Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Light My Fire!

My fabulous friend and neighbor Sue gave me an awesome, scented Votivo Candle a few years ago. It happened to be the Joie de Noël fragrance from their seasonal collection and smelled heavenly. With that, a tradition was begun. Now we both love to search (or should I say sniff) out delicious smelling candles and surprise each other with them for birthdays and holidays. I discovered Jimmy Soy Candles, when searching for a gift for Sue a few years ago. I'm thinking I either got her Tuscan Sun or Thai Ginger Citrus. Both sound yummy.

One of the biggest fans of our candle exchange is my husband. I mean, who doesn't enjoy living in a nice smelling home? His enthusiasm encouraged me to find some candles that were a bit more manly than the usual floral and fruity fragrances out there. That's how I came across Books Candles from French Publisher Assouline, and offered in limited edition wood, leather and bibliothque scents. I was so excited about these that I wrote about them as Style Mama, for mommyscompany.com last year. There's a new Style Mama there now, but I still love Assouline's idea of a candle designed to evoke the warm and earthy smells of a library. The leather scented candle I chose is a hit with my husband and guests alike. If paging through a first edition volume fireside in a cozy leather armchair appeals to you, then these candles are perfection. I found a few still available over the internet and at a fairly reduced price, which is nice.

My wonderful friend Sue got me a candle last week from Chesapeake Bay Candle Company. It's part of a travel-themed line that showcases the fragrances of exotic locations. This one is Casablanca and features a blend of nutmeg and cinnamon rolled in crushed cloves...mmmm. I'd say it's yet another addition to my candle collection, but I love lighting good candles so much, that they never are around for too, too long. I'm a one-candle woman I guess. My delightful friend Sue? Well I hope to keep her around for quite some time and with many more candle exchanges as well!

Monday, September 29, 2008

You are cordially invited to CRUNCH!

I wish I could say I came up with that title all by myself, but the credit goes to the lovely staff of Westchester Weddings Magazine, who recently featured Sweet Talk Boutique's Invitastions in a piece on festive foods and drinks for their Fall/Winter 2008 issue. Having spent the first 16 years of my life growing up in Westchester, this bit of press was especially sweet. In the mean time, Jen has been busy baking and (as usual) is a never ending idea-machine. There's lots in store over at Sweet Talk, and we'll be sure to keep you posted!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Birthday Mosaic I've been hit with some creative inspiration this week, but have had no time to get anything on paper. As a result, I'll make this brief and my birthday present to myself will be some time to design! I thought I'd celebrate today by sharing with you the delicious birthday treats from one of my favorite parties! My eldest daughter's First Birthday. All of the delightful creations you see above were made by my friend Jen of She Takes The Cake, and were inspired by the two fairy illustrations I created especially for my daughter. One is a heart fairy and the other a star fairy. Guests were treated to heart and star cookie wands! There was cake for the grown ups, cupcakes for the kids, and the adorable pink fairy-dusted smash cake for my daughter.

A few years have passed since this occasion, but my love of parties, celebration, and fun never seems to go away. I think that's why I love creating invitations so much. It's a joy to share in the events and milestones of others and to help them make their own visions come to life. I was a little freaked out about turning 30, but I'm actually kind of excited about 35. There is something special about every year, aspect, and phase of life. And I hope my life continues to include lots of art and design and happy celebrations. Thanks for reading guys! And as Alice in Wonderland might say, "a very merry un-birthday" to all of you who aren't enjoying a birthday today. Alice is so right too...there is ALWAYS a reason to celebrate (even if you have to make one up!). Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Playing with Pinecones

Pinecones from Around Flickr
1. Cluster of Pinecones, 2. Origami Pinecone, 3. pinecone on the piled ginkgo-leaves, 4. Pinecone 2, 5. Pinecone, 6. pinecone bokeh, 7. pinecones, 8. Pinecones, 9. Pinecone rose

I love seasonal decorating. Rich colors, luxurious textures, and holidays on the horizon, are just a few of the things that make Autumn my favorite season. Easily found (where I live at least) and free (always a plus!), I love to decorate with pine cones. Their simple presence makes my mantle just a little bit warmer. You can also string them into a funky, rustic garland. That always makes my relatively uninteresting staircase a tad more fun. I've made Christmas ornaments from pine cones or coated them with peanut butter and birdseed and hung them outside as a tasty birdtreat (Kids love to make them and watch the birds flock!). I've also filled big baskets with them and put them near my fireplace, they look great and make excellent kindling.

