Thursday, April 30, 2009

Balance: The Calendar is My Best Friend

I've been getting lots of emails lately asking for posts about balancing the crazy schedule of being both mom and a creative. Erika is giving us a little peek today into her daily schedules of preparing for a show and running her daily biz!

by Designing Mom Erika

April is typically my busiest, craziest month of the year, as I prepare to exhibit at The National Stationery Show in May (stop by booth 3327 if you'll be there!).
My days are practically scheduled to the minute, with design work, client graphic design projects, wedding invitation proofs, appointments with brides, conference calls with distributors and reps, running the daily "business" end of having a stationery line, preparing files for my licensing partners, adding customizable files to our website , keeping up with the Delphine-ephemera blog, and photographing new products as they roll off press. Not to mention many, many, many hours (and late nights) at the press, press-checking the new lines.

Especially at this time of year my work life spills over into the weekends. It is easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of work that has to be done. The way I deal with the insane amount of work is to make lists. A lot of them. I make a list of all the things that need to happen before going to the Stationery Show and set deadlines for each task (and, of course, delegate whenever possible). Then I go down the list and break each major task into steps. Take one simple thing, like mailing postcards to buyers. I work back from the show date and find the mailing date that they should go out. Then I schedule in a date to address the postcards and stamp them, a date to buy stamps, a date to order the postcards, and a date to design them.

Because it is scheduled on my calendar, I'm not freaking out in February about the postcards; I know it's scheduled for, say, April 20th, to address the postcards, and I don't stress about it before then. I live by the calendar. I use the same system to schedule in a little balance: I make sure to schedule in time alone with my son. I treat a playdate at the beach just like an appointment with a client. It goes on the calendar. By scheduling a specific time for a trip to the park, it doesn't get pushed off until "later" and it helps me make sure I'm spending enough time with him. I tell S what the plans are, and he's starting to learn time management himself this way. He often invites me outside to watch him play on the swingset. "You can bring your notebook, Mommy," he says. He's also learning about multi-tasking!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Make: Ribbon Decor

by Designing Mom Liberty

I often walk through Pottery Barn Kids for inspiration when I can and I always pick up little ideas and things for my to-do lists. Usually, I snap a photo with my phone and download it to a little cyber to-do (to-make) list on my computer.

Here are some of my favorites.

1 - I'm all for using up scraps in as many ways as I can.... look at this adorable way to use up ribbon scraps for a quick canopy or set of curtains....

2 - This mobile/chandelier has been in my to-make list for a while... ribbons, string, embroidery hoops and flower punches or stickers would be the ingredients and voila!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Make: Orla Kiely Tote

Vanessa who writes a blog called Maxx Silly let me know about a great tote she created out of Orla Kiely placemats!

I finally did it - my own little Orla Kiely tote. I was so inspired by
Becky and Jill's creations that I finally put my sewing skills to the test. It is hard to find time to sit down and sew but someone decided to take an extra long nap one day to help mommy out!

This is made from the reversible placemat that I got for $4.99. I plan on using it as a lunch tote or a little summer bag. It was super easy to make. Since the bag is reversible it did not need a lining - which is good because I am not a great sewer!

Here is a quick tutorial of how I made it:
Choose what side you want inside and what side you want out. Fold with the future outside sides facing each other - in my case the flower side. Iron in the fold.

Since the placemat is already hemmed on all sides I used that as my guide. If you want a smaller bag you can sew in further - it's up to you! Sew both sides.

Turn your bag right side out...oooo you're almost done!

Now for the straps - I was lucky enough to have an old brown tote that I just cut the straps off of. You can buy cheap totes at any craft store or you can buy straps or webbing at a fabric store. Ribbon might work - but would probably not be too sturdy. You could also but a second placemat and make straps that match - it would look really cute with the inside fabric as the straps.

I used my seam ripper - hands down one of my most used sewing tools - to pull the hem out about two inches in from the edge of the bag. Do this for each strap and then stitch over where the strap is a couple of times. You don't want your bag to break in the middle of the mall and have all your unmentionables fall out - not that this has ever happened to me (blushing...).

