mommy blogs killed the SASE

Remember my SASE project? Well, I got a response from Kikkoman pretty quickly, actually. I was waiting to blog about it until I had another self-addressed stamped envelope to send out, thinking I'd format the posts for this series in a to/from fashion, reporting on anything I'd received and ending with the next SASE to go in the mail. But, man, SASE requests on product labels and elsewhere are hard to find! There is usually some contact information, of course, but the closest I've found to anything like Kikkoman's label are websites for more recipes. Bo-ring. I want actual stuff in my mailbox, people! I don't have time to peruse your website and pin my favorite recipes!

And the grumpy part of me that reads too many mommy blogs, meanwhile, has to wade through countless "reviews" of free products that these successful bloggers receive EVERY WEEK! It's not that I want free stuff, per se, and I like my project in that there are really no strings attached, right? Kikkoman is not expecting me to blog about what they sent, though it is a form of outreach and advertising. But I do wonder if companies have directed those efforts to folks who are likely to write a fairly glowing review and reach a greater audience. As a reader, let me tell you, it gets old after awhile, reading about your free wardrobe service or the cruise your family took, like watching celebrities walk the red carpet in multi-thousand dollar gowns and accessories they're given for free. It's just thinly veiled advertising.

Anyway, enough of my grumpy old man impersonation. Here's what Kikkoman sent, a lovely little recipe book with some tasty snack suggestions. I put Neal to work right away on the Aloha Trail Mix.

That's it for now! I'll keep looking for SASE requests. In the meantime, in a continued effort to get stuff in the mail, I've re-started a blog project that never really got going back in my Boston days. It's called Check Your Gauge and if you like to knit or crochet and have a little bit of extra yarn laying around and a wee bit of change for postage, you should check it out!

PS - I've also resumed the Makery but under a different guise: geeky beaky, the "softer side" of Color Bird Studio. Felt phone cases for Android + Mother's Cookies inspired products for now. Stay tuned for more projects in 2015!


burning bridges: artists in offices

There's this book called Artists in Offices. It's been on my Amazon wishlist for awhile now. To be honest, I'm not totally sure what it's about. I suspect it may not actually be about artists working in offices, although I know so many creative types, like myself, who've found their professional way through a series of cubicles. There is a book about that. It's called The Artist in the Office. I should probably read it. It took me awhile to reconcile my sort of stereotypical notions of who an artist is with my obsessive-compulsive tendencies (and truth be told, I've met many a fellow print designer who defies the messy, disorganized artist stereotype). Nearly a couple of decades, actually.

I was 19 when I got my first real office job. Okay, I was about a month away from my 20th birthday, but still. Technically, I was a mere teenager. After only three months, the bakery gig was wearing on me. And that afternoon eclair snack habit was doing me no favors.

I liked the idea of working in an office, you know, wearing nice clothes, spending time in an elevator on a regular basis, complaining about rush hour traffic, taking coffee breaks, that sort of thing. I worked 32 hours a week in a group of law offices in the now trendy uptown area of Oakland. A few months after I got this particular job, I resumed my undergraduate studies at a community college. How I managed that workload while attending 4 to 5 classes each semester is a bit of a mystery to me now, but I think part of what made this work was that about 20 of those hours were spent answering phones. When the phones weren't ringing, I was free to study, do homework, etc.

For the other 12 hours, I assisted the office manager - updating the law library, helping her with bookkeeping, running errands, that sort of thing. I loved it. Eventually I was recruited by the immigration firm to spend some of my hours working for them. One of the partners in this small firm would later offer me a full-time position, one of two times I turned down a full-time job offer in order to pursue a mix of other, some might say more creative, certainly less lucrative opportunities. I don't regret that decision, per se, but I do ponder the sensibility of it from time to time. But I was young and fresh out of college and, anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself.

This position is also where my love of dance began. Well, other than dabbling in just about every dance genre as a kid. One of the lawyers in the office was on the Board of Directors for Savage Jazz Dance Company at the time and occasionally he'd offer me free tickets to their local performances (poor college kid that I was). My mind was blown. Watching these particular contemporary dancers was like nothing I'd ever experienced before - athletic, sensual, beautiful. All that good stuff. And in a, I don't know, sincere way that has, over the past 17 years or so, proven to be pretty rare.

