Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cupid's Arrow

1) Arrows Print by Julie Kostreva 2) Choose Your Own Path Print by Small Talk Studio 3) Mini Pastel Arrows by Verla Ivans 4) Arrow Cupcake Toppers DIY from Creature Comforts Blog 5) Arrow Cuff by Odette NY

I love Valentine's Day—not so much the holiday itself, but the colors, the candy, the hearts...it's cute and fun and reminds me of being a kid. I also love arrows (see my blog background!), and love that I've seen them crop up more for everyday, not just from Cupid's bow. Here are some of my favorite arrow pieces, although there are too many to list!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Recipe: Michael Symon's Chicken + Goat Cheese Mac 'n' Cheese

Last night I made one of my absolute favorite meals, from Michael Symon's Live to Cook. There isn't much I love more than mac 'n' cheese, and this gourmet twist on it is delicious and still a staple comfort food. I was really excited to see this recipe in his cookbook, because I ordered this once at his restaurant, Lolita, and now I can have it whenever I want!

Serves 6-8
(I usually cut this in half, it makes enough for two people plus one leftover serving for lunch)

I N G R E D I E N T S :

Kosher salt
1 Pound dried rigatoni pasta
1 Quart (4 Cups) heavy cream
1 Cup (8 oz) goat cheese
2 Cups shredded roasted chicken (either leftover, or when I don't have any, I pick up a small rotisserie from the store and shred it)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

D I R E C T I O N S :

1) In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, rosemary and 1/2 teaspoon salt over high heat. Bring just to a simmer to reduce mixture by half. Keep an eye on the cream, when it heats to a boil it will quickly climb the sides of the pan and could bubble over onto your stove. I speak from experience.

2) Add the goat cheese and chicken to the cream mixture and bring back to a simmer. Continue cooking until mixture thickens a bit and coats the back of a spoon, about 30 minutes.

3) While the cream is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously. Add rigatoni and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.

4) Drain pasta, return it to the large pot and add the cream sauce. Toss the pasta to combine it with the sauce and bring the whole pot back to a gentle simmer.

I never make anything else with this, because I just eat a whole big bowl and it's totally all you need. Plus a glass of wine ;) Perfect for a cold, dreary night!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New year, New workspace

I've been wanting to revamp my workspace for quite some time now, and just randomly got the bug to do it last weekend. I had this small, old corkboard hanging above my desk, and it always falls down (the adhesive sucks), and it finally fell down for the last time. Enough! I threw it away and decided it was time to start over.

I moved into our place a year ago and never really gave my work area the attention it needed. It worked sometimes, but I also found myself using my dining room table to spread out and draw because I just had too many things cluttering up my desk. I got this Ikea desk years ago, and I love it because it's just a big, flat work table, which is really what I need. I have to be able to easily push my computer to the side when it's time to draw or paint.

I also had a messy collection of art paper and wrapping paper shoved along the side of my desk, and my cards and envelopes were all over the place. So I headed to Target to solve my problems :)

My favorite purchase has to be this woven black and white arrow basket. We were looking for something to store my paper rolls, and I spotted it in passing on a random endcap. I basically started jumping up and down because it was so perfect.

*p.s. YES I know, it's time for us to take our Christmas tree down.

My desk surface is now much clearer, I'm no longer storing bills and coupons and junk that only gets in the way, and everything has a place. Joy!

And my corkboard is now bigger, better, and actually functional! Now I can just sit back and let the organization vibes transfer into productive energy...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year

Welcome to the new year! 2011 went crazy fast, didn't it?

I had a great run this past year, I accomplished a lot of forward movement both personally and career-wise, and I have a lot of big things planned for this upcoming year. I am still on a mission to continue growing Shore Society as much as possible. There are some really exciting things coming up that I have to keep to myself for a bit longer (I am so not good at this!) and I'll be sure to share as soon as I can.

I never make solid resolutions, I find them impossible to follow up on and they only end up making me feel lazy/apathetic. I know what my goals are, so I don't feel the need to hold myself to a timeline or standard. My own standards are enough. Most designers and creatives are their own biggest critics, and I am no different. To this point, I've put together a little list of things that I've learned in the last year that will hopefully help you to have another creative and productive year, too.

Be kind to yourself.
It's easy to get caught up in comparing your work to the work of others. Hell, I'll spend hours online looking for inspiration for my job or for fun, and it's always an endless spiderweb of stumbling upon talented people and beautiful design. And there's nothing wrong with that, as long as you keep the comparison part of your brain in check. You have no idea who might be looking at your work and thinking "I wish I would have thought of that" just as you are to theirs, so it's best to accept someone else's ingenuity and move on. Allow it to inspire you and nothing more. Don't beat yourself up. You are the only you, and that in itself is valuable.

Work outside of your medium.
Sometimes I find myself working only digitally for months, and other times I am fully drawing by hand. Never feel like one way is "your" way and that you have to stick to it. That's an ongoing struggle for a lot of illustrators—the age old "do I have to have a 'style'?" question—but I think whatever your hand touches will likely bear enough similarity to hold together. Plus, it shows you are capable of working many ways, which can attract different types of clients or projects.

Have fun. Don't critique it, just do it. Don't feel like you have to publish everything you do. Keeping some of your work to yourself prevents you from thinking "what if it's not 'good enough'?" which we all know is the force that crushes our ability to create. Don't feel like designing/drawing/writing? Build a shelf. Bake a cake. Paint some shoes with glitter. Do anything that allows you to play and enjoy yourself. That attitude will carry over into the way you work, allowing you to loosen up and enjoy the process rather than focusing on the end result.

Reach out.
I have to say, Twitter is awesome. I cannot even express how many valuable connections I've made through something as seemingly stupid as Twitter. It's so easy to not only follow the designers and brands you love, but to give them a shout whenever you have something to say. I've found that people are highly responsive to praise and feedback, and it's probably because many of the designers you love and respect are just like you. They put their work out there for the world to see, and of course they're going to love hearing that you're a fan, who wouldn't? People are usually much nicer than you'd ever expect. So if you have a question, ask. If you like something, say so. Give someone props, share their link, post some of your own inspiration. This to me is the right way to use Twitter. Some people may care that you're tweeting about being tired or that you had a fabulous dinner, but you have to turn your focus outward in order for that energy to make its way back to you. Same goes for your favorite blogs—visit them when you can, comment often, feed their network and they will eventually start feeding yours.

I haven't written a long post like that in a while, so I hope I didn't lose you there ;) Everyone's path is different, but these are some of the things that have worked for me and hopefully they can help you in some way. What have you learned in the last year? Any tips to share with the peanut gallery?

My biggest wishes to all of you for an awesome 2012...after all, it's our last year to make something happen before the Mayan calendar runs out!*

*Actually, this means the world will enter a new era, and this is considered a lucky time to be alive. Don't believe me? There's an episode of the podcast "Stuff You Should Know" all about this, you can listen to it here.