Plum crazy

Happy Cyber Monday! Yeah, apparently that’s a thing. I know I should be more enthusiastic about the retail surge this weekend but I just can’t bring myself to do it! If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that “it’s just stuff.” (And definitely not worth pepper spraying your fellow shopper over! Seriously lady?!?)

However, I was excited about being given the opportunity to put together a beautiful little gift set for a fellow etsian. She wanted two of each of my botanically themed cards in different colors. I had most of the designs already printed in a couple different colors, but I did get to put in several hours on my press this weekend. The results are quite lovely if I do say so myself!

It seems that whenever I work on a custom project these days, the stars align, the humidity and ink consistency and pressure are all just right and I can’t help but print everything in sight. This weekend was no different, so while I was all inked up, I worked on a couple projects I’ve had swirling around in my head for a while. Turns out, they all looked good in purple!

Plaid Friday | Small Business Saturday

So your turkey is brining, pies are in the oven… now it’s time to decide what to do with the rest of your week. If you’re like me, you stay at home on Black Friday. Sure, I could get a great deal on a new TV, but I’d also have to get up at 4am and risk getting trampled to death by my fellow bargain hunters. Uhhh… no thanks.

However, this year several shop local movements are tempting me to brave the traffic and push thru my day-after-Thanksgiving food hangover. I’m still not waking up at 4am though. You’re going to have to give me a lot more than a discount to get me out of bed at that hour.

Plaid Friday—the obvious alternative to Black Friday—is simply encouraging shoppers to swap the lines and crowds at your local big box shop for a more pleasant experience at an independent retailer. Not only do you eliminate the risk of a fight breaking out in aisle 87, you might actually get some decent customer service out of the deal and find goods that no one else will have. Plus, no need to be an early bird. Have I mentioned cutting your REM sleep to three hours to go shopping is insane?

If you simply must get your Black Friday rush, Small Business Saturday is for you. Same idea as Plaid Friday: support your local economy and celebrate what makes your town different from thousands of other mall-ridden cities. Take advantage of these opportunities to show your support for small businesses!

Thanksgiving 101: Desserts

When it comes to Thanksgiving, I’m a traditionalist. I want my turkey, stuffing and pecan pie the way they’ve always been, thank you very much. I actually get a little bummed out when the holiday is held anywhere but my parents’ house, as obviously my mom whips up the best spread around.

However, if Aunt Gertrude is bringing her famous pumpkin pie and your favorite niece Lucy is trying her hand at her first pecan… I suppose there’s a little room for creativity at the dessert table.

First up, a classic caramel apple makes a perfect addition to your autumnal spread. I like the variety offered by Kaitlin & Kylie’s, but I’m sure you can purchase them locally in any area of the country this time of year!

Everyone loves cupcakes. They’re perfectly portioned, and you get an ample amount of frosting with every bite. My favorite flavor at the moment? Salted caramel. It’s the perfect addition to your holiday spread, just as the tartness of the apple contrasts the sweet caramel above, the saltiness of this recipe cuts through what might otherwise be overly sweet sugary flavor. Plus the salted caramel sugar art on the top makes these a real showpiece!

And the piece de resistance? A pumkin-shaped pumkin cake of course. Read about the trials and tribulations of making that lovely Burnt Orange Silk Miringue Buttercream here, then go out and buy yourself a jar of frosting, ad a few drops of orange flavoring and viola! It’s ok to be lazy, you’ve got a turkey to worry about.

Thanksgiving 101: Décor

It probably seems a little much to totally transform your home for Thanksgiving. You’ve got some serious cooking to do, right? On the other hand, a few simple touches can go a long way and elevate an everyday family dinner to a special event.

Infuse your table with the colors (and scent!) of fall with this ombre apple centerpiece found in styled. magazine. I love the beautiful array of tones of apples available this time of year and the way they mixed and matched the napkins on this table as well—no need to go out an buy three new sets just so everyone’s is the same! (By the way—I love fabric napkins. A) They’re much prettier than paper ones. B) They make even a Tuesday night dinner feel special, restaurant-worthy even. C) That whole eco-friendly thing. Wash and re-use, people!)

Speaking of mixing and matching, are you lacking enough flatware for all your guests? Take this idea from Creature Comforts: Buy a cheap assortment of forks, spoons and knives from your local resale shop, spray paint the ends with colors that match the rest of your table and you have a funky set of silverware for any guest who comes along! I might add looking into some sort of varnish that will stick to both the paint and metal to seal the handles, as spray paint will sometimes flake off onto your hands. Best yet, send your guests home with a little something special (caramel corn perhaps?) in these easy-to-make favor bags. Simply make a tube out of paper and sew the ends in perpendicular directions. If you plan ahead and print your guests’ names on each bag, you can place one at each setting and they’ll do double duty as place cards as well!

Two Wheels

A few weeks ago, I finished a print I’ve been working on for several months now. Bike Race is a limited edition of 10 prints featuring my bike illustration in five cheery colors. I love this print and plan to frame one for my own home, the rest can make great gifts for your favorite cyclist or anyone who enjoys a leisurely ride.

I also printed up a new batch of one of my most popular cards. I switched the orientation this time around and I love the way the design fits on the horizontal layout. This card is available here, enjoy!

The BEST Salad Ever!

