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2018 Year In Review

Happy almost New Year, my friends!

As I sit down to write this re-cap, my heart is incredibly full. Last year at this time my mind was filled with uncertainty and tension. 2017 was a tough year, but one we desperately needed in order to learn and move forward. After declaring 2017 the “year of learning”, I made an intention to “refocus” in 2018 and I feel proud to say that although things are far from perfect, I have the sense that I am on the right track both personally and at Lily & Val.

This “refocused” year brought with it big changes, the unknown, mind shifts, evaluating time spent. My motto became “work smarter, not harder.” It was uncomfortable at times as being in the “in-between” often is, but also marked with wonderful wins that helped me feel more confident in the direction I was taking. 2018 was taken at a slower pace, which I have been desiring, yet I feel good about what our team accomplished. As always, and I can’t say this enough, thank you to everyone for coming along on this journey! Most of all, I’m grateful for all of you because, without your support, there would be no re-cap to write!

Here is a re-cap of the last year at L&V:

2018 kicked off with some bittersweet news when we made the very tough decision to close our brick and mortar store in Pittsburgh, PA. We called this store our “Flagship Store.” Many people asked why and the reason was because we had grand visions of opening up future Lily & Val stores! We made big plans and dreamed big dreams, but as Billy Joel said in Vienna, “Dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true.” This particular dream ended in order to make room for taking Lily & Val in different directions.

It’s still bittersweet- that’s really the only way I can describe it when I look back, but I know it was the right decision. I have far too much more to say about the store in this little re-cap, so please feel free to read the post I wrote at that time here.

Lily & Val Flagship Store
The Lily & Val Flagship Store Gift Boutique In Pittsburgh is Celebrating Its One Year Anniversary

In February, I had the unbelievable honor of being named one of the Top 10 Designers to watch by Stationery Trends Magazine! Later in the year, our Wonder Woman card appeared on the cover of Stationery Trends!

Also in February, we had a huge wholesale card order to fulfill! Now, finding ourselves without an office, we had to get creative and rented a room for two days at the Marriot! Two VERY late nights, lots of help from our amazing team, and we made it work. We realized we were going to have to get a bit scrappy and even though things didn’t look like I expected at many points, we made it happen in each instance this year. I’m so proud of that!

The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering went into its SIXTH printing this year! What! It’s still surreal to me and also crazy that the book turned three this year.

I never ever tire of seeing Lily & Val in stores! This year we expanded some wholesale relationships and I’m excited to share more about this in 2019! Below is a sign that was in Hobby Lobby.

In March, we expanded with one of my favorite collaboration partners, Mixbook, to offer Lily & Val Wedding Photo Books! I love these books so much!

The rest of the year brought additional collaborations with Mixbook, which included new holiday photo cards, wedding invitations, a calendar, and a free class offered through Brit + Co. I enjoy working with them so much and being able to bring these new products to you this year!

Also in March we released our Spring Flora Collection! I tried something brand new for this collection and worked on chalkboards with colored backgrounds! It was fun to experiment, try new things, and give classic L&V chalk art a springy update!

April was National Letter Writing Month (one of my favorites) and we celebrated all month long with a surprise box, promotions, and other fun things.

May was an eventful month! We released L&V pillows at the begninnging of the month. Then, I made my way to San Francisco for a special event with Brit + Co and Mixbook to teach a brush lettering class.

The whirlwind of May continued with the National Stationery Show in NYC! This year we decided to drastically change up our booth and we unveiled our wedding collection, including our Wedding Guestbook! My brother, Neal, came along with Mak and me and we had a great time.

The biggest highlight of the show was winning the Best New Product Award for our Wedding Guestbook! Ahhh! This product has been a long time in the making and I am so proud of it!

In June, the folks from Focus Features asked me to draw a piece of art in honor of the documentary about Mister Rogers, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” I was ecstatic! (And many of you know I’ve been quite enamored with Mister Rogers and everything he stands for over these past many months!) It’s another memory we will treasure from 2018.

In July, I decided to take a 7-day break from social media after talking to my friend Leah about her experience and transformation. My curiosity took over and I felt compelled. This experience had a profound effect on me and led to more discussion on this topic and personal reflection in the coming months.

August brought another big piece of news for us this year and I announced that pre-orders were available for my latest book, “Life of the Party Papercrafting.” The book launched in September!

The Holiday Season kicked off with our “Good Old Fashioned Family Christmas” Collection! We also launched two brand new products: meal planner pads and recipe tins!

Celebrated the Lily & Val team (& their supportive spouses!) with a fun Christmas dinner at The Commoner in Pittsburgh. I’m so grateful for these people.

