Once Upon a Time Creation Graduation Memory Blanket

Why I Love Serving My Community

Hello there, my friends.

Do you have days when you stumble and really need to dig deep to overcome your challenges? Do you ever wonder what the next step is and whether you are making the right decisions? Please tell me this happens to everyone and not just me.

Once Upon a Time Creation Keepsake Bears

I have to admit, there are moments when owning your own business is tough and presents challenges that I may not face if I was working in a larger environment with a big team and other departments to rely on. But then, when one of you walks through our studio door, I am reminded once again why I love and am so committed to Once Upon a Time Creation.

Every consultation either brings someone new and amazing into my life or teaches me something extraordinary about someone I already know. Everyone has a story that evolves as they go through life. Their story is different from mine, which is different from yours, which is different from everyone else.

Once Upon a Time Creation Girl Scout Keepsake Pillow

Whether we coordinate your keepsake in person or by mail, once we work on a project together, you are no longer a “client”, but a friend who has trusted us with some of your most precious memories. We may laugh together, or we might cry, but either way, you inspire me every day.

Hearing your stories and learning about you and your loved ones brings me back to understanding why we do what we do and why I love it so much. Each of you is unique, so each keepsake is a one-of-a-kind treasure made specially for you in honor of the history behind it.

Once Upon a Time Creation Baby Clothes Memory Blanket

Maybe it’s because we have been at this a long time, but it hit me a few times this year how we have been through so much together. We have helped you keep special things as you move to a new house. We have celebrated when your kids graduated. We have created surprise gifts for milestone birthdays and retirements. We have rejoiced when your child married their soulmate. We have mourned the loss of your loved ones.

Once Upon a Time Creation Wedding Gown Keepsakes

Sometimes I wish we could do more. When you ask for a donation, I wish we could give every one of you a Memory Blanket for your auction. But, if we did that, we would be out of business and no good to anyone. So we do what we can and absolutely LOVE the opportunity to donate gift certificates to your fundraisers and causes. Because of YOU and all you do, our community continues to amaze me.

Once Upon a Time Creation Remembrance Keepsake Pillows

Our connections are deep. Once Upon a Time Creation will continue to be here to serve you and the community, because you believe in what we do and we believe in the strength of relationships and memories. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing our services with your friends and family and continuing to trust us with your treasured memories.

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Receiving Blanket Keepsake Ideas

Remember that receiving blanket the nurses wrapped your newborn baby in after they were born? Did you keep it? What can you do with it? Instead of storing it away, transform it into a Receiving Blanket Keepsake, like a teddy bear.

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Almost everyone who has had a baby brought their precious little one home from the hospital with their first blanket. You know the one…it’s cream or white with blue and pink stripes along the edges and it usually has the hospital where you delivered your baby imprinted in one of the corners.  Do you still have it? Have you been looking to create a Receiving Blanket Keepsake that you and your child can treasure for years to come.

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If you are loving the idea of a Receiving Blanket Keepsake, but not sure if a teddy bear will work for your family, what brings a smile to your face? Maybe a dog, cat, or bunny? Or maybe including the blanket with other outgrown clothes in a larger memory blanket that your child can use as he or she grows? Or maybe a tooth fairy pillow? Or a Christmas ornament? Your keepsake can also be embroidered with your child’s name and birthdate.

Whatever you choose as the best way to savor this memory on your family, Once Upon a Time Creation is here to help. Here is the link to our website page with all the ideas of what you can create from your baby’s outgrown clothes and blankets: http://www.onceuponatimecreation.com/From-Baby-Clothes-s/121.htm

If you live in the Philadelphia area, you are welcome to come to our studio to see samples and talk about your keepsake ideas in person (the link to schedule an appointment is right below the menu on our website). If you would like to coordinate by mail, we’re happy to do that too!

Our mission is to create beautiful, functional keepsakes your family will love!

Looking forward to working with you,

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“That would never be my kid.” The Addiction Crises.

These memory blankets were created for a wonderful family who lost their son to addiction. He was 19.

This family was so kind to share their story. It breaks my heart. Their son was a kind soul and full of life, loved his family and friends, and wanted to make the world a more peaceful place.

He did not want to live the life of an addict. He wanted to heal and tried to recover. He went to rehab and was clean for 53 days. Then he was gone. It has only been 6 months and sometime they feel it has been six days and sometimes it feels like six years. They are hurting. They are experiencing every parent’s worst nightmare.