Hey look - your bag is done and your daughter already wants to borrow it! Throw in your sunblock or sippy cup and hit the beach!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Our Lists: Doll Houses

When I was little, building my blocks or staring into the windows of a doll house always sparked my imagination to new heights. The doll house I had was a retro '70s split level with mod white stairs which I so wish I'd kept! Here is my little list of doll houses...from mod, to tree houses (can't forget the boys) and traditional classics.

1. Mod Doll House
2. Melissa and Doug Contempo Doll House
3. Modular Doll House
4. Contempo Doll House

Tree Houses
5. Fairy Tree House
6.Plan Toys Tree House
7. Leafy Tree House
8.Tree Blocks Wood House

9.Raleigh Dolhouse
10. Starter House
11. Willow Doll House
12. Turquoise Victorian

Friday, April 24, 2009

Our Lists: Children's Glitter Wall Art

by Designing Mom Liberty

Canvas wall art (also at the "The Treehouse Social Club" in Beverly Hills).
Masking tape was used on a big canvas to mark off areas and large areas were painted first and then collaged with buttons, feathers, glitter... It looks to me like a lot of kids worked on this together, but it's a fun project to envision in so many ways.... what about using it for a birthday party or class project at school?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Our Lists: Kid Clocks

I was on Modern Dose looking at some elephant pillows and got completely derailed with these fun hanging wall clocks for kids. The best part is that they are all under $30! So here's to a new list (at least the start of one!) on the blog for Kid Clocks.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Creative Life: Print Pattern Paper

Rebecca of Print Pattern Paper emailed a sweet note over and I could not help but delight in her work! Here is her bio and some pics of her whimsical, uplifting work. Thanks for sharing Rebecca!

The Beginning:
I started my collage and altered imagery career at 15. My breakthrough piece "Globe" was created using my father's garage paint, applied liberally to my bedroom wall. Sadly, it did not receive rave reviews. (I was so grounded!)

However, I continued to pursue my passion by altering everything from canvas and books, to furniture, and even report cards.

The Post-College Years:
Looking for adventure, I packed up and moved to an island in Mexico to open a coffee shop and dedicate more time to my art. Mexico is very near and dear to my heart because this is where Art and Philanthropy was born. It was during my time in Mexico that I became involved with the Women’s Co-op and a fabulous organization that would later come to be known as PEACE.

I'm back in Wisconsin, where I was raised, in a lovely home in the woods. I share my life with my husband and two sons, Giovanni and Matteo (my creative consultants, editors and muses).

When we moved to our new home, Giovanni was afraid to sleep alone in his new room. I pulled out any art supplies I had available (everything was still in boxes) and made him a "protector dinosaur".
From there, print*pattern*paper was born and is a happy, growing company. In addition to the work you see here, I’ve continued my work with PEACE and other grassroots organizations generating thousands of dollars for women and children.

What’s next?
Inspired by daily life, you will most likely find me trying to finish my next design. (Which won't happen until I find my scissors, which are under a pile of laundry - of course). I hope you enjoy your print*pattern*paper creation as much as I enjoyed creating it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Make: Preserving Your Little One's Artwork

By Designing Mom Lori

The little dude created a piece of artwork in pre-school last year that I really loved. It's green and orange which happen to match the colors of our kitchen. The photos don't do it justice. i wanted to preserve this piece of artwork to display it over our eating bar area. I thought i'd share with you how we did it in case you'd like to do the same! please note that this can be done with any artwork and is a great alternative to framing a large piece of art like this one.

Here's the piece of artwork in question. as you can see it was done on really thin paper. Being that it was a watercolor type painting, it was very wrinkly. the one thing to keep in mind is that with thin paper like this, it will most likely get very wrinkly when applied to the canvas. If you're not ok with this, then this might not be the right solution for your piece of art. the nicer or thicker the paper, the less chance of wrinkling.

I started out by buying a canvas that would fit the particular painting. there wasn't a perfect size, but this one came pretty close. we only had to trim a small bit off the top of the artwork. (which was fine by me because his teachers wrote his name on the front of the painting! tsk, tsk!) I also bought mod podge (other glues/sealers will work as well), a small roller and tray. then we were ready to start.

One of the best things about this project is that it’s very simple to do, so it’s something the kids can join in on. it makes it more special when they see their artwork hanging, knowing that they helped.

Here's my son, Finley, rolling on the glue with his mini roller. You want to make sure you have a good thick layer of glue so it sticks well. once you have it covered in glue, lay the artwork down and press firmly. Try to press out any wrinkles or puckers to the best of your ability.

