Stormy Wednesday

Yesterday was a day full of unusually wild weather here in Pittsburgh. Hail, high winds, a tornado! I left downtown just in time to prevent golf ball size hail from pelting my car. There was hail all over the ground on the road that is only five minutes from our house. Somehow, I managed to miss it in both places. The paint on my only-2-years-old car is thankful for that.

When I left work yesterday it was 65 degrees.  When I left for work this morning, there was snow on the ground. Oh, Pittsburgh. One of my favorite parts about violent storms, however, is the way that the sky clears so beautifully afterwards. I snapped some pictures of the water droplets that had gathered on the western-facing window of our house as the sun was setting yesterday. Here is my favorite of the bunch:


If you are brave enough to say "goodbye," then life will reward you with a new "hello."

{ paulo coelho }


Homemade Donuts

A few not-so-lazy Saturday mornings ago, I broke out yet another one of the many, many small appliances that we received as wedding gifts: Cuisinart's mini professional deep fryer. After reading the manual three times because frying oil scares the living daylights out of me (read: grease fire) I decided to venture into the world of home-made donuts. (Yes, I am aware that this is my second post about donuts. For the record, I am totally okay with that because they are delicious.  Everything in moderation, right?)  This was not a random pick out of my mini-fryer cookbook, however.  Making homemade donuts was quite a big deal for my family when I was growing up.  We would all go over to my grandpa's house and gather around in the kitchen while my mom or uncle stationed themselves at the fryer.  My job would always be to sugar the donuts after they were browned to perfection.  Everyone else's job was to eat them as fast as they possibly could.  Check and check.


Friday Finds

photo by yours truly from June of 2010
This week's Friday Finds are an eclectic collection of things I have stumbled across during brief periods of web-perusing within my busy week. I am excited to say that this week brought the final version of Kaira and Tom's wedding invites, and I hope to be able to share a new post about them at the beginning of next week (with Kaira's permission, of course!)  In addition to that, I am planning on getting some more of my art photographed this weekend to add to my web gallery.  I am anticipating nice, relaxing days in order to catch up on some sleep since I will be out of town next weekend with friends for the Wine on the Lake festival in Erie, PA.  Enjoy the Friday Finds and have a great weekend!

  • The wide open space in the background of this print by maechevrette on ETSY reminds me of an Edward Hopper painting.  Also, the colors in this piece are so great. 
  • I spent more than an hour this week trying to beat my high score on this game over at I Love Typography. Normally, I am not a game person, but a game about fonts? Yes, please!  What is your highest score?
  • Speaking of fonts, this website is helpful because it identifies fonts used in branding within the real world:  Fonts in Use.  Did you know that 15 of the 20 most common brands use Helvetica?
  • This bag on Endless makes me super excited for summer to get here. Do you know about Endless?  You should. 
  • Adorable St. Patrick's Day photo collage on Erin Ever After- one of my new blog faves!  Loving the mini Guinness.  Also on Erin Ever After: sigh.
  • I am such a fan of this springtime post on Scrapblog. Which image is your favorite?  Here's mine.
  • Hubs got the new HTC Thunderbolt yesterday.  Its really awesome.  I mean out-of-control fast, and even more awesome.  I definitely am jealous, and the huge nerd in me definitely recommends that you go buy one, then download this, this, this and this.

fonts and fridays,


Friday Finds: Color Palette


While browsing ETSY's photography section, I came across this beautiful photo that I'd love to purchase for my dining room.  This fall, it became necessary for me to repaint our entire house, and I decided on a really nice neutral brown for our dining room, with bold raspberry and wine accents.  I think that a print of this photo would look wonderful in that room, and I hope to be able to make that happen some day.  Check out the full ETSY shop here.


So true.

image via 55 hi's

.do what you {LOVE} what you do.

...and that is all.


Love, love, love.

