Wednesday, August 31, 2011

More Adventures

Abby's visit this past weekend was the stuff of dreams: food, downtown Goshen, movie-watching, Sharon, Better World Books and more food. It was such a relaxing weekend... I'm so glad she was able to visit!

In other news, this week Mr. Ross and I are planning our one year wedding anniversary (!!!). We've taken Tuesday and Wednesday off of work next week (in addition to Monday... oh, the beauty of being married on Labor Day weekend) to celebrate and spend time with each other doing the things we love.

Illustration by Nicole Ray for Design*Sponge

Over the weekend, we will be taking a mini vacation in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This will be a first-time trip for both of us and we're excited to spend time exploring the historic college town. I doubt we'll be able to scratch the surface of everything the city has to offer, but we plan on visiting some of Ann Arbor's numerous attractions. A few ideas: a trip to author Dave Egger's  Robot Supply and Repair, exploring one (or two) of the many UofM museums and the Henry Ford, finding all the Fairy Doors, and perhaps taking a culinary tour of the city with Savor Ann Arbor. Bonus: Ann Arbor is only 20 minutes from Ikea Michigan.

I don't know if I have very many Michigan readers, but has anyone ever visited Ann Arbor? I'm using the Design*Sponge city guide as a reference as well as the Ann Arbor calendar of events, but if you have any tips or restaurant recommendations, let me know!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Please Don't Go...

Photo by Meyer Felix

I've seen a lot of blog posts wishing for fall lately, and even though fall is my favorite season, summer is a close second. I'm just not ready to give her up yet. Anyone else with me? I still need to adsorb as much sun as possible to keep my bones warm through the winter. That means another trip to the beach, canoeing, lots of grilled food, starry nights, ice cream, and as many other adventures as Christopher and I can squeeze in before the air becomes crisp and the apples ripen.

Sorry in advance if my posting is sparse in the next few weeks... I plan on spending as much time outside with family and friends as possible. This weekend Abby is coming for a visit! Most of our time together will be spent making and eating food, discussing life and pretty things, and enjoying an outdoor art show at Wellfield Botanic Gardens with Sharon. It's going to be a great weekend.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Four Icon Challenge

Things have been so busy at work lately... Bethel's students have officially moved to campus and the back-to-school rush of last minute projects is hitting our department full-force. Whew.

I'm currently working on promotional material for the Theatre Department's upcoming production of The Hobbit (which I'm excited to see since it's one of my favorite books), and while doing a little visual research, I ran across this image:

The Hobbit, iconized. The limited color palette, the strong lines and distinct shapes, the pop culture meets Tolkein aspect... amazing. After a bit more googling, I found that it was the work of graphic designer Kyle Tezak.

Tezak actually has an entire series of movies-as-icons called the Four Icon Challenge, an ongoing project in which Tezak takes his favorite movies and books and tries "to reduce them to a few icons." Solid, simple, effective design.

It's always nice to see work that isn't crammed with information or treated with grunge Photoshop effects. Smart and simple design gets me every time. My favorite icon is the dagger and poison for Romeo and Juliet. Clever representation, Tezak, clever.

Tezak has prints of The Big Lebowski and The Life Aquatic available for purchase online, and for more information visit his online portfolio.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve

Although this past weekend's meteor shower was a bust due to cloud cover and a full moon (my father-in-law was the only one to see a shooting star), it was still filled with awesomeness. Awesomeness being buffalo, of course.

Remember Christopher & Katherine's Summertime Adventures that I shared at the beginning of July? On Saturday we crossed Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve off our list. It was a gorgeous day for buffalo watching, and although we were skeptical of the quiet preserve at first, it turned out to be a ton of fun.

The reserve sits on 400 acres of field and woodland and is home to over a hundred buffalo living in two herds. There were also winding trails, a lodge-style Bed and Breakfast, and what appeared to be a vineyard. Our tour truck took us directly into the field with the larger herd, where we met the the oldest buffalo and father of the tribe, Bosco, and were able to watch the month-old babies frolic around. Another favorite of ours was Blackstone, a woodland buffalo who had a huge, curly buffalo 'fro.

The trails leading to Wild Winds' welcome center were lined with buffalo skulls, quartz, and other large geodes. The purple one on the left was almost as long as me, nearly 6 feet tall, and could be purchased for $350.

I wish I would have snapped a few more photos of their gift shop. They sold every buffalo-related item you could imagine -- bones, teeth, skins and meat, as well as many other Native American-influenced treasures. They even have a cafe, which features an array of buffalo burgers, buffalo chili, and "nachalos."

Our tour guide was the real deal, my friends. Silver ponytail, bandana, cut-off shirt and all. And yes, that is a corn-husk pipe in his pocket, presumably a homemade one. He was very knowledgeable, answered all our questions and provided a lot of interesting information about Wild Winds, the herd, and the sacredness of the buffalo within Native American culture. A few fun facts for you: the babies born last month already weight over a hundred pounds. In three steps, a typical buffalo can reach speeds of 35-45 mph. Bosco's head? It weighs 300 pounds alone.