And now, a bit of personal news to wrap up the year – Mak and I are expecting our first child in June! An answered prayer to make our holiday season extra bright. I think 2019 is going to be the best year yet.

As 2018 comes to a close, I feel content and so excited for what’s ahead. A lot of big moments are shared here that blow me away, but so much more has happened in the in-between moments of growth, learning and self-discovery.

Again, I can’t say thank you enough for your continued support and encouragement. It means the world to me. Thank you for following this little journey.

Happy New Year, friends!

Lily & Val Presents: Pretty Ordinary Friday #100

Pretty Ordinary gives you a sneak peek into Lily & Val behind the scenes! On Lily & Val Living!

For this month’s Pretty Ordinary Friday #100, we’re documenting snapshots of our month. While our pictures may not be the prettiest or the most interesting, we enjoyed each instance and want to remember them! These are the behind-the-scenes, in-between moments – the small peeks that would otherwise be forgotten. Join us as we use this series to scrapbook the unedited, memorable happenings at Lily & Val and what is inspiring our team!

The team says:

Lily & Val Presents: Pretty Ordinary Friday #100 with team holiday dinners at the Commoner, gorgeous theaters and beautiful displays 1. “The 2018 Lily & Val Company Christmas party held at The Commoner! I’m so grateful beyond words for this small, but amazing team of people!” – Valerie

2. “I just love old theaters. The intricate details, the colors, everything. This is just a tiny piece of the ceiling at the Palace Theatre in Columbus Ohio. We were there to see The Piano Guys!” – Valerie

3“Whenever we visit a new city, Mak and I love to seek out the retailers there carrying Lily & Val! How cute is this set up of L&V chalk prints at The Paper Daisy Boutique in Columbus?” – Valerie 

Lily & Val Presents: Pretty Ordinary Friday #100 with a sneak peek at the New Year digital download, kitchen chalkboard art and Harney & Sons teas4“Behind-the-scenes working on the 2019 New Years Download!” – Valerie

5. “My kitchen chalkboard FINALLY got a festive, holiday update!” – Valerie

6. “I’m a sucker for beautiful packaging and these Harney & Sons tea tins are at the top of my list!” – Valerie

Lily & Val Presents: Pretty Ordinary Friday #100 with paper wreathes from Anthropologie, snowy cat perches and Putz house decorating7. “Feeling inspired by this paper wreath spotted at Anthropologie! They always have the most creative displays and windows.” – Valerie

8. “My cat back home has taken over the back porch. She has found her snowy perch.” – Emily

9. “Did a little Putz house making with some of the ladies in my family this week. What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday!” – Emily

Lily & Val Presents: Pretty Ordinary Friday #100 with Putz houses, Christmas trees and The Grinch10. “A few more of our little houses. These are such a fun way to be creative and relax during the holidays!” – Emily

11. “Favorite corner of the house this time of year.” – Emily

12. “We went to see The Grinch and I told him to stand in front and make the same face. This is what I got. Oh well. He’s still the cutest!” – Nicole

Lily & Val Presents: Pretty Ordinary Friday #100 with pitbull puppy rescues, sushi birthday celebrations and topping the tree

13. “Soooo… we got a puppy! His name is Oscar. He was found in a dumpster in Oklahoma, placed in a shelter, moved to a shelter here in Pittsburgh and then fostered by our friends. We know he was brought to us for a reason. He really is the best puppy and boy am I glad because it took some convincing of the husband!”- Nicole

14. “We took my mom out for her birthday to a hibachi restaurant and, of course, I had to get some sushi!” – Nicole

15. “I don’t think he could care less about decorating the rest of the tree, but the star is ‘his’ job!” – Nicole

Simple DIY Holiday Gift Wrapping Idea

Friends, I wish I could tell you that I set out to whip up some cute, DIY packaging, but the truth is, I just ran out of time and needed some wrapping in a pinch! Without a stash of holiday wrapping paper (besides this beautiful black and cream Sugar Paper LA tissue paper I picked up at Target at the beginning of the season), I needed to create my own festive packaging.

This idea ended up being very simple and I love how it turned out, so I thought I would share it with all of you in case you find yourself in a similar, last-minute wrapping situation.

Simple DIY Holiday Gift Wrapping Idea

Luckily, I keep a roll of white kraft paper on hand at all times. No matter the season, you can ALWAYS dress it up with a cute ribbon, string, or hand lettering. I also had a simple white gift bag. Add to that: a string of red bakers twine + Tombow Dual Brush pens in a few shades of green, plus black and a brown and that’s all you need!

