Thursday, May 26, 2011

Feminism, Fear and Tending to Your Boyfriend

I've already written about domesticity and how I spent most of my childhood rebelling against "the woman's role" only to later realize that I actually like hosting and cooking for friends and significant others. Well it recently dawned on me that although I'm no longer defending my refusal to cook with my mother or serve Dad his dinner, I'm now fending off disapproving comments from friends when I decide to help A. with his chores instead.

When A. got stuck working during the weekend late last year, I thought I'd be nice and treat him to homemade meals while he slaved away at his computer. "Oh hell no! I'd make him do it," "Does he cook for you?" and "What is he so busy with?" is what I heard from other females and eventually their words seeped in. What started as a sweet gesture turned into anger as I hunched over the sink to wash the dishes and mentally ticked off all the ways he was lazy and inconsiderate - as if he'd been the one who'd put me through any of it.

Yesterday, because his work load had been so stressful as of late, A. completely forgot he had dinner plans with an old friend last night...when he was set to do emergency laundry and spend time with me before his morning flight to Toronto. "You're going to dinner," I said without hesitation. As for laundry, I told him I'd handle it, blog for a bit and be there when he came home. Simple solution, no stress. And despite the "Tsk, tsk," the "I'd never do anyone's laundry" and "Would he do yours?" I didn't care much this time around. A part of me did want to defend my actions, say half his hamper is filled with my clothes and let them know that helping him out won't set the feminist movement back a hundred years, but I refrained.

It did make me wonder about how reluctant we sometimes are to do domestic things for a guy in the name of "girl power" and the connotations it carries. Perhaps it's the fear of being expected to handle all the chores in the future? Does it carry the same weight or meaning when you offer your roommate a hand? Your children? Do guys get the same flack for constantly paying for his girlfriend's meals?

Obviously every relationship is different, but up until recently, expectations were the leading cause of too many months of arguments and frustration in mine. After we stopped demanding things from the other and each did and let the other do things because we truly wanted to instead, the fights just ceased and the relationship immediately improved. (No, really. I'm still boggled by how our issues mysteriously disappeared.) When we do something, it's not because not doing them would make the other mad. It's because it either causes happiness directly or indirectly through the other person's joy.

So I did our laundry. Big whoop and a small hour-and-a-half long sacrifice to ease his day. His gratitude when he came home was enough, but the surprise cupcakes he bought me definitely didn't hurt either.

Do you guys ever deal with inner/outer conflicts about tending to your partner or lending a hand around the house?


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

2011 NSS Meetup

Like I've mentioned a couple times, last week I attended an annual NSS Meetup co-hosted by Cyd of The Sweetest Occasion and got to meet and mingle with so many great people. This year's get together was held at Brooklyn Winery, a really cool spot in Williamsburg that makes and serves wines, holds tastings and schools you on the winemaking process. Barrels served as tables topped with beautiful flower arrangements and custom-made letterpress coasters for the occasion. Swag bags were filled with goodies from Mohawk Paper Store, Cat Seto, Delphine, Green Paper Company, Paper + Cup, Wendelline Papers, "Eat.Shop"guides and Anthology and The Knot magazines. Of course being the media professional that I am, I waited until I was on the train back home before I dug in like it was Christmastime.

I went into this thing without really knowing any of the other attendees...except for one. Meg Mateo Ilasco, creative director of Anthology, and I decided to meet up at the event after I learned that she'd be in town to catch the trade show. I was really looking forward to spending some time with her, especially after learning that they were pleased with my story for their fourth issue, and that we did...for the entire night. We just chatted it up, joked around and tried to mingle in that sea of strangers. She was just unbelievably sweet and a joy to be around.