After the artwork was as smooth as possible, we flipped it over (lining the island with parchment paper or waxed paper first so that it wouldn't stick to the island) we loaded it up with magazines to ensure solid pressure. We left it like this overnight to make sure it was really dry.

Once it was thoroughly dry, we removed the magazines. next, we glued the sides and the back and wrapped the artwork around the canvas. (note: you don't have to do this. you could trim the artwork to the exact size of the canvas if you wish. you could also paint the sides a coordinating color.... If you choose this option i would suggest painting the sides before applying the artwork for a nice finished edge.)

When wrapping the paper around the canvas i folded the corners as if I was wrapping a present. We then flipped it over onto the parchment paper again so that the back was now facing down. This ensured that the artwork would not pull away from the back. again, we left it to dry overnight.

Because I felt the artwork was a little too small for the space on it’s own, I painted a large rectangle on the wall with a coordinating color that is found on the other side of our kitchen. When everything was completely dry, we hung it up over the bar. Voila!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cooking and Kids: Let them Eat Bla Bla

by Designing Mom Jenn

During laundry folding and wedding invitation production, I have a penchant for watching mindless TV. When you have 2,000 corners to punch, hundreds of boxes to build, pages to cut, glue and assemble, there's nothing better than the tv to get you through. At least for me!

Brad, my husband, hates reality TV - which is SO sad - but that does mean that I usually have lots of choices on tivo when I get down to business. My recent addiction is Ace of Cakes. (Shinmin - your work is just as great and if you had a show, I'd watch that too!)
I love watching the team at Charm City Cakes build incredibly beautiful, and sometimes insanely weird, pieces of art out of cake. Charm City Cakes doesn't ship cakes, so my fantasy of having a cake made by them will only be fulfilled if we move to Baltimore (chance of that is slim to none, and slim's on vacation!), but I still love to watch the show and imagine different cake options that I'd like to have them make for me one day. It's sort of the same thing as watching those incredible tattoo shows on TLC and imagining what picture of Lincoln, or Grace, I'd have them tattoo on my body if and when I ever got up the courage to get inked!

But back to cake!

My daughter's 1st birthday was this past weekend and for the last several weeks I've been itching to figure out how to get a cake made of her best friend, her favorite doll: BlaBla. BlaBla is actually the brand name of these gorgeous, hand-knit dolls and Grace's best pal is a girl owl with a striped skirt, named Prudence. However, Prudence is a hard name to pronounce for someone just learning how to talk, so we called her BlaBla when we handed Grace the doll for first time, and it just sorta stuck! Since that first night, Grace hasn't gone anywhere, or done anything without BlaBla by her side. When we put Grace down to sleep, we can hear her talking to BlaBla for the longest time, telling her all the highlights of the day and what she's hoping to dream about! Lately the talking has turned into singing... it's enough to melt your heart.

My original idea was to win the lottery and afford to have Charm City Cakes make and ship me a full-size, 3d BlaBla cake. I would have had enough money to pay for the "no shipped cakes" rule to be broken and it would have been magical. When that didn't happen, my next best idea was to buy a huge sheet cake with none of the icing on it (my oven isn't big enough to make a huge sheet cake of my own!) and then cut out the shape of BlaBla and decorate the cake just like the doll. Well, with only 24 hours before the party and a diminishing budget and time frame, this is what I did:

I bought a cake at Costco. It was just the right size and it was cheap too! For $16.99 at Costco you get a half sheet cake with a variety of icing and filling choices. It is NOT nutritious, but it is most definitely delicious! I asked the Costco bakery to ice the cake just in white and leave off any additional decoration. I then went and bought about 8 different colors of canned icing (in the same sort of canisters as Easy Cheese!) and came home and started to mix my palette and create the perfect cake for Grace's big day.

I was never a fan of primary colors right out of the paint tube, and with icing it was no different. I mixed the colors in bowls and then transferred the altered hues into ziploc bags - squeezing all the icing down into the corner of the bag, and then I snipped off a tiny bit of the corner and used the ziploc bag as a piping tube. I didn't have any fancy tips, but I didn't really need any.