Recently my friend Jennifer over at She Takes The Cake posted a lovely shot of a cake she did that featured pine cones. I think pine cones would be a lovely accent to any Fall or Winter themed wedding and it seems brides are increasingly using this motif as part of their day. Pine cones can be used to create the florets that adorn these cute Place Cards from Martha Stewart, or they can be used as simple but beautiful place card holders themselves. I think I need to get going on some pine cone themed invitations.

Looking around my yard and at some of the decorating I've already started should provide some inspiration, as well as the fabulous resource that is Flickr.com. I so enjoyed scouting around for these shots! How cool is that orgami pinecone? And don't those sparkly ones look charming on that gift? Alright, time to design. But before I go let me ask...are there any other natural objects you like to decorate with? Do tell! When I'm not on the hunt for images, I'm always looking out for great ideas!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Love List

If you haven't heard about Operation Nice yet, I guarantee you'll find out about it soon! Back in early September Nice Blogger Melissa gave her many readers an assignment to make a Love List (I know some of you have already made yours!). The only caveat? You can name anyone who you know personally (this is tougher than it sounds). I'm a little late but I've been giving some thought to mine. Here are the things I love:

I love getting out of my car to fill it with gas and hearing an awesome song playing over the station's speakers. I also love when I manage to hit a round number on the pump (YES!! 30.00 EXACTLY!!! WOOHOOO). I love wet, sloppy, kisses from babies. Oh and their chubby wrists too. The red highlights in my air that make me feel like me. A beautifully composed photograph. A brand spanking new set of Windsor-Newton watercolors and a block of cold-pressed Arches paper. A cozy sweater on a chilly autumn day. Creamsicle twist soft-serve in the middle of summer. Picking fresh strawberries or blueberries. Anything with goat cheese! The power of prayer. A couple's first dance at their wedding. Actually, just weddings in general. Restaurants with open kitchens. Dancing like a crazy woman. The ballet. Dress-up clothes. When you get a hug from someone who really means it and isn't just phoning it in. Walking on a trail in the Shawangunk Mountains. Chicago. The alphabet. Typography. Words. Stunning graphic design. Sitting by my fireplace and drinking a cup of tea. My parents' Christmas tree. My bedroom, when it is all clean and straightened. Handwritten letters. Japanese paper. Stationery. Love notes written on graph paper. VIntage tea cups. Postcards (stamped and sent ones!). Finding a chore already done for you. A well-written blog post.

I'm sure I'll tie this post up and think of a million more, but those are a few things that make my world a nicer place. Actually, I'm glad I did this assignment, even if I was a bit tardy. I'm now going to make an effort to ensure I do (or eat, or find...etc.) more often. I've been finding that when we brighten up our own world, we often brighten up the worlds of others as well!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Summer's Flowers Fade

Glads from around Flickr
1. gladiola with no phubbles..., 2. Gladiola, 3. pink gladiola, 4. Stunning "Volunteer" Gladiola on Historic Hamer Hills Farm, 1837, 5. gladiola la la, 6. gladiola, 7. Gladiola, 8. Gladiolas, 9. gladiolas may 2008 006

It's rare for me to get misty about the passing of summer. I love autumn that much more. But with the Farmer's Market looking just a bit bleaker as the weeks creep on, I do find myself missing the armful of flowers I come home with each week between June and August. My favorite Farmer's Market bouquet? Gladiolas!! I love them! Perhaps it's because I'm a Morrissey fan, or maybe it's because they are colorful, big, and abundant.

When I lived in Chicago I'd go to the Farmer's Market with one of my most beautiful (inside and out) friends. The one thing we could never agree on, was gladiolas (or is it gladioli?). I couldn't get enough of them and she wouldn't be caught dead with them in her apartment. "They're FUNERAL flowers!!!" she would always emphasize during our little debates.

