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Archive for March 2011

favorite thing . All the Details

I recently bought this set of journals/planners from graphic designer Natasha Mileshina’s Etsy shop. She specializes in calligraphy, hand-made planners and organizers, prints, photography and more. The moment I received my package in the mail, I knew it was a lesson in the power of details. From the twine used to wrap the kraft paper bag and the shop logo stamps and stickers right down to the bonus photo prints and personalized “thank you” card (yes, that’s my NAME on there), this package wasn’t just a product. It was a present. Sure, I bought it as a happie for myself because I liked it. But, Mrs. Mileshina’s attention to the details of the packaging made it more like a GIFT. And, it didn’t hurt that her books were exquisitely crafted with minimalist design and just the right splash of color. Plus, her product listing included a few extras like a wooden pencil and ruler and a set of her small prints. It’s the whole package, so to speak.

Here’s the thing. When I got this, I was immediately convinced that she is, well, awesome! I won’t forget her shop, and I’ll want more of her well-designed awesomeness again. It made me re-evaluate how much attention I give to the details of what I provide customers (and friends and children and whoever else crosses my path). Those small Things have the power to turn something ordinary into something unforgettable. Sounds like great marketing to me!

[Be sure to check out Mrs. Mileshina’s portfolio website!]

favorite things . Clarissa Hulse Lampshades


Please forgive the constant posting today. I’m experimenting with some new tools for quick sharing. BUT, it gives you the opportunity to gaze at these amazing drum lamp shades from Clarissa Hulse. I love her nature-inspired fabrics and the fun color combinations. My current favorite… Fuchsia and silver!

inspired by . Watercolors by Geninne

Daily PONDspiration [for the well-designed wallspace}…
The watercolor work of Mexican artist Geninne Zlatkis always inspires me with its whimsy and freshness. I particularly love her stylized birds. The color, the detail and the stories she evokes draws me in every time. Enjoy!

(and be sure to browse her whole etsy shop!)

Amplify’d from www.etsy.com
Three Little Birds

Three Little Birds

Read more at www.etsy.com

signs . Northport, AL No.1

Northport, AL

There’s no question. The City Cafe in Northport, AL is well-done. Right down to it’s re-purposed, handpainted and gloriously neutral sign.

poetry . Back From The Fields

A journey through a pasture is always an adventure. I have some experience in this. The wide open space with grasses of every flavor blowing becomes ripe for imagination regardless of the direction you’re traveling. In Spring and Summer, when the grasses are sharing their wealth and putting out seeds, you can’t help but walk carrying reminders of where you just stepped–little pieces of tomorrow’s blades and stalks stuck to your socks and shoes and pant-legs. You don’t really notice them while you’re in the pasture. The imaginative potential of each step is too overwhelming. The wealth of sensory intake from earth and sky and plants and wind is too distracting. It’s when you get home, that you see what you’ve brought back from the fields. This poem from the American Life in Poetry series talks about that moment. I wanted to share it because I’ve been thinking about journeys lately. In the winding paths of the lives we build, whether grassy fields or arduous hills, we bring the seeds from every step along with us–seeds just waiting to fall off in new places and sprout anew. Seeds waiting to be planted with intention in whatever fertile ground we cultivate. It’s so easy sometimes to overlook the potential of even the winding path, the hopelessly meandering journey or the seemingly wrong turn. But, seeds stick. With seeds, there is always potential.

American Life in Poetry: Column 313

Go for a walk and part of whatever you walk through rides back on your socks. Here Peter Everwine, a California poet, tells us about the seeds that stick to us, in all their beauty and variety.

Back from the Fields

Until nightfall my son ran in the fields,
looking for God knows what.
Flowers, perhaps. Odd birds on the wing.
Something to fill an empty spot.
Maybe a luminous angel
or a country girl with a secret dark.
He came back empty-handed,
or so I thought.

Now I find them:
thistles, goatheads,
the barbed weeds
all those with hooks or horns
the snaggle-toothed, the grinning ones
those wearing lantern jaws,
old ones in beards, leapers
in silk leggings, the multiple
pocked moons and spiny satellites, all those
with juices and saps
like the fingers of thieves
nation after nation of grasses
that dig in, that burrow, that hug winds
and grab handholds
in whatever lean place.

