Greetings from East Germany!

When I last wrote, it seemed like the sun would never shine. Since that time, it has been simply lovely here. Spring flowers are blooming, birds chirping and we got the travel bug. As part of my husband's Fulbright scholarship, we as well as close to 600 Fulbrighters in Europe were invited to Berlin last week. It was a fun-filled time for all. We took in the sights, walked as far as our feet would take us and ate ourselves silly - thank goodness for all of the walking!

The German Fulbright Commission hosted their event at the Park Inn Hotel in Alexanderplatz, formerly in what was East Berlin. During our stay, the boys and I went with the other families and spouses to the Berlin zoo and to the Natural History Museum.

Memorial to Knut, Berlin's beloved polar bear

We also took a walk Unter den Linden (beneath the lime trees) toward the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag.

Just around the corner was the Holocaust Memorial, recently reopened in 2006. It is covered with 2711 dark grey pillars of varying heights.

Our travels took us past Checkpoint Charlie and the old American sector of Berlin. We also stopped at the fabulous Mauermuseum that provided us with a sense of how citizens tried to escape from East Berlin after the wall went up. We were able to see a section of the Berlin wall that remains standing.

There is an ever present reminder of the Berlin wall throughout the city, whether in markings in the pavement or pieces of the wall standing throughout the city.

Another highlight on our trip was visiting a few of the grand museums on Museum Island and taking in the beautiful views of the Dom.

Wrapping up our trip to East Germany, we took a train south to Dresden, located near the Czech Republic border. It was a wonderful place to visit, so different from Berlin and actually from the rest of Germany that we've seen so far. The first picture below is of a propaganda mosaic located on the wall of the Kulturpalast (a cultural center).
View along the river Elbe (above) and the Zwinger gartens (below).

As we made our way home with weary feet (utterly exhausted) it was wonderful to hear the chatter from our boys. They have seen and experienced so much. While at one of the Zwinger Museums, they had the chance to see an artist-in-training copying Johannes Vermeer's "Girl reading a letter at an open window." I've never seen them so fascinated. We've taken them to museum after museum, and suddenly art was coming to life before their eyes. How cool. Goodbye until next time. -Diedre

Hallo, Germany! Where's the sun?

January is almost over and I am happy to report that our family has been here for almost five months! Wow, that was fast. In December, we received a lot of snow with the rest of Europe. Now that it is almost February, the weather has been unusually Spring-like. The December snow is long gone, causing many of the rivers to swell and flood. We have had many days in the 40s (Fahrenheit), but the sun is hiding. Since late November, the days have been dark and cloudy. The picture of my husband (above) was taken a couple weeks ago at around 2:30 in the afternoon - we considered that a sunny day! We just try to stay as active as we can despite the overwhelming feeling like we should take a nap. I try to remind myself that at home (South Dakota) it is in sub-zero temperatures with lots of snow on the ground.
We are feeling a bit nostalgic lately, as we can already look back on the past months and feel really great about the things we've seen and done. There is still so much to do!

The above picture is of my son, Alexander, in Frankfurt. We love this picture of him because it shows his personality - very silly at times - Mr. Giggles. His most memorable experience was at BMW World in Munich.

My oldest son, Aaron, is head over heels in love with German public transportation. We do not have a car, so we rely on the buses and trains to get us places. Aaron can tell you from memory the bus routes in Marburg. A boy from South Dakota, Aaron has enjoyed the Deutsche Bahn. He was thrilled when we went to London at the beginning of January and got to ride the London Tube AND a double decker bus! We heard much analysis of how the London Tube was very different from the Munich subway (he prefers Munich's underground).

Since our arrival, we have traveled down Germany's Romantic Road, visiting fabulous towns along the way - Wuerzburg, Rothenberg, Dinkelsbuhl and Fuessen. We took a train to Munich with family, enjoyed Frankfurt's sights like the Goethe museum and the Dom, and even took a train down to Salzburg, Austria- which is so lovely in Winter.

Wuerzburg shopping area (above)
Rothenburg (below)

Neuschwanstein the Fairy Tale Castle (above)
Salzburg, Austria (below)

We are planning out our time this Spring, knowing that we have to choose the places we visit wisely. Nuremberg, Berlin, Heidelberg and Koblenz are on our list this Spring. We have received many suggestions - thank you! Take care, stay warm and rest assured, Spring is around the corner. I can hear our family and friends at home saying, "Yeah, right, dream on!"

Gift Tag

Hi there! This is Sarah, one of the new interns with Spark. I'm very excited to immerse myself in the world of Letterpress Love!

