22 December 2007

Branching Out in 2008

I'll be taking a bit of a blogging break and will return in January to show you lots of new projects, ideas, and inspirations. Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy New Year.

Tabletop Christmas Trees

We barely have enough room in our place for an, erm, table, but I love the idea of tabletop Christmas trees. I remember a childhood neighbor who used to have tabletop trees in every room of her house, including her child's bedrooms. It seemed so magical at the time. These images are from Martha Stewart.

18 December 2007

Winter Comfort Food: Curried Lentils

Last night it was bitter cold in Boston, and cooking vegetarian comfort food is, well, so comforting. Cooking is definitely a relaxing activity for me. I made a simplified version of Indian food--- curried lentils (the recipe is here) over brown basmati rice. It's fabulous leftover, too.

17 December 2007

Blueprint's Soft, Pretty Christmas

There's been a lot of sadness over Blueprint magazine closing shop, and I thought I would post a few fresh images from their Christmas issue. I only picked up the magazine a few times, but I really liked their younger take on decorating (younger without cheesy dorm furniture, that is).

The blog Bluelines (an extension of the magazine) is still available online, for all those who need a fix.

16 December 2007

Gazing from my window to the streets below . . .

On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.

Said Simon and Garfunkel. Happy Sunday morning from a perfectly snowy, quiet Boston.

Green, Wasabi Wonderfulness

Please note that I do not take full credit for this recipe. It's a simplification/combination/variation of two recipes from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics and Jeanette Lemlin's Quick Vegetarian Pleasures.

To prepare tofu:

3 tbsp tamari soy sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 block firm tofu, pressed and cut into cubes

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Combined all ingredients except for tofu. Toss tofu in mixture until well coated. Spread on tightly oiled baking dish with some space between cubes. Bake for 15-20 minutes, while preparing rest of meal.

Wasabi Noodles with Greens

1 crown broccoli, chopped
2-3 heads baby bok choy, chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 8 oz. package soba noodles
1 and 3/4 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp tamari soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp wasabi (paste, not powder)

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add soba noodles and boil for 7-8 minutes, until almost done. While noodles and vegetables are cooking, combine vegetable stock, tamari, mirin, and wasabi to a small pot. Bring to a boil. Add broccoli to soba noodles. After one minute, add bok choy. Wait another 1-2 minutes. Drain noodle and vegetables.

In a large shallow, bowl, ladle wasabi broth over soba noodles and vegetables. Top with baked tofu and scallions. Enjoy a really comforting but healthy meal!

15 December 2007

Craft, Inc. Review

For the last couple of months, the book Craft, Inc. has been making the blog rounds. Written by Meg Mateo Ilasco, it seems to be the "must read" for everyone setting up Etsy shops and longing to do their craft full time.

I read the book back in November and would recommend it to others. While I found some information rather basic and common sense (and readily available on the web for free), the book has inspiring profiles of independent designers who "went pro," including Jonathan Adler and Port2Port Press. There's also a handy list of web resources in the back of the book, information on building wholesale accounts, and tips on considering trade shows. Overall, it's a good reminder of all the things I should be doing . . . someday.

14 December 2007

Rural Decay

I love old places. I love open spaces. I grew up in Vermont and have a irrational fondness for tumbledown barns and rotting fence posts. I've traveled to places like Provence and driven cross country, and my favorite sights are always "old and musty," for lack of a better term.

That's why I was so pleased to discover the Rural Decay pool on Flickr today. It's a visual tour of the beauty of overlooked and forgotten things.

08 December 2007

Les Invasions Ephemeres

The vinyl wall decals from Paris-based company Les Invasions Ephemeres have been making the blog rounds lately, and I can totally see why. I'm lusting after both the pink Liberty-print deer decals and the Marie Antoinette-style ceiling decals. Just lovely. Now if I only had a Paris apartment to put them in . . .

Stop in The Name of Craft, and Another Holiday Show

I was with the lovely ladies of Boston Handmade this past Thursday as we participated in the Jamaica Plain First Thursdays on Centre Street. I cannot say enough lovely things about the community--- it's like the Vermont of Boston neighborhoods. People always stop to say hi, ask you about your process, and are truly interested in your work. I love doing shows here (plus, it helps that Miss Jessica Burko seems to anyone and everyone in JP).

