I'm a redeemed child of God and the momma to four vivacious daughters. I'm passionate about finding hidden blessings in the trials of life, living it out in an honest and open way, while encouraging those around me to believe in better.

13 Aug

greetings, etc. magazine {featuring me!}

I’m sure I’ve never mentioned that one of my goals dreams was to be featured mentioned in a trade publication called Greetings, etc.  What trade you ask?  Why, stationery of course!

And when do I get my big break?  When I sold my business.  Sigh …

No, seriously … it was a great parting gift!  :)  They wanted to do a feature on the store and the owner.  Honestly, I can’t remember the details {that’s par these days for me!}.  But when they found out I was selling, they decided they would change it to a ‘selling a store in this economy’ kind of feature.

I think the article turned out pretty great and I was pleased as punch to have my dream come true!  You can read the full article here.

greetings, etc. magazine

greetings, etc. magazine

Posted in broadway paper

30 Jun

post broadway paper

We were outside a few weeks ago … right during the time when most of the days were still hiding Spring, let alone showing any signs of summer … when the afternoon sun brought a warm spell.  We were just coming in from a walk when the girls came across a puddle in the drive.

Have I mentioned before what a killjoy and taskmaster I am?  Mostly because I’m in a hurry to complete the next task, get on with life, stick to the schedule …

The girls mischievously started slowly walking through the puddle while getting small glimpses of me and my reaction.  My instincts {and old ways} started saying “no, no … get out of the puddle, we’ve got to get in” … when something inside me said, “Nope, you actually don’t have anything to go inside for.  Spend some time out here with the kids.”

And so I did.

I smiled at them to let them know it was okay and they had a blast.  I sat out there watching them get soaked, then strip down to undies, and splash away!

summer fun in the puddle

Curt came on the scene and played with us a while when he said, “Want me to get your camera?”  Um, yeah … do you have to ask?  :)

You know those moments that are electrically charged with emotion?  This was one of those times and what’s really cool … my husband recognized it and wanted me to capture it on film.

Each of the girls were busy doing their own thing and I felt blessed to watch it unfold in front of me.

Wynter is ever the drama girl.  I’ll often walk into a room to find her in her own world, singing a completely made up song, oblivious to anything going on around her.  This day was no different … she hopped up on a rock and started putting on a show.  I love that her shows are for no one but herself.  She truly had no idea I was watching or taking photos.  In fact, if I would’ve asked her to ‘perform’ … she’d clam up and hide.  She’s a special free spirit …

summer fun in the puddle

And then there’s my beautiful Piper.  She spent a long time looking at rocks and hunting for fossils.  She actually found one too … a worm fossil.  That got her all excited and hunting for more.

When she was done exploring, she asked me to take photos of her jumping in the puddle.  Love the big wind up, the jump, and proud finish!

summer fun in the puddle

So back to the original purpose of this post … bear with me {I’m gettin’ there}!

The day I took these photos, wasn’t too long after I had sold the store.  In fact, the girls were still in school.

I’m the kind of person that gets anxious and feels ‘busy’ if I have 3 unaswered emails sitting in my inbox {please tell me I’m not the only one like this!}.  So the day I took these photos, I was still trying to ‘relax’ and realize I have plenty of time to get things done.  I should no longer be in a hurry to get to my next task … but it was pretty hard for me to actually allow myself to relax …

That said … I’m doing it!  I’m actually relaxing!  I’m enjoying summer with the kids … I’m slowing down.

I’ve had some photoshoots here and there, and I’m not stressing myself out over getting to the photos and editing and getting them delivered.  I’ve set my guidelines so that I can ‘give’ myself what I need for timing.  My goal isn’t to be crazy and all consumed … so far it’s going well.


I feel like I’m having a hard time writing this post and I’m not sure why.  I’ve got all kinds of feelings and thoughts that have been rattling around for a while and now I can’t get them out.

I guess the bottom line is … I’m feeling peace.  A lot of peace.  Letting go of the store was not as hard as I thought it would be.  And I suppose that means I was truly ready to let it go.  I’m exhilarated at the opportunies I now have to be ‘present’ with my family.

