diy egg + crepe paper valentine's day hearts

I'm happy to present my latest project as the featured artist for the wonderful folks at Carte Fini, suppliers of the beautiful crepe paper that makes my world go 'round. I'm back at it with the eggs, but this time I'm nestling them together to make sweet little crepe paper covered hearts. Four different versions as matter of fact!

The colors offered by Carte Fini made doing a Valentine's Day project a no-brainer. They have SO many pinks, reds and corals to choose from. So I chose them all.

I love these valentines because they are so colorful and three dimensional. I can make several of these in an hour, so they just might be classroom valentines for Stella this year. I think they'd also make an amazing Valentine's Day garland.

I hope you'll give these a try! Click on the link below for the full DIY tutorial. xoxoxo!

Previous featured artist projects for Carte Fini:

October 2013  CREPE PAPER FLOWER HEADPIECES FOR FALL (giant dahlias)


photo booth III, happy birthday to me

Today I am 44 years old. I have a beautiful family, an incredibly supportive husband and a lot of freedom. I am becoming creatively fulfilled in ways I never thought I would be able to. I am incredibly lucky to be living the life I am living right now.

I am getting papel SF off the ground and it's an incredible task with no childcare or workspace or storage space, and what's suffering is my health, along with the general sanity and cleanliness of our home. I can't believe the difference between these photo booth shots and the ones I took last year (photo booth and photo booth II). The last six months have really taken it out of me, and added about five pounds, too. 

I have great intentions for this next year of my life. I beat myself up every day for not walking like I used to, not being able to control my eating (I know this is directly proportionate to sleep deprivation, see a very informative talk on sleep and willpower here) and for letting our place get so crazy messy. But what can I do? It's a fact that when people are getting something off the ground they have to go all in. If David acted like it bothered him at all, these paper shreds all over the floor and glue all over the kitchen counter where we eat and rolls of paper EVERYWHERE then it would be over. But he is so patient with all of this and that keeps me going, too. So I know I can't stop living crazy right now. The kids and I are good, we have a rhythm and I make plenty of time for them. David and I are working around the situation for now. So, the health thing is going to have to wait a few more months. 

So classic, isn't it? Looking back at photos from a mere six months ago (that I disliked at the time) and wishing I looked like that now. So typical for me. When will I ever get around to changing this cycle? Hopefully before I turn 45. It's like a broken record up in here. xoxoxo


two valentine's day donuts

I've got just a few Valentine's Day tricks up my sleeve this year, but until they are ready I give you two throwback Valentine's Day donut pan ideas. Remember these?

I had some trouble at first, but I finally found the right recipe and was able to make these awesome giant candy necklaces. I still have several hanging around here, because for better or worse, they don't go bad! 

And then there's this one.

Call them meta, call them too much, just make sure you try one. I cubed up several different grocery store donuts and converted them into bread pudding donuts. I have to admit, that's pretty clever! They were phenomenal, of course.

Have a great weekend, folks! I'll be spending part of my weekend alone, my birthday gift from my family. Looking forward to some major productivity! xoxo


february 2014 workshops

I'm excited to announce some workshops I have coming up in February. If you live in the Bay Area (or beyond) I'd love to see you there. Here's the scoop!

Learn to make oversized, realistic roses from gorgeous two-colored crepe paper from Germany. I'm holding this workshop twice, just in time for Valentine's Day, first at Handcraft Studio School in Emeryville, and then at Makeshift Society in San Francisco . Click the links below to register.

Sunday, February 9th, 2014
11-2:00 p.m.

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014
6:30-8:30 p.m.

These roses are beautiful, and will surely make great gifts for Valentine's Day (Mother's Day, too)! I have taught this class for Martha Stewart before. It's really fun, and no glue guns required! 


Also, back by popular demand is my woodland egg ornament class, renamed "Little Paper Acorns" by my pals at Handcraft Studio School. Cute. If you didn't catch the class in the fall, here it is again, but I'm going to bring in even more colors and options for either realistic and/or bright, fun little acorns. I'm thinking we should try them in coral and blue and all sorts of colors! The link to register is below.

Thursday, February 6th, 2014
7-9:00 p.m.

Then, watch this space in March and April, because I am working to develop a four-hour workshop on how to make a LARGE scale floral Easter Bonnet/Kentucky Derby headpiece based on the techniques I use to make my giant peonies and chrysanthemums. It's complicated, but you will be leaving that workshop with both the craziest headpiece you've ever seen AND the skills to make your own giant floral wall hanging. Hard to describe, but more soon! I might also bring back my Paper Flower Headpiece class, but that depends on what kind of time I have before the end of April. If not, for sure I'll run in it during the summer.