BUT . . . did I mention we had a space in a bank lobby? Wainwright Bank was kind enough to lend us a space and it went very smoothly until the end of the night, when a rather aggressive armed security officer appeared, told us the alarms were going off (unbeknownst to us), and that no one was leaving without showing him their ID. Six little crafty ladies stood strong, everyone refused, and the whole mess was finally cleared up when the owner of the building came in. Hrrrmmm . . . perhaps this is one of those "you had to be there" situations.

In case you are doing any holiday shopping this weekend, I will be showing at the Holiday Arts Happening in Worcester, MA this Sunday from 11:00 to 6:00. You can click on the link for directions and other artists. Hope to see you there!

02 December 2007

Let It Snow

Feeling festive? Use old plastic toys or vintage figurines to make adorable homemade snow globes. The how-to is available on Martha.

Terrariums on Flickr

Awhile back I posted about my desire for a terrarium, along with a lovely picture of Ann Wood's version (you can see that post here).

Some Etsy people were very helpful in giving me some advice, and hobbledehoy found a whole Flickr pool of terrarium images! I posted some of the most inspiring above.

I plan on gathering some lichen, moss, and ferns near my family's cabin in Vermont. I wonder if I can do this successfully in winter, or if I need to wait until spring? I'm also shopping around for some cute vintage figurines to place in the container.

All this thinking about plants also reminded me that I'm woefully behind if I want to force paperwhite bulbs in time for Christmas! Oh, the projects I come up with . . .

29 November 2007

Inspiration Boards

I already adore the Inspiration Board Blog, and now (thanks to decor8), the Inspiration Board Flickr group! There's so many amazing photos showing different designers' inspirations; four out of hundreds are shown above. It makes me want to organize my very, very, very small "studio space" (an alcove in our one bedroom apartment). Someday soon. I swear.

26 November 2007

Lyndie Dourthe

I'm so happy I found the work (via Blosem) of French artist Lyndie Dourthe. Her "Boite a tresors" and "Anatomie" series really speak to the Victorianist in me. I particularly love the little collection of fabric mushrooms under a bell jar.

25 November 2007

Rachel Denny

This is an amazing new twist on all those hunting trophies I saw during my Vermont childhood. A "domestic trophy" by artist Rachel Denny.

24 November 2007

My Very First Interview

Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Jaye, a fellow Boston Handmade member. You can read the interview here, on Jaye's blog.

Jaye does amazing work herself, and you can see her Etsy shop here.

20 November 2007

Detail Oriented

As promised, here are some detail shots of doll clothes I made when I was little.

I really, truly wish I had the capability to make an life-size version of this Edwardian blue velvet coat. Here's the full thing:

And here is the tassel detail on the back:
And here is the flip side of the back of the coat, lined in a calico print that compliments the tassel:

Here's the calico lining both sides:
Love is in the details, don't you think?

Snail Mail Swap Now Closed

Thank you to everyone who signed up for my "Celebrate Snail Mail" swap. Letters will go out by December 1st.

Depending on the success of this first swap, I'd like to have another soon!

17 November 2007

"Celebrate Snail Mail" Swap

9/15/2008: Please note that this swap is now closed. I'm not sure where it is linked, but I am not taking any more submissions. Please check more recent blog entries for more recent news! Thank you :)

Isn't stationery great? In the age of email, I love receiving handwritten notes and cards. In honor of the civilized art of correspondence, I'm organizing the first ever "Celebrate Snail Mail" swap. Participants will send one piece of snail mail and receive one piece of snail mail in turn.

If you would like to participate, please email me with your name, email address, and snail mail address. I will reply to all participants with an address and send-by date.

Tiny Clothes by Tiny People, Part 2

Here is the "school outfit" my grandmother and I made years and years ago. She knitted the tiny sweater, and I made the plaid skirt.