Other people I talked with: Allyson Van Houten of Felt + Wire/Mohawk, Cat Seto (who, along with Meg, is in the final throes of their upcoming book "Mom, Inc."), Claudia Smith of Fig. 2 Design Studio, Heather Lee from, Joel Mejia from The Knot (and a former Latina coworker of mine!), and this sweet art director at People magazine whose name I've completely forgotten. In fact, I'm talking to her in the first photo below. (Can you spot my green jacket in the upper left hand corner?) In it we're probably going on about her destination wedding plans, the dwindling population of native New Yorkers in the city and how hard it is not to tear into our goodie bags despite the fact that we should be unfazed by press freebies by now. When Meg first came up to me, she and I were clicking so well, Meg asked us how long we'd known each other for. "Oh, about ten minutes." Don't you just love effortless connections like that?
Images: Kelly Guenther Studio via

National Stationery Show: Letterpress Part 2

Here's part two of my favorite letterpress studios from the 2011 National Stationery Show. You can check out part one here.

Printerette Press does sophisticated custom printing for businesses and special occasions, but also has a small collection of printed products that are full of cheer. I mean you can't go wrong with confetti, but the minimalist-lover in me is really feeling these thank you and simple heart note cards.
Okay, I still can't get over how sweet and fun Lucky Bee Press' products are. I especially like how they've textured some of their cards by pressing colorless patterns underneath their designs. New collections include an edgy set of greetings for guys and a selection of cocktail cards with a drink and recipe on the front. For fun baby and bridal shower ideas, take a look at their fill-in coasters that let guests write in advice and tips for the couple.
Throughout the show, I'd get secretly giddy when I'd recognize a certain card I had seen and loved on some blog but had forgotten the company's name. That happened several times in the Fugu Fugu Press booth where the Love You and Bday Face cards instantly jogged my memory. And the little peanut princess design? I always walk by a shop window that has it on display on my way to work.
Fresh colors and bold patterns are what come to mind when I think of Egg Press. Their die-cut message notes and their collection of pretty wrapping paper are fun examples of this as are their recipe cards and upcoming 2012 calendar.
Chewing the Cud - named after that moment of mediation before taking a leap of faith - products sometimes go the soft and delicate route while others are a wee bit more dramatic. Greeting cards and stationery fall more in line with the former while her patterned fabric wraps are bolder in their display of colors.
With a nice selection of coloring clocks, cards and notebooks, 9SpotMonk Letterpress will surely capture children's hearts. But there's plenty for the older set too. Especially those who've been feeling the oppression that's been this wretched economy. So you get a little pep and a little depression all in one shop! Convenient, no?
1Canoe2 began when two BFFs with a love for canoeing and art decided to set up shop in a big red barn in Missouri and crank out letterpress goodies based off their hand drawn scenes from rural life. The results are colorful with an warm, down-to-earth feel.
Inspired by "life's simple, sweet little pleasures," Paper Lovely offers a collection of eco-friendly letterpress cards printed on thick cotton paper. You can tell in the details just how much care goes into each hand-printed piece.
DeLuce Design's quirky illustrations are right up my alley. For some reason these childlike doodles just make me happy. They seem to be drawn hastily, but then the pressed nature of the cards ups the overall quality.
Claudia Smith was a huge hit at her first stationery show and it was a treat to witness and hear her reaction to it all at last Tuesday's NSS meetup. After taking a year to prepare for the show (and blogging through the process to keep herself accountable), her hard work paid off with recognition from Joy Cho and Martha Stewart Weddings. Fig. 2 Design Studio employs some of Smith's favorite design qualities: beautiful typography, calligraphy, bold patterns and clean lines paired with touches of bright color. Apart from two wedding collections, Fig. 2 also has flat note cards, gift tags and my personal fave, greeting cards letterpressed with neon ink.
Images:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and