I’m not a salad girl. At a restaurant I’m much more likely to order ribs and fries than a plate full of greens, but lately I’ve been craving just that. Well, actually just one salad in particular. Madison’s most authentic Irish pub on the capitol square, Brocach is home to the amazing Shades of Green salad and today I got all the fixins’ and whipped up my own version. Here’s my recipe!

•Mixed greens—go with something more flavorful than Iceburg. I like a mix with frisée and some red or purple leaves, they have a bitterness that works great with the sweet elements in the toppings!
•Raspberry vinaigrette—the trick to a great salad is to toss your greens with your dressing before adding the rest of your ingredients!
•Bleu cheese crumbles
•Dried cranberries
•Candied walnuts

Mmmmm… I’m getting hungry again. Enjoy!

rough drAft books

Isn’t there something wonderful about a fresh notebook? That first, crisp page staring blankly at you can be intimidating, and yet inviting—receiving the mark of your pen is its purpose after all. A book that also happens to be a beautiful work of art in itself can become quite the treasure.

Today we meet E, proprietor of Rough Draft Books and maker of amazing pieces with a noble goal. She’ll tell us a little bit about what she does, why she does it and how her work ended up being carried by Anthropologie! Along the way, she dispenses some advice we can all take to heart. Enjoy!

Tell us about your work—why do you create what you do?
The work I make for my book studio, roughdrAftbooks, is mostly hand made book forms. Their purpose is simple: to aid in this obsession I have with recording stories and storytelling. I am making spaces for people to document their lives. I am hoping in some small way it serves to keep the art of writing and oral storytelling from ever completely disappearing. I am hoping if people write their stories, they will then tell their stories and as the history of the world is being recorded each day, all these new voices will be heard. And hopefully, collectively, that history will be more reflective of all the people who have lived lives here. That’s a lot to ask of a hand made book I know, but we like to dream big round these parts! [laughs]

How did you learn your craft?
A dear friend of mine started making books after we graduated college and she started showing me some simple forms. I got really interested and started taking a few classes here and there and finally was hooked. From then on, it was just practice, practice, practice. My training is in graphic design and art history so I came to book binding later on in the game. But once it found me, thanks to that friend, I knew it was the perfect fit for all my aesthetic sensibilities.

Where do you find all your beautiful papers and materials?
Most of the books I make now are hand painted using spray paint and acrylic or drawn on in marker or pencil right on the cover boards. They really are these intimate little paintings that just happen to be book covers. Most are one of a kind. When I do use papers or found objects, they are coming from a variety of places and most are scraps actually. The metal is from junk yards and the paper is from years and years of hoarding! I do get some of the specialty papers from Talas or Hollanders online.

How has your work evolved?
My work specifically to book making has evolved so much in the last 10 years. I think when you are learning a new craft in the beginning the learning curve is steep so you are just mastering the skill of how to make something, you are just getting used to the vocabulary. As you get better and the actual making becomes second nature, your ideas can finally be more clearly realized. I’m at a point now where I am simply trying to say what I mean in the form and in the content, making those two serve each other is difficult at times. In the end though I hope for the user, it’s still a beautiful object that doubles as a space for someone to tell their story in.

What is your greatest challenge?
I guess my greatest challenge is always time. I always have more ideas than hours in a day or energy I can muster! I just keep copious amounts of lists and sketchbooks filled with notes and ideas in hopes one day I will see them through to creation. Wishful thinking!

What inspires you?
There is a constant thread of things I am inspired by on a visceral level and then there is always some newly “found” love of my life things fluttering about inspiring me to no end. Right now—this second—I am enthralled by banjos and fiddles, filtered light, crushes, army green, scarf-wearing weather and owning a camera again. But the list of inspiration that is embedded inside me is: lines, land masses, cracks, horizons, territories, earth surfaces, natural patterns, chance. crevices, stories, the space between things. pauses. Words and their fluid meanings, memory, tension, shape; the way one line meets up against another, or where one colors starts to change into its opposite. I like thinking about middle grounds. I don’t know, I suspect I am pretty transparent, you can kind of see those influences in the stuff I make… ok not the banjos.

Tell us about your etsy business.
I don’t feel like I am very good at etsy although I do love it. I came to it as a customer and an admirer way before I decided to sell my books on the site.
I started selling them in 2009 on etsy, but I’ve been making them for about 12-15 years now. I think I am still a beginner so I make mistakes daily. Etsy isn’t my full time job but making things is. I just make them for a variety of platforms not just online.

What advice do you have for new etsians?
Good luck brave souls, go forth and MAKE.

Where can readers find your work?
You can find my work in Philadelphia shops like ArtStar and the Art Shop at Moore College of Art & Design. If you aren’t in Philadelphia, check out your local Anthropologie store and give a look. Also on too!

How did the relationship with Anthropologie come about and what was it like working with a national retailer?
Yes, thanks so much. I have been collaborating with Anthropologie for about 4 years now in terms of making objects for their stores to sell. For me, I was lucky because I already had a relationship with the company and we have an aesthetic that compliments each other. I think that’s the best thing to try to find if you are trying to get your work out into the world. Find places that speak to your work’s inherent aesthetic sensibility because everything is not for everyone. Find the people or the environment that will appreciate and support your kind of work.