Tuesday, June 18, 2013

2013 Holiday Designs - The Vote is On!

It's been a while since my last update, and I plan to update proper here soon. My first year of my MFA program was a success -- only 2 more to go! I've also been busy working on my stationery designs, lately holiday. Speaking of, voting has started for the Minted Holiday challenge. Above is a sampling of some of the designs I've entered. I had so much fun designing them, and I hope you all like them as much as I do. Minted really values feedback from everyone, so if you have a moment, head over and vote!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Calendars are coming back!

That's right -- calendars will be back by popular demand this season at Minted! And now is your chance to vote on which ones you'd want to buy. This challenge was a quickfire challenge, with voting starting today and ending tomorrow. So, if you want your vote to be counted, head on over pronto. And if you feel like showing a little love to some of my designs, I'd appreciate it! Three are shown above (Big Month, Charming Twelve, Urban Post) and I also have three other submissions (Graceful Year, Bright Year, Book Shop). I had so much fun designing these, so I hope you love them too. And hopefully they will reach the cyber shelves soon!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Round Here

Helllloooooo!! How are all of you doing?? Boy, it's been a while since I've checked in here. There have been quite a few changes in my world, the biggest of which is that I went back to school!

(This is my hallway...Dana Tanamachi came to the school last spring and chalk lettered the walls.)

I'm getting my MFA in Graphic Design, which is a 3 year, full-time program. It's been good, although definitely an adjustment. One of the highlights so far is getting to operate this beauty:

We were cutting blocks for that project, but the type shop has drawers and drawers full of typefaces. It's glorious. I'm deciding on projects now, thinking some sort of calendar?

In family news, out littlest punkin turned three last month:

The best way to describe her at this stage of life is one minute she's an absolute joy, and then next she's a total wreck. Life at age 3 is so tumultuous. I think the 3's are harder than the 2's personally. She's majorly into mermaids and her "blanklets," singing songs and eating yogurt with m&m's. And most of the time, I could just eat her up I love her so.

What else? Oh, we've already got out Halloween costumes! I was pretty dang proud of myself on that one. H is going to be a football player, S is going to be Harry Potter, and M is going to be...wait for it...a mermaid! I think our neighbor has even procured some mermaid costumes for Reg and I...should be interesting, no?

In studio related news, my new holiday collection for Minted is now available!

Because I started a full-time school program, I will be doing most of my holiday orders through Minted this year. However, if you have worked with me consistently in the past on holiday cards, and would like to do so again this year, please contact me at alston [at] bwisepapers [dot] com. I'll be taking a limited number of orders from my repeat clients. If you decide to order one of my designs through Minted, I'd be happy to help you match-up your photo and make design decisions there, so don't hesitate to get in touch!

One of the newest features this holiday season at Minted is die-cut shapes! There are some great ones, and I think it could be the perfect little twist to your holiday card to make it personal and unique. Minted has software that lets you not only preview your photo on a card, but also see it cut into the shapes. Check out some of my faves:
Sometimes people ask me what my favorite design is, and while I don't like choosing between them, if I had a pet - like a teacher's pet - this one would be it. And I think the reason is because of the story it tells. I remember that first little stocking we got to hang by the fire and what a miraculous feeling it was to be celebrating with our new baby. There's not a chance we are having another one, so I'll just have to live vicariously through all the wonderful people who order it. And then force it on my sister when she has a baby one day.

Alright, back to the shapes! I love the organic curves of this one, and combined with the timeless typography of the design and a beautiful photo, it would be a gorgeous card to send.

The tag shape is great fun, and looks especially cute with ribbon tied through it.

And lastly, another one of my favorite designs, the elegant, classic typography and composition of Classic Merry works with several of the new shapes.
That's all I've got for now, but hopefully, I won't be away for so long next time. Peace and happy fall!

Monday, June 25, 2012


My trip to the NSS in New York City was such a good trip -- lots of time with fellow designers and a feast for all paper lovers. I didn't take many pictures at the show, but my two favorite things were Linda and Harriett's 2013 Quilt Wall Calendar and the 2013 Cities Calendar from Rifle Paper Company:
I'll be sure to find a spot on our walls for both of these when the time comes! One thing that I love about them is that the months can be turned into art. Wouldn't the cities one look amazing with all 12 months framed and hung next to each other? And the large size of the Quilt calendar with the beautiful, bold patterns makes it perfect for framing.