  • I’ve been able to take the girls every day to swim team and tennis at our local club {something i’ve missed out on the last 2 summers}.
  • The girls and I have been doing summer projects and crafts.
  • I’ve been able to do summer workbooks and reading with the girls.
  • Taylor will be going to a new school next year, which is going to be difficult for our family.  But we have a much better chance at making it work now that I’m home.  I’m blessed to be able to present her with the opportunity to make this move.
  • We’ve had a wonderfully consistent schedule this summer.  For some reason, it’s crazy busy … but I’m here.  I’m here with them.
  • I have. not. been stressed to get to my computer.  In fact, where I couldn’t wait to get in front of it … now I almost dread it.  And I’m at peace with that.
  • Taylor was signed with a modeling agency, so I’ve been able to help her work on getting her portfolio together and help her grow.
  • I’ve been able to have better devotion with God.
  • I’ve been exercising.
  • I’m working on setting up my goals for the non-profit part of my business.
  • My studio is coming together.
  • I’m catching up with friends.
  • I’m living.
  • I’m at peace.

I guess a person really can’t ask for more than that, can they?  I am blessed.

Posted in blessed, broadway paper, family photos, family thoughts, girls

26 May

broadway paper love


{via studio wisco}

I found Studio Wisco’s blog a few month’s ago and have been an avid reader since.  They feature Wisconsin’s best design resources and have finds from all over the state … how great is that?

I was honored and touched by their well wishes for Broadway Paper … thank you Studio Wisco!

Posted in broadway paper

20 May

national stationery show {day three}

Okay, so technically, I was only at the show for a total of … well … not even a full day. But isn’t it much better to keep a bit of suspense in my posts? I can’t just lay it all out there in one post, can I? :)

Truth is, this was a pretty hard show for me. I’m a buyer! I love to buy! I never could understand what the purpose was of collecting catalogs … well, unless you’re 8 years old and collecting brochures from the boat show {or is that something only my sister and I did?}.

My motto … you likey, you buyey {play with me here!}. No seriously, I would be careful about what I liked and what I got and if I was on the fence, I’d grab a catalog. But if I was downright in love with a designer product … no foreplay for me … I just went for it!

Oh how I’m going to miss those days. And it’s one of the reasons this show was so hard. I felt silly, almost, going into a booth to oogle over product I knew I wasn’t going to buy. And then try to ask to take a photo? Geesh! A couple places asked me for a card {rightly so}, but um … well, I’m in between cards right now! Actually, I did have some of my photography cards with and gave those out, but with a huge long, {I’m sure} unnecessary explanation of … well you see, I used to own a beautiful stationery store, but the fact is, I just sold it and well, now I’m a photographer, but I’m still blogging and love stationery and, and, and … AWKWARD!!

So you understand how this show was a little hard for me?

I saw some beautiful products I would’ve loved to share with you, but the fact is, I was too timid to go in and ask to take photos. So I stuck with the tried and true {and friendly} …

Like miss SusyJack* here … oh how I love her!! Love her, love her products, love her blog, love her style … love, love. And she let me take photos! :)

Susy’s {or Susie’s?} got some yummy new things!! I love the new calendars … she’s got a wall calendar, but I’m especially lovin’ the desk calendar. I haven’t seen one in this size before and I love that it’s not in the traditional, standard CD case size. Yay Susy!

She also has some new buttons, designs, pencils, note cards … and she continues to be as gracious and fabulous as always! It was so great chatting with you Susy!

national stationery show | susyjack*

Next up, is a new line. I haven’t carried it in the store, but have been watching closely for the last couple of years. Quite honestly, the name is what got my attention about 2 years ago. Two Trick Pony … don’t you love it?

The ladies looked friendly enough, so I mustered up the courage to go in and have a look-see! I love the booth, and as I guessed … two very lovely ladies manning it and they even let me take photos {but made me wipe the drool from their cards first … }!

Or maybe it was my awkward explanation {outlined above} and the fact that I mentioned over and over that if I still had a store, I’d definitely be bringing their designs to it? Seriously, I did mention/ask if they’d changed their look over the last couple of years … and that I love the way it’s headed. Everything is screen-printed with vibrant, bold colors. But there’s enough of a mix of soft colors too. I think a mix is good. When you’re displaying one line, it’s nice when there’s a subtle mix of colors and tension. Two Trick Pony got it right!

