Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Keep it Simple: a new print and a giveaway!

Back in design school, one of our instructors used to like to refer to the KISS principle (Keep it simple, Stupid). In design, the most simple solution is usually the best, even though not always easy to get to. I learned this lesson over and over while in school and later in my work.

I'm finding that the principle applies to my life more and more as the layers of my life grow more rich and numerous. Simplify, simplify, simplify. The only way I have been able to manage all of the layers of my life is to start by managing my expectations. Not that I always succeed - my natural tendency towards perfectionism is a hard one to beat down.

For me simplifying does not mean settling for less. It just means that I simplify the parts of my life that I care less about (making meals, cleaning house) so that the parts I care about most (time with my family, and creativity) can be more full. Par exemple: Meal planning and prep used to take up a buttload of my time. Eating healthy is uber important to us but I hate the planning part of making menus and lists. Recently I spent an afternoon making 4 different weekly menus with accompanying shopping lists and we just rotate them during the month. It is so simple, and now we rarely have to think about what we are eating.

I honestly made this print as a reminder to myself - it is going to hang right there over my desk. But I decided that if I were going to look at it daily I didn't want it calling me stupid, and my guess is that most people don't want to be called stupid either.

And now the fun part! I'll be giving away one of these prints on July 13. To be in the running, just leave a comment below and let me know how you Keep it Simple in your life, or even if you are struggling to keep it simple, or prefer keeping it complicated. Whatevs! The winner will be picked at random and announced right there!

Monday, June 27, 2011


Because when Monday sneaks up on you, and you have nothing prepared for your blog, but you are feeling committed to NaBloPoMo - you post another vintage Welk video.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

the crap in my purse: a list

drikab honeycomb jute pouch $29 by Dirka B on Etsy
There was a time not too long ago when I used to carry a really small purse. My coworkers used to chuckle at how small it was. Life was simple. All I needed in my purse was my wallet and cell phone. Then I became a mom, and it was a total purse game changer. Digging for my cell phone the other day, I was the one who had a good chuckle. Here's what now lives in my oversized handbag:

1. ipod touch
2. bag of cheddar cheese sticks (old)
3. a power bar
4. gum
5. mentos
6. lipstick
7. small sketchbook
8. crayons
9. ink pens
10. keys
11. paperclips
12. a pair of socks
13. m&ms
14. immodium-AD
15. alka-seltzer tablets
16. tylenol
17. hand sanitizer
18. kleenex
19. antibacterial wipes
20. sunglasses case made by my grandma in 1970
21. a random USB cable
23. reusable shopping bag
24. lotion
25. lint and crumbs
26. large water bottle
27. a baby doll named Pink Harvey
28. cell phone

drikab orange volumes jute basic tote $72 by DirkaB on etsy

Friday, June 24, 2011

Favorite Things Friday: Party City

This week has flown by. Here are few of my favorite things from this week. My once a year helping of Extra Crunchy Cheetos I ate at my kiddos birthday bash. The half-finished stretch Geo Metro I saw driving down the road. The leftover chocolate birthday cupcakes we enjoyed all week long (while watching Mad Men Season 4). The 100 kraft folders that arrived in the mail that are part of my new organizational system - I know, it doesn't take much to excite me these days. The Japanese stamp set that I am eagerly awaiting (to stamp the kraft folders). It comes in a tiny wooden suitcase, need I say more? And the two gray haired clowns driving a minivan behind me the other night. They were just driving along, having a conversation with their fake plastic noses bobbing, like it was the most normal thing in the world.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Etsy Wednesday: Front Page!

A big thanks to my friends over at Half Pint Salvage for including my Love in A Trash Can print in this treasury that was featured on etsy's front page a few days ago. And a Hello! to all the folks who are visiting here for the first time.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

In search of Cinderella

Tilda Dolls by Donna Bloom on Flickr
The week before my kiddo's 4th birthday, she got hit hard with Cinderella Fever. We visited a bookstore and she poured over the Disney Cinderella books like she was studying for the SATs. She knows all of the names of the princesses somehow, as if by osmosis. I've never told her who Belle or Sleeping Beauty are. And so it begins...

