Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It's Moving Day + FREE DOWNLOAD

After this post, I will no longer using blogger for my blog. I'm moving over to WordPress. I've tried to figure out how to have this blog forward, but it's waaaaaay over my head. So, if you would be kind enough to change me in your Google Reader or bookmark my new site or visit my new site and sign up to follow I would greatly appreciate it. (I couldn't figure out how to transfer all you kind people who follow this blog to the new blog. Sorry about that.)

I want to give a BIG shout out to Brooke Hall who is working with me to get the new site up and going. I could not have done it without her! If you're ever in need of someone who knows design + all the web tech-y stuff and who emails you right back and is a pleasure to work with, then Brooke is the web guru for you. Thanks Brooke! She also has a delightful blog.

Click HERE to visit my new home.
There is a Free Download of Mother's Day Cards waiting there for you. :)

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Queen of Crepe - Ann-Denise Anderson

Over the weekend Little Cat A and I attended the Art & Paperie Show where we met The Queen of Crepe, Ann-Denise Anderson of Whim & Fancy Designs. She was hosting a Make & Take craft of a "cupcake" made from crepe paper. You know, the stuff that comes in rolls that you hang from the ceiling for party decorations. I just loved the concept, the creativity and the cuteness of the "cupcake"! She was generous enough to give me crepe paper tips even though I did not participate in the craft. When I thanked her for the info, she said, "It's all about inspiring!" What a great attitude! Check out her blog and her shop. Inspiration abounds! (my apologies for the blurry photo.)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Great Mother's Day Gift & Tutorial

Cathe Holden over at Just Something I Made has a great (and as usual, extremely clever) gift you can make for Mother's Day. It would also be cute themed for a baby or wedding shower with bits of advice written on the cards for the mother or bride-to-be. Take a look here.
photo from Just Something I Made

Thursday, April 30, 2009

City Chic Country Mouse are in Etsy's Storque!!

My etsy pals at City Chic Country Mouse are in Etsy's Storque! Click here so you can enjoy the article too. It's so fun to see and learn about etsy friends!
Jamie and her mom, Carmen, with some fabric goodness.
photo by SLGDesigns

I'm still loving all the goodies I got from them and use them on a daily basis. They make me smile.

A heart-felt thanks to Jamie and Carmen for the nod to Whisker Graphics and me in their article. So very kind of you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Editable PDF Recipe Cards - New Design - So Handy

I've added a new editable recipe card design to the shop (with a couple more designs coming in the next day or two). The set comes with 4 editable cards, 4 lined fill-in-by-hand cards and a coordinating mini file folder.

As I've mentioned before, I'm not a baker, nor a cook, but these just came in so handy for me today. Our son is turning 15 tomorrow and the LOML and I are going to make him a cake. I'm in charge of the frosting. I remembered Martha Stewart had a great buttercream frosting recipe in one of her recent issues and when I found it, the pages were stuck together with previous baking supplies (food, ick). So I quickly went to her website, searched Basic Buttercream, copy and pasted it into my pdf recipe card. While I was on her site I found 3 cookie recipes that looked yummy and copy/pasted them too. Next time I need the Buttercream Frosting recipe I can quickly find it in my recipe box.

So simple.
these are some recipes I printed out a few days agoAlign Center

Monday, April 27, 2009

Maker Faire is Coming - A Creative Mojo Jump Start

Last May my family and I attended one day of the Maker Faire. It was a lot of fun. We're going this year.

In case you're near San Mateo, CA at the end of May, check it out. You can buy your tickets early on-line and save some $.
Click on the photo to go to their website.

Easy Peasy Way to Keep Up on Your Blog Reads

I'm not tech savvy. I don't get the appeal of Twitter (for those interested, I ate a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats for breakfast) and I'm barely getting the hang of blogging. So you may already know about this handy tool to help you keep up on all your blog reading. It's Google Reader.

I love this thing! I keep a tab open in Firefox dedicated to Google Reader and I can see any new posts that come in on any of the blogs I like to read. No more bookmarking each blog I enjoy and then remembering to go check and see if there is a new post. It's all at my fingertips now. And it's so easy to use. Maybe I'm the last person to know about Google Reader, but just in case I'm not, you can go get it here.

a sample screen shot of my Google Reader in action.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Design Greatness = Eye Candy

A couple months ago I bought a copy of Design for Mankind's digital magazine. Inside was a link to the website graphic-exchange. There is nothing on this site but design greatness. Eye candy indeed. Go take a look.
photos from graphic-exchange website

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New for the Shop - Printable and Editable PDF Templates

I'm so excited about these!