I also found a blog here … looks like a good read!

national stationery show | two trick pony

Last, but not least … the awesome, the creative, the lovely Hello!Lucky. And wow … just wow! Love the new cards, but I especially loved the new booth! Eunice had designed it for one of the gift shows … it was such a hit, they’re reusing it. I love it so much, I’d never change it!  I’m pretty sure Sabrina said it was book cloth … Eunice drew the frames, ‘signs,’ and even the little vase & shelf … how cute are the paper flowers?

Sabrina was as sweet as ever, gracious and got extra bonus points for letting me take photos!  I’m an avid reader of their blog, but took a special interest in this recent post.  Hmm … one guess why?  :)

Thank you Sabrina for taking the extra time to chat with us!

national stationery show | hello!lucky

Well, that does it for me and my coverage of the show.  I don’t know … I must’ve been walking in a funk or with blinders on at some point, because later I realized there were designers I completely spaced on seeing.  We literally walked every aisle {easy to do this year} and didn’t even see some of my ‘must-sees’ …

LaFamilia Green, Sugar Paper, Yellow Owl Workshop, Sycamore Street Press … just to name a few.  And then there are my go-to fav’s that I didn’t have a chance to either see or take photos … Linda & Harriett, Paper + Cup, Uncooked {love them!}.

Okay, that reminds me … I have a story about Uncooked {gosh, I hope it’s okay to share … we thought it was classic!}.  We love Natalie and Armand … love their cards … sassy humor … they always give our tired feet a lift at the show!  So we happen upon their booth this year and ask, “How’s the show?”  Natalie replies, “Stupid!” … Classic!  We about fell over.

But I think it sums up the sentiment of how some exhibitors were feeling at first {in Natalie’s defense, this comment was within the first couple hours of the show …}.  I think they weren’t sure what to expect, but felt they needed to exhibit, or they might be forgotten, or lose possible sales, etc.?

Turns out, I think a lot of people ended up feeling pretty good about the show.  I heard comments that even though numbers were down, it gave exhibitors a better opportunity to talk to attendees.  And likewise, I don’t think attendees felt overwhelmed that they couldn’t see everyone they wanted.

‘Til next year?

Posted in broadway paper, shopping, stationery

12 May

an end. and a beginning …

I’m sitting here, not knowing where to begin … and for those of you that have been following my blog for a while, you should know by now that means it’s time to grab a cup of coffee!  :)

Is it possible to rejoice and cry all at the same time?  I suppose it is … I suppose that’s why they call it ‘bittersweet.’  But bittersweet almost makes it sound too simple, too easy a description for what I’m feeling.  Surely my feelings can’t be summed up in one simple word?

I’ve not posted on the sale of Broadway Paper because I wanted to make sure everything was set and finalized.  And it is.  I signed the papers a few short hours ago.  And it was hard.  So hard …

I know I’m in trouble {or maybe CJ is}, because I keep feeling this well of emotion and tears, but for some reason I’m not letting myself feel it.  I keep shoving it back down.  I know it’s not good and I don’t know why I’m doing it.  Denial maybe?

I last posted about the sale of the store on March 31 {which was the deadline I’d given myself to sell the store}, when an amazing thing happened, in that someone contacted me {on that date} to take over Broadway Paper.  Well … that’s gone through and she’s the one who signed the papers this morning.  I’m so very excited for her and the opportunity this brings to her life.

I promise, I’m so excited for me too and the opportunity it brings for me!  But that doesn’t necessarily make it easy.

I know this is the decision that’s right for me.  It’s what God has led me to … of that I have no doubt.  As I’ve said before, I can’t take the store to heaven with me … and when I get there, God sure as heck isn’t going to tell me how well I sold paper!

