Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hang in there...

After featuring Dosta Beba's spinning mobiles last week, I started searching around for other cute mobiles and came across all of these! I need at least six more babies so I can get them all!
1. Flights of Fancy mobile from Kitworks 
2. Bob the Flying Butterfly from The Flying Zoo
3. Flower Fairy Wooden Mobile from Kinderkram at Blueberry Forest Toys
4. Marine Kinetic Mobile from Puka Puka
5. Chandelier in a Box Creative Kit from Talk of the Town

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I'm a little obsessed...

Like many of you, I am fascinated by looking at the interiors of peoples homes. When I travel to a new city or place, I come home and get right onto my computer to look up real estate in the area. I enter all sorts of search criteria until I come up with the home that was meant for me...if only I lived in X Y or Z (and had an unlimited amount of money!) 

When I start thinking about places like Charlestown, SC, or Boston, MA, my sights are immediately set in the old part of the cities with gorgeous old town homes. Then, the next day, I might want to live in the South of France, so I begin to look up real estate there. (I really must stop!)

ANYWAY...if you're a little like me, and can't help taking a peek, I came across this great real estate site called Move Modern which full of interesting modern homes for sale all over the U.S.  Have fun!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Author Series: Rae Grant

I recently came across two darling books for children by author/designer Rae Grant...Cooking Fun, 121 Simple Recipes to Make with Kids and Crafting Fun, 101 Things to Make and Do with Kids. The wire-o bound books are reminiscent of my favorite Betty Crocker Cookie Book that I had as a child. 

The fun, retro design is very appealing, and sweet. The crafts are all organized by season, and are at various levels of complexity. I can imagine having great fun making some of Rae's ideas with Jake when he is a little older! Cooking Fun contains simple recipes that are appealing to children (like Emergency Soup, Rainy Day Rice Pudding, and Can't Sleep Hot Milk and Honey). I asked Rae if she would mind sharing her story with us. Here's what she has to say (my comments are in italics):

1. How did you get your first book published?

My first published book as an author/packager was an illustrated gift book called ARIAKE. It was accepted by one of my favorite publishers, Chronicle Books.  It was my first collage-illustrated book and based on a little handmade letterpress book of ancient Japanese love poems that I had made for my boyfriend (now husband). 

Book packagers can be individuals or companies that put a complete book "package" together to sell to a traditional publisher. Rae had the skills to do this as she is both an author AND a graphic designer. See an interesting article here.

2. What was your next big break?

My next big break was meeting and working with my editor at St. Martin’s Press, B J Berti. I had a detailed proposal for a crafting and cooking book for kids and sent her a package to consider. She made me an offer soon after seeing the proposal.

3. What is your educational background? 

I have a BA from Hampshire College. After graduating, I was lucky enough to apprenticeship with Harold McGrath, the master printer for The Pennyroyal Press. It was a wonderful experience to learn about type design, paper, and limited edition bookmaking. It influenced my career direction as a book designer enormously.

4. Where do you get your inspiration for Crafting Fun and Cooking Fun?

My Grandmother Minta was my original inspiration for Crafting Fun and Cooking Fun. She was a homemaker, a wonderful cook, gardener, and seamstress. She taught me the value of making things at home and the virtue of being independent. Looking back, I now realize that my grandmother believed childhood was a magical time of freedom and enjoyment. 
I have tried to recapture that spirit of childhood fun in both of these books.

5. What were some of your first rejections, and what made you keep going?

I wrote my first children’s book years ago and submitted it to Houghton Mifflin. I received a very nice letter back saying they liked it but didn’t think it was right for their press but to keep writing. I’m sure I saved the letter because it was a thrill to hear back from a publisher. I filed away the story and went on to work on other things, but I still believe in that story and know that sometime I may return to it.

6. What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Social networking is important in the field of book publishing. It’s important to join publishing groups, writer’s guilds, and read books to find out how the industry works.
If you want to publish material, do your homework before you try to submit a piece of work for consideration. Whether it is finding an agent to represent your work, or sending in an unsolicited manuscript, it’s best to have an introduction from someone in the business.

Many thanks to Rae for sharing her experiences with us, and congratulations on the publication of her two darling books! For more tips and info about Rae and her books, please click here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Brooklyn Flea Update

Fort Greene (Brooklyn) is home of the Saturday Brooklyn Flea(market). After living in NYC for many many years, and never exploring much of Brooklyn, I was so pleasantly surprised by what an amazing area Forte Greene is. First of all...let me say, the people are really cool. They're young, old, multi-cultural, eco-friendly, eco-conscious, and generally interesting (this is one of the things I miss most about the city). And, the area is beautiful...gorgeous tree-lined streets, old brownstone row houses, fun restaurants, playgrounds, and the lush Forte Greene Park.

The Brooklyn Flea is a mix of antiques, quasi-antiques, interesting food, and funky art. We loved talking to some of the vendors and hearing their stories. We purchased the (above) pillow from Foundation4. They're mission is to sell thoughtfully designed items. I was told that the pillow I bought is hand silk screened in Providence, RI with non toxic water based inks on natural hemp/linen blend. The insert is made of recycled soda bottles. Who knew a pillow could be so healthy? I'm happy to do my part! I also love the the mirrors made from repurposed magazines in South Africa.

Also, I must add that the cupcakes we bought from the Kumquat Cupcakery were amazing! The tiny little cupcakes come in such flavors as: PB Banana Honey, Chocolate Blueberry, and Red Velvet with a twist.

If you want to take a look at some of the different vendors websites, click here...and have fun clicking on all the links!