I just finished updating the PDF templates in my etsy shop to be editable. So now, rather than printing generic paper goods, they can be personalized, customized or easier to fill in.

With the editable Recipe Cards you can type your recipe right into the PDF or copy/paste recipes from the web and print. No More Handwriting!! You can edit the recipe in the PDF too. Add your own notes or substitutions. Of course, you can still print them blank to use or give.

These 2" square tags/labels I created with the hobbyist or etsy shop owner in mind, but they could be handy for anyone (personal calling cards or address labels). They come blank and the text can be formatted in MS Word or such and pasted into the PDF. The above Crown tags all came from one sheet. Print them on cardstock or label paper. So MANY possibilities!

I'll share new designs as I create them.

A BIG THANK YOU to those who were kind enough to do the testing for this process. I really appreciate it!


Out of Boredom Comes Art

Little Cat A has been on TV and computer restriction. This has caused her to look for other sources of entertainment. Lots of painting and reading have been happening in her life. Last weekend she focused on 3-D art. She rummaged through my ribbon stash, got inspired and went to work. I thought what she came up with was so clever I told her I'd blog about it. She blushed.
You can click on photos to enlarge.

She searched the web for a dog outline. Enlarged it on our printer. Glued eyelash ribbon like crazy. Coiled bits of pipe cleaner for the eye and nose. Added blue ribbon and bit of tinsel pipe cleaner for the collar and tag. Such a clever girl!

The finished pooch! (It's a West Highland Terrier)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cute Free Downloads

Here are a couple of cute free downloads for you to enjoy.

Click here to get these wickedly creative gift tags from Gina at Doe-C-Doe (discovered via How About Orange). Great for the sewer in your life.

And the ever creative Miss B over at Bla Bla Blag is offering this fun mini notebook download. I want to make my with grid paper inside.You can get the notebook covers and directions here.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Better Photos?? I'm trying - Here's a Few Tips

I'm not a photographer. It's very evident if you look at my product photos in my etsy shop. I've been going crazy the last few weeks trying to learn how to take better photos. I've read again and again how natural light and no flash are the answer. But that is not always (read:hardly ever) convenient. I think I'm making some progress, so I thought I'd share a few of the things I've learned so far.

#1 - Get to know your camera. Read the boring manual. I have a Pentax Optio S60 - Point and Shoot. I can't change too many settings, BUT I did learn about changing the White Balance. Very important to set it to the correct lighting.

#2 - Lighting - Miss B over BlahBlahBlag found some great lights here, but they were out of my budget, so I found these. You can get them here. $15 each. I put 2 in lamps with clamps (from my garage, but you can buy them at a hardware store) and 1 in a desk lamp from IKEA

Heres what my "photo studio" looks like. Swanky, no?
I clamped the lamps onto some overhead cabinets. Sometimes I use a light tent, but I'm finding with these bulbs, I don't need need it. Got bigger stuff to shoot like aprons or ironing board covers? Take a look at this article.

I also wrapped two pieces of scrap cardboard; one in tan linen fabric (left over from the bottom of my bedroom drapes from IKEA) and one in robin's egg blue kitchen towel (from Target - Easter clearance - $1.25). I secured the fabric by hot glueing it in the back. These are backdrops.

Here's an un-retouched photo with the bulbs and the correct camera settings and my new backdrops.

It's a big improvement over what I've done in the past. I still need to get LOTS better at staging the photo. I'm on the search for props and such.

#3 - Retouching - If the correct camera setting and lights still don't deliver what you want, there's Photoshop. There is this very helpful article from The Switchboards.com. I learned a lot from the article, but I was still having trouble getting my whites white without messing up my other colors. Well, last week, my son's friend showed me how to fix that. With your photo open in Photoshop click on the "Image" menu, go down to "Adjustments" and select "Selective Color". You can then play with each color independently of all the other colors.

Here is the original photo...
Here's the same photo after using the Selective Color controls in Photoshop. No, it's not the best photo in the world, but it is more accurate of what the product looks like.
I hope this information helps someone. I've so appreciated others who have given tips. There is Pioneer Woman's blog which is incredibly generous and knowledgeable.

Now if I could just figure out why all my photos are a tad hazy!

How Easily Influenced Are We? a.k.a Dressing Like a Tissue Box

Apparently I'm easy, or at least easily influenced.
My dressing routine each morning involves gathering parts of my "outfit" from various places (the closet, the dresser, the armoire) and setting them on the bathroom counter while I take my shower. This morning, as I set my clothes down, I noticed I would be matching my tissue box!

