Friday, May 29, 2009

Happy Anniversary Journey!

My twin sister, Martha, author and illustrator of the JOURNEY series just told me that this year is the 10th anniversary of her first book, Journey Around Cape Cod and the Islands from A to Z. The Journey series has grown tremendously since then, taking her to Boston, New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Maine, Chicago, and Nantucket. We even added a cookbook several years ago called Journey Around Cape Cod Cookbook!

To read about the here!

She will be releasing a new series for younger children soon...stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Be Nice or Leave

I'm on a bit of a rant, but if there's one thing that I hope to teach my child, and my two beloved nieces, it is to be nice to other people. Before birthday parties, and gatherings, I have always told them, "Be nice to everyone. If you see anyone who looks left out, go out of your way to try to include them. You don't have to LIKE everyone, but you do need to be nice, and respectful." I hope if I say it enough, it will sink in.

Sadly, my oldest niece, who is nine, has started experiencing some bullying behavior amongst her peers. I'm not sure if she fully realizes what is going on yet...but when the "kidding around" seems to go way too far...her precious little face will suddenly look if she's asking, "this IS still a joke...isn't it?" 

I have met most of her friends, and they are such a nice, sweet, innocent bunch. But, the catty behavior is starting, and the cliques are starting to form. My niece is very well liked, and she seems to get along with everyone. I'm hoping she doesn't fall into this mean-spirited behavior that is coming out around her.

Unfortunately, I think this nasty behavior can often start with the parents. A careless word about a less fortunate child with less fortunate circumstances can fall on listening ears. And, I think WHY? Why do does a parent have to pick on the little underdog...a child who is clearly struggling, and who will never have the same opportunities? This same, mean-spirited parent could just as easily say, "why don't we just include (less fortunate child), it really makes no difference to us, and I know it will make her very happy." Or, "let's make sure he gets to play in the next inning...everyone has something to offer!" You don't have to arrange daily play-dates, but if the group is more person won't make a difference.

Why would any parent want to continue this behavior? It happens, I know, and maybe I'm completely naive, but if I could just wave my fairy-auntie wand and make it go away for her, I would!

Above: 1. Butch, the School Bully Sock Monkey from Sock Monkey Ranch; 2. Bully, the Monster shirt from My Precious Grandchild; 3. Dog tank top from Mia's Closet; 4. Bully T-shirt from Cafe Press; 5. Be Nice or Leave Pillow from Alexandra Ferguson.

(What are you hooked on?)

Custom Baby Books

I came across these cool customizable baby books from Blinkblots recently. I love the fact that you can choose a cover from a variety of fabric options, or send your own! Wouldn't it be cute to create a baby book using fabric from your baby's nursery? Adoption pages for the books are also available.

The company was started by Lichen Frank. She began creating wedding invitations for friends while studying Industrial Design. By the time she graduated, her hobby had grown into a business of its own. Wedding invites soon grew into baby announcements, thank you cards, favors...everything!

She started producing customizable notecard kits through her company Blinkblots. When she became pregnant, she was looking for a baby book that was a modern version of the one her mom had created for her. Not finding anything she liked, she decided to create her own, and added baby books to her line.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Author/Artist Series: Dan Robbins

Have you heard of Dan Robbins? You may not know him, but this man is one of the most exhibited artists in the world...he is the inventor of the original paint-by-numbers!

In 1950, Dan took up the challenge of Max Klein, the President of the Palmer Paint Company in Detroit. Max wanted an idea that could make anyone an artist...thus increasing the need for paint. Dan was inspired by Leornardo da Vinci who would give his apprentices numbered sketches indicating where they should paint, and which colors to use. And thus, "paint-by-numbers" as we know it was invented! The process was a little trickier than he difficult should they be? Which images would appeal to the most people? What kind of supplies would be used?

After disappointing initial sales, Robbins came up with a marketing plan which involved putting a bland paint-by-number on a billboard. Each day the painting came to life as more and more colors were added. His idea took root, and the Palmer Paint Company sold more than 12 millions kits during the 1950s. Perhaps you've done one too?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

Have a great long weekend everyone! A few great Etsy finds to celebrate Memorial Day! Hope your's is filled with BBQ's, parades, and maybe a trip to a beach or pool!

Patriotic gift tags: (aren't they sweet? They remind me of my marching band days!) from
Seasonal Delights

Mini cupcake: made of wool, and just 2 inches tall! From Dolittle Design

"Little Annie" doll: Isn't she the cutest? From Sugar and Spice. Made by Christine Harling.

Adorable tutu: perfect for a parade! From Tutu Love

Digitally recreated vintage images from the Vintage Holiday Shop

Flip Flops: Memorial Day is the start of beach season around here! From Bow Couture

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Needlepoint Kits

Another great find from the Stationery Show...AMH Designs creates DIY needlepoint journals, photo albums, ipod cases and key chains! Every now and then, I just need a sense of accomplishment...these kits have all the components included, and can probably be finished in a couple hours. Just the type of project that sounds perfect for me!

