Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Inspiration from Mary Blair

On a recent trip to Disneyland I made sure to stop off and check out the Mary Blair exhibit at the Disney Gallery on Main Street.  For those of you who have not heard of her, she was one of Walt Disney's favorite artist. She developed concept art for such films as "Peter Pan," "Alice in Wonderland" and "Cinderella." Walt loved her sense of color so much that he also asked her to help with the design of the "I'ts a Small World" attraction for the  1964 New York World's Fair. She also created 2 murals for the Tomorrowland promenade. This just names a few of her accomplishments. To this day she remains an inspiration to many artists, including myself!

 She had such a beautiful way with color and simple but beautiful shapes. No wonder Walt liked her work so much! Here is a concept piece she created for "It's a Small World."

After seeing some of her originals in the Disney Gallery I was totally inspired. So, when a friend of mine called me and asked if I would design a birthday card for her daughters first birthday, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. My girlfriend is a big Disney fan herself so I thought a Mary Blair inspired portrait on the front of the card would be perfect! I really love the way it came out, and decided to add it to our line on Zazzle. I created a line of birthday onesies for all types of little birthday girls!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New Halloween shirts available!

Well, one of my favorite times of the year is here-Halloween! We really get into the holiday here at our house. When all of my friends are complaining that they hardly even get more than a few trick-or-treaters, we get a few hundred of them! Luckily for a die hard Halloween fan like myself, all of my neighbors really get into it too. There are several houses on our block that put on a "haunted house" on the front lawn. Each year we have friends and family come over to help out with the entertainment for all the kids. I stand on the porch with a big cauldron full of candy as trick-or-treaters line up on the walkway.  Throughout the night we take turns haunting in the yard, taking the kids trick-or-treating and going inside for a hot bowl of home made tortilla soup. It's a tradition that I'm sure our kids will remember always.

This year I designed this black cat for some of our products on Zazzle. It was just a doodle that I ended up really liking. I have made it into trick-or-treat bags for our kids. Be sure to check out our Zazzle page to see some of the cute products we have put this new design on!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Makeover Week At The Studio!

I took a break from blogging, because it was time for a makeover here and I was busy rebuilding the website, which I'm really happy with! Angela and I also managed to open up a virtual storefront at Zazzle where you can now buy our designs on children's clothing! I must say after all that work I'm pretty worn out and my house has looked better for sure. I wish I could take a break, but we're still adding more designs to the Zazzle shop, as well as building another virtual storefront over at Etsy. I also have to set up my regular shop on the website. The work never ends, but it will be so worth it in the end!

We also have other exciting news around here as well. I will be mentioned in an article, along with the studio in the September 16th edition  of Valley Scene magazine here in Los Angeles! It's an article about trading services, which I did at the beginning of the summer in exchange for some vacation time up in Big Bear. It's so cool to be published! The next goal is to get into Better Homes And Gardens :0)

Please check out the new site and let us know what you think!

Also, check out the Zazzle shop below!


make custom gifts at Zazzle

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Toy Ducks and Colorful Birds

While hunting down some files in my mac today I found out my computer is not nearly as organized as my house-a problem I really need to fix as soon as possible! Even though it's not what I wanted to do with my Wednesday afternoon, it was a bit of a treasure hunt. I found all sorts of pictures of the kids I hadn't seen in a while and I also came across these cute little drawings Angela and I did a while back. The duck is going to be available on our Etsy shop and on Zazzle, as soon as we can get our shops up and running (hopefully in the next couple of weeks). No plans for the colorful bird as of yet, but he's got so much personality, we need to use him somewhere!
 I better get back to my web design work, not my favorite thing to do, but necessary at the moment and will be well worth the effort!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

So The Bathroom Flooded The Other Day......

The bathroom flooded here at the Stern residence day before yesterday and it's a bit of a mess around here. I do have to say we're so very lucky it wasn't worse. Most of the water went straight down into the garage. We called the insurance and they brought in a wonderful crew to clean up the mess and replace all the damaged drywall and vanities in the bathrooms, which also got soaked. The hardest thing about all this is that my husband and I realized that our beautiful bathrooms we remodeled ourselves are going to get all torn up again. If we had hired people to remodel the bathrooms I don't think I'd feel so bad, but it was 2 months of hard work to make them beautiful and we only did it 2 1/2 years ago, so it still seems very new to us. Dave and I ended up getting a bit nostalgic over the whole thing and I decided to go through some pics of the remodeling and thought I'd share.

