Monday, May 31, 2010

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Collage 3: Limestone Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon

Click on photo to enlarge image.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Collage 2: Coachella at Night

Click on photo to enlarge image.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Collage 1: The Statues of Asheville's Biltmore Estate

Click on photo to enlarge image.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Photo Collage Week

Hold onto your pants because for the next 7 days I'll be posting a themed photo collage every day. It's going to be a visual extravaganza!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Travel Survival Essential: Duct Tape

I've been completely fascinated with all the weird but charming things being made out of duct tape lately. Not to mention all the pretty new colors and patterns they now come in. Bright pink, green, metallic, plaid, polka dot, damask...

So I picked up a roll of teal and metallic silver and taped together a luggage tag. Why a luggage tag you ask, well, because what else would I make with duct tape?! Luggage tags need to be durable (check), brightly colored so I can spot my luggage on the turnstile quickly (check), waterproof (check), inexpensive (check), and totally cool (check!)! Not to mention I'll be using it shortly while en route to Aruba. Have I mentioned I'm going to the Caribbean yet? Why yes, I do believe I may have mentioned that once or twice. *insert snarky grin here*

I crafted this tag to include a flap with a clear plastic window to read my contact info. Then I tied it up with a neon green ribbon. Now I'm ready to rock and roll! Get it? Roll. Ah, yes I need a vacation.

Click here to see videos on how you can make a duct tape luggage tag and many other fun things like wallets, belts, and roses for your sweetheart.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Passport Pouch

Soon I will be basking in the sun and sipping on cocktails in the Caribbean. Soon all my worries will melt away as I melt into an adirondack chair on a sandy beach. Soon, soon. But not soon enough! To kill time waiting, I decided to put to use all those fabrics I have and make myself a handy little passport/travel pouch. I found a really great tutorial on how to do this here. With traveling being so nasty these days - long security lines, paying extra to check baggage, etc. - I wanted to ease the pain by making my trip in and out of the airport as easy and stress-free as possible. This pouch is a perfect container to hold passports, flight and hotel check-in papers, extra cash, and any other important documents you'll need.

I think I may have to attempt a baggage tag next. :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Canon vs. Nikon

Looking for a new camera? Ask me which brand you should go with. A lot of people do and I tell them all the same thing, "You can't go wrong with Nikon or Canon." These two companies have specialized in making cameras for decades.

Nikon Corp. was founded in 1917 and has been making high-quality optics for not only cameras but also binoculars, microscopes and inspection equipment. Canon has been around since 1937 and also produces printers, scanners, binoculars, compact digital cameras, film and digital SLR cameras, and lenses. (Little known fact: Nikon used to produce optical lenses for Canon's first cameras.) Most people are looking for a simple point-and-shoot so I feel confident with my generic answer. However, SLR's are a little more complicated. Your world opens up to many more brands. I will, personally, still resort back to Canon or Nikon for the body of the camera. But when it comes to buying a lense for your SLR, the sky's the limit, so have fun shopping!

So then, which one do I prefer??? The pictures I post on this site are taken with either my Canon or Nikon. That's right, I own both! There are some camera enthusiasts who are committed to one or the other, but I'm happy with both - in different ways. My Canon Rebel is simple, no-fuss, light-weight and my go-to camera for quick pics (like for a majority of the photos you see on this site). My Nikon D80 is fancy, heavy, and includes a variety of lenses for specialized photos. Nikon rocks when it comes to lenses and is very flexible with the variety of brands that can be adapted to fit the camera body. For example, currently, I have a new digital SLR Nikon body, with a Tamron converter, and an old Nikon 105 mm micro lense that's well over 30-years old attached to the converter. Amazing! As a person who works in a creative field, in which I'm lucky enough to be able to work with professional photographers, I'm well aware that a lot of them use old camera bodies with new (and very fancy) lenses, however I didn't know I could use a new body with an old lense until I tried it the other day (thanks dad for helping me take the risk!).

Speaking of lenses. Want to see something amazing? Check out these photos. The first was taken with a standard Nikon 55 mm lense. The second was taken with the micro (also sometimes called macro) lense. Micros are meant for close-up photography as the picture clearly demonstrates, but also look at the amazing depth of field it creates. I'm going to have lots of fun with this new toy.