That made me wonder...are there any other flower varieties out there with an undeserved bad rap? What flowers do you think add extra oomph to your home interior? We all know to try and stay with flowers that are in season, but what else should brides think about when choosing flowers for their wedding? I had lots of autumn colored callas at my own wedding. Funeral flowers or not, I still love glads as well as my wonderful friend who had such a distaste for them. Summer may be over, but its blooms live on over at flickr. Alright, I've gotten that out of my system. Time to go find a pile of leaves to jump in!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Beauty of Bento

You don't need silly old words from me to help you appreciate the beauty of these INCREDIBLE Bento Boxes created by Flickr Member, photographer, mom, and artist, Hippo Mum. When my daughters are old enough to start bringing their lunches to school, I can only hope that I too will provide them with a treat so caring, healthy and creative. Thanks for showing me that Design Is Everywhere Hippo Mum...even in a kindergarten lunch box!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Me...on The Set of The Martha Stewart Show!!

Perez Hilton as the celebrity guest (Jen and I TOTALLY called that one!), a segment taped for a later date with Martha sampling 27 different hot dogs (surprisingly entertaining), AND a parting gift of an HP all-in-one printer? Who could ask for more? My day at The Martha Stewart Show was filled with tons of fun and a bit of the unexpected. Jen and I arrived right on time and had the pleasure of meeting fellow Posh Mamas, the Partybluprints Girls! They blogged live from the show, and even included a picture of Jen and I in their post! If you're a Posh Mama, check it out HERE (along with the MANY comments they got!). After getting our tickets, heading through security and a pre-show briefing, we were led into the studio.

Jen was packin' a laptop (which unfortunately lost juice) and was seated in the main blogger section. Some of our favorite bloggers were in attendance. The Wedding Bee and The Cupcakes Take The Cake Girls, to name a few. Jen was lucky enough to get a mention from the she CTTC Girls as well! As a designer of wedding stationery, and fan of Martha Stewart Weddings it was also fun to see Darcy Miller in action!

I was slightly bummed that Jen and I wouldn't be sitting together, until I landed my own awesome seat in the FRONT row...up close and personal. And right in front of the GORGEOUS set they use for the crafting segment (I thought that was meant to be), as well as the "potting shed" set. The entire studio is really beautiful and very impressive. I also had the pleasure of being seated next to some of Martha's team from Sirius Radio Channel 112. You can see their post about the show HERE. That's me in the second picture down, turned around and seated next to radio host Mario Bosquez of "Living Today." They also gave a shout out to our site sweettalkboutique.com! Thanks guys!

The guests were terrific. I learned about a few blogs I had never heard of, such as A Year of Evenings (everyone in the audience was lucky enough to get a copy of the book inspired by their last blog A Year of Mornings) and A Way To Garden. I'm not much of a gardener (yet!), but this blog is really beautiful. I also came away with a ton of ideas for this blog (read: changes). It was inspiring to be around so many people, including Martha, who really do seem to enjoy the blog medium as much as I do.

There's more to tell, and I'm well known for the run-on post, so I'll save some more for tomorrow. Thanks so much for your encouraging and supportive comments, and if you have any questions about the Martha experience, I'm happy to share...ask away!

Monday, September 15, 2008

We're off to see the Martha!

Recently, The Martha Stewart Show announced they'd be doing a special show about blogging! I saw a tweet about it over on twitter and couldn't resist requesting tickets to the taping, which is slated to feature an entire audience filled with bloggers! Happily, I was granted two tickets and will be heading down to NYC this Wednesday along with Jen from She Takes The Cake.

I'm thrilled to be attending a show on this topic as I truly love to blog. Writing and conceptualizing Design is Everywhere has been so helpful to me as a designer and business owner. But even more important to me is the personal blog I've kept since early 2005, a chronicle of my experience mothering my two daughters. Initially started to update long-distance friends and family on our daily life, that blog has been a touchstone, a joy, validation, a blessing and so much more. While I've kept it relatively "unlisted" over these years, for myself and more importantly for my daughters privacy, I was amazed with the following it developed. I nearly fell over the day I got a comment from as far away as Australia.

