Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Whistling a Happy Tune

In an effort NOT be sucked in by all the coupons flooding my inbox, and to give EXPERIENCES, and SPECIAL THINGS, rather than just stuff, I am proud to say that I have completed my first special Christmas project (for which my husband is very grateful). I decided to make my own children's book using BLURB.com especially for my niece, and my son who are just the best of buddies.

I adapted Laura Joffe Numeroff's If You Give a Mouse a Cookie into a fun book of the great times Jake and and his beloved cousin Avery have had this year. She is completely dedicated to him, and tireless in meeting his demands, as is the character in the original story.

I would like to say I breezed right through this project, and while having an audience of two took some of the pressure off my usual design job, in truth this took me HOURS! And, hours. And hours. But, I had a great time, and I hope that Jake and Avery will love their special book. Here's a sneak peek:

With regard to all the rest of my Christmas shopping, I confess, I gave in to many of those coupons, but WILL give a special gift to my nieces and nephew of a fun filled day doing something I think they'll love (but I won't say here, because you never know who's reading!

How have you been doing on your Christmas shopping? Are you making things? Do you have time? Do you know of any great coupons you'd like to share?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Less than Dazzling Dining Room

(image from Galbraith & Paul)

 (image from Galbraith & Paul)

Despite how well our dining room "works" for our lives at the moment, I have been obsessing (ever so slightly) about the ugliness of the room. I want it chic AND fun. SO, last weekend I took a wonderful mini trip to Philadelphia with a friend to check out the Galbraith & Paul sample sale. I've been wanting one of their great pendant lamps for above the table. It seems it might be the one thing that will be immune to food spills and craft projects.

Galbriath & Paul is a fabric design, and printing studio housed in a renovated textile mill in the Manayunk neighboorhood of Philadelphia. They produce upscale, hand block printed textiles which are used on pillows, lighting, and fabric yardage (unfortunately available to the trade only). We arrived early, so I was immediately able to snag a light in the correct size, but ultimately passed it on to another admirer because the color just wasn't right for me.

(image from Galbraith & Paul)

For a moment, I had the thought of purchasing some of the yardage in the above fabric and making my own pendant light...but who am I kidding...do I really need a project of this magnitude? In my one spare hour a day? Probably not.

(image from Galbraith & Paul)

They had stacks and stacks of wonderful pillows for sale, which became quite overwhelming. The colors were not quite right for my living room, but there were many designers there putting together fabulous groupings of the pillows, so it was pretty tempting!

In one room they had two large tables filled with fabric remnants which was fun to sort through. It was all available by the pound, so I just grabbed some different things I liked and will someday turn them into something beautiful. Once I laid out all the fabric, I realized how predictable my color choices are! Aren't these fabrics great (see below)? I'll have to see what I can come up with!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Star Factory

Just as Santa has been busy making toys, Jake has been busy making stars for the top of our Christmas tree. You can see the intense concentration, and attention to detail that each star warrants. We now have about 50 stars. Do you need one? We'd be happy to share!

Last week, we showed Jake Rudolf on tv. I wish I'd previewed it as I hadn't seen it in many years. He's never REALLY been scared of something before until old Bumble started roaring on the big screen. Scared as in hysterical, shaking, crying. Eeeesh! We quickly fast forwarded the movie to the end and tried to come up w/ quick explanations about why Bumble was now nice (he had his teeth removed...), and how and when Bumble was going to get his teeth back. (in the next episode? OK, he doesn't know what an "episode" is...try again...) Needless to say, I was up at least 5 times that night with a crying little boy. I'm not completely sure if it was the Bumble that did it, but we did feel quite awful about the incident. Of course, now he has quite a Bumble fascination, and keeps wanting to see the movie. I'm not up for more sleepless nights, so I'm ok w/ waiting until next year to see it again (or perhaps the year after!)

AND, yes, that is an ironing board you see in the background. As unattractive as our dining room is at the moment, I really do (reluctantly) have to admit that it's working for us. The stainless steel table and ugly black chairs chairs are leftovers from my husband's previous (and far less wonderful) life before me. As hideous-looking as they are, that table is sheer genius. I do not care what Jake does on it...sure, paint! Carve pumpkins AND paint? No problem! Bring on the fun! We can just chisel off the goop! Really, as much as I try, it's truly indestructible.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Santa's Coming! (by boat!)