Not a bad gig.


'tis the season...to get engaged

Yep, as of this time last week, it's officially "engagement season." The holidays - between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day - tend to be a popular time for people to propose to one another, with the most popular day to get engaged being Christmas Eve, or so I've heard. If you Google "engagement season", you'll see it's become a bit of a thing. Here is Jezebel's predictably cranky rant about it, and I quote:

"According to the AP, almost 40 percent of engagements occur during this particular stretch of the year—hence jewelers salivating over potential sales"
Add pretty much any other wedding vendor to that drooling mix. Nah, I'm just playing. But seriously, if you get engaged during "engagement season" or otherwise throughout the year, I've got you covered.

The classic - a wedding save-the-date "bookmark" to let folks know you two are ready for the next chapter (get it?). Add a generous helping of nostalgia with this design based on a photobooth film strip (photobooth not required).

The Hipster - a save-the-date postcard with speech bubbles. Need I say more? Send it ironically or not, I certainly won't judge you.

The Rustic - a more traditional save-the-date format for that minimal and/or winter wedding. There's a wedding invitation to go with this one.

The Destination - I have a couple of variations on this one, but you get the idea. Will most of your guests be flying somewhere, domestic or international, or do you just have a love of old biplanes? This may be the wedding save-the-date for you. And yeah, there's a coordinating invitation for this one, too.

Happy engagement season, y'all! And for everyone else, did I mention I make custom holiday cards, too?


burning bridges: I made a margarita for Will Patton

When I wrote about my second gig in baking, I skipped over a couple of other part-time jobs I had during my year in Bend, Oregon. At some point during my tenure at Fred Meyer's bakery, I got bit by the waitressing bug (the bug that precedes the acting bug?) and decided to apply as a food server at Cafe Rosemary, which has since closed. I primarily worked the weekday lunch shift, which wasn't as busy or tip-lucrative as dinner but I loved that I neither had to get up crazy early or stay up too late. I can't remember how well that worked with my class schedule but I'm assuming my off days were my school-intensive ones. In other words, I had no real time off, especially considering I was still working a shift or two at the bakery during this time.

Anyway, all went well for a few months. With tips figured in, I averaged about three times what I was making at the bakery. The guy I worked with most days - I think his name was Scott? or Sam? - was really cool. A very tall, blonde, handsome, down-to-earth snowboarder ... with a fiancee. What, I had a boyfriend, too! Sheesh. The restaurant was owned by an older couple - the guy cooked while the gal managed the floor. I think their adult son was involved in some way as well. The food was amazing. The daily soup was always incredible (and I'm not even a soup person!) and there was this salad we made with fried goat cheese ... holy cow, it was tasty. For Thanksgiving that year, I bought a pie that came with a large to-go cup of brandy-spiked whipped cream. It was the star of the holiday dinner that year, let me tell you, no offense to my Grandma's turkey. But the gal-half of the owner duo, unlike her husband, was, well, difficult to deal with after awhile. At the end of a shift my tall, blonde, snowboarding co-worker and I would count up the tips - and she'd take a third of our total. Kinda messed up, right? Then one day we had an argument about a female diner who asked about the day's soup. I'd been told at the beginning of my shift that either we didn't have soup or we sold out really quickly, I can't remember now, and somehow I missed the memo that this diner was given special treatment because I basically got as close as I've ever been to fired over telling her there was no soup. It was mutually agreed that I should take the rest of the shift off. Sensing that I was quite possibly on the verge of being fired, I called later that evening and quit. It was also mutually agreed that a two-week notice was unnecessary.

