Friday, March 29, 2013

A Brand New Side Project: Freelance Writing + Business + Brand Consultation

Okay, so I know we usually promote other amazing business ladies and creative teams on Fridays, but I feel the need to (quietly) toot my own horn on this one. After many years freelancing, and just kind of "hearing" about jobs and writing here and there (you may already know I'm an Apartment Therapy contributor), I finally made a website to promote my work. So, I present to you, my brand new site:

freelance business and brand consultant and writer andie powers

I'm excited about moving forward with freelance writing and brand consulting--don't worry, Assemble is still first and foremost in my heart--but it will give me a chance to help other creative businesses with their branding and business planning. Speaking of, I'm going to be teaching an online class on Skillshare, sponsored by Go Mighty, starting on May 1st. I hope you'll join me if you are looking for a good, positive environment in which to receive a loving kick in the pants to start up that business you've been wanting! One student will win a free business consultation and plan review from me!

Keep watch here and on for more info, coming soon. Oh, and ps., I also have a new personal twitter, where I will be mostly talking about things like how much cake I ate that day, new classes I'm teaching and articles I write about television. Please follow me at @andiegwpowers. Love you guys!

skillshare and go mighty class build your own business

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Kickstarter: Kickstarted -- Assemble Rubber Stamping Kits

Oh man. We are excited. We just started a Kickstarter to make brand new Assemble Rubber Stamping Kits, out of our signature crafty and lifestyle images. See below:

assemble crafting rubber stamps images

PLUS a bonus Limited Edition Polar Bear stamp for backing $45 and up! Are you ready for this?

(Artwork by Karl Addison. Not actual size--hee!)

So, the way Kickstarter works is when a person backs your project, they choose their corresponding reward. Once the project is finished (in this case 30 days), if the project is fully funded, then each person gets their chosen reward. If not--and here's the very sad part--we get nothing. The project goes unfunded. So, we are asking all of you to spread the word, even if you can't help to fund the project. (We know how that is). We would LOVE to have these new, redesigned kits in your hands as soon as possible, so let's get [kick]started! So watch our video (below), and check out our Kickstarter page. We love you all! Thank you!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Take Notes: "Blog with Purpose" by Melanie Biehle

A quick note about an awesome lady, that you met back in November of 2012. Melanie Biehle of Inward Facing Girl and Genuine Mix is definitely a favorite friend, and recently, she published her first ebook, entitled Blog with Purpose: It Takes More Than Top Knots. The title just cracks me up, it has "Those Girls" written all over it.

I still manage to learn something new every time I see Melanie, and her e-book is full of valuable information for anyone who is a blogger, wants to be a blogger, knows a blogger, or really has ever read a blog. I would absolutely pick up a copy, I mean, hey--it costs less than two lattes and a donut (can you tell I'm in the mood for coffees and donuts?) Not quite so much about the mechanics of setting up a website or designing the perfect logo, this e-book focuses more on creating unique and valuable content that relates directly to your own readers, plus it has worksheets! Who doesn't love a worksheet?? Well done, Melanie!

Book cover image via Genuine Mix

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Those Girls: Taking Time

In our Instagram feed this morning, I saw the most lovely quote, posted by Flow Magazine. "The only way to have time is to take time." -Bertha Eckstein-Diener

flow magazine instagram
Photo from Flow Magazine's Instagram

What a wonderful quote. It's incredibly true as well. I always hear others (and even myself) saying "I'm sorry, I don't have the time to do that," or "I don't have time, I'm too busy." we not have the time? We choose to do other things instead of the thing we are turning down, because let's face it, if it's something we truly care about, we TAKE time. It seems as if there are so many people doing it all: a family, a career, amazing cooking, great clothes. What are they doing differently, you might wonder? The only difference is the fact that they have taken time to make those things a priority, perhaps neglecting others.

My plans for taking time:
• Organizing my house. It needs to be a priority.
• Running. It always makes me feel great.
• Answering emails. Yep.
• Reading more books. Work can wait.

What do you need to take time for?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Craft + Chat + Pop-Up Shop with Trophy Cupcakes & Seattle Bloggers Unite!