One of the things I love about visiting the Cape during Thanksgiving, is seeing Santa arrive by boat. The kids are just so excited (and so am I) to see him come waving across the water. They all wait on shore and on the dock to see him run the gauntlet to a waiting police car which takes him to a local department store to meet the kids. Jake was debriefed by his older cousins and their friends on what you have to look for to see if the Santa is "real". I'm hoping he'll be a believer!

After we saw Santa, I was determined to get a good (ok, decent) family photo for Xmas cards. Something fun, casual, and not too "posed". I'm not sure why I'm always so surprised at how difficult this is to achieve! We went to a lovely location...Fort Hill in Eastham with the marsh/Atlantic in the background. And then we froze as the wind whipped our hair in 6,000 directions and we decided to head to lower ground to get out of the wind. Jake was impatient, and just wanted to play with his cousins, and so it goes. Needless to say, we ended up w/ several questionable shots, most of them where I look cold and tired and messy. Like this...


I looked through all the great cards on Minted. And, I played around w/ a great feature the have called Find It Fast™ which quickly lets you see your photo(s) in all the designs. However, their site was a little funky last night, so I wasted over an hour on the project, so I gave up and went to bed. Without a card.

Tonight, I've managed to design my own, and just uploaded the whole thing to Vistaprint. I've never used them before, and a friend recommended them, so I thought I'd give them a try. It was probably at least half the cost of the cards at Minted. And, although I loved those cards, I'm not sure the somewhat odd, blurry photo I ended up using really warranted the extra expense.

And, to make my life somewhat easier, I "splurged", and for about $10.00 I got return address labels so that I may actually manage to get these in the mail this year when they arrive! Stay tuned friends, and check your mail boxes!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pirate Booty

I'm sure everyone to Mars and beyond has been aware of the skulls and crossbone trend that's been going on the last couple years. I think it's okaaaay (meaning, really, somewhat ok), but I really can't stand how much of it I've been seeing on kids clothing lately. The Gap (my go-to source for Jake's clothes) is all over the trend. Do you really want to put your precious little boy in clothing sporting that icon? To me, it just seems like tempting fate (completely neurotic?). But, also, what does he know about skull and crossbones? He might put it together with a pirate image, but he'd really think it was so much cooler to wear Curious George on his T:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A few of our favorite books...

I'm sure many of you have seen these delightful paintings of "favorite books" by Jane Mount. Each one is cuter than the next, and they have me thinking what Jake and I would include in our line up of Favorite books.

I think we'd include a few of the classics like The Big Red Barn, and Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, and we'd want to show Eric Carle and Bill Martin's Brown Bear, Brown Bear front and Center. And, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Lucy Cousin's Maisy the Mouse books would be included, and Is Your Mama A Llama, along with a few Curious George books. Oh, and let's not forget our new Busytown books by Richard Scary. There's a reason why some of these are classics! Also facing forward please would be Auntie M's books Hello Boston, and Hello Cape Cod. Jake thinks they were written especially for us.

I've been religiously reading to Jake at least 5 books a night since he was born, and I love just cuddling up with him. We were recently reading a book that had the characters spelling out the word A-P-P-L-E and when I asked him how to spell it, I was shocked when he started to! He missed on the L-E and truthfully, I was a little relived. The child is smart, but I'll be happy to keep reading to him for a good long while! Do you think he'll still let me when he's 15?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pendant lighting

I just noticed this cute pendant light at Shades of Light...it matches the "faux" Roman shades I just completed for our office! Great minds, right? I've been wanting to put a pendant light in our dining room which is on hold for the moment. I just don't know how people with kids manage to have a decent looking dining room. I keep thinking it will happen soon...we'll see! In the meantime, if you come for dinner, please don't look too closely!

Would it be too matchy-matchy to have a pendant light, and shades in adjoining office in the same pattern? I'm thinking yes.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What I've been googling

So, just when I thought that things might calm down with our house...you know after the basement flood, the rotting wall, the tree removal, the broken dryer (the list goes on), I try to take a nap today (nap when your two-year-old naps) and I can't. WHY? Because it sounds like someone is hammering our house. So, I go outside, and it looks like someone shot our house repeatedly. Great. We've got wood peckers.