P.S. Jake DID like the you can see!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Off we go!

We're off to the Brooklyn Flea for the first time tomorrow. They've good loads of cool, arty vendors. We're really looking forward to checking it out! Hopefully, Jake will like it too!

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Could we just get tick collars?

So....we live in an area with LOTS of trees. Our neighbors have LOTS of trees. Our property backs up against a bog where there are LOTS of trees. It's pretty...did I mention that there are LOTS of trees? And ticks?

We had Lawn Dr over the other day to discuss the mess that is our front yard. It was churned to oblivion when our new septic tank was installed earlier this year. Now that it's spring, the mess is even more evident. The Lawn Dr gave us a whole write-up of everything we need to get....including 7 "yards" of topsoil. This is going to cost a LOT. And, he recommended for spraying for ticks. Well...really? Ricardo and I disagree. I think you'd need a lot more than a few squirts of tick spray to keep them at bay. Ricardo says, "Lawn Dr is the expert". I say, Lawn Dr won't be eating our vegetables.

The skeptic in me asks, what good is this going to do? The budding environmentalist in me, asks "why would we want to spritz additional chemicals on the yard that Jake is going to be walking barefoot on?" The blooming gardener in me asks "why do I want this stuff seeping in the soil and into the veggies I'm attempting to grow?"

Thoughts anyone?

Cute clothes from Ittikid

I'm always on the look out for cute clothes for Jake that don't look like they belong on a twelve-year-old. The fun graphic prints on these clothes are from Smafolk, and Danish company with a great sense of style. I love the  colorful, graphic prints. I've noticed that they can be purchased from Ittikids in the US. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spinning Wheels

I love these clever mobiles from the Dosta Beba Etsy shop. The shop owner is happy to create custom mobiles to match your nursery. She has just started a blog which should be full of her crafty ideas as she continues! She also sells cute children's prints which are worth a peek!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Author/Artist Series: Keri Barbas Steckler

I have had the pleasure of working with Keri for almost 10 years now, and through our projects, she has grown to be one of my best friends. I have chosen to feature Keri this week, because she has illustrated all of Ellen Sabin's books for Watering Can Press that I featured here. Keri is a graphic designer, entrepreneur, illustrator, and on an everyday basis, one of the most creative people I have ever met. 

She has illustrated books and gift products for countless companies. She is one of the most prolific, and versatile artists I know. In addition to her illustration talents, her strengths are spotting trends and generating ideas. Walking around her adorable townhome in Charlestown, MA is a treat...creative projects both complete, and in-the-works abound. 

Here is Keri's story (my comments are in italics!):

1. How did you get your first book illustrated?
I was working as an in-house designer for CR Gibson, and although we mainly used freelance artists, I did some artwork at home that I thought would be perfect for gift bags and gift wrap. I brought it in to work, and the company liked it. Eventually, it developed into a "Name That Baby" book.

2. What was your next big break?
CR Gibson ended up using my artwork on a lot of projects as an in-house designer. My real dream was to go freelance, so I started submitting work to various companies. My first freelance job was with Peter Pauper Press designing a Baby Memory Keepsake Book/Box. Initially most of my response was in the baby market since that's what I had mainly created for CR Gibson.

3. What is your educational background?

4. Where do you get your inspiration?
Now that I'm a mom (with one on the way), I look at children's clothes, decor, magazines, children's books, and shopping in general. Keeping up, and trying to spot new trends is essential for me. It's especially helpful with the world of blogs and Doodlebuds at our fingertips! (thanks Keri!)

5. What were some of your first rejections, and what made you keep going? 
I wanted to work in London, so I contacted numerous companies and went over for a number of interviews. Unfortunately, none of them would sponsor my visa to work in the UK so I never had that opportunity. I have also had many "rejections" along the way when submitting artwork for freelance projects, but there's always more art to be created, and it's never a closed door if you have something new to show!

6. What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
To maintain a clean, professional portfolio and to only put in your best work. It's also very helpful to have a good understanding of the printing process and how to submit files digitally that are clean and easy to work with. Lastly, once given a project, stick to deadlines!

Thanks to Keri for sharing her journey!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Memory/Bulletin/Inspiration Boards

I came across these much better looking bulletin boards and memory boards from Pulp Products that I like much better! You can choose a variety of frames, and interior bulletin board parts to customize the look...which is a nice feature. I also really like all the memory/magnetic boards they have in a variety of really pretty fabric. They completed the vision for me! And, of course now that I've found these, my bulletin board looks much worse! Funny how that happens!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Fun

I came across these fun oragami sticky notes at  Created by Suck UK, each sheet is printed on top with instructions to make 10 nifty shapes including: a pig, penguin, boat, lily and butterfly.
Have fun!

(photos from and Suck UK)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pond Pillow!

Do you ever find items that you're not-yet-ready to buy, but "visit" frequently on-line where they're being sold? I have been in love with this frog floor pillow (top image) for awhile now, and thought it would be the perfect addition to Jake's room. I'm excited to say, I finally ordered it, and it's on our way to the extra snuggly bed in his room!

I adore all the items in the nursery bedding collection at Amenity, a sophisticated home decor line started by two long-time friends with the goal of creating home textiles inspired by nature with a modern aesthetic. Nicole Chiala and Kristina de Corpo teamed up in 2004 and their eco-friendly philosphy, and clean, crsip designs have gained in popularity ever since.

Their nursery collection has some wonderful, organic crib bedding, blankets, pillows, and wall canvases. As we live right near a bog which will soon be full of frogs, I love the idea of this collection being part of Jake's room!

(all images from Amenity)