Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Meet Jess of Pine & Boon + Giveaway!!

giveaway by Seattle based company Pine & Boon

When Jess Griffith, owner and designer of Pine & Boon, approached us about a giveaway on our blog, we couldn't say yes fast enough! Just our style--minimalist and modern yet completely functional--Pine & Boon is a great pick for gifts (or a little something for yourself).

This week, Jess will be giving away one of her most popular items: the Easy Circle Tote (a $56 value, pictured below) to one lucky reader. Leave your name, email address and comments to be randomly selected as the winner on Monday, August 5th. We loved getting a chance to ask Jess a few questions while she was around as well! Note: This giveaway is now closed to entrants.

When did you launch Pine & Boon? What was your inspiration for starting the company?
I launched the website and blog of Pine & Boon in May of 2013. However, I worked on my designs, concept, and branding for a solid year before that.

I had a great career in the contemporary art gallery world and while I loved my job, I lost my motivation to create in my own studio. Which meant, I was not getting much fulfillment out of managing other peoples passions. I also knew I did not want to just make 'art' in the traditional sense, even though I studied art in college. I wanted to create more utilitarian objects or clothing. So I started dabbling around with leather and happened to find myself a deal on an antique industrial sewing machine. Once I purchased, I dived in head first to this whole business thing. Friends have always loved my style and eye for fashion and art. I felt like I could capitalize on that somehow, while still staying true to myself. I believe surrounding yourself with lovingly made items and artwork is a happy investment.

Tell us a bit about the product you will be giving away.
I do have to say my favorite item to make is the Easy Circle Dot Tote--which is why I included it in this giveaway. I love painting the fabric and seeing how each one turns out. It is also the first bag I made for my line.

What is your favorite item? What is your best seller?
I love the new Ultramarine Suede Dot Tote. I started punching dots into my leather to create a polka dot pattern. The bright blue is such a fun and easy way to brighten up a simple outfit. I tend to have less and less time to think about styling an outfit or even brushing my hair. Grabbing a statement accessory these days is my go to way to look put together. A color like this just makes you happy looking at it! My best seller is the Dot Card Pouch. Sometimes wallets are just too complicated. This is a zipper card pouch for those who enjoy simplicity when they reach for their wallet.

giveaway by Seattle based company Pine & Boon
Image courtesy Moorea Seal via Pine & Boon

Do you have any favorite designers that inspire you? Role models?
My aunt Suzy has always inspired and encouraged me to sell my creations. She has been knitting her sweater and hat designs for ages and selling them at craft fairs in Seattle. She works SO hard to make a living. She also knows how to step back and slow down if she does not like where things are going. She used to sell wholesale to high-end boutiques and attend trade shows. But then she realized they way she was doing business was consuming her family life. Thus, she went back to selling at solely at craft fairs. Now, her best customers are those that do not have a lot of money, but want to put their money towards something local and handmade. I really admire her ability to stick to her guns, no matter how difficult it can be financially and emotionally.

giveaway by Seattle based company Pine & Boon

My husband and I were traveling in Europe for our honeymoon this summer, and I fell in love with Simon Hantaï. Centre Pompidou had an amazing retrospective. At first I did not love his early work, but as I walked through the exhibition I really fell in love his process.

Do you have any new projects in the works? Long term goals?
Yes! Right now I am creating more hand-painted fabric designs for table linens and totes. Long term, I would love to eventually work with my husband to create a line of printed fabrics. He is a painter and I want to use elements of his paintings in our fabric designs that can be used to make linens, pillows, and canvas totes.

What do you do when you're not working on Pine & Boon?
I am probably working on another DIY project. I have made shampoo, soap, leather polish, and lots more. I also have another part-time job as an administrator. Which is great because I get to be around people. While I love working from home, it can feel a little lonely sometimes.

If you could catch a glimpse of any celebrity in a magazine with one of your designs, who would it be?
Diane Keaton! I think she would go for the Leather & Copper Tote. Annie Hall would go for the Dot Card Pouch don't you think? (Editor's note: Yes! Definitely!)

Thank you, Jess from Pine & Boon!

Images courtesy Pine & Boon
{Sponsored Post}

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Goodbye Delicious Food: Andie's Last Meal

Recently, I was diagnosed with some pretty severe allergies. To make a long story short, in fear of boring the pants off of you: I have had dermatographism (aka "skin writing") since I was 11 years old. It's not as bad as it sounds! In short, any touch, scratch, bump, etc., to my skin leaves an itchy welt as the histamines in my skin overreact to the stimulus. However, with antihistamines I'm usually good to go!

Andie's last meal, courtesy of Tulio

For my birthday, I got myself Gwyneth Paltrow's new book, It's All Good, and made a recipe that just happened to be free of most of the allergens I am affected by (I now know). I woke up feeling way better than I ever have before. Hmm...maybe I'm onto something!