I walked straight from Cafe Rosemary to Baja Norte, across the quaint downtown area of Bend, where I applied to a front-counter position. I loved working at Baja Norte, which was owned, at the time, by the same guy who owned Mexicali Rose (both restuarants are closed now - such is the restaurant industry in general but in Bend in particular to the point that it's kind of a local joke how often restaurants come and go). My Grandma loved Mexicali Rose and we'd been going at least once every visit since I was 12 or so. They had one of the best margaritas I've ever had and their carnitas was to die for. The recipes were the same over at Baja Norte so I now know what went into that carnitas and I'll take that secret to my grave.

Other than delicious discounted food, I enjoyed working there because the vibe was way more laidback. Everyone who worked there was either a student at COCC like me and/or a total ski bum. The tips were okay. Definitely not making three times minimum wage here but it was enough for laundry and gas (because gas was $.99 a gallon at the time).

And when the Kevin Costner flick The Postman was being filmed at nearby Smith Rock State Park, Will Patton came in one night. I poured him a margarita while he waited for his to-go order. And that true story concludes my brief career in food service.


friends who like pictures of cocktails

I've been on Instagram for a little over a year now. I like it. Despite using Facebook primarily to stay in touch with extended family, I tend to self-censor just a bit, limiting the number of photos I post of my kids, that sorta thing. But since Instagram is just images and captions, I feel like I can post whatever I want in any quantity I see fit (similarly, I reserve my less, shall we say, diplomatic posts for Twitter). If you don't want to see pictures of my adorable offspring, don't follow me there. You know what I mean?

Anyway, it's been interesting to observe what images different followers "heart." I have a few friends who seem to like just about everything I post, which is cool. But most friends and acquaintances tend to "heart" the same kinds of things over time. Here's how my small following breaks down:

Friends who like pictures of my kids.

Friends who like pictures of my cats.

Friends who like pictures I post when I go running.

Friends who like pictures of my crafty pursuits.

Friends who like pictures of food.

Friends (and total strangers) who like selfies.

And of course, friends who like pictures of cocktails.

Am I missing anything? How does your social circle compare?


burning bridges: advanced baking

Actually, I didn't really do any baking at this job, either. But having worked at a bakery before helped me easily land this food service gig shortly after relocating to Berkeley following my one post-high school year in Bend, OR. I worked the opening shift, meaning I got there at the ungodly hour of 5 am or so, but the upside was that it was just a couple of blocks from my apartment. I put out all the baked goods the bakers had been baking for a couple of hours by the time I got in, did some prep such as cleaning and cutting strawberries for the cake gal (every bakery has a cake gal), and finished some products like the black & white and yellow smiley face cookies. By the time the bakery opened, I was already an hour or two into my shift! In addition to getting up super early, relatively low pay, and not the most flexible schedule (eventually I picked up on my community college studies at DVC before transferring to Cal), another downside was being allowed to pick any item to enjoy during my break. It's just not a great idea to eat chocolate eclairs every day, you know?

Anyway, I took my son there one afternoon last week and other than the girl working there at the time (who was probably my daughter's age when I worked there!) and the absence of the fro yo machines I vividly remember in the back left corner, nothing has changed. The cookies they sell by the pound are exactly the same, as are the decorated cookies, pastries, breads, and several of the cakes (mmm, chocolate fudge cake ... I also remember the pink-colored white chocolate flaked "champagne" cake). Having moved around so much in my life, it's a pretty novel (and kinda cool) thing to be able to return to a place that hasn't changed much at all.


burning bridges: baker? check!

Remember this series? No? That's okay. I've only written one post about past jobs so far and it was awhile ago. But I've been thinking about this idea a lot lately, since I worry some days that I might be kinda "burning bridges" with the, uh, forum that makes my current "job" possible. (A little constructive criticism never killed anyone! And anyway, like they care. Or notice.)

Anywho, where were we? Ah, yes, high school graduation! So my first "real" job outside babysitting and those sort of practice jobs you get while you're a student was in the bakery of the Northwest grocery chain Fred Meyer (no relation to Russ, as far as I can tell). I can't remember now why I applied there, or where else I applied, other than as a delivery driver for a new pizza joint. Minimum wage was pretty, well, minimal at the time and the pizza joint was offering a little more per hour but the bakery offered a few schedule options that worked really well with my community college course load at the time, the gals who worked there were really nice (I regularly hiked Black Butte with the lady who decorated the cakes), and, duh, baked goods.