For those of you with girls, I am sure you are aware that the Disney princesses are everywhere you go - on disposable diapers, cans of soup, band aids, and fruit snacks. And while I don't want to repress any princess longings she might have - I don't want to go down the Disney Princess road. It is so pre-packaged, so lacking room for imagination. And frankly, I don't want my 4 year old playing with an unrealistically big-bosomed, small waisted doll in a prom dress. Sorry. She's 4, and for the time being I want to keep her that way. 

And, I want her to think outside the box. 

This week I found the book Fanny by Hollie Hobbie. In it, Fanny begs her mom for the latest Connie doll - sort of a Barbie on steroids looking thing. When her mom tells her why she won't buy her one "I don't like the way they look. They're just ...too much". Fanny decides to make her own. That's when I got my idea. 

Together my kiddo and I will be making our own Cinderella doll. I found a great book by Tone Finnanger that features the Tilda Doll like the ones pictured above. As soon as it arrives in the mail we'll start shopping for supplies. I'll involve the kiddo in every step of the process - picking out the fabric and hair, helping me sew. I want her to feel proud about what we can make together. This is going to be good.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Labor of love

For anyone who has tried to reach me for the past week - this is where I've been. Hunkered over my sewing machine, trying to finish the Portabellopixie Analise Dress.

Made for my kiddo who just turned 4. As I worked on it I couldn't help but realize that the dress was a true metaphor for parenting. Multilayered, challenging, confusing at times, larger than life (the bottom ruffled measured 21 FEET long before I gathered it). But in the end, beautiful (just like the little girl who wore it) and worth every single minute put into it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My day so far

Carnival Sprinkle Cupcake Girl $14 by Magic Bean Buyer on Etsy
Plan to make 4 dozen homemade cupcakes and homemade frosting for the birthday kid. Buy bulk chocolate chunks for fancy frosting recipe. Get home and realize you were charged $34 for the bulk chocolate. Drive the long-ass way back to the store to get $28 refund. Return home. Realize that you can't make fancy frosting because you don't own a food processor. So, you make a different recipe using smaller amount of said chocolate chunks. Wonder as you are mixing the frosting what you are going to do with 2 extra pounds of chocolate. Realize something is wrong. Frosting looks runny. Taste frosting. Frosting totally sucks.


Decide to put your feet up for just a few minutes. Remember that you were doing so well with NaBloPoMo. Wonder what to post. Decide to post a rant about frosting. Find a figurine wearing a cupcake on her head on etsy. Suddenly start to feel a little happier. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Etsy Wednesday: Gnomes and friends

Speaking of Gnomes, I just ordered these two from the beautiful etsy shop HandyMaiden and I can't wait for them to arrive in the mail. Not only does HandyMaiden make adorable gnomes, she creates wonderful bird pins, and other jewelry featuring friendly fauna.

10 tiny custom gnome figures $90 by HandyMaiden on Etsy

Monday, June 13, 2011

Art Heros: Rien Poortvliet

One of my favorite books growing up was Gnomes by Wil Huygen, illustrated by Rien Pootvliet. I loved the detail in his illustrations - almost scientific in their detail.

As a kid, I had no idea the book was originally published in Dutch. I was surprised and delighted to find a copy at my host family's home.I've been thinking a lot about this book lately. Who knows, it might even inspire a gnome print of my own.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lake Whatcom Weekend

Lake Whatcom by jcolman on Flickr
I just returned from a short stay on Lake Whatcom, at a retreat for the school board I'll be serving on next year. Not only were the surroundings beautiful, we had a lot of laughs, stayed up way too late, and ate too much sugar. It was lovely!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

If I were your 80s aerobics instructor this is what you'd sweat to: a list

1. Maniac
10 .True

Maybe you don't know this about me, but I have a secret and long standing desire to be an aerobics instructor (ironic for someone that works out about 10 times per year). Blame it on all of the Solid Gold I watched as a kid, but I have a very real fantasy about donning tight sparkling clothing, getting on a raised platform and busting a move. Links to the videos above, and because I know you want to - here's a playlist:

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Friday, June 10, 2011

Favorite Things Friday: Green

Happy Friday! Here are my favorite things from this week. A lady I saw at my local bookstore & cafe wearing an entire neon green outfit, sipping a Diet Mountain Dew. The three-pack of new Pink Pearl erasers I scored at the grocery store. Drawing with pencil. The crazy 10 person tent we just bought for summer car camping trips, absurdly huge and absurdly comfortable. Getting up at 5 - still making the list for this week. And these shoes from Israel: making me green with shoe-envy.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sketchbook: The Brain Dump

