It's been almost a year in our new apartment and I still get excited every time I think how close we are now to the sea. In summer we loved taking walks along the seaside, look at boats and seagulls. But for the last couple of months it has been so cold and windy that we didn't feel like taking walks at all, let alone going anywhere near the sea.
It has been getting warmer lately and we've been enjoying lots of sunshine and I've been itching to go walk along the seaside again. Even though it started snowing today and it looks like winter all over again I couldn't help myself but take a walk along the coast on my way to work. It looks completely different now than it did in the summer. The boats are tucked in to rest till the start of the season, there are no birds screaming, the wooden decks and cafe terraces are empty. The whole place is so quiet and peaceful! And the snow falling slowly (I was lucky it wasn't a windy day!) added to this amazing atmosphere.
Now I can't wait to walk to the beach before it gets warmer! It must look amazing with all the snow and no people around.
A few weeks ago I shared photos of some pages from my sketchbook here on the blog and on my instagram. You guys were so supportive that I decided to start sharing these peeks into my process more regularly.
Above are some more patterns I sketched. I love sketching patterns they are so meditative! When I don't have any ideas I just start to draw the same simple shape over and over again and my mind wanders at the same time. Oftentimes I get some new ideas in the process.
Below are some kitchen themed illustrations I am preparing for an exciting project which I can't wait to share with you, but it is on a very early stage now, so it is still going to take some time. Promise to keep you updated though! On the bottom photo there are some random shapes as well as some ancient signs and hieroglyphics I've been really into lately. Really hoping something fun is going to come out of those.
I am so excited to announce that I finally have my very own internet home! From now on in addition to my Etsy shop you can also find my products on my own website. I included larger images of my work and added some additional information about each collection. I am especially excited for my brand new e-mail list. If you would like to be the first to receive e-mail updates about new products and special offers (some of which will be available only to subscribers) go to the website and enter your e-mail on the bottom of the page. I'd love to see you among my subscribers!
You might have also noticed that I changed my business name to just my name. I have realized that I am much more comfortable with identifying myself as an independent designer rather than a company. I'd like people to know from the name of my business that there is one little lady behind it doing it all by herself. I also felt that I do not want to limit my business to stationery, I might want to add other products in the future and I want them all to fit under my brand. I decided to keep the name of the blog though, cause I still feel it is a cute name :)
Let me know what you think of the new site in the comments! I'd love to hear your thoughts. And if there's anything unclear or if you notice anything that is not working, I'd appreciate if you let me know!
Labels: shop update
Happy beginning of spring! Here in Helsinki it feels more like fall, but I'm still happy we're getting closer to summer and away from the cold and darkness. It's the beginning of the new month which means it's time for a new smoothie recipe. But first I'll tell you a story where this recipe came from.
Last month I travelled to Tartu, Estonia for a long weekend. I spent two days it Tallinn: one on my way there and another on my way back. I was really looking forward to spending time in Tallinn and especially trying out the new vegan restaurant I heard so many good things about. The food there was delicious but I especially loved the way they served water. It was just a standard jug of tap water they usually give for free in restaurants in Estonia, but there were slices of lime swimming in it. For some reason I've never tried putting lime in my water, I tried lemon, but it didn't taste so special. Lime water tasted really good! I think I drank five glasses of it. When I visited Tallinn again I ate in another restaurant which served all types of special diet foods, like paleo, gluten free, raw and of course vegan. I loved that place and the food was delicious and when I asked for tap water they also brought me a jug with lime slices in it. So I decided that's how I'm going to drink water at home from now on. So nowadays I make myself lime water from time to time and what I'm left with are slices of lime that's been soaking for several hours. I figured, why don't I put them in my morning green smoothies? And I came up with this recipe. I love the combination of lime and raspberry in this drink, it makes it slightly bitter and slightly sweet at the same time. Try it, I promise you, it's delicious. You can make it green or just a regular smoothie if you leave out the greens.
Lime and Raspberry (Green) Smoothie
1-2 cups spinach or kale (optional)
1 cup lime water*
1/2 cup water from canned pineapples or more lime water
1/2 cup plant milk of your choice
1 granny smith apple
1/2 cup pineapple (fresh or canned)
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 cup mango
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!
Alright, to be honest I am just starting with this whole creative business thing so I am no expert. I have no idea where this will take me and what it will look like. But I have dreams, I have hopes and I have goals.
At the moment I am in the middle of a process of seriously taking this to the next level. It feels like once I am over this stage I’m really in it. I’m sounding way too vague right now, am I? I promise, I will share more news very soon. But for now, before I am on the other side of this bunch of serious business steps I wanted to share how this whole thing started.