Monday, May 23, 2011

DIY Origami Money Shirts on Tiny Hangers

Personally, I avoid giving money with a card in place of buying a present. Not only does it lack creativity, but I'm uncomfortable with the fact that the price of the gift is right there for the recipient to see and deem enough or not. But I understand that sometimes you're stuck shopping for someone impossible who makes it clear that they'd rather receive cash than a gift they'll end up returning so here's a fun way to present money rather than mindlessly slipping it inside a card.
First, gather your bill (or bills) of choice and create mini shirts using this origami tutorial. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to bang out a whole wardrobe in minutes.
When you're done, set them aside and grab some thin wire for your hangers. Cut as many 4" pieces as you'll need for your shirts.
Take each piece of wire and start forming a hanger shape. I started off with the hook, bent the wire at an angle for the first shoulder and then worked my way to the bottom portion, making sure that it was approximately 3/4" wide so it could fit inside the collar of the money shirt. Finish up the second shoulder and twist the remaining wire around the hook's neck. I twisted it two to three times and then snipped off the rest.
Pull open the front of the shirt to tuck the tiny hanger inside. Slip your monetary gift inside a coin envelope or tape or tie it to your card. Or you could just start paying for your deli sandwiches in money shirts like I intend to do.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ghetto Kitchen: Chocolate-Covered Kiwifruit Pops

If I had a cooking show, it'd have to be named "Ghetto Kitchen" and in each episode I'd teach my audience how to attempt recipes like the one for these delicious chocolate-covered kiwi pops...

...and produce this botched mess instead.
I'd go on about last-minute substitutions and thinking on your feet. I'm talking about CREATIVITY, people. I mean that's what cooking in four sq.ft. of kitchen space is all about, no?

Yesterday, A. sent me just this photo with the words "MAKE NOW." So after he headed off to the gym in the evening, I decided to surprise him with dinner and dessert rather than run the two miles I'd stupidly suggested earlier. It really was the lesser of two evils...or so I thought.

Popsicle sticks were replaced by toothpicks and tiny holes in the chocolate box were supposed to keep the chocolate-covered fruit upright while the shell hardened. Oy, what a mess! Everything was toppling over, there was melted chocolate dripping all over my hands, on my face, in my tummy (call it quality control). I had to scrap that whole Toothpicks in Box idea and step it up to...Toothpicks in Ice Tray Stuffed with Paper Towels idea!

Oh who cares. They tasted yummy and even though the shells would crumble to pieces on the first chomp, the chunks that made it into your mouth rather than the floor were good.

Tips for Next Time

- Forgo the pre-chopped kiwi chunks and just slice bigger pieces instead.
- Popsicle sticks > tiny toothpicks
- Attempt original Sticks in Styrofoam idea.
- Procure Styrofoam.
- Don't pop the finished fruits in the freezer to harden. Because they will. Nearly beyond consumption.
- Film the whole ridiculous process.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

National Stationery Show: Letterpress Part 1

So finally here's part one of this week's National Stationery Show coverage. I'd been trying to take photos of the samples I scored from the show, but unfortunately my life is plagued with bad lighting at the moment (darn rain and mediocre camera). So these posts will be peppered with shots from the show and spotlights of great products from my favorite companies.

Letterpress still has such huge appeal and I enjoyed seeing the different ways these companies tried to stand out from the crowd. Some used simple line drawings combined with spots of color while others went the elegant calligraphy route. There were animation-style illustrations, tiny hand drawn icons, those inscribed with sweet messages and others full of bite.

This year, 16 letterpress companies banded together to create a scavenger hunt of sorts during the NSS. Each designed an original recipe card (one created a paper box to hold them all in) and attendees had to go around to collect them all. What a fun incentive to get people to your booth and give a little sample of each designer's style. Of course I got them all and will share pics when there's better light in my life. Today's roundup features some of the designers involved in this year's hunt.

A. Favorite Design's light and cheery corner booth was filled with cheeky yet sweet greeting cards and stationery (and I liked the creativity in their presentation). Designer Amber Favorite's love of typography was the inspiration for the clever Designer Series.