While there's a lot of hot air blowing around in some corners of the blogosphere, I find that the blogs I read are authentic and offer information that I'd never get from traditional media sources. I especially enjoy the unique voices found on the wedding and event planning, style, design, and business blogs I frequent. And I have found a great deal of comfort on some of the hilarious parenting blogs I subscribe to. While I may not blog forever, it has been a great source of PR and networking for me as a business owner. At the moment, I find blogging provides a satisfying outlet and some genuine enjoyment.

While I may not be the ultimate domestic diva (let's just say hardcore housecleaning is not my forté), I love to cook and get crafty. Over the years Martha and her publications have definitely helped me in the decor department, and when it comes to wedding ideas she's had some gems. I'll be interested to catch a glimpse of Martha in person and I'll definitely keep you all posted (pun-intended). Thanks for all your comments. You guys are what makes blogging so FUN!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


No I'm not talking about menopause. I'm talking about the change a designer makes when they switch from using one layout program to another. It can be painful, frustrating, and perhaps a bit enlightening...as I am finding out now that I've FINALLY chosen to start all new projects in InDesign CS3. I guess that means I'm breaking up with my former love and best friend, QuarkXPress. And yes Quark, "It was you, not me." I shouldn't say breaking up, that seems a little too final (commitment phobic much Erin?). I'll admit it, I still have feelings for Quark. But based on the reaction of my friends (read: printers and fellow designers), this really seems necessary. The straw that broke the designer's back? Not being able to add a simple .25 pt stroke on some text in Quark...grrrr. And the fact that more and more professional printers aren't even equipping themselves with Quark anymore. It's the Adobe family or bust apparently.

I know what you are thinking, "How could she have stayed in this relationship for SO LONG?" It's true, I should have changed when I was still on Quark v.4. Then I would at least be able to open up my files directly in InDesign. But you get comfortable and you're used to the control panels. You think, I'll get out and try something new...explore my options. We'll take a Ross & Rachel type break. Does Quark really even need to know I'm looking? But then that tight deadline rolls around, you're stressed out and next thing you know your back with your old boyfriend Quark again. Frustrated with your lack of communication with each other, you think...."can't you even TRY to get along with my friends Photoshop and Dreamweaver?", "You won't open up a PDF for me EVER?", or "I love that you added enhanced typography features. That glyphs palette is great. But It's just not something I can build an entire relationship on!"

The idea of opening up files in a new program and having them look terrible is scary, but scary isn't always terrible. I'm guessing part of my reticence about this switch is based in the fact that Quark and I were together for so long. Through good jobs and bad, great clients and the not-so-great ones, Quark was there for me. Sure there was my on-again, off-again hookup in college: Aldus Freehand. But I had no problem getting rid of that one. The more mature, and attractive Adobe Illustrator was waiting right around the corner. And when I got my first job, believe me...I was delighted to get rid of that stalker PageMaker. I honestly can't think of a more annoying piece of software. There was Quark, the hunky 1995 standard, ready to make my desktop publishing dreams a reality. Looks like those days are over and there's a new hunk in town, but as St. Augustine once said it is "better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

CARGO Cosmetics' Glossy Greetings

As I've mentioned before I've got holidays on the brain, and while I'm perfectly capable of making my own gift tags thank you, sometimes I like to throw friends for a loop and do a little something special. In other words, something purchased and not handmade by me. That's why I'm hoping CARGO Cosmetics releases another annual addition of their Holiday GlossyGreetings™ Tags! Last year this set of 5 seasonal greeting tags with a little button of CARGO lip gloss built right in retailed at around $7.50 for 5 tags (not bad). Even more appealing, CARGO donates 100 percent of the proceeds to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

I'm sure I'm a tad bit too early for this product release. It's only September after all and the USPS doesn't even release their holiday stamps until late October or early November. But like any good (and fashionable) girl scout, I like to be prepared. What girlfriends' backpack, uuuhh I mean clutch, couldn't benefit from some stashed single-use lip gloss ready for any holiday party emergency? That mistletoe will get you every time! So be on the look out for these adorable little tags, I know I will be!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Design and Dance

I had long been planning a post about two of my personal passions: graphic design and dance, but was hesitant since many of the people (including designers and artists) that I've spoken to over the years just don't see the same deep connection that I see between these two art forms. While part graphic design's goal is to be accessible and communicative to the masses, dance just doesn't seem offer that same appeal to the general public (at least here in the states).