Tiny Clothes by Tiny People

I've been thinking a lot about my grandmother lately, and unearthed a box of doll clothes we made together when I was about 8 or 9 years old. Believe it or not, she taught me to do most of this detailed work myself. We worked from a reproduction of early 1900s doll patterns ordered from the Standard Doll Company, whose catalog we used to droll over together. One project we did was this blue velvet coat with calico lining. I wish it came in human size! I will post more detailed pictures of the lining and back details later.

14 November 2007

Jamaica Plain on December 6th

On Thursday, December 6 I will be showing my work in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. This is a group show with other fabulous members of Boston Handmade and is held in conjunction with the Jamaica Plain Centre/South Main Streets. Other local Etsy artists include Reclaimed To You, Muchacha K Handmade, Glamorpuss Creations, and Buddy System Productions.

Hope to see you there!

12 November 2007

Lifestyle Shots

I'm currently experimenting with "lifestyle shots" of my work--- a particular challenge since we live in a dark Victorian house in New England (think old windows and lots of wood).

While the scans of my work show the detail and color, I wanted pictures of cards in use. I think correspondence and nice stationery add a civilized touch in today's technological world. So I loaded a tray with some "civilized" components (tea, anyone?) and shot some pictures outside today.

Both cards in these pictures are available for purchase in my Etsy shop.

Star Light, Star Bright

We were up in Vermont this weekend unexpectedly and for sad rather than positive reasons. I couldn't sleep and walked out in the cold, still morning air to take this picture. I've always loved the play of dark branches against sky . . . I think I'll work with this image in some printmaking after the busy holiday show schedule slows down.

11 November 2007

Stillness in Vermont

A montage of shots I took at my grandmother's house in Vermont. I love the feeling of calm that sweeps over me there. (And on a crafty note, the sewing machine is the one I learned on as a child.)

10 November 2007

Rebecca Thuss

After posting about Raydel Photography, I had to share my favorite image from photographer and stylist Rebecca Thuss (via Oh Joy!).

Her inspiration board and arrangement of model horses really make me wish I had a larger studio space. It also makes me wish I hadn't given away my vast collection of Breyer model horses to a little cousin! I even had the black ones on the left and the bay Morgan horse in the middle of Thuss' collection.

Thuss' arrangement also reminded me of the cards I created on my Gocco a few months back . . . which you can see here and here.

07 November 2007

Raydel Photography

Raydel Photography has been making the rounds in the blog world lately, and I am so glad her Etsy shop is getting some exposure! I love, love, love her photographs of vintage model horses. They remind me of my childhood bedroom all grown up.

06 November 2007

Christmas Card Designs

I've been busy as of late printing new Christmas card designs on my Gocco. I made the commitment to print the whole line on 100% recycled cardstock; I particularly like the look of the prints on kraft paper! They're available individually and in sets in my Etsy shop.

Little Earth

I was just telling my husband the other night that I wanted to start a terrarium (I got a pretty blank look). Unfortunately, I think our current apartment is too dark anyway. But look at the lovely image I happened upon from Ann Wood's blog. I love the mixture of lovely mosses and the little figurine. I'd love to have a collection of bell jars and containers with moss, lichen, and a small miniature here and there.

31 October 2007

Boston Handmade November 18

For those in the Boston area, I will be doing a "Boston Handmade" show on Sunday, November 18th from 12-5:00 PM. There will be complimentary wine and hors d'ouvres! Other Boston Handmade members featured include Amy Olson Jewelery, Creatively Anew, Designs by Lulubelle, Jessica Burko, Ship by RLS, Thirteenthstory, Stonehouse Studio, and Zesty Betsy.

The show is being held at Dalias Wine Bar and Bistro at 1657 Beacon Street in Brookline, Massachusetts. Come by, say hi, do some holiday shopping, and enjoy some wine and cheese!

30 October 2007

Poppytalk Handmade!

Paper Menagerie will be participating in the Poppytalk Handmade online holiday market starting on November 5th! Please check for us then.

29 October 2007

Vegetarian Chick'n Pot Pie

(Handmade bowl by my Uncle Len)

There are some meat-based comfort foods that I miss. A lot. One is chicken pot pie. Using Morningstar Farms Chick'n Strips (and a recipe from Martha as a basis), I recreated a great vegetarian version that my husband and I love!