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To be honest, I had heard whispers and talk that heroin and drug addiction are a huge problem in our area and around the country, but until now, I hadn’t come face to face with the issue. Meeting this family and seeing their pain has opened my eyes to how real and widespread this problem is.

I am not an expert and have a lot more to learn, but I have read and heard from reliable sources (counselors and parents) that heroin is cheap and readily available, that kids are getting addicted to certain prescription pain relievers first, that someone can die from their first dose, and the worst thing you can say is, “That would never be my kid.”

Kids are dying all around us, right in your backyard, from the schools your kids attend. It’s time to take a stand and declare that it is NOT okay to bury our kids.

Education, quality physical and mental health care, and losing the stigma around addiction will help our community get a handle on this problem and hopefully eradicate this crises.

Locally, there is an organization called Steps 4 Hope (http://www.steps4hope.org). It was founded by a Great Valley family who lost their son on January 7, 2014.

“We support and partner with both local and national organizations, such as Shatterproof, The Herren Project, The Adolescent Awareness Foundation, Be a Part of the Conversation and Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education.  These important organizations educate students and communities, advocate for desperately needed changes in legislation and health care and work to end the stigma associated with the disease of addiction. Please join us to help end this public health crisis.” ~ Steps 4 Hope

There is a race in Ridley Creek State Park on Sunday, October 16, 2016 at 9 AM. If you would like to register or become a sponsor, here is the link: https://runsignup.com/Race/PA/NewtownSquare/Steps4Hope5kRun1mileWalk

Steps 4 Hope

Please join me in in the fight by talking to your kids, supporting local awareness, and showing empathy to the families that are suffering. Parenting takes a village and we are all part of it.

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Once Upon a Time Creation Bedspread Remembrance Keepsake Pillows

Remembrance Keepsake Pillows

If you are not familiar with a Remembrance Keepsake, it is a tangible piece of something that holds special meaning to you in honor of a loved one that you have lost. It could be anything that helps you feel like a part of that person is still with you and reminds you of all the wonderful memories that you shared together.

We all have special memories from visiting Grandma. Each of our senses contribute to the memories of the time spent together…the scent of her perfume, the taste of her famous pie, the sound of her bracelets jingling, the sight of her garden, and the feel of her well loved chenille bedspread. When Grandma is no longer with us, it feels good to have something of hers as a remembrance keepsake of the love you shared.

There is something about those memories that makes us feel happy and content. Maybe it’s that Grandma always made you feel special. Maybe it’s because she was so genuinely proud of you. Maybe it’s because she always gave the best advice. Maybe she always listened without pretense or judgement.

When we lose Grandma, it leaves a hole in our heart. I truly believe that we all move on to a better place, but that doesn’t mean you miss them any less.

Over the years, we have created keepsakes with so many things that were near and dear to your hearts because of Grandma…an apron, a piece from her curtains, her favorite robe, the dress she wore to your wedding, her pajamas, and her bedspread.

We hope that having a remembrance keepsake gives you a tangible memory of your time together and facilitates the sharing of family stories. The next generation can look at a family tree and learn when and where she was born, but you will have to tell them about her. How she lived her life. Why she inspired you. What made her so special.

Hopefully talking about the generations that came before us will help us remember what we loved, what we want to change, and how we can live our best life.

Once Upon a Time Creation Custom Keepsakes

 

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From the Experts: How to Design your Wall Gallery with Kylene Cleaver

What do you do with the images you have captured? Have you tried to design a wall gallery?

Why should you have professional portraits captured? Because these memories are not only for you to enjoy now, but for future generations to have tangible evidence that you were here.

Once you have the images, how do you display them? For my clients I take into consideration the design of their home, who they are as a family and where the images will be displayed in the home. Also remembering the gift prints for grandparents, relatives and display on end-tables/nightstands.

When working with clients, I ask for a image of their wall with the measurement of something in the picture. This way I can show them a true-to-size wall gallery of their memories. It truly helps to see what would look best and fit the space in which they would like to display their precious memories.

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Kylene profile

Leave It To Me Photography is a Philadelphia based custom portrait and wedding photography studio. Kyle Cleaver specializes in capturing the joy of life’s moments while bending light to her will and creating heirloom pieces of art that her clients will treasure for years to come. http://leaveittomephotography.com

Getting Your Home Ready for Sale Liz MacDonald Shelf Help 2

Getting Your Home Ready for Sale with Liz MacDonald of Shelf Help

It might have taken a little while to arrive, but wow, the spring market is here and it’s hot! If you are getting your home ready for sale, here are 5 staging tips you should keep in mind:

Create a good first impression with your home’s exterior

  • Invest in mulch. It will up your curb appeal
  • Seed or sod any dead spots in your yard
  • Create an inviting entry with no clutter, peeling paint or bugs in the light fixtures!

