Friday, October 16, 2009

Moving Up...

I’ve got a new look and a new URL, come visit at the new and improved:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A New Era

I'm putting down the juggling pins, from 9am-4pm school days, anyway.

My youngest went off to kindergarten this week. I was a little sad, of course, but also excited about the new era. My days are no longer a juggling act the way they've been for the past eight years while I freelanced and stayed home with my boys.

I had originally worried about this time away from my kids. It has been 8 years, after all! I do miss them, but I don't miss hearing them fight behind my closed office door while I'm on the phone with a client. I don't miss saying, "I have to work this morning, so we can't go to the park." And I certainly don't miss sitting down at my computer at 8:30pm after an already busy day.

I now have uninterrupted, quiet work time during the day. And when the chaos and noise begin at 4:00, I'm ready for it. I look forward to it. And I can dedicate all of me to my kids and husband when they get home.

I look back on some of my busier times when the kids were younger, and think, I don't know how I did it. Somehow I guess we moms rise to the occasion. To all of you women out there doing the juggling act, I feel for you. But the time will fly, and you may just look back and wonder how you did it, too.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Family Road Trip

Growing up in Minnesota, the summer tradition in my family was to take an annual camping trip. Mom and Dad loaded up the station wagon (and later the conversion van) with everything we could possibly need for a two week jaunt across the country. We always pulled the pop-up camper. We always tried to find every state license plate. My brother and I always fought about who got to sit where and which songs to listen to. But it was always an adventure, and nearly every summer, we headed West.

From the Black Hills to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, to Glacier National Park, to the Grand Canyon, to the Colorado Rockies and Banff, we covered most of the Western U.S. and Canada. As a kid and adolescent, I can honestly say I did not realize how important those trips were in influencing me. It wasn’t until I got to college - when wildfires destroyed a large portion of Yellowstone Park - that I finally started to understand the impact of all those vacations, and called my parents to say “thank you.”

Now, I won’t say that my parents instilled a love of camping in me, but a love of the West, they certainly did. The wide open spaces of Montana and Wyoming, the stunning peaks of the Colorado and Canadian Rockies, the amazing canyons and rock formations in Utah and Arizona, just the smell of the pines and mountain air...I could go on and on.

My first trip West as an adult was a two month road trip adventure that my best friend, Amy and I took in our early 20’s. We returned to many of those places I’d seen but didn’t appreciate as a kid. It was amazing and unforgettable. (The Trip, as it’s infamously known among family and friends deserves its own blog post another day!)

My husband and I have also returned to Colorado and Utah a couple of times, and this year we cautiously, but excitedly, decided it was time to expose our kids (8 and 5 1/2 yrs old) to the traditional family road trip West. So, we too packed up our minivan last week and took off for 10 days. It was hotels this time for us, but we road tripped it just the same. We collected state license plates, visited all the big tourist attractions from Minneapolis to Yellowstone and back, swam in every pool we found and generally had an awesome time. There were the occasional meltdowns (by both kids and parents) but we made it, and I celebrated my milestone birthday just the way I wanted to ~ by reliving my childhood.

About midway through the trip, we went to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. As I walked around it for the 3rd time in my life, and watched my boys bound ahead of me on the rocks, I thought, This is It. This is what I always imagined myself doing, and I’m doing it. How lucky I am. A smile spread across my face and I thought, I need to call Mom and Dad to thank them again. I hope someday my kids will call me, too.

On our last day at Yellowstone, my 8 year old son said,
“This trip has changed my life.”

No future phone call necessary.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hot Chocolate in July?

We’ve got some resourceful kids in the neighborhood. 60 degrees at best today, and a lemonade stand is quickly transformed into a hot chocolate stand. The drink was excellent, complete with marshmallows, whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Brilliant.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Best Kind of Handmade

I went to Ikea yesterday because I had been told by a friend that their frames are the best for kids’ art. She wasn’t kidding. I’ve been meaning to frame these masterpieces by my son for awhile, and I think they look so good, I'm planning my kitchen redesign around them.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Summer Vacation

Okay, I'm going to admit it. I've been seriously neglecting my Etsy shop and my blog for the last month or so. Why? It's summer in Minnesota. And it's a glorious one. 70's-80's, sunny, low humidity. I can't get enough. And my kids can't either...parks, pools, soccer, golf, cabin trips and just hanging out in the neighborhood. Fortunately for all of us, our best friends are teacher families, so it's just one big party over here! (My husband might be a little jealous, though.)

I am so thankful I work from home so we can enjoy this precious time together. I sneak in work where I can, but overall, the kids run the day, and I've learned to just go with it. My youngest is starting school in the fall. There will be time to build my business then. Right now, I'm going to keep enjoying summer vacation!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Who’s Your Cheerleader?