The short list after a naturopathic allergy blood panel revealed allergies to: grains, gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, chicken, corn, grape, some nightshades, beef and a host of other weird little tidbits. Yay! I win the high score! Not to worry: I've been told that after some diet healing, I may be able to add some of those things back into my diet (please, let it be wine!) In the meantime, my recipes on the Assemble blog may look a bit different--and ridiculously allergen free.

However, a last treat was in order. The sous chef at Tulio downtown, (4.2 stars!) invited Christian and I to come and sit at the chef's counter and be treated to a delicious "last" meal. It's a rare occasion that we get to go to super nice restaurants, so we jumped at the chance and absolutely loved being Tulio's guests. Here's what I got to partake in for my last meal:

Andie's last meal, courtesy of Tulio
Two glasses of an absolutely heavenly Chianti, Tenuta Santedame, '08. Focaccia and prosciutto with Truffle oil and Bel Paese cheese, and I believe a French Onion soup of some kind--I was too busy shoving spoonfuls into my mouth to remember. Second, a little antipasti plate that I again wasn't listening to. Here's what I think it was: awesome meat, awesome cheese and awesome, salty bread.

Andie's last meal, courtesy of Tulio
Next up (I remember this one, for sure) was a Risotto with morel mushrooms, bone marrow butter and parmesan. Followed by the Sweet Potato Gnocchi with sage butter and mascarpone (I think this was my favorite) with the Panzoti: taleggio, mascarpone, ricotta, corn, padron peppers, leeks, and butter. And yes, I even ate that pepper.

Andie's last meal, courtesy of Tulio
Last, but absolutely not least, we shared the Ribeye (yes, that's HALF of it) with wood oven roasted mushrooms panzanella, sweet onion, rosemary oil and sea salt. Then a quick Lemon sorbet, because I could honestly not fit anything else in.

Oh my, yes that happened. If you're up for some seriously fine dining, I highly recommend checking it out. I'll even come with you, and eat lettuce leaves. Make sure to grab some of that sweet potato gnocchi--I think that was definitely the favorite. However, I think I'm set for quite a while. Thanks, Tulio!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Those Girls: What I Learned at Alt // Part 2 by Emily

(Read Andie's post in Part 1 here)

In some ways, my experience at Alt Summit in San Francisco was very much what I expected: lots of inspiration, lots of business cards/usernames, and lots of goodies! You could tell that everyone was enthusiastic, and I appreciated the community-focused energy that everyone brought to the table.

Like Andie, I found that I was just as worried about representing our business, felt the need to reach further than I could, and was a little drained by the end. A week later I still feel like I'm absorbing the experience! But there are a few stand-out moments that convinced me, yet again, that Andie and I have something very, very special in running Assemble.

andie and emily at alt summit san francisco at acuraPhoto courtesy of Alt Summit and atly

Lessons in Running a Creative Business
Mariam Naficy said that in order to sustain creative energy, we must rely on our conviction and courage. These are things no one else can give us--they come from within. I can be a better business owner/mother/friend if I stick to what I believe is true.

Wendy McNaughton reminded me to "Focus on the work, not the showcase." Social media is a large part of what we do as bloggers and artists sharing our views, but at the core of our business is what we create, not who we show it to. This helps me see that the process of making things and evolving is more important than constantly asking for outside validation.

wendy macnaughton at alt summitPhoto of an overhead drawing by Wendy


Mike McCue insisted that "Passion and drive aren't coachable. The rest is." He was referring to hiring your team. In Assemble's case, the team consists of only Andie and myself. But how lucky are we to have coordinating drive and passion?? If it were a matter of shaking a few more hands or going over the day with Andie, I'd pick my partner every time. And that should never be undervalued.

I went to San Francisco with the inkling that Assemble, as well as my personal life, could benefit from a deeper sense of self-worth. I am amazed that this "inkling" is actually a loud and clear voice saying:

Andie and I ARE the authorities on our own creative paths.
• Assemble represents an avenue for success.
• The journey IS the reward.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Trip to Heath Ceramics and Blue Bottle Coffee

I had never been to San Francisco, but Emily had, so she led me to a veritable heaven of sorts: Heath Ceramics with Blue Bottle Coffee. We had a very small amount of time to explore the city, so we chose Heath, the views from Ghirardelli Square and In 'N' Out Burger (a favorite from my LA days).

