make me happy

2012: Feb 22

Looking for a new way to abuse plantlife, I picked up one of these DIY terrariums in male from Fab. How perfect is this, like tilt-shift up close.

So, Valentine's Day…


Let's start with The Bear's Valentines, because they were easy. Because I used a free pattern from a web-sourced idea. Felt a little like cheating, but what are free online patterns are for, after all. Also felt little like cheating because they're so similar to the ones I made Bear last year, right down to the metal type stamp and fingerprint hearts on the tag/hanger detail (with edges unfinished and fantastically susceptible to fraying). But woolen hearts are an allure I just can't beat, and for another year I chose not to fight it. 


Candy would be the default go-in. But it's not as if these kids need more sugar in their lives. Stickers and tattoos are Bear's go-to happy-makers, these days. And as she's the closest insight I've got to Toddlers These Days, that's what we're going with. 


Also, hand-stitching the couple dozen hearts with a luxe perle cotton completely stamped out my long-harbored notion that I dislike handwork. Because apparently I do quite enjoy having a lap-bound project while cozied up under a throw. Or passing time at the breakfast table while the children agonize over their last quarter inch of yogurt. Or taking a break from playground hovering. Or multitasking while checking Facebook updates. And, just as with reading a book or doing my crossword puzzle, I like the kids seeing me make things in front of them.


As for The Boy's Valentines, I can't trace the exact genesis of these with a simple url. DIY seed tapes and seed bombs and seeded paper have been making the rounds for a while now, and it's an idea I heartily support, even while my own thumb is steadfastly disinclined to make things grow. But those bulbs we planted in the fall have been poking up and reminding me that plants indeed have the ability to grow around here with the minimal maintenance that a Kindergartener can supply. And I love the idea of sending out cards with a bit of fun utility to them. 

So we pulpified some colored tissue paper, starting with the bright green sheets that swaddled the fancy heirloom seeds we picked up at the fancy gardening boutique. Not having the proper paper-making supplies (there are some crafty supplies I am missing, after all) we simply finger-pressed seed-embedded wads of the blender-puréed pulp into scalloped cookie cutters placed over super-absorbant cloths (OK, they were cloth diapers). Left them in front of a heater vent to dry out for a couple nights and they were compacted and hard as the cardboard on those 4-up to-go trays you get at Starbucks. It's a lot like felting loose wool into a tight little bead.

And then those sat around for a couple weeks while I put off designing the cards around them. 

My design process:

  1. Try to conceptualize the product. 
  2. Fail.
  3. Get distracted by the little hexagons that I've got going.
  4. Put off working on the project because I don't have a clear vision for it.
  5. Faced with dwindling lead-time, force myself to just sit down and push pixels around for the thirty minutes that it takes me to come up with an idea I'm really excited about. 
  6. Remind myself of all those designy aphorisms that tell you to just stop thinking and get to working. Also remind myself that I've been doing this pixel pushing for a while now, and I'm actually pretty ok at it.

Every damned time.


So, the cards came together. I could have made more effort to better tie it all in to Valentine's Day than that tenuous "Happy Valentine's Day" bit I've got there. Still, I've already mentioned that I'm crazy happy with them. I'm also fairly confident there are enough visual cues to dissuade the Kindergarteners from trying to consume them. And that's what good design is really all about.

Tags: cards, hearts, plants, seeds, Valentines, wool felt

2012: Feb 12

Picked up a few sheets worth of little stickers for little Valentines and couldn't resist giving the bendy man a face. Apparently, it's a happy one.

2012: Feb 11

Is it too much to say that I'm over-the-moon in love with the Valentines The Boy and I worked up this year? Labor intensive as they sometimes were (I mean, what possessed me to have us press our own paper pulp seed pucks?), the end product kicks some serious Valentine ass. If I do say so myself. And, finishing them up this afternoon, The Boy put his shoelace-tying skills to some practical use.


I find myself whistling that old Porgy and Bess standard "Summertime" a lot lately. You know, that one about the living being easy. And The Mr. and I regularly marvel at how good life has been to us. Enjoying a pleasant dinner with our usual bottle of wine on the back deck on a pleasantly climed night, it hits home that we are home. And wouldn't it be nice if it could stay this way forever?


The other half of yesterday's haul, the proof press, sat in the trunk of our little car until we worked up the energy to heft it out and into a cool corner in the basement. I've been saying it's the heaviest thing I've ever carried (with help). And while I'm not entirely sure about the veracity of that statement, I do know that the car, when I took it out to the store afterward, was notably happier for not having the press weighing the trunk down over the rear axle. In the press' near future will be a good deep cleaning.


There's irony here. I've spent my entire career working in print media. And while the modern (you might call it dying) era of print is far removed from the days of metal type and hand-cranked presses — I mean, my relationship with it is through a computer screen, fercryinoutloud — it's still, you know, the same basic concept. Ink and paper and reproduction and all that. Mr. New Media, on the other hand, has spent his entire career parsing out lines of code designed to erradicate my entire line of work. And somehow it was at his work that he came across a back-breaking boxful of headline-sized Helvetica bits and an ancient beast of a proof press sitting in a forgotton corner next to the garage. And he knew enough to call me down to haul it away, with the proper permissions, of course. Because what were their plans for it? Sell it off as scrap metal, to be smelted down for, I don't know, computer parts or something. I guess that's not ironic at all.