friends, but thanks to their cute photo cards and updates, I get to keep a piece of them always in front of me.

~ By Ben Fineburg

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Image isn’t everything, but it looks pretty good in digital print

Ben sent me a great article today, all about old technology and how one guy captured the past on a 19th-century camera. It was a wonderful story, and the images of Mayan princesses in Guatemala were resplendent in the black and white photos that appeared as aged as their bygone culture.

But unlike these beautiful stills of Mayan royalty, the best process to capture a great moment on film is not black and white. Rather, it’s to the eye’s own choosing.

On the heels of reading about this freshly dusted off, 19th-century box camera, I saw a Google Maps car this afternoon, in from California, getting gas at the pump like a regular vehicle. Ah, but apart from having four wheels, there’s nothing regular about it. It’s got a 360-degree camera posted to a pole on the roof, and I’m convinced is actively communicating with outer space. Block by block, street by street, it’s documenting our planet. While the antique camera sits in a box, this one is a perfect sphere – just like its subject, the lovely ball spinning under our feet.

Working in marketing, I’ve learned that presenting an image is just as important as capturing it. Personally, I’m just glad we have cameras today with shutter speeds fast enough for people to smile when their picture is taken. Mirth definitely makes a better photograph. (Make-up helps too.)

As technology has evolved over the years, so has our capacity for using the beloved photograph. Yes, they took our Kodachrome away, but they gave us digital printing. Fast and versatile, digital printing gives us the instant gratification we need in today’s fast-paced climate, along with an endless array of applications to showcase great photographs. Think about the many splendored needs a single stock photo can fulfill.

Still, most of my favorite photos are the ones I take myself. And working with CrinkledNose.com, I have a plenitude of ways I can show my pictures off. I can personalize my Christmas cards, moving announcements and party invitations, not only with my own message, but with my own photograph as well, featuring my superbly awesome picture-taking skills, or even better, my photogenic, smiling self.

The best part, I can get my pictures printed on a magnet and send them out to my closest friends and family. There’s a unique joy in knowing my loved ones will plaster their refrigerators with my photographs, and I’m thankful to help others have the same opportunity.

And in our digital, print-on-demand world of today, I’m also pretty thankful for photoshopping.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Magnet Carta: My irresistible attraction to photo magnets

I’ve heard, third- or fourth-hand, so it should be reliable, that a typical magnet will stay on a person’s refrigerator about seven years. About the same as indentured servitude. Of course, there’s no rule that the magnets have to vacate their post after those seven years are up; some of them hang on for much longer. The other day, I found a football calendar from 1997 posted on my fridge. It was right next to the cut-out, magnetically framed snapshot of a guy a dated nine years ago. Yikes. Time to do some fridge cleaning, and I’m not just talking about the inside. (Please, let’s not talk about the inside.)


For the thousandth time I make a mental note to cull through the old magnets, as I simultaneously forget all about them, opening the refrigerator door in pursuit of better things, like snacks.

One day, I think, maybe the magnets will just take over the fridge – like eminent domain. I mean, with the magnetude on there right now, there’s not a lot of real estate left. But the cool thing is, apart from the football schedules and insurance agents’ calendars, most of my magnets are things I’d really like to keep. Inside some of those (slightly cheesy) die-cut magnetic frames, I’ve got photos of my mom, my son’s Cub Scout troop, and our first pet. I’ve got souvenir magnets from places we’ve traveled – Detroit, Alaska, Liverpool – and the Easter photo frame my son made out of popsicle sticks in the second grade.

Rather than cluttered, I like to think of myself. . . as a Magnet Magnate. We run the gamut of magnets at my house, so I think I deserve the title. Plus, working for CrinkledNose.com, it’s now part of my business – creating magnetic photo cards.

It’s fair to say, my magnets have gotten much better since I signed on with Crinkled. While all are decorative, my magnets have also turned toward the pragmatic, or – what I like to call – the pragmagnet. Baby shower invitations and wedding save-the-dates are much easier to keep up with when they’re slapped on front of a door you open 12-15 times a day. They’re also very classy this way, always with a pretty photo or cool graphic that makes me want to look at them. Just how long I’ll keep them up past the date remains to be seen. Ask me in another decade.