Showcase your home, not your stuff

  • Show off your gorgeous hardwoods – don’t cover them all with area rugs
  • Remove heavy drapery to let in as much light as possible
  • If you have a fireplace, make sure there’s nothing obscuring it

Remove distractions

  • Make rooms feel as big as possible by removing large bulky furniture
  • Remove family photos and any decor objects smaller than a soft ball
  • If you have built ins, make sure to leave space so they don’t feel crowded
  • Minimize what you have out on your kitchen counters

Make sure your rooms are shown as they are meant to be used

  • If you’ve created a home office from what is obviously supposed to be your dining room, convert it back. You don’t want buyers thinking there isn’t enough space in the home

Create flow

  • Connect rooms with a neutral color pallet
  • Stage and photograph your rooms from the perspective of their entries
  • Don’t decorate every wall. Give buyers space to imagine their own items

Remember, staging your home isn’t about your taste or decor (a tough pill to swallow, I know!), it’s about appealing to the broadest range of buyers possible. You’ll need to think of your home as a product while it’s on the market. This is tough while you’re still living there, but if you can make this mental shift, you’ll have an easier time keeping it “showing ready”.

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Liz is an interior designer with a background in video production. She married her two passions to create her video series Shelf Help. She works with clients to decorate their homes while they live there and then stage them once they are ready to sell. If you’re looking for vision for your home contact Liz at liz@shelfhelp.me

From the Experts 3 - Tax Tips with Sue Pellegrino

From the Experts: Tax Tips with Sue Pellegrino

We are so excited to bring you a new post From the Experts!  April 15th is drawing closer and we hope today’s post will save you some money this year on your taxes.

Here at Once Upon a Time Creation, our mission has always been to support your love of family as you treasure special moments, both big and small. I love to hear the stories behind your cherished keepsakes and understand, through all of you, that each stage of life presents us with new challenges. As life twists and turns, there is always a new experience that keeps us on our toes, reminding us that the more we know, the more there is to learn.  I truly believe that “it takes a village” and that we are all in this together. 

To support you in those big events and small moments, we are partnering with experts in their field to bring you advice on topics relevant to today’s family. We have a fantastic line-up in store for you!

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us,

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Taxes, taxes, taxes!  Yes, it is that time of the year. Are you  scrambling to gather your documents and receipts to file online or meet with your tax professional?

As you rush to get your taxes done, don’t miss deductions that could significantly increase your refund.   Below are some of them.

  • Moving related costs.  If you relocated in the last twelve months, you might qualify to deduct moving costs.  You are able to deduct the expenses of moving your individual possessions, along with your trip expenses to the new location provided that you are relocating a minimum of 50 miles from your prior home.
  • Student loan interest.  You could deduct up to $2,500 in student loan interest paid.
  • Home office expenses.  Don’t be afraid of this one.  Especially if you have a home-based business.  If you have a home office and satisfy the following checks, you can take the deduction.
    • Consistent and exclusive use of the office for business reason
    • The office has to be the primary location of your home business
    • When you are an employee, the home office has to be for the benefit of the employer, and you cannot pay rent for any portion of your house to your employer for the business purpose
  • Charitable contributions.  These consist of charitable payroll deductions, cash donations to your place of worship, funds given to door-to-door charities and charitable mileage.  Don’t forget estimates for clothes and household items donated to groups like Goodwill.
  • Job-hunting costs.  If you’re among the millions of unemployed who were looking for a job in 2015, then you can deduct some costs you incurred.  Deductible costs include, but aren’t limited to:
    • Transportation expenses incurred as part of the job search, including 57.5 cents a mile for driving your own car plus parking and tolls
    • Food and lodging expenses if your search takes you away from home overnight
    • Cab fares
    • Employment agency fees
    • Costs of printing resumes, business cards, postage and advertising
  • Health insurance premiums for the Self-Employed.  This deduction is available whether or not you itemize and is not subject to the 7.5% of AGI test.  

Because the federal tax law changes every year it’s best to consult a tax professional to be certain you are not missing any deductions or taking a deduction that simply is not allowed.  Having your files, documents and receipts in order can relieve stress come April 15th.  If it’s not something you like to do, there are solutions, such as using an online accounting system or hiring a bookkeeper to do it for you.

