Friday, April 30, 2010

Vintage Recipe Card

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The inspiration for this recipe card comes from a favorite dessert I like to whip up for Mother's Day. Everyone in my family loves these chocolate mini molten cakes. They seem gourmet, yet are really so simple; you can't go wrong with chocolate & strawberries. Plus, I am a big believer in little ramekin baking cups and think no home should be without! I love to give a set of ramekin dishes along with this recipe, printed with a touch of vintage whimsy. Passing down a beloved recipe is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

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For your custom printed recipe card, you'll need:

• Design software such as InDesign or Photoshop

• Cooking clipart, I got the vintage rolling pin image from Still, there are tons of inexpensive options if you google search the item and the word clipart (you can find low prices offered here)
• A script and serif font. I chose Edwardian Script & Garamond Regular. Loads of pretty font suggestions over on
• A favorite fool-proof, deliciously divine dessert recipe from your family's recipe box.

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Open up a blank document in your design program. I prefer InDesign myself. (However, for this simple project, Microsoft Word could definitely work in a pinch!) Create the dimensions to fit your needs. I like a 5x7 card to fold in half and tuck into a gift. Place your vintage clipart graphic onto the document. Type out your recipe utilizing your chosen fonts to give it a taste of fanciness. Use dotted lines or borders to make the layout clear. Double check your recipe for any errors. (No one wants to substitute salt when it should've been sugar!) Include any small anecdotes, the recipe origin or a personal thought. Print your custom recipe on nice card stock, adding ribbon or embellishments if you'd like. Framing it is a nice way to present a special traditional family recipe. Be sure to print out and save a few extras for your gift shelf.

Optional: Before you type out the recipe, add a clever title in the script font such as "From Marta's Kitchen..." or "Desserts is Stressed Spelled Backwards!" on top of your document. Include a scalloped border and your vintage graphic. Go ahead and click save as "Recipe Card Template". Now whenever you find yourself typing up one of your famous recipes or needing a quick gift idea, this custom-made recipe card template will be ready to go. Type someone else's name instead of yours, print, cut and you've got a cute set of custom recipe cards for the honorary bride-to-be for the shower you're hosting on Saturday!

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This makes a thoughtful gift idea in any circumstance; a Mother's Day luncheon, a bridal kitchen shower, or for a family with a new baby at home. The recipes would be sweet all scrolled up and tied with baker's twine for a small favor after serving the desserts at a dinner party. Give them with a small bowl of berries. Chocolate not your thing? Feel free to adapt the recipe cards to your own family favorites; bake your mom's favorite apple pie and give her a new lovely pie dish to go along with your custom framed recipe.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Baby Shower Invitations

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My inspiration comes from one of my favorite blogs, 100 Layer Cake. While I'm already married and I won't be getting remarried any time soon, I still love this place for sweet color palettes and party planning inspiration. The top image cluster is from one of their color boards. The second image cluster is a shot from Amy of Eat Drink Chic's wedding. I love the colors and elegance of the color board and the simplicity of the lemonade sign. I just fell in love with the Lemonade sign, it's so simple and elegant!

I'm using this inspiration to make a baby shower invitation.

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1. Repeat pattern - I used patterns from my Crown Moulding collection. The warm/girly patterns are available here, get 30% off by entering the code GLCBGIRL at checkout. The cool/boy patterns are available here, get 30% off by entering the code GLCBBOY at checkout.

2. Fonts - the hand-written font is Sue Ellen Francisco (free for personal use), and the slab serif font is Alexandria.

3. Hand-drawn squiggle - I just hand drew this squiggle using the pencil tool in illustrator. It's not perfect, which is what makes it so fun! Try making your own.

4. Color palette - I really like the color palette offered in the top colorboard. I used the peach color for girls and the teal color for boys, but feel free to mix things up.

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Set up your file in your preferred program. I'm addicted to Illustrator, so that's what I used for this project. My file size is 5x7 inches.

Make your border. Using the pencil (n) tool in illustrator draw two rectangles, one larger one smaller. To close each shape, hold down the option key just before finishing your box. Make sure the smaller rectangle is in front (shift + command + ]). Now use the pathfinder tool (Window>Pathfinder) to make the two rectangles a compound shape. Place your pattern image behind the rectangle border. Select both pattern and rectangle, right click and select make a clipping mask. BOOM! Now you've got a sweet, organic border.

Add Text. Using your text tool, type out "Oh Baby!" using the Sue Ellen font at 44pts. I broke the most important typography rule and widened the font to 132% width. I like how this looks, but don't tell anyone I told you to do that. Center and arrange text to the top of your invitation. Add remaining party text below in Alexandria at 12pts. Change the font of the name of the mother-to-be to Sue Ellen at 18 pts.


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Voila! You've got something classy with a handmade touch. Of course, this idea isn't limited to baby showers or invites, you can use this for thank you cards, gift tags, place settings, etc!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Calendar Desktop

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In February, I had the pleasure of meeting Tristan of The Bright Side Project and of Blah, Blah, Blahg. She is simply lovely, and so is her work. In her Etsy store, I found some cards that she made particularly inspiring. I love her use of old illustrations and scripty fonts, and decided to use her work as inspiration to make myself a desktop wallpaper calendar.