Part of my new early riser mantra is spending the first 30-40 minutes writing a 3 page stream of consciousness style entry in my journal followed by one page of stream of consciousness drawing. Neither produces my best writing or art, but my head feels so much clearer when I do this. Here's a sample from yesterday. I am really starting to love 5:00 am.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Art Heros: Ed Emberly

Growing up, I spent hours upon hours making drawings from the Ed Emberly drawing books. My four dog-earred copies are right here on the shelf next to me as I write this. As a kid I was always surprised that so few of my friends knew about these books and remember watching them shock themselves when they were able to draw a pirate, car, vampire or a cat after just a few minutes at my kitchen table. Learning how to draw this way (using his alphabet of 6 shapes like he talks about in the video above) definitely influenced my drawing style forever.

Finally this guy is getting the recognition he deserves. A recent show in Los Angeles, and even a limited edition letterpress print with Cloudy Collection (right alongside some today's illustration heavyweights - Tad Carpenter, S.Britt, and Meg Hunt).

Above all, I love Emberly's mission to empower everyone to draw, to help them feel like they can succeed at it. Check out Ed Emberly's website it includes a lot of free projects and drawing tutorials. And get drawing!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sketchbook: Barcelona

Part of my recent trip to Europe included a one-day surprise visit to Barcelona. It was lovely! I'd been to Barcelona once before for a quick 48 hour stay back in 2003. Here are the sketchbook pages I made for each visit (2003 on the top, 2011 on the bottom). Both trips had a lot in common - lots of walking, delicious food, good friends, and sun. On the most recent trip I was horrified at some of the new fashion I saw, like the high waist baggy-crotch pants I saw on so many ladies - yikes!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday sneak peek

New work coming at you this week! Here's a sneak peek.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

20 things I love about summer: a list

Honeysuckle from my aunt's garden, Portland Oregon.
1. The sun filtering through our neighbor's pin oak tree
2. Starbuck's iced coffee (however wrong that may be - I still love it).
3. Fragrant, sun warmed pine needles
4. Flowers by the front door
5. Eating outside
6. The tan lines I get from my sandals
7. Drying the laundry outside
8. Swimming outdoors in a pool or lake
9. Hummingbirds
10. Honeysuckle
11. Picnics at the beach
12. Finally putting away my sweaters
13. Shoulder freckles
14. The smell of sunscreen
15. Spontaneous barbeques with friends, just because the weather is gorgeous
16. Peaches and nectarines
17. Unstructured weeks with my kiddo
18. Summer dresses
19. Road trips
20. Leaving the windows open until after the sun goes down

What about you?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Favorite Things Friday: Summer Begins!

Is it already Friday? This week has been a good one. We got our new van which I think is going to double as my new mobile studio it has so much space inside. I discovered Dave's Killer Bread SinDawg, like a healthy gooey cinnamon roll bread log thingy. We had a fun summer play date with a friend, lists were made, iced coffee consumed (even though the weather here was as cold as the drink). I also succeeded at getting up at 5:30 am for some early morning quiet time after reading this article on becoming as early riser. 

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Red, head, fed, bread, small, ball, tall, wall....

There is an ongoing request in my house for this video.I loved it as a kid, now my kid loves it too. It is so 70s I can hardly stand it.

See the red head bein' fed bread on his sled made of lead as he sped to be wed but he fled instead out ahead up to ten in his bed and he said: Red, head, fed, bread, small, ball, tall, wall, fat, cat, sat, hat, and that's that! Scat!

In other Muppet related news, Threadless is hosting a Muppet T-Shirt Design Contest.
My god, how much do I want to draw Dr. Bunson Honeydew?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Etsy Wednesday: Golden Hours

I'm longing for the late evening glow of golden summer sun - it is no where to be seen here in Seattle. I created this treasury from my favorites - all in warm golden hues. Head on over to Etsy to get your fix.

In other news - it is June 1! I'm going to challenge myself to another round of NaBloPoMo. One post a day for the month of June. Perhaps the glow of my laptop screen will help with my longing for the sun.