Thursday, September 30, 2010

How to Give a Wedding Toast

Have you ever attended a wedding where the maid of honor just didn't know when to shut up and sit down? Or how about the best man who thought it'd be HILARIOUS to recount every single act of debauchery the groom committed in college? Yeah, um, *yawn.* Those kinds of people could totally take a couple tips from Lin-Manuel Miranda on how to give an entertaining wedding toast. The composer/lyricist/Broadway actor who created the Tony Award-winning espectaculo In The Heights, dreamed up this awesome wedding toast for his bride. I LOVE that their family and friends were such hams and agreed to surprise her with this show because the sheer look of happiness on her face proves that their efforts were totally worth it.

I don't know if I could ever bribe anyone I know to let loose like this in front of all those people. And P.S. if you haven't seen the In The Heights yet, what are you waiting for? (via Yeah, Sure, Youbetcha!)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Delicate Papercuts

It's been a hectic few days full of HTML/CSS-induced headaches as well as Great News and Fun Projects that I can't wait to tell you guys about (SO excited)! But that's all going to have to wait just a tiny bit more so I hope you'll be patient with me :)

In the meantime, check out these delicate sculptures by Peter Callesen all made with a few cuts and a white sheet of paper. "The paper cut sculptures explore the probable and magical transformation of the flat sheet of paper into figures that expand into the space surrounding them," Callesen explains. "The negative and absent two-dimensional space left by the cut points out the contrast to the three-dimensional reality it creates, even though the figures still stick to their origin without the possibility of escaping. In a sense there is also an aspect of something tragic in many of the cuts." And something simple, precise and beautiful. (via A. and

Images: and

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Friday!

So supposedly it's autumn, but my girl summer refuses to go down without a fight and for that I shall be forever grateful. We'll keep it short and sweet today :)

Imagine walking inside a building filled with man-made clouds.
Get your fill of forced perspective photography.
A scattered clock that goes from chaos to order and back to chaos again.
OK Go's latest music video featuring some very talented dogs.
Rue Magazine just made its debut and it's full of design inspiration.
A Lego wedding ring.
A tiny yarn asparagus?! GAH! Now I want everything here!
And while I'm dreaming I might as well throw in a wish for a cute Firefox, too.

Have a lovely weekend!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fruit Caviar Yogurt Parfait

I meant to add this to last week's rainbow post and completely forgot. Luxirare shows us how to make these beautiful yogurt and granola parfaits complete with little made-from-scratch fruit juice beads that burst in your mouth. The "spherification" process sounds scientific, but she also makes it seem quite doable. Plus, I love how the post looks like a small lab experiment. But doesn't the end result look so fancy?


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Greeting Card Design Class

Yesterday was my first day of card design class at the School of Visual Arts and I've already squealed on and on about it to anyone who'll listen to me. Now it's your turn.

I'd been feeling nervous about the whole thing for days: Would my drawings be up to par? Would everyone else be graphic design geniuses? What if I discover that after spending so much money on this three-month course, I just don't have the skills or motivation to follow through with this? Basically I was trying to snuff out my potential awesomeness and excitement for the class, but off I went with my tummy in knots and a small batch of samples in my purse.

Well I absolutely love this class. It couldn't be more perfect for me. Seven of us sat around a low table listening to our instructor explain all the topics we will and could cover during our time together. Even though the name of the course is Greeting Card Design, we'll also learn about:

stationery design * party supplies * gift wrap/bags * stickers * housewares * apparel * collections * branching into books * press releases * creating a catalog * trade shows * street fairs * freelancing * licensing * copyrighting * market trends * pricing * production * and then some.

It might sound overwhelming, but for three hours I couldn't stop smiling and thinking about all the possibilities this road could lead to. I ate every idea up. Our instructor, Joyce Wan, actually took this very course six years ago and today sells her products all across the country and other parts of the world. She was so sweet and completely willing to help us by covering any topics we're interested in. Plus, Wanart, her stationery and gifts business, is so stinkin' cute, I can hardly stand it. And I admire her ambition: she went way past cards and now offers invitations, magnets, baby apparel, tote bags, prints and even released her first children's book based off one of her popular card lines!

