Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Almost There (Midwest)

My week has been busy. Trips to the post office = 4. Trips to the mall = 3. Snow shoveled in the driveway = 10 inches. As I sit here and watch another 2-4 inches blanketing the outdoors, I sigh. Christmas is almost here. Hallelujah!

So, on this Christmas Eve day I'd like to wish all of you out there in blogger land a Happy Holiday. May you be warm and surrounded by love. Most of all I wish you all peace. Have a Merry Christmas! - Amy

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday (Midwest)

So, yesterday I had a friend come over to chat and learn how to use her Gocco. I hauled out the inks and other crafty stuff and we talked (geeked) out about art, design, crafting, etc. I find myself up early with a head full of ideas about what could be a next project. And, since my desk is clean I'm sketching and thinking. It's a nice way to begin the day. Miss K. thanks for the playdate. I'm so pleased to connect with someone with similar interests. :)

OK. Now I need to gripe about my keyboard. It seems the nine/left parenthesis button has pooched. Argh! I had to go into one of Laurie's posts to copy and paste a parenthesis. And (as you know) I use them all the time. I will try to clean and examine the keyboard today. I have weak McGuyver skills, so I'm fairly confident this will not be fixed. Rats.

I hear kids upstairs. Soon three children and 2 rats will descend and need to be prepared for school so I need to go slam another cup of coffee.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

First stop, Anthropologie! (West Coast)

As per tradition out here, I went out shopping with my mom for my birthday. First stop, Anthropologie! My all time favorite store. I like to go there for special occasions and treat my self to something I wouldn't normally buy. Yesterday it was these two items. Both were something I wouldn't normally do, but I know I will enjoy them quite a bit. I love the asian inspired print on this shirt, and the color is truly beautiful in person.

I have always had a thing for aprons, in fact I wear them every night when cooking dinner. They are cute to look at and they help save my clothes from the inevitable spills while cooking. The chocolate brown little owls on this pattern are stylized and really cute. Retro yet modern, and my favorite colors too!

Thanks for the birthday wishes!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I've been thinking about you all day, Laurie. I hope you have a great birthday. Cheers from Wisconsin!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Craftacular (Midwest)

I must write this post quickly as I'm very distracted right now. I'm being lulled by the weather liars on tv. "Come. Come listen to the madness that is the winter weather about to befall you." Ok. They don't talk like that but man o man we are in for some serious weather tonight. Sleet. Snow. More snow. Then wind. Yikes and double yikes.

I had a wonderful day, Saturday, at the Craftacular. We were busy all day. I had a greater number of sales this year, but the total price per sale was lower. So, my sales totals were about the same as last year. One observation. More folks were using their credit cards than last year. I hope for all our sakes that the economy picks up by this time next year.

So, now I am down to small bits of remaining inventory. One koi fish pack, one poppy/twig set, etc. I'm debating whether to reprint or not. I'd like to design something new for the new year. And, there's Valentine's Day after that. Options. Options.

Ok. Off to stalk the weather channel.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

That time of year again! (West Coast)

I am into the full swing of the holidays around here. Eggnog's out, tree is up, handmade gifts are being finished up. I think I have just two gifts to finish up, and that should go pretty quickly.

The only thing that is not cooperating with my holiday happiness is the weather. We have had perfectly beautiful California weather. But I am waiting for a winter storm to come through. We have had no real measurable rain, no snow in the Sierra's. It still feels like the ending of summer. It has cooled down quite a bit at night, but our days are sunny and nice. We have a trip planned to go up to the mountains in a few weeks to go sledding, but unless we get a storm to come through, we won't be doing much sledding.

