So, my trip to NYC last week was not without drama or adventure. Thanks to a really bad winter storm, my 6:10 am flight last Monday got cancelled — as did my daughter’s school. Luckily, I managed to get on a 4:30 flight that afternoon, which gave us ample time to take advantage of said snow & do a little sledding. Sledding & taking a business trip on the same day is a first for me …. and it set off the next three days on an appropriately wacky note. In Cleveland, we say you have to be tough to live here, but I was again reminded how much it helps to be tough in our business too!

At any rate, first thing Tuesday I was at Jacob Javits Center at NY NOW raring to judge the LOUIE Awards. Unfortunately, a few judges didn’t make it due to various circumstances, but those who did were a really great & dedicated group — which was a good thing, as we had over 1,100 cards to judge! Except for a few that needed to be demonstrated, all judging was done online. But, here is a peek at the criteria.

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One of the reasons I love judging the LOUIEs is that there is so much fabulous design packed into a few days. On that note, I’m sharing some of my favorite Valentine’s and general love cards.

I don’t know all the vendors I’m featuring unfortunately, but all are exquisite eye candy … and hopefully I’ll find out who at least some of them are when they’re displayed as finalists at National Stationery Show in May. I’m hoping a lucky few ultimately take home a coveted LOUIE.

My meeting with Emily McDowell fell through due to my delayed flight … but at least I got to see some of her handiwork!

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These adorable wee letterpressed cards were paired with diminutive red envelopes.

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Here are some other standouts. It’s fascinating to me how many clever ways designers approach celebrating our loved ones.IMG_4953 IMG_4954 IMG_4955 IMG_4980 IMG_4989 IMG_4994 IMG_4995 IMG_4997 IMG_4999 IMG_5001

This is just a small taste of the entrants obviously, but you can see that we judges had our work cut out for us! Winners will be announced Sunday, May 17, at the LOUIE gala at the Edison Ballroom in New York City. I’ll be sharing some more favorites here soon — but in the meantime, I hope this inspires you to scout out that perfect Valentine’s Day card.

Finally, the design below is from Compendium, part of their brilliant Frank & Funny line. Snag it for yourself for just $2.95 here!

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