houseraiser My dear friend Jessika, of Oh My! Handmade Goodness, has started an amazing new project called Houseraiser. It's an online campaign to raise money, originally for her mother:

Imagine nearly losing your life, the ability to work for awhile, and a place to live all in one month. How do you recover your health when you have nowhere to go, a tiny income, and no one is willing to help? That is happening right now for my mom Stephanie-an award winning journalist and educated advocate who will be homeless May 1st after almost dying from sepsis and pneumonia in January. When no one was willing or able to help us find her a house I got creative, started this site, and decided to become an advocate for home.

Houseraiser was started for Stephanie but this is bigger then her story. Millions of people with so much to offer are struggling to simply have a place to live. If we can raise a house for Stephanie what else can we do?

So how it works is you pledge money and receive an art print and the money raised will go towards a home, or house project, for someone in need. I'm very happy to be participating with my House print (above.)

You can watch a news clip of Jessika talking more about it here.

Homelessness is a huge problem in our country-- and Canada, where Jessika is-- so head on over to show your support and/or start your own campaign:

The Next Big Thing Blog Tour!


I've been invited to participate in The Next Big Thing blog tour by my friend-- illustrator, animator and writer-- Greg Matusic! (Read about his hilarious upcoming book Pirates Go Shopping here!) Thanks Greg! The tour is supposed to bring awareness to authors & illustrators and whatever they're currently working on. I'll answer ten questions below and then tag three illustrators/authors you all should check out! So let's get started:

Jabari Jumps! Picture Book
The Next Big Thing Blog Tour!
1) What is the working title of your next book?
Jabari Jumps!
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
A mix of childhood memories, the inspiring Olympic swimmer, Cullen Jones, and childhood memories of conquering the diving board.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
It's a 32 page picture book.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Ooh.. Hmmm. Well, a three year old version of Sayeed Shahidi would be an awesome Jabari. And the lovely Taye Diggs would be a great Dad.  I guess the younger sister would be some rising-star-baby actor. 
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Jumping off the diving board is easy for a Big Kid like Jabari...right?
6) Who is publishing your book?
Who indeed? Its been reviewed and critiqued by art directors and agents, and I'm now sending it around!
7) How long did it take you to create the illustrations?
Well.... There were lots of different versions of this story, (and three completed dummies!?) so its not quite accurate to say four years--right? Right! Probably about four months and I continue to tweak them.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Jabari definitely has a dose of Olivia in him. Similar bluster and chutzpah, though in his case perhaps not so much to back it up. And while the text is saying one thing, I aimed to make the illustrations the punch line, so a bit of Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown. Overcoming fear is a major theme similar to Lilly's Big Day, by Kevin Henke.
Jabari Jumps! Picture Book
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A few years ago I hear about Cullen Jones' organization Make a Splash that teaches kids, parents and communities about the importance of learning how to swim. In the United States the child drowning statistics and the number of people who don't know how to swim are staggering. (After almost drowning at 5 years old, Jones went on to win gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.) Since I loved swimming especially as a kid, this really hit home for me. An early version of the book was about Cullen as a child, but it slowly evolved into Jabari's more light hearted, mischievous tale of conquering fears and defining bravery, ie jumping off the diving board.  
Fun fact, in Swahili "Jabari" means brave or valiant. 
Jabari Jumps Picture book
10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
The sweet relationship Jabari has with his dad is one that often isn't explored in the kid lit world and is sure to tug on heart strings. 
Jabari Jumps Picture Book
Thanks for reading everybody!
Next Sunday check out:
I am small Gina Perry
I Am Small, by Gina Perry. I've read the dummy and it is brilliant! So cute, right? She'll be blogging here.
A YA historical novel, Drawing from Life (working title) by fellow crit-mate Abby Murphy!  The heroine struggles to become a professional artist at the turn of the century and is loosely based on Abby's grandmother (!) pictured above.  I've been reading chapters as she writes them and it is captivating!
I don't want to be a zombie
And a picture book about a misunderstood "walker" from the writer illustrator duo Megan and Jorge Lacera: But I don't Want To Be a Zombie!  Zane is afraid to tell his parents that he just wan't cut out for this whole zombie business. How will they react when they find out that he prefers whole grains to brains? Check it out here!
That's it folks!  Happy reading!

Portraits for $100!

 Julia Staples portraits 100 To celebrate her new photography studio, my longtime, talented friend Julia is throwing an exciting event: The "100/100/100 Project": 100 portraits, in 100 days, for 100 dollars! Its a fabulous chance to get a professional portrait taken at a super low price. There are a bunch of framing options, and you can also order holiday cards from her as well.  I illustrated the frames for the photo cards, and I'm really happy with how they came out. Here's one of them:

So if you're in the Philadelphia area, go grab your spot!  (If you're not in the area and would still like to order a photo card, you can do that here and use your own photo.) Julia is also available to shoot on location.


Home again, home again...