For the past week, I've been working on a project to reuse some old children’s books that I’ve had for awhile. I was bound and determined to create a card series using the sweet illustrations from the books. I went around and around with the design, finally setting it aside without resolution on Friday last week.

Since I opened my card shop on Etsy, there have been many friends and family who have supported me. I thank them all greatly for endlessly listening to my ideas, giving me advice, spreading the word about my business, and for their very generous purchases. But I have one friend who has helped me so much, I jokingly refer to her as my “life coach.”

My friend, Liz, came over today. Not only did she revive my interest in the children’s book project, she and I collaborated to create the final product. This isn’t the first time she’s helped me. Every time I’ve been discouraged or frustrated with my business, it’s Liz who can pull me up from my bootstraps and tell me I CAN DO IT. She’s full of ideas and enthusiasm, and anytime I need a pep talk, she’s there. Thank you for being my constant cheerleader, Liz!

This is what we created today. The art is from a reused children’s book. I cut the matte from sturdy reused cardboard, then painted it with chalkboard paint I had leftover from another project. I love the worn, nostalgic look. It’s eco-friendly, editable and one-of-a-kind!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Stepping Out as a New Mrs.

To my Sinatra-singing, marathon-running, hard-working, hard-playing, humor-seeking, loving husband of 11 years, Happy Anniversary!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Freebie Friday! Father's Day Card

This is what my kids are each giving to their dad this year...a personalized Father's Day card with their own drawings. Simply print the below document (as many as you need) and fold where indicated. No cutting required!

Happy Dad's Day to all!
Dad Printable

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thrifty Thursdays

In Minnesota, it's our summers are precious and short. Hence, our garage/yard sale season is packed into a few months as well.

We have to take advantage of every warm weekend, so Thursdays have always been the best garage sale shopping days. It's a frenzy to hit all the good ones, even just within a few miles of my house. My most favorite way to recycle is to treasure someone else’s trash. Some days are better than others, but today I was lucky. Here’s a retro chair I found today for just $5.00. Sweet!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Old Repurposing Life

From 2005-2007, my friend, Shelly, and I had a little junk antique shop called Retique. We hosted occasional sales out on a farm in a little converted chicken coop. It was my first experience with repurposing and reclaiming old things, and it really changed my life. So much so, that I can't imagine not continuing the recycling effort in my graphics business, hence my eco-friendly stationery shop.

We had such fun scouring garage sales, thrift stores, flea markets and curbs for old "junk" that could be turned into something clever and/or useful. My kids even learned to go along for the ride and to find some treasures of their own.

I converted old cement trowels into candle sconces, bed springs into vases, and a mop wringer into a message pad, to name a few. What I did most of though, was create new uses for old windows. It was creatively fulfilling, but also very stressful to get ready for each sale. So, we mutually decided to hang up our paint brushes and tools a year and a half ago. But I still do some consignment at a darling shop called Betty Lou in Stone Lake, Wisconsin.

Here are a couple of windows I'm sending up there today:

1. Piano bench with hinged window for storage

2. Window wall hanging with shutter shelf

3. Screen door window message board

Monday, May 25, 2009

Deforestation in My Backyard

In our family, and for many Minnesotans, Memorial Day marks the beginning of lake season. We spent the lovely weekend at our family cabin in northern Wisconsin. It was gorgeous weather and a fabulously relaxing time.

The landscape is beautiful, with rolling hills and northern pines filling the heavily wooded forests which surround hundreds of lakes. But now the landscape is changing. Since last summer, a shocking amount of logging has taken place in these forests, and it's truly devastating.

It's a concrete reminder of why I use only 100% post-consumer recycled paper for my stationery products. My parents will never see these forests again. Heck, my kids probably won't see them either. Recycling the paper we use daily and buying recycled paper products are just a couple of easy things we can do to make a difference. I do it, and I encourage you to, too. Our kids deserve it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Handmade Minnesota

Who hoo! I just joined the Etsy Handmade Minnesota Team. I'm thrilled to connect with fellow Minnesota artisans, and I look forward to getting to know everyone.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

Freebie Friday! Mother's Day Placemat

Giving Mom breakfast in bed on her day? Here's a fun, flowery place mat to brighten up the tray. Simply click on the link below to download and print. Happy Mother's Day!

Mom's Placemat

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Turnaround Design at Articulture

Yesterday I brought over a variety of cards and prints to Articulture, a nonprofit arts organization created by artists and community members to provide quality visual arts education for the underserved along the river in south Minneapolis.

Having recently relocated to 2613 Franklin Ave., S. in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis, Articulture now hosts a retail space where art supplies and original artworks created by their talented instructors and other local artists are sold. I was fortunate to be invited to join in this fantastic venture.