Holiday cards prep area. Holiday Hedgehogs been my big seller this season. I have been selling these cards in our Lucky Bee Press Etsy shop. I have had to do one reprint so far. I hope I printed enough for the rest of the season!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Craftacular Preparations (Midwest)

The Craftacular is this Saturday (the 6th). Whoohoo! Preparations for this fair have been the easiest yet. There will be an 8' table and a chair waiting for me at the show. My show box is still packed from Renegade. Most of my inventory is ready. I just have a few new signs to create and then a list of things not to forget. Today I spooled up some candy cane striped baker's twine. The spools look so cute. If they don't sell I won't be disappointed. They will make great stocking stuffers. I'm also thinking I may have some time to create some sort of display on the table. Maybe a clothesline with cards? Or a Christmas tree decorated with gift tags? I dunno. *thinking* An 8' table is a lot of space to fill isn't it? *more thinking...*

Ok. I must go fetch Sam from preschool. It's snowy here so that means it takes twice as long to tote him anywhere. There are stray mittens to find, boots to put on then take off because the snowpants have to go first, snow to eat, mittens to get wet and then be exchanged for dry mittens, more snow to eat, etc. etc. Ok. Off I go.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holiday (Midwest)

I'm checking in for a quick mid Holiday post. Joey and I have been busy with his brother in town, my longtime friend Missy, and the kids. Thanksgiving was very successful this year. And, by successful I mean nobody melted down, the food was tasty, at least one of my kids ate, I got to eat, nothing was broken (oh wait, Sam did take out a vintage ride on toy that probably had sentimental value), and we got to enjoy each other.

In the topmost photo you see a vegetable animal creation that I made. In our family each Thanksgiving (for some 25 or so years now) there is a table set up with a huge bowl of various vegetables, fruits, toothpicks and sometimes carving utensils. All those attending Thanksgiving are required to make a vegetable animal for placing on the table. It's a fun tradition because it's fun to do yourself, but it's even more fun to see what others come up with.

Hope everyone out there is having a great weekend!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Scent of Saturday (Midwest)

I shuffled into my office all bleary eyed this morning. With coffee in hand. Ready to check email. I sat down and then picked up the faintest, most delicate, teensy weensiest of scents. Press wash. Not strong and chemically in the way where you wear gloves for your hands but wonder if your nose needs protection. But, light and pleasant. A reminder of yesterday. Yes. Yesterday. Sigh. I printed. And, not just that. I set type.

For weeks I've been wanting to whip out some gift tags for the Craftacular. I've been thinking about what plates and blocks I have laying around to work with. I thought, why not a simple type solution. So yesterday I pulled out a drawer of 42 pt lead type. I set up the words. To. From. And locked them onto the press. They printed backwards. Doh! I always do that. After some rearranging and adjusting. Voila. A simple little gift tag. I lurvs it. Because it's simple. And, type. And, because it was fun to create. Nuff said.

Enjoy your weekend.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

She's mighty mighty, just lettin it all hang out* (Midwest)

So my hubby, Joey, was born in the wrong decade. I think he was meant to live in about 1929 or so. He has always had a thing for history and collecting old stuff. It would not be unusual to hear him rant "They sure don't make stuff like they used to!" I swear his is an 80 year old man sometimes. "Kids, get out of my yard!" "Don't just stand there with your hands in your pockets! " I'm sidetracking here...

After many years of finding, collecting and storing things in every corner of our house. He has rented a modest little booth at a local antique shop. I'm kinda excited to help him with his side project. The plan is to stock the booth with his style of crap, and hopefully recoup our monthly booth fee.

We're calling ourselves Brick House Salvage. Because we live in a Brick House. And...yeah that's it. (* Did you get the Brick House lyrics reference in the post title? Did you?) I plopped some type together to create a very quick and dirty logo (top idea). Being the crafty gal that I am, I punched some tags, cut some twine and voila. A hang tag is born. Today we start stocking the booth. It will be like playing house and playing storekeeper all at one time.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy Day (West Coast)

Pretty yarn! My latest yarn purchase from Purl Soho arrived a few days ago. Some of this is marked to be Christmas presents, while some of it will be little bits I keep for myself. I am working away on little gifts for my family and friends for the holidays. My kids are always excited to have me make something for them... They will each have a few little treats. I am glad they appreciate having handmade gifts.

These are a few of the wholesale card orders that are heading out to local shops. We had six wholesale orders this month! It is a good start. It has definitely given me an exciting push to work harder, and produce more. I received my paper order Monday, and I hope to get to it next week. I have a little one at home with Strep, so we have some shows to watch and games to play.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday (Midwest)

This is a photo I took yesterday. I hooked up with the Madison Flickrmeets people and did a little photowalk on the Near East side. It was very cold. 31 degrees I think. Windy, and snowing on and off. My fingerless gloves, which I thought were so clever and helpful for picture taking, turned out to be stupid. My fingers hurt and I cursed my foolish fashion sense as I drove home one handed. Would I ever let my kids wear fingerless gloves? No, I tell you. No.