Sue Pellegrino is a certified bookkeeper and an IRS appointed tax filer.  She helps individuals and businesses with keeping efficient records all year long and guides them through the income tax process.  Please contact Sue at suepell1@verizon.net or 610-220-7441 to discuss how she can organize your paperwork or home office.  

From the Experts 2 - Protecting Your Family through Wills and Trusts with Alison Gross and Once Upon a Time Creation

From the Experts: Protecting Your Family Through Wills and Trusts with Alison Gross

We are so excited to bring you this new blog series…From the Experts!  This second post is about something we don’t like to think about, but is so important: Protecting Your Family Through Wills and Trusts. 

Here at Once Upon a Time Creation, our mission has always been to support your love of family as you treasure special moments, both big and small. I love to hear the stories behind your cherished keepsakes and understand, through all of you, that each stage of life presents us with new challenges. As life twists and turns, there is always a new experience that keeps us on our toes, reminding us that the more we know, the more there is to learn.  I truly believe that “it takes a village” and that we are all in this together. 

To support you in those big events and small moments, we are partnering with experts in their field to bring you advice on topics relevant to today’s family. We have a fantastic line-up in store for you!

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us,

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From the Experts 2 - Protecting Your Family through Wills and Trusts with Alison Gross

No one likes to think about dying—especially once you have kids.  It’s hard enough to find a babysitter that you trust, much less think about your kids navigating the world without you.  When you aren’t prepared, though, not having a Will and Trust created for your children can be the kind of thing that keeps you up at night.  Taking care of your estate planning gives you the reassurance that your children will be protected if something happens to you.

First, you want to make sure that you have guardians designated.  A Will can do that for you; without one, the courts will make the decision for you, and it is possible it would not be the person or people you would have picked.  Sometimes clients tell me that they aren’t ready to complete their Wills because they can’t decide who to name as guardian.  But a guardian designation is not final.  If you change your mind about the guardians named in your Will in the future, you may change the designations through codicils to your Wills or by executing new Wills.  It’s better to have something in place than nothing at all!

Wills and trusts can also protect any money you leave your children.  In Pennsylvania, when someone leaves over $25,000 to a child, the courts must get involved to appoint someone to manage the money for the child.  The court then supervises that person and his or her management of the money.  This requires hiring a lawyer, and spending money on legal fees and court costs.  It is much simpler and less expensive to create a trust in your Will that will name a trustee that YOU choose to manage your money if something happens to both parents.  Also, money left directly to children without a trust will be paid to them when they turn 18.  Even the most responsible and mature 18 year old would likely be overwhelmed by being responsible for your life savings.  A trust can be written to last until your children are older, while still giving your trustee the power to manage the money and spend it on your children’s education and living expenses.

Estate planning is an investment in your family’s future.  It ensures that, even if the unthinkable occurs, you are leaving your family with a well-ordered estate plan that saves them time and money and ensures that they are protected.  The right estate planning attorney can make the process easy and straightforward, and taking care of these important documents now will leave you with one less thing keeping you awake at night!

Alison Gross is a lawyer and mom of three that helps you protect your families through Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney.  Please contact Alison at alison@altmangross.com or 215-435-8524 to discuss how she can help you with your Estate Planning and guardianship designations.  Learn more at: www.altmangross.com.

 

Girl Scout Keepsake Pillow by Once Upon a Time Creation

Girl Scout Pillow

 

A Girl Scout Pillow created from your vests and sashes is a fun way to celebrate those Girl Scout years. From Daisies to Brownies to Juniors to Cadettes to Seniors, each stage of the journey is filled with meeting new friends, enjoying new experience, and learning new skills.

Girl Scout Pillow by Once Upon a Time Creation

Whether you have saved vests and sashes from you or your daughter, they are too special to part with. Each patch is earned through hard work and dedication.

Girl Scout Pillow 3 by Once Upon a Time Creation

Your Daisy bib, vest, t-shirt showcases the beginning of the Girl Scout journey while learning about the Girl Scout fundamentals and the value of every line of the Girl Scout Promise.

Girl Scout Pillow 2 by Once Upon a Time Creation

Bridging from Daisies to Brownies opens up a new world full of Journeys and Try-Its.

Girl Scout Keepsake

Going from Brownies to Juniors brings on new challenges as they are encouraged to reach out of their comfort zone and try new things. As they emerge as leaders, they can help guide the younger ones and show them what it means to be a Girl Scout.