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For this recipe, you'll need:

  • A script font. I chose Bickham Pro, but you can use a free (watered down) version of this font called Beautiful, available for download through (Bickham has glyphs, which are letter alternates. That's how I am able to get the big nice B you see there above, or the big M and swooshy y in my design.)
  • A sans serif font. I chose Quicksand, also available at
  • An old or scientific illustration. I own copies of several Dover Publications books that have rights-free images to use, and they're great! Many of them are collections of images that are simply in the public domain. Some are collections of images that their own designers have made. Every week, they also email a link to free samples to their email list. I'm on this list, so I get free stuff every week. Some of it I will never use, but a lot of it is fun. You can sign up here.
  • A simple color palette. For mine, I used yellow, turquoise, and gray, a color combo that I simply can't get over lately. I try to design using other colors, but when I'm doing something for myself, I always come back to these.
  • Swashy swirls. (For mine, I used swirls that came with one of my fonts, Adios.)

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Collect and download your ingredients. Feel free to change things up according to your own taste. (You may, for example, not want a rodent on your desktop.) I used Illustrator to prepare my desktop, since it's the program I use for almost everything. Use the program that you feel most comfortable with.

Open a document that is the size of your desktop. (I looked up the size of my desktop in my system preferences.) Compile your ingredients into the same document. I was able to color my mice because I performed a live trace on the original image (this turns a raster image into a vector image, meaning that I can scale it as big as I like, and change the color with the click of a button!).

Arrange the elements in a way that is pleasing to you. I chose the script for my month name, and then I made a calendar using Quicksand. (To make the calendar, I relied on tabs so that all my numbers were evenly spaced. I didn't include the days of the week, because I don't need them for myself, but you might consider adding them.)

Assign colors to your elements. I chose a very light gray (5% black) for my swooshes so that they're not too distracting.

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Above is the image that I used for my own desktop. (You can click this to access the full-sized version and download it to use it for yourself! This is a calendar for May 2010.)

And here is what it looks like on my own desktop. Which I artificially cleaned up to make it look better for you.

Have fun working on your own desktop!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Naturally Personal

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My inspiration for this DIY design recipe came from two sources, this wonderful typographic artwork created by Letterfest and also by Ink&Spindle, whose earthy, summery colors and simple patterns I am in love with! I've got a clear protective case on my laptop and was excited to finally create an insert design that would personalize it.

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For this recipe, you'll need:

• a repeating pattern
• a decorative swirl or flourish (I drew mine)
• a variety of fonts (use your own initial!)
• light, earthy color palette: Maralee-Green*, Sky Blue, Putty, and Chalk
(*my fans know that I can't resist using this color, and have appropriately given it my name :-)

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Download and collect the ingredients you need. You may need to sample alternative fonts, depending on your personal taste and the shapes of your own initials. I used an editing program that allowed me to layer the elements with transparency, giving more depth and dimension. I measured to determine the size of my insert to set up my file.

Import and place all the elements, then start playing with sizes. For best results, make sure there's variety in size and color. I used the swirl shape on one side to give contrast to the hard-edged, symmetrical shapes, and also to give more visual interest than a "plain-old" centered design.

Once I felt good about the design of the collage of letters, I lightened the repeating pattern, and placed it behind the collage. It should feel more like a texture of the background, a secondary and subtle element. Make sure it doesn't make your design too busy. Because there are so many elements—fonts, colors, patterns—it's important to make sure there's a hierarchy when you are finished. And consider that a large element in a subtle color may not appear as visually important as something that's smaller in a bolder color! I like the rough and distressed quality, so the last thing I did was "roughen-up" the background texture/pattern.

I created my sample as an insert for my laptop, but you could also create a wrap for your cell phone or mobile device, wallpaper for your blog, or you could bring the whole thing full circle, and create a piece of framed art, just like the one that originally inspired my project.

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Eggy Inspiration

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Inspiration for this DIY design recipe comes from these amazing Ukrainian eggs by Tanya Zivkovic. I love the intricate details and combination of florals, geometrics, and bright vivid colors. I thought it'd be fun to create a design that has the essence of these eggs. Perfect for an Easter Celebration.

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For this recipe you'll need:

A decorative font: Exotica 
A simple slab serif font: Alexandria
A geometric pattern: Grid Paper Pattern
A floral pattern: Leafy Set
Some lines and dots: on your editing program
Vibrant color palette: Plum, Periwinkle, Mustard, Olive, and Tangerine

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Download and collect any of the ingredients you need. Open your editing program and create a new document. You can usually find a starter template from your program or just measure and set up your own.

Import or place each of your pattern elements into your program and start mixing.  I started with the grid pattern over my whole document. Then I placed the plum floral pattern to the side right over the top.  I layered a couple lines to create the olive and mustard dotted stripe.  On top of that I placed a circle outlined with the same olive green and placed my initial inside.  I used the simple slab serif font as an accent on a few of the items.

For this recipe, there are a lot of bold colors and pattern on pattern. Your main ingredient should be the geometric pattern that is scaled back in opacity or a really light color so that it is very subtle. You'll want to use your more ornate pattern elements sparingly throughout your document. You can go with the brighter colors in your palette for the less used items. White space is good so use the bright and ornate elements like a spice- just a little here and there to give it some interest.

You can see in the sample below I created a calling card, a note card, and a sticker, using the same elements.  I could then save these files as a high-res jpg or pdf and upload them to a printer and in a few days I'd have a personal stationery suite.

I could also print them off on my own home printer and create some place cards for our Easter meal. Wouldn't a whole Easter table scape using these colors look fantastic?

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 Happy Easter & Enjoy!

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