It’s been a good day.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2004 by Peter Everwine, whose most recent book of poetry is From the Meadow: Selected and New Poems, Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 2004. Poem reprinted from The Place That Inhabits Us, Sixteen Rivers Press, 2010, by permission of Peter Everwine and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2011 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.


photo 032111 . Blush of Spring

“Blush of Spring”

Welcome, Spring. It’s lovely to see you again.

Color Month: Green

There’s no better day to think about the color GREEN than St. Patrick’s Day, of course! From the renewal of spring to the warmth of tropical waters, the color green brings a calming influence to this upsized color month journey and to design color palettes. All colors carry unspoken messages based on cultural influences, historical references and even our own bodies’ physical reactions. Let’s look at what the color green communicates.

Green is one of the most prevalent colors found in nature and offers one of the widest arrays of approachable choices in the spectrum. Because it is linked to so many various shades in nature, multiple tones of green are rarely perceived to “clash” with one another. Abundance in the natural world gives the color a near universal appeal and very strong positive associations. This prevalence allows green to be used almost like a neutral in many color palettes, serving various roles from a grounding undertone to a calming influence to a striking counterpoint.

The many shades and hues of green offer varying associations that can appeal to nearly any audience. Blue green tones almost always elicit a pleasant response from viewers because they are so closely related to earth and sky. These colors are perceived as clean and cool, but also warm like the tropical waters they evoke. Blue greens are typically very soothing and are flattering to most skin tones. Lighter mint greens are seen as refreshing and easily invoke sweet thoughts of chocolate and the taste of mint leaves. While brighter greens generally connote renewal by embodying spring, fresh grass and leaf buds, deeper greens are often associated with the mysterious silence of deep forests. Both call to mind refreshing scents, but the associations with deeper greens expand to suggest prestige, security and trustworthiness because of their use in American money.

Among the lesser-used greens, bright emerald signifies elegance and is also strongly associated with the Irish heritage. Yellow-greens can be used effectively for projects related to gardening or florals because they resemble new growth. The sharper tone of chartreuse is perceived as trendy and an attention-getter that gives a youthful feel appealing to children and teens. Olive tones can be seen as up-scale but sometimes require stronger colors companions to pull them away from a staid neutral role.

Among green’s negative associations, it is sometimes used in cultural terminology to represent jealousy, envy or inexperience. In addition, some shades of yellow-green are actually associated with nausea and illness, and create adverse reactions.

Overall, the design possibilities of the color green seem almost as endless as the various shades we see outside our window. It has obvious environmental appeal as well positive concepts like cleanliness, growth and reliability. Personally, I like green’s ability to shift from that reliability right into an added kick of excitement with only a touch of blue or yellow added to the mix. And, of course, you know any small pond dweller has to appreciate a few green frogs. Enjoy wearing green today!

Something to Hear

A few weeks ago I had one of those experiences with my children that stuck with me. It was a moment I’ve been pondering for a while, knowing I needed to take it to heart, to glean from it–a moment I knew was important and profound in its simplicity.

Little Drummer Boy was in bed. As I was closing the Transformer book and pulling the blankets closer around him, he inquired (as only a 5-year-old can), “Mommy, while you’re rubbing my back, can I ask you some questions?”

Can I ask you some questions? It was such a simple request, but there was also such a look of anticipation on his face that it stopped me. Normally at this time of night I might have told him to wait, or reminded about bedtime or even warned about waking up his brother. But, there was something about his face. This was important to him. This was something special to him. So I said yes.

How could I say no to that opportunity after all? He had a smile on his face in the request. He had a look of excitement when I said yes. Then, I could see him thinking, his little mind processing and scanning. It dawned on me that Little Drummer Boy didn’t have a burning question on the tip of his tongue. He was searching his mind for his best inquisitive response. On the fly. He just wanted the opportunity to ask.

So, I took the opportunity to answer. I honestly don’t even remember what the questions were. Except, I remember they were wholly ordinary–at least for an inquisitive, car chase-loving, story-telling five-year-old wonder. They were burning inquisitions like “what makes the water hot when you turn the faucet?” or “where did that picture on the wall come from?” or “when will we get to go to the zoo again?”. They were all the voices of his uncensored thoughts, the stream-of-consciousness of boyhood.

