May 30, 2012

garden growth out front

Two years have passed since I redid the front garden. In that time, things have flourished. My aunt once shared a rhyme with me about the pattern of garden growth: The first year it sleeps. The second year it creeps. The third year it leaps.

Here's to the third year!

Newly planted in 2010:

Filling out in 2012:

Newly planted in 2010 (look at those itty bitty baby plants!):

Filling out in 2012:

I've got one empty spot that I popped a new coral bell into. I also filled in pockets along the front with Impatiens, an annual that I have fond memories of planting alongside my mother as a child. She used to do an entire bed of them in the front of our house. I remember being so impressed with how they started out small and thin but would end up thick and lush by summer's end under her patient care. How much I appreciate the things she taught me about flowers and gardening and the way she let me "help" even when it might have been easier to plant without me!

May 28, 2012

inspiration up on the line

I think a physical existing Pinterest, whether that be a bulletin board or a clothesline or some other creation, can be a festive way to decorate one's creative space.

I have long had a clothesline where I clipped bits and pieces I enjoyed in my art room. However, when we put up a metal curtain wire in my daughter's room for displaying her art, I knew that's what I really wanted. As I accumulated beautiful fabric creations, the art of my great-grandmothers, I realized that I wanted a place to display those items as well. So I came up with the idea for a second line. When I finally made it to IKEA again, I  made good on my vision. A special thank you to the husband who installed them!

Before (good):

After (better):

May 25, 2012

in honor of improvisation

 I noticed this manhole cover while on a walk through the neighborhood. 1941 must have posed a challenge since twice the number ones were required. So why not substitute the letter "I?"

May 23, 2012

best darn database brochure

I am pleased to announce that the library has won several awards for our design work again. Our work was honored with 2 best in show awards. One was for the 2011 annual report, which I loved and adored. How very pleasing to have my personal opinion of my own work confirmed by professionals!

The other was for our databases brochure. Databases are fabulous and powerful things but they are a bit difficult to make pretty in a brochure. In fact, I couldn't find any examples that I loved. In the end I used the little square from our brand font and style to represent information. The words "Research Databases" filter the haphazard bits of information into something organized and accessible. Such lovely visual symbolism!

We also earned honorable mentions for our GR Reads materials, a book list, and our poster for Day of the Dead.

May 21, 2012

In memory of a friend

One of my dear friends, a co-worker who was the sunshine of my workdays, a fellow crafter and creative soul, avid reader of my blog, and one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing has left this earth. My heart aches and I know my life will never be the same without her.

Things I remember with tears in my eyes and a sad smile on my lips:

Her friendly smile
I pass by her desk every morning to drop my lunch off in the breakroom and check my mailbox. She always always had a cheerful good morning for me.

Her party planning expertise
She always brushed off the compliments but I think the party planning always fell to her because she was just so darn good at it. My favorite times were the themed potlucks that she found an excuse to throw when we just needed a bit more fun.

Her eagle eyes
She was my trusty and dependable proofer. I never sent an ad to a publication or a brochure to a printer without first having her read it over for me. And I could always trust that she would take the time to double check the date for each and every event. She never complained, even when it was something tedious to read (computer class schedule) and she was always prompt (very helpful as I am often rushed!). How many times did I ask "What would I do without you?" I guess now I have to find out.

Her caring soul
She knew about my kiddos, asked about them, and really enjoyed hearing about them. Heck, she watched them grow in my ever-expanding pregnant belly as I waddled about the office! The very last conversation I had with her was about my older daughter's first dance recital. I was planning on emailing her a photo because of her genuine enthusiasm.

Her craftiness
We shared craft ideas and creations. Sometimes we'd even bring projects to work just to show each other. One time, when she shared in my enthusiasm for paper ornamental balls, I hauled boxes of supplies into work and we had a breakroom crafting session over lunch! Just recently, I gushed about the beautiful bracelets she's been making from buttons. I always enjoyed having a work friend who shared my enthusiasm for craftiness.

Her travels
I greatly admired her for her commitment to enjoying the people who were nearest and dearest to her. I was impressed with her fun in the sun trips with her best girlfriend and her road trips with her husband. If she wanted to go somewhere and do something, she did. That is something to be admired.

Her kindness
Some people are just nice without trying. They are just nice because that's who they are. That was Kim.

May 18, 2012

morning glow

I went running bright and early on a recent Saturday morning. When I came back, the sun was up and shining beautifully on my garden. While I am most certainly not a morning person there is something magical about being outside when the day begins.

May 16, 2012

upcycled wrapping paper

A crazy messy art experiment with my older daughter (then just 2 years old):

Cleaning out and refreshing my art room (more on that soon) led to upcycling the giant painting into wrapping paper and a matching card for mother's day:

May 14, 2012

New couch + new rug + backyard birdfeeders =

Our new favorite room!