The founder, Amy Holbrook, began needlepointing when someone recommended it as a great stress relief activity during her busy schedule while working on her MBA at Columbia University. After graduating, she put her past-time, and business skills to good use, and came up with this unique product line! She had the beautiful results exhibited in her booth! See examples from her website above!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Time for a Break

Things have been busy, busy, busy lately, and I think it's time for a break! Unfortunately, we're not going anywhere for a bit, but I spent a very happy hour last night clicking away through the awesome listings on the Mr. and Mrs. Smith Boutique and Luxury Hotel Specialists website. Won't you join me in one of these gorgeous hotels in the Maldives?

Huvafen Fushi: 

It's probably more likely that I could meet you for a drink in New York. How about the Greenwich Hotel...

In reality, I'll be going to see the baby giraffe at the Bronx Zoo...

Maybe we'll finish the day with a Friendlys sundae

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Night Owl Paper Goods

I came across these adorable eco-chic cards by Night Owl Paper Goods at the Stationery Show on Sunday. The company was founded by Alan Henderson and Jennifer Tatham. Their style is chic, but folksy, and many of the items have been printed on super-thin pieces of wood (eco-friendly, sustainably harvested, yellow birch) which adds a really cool, unique effect. They offer custom printing and letterpress if you're looking for a unique wedding invite idea, or even custom printed business cards on's the place!

Monday, May 18, 2009

National Stationery Show

I spent the day yesterday at the National Stationery Show in NYC. Typically, I spend most of my time at internatinal market featuring artists, designers, and reps who sell their artwork to manufacturers of gift  product, bedding, name it! We purchased a TON of amazing art...and I'm on my way there soon to continue! The amount of creative talent housed in the Javits Center during this show is amazing. I look through thousands of pieces of art to look for the latest trends, and unique designs that will go on journals, notecards, holiday cards, gift books, pens...things that you will find a year from now in Barnes and Noble, and Borders! I'll post some of my great finds in the next few days!

While looking  through some of the vendor booths yesterday, I came across these great looking totes from Emile Sloan Seattle. They are made from cotton-laminated fabric that has a rain-proof exterior. I wish I'd had one with me yesterday so I could have carried all my things in cute style!

Friday, May 15, 2009

How does your garden grow?

When we bought our house, and year and a half ago, we were delighted by the beautiful garden the previous owners had created to the side of our backyard. When we first saw the house, it was in mid-June and the garden was looking great. But, yikes! Then it was OURS and WE had to maintain it! I went at it enthusiastically last year, but by September, it had turned into the Jack and the Beanstalk garden...totally out of control. I planted squash and didn't realize you had to pick them early. I grew a 2-foot zucchini. We had a 12-foot weed that we were convinced was going to turn into a flower. Sooner or later.

To my credit, it did look good for awhile, and I grew some yummy tomatoes, basil, and various herbs. The main problem was, I didn't realize how BIG everything would get, so it all imploded on itself! Early this spring, I would look at it with am I ever going find the time to clean this mess up to try again? 

My sister and her family came to visit a few weeks ago, and my sister looked at it and said..."oh, let's garden, this will be fun!" 

"It will?", I thought. Off she went with my brother-in-law, John, and my two nieces, and had a go at it (with Jake looking on in his high chair eating Cheerios). Within an hour and a half, the whole mess was cleaned up! I can't even tell you how relieved I felt. Sometimes a sister knows exactly what you need.

Here is the work in progress:

Yesterday, with a burst of Super Woman energy I went to the local nursery and then began to plant. Here's my plan. We'll see if it works this year!

The garden has 4 quadrants around the center circle of herbs. There's a rectangular area toward the back with that iron thing which I added string to for climbers.
1. Tomatoes, basil, and marigolds in back left quadrant
2. String beans along the back left
3. Morning glories along the back right
4. There's a little trellis as you walk in which will have clemitis growing on it.
5. Two of the quadrants will have snapdragons and pink celosia

1. The center circle has some basil, oregano, chives and a few other things that grew back from the previous owners.
2. Morning glories along the back rectangle
3. & 4. Light and dark pink roses grow along the fence...really pretty!
5. Allium come up along the back fence...almost blooming!
6. Snapdragons and celosia in the front two quadrants

Wish me luck!

Want to see what others are hooked on this weekend...check out Julia's blog party here!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Do you ever start reading a book that you love so much, you just need to keep reading it so you can get on with your life? But at the same time, you just don't want it to end? I gave The Help by Kathryn Stockett to my mom for Mother's Day, but made the mistake of starting to read it in the car as we were going to see her (no, I wasn't driving). So, she gets it second. She understands (she's my mom after all).

The book is an amazing tale told from the perspective of two black maids working in white households in the early 1960s with the help of one ambitious, newly graduated, college student eager to tell their stories. Read the New York Times review here.

I can't write any more right now, I have to go read!

Nothing like a new pack of crayons

I keep introducing Jake to various drawing/painting supplies which he has found very tasty. We have about a 50/50 ratio to what gets put on paper (or close to it), and what gets put in his mouth. I was happy to come across these amazing looking, kid-friendly crayon stones in the latest issue of Cookie Magazine. They're made with soy wax and colored with non-toxic mineral powder. I know he'll learn to appreciate a fresh box of crayons as much as I do, but in the meantime, these stones may be our best bet.

I'm sure Jake would enjoy tasting some fun-shaped ninja star crayons and frog crayons as well!

For me...perhaps some Crayon scented perfume?