I have some other random pictures, mostly of my room at The Mondrian Soho, which was amazing. If you have the chance, stay there -- you won't regret it. The hotel decor was inspired by the original French version of Beauty and the Beast. And it's hard not to feel like a princess -- there are crystal goblets by the bed for goodness sake!
The beautiful and talented Kelli Hall and I were sure to stop by the restaurant/bar that was inspired by the greenhouse dancing scene. We had so much fun exploring this gem of a hotel, which was a gorgeous respite in the middle of the bustling city. I can't wait to go back. That area of town was so fun, too. The morning I was flying out, I went for a walk to get some coffee and Robert Downey Jr. went jogging past me. Those kinds of things don't happen down here in G-ville!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Louie

In May, I headed up to NYC for the National Stationery Show. More on the trip to come, but an exciting part of the show for me was that I won a Louie Award! The design that won is The Perfect Match sold right here on Minted. I received a handy little statue and everything, which you can see a picture of me holding over on the Minted blog.

I'll be back soon with info on round two of holiday voting! If you voted before, I think you're completely awesome.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vote for the 2012 Minted Holiday Collection!

Hellooooooo!! It's been a while. How are things? I've wanted to pop over and catch everyone up on what is going on around here, but things haven't slowed down enough to do that proper. I plan on it, though -- a detailed, photo-filled post. But in the meantime, let's talk holiday cards. I know it's hard to believe with school just getting out and summer beach vacations starting that I'm saying that, but I am! Many of you know that I've been working with a company called Minted for a few years now. Last year, I had the opportunity to launch a line of holiday cards with them, and I will be doing the same this year. In order to help them decide which designs to sell, they need your input! SO crank up that A/C, grab a blanket and cozy up to your computer. You can find direct links to all of my submissions in this post, or to see them together, you can sort "by designer" on the Minted voting page. 1. Simply Blessed // 2. Urbane // 3. Sending Cheer // 4. The Top Five // 5. A Wonderful Life // 6. Counting Our Blessings 1. Holiday Graffiti // 2. Glad Tidings // 3. Script Merry // 4. Grand // 5. Timeless Greeting // 6. Nutcracker Wonder // 7. Kinship

There are some truly amazing designs in the challenge this year, and Minted really wants to know what potential customers would like to buy. Hop on over and let your voice be heard! And if you have time to vote for at least 50, Minted will even give you a gift:

PS: There will be two rounds of voting for the holiday challenge because of the large number of submissions. I'll be sure to post when it's time for the second round!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bag O' Booty Tote

I discovered Missibaba tote bags on Pinterest, and was completely taken with their textiles. I hopped over to the shop and found out that they design and print their own fabrics locally in Cape Town, South Africa. All of their bags are handmade as well, so no two are alike. I haven't given my tote a good workout yet, but I'll let you know how it handles these summer months. Yes, it's already summer here. Sigh.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Eight years ago today, this extraordinary little person was born.

When they put him in my arms, everything changed.  I had become a mom, and now fully realized the kind of love that would compel me to exchange my life for his without a moments hesitation because a world in which this perfect creature did not breathe would surely mean the end of my breath too.

Here he is at about a week old:

See that same little furrowed brow? He's always been a perceptive, sincere guy with the kindest heart. The thought of a person being mean or an animal being hurt keeps him up at night. We were watching an SNL skit on YouTube the other night and were all laughing until it came to a part where the guy threw a kid's cake on the ground. Not funny to him at all. I kept telling him that it was just a joke, this whole thing is. But he didn't see any humor in throwing a kid's birthday cake on the ground. My sweet sincere boy. If I talk too loud when I drop him off in his classroom, he gives me a look like "Don't you know we aren't supposed to talk so loud in here?" He worries about being on time and following through with what we've told people. He keeps me in line on everything from the speed limit [I usually tell him, Oh it's fine...Mommy has a special license] to why I tell the carry out restaurant a name other than my own [I never tell people my real name because they don't ever understand what I'm saying & it's just easier to give them a nice, simple one!].

He's also got more energy than any human I know [aside from Reg -- truly like father like son!], and plays basketball nonstop when he isn't in school or sleeping. And he's always loved a good birthday party...