 It's hard to tell from these pics, but it's a Jack and Jill bathroom. I'm standing in the doorway that separates the two rooms. Very odd set-up in my opinion, but we do technically have 2 bathrooms, so I don't complain. Out townhouse was built in the 1970's and had never been updated until we bought it 7 years ago. Although they were far from glamorous, they looked nice enough and we really had no intention of redoing them at all, until we had plumbing that needed fixing and we were forced into it. We had a 4,000 budget, which was very puny for 2 bathrooms, so we knew we were going to have to get our hands dirty. I called my lifelong BFF Veronica and begged to borrow her husband for a weekend to help us get started (he worked in construction for several years). They both agreed and we flew him out a few weeks later to start.
A couple of days before he got into LA, we started tearing the old bathroom out. Wow is that a cheesy pic of us or what?

The kids especially enjoyed tearing out the tile that was under the existing floor. They were so cute in those giant goggles!

 We literally gutted the bathroom as you can see here. There is a puddle of concrete on the floor for the tub to get set in in this pick.

This was the last pic we took before we tiled and put up the beadboard. We were so tired at this point!

 We were so excited to be done and were very thankful to Jeff, Mike and Ned who helped us get the project done. We couldn't have done it without their guidance!

I love love love my subway tiles in the bathtub! The checkerboard accent tiles were big square sheets that we cut into strips to add a little interest, which I also love.

And last, but not least is our beautiful little shelf that we added in. I couldn't bear to stick ugly shampoo bottles on it, so I got pretty soap pumps to use instead. I went to Michael's and found little plastic scrapbooking letters, which I attached to each bottle, so I could tell them apart. I feel so fancy now when I wash my hair in the morning!

I'm hitting the sack now and thinking good thoughts that my contractor won't tear up too much of it!

Sweet dreams everyone!


Monday, August 8, 2011

Decorating Using What You Already Have In 5 Easy Steps.

So this week begins our latest design project helping a friend who's budget is tight, as is with most first-time home buyers. It's a great space for the size and has loads of potential. She has numerous collectables she has acquired over the years and needs help fitting them all in a small space. To help her stay within budget, we will "shop" around her house and use items that she already has. We will combine them together in new and interesting ways, while eliminating other items to create a fresh new look.  As we were making notes for her, we realized the tips we were giving her could help others as well, so we're sharing the basic tips today.

Step #1: Find An Inspiration Photo

We chose this one from the Better Homes and Gardens website as an example to work from. This magazine is great to use for ideas, because they don't generally do anything over-the-top or expensive. Now it is important to choose a realistic inspiration room that has similar elements to what you already have. Remember you are going shopping in YOUR home and if you pick a completely different style and color scheme from what you already have, it's going to be a very sparsely decorated room.

Step #2: Get Organized

It's now time to start de-cluttering and organizing your stuff. This is where your inspiration photo is the most important. Start by first going through your home and find everything you can that looks like it would go nicely in your inspiration room. Using our inspiration photo here, we could start by going through the entire house looking for blue and neutral toned items. Organize them into a pile and then go back through and get rid of everything that does not fit your vision (furniture included). These items can possibly replace what you have pillaged from the rest of the house or they can be sold at a garage sale when your project has been completed.

Step #3: Paint is your friend

Now it's time to take your photo to the paint store and chose a wall color. Use you photo and get numerous similar shades of the photo color. Just because the color you see in the magazine is beautiful it doesn't mean it will look good in your home. You might have to go lighter, darker, warmer or cooler, depending on the light in your room. Take the sample paint chip cards home and see how they look. Chose several favorites and go back and get sample cans of each color. This will give you a much better idea of how the color is really going to look in the room. It's almost impossible to tell from those tiny little cards. You will also want to match up your picture frames, which would also require a few cans of spray paint. Are all the pictures in your inspiration room black, as in the photo below and yours are an array of different colors? Take the frames off and spray them. It really unifies a collection of art or photos.


Paint may also be needed to transform a table into what you see in your picture. The photo below is a great example. A can of blue paint will make that mahogany table of yours look like an entirely different piece of furniture.


Step #4: Decorate!

Once everything has been painted, you get to start doing the fun part - decorating! Start playing with the furniture and try different arrangements. At this point you may find that some pieces don't really work and may need to be removed. More often than not, less is more and just because something fits your vision, it may not fit inside the room. After your furniture is in place, you can bring in your pictures and accessories to complete your look. If your missing key elements and can't finish your design, don't worry, we can handle that in the next step.

Step #5: The Wish List 
Now that you're done decorating, you step back and realize that perhaps there are a bunch of key elements missing, like that amazing bookcase in the picture that you don't have. This is where the wish list comes into play. If you know exactly what you're looking for, you'll be able to find it somewhere. Garage sales or perhaps an inexpensive retailer like IKEA will have what you need. This also keeps you from straying and buying on impulse, which will most likely be something you don't need and doesn't fit your design.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

End of an Era....Sigh!