The funny thing is the only product we actually baked there was fresh bread; everything else was delivered at the crack of dawn by trucks coming from the store's central bakery in, I don't know, Portland? In other words, I didn't really learn anything about baking. I was criticized for using too much icing on the cinnamon rolls, and that all-white uniform was doing me no favors, but otherwise I really enjoyed that job, my first "real" job.

And I was able to put that year of professional experience to use after relocating to Berkeley the following summer, but we'll save that one for another post.


Self, addressed: Kikkoman

I realized recently that I've spent much of the past decade or so in a weird sort of feedback loop. Like most people, I have a smart phone and post pretty regularly to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram (links to the right, if you're into that kinda thing). And it's hard not to start checking for feedback - hearts, favorites, likes, comments - almost immediately. It's maddening. But this insatiable need for feedback actually started during the graduate school application process that I initiated (the first round, that is) over a decade ago. A few weeks after I submitted that first completed application package, I started eagerly anticipating the arrival of the mail. It was crazy. I'd never been so excited to check the mail before! And even after I was accepted to a couple of schools during the second round (and devastated by the receipt of so many more rejection letters) I continued to look forward to checking the mail, increasingly disappointing though it was. Insert stale joke here about how all I get in the mail now is bills and junk mail, blah, blah, blah. I mean, I did work for one of the oldest stationery companies in the country and I make wedding invitations for a (meager) living. So, yeah, I like getting stuff in the mail and, though usually a month or two late, always send thank you notes. Shoot, I even taught a class about mail art.

So when I happened to notice one night eating potstickers with my family that our Kikkoman soy sauce had this thing on the back of the label suggesting I send a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) for more recipes, I thought it would be the perfect little project to use up a few of the envelopes in my under-utilized inventory while indirectly sending myself a little something in the mail!

This project seems simple enough but brings up so many questions for me. What size envelope should I send? If I send a bigger envelope, will I receive more things in the mail? Who will my SASE go to over at Kikkoman? Is the SASE person busy? How long will it take to receive something? Should I color coordinate my envelopes with the product's label? (Answer: Sure, why not?!)

The only problem is, now that I've started this project, I'm not finding a whole lot of SASE requests on the backs of products! I'll keep searching, though, and if any of you readers have a hot tip, do let me know in the comments, won't you?


a crafty generalist's dilemma in the time of the Single Item Niche

It's been just about seven months since I "went back to work" after an extended "maternity leave" with baby #2. All those quotation marks are due to the fact that I haven't had a real job in about five years, since my post-grad teaching fellowship wrapped up and baby #1 was quickly morphing into a toddler. Economy was tanking and any hope of landing a studio art position in academia was quickly fading. Even so, I applied to a second round of teaching gigs while performing the duties of default stay-at-home-mom. In the little nooks of any time leftover (hard to believe now with two young kids, two old cats, and a house that seems like a living person at times that there was any time leftover but I suppose there always is) I launched my micro-business. And I was pretty lucky. After about six months sales picked up primarily through word of mouth, enough that I only wondered a month or two over the next couple of years if I should really have kid #1 in part-time daycare. By the time baby #2 came along, kid #1 was in four days of preschool most weeks and my micro-business had turned into a more-or-less full-time job. I assumed I'd be able to take a year off to chill with baby #2, get kid #1 settled into Kindergarten, and then pick up where I left off.


Between part-time daycare costs and material expenses, I don't think I broke even one of the seven months baby #2 was in someone else's care for part of the week, giving me some dedicated work time. So about halfway through this summer I decided to draw a line in the sand and am now officially a mostly SAHM, with a touch of WAHM ("work at home mom", that is, not the dreamy English musical duo of the 1980s) between the afternoon naptime hours of 12:30 and 2:30, give or take. SAHM plus, if you will.