Of course I've known (and loved!) Heath Ceramics for ages, but being in the space was something quite different. So many modern, clean lines. It makes me want to have five kitchens. I walked away with a lovely, large Sand mug and a Terra Cotta Succulents Cushion cover. Enjoy the photos--and see many more from our trip on our Instagram!

blue bottle cafe and heath ceramics
blue bottle cafe and heath ceramics
blue bottle cafe and heath ceramics
blue bottle cafe and heath ceramics
blue bottle cafe and heath ceramics
blue bottle cafe and heath ceramics
blue bottle cafe and heath ceramics
blue bottle cafe and heath ceramics
blue bottle cafe and heath ceramics
blue bottle cafe and heath ceramics
blue bottle cafe and heath ceramics
blue bottle cafe and heath ceramics
blue bottle cafe and heath ceramics
blue bottle cafe and heath ceramics
Heath Mascot, Carlo the Newf

blue bottle cafe and heath ceramics
blue bottle cafe and heath ceramics

Images taken on a teeny, tiny iPhone 4S.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Those Girls: What I Learned at Alt // Part 1 by Andie

Altitude Summit in San Francisco was a whirlwind for lack of a better word. Being thrown headfirst into a pile of extremely creative, smart and driven women (and a few men) can be daunting to anyone, but as a wholehearted introvert, I have to say that it was a tough one, until I had a bit of an epiphany.

alt summit pinterest party

We heard from some amazing speakers, including Mariam Naficy, the founder and CEO of Minted, who delivered the Opening Keynote on sustaining yourself while managing a creative business. Above everything else that she shared with us, I held to one specific quote. On conviction, for better or worse: "An entrepreneur does not care what other people think." This was the first seed that was planted in my mind during our San Francisco stay. Here was this brilliant woman, explaining to a room full of "networkers" about how to not care about networking. Seed successfully planted.

My next experience with the same thoughts were in the Closing Keynote. Mike McCue, founder of Flipboard (and an amazing speaker, by the way) spoke to the group in a variety of startup stories and lessons that he learned in the past. They were all brilliant, and rather than relay them badly to you, I will give you the final point that I took away from his hour-long speech: "Lead with your first principles." When it comes to the principles that Emily and I share, we put a number of things first, before business success and money:
• Our families
• Our business relationships
• Our friendship
Although we could probably have made more money, more connections and gotten more press by being hard and fast with our business rules and focusing more on product and consumption, I think that in the long run--we would lose so much. We are a very small company, and the more we work with larger companies, the more I value other small companies and sole proprietors. I do wonder what is lost in the shift toward bigger and better.

Finally, we ended up at the Pinterest afterparty: Alice in Pinterland. To be quite honest, this could not have been a better analogy for how I felt at the party. It was delightfully decorated, creative and savvy, with unexpected details like tiny tea cookies and inspirational neon signage. I have trouble chatting with people about myself when I first meet them, so I did a lot of listening at this party.

alt summit pinterest party
Emily & I with Ben Silbermann

We were able to meet Ben Silbermann, the founder of Pinterest who is notoriously shy. We were both standing in the corner, nursing our liquid courage and I managed to ask him if he had ever taken the Myers Briggs test (if you haven't taken this, you need to get on it). I am an INFJ (Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Judging) while he is an INTP (Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Perceiver). Here was this guy--a painfully shy introvert--who created one of the most brilliant and successful social media and design sites in the world.

And then, it hit me. All seeds at once:
• Entrepreneurs do not care what other people think.
• Lead with your first principles.
• Being who you are leads to greatness.

alt summit pinterest party

This party was fabulous, but I have to admit that I absolutely felt like Alice. I was in a flashy, dream-like world where everyone seemed to know what was going on except for me. I am an introvert, and although it is important to leave that comfort zone at times to further experiences and learning, molding myself into a sociable networker is just not my bag. Abandoning how you work the best kills inspiration.

Don't get me wrong, it was a fabulous learning experience--but what I learned most is what we've been talking about this entire time in the Those Girls posts. I guess I just wasn't listening hard enough to myself! You follow your own creative path by following your own creative path. I am most creative in my little condo, overlooking Queen Anne with Bach on the record player. I write, create and work the best when I focus less on the fantastic things that others are doing around me. So thank you, Alt Summit. You were absolutely grand, but I might not be back for a while.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

We're at Altitude Summit!

For the next few days. See ya next week!

Friday, July 12, 2013

THIS WEEKEND: Urban Craft Uprising

It's here! We will be debuting our brand new stamp sets at the Urban Craft Uprising, this weekend! Be sure to come out and see us. And don't worry, if you already have one coming to you for Kickstarter, those will be going out at the end of next week along with a pack of other fun goodies. Get the details for UCU here.