But hey, I am excited to discover that Lucky Bee Press had a mention in the Holiday Card Guide at Poppytalk. Laurie, isn't that exciting?!? I signed myself up for a spot in the next Poppytalk market. I'm hoping to get some Christmas card traffic. Thanks Poppytalk!

This week's calendar is looking pretty good for me. I need to print. I would really like to bang out a couple notebook covers and some gift tags. I might even hand set some metal type. I'm really looking forward to it. It's been too long.

Finally, my Internet connection is back. I had about 9 days (9 days!)* without it. It was very frustrating. I had to jump onto Joey's laptop to read emails. I even checked my email at the Apple Store in the mall the other day. I used the 17" Macbook Pro they had on display. It was mighty nice. Want. Want. Want.

*Anyone catch the Ferris Bueller near reference here? 9 times? Yeah. I know. It was subtle.

Ok. Kids are up. I must make breakfast. Toodles.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hold On (Midwest)

This is an image I took a few days ago for my photo a day group on Flickr. It was a windy day and these little lady bugs were just holding on to a flimsy little branch. I think this photo is a good metaphor for how I have felt for these last few weeks. I have been holding on, worried yet hopful, waiting for the elections to come and be finalized. And, today as I sip my coffee and look out my window, there is sunshine, optimism and relief. It's time to let go of the branch and fly freely.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Get Out and Vote!!! (West Coast)

I am ready for change, and hope today is the day. I don't remember an election that I have ever been so tuned in to. This is my reminder to us all to get out and VOTE today! It is too important to let this election slide by. My daughter's 5th grade class was told they would not have homework tonight so they could all focus on the election coverage. Let's hope for change.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Warming Up (Midwest)

We finally caved and turned on the heat in our house. It's so nice to have warm feet again. Though, I have to say having the heat off was good for my Xmas knitting productivity (see above).

Regarding knitting, Joey and I spent part of our Monday date night at the bookstore (yes, you can call us nerds) where I leafed through some new knitting books. I was really intrigued by some of the projects in Luxury One-Skein Wonders. A small project with a fancy schmancy yarn might be what I need right now. I must remember the title (or remember that I don't have to if I remember to come back to this post) and look for it at the library. Also, I've been meaning to link to this knitting pattern. These are super cute and would make quick, fun and thoughtful Xmas gifts. They are sort of like these. Don't you think?

On the letterpress front, I've decided to run a monthly shop promotion over at my shop. I'm going to feature a card or card set each month, and list it at wholesale price. First up for November will be a 4 pack of Scribble Bird cards for 8 bucks. I have a smallish inventory of these left and figured why not try to liquidate them.

I took a new photo so I'm ready to list them on November 1.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mini Card Portfolios (West Coat)

It has been my goal since I started on this letterpress adventure, to sell my cards. I have been in search for a way to display them when I show them, and on a recent trip to my local art store I found these little mini art portfolios. They are 5" x 7", Itoya brand with black paper lined pages. I slip a sleeved card into each page pocket, and fill them with about 10 cards each. If I put more than that they look too bulky.

I have been working up the nerve to take them around to local shops. Today was the day. My first day. My response was good. I am really encouraged. I will go out again Wednesday and Thursday around my town, then next week head out a bit further. After years of working so closely with Amy with all things graphic, I am not used to doing things on my own. I have always had a sidekick to handle these stressful little situations. I was surprised by my lack of nerves when it came down to the actual moment of show and tell. Amy, your turn! Try it! It was actually fun, and rewarding!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Christmas in October (West Coast)

It is getting close to Halloween, and my kids are definitely in the dress up mindset. Alan is working on a very cool costume for Katie, and Ethan is set with his ghoulish choice. They are all outside today decorating our house for next weekend. We live in a neighborhood that takes holidays seriously. We expect about 400 trick or treaters coming to our door Halloween night. We run out of candy each year, setting our budget for how much we will spend ahead, and closing up after we run out.