Girl Scout Pillow (back) by Once Upon a Time Creation

Since neither myself nor my daughter ventured into Cadettes or Seniors, I don’t have personal experience with the levels. But, from what I hear, they are filled with travel and growth opportunities that the girls will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

If you would like us to help you transform your Girl Scout vests and sashes into a Girl Scout Pillow, please visit our website: Girl Scout Pillow

Thanks for visiting,

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Going Back to Work After Baby with Nicole Pica and Once Upon a Time Creation

From the Experts: Going Back to Work After Baby with Nicole Pica

We are so excited to bring you this new blog series…From the Experts!

Here at Once Upon a Time Creation, our mission has always been to support your love of family as you treasure special moments, both big and small. I love to hear the stories behind your cherished keepsakes and understand, through all of you, that each stage of life presents us with new challenges. As life twists and turns, there is always a new experience that keeps us on our toes, reminding us that the more we know, the more there is to learn.  I truly believe that “it takes a village” and that we are all in this together. 

To support you in those big events and small moments, we are partnering with experts in their field to bring you advice on topics relevant to today’s family. We have a fantastic line-up in store for you starting with a post many can relate to…Going Back to Work After Baby.

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us,

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From the Experts 1 - Going Back to Work After Baby

Going Back to Work After Baby

You had a baby…how wonderful!!! You now have an adorable, snuggly, perfect, precious little person to take care of; what an amazing feeling!! You’re flooded with immense joy and love for your little one and you don’t necessarily want to leave them. What should you do? Some women take a 6 week maternity leave, some may take an extended leave and some leave the workforce for a few years. Some women don’t have a choice, as their financial situation requires them to return to work almost immediately. Women that have a choice still struggle with what that choice should be.

Having a baby is a life changing event and many women face uncertainty and difficult decisions in their professional future. While you’re out of work, here are some things to consider:

Don’t disappear. I know, sometimes the whole day goes by and you realize you haven’t even had a chance to brush your hair, how are you supposed to keep in touch with people? Even though you’ve just been robbed of 23 hours of your day and you’re functioning on little sleep, continue to grow your network and make it a point to keep in touch with colleagues, clients and other members of your network. It’s important to keep this cohesiveness going particularity if you’re taking an extended maternity leave. Set up a lunch date or phone call and bring the baby along…who doesn’t love babies?!

Stay up to date. Continue to keep up on industry news. One way is to follow LinkedIn’s pulse for articles published by various professionals. Plan an evening where you can set aside some time to create your own post so you can contribute to industry news and remain an active player in your field. You can also follow news, companies and individuals related to your industry.

Take care of yourself. There are days when you feel like nothings getting done and you’re pretty much walking through tar all day. No matter how draining the day is, you want to take care of your body and soul. Staying motivated can be difficult with the time constraints on your new life, but even just a few minutes a day can keep you on point. Find support amongst other new moms in the same situation so you don’t feel so isolated…have a laugh and a cry with them.

Challenge yourself. Challenges are beautiful opportunities for growth. There is no challenge too little. If you’re working out, throw in an additional 10 push-ups, run an extra mile. It may not seem like much, but you’ll be mentally rewarded for going the extra mile (pun intended). If you’re reading a book or have been meaning to research something, take 15 minutes before bed to do so.

Take inventory. We all know how your body changes after baby comes! Double check your work clothes and make sure they fit! Instead of buying a new wardrobe, consider purchasing a few belly bands (if you don’t already have them), they run about $12-$15 each. Utilizing the belly band will allow you to add adjustments to your pre-pregnancy outfits. Consider your new schedule and think about any adjustments you may have to make to your routine, such as packing your lunch, getting a shower or prepping your coffee at different times now.

Give yourself a break. It’s going to be a tough transition that will probably bring you to tears. You just spent practically the last year attached (literally) to your baby. Leaving him/her is not easy. Try to look at the positive though (paycheck, hot coffee, you’ll most likely be able to finish your lunch and you’ll definitely be able to go to the potty alone). Your baby will be back in your arms before you know it. Consider starting back to work mid-week instead of on Monday so you only have a few days till the weekend. If you’re having a hard time take some pictures, tissues, and a baby blanket with you to work. Don’t feel guilty for working.

Going Back to Work After Baby with Nicole Pica and Once Upon a Time Creation

Nicole Pica is a Career Strategy Advisor and the Founder of Reinvent U, LLC. She works with individuals seeking to enhance their marketability, develop their brand, and obtain a new career opportunity. Nicole is a former staffing consultant and has been involved on over 130 separate hiring decisions. In addition to career planning, she uses her background in biology to create methods of change that focus on well-being and stress reduction for those in career transition.