Simple DIY Holiday Gift Wrapping Idea

The drawing technique I used on all three packages is very simple and similar for each. Just think of drawing upside-down “V” shapes with a tiny curve at the ends.

The key is to keep it imperfect and loose. The best part about that is you cannot mess up. The messier the strokes, the more organic your trees and branches will look!  Don’t overthink it, just quickly scribble out your brush strokes with the lightest green color first.

Simple DIY Holiday Gift Wrapping Idea

Once your first layer of green strokes is down, add a few loose strokes in a darker shade of green on top. You don’t want to cover up your bottom green layer, just add a few stroke shadows to give a hint of dimension. On this large tree and small trees, I repeated the process using a third, olive green color, but two colors will do the trick just fine! You can add some messy tree stumps or just leave the greens as-is. You truly cannot go wrong!

On the bag above, I finished it off with some small black dots to mimic the dots on the tissue paper.

Simple DIY Holiday Gift Wrapping Idea

Creating greenery branches instead of a tree follows a very similar stroke pattern except you can add a long stroke, which becomes center of the branch with small strokes protruding off this center line. Again, keep it loose and imperfect. Actually being hurried is helpful here!

Simple DIY Holiday Gift Wrapping Idea

Simple red bakers twine finishes off your packages and adds a festive touch!

Simple DIY Holiday Gift Wrapping Idea Simple DIY Holiday Gift Wrapping Idea Simple DIY Holiday Gift Wrapping Idea Simple DIY Holiday Gift Wrapping Idea Simple DIY Holiday Gift Wrapping Idea Simple DIY Holiday Gift Wrapping Idea

Easy and pretty wrapping done in a cinch! I just might wrap all my gifts this way! Happy wrapping, friends.

Simple DIY Holiday Gift Wrapping Idea
Holiday Recipe Tin Gift Idea

We are so excited that our brand new Lily & Val Recipe Tins are here for holiday gifting! If you want to give someone an extra special surprise this year consider making a lovely little gift set with some thoughtful items inside your recipe tin. Our recipe tins are made large enough that you can store not only all your favorite recipe cards and our beautiful dividers, but also all of your favorite pens and other helpful items that are best kept with your recipes.

Recipe Tin For Holiday Gifting

In our gift set we have included some thoughtful recipe tin accessories you may want to consider including in your gift set.

Everything fits in our Lily & Val Recipe Tins Gifting our new Lily & Val Recipe Tins

These gold magnets are a great thing to keep on hand in the kitchen. I like to use them to keep the recipe handy either on top of the tin for easy reading on on the refrigerator when prepping a meal.

Lily and Val Recipe TIn Gift Set idea

I have always found that being able to staple things in the kitchen is an often overlooked convenience. These tiny staplers are adorable, match the recipe tins, and are great to keeping recipe clippings ect. organized in your recipe tin.

Recipe Tin Set Idea for the Holidays

Include your favorite pens and pencils so your gift recipient always has a utensil handy to make recipe notes and changes.

All of our recipe tins include a beautiful pack of coordinating recipe cards and dividers. Take one out and include one of your favorite or most cherished recipes to get your recipient off to a great start with their new set. This is a lovely personal touch as well.

Last but not least, it is Christmas time, so why not include some cookie cutters in your gift set. We love these two beautiful options. They will be ready to make some beautiful large cookies when they receive their gift.

Recipe Tin Holiday Gifting Idea



New Lily & Val Recipe Tins Are Here!

You guys!! We have something new to share with you all and just in the nick of time for holiday gifting!! Introducing… L&V Recipe Tins!

New Lily & Val Recipe Tins Are Here!

I think what I love most about these tins (besides how cute they will look in your kitchen) is the substantial size of the tin. You will be able to hold your recipe collection all in one place, whether magazine cutouts, newspaper clippings, scribbled sheets of paper, or (our favorite) hand-written recipe cards. Inside you’ll find coordinating, hand-drawn tabs and loose recipe cards to start your collection, with extension packs available in the shop!

New Lily & Val Recipe Tins Are Here!

They come in four styles:

Farmhouse Gingham:

New Lily & Val Recipe Tins Are Here! New Lily & Val Recipe Tins Are Here!

Retro Mint:

New Lily & Val Recipe Tins Are Here! New Lily & Val Recipe Tins Are Here! New Lily & Val Recipe Tins Are Here!

Whimsical Lemons:

New Lily & Val Recipe Tins Are Here!

Mustard Stripe:

New Lily & Val Recipe Tins Are Here! New Lily & Val Recipe Tins Are Here! New Lily & Val Recipe Tins Are Here!

Find them all in the shop! 