I'd love to see you at a workshop. I hope you can make it. Have a great weekend, everyone!



wherein a dream might true

Finally, all of these monsters are out the door, and I'm left to my own devices. I hardly recognize this feeling of not being behind the eight ball anymore, and I know another one of sorts is headed my way, but for a minute here I'm in control.

All of my "professional" energy for the next four months will be diverted toward my new journey, which will be over before I know it. I'm teaching some new classes soon, but everything else will be focused on my little exhibit for Rare Device in May. Rare Device, where I magically turn into my most eccentric, weird self the second I walk in the door. Why is that? Am I manifesting some strange idea I have of myself as an artist? I have no idea, but that's certainly not who I want to be. Nerves, maybe.

Anyway, if I'm being honest, this is a bit of a dream come true for me. A list of selfish dreams:
Dream one: children
Dream two: farm/garden/fields/space/studio
Dream three: dress beautifully/fit into my old clothes
Dream four: show my work (if all goes well)

It is just an exhibit of giant flowers (and some new ideas I can't wait to start), well time-constricted because I've already eaten up half of January with my last commission and some miserably failed prep work, but to me it feels like some sort of independent study thesis project. The trick is to find where craft and art intersect, or maybe I find they never do, or that it doesn't matter. And to be sure not to superimpose meaning over what just might be something pretty to look at.

I have some ideas, so we'll see.


round up: christmas passed

Christmas has finally passed. We had a wonderful holiday, as always. My mother was here for almost two weeks which gave David and I time to have several date nights, hooray! It was so nice to have her here. You folks who live near your relatives, consider yourselves lucky!

All of us were sick at some point during the winter break and there was a little cabin fever going on at the end, but mostly we stayed around the homestead like we love to do, cooked a lot of food and had a wonderful time. And did a lot of playing.

 Salt dough.

 Walking home after the last school day of the year, nothing better!

 Pine cones on the best tree we've ever had, placed in a new location that we loved.

 My ornaments sold pretty well during the holidays, and were featured on Daily Candy.

 A sweet card from David.

Post Christmas snuggles.

My mock-vintage bulb reflectors really work, by the way!

 We all camped out in Stella's room again.

 Some of the sweetest things we gave Stella. MIKODESIGN Frida doll set here. Tiny postal set here.

 Some of the best things I received. Amazing Cathy Callahan tassel bracelets from David and the Lego Architecture Studio set I wanted from my mother. I must've been good this year.

Santa brought a giant hotel for Stella. He probably didn't realize it takes a day of work to build.

David and I worked through our colds with a lot of ginger and rye. It became a thing to serve it over ice donuts. I had two commissions to finish up over the holidays, which was a little tough. Last one goes
out today, yay!

Right before the end.

I'm feeling so fortunate these days in so many ways and am excited for the new year, but I am truly sad the holidays are over. They went by way too quick this year. I'm not into Christmas starting November 1st, which is definitely the status quo, but I do believe in stretching it out as far into January as feels natural. We just took our tree out to the street yesterday, super-ceremoniously, of course.

This entire holiday season I was so melancholic for snow. I miss it so much, and envy all my friends and family back on the East Coast, polar vortex or not. I hope you are staying warm and are enjoying a good start to the new year. Have a great weekend!



donut pan idea no. 61: boudoir biscuits (ladyfingers) for round tiramisu

Adventures in pastry! Embarking on a recipe I've never made before is such an education. Like, did you know that ladyfingers are more commonly known as "boudoir biscuits" around the world? It's certainly more appropriate here, baked in a donut pan and not finger-like at all. 

Stella thought to bake ladyfingers in the donut pans as we were trolling the aisles of the grocery store during the holidays. I had hoped to make them before everyone started their new year resolutions, especially me, because I cannot resist tiramisu. Especially when it is fresh and sitting in my refrigerator in nice big individual serving containers. But I didn't get to it until yesterday, and it is dangerous over here right now!

The ladyfingers/boudoir biscuits are simple enough to make. The mascarpone pastry cream is a bit more difficult, but SO worth it. Click on "read more" below to read more!


confessions of a juicer

I bet you know someone who is on a juice cleanse right now, don't you? This is a huge time of year for juicing. Instagram is full of photos of juice right now! I recently completed a three-day juice cleanse myself, and it was an eye opener. It gave me a glimpse of what things would be like if I started to take better care of myself. Here's how it went.

In early December I found an deeply discounted holiday sale offer for a Suja Juice cleanse. I am one of those people who need to pay for a cleanse to be sure to stick to it. I am a woman of little self control when it comes to food. 

I've done some cleansing before. A few years ago David and I did three or four days of the detox cleanse from Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop, which was actually nice because there was actual food. But it ended badly when I suggested David and I get some "Thai-spicy-larb-gai-with-fresh-Thai-chilis" on night four because I was so hungry. That didn't agree with David one bit. Actually it put him in the hospital, and it was totally my fault. That's the kind of lack of self control I'm talking about here.