I'm really drawn to small, minimalist line doodles and when it's combined with letterpress, it can really produce a sweet almost childlike result. That's probably why Albertine Press' "Lines" collection quickly caught my eye.
Dingbat Press' work is so elegant and beautifully produced, even their business cards are crisp! Thank goodness that after six years in the custom design business for brides and businesses, they've decided to debut a wholesale collection of letterpress stationery and wedding suites.
Let me start by saying that the Midwest ladies in the Igloo Letterpress booth were so down-to-earth. The company, founded by Allison Chapman, uses vintage images and type passed down from Chapman's grandfather, but her collection has her own creativity and innovation. Her "Pull Out" cards, for instance, feature fun patterns on the outer cover with punched out holes that show one message and then another as the inside card slides out.
Paper Mill Designs does custom work in both letterpress and flat-printed designs for special occasions, but their Etsy shop has a few contemporary picks for everyday greetings that are pure eye candy.
Besides showing off her precious letterpress cards at the Pistachio Press booth, Rachael Hetzel was also debuting her cross stitch collection. The patterns were featured on these kraft paper-cover notebooks made with recycled paper.
Old Tom Foolery is nothing but snark and even though I can't believe they can get away with some of it, they still make me laugh. Especially with the latest additions to their "Headlines" and "Footnotes" collections.
Maginating is a whimsical set designed by former animator Brad Woods. The collection is colorful, fun and would delight both kids and the young-at-heart alike. When Brad asked me if I knew what a rebus was (oh do I!) and then had me deciper a few new designs, I became a fan of the imaginative kawaii-style cards.
I've gushed about Sapling Press before so I was really excited to finally meet Lisa Krowinski at the show. She has such great energy and was just as excited to be there herself, especially with all the attention she'd been getting this year. I'm happy to report that she's added to her popular "We Go Together Like" and "Dear Blank" lines as well as presenting her "Without U" cards. She also won a Best New Product Award at the show for her "Dear Blank" collection. (P.S. If anyone wanted to get me this tote bag, that would be allll right by me. *wink, wink*)
Wild Ink Press launched three new card lines at the show: a "Textiles" letterpress collection, another inspired by the Korean and Pakistani heritage of her two adopted sons and this cute and tiny "Literals" line.
So what do you think of the talent? Stay tuned because roundups on other letterpress goodness, the snarky/unsappy cards and a spotlight on illustrated collections are on their way.

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

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pretty Paper Dreams

Did you have a good weekend, my little monkeybutts? Mine was good and quite busy. I spent Friday night and Saturday morning making some illustrated business cards (that are probably too cute and whimsical for more professional encounters) to hand out during the National Stationery Show. Saturday afternoon took me out to Staten Island for a writing group meeting and didn't get to bed until 2 AM! Not good considering I wanted to be up and out for the trade show as early as possible before starting work at 5 PM.

Well arriving at 1 PM instead of 9 AM isn't so bad right? Still, I wish I had all the time in the world to wander around the massive floor, but thank goodness for my walking list. I was still able to visit the superstars on my list and meet the people behind some terrific companies. Their excitement to be at the show was contagious, I couldn't help but beam back and chat with them about their work, NYC and exhibiting at the show. There were a lot of newcomers debuting their lines so it was nice to hear what the experience has been like for them.

I'll be introducing you to many of them soon...if I can manage to tear myself away from all these lovely catalogs I dragged back home. So if you love all things paper, handwritten notes and snail mail on pretty stationery get ready to swoon. And if you don't (really?), then please bear with the rest of us.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Happy Friday!

It's nice to see that Blogger is finally back up and running so that I can wish you all a great weekend and let you know that I'll be attending the National Stationery Show on Sunday. Squeeee! It probably sounds incredibly geeky, but I can't wait to be surrounded by aisles and aisles of beautiful stationery, paper, packaging and craft goodies. To be honest, it also sounds a bit overwhelming (much how I've felt at previous NY International Gift Fairs), but this time I've done my research, created a walking list and plotted out all the booths I want to see on a floor plan. So basically I'm ready for this and will be giving you the scoop on my faves over the following few days. In the meantime, here are a few companies I'm really excited to see:


Wordplay Fail

*Sigh* I almost want to say something...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

