Peppers. Lots of them.

We're growing sungold cherry tomatoes, a bunch of herbs, and three kinds of peppers on our back landing: cayenne, yellow banana, and spicy cherry peppers (shown above). My favorite thing to do with the banana peppers is put them on grilled Hebrew National jumbo hotdogs. But what to do with the billions of cayenne and cherry peppers? I made some chili, but that's it so far. They're definitely hot little buggers. Recipe ideas, anyone?
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Baby shower downloads

It seems to be peak season for baby showers around here. I guess everybody had a good time on their Christmas vacations last year! Anyhow, while browsing around Nested, I found some nice-looking free downloads. You can get bookplates, in case you're throwing a children's book shower where every guest brings their favorite childhood book. Or if you need shower game ideas, get some lovely looking printable game cards. Happy shower-throwing!
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Okay, who did it?

Someone has sent hubby Alex a mysterious T-shirt package. Someone who must know he loves Macs and iPods. The printed tag inside says it's designed by Graphic Airlines, and it's pretty cool. The title is "Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree." Maybe their next shirt will be called "Keeps the Doctor Away"? Har har. So... anybody want to 'fess up?

[Update: The perpetrator saw this blog post and called to confess!]
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Bookcover design gallery

Browse here for bookcover design inspiration, compiled by Fwis.
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Trying not to kill this

A few weeks ago I saw this little guy at Home Depot and thought its bumpy leaves were weird and cool. It was in a box of plants marked "Exotic Angel Plants®" that don't seem to require much light, so they're good options for offices, tables, desks, etc. So for a couple dollars, I had to give one a try. This plant is a Pilea originating in Vietnam. And according to its label, "Your home deserves them...™" This plant also promises to "Purify air, enhance d├ęcor, and calm senses." Wow. I thought I'd been feeling calmer lately. :)
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Make some stuff

Some links to projects out there:

Wipe-clean coasters from Allyson Hill
Wine glass photos, a funny party idea from Photojojo
Paper mice with cheese at 3-Eyed Bear (click the mouse photos until you get to the PDF download)
Baby bib at Nested (cool site for design-minded parents)
Pop-up cards from Robert Sabuda
Strings of lights with paper shades and canvas rugs at Martha Stewart
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Work at your computer and listen to music you like

It's certainly possible that everybody already knows about this, and I've had my head under a rock until now. But my good friend Valerie just told me about Pandora.com, a free internet radio site that lets you create your own stations. You just type in some song names or artists you'd like to hear on your station, and then, using magic, Pandora will create a station that plays songs similar to those. If a song you hate sneaks in, you can give it a thumbs down and never hear it again. If a song you love plays, give it a thumbs up, and Pandora will play more songs that sound like that. And if you want to buy the song, just click the iTunes button and it will appear in your iTunes store so you can put it in your cart if you want. So now I will be happily designing brochures and listening to only music I like. Nice.
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Browse vintage design

Jane McDevitt of Maraid Design has uploaded some Flickr galleries of vintage labels. Fun stuff! Browse matchbook covers here and British packaging here.
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Another logo quiz

If you liked this logo quiz where you were given a small part of a logo and had to name the company it represents, try this one where you have to pick the real logo from the imposters.
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Vintage fabric wall art



Here's a framed, bigger version of the bookmarks I made. Same instructions to make these: Use Canson self-adhesive paper (Blick stores are the only place I know to find it, where it's on clearance because they bought out another retailer and are trying to get rid of it). Cut shapes in it with an X-acto knife. Peel off the backing, place fabric pieces over the windows you cut, and stick on a second sheet to cover the back. Put it in a frame.
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Look what I got

I hate shopping for shoes, but I couldn't resist these Keds in Antique White/Plum Stripe. They don't come in narrow so they're a tiny bit too wide for me, but I don't care. When you have my shoe shopping angst, you're happy to find anything that fits on your foot and stays there. And they were so cute, I had to give them a try.

(Image from Keds)
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T-shirts at Threadless

I was browsing last week at Threadless.com to find a T-shirt gift for my friend. So funny! Some of my favorites:

Title: Nothing Rhymes With Orange

Title: Haikus are easy but...

Title: Wanted

(Images from Threadless.com)
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Renegade Handmade, now open

I saw on Apartment Therapy: Chicago that a brick and mortar version of the Renegade Craft Fair is now open. The shop is called Renegade Handmade. I plan to check it out.
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A few more thumbtacks


Even though I vowed privately that I'd never make more tacks because it takes way too long, I had a hankering to do it again the other day. They're just so cute. So I put a few more sets in the etsy shop.

Next day update: Sold out, so don't bother clicking over!
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Global Sistergoods

Global Sistergoods "is a sister-owned small business that imports fairly-traded crafts from women artisans from around the world. We provide a living wage to economically disadvantaged women in fragile economies by supporting entrepreneurship, self-reliance and micro enterprise development." When you browse the products, you also get a map showing where each item was made and a summary of women's issues and statistics in that country.