Since then I've really wanted to give cleansing another try. We have a juicer, and I use it more in the summer months but just haven't gotten in the groove to juice regularly. I ordered the Suja cleanse and got excited. And then I got a 24-hour stomach bug, which actually would've perfectly prepared my system for when the juice arrived. Unfortunately due to a massive amount of orders the juice shipped a week later than expected, after my stomach bug had come and gone.

When it did arrive, I did the full three days of the cleanse. From the perspective of someone who was only in it to lose a few pounds and was physically unprepared for the cleanse, let me share with you what I learned. Results and findings are totally going to vary for you, I am sure.

What I Drank:
Six juices a day. Three green, two beet/carrot-based, one "dessert".

Being Prepared:
I wasn't. I mean, I didn't prepare. I actually did what I knew I would do and ate a few things I really was craving the night before I started the cleanse. And of course I loaded up on coffee. It was really absurd, but I don't think if affected the good results I received from drinking all that juice.

Day One Findings:
I had my first bottle of juice around 10:00 a.m. The juice tasted great, and I got that great wave of feeling that most people probably get when starting a cleanse. Boy, I am SOOOOO HEALTHY! 

I was hanging in there until about 5:00, and then I was hanging on by a thread. I was teaching a class that night so I picked up some Mexican food for David and the kids, and all I could think was "How am I not eating this Mexican food every night? How could I have taken advantage of this wonderful restaurant right around the corner from us? I am eating this the second this cleanse is over!". I was really, really hungry and wanting to eat. I had to skip ahead and have the almond-based juice before I went to the class so I could get my head screwed on straight, then finished the night with only half of the final green bottle.

Day Two Findings:
The morning of day two I had totally forgotten about food. I was feeling good, until I remembered coffee, and how the ritual of coffee really makes my day. I talked to Stella all morning about it and researched the effects of decaf on cleanses in the school parking lot after dropping her off. I was obsessing. I finally bought a cup of decaf. Like I said, I wasn't in it for anything but weight loss, so I went for it.

The rest of the day went fine. I was feeling enthusiastic about it, and energized. I also had a deadline I was working toward. I ended up having David make me a cup of coffee so I could work into that night. It was a new experience for me to work late into the night without snacking. It wasn't just the coffee, it was the fact I was two-thirds of the way through the cleanse so I wasn't tempted at all. Very new for me.

Day Three Findings:
On the final day, I was feeling fine hunger-wise. Primarily I was just feeling like I could not finish all of that juice. Suja juice is very sweet, almost all of it tasting like apples mixed with various vegetables. I really couldn't stomach it by then end, and only drank five of the six bottles the last day. I had coffee again that afternoon, which on top of the cleanse I am sure helped suppress my appetite in ways it doesn't normally.

The good news is that after only a few days, I could tell my facial skin was looking so much nicer. I received numerous comments on how good I was looking. I lost 4.5 lbs., and where it came off most noticeably was my face. I am SO self conscious about all the weight that I carry on my face. To have some of it gone made me feel like a new person. 

Despite how tired I was of the taste of the juice, I also felt like I could keep going. I know I could've done at least one more day, maybe more. But I didn't (read on). 

Coming Off the Cleanse:
You are instructed to come off of the cleanse very slowly and gently, eating only fruits the first day, fruits and vegetables the next, and on the third day post-cleanse you can introduce small amounts of rice and the like. I hear a lot of people say how after just three days on a cleanse they crave only foods that keep them feeling clean and energized, and get enthusiastic about raw eating. But not me!

By noon the first day I had eaten a tray of grocery store vegetable sushi with wasabi, with only a slight rumble of the tummy. By 2:30 I had scarfed down a Tupperware container of soba noodles in sesame oil with tofu left over from Oliver's preschool's lunch that day. And then I went out for a ladies' night dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant, where I had copious amounts of wine and some great squid ink pasta. 

I had no obvious ill effects, although who knows what was happening inside me. Hopefully nothing damaging. Remember that this wasn't a good idea, and everyone is different, so I can't really condone my actions here. But that's what I did. I ATE!

What I Learned (and Would I Do It Again?):
Here's the thing. I gained those four and a half pounds back in a matter of days. This was not about permanent weight loss or lifestyle change for me. It was an experiment to see if I could do it, and with that came a peek at who I could potentially be. For three days of juicing I earned a brief look at what I used to look like, before getting pregnant with Oliver. It was really eye opening. I loved it. I struggle with my weight all the time, and sometimes I worry if my jowls are just going to hang down even worse if I lose weight (obviously my tummy will, but I have always worried about my face). But it looked good! And four pounds is not that far away. I'm kind of committed to get at least those four pounds off so I can see myself that way again, and then take it from there.