The haphazard responding and clear confirmations that Mommy does not, indeed, remember everything she may have ever learned about science and/or the animal kingdom, and that she most certainly doesn’t have all the answers (at least not the correct ones) may be a subject for another post, but the process also brought to mind my own burning question…. Why don’t I do this every night?

In the rush to teach and impart, how often do I shush those seemingly random questions–the ones that belie the much greater underlying truths of love and security and acceptance? In the journey of parenthood–in the journey of everything–I sometimes spend so much time having something to say, be it teaching, reminding, cajoling, distracting, correcting, admonishing, sharing or instructing, that I forget what a blessing it is to have something to hear.

Sometimes I spend all my time looking for the opportunity to speak, to talk to someone, to impart information. To influence. To offer my own point of view.

Sometimes the greatest opportunity is the one to listen.

And so I did on that night. I relished taking the opportunity to give Little Drummer Boy a simple gift–one so easy to give it’s almost embarrassing how often I withhold it. It was the gift of sending him off to sleep knowing he’d been heard. Knowing he had an audience of one. And a standing ovation. The gift of time. A listening ear. An easy explanation. Or a hard one.

“Can I ask you some questions?”

Can I talk?
About anything I want?
Can I tell you what I’m thinking about?
Do you care what I think is silly?
Do you know what I think is confusing?
Can I show you my heart?
Are you interested?
Will you explain something?
Will you give me your undivided attention?
Will you listen?
Will you answer?
Am I important?
Do I matter?


signs . Magee, MS No.4

Magee, MS

I have to know. Don’t you?

You know, sometimes the unexpected messages created by signage in our landscape just makes me laugh. It happens haphazardly with the simple proximity of mixed messages. We train ourselves to view each messaged sign separately, but sometimes they inadvertently overlap. Mixed message: Come and see. Only, don’t park to do it.

Color Month: Blue

The blue skies of Spring are beginning to take over the gray more consistently where I live. There’s something about a cloudless blue sky that gives me a sense of clarity. Continuing with my bonus color month, what other subtle messages are delivered with the color blue?

We often perceive the color blue as a constant in our lives because of its association with sky and water, and it serves as the calming agent among the primary colors. From deep navy and bright royal to blended teals and periwinkles, hues in the blue family offer a diverse, but calm, cool and collected palette. Because much of the earth is blue in the form of sky and sea, the color generally inspires confidence and reliability. Blue is appealing to both men and women almost equally, although men often report it as their most preferred color.

Blue almost universally symbolizes reliability, dependability and trustworthiness — hence the term, “true blue.” Physically, there is also evidence that seeing blue triggers the release of a tranquilizing chemical in the brain, producing a physical sensation of rest and calm. Generally, people report greater productivity and less anxiety when working in blue rooms, and exposure to the color has been shown to lower heart rate and body temperature.  Therefore, basic blues often promote good mental concentration.

Navy blue is perhaps the most serious in the color family and the shade most closely associated with power. Generally, darkening a color by moving the hue towards black infuses it with additional power. Thus, navy is synonymous with authority and credibility, but is also more approachable and friendly than straight black. The brightness of brilliant or electric blues shift the color away from more sedate versions. They lend a dynamic and exhilarating tone, and tend to engage the viewer more than calmer, traditional blues. Periwinkle blues have a warmer undertone that emanates from the purple used to mix them and are often seen as more playful and energetic. Teal blues are associated with a more upscale look, indicating rich and unique qualities. This version of blue is the least gender-specific and equally appeals to both men and women. Turquoise blue was named the color of the year in 2010 by Pantone, the company responsible for the print-industry standard color matching system. The color of the year represents the most prominent color trend viewed across multiple design disciplines where color palettes most effect marketing or merchandising success. Pantone describes the color as an “inviting, luminous hue inspiring thoughts of soothing, tropical waters.”

Although shades of blue have universal appeal because of their association with Earth’s core water elements, it does have negative associations when applied to food. There are only a handful of blue tones present in food found in nature, and the color tends to create an appetite aversion.

Are you looking at blue skies today?

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