(Images from Global Sistergoods.)
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Ten Thousand Villages

I bet everybody already knows about Ten Thousand Villages. But did you know they've been "Trading fairly since 1946"? That's a long time. They work with "unemployed or underemployed artisans to help them bring their crafts and cultures to North America, and to support themselves and their families." To find a store near you, click here, or shop online to buy products like these:

(Images from Ten Thousand Villages.)
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World of Good

World of Good has been featured in Domino, Real Simple, and a ton of other publications. "At World of Good, Inc., we create opportunities for hundreds of artisan cooperatives around the world to share their best work with you by serving as a bridge to the U.S. retail market. We respectfully assist artisans by providing access to fair wages, safe working conditions and long-term economic sustainability."

Visit the shop for "ethically sourced gifts, housewares, and accessories." A cool sampling:
(Images from World of Good.)
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OrangeTree Project

Ryan in San Diego wrote me recently about a new venture called OrangeTree Project. "We are a group of designers that felt a strong need to give back to our community. Our goal is to serve others by doing what we do best: creating fresh, inspiring design. So we started OrangeTree Project, a line of original products that have both contemporary appeal and an inspiring message. Established as a non-profit organization (pending), OrangeTree Project uses only those funds required to maintain daily operations, directing the bulk of its earnings towards select charitable causes."

They will focus on helping local underprivileged children and families, starting with an an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico. A "News" feature on the site is coming soon to let supporters know where the money raised will be used. And more products are coming soon to the shop! (Click on "products.") Here's a sampling of their lovely greeting cards.


(Images from OrangeTree Project.)
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Buy nice things, help someone else

After thinking more about #7 two posts ago, I got inspired this week to feature organizations that are trying to make a difference. Aid to Artisans helps artists in developing countries, especially women and those in rural areas, become self-sustaining. "Because ATA's goal is to link the artisans to markets, we provide assistance in all stages of that process, including product development and design, business development, market entry, and working with clients." Visit their site to learn more about their new eBay PROJECT GOOD initiative, or to shop! Some of my favorite things:

(Images from Aid to Artisans.)
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Simpsonize yourself

This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. And I can't believe I just did it. You can do it too.
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Tagged

Emily of The Scoop and Patricia at A Little Hut both tagged me. I never know what to write for these things. Hmm...

Players list 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, players then tag 8 people by posting their names and leaving a comment at the tagee’s blog, to make sure they know they’ve been tagged.

1. I grew up on a farm in Minnesota. I have fond memories of looking under dried cowpies for night crawlers in the heifer pasture with my brother. Here's the place, from Google Earth. Hi Mom.


2. I met my husband at a summer program when we were in college. Afterwards we dated long distance for three years before getting married. During those three years, I made him mail me handwritten letters. None of this newfangled email! (I'm so sorry about that now, Alex. You have proved your worth.)

3. No kids yet. I keep dragging my feet. Fear of commitment. Perhaps because of early childhood experiences... here's me with my newborn brother. I still feel this way about babies.


4. I love CSI. I feel a little guilty about that, since what kind of person loves shows about violent crime? And doesn't love babies? Yikes. I do love kittens, though. That must count in my favor.

5. Pet peeve: when people don't scale images proportionately so they're stretched too tall or too wide. Hold down that shift key when scaling, people!

6. I found this Psalm, published in the 60s, and I still think about it. I really like it.

7. I also think about whether the time I spend reading magazines and blogs makes me more materialistic. I struggle with the tension between wanting things to be beautiful (which seems like a divine value), and wanting to buy them all (which seems like a non-divine value). How can I justify buying lovely placemats, when people are dying for lack of clean water? I worry about this. Now you have a little glimpse into my guilt-ridden psyche.

8. I'm usually the person who doesn't respond to chain emails and ignores blogging games, so I'm afraid I'm not going to tag anyone else. It's too hard to decide!
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Make snowflakes in August

Jenny F. sent me a link to Popular Front's Snowdays, a nifty website where you can cut out your own online snowflake with virtual scissors. It's supposed to reach 89 degrees here today, but I felt just a tiny bit cooler when I was cutting out my flake. And if I were chewing a piece of Wrigley's new gum in spearmint (while enjoying its innovative package), I would be completely refreshed.
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Bridal shower photos

Here are some pix from the shower at my house on Saturday. My buddy Jill and I put it together for our friend Li.


We bought a set of notecards and divided them up into packets, complete with Love stamps, for guests to take home as party favors. Jill had the brilliant idea of asking the guests to write notes to the bride on the extra cards. Each guest sealed her note in an envelope and marked it with the date the message should be read (like "after your first fight" or "on your second anniversary.")

We also played a game where guests had to complete obscure proverbs from around the world. Every proverb had something to do with wives, husbands, marriage or love. We gave guests the first half of the saying, and then each person had to write an ending to it. All the endings were read, along with the correct answer, and players got a point for guessing the correct answer and for every vote their entry received. This turned out to be QUITE humorous. (I fished the proverbs out of the game Wise and Otherwise, which we love.)


The food and drink was mostly pink and orange-themed: punch, shrimp cocktail, mini quiches, Jill's work-of-art salmon tea sandwiches, and panna cotta topped with apricots, nectarines, peaches, and golden kiwi. I borrowed my neighbor's chocolate fountain and put out goodies for dipping, too. Yum. Thanks, Jenny.

Li, we hope you feel very loved and celebrated. Blessings and best wishes for a wonderful marriage!
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