Thursday, December 29, 2011

TV Money Notebooks

When I was a kid, my parents tried to get my brother and me to read more and watch television less. I was probably around seven or eight years old when they instituted “TV Money” (where my brother and I had to pay to watch television). TV Money came in thirty and sixty-minute increments, and my dad designed them using family stuffed animals instead of American presidents for the faces on the “money” bills.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Bear by Any Other Name

In Anne of Green Gables, Anne says: “I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.” And she’s right on an emotional level. Names help give us identities; hearing that a ten-year-old girl’s name is Brittany or Barbara or Banana all give me different mental pictures (whether true or not), assumptions are made. I think that’s probably why naming anything seems like a daunting task to me, because it feels like giving different names will help create different identities.

I recall having this naming quandary when I was about seven or eight years old and I got a big gray stuffed bear as a birthday present. The inevitable question everyone asked was, “What’s its name?” And I replied, “I don’t know. I have to think about it.” I didn’t want to name my bear anything that was too obvious, like Smokey. I struggled in naming my bear because I wanted it to be special and fitting. So until I could figure out what her name was going to be, I gave her a temporary name: Bear-Bear. It wasn’t creative at all, but I thought I could come up with a better name eventually. [Pause.] It was a temporary name that quickly became permanent.

On a following birthday, I got a big stuffed panda as a birthday present. Instead of thinking of a unique name, I instantly named her Pan-Pan (short for Panda-Panda). I had already set the precedent in naming stuffed animals for exactly what they were, and I was too lazy to figure out anything better. And my brother followed this naming convention when I gave him a small stuffed zebra as a present, naming him Zeb-Zeb (short for Zebra-Zebra).

Perhaps it seems silly to worry about giving a stuffed animal an interesting name (as it’s just a stuffed animal), but really it’s a reflection of the fact that names matter. Names stick with you and it becomes a part of who you are, just as I never could change Bear-Bear’s name to anything else because she was Bear-Bear.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tasty Money Robot Card

Sometimes when I give presents I don’t bother giving a card. It’s lazy but if it’s a present given in person, then it’s pretty obvious that I’m giving that person that present. It seems redundant to give a card, because usually cards are fairly generic and people will barely read them before they quickly move onto the main event: the present.

However, when a present is not thoughtful then I feel like I have to make up for it with a more personal or interesting card. A prime example is when I give money (or gift cards), a card seems more necessary not only as a vehicle to hold the money but also to show that I put a bit of thought into the present (instead of just opening my wallet and handing over some money).

So I decided to make a very simple card to hold money. The entire card is a robot head and it has two slits in the mouth to hold the money in place. (He just loves the taste of money and his eyes match its leafy green color when he’s eating his most beloved treat). The design is quite minimal using very basic shapes. It’s a silly card but it makes me smile.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What’s Your Favorite Dish on the Menu?

Whenever we go to eat somewhere, the inevitable question one of my friend’s will ask the cashier/waiter/owner of an eatery is “What’s your favorite dish on the menu?” (or the question is varied to: “What’s the most popular item?” or “What do you recommend?”). Almost without fail, she will ask and will almost always take the suggestion given.

I’m the opposite and never ask. To say that I don’t care what other people suggest sounds rather harsh, but it’s kind of true. They are free to give their suggestions but whether I take them or not is another matter. The most popular item on the menu might not appeal to me (and sometimes I wonder if something is popular because it’s actually good or popular merely because it’s popular).

While my friend seems to enjoy taking recommendations (as she might eat something she might not otherwise try), I would rather follow my gut. I can make my own eating decisions; I know my stomach better than a stranger, whose likes and dislikes might be vastly different than my own. Besides, usually I’m in the mood for something, whether light or heavy, sweet or savory, spicy or mild (or I might be craving a specific item altogether). I’d rather choose something for myself and take my chances (and only have myself to blame if it doesn’t work out).

Keeping my friend’s tendency for food advice in mind, I couldn’t help but add this “What’s your favorite dish on the menu?” as the first page of her Knock on Wood notebook. It was a quick little design, and while “What’s your favorite dish on the menu?” doesn’t match the aesthetic of the Knock on Wood notebook, its purpose is merely for amusement and nothing more. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Only Bitchy in My Brain

It’s so easy to have mean little thoughts. It doesn’t matter where you are or who you’re with, sometimes petty, snide and malicious thoughts just seem to creep into your mind. Having thoughts like, “His laugh sounds like a dying elephant” or “Her outfit makes her look like a banana on steroids” is inevitable because it stems from your personal feelings and opinions of what is and is not appropriate (and some of us are more particular than others).

However, having thoughts and speaking them are two different things. Nice people are those that think before speaking. They give themselves a mental moment to consider their words so they can refrain from saying anything terribly rude (whether intentional or not). Because if you say every thought that pops into your head it’s probably not going to go over well with others (and you may very well end up friendless).

What brought this all to mind was when my friend was recounting a conversation she had with someone where her thought was, “Well, obviously you’ve never had plastic surgery.” She of course didn’t say this to the person, but merely thought it (because she’s a nice person and realized that it was the wrong thing to say).

So I told her, “I see. You’re only bitchy in your brain.” She found that amusing, so I decided to have “Only Bitchy in My Brain” on the first page of her Knock on Wood notebook. “Only Bitchy in My Brain” doesn’t really match the aesthetic of the Knock on Wood notebook (as it was just a quick little design where I channeled the 1980’s), but its purpose was just to make her smile and nothing more.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Knock on Wood Notebook

I’d been eying this “wood” paper at the paper store for some time now. I’d pick it up, lustfully look at it and then reluctantly put it down because although I wanted it, I didn’t have a plan for it. The problem with the paper is that it’s not terribly versatile; it’s dark, heavy and textured—not good for printing. But it was pretty. And I like pretty things. So I finally decided on using this specialized paper in a project that would utilize its “wood” properties, and what came to mind was the idiom “Knock on Wood.” [I know. (Sigh.) I’m slightly addicted to using idioms in my designs.]

Thursday, December 8, 2011

DIY: Glitter Picture Frame Christmas Ornament

This is a Christmas ornament that has some movement to it as the center square can turn back and forth. It’s a nice ornament to create if you want a personalized ornament (as you can use whatever photos or pictures you want on the center square).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

DIY: Paper Ball Christmas Ornament

The Christmas trees I had growing up never looked like the Christmas trees you see on TV that are perfectly decorated with their color coordination and shiny metallic ball ornaments. No, our Christmas trees were decorated with a mish-mash of ornaments that were both store bought and handmade—it made for a unique tree.

To create a simple Christmas ornament, I decided to use folded paper circles (not unlike what I did for my Lantern Tag). I think it’s a nice ornament to make if you don’t have quite enough ornaments for your tree (and don’t want to buy more) or if you want a disposable ornament.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

DIY: Paper Towel Round Stand

I thought I could use a paper towel roll to create a simple (and disposable) stand. With just a few cuts, it takes minimal time to make and perfect for holding a photo, postcard or a place card holder for a dinner party.