So Let Me Finally Tell You About My Weekend

These photo-filled posts take me quite a while to create (which is why there's an ever-growing list of travel posts that get put on the back burner), but I really wanted to show and tell you about my weekend because it was just so good. Last Thursday's post had me feeling a bit spazzed because of allergies and an impending deadline, but luckily writing the story was a breeze. I'm actually quite proud to say that it's for the fourth issue of Anthology magazine! (Remember my write-up on the premiere issue last year?) (Okay, just read the comments and apparently Intense Guy is a bit of a psychic!) Six months after meeting co-founder Meg Mateo Ilasco (and Joy Cho) at a "Creative, Inc." book signing event and expressing interest in contributing to her new mag, I landed an assignment. All has been going well and hopefully I'll get another chance to write for a future issue. I'll be sure to let you all know when the story's out.

Because I was scheduled to work for on Sunday and then hanging out with friends that night, I treated Mom and the sibs to a Mother's Day outing a day early. It was a bit of a slow start and my intentions for lunch quickly turned into an early dinner, but it was such a nice time. We rarely ever eat a meal together let alone go out to a restaurant as a family so this really meant a lot. Everyone behaved, we shared some laughs and I'm proud to see that my "little" brother has begun to shed his "too cool for everything" act. Guantanamera's Cuban cuisine was delicious and that sangria? So sweet! (The flan was just meh though.) I really want us to plan more moments like this. You hear that, sibs?!

Because things often have a way of, um, escalating when the parentals get together, I decided to keep the restaurant event to just us four and that was all right by Dad. Besides, right after the meal, I was taking him and A. to the Mets v Dodgers game at CitiField. The sappy girlfriend in me just wanted her dad and boyfriend to bond some more so what better way than by taking them to see their favorite teams go up against each other and then drag home a loser and a winner? Dad teased A. pretty frequently and came out the victor, but A. was a good sport about it all. He really likes my dad. Or maybe the poor guy was still feeling defeated about the Lakers' third loss against the Mavericks in the NBA playoffs the night before.

Aside from having a fun time with these two foolios, I also got to see three friends at the game: our friends Zack and Jona and my grad school BFF, Kimmie, who regularly covers the Mets and the Yankees and gave us a quick tour inside the press box. Sweet, huh? Actually, it was pretty quiet and just lined with tables and chairs with people tapping away at their laptops, but for a moment I was cool by association when A. called Zack right up to tell him all about our Amazing Adventure.

Sunday morning, I woke up early to start posting stories onto BET's site while lucky A. slept peacefully in my room. I somehow convinced him to stick around until the end of my 9-to-5 shift by letting him watch the Lakers game on my computer. Too bad that was the game that finally ended their season. What a letdown.

But thank God for friends right?! A. had organized a trip to Brooklyn Boulders to teach some buddies how to rock climb and show off his Spider-Man skills. Although he'd originally intended to teach some how to belay, his plans were foiled by some surprise cockamamie rules at the center (something about liabilities or whatever). So he belayed all of us and then found someone who could do the same for him. Then we did some bouldering, or climbing without ropes, for the rest of the time. All in all it was a great night, albeit late as their cheaper off-peak hours are from 9-11 PM, and I'm happy to note that I'm getting quicker and more confident climbing up. Unfortunately, I still shriek and shake on my way back down.

So, was your weekend as exciting as mine was?

Images: some images courtesy of Damaris Ramos and Zack Hample

A Kindle for Dickens

When a class assignment asked her to explain a piece of modern day technology to someone who lived and died before 1900, Rachel Walsh chose to explain the Kindle to English novelist Charles Dickens. "I thought it could've been a helpful piece of technology to have," the second year illustration student at the UK's Cardiff School of Art & Design explains. "He must've lugged a lot of heavy books around with him in his day!"

So Walsh designed 40 miniature replicas of well-known classics - each bound, covered and illustrated with the actual cover - and placed them inside a hardcover book as a metaphor for the portable reader.