It took a bit for everyone to finally feel brave enough to show and tell, but eventually we did and I was comforted by the fact that we each had such different styles and possible markets, you couldn't really compare one to the other. Still, it was inspiring to see how others approached their designs and what direction we each wanted to take (if we knew at all at this point). We're a pretty laid-back class so it was easy for me to speak up, ask plenty of questions and feel like I totally belonged in this class. But I'll admit, it was a big relief when I mustered up the guts to lay my note cards out on the table and then received some really good feedback. "Phew!" I thought. "I don't suck." Not only do I feel more confident about the style I'm developing, but also have a better idea about where I can go with it.

So pat on the back for me for jumping my first hurdle and actually taking a step towards a life-long dream. Now to get started on homework #1!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday Giveaway: CupcakeStop

Fittingly, this week's spotlight is on one of the participating bakeries for Cupcakes for a Cause Week. CupcakeStop began as a food truck in 2009 after Lev Ekster found himself fresh out of law school and facing a suffering legal job market. But rather than let his circumstances hinder his entrepreneurial spirit, Ekster took an unexpected turn and soon found himself launching NYC's first mobile gourmet cupcake shoppe. "I created the CupcakeStop Truck because I thought it'd be a more affordable way to get my business off the ground," Ekster says. "It was also a great way to get a lot of exposure and bring our cupcakes to the people rather than wait for them to come to me."

His business model was a hit in a city where instant gratification and convenience is key. Today, more than 14,300 people follow their tweets to see where the CupcakeStop Truck will turn up next in the hopes of grabbing a quick treat during a break. (I stalked them earlier this year and tasted their yummy Drunken Raisin cupcake. So good.) Within a year, the business has grown to two trucks, a retail location in the Limelight Marketplace and another bakery in Montclair, New Jersey that each serve their handmade, made-from-scratch delights. Their flavor menu is extensive with 49 available year-round and 16 seasonal flavors.

Luckily, in their success they've still set time and money aside to pay it forward. "We do a lot of charity work and this is our second year participating in Cupcakes for a Cause," Ekster says. "If it's a cause we feel strongly about, as we do with this one, we participate full force." And what can be sweeter than doing good by eating cupcakes?

This week, one of you will win your choice from their dozen cupcakes selection. To enter, leave a comment below AND send me an e-Cupcake to dorkysramos[at] Cupcakes for a Cause presenting sponsor Göt2b will donate $1 for each one sent. If the name attached to your e-mail address differs from the one you comment with, please let me know so you can be included in the draw. This giveaway can only be shipped within the United States and a random winner will be announced next week Friday. Good luck!

CONGRATULATIONS: TheCuttingEtch is this week's winner! A big thanks to everyone who sent in such lovely e-cupcakes :)


Monday, September 20, 2010

Cupcakes for a Cause Week

Because I'll cheer on a good cause (and even more so if cupcakes are involved - mmm!), I wanted to let you all know about Cupcakes for a Cause Week, which runs until September 26.

What is it?

Cupcakes for a Cause was created in 2004 by CancerCare with 12 New York City bakeries as a fun and lighthearted way to raise funds for the CancerCare for Kids program, a support group for children affected by cancer - either their own or a loved one's diagnosis - and their families.

How do they help?

The funds raised from Cupcakes Week go towards their free, professional support services for children, teens, young adults and their families to provide practical support, financial assistance and age-appropriate counseling that will help them better understand cancer and be less afraid. CancerCare is there to answer a child's concerns while helping families navigate any issues that might arise once a diagnosis is made.

So what can I do?

You can participate by buying a specially decorated cupcake at any of the 700 participating bakeries nationwide. If you'd rather bake your own batch, then how about hosting a bake sale in your community with proceeds going to the cause? Get started by downloading this Bake Sale Toolkit complete with flyers, signs and tips on how to plan and promote your sale. And if you'd rather keep it strictly digital, then send someone a free e-Cupcake. They don't taste nearly as good as the real thing, but presenting sponsor Göt2b will donate $1 for each one sent.

Does CancerCare hold other events?

Although Cupcakes for a Cause is the group's main national fundraiser, they also organize other events each year. So if you'd like to do your part by walking a couple miles, dressing up in a cute cocktail dress or playing with Legos and Santa, check out their events page for upcoming opportunities.

Where should I go for support?

