The Pressure of Expressing Thanks

Since before the arrival of Miss Juniper, we’ve had so many friends, family members and neighbors lend a helping hand for our little family. It’s been a real blessing to have such great support. A considerable amount of it is from the great support network of my church. It’s incredible. I couldn’t imagine welcoming a new baby without that.

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With all of the help, I’ve tried so hard to stay on top of all of the ‘Thank You’s. It’s hard sometimes! Why would a self-proclaimed calligrapher have a hard time doing that? I tell you why –

For some reason, I put pressure on myself that if I don’t bust out the calligraphy pens or if I (heaven forbid) use a thank you that someone else designed the sentiment is cheapened. It’s like I’m cheating or trying passing off someone else’s work as my own if I use a store-bought card. Also if I use the same card twice.

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I’m not trying to complain. These thoughts are completely ridiculous, if you ask me. But no less real. Does anyone else suffer from the same psychosis?

I have found a solution to help me send those much-deserved ‘Thank You’s:

  • Always have a variety of colored envelopes and blank flat cards on-hand so I can mix and match as I choose.
  • Always have a stockpile of stamps (which reminds me, I need to order more!)
  • Keep a list of owed ‘Thank You’s at my desk so when I have a spare moment for practice work, I can work through the list.

I didn’t implement these things until about July of this year. And I’m still working out the kinks in the process. If I were smarter, I would have a pile of hand-lettered cards like you see above already completed. All I’d have to do is write a note on the back. Maybe I’ll get on that bandwagon in the next few months. Change happens so slowly around my neck of the woods. :)

So how do you make sure those ‘Thank You’s get out?

Sewing: Juniper’s Lawn Gnome Outfit

I’ve been dying to make a cute little outfit for Miss Juniper. I’ve had this French terry material for some time and I’ve wanted to make a few cute outfits for my girls. Harem pants included.

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On Saturday I had a few minutes to kill, so I drafted up a raglan hoodie and a pair of harem pants. The pleated front of the pants and the pointy hood kill me. She looks like an angry little lawn gnome. Adorable.

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Seriously, this girl has my heart. I can’t get enough of her. I want to make more cute little snuggle outfits for her!

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Unfortunately when I asked Penelope if she wanted something similar, she said no. She’s getting her own opinions on her clothes, it’s kind of a bummer. I’d love for them to be twinners! Oh well. We’ll see if I can convince her to agree with something similar. Fingers crossed!

Food: Chocolate Brigadeiro Cake

As a belated birthday celebration for Chris, I made him a chocolate cake. But not just any chocolate cake. It’s filled with brigadeiro and raspberry preserves. It’s heaven on a dish. In fact, I barely managed to get a picture of the cake. I was planning on taking pictures of a slice of cake so you can see the interior, but Chris kind of massacred it this morning.

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We thoroughly enjoyed the cake.

I was pretty proud of my rustic frosting job. It’s not perfect, but darnitall it looked quite tasty! Recipe below:

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Fudge Chocolate and Brigadeiro Cake

Makes 1 chocolate cake | Prep time: 30 minutes to an hour | Cook time: 27 minutes

 

Cake

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (dutch process is ideal)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease 2 8-inch cake pans and cut out 8 inch parchment circles and place inside the cake pans. Combine all ingredients. Pour into cake pans and bake for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool. Remove from the pans, wrap in plastic wrap and put in the freezer to cool completely.

Brigadeiro

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk

Heat the saucepan with medium-high heat. Melt butter, add cocoa powder and whisk until incorporated. Add milk and stir for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Frosting

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cocoa powder (dutch process is ideal)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar

Whip butter until soft and smooth. Add cocoa powder, vanilla and milk. Blend until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar until desired consistency.

