Thursday, July 30, 2009

Not to brag or anything BUT...

These are my two new favorite books in the world, AND they are written and illustrated by my sister, Martha, and designed by me!!! They were a long time coming, and now I'll tell you how they finally happened...

In attempt to expand my sister's children's book series: Journey Around (see titles here), I comped up some board books (above) a few years ago with die-cut edges. We presented them to her publisher, who immediately began sweating as he compared the production costs to his looming daughter's education costs. There the project sat for a number of years. My sister reintroduced the idea last year, and I suppose in the meantime, the publisher's daughter has graduated college, and he was finally able to see the wisdom of our vision (without sweating). These books just came out this summer, and today I received my samples in the mail, and they look fantastic! So far, they are already in reprints which is great. 

The illustrations are BEYOND adorable, and really, if you look closely, you will see that that little duckling in Hello Boston has actually been modeled after Jake! Stay tuned next Tuesday for an interview with my very own, very talented, twin sister Martha!

Want to know what others are hooked on this weekend? Click here and join the fun!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Words of Wisdom

My sentiments exactly...not to sound too Marie Antioniette-ish about things, but cake does have great abilities. This image is one of many from Curly Girl Designs. I first spotted them at the Stationery Show last year, and thought...they're going places! I'm happy to see how their line has expanded into wall prints which I think are adorable...especially the baby ones.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Smooth Ride!

Lately, I've been craving a bike. Don't these look yummy? I can just see me pedaling along with Jake in a seat on the matching helmets! I wonder if he's too young? I think I like the blue one best! 

All bikes from Giant.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cry Baby

We're having a really tough time at bedtime. Mommy needs a break. I'll see you all next Tuesay. 

Image from 3cd Kid Stuff.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bathing Beauties

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of spending the day by myself wandering around the Boston Design Center. I fell in love with this bathing beauty fabric called "At the Lido" by Lee Jofa. I think if I had about 3 extra spare bedrooms, this would be curtains in one of them! It's just such happy fabric, don't you think? It makes me smile!

Artist Series: Eunju Kang

I first spotted the lovely artwork of Eunju Kang on a Design Sponge "sneak peek" featuring the home of Michele and Patrick Moore. They had a number of prints by this talented artist, and I think they really brightened up their home. Check out Eunju Kang's website to see more of her colorful work.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Moon Walk!

Can you believe it's been 40 years since the first steps were taken on the moon? That major event is my first recollection of looking at TV. A small black and white box that was (for some reason) kept in the closet in our upstairs hall!

1. Owl Gocco print by Sepia Lepus; 2. Moon pendant by Chinacherie; 3. The Flappers Go to the Moon print by Flapper Doodle, 4. Moon painting by Other World Arts; 5. Moon and Star cake from Martha Stewart.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The simple things

One of the best things about having a baby (I'm considering Jake to still be a baby until he's at least 18 months!), is rediscovering the pure joy and excitement that comes with his new discovery of things that, as an adult, I often take for granted. These are some of the things in Jake's world that cause squeals of glee and exuberant kicking...


His pail and shovel:
(Image © Deborah Cavenaugh)

Planes (also often called "birds"):

(Photo © JP Greenwood)

Hope you all have a great weekend full of simple pleasures! We're having a wading pool party for Jake and his buddy Jared...I can't wait!

What are others hooked on? Join the fun here!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Knock Knock

I always smile when I come across one of the humorous (and often useful) products from KNOCK KNOCK. And, I often have the reaction..."what a great idea...I wish I'd thought of that!".

I love that sticky note cube of the sticky cereal. So clever, right? And, I'm thinking I may need to own one of these Home Organizer Kits. We inherited one from the previous owners which just really doesn't actually contain any helpful information. It would have been handy, for instance, to know who their plumber was when our basement flooded with six inches of water on Christmas Eve. Or, perhaps how old the dryer was...the one with the parts that were cleverly glued together.

So, now that I'm on a bit of a seems like everyone loved the people who lived in our house before. They were wonderful, they took such good care of the house, etc. Someone even said to me, "Oh, you live in Mrs. Former Owner's beautiful house". "No," I wanted to say, "I live in MY beautiful house."

The problem is, our view of these people is much less than wonderful. I don't quite know how to respond when I hear people telling me of their wonderfulness. They left the house FILTHY. Which I find odd. They lived here for 22 years, and we (unfortunately) bought the house at the height of the market, so they received a very good price for it. You'd think that they would have felt that they owed it to the house to clean it up to say good bye (or maybe that's me just being sentimental). They also, clearly, "designed to sell", and covered up a lot of things like rotting wood around columns outside, glued together appliances, and a bathroom floor that I suspect is slowly leaking underneath. Not to mention much bigger issues that have cost thousands of dollars. Yes, we had a home inspector, and yes, we probably would have bought the house anyway, but I don't like the trickery. Or, the fact that the excitement of moving into our first house was diminished by having to clean their filth.

OK, I'll stop...I'm getting worked up. I think I'll just head up to OUR bedroom and get a good night's sleep!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Inglenook Decor

Maureen, from The Inglenook Decor wrote to me this week to tell me about her new on-line store which will be up and running soon. As I poked around her site (full of some great home accessories), I noticed she's included some great decorating tips and ideas on her site. I especially like this cheerful bedroom she uses as an example of how to use a bright burst of color in a basically white room in her "tips for a modern cottage".

