31 May 2008

And the winners are . . .

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Redesign Giveaway! It was wonderful to hear people's thoughts (and yes, Jane will most certainly stay--- she just may have a bit of a makeover and broaden her horizons). It's given me lots to think about while my materials are being packed away, and it's nice to know that I have some fresh new ideas to breathe life into once I unpack.

So without further ado . . .

First Place Winner (three items): Looking Glass Jewels
Second Place Winner (two items): Carrien
Third Place Winner (one item): Marriah

If you are one of the winners, please email me (address at top right) with your mailing address and the items you would like in my shop (the Jane notebooks just sold out, sorry!). If I do not hear from winners by Monday, I will reselect numbers as necessary.

28 May 2008

Cold Sesame Noodles (Vegan)

Cooking seems to be my main form of creativity these days. I prepared cold sesame noodles last night, chockablock with thinly sliced red peppers and snow peas, since the weather is warming up. They're even better for lunch the next day.

You can get the recipe here.

And don't forget to enter the giveaway, running until the 30th (this Friday).

26 May 2008


Today was a perfect sort of day . . . not quite summer, but you feel yourself slipping into the ease of the season. I spent the day in flip flops, saw my friend Amy for coffee and smoothies, and relaxed on the front porch for a dinner of beer and corn on the cob. "Ah" is right.

{Psssst . . . don't forget to enter the giveaway below!)

25 May 2008

A Redesign Giveaway

As many readers know, I'm currently having a sale in my shop so I can clear out most of my stock before we move to New Mexico at the end of June.

I haven't been making much lately, instead taking the time to read, blog, and reflect on my business on a whole. While I'm feeling the itch to create, I'm starting to look at the sale and move as an opportunity rather than a delay--- as someone who has crafting ADD, it will be exciting to redesign Paper Menagerie with a cohesive look and feel that truly represents my ideas--- and add new products to the line.

This is where you come in!

1. Please take a look through my shop and leave a comment below. What designs or aesthetic would you like to see remain? Are there any cards or colors you identify my line with? Are there any new products you'd like to see when I relaunch in September? I would really love to hear your thoughts!

2. Commenting will be open until Friday, May 30th. On the 30th, names will be drawn using the Random Number Generator.

3. The Grand Prize Winner will receive three items of their choosing from my shop, the second place winner two, and the third place winner one. (If the winners do not respond to messages within three days, I will select another winner.) Best of luck!

22 May 2008


Previously I posted about a book I adore, The Boss of You: Everything A Woman Needs to Know to Start, Run, and Maintain Her Own Business (you can read the original post here). Cicada Studio also purchased the book and posted one of the questions from the initial chapters on her blog, along with her answer. I was initially shy about sharing mine, but it was so fun to read the responses over at Cicada Studio that I thought I'd post another question from the book here:

What colors, tastes, and smells come to mind when you think of your business?

Colors: This was easy, since I use many of them in my work. I'm inspired by the seasons, but I'd describe my overall palette as "bright vintage" (more on that and it's relationship to another previous post later). I'm consistently drawn to pale turquoise, red, pink, yellow, brown, and ivory.

Tastes and smells: Since I work mostly with paper, this is much more abstract, and so much fun to think about. The scent of mock orange, vanilla, and lavender come to mind. In terms of taste, definitely a lot of my grandmother's recipes: ginger molasses cookies, Earl Grey tea, rasberry squares, and rhubarb custard pie. I never realized my stationery was an endless series of desserts before!

These were my initial responses I wrote while reading the book on a flight from Michigan to Boston. Looking back, these are colors, smells, and tastes from the earliest stage of my crafting life--- I learned to sew alongside my grandmother, when she would have me make doll clothes while she worked on other projects around the house. So many of the fabrics she gave me to work with were vintage scraps in the colors above, and so many of the tastes are foods she fed (and still feeds) me! I look foward to posting more questions and responses to show how influential she has been.

What about you? What colors, tastes, or smells do you see in your work?

20 May 2008

Five Year Diary

I used to keep journals regularly, until a fit of middle school mortification made me through them all away. Now, I'm too overwhelmed by the idea of filling entire blank pages. That's why I really want a 5 Year Diary. A neat little book like that would make it possible to remember each day as it passes without being filled with guilt at my lack of poetic reflection.

Wouldn't it be so fun to look back at five years at once, while only having to write a few spare sentences in the meantime?

Illustrator: Edmund Dulac

I'm "absorbing" more than creating lately--- so I thought I would post some images from another favorite illustrator of mine, Edmund Dulac. I love the mysterious animals (that phaeton pulled by frogs with fairy wings!), dark colors, and rich details.