If you want to take advantage of CancerCare's free services, just give them a call through their Hope Line - 1-800-813-HOPE (4673) - or visit them online at

Friday, September 17, 2010

Designing with the Rainbow

Lately, I've been craving so much color and design and keep scrolling through my Google Reader at lightning speed to see what will grab my attention. Maybe it's because the thought of the gray skies ahead is making me want to fiercely hold on to the sunshine. Or perhaps I'm secretly looking forward to the changing leaves of fall...

You know what I loved best about going back to school? Back-to-school shopping for cute pens and notebooks. If I were heading back to class this year, I'd have to get my hands on these Pantome Ruled Notebooks. And if I had an office to get to each day, I'd switch out my boring, plain white Rolodex for this vibrant alternative.

Speaking of offices, Dutch architecture firm Hofman Dujardin designed this colorful space for the DLA Piper office. They used the sun's path and the building's orientation to color code and balance each area depending on how much sunlight that spot receives. Warmer spaces were dressed in cool colors while areas that don't get much sunlight were decked out in oranges, reds and yellows.

Don't sleep on the Dutch when it comes to creative design. This information desk at the Delft University of Technology's architecture library is made out of recycled books. When I first came across TU Delft, the name instantly rang a bell. I'd chosen it's striking main library as my final architecture project six years ago. Talk about flashback.

The Stamberg Aferiat House might look wonky and overly playful, but imagine waking up in this room every morning. I'd probably feel less grumpy at the start of each day...or get a headache from the color explosion. Inspired by Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion, the architects pulled from the landscape for a palette that would reflect and respond to light. "Every color in the house exists in the surrounding tree leaves in the fall," says Peter Stamberg in October's issue of Architectural Digest. Nice element, but what will it look like in the winter?

ColourLovers recently conducted a study on the colors of top web brands to see where their logos stood in the spectrum. Turns out a huge portion of them gravitate towards my favorite, blue, with red coming in second. It's also interesting to note that popular brands within similar categories tend to stick to the same color palette. Case in point: Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. By the way, did you know that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg chose blue for his site because he's red-green color blind? Apparently it's the richest color he can see.

Jessica Hische, the drop cap queen, has designed a custom set of dock icons for her new iMac. And bless her heart, she's not stingy with her work. Download your own set here for free.

Check out the making-of-the-cover for Anthology's premiere issue. I love learning about the design process behind magazine covers and features and often miss those meetings we'd have at Latina to weigh in on the perfect photo.
I just learned about and then quickly bought some Japanese washi tape. Let me tell you, I'm in love. I've been using these colorful masking tapes for all sorts of things. They tear easily, are translucent so they layer very nicely and are easy to remove without leaving behind any damage. I'm now craving them in all sorts of patterns.

A rainbow party sounds absolutely brilliant (literally)! I still want to master the art of the rainbow layer cake, but first I must shed my fear of too much food coloring...

Brandi just posted this fantastical image along with a call to set time aside for imagination and big dreams this weekend. And with that, I hope you all have a happy and inspired one :)

Images:,,,,,,,,, and

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Anthology: Living with Substance & Style

Knowing how several major titles have crumbled over the last couple years (and the number of people who mourned Domino's fall), it still warms my heart when I hear about a new one daring to venture into the storm. One I just learned about is Anthology, a quarterly publication focused on home decor, travel, design, entertaining and culture that's set to debut in October. The inaugural issue covers simple dinner party ideas, affordable artwork for a good cause and plenty of interior design makeovers, tips and photos. Anthology also sheds the spotlight on a collection of well-known creative types such as Design*Sponge's Grace Bonney.

It might look like a small start-up magazine and their subscription prices are quite high, but hopefully it'll find a steady base among artistic souls. Flip through a preview of the premiere issue here and check out their cute stop-motion video below. "Print is not dead," they say. Indeed it isn't.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Beautiful Work Spaces

Right now, as I write on my messy desk before going back to my dinner table that's absolutely covered in art supplies, I really wish I had a beautiful work space that I could retreat to when the muses beckon. A pretty little room full of labeled baskets and sunlight where I can just let the creativity flow unrestrained by clutter. (Anybody else feel spazzed when your desk is a mess?) Well to stir up the envy within me, The Inspiration Blog has a round-up of 40 offices, work spaces and studies that instantly put my little corner to shame and below are seven that I would love to recreate someday. Couldn't you just get lost in these for hours? I don't know about you, but I think the sunnier and brighter, the better.