Well the kids have decided that they need a more grown-up room and want me to repaint it. Apparently it looks like too much of a nursery. They also got bunk beds as of recently that cover up most of the art I painted for them anyway. I knew it wouldn't last forever, but I can't help but be sad to let it go. The time is going by so fast with them and I feel like I just don't have enough time to really soak it up like I would like to. This summer is especially zooming by. I really wish they would take their time growing up, but I guess that's just not possible. At least I have lots of pictures though and the next mural should be lots of fun. I'm doing a retro style Disneyland themed mural for them. I just need a bit of spare time to draw up some designs and then I'll get started on it.

 I did Jake's portrait with the style in mind of the old Dick and 
Jane books (which Jake is actually learning to read from).

At the time when I painted Sam's portrait, she was in ballet. 
She looked so sweet in her little pink outfit!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Inspiration from my favorite happy place.

On one of my many recent excursions to Disneyland I took these pics in the new Ariel ride line. I think the murals are so playful and fun for a bathroom! They have a very Art Nouveau feel to them. The color scheme is really nice and the designs compliment the arches so nicely.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

The lovers, the dreamers and me.......

I thought this went well with my sister's post below about telescopes-

"Who said that every wish would be heard
and answered when wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that and someone believed it.
Look what it's done so far.
What's so amazing that keeps us star gazing
and what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection. 
The lovers, the dreamers and me."
I'll keep star gazing for sure!
Photo courtesy of NASA

Old telescopes make me happy!

Here is a picture I took recently of some old telescopes.  I used Photoshop to age the image so it would look a little older and more interesting.  I love telescopes.  When I was a little girl I wanted to be an astronomer.  That was when I thought all you did was look through a telescope at the beautiful heavens above.  Then I realized that it was all math, and you hardly ever get to look through a telescope.  That is when it started sounding really bad to me (the math portion of my brain is a small, shriveled pathetic little thing.)  I did get a bit of a thrill as a kid though, when I had the pleasure of meeting Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto.  This was the coolest thing ever for a wanna-be nerd like myself.  I knew that all other planets had been discovered long ago by famous dead astronomers.  It was so neat that I got to meet the only one alive in my lifetime.  Then, they went and took it away.  I was so sad, not only did he lose his achievement as an astronomer, I could no longer say I met someone who discovered a planet.  I was truly heartbroken!  He had passed away before it was demoted, but his family was still very sad.  In my home state, New Mexico, Pluto is still considered a planet in honor of it's resident, Clyde Tombaugh. 

Anyway, I have always loved telescopes. They are elegant and beautiful.  I have one that my family and I take out to see the stars in the summer.  When I saw these, I had to snap a picture of them.  I think they will make a nice reference for a painting.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Already Getting Excited About Halloween!

I was in Pasadena today, volunteering at Assistance League of Pasadena (I'm a member there) and I decided to make a run to my favorite store for holiday decorating ideas-Stats. I'm particularly fond of the area, because of all the historic buildings. My husband and I even got married right across the street from Stats at Castle Green. The spot where Stats is was originally part of Castle Green. There was a covered bridge that went across Raymond Ave., so guests could cross to the next building without getting their clothes muddy on rainy days (back before the road was paved). That part of the hotel is now gone, but as my family and I were walking through the back half of the store, we noticed a lot of finely detailed moldings and columns that my husband and I suspect might be remnants from the old hotel.

 Photo of Castle Green taken today, by my husband Dave. This is the side facing Raymond, right across the street from Stats. The part that juts out on the far left is the remnants of part of the bridge that still exists.

Post Card of Castle Green circa 1911. The above photo is of the side of castle Green, as seen from the park, which is still there. You can see the bridge on the far right that connected it to the building across the street where Stats is now located.

Anyhow, to get back to Stats, it is a great store for decorators, carrying tons of silk floral stems, decorative items and more Christmas decorations than you can imagine. At this time of year they start stocking the shelves with fall and Halloween decorations and we got a little glimpse of what is in store for the upcoming holiday. I wish they had had more up, but my kids were with me and they probably would have been too scared to go inside if everything was out, so it probably worked out for the best. They had these great lamps that were decorated with tea and black stained cheese cloth and each wrapped with a different spooky character. They also had little plastic spiders attached. I tend to go for decorations that are more old-fashioned looking, so I might make one for this year myself, done in a more Victorian theme. As I was scratching around Michael's on the way home to get some spray adhesive for my vision board project I'm working on, I saw some wonderful old-fashioned looking hanging ornaments that I think will work quite nicely. I'll have to go back and get them, when I have time to think and plan. I wish I had snapped a couple of quick pics, but I was in a hurry and didn't think about it.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Inspiration on Vacation

 Went out of town for the fourth of July up to Los Osos, CA. A small town on the central coast, near the more well known town of San Luis Obispo. We spent time at the beach, as well as at my favorite haunt, the Avila Valley Barn. It's the prettiest farm stand I've ever been to and it's like stepping back in time, which I also love. I always get tons of great design ideas when I'm there, as well as lovely produce to bring back home with me. I often think how wonderful it would be to work there and get to enjoy the beautiful little valley that it's nestled into and all the friendly visitors that come to get their produce and ice cream cones.