(Pssst . . . I was able to find some Gyo Fujikawa books, so as soon as those arrive I will post more images from her work!)

19 May 2008

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

It's that time of year again. My all-time favorite season, when the rhubarb is ready and bitter and sweet (sort of how I feel about life right now in general).

Initially my husband, who grew up in the Southwest, didn't "get" rhubarb. "It's like weird red celery in sugar, " he'd say. But I knew it was love when he'd still bring me back rhubarb tartlets from the fancy bakery he worked at. He's coming around now.

The best kind, the ultimate really, is homemade. My grandmother sent me home with lots of fresh rhubarb yesterday and I was already looking forward to making strawberry rhubarb crisp. In fact, it's baking in the oven right now as I write this. Here's what you need:

1 pound strawberries, sliced
4-5 stalks rhubarb, cut into 1" chunks (I use lots, you might like less)
1/4 c. granulated sugar

3/4 c. rolled oats
1/2 c/ flour
1 tbsp. light brown sugar
1/2 stick of butter
dash of cinnamon
1 pinch each of nutmeg and allspice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss strawberries, rhubarb, and granulated sugar in a 9" square, ungreased baking pan. In a mixing bowl, cut all other ingredients with pastry cutter or two knives until small crumbs are formed. Pat over fruit. Bake for 25-35 minutes until bubbling and crumb top is golden. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

18 May 2008

Over the River and Through the Woods

You know you had a charmed country childhood when this is the road to your grandmother's house.

I haven't made anything in a long time, but I did consume lots of rhubarb pie this weekend. I visited with my ninety-four year old grandmother, walked in her garden with her, and learned that she used to have her sewing table in the bathroom (with fourteen children, it was the only place with room for it). Next time I have studio envy, remind me of my family's humble craft beginnings!

16 May 2008

Illustrator: Gyo Fujikawa

{Photo provided by tanjarina}

A few months ago I was visiting my mother when she pulled out a favorite childhood book of mine, Come Follow Me. Published in 1982 and gorgeously illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa, I couldn't help but look at the book with new eyes--- the woodsy setting, stylized flowers, little owls and children, and color schemes all seem so "now."

I'm actually scoping the internet for two used copies of the book (currently out-of-print). I'd love one in my library to keep on hand for inspiration (and I have specific plans to be revealed later), but I'd love another copy to mat and frame some of the favorite illustrations.

Once I get my hands on one, I'll scan a few images. I think the one above is actually from a different book, and the illustrations I remember are a bit softer and more ethereal. They're worth coming back for, I promise!

Craft note: This Japanese website has at least one embroidery design based on Fujikawa's illustrations. At least that's what I think. I can't read Japanese.

15 May 2008

The Waves

While sorting through my bookshelves, I rediscovered this vintage copy of Virginia Woolf (given to me by an old professor). Don't you just love the cover design?

14 May 2008

Shop Update and Sale

It seems a little strange to update the shop and continue the "buy one, get one" sale at the same time, but I'm really hoping to lighten our load before we move to New Mexico. I listed some more magnets today. The ones above are my favorite of the new sets--- I'm loving the quirky pink cockatoo and pert morning glory.

12 May 2008

Book Review: The Boss of You

My apologies for the lack of posts this weekend. My husband and I had to fly to Michigan on short notice for a family gathering of sorts, so everything at home was left up in the air.

One huge benefit to this last minute trip, though, was that we had a lot of time to talk and reflect since we were out of our daily routine. My husband and I spent a lot of time this weekend talking with family about our upcoming move, and how it's a great time to reassess our lives in general--- what we want, where we're going, how we're getting there.

For several years now I've had the desire to open a a small brick and mortar store focusing on handmade--- not just my items, but the amazing objects created by artists I've had the pleasure of meeting over the last few years. While everyone around me is always encouraging, I'm always scared. The task is too daunting, too risky. I'll tell myself "After we can afford a house" or "After we have a baby." This weekend, though, hammered home that "after" doesn't always happen.

After all these weighty conversations, I picked up the book The Boss of You: Everything A Woman Needs to Know to Start, Run, and Maintain Her Own Business for the plane ride home. The book is, in a work, amazing. While I've read a lot of craft and business books over the past year or so, including Craft, Inc.: Turn Your Creative Hobby into a Business, I think The Boss of You is my favorite yet.

The authors are women entrepreneurs who wanted their web design business to stay small, and write with those same type of women in mind. They're straightfoward and help you envision your business identity (with exercises you'll actually want to complete), are there is a helpful (if not scary) chapters on determining your startup costs and networking with potential customers and fellow business owners. While actually opening a shop still seems daunting, it also seems hopeful---

I'd love to hear from others who read the book or have opened brick and mortars. What was your experience? Any advice that you have for fledgling entrepreneurs?

