Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Type with Style

There is something that pulls at my heartstrings when I receive a handwritten note, whether it be in the mail or just left on my desk, I always get warm fuzzies. I remember being away at summer camp and receiving letters and cards from my mom, updating me on the curiosities my cat was getting into and I remember sending my grandparents letters telling them all about my upcoming travel plans to visit them. But where have those gone? I believe we all still enjoy receiving letters and maybe even more so because they are rare these days, so why have we stopped sending them? Ah, that's right, because we are all uber-busy and it is much faster and instant to tap out a quick email when we feel the need to reach out to a friend or family member. Am I wrong?

Well today, I tip my hat off to Pilot for creating this sweet little tool that takes your handwriting and turns it into a font that you use when you email notes to your friends and family. It doesn't bring back the excitement of receiving a note about the weather in your mailbox, but I felt nostalgia when I saw it.

Ready to make your own font? The process is simple. Go to Pilot's site, print out a template, fill it in, upload it (scanner, camera, or webcam), and then type your message.

Here is my font I call jessi.

And here's a note I typed to myself using my font.

Isn't it the coolest thing you've seen today? Try it out and send me a note, I'd love to see your handwriting!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Back to Bed(ding)

Ever since moving in and painting our master bedroom sea-foam-blue-green, I have been unable to find bedding that I have been completely happy with. I have tried comforters, duvets, quilts, blankets, and everything else under the sun but nothing truly satisfied my aesthetic appetite. As a result, we now have a closet full of cast-off bedding (anyone looking for a comforter for their king size bed?).

Because of my discontent, I have been swapping out our bedding about every three months, but there is one set that I consistently go back to, this comforter from Linen's 'N Things.

What I love about it are the rich colors and how it contrasts with our wall color, Laurel Mist by Behr. However, when the weather starts creeping above 50 degrees, it gets a bit hot under the thick comforter.

Also, the dark moody red and burgundy feel a bit heavy in the spring so I've always kept my eye out for something more fitting for the summer months.

Then one day, while I was doing my usual loop through Target's clearance home decor, I crossed paths with this beaut by Thomas O'Brien. Thanks to my ziploc bag of our home's paint and fabric swatches, which I always carry in my purse, I held up our wall paint color and instantly knew it was perfect.

(Look at those thin, skinny stripes of blues, greens, and creams!)

Into my basket it went and I turned down the next aisle, coming face-to-face with clearance pillows. Uh. Oh. In about .2 seconds, these three babies were tucked under my arm, guarding them from the other nonexistent shoppers about to snag them for their own—grrr.

Now that everyone is home safe and sound, I can't believe how great it all looks together: the wall color, furniture wood tone, two sets of slightly different colored sheets, new blanket, and throw pillows.

I can't even remember how I slept in such a dark space. The new bedding brightens and provides visual air to our room. I think it is safe to say it exudes a sense of beachy-ness, but what do you think? Do you like what we had before or the new bedding? Does anyone else swap out their bedding when the seasons change?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Garden Update: 1 Month

It's only been a month since I planted our garden, but with the sunny-hot-humid-rainy days we've had the last couple weeks, our garden is flourishing.

Check out my onions!

The green beans are growing a life of their own.

The lettuce is thriving.

I even have 2, count 'em, 2 larger-than-a-golf-ball tomatoes!

It's going to be a summer full of great goodies from our garden and don't worry I'll keep you updated on all the freshness coming out of there.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Embracing Gravity

In May, we hosted a Mother's Day grill-out at our house with Justin's extended family. Can you believe it was their first time coming to our home? You all know that I'm not a mom (nor soon-to-be), so I didn't expect to receive anything that day, however, Justin's relatives showered us with house warming gifts. One of these said gifts was this odd-looking tomato tower garden station.

As you can kind of see from the packaging (above), it is a stand with a container on top that you can plant flowers, herbs, or other favorite foliage. The unique part about this contraption is that in the bottom of the container (pictured below on the right) there are openings where you can plant tomatoes so they hang upside down. How cool is that? I have always wanted to get a topsy-turvy tomato plant, but never had a spot to do so, until now!

Assembly was a breeze and after a few minutes, it was standing strong and I was ready to go shopping for my vegetation.

Before I could do so, I had to ensure it wouldn't fall over, so I filled the base's container with leftover landscaping rocks and sand; then I went shopping.

While at Home Depot trying to decide which tomatoes to plant, I talked with an associate who recommended planting strawberries or cherry tomatoes in the planter. He suggested planting something with small fruit because as large tomatoes grow they become so heavy that they fall off the vine when hung upside down, even the topsy-turvy planters. I had already planted roma tomatoes in my garden, so I picked out a couple strawberries to plant upside down—yum! To fill in the top of the basin, I decided to plant an herb garden and bought catnip, basil, cilantro, and oregano.

Back at home, I separated some of the strawberry plants and slid a single plant in each hole.

The planter came with these handy-dandy caps that I put on the hole, leaving a small gap where the plant hung down through.

After placing them all in and securing them with the caps, I filled the planter with dirt and gave it a refreshing drink of water.

To plant the herbs on top, I filled in some more dirt and planted them like any other vertical plant. I also used the same marker tags that I used in my garden to label the plants. Can you imagine wanting cilantro but grabbing catnip instead? (Blech!)

All in all, the planter turned out great. It is awesome having an herb garden a step out my back door and before leaving for work this morning, I checked my strawberries and saw some buddings of future fruit. I can't wait until those are grown and ripe.

Does anyone else have a planter like this? What did you plant in yours?