After many months of musing about updating this sunroom I was ready to take action. A side trip to IKEA, the magic of the minivan (that loveseat just barely fit!), and an enthusiastic evening of assembling and decorating and my family has now moved our evening hang out time to the cozy little sunroom. I moved a small bookshelf up from the basement and stocked it with our nature guides and nature-themed picture books, a magnifying glass, binoculars, some blocks, and our board games (which might get some use now that they're accessible!).

The loveseat is positioned in such a way that you can watch the birds, which is really my main purpose for this room – communing with nature in the backyard and reading. The large flat arms are perfect for leaving the chapter books we've reading as a family. Or for providing a perch for kitty. Purple wasn't in my original plan but it is my very favorite color. So I welcome having it upstairs.

The green shag rug reminds me of grass and I like it a lot. I know shag is not for everyone but I think it makes sense in this sunroom. My older daughter's toy horse has claimed it as her field and become a permanent sunroom resident!

We also hung a lovely crewel piece by my great-grandmother. The dimensional greenery reminds me of the rug and the little purple flowers pick up the color of the couch. I want to get a few more fun pillows to pick up the gold color. And I am still planning on adorning the window with curtains made of this great bird fabric (of course birds for a bird-watching room!).

May 11, 2012

what luck!

I found a 4-leaf clover in the most pleasant way. Just glanced to the side while sitting in the backyard near busy daughters and there it was!

May 9, 2012

chickies for my baby chick!

 My baby girl turned 1 today. For her birthday I sewed up a Henny Penny with her six little baby chickies from Anna Maria Horner's book Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby. I am not going to claim that I "whipped them" up as there was much more head-scratching, improvising, internet-consulting, tutorial-watching, and just plain winging it involved.

I did manage to learn how to do a French knot for the eyes of the mama hen. For a beginner sewer like  me it was very confusing to read the instructions that started with the thread emerging from the chicken. How does that happen to a fully formed stuffed animal? I ended up knotting the end and going in through a seam, very carefully pulling the knot through, and working the needle through some of the stuffing so the end would get stuck. Then I poked the needle out where the eye should be. This online video saved the day for me. A special thank you to Mary Corbet of Needle 'n' Thread.

I never did figure out how it would have worked if I had "stay stitched" shut the opening (is this the same as basting stitch?). If it was sewn shut, even loosely, I am not understanding how it would have been possible to turn the creature inside out. So I just skipped all that stay stitch business. I am also not sure what a "blind stitch" is and I imagine it would have been tidier than my improvised version of sewing the chickens shut. However, they are done in time for the birthday and that's what mattered to me!

In case you are wondering about the wings – the mama hen has strips of velcro under her wings. The velcro wings on the baby chicks will stick to her so they can all tuck up underneath. Very cute.

May 7, 2012

terrific tiles for a fresh front

 The new, custom house number tiles are installed (thanks, handy husband)! Tah-dah! It's like they are a preview of all the crazy bright colors you will find inside my house.

I heartily recommend the artists – J and R Designs – whom I found on You get a preview of your tile and the option to make changes (which I did, had to have my purple in there) before it is finalized. They were friendly and easy to work with and the tile arrived safe and sound.



Just another note on how fabulous the "after" is – the black mailbox and light match the black railings. The little curl on the top of the light mirrors the curl on the railings. The numbers are also black with a slight curl detail as well (you can't see this because I hid it in the photo).

And if you're curious about the front yard garden project or the purple glass garden art that shows up in the photo hop on back to these previous posts!

May 4, 2012

beautiful baby pinecones

 Or at least that's what I think this natural treasure is. I admit I am no expert on evergreens and the mysterious ways in which baby evergreens are created (seeds, pollen, how many biology classes have receded to the murky depths of my brain?) but my daughter and I found this near some pinecones beneath an evergreen tree. It was flexible and smooth and moist, not hard like the dry brown pinecones we usually find. And what gorgeous colors – mauve melting into green with hints of gold. Be inspired for dressing your home or yourself!

May 2, 2012


I have the pleasure of always being mentally ahead a few months at work so even though we're in the midst of somewhat chilly spring weather I am right smack in the middle of preparing for summer events at the library.

I've recently designed posters for two of our big summer events: BookFest, a one-day event in conjunction with Grand Rapids' Festival of the Arts, and GR Reads, which is our adult summer reading program running June through August.

I have a set color palette derived from our logo (dark blue, bright green, orange, purple) with one additional light blue that I use as the background shade on brand pieces. When it comes time to do event specific pieces I often will narrow that palette down and pick a few of those colors to use. For both of these posters I removed the darkest colors and used our logo in solid white. What is left is a bright, airy, set of colors that shouts summer fun.

The BookFest poster needed to give people an idea of what to expect on our stage, especially considering this is a new program for us. I liked the way the images were integrated into the vertical spaces. There were too many in too many different styles to use them any larger. I was also able to play with scale and emphasize the bigger names.

I love and adore the GR Reads poster. The theme gets changed up every year so it is always a good creative challenge for me. All the details are yet to be revealed so I can't explain the design too thoroughly yet. I will say there is a reason for the arrows. They're not just for pretty.