It all started in the beginning of 2014. I have just graduated and I was in the beginning of a new path. I was scared. I had no idea what was coming next. I was not completely happy with my degree. I have studied to be a media engineer who can do a bit of everything: web development, graphic design, mobile app development, photography, audio and video, layout design, you name it. But if I’m completely honest I’m good at exactly none of this stuff. The only thing I really enjoyed and concentrated on during the last couple of years of my studies was printing. I worked at a printing lab at my university and taught a couple of printing courses. That was a fun job and I got to work with paper products and I fell in love with them. I also got to save some of the paper from going to trash and made my first hand bound notebooks with it. This all ended once I graduated.
I applied for a masters degree in photography at an art and design school of my dreams and did not get in. I was not a photographer, I did not have enough experience to show. I was so tired of studying I did not want to try applying anywhere else.
In February I was lucky to visit Tartu (Estonia) and stay there for a month as an art resident at a printing museum. None of my relatives understood what I was doing there. “Isn’t that for artists?”, they wondered, “Sasha is not an artist, she’s an engineer”. But I could not feel more at home and at peace with myself. Every day I was doing what I love: making beautiful things with my hands, trying new techniques, learning from other creatives, binding books and teaching my skills to others. And unlike in “real life”, that was exactly what was expected from me. I was there to do creative things and share them with others. I had a purpose and it was beautiful. I did not want it to end. I was wishing I could just grab my husband and my cat and travel from one art residency to another for the rest of my life.
I had to go back though. So I got back to the things I was supposed to do. I started looking for a job sending several applications every day and not hearing anything back from a single one of them. I was becoming less motivated and more depressed with each unanswered e-mail. I did not have a perfect job description in mind. I did not know what my purpose in this life was. I was just applying for whatever I thought I might be qualified for.
Then the summer came and we went on tour with my band. After that my sister was visiting me and I took a vacation. I enjoyed life and one of the best summer weeks we had here in Helsinki. We went to the beach almost every day, rode our bicycles around the city, took buss trips to old little towns, swam in the pool.
I forgot about my sad unemployed life for a while until september came and the unemployment lady that took care of my situation suggested I take a job search coaching course. I felt really skeptical about it but I went there anyway. And I am so happy I did! One thing I realized that finding a job was even harder than I thought. I also realized job searching is not one of my strengths. But I loved the support of the group and all the exercises we did together. During two weeks we were constantly helping each other find our strengths and talents and open our minds to possibilities.
Day after day it became more and more clear to me that I wanted to start something of my own. I could not see myself with a great engineering career, but a creative one seemed more and more real. In the beginning of the course I was referring to myself as an engineer and by the end I was telling everyone I was a book binder and a designer. People saw me as a creative person and it gave me confidence. I shared my dreams with the coach and she was very supportive, but suggested I still find a job first, because entrepreneurship is not usually what you start your career with. I knew that. I kept hearing of people quitting their day jobs when their businesses were growing and they could finally afford doing what they loved. But I did not have a day job I could quit. And I would need a lot of time to find one. So I thought I might just use this time to concentrate on my business instead of looking for a job I would be waiting to quit anyway.
And here I am. Really doing this. I am still at the very beginning and still learning, but I feel I am going somewhere, moving forward. A week ago I travelled to Tartu again to print some of my designs that I made last year. It felt so great to be there printing for the whole day and enjoying what I do. These days I finally get to have this feeling of purpose that I felt a year ago for the first time. It took me a whole year to realize where I want to be. It is still a bit scary and I have no idea if it is going to work. But I am so happy I am where I am today!
One thing I have to mention is that I could not have done it without being married to the most wonderful man in the world. He believes in me even when I do not believe in myself. He supports all the financial decisions I take for my business even though he’s the only one with a proper income in our family at the moment. I don’t know how he is doing it, but I am so thankful I have him next to me supporting me through this difficult but exciting time of my life.
And this is my story. I was a little scared of writing it out and sharing it with the world. But I am glad I did. Now I will be able to look back at it and remember how I started. And feel proud for myself that I went through the difficult time, came out on the on the other end and took this important decision.
It's been a while since I posted my last bunch of everyday phone photos. I tend to take more photos when I'm traveling (and I have a feeling I'm not the only one). Last week I traveled to Tartu, where I spent the whole February last year as a resident artist. I've made some of my favorite designs there and learned to use my new favorite tools (linocut) to create them. Once I came back I got all busy with stuff and those linocuts have been gathering dust on my shelf. I decided to come back to Tartu after a year to visit this beautiful little town and try to make something out of my linocuts. I spent one whole day in Tallinn on my way there so here are a few shots of both of those lovely places.
