take that, Whole Foods

One of many things I prefer about the Bay Area over Boston is the produce. Now, before I get all smug in a way only Northern Californians can be, I will say that the Boston area does offer an increasing number of CSAs (community supported agriculture) and farmers' markets but only during the "growing season," i.e. the three or four months of summer. And they fill up fast. We started getting weekly boxes o' veggies (and a little fruit) last time we lived in Oakland from Full Belly Farm, but only a few months before we packed up and moved to Boston. When we got to Boston and looked into it the list for the following summer was, I believe, already full. After that we quickly got used to supplementing limited seasonal offerings with frozen staples like broccoli and green beans. But now that we're back, we've renewed our relationship with the Farm and the honeymoon is not yet over. We already have way more onions than we can use but otherwise we've been doing a pretty good job each week at incorporating whatever we get in our box into that week's menu. Having an addition to the family who loves melon certainly helps.


only the best for your vampire wedding

After putting together the dragonfly motif wedding invitation ensemble for 'The OC's' Summer and Seth, I found some black paper printed with red dragonflies. That particular motif seems to be the invite that gets the most views and inquiries (nibbles, nibbles, but, alas, no bites...no pun intended once you've read ahead) so I thought it might not be a bad idea to put together an alternate mock-up, using the decorative paper as a jumping off point, which is the first time the design has come from my materials instead of the couple, real or otherwise. I actually had a hard time with that part until Rain suggested Sookie and Bill from 'True Blood,' a show I wasn't terribly familiar with before but have requested that Neal add to our Netflix queue after doing some research in order to create a wedding invitation ensemble for their fictional union.

It's a little steep in price, mainly because I've used almost all the tricks in my bag: heavy-weight folder, multiple layers, separate reception card, envelope liner, decorative paper...It was fun to do one design that incorporated a bunch of different components.

Oh, and, like a few of the other fictional couples I've drawn inspiration from, the actors who play Sookie and Bill - Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer - are engaged in real life. Of course, most of those other couples have since split so hopefully my mock invitation isn't some sort of relationship jinx. Now that would be bad for business.


beige felt never looked so yummy

My audience of one in this extended one-woman show finally decided to give me a little bit of a mid-day break most days this week, so I've had a chance to catch up on a few things, foolishly prioritizing making stuff over the sleep this cold of mine needs in order to leave already. The trilogy of miniature stationery was completed with these yellow and blue thank you cards featuring a dragonfly motif that, in hindsight, looks more like a palm tree:

The yellow paper is layered over a blue that pretty closely matches a 100% cyan ink, but I think I might tweak it and layer it over Paper Source's "pool" blue instead, a color combination I fell in love with while working on the paper portion of a proof for an actual client last week (imagine, wedding invitations created for real people!). Exciting, huh? The challenge was to incorporate three additional wedding colors into an already pretty complex design and palette but I'm pretty happy with the way things worked out. I'll post some images once all is said and done.

I've also been brainstorming ideas for additions to a new line of products in my shop called "Knotty French" (the French are so naughty, after all), in a style similar to the Mother's Cookies cards that were born from the creative loins of the Makery (hmm, that's always a little funnier when other people write it) and eventually made their revised way to my more stationery-based Etsy shop. Making felt versions of sugary foods, embellished with embroidered French knots, is almost as fun as eating the real deal. Almost. So, perhaps inspired by the donut habit I picked up during my four years in Boston, I created these, using a bit of the huge stack of beige felt leftover from those DIY cat carrier covers I made at the beginning of this whole cross-country move business.

What else can I top with sprinkles?

Needless to say, I've been spending a lot of time tweaking existing products, creating new ones, and generally trying to promote my shop. Some days I fear I might resemble that contestant on American Idol who really needs to be told, for the first time in all of his 19 years, that he can't actually sing, and then other days I feel like the shop has real potential, like I'm on the verge of something good. I love reading Etsy's spotlight on successful sellers who've quit their day jobs. I always wonder what would happen if my shop had hundreds of sales and I were the seller being featured, how would I answer the questions they typically ask, since I didn't exactly quit my day job, I just haven't been able to find one. The part I get the biggest kick out of is when they ask the featured seller to walk them through a typical day (if you have a kid you'll understand why I laugh until milk comes out of my nose when I read about how somebody wakes up at 8 a.m. without an alarm clock, as if that's an example of their work ethic and they need say no more). So in the spirit of pursuing the creative life full-time, let me walk you through a typical day in my own personal spotlight of the whole not-totally-by-choice stay-at-home-artist-mom thing:

*wake up, on average (some mornings we're up by 5 - without using an alarm clock...mmm hmmm, that's right), around 6 or 6:30 and try to decide if a few more minutes of sleep (while the husband fetches the baby) is worth sacrificing a morning shower

*attempt to clean, clothe, and feed every living creature in the household, while making my Internet rounds, which, if I'm lucky, might include reading - but not having time to respond to - an Etsy convo, before 8 when the husband goes off to his day job

*finish getting ready for the day while the baby plays nearby, mostly supervised

*figure out how to keep baby entertained and maintain sanity until the stars align and make a long afternoon nap happen

*IF this magical thing happens, I can respond to that convo I read in the morning and have been thinking about ever since (baby, what baby?)

*more likely scenario involves baby not napping OR baby naps but there's no convo to respond to, no orders to fulfill, giving me an hour and a half or two to obsess over shop details, samples sold and convos answered that haven't yet turned into orders, and doodle ideas for new products; on a really good day, I might actually make, photograph, and list an item but, like a comet, that happens very infrequently

*after the baby wakes up from or refuses altogether to nap, we usually run errands, stock up on supplies, that sorta thing

*the husband finishes work around 4 or 5, depending on the day, at which point I promptly hand over the baby; this is the best time to photograph stuff in, unfortunately, the baby's room

*if I don't have anything in progress to work on, I exercise, because, at the end of the day, at least I have my health

*between 5 and 8 we feed, entertain, and bathe the baby, then we try, with a hope and a prayer, to put the baby to bed

*some nights I'm too physically tired and my brain won't function the way I need it to to continue to work on anything Etsy-related or otherwise; if I'm in the middle of something, say, trying to figure out how to design a wedding invitation ensemble with six colors, I'll stay up as late as midnight or so trying to work it out because I know if I don't I'll just toss and turn thinking about it

*but midnight is my cut-off; you have to have boundaries, after all


fresh from the Makery: in honor of my feline friend

The Makery is back.

Up for grabs this week are, I'll admit, the leftovers from a project I put together for my Etsy shop, a sister product, if you will, to the last installment of the Makery, before things got crazy with project move. I have three mini punches and wanted to create mini notes around each one. I posted the seahorse notes today and didn't plan on putting the pink cat version together right away but decided the project would be good distraction from the sad news this morning that my childhood kitty went to kitty cat heaven around midnight last night.

Ozzy (or "Ozzie" as everyone else always spelled his name...I don't think he really cared either way) was a cool cat. He was my 15th birthday present, a birthday I celebrated when we lived in Bedford, England, about an hour or so north of London. I remember we got him from a farm - he was the only tabby out of a litter of black kittens and it was love at first sight. But he was also, apparently, the runt of the litter and when we took him to the vet a few days after we got him home, clearly not doing so well, the vet warned my Dad to not let me get attached since she really didn't think he'd make it. Obviously, we nursed him back to health, an experience that had me convinced I wanted to be a vet until well into college. He went from being able to fit on my shoulder under an oversized flannel shirt I'd wear around the house (this was the early 90s after all) to being the longest, sturdiest domestic cat I've ever met, usually weighing in at a trim 16 pounds as a full-grown cat. In fact, I'm still convinced he was part European Wildcat. He moved with us from England to Germany, where he spent his only time as an indoor cat, and back to the States with me when I graduated from high school. Once my Dad moved back it made more sense for him to be with the more settled member of our family and they've been best buds over the past decade. He lived a good, long life and I haven't been around him consistently for quite some time, but that doesn't make me feel any better about his passing.

Anyway...in honor of Ozzy I wanted to use this little cat punch I have that's just about the same size as the seahorse punch I used for the mini thank you notes. I decided the cat cards would be simple hellos instead of thank yous. There are a couple of sets in the shop and up for grabs here are the four or five notes that didn't make the cut (they look fine, just a spot here and there where the adhesive didn't lay perfectly flat and they don't come with the little green envelopes, but hey, they're free). If you like what you see, you know what to do. And if you don't win the giveaway, which will be announced at the end of the week, you can get a set of three for a mere three bucks at the ol' Etsy shop.

I can't promise that the Makery is back in any consistent or consistently free way but I hope to start making stuff again on a regular basis. I've added beige felt and Britney Spears stickers to my craft supplies and of course now that I'm back in the Bay, I can always swing by the East Bay Depot for Creative Use for inspiration and materials. Love (and missed!) that place.

Here's to you, Oz. You'll be missed, cool cat...