Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Custom Holiday Cards are ready to roll!

In the past few years I've done custom holiday and New Years cards for friends, and last year I sold some via my etsy site. There were a few issues with doing cards this way. First was the cost - they were far more expensive than I wanted them to be. And, people had to order lots of cards since I was having them professionally printed. So, this year I am trying something new to make it easier - and much more affordable for everyone.

make custom gifts at Zazzle

I created a Pixel & Post Holiday Shop on where I designed 7 holiday and new year's card templates. Using Zazzle's Design Tool you can add your own photo, custom text to the front, and fully customize the inside of the card with more photos or a holiday message (long or short).

Best of all you can order as few as 1 custom card or as many as 20,000 and any odd number in between. Need 34 holiday cards? You can order just 34. Card prices start at $2.45 for one card and are cheaper by the dozen ($56.10 for the 34 cards I mentioned above - about $1.64 each). A pretty sweet deal, and you can create them at your leisure. To top it all off, I'll be donating 10% of my profit from the sales of these cards to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Most designs are offered in two sizes: a 5 x 7 folded card and a 4.25 x 5.5 folded notecard. They all include envelopes.

Zazzle is also running a special right now where you can save 10% off your order by entering the code when you check out: GIVEZAZZLE09

I ordered a few test cards from Zazzle and was very impressed with the printing quality and the speed in which I got my order. The cards are glossy on the outside and a satin on the inside (you can write easily on the inside with a pen). I typically prefer a matte finish but was impressed with the way the glossy paper looked with the designs and photo combined.

Here are a few tips about using Zazzle and the Zazzle Design tool:

1. Create a Zazzle account
It doesn't cost anything, but it allows you to save your design and come back to it later if you get interrupted. Some of my testers didn't do this and got frustrated when they could not save their design without creating an account.

2. Take your time
My test crew found the cards pretty easy to customize, but they did say it took some time to get used to the Design Tool. My advice would be to set aside some quiet time, get yourself a cup of hot cocoa, spin some Yuletide tunes and have fun. If you get stuck, Zazzle has a very thorough tutorial here.

3. Order a test card
Since you can order one card at a time, you might consider ordering 1 test card before placing a large order. It took about 3 business days to get mine in the mail. Nevertheless, Zazzle has a 100% satisfaction guarantee and claims that they will take your order back if you are not 100% satisfied.

I hope you will enjoy these cards and have fun playing around with them!

Illustration Friday: Unbalanced

I totally avoided doing anything on this topic until the last minute this week. Why? Because the theme hit too close to home. It has been a nutty past week or so - illnesses, deadlines, and just generally a feeling of too much to do. I'm forgetting things, double scheduling myself and feeling generally glazed over. So, yeah - to illustrate something about 'unbalanced' earlier in the week just made me cringe. Until I though of this...

When I lived in Holland I picked up the habit of eating delicious chocolate sprinkles on freshly toasted bead each and every morning. And these aren't just your run of the mill - bakery aisle fake chocolate sprinkles. No sir. These are actual mini pieces of chocolate bliss, staring at you first thing in the morning, melting on bread. Needless to say, when I came back to the states I had a few of these boxes of sprinkels, or "chocolate hagel" (literally chocolate HAIL) in my suitcase.

I've continued the tradition for about 17 years now. As I was enjoying my toast this morning I was thinking about how such an 'unbalanced breakfast' literally gives me a small taste of balance on mornings when my to do list is running off the page, and the clock is ticking away.

Oh, and if you want to try Hagel on your bread? You can order it here!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Illustration Friday: Blur

Here's my take on this week's Illustration Friday topic: Blur. Since I didn't want to offend your weary Friday eyes with some crazy blurred image (ouch) I fond a quote that spoke to me and hopefully you, too:

“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” - Arnold Toynbee

I couldn't agree more, Mr.Toynbee. Hanging out with my toddler for the majority of the week is a constant reminder of this. In my personal journey to combine these two elements in my day to day I feel like I have both come a long way, and can look ahead and see I still have a long way to go. But mostly, I'm very happy about where I am. I love that I get to draw things for a living! I think this illustration captures that happy feeling.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Staycation + Daycation

This past weekend my pal Jenny and I took a little Daycation (you know a vacation that happens in one day) together in our own backyard. Braving sheets of cold rain and huge gusts of wind, we ferried across the stormy seas of Puget Sound to the Kitsap Peninsula.

We drove around until the sun came out, and decided to walk around the little town of Poulsbo. We had the intention of sitting and sketching a bit but were too busy doing things like worshiping the Licorice Shrine at Marina Market, sipping local ginger beer and eating delicious, sauerkraut laiden reuben sandwiches at Tizley's Europub, and finding lovely things like an antique fox head string dispenser at the antique mall.