Due to some roadwork in Fremont, we missed our original planned 2:00 tour, which was actually pretty full. The 3:00 tour, however, was just the two of us and our friend Eldridge. Although there were a few awkward silences during the tour, we got a lot of interaction with our guide and the buffalo and were able to ask all the questions we wanted. For being such large and powerful beasts, the buffalo were actually very quiet and peaceful animals. I can see why the Native Americans believe them to be sacred.

Obviously, we gave Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve a big thumbs up. If you're ever in the Fremont Indiana area and enjoy outdoorsy adventures, I definitely recommend a visit. It may not be the most glamorous of stops (the outhouse stench will getcha), but we had a lot of fun. This summertime adventure was definitely a success.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Kiera Rathbone Typewriter Art

Thanks to Sharon's Manual Typewriter Rescue Society, I am the proud owner of two lovely typewriters: a solid blue beauty and a dainty, cream-colored cursive one. Trendy as they may be, I think typewriters are beautiful pieces of history. So when I stumbled upon the artwork of UK artist Kiera Rathbone, I was floored.

 Portrait of author Bonnie Greer

Rathbone uses vintage typewriters to create layers of dashes, letters and numbers to slowly build up her image. Each piece takes approximately 90 hours. Rathbone's passion for typewriter art began when she found an old orange 1960s typewriter in a thrift shop. She now has 30 different typewriters, each one with their own unique characteristics.

Rathbone at work
Detail of Wimborne Minister, and the piece in progress

I love the detail shown above -- the typewriter's alphanumeric shapes form such intricate textures... it almost looks like pen & ink stroke marks and hatches. This video shows Rathbone at work -- I'm amazed how quickly she types out each mark! To see more of Rathbone's work, visit or her Facebook page.

All images via Kiera Rathborne's Facebook page.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Like Shooting Stars

Original image by Mr. Dayglow on Flickr

If you find yourself with nothing to do this evening, I just read that the Perseids Meteor Shower is going to peak around 11pm tonight. Provided that the sky where you live is dark enough, you should be able to see one or two shooting stars per minute (!!!). Yes please.

I haven't caught a good meteor shower in several years, so Christopher and I will be setting up camp outside, complete with a bonfire, strawberry-basil lemonade, roasted hot dogs and s'mores. Such a great way to celebrate the dwindling days of summer. Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

a few things...

Life has been so busy lately! In what free time I have, I've been enjoying the wonderful weather (look at those strange little mushrooms!), Ulia has been helping stalking me as I finish up my friendship bracelet for grainline's swap, and I have a new pair of shoes :) 

Definitely looking forward to the weekend.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Let me tell you a little story about my phone. Currently, she lives in a thick, black Speck case that does nothing for her sleek silver figure. It's very utilitarian (read: ugly.) I can't complain because it was a freebie, but I've been wanting a cute and sturdy case from day two. Enter Uncommon, a company that allows you to pick your case body, upload an image, and they'll print the design directly on the case for you in scratch resistant ink. Genius.

I love the fact you can create your own case, but I typically have a hard time designing for myself. Fortunately, Uncommon also has a great artist series. My personal favorites are the Hare design and all of the Jill Bliss covers.

Then I found these beauties on Katie Daisy's Flickr........ 

I want them all. I can't get enough of Katie Daisy's work -- the colors, the details, the emotion. From what I can tell these are just prototypes, but I hope she decides to illustrate a few cases for Uncommon. I'd definitely buy one... probably one of the bottom two designs, perhaps the blue one. Please and thank you.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Wish List: Big Girl Paycheck

Today is Friday, dear friends... and Friday means payday. Since having a full time job, this is actually the first payday I've had with a full salaried check. Although the mister and I are saving up for a house down payment (and lets not forget all our bills and college debt), I'd like to take a minute and dream about all the wonderful things I could spend my big girl paycheck on instead....

1. Bronze and jade are a gorgeous combo, and this necklace from Urban Outfitters gives a polished nod to the geode trend. Yes please.  2. I would love to own an original painting by Michelle Schneider someday. One of my new favorites is "Her Faithful Friends."  3. The first DSL I ever learned to shoot with was a Canon Rebel. I think I'll always been a Canon girl at heart, and I'm hoping this will be my next major purchase.  4. I may just buy this gorgeous skirt from Ruche today, via Rachel on Pinterest. It had me at high-waisted bow. 5. I know thou shall not covet thy neighbor's bike, but I am SO JEALOUS of Abby's gorgeous turquoise and cream Trek bike, Ingrid. I want a twinsie. Real bad.  6. The butterfly motif is usually a little too girly for my tastes, unless it's a real and beautifully displayed Sea Green Swallowtail. The slightly creepy fact that it's a dead bug in a glass balances out the prissiness, methinks.  7. I've been wanting these Tiny Twig hair pins from Woodland Belle for three or so years now. I just need to cave in and buy a pair already.

Who needs groceries or gas for your car when you could have so many preeeety things! If I were completely out of my mind, I would also buy this dress from Anthropologie. Not really, come on. But it's so gorgeous. And impractical. I would never.... but I totally would. Where would you wear a dress like that, anyway?

Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Art & Copy

Somehow, even in the 90-95 degree weather we've been having lately, I caught a cold. A sniffly, sneezy, sore throat, nasty cold. And summer colds are the worst. It's so warm and sunny outside, but all I want is to curl up in a blanket and drink tea. For dinner last night, I made Chris eat grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup with me. Yeah. It's that bad.

So I spent yesterday at home, tissues by my side. Between naps, crafting, and random bouts of housework, I was able to knock two movies off my Netflix queue. One of them I've had in my queue for a good year now: Art & Copy, a documentary about creativity and the world of advertising. Have you seen it? I don't know why it took me so long to watch it... I really enjoyed it. One of my favorite quotes, from the opening scene: 

"The frightening and most difficult thing about being what somebody calls a creative person is that you have absolutely no idea where any of your thoughts come from, really. And especially, you don't have any idea about where they're going to come from tomorrow."

You said it, Hal. The film explored a few real-life Mad Men (and women) and focused on their efforts during the 60s, 70s and 80s to bring advertising to life as a form of creativity and art. I enjoyed hearing a few interviews from the creators of campaigns for Volkswagen, Nike, Apple and other huge companies. Although I wouldn't consider myself in the "advertising" business, I really enjoyed this film as a designer and a creative. It was a good reminder to constantly strive for creativity, beauty and innovation in my work. Thank you, PBS, for your inspirational films. Definitely check it out if you have a little free time.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

2011 Goals: an Update

Back in late January/early February, I decided to write down a list of goals for 2011. I'm not very big on New Year's resolutions because I think open-ended goals like "get organized" and "lose weight" are basically set ups for failure. I am, however, a huge fan of lists. I love lists. They're quick and easy and making them helps me collect my thoughts when I'm feeling overwhelmed with life. Not to mention that I always feel so accomplished as I cross things off... which in turn usually inspires me to start my next task. Lists are great.

Print from Mary Kate McDevitt on Etsy. Check out her fantastic Mini-Goals Chalkboards.

Now that 2011 is more than half over (where did it go?!), I thought I'd give you an update on my list of goals. I feel like I've accomplished a lot so far, and hopefully sharing will help keep me accountable with the rest of my to-dos for the year. 

  1. Design a blog of my own. (obviously, I knocked this one out! Completed March 11.)  
  2. Plan a fun trip to go on with Christopher. (we're hoping to get away for our one year anniversary, so this one is in the works.) (Ann Arbor! Completed September 2-5)
  3. Typography flash cards. Make them. Memorize them.
  4. Revamp my resume/digital portfolio/print portfolio. (In a big push to get a job, I revamped everything before my interview with Bethel. I guess it worked. Completed June 2.)
  5. Order business cards... design them first, of course. (Check! I actually got them in the mail a few weeks ago... to be featured in a post soon. Completed June 6.)
  6. Send friends hand-written letters more often.
  7. Find a full time job. (Hooray! Completed June 20.)
  8. Eat healthy with Chris/learn to cook healthy meals (This is a continuous goal, but I think we've been doing a really good job in general. We just need to fix our weekend fast food binges. On going, completed.)
  9. Write and illustrate a children's book.
  10. Exercise four times a week, at least (there was a point when Chris and I were working out every day. Sadly, our gym membership has expired and we've been slacking. I need to get back on the workout wagon.)
  11. Read 11 classic works of literature. Design 11 dust jackets for said books. (inspired by the senior project of Jim Tierney, which actually got him a job at Penguin. Amazing.)
  12. Get my work published. D*S or Mint would be great... ultimate goal: How magazine.
  13. Create a special one year anniversary gift for Christopher (I need to get cracking on this one... only a month and two days left!)
  14. Sketch more/practice hand lettering. (Ongoing process; here's a sample!)
  15. Attend a design conference or artisan workshop.
  16. Create some kind of goofy tradition with Christopher. (Done and done. Trilogy Saturdays.)
  17. Make a baby gift for Nat & Dewy.
  18. Open an Etsy shop... if I'm feeling really ambitious. (Maybe this can be categorized as a 5-year goal...)
  19. Learn the art of tatting so I can make my own lace.
  20. Work on a new series of illustrations.
  21. Learn a little something about time management.
* Bonus: Try to figure out how to be a grown-up. (Another ongoing project... called life.)
Okay, so maybe I still have a bit more to accomplish than I thought. In theory, since the year is half over, half of my list should be crossed off. Not even close. I did cross off some biggies, though... finding a full-time job, for example. And I completely re-branded myself as a freelancer: updates to my website, resume, portfolio, business cards... I even revamped my invoices. I'd say that's a big deal.

Since the more serious goals have been taken care of, it's time for me to have a little more fun and get creative. I think I'll start working on the typography flash cards next, and spend a little more time in my sketchbook. I haven't had a ton of time to read lately, but I think I could start goal no. 11. Do you have any "classic" book suggestions? The only one on my list so far is Alice in Wonderland, so I need 10 more books!