Lily & Val Gift Guide: The Nostalgic Holiday

It’s always fun to relive memories through gifts given and received. The holidays are a great time to remember the good old days when life was a little more simple and you circled your favorite things in a big, thick catalogue. This gift guide is for  those of you love who love all things old and whimsical.

Retro Tree Christmas Print | Real Vintage 1950’s Ornaments| Everything I need to Know I Learned from A Golden Book | Caboodle | Retro Merry Christmas Card | Classic Christmas Album | Vintage 1976  Charles Dickens Christmas Book

December’s “Merry” FREE Desktop Download

December's "Merry" FREE Desktop Download by Lily & Val

Happy December, my friends! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

I hope this month’s FREE hand-lettered desktop download makes your holiday season just a bit brighter & merrier! Enjoy!

Holiday Desktop background hand-drawn by Valerie McKeehan December's Free iPhone wallpaper with hand-drawn trees


Enter your email address in the block below to download this month’s free desktops.

Lily & Val Gift Guide : The Hostess

If you have as many holiday party’s to attend as we do, you probably need a little help picking out a little something for your favorite hostess. We also love these gifts for the person you know who just loves to entertain year round! Something thoughtfully handmade or adorably practical can be a great choice to say “thanks” to your favorite party host this holiday season.


Lily & Val Gift Guide for your favorite Hostess for 2019

Handmade Resin and Olive Wood Serving Board | Teabag Holder | Recipe Card Pack| Meal Planner | Sharable Gourmet Marshmallows | Life of the Party Papercrafting Book | Natural Rope Bees Wax Candle | Fondest Memories Card

Lily & Val Gift Guide: Under $25

Looking for an inexpensive gift that doesn’t feel cheap or generic? We have put together this list of awesome gifts under $25 that the receiver will actually love. You can choose something personalized like one of our State Prints or something useful and unique like this fun Bees Wax Wrap Kit.

State Print Wall Art | Natural Chapstick Set | DIY Bees Wax Wrap Kit | Life Of the Party Papercrafting Book | French Mineral Face Spray | Passport Mini Journals | Custom Cut Lettering Wooden Sign | Meal Planner Pads

Lily & Val For Mixbook Photo Wall Calendars Are Here

Customize your Lily & Val for Mixbook Photo Wall Calendar - Collect Every Beautiful Moment

Friends, earlier this month, I was thrilled to share our brand new holiday photo card designs with you through our partnership with Mixbook!

Now, I’m bringing even more exciting news because we worked with Mixbook again, this time to offer you a Photo Wall Calendar for 2019! Ahh!

Customize your Lily & Val for Mixbook Photo Wall Calendar - Collect Every Beautiful Moment

“Collect Every Beautiful Moment” is the theme of the calendar and how beautifully fitting for this collection of photos & memories.

As always, every page has been hand-lettered and hand-drawn by yours truly. All you need to do is add your snapshots (and Mixbook makes that part SO easy!) The designs are soft and neutral to pair beautifully with your photos and all types of decor.

Customize your Lily & Val for Mixbook Photo Wall Calendar - Collect Every Beautiful Moment

Here’s a peek inside:

This quote! It is one of my absolute favorites.

Customize your Lily & Val for Mixbook Photo Wall Calendar - Collect Every Beautiful Moment

Some of the months feature little “to-do” lists and bucket lists. It’s a great way to further customize your calendar and make it really special even as a keepsake when the year is over.

Customize your Lily & Val for Mixbook Photo Wall Calendar - Collect Every Beautiful Moment

I also love the thoughtful little details & illustrations on the days of the month.

Customize your Lily & Val for Mixbook Photo Wall Calendar - Collect Every Beautiful Moment Customize your Lily & Val for Mixbook Photo Wall Calendar - Collect Every Beautiful Moment Customize your Lily & Val for Mixbook Photo Wall Calendar - Collect Every Beautiful Moment

Family memories, sweet gatherings, big moments, the in-between bits of life all documented and celebrated in this Lily & Val calendar. I hope you love it as much as I do!

Customize your Lily & Val for Mixbook Photo Wall Calendar - Collect Every Beautiful Moment Customize your Lily & Val for Mixbook Photo Wall Calendar - Collect Every Beautiful Moment

Customize your calendar!

You can choose from a square or rectangle format when you customize your calendar. Like I said, Mixbook makes it so easy. I hope you enjoy! Be sure to share your calendars with me so I can see.

And a coupon code for you…

Use code: DESIGNER18 on  to receive UP TO 50% off sitewide, including calendars. (expires 12/31/18).

Happy holidays, everyone!

Customize your Lily & Val for Mixbook Photo Wall Calendar - Collect Every Beautiful Moment