I absolutely love David Emery's ETSY shop.  It is clear that he has such an appreciation of, and eye for, good typography. David also creates an amazing housewarming/wedding/birthday/etc... gift in which he turns the geographic coordinates of 'your special place' (wherever that may be) into a piece of art.  Why didn't I think of that?!


Simple Acts of Kindness

Getting (snail) mail has always been one of my favorite things.  Maybe it has to do with my love of all things design and paper, thus I am a sucker for well-coordinated thank you notes and envelopes.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that getting something in the mail is (usually) an unexpected small thrill in your day. The kind of thrill that an email or Facebook notification just cannot satisfy.  I am a firm believer that no matter how far technology advances, the value of a handwritten note or letter will always remain the same.

While I am on the topic of times changing and the value of precious things being upheld, I have a few thoughts on friendship. When I was growing up, my mom always told me that as I became older it would be more and more difficult to maintain friendships.  At the time, I was a blissfully ignorant 18 year old with more friends than I could count.  I remember walking through the halls of my high school, not only knowing the name of every person in my 800-student graduating class, but also knowing that there was some common thread that tied me to at least most of them.  At 18, I did not know the value of having so many familiar faces around on a daily basis.  

In college, I still had many acquaintances, but rather than having a common thread that I could identify, these were just people whose names I knew and I would see on most Friday and Saturday nights.  Acquaintances became more distant, and close friends became like siblings.  College friends watch you grow as you try to find your niche in life.  They stand by and observe as you take on class projects that give them perspective into who you will become, and bring you coffee as you cram for finals until 4 am.  College friends must be chosen carefully, because they will, without a doubt, see you at your best and at your worst.  

Today, I recognize that I have entered the time in my life that my mom had warned me about, and I did my best to stay ignorant to for as long as I possibly could.  My friends have become a mix of people that I met throughout my life, some that I knew would always be there, others are a pleasant surprise. I realize how difficult it is to maintain good friendships in adulthood unless the common thread that ties you together has the strength of a braided rope.  Over the past few days, I have really started to understand the value of the friendships that will be around for multiple milestones in my lifetime. I realized that it is easy to be a friend when someone visibly needs one, but true friends are around when you do need one, and when you don't.   

Thus brings me to my point: I received the note in the picture below via snail-mail on a day that I did not think that I needed a friend.  I was perfectly content to go about my normal routine: work, home, exercise, eat, work, sleep. Repeat. Receiving this simple, seemingly anonymous, letter in the mail turned an ordinary day into an extraordinary one.  It took me less than a second to identify the sender, not by the style of her handwriting, but by the value of our friendship.   I am so thankful for friend K, and thankful for what this small note brought me to realize about friendships. 

Have you ever received a small act of kindness that brought you to realize something larger about life? What was it?

Letters and lovliness,


On Friendship

Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.
[ George Washington ]

Collaged Wedding Invite

I love this beautiful collaged wedding invitation by Luci Everett as featured on design work life. The airy feel of this layout really appeals to me.  It is successfully achieved by the use of organic shapes and subtle water color style images. I would love to experiment with a digital version of this design technique.  I think that with the right kind of resource imagery and a wacom tablet (for the hand drawn vector work), this hand-created collage look could be successfully composed using only digital tools.  I am up for the challenge!

[ via


Bokeh City Lights

I was searching for an interesting new wallpaper for my phone and I began thinking about what kind of photography I have been drawn to lately.  I always like to have a wallpaper that is colorful, without being too overwhelming so that I am still able to easily navigate through my home screens.  I began by searching 'abstract backgrounds' which eventually lead me to thinking about cities at night, and how a well-composed and well-exposed photo of a city becomes a piece of artwork almost instantly.  Add the 'bokeh' photography technique into the mix, and well, I'm sold.

For those of you who might not know, bokeh is a Japanese term that refers to a style of photography in which a composition is created out of unfocused points of light. 'Bokeh is not how far something is out-of-focus, bokeh is the character of whatever blur is there.' [via]  Bokeh photography can be shot at any time of day, but personally I am partial to the photos taken at night.  Just check out the results from my Google search 'bokeh city lights,' below.  There is just something so surreal and romantic about all of these photos.  Plus, who couldn't love the vivid color schemes?