I used a toothpick to sketch out the basic shape of the doll first, and then went over it with the icing - filling in all the nooks and crannies of the design with different shades of icing... trying to get as close as possible to BlaBla the original.

When all was said and done, I was so proud of my accomplishments. I'm usually the first one to have "someone else do it" if it saves me time (which I have so little of) but the hours of time and love that went in to this project for Grace made it so rewarding for me to see the finished product look so good... and when I saw her shove it in her face the next day, and get her first true sugar high, it was even better than I could have imagined! So Duff and Shinmin... as SOON as I can afford to "have you do it" I will, but I will take massive amounts of pride and joy knowing that I tried it this way first and got to experience the sheer pleasure of making something for Grace on my own.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Make: Mix Mural

By Designing Mom Liberty

There is a new design store on La Brea in LA called Mix. I haven't even been in it yet, but I was totally struck by the use of positive/negative space in their parking lot mural. To me, this is something I would totally use in a mural for one of my kids rooms, were they not already so decorated as they are - maybe when the kids get older and tired of the current decor...
The outline of the tree would be so simple to make (a design novice could always borrow an overhead projector and project and trace the silhouette of a tree onto the wall, and paint it in later) and from there - any great object could be placed into the tree!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Shop: Pacifier Clips

I have a weakness for patterns and a phobia of germs. So these pacifier clips by Lucca Bella are right up my alley. The clips have plastic teeth so they don't rip into clothing and will help keep your little one's pacifier from getting lost and soiled. They're having a sale right now and I picked up the puppy and frog versions.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Make: Recycled Scraps Necklace

by Designing Mom Rubyellen

I have a large growing pile of fabric scraps. I refuse to throw them away because I am sure they can be used for something. I have been seeing different types of interesting necklaces made of buttons, tulle, and fabric. Then, I figured why not make one out of my scraps...
I think it made my white shirt a little less boring. This was so quick and easy to make.
How to make a recycled scraps necklace (which is very similar to the straps on my braided tablecloth bag):
1. Take your scrap fabric, I cut a .5''-1'' snip and tear the rest of the fabric down for a nice frayed edge. Used 3 different fabrics for each strand.

2. Take 3 of the torn pieces and tie the ends together with a rubber band.
3. Braid the 3 pieces together and tie ends together with rubber band when done.

4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 for more strands. Remember you can make the strands any length you want, if run out of fabric, just weave more into the braid.
5. Once all the strands you want are braided, gather one end of each strand together and straight stitch together with sewing machine. Repeat for the other ends of the strands. Snip off any excess.

6. Gather ends of the necklace and sew together (snip excess) or a ribbon can be sewn at the ends to be able to tie the necklace closed, but I just sewed both ends together.

7. Voila! A nice way to make use of all your lovely scraps.
Sorry if the directions get you a little lost, but it really is easy. I promise. You will have so much fun making them and figuring out other ways to do it. It will become you new addiction, trust me, it has already become mine...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Make: Sock Monkey Outfit

by Designing Mom Cathy

Just had to post a pic of Zane's beloved "Monkey Monk" in some very stylish clothes that Zane(a few days from being 6) helped make. Our neighbor Linda uses old socks to make doll clothes with her grandson and Zane was inspired to collect all of our holey socks and make clothes for Monkey Monk as well as all of his favorite dolls. I had to sew the pants with a few stitches, but Zane did all the cutting. This DIY project is "easy breezy lemon squeezy" as Zane would say.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Creative Life: Shubis

By Designing Mom Cat

My good friend Jihwon started a line of chic, eco-friendly shoebags called Shubis that I absolutely love and I was so happy she was willing to share a little bit about them and her life with her two adorable daughters, Sophia and Julia.

How did Shubis begin?

As young girls, my sister Soomean and I spent countless hours immersed in crafty and creative projects, and so it was a very natural progression to start a company together that continued these endeavors. My sister and I started Shubi with the passion to bring fashionable shoe bags to the mainstream. My sister, who lives in NYC, always carried an extra pair of shoes for commuting to and from work. She, like most city girls, would tote her shoes in flimsy, beat-up, plastic grocery bags because she could not find suitable shoe bags for travel. I had the same problem during my travels, and after a frustrating and fruitless search for fashionable shoe bags, we decided to create our own--and the Shubi was born.
Tell us a little about the "baby" shubis and why you created them.
The Lil' Shubi is a shoe bag that is perfect for toting your child's shoes anywhere. I created them because all too often, toddlers kick off their shoes, and parents end up tucking their dirty shoes in their diaper bag or purse. The Lil' Shubi protects your child's shoes and at the same time, keeps your diaper bag or purse clean. Parents are not only using the Lil' Shubi to tote shoes but also finding the Lil' Shubi helpful for storing toys or other small baby products that often get burried in their diaper bag.