We had the best time at our Seattle Bloggers Craft + Chat last week! Crochet, business-chat, new friends, champagne + cupcakes: what could be better?? We met some awesome new ladies, with incredible stories of their own and were able to stretch our online legs for the first time. It's tough to not have a storefront to meet our customers and friends in every day, so this was just what we needed to feel at home. Thank you SO much for everyone who attended, and hopefully, we'll do another one really soon! Also, many thanks to Lyndsey of The Stationery Place and (our favorite sweet spot) Trophy Cupcakes for hosting the entire event. Check out some photos of our lovely time, and be sure to sign up next time if you weren't able to make it! (And ladies, if you have any trouble with your kits, be sure to visit our Vimeo page for video help!)

assemble shop crochet seattle bloggers meetup with pop-up shop craft + chat
assemble shop crochet seattle bloggers meetup with pop-up shop craft + chat
assemble shop crochet seattle bloggers meetup with pop-up shop craft + chat
assemble shop crochet seattle bloggers meetup with pop-up shop craft + chat
assemble shop crochet seattle bloggers meetup with pop-up shop craft + chat
assemble shop crochet seattle bloggers meetup with pop-up shop craft + chat
assemble shop crochet seattle bloggers meetup with pop-up shop craft + chat
assemble shop crochet seattle bloggers meetup with pop-up shop craft + chat
assemble shop crochet seattle bloggers meetup with pop-up shop craft + chat
assemble shop crochet seattle bloggers meetup with pop-up shop craft + chat

Friday, March 22, 2013

Dyeing Easter Eggs Naturally with Onion Skins

naturally dyed easter eggs with onion skins

It has been a VERY long time since I've dyed Easter eggs. Probably about fifteen years. However, I have always loved the look of the blood-red Easter eggs that are traditional in the Greek culture. I know they use special dyes for their eggs, but I had heard about an interesting method for using yellow onion skins that I thought would be easy to try. They didn't come out as red as the dye would have made them, more of a dark reddish-brown, but I'm still impressed with the outcome. Check out the process below, plus an awesome tip involving pantyhose to make natural imprints on the shells.

• Yellow onion skins (skins from about 10-15 onions, depending on how many eggs you are making)
• White cage-free, organic eggs
• a few dashes of salt (to prevent shell breakage)
• 1 tablespoon of vinegar (to prevent egg seepage)
• regular old pantyhose
• some flora of your choice--make sure none of it is poisonous. (I used cherry blossoms and ferns).

naturally dyed easter eggs with onion skins

Cut about four inch sections of the pantyhose (enough to wrap around an egg and make a knot).

naturally dyed easter eggs with onion skins

Place whatever you would like to imprint (in my case, a mini fern) over the egg to your liking.

naturally dyed easter eggs with onion skins

Gently wrap the pantyhose over the fern and pull tight to keep it in place and allow dye to soak through. Tie a secure knot in the back.

naturally dyed easter eggs with onion skins

After you are finished positioning your imprints of all of your eggs, place them in a stew pot on top of the onion skins. I left a few uncovered to be able to see the color change accurately, as well as to have some simple ones. Fill the pot with water just enough to cover the eggs, and place the burner on high.

naturally dyed easter eggs with onion skins
naturally dyed easter eggs with onion skins

After the water reaches a rapid boil, decrease the heat to medium and boil for about 12-15 minutes. Check the color at 12 minutes and if it is to your liking, remove the eggs and place them in a colander. Turn cool water on over them and gently remove the pantyhose.

naturally dyed easter eggs with onion skins

You're done! Happy Easter!

naturally dyed easter eggs with onion skins

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Brand New Three Bad Seeds Plushies In-Shop!

three bad seeds plushies fox tooth skunk peaks boston terrier and hedgehog

We have a brand new shipment of adorable plushies by Three Bad Seeds in stock. If you're lucky enough to have grabbed a ticket to our Craft + Chat, we'll be bringing them in today! We can't wait to see you all, it's going to be a blast!

Also--don't forget, we're still having our March is Crafting Month sale on all of our kits! Use coupon code, CRAFTMONTH for 20% off through March. Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Emily's Fashion Tips for the New (and On-the-Go) Mom

fashion tips for on the go and new moms

Constantly dealing with baby spit up and playing in the wet sandbox with a toddler prevents me from being too creative with my wardrobe. But that doesn't mean moms should be confined to a life of oversized hoodies and leggings. New moms should be able to feel cute enough to go out for coffee without much fuss, and still be comfortable enough to play at the park. So how do we juggle the need to be accessible to our kids and still feel like hip mamas? Here are a few common conundrums and my tips for getting by:

1, 4. Always running around? Ditch the bulky diaper bag. Especially now with two kiddos, I need both hands available and I run in and out of the house several times before getting on the road. Go for versatile slip on sneakers and a cute backpack. I opt for the Foldsack No. 1 and these comfortable Bensimon Tennis Shoes. Hey--check it out! Assemble colors!