I wonder what else is influencing me that I'm not even aware of?!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Check out these lovelies!

These beauties arrived in my mailbox today. I haven't stopped smiling since.

A darling apple tote/shopping bag that is sturdy and roomy. The tree is stitched and the apples are cut out of fabric, then stitched on. Too cute!

A snappy oven mitt made from two coordinating fabrics. There is something crinkly and magical in between the layers so hands stay nice and safe.

An ironing board cover. Mine is not in this fabric, but in the floral fabric of the oven mitt. But, I like this one too!

Jamie and her mom, Carmen, of City Chic Country Mouse create the most charming items that make your domestic tasks a much prettier experience. They offer all these goodies and more (some dang cute half aprons) in their etsy shop. And if you are the sewing type, visit Jamie's blog and see her tutorial on making napkin rings right here.

I'm still smiling. Thanks Jamie and Carmen!

A Mention on a Beautiful Blog

Last Friday Whisker Graphics got a mention from Wanwisa on her beautiful blog, Modern Vintage. Her site was a new discovery for me and now I have it safely bookmarked so I can visit often. I got blissfully lost in visiting all her posts! She featured some of my PDF template designs. (After seeing my product photos compared to other photos on her site, it is glaringly apparent that I really must get better at taking photos. I'm trying, really I am.) Go take a look here.
Thanks Wanwisa!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Two Exercises to Get You Thinking (the start of Nurture Network)

I received the nicest email over the weekend from someone wondering how I got started in my "career". While responding back to her, I realized the thing that prompted me to start Whisker Graphics might be of some use to others. I've been thinking of sharing this for some time, so here goes...

Early in 2008 I was feeling frustrated with the conversations I was having with other women. I thought I would pull my hair out if one more conversation focused on a home remodel, kids, or kids sports activities. I started wondering who were these women in my community BK (before kids)? What did they do? What had they aspired to? What was laying dormant in them now while they were meeting the day-to-day needs of everyone else? I'm no leading-edge thinker, so I figured if I was having these thoughts, so were other women. Maybe we just didn't feel comfortable venturing beyond the safe/average/normal/boring topics. Who knows. But, while at a kid's birthday party (of course) I expressed my frustrations with a few other moms. Lo and behold, they felt the same! I made a few phone calls to see who wanted to play and Nurture Network was born.

I wanted Nurture Network to be about supporting (nurturing) each other into thinking beyond day-to-day tasks. To help each other expand and explore what "lights us up". To share resources. To help each other stay on track of our dreams. To inspire each other. So far, I think its working. :) We meet the first Monday of each month (it used to be every 2 weeks, but that was a bigger time commitment than some members wanted) for approx 2 hours. We rotate hosting with the requirement being minimal effort expended (we each bring our own beverage and there is no pressure to provide snacks) because this is not about entertaining or one more thing to do, but about taking a couple of hours with women we trust and focusing on ourselves. We've been meeting for about a year now. The group is about to grow to 6 members. We feel this is a good size to provide enough time, intimacy and variety.

If you want to play along, grab a notebook/journal.

Here are the two exercises I assigned at our first meeting. Best done in order.
Exercise #1- Rampage of Appreciation -- See this post here for guidelines. This is to get you in a good feeling place to do Exercise #2.
Exercise #2- At the top of a page write "Wouldn't It Be Nice If..." and then write 50 things.

On my "Wouldn't It Be Nice" list was "I had a successful line of stationery". (Also included was "I had new pots and pans" and "I lived in the present moment more often". I don't have new pots and pans yet, but I am much more present than I used to be.)

The following meeting I told each member to pick 2-3 things from their "Nice" list and see what they wanted to put into action on those items. I didn't tell anyone that their "Nice" list was going to be an action list (so act like you don't know). The purpose was to have each person feel free and dream.

Anyway, that's how my current "career" of Whisker Graphics started. But the real purpose of this post is to see if you'd like me to include future Nurture Network blog entries so maybe we could create a virtual Nurture Network. Though we couldn't really meet and talk, maybe I could share exercises (of the mental variety) we are doing or books we are reading or info on how we run the meetings in case you would want to start a local Nurture Network of your own.