05 May 2008

Photography Play Continued

It rained most of the weekend, but today was lovely . . . so I nabbed the chance to leave work when I could and took Chesney, my Jack Russell, on a long walk. I took the camera with me again, and while I don't seem to be shooting much besides all the lovely flowers in bloom, I had fun all the same. When I got home I took the time to photograph some of my button magnets and update the shop. I realized (yet again) how much inspiration I get just from my everyday surroundings. Or do I just connect with the same things in the everyday that I do when I create? I think the side by side comparisons here will illustrate my point.

Dogwood blossoms against the sky and buttons made from a vintage children's book.

Apple blossoms (my May favorite smell--- you can't beat coming across an old apple tree in the Vermont woods in May) and Alice in Wonderland in pink.

Both sets of buttons are available in the shop, and the "buy one, get one" deal is still being honored!

Poppies and Other New Magnets In the Shop

I did a little shop update today featuring these poppy magnets, my current personal favorites.

04 May 2008

Pink and Grey

Just a picture I took in downtown Boston over the weekend (if you remember my previous post, I'm trying to get in the habit of carrying my camera around, and spring in Boston is just so darn pretty). It was a grey day, but the pink tulips and lunch with a dear friend made it much, much brighter.

My blog posts may be a little infrequent in the coming weeks, but hoping that everyone has a lovely start to May.

More Midcentury Modern Love

Well, I have not had a chance to print the new library cards on my Gocco yet. But I have found the time to update the shop with a few more sets of stickers. I'm pretty partial to these right now--- a combination of blue and green midcentury modern prints and some birds.

Don't forget that I'm currently have a moving sale! It's "buy one, get one" on all items in the shop.

Have a Seat

I'm really loving vintage midcentury modern furniture lately. It has such clean, soothing lines, and seems like an ecologically sound choice--- finding beauty in what already exists rather than making more "stuff."

I feel in love with this reupholstered vintage chair from Spruce Home as soon as I saw it. The green and yellow parakeets on the fabric is modern but sweet. Unfortunately (for me) it sold already, but you can see more of Spruce Home here.

03 May 2008

Mushroom Logs

Another one of my domestic fantasies has been to grow my own food. This might be decidedly more difficult in New Mexico, as I want to be ecologically responsible and not use an insane amount of water. Part of me wonders if doing container gardening with a few select edibles would be a smarter choice.

One thing I think would be really cool is a mushroom log. You can grow them indoors and they are available here for a very reasonable price, are certified organic, and yield two to four crops of shiitake mushrooms. Very cool, huh?

{Picture by tonyolm on Flickr.)

02 May 2008

Green Thumbs in a Brown Landscape

One of my work friends has become more and more fixated on the fact that I'm a born Vermonter moving to a very brown landscape. It doesn't help that he visits his mother-in-law in Albuquerque, so it seems that all his associations are pretty negative.

He keeps stressing the point that I soon as I move, I must start building up a collection of houseplants. And he insisted on green, not "little orchids on sticks." As much as I want him to stop harping, this struck me as a swell idea. Right now, we have only one plant, a pathetic-looking Pothos that has been slowly languishing due to the fact that our apartment is in a dark Victorian house (a house that killed off a gorgeous Swedish ivy I had). I thought Pothos plants were impossible to kill, but this apartment just might do it in.

Along with the terrariums I previously posted about (here and here), I'd love a collection of green things on adobe window ledges. And lots and lots of succulents. And to learn more about xerioscaping. If anyone has any ideas for easy houseplants or arrangements, please post them here!

{All images above from Flickr: 1. houseplant hospital, 2. venus flyt rap, 3. Houseplant - Philodendron, 4. Houseplant, 5. Houseplant - Spider Plant, 6. Jade Plant in Bloom, 7. Desert Rose, 8. Houseplant in hydroculture, 9. spikey}

01 May 2008

Timing is a Funny Thing

After my overtired whining yesterday, I received my shipment of library cards today! I'll be creating ten sets this weekend and adding them to the shop! I'm very excited to have a bit of time on the Gocco to look forward too.

I'm thinking of updating the old cards with an illustration from a vintage textbook on the Dewey decimal system, perhaps in burgundy on manila. Or one of my favorite Gocco colors, a rich chocolate (er, poop?) brown. Any thoughts?

{Disclaimer: I'm a little embarassed that these have been one of my best sellers on Etsy, as much as I continue to get a kick out of them. I make the pretty, I swear. Also, I am now a virtual vault of poop stories told to me by strangers at craft shows all across New England. Aside from libraries, Target seems to be high on the list.}
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