2, 6 + 7. No time to shower? Use dry shampoo, a pretty scarf (this one's from the always subtly chic J. Crew), and some NARS lip gloss. I just discovered dry shampoo last year, and it's a miracle! And, the NARS makeup can be used as blush or eye shadow!

3. In-between sizes? Instead of black leggings, which are an easy habit to fall into while losing your baby weight, find high-waisted jeans with a little stretch. These high-risers from Madewell are my go-to pair.

5. I'm late already?! Get a watch - time moves faster with wee ones. Try to find an easily wipe-able band. I like this one from Breo.

8. Breastfeeding. I despise those wrap-style jersey nursing tops. Opt for button-downs (for easy access, yet full coverage) and choose a pattern, like this adorable one from the GAP, since they help hide messes.

Images as linked above.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Treats: Cooking Up Something Swell

We are busy little bees this week, cooking up something extra special that starts with a "KICK" and ends with a "STARTER!" We are so jazzed about this, but we can't tell the details yet! We'll most likely make a sweet announcement on Wednesday! However, we couldn't resist taking a few snapshots of what we're working on. Yipee!!

rubber stamping kickstarter

Friday, March 15, 2013

Those Girls: Smart Girls at the Party with Amy Poehler

I would be hard-pressed to find someone on this planet that I adore more than Amy Poehler. She's funny, she's adorable, and I just recently found out that she's doing amazing things for young girls. Amy Poehler has an awesome YouTube channel just for girls called Smart Girls at the Party, where she interviews fabulous young women who are doing great things in their community, gives advice in the Ask Amy section, and launches local campaigns to make our communities brighter.

amy poehler smart girls at the party snl favorite friends those girls
Photo via Universal Pictures

In her own words, Poehler explains Smart Girls at the Party as "celebrat[ing] extraordinary individuals who are changing the world by being themselves." Below are my two favorite videos for you to check out. The first is an interview with a 7 year old about feminism (watch the dance party at the end for some famous faces!) and the second is part of the Ask Amy series, addressing negativity. (A perfect addition to our Those Girls series.) Enjoy, and pass it along to anyone who has a daughter!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Brand New Handmade Pin Cushions in Shop!

We made these little guys this week for fun! Aren't they cute?? Grab one for $8 in our shop's "What's New" section!

Also, have you grabbed your ticket for the CRAFT + CHAT yet? A little secret, we've just decided: an Assemble Pop-Up Shop during the meetup! You'll have to have a ticket to enter the event (one or the other) but we'll have a bit of time during to check out some goodies from our shop including our other kits, plushies by Three Bad Seeds, Tako Fibers crewel embroidery kits, and other sweet surprises! See you there!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Emily's Tips: Five Things You Can Do For a Second-Time Mom

I'm two months (to the day!) into life with two kids, and wow! Things sure are very different the second time around. I appreciate helpful gestures now more than ever. Here are a few things my friends and neighbors have been doing that makes my life more manageable that you might be able to use for your friends who have a second (or third) babe in the house.

Photos via our Instagram

1. Help around the house! The first time around, I didn't really want too much domestic help. I wanted to figure out my little bundle and how to juggle being a mom. I was also embarrassed of my stack of dirty dishes and unswept floor, so I didn't want anyone thinking I couldn't do it. This time--please, PLEASE come grab a kid, do the dishes, vacuum, make the more shame, just desperation.

2. Tell her she's doing a great job/looks great. Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies! I know things are frazzled around here, so please ignore that I'm still wearing my husband's sweatpants for the third day in a row.

3. If you go to the store and live nearby, ask if you can pick something up. With one kiddo, getting out of the house was a nice treat. I enjoyed getting coffee, or running lots of errands. But with two, the thought of shopping is unbearable, yet I always could use something random.

4. Bring food. We've gotten so many wonderful goodies from the neighbors. We've received the following, which have all been saving graces: A frozen meal--nice to be able to save it for later. A hot homemade meal--perfect to have delivered piping hot right before dinner. A bag of healthy snacks--non-perishables like chips, salsa, soup, left at the front door. A take-out dinner delivered--give us the menu, you order and deliver! We've loved it all.

5. Keep checking in. Sending notes, emails and texts makes me happy, but it can be impossible to respond quickly, or sometimes at all. I need connections to the real world, so please know that I'm here and still appreciate those shout outs.