Earlier this year, I decided to merge my two Etsy shops and re-brand under one business name, one shop, one blog, etc. I wrote about it here. It seems like the trend lately (in the food industry, too, it seems) is to streamline, simplify, and perfect that one thing, that one preferably handmade product that you make so well you can eventually mass-produce and pitch to the folks at Etsy Wholesale (handmade items mass-produced for wholesale mark-up ... wait, what?). And I guess that was kind of where I was going with the whole rebranding thing. But at the end of the day, I'm a crafty generalist at heart, a bar & grill, if you will, of the handmade world, and it's hard for me to do just one thing really well.

Anyway, the fact that my creative tendencies go against the current trend of this, how shall we coin it, "Single Item Niche", is not to say that is necessarily the cause of my shop's struggles this year. Who knows? But I do feel like I need to take a "break" (you know, the kind of "break" you might enjoy while taking care of a 19 month old toddler full-time, your 15-hour days book-ended by the before and after school shenanigans of a 1st-grader). I mean, if I think about it, that's kinda why I decided to pursue art & stuff in the first place. I just couldn't decide what I wanted to be when I grew up and art seemed like a place where I could explore and do lots of stuff. The same goes for hanging out with my kids, daunting and all-consuming as that task can be at times. Theoretically I can do a lot with a toddler and/or grade-schooler in tow, right? Theoretically.

All that said, I took advantage of those final weeks of daycare to add several new designs to the shop, as well as a couple of new ready-to-send stationery products. For fans of True Blood, there's this wedding invite:

If you're into something a little ... lighter, there's confetti in pinks, purples, and navy blue!

Maybe you're planning a Wizard of Oz themed birthday party or, heck, wedding! Yep, I have a design for that, too!

And finally, some more cheerleaders to cheer you up:

Cheers, indeed - here's to yet another chapter in this ever-evolving adventure of work meets kids with a dash of art & stuff!


a built-in DIY play kitchen

As I've mentioned before, since sending kid #2 to part-time daycare back in February, waiting in vain for custom orders to pick up (the "in vain" part I'll explain in a later post), I've been spending some of my 16 or so child-free hours each week catching up on projects around the house. We bought and moved into our little mid-century Oakland home almost exactly 4 years ago and it's taken us that long to even begin to finish some of the 70+ items on the to-do list we created after closing. We started updating the bathrooms almost two years ago; those are finally done. Well, you know, "done" for now. The kids' rooms I'd already painted and fussed with before kid #2's arrival. So all I have left to tackle is the combined living/dining area (we've rearranged the furniture in this not-so-great "great" room half-a-dozen times) and the kitchen, which needs a good spring cleaning, a fresh coat of paint, and, one day, a new refrigerator.

As a side-project of the kitchen plans, I've always wanted to transform this little built-in bookcase into a play kitchen, especially considering we're back in crazy toddler land with an 18 month old who would immediately destroy anything we put on those shelves (case in point: I've already had to fix or modify two elements in the play kitchen, finished just yesterday). Pre-fab play kitchens are expensive - okay, not that expensive, especially considering how much time I poured into this DIY version - and bulky, but mostly, I was smitten with the idea of creating a play kitchen that was built into an under-utilized portion of our real kitchen, daydreaming about an idyllic domestic scene that involves me cooking a real meal while both kids peacefully entertain themselves just feet away in their play kitchen ...Wait, where was I?

Ah yes, before and after. Do you suppose this "addition" increases our home value at all?? Not that we're planning on selling anytime soon, but really, who wouldn't want a built-in play kitchen? See idyllic domestic daydream, above. Anyway, does this post leave you with more questions than answers? Let's see if I can address a few of those now...

How long did this project take?
The "before" image above I originally posted to my Instagram account back in March or so. Those red IKEA coasters were part of the impetus for this project (they look just like stovetop burners, no?), but in the past six months, I've misplaced two of the four, so I was truly starting from scratch when I resumed this project last month. Inspiration and motivation combine with actual free time only occasionally, like a comet passing by Earth, but I've realized lately that I continue trouble-shooting a creative problem quite a bit in the long stretches of time between periods of actual productivity.