Here at Spark we offer 41 different color papers (soon to be more!) to add a splash of color on your special day! We also offer die cuts to create unique-shaped tags such as rectangles, circles, hearts, flowers, leaves and more. You can personalize your gift tags anyway you want as long as it works well within the allotted space.

Here are some ideas for what to put on your tags:
  • A favorite religious verse or phrase
  • A quote related to your wedding or something that is meaningful to you
  • The date of your special day
  • The names of the happy couple
  • Something simple, like "XOXO"
  • Nothing - leave space for your guests to write you a message!
Here are some ways to make your special day as memorable to your guests as it will be for you!
  • For beach or tropical destination weddings, fill small jars or bottles with sand and use fun ribbon to attach your gift tags.
  • Another beach idea is to attach tags to seashells, starfish or sand dollars
  • For a winter or holiday season wedding, tie your Spark gift tag to a seasonal or themed cookie cutter (such as a gingerbread man!)
  • Everyone can use a corkscrew; attach a tag to one and your guest will use it to open up those bottles of bubbly!
  • Salt and pepper shakers at the table will make an adorable wedding favor. Don't forget a possible tag like "we go together like salt 'n' pepper!"
  • Leave an area of blank lines on your gift tags and tie them to personalized pens. Your guests will be compelled to write their congratulations and wishes that the happy couple can enjoy later!

Welcome to Wedding Season 2011!

Happy New Year Everyone and welcome to what we in the wedding industry call "Wedding Season." We would love for you to think of Spark for your wedding stationery.

Spark has 20 customizable designs which are fun, fresh, and a nice mix of traditional and modern. Maybe you like a traditional design but want more bright or crazy colors? No problem. Everything at Spark can be customized to your taste from the colors and fonts, to sizes and layout.

We currently have 82 retailers around the USA, Canada, and Grand Cayman who are very willing and able to help you find and create your perfect wedding stationery. Click here to find the retailer nearest you!

New for 2011, we are introducing seed paper (Prairie Paper), when planted this pretty paper grows wildflowers. We are also bringing back our most popular metallic papers, 10 new ink colors, and fresh creativity for your pieces.

Make your stationery a memorable part of your wedding - starting with a great Save the Date. Starting to think about your Save the Date now? (I (Joy) am as well.) Consider a creative option like using our trifold or monarch sizes, or a letterpress photo, postcard, or passport for your destination wedding. Later this week, checkout our wedding stationery timeline, so you can learn how early you should get your order placed!

And do not forget about our current promo: when you order a 4-piece invitation suite, get a one color 4bar or A2 insert card for free in the same quantity.

Please email with questions regarding our line, our prices, or where to find your nearest retailer. Congratulations to you all!

And from us to you:

Organized Sparkler -Joy says "I am in the same boat as all you brides out there- let's have fun and memorable stationery!"

The Organized Sister- Diedre says "Don't wait until the last minute to select your wedding stationery- it helps set the tone of your event!"

Creative Sparkler- Andrea says "We're very excited for a great upcoming wedding season, so be creative and let us add that special sparkle to your wedding stationery! Congrats and happy planning!"

Creative Sparkler- Alyssa says "To the happy couple, congratulations on this joyous occasion and best wishes for everything good in the years to come"

Finishing Mom - Shawn says "Remember your wedding is only one day, marriage is a lifetime. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Finishing Daughter- Zoe says " Honestly the only things other people will remember about your wedding are whose it was, the food, the music, and if you use Spark for you stationery.... ;) "

Celebrating the Holidays in Germany

Frohe Weihnachten! Happy Holidays!

We've lived in Germany now for over three months, and so far December has been full of fun experiences for our family. Our boys are doing well in German school, picking up the language much more quickly than we are. They have gone to the theater and sledding with their classmates, and spent a week making crafts for Christmas. They came home with bird feeders, ornaments, candle holders, masks and homemade cookies (see below). German public schools teach religion to all school children, so these past few weeks, our boys also took part in lighting an Advent candle wreath and each day one student had the chance to open a door on the classroom Advent calendar.

Advent calendars are sold here in all shapes and sizes, available at just about every store. Since our family celebrates Christmas, we purchased unique advent calendars for our boys. We are sure this is not something they would find at home...Alex's calendar is the ever so popular Playmobil.

We have enjoyed the Christmas markets here, as it is an opportunity to get out of doors in the cold and snow, visit the festively decorated wooden huts, selling mulled wine, bratwurst and crafts of all variety. Mostly, it is a great place to hang out with family and friends. The pictures above and below were taken in market here in Marburg. We arrived for the lighting up of the city, which was really beautiful.

A few weeks ago we took a trip to Munich. See the pictures below of their Christmas markets in the town center. I've also included a picture of my husband and me enjoying a good German beer at a local brew house. Cheers!