Phew! We're back from an epic whirlwind trip:

  • Wednesday night: Fly to San Jose, CA. Visit family in Berkeley and San Francisco.
  • Friday morning: Train to Sacramento, then drive to Nevada City for a couple We Are Wizards screenings at the Nevada City Film Festival.
  • Saturday night: Catch a --delayed, boo-- red-eye to New York.
  • Sunday morning: Get in just in time to sneak in a visit to Josh and Trisha's fabulous new apartment and then off to Mandy and Henry's bowling-wedding-party-extravaganza at Brooklyn Bowl.  (See picture above.)
  • Sunday evening: catch Metro North to Connecticut for mexican food with G's brother.
  • Monday morning: train to Providence, RI and then a taxi to...home!

If only we had taken a ferry as well... Or a hot air balloon. Clearly, we were trying to see how many different modes of transportation we could utilize in five days.

Thanks for a wonderful time everybody!

Dolce far niente

Dolce Far Niente I learned a new phrase from my uncle over 4th of July weekend: "Dolce far niente."

Dolce Far Niente

Dolce Far Niente

Which means, "Pleasantly doing nothing."

Dolce Far Niente

Dolce Far Niente

Sounds like a delicious way to spend the summer.

Dolce Far Niente

We did our best last weekend.

Dolce Far Niente

Dolce Far Niente

Are you home?


Agh! I'm here... I know I've been missing from this little space.  I even missed a monthly goals check in!  Yikes.

Well, I made it home from Seattle-- which I loved.  It oddly, felt very much like New England.  Perhaps the wood framed buildings?  The scale of the city?-- as my dad would say.  Definitely the pretty gray weather.  It was funny how  cozy and familiar it all felt until I'd look down a street, or out a window, and think "Goodness, those clouds are so dark!"   And then I realize, "Ohhh those are mountains."  Humongous, serious, mountains.  Which we definitely do not have on this coast.   And then I'd feel very small, and like I was in some sort of dark fairy tale.  Which is a compliment, by the way.  Anyhow, I'd move in a second if it wasn't so darn far away.

But since then I've mostly been tucked away in my little office/room/studio drawing, drawing, drawing.  To be a busy illustrator feels so nice.  I'll post some images of what I've been up to as soon as I'm allowed to.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this little guy, my friend Austin and I spotted in a shop window:

We almost walked right past him when we realized he wasn't a part of the display.  He seemed like a pretty happy guy.

Weekend Away

Recipe for Perfect Martha's Vineyard Evening:

1. Kayak 40 minutes to the next town over and pull your boat up on some nice person's backyard/ handy beach.

2.  Take the short cut to the Menemsha Fish Market.

3.  Eat your newly purchased chowder and raw clams on the pier out back, legs swinging, overlooking the fishermen hauling in lobster.

4.  Carefully pack your fish for dinner into the kayak.  Plastic bags and ice recommended.

5. Kayak home as the wind picks up.

6. Steam up some corn on the cob, set the table, light some candles, sear the tuna.

7.  Tuck in.

8.  Thank your lucky stars you have an aunt who happily welcomes visitors.

Wedding Fun

This past July, on the only sunny weekend, Austin, my friend (since nursery school!) was married in her parents' beautiful backyard overlooking the water.  I made a few items for the event and I'm really happy with how they came out. 

Wedding programs waiting to be cut:

Printed Pablo Neruda poem read in Spanish by Austin followed by the English translation by Oliver.

Place cards made from vintage National Geographic Maps:

Can you tell I'm a little obsessed with my round-corner-punch?  

Congratulations Austin and Oliver!

Moleskine Group week 1

I've been doing a "Moleskine exchange group" since July and I keep forgetting to share my drawings. It's been super fun to do-- the book has 60 accordion pages, there are ten of us, so we each draw on 6 pages and then pass it on to the next person. Sort of like Exquisite Corpse. Or a chain letter?Anyhow I started off my moleskine with this:

My (2nd?) cousin had just been born and everyone was over-the-moon thrilled. I was in Vermont with my family when she arrived.  The coyotes were howling that night.  

Hence the baby and the coyotes.  

Its been challenging to just draw.  Right on the page.  No scanning, no rearranging, no computers.  Not much planning.  Coloring with whatever I feel like.  It feels like a good stretch.  

There are more images on Flickr if you're interested.


I mentioned yesterday our food for the wedding was a success.  

 Somehow it all went from this:

to this:

We can't take all the credit.  Actually the wonderful caterer Tamara, of The Sunday Night Dinner, deserves a good deal of it!  She took our food shoved into tupperware containers, (and food from lots of other people) and turned it all into that magical buffet you see up there.  Not to mention all the delicious food she prepared, the wonderful bar tender, and her assistant (Melissa, I think her name was?)  They all worked so hard, and everything tasted and looked incredible. If you're in the New York area and have an event coming up, I know everyone there that night would recommend them.