Got any suggestions of your own? What saved your life when you had a little one?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Crafty Project: Ombre or Chalkboard Wooden Paperweights

I found these doorknobs when I was looking around a craft shop and had to find something to do with them. Something this perfectly round and wooden can't just be a doorknob. So I took them home, stared at them for a while, and came up with an idea: paperweights. Ombre or chalkboard--take your pick.

making chalkboard and ombre wooden paper weights

For either project, you will need:
• Wax paper or butcher paper to paint on (to protect your table)
• Wooden doorknobs
• Washi or painter's tape
• Matches or toothpicks
• Painting sponge brushes or paint brushes

For ombre paperweights, you will need:
• One bottle of colored acrylic paint (I used Seafoam)
• One bottle of white acrylic paint

For chalkboard paperweights, you will need:
• Chalkboard paint (I used Rust-oleum Latex)
• One bottle of colored acrylic paint (I used Metallic Gold)

making chalkboard and ombre wooden paper weights

making chalkboard and ombre wooden paper weights

To start, coat each doorknob with the initial color. For ombre, that would be the darkest color (i.e. straight out of the bottle). For the chalkboard paperweight, in this case would be gold. Put several coats of the paint--drying to the touch between coats--until you can no longer see the wood. Use the matches or toothpicks inside the hole on the bottom to balance to knob and therefore, cover the entire knob with paint.

making chalkboard and ombre wooden paper weights

making chalkboard and ombre wooden paper weights

After the coats are perfectly dry, place your washi tape or painter's tape around the entire knob in order to paint your second color. You can choose how big or small you want your stripes to be.

making chalkboard and ombre wooden paper weights

Gradually add white to the color until you have a definitively lighter shade. Paint the entire knob above the Washi tape with as many coats as needed to cover. Allow for drying, repeat (with new Washi tape each time), all the way to the top with lighter and lighter shades as you go.

making chalkboard and ombre wooden paper weights

After you are completely finished with your stripes, all the way to the top of the knob, allow to dry for about 30 minutes to ensure that each color has set. Next, take a clean sponge brush or paint brush, dip in water and coat the entire knob. Relatively forcefully, make brush strokes up and down the knob with water so that the colors begin to bleed into one another. Do this until you are satisfied, then dry with a paper towel. Voila! Ombre!

making chalkboard and ombre wooden paper weights

The chalkboard paperweights are a bit easier. After covering the knob with your bottom color (gold), allow to dry, then tape off the knob with Washi or painter's tape.

making chalkboard and ombre wooden paper weights

making chalkboard and ombre wooden paper weights

Cover the remaining portion of the knob in several coats of chalkboard paint. Allow to dry.
Peel the tape off slowly to ensure that the line is straight and neat.

making chalkboard and ombre wooden paper weights

You're done! After the knob is dry, grab some chalk and write away! You can erase with an eraser or a bit of water for a cleaner look.

making chalkboard and ombre wooden paper weights

Monday, March 11, 2013

Four of Our Favorite Blogs You Should Be Reading

I have to admit--I'm not the most avid blog reader. It's not that I don't LOVE them, but running this little business takes a lot of time and energy, plus add in the necessary quality time with certain chihuahuas, husbands and books, and my day is spent! However, there are a few that I make it a point to read every single day. See below for our recommendations:

1. A Blog Named Scout: This lifestyle blog by stylist and creative extraordinaire, Jenn Blake, is a treat for the eyes. If you're in the mood for gorgeous photos, intelligent design and thoughtful posts, definitely check this one out. As an avid traveler, Jenn takes you on adventures from Greece to Australia, and back again to Seattle, where she shows her readers how to find beauty in the simplest objects.

2. Inward Facing Girl: Another Seattelite, this blog is a delight to your entrepreneurial senses. Full of brilliant small-business and blogger tips (she just published a great e-book called Blog With Purpose: It Takes More Than Just Top Knots in conjunction with her consulting company, Genuine Mix), art she "hearts," and other intriguing delights, plus fun quips by her toddler son, in the great series, "Nathaniel Said."

3. Elephantine: Elephantine, curated and written by Rachel Ball, is like a breath of crisp, fresh air. A lovely hodgepodge of fashion, recipes, jewelry and fiction, this blog reads like a delicate magazine published for creatives. See the feature Rachel wrote about us here.

4. I Art U: Last, but certainly not least, I Art U is a Los Angeles-based blog by lifestyle photographer, Jennifer Young. The photos arranged on this blog most assuredly take the visual cake, and we're in love with the tiny worlds she creates in the most beautiful of places. She even took a few shots of our Greenwood space, a post that we will always treasure. Look, there's Julianna Swaney's work on the walls!