What does your office/ work space look like?


Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy Friday!

I can't believe the crisp fall weather is already upon us. Blah. You'd better believe I'm squeezing out every last golden drop of summer before it's all over. What are you doing this weekend?

I think I'll celebrate Fashion's Night Out by rocking jeans and some regular old tank top to JK's fake bachelorette party tonight. Maybe I'll live on the edge and wear some lip gloss. Maybe.

Would you ever attend an ex's wedding? And anybody watching The Romantics this weekend?

Three guys chime in on hot body versus sexy personality.

Back to School Special: What kind of roommate are you? I was totally the night owl thanks to those damn architecture projects.

How to simplify your life...if you have time to read the how-to.

DIY notebooks from recycled scrap paper.

Improv Everywhere's Black Tie Beach stunt looks like a blast. Totally should've pushed A. into going for this mission.

How incredible would it be to go into your office every morning if it were located in the middle of a forest?

Mmmm, bookcases. I think I love T.Shelf and the first circle design most of all. Hmm, but with this one I could stake out a mini literary cove in my own home someday...


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mapping Out a New Venture

I can have an all-or-nothing mentality every now and then obsessing over one thing in intense blitzes that are sometimes so powerful, it makes concentrating on anything else difficult (think ear-worm). This is why I've been having a hard time focusing on anything writing-related these days. For the past week, I've been losing sleep. My body tosses as my mind turns over endless ideas and possibilities refusing to let me be until I finally create what I've conjured up in my restless dreams. Until the next light bulb goes off, that is.

If you know me well, you'll know about my fascination with paper goods: letters, stationery, journals, cards and etc. I was the odd child who gently unwrapped her gifts so as not to damage the wrapping paper. I'd squeal at the pretty bows, the shiny bags and boxes and would carefully store each layer of tissue to play with later. To me, the packaging was just as special as the treasures that laid hidden inside. As for how much I value handwritten letters and handmade cards, well, I think I've covered that ad nauseam here.

I've had the name of my would-be company for three years and have had the logo designed for just as long. But those goals have always been kept in some cobwebbed corner in my head along with The Places I'll Visit When I Have Time and Money and The Things I'll Do When I Grow a Pair. Timing and "what ifs" were more than enough to keep patting down those dreams into the recesses of my mind, only pulling them out to remind myself of the things I'm capable of doing if I so choose to take a step.

Well, I'd like to announce that I've been taking quite a few of them:

1. I'd been wishing that I dedicated more time to my hobbies rather than wasting so much of it feeling guilty in front of a computer. Well I was completely blindsided by this surge in creativity and have been going at it nearly non-stop. Be careful what you wish for and be prepared to take full advantage when it comes.

2. There's been a certain class at the School of Visual Arts that I've wanted to take for the last two years. Yesterday, I finally went for it and registered for their Greeting Card Design class where I'll not only learn about designing, producing and marketing cards, but stationery, postcards, wrapping paper and other paper goods as well. I've no idea what I'm getting myself into, but I'm looking forward to learning all about it and having a weekly incentive to keep creating. The adventure starts on the 21st.

3. Etsy. The more I think about it, the more I want to do it just to cross it off my bucket list and the more I understand the reality of actually being successful in such a vast community. If I do open up a little online shop through them, it'll only be to test the waters before my goods and I move out on our own.

4. Although I've always wanted to do these things, I don't know if I would've gone for them right now if A. hadn't pushed me to go for this. He's been forcing me to dream big and act on it.

I don't know what will come of this new path I'm about to venture on. Maybe it'll remain a hobby or maybe I'll find some success through it. Either way I've already felt the anxiety building and heard the voices asking, "What if I'm not good enough?" Silly, I know. I'm freaking awesome. So I'm pushing all the doubts and hesitation aside and just diving into this. Lord knows if I hadn't blindly followed my dreams five years ago, I never would have become a magazine writer. Now finding a way to manage the two would be an even better dream.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"Colgando En Tus Manos"

I cannot get this duet by Carlos Baute and Marta Sánchez out of my head. For the 99% of you who don't speak Spanish, it's about asking the love of your life to please be careful because your heart is in their hands. The video is meh, but I still love the song...