With all this going on it seems strange to be thinking ahead about Christmas, but as a crafter and printer, that is the mode I am in. I have been working on Christmas presents, and printing up holiday cards... This is my latest print run, and I really like the way the illustration came out. I am starting to box up some sets and will have them up on Etsy soon.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Warmth or Lack Thereof (Midwest)

Ok. It's frigging cold here. Outside. Inside. All over. I fear November, can't even think about December, and may have to move by January.

In an effort to save on our winter heating bill, I agreed to "wait" to turn on our heat. We've made a fire in the fireplace every night. We have a brand new high tech, mica space heater that moves about the house. But, mind you, it was 59 degrees in our dining room the other morning. 59! Joey says, "it's just a matter of putting on more clothes each morning". He and I will have to have a little "talk" tonight.

You can probably imagine why I am knitting fast and furiously. If I could knit wool long underwear I would! Leg warmers have been my thing. Here's a pair I finished in 5 days. I used up two balls of Noro kureyon yarn from my stash. They are super warm and I even had someone stop to ask about them at the grocery store. I'm pretty pleased with myself.

Ok. I will stop griping about the weather and get back to my son (the one who has frozen solid on the couch). I'll post in a day or two with photos of items to go up on Etsy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hey Y'All! (Midwest)

I'm home from my 5 day adventure in the Nashville area. I could probably blog several pages about the Franklin, Tennessee area and the things I saw, ate and did there, BUT, this blog is "supposed" to be chronicling my crafty-designy side so I will post something related to that.

I present to you Hatch Show Print. Hatch is an example of a successful letterpress business. Located right downtown, the Hatch people have been designing and printing show posters for Music City for quite some time. I think the business originally opened in the late 1800s creating advertising for local companies. Today you can come in and watch them work, pet their shop cat (if he isn't grumpy from being stepped on) and browse and shop.

The things I liked most in the shop were the postcards made from make ready sheets. I love that they don't let these practice prints go to waste. I bought several cards which I'm deciding what to do with. Maybe frame them as a set. The image below is a make ready sheet that they had woven into an interesting wall hanging. Very clever and fun to look at.

It's good to be home, but it's too cold here. Winter cometh.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I See Blue (West Coast)

OK. I am coming up for air. I have been under various projects, and haven't made time for blogging lately... Thank you Amy for picking up the slack. Love your photos that you have been taking. I am jealous of your lovely new camera, and your cool lens!

I have been busy with my needles lately, and have quite the stack of rags going... Amy and I started these back in Chicago during our cold wet craft show. I am on number six, but last week when I set up my little stack, I only had four finished. I love the colors of the yarn. It is the first time I have tried this out — new from Blue Sky Alpaca, it is called Skinny Cotton. Blue Sky always has such a pretty palate of colors to choose from. I have a few more skeins left, but I am itching to buy a few more... Always more possibilities to the color combinations.

I printed Monday morning, but I don't think I will be printing again this week. I am having ink troubles, and need to figure it out before I print more. My ink seems to be drying immediately. I am not sure why... I will try to post on Briar Press in the next day to see if anyone has any advise. It is late my time, and I need to get up early.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Spectacular Fall (Midwest)

The tv weather liars said that today will "probably" be the last warm day we will have until April. Now, normally this news would depress me. I'm too smitten by the beauty outside to be sad. The trees are amazing. Reds, yellows, oranges. I love fall in Wisconsin.

It's hard to focus on indoor tasks when it's so wonderful outside. Here is my laundry list of goals for this week:

1. start knitting leg warmers in preparation for the cold weather
2. continue to shoot a photo per day to post in my group (so far so good)
3. letterpress on Wednesday
4. finish my a holiday design project for a client
5. go to Tennessee to see Joy on Thursday

I think I will wait until tomorrow's cold front to start attacking this list. :)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Bokeh Sunday (Midwest)

"Bokeh is a photographic term referring to the appearance of out-of-focus areas in an image produced by a camera lens using a shallow depth of field", as per Wikipedia.

You may have already figured out that I'm into bokeh since almost every photo I post on this blog blurs out. When I take a photo I'm purposely trying to use focus and depth of field to enhance my composition. So, in an effort to improve my photography skills I signed myself up for a self imposed photography project. I joined the 365 Bokeh flickr group. My task now is to shoot and post one photo per day for a year (gulp) that incorporates bokeh. Yes, I realize I may not be able to squeeze this into my busy schedule. I might even have to eliminate a boat cruise here a manicure there, etc. Oh wait, I don't get manicures or go on boat cruises. I'm good!