Monday, July 13, 2009

Author/Artist Series: Grace Lin

Today I'm honored to share an interview with Grace Lin. Her lovely books are becoming today's classics which combine her Asian/American background. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful. Her persistence, and love of her craft has made her the outstanding success that she is today. Here is what she has to say!

1. How did you get your first book published? 
After I graduated from RISD, I sent millions of samples with minimal responses. One of the few responses was from an Assistant Editor at Orchard Books, Harold Underdown. A year and a half later (while I was still toiling away, depressed at my lack of publishing credits), Harold became the Senior Editor at Charlesbridge Publishing and contacted me. He asked if I had any stories to go with my illustrations and even though I didn't, I said yes! I was desperate to get any kind of foot in the door and wasn’t going to let any opportunity slip. I quickly started writing. The story I wrote was, The Ugly Vegetables and, after many of revisions and a couple of writing courses, it became my first book.  

(From Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin)

2. What was your next big break? 
After my first book, it was a bit easier. I put together numerous dummy books (books in rough draft form) and headed to NYC with them. With a better focused portfolio and understanding of books, I was able to obtain a contract for Dim Sum for Everyone! at Knopf Books for Young Readers. 

3. What is your educational background? 
I have a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in illustration; and I was a bookseller at children's book store, Curious George Goes to Wordsworth, which actually taught me more about children's books then my college education... I’ve done other types of illustration (Seventeen Magazine, Nickolodeon,  etc.), mainly earlier on in my career.  People told me you couldn't make enough money to live off of doing children's books, so in the beginning I attempted to find work in all the illustrations fields—editorial, giftware, etc. It was only when I focused on books, doing what I loved, that I found success (and made a living too!). 

4. Where do you get your inspiration? 
I grew up in Upstate New York where there were few minorities, especially Asian. My parents wanted us to blend; they wanted us to grow up really “American” and made the decision to speak to us only in English. So, my sisters and I grew up very Americanized.  A lot of my books deal with Chinese culture because, in a way, I’m trying to find the culture I lost. I’m making the books I missed when I was younger. My new book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (a novel for grades 3-6, but also has colored images), was inspired by my love of fairytales and folktales I read as a child. I loved the classics, “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” “The Light Princess,” and "The Wizard of Oz"—all with gorgeous illustrations, which I devoured and gazed at in awe. But when I began reading the Chinese folktale book my mother brought me, I was at first disappointed. Used to lush illustrations and descriptions, the Asian books were plainly translated with an occasional simple b/w line drawings and seemed an inadequate comparison. However, slowly I discovered the stories had a magic and I began to imagine details of my own, tinged with Asian-American sensibilities. When I grew older and was able to travel Hong Kong, Taiwan and China—the stories came alive. And Where the Mountain Meets the Moon came into existence. An homage to the folktales and fairy tales I read in my youth, it is a mixture of Asian fairytales and North American classics. Not a traditional retelling of stories from either cultures, it is a mix—like me, like almost all of my books, like almost all of my art—Asian-American.  

5. What were some of your first rejections, and what made you keep going? 
My first rejections were of the silent variety, I suppose. Sending out those thousands of samples and receiving no feedback just made me feel like I was dumping things in the trash. But I guess I couldn't or wouldn't let go of the hope.  I always wanted to make books, even as a child. This is something I’ve always wanted to do and trained for—I think I'd probably keep trying until the end even if I didn't "get through."  

(From Fortune Cookie Fortunes by Grace Lin)

6. What advice would you give to someone just starting out? 
If I were going to give upcoming authors helpful fortune cookies, I think the fortunes would say: 
1. Remember, writing a book is personal; getting a book published is not. 
2. Another person’s success never takes away from your own. 
3. Talent is nothing if passion, perseverance and discipline does not accompany it.

Grace's new book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon just came out. She's hosting a book launch...join the fun here! Thanks to Grace for sharing her fascinating journey with us, and best wishes for a terrific new book!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ta Da!

Hi Everyone! I'm back from a wonderful week's vacation on Cape Cod. Above is the result of the tunic I made for my niece...she loved it! Doesn't she look adorable? Now I must complete a dress I intend to make for my other little niece who is having to patiently wait for me to sew!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wellfleet Waters

I've been spending time on Cape Cod (one of my most favorite places on earth) with my family and I stumbled across this cute fabric created by two sisters who spent their summers on the Cape. They started their fabric company, Wellfleet Waters, having been inspired by their childhood memories. I know that much of my creativity has been inspired and nurtured by spending my childhood summers on the Cape. The freedom to explore and create was a daily part of our lives here.

This fabric would make a great covering for a beach chair, right? the beach bags. I actually accosted a woman on the beach today to ask here where she got her great beach bag. But that's another little obsession better saved for a later date!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Baby Art

When graphic designers Nicole and Jim Worth were expecting their first son, they were excited to design his nursery. They love a modern look, and wanted their sensibilities to shine through in the nursery. Not finding what they liked, they decided to create their own art. They then posted their nursery masterpiece on HGTV's Rate My Space website. They had an overwhelming response, and requests to purchase the art they had created. Thus, their company, FormBaby was born. I love the bright, cheerful colors and sophisticated styles they have...such a great idea to incorporate into a nursery!