I finally visited KUMU, which is the main art museum of Estonia. I left it feeling inspired and I can't wait to go back already.
Enjoying favorite streets and exploring new places in Tallinn.
A huge abandoned building in the center of Tartu and a peek at the prints I was working on.
Some of my sketching and a sleepy cat just for fun :)
I'm crazy about my shipping supplies. I really enjoy the process of packing my orders and I try my best to make unwrapping my packages exciting for my customers. I am always looking for packaging that is pretty and minimalistic, but at the same time fast to wrap things into (as much as I love doing it I can't afford to spend hours on wrapping each order). I love to use silk paper in bold colors wrapped around with jute twine. What I've been lacking recently is some stickers to fix the wrapping paper. Office tape is not that pretty and I got a little bored of all my washi tapes (I love washi tape, but it's so hard to find the patterns I love). So I designed my own stickers. I wanted some stickers to just have a simple pattern on them and others to say "thank you". And I wanted them all to be round. Since the only round paper punch I have is just one inch wide, I made the patterns pretty tiny. Once I printed them on an A4 sheet of paper I couldn't believe how cute the tiny patterns look! Seriously, it's the cutest thing my printer produced in its whole life! So I thought the patterns could be used as a wrapping paper too, for tiny gifts at least.
Of course I wanted you guys to be able to print the stickers too. Or wrapping paper or whatever you can make out of a sheet of patterned printer paper. I made the "thank you" stickers as well and since many of you might not be selling anything I added other phrases that can go on gifts as well as blank circles for you to add your own text. The circle stickers are made specifically for 1-1,5 inch paper punch, but you can also use scissors to cut the circles out.
1. Download the files HERE and print each of them on A4 (or letter) size sticker paper. Maker sure to keep the scale to 100%.
2. Use a paper punch or scissors to cut out circular stickers. For the pattern prints you can use any shape.
3. Stick them onto your gift wrapping, use them in your scrapbooks or planners. Be creative and don't forget to show me how you used them!
It's time for another smoothie recipe! I've done a green smoothie challenge in January again and even though I didn't start in the beginning of the month, once I started I've tried all of the recipes. I'm so proud of myself! This time I loved many of the recipes and it was hard to choose my favorite, but since I shared one from the previous challenge here on the blog I thought it would be fun to share one with you this time as well.
I'm not sure if this one was my absolute favorite but it was definitely one of the best recipes and a very special one. Adding chocolate taste to green smoothies is not something I do every day. To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of chocolate (crazy, right?). I don't like choco ice-cream and I'm very picky about chocolate cakes. But when there's a perfect balance of choco sweetness/bitterness and freshness of fruit I love it. And this smoothie was exactly that. I reduced the amount of cocoa powder in the smoothie a bit, so feel free to experiment with that to find your perfect balance. Also the original recipe has almond milk, but I made it with coconut/rice milk which added the "desert" taste to it as well.
Choco Strawberry Smoothie
(by Simple Green Smoothies)
2 cups fresh kale
2 cups almond or coconut milk, unsweetened
2 cups strawberries (frozen)
1-2 tablespoons cacao powder
Mix kale and the milk of your choice in a blender until kale has completely blended. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Enjoy!
As I mentioned in my previous post, a couple of months ago I decided to start sketching every day to keep myself creative all the time and hopefully improve my drawing skills. I was actually planning to write a post on a different topic for today, but yesterday I decided to switch things around and share some of my sketches with you instead. These are some typical drawings I make when I do not have a topic or project in mind: different geometric shapes and simple patterns. For some reason I love to sketch in patterns. I know that many pattern designers sketch separate elements and then create patterns from them digitally. I, on the other hand, love filling pages with repeats by hand, even if I'm planning to make a pattern from that sketch digitally later on.
I'm actually thinking of showing you peeks into my sketchbook as a monthly feature. I think it's good to have a habit of sharing my process regularly. I love to peek at other people's sketchbooks and "behind the scenes" so it would be fun to share mine too. What do you think?
I have mentioned many times that I love to use notebooks and I have one for every type of notes I take. I am seriously addicted to making lists and writing down all my plans and ideas. I am not very good at using digital calendars and note-taking apps. If something is not on paper it does not exist. And if something is on paper it will definitely happen or be used in one way or another. In this post I wanted to share with you what kinds of notebooks and planners I use, how I use them and what for.