So, once I realize what's going on (and because I don't have a BeeBee gun handy), I go inside and start googling "how to get rid of woodpeckers". Which in turn leads me to googling "how to get rid of carpenter ants."  And, because I've discovered yet another sweater of mine has what really looks like moth holes in it, I've bee googling, "how to get rid of moths" (hopefully w/o using mothballs). I'm not sure which is worse, holey sweaters, or the smell of mothballs. Is there no end to the madness?

I'm sure when my husband gets home he's going to be googling "town homes".

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A fall outfit

My sister was wanting a cozy, put-together outfit for fall, so I came up with this for her. I think it's all from Garnet Hill, except the necklace is from Coach. I particularly like the Scrabble bracelet! Perfect for the author that she is!

The jeans are not skinny jeans. I have very mixed feeling about this newish trend. I have some, and I WANT to love them, but it's just not quite there. I think many people look cute in them (and maybe many people think I look cute in them!), but I think longer straight leg jeans just look better on most people.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Create your own book

I've finally settled down to start making Jake his own personalized book. No, not an official baby book (yet), just his own children's book which I think he's going to get a kick out of. As I've mentioned before, these personalized projects are always the hardest to start...if someone hired me to do it for them, no problem, I'd have it finished in a week. But for Jake? Well, we'll see...! But, since this one is finite, and I'm not aiming for perfection, just fun, I think I'll have it finished soon enough.

In the meantime, for those of you who don't want to start your own children's book from scratch, here a couple cute kits I found at Kate's Paperie. They're accordion style books, and include removable stickers to get you started.

OK, wish me luck, I'm going to go start my new book: Where are Jake's Toes?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Crafty Inspiraton

I was recently researching book covers for a craft book project I'm working on, and came across these inspiring titles. I particularly love the Vampire Knits cover (check out the interior too!). It would almost make me want to start knitting again, but Jake seems to have found a new game called "rope" where he throws my stash or yarn down the stairs while holding on to the end. I can't imagine who taught him that game (mom!).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Faux" roman shades

Today, I finally was able to make some "faux" roman shades for my office. They didn't need to go up and down for privacy, so I didn't have to worry about all the apparatus that comes with making traditional roman shades (which aren't actually too hard to make).

At the last minute, I added some ball fringe I had lying around. I'm a big fan of ball fringe, although I know most think it's more appropriate for kids rooms. What do you think? Was it a good idea? It just seemed too plain without.

Any reader who knows me personally has probably had to hear the endless ins and outs of my search for a rug for my office (thank you for your patience!) To make a long story short, I ended up going full circle, and decided to use the rug that had been in my former NYC apartment. It just seems to fit, and the fabric I chose for the "faux" blinds goes nicely with it. (older photo here)

Unfortunately, the storage in this office area is a little awkward, but I'm hoping to have it done soon. What I'd really love is the loffice (below) that Janell posted on her Houzz Idea Book. I love the built-ins, the sliding door, the functional storage space. It's got a somewhat similar look to my office area, but the window is much bigger (and nicer), and the storage/built-ins look terrific. I wish I could see more of it! Then, I could pass the photos to my handyman to see what he could concoct!

I'm on a bit of a home organization mission (as you may have read in my last post), and finally having some window treatments in the office, gives it all a much more finished look...and makes me more motivated to keep going!

P.S. Our garage? ORGANIZED!!!

P.P.S.S. I was happy to note that the Halloween Playset I designed found it's way front and center on the Halloween display table at B&N!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

An organized mission!

I'm currently designing a "life organizer" written by Lisa Montanaro, a certified professional organizer. I've been reading the content as I go, and it's really got me thinking about how I'd like to implement some of the ideas into my own home.

My husband uttered a few words yesterday that are magic to my ears, "we really need to get organized this weekend." I know, not the most romantic words, but he's actually really GOOD and EFFICIENT at it when he puts his mind to it (so I'm hoping he'll remember these magical words this weekend!) I'm more likely to be the one to implement the system, but a project like this is almost too time consuming and overwhelming for me at the moment, because I rarely have more than a couple free hours to take on something like this, so I don't. BUT, with his efficiency, a good teamwork project like this would be great (and I actually think it's fun to things like this with him, even though he dreads it!) and I for one will appreciate the ease that it will add to our lives going forward.

While I would say that we are generally organized in our day to day lives, our basement (which was gutted/redone due to our flood last winter), and garage have remained clogged places for far too long. It will be a huge relief to me to have organized storage areas in these areas.