Other photo equipment I rely on include:
• Lowepro camera bags
• Bogen tripod
• A variety of memory cards (1 GB or higher)
• Dynex memory card adapter
• Mac laptop
• Photoshop

Have a photography question? Want to know more about, well, anything photo related. Ask me! And if I don't know, then I'll find out for you.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I've been bitten... the bug. My giddyness about fabric is quickly turning into an obsession. Let's hope that my fingers can keep up with all the sewing projects my mind seems to think I can do. My latest shopping spree at the most darling of fabric stores turned into a frenzy of sorts. I left with not one, not two, but EIGHT, count them, EIGHT different kinds of fabric.

Designers (from left to right): First three are unknown, Kitty Yoshida, Anna Maria Horner, Joel Dewberry, last two by Alexander Henry.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Apple Frangipane Galette

1. the usually round, red or yellow, edible fruit of a small tree, Malus sylvestris, of the rose family.


1. a kind of pastry cake, filled with cream, almonds, and sugar.
2. the filling used in such a pastry.


1. a general term used in French to designate various types of flat, round or freeform crusty cakes.



Definitions courtesy of and

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pretty Pillow

I also learned how to make a pillow case during the last day of my sewing class.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tote Bag Tales

As you remember, a few weeks ago I started taking a sewing class in which I learned how to make a tote bag. Well, I finally finished it! Six weeks and many hours of hard work and I have a beautiful, functional bag to show for it. Not only that, but I gained a wealth of knowledge and feel ready to tackle another project.

Here's what I learned during my adventure:
1. Fabrics are expensive.
2. Patterns are hard to read and almost impossible to understand. (This was a general concensus of my entire class.)
3. Sewing is time consuming, but rewarding.
4. Having a whole new appreciation for the contestants on Project Runway.

What I liked about the experience:
1. I now know how to use my sewing machine. Yay!
2. A boost in confidence knowing I can make something for myself.
3. Listening to my husband brag about what I made to his friends. (I love it when I can make him proud.)
4. Meeting a great group of people in my sewing class.
5. Having a new skill that will come in handy when making gifts for people.
6. Having the ability to custom make things to please my picky tastes.

What I didn't like about the experience:
1. Removing tailor tacks. Errr!
2. Not being able to afford the fabrics I really wanted to use.
3. Lack of fabric selections and supplies at the sewing stores. You'll have more luck finding exactly what you want online.

Overall, I had a lot of fun and will most likely take additional classes to keep learning all the secrets, like altering garments and making clothes. Watch out Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, I'm your next fashion designer in the making!

Even Abe approves!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mothers Day!

In honor of Mother's Day I'm posting a photo of my mom, Jean, and her twin sister, Joan.

Happy Mother's Day Mom and Aunt Joan!

(Mom - sorry about the 80's photo but it was the cutest one I had.)

They Don't Make Them Like They Used To

I won't say that illustration is a dying art. It will never die (long live drawing!). However, with the advancing field of photography and the invention of stock photo websites, illustration is being used less and less in advertising and on consumer products. So when I come across an old 1960's illustrated ad while flipping through a vintage issue of Time magazine at the antique store, I can't help but appreciate how it was back in the day. Illustration adds a different sort of charm that photography just can't capture. Not to mention the talent needed to come up with a piece of commercial art. After all, I am an Art Director and know what Illustrators (and Photographer's) go through to get that art piece just right for my liking. Needless to say, I have a huge appreciation for these people and what they do. To help you understand what I'm trying to say, here's an example of an old children's cookbook with every page filled with adorable drawings of truffle-sized cooks and bakers creating all sorts of food concoctions. I can only image how long it took to put this book together; but what a great result! It's the most visually entertaining book I've come across in a long time. There's so much detail and fun packed into every recipe that it's hard to resist daydreaming about being 6-years old again and baking holiday cookies with my family.

Usborne First Cookbooks PARTY THINGS Spiral Bound Childrens Cookery Book. By Angela Wilkes and Illustrated By Stephen Cartwright.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Philanthropy Pod