View of the mountains across the street, as the fog makes it's way over the top.

I adore this old stove and would love to have one like it when I find the perfect home to settle into. I love the red, yellow and white color scheme too. Not to mention the "Home Cookin" sign above the stove. I will keep it in the back of my head for the next kitchen I do.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Paid in "kitch"

I got all the molding on the cabinets and they look beautiful! Some of them still need paint, so it's not ready to photograph quite yet. I finished the last one up on Wednesday, just before the kids got out of school and then we drove up to enjoy the fruits of my labor in Andrea's adorable little cabin up in Big Bear CA. Stepping inside is like going back in time, something I  LOVE to do! As you can see from this pic, the place is all original and is loaded with kitch. We affectionately named the deer head "Bert". I must say that the kids weren't big fans of having him watching them as they played air hockey and pool, but he added to the whole mountain cabin experience.

I thought this metal plate was super cute too in the kitchen. Very Scandinavian looking. I wish I had room in my kitchen for one of these.
The living room wallpaper reminds me of the lining inside sleeping bags when I was little. Can't get enough of those deer!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kitchen Day 4!

Well it's day 4 in the kitchen and things are coming along quite nicely. I would like to thank Andrea for giving me a nice nod on her blog Life Happins. It's so nice to be appreciated! I have decided that I'm not built for physical labor though, even though I enjoy the process very much. I've been sleeping like the dead for sure. I only have 3 cabinets left that need molding on them, which will go up tomorrow morning after I get the kids to school. Even though I'm tired, not for a moment has any of this project felt like work to me. It's such a lovely home with lovely people in it. I put on some music and make things pretty and then go home. Pure heaven! I want to take some more pics, but right now it doesn't look much different, as the cabinets haven't been hung back up yet, which will have to wait until the pretty green knobs come in. They're replica depression glass jade knobs from a wonderful online hardware store called D. Lawless, in case anyone is in the market for some!

Ok, I'm practically drooling at the keyboard now and have to get some sleep, so I don't saw any fingers off tomorrow!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Kitchen Day 2

While Angela has been busy creating an online portfolio for herself, I've been working on the kitchen and it's looking really good! The cabinets that I have done are so light and bright now. The molding really dresses them up too. The kitchen is going to be so welcoming and cheerful when it all comes together. Andrea has some vintage cherry patterned curtains that are going to replace the cabinet doors directly under the sink and they will set the theme for the kitchen. It will be very retro-50's, which is perfect since the house was built in that decade. I'm an avid believer that whenever you are doing a makeover, it should fit with the original architecture of the home, so as not to look out of place. It also saves a lot of money in remodeling costs and time, because the changes don't have to be as extensive.

Well it's time for me to order the new knobs, cut a few more pieces of molding and remove several layers of paint and primer from my hands before I call it a day.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Kitchen Remodeling Project

So excited to be starting the kitchen remodel tomorrow for my client! You can see in the pic that the kitchen needs a lot of TLC. I will be working on the cabinets first, adding molding to give them a little extra detail. The trim is really thin, so I won't be using nails, as they tend to split the trim. Instead I'll be using wood glue and a little painters tape to hold the trim in place until the glue dries. Hopefully I won't be gluing anything else, like my hair. I'm good at that sort of thing!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I was lucky enough to catch this amazing bee sampling my roses. Jennifer had been trying for the longest time that day to get a photo of a bee in a flower with no luck. I just happened to be taking a picture this rose when one just appeared. Timing is everything! I love taking pictures of my roses. They really inspire me. Several times a day I look out my front window or go outside to just stare at them in my garden. It's nice to be able to share them with others too!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The other day I was out enjoying my garden and taking some pictures. I snapped one of some of my poppies and decided to play around with Photoshop. Here is the result. I was trying to go for something painterly. It's amazing how it really elevated a somewhat ordinary photograph. I wish I could print it on fabric and use it for a blanket or something. I am dying to try it on some other photographs next!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Kitchen Makeover

Another busy day with a new project to give an old kitchen a facelift. It's not our usual work doing murals, which makes it kind of exciting for me. It's for a wonderful family in Chatsworth, CA. Our client Andrea is a very talented and funny writer with a wonderful sense of style. It's a 1950's kitchen that needs to last a little longer until it can be completely redone. The cabinets have good bones and with a little attention and love could be really nice. I'm cutting a simple molding to trim the cabinet doors and adding a crisp coat of plantation white paint and fresh knobs to dress it up a bit. I'm also hoping to add a bit more storage by adding a shelf above the cabinets with baskets to hold some of the less used items in the kitchen. I'm so excited to get started, as I haven't had a makeover project in a long time. I'll be taking some pics this week, so I can share the progress!