What have been the rewards and the challenges that came with starting this business?

My sister and I have so many ideas to expand the Shubi line, but our biggest challenge is not being able to devote as much time as we would like to expand the business. The biggest reward is bringing a creative idea to fruition. Throughout the years, my sister and I have had many conversations discussing various ideas/inventions, but Shubi is the first business idea that we have brought to reality.

What are you tips on balancing work/mom/play?

Like many working mothers, I always feel as if there are never enough hours in the day. So, I try to be realistic about what I can and cannot get done. Then, I prioritize what is most important in my life and make time in my schedule to incorporate those things.
What creative activities/projects do you do with your girls?

Julia is too young (only 6 months) for creative activities, but Sophia, who is nearly 3 years of age loves creative activities. One annual tradition that we started last Christmas is decorating a gingerbread house. Sophia had so much fun picking the colors of the house and deciding how to arrange the various decoratives, not to mention eating the candy during the process. We also read lots of books, and recently, sophia began creating and reciting her own stories from picture books. It's been very entertaining hearing stories from her perspective. Her latest endeavor has been making up her own whimsical lyrics to common nursery rhymes and singing them to us.

How do you plan on incorporating creativity into your girls' lives?

Creativity is an attribute that everyone possesses. So, I hope to nurture their creativity by fostering a positive environment that allows them to be spontaneous, to explore, and to discover. When the girls get a little older, I would like to start art classes because they not only stimulate their creativity but also develop skills that extend beyond color, texture, and design.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Our Booklist: Snowy Day

by Designing Mom Tori

I love Erika’s idea of starting a booklist and I couldn’t wait to contribute. My son isn’t old enough to sit still very long for books yet, but I sure enjoy reading them and admiring the children’s book illustration. One of my favorite books growing up is now a new favorite as a mom. As a child, I always loved the book, “The Snowy Day ”, written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats. Now when I read it as an adult, I realize what brilliant work Ezra Jack Keats did as an illustrator. I feel like a new fan of his work with a new appreciation. As children we just know what we like, but when we’re older we really appreciate all of the texture, color, technique, and even the fact that Keats was the first writer and illustrator to give an African American child a central part in children’s literature.

One of my stationery designer friends, Le Vu of Paper*Ink Studio , sent the most thoughtful gift when my son was born. She sent two board books featuring two classic Ezra Jack Keats books (“The Snowy Day ” and “Whistle for Willie ”). So I have Le to thank for re-introducing me to these children’s classics. (Thanks, Le!) Having them in board book form is perfect because we all know that little ones at this age think books are teething toys (even Caldecott Award winning books!)

On a side note, I noticed on the Ezra Jack Keats website that his organization is trying to get “The Snowy Day” image on a postage stamp in honor of it’s 50th anniversary. They are collecting signatures for their letter to the Citizen’s Advisory Committee in efforts to convince them to honor this classic children’s book in this way. If you are so inclined you can click here for more details and to sign the letter. I personally would use those stamps all the time. It combines two things that I love: children's book illustration and sending old fashioned mail. What's not to love about that?

Make: Artwork Table

by Designing Mom Liberty

Take a peek at this table from "The Treehouse Social Club" in Beverly Hills. Simple table, stickers and funny comics were mod-podged on and laquered. Viola! I'd like to do this with my own kids' drawings (they are in that amazing 3-4 year old range where they look a lot like bubbles with legs...).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Shop: Astulabee

by Designing Mom Maya

I saw these amazing handmade toys/sculptures by Astulabee at the American Craft Council show in Baltimore. They could surely become a little one's favorite companion.

Our Lists: Children's Art

I wanted to add to our work-in-progress list of Children's Art. I was actually looking for some art for our walls and saw these hand painted Polaroids by Walking to Jericho that would make a great series of miniature wall hangings! You can also purchase larger 30x30 prints.

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