Image via UCU

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Blogging Break for UCU

We're taking a tiny, little blogging break this week to focus on our products for the upcoming Urban Craft Uprising, which is THIS weekend. Come meet us there and see all of our new goodies. It's only a $1 donation, and there are oodles of awesome vendors and designers there to see. This weekend, Saturday and Sunday at the Seattle Center. Be there!! In the meantime, here's a sneak peek of what we've been working on:

rubber stamp sets assemble
rubber stamp sets assemble
rubber stamp sets assemble
rubber stamp sets assemble
rubber stamp sets assemble

And if you're waiting on your Kickstarter reward, those are almost ready too! We're going to be getting those in the mail by the end of the month. See you there!!

Photos via our Instagram

Monday, July 8, 2013

Shabby Apple Giveaway Winner!

Using a Random Line picker, we have chosen a winner for the Shabby Apple Dress Giveaway! We'll be in touch with MelancholySmile sometime today. Thanks so much for entering! And keep watch--we'll be giving away one of our new rubber stamp sets just as soon as they debut! Thanks, Shabby Apple!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fourth of July Surprise! Shabby Apple Giveaway

We are really excited to announce a brand new giveaway on our blog this morning! Shabby Apple is gifting a Heart of Me dress from the Flower Shop Collection, courtesy of Assemble to one lucky reader! Shabby Apple is one of our favorite companies (we've ordered from them several times) Their dresses, skirts and swimsuits are a must-see: a nod to vintage clothing of the past, with an adorable modern twist. And not to fear--this isn't a sponsored post! We just really like them!!

the flower shop heart of me dress giveaway from shabby apple
the flower shop heart of me dress giveaway from shabby apple

Plus, they are a mindful and compassionate company, helping to aid women world-wide. "We at Shabby Apple love to help women dress but are also committed to helping women live as well. Thus we are supporting the fight against global poverty by partnering with Accion--a non-profit organization with the mission of giving people the financial tools they need to work their way out of poverty. Shabby Apple donates 5% of its net income to support work with 62 micro-finance institutions in 31 countries throughout the world."

We love it! Leave a comment below with your email address to be considered for the giveaway! We will announce the winner on Monday, July 8th. Get excited!

Please note: Giveaway open to individuals that are 18 and over, that are residents of the United States. No replacements or refunds. THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

Photos courtesy of Shabby Apple

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Bing Day!

Yesterday, we survived the heat quite splendidly in Molly of Vivi Dot's adorable little house, working on our goodies for Alt Summit by Bing. It was such a fun collaboration! Assemble with Vividot for Bing for Alt Summit--certainly a run-on sentence, but will be delightful nonetheless.

All of you who are going to Alt Summit San Francisco--look forward to these goodies! Trade them like you traded Pogs in the third grade. #thanksBing Thanks, Vivi Dot! And special thanks to sweet Christian Powers for helping us out. See below for some quick snaps of our day:

vividot and assemble for bing for alt summit
vividot and assemble for bing for alt summit
vividot and assemble for bing for alt summit
vividot and assemble for bing for alt summit
vividot and assemble for bing for alt summit

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Weekly Chop for Quick & Easy, Healthy Meals

Do you guys have weekly routines that help you stay on top of household chores, cooking, etc? I do, and I like to call it my "weekly chop." I'm one of those people that gets ravenously hungry at a moment's notice--and that's not good if you want to stay healthy. I end up grabbing chips or string cheese or a handful of chocolate chips when I'm not prepared. So--I do the chop. Not pictured: chopped mushrooms, shredded lettuce, avocados & cucumbers (if you pre-chop, drizzle with lemon), grape tomatoes, and baby spinach (bagged with lemon wedge for freshness).

The variety of vegetables I chop for the week is forever changing, but I have a few staples that I always get ready for the week: White and red onion, a variety of colors of sweet peppers, and smashed/cooked carrots to add to Grady's dog food. Chopping onions is not a favorite activity of mine because I have sensitive eyes, so I like to chop them all at once and be done with it. I get a mini fan, point it at my cutting board and have at it! Veggie wonderfulness for an entire week! They live in our refrigerator in tupperware cases with washi tape labels.

Here are a few of my favorite super easy recipes that you can grab a bunch of pre-chopped veggies and eat quickly (and one to make for your furry friend):

• Scrambled eggs with peppers, baby spinach and fat-free feta (add mushrooms too for a scrambled version of my favorite omelette).
Easy peasy quickie guacamole recipe with red onion.
• Sautéed white onion with meat and veggies of your choice with olive oil and sea salt.
• A bright salad with romaine lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, grape tomatoes, red onion, sweet peppers and tart dried cherries, with a bit of Michelle's homemade vinaigrette dressing.
• Black bean tacos with onions, red peppers, tomatoes and greek yogurt.
• And for the pups with sensitive tummies or food allergies! Smashed carrots with canned rabbit, eggshell calcium and brown rice. (Talk to your vet first, though!)

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