Within the last few years I've made a point to spend a good chunk of my time volunteering, donating, and using my design skills to help non-profits. I do so much of it that I've decided to start posting more of my work simply because I've been able to participate in some really cool, fun projects that are worth sharing. My last donation went toward a United Way silent auction which took place at my workplace. To be honest, I really didn't give much because I'm a little afraid of commitment. You see, I donated a promise. A promise to create a personalized Odd Pod for the highest bidder.
Now, I've already made a couple Odds Pods already, but this was different. I made them for friends, whereas now I'd have to make one for a complete stranger. Weird? Not really. But the fun part of making an Odd Pod is customizing it for that specific person. This was a little different seeing as thought I wont know this person. Luckily, my friend, Gretchen, was the highest bidder. Yay! So she trusted in me to come up with an Odd Pod that would please her palette. I couldn't resist, it had to be a vampire. Why? Because Gretchen is a big fan of Twilight, like myself. That's right, I'm not ashamed to admit it. I'm one of those adult women swooning over RPatz and a much-to-young-for-my-britches Taylor Lautner. Sorry but there's something sexy about vampires and warewolves that I just can't explain. Anyways, this is how I came up with Vampy (a.k.a. Edward). Vampy is sporting an impressive widows peak hairdo and pink (like our green underpants-wearing Miguel) tighty whities. Careful, he bites and is prone to stalking. On the plus side, he sparkles in the sunlight.
And for all you Twilight fans, if you're looking for a few hours to kill (pun intended), click here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cheers to the newlyweds!

I'm one of those people who likes to find the most absolutely, positively, super-duper, bestest (is that a word?), most incredible personal gift for friends and family. Although sometimes that proves to be difficult. I'd venture to say even impossible. In my eyes, there is no one universal gift that works for everyone, except maybe money. And money is, undoubtedly, the best gift to give freshly married couples. But my sorry little artist booty is not sitting comfortably on top of heaps of money (ah hem, Scrooge McDuck). So I tend to use what I'm good at, being creative, as my catalyst to coming up with the most absolutely, positively, super-duper...well you get the idea. A pretty cool gift that hopefully means something special to the recipient.

So for my friends wedding gift I wanted to to come up with something that suited both the brides and grooms tastes. Jesi and her husband are a perfect duo of sweet and sassy. Sweet: they are supportive, respectful, and romantic with each other. Sassy: they love riding their motorcycles and brewing their own beer together. So what better gift than to give them a trio of the finest beers around. If anyone would appreciate this, it's them!

So I started researching specialty beers and found that some beers, like wines, are meant to age. They're called "vintage" and usually have a year marked on the bottle, much like vintage wines. But, instead of giving them a few bottles of beer as a gift (redneck warning!), with the help of a beer connoisseur, I carefully choose 3 fantastic high-quality beers.

The first beer is a special brew from the west coast called Sierra Nevada (which is the same mountain range I climbed on my honeymoon so I'm sending them happy marriage mojo already). This beer isn't a vintage and is meant for them to drink right when they open the gift. A sort of celebratory beer for the moment. The second is a 2009 vintage brew from Goose Island, a brewery based in Chicago, IL so you could say it's local, being that I'm in Madison, WI. This beer is meant for them to drink on their one-year anniversary. How sweet to know they will be thinking of me on their anniversary, ha! I got this idea from my own wedding. After our hike through the Sierra Nevada we toured California's wine country and bought an amazing bottle of pinot noir that we're saving for our one-year anniversary (instead of the top of our wedding cake. Sorry, but that's gross!). The final bottle is a 2010 vintage brew also from Goose Island. This bottle is meant for them to drink on their three-year anniversary. All three were highly recommended and all three are large bottles so there will be plenty for both the bride, groom, and a few of their friends. Once the bottles where chosen, purchased, and packaged, I wrote up a tag for each and attached with classy black ribbon. Cheers!

The best part, you can do the same thing for your wine-loving friends by getting them a trio of wine. But push it a little further and get them a ten-year anniversary bottle instead of the three-year. Mmm, all this talk of beer and wine has got me thirsty. Now where did my singing fish bottle opener go?

...All Dressed in White (red, black, and sparkly gray!)

The second wedding book I constructed this year is for my old co-worker and good friend, Jesi. Their colors were a very bold red and black with hints of gray and white. I wanted to keep their book timeless so they could use it for anything. I did, however, add some sparkly gray/metallic-looking paper to the binding. How could I pass up anything sparkly, especially for a wedding? Couldn't. So here it is (sorry the pics don't do a great job of showing the sparkle, uhhh, just use your imagination).

And then wrap it in tissue paper in a decorative box and seal it with a heart sticker.

Bridal Shower book

I loved the invitation I received for a bridal shower so much that I wanted to create a book that matched. So I used the same paper from a previous book, since it matched this theme so nicely, but jazzed it up with a little fuschia satin ribbon. This book is in the accordian-style and was used at the shower for guests to write marriage advice to the new couple. My advice: "It's not to late to elope!" Ha ha, just kidding. Their wedding turned out BEAUTIFUL (and I plan on having pictures of their wedding book posted shortly)!