HO HO HO…Where did December go?? It’s the Winter Blog Catch Up!

Have you all been having a lovely time this season?
Been doing a little decorating?

This is my “Five and Dime” area, decked out for the holidays.

Have you been feeding the birds? The muse? The face?
(I have on all counts!)

I have definitely been taking a holiday break from the blog (and a lot of other things) as I focused on other stuff for a while. Most of the other stuff has been good, so no complaints here! I’ve been pursuing a gentle blend of work laced with baking and decorating.
Laundry? Not so much.

We spent a good portion of November and December as stage hands, etc. for the local version of “A Christmas Carol,” which our kids were in.
I don’t know about you, but I am a Christmas Carol addict. I know every version and have read it a load of times, it’s an all-time favorite. So even though the stage production took up A LOT of time, it was very fun.
Here’s Scrooge watching the Cratchits and realizing the error of his ways:

Oh, and look! There he is on Christmas morning, all happy-like!
Our version had Charles Dickens as the narrator.

I made Christmas Carol-themed cookies for our concession stand, and for the cast party.
Here are Marley, Past and Present:

Speaking of cookies, I made lots more of them since we have a cookie exchange every year at the FRED office. It’s a good excuse to whip out the cookie cutters and molds.

Yeah, molds!

These are some of my speculaas molds…the must-have accessory if you are a glutton for punishment and enjoy medieval baking processes. I mean, who doesn’t??
After many hours of having the dough “set up”, and then molding them, the cookies end up looking like this:

Closer up, you can see all the delightful detail.
It’s ALL ABOUT the detail when you’re making these.

Here are some of my traditional cutout cookies.

It’s not Christmas without lobsters, I always say. At least I say it this year!

These wintery months have brought a flurry (haha) of good press lately for some of my products.

Calf and Half has been featured on The Today Show (woo hoo!) and in the Chicago Tribune (Yowza!), and even in Oprah’s O at Home Magazine!

Ice Princess made it into the December issue of Good Housekeeping!

Well, isn’t that nice. I love me some good press.

I recently made a few new things for my Etsy shop:

These make me happy because I am starting have a real convergence of my art style overlapping with my craft style, and vice versa.
I think I am finding a stronger “voice”, sort of.

Here’s another nice thing, made by a very nice kid who lives here:

Do you know who this is made out of snow? Guess!

In the meantime, I guess I’ll get back to whatever it is that I should be doing.
Oh, yeah…it’s tea time. I should be making tea!

Happy Crafty Day!

Wow- I am a lucky girl today!
Apparently one of the Etsy treasuries I was in made it to the much-sought-after Front Page:

This great collection was put together by TinyViolet, who also happens to make the most adorable dolls.
Thanks Amy!

And this morning, I am honored to be featured in PenguinandFish’s blog!

Visit Alyssa’s Etsy shop for fabulous plushies with personality!

Really guys…thank you so much for the crafty love. Right back at you!

New Stuff in Highlights High Five

Here’s a new spread illustrated by me that appears in the November 2008 issue of High Five:

Don’t you want to go make some soup now? Tis the season!
I am definitely trying this one out!

Here’s a new feature just out in the December issue:

It’s my first Hidden Pictures feature!
I remember looking for Hidden Pictures when I was a kid… so it makes me happy to have done one of my own.

Illustration Friday- Wise

I haven’t managed to post an Illo Friday drawing in a looong time, so I decided to not obsess about it and just draw the first thing off the top of my head.

Yeah, apparently I think Magic 8-Balls are “wise”.
This bunny has asked a secret question of the mystical ball, and received a resoundingly clear answer.
This happens to be my favorite 8-Ball answer.
What do you think the question was??

The 2008 Highlights Highlights

Finally, a chance to revisit my neglected blog!
I recently got to go to the 2008 Highlights Illustrator’s Party in Pennsylvania. Highlights (the makers of the well-read magazines, and also owners of Boyd’s Mills Press) is a very unusual company that actually puts aside time each year to party with it’s illustrators. Yeeha!

We got lucky with 3 days of great weather:

The stretch of NY/Pennsylvania that we traveled through is beautiful. Unlike last year, there were no 4-hour traffic jams to bog down the trip, and we arrived without incident.
The Highlights folks have the party-throwing thing down to a science, so when we arrived, there was the first of many lovely buffets. We were able to stay in a cottage near everthing, and the next morning began with (yes!) more great food!

The illustrators spent the first half of the day doing illustrator stuff. We got to hear Leonard Marcus speak- he’s a children’s book historian, and author of a fabulous book I have (maybe you do, too) called “Golden Legacy”, all about the cultural and artistic impact of Golden Books. I’m anxious to find some of his other books now.
Then we got to check out each other’s portfolios.

I though the folks coming to this event would have all been east coasters, but I was wrong. Illustrators came from all over the country. Getting to connect the art with the names and faces was a real bonus. Luckily, this was made easier by our big, clear nametags!

While we were doing this, our families were off having a blast at a farm. Check out this beautiful place! Eric and the kids had a great time. The kids were glad to meet other kids who like art (I guess this doesn’t really happen as much as they’d like here at home).