Here's to a weekend full of celebration!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cupcake Joy

The boys and I made a road trip to Atlanta for part of their Spring Break last week, and while there, I tried a new place for lunch called Joy Cafe. For you Atlantans, it's in Buckhead right off of Pharr Road where Cafe at Pharr used to be. The soup and salad I had were delicious, and in themselves would warrant regular lunches there. But then at the end of the meal, the owner/chef brought over one of these:

There are no words to describe how insanely good these cupcakes are. No. Words. I consider myself pretty particular when it comes to baked goods, and I truly don't think I've ever tasted anything so good in my entire life. Honestly. I even went back the next day before we headed out of town to get more to take home with us! The owner told me the recipe was an old family one that had been tweaked a little, and that it incorporates several different varieties of imported chocolates. If you live in the area, I highly recommend making a stop there. Pronto.

PS: The owner used to live in G-ville -- coached swimming for the Gators!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Season

Hi blog friends. How have you been? It's been wild around here -- lots of good things happening, but things that also take a lot of my time, not leaving much left over for blogging. In all honesty, it's been nice to take a step away and just absorb the life that is going on around me. November and December were tough with all the demands of my work in the holiday season coupled with all the activities of that time of year in general. I remember sitting in church on Christmas Eve and thinking "Oh yeah, it's Christmas tomorrow." I hadn't had a moment to just be in so long -- to stop and reflect -- and I feel like I missed out on a lot of the wonder of that season. So I needed some time. Time to think about how to manage doing the work that I love doing and all the things that come with having a family. And I've had to make some changes in order to achieve a good balance. One is cutting back on blogging. I enjoy blogging -- the creative outlet and the people you connect with through it. But as anyone who blogs knows, it takes a lot of time. And time is something I just don't have a lot of extra of right now. But I hope to check in here once in while and share a bit of what's going on around here. And I hope you'll be around when I do! Speaking of, curious what we have been up to over the past month or so?

The beach has been so good to us. I can't think of a better place to be. Neither can the kids.

March madness is in full swing at our house. H, our oldest, is just a wee bit obsessed with basketball, and could tell you just about any stat you're looking for. Curious how many points Dwyane Wade averages a game? Hang on, let me ask him.....24. Oh, and he averages 7 rebounds and 5 assists.

We've all got our brackets filled in, but unfortunately for me, mine is a mess. Missouri lost so early. Then Duke, but I should have expected that. (I say this good-Tarheel-heartedly) And then my Heels. Oh, that was a sad one.

M has started letting me put her hair in a pony tail. Sometimes. She lets her sitter put it up all the time, but that's a whole other topic.

She looks so grown-up, doesn't she? We've also started potty training, so any happy potty thoughts you'd like to send our way would be much appreciated.

We have new wallpaper in our pink bathroom:

I love it. Before & after pictures to come once I get everything squared away in there!

I've entered a few challenges at Minted, one if which has voting going on now, ending tomorrow actually. If you're up for it, click over and vote for my design Stock the Bag:

It was inspired by the all important diaper bag, and features illustrations of baby essentials. I thought it would be a great theme for a first time mom who has no clue what goes in the diaper bag, as well as for moms going back into the world of babyhood.

I've also been working with Laura Negri Photography on new baby designs. Working with Laura's photographs is one of my favorite things. She has a true talent for capturing little faces, and if you are in the Atlanta area, I highly recommend booking a session with her.

Check out the full catalog!

And possibly the biggest news around here is the release of Ben's book! It was a true labor of love, and I couldn't be prouder of him.

You can find it on Amazon right here if you're so inclined.

We're having a little celebration in a few weeks in true 1910s fashion as an ode to the man's life. I'm going to try my hand at this amazing looking chocolate orange bundt cake. For his next book, I'm going to try to get him to focus on the 50s -- hello, Madmen-themed bash!

That's all for now, but if you're curious about what's inspiring me daily, come follow me on Pinterest:

It's loads of fun.

Until next time -- peace, friends.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Funny Valentine

The other day, I was emptying papers out of Spencer's backpack, and I came across this:

and thought, "My sweet angel, he's already made me a Valentine Card." Then I tried to decipher the picture on the inside:

My first thought was that he'd drawn a picture of how I give him back & foot rubs before bed, which is truly one of the highlights of his day. I couldn't wait to confirm my suspicions when he got home. Here's how the conversation went:

ME: "I found this in your backpack -- thank you!! You are so sweet to make this for me. Tell me about the picture."