Old magnets never die. They just come to stay. But with all the great magnetic photo cards I’ve got up on my fridge these days, I think it’s just magnetficent.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Driving creativity to paper – and to the mailboxes of those you love


We created CrinkledNose with the desire to drive creative thinking to paper. These days, as electronic communication has become the norm, there’s a lot less printed material than there used to be. But come Christmas time, the greeting card still reigns. While I no longer take the daily paper, I do still enjoy receiving a holiday card from a friend.

Most of the time, though, my mailbox just contains reminders of all the things I can buy at discounted prices, or bills I’ve incurred and must return promptly with my payment.

Keeping up on Facebook is fun, and it’s an easy way to connect with the kids, family and old friends, and opens a clean channel for community. Still, it requires nominal investment to comment, or “Likes” for this or that, and often tugs us to remember birthdays of friends we otherwise might not know. Makes me wonder, what does it really mean if we send automatic “Happy Birthday” wishes, without actually acknowledging the person directly? Or send out birthday party invitations en masse, with no more thought than which friends' boxes to click on for the invite? I mean, it's "community" that's easy to manage, but is it held together by caring, or convenience?

I pine for the card in the mail, because it takes time and investment from someone you hold dear. When you receive a card from someone, you know they were thinking of you, and made a point to let you know it – an investment beyond whim or passing electronic blip. I like that… actually, I love that.

CrinkledNose.com takes advantage of the ease of technology, while providing a thoughtful, simple means of sending greetings that are indeed extra special. Our custom photo cards aren’t just special because they’re printed on paper and come in the mail – they’re special because, with your photo and message you create, they capture your own personal touch.

By design, these personalized art forms should find their way to the mailboxes of family friends or relatives after a small bit of effort. They’re definitely worth the time to send, and magnetic photo cards make great keepsakes for folks you don’t get to see often. This is why I’m proud of what we have thoughtfully made for you consideration. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Designing Woman: All Grown Up in a Purple Cubicle


Sitting here toward the end of my third week at CrinkledNose.com, I’m settling into a new phase of life. I’ve graduated from college, gotten a new job in my field (hooray!) and am hereby dubbed “grown up.” I can't help but sit and wonder, “How did this happen?”

Wasn’t it only yesterday, when (instead of paying attention) I was doodling in high school chemistry and worrying about the new bell schedule? If only my poor teacher could see me now, actually putting those doodling skills to good use, designing photo cards and invitations. I hope it would fulfill her somehow.

The one thing I’ll miss most about school days is summer vacation, and the joy of sleeping in, every day of the week. Now and forevermore my alarm clock will be set for 6:00 a.m., Monday through Friday – no sleep mode allowed! And instead of hitting the beach and enjoying the sun, sand, and ocean breeze, I’ll spend my August sitting in a purple cubicle, making photo Christmas cards. The first day of school is now a mere traffic annoyance, and my bedtime is (nearly) as early as a senior citizen’s.

However, I must say this new routine does have its charms. Being paid for your work, for example, is one nice perk. The lack of “homework” (so far) has also been a nice change. The photo birthday card I started working on yesterday will be there, patiently waiting for me to finish (and for someone to buy!) tomorrow. Another plus is that, unlike my college design projects, the photo announcements and photo birthday invitations I design today will be out there in the real world in real time, and might even find their way to people’s refrigerators or photo albums the very same week. What a thought! Someone will see – and purchase – my work?! Wow.

This new territory called “adulthood” is a balancing act that takes place around “clocking in” and “clocking out.” Clocking in means responsibility, channeled creativity, and photo cards. Clocking out means rest, relationships, and youthful spontaneity (at least for now). I’ve got my balance; let’s do this!

And when I miss the ocean, I’ll design a beach-themed party invitation instead of breaking out the sunblock.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Great Lakes Road Trip: Lovin’ Every Minute of It!