Is that a wall hook?
In addition, I get a lot of ideas from simply browsing different stores like Michael's (where I picked up the scrapbook papers above), Home Depot, IKEA (you say wall hook, I say super modern faucet), art supply stores, etc., a tactic which can prove time-consuming and expensive, however, if I'm not careful. But other than one round of returns, I did pretty well with this project both in terms of time spent shopping (notice how I specify time spent shopping, not time spent on the project in general) and overall cost.

How did you create a kitchen sink without making a huge hole in the shelf?
One of the biggest challenges was figuring out how to create a sink, for example, without any hardcore woodworking tools, like saws and stuff. I decided instead to paint a wooden picture frame with metallic silver paint, incorporate some of the water scrapbook paper mentioned above and call it a sink.

Whoa, is that real granite?
The "granite" counter and backsplash are made from contact paper I picked up at my local Ace Hardware store. Bonus feature - it's totally removable!

I'm curious about the sink fixtures, but can't remember what those hot and cold spinny-thingys are called...
Man, me neither! My original plan involved using a basic set of real bathroom fixtures but the cheapest set I could find was $25. When you consider spending $25 on one element of a DIY project, you really have to ask yourself if your project makes economical sense. Which is not to say this project does, but I was definitely not going to spend $25 on this part. Anyway, I found the wall hook at IKEA and love how that turned out. Even the 6 year-old got "faucet" right away. Success! But I wanted to take it one step further. I became obsessed with the idea of creating hot and cold handles (is that what they're called?) that could be rotated but not come off completely. So I spent a fair amount of time tinkering with a combination of dual threaded screws, t-nuts, and stop bolts recommended by the guy at Ace.

Unfortunately, I couldn't quite squeeze my drill in between the two shelves except at a slight angle and then the t-nut/screw/bolt combo wouldn't quite work right. So in the end, the hot/cold handles are cork painted with the same metallic silver paint used on the sink, with the dual threaded screw attaching those to the shelf (I had to drill a hole almost all the way through the cork to get most of the dual-threaded screw in then screw the portion of the screw sticking out of the cork into the angled holes I managed to drill into the shelf). We'll see how long it takes the kids to figure out that if they keep rotating the handles, they'll eventually come out all the way.

Tell me more about how you solved the problem of building a curved cabinet under the sink?
Since the shelves are curved, rather than drive myself crazy trying to build out some sort of rigid cabinet side and door, I simply stapled a large piece of tan felt, cutting a vertical slit at the corner for easy access to the under-sink storage area. (I've really gotten some mileage out of this tan felt, by the way, originally purchased in Boston for the cat carrier covers I threw together in 2009, before we moved back to California.)

Is that a chicken in the oven?!
It's a turkey! That part was easy. The oven door, not so much. I could've used a dozen different materials for this but decided on a prepped 9 x 12 inch clayboard at the art supply store - a decision motivated by the intersection of size and price with the option to paint on it. In the end, I printed a stock photo of a turkey roasting away and attached that to the front, used a leftover cabinet handle from our actual kitchen and bathroom, and a small set of hinges to attach the door to the bottom shelf. Initially I didn't want the hinges to show, but couldn't use the screws since they'd stick out of the relatively thin clayboard. So I tried three - yes, 3! - different kinds of glue. The kids broke the door off its hinges within 24 hours. So now the hinges show and I still need to find some sort of little stop bolts to cover up the little bit of the screw that pokes through the inside of the door.

How does the oven door stay shut?
With the power of magnets, my friends. And how powerful they are. The door stays closed thanks to a magnetic bracket thingy that is almost too powerful for the strength of the average toddler (you could say this play kitchen is ironically child-proofed in that way). My son can manage this no problem but my daughter occasionally has a hard time opening the oven. I'm thinking a thin piece of felt over the metal plate should help dull the magnet's pull just a bit. And if that takes me too long to finish, I figure the 18 month old will grow stronger over time, right?

What materials did you use to create the stovetop?
The stovetop is the last thing I tackled, which is ironic since it was the part I thought I had covered when I started this project. Now that half of my coaster/burners were missing, what should I use instead? When in doubt, I use felt!