Leave a comment and let me know if you want more of this stuff. In any case, I hope you have fun making your lists!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A New Blog I'm Groov'n On

I received a nice etsy convo on April Fool's Day. It was no joke or trick, but a note to let me know that two of my stationery designs were featured on the sender's blog. Of course, I had to immediately go take a look. (You can too right here.) What a treat I discovered! A new blog to groove on and the talented Marta is having a give-away right now for one of her mini diaries. Go on, go enter. It ends Sunday night, so hurry.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Easter Bunny Card, Envelope & "Bag" - FREE Download

I was completely inspired by Jessica's tutorial over on How About Orange last week. Check it out here. She cleverly showed how to make a bag out of an envelope. I literally grabbed an envelope while I read her post and tried it. It works beautifully! I started thinking about how I could use this idea and Easter goodies came to mind. Here's what I came up with. I thought I'd share. I'm going to put some candy in the bags and give to my kids for Easter. I had to use tissue for the photo because if I bought Easter candy now, I'd eat it all before Easter. No lie.After you've looked at Jessica's tutorial, download this PDF template formatted for an A2 envelope. You CAN CHANGE THE NAME in the template and print it out. Just open the PDF in Acrobat 8 or later (download for free at www.adobe.com), click in the text box and type your info. I printed on light blue envelopes. If you're using a different size envelope or a store-bought bag, print the pdf on paper, cut and glue to your bag. Label paper would work too.

You can also download this PDF template of a 2" square envelope and coordinating card. You'll need a color printer, 8.5x11 card stock and scissors. No glue needed. The envelope folds to interlock in the back. So simple. You don't have use the card with the bag. Tuck one in a bouquet of flowers or at place settings and write trivia questions on them. If you don't want your card to say "happy easter", cut 2" squares from any paper and write your note.

Have fun and leave a comment on how you'll use these freebies!
Thanks Jessica for the inspiration!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Look

I don't know if its all the trees starting sprouting new growth or the flowers blooming, but I've been feeling that my business identity needed to grow/change too. Something cleaner. Something fresher. So I did a little overhaul on my blogger header. Knowing me, I'll probably change it again in 6 months!

Pretty and Cheap Flower Vases

Spring is in the air and I couldn't be more ready for it! My yard is currently offering up a few pretty flowers, some of which were begging to come inside and live. As I was digging through my "vases" I realized some of my favorite containers were really never intended for holding flowers. But oh my, how I love how they look.My all time favorite "vases" are balsamic vinegar bottles from Trader Joe's. After the vinegar is all gone, I run the bottle through the dishwasher and then use Goof Off to get the label completely off. Over the years I've collected about 8 of these guys. They are so pretty all lined up down the center of a table at a dinner or party.

I have only one of these pretty blue bottles. I don't know what drink came in it. Someone must have brought it with them when they came for a visit. I couldn't bear to throw it away. So, out it comes each spring working as a bud vase.

And of course, there are the hard-working canning jars. I like the blues ones the best. (The daffodils did not come from my yard. My pal, D, gave them to me yesterday.)

I hope spring is finding it's way into your home. If the flowers aren't out yet where you live, I hope you enjoy the photos. :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

And the Slacker Mom of the Year Award Goes to...

ME! Everyone has a natural talent. Some people can sing, some can write, some look good, some are funny. Me, I'm a natural slacker mom. It comes easy to me. I don't mean to brag. Really, I don't. But, take today for instance. It's St. Patrick's Day. Little Cat A has been dropping hints for days wondering what the leprechauns would bring or do on this special day. Well, last night at about midnight it dawned on me that I needed to do some "magic". I put a few drops of green food coloring in the kids' potty. Ta da, magic (it was the least I could do, literally). Well, the toilet got flushed in the night, in the dark, without anyone noticing.

Never one to give up hope, this morning Little Cat A wondered out loud directly AT me if perhaps the leprechauns might be planning on coming during the day this year instead at night as in previous years. Smart girl.

While at my pal's house this morning (where the leprechauns did some serious magic with cookies and necklaces and treats), I was lamenting on my lack of effort in the magic department. So, I asked if I could have a couple of the treats the leprechauns left at her house. She graciously shared. I did try and make them a little special, but come on, who uses recycled holiday treats? A slacker mom extraordinaire, that's who. I'm a natural. (humble bow)

Recycled treats in baggie. I dyed some string a light green with food coloring.

Printed and punched out some shamrocks tags.

Wrapped in parchment paper and ready to leave on their pillows.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Testing. Testing. 1, 2, 3 -- I Need Some Help

I apologize for my lack of posts. I've been busy, busy creating some invitation designs to enter in a contest here, trying to figure out how to take better photos for my ad here, working on a web home page for Whisker Graphics and last but not least, working on a new product for my shop. The new product is where I need some help. I'm looking for a few people to help me work out any kinks.