For nine years in a row now, my son and I have been taking grand vacations. Maybe not grand by everyone’s standards, but pretty large by ours. It’s vacation, and I love every minute of it. And anyway there’s no shame in staying at a Bestway Motor Inn.

We just have two rules when we travel: we have to go somewhere we’ve never been before, and do something we’ve never done before. For our destination this year we chose that beloved tourist metropolis sought out by vacationers around the world: Detroit.

Yes, Motor City is gritty, but it’s got great benefits. It’s the automobile capital of the world, and most of my favorite vintage cars were built there. It sits right between Canada and the Jiffy Mix Factory, and is home to a magical place called Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum. This year it also provided us with the thing we’d never done before – taking a spin in a Model T.

Best of all, Detroit’s got Motown. Upstairs we saw Michael Jackson’s glove and the Marvin Gaye Memorial Tribute, before descending a few short steps into Studio A, the basement room where Motown’s biggest hits were recorded. Our group took parts singing “My Girl” in quite imperfect harmony. It was beautiful.

Blasting from the stereo of our rented 2011 Impala, “Detroit Rock City” became our theme song for this city with a rocky past and equally uncertain future. But our time there was up. Like a billion cars before us, we rolled out of Detroit, leaving its ragged urban backdrop for the clean, unassuming terrain of Ontario.

You can say this for Canada: it’s big. Like America, it’s got some Great Lakes. It’s got something else too, a relic of a journey that began in the U.S. and ended in Dresden, Ontario: Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which I didn’t realize belonged in Canada until we made this trip. We got there just as they were closing, but that was okay; the same thing happened a few years ago when we went to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s house, which made it apropos. (I’m a copywriter, so I have to use words like 'apropos.') We still got to walk around the place, though, and I could see how the story of this slave refuge would inspire telling. I dig some real material for writing about – it always seems better than stuff I make up.

The pinnacle of our trip was our stop in London, Ontario, for a rock-n-roll festival on what would be their hottest day in history. Ah, but it was worth it. My son and I stood for hours in the baking heat to watch Loverboy, soaking in the spray of the water hoses and the sweat of Mike Reno.

Coming home from our adventures, I’m a renewed woman. I’ve brought home renewed faith in parenting, the power of communicating with a teenage son, and some new, real-material inspiration for writing about. I’m genuinely looking forward to the coming months.
School starts next week; soon fall will be in the air, and the holidays right around the corner.

I’m particularly excited about the magnetic Christmas photo cards I’ll be sending out this year. That’s right! Check it out I think with this card CrinkledNose.com will really flick the switch into overdrive.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Christmas in July – Who Knew?

We’re getting started on the Christmas season early. Sure, we make it look easy, but designing CrinkledNose.com’s photo Christmas cards is harder than you might think. Stuff this good takes time.

That’s why in July, when most people are wondering what kind of hot it’ll be that day, or which beach to go to on the weekend, here at CrinkedNose.com, I’m thinking about snowmen and candy canes, with the intent to craft some photo cards featuring children’s artwork.

Here’s the thing. To have been drawn by six-year-olds, these pieces of art are amazing. However, having studied general design principles for the last five years, and having a reasonable understanding of good design, I find it very difficult to lay out a children’s Christmas photo card using a purple wreath and blue candy canes. My instincts are screaming in my ear, No, No! But it’s not my understanding of proper holiday colors that matters here; it’s the touching drawings of these kids.

I never would’ve thought a great thing like Christmas could be so difficult to conceptualize graphically, which gets me a little frustrated. But it’s simply because my brain is divided, split between my instinctual self and my jolly Christmas spirit. It’s just a learning curve. I
m 24. Before this month, I had no idea that Christmas in July even existed.

Finally, Christmas in July has impacted me directly by forcing me to ignore my aesthetic instincts, but I put on my elf hat and get into the Christmas spirit. . . well, as much as possible while wearing a red felt cap in 100-degree heat.