I created four "burners" using charcoal gray felt, layered with three red, concentric circles and then hand-stitched all of those onto a lighter gray "stovetop" piece. The oven door is a bit wider than the stovetop since I attached the sink before the oven door, not quite leaving enough space to make the stovetop the same width. D'oh. Kids don't seem to mind this minor design flaw.

Why did you staple the stovetop onto the shelf/counter? 
Partly because while I want this play kitchen to be built-in, I don't necessarily want it to be a huge hassle to eventually remove or modify (look for a post about a DIY play kitchen remodel in about a decade).

Microwave or view?
Finally, for the top shelf, I thought about trying to create a microwave in half of the space but instead went a slightly easier route and created windows using leafy green scrapbook paper I found at Michael's placed in white 5 x 7 inch frames from IKEA, finished off with very simple red felt curtains. I'm not 100% satisfied with the curtains and I'm guessing the 18 month old isn't either since that's the first thing she attempted to destroy upon arriving home yesterday afternoon. Alas, hot glue gun does not fix every crafty problem!

But wait, where's the fridge?
Ah yes, this is what the 6 year old asked when he saw the project in progress last week. I'm working on it, sheesh.


I have bitchy resting face.

First there was the art series and street campaign that hit Oakland a few months ago - it was called 'Stop Telling Women To Smile More'. Brooklyn artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh wheat-pasted large-scale posters of women well, not smiling, in public places. That's cool. I saw one posted near the MLK Jr. Way entrance to the MacArthur Maze. The posters were also on view locally at the Betti Ono Gallery.

How many people do you suppose saw those? 5 million? Ish? Well, that's how many views this video has so far:

Hey, that's the girl from the AT&T commercials! Best part? "Um, ok!" Anyway, I'm so glad this issue is getting some exposure. After all, I too have bitchy resting face. Exhibit A:

A candid shot taken while touring Plymouth, MA, back in '06, which I blogged about here. Seriously, though, who knew this was a common experience for so many women? I can't tell you how many times I've been told, always by a man, that I should smile more.


Christmas in July

We're nearing the end of week 2 of the 6 year old's schedule of summer camps and I've been a busy little bee, adding three new custom holiday photo card designs to the shop today. First up, a "year in review" design I created for my own family three years ago:

In fact, all three additions to the shop today began as personal designs, but to be honest, I'm almost always thinking of how I can use a design in my shop when I create something new. Especially if I think a design is versatile enough to appeal to folks outside my small circle, like this card I designed after our first trip to Disneyland:

Finally, this is the card my family sent out this past holiday season, based almost exclusively on my desire to use a round circle card instead of a square or rectangular format:

We had fun taking the pictures for this one and while the youngest member of our family was a little cut off from the front design (it was hard to squeeze four faces in - this was the best we got, which, all things considered, wasn't half-bad), she got the spotlight on the back:

Peekaboo! I downloaded a fish eye lens app to my smart phone, which is how we got that rounded quality to the image, meant to mimic the reflection on a Christmas tree ornament. Do you think we pulled it off?

Oh my gosh, it's like we're there in the room, looking into a glass ornament!! In other news, I also added a new wedding invitation design (more about that one later), added more cheerleader pom pom cards to my ready-to-send inventory, and have two new invite designs in the works ... Stay tuned!


a summer of reading

The 6 year old got his own library card this past weekend. We signed him up for their summer reading program, by which he's encouraged to read at least ten books throughout the summer, getting a sticker for each one and hitting up the library for prizes at the 10 and 20 book level. Thing is, we read several chapters of a chapter book or several shorter books to him every night! So, inspired by the "book bonanza" incentive board I saw in the June/July issue of FamilyFun magazine, we've upped the ante a little, requiring him to read 1-2 "learn to read" books on his own (with our help, of course, if needed) or a chapter book that we'll read to him in order to earn a sticker plus a little prize in the mini sand pail, leftover from last year's birthday shenanigans.

Think it'll work? If nothing else, it provides a seasonal change to the fireplace mantel until we get around to that mini makeover we've been thinking about...

... just as soon as we finish the bathroom updates we started nearly two years ago:

So close!