It is an amazing experience for our family to be here. It isn't always easy, but we have settled into life here as best we can. We are much healthier thanks to all of the walking we do on a daily basis. I know our boys are gaining a sense of independence as they are able to do things they wouldn't normally have the chance to do. And thanks to our very tiny apartment, we are all getting to know each other very well - like it or not!

Happy Holidays from our family to yours! Best wishes for a Happy New Year!

Hello from Germany!

This is the organized sister, Diedre, writing to you from Deutschland!

This is the first post in our series, Impressions from the Heart of Europe. I am living in Germany until Summer 2011 with my husband, Joel, and our two boys, Aaron and Alexander. We were brought here by a Fulbright scholarship, awarded to Joel to teach courses in American Studies at the University of Marburg. Marburg (pictured below) is located north of Frankfurt, in the west central German state of Hesse.

We arrived in Marburg about one month ago, with just a few suitcases to our names. In that time, we've managed to get settled into our modest apartment, start our boys in German school and figure out where to find the basics for everyday life.

Marburg is a beautiful place, featuring a towering castle atop the city's biggest hill. There is a thriving university, stunning churches and an Altstadt (old city) well-preserved. Walking and biking paths abound here, in and around the city, home to many great hills and deep forests.

One morning not long after we arrived, Joel and I took a stroll up into the Altstadt before the stores had opened. It was a foggy start to the day, the air still and quiet. Up and up we walked, through narrow alleys that seemed to hug you with their rich history. At the top of our climb, we found ourselves at the Pfarrkirche (Lutheran Church, see below) that shared with us a panoramic view of Marburg and the neighboring communities. It took our breath away. We are very fortunate to be here.

More pictures from Marburg's Altstadt...

During the upcoming months, I will be traveling throughout Germany and other European destinations yet to be decided, sharing my impressions with you along the way. So far, I have fallen hard for the architecture (of course) and colorful artistic designs found on the outside of homes. This is what all tourists take pictures of when they come to Europe, right? Well, it is what is so strikingly different from where ever we call home.

That's all for now. If you have blog post suggestions, please write to me at I am happy to listen to your ideas and willing to offer my novice, albeit heartfelt, findings.

Until next time!


Didn't you hear? Ampersands do matter! Shame on you for setting them aside like dirty laundry!

Ampersands can add an air of elegance or a fun little flare to your suite. Don't be afraid to ask for a particular ampersand ( just please know what font it is to help elevate guess work). There are literally thousands to choose from! Also the history is fun: check it out!
Here is a sample of the ampersands we have available at here at Spark.

Letterpressed photos- your greatest design!

Maybe some of you out there don't go for letterpress because you want to use pictures of you, your child, couple, building, etc. Well guess what? We love letterpressed photos.

Looking at these images of past work you can see that your photo in the form of letterpress is really a great work of art. You can and should use those spendy engagement/wedding/baby pictures as much as you can!

Here is a mini list I just created of ideas of when to use photos:
  • Save the dates (the first two images)
  • Custom invitations
  • Wedding Day picture on the thank yous
  • Parties (Chyna and Renny)
  • Baby Announcement (like Val and Jim's little Lucia in the last photo)
  • opening of a new building, business, etc. (example: our Isabel pocket)
  • on other items such as coasters, gift tags, programs
Things to keep in mind when sending Spark your image:
  • Hi-res images look the best, so a Polaroid might not cut it. ;)
  • Please no thumbnails, we can take a great large photo and make it smaller, we can't make a too small image larger and still look great.
  • Send ahead. Even before you place your order with the retailer, send the image to us and we can let you know if this image will work for your piece.
  • Snail mail is cool. You can send us the image and we can scan it for you. (yes we will send back the photo)
  • The photo to letterpressness takes a bit more time and magic to become a quality piece. We love photos but if you are in a rush,....well you can't rush magic like this!
Additions to your photos:
Colors are a fun way to play around with your photo. Remember you are paying per color so plan ahead what other colors or patterns/designs will be apart of the piece. (Chyna and Renny is a great example)

Your pictures are the best design there is and we want you to use them.

Yours truly, Joy

Early Bride Get the Worm...25 free sets!

Early Bride promo
Early Bride gets the great deal!

Receive 25 complimentary sets with purchase of 75 or more custom wedding invitations and matching accessory pieces on orders placed by November 1, 2010. Visit our promotions page on our website to print our 25 Free coupon to redeem this special offer on your Spark order.

We at Spark want you to know that this coupon applies to all event invitations such as mitzvahs, anniversaries and other special occasions - so even if you aren't a bride, you'll still be an early bird!