Here's a basic recipe:

1 packet Morningstar Farms Chick'n Strips
1 tbsp olive oil
4 carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1-2 stalks celery, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 large potato, cut into small cubes
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups lowfat milk (or soy milk)
1 10 oz package frozen peas
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Trader Joe's phyllo crust (or 6 phyllo pastry sheets), thawed.

You can also add mushrooms, green beans, or other veggies you have on hand.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Microwave Chik'n strips according to package directions and cut into chunks. Set aside.

Heat oil in large skillet. Add onions and potato and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add carrots, celery, and thyme. Cook 2-3 minutes more. Add flour and stir to coat. Cook one minute. Add milk and stir until smooth. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens, about 8 minutes.

Remove from heat and add peas and lemon juice. Spoon mixture into oven-proof dish. Cover with thawed phyllo crust. Bake until golden and bubbling, 20-25 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

28 October 2007

A Green Christmas

This year, I am designing my first line of holiday cards--- and made the commitment that they will all be on 100% recycled paper. As my business grows, I am more and more cognizant that about my responsibilities and the choices I make about my products. I try to live in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner in my daily life, and am making a more concerted effort to carry that over into my business practices.

I love the natural kraft paper with folkloric and botanical prints (available in my Etsy shop).

27 October 2007

Arthur Wesley Dow

Last weekend my husband and I went to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts to see the exhibit "Symbols of Power: Napoleon and the Art of Empire Style". The exhibit itself was a bust (I find the Napoleonic aesthetic rather hideous), but I was pleased to discover a small collection of printmaker Arthur Wesley Dow in a small side exhibit.

Dow's cyanotypes and prints are so lovely, delicate, and natural. They recall not only the era in which they were made, but the sunprints I made as a child and the Zen calm of Asian art.

24 October 2007

Angela Adams Rug

If you haven't noticed from the cards in my Etsy shop, I adore deer. Which is exactly why I'm coveting this rug from Angela Adams (via Oh Joy).

23 October 2007

Literary Leanings

I have both my B.A. and M.A. in English and have been an avid reader all my life. I love books as objects as well. I collect old books (I have about ten different editions of Jane Eyre alone) and find myself drawn to colorful, vintage covers--- especially with my growing interest in graphic design and printmaking.

These are two of my favorite covers, from the first editions of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Not only did both these books change the way I think about the world, but the design of each cover is lovely to consider.

I was also thrilled to stumble upon Kate Spade's "An Argument for Looking at Books Instead of Reading Them," an online collection of fabulous book covers from the 1950s and 60s. You can even download gorgeous book covers like the one below.

19 October 2007

Fall Fruit at 3191

I love these images of seasonal fruits from my favorite visual blog, 3191. Cozy, lush, and just plain pretty.

18 October 2007

Charley Harper's Birds

Oh Joy! recently had a post on print artist Charley Harper, and I just had to find out more about him. I love the midcentury color palette, I think his prints of birds are particularly gorgeous. It makes me want to learn so much more about printmaking.

There is a great slide show of Harper's print and more on the new book of his work by designer Todd Oldham here.

Meet Chesney

Chesney is my six year old Jack Russell mix who is finally calming down. Chesney came into my life during graduate school at a time when I really needed some furry, unconditional love. He and I have been together ever since. And it was tough on him when I met my husband--- who was referred to (in our human heads, at least) as the "evil stepfather" for quite some time.

Chesney's quirky personality brings humor to my life almost every day, in one form or another. Along with him, my general love of dogs inspired a new line of "dog pun" cards. The "Jack Russell Terrorist" is first in the series, and designs two and three are coming soon!

All card designs are available in my Etsy shop.

17 October 2007

News From Nowhere

After experiencing some success (and having a lot of fun) on Etsy with my Gocco cards and prints, I decided to formally name my line and open a new shop under the moniker Paper Menagerie.

This blog will show my works in progress, finished projects, and where I get my inspiration from. Hope you enjoy!
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