Can you believe it is already time to package up 2011 with a pretty bow? This year went by in a whirlwind with so many wonderful memories both big and small. I’m SO excited to usher in 2012. I feel that this next year is full of so much promise and I can’t wait to greet each milestone. Here are a few favorite personal and business highlights of this past year…


1. Our little dude continued to grow like a weed. He is 110% ALL BOY and pushes me outside my comfort zone to have more fun, play and be on the go a whole lot more than I ever thought I would be! I can’t believe he’ll be three years old in just about six weeks…sniff sniff…

2. 2011 held a lot of trips to the zoo. Some of my favorite family time is there. Nothing beats strolling through the pretty park-like grounds on a weekend afternoon. This December, as all the craziness of the holidays started to set in, and I was feeling like my work and life was overflowing with to-do lists and activities, I had a breaking point in the car with Colin. We were in the parking lot of daycare and he was telling me he didn’t want to go to school. He wanted to go to the zoo. My eyes welded up with tears because all I wanted to answer was “me too, buddy. me too.” I’m vowing now in 2012 there are going to be a lot more fun days of no school and no work. Lots of trips to the zoo. :) This moment in time reminds me of my friend Emily’s “Grace Not Perfection” mantra. There will be a whole lotta grace in 2012… :)

3. Early in the year, I squeezed in some long overdue girlfriend time with my college sorority sisters and best friends for a long weekend in San Francisco and Wine Country. I love how we all live in different places and get busy with our own lives from time to time to actually catch up and check in with each other…but when we’re back together again, you would have never thought any time passed at all.


4. In August we started a new vacation tradition with the Huber Family. Our trip to Seagrove/Seaside, Florida with my best friend Lauren (we met our freshmen year of high school) and her family was awesome. Who would have thought 15+ years ago we’d live across the country and be vacationing with our families? Already can’t wait for next year!


5. In 2011 we had two amazing (childless) mini-vacations – Negril, Jamaica in March and Charleston, SC in October. So lucky to be able to have one-on-one quality time with each other for a few days. Also thankful for the in-law’s babysitting so we could do such fun trips! ;)


6. In January, I went to Making Things Happen in Atlanta. That one event kicked off a whole new year for my business. I think the best word that sums up 2011 is “ready.” After MTH, I was just READY to start laying the foundation for where I wanted to take my business, my brand and myself into the future. I was ready for all that the future held for me and was leaving all previous notions, limitations, and obstacles behind. MTH really gave me that strength and courage. It’s awesome to reflect how that one day in Atlanta was the catalyst for other amazing adventures in 2011.

7. So in May, I headed to Engage : Grand Del Mar. I remember registering…I didn’t know a single person going (I think I may be the very first wedding professional from Nashville, Tennessee who ever attended an Engage conference!)…I didn’t know who I was going to room with or how I was going to muster up the courage to act like I had any business being there among so many seemingly amazing other wedding industry professionals. But I went, and I met new friends, and I loved every. single. minute. of. it. One of the best things I did for my business, hands down. It is there I met Cathy & Kathy and a dozen other new friends. Most importantly, it is there that I had a ten minute conversation with Lara about a *gut feeling* that led to the kick off the new AMBER HOUSLEY brand.

8. In July, I concepted, designed, styled and coordinated my first ever editorial photo shoot. Go high or go home I think was my motto as I collaborated with some AMAZING friends. It was a long, hot summer afternoon with a half dozen models and dozens of details. While it didn’t make the cut for a magazine that I had hoped it would be intended for, I learned SO much during the experience and was entirely grateful for it and all the contributors. Excited to collaborate on some more amazing shoots in 2012

My “612” girls – Amber, Courtney and Ashlee

9. In August, I headed to Pensacola, FL to attend the Stationery Academy by Emily Ley and Whitney Kolb. So grateful for this experience and meeting new paper-designer friends with dreams and hearts and goals as big as mine. I can’t wait to show all that I’ve been working on for my new wedding collection that will debut in 2012 using knowledge I gained at this conference!

10. The year contained many published highlights. (Yippee!) I was proud to see my work featured in some of my favorite magazines such as Southern Living V4 where I was a featured Southern wedding expert, and also  here, here and here.

11. On November 3, the new AMBER HOUSLEY brand launched. What an exciting moment when I pushed the “publish” button on the new site and then announced it to all my friends and family via Facebook and Twitter. After you put SO much time, money, soul and heart into something, you just pray and hope that others are excited about it too. The feedback that I continue to get daily affirms that we did everything right. There are still things that have yet to debut as part of the “launch” and I’m excited to share them soon in 2012!

12. Right after the launch, I was able to shout from the rooftops one of my most proud accomplishments – being published in Southern Living magazine’s December 2011 issue! I loved designing and styling this shoot, and what an amazing opportunity for what I consider my Southern living lifestyle “bible” that I read every single month.

13. I can’t also forget another proud highlight – being featured in the weekly Martha Stewart Dreamer Into Doers email and website! Of course, I’m a natural fan of Martha Stewart and the business empire she has built. I’m really excited about heading to New York City this Spring to attend the Dreamers event. It’s been a long time dream of mine to do all the NYC tourist cliche’s while I’m there. :)

14. I had the opportunity to design and style weddings for SO MANY AMAZING clients. I love the work that I do, and I love the clients who really *get* what I can offer them. From classic Southern plantation style weddings, to beach destination weddings, to traditional weddings, to modern affairs, and even a few social parties and events…such a wide variety I was able to dabble in for both paper goods design AND wedding style and design. I’m already hard at work on a half dozen brides for 2012. Ready to make more magic happen! :)

What a whirlwind and amazing 2011. This girl is *incredibly* humbled and thankful for every opportunity that has come my way. I have some of the best family, friends and supporters here in Nashville and beyond! I CAN’T WAIT for all the awesome 2012 has in store.

I love to tell my 612 girls to remember to “Be Brilliant” or “Be Awesome”… here’s to wishing YOU a BRILLIANT and AWESOME NEW YEAR!


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