Printable Paper People

For babysitters, cheap parents or people like me who have too much time on their hands: check out these little characters you can download for free, print and build yourself. Dro and Pink can be found on Readymech while Finley and Slick can be downloaded from Cubeecraft. All four were really easy to make (though I recommend using thick/photo paper) and even though they look a little bizarre, I think they still look cute perched on my desk.

P.S. And if this is small potatoes for you, then Canon's Creative Park has some intense paper crafts available for free download. Lord knows this Halloween masterpiece took PATIENCE to build.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tuesday Giveaway: Melancholy Greetings

Life can seriously suck sometimes (like when you have to return to work after a holiday weekend) and while a glittery Hallmark might fail to convey the desperation in your soul, perhaps Melancholy Greetings will do the job. These "blank cards for empty lives" is the depressed brainchild of illustrator David Zapanta who developed his business idea after suggesting that an illustration of a woman he'd paired with the caption "No longer fulfilled by her children" would make a sweet Mother's Day card. I can thing of several moms that could apply to. In fact, I can hear one screaming for one right now.

Like many of the world's great minds I'm sure, Zapanta finds inspiration by doodling along spreadsheet margins during long meetings. "The longer a meeting is, the more drawings I produce so I guess you could say abject boredom is my greatest inspiration," he explains. "Sometimes a random drawing will really speak to me and I begin to wonder what makes a particular character tick. That in turn inspires me to write a caption that expresses a character's world view with only a handful of words." Truths like "inner peace is overrated" is really calling out to my pessimistic nature.

Zapanta is also the self-published author of Hairbat, a comic book about a man who gets a large talking bat stuck in his hair, and is currently working on a novel he describes as "Raymond Carver meets George Romero meets Douglas Adams" while unsuccessfully trying to explain the concept of sarcasm to his four-year-old son. Actually, I think I just discovered the true source of his dark tendencies: sleep deprivation. Lord knows I can relate and is probably why I was so drawn to them at Barnes and Noble. "I hope people see a little bit of themselves or someone they know and care about in the cards," Zapanta says. "Deep down I've always viewed Melancholy Greetings as sympathy cards, albeit ones drenched in existential dread."

This week, one of you will win a pack of Melancholy Greeting's bestsellers (shown above) to share and express the eternal oppression that is life with those you give a crap about. Just leave a comment below and a winner will be announced on Friday!

CONGRATULATIONS: Nell is this week's winner!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Happy Friday!

Look at what I just made! He's supposed to be a toast plushie keychain, but the more I look at him, the more he looks like a tiny monkey. Either way, I'm satisfied with my first attempt and will improve for next time. Next up: this bunny. Hopefully my version is somewhat recognizable.

I actually got barely any sleep last night. I bought a bunch of craft goodies yesterday, spent the rest of the day creating away and when I went to bed, my mind could not stop thinking about all the other things I want to do. I even started packaging some in case I ever pull the trigger on opening an Etsy shop...

Free photo booth pics via your webcam. Okay, how much do I love that it's in French? (via Oh, hello, friend)
You know what I'd put in these little waffle cups? Ice cream. Lots of [lactose-free] ice cream.
If historical events had Facebook statuses, they'd be this funny. (And here's part two.)
Free printable alphabet bunting.
Ten awesome women architects. I thought Maya Lin rocked when I chose to study her for a high school project.
Thirty-five hacks to make your life easier. Does anybody else live by #3 under Health/Body hacks? Anybody?
A friend sent me this blog post on the power of labels just when I was debating whether I'm a writer or a journalist....

Hope you all have a lovely Labor Day weekend. Oh, and happy birthday a mi mami!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Julia's Daydreams: Take 1

Remember this sweet maternity leave project? Well, I couldn't resist trying the same with my friend's adorable five-month-old baby. Unfortunately, the lighting was off and sleepy Julia was a little miss cranky pants unless we set her down onto each scene just so. (Lesson of the day: Babies LOVE when you do some moronic ish. The stupider you look, the better.) Eventually our model tired of our shenanigans and we got some shots, but they're definitely in need of a do-ver. Still, she's such a cutie patootie that there's no way I could keep from showing her off! I'll re-post on the project once we accomplish a second - and hopefully better - take.

By the end of the photo shoot, she was like "Screw this. I'm going for another swim." So sub-par photos aside, isn't she just the cutest thing ever?? I can't get enough of those big, squishy cheeks :)