It's very exciting to be part of an organization that promotes art and creativity for kids. I'm looking forward to volunteering there, soon, as well as enrolling my own kids in their fine art classes. Stop by if you're in the neighborhood!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Freebie Friday! May Basket

May Day was an important day for me growing up. Unlike warmer parts of the country, this was to me the first day of spring in Minnesota.

I remember countless years planting little flowers in small baskets and delivering them to the neighbor kids. We dropped them off, rang the doorbell and ran to hide, waiting for them to come find us.

My kids do the same thing today, but the flowers have turned into candy. So, I've created this sweet little 3" square printable basket template to hold the May Day goodies. Simply click on the link below and print. Hope you enjoy!

Happy May Day!

May Basket2

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Creative Curse

For as long as I can remember, I have had the urge to create. I credit this to my genes, especially my dad's and his side of the family. Some might call it a gift. I call it a curse.

This "creative curse" keeps me up at night, causes me frequent frustration, gives me great satisfaction at times, and once in a while, it gives me jump-up-in-the-air excitement. So here's what I'm so pumped about:

I've been striving to produce a paper product that will:
1. Be environmentally friendly
2. Be inexpensive
3. Be a thoughtful, lasting way to acknowledge an occasion
4. Be beautiful

I've finally met all of those criteria with the "Three-in-One" Greeting. It's an envelope, card and little gift all in one. Through simple folding, all of these can be created from one sheet of 100% post-consumer recycled paper.

1. Eco-friendly - check.
2. Priced at $4.00 in my Etsy shop. Affordable - check.
3. Provides a handwritten greeting that will last longer that the day it's received.

4. Lovely quality and design make a beautiful standing piece of art that could even be framed.

My 7 year old seems to have the same creative gene that I do. He recently asked me what it's like to be a graphic artist. I told him it's a lot of fun, which is true. He'll find out later about the curse.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Freebie Friday! Printable Pinwheel

Spring is here! (I think.) Have fun with these printable pinwheels in the windy outdoors.

Simply download, print and follow the instructions to create your own little pinwheel.

Enjoy the season!

Pinwheel Printable Fnl

Friday, March 27, 2009

Freebie Friday! Teeny Tiny Notebook Printable

Perfect for party favors...or to slip in your purse or pocket....this 2" square matchbook-size notebook is adorable. Print the cover and 10 blank pages on the same sheet, then cut, fold and staple.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Freebie Friday! Key West Drink Flag

It was nine years ago tomorrow that my husband and I were not only attendants, but the only attendees at our dear friends’ wedding in Key West. Their nuptials made a fantastic vacation so incredibly special. Today, I would like to give a salt-rimmed, tart but sweet, margarita toast to Ilina and her hubby. Happy Anniversary!

Visit Ilina’s blog for the perfect recipe for the signature drink of Key West and garnish with a lime and a little Conch Republic flag.

The flag can be downloaded below, and printed on Avery 5160 labels. Simply wrap around a toothpick and add a margarita with a lime. Double the number of flags by flipping the label sheet around and printing again!


Conch Republic

Friday, March 6, 2009

Freebie Friday! Coloring Page for Kids

My thought behind this project is that kids will be able create their own alphabet for either a book or for wall art. I plan to add the rest of the alphabet throughout the year. Simply download the PDF file below and print!

Have fun with the letter "A"!

A Coloring Page

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Little Green Things

I attempt to do my best at living green, but it’s getting even tougher in this economy.

Three major ways I want and need to do to reduce my carbon footprint: My aging house needs new windows. Not in the budget. We also want a new energy-efficient furnace. Not this year, not in the foreseeable future. My husband needs to drive a new vehicle, not a 10-yr-old- needs-a-new-muffler-SUV. Again, not in the budget. These things irk me every day.

Sure, I’ve given up water bottles, use cloth bags instead of plastic, turn off running water and lights constantly, recycle religiously, reduce my driving, reuse everything I possibly can, and even repurpose old things into useful new items (see above). I also use only eco-friendly and recycled materials for my greeting cards.

Is this enough? I don’t think so, but right now I don’t have a choice. I hope that soon I will, for the sake of everyone’s and my own children.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep doing my own little green things.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Freebie Friday! Book Tags for the Kids

My good friend, Ilina, avid reader and mom, suggested that I create these printable book tags for kids to create their own personal libraries. Simply download the PDF file and print as many as you’d like on Avery 5160 standard labels. That’s it!

Check out my Etsy site for more printables. Happy labeling and reading!

Book Label

Friday, February 20, 2009

It's Freebie Friday!

Download this Free Printable Card for St. Patrick’s Day!

Instructions are included for cutting and folding to a 4.25"x5.5" card.

Free Printables will be posted most Fridays here on my blog! For more printables, check out my new White Mouse Design shop on Etsy.

Go Green Freebie Rev

Friday, February 13, 2009

DIY Lightbox

Found a great link for building a lightbox for product photos. I’m still tweaking the lighting and the camera settings.