Images via Jenn Blake by Michael Newstead, Melanie Biehle by Sandra Harris, Rachel Ball, and Jennifer Young by Ben Blood.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Favorite Friend Friday: Julianna Swaney

We have been huge fans of Portland-based artist, Julianna Swaney for years, and were thrilled to have her work in our shop. There were several months that we couldn't even keep her watercolor, gouache and pen illustrations in stock. Elegant and delicate, her work is reminiscent of an eerie Red Riding Hood tale. Her products, sold under the name, "Oh My Cavalier," range from postcard sets to fun office accessories, prints and booklets.

This month, we're kicking off a brand new aspect of our Favorite Friend Features! Each week, our favorite friend will be curating a Pinterest Board for us: a sneak peek into their world. Visit Julianna's Guest Pinterest board, and follow her as well!

an interview with julianna swaney of oh my cavalier designer illustrator artist

People love your illustrations--Assemble couldn't keep enough of your prints in stock! Your work is so recognizable, yet each piece has so much personality. Where does your inspiration come from?
Oh gosh, I get inspiration from so many things! Of course a lot comes from remembering back to the fairy tales I loved growing up. I try to remember how they made me feel back then, and then try to make artwork that has that same feeling for me. More generally I just try to make things that I like, drawings that if I hadn’t made it myself and I saw it somewhere it would make me happy. I like old things, I like animals, I like houseplants, I like rainy days, I like stars & constellations, I like bread. All these things end up making their way into my drawings!

an interview with julianna swaney of oh my cavalier designer illustrator artist

You recently started creating logo/type illustrations for clients. (We ADORE it!) How did that work evolve?
Thanks! I think this new direction came about because I started including more hand drawn text in some of my artwork, and people really seemed to like it. I got a request from Sharon Montrose to do the hand-written text for her book, Menagerie, and after that I’ve been slowly getting more and more requests from people who want a hand drawn look for their logos. It’s really fun work and I’m enjoying it a lot, though sometimes I feel out of my depth. I had half a semester of graphic design in college, and I was soo bad at it, I switched right away to fine art printmaking! Everything I know how to do with a pen, Photoshop, or Illustrator I’ve taught myself so each new project is a bit of a learning process. I’m also trying to learn to stop apologizing about that. My path has just been a little different.

an interview with julianna swaney of oh my cavalier designer illustrator artist

You've been shifting your presence from "Oh my Cavalier" to "Julianna Swaney." Tell us about your decision to highlight your name more than your original blog title.
Well, my online and business presence has been linked with the name Oh My Cavalier ever since I started my Etsy Store way back in ’06. I just picked that because in college I had a zine by that name, and I liked it. When I picked that I never intended for people to solely know my work only from that name, but that was what ended up happening. I’d come across blogs where my artwork was credited to “Oh My Cavalier” like it was made by a company or something. I didn’t like that, I’d rather have my artwork associated with my real name, for obvious reasons. It’s been hard to know where to begin to change it though since over the years whenever I picked a username for any website to keep consistent I always chose Oh My Cavalier. It’s been a slow process of changing things over slowly and promoting myself more carefully. I think I’m finally making headway now.

an interview with julianna swaney of oh my cavalier designer illustrator artist

You seem to do it all -- original art shows, prints, stationery, an online shop, a gorgeous blog. What's next?
Actually my ultimate plan is to do less things! Lately I’ve been wanting to really focus on one of the things that I do, and to do it better. But that would mean not doing the others, which is a little scary. And I have a hard time picking which one thing I want to do!

If you could eat at only one local restaurant, which would it be? What would you order?
I love breakfast, so my favorite restaurant in Portland is probably Broder. I would order a baked scramble. They come in these adorable little skillets and served on a wooden tray, it’s all so nice, I could eat there every day.

Which famous person would you love to see own a piece of your artwork?
I have no idea! I can tell you at least one pretty famous person does own some of my artwork. (Editor's note: WHICH ONE?? Don't hold out on us, Julianna)

an interview with julianna swaney of oh my cavalier designer illustrator artist

If you could live in any other location, where would you choose?
In my wildest dream, somewhere in Europe or Japan.

What else do you do for fun?
I like to bake things, read, or go for walks in my free time.

Thank you, Julianna! See more of Julianna's work here, and click below to view Julianna's Guest Board.

Images courtesy of Julianna Swaney
Blogging tips