S, pointing to the left side: "That's you watching TV."

And now pointing to the right: "And that's you laying in bed reading a book."

Now in my head I'm thinking, OH NO!! Is that what he thinks I do all day?? Watch TV and lay in bed reading?? My child thinks I'm a bum! And what did his teacher think when she saw this?? She's must think I'm such a slacker! And what are those black boxes under the bed??? We look like the next episode of hoarders!

I tried not to let any of this show on my face and investigated further:

ME: "Hmmm, tell me why you put those two things on the card?"

S: "Because I thought you really liked it when you got to relax."

So sincere and so thoughtful. And true. I really do like it when I have the chance to sit in bed and read a book. Or watch some TV. In his sweet little mind, he was drawing two things that he thought made me happy, not thinking at all "My mom is such a bum!" I love the way this card speaks to the person he is becoming, thinking about other people and what they like, not just what they do for him. But it still does make me laugh every time I look at it -- there's old mom just lazin' it up! And the black boxes under the bed? Ben's guitars. Their cases really are under our bed, but hopefully that's not a hoarding tendency!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, January 27, 2012

He's Six

It was 6 years ago today that our baby boy came into the world. It's been the case in our family that each of our kids' labors have been true to their personalities. Spencer was born on a Friday, but my labor had started on the Tuesday before. I had intense contractions for two hours and then they just stopped. That Friday, we ate a big pancake breakfast [I know, not the smartest thing to eat before you give birth!] at Avalon Diner in Houston, TX and headed over to the my doctor's office to see what was going on. Turns out I was already dilated 6 inches and since it was my 2nd, the doctor was concerned about sending me back out into the world for the weekend. Thankfully while I was there, I had some strong contractions and was sent to delivery. I can remember saying to the nurse "Maybe this one is going to be my easy-going one, a stop and smell the roses kind of guy." Both of which couldn't be more true about the perfect little man that was born that day.

He's never in much of a hurry -- always on "Spencie-time" -- and doesn't get his feathers ruffled too often. He can find contentment in just being. He could snuggle for hours, happy just to be with you in that moment. He has a passion for art, and has started telling people "I'm going to be a designer like my mom." I almost start crying every time he says it, too. It is an absolute joy to be his mother.

[PHOTO: Laura Negri Photography]

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Atlanta // Westside Provisions District

I'm still playing catch-up with holiday travel photos! One of my favorite places to shop & dine while we are in Atlanta is the Westside Provisions District. There are several options for creative, delicious food, and no shortage of unique shops.

My favorite spot to eat is JCT Kitchen [don't miss the lemon drops dispenser on the way out the door!] and my favorite shop is Seed Factory. I had lots of fun in the Jonathan Adler, too, though!

[PS: Laura took our family pictures here two summers ago]

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

b.wise papers for Minted // Valentines

It's time to start thinking about sending the love! I've got several new Valentine designs at Minted this year. Here's a little sampling:

[Happy Love Day]

[Bold XOXO] There's a complementing stationery set for this design [shown in the banner at the bottom].

Some classroom Valentines for the kiddos:

[Be Mine Classroom Valentine]

[Alien Classroom Valentine]

And don't forget address labels! Minted's signature skinny wrap label is an excellent addition to any envelope:

[Bold XOXO Skinny Wrap Address Label]

Find more designs in my Minted Storefront!

Minted Valentine's Day Gifts

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Kind of Town.

Chicago. Reg and I just got back from a few days there just the two of us. It was glorious. It didn't hurt that we had unseasonably nice weather, but the city itself is pretty unbeatable. This was my first venture to the windy city, and I fell in love with it -- the art, the architecture, the people, the public transportation, the food. Oh my, the food.

We whiled away a few hours at the Art Institute, and walked and walked and walked some more. I miss being in a walking city. There's so much going on! My favorite restaurant of the trip was The Publican [pictured middle row, far left]. I'm still dreaming about their cauliflower gratin. And the brussels sprout salad was surprisingly delicious [I wasn't sure how shredded brussels would taste]. Our server was outstanding and the overall experience was excellent. We also ate at Girl and the Goat, which was also delicious. It had the potential to be my favorite, but the hosting staff there was a bit persnickety. I don't much care for persnickety hostesses. Regardless, our server was fantastic and so was the food. Plus, they get extra credit for that adorable goat [pictured top row, far right].

If you've never been, you must go!
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