The book/organizer I'm working on has several interesting points on organization...

Here are several passages in the Life Organizer that I found particularly interesting and in keeping with my desire to free up some clutter:

Why is living an organized life so important? Let’s examine some of the benefits. Being organized positively affects your time, money, health, space, reputation, and relationships. Organized people save time (time lost to searching for missing items), save money (not buying duplicates anymore as they know what they have, avoiding late fees by paying bills on time, etc.), have lower stress, and are able to focus on what they really want to accomplish, whether that is work related, self time, or family time.

One thing the book points out is (this is me!):
If you are overwhelmed, just thinking about getting organized may cause you to suffer from what I’ve termed “Organizing ADD.” That is when you have so many pockets of clutter and disorganization in your life that it’s overwhelming, making it difficult to begin the process.

And the benefits? Lisa writes:
Always keep in mind that as you release clutter of any kind, you are freeing up precious space for new (and hopefully better!) items and opportunities to come into your life (or maybe just open space so that you have room to breathe). From an energy standpoint, many cultures believe that until the clutter is cleared, beauty cannot flow in. Regardless of what you believe, I have seen the results hundreds of times. When people clear clutter and get organized, even in some subtle ways, positive change occurs. So try to enjoy the journey itself, and let the power of the process unfold naturally and work its magic.

And now to begin:
Stalled out on a task or project? Take a cue from Nike, and “Just Do It!” Once you get started, you gain momentum and energy. Usually, all of the thinking about and dreading the task is worse than actually doing it!

In keeping with my organize, simplify, and de-clutter theme today, I came across a nice guest post by Courtney Carver on Rowdy Kittens who writes:
When you make the choice to change and live simply, you are rewarded immediately with peace of mind. The simpler you make your life, the easier it will be to make a change. Things don’t always happen right away, but by making the choice to change, you fill your life with hope instead of uncertainty, optimism instead of doom. That hope and optimism will inspire your journey as you move from where you are to where you want to be.

P.S. The book I'm working on will be available next Spring...so stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Hot off the presses...a new Haunted House playset I designed! The "book" actually folds out into three playset scenes. There are lots of spooky paper dolls, dress up dolls, and spooky props included to set up on each of the scenes. Although it's too young for Jake, I set it up for him the other night, and he had a blast!

The illustrations are by Amy Saidens, a very talented, and fun illustrator I've worked with several times. We've done a few of these play sets together now, and have them down pat!

Friday, September 10, 2010


My co-worker (who doesn't have children) thinks that parents need a velcro wall in their house to adhere children to while giving them a "time out". I found this photo, and had to laugh!

Check out more of jwlphotograhy's funny photos here!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chalk it up!

I know that chalkboard paint is all the rage these days, and like everyone else, I've been wanting to try it. But...the problem is...I'm not a huge fan of chalk. It's just icky, and dusty, and I really don't want another icky, and dusty thing in my house. So, I was excited to come across this idea for an outdoor chalkboard via ohdeedoh. We have a fairly unattractive fence lining one side of our yard, and I think it would be cool to try something like this...perhaps using Bakery Green Hudson Paint? It could blend w/ the foliage, and be fun to play with. We could draw an outdoor garden on it, guaranteed to bloom until the next rain storm!

Now, if the idea of chalk indoors didn't send my skin crawling, I might try something like this funky wall art. I could blow up a photo of myself and paint it on our bedroom wall to surprise my husband...I wonder what he'd say?

It would be quite different than our current look, wouldn't it?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bye Bye Summer

We've spent the last couple weeks with my family on Cape Cod, and it's been great. I love having had such a large chunk of time to spend with my family and giving in to the day-to-day activities 100% without other concerns. Jake loves spending time with his two cousins, and has developed quite a following among their friends. He was treated like royalty whenever we arrived at the beach and his cousins were ever so sweet with him. Needless to say, it was difficult to come home, and a very tearful good-bye when we left. Tomorrow, we're back to our busy lives, but I hope that we can maintain some of the summer filled peace with us all year long. One of my fall resolutions is to get in better shape, which I was able to jump start a bit while we were away.

So, happy fall to you all! Any resolutions on your mind?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I'm thinking of renovating

Wouldn't it be great to have a slide like this in your house! Imagine the fun!

(Thanks for the link Keri! I'm calling the handyman tomorrow!