To assemble the cake: Slice cake in half with a bread knife. Separate two layers and spoon half the brigadeiro and spread evenly. Place one 8 inch cake on a cake plate. Spoon raspberry preserves on top of the first layer (I prefer Bonne Maman or homemade jam). Slice the second layer in half. Place bottom half of second cake on top of the first. Spread brigadeiro and place second half of the second cake on top. Place in the refridgerater to rest (10-15 minutes max). Spread an initial thin layer of icing onto the cake. Crumbs may fall into this layer. Place in the fridge a second time, then create a final frosting layer. Garnish with sprinkles.

Random Calligraphy Thoughts

It wasn’t until September 2009 that I discovered calligraphy was part of my personal history. I’ve always loved letters; finding out that my great-great grandfather was a sign painter in Ogden, Utah made me love them more. It was like I was destined to love calligraphy. I can’t describe how perfectly timed that gift was. It was like God was telling me that calligraphy was what I was meant to do. It gave me more direction in my life.

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Since getting more involved in calligraphy, I’ve felt even more validated that I’m supposed to be here. Over the summer I attended a calligraphy conference. Spending a week with some of the world’s most amazing calligraphers was incredible and eye-opening.

In art school, I felt like I was somewhat of an outcast because I was in the strange gap between commercial and fine art. My professors nearly failed my BFA final show because it was “too commercial”. It bothered me that they couldn’t see that commercial art can be fine art.

I feel like calligraphy strikes that harmonious balance. The people in the calligraphy community get it, too. There’s a shared love for modern and traditional, commercial and fine art, formal and casual. I love that.

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Here’s a little birthday card I made for my cousin. It’s no fine art piece, but it required the creative process in order to complete. And isn’t that what creating art is about at the end of the day?

What art will you be creating?

Sponsored: Leather Folio Tutorial

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This tutorial is sponsored by Jo Totes. They have a wide selection of fashionable camera bags in both genuine and vegan leather. My favorite of all is the Siena bag - an italian leather bag that ages beautifully. I use it as my every day bag. It fits all of the essentials! The structured body allows me to easily find all of my purse’s contents quickly.

Stay up to date with Jo Totes on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

My purse essentials (beyond baby stuff): my instax camera, a notebook, pen, chapstick and gum.

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For a while I had my notebook just floating around my purse naked. The problem with this was that the top page would frequently break off, wrinkle and just get disgusting. To remedy the problem, I hand-bound a folio where I can just insert the notebook I’m using and protect it from the contents of my purse. I’m constantly ripping out pages and tossing them, so it’s nice to have something reusable instead of having to bind a new journal every time I run through my pages.

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The original version I bound was a traditional 3/4 rounded back bind with cutouts and pockets. I thought about sharing how to make this, but as I broke down each step, I realized that I had very specific bookbinding tools and the steps would take 5+ hours to photograph and explain. I ditched that idea for a simpler sewn version. It’s not as rigid, but it’s still quite sturdy and can be completed in well under an hour. You could opt out of real leather and use an industrial felt instead. I’m not sure I would recommend a vegan leather as it doesn’t tend to wear well over time.

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This would be a great gift for a guy or gal. Christmas gift perhaps? It’s just over 2 months away, so time to start planning! I’ve already taken care of a couple of Christmas gifts already. I feel way more on top of things this year. Don’t worry though, I have plenty of time to procrastinate and get behind on my gift-giving.

So would you like to make one with me? It’ll take you about 20-30 minutes. If you’re making a bunch all at once (which I would totally recommend!) it’d take less than that for each one.

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Supplies:

  • ruler
  • rotary cutter (and mat)
  • bulldog clips
  • thread
  • leather needle (or topstitch needle)
  • elastic
  • button
  • hand-sewing needle
  • x-acto knife
  • pen
  • bonefolder
  • leather
  • sturdy canvas or a fabric wallpaper*
  • notebook**

* I used fabric wallpaper for this. I scored some years ago from design centers in SF. Just ask an interior design company if they have any wallpaper samples that are being discontinued that you can have. Alternatively you can fuse any kind of fabric to Ultra Hold Heat ‘n Bond with regular copy paper.

** My favorite paper is the Rhodia pad or Clairefontaine Triomphe paper. They come in plain, grid, dot grid and lined.

Read more for the full tutorial.

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