They got to paint and decorate pumpkins:

Beat each other with noodles:

Listen to fiddlin’ kids:

And roast marshmallows:

Later that afternoon, the big event…we all met at the main Highlights building in Honesdale for a costume party! This year’s theme was “The Enchanted Forest”. Needless to say, illustrators are pretty good at coming up with costumes…and so are the Highlights staff.

The entire building is decorated, inside and out. It must take weeks of planning to do this; it’s refreshing to think that it is allowed and encouraged within the company.

I love these mossy tree people.

Inside, the kids got to go on a Timbertoes scavenger hunt with stickers hidden all around the building.

More food…awesomely themed.

Leprechauns! Cloaked Art Directors! Fungi! Dragonlike Photographers!

Fairies! Keebler Elves! Unicorns!

Unbearably Cute Ewoks! Teeny Tinys!

The one and only Joan of Art, hailing from the Columbus, OH office.

Look- it’s a portrait of pure evil!

Wait a minute… it’s Judy Moffatt (who’s not evil at all, really).

Eric and I were apple trees…I guess you can say we didn’t think too hard about this, since we pretty much live in an apple orchard. It was a logical choice.

What’s that? It’s the BloomMobile! This is the Highlights company car (I presume) decorated in the manner of Suzanne Bloom’s adorable Splendid Friend books.

Good times. It’s very fun to see such universal participation in something like this.
Later that day it was time for a lamb roast, (with intro by Christine Clark…)

Can you see the ultra cool, gigantic mural behind her, too? Awesome.
Here’s a closer view:

Then, of course, there was a post-dinner hoedown!
Silly me, I thought the hoedown was part of last year’s “ranch” theme.
It’s not, it’s just hoedowning for hoedowning’s sake!

The next morning was another farewell buffet.
We met so many great people over the weekend…here are two of them:

It’s Phyllis and Brad Harris, all the way from Missouri!
There were cheesy potatoes available this morning in the buffet that were TO DIE FOR.
I need this recipe (let’s put it in High Five- ha!)

Then after a swing:

and a horse-drawn hay ride:

We headed back home.
It was another great driving day.
This road cracked us up…it follows (EXACTLY) the contour of the ledge butting up against the Delaware river. It was like a rollercoaster. Best not to take your eyes off the road here!

Along the river we saw these:

We refer to them as “those things in the water.”
Does anyone know what these things are??

Thanks to everyone at Highlights for such a fun weekend. It’s a real treat to hang out with people who love children’s illustration and writing. Hello to all the new and old friends we met there- and for those of you who couldn’t get there this year, hope to see you next fall!

Front Page Etsy Joy!

If you love your Etsy, and I know I do, then maybe you like to make treasuries. This is a way for you, a regular person, to pick and choose items you like and make a lovely arrangement, often with a theme of some kind. Etsy calls it “curating”, as if you are hanging your own exhibit in a museum.
The idea is that it isn’t for self-promotion (so you don’t put your own items in it), but to celebrate the awesomeness of others. Hundreds of these lists are made all the time, and if you’re really lucky, they choose your list to be on the glorious Front Page.
Well, lucky me…I have recently had TWO lists chosen for the Front Page!

The first one was oatmeal themed:

Seriously delicious stuff…At least 8 items sold from that treasury!

And I have one up right now, with a Scottish/ tartan theme:

OH, how I love plaid, Scotland, and Scottish stuff. I definitely made this treasury for my own plaid-obsessed purposes, so I am rightly surprised that it made it to the front page, and that (yay!) other people love tartan too!

On the theme of Etsy, I have been back at the sewing table lately, where my massive vault of vintage fabrics and trims have been calling me. I put together these little birds:

These are available in my Etsy shop, Recycle Rabbit.

Seriously, I have no clue whether anyone but me likes anything in my Etsy shop (OK, some do), but I just get on jags where I simply MUST sew or make something, and ideas take me over until I make them. It seems to be a necessity that I shake up my own artistic landscape every so often.

SO, having sewed, now I can get back to my illustration and design jobs, and feel good about it.

Which I had better do.


FRED Goes Global

Boston Global, that is. There is an article in today’s Boston Globe about the delightful company I work at, FRED.

For those of you who have wondered, yes, Fred is a real guy, and this is what he looks like (albeit slightly loonier looking in this photo than in real life. Slightly.)

I was not at the office the day they did the article, but they did call out a couple of my products: a mention of Dust Bunny, and a photo of Calf and Half.

But wait…what’s that? Zoom in a little…

Holy cow! I’M FAMOUS!
Haha…I didn’t notice I was technically in there the first couple of times I saw this.
I promise not to let my new-found fame change me.

You can read the real article here, which has been freely and wantonly stolen from the Fred site. Huzzah!

Random Cuteness Day!

Y’know…EVERY day should be random cuteness day. Here’s a dose now:

I love to sew and embroider, but I cannot knit or crochet. Therefore, I enjoy the work of people who can. It started with ONE octopus. But it was too cute. We needed more.
Now, each kid has one, and so do I.
Now we can do stuff like this:

These particular bits of cuteness come from All About Kendra’s Etsy shop.
Way to crochet, Connie!