I have counted just now and at the moment I have eight notebooks, one printed planner and one hand-drawn planner on my work desk. Here's what they are:
1. Weekly planner
This year I'm using one of my very own 2015 weekly planners that I've been making for my shop. I use the planner for all the things that happen at a certain time: band practices, yoga classes, meetings and appointments, concerts and movies I'm planning to see, travels, visits and so on. I do not put my business tasks in there usually unless I absolutely have to do them at a certain time or there's a deadline. I also color code most of the tasks into three categories: things I have to do, leisure activities and band/music related plans. That way I can visually track how much time a week I spend doing something for my own pleasure (I have to do at least something every week!), how much time I devote to music (which is another passion of mine that takes time and can't be put aside) and how busy I was that week with appointments and other tasks.
2. Monthly and weekly to-do lists
This year I am trying to be more organized with my to-do lists. So I bought a lined A5 Moleskine notebook for this purpose. Each month has a full page with my goals for that month and a list of tasks to reach those goals underneath. Then I have a page for each week with my to-do's for that week. Weekly lists include both my personal and business related tasks, of course listed separately. I draw a square next to each task and tick them when they're done, which is the best part!
3. Daily to-do lists
I already talked about my tiny notebooks that I use for daily to-do lists and even shared a tutorial on how to make them in one of my previous posts. These are really nice to use if you get overwhelmed by huge weekly lists. Just write down your daily tasks and do not think about the rest of the stuff till they are done. I am actually thinking of not keeping those lists anymore, cause I taught myself to be more organized than before and now my weekly lists do not look so overwhelming to me. Plus I developed a kind of a routine by now, for example Monday and Tuesday are blog-writing and photography days, Thursdays and Fridays are production and order packing as so on. So a lot of days I already know what I'm going to be doing without looking at the list. And sometimes it feels like I have too many lists to manage. So I might try sticking to weekly, monthly and yearly lists for a while and see how it goes. But the daily lists seriously worked like magic when I started using them! Before that my levels of productivity were really random and I would go days without getting anything done.
To keep my brain working and staying creative I started a new habit of sketching every day. Since I tend to forget things, I decided to sketch in the beginning or every work day. So that's the first thing I do when I get to my desk in the morning. I don't always feel inspired and sometimes I have no idea what to sketch, but I just start with anything, just draw lines or dots or whatever. Often ideas come in the process. I don't limit myself with the time I spend sketching. Sometimes no ideas come and I get frustrated and done with it in 10 minutes. Other times I get super inspired and sketch for a couple of hours. It may take some precious time out of my work day, but I find it very important to stay creative. Plus I'm terrible at drawing so its very good for me to practice it every day.
5. Learning notes
I've been taking loads of online courses in the past few months. Some of them I take very seriously, download the workbooks and do all the tasks. Others I just play whenever I'm making so I'm not working in silence and learning something new at the same time. Creative Live is my TV! From time to time I'll hear some ideas or information I find very important to remember, so I grab my special notebook and jot those down. Sometimes I even end up doing some of the exercises. I also use this book when I am actually taking the course. Later on I go through the notebook to see if I used the techniques I learned, how they helped and what I should do to continue to improve.
6. Shop/business notes
This little notebook contains information I need to make my products and keep my shop running, such as measurements for making the notebooks, material prices, formulas I use to price my work, time it takes to do certain tasks, future products and collections, list of sites to pitch my work to and so on.
This notebook is used really randomly. Sometimes I just write down ideas. Other times I use it for brainstorming. Sometimes I don't use it for weeks, because a lot of my ideas are visual and I use the sketchbook for them. But I still keep it and use it sometimes, with no real strategy. I should probably come up with some challenge for myself to use this book more often and work on ideas development more strategically.
8. Random notes
This notebook does not have any certain purpose. I have it with me all the time, so I have paper to write on. I can write meeting notes in there, someone's e-mail address or take pages out if someone else needs paper.
9. Blog planner and year planner
These two are not notebooks, they are simply A4 sheets of printer paper. I've designed a simple blog planner for myself which I print out every month and fill in with blog post topics and tasks to do to get the posts published. As for the year planner, I just used one blank A4, divided it into 12 square sections and filled it with goals for each month of 2015.
That's about it. Well there's also a recipe book and Evernote, which is the only software I use for notes, but not very often. Does this sound crazy? Or do you use loads of notebooks too? I'd love to know what you use your notebooks for and how you keep your notes organized!