PS: Check back for an update on our garden, it's growing like weeds!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Blog Love: Designing Daily

The Design Slice has been featured on another blog, Designing Daily! But this time it made the lovely-blogger, Heidi's list of top 10 mind-blowing websites.

Her commendation is so out-of-this-world that I am going to be full of glee all day. Check out her virtual love here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Love is in the Air

I might be posting today because I'm working on my friend's wedding invitations and I'm feeling a bit nostalgic, but it also might be because I'm seeing a lot of bridal parties doing photo shoots downtown lately. Nonetheless, in the spirit of the wedding season, today I am sharing the invitations that I designed for Justin and myself. A few weeks ago I announced that they were featured on The Snap Flower Girls blog, but even at two years old, I still love them.

Our guests were first informed of the occasion by this lovely save the date. It's hard to tell in this picture, but the item on the far right was a pocket that the save the date card slid into from the top and all you saw when opening the envelope was our names and save the date in the bottom right corner. Since the pocket was a great catchall, we included a copy of our engagement picture too.

A few months later, our guests received the formal invitation

The patterned belly band held the interior cards in place and the front flap closed. To open the package, guests slid the belly band unclasping the front flap, opening up to this.

The last piece of the puzzle were the thank you cards that we sent promptly after our big day. Similar to the save the date, these also featured a pocket but this one was on the end rather than the top, and along with the handwritten gracias, we popped in one of our favorite photos from the wedding.

Has anyone else tackled their own wedding invitations? It seems to be a popular wedding item that brides are DIY-ing these days. Do you have photos of your invitations? I would love to see your handiwork, so email them to me!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rain Rain Go Away

Even though the rainy season should almost be over (fingers crossed), I finally received my long-awaited birthday present, Hunter rain boots. The problem is that I can't seem to decide which color I want: pillar box red or the classic Hunter green?

Fortunately, I ordered my boots from Zappos, where they allow returns up to 365 days from your purchase date, and they pay for the shipping both ways. That convinced me to order both pairs and debate the colors in person, but I'm still undecided.

The red pair have a gloss finish compared to the Hunter original which is matte and they are striking, no one can miss me walking down the street in these babies.

But, who can go wrong with a classic? (And did I mention they're green?!)

So, I ask you all, which color should I keep?

The glossy lipstick red or the classic Hunter green?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Biggest and Best in the Upper Midwest

Over Memorial Day weekend, Justin and I ventured North to visit some family and friends in Minnesota. My best friend Heidi, who is a Minneapolitan and whom we visited last fall, is always gushing about the goods she gets at too-good-to-be-true prices from the Minneapolis farmer's market, so when the rooster crowed Sunday morning, Justin and I met up with her and her boyfriend to wander around the self proclaimed largest open air market in the upper midwest (see photo).

After touring around the place, I must agree with the sign.

There were rows and rows of vendors selling all sorts of yumminess at buy-like-there's-no-tomorrow-prices. From local vegetables, freshly plucked from gardens...

to herbs that smelled so good they could almost induce an aroma coma...

to plump fruit and berries, just begging to be eaten.

You can even find interesting oddities such as this purple basil. (Well, at least I've never seen purple basil, have you?)

The insane part is that the majority of the items for sale are grown by local folks, which turns yummy-food-smiles into pat-myself-on-the-back-for-supporting-my-neighbors-smile. Not to mention, the beautiful way some vendors spruce up their packaging. Nothing says "hello sunshine" like some pansy faces, am I right?

But of course, flanking the end of the good-for-you fruits and veggies is another row of cooked food such as hot caramel corn, pulled pork, and mini donuts (yum-o!). Heidi is particularly fond of the fresh squeezed orange juice, which I must say is probably the best darn orange juice I have ever had.

The last, but certainly not least, row capping the end of the market is what I call gourmet alley. There you can sample olives, olive oil, nuts, spreads, bread, and even homemade soap.

Unfortunately, after perusing through all the goodies, all four of us left with empty hands. Surprising, no? Well, in our defense, we had a full day ahead of us and didn't think the produce would last in a hot and humid car all afternoon. But, now that I've experienced it, when I talk to Heidi and she is slurping down an orange juice, I'll be even more jealous. In fact, it sounds delicious right now.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

HOW Hiatus

I forgot to inform you that I am attending the HOW Design Conference this week in Denver, Colorado, and I won't be posting regularly. So, take this as your warning to not be disappointed if you check and not see anything. (Though, I'm not discouraging you from checking, I'm sure there are some old posts you have missed!) I'm trying to soak up all the creativity and inspiration that I can muster, to bring back to good 'ol Chi-town and amp up my work.

My coworkers and I flew out Friday night and jammed our weekend with whitewater rafting and hiking, leaving just enough energy for the opening keynote speaker, Andy Stefanovich, Sunday night.

But, let's start from the beginning with the omen we saw on our flight from Chicago to Denver, reassuring us that this was going to be a fantastic trip.

Do you see that? Our flight attendant's name was Cyann. How ironic could that be?

After landing safely and getting a good night's sleep in our hotel, we hit the road early Saturday morning  racing the clock to find the whitewater rafting company that I booked our tours with. On the way there, we enjoyed some of the most beautiful scenery I have seen in the United States, the Rocky Mountains. (This photo is a very understated example of the enormity of the Mountains. In fact, I think this is just a hill.)

Then on Sunday, we trekked out to Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater and scaled the beautiful rock forms.

After Red Rocks, we zoomed back to the hotel, changed, and zipped over to see HOW's opening keynote speaker, Andy Stefanovich.

And that's all I have for now, but I hope to share more of the conference with you at a later time. In the meantime, I must resume my consumption of inspiring designers' advice and extremely enlightening information.
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