I also learned that juice cleanses actually are not that hard, and that I would definitely do one again (when there's another sale!). Maybe the next time it will help jumpstart a healthier approach to eating for me, but I hope for my sake I'll get on that sooner, rather than later. I have had a juice or two since the cleanse ended and now they don't taste as sweet. They actually taste amazing and I crave them when I am thirsty.

What the cleanse did for me was proved to me that it is worth it to take care of myself better, whether it be less sugar, more sleep, more vegetables, or whatever. It was like trying on a better me. 

I'll stop there, lest this become one more New Year's rambling by another someone who wants to get their act together. But if you are thinking of trying a cleanse, I say go for it. It isn't that hard at all, and it's definitely worth it, if just to see a better you.

Have a great weekend!


happy new year!

It was a productive year, to say the least!

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful and fun night last night. At this writing, I have no idea if we will have made it out to celebrate or not, but fingers crossed I don't start 2014 with a massive hangover. They take forever to recover from these days.

I've been thinking so much lately about how much momentum I built up last year, and if it is at all sustainable in the new year. I am lucky to have been able to let 2013 evolve the way it did, and of course I have my husband David to thank for that. He has a lot of faith in me, and a lot of patience, and I am really grateful for the latitude he gives me.

This time last year I was incapacitated with anxiety about traveling to Salt Lake City for the 2013 Altitude Design Summit, where I was selected to host a round table. I was under some serious stress, designing my business cards, trying to get my materials together and my talk ready, trying to figure out how to dress for success amongst a crowd of women decades my junior, and mostly freaking out over the fear of the unknown. But I did it, I had a good time, and I made it home in one piece. And just like performing burlesque, once you get that thrill from doing something that frightens you, you want more.

So I spent the rest of 2013 chasing opportunities and "making things happen". I took every single opportunity that was presented to me, and every single one took a toll on my family, my marriage, and of course, me. But each thing I did this year begat yet other opportunity, and I had to see where that momentum would take me. I ended up doing things I never would've imagined I'd be doing at the beginning of the year. I finally found work that I love to do and that people are responding to so positively. I am probably the most fulfilled creatively I have ever been in my life, because I am creating things on my terms without direction from anyone but myself. It feels pretty incredible.

At the same time, it's been a lot of learning as I go as far as retail and promotional materials and the like. The things I make take a lot of time, which makes it hard to conform to other people's schedules, but I did it. I filled every order (save one custom piece I should have finished in a few days). I have never been one who has been able to create "balance" in her life. I go to extremes, constantly. I work too hard and too long, too inefficiently and often for too little reward. So I feel like a have a lot more work to do before I turn what I'm doing into something that could be successful on all levels.

Most of all, I am afraid of losing momentum. I call my inbox "The Magic Inbox", because every couple of weeks something new and exciting usually drops into it. If it goes more than a few weeks I start to get nervous and go hunting for more work and/or more exposure. I feel like this is the time in my life where the iron is pretty hot, and I need to keep striking. If I start to try to create balance in my life, meaning making time for exercise, hygiene, more quality time with my children, more sleep, more normalcy, I'm not sure I will be able to keep everything sailing toward a viable business. It will feel like a missed opportunity if things slow down this year, and that troubles me.

My plan is to just keep at it, but with a normal life as the goal. I've decided not to do any made-to-order pieces in the new year. I think that's a really good start. I need to make money, but building up my inventory again will make it a lot easier for me to talk about my work to people, when I actually have product to show them. No more all-nighters, as I've mentioned before. A few months of working on my own schedule in hopes that it will give me room for new innovation and growth. I want to be able to show up to the work I do like anyone else going to work and getting shit done, so that's my goal. Work smart, work normal, get shit done. David is always pushing me to see what's next. The minute I finish showing him something he wants to know where it will lead me next. I appreciate that, and that's why he gets paid the big bucks. But I am going to slow it down and go with what I know for a while, without pushing for new ideas too hard. That should help my cause.

That said, I do have one big trick up my sleeve for the new year. I am so lucky and honored to say that I am going to be hanging a show at Rare Device in May, tentatively entitled "Out of Season". At minimum, it will be a collection of my large scale pieces. It will be a way for me to take some time to say a little more with my work, with any luck. I am so thankful to have something like this to start the new year off with this year, and I can't wait to dig in.

So that's that. I loved 2013. It was a loooooong year. I don't think I can, or should, match it this year. What I learned most of all this year is that you never know where you're going to end up if you keep exploring. Good to remember.

I hope you have some great ideas for 2014. I thank you as always for coming by here, and I wish you a very Happy New Year, friends!


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