During my years of studying dance and choreography, quite a few of which coincided with my studies in art and graphic design, I found that my work in both areas highly benefited from each other. Design helped me understand the structure and composition that I infused into my dance pieces. And dance encouraged me to be expressive and fluid when designing on paper, two characteristics I may have never worked to cultivate as a designer if I had not loved dance and dancing so much.

I was delighted when I opened up "T" the New York Time's Style Magazine this weekend to find a quote on this very subject from French designer Philippe Apeloig. Saying "I think of typography as being frozen motion," Apeloig cited Merce Cunningham and Alwin Nikolais as two of his favorite choreographers. I couldn't agree more and have long been inspired by these choreographers as well as many others.

There are probably three posts here. Apeloig's, highly influenced by architecture as well, has some amazing work that I'd love to share. And tomorrow, I'll have to post a short video of Nikolais' Tensile Involvement. For now I chose to highlight Cunningham's work. Organic, yet structured, his dances are exquisitely composed (one might say, they are precise and well designed too). While being highly expressive, Cunningham's work is not about story, but about dance itself, which I think can be pretty cool. And it makes me want to make a design that is about the design and nothing else. Is that even possible?

So often throughout my education and career, I heard "we don't design in a vacuum." I've heard it so much I don't even know if this is an actual quote or just a design maxim we've all come to use over time. We're all inspired by what's around us. What non-design subject (or seemingly non-design subject) inspires you?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Tickled Pink!

With cooler temperatures around the corner for those of us in Northern United States and Canada, I've set about looking for some stylish and luxurious knits to enhance my wardrobe. I was google searching this season's fashion buzzword, "capelet," when I came across Tickled Pink Knits' Etsy shop. When I saw the Rococo Wool and Llama Shawl pictured above (available in 18 custom colors!), I fell in love.

Tickled Pink's designer and knitter Elena, shows exquisite attention to detail in her work. I love the matching ceramic button with a floral and grapevine motif that finishes off the lovely Vineyard Shoulderette. And what about the hand-crocheted flowers that adorn the tassels on Tickled Pink's Victoriana Scarflette? Made of the warmest wool and silky bamboo (a highly renewable resource), this delightful accessory can have you looking elegant and eco-friendly at the same time! I am also inspired by how multi-functional some of the designs in the shop are. Quite a few Tickled Pink's designs can be worn in a variety of ways, but this funky Rasberry Knit Headband, Scarflette, Neckwarmer, and Belt takes multi-tasking style to a whole new level!

I may need to save up some funds if I ever want a that Rococo Shawl, but I am definitely going to drop quite a few hints about this shop to my husband before holiday time rolls around. Being that I live downwind of the Great Lakes, square in snowbelt country, I hope to indulge myself in a Tickled Pink neckwarmer sooner rather than later though. Honestly, I wear neckwarmers and shawls indoors (thanks to my 1920's colonial) and out, throughout the entire winter season. The only problem is going to be which one to choose! Merino Wool? Boucle? Alpaca? It will be a tough decision. But whatever I get I'm sure I'll end up being Tickled Pink!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Home Designs with a Truly Modern Twist

Perhaps you all know about www.modern-twist.com, but this company recently come to my attention and I was quick to swoon over several of their products. I mean how awesome is this PJ Pocket Pillow?

Still I like their entertaining and dining offerings best. Their Coaster Notz, pictured above, are particularly fashionable and functional. Easily personalized (over and over again) with a ball point pen, your guests will always be able to find their drinks or could easily jot a little note to you about how fabulous you looked or what a delicious meal you made. Modern-twist suggests using them as coasters, placecards, or even wine-tasting notes. I also appreciate that part of the company's goal is to enhance your home, by highlighting the grain of the table the coaster sits on, rather than providing the consumer with just another knick-knacky type coaster. They come in lots of hip patterns as well. I'm loving the black and white ones the best I think.