Colors and creativity,


Vacation Tease

My new in-laws left yesterday for a 4 day trip to Las Vegas. I may or may not have been stalking the weather there, and I may or may not know that its supposed to be 70 degrees and mostly sunny all week long.

And then there's Pittsburgh...Whomp, whomp, whomp.
19, still????????
So bear with me while I get a little nostalgic and relive last summer's trip to Las Vegas (our mini-moon, turned honeymoon) through photos:

We stayed at the beautiful Monte Carlo Resort and Casino which is right in the middle of the strip.  I would absolutely recommend staying here to anyone planning a vacation, because not only is it within a reasonable walking distance to the other hotels and attractions, it also has a Starbucks downstairs and caffeine is essential in order to make it through the day after a night out in Vegas.  We ended up booking the trip last-minute (a hurricane cancelled our other plans) so we got an amazing deal on a suite in the VIP section of the Monte Carlo- Hotel 32.  (Think: private elevator, free food, concierge, the works.)

It was my goal to see as many of the hotels as possible, and I think that we did a pretty good job:

Paris: I had my first meal in Vegas at Mon Ami Gabi.  This picture was taken from my seat- yes, I wanted to sit outside.  Not really aware of just how hot that your first time in 106 degree desert heat feels when you are sitting in the sun, exhausted, jet-lagged and trying to eat.

Bellagio: Botanical gardens, check. Perusing high-end retailers. Check, drool... left empty-handed.  Well, not completely empty-handed... I did buy ice cream from Jean-Philippe Chocolates. Double drool. Do not miss this place when you are in Vegas!!!  Even if you do not like chocolate, the fountains and beautiful gourmet cakes are worth the trip.  It is a small store, but a visual spectacle none-the-less.

 Did Caesar really live here?  Do you know if this hotel is pager-friendly? Buncha payphones?  Business. The list goes on... I pretty much just went there because I was not thinking when I packed, and only brought 3+ inch heels to walk around in. Thus, I found myself in the shoppes at Caesar's, spending way too much money on the most comfortable and stylish sandals that I could find.  Word to the wise, pack cute, casual and versatile shoes for the daytime. Do nooooooot think for a second that you can walk around in heels.  Las Vegas is a lot bigger than it looks like in the movies.

Venetian:  Nothing more to say than: 'I WILL ride one of those darn gondolas someday!'

Planet Hollywood:  The only place we gambled.  I was bummed because I spent $3 on blackjack and lost two.  Needless to say, I did not go to Vegas to lose significant amounts of money.  Spend? Obviously.  Lose? No way.  We also saw Holly Madison's Peepshow that night.  For the record: it is not at all what you are thinking.  Planet Hollywood is definitely tailored towards the hip, younger crowd- and that is exactly what her show appeals to.  It was a fun experience, and I really had a great time exploring one of the newer resort/casinos.  I expected PH to be super cheesy, but it was not at all.

In a word, going to Las Vegas after one of the most hectic periods (read: wedding) of my life was amazing. On the second day, we rented a cabana and spent the entire day lounging by the pool in the Nevada summer sun.  Although we could have easily been sight seeing and doing a ton of other vacation-related things, that 'day off' is what I will remember most about our trip.  Relaxing with my new husband.  Enjoying a kind of heat that I had never felt before.  Seeing a palm tree in person for only the 4th time in my 25 years.  In a way, I became thankful that the other vacation we had planned didn't work out the way we had expected. I think that J and I both found that Las Vegas is a place that we'd love to visit again.

view of the Monte Carlo's pool from our private cabana for the day

Have you ever gone on a trip that was more interesting and exciting than you expected?  Have you been to Las Vegas?  What was your experience like?

Hotels and hot temperatures,