"I made the book start to finish over five days, and it took about 35 hours to make I reckon. It was pretty painstaking cutting out all the gaps in the book itself, and making the books to go inside. They're all bound like actual books, so as I waited for them to glue and dry I would design the covers for them. All the covers are copies of real book covers. They include many of Dickens' novels, his favorite childhood books, and some of my own."

She's yet to be graded for her project, but this totally gets an A in my book. (via Gamma Squad)
Images: and

The City Limits

I can never get enough of timelapse videos so I hope you're not bored with them yet. In The City Limits, motion photographer Dominic Bodreault compiled images of four major cities in the United States and Canada to show contrast between city and nature in this stunning video. Though each place looks breathtakingly beautiful against the darkening sky, my eyes light up when I catch glimpses of Manhattan and the always-bustling Grand Central Terminal. Other locations include: Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and Chicago.

Timelapse - The City Limits from Dominic on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Deadlines and Art Dates

It's that time again, guys. I have a looming deadline, projects in the works and these allergies are making me feel so beat. Even the sunshine in my eyes feels like bloody torture. Oh how I wish I could up and go to a secluded place and unwind with this book I've been trying to read for the past month, but that'll have to wait until my calendar eases up a bit in the coming week. (I hope. Funny how the week fills up and flies by so quickly, huh?)

I did, however, take a nice break from my agenda last night with a three-hour art date with my friend, Ky. I played around with crayons, markers and colored pencils while she strummed a few notes on her guitar before creating a teeny tiny canvas painting of the tulips on Park Avenue. A lot of sarcasm and laughs were involved (as well as pizza squares, cocktail shrimp and a bit of whoopie pie) so meeting up for the sole purpose of creating art in good company turned out to be a delightful idea. I don't know about you, but I sometimes get so lost in to-do lists that I forget to schedule in time for the things that soothe me. It's a bit hard to sit yourself down and dedicate time to your art when you go at it alone so it's much nicer when you have someone to share that experience with. That said, we're getting together again on Monday and even though we've only met up once, it's already making me want to be more productive on that front.

So how do you guys zen out during your hectic times?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Bizarre Yet Awesomeness That Is Tim Minchin

Last night, A. and I were lucky enough to attend Tim Minchin's sold out show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg and all I can say is it was two hours of comedy gold.

Okay, maybe I can say a bit more than that. Minchin is an Australian comedian/musician/actor who performs skits on rationalism, religion, society, his love of boobs and other pressing issues of the sort. I first heard about him through A. during our early courtship days (there's nothing like a little "Inflatable You" to woo a girl) and found him highly amusing aaand a wee bit creepy, not gonna lie. (I mean he does looks a little Beetlejuicey doesn't he?) But as much as I enjoyed watching him via YouTube, it doesn't compare to being 20 feet from him in a live show. The comedic timing, his quirky facial expressions, the cheap ass "special effects," how he just rolls with any technical glitches and rambles off on tangents, it just proved what a talented performer he is and made a true fan out of me.

And oh, can the guy work that piano! He might get a little manic during his musical numbers, but you'll quickly realize that he's always in control and so gifted in word play it'll make your brain ache in trying to keep up. His 9-minute beat poem, "Storm," is a prime example.

A month ago, I invited A. to finally see "Blue Valentine" with me and we walked out of the theater playing air ukulele, humming and dancing like two silly kids in the middle of the street.

"Aww, I want us to have a song, too" I suggested as I grabbed his hand and waited for the stoplight to change.
"You know what happens with couples who have a song right?"
"What? They break up?"

But last night he sang a different tune, namely one about love and how it can creep up and grow on you...much like a cancerous tumor. It's really quite romantic if you can manage to push past the weirdness of it all and I remember gently placing my hand on A.'s as Minchin sang of glaucoma and malignant melanoma.

"We found our song!" A. later said to me as we laughed through recounts of the show on our way home. And though Minchin's other song about being just as happy if he'd ended up loving somebody else would've been a perfect contender, I agreed that "You Grew on Me" would fit us just as well.