Here's what it would entail:
-I will email you a PDF set of paper goods with instructions and a questionnaire. You follow the instructions and fill in the questionnaire.
-What you'll need: color printer, MS Word (or something like it), paper, scissors, ruler, x-acto knife.
-Time commitment: less than an hour.
-What's in it for you: You can select any 2 PDF sets from my shop for free.

If you are willing to be a tester, leave a comment (with a way for me to contact you) or send me an email (click on my mugshot) and let me know your level of craft skills (i.e. from "Craft Goddess" to "I Know What Scissors Are"). I will email those selected.

Thanks in advance!
**** UPDATE***** Thank you all for your responses! I have enough volunteers now and will be contacting you shortly.

Monday, March 9, 2009

MORE Mini File Folders

I'm lovin' the mini folder concept so much, I can't stop myself from designing more. For this set, and those in the future, I made a right-tab folder, a center-tab folder and a left-tab folder so they can be used in file boxes/drawers/containers just like grown-up folders and you'll still be able to see all the tabs. I just put this Geometric Set in my esty shop today.The second photo shows one printed out at 60%. Just the right size for a business card. Might be fun to print some out in tiny sizes and use them for scrapbooking or use some uber-cool Japanese masking tape on the sides to create a pocket.

Oh, my aching back... No more!

I started Whisker Graphics last June on a shoestring budget. That budget has not changed. My "studio" is our 4th bedroom. It's not fancy, nor beautiful. My computer workspace is a "desk" (a plastic folding cafeteria table from Costco, ugly but roomy) and my laptop.
My laptop sat too low for me. I constantly hunched over to look at the screen and that made my back ache in the worst way. I wasn't sure how to remedy this. Then, I saw a photo of Marty Stewart in her office and she had this nifty stand for her laptop. "I want one of those," I thought to myself. With my budget in mind, I set my spending limit at $0.First I asked friends if they had an old keyboard I could have. They did. Then I did a trial run with a folding breakfast tray to make sure the height and keyboard would work. (That ugly legal pad to the right is my mouse pad.)The LOML made the stand out of some scrap plywood we had in the garage. Not up to Martha's standards for sure, but then again, Martha's budget is bigger. I had some white craft paint (bought when it was on sale 2 for $1), a foam brush (bought when on sale 10 for $1) and my trusy paint tray (an old frozen dinner plastic tray) and leftover paint from our bathroom.
A coat of the white craft paint first to act as primer.Then coat of Gossamer Blue paint from Benjamin Moore and my backsaver was finished. Both my back and my budget are satisfied!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

FREE Download of Mini File Folder

I'm just so excited about these little file folders that I wanted to share. Click right HERE to get your free pdf template download. Cutting it out with scissors seems to work best and if necessary do a little clean up with an xacto knife on the curvy parts. I printed it out on white and kraft cover stock. Read here for some ways to use this petite organizer. Enjoy!

If you like, leave a comment on how you are going to use your folder(s). I'd love to hear! :)

Plain Stuff in Pretty Packaging

Take a gander at this.
I found it while shopping at Trader Joe's.
It's rice. Just plain old white rice.
But, oh my, what pretty packaging.
I'm leaving it out on my kitchen counter to enjoy for a couple of days.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mini File Folders

I love when regular things come in small sizes. Dogs, cupcakes, baby shoes, cars. Even as a kid I liked little stuff. When my grandma took me toy shopping for my birthday one year, I picked out miniature boxes of food that were for display in miniature doll houses. I didn't have a miniature doll house. I just grooved on the teeny, tiny food boxes. Anyway, when I saw that Paper Source started carrying these Mini File Folders I wanted some. But I wanted them with a little more umpf. So I created my own version. This is the first PDF template set I've created for the shop.

They are only 4.75 x 7 in size. Just right for so many good uses:
- Store recipes from magazines
- Print a out and give as gifts
- Keep one in your purse to wrangle receipts
- An invite's handsome carrying case. (They fit nicely in a A7 envelope.)
- Put photos in them to give to family and friends
- A pretty place to keep your to do lists

I'm really excited about these little guys. I hope they find a place in other people's live who like little stuff.

Mailing Labels

Something different for the shop. Mailing labels.

I ALWAYS like to receive stuff in the mail (bills and junk advertising being the exception). When its personal and packaged in a unique or fun way, it makes me smile as I walk from my mailbox to my front door. I think of the person who sent me the special something and feel a warm fuzzy that they took the time to do something they knew I would appreciate. That's how the mailing labels came to be. My first design is this little birdie. (click on image to enlarge it)
I love the idea of the label wrapping around the envelope. I made them generously sized at 3.5 x 5 so they can work on packages too. I learned I have to flip the address around to make that work. I'll work on more designs over time .