Also cool, Modern-twist's designed Vinotagz. Again these work along the same lines as the Coaster Notz, as they're easily personalized and wiped clean. With a storage holder that fits over a bottle neck, these would make a great hostess gift for the holidays. Most of their products can easily be found online or at a brick and mortar boutique.

Of course, I have to leave a disclaimer that I'm not employed by this company, and know little about them except that I like their designs. After al,l any site that claims their products have a "clean, versatile aesthetic" is a welcome (and much-needed) twist to my home interior. Happy Weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Beautiful Buttons

I love buttons and have acquired quite the little collection over the years. When I lived in a studio apartment in Chicago with some sweet retro metal kitchen cabinets, I fashioned a bunch of my favorites into magnets. But between having a business and two kids three and under, I feel like I NEVER get to do personal projects anymore. Still, I did manage to squeeze in these awesome little rings not too long ago. They come from a pdf tutorial that can be purchased (quite affordably might I add!) from Sew Bettie. Easy, and super fun, I love the results and just how creative I could get on my own, while sticking to the pattern. Now instead of these lovely buttons sitting in a box, I can wear my collection wherever I go! So the next time you are feeling crafty or the need to expand into some other media for a change (I know we've all been there!), check out sewbettie.com. There just might be a pattern or tutorial that inspires you!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Wine Design

I've been putting off doing a post on all of the beautifully designed wine labels I've come across recently, but after seeing a photo of the The Amazing Food Wine Company's Wine That Loves™ line in this month's InStyle, I had to move this topic to priority #1 status. I love the highly graphic and simply colored packaging for this product, deftly designed by the firm Lippincott Mercer.The idea is pretty genius: an easy way to help buyers pair their wine with whatever it is they're eating (for example, wine that loves pizza, wine that loves grilled salmon, etc.) I like the challenge of testing different varietals against the various recipes I make and educating myself about wine, so while I'll definitely give these guys a try (I'm a sucker for a pretty bottle!), I'll be interested to see if the idea behind the bottle is fad or fabulous.

Another delightfully designed wine I recently had the chance to try was Mano A Mano. Another graphic looking label with a striking orange color that reflects the flavorful punch of this wine. I also love the eye-catching typography on the label. This Tempranillo from the area of La Mancha, is a deliciously simple red wine with a very fruity flavor and just a hint of smoke. It went perfect with the barbecue ribs I was having. Thanks to my very tasteful best friend Nicolle, who introduced me to me to this inexpensive (easily under $15 in most areas) and yummy wine.

Last up Polka Dot Riesling. I'm a Riesling lover, especially when paired with thai or indian food...anything spicy really. The husband picked this one out for me to try one Friday night. The cobalt blue bottle says it all: bright, cool, and refreshing. A great summer wine. Again, the label design is simple, but uses color nicely and I think the font is perfectly paired with the product.

So why not enjoy a glass of wine, while enjoying some sweet label design...two great tastes that go great together!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Shopping at Swank with Becky OH!

Custom note cards, originally uploaded by Becky OH.

As I mentioned on Friday, myself and Jen of She Takes The Cake had the pleasure of visiting the "Fondue and Fashion" celebration at Swank this weekend in Hamilton, NY. Swank is a lovely boutique with a whole lot of vintage, yet modern feel. Even more thrilling was the chance to meet Becky, of Becky OH! who lucky for us, was having a trunk show at Swank this weekend.

I've gotten to know Becky's work through forums and Flickr, but it's not often I get to meet designers from outside my local area in person. As a result I wanted to make Becky some stationery to celebrate the start of show season, and I thought her tag line "Thanks for being so stylish" was perfect for paper. Pictured are a few fun shots Becky took of the cards, complete with some fun Japanese and Indian papers (which I thought captured Becky's flair for pattern) and one with just a smidge of "bling" (because who doesn't need some sparkle?!). I love designing for other women business owners, especially designers, artists and creators of all types. Jen of course took along some of her awesome custom logo cookies for Becky too. We find it's always nicest to come bearing gifts.

Becky's was definitely shining at Swank this weekend! What a delight to meet such a sweet and talented artist. I LOVE the handbag I got and I hope to share a picture with you guys today or tomorrow. Now I'm off to start coordinating all of the outfits I'll need to go with it!