Because I was so distracted by the fun we were having, I left the lights on in my car and needed a jump start to get us home again (thank you AAA). While we waited for the AAA dude to come jump my car back to life, we indulged in another cup of coffee and grabbed a donut from Sluys Puolsbo Bakery, and took a few more photos before the sun went down. It was a wonderful day "away".

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Illustration Friday: Skinny

At first I was a little put off by this week's Illustration Friday topic, but part of the challenge in doing an IF post is finding a way to make the topic work for you. I tried everything to avoid 'skinny' as an adjective to describe one's physical appearance. There is so much judgment about one's shape, size, weight and blah de blah blah I just didn't want to go there. I truly believe you've gotta rock what you've got, and if you do then you'll inspire others do the same. Simple as that.

In thinking about this loaded word, I kept coming back to an experience I had in 6th grade. I had an awful gym teacher who one day took the girls one by one in front of the group and gave them a full body critique - head to toe. Just writing about it makes my heart beat fast. It was horrible - like something you'd see in one of those ABC After School Specials (except she never got fired, and she still teaches gym in my hometown). And come to think of it, none of us saw anything wrong with it at the time even though there were more than a few girls in tears at the end of class. Awful.

Anyhow part of my 'critique' - among other things - was that my ankles were too skinny and that I should wear bulkier socks to cover them up. I thought the idea was totally bogus at the time, and didn't heed her messed up 'advice'. But it still got to me at some level, because for quite a few years I was sensitive about the skinny ankles that have been in my family for generations.

I thought of that teacher today as I laced up my Chucks tighter and tighter to go to my studio. I'm pretty sure some great-great-great grandmother of mine walked off a ship from Europe onto North American soil for the first time on a pair of similarly skinny ankles. So really, if it weren't for those ankles…I wouldn't be here, wearing my favorite lace ups, going to a studio to make art, writing on this blog. I feel so happy to be in a place where I can truly appreciate what I have. If that is what getting older is all about then, hallelujah - bring it on, "middle age". It is about freaking time. Next time you start giving yourself a full body critique in front of a mirror, just stop. Don't let that 6th grade gym teacher's voice win. Take a deep breath and know you're perfect just the way you are, right now.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Month in Review: October

Hi Friends. I can hardly believe it is November, can you? October is my birthday month, so it all felt very festive. Cake was eaten, amazing gifts received. Most importantly I'm thankful for and looking forward to the year ahead.

Out and About

In October we went to Portland to see the Portland Center Stage production of Ragtime. It was a beautiful, moving performance and let's just say I was glad I had a packet of Kleenex in my purse. Hello, waterworks. Wow.

I did the show graphics for this show, and it was a real honor. It is hard to put it into words, but doing design work for theatre really makes me feel proud. It is always such a powerful feeling to see a show I did the graphic for, and feel like I was a part of it in some small way. Making something artistic to help promote art is about as good as it gets in my book.

When I worked in-house at a local theater I saw on a daily basis how much work went into any performance. It is truly incredible what goes on behind the scenes. I so admire all of that work, and effort. It is a continual inspiration to me.

Here is a snippet of the show from PCS's website. Incredible stuff.

Food for Thought

Many people have asked me for the recipe of the Moss Ball I featured here a few months ago. Must be cheese ball season! Here you go:

Mix together 1 8oz package of cream cheese with 1/2 pound bleu cheese (crumbled), and 1/4 pound shredded sharp cheddar cheese. It helps if the cream cheese is softened to room temperature before mixing. Add 1 small minced onion (if desired - I left it out), 1 T Worcestershire sauce, and 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Chill 3 to 4 hours. Roll cheese mixture into large ball, chill again (about 30 minutes), and roll in fresh, finely chopped parsley. Chill another 2 hours or until firm before serving.

Now, get your cheese on!

In My Ears

A few more songs that have been getting played a lot around my house. Some old, some new, all lovely. Have Love, Will Travel has me dancing all around the house in a style that resembles my mom's 60s dance moves with a lot of kangaroo style jumping thrown in. Hey, I didn't say it was pretty. Love the chorus in Tickle Me Pink that goes "Pray for the people inside your head / for they won't be there when you're dead / muffled out and pushed back down / pushed back through the leafy ground". For some reason this reminds me of my sketchbook, all those characters that live there and in my head. I heard My Girls on the radio and loved it. Nina Simone's Feeling Good is pretty much my anthem for the next year. Not much more I can say about Burn That Broken Bed, but….yes, please.

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