As a gentle reminder of this … he sent me this song, right when I needed it.  Okay, and now I’m bawling … I’d never seen the video, I just love the song … grab some kleenex {and a refill of coffee … I ain’t nowhere done with this post!}

Finally Home | MercyMe

I’m gonna wrap my arms around my daddy’s neck
And tell him that I’ve missed him.
And tell him all about the man that I became
And hope that it pleased him

There’s so much I want to say
There’s so much I want you to know

When I finally make it home
When I finally make it home

Then I’ll gaze upon the throne of the King
Frozen in my steps
And all the questions that I swore I would ask
Words just won’t come yet

So amazed at what I’ve seen
So much more than this old mind can hold


And the sweetest sound my ears have yet to hear
Voices of the angels


The signing was so incredibly difficult for me.  I had little Huntie J with me and that really helped keep my mind off the finality of what was happening.  I had given her my iPhone during the meeting to watch a show {that in-itself justifies the purchase of an iPhone my friends}.  So, as we’re walking back to the car after the meeting she says she wants to watch it in the car.  She never does that.  She always watches a movie on the car system {so I never get to listen to ‘my music’}.  Well … because she was busy with her show, I was able to listen to my music.  I started spiraling down in my feelings about the signing, when I turned on the radio … only to hear the song above.

Without a doubt … God’s gentle reminder to me that He’s proud of me and that I made the right decision.

One more thing I wanted to mention about the store.  The employees had a going away party for me last week … truth be told, I really wasn’t too up for it.  Here’s the thing … I have made it my goal … eight & a half years ago, to be the best boss any employee would ever have.  I’ve had my fair share of bad employers.  Bosses that demean, talk down, don’t give any slack.  And I work hard … I have a great work ethic and I give my all to a job.  Whether it be selling fries or ceiling fans {yes, I’ve done both and plenty more!}.  :)

So here’s the thing … I’ve done so much for my employees … 40% discount {aren’t cha sorry you didn’t have a job there?}, awesome Christmas parties, bonuses, Summerfest tickets, anniversary gifts, flex-time, etc., etc.  But it seemed only a select few ever truly appreciated it.  Most employees were young.  Students.  Sometimes not a lot of experience in the workforce yet.

But sometimes, it really sucked feeling like what I’d done was never good enough.

I was wrong.

At the party, people left me ‘well wishes’ that I will forever hold dear.  Here are a few snippets:

“working at B-way-P fostered in me an even deeper appreciation for this art.  I feel that I only have you to thank, since you gave me the chance to work and be a part of such a creative environment”

“please tell Tracie that I miss her and wish her the absolute best.  She should be proud of herself for creating such a wonderfully creative and hip landmark in the ever growing and evolving city that is Milwaukee.  It is a jewel that everyone treasures.”

“one of the best thing about working at bwp {besides the awesome discount} was having such a great boss”

“I really appreciate your open honesty and understandable nature.  I will always appreciate how well you treated us as employees”

“you are a tremendous person tracie, with a large and sincere heart.  Your influence has helped shape my life, and my future, and that is a debt that extends far beyond you being simply another boss”

Okay … you get the picture … and now I’m crying too much to read through the rest of them again.

Sigh. It was a great final realization and acknowledgment that all I was doing for them didn’t go unnoticed and that it was appreciated.

This chapter of my life is closed.  I realize {or am beginning to realize}, the best thing about a closed chapter … you get to open a new one.

So let me dry my eyes and move on …

hunter shopping

My sweet, sweet supportive husband gave me a belated Mother’s Day gift yesterday … a certificate for tsj photography {that’s me!!} to spend a certain amount {which will not be disclosed} on lighting, furniture, fixtures or studio gear … amazing!  Thank you lover … perfect timing!

So what did I do this morning?  Well, besides bird feeding, dandelion picking, library browsing and candy shopping with Hunter?  We picked out and bought some new furniture for my studio!  YAY!  In fact, in the photo above, Hunter’s laying on the sofa I bought.

Another surreal moment … the furniture store was smack dab in the middle of my new studio and the building where I’d be signing over bwp.  I looked out one window and saw my new studio.  Turned and looked out the other window and saw the signing building.  Unbelievable!

So what about this new studio of mine?  :)

Here it is!  These photos were taken by the architect helping me with the build-out of the space, so the files were a little small from emailing them to me.

This building belongs to another business, but they didn’t grow they way they’d anticipated, so have some extra space to lease out.  My space is on the second floor … that whole bank of windows!!

It’s got hardwood floors, brick walls, my own entry way to the space … I couldn’t be more excited!  The lease is finalized/approved/and ready to be signed.  Just finishing up some details on the layout of the space.  Need to meet with a signage person and the build-out will begin.

studio collage

How blessed am I?

And if you know me … you know there’s a party around the corner, don’t you?  ;)

Posted in blessed, broadway paper, family thoughts, hunter, photography