So today, besides shooting one photo, I need to make more of these notebooks for a wholesale order. Other than kid activities, those are the only things on my calendar. It should be a nice day.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Moving (Midwest)

No. I'm not moving. Been there. Done that. But, my good friend, Joy did. (Damn her.) As a good bye gift I offered to make up some letterpress moving announcements for her family. I printed them a few days ago and mailed them off to her today.

Here is a detail of the design. The left column has illustrations depicting her "old" life in Wisconsin and the right column is the "new" life in Tennessee.

I definitely have to go visit and while I'm there I hope to go here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Knitting or Xanax? (Midwest)

Dang, TV is hard to watch these days. It's so stressful. There are reminders of the intensities of our current situation everywhere. In an effort to keep myself calm during my sporadic tv viewing, I am back at my knitting. If I'm about to sit down for the evening news, I need my knitting for protection!

I started this warshrag when I was in Chicago with Laurie. The pattern is from the Mason Dixon knitting ladies. Love them! I see they have a new book out, too. I must add that to my wish list.

I'm sure to finish the warshrag during the VP debates, so I will need a new knitting project. This is exciting. It will require going to the yarn store for some hard core yarn fondling. Maybe I'll take my camera. The rows of colorful fibers would make a good study. Any suggestions on what I should knit next?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Red (Midwest)

I have surfaced to post. I've been sick. Sam decided to share his intestinal virus with me last week, and then his cold. Of course my body was so clever, and created a nifty sinus infection from the cold by products. Anyway, bedrest, aspirin and antibiotics saved me and here I am. Posting. With not much to say.

I will just put up a few pictures from yesterday's apple picking excursion. Red wagons. Red apples. Red berries. Red t-shirts. Hooray for a theme!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rain-e-gade (Midwest)

Laurie and I have successfully completed our first Renegade Craft Fair experience. I can sum up the fair with one word - wet. It rained almost 7 inches the first day, a record one day rainfall for Chicago, and another 2 or 3 inches the second day. Despite the rain, people still came out. And, when the rain stopped it got really busy. Sales were not bad considering the weather. A huge thank you to those of you who donned your rain gear and came out.

Sharing a booth with Boh Bon Soap Co. was definitely the way to go. Setting up a wet tent in a downpour was much easier with three people. And, we were able to take breaks as often as we wanted.

The time we spent before and after the fair was great, too. Our hotel was very cool and smelled great (seriously).

We bought two day El passes to get around. We ate yummy food at Penny's Noodle Shop, Milk and Honey and CBA. We shopped Wicker Park and Armitage (twice). Yesterday, when the rain was finished, we drove through the Loop and up Lakeshore Drive. I am in love with Chicago. It's a fantastic city.

So now I am home unpacking, drying my shoes, stowing the show tables, etc. It's nice to be here and think about what's next. I have a moving card to print and some wholesale inquiries to follow up on.

Finally, I'd like to thank those who posted about us and Renegade. We sure appreciate the blog mentions. Thanks, bohaute, Poppytalk, Roadside Scholar, Broadway Paper

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Off to Chicago! (Midwest)

This week I have been packaging up card after card after card after card after card after card after card (you get the idea). It's time to road trip to the most amazing craft fair ever. It's time for Renegade!

Tomorrow morning after I drop the squirts at school I'm off to O'hare to fetch Laurie for our long weekend of craft fairing, knitting, eating, hoteling, shopping, etc. I don't think we have ever been on vacation together, just the two of us. I can't wait. Of course we will be busy with Renegade on Saturday and Sunday (come see us!), but there is much time to play beyond our fair obligations.

I'm excited to introduce Laurie to Chicago. I lived and worked in the Windy City several years ago and I still miss it. Whenever I'm there I get a rush. Sometimes, I fantasize about buying a loft in Wicker Park as a weekend home. I could set up my loft with fully stocked art studio complete with letterpress area. Sigh.

Back to reality, I need to tidy up a few things and then start packing. Fingers crossed that it doesn't rain as planned.