Wedding Wrap Up

We're back in Providence, still recovering from the wedding weekend of fun.   Gorgeous weather! Lots of dancing! Our food was a success! But most importantly... our friends got married!  And it was completely beautiful and wonderful. 

Congratulations you two!

Photo by by Nishat

Photo by by Nishat

Preparing a meal for a gaggle of guests

We're so excited!  This weekend our friends are getting married and we're preparing some of the food!  Which means cooking for about 80.  I think about 120 people are actually attending, but as a bunch of people are participating in the food portion of the night, plus a caterer, we're only worrying about 80 portions. Only.  Incredibly, or perhaps just ignorantly, we are actually not worried at all.   Our menu is:

  • Roasted Lamb with Minted Yogurt, and Spicy Mixed Fruit Chutney
  • Three Rice Salad, with jicama, cranberries, cabbage and parsley.  

We got everything, excluding the lamb, yesterday.  And I did a bunch of the chopping last night.  Tonight we'll pick up the lamb legs, marinate them and make the chutney.  Tomorrow we'll roast (or grill, weather permitting,) the lamb, and make the rice salad.  Friday we drive it all to Brooklyn, add the finishing touches and then chow down that evening.  Whoo!

Regardless of the food, its going to be such a lovely wedding.  I really cannot wait!

Welcome back.

There's been a lot going on around here, so there's lots to talk about. Like birthdays! and presents that were made. New dresses, ladies trip to New York, rowing in the rain, lunch with dear girlfriends from forever ago, a lovely dinner, taxes... and having a big dog visitor.

We got to dog sit for our friends for a few days. Samson is a wonderful old-ish German Shepherd. So laid back and sweet. We went on lumbering walks through the neighborhood. We drove around with him and laughed at how exciting the car ride was. We told him to lie down in his bed and... he did! The mister and I looked at each other in shock as it occurred to us that dogs are not cats. How lovely!

He was so calm the kitties decided he was mostly alright.

Our idyllic dog time ended with our ninety pound visitor napping in bed with the mister.  

An occurrence, only hours earlier, we couldn't imagine happening.  But Samson was happy to convince us otherwise.

oh look at that little muffin!

Konichiwa (aka Sammy's in Japan!)

  image from Sweet Grass productions

My little brother, Sam, touched down in Hokkaido, Japan two nights ago.  He's there to work with friends and their company, SweetGrass Productions, on a snowboarding film sponsored by Patagonia.  Apparently Sweet Grass has been there for months and their teaser looks amazing:


In other, pales-in-contrast, traveling news, I'm headed to Brooklyn for my friend Lila's birthday this weekend.  Should be good times...

All The Pretty Horses

On Saturday, Jane took me and her dog for a walk to see the brand new baby horses around the corner from her house.  They had the longest legs...

They were just like human kids-- running and jumping, staying close and generally annoying their moms, until they abruptly fell asleep.  

Its kind of crazy they're basically born walking.  Apparently those little guys were only a few days old.  

Everybody was nice and furry.  

And curious about their visitors.  

We should have brought apples.

SXSW Excitement! and a glimpse of the shop...

The Mister is in Austin, TX at SXSW. About a year ago, he and his design partner  created the site Eric Piasecki: StockSearch.

And now its a finalist in 12th Annual SXSW Interactive Web Awards Presented by Adobe!  The site is gorgeous and I am beyond thrilled and proud of him.  Yay!  What a lucky duck: SXSW two years in a row!

In other exciting news:

It has been FOREVER since I sold anything in my poor little Etsy shop. But here's a preview of the drawings I've been working on that will be for sale soon.

 So far I'm doing a bear series, a reindeer, and I think after visiting some colts with Jane yesterday, I'll have to do a baby horse series as well. They're all hand-drawn in ink over collaged vintage paper.

I was in New York last weekend for a few days.  And we kept busy!  Dinner parties, brunch(es), playdates, Broadway, the Mister even spent the day at the office (--most of the time he telecommutes and works at home.)  Besides getting to see a bunch of friends--young and old-- the highlights included:

Nice new friends: Carnivalesque Films

Brunch at Papacitos in Greenpoint

Will Ferrel (!!!!!) You're Welcome America

My first Five Guys experience

Momofuku, Noodle Bar

Some really yummy frozen yogurt that I am forgetting the name of-- it was like a dessert salad bar

Those notes above from my favorite girls...

I tried to make a trip to Sahadi's but my heart wasn't in it.  The thought of dragging around more stuff, delicious as it would have been, was not appealing.  

Did you notice that almost everything on the list was a food item?  We meant to make a list of foods we wanted to "visit" while we were there, but it turns out we did pretty well without one.  

One of the most notable parts of the weekend was WE DIDN'T GET LOST driving there OR back! It was a miracle.  And I conquered my fear of driving in the big city.  Incredible. 

Anyhow, now that we're home safe and sound, I've been working on new drawings... for my shop!  More about those later...