Mother’s Day Dream-Gift-Basket

Mother’s Day is a day I feel no shame in asking for exactly what I want. I have seriously EARNED those breakfasts in bed and carefully-picked-out-gifts by enduring hours upon hours of all-things-Frozen, one hundred million ‘Can I have a snack?’s, and the many hours of watching Parks and Rec on Netflix STOLEN from me by children refusing to go to bed on time.

So, dear, sweet husband (and dear, sweet friends’ spouses), if I could assemble my DREAM Mother’s Day gift basket, full of all of the things I’m obsessing about right now, here’s what it would be filled with:

1. A big, rustic looking chalkboard from Hurd and Honey. I love to doodle a welcome message or a menu when we’re having friends over for a gathering and these chalkboards are GORGEOUS. (Slightly large for a gift basket, I realize. Just go with it.)

2. More and more and more jewelry from Jill Makes. I just bought a few things from her and her packaging is ADORABLE. And I would like more Gold Tassel Necklaces in every color, please. And an Initial Token Necklace. And the light mint Charmed Rope Bracelet. And the light pink one. And…

3. TOPS on my list, for sure, is a tumbler from the Mason Bar Company. “The 24” is nice and big for a giant iced coffee or ice water (and it fits in a cup holder!). I would like a mint lid and a clear straw, please. And perhaps throw in a Whiskey Leather Cuff? And if you go straight to their website, you can also purchase GOLD metal bands to screw my mint lid on with. Which I NEED.

4. Piles of Bath Truffles and Bath Bombs from Eight Hands Handmade Soap. Linda is my husband’s aunt and she has the COOLEST soap-candle-other-cool-things making studio in her garage. The Bath Truffles and Bath Bombs aren’t yet available on Etsy, but the soaps there are so yummy smelling and are safe and natural. If you go to her Facebook page, you can inquire about her other bath accessories!

5. Had to share a little ThreeLetterBirds love. I like making art that I would want to buy for myself and the “May the God of Women” print is one such item. I already have the pink one framed in a big white frame with a big white mat in my dining room, but if I didn’t, it would for sure be in my dream-gift-basket.

6. Design Mom’s new book Design Mom: How to Live with Kids: A Room by Room Guide is already on it’s way from Amazon (a Mother’s Day gift to myself 🙂 ). I’m pretty new to Design Mom, but I love her blog. I have two small children and am passionate about decorating my living spaces, so if she can tell me how to make my house look more like this:

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And less like this:

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Then I am ALL IN.

7. I discovered this lady and these clogs through Instagram- where I spend an embarrassing amount of my time every day- and am OBSESSED. I love the Maguba High Heel Valencia T-Bar Clog in red-orange, but honestly, every time they post a picture of any red clogs, my heart starts beating faster.

[In addition to the dream-gift-basket, my wishes for Mother’s Day include a grande iced coffee (2 Stevias and plenty of Half and Half) delivered to me from Starbucks, all three meals prepared with little-to-no participation on my part, and lots of time spent with my crazy, crazy little girls (and, you know, a small chunk of time UTTERLY ALONE).]

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Prior to opening my own shop, I had never even been on Etsy and now it is my favorite place to shop. I have discovered the absolute joy of shopping “small” and buying interesting and unique items from innovative and creative small businesses. Whatever gifting needs you have in the coming months, consider checking out Etsy or other small businesses!

Happy Anniversary, Sweet Little Birds

About eighteen months ago I was feeling very, very low. I had an infant and a three year old at home and was watching a good friend’s toddler 3-4 days a week, also from home. I spent most of my days inside my third floor apartment, managing chaos and trying to numb the boredom with hours and hours of social media and cups and cups (and cups) of coffee. I was a crabby, angry mom and a resentful, joyless wife. And that was becoming my sole identity.

I’ve never had a strong sense of direction in life. As a child and through my teen years I was heavily into the arts, taking entirely art electives in high school, taking dance classes for twelve years, performing in several high school musicals, and attending several summers of theater camp. The latter half of high school and into college was spent predominantly playing volleyball, during most of my free time, year round. I bounced around from missions to youth ministry to history to secondary education to elementary education and back to history, never considering taking a single art class in college. I graduated with a dual degree in history and elementary education with lukewarm feelings about a career in either. I launched a career in substitute teaching and was immediately miserable and disillusioned. From there, I dabbled in being a cook, a call center operator, a nurse’s aide, and back to the classroom as a teacher’s assistant. Most were fine, some were miserable, but none were truly fulfilling. I left my most recent job as a teacher’s assistant in a cloud of sadness and disappointment, but hoped that being home, with my only daughter at the time, would be exactly what I needed. It was not. Just a few short months into my new stay at home mom/child care provider gig, I was bored and irritable and stir-crazy and was unsure that I could ever be happy or feel a sense of fulfillment.

I entered that winter feeling trapped in my three-flights-up apartment with three small children and little to no adult interaction and/or mental stimulation. By Christmas, I was terribly unhappy (probably depressed) and feeling little hope about my future. I went out to coffee with a friend from church and after listening to me talk about my life and the trajectory it appeared to be on, she said a string of words that changed everything. “It seems like you need to take up more space in your family.”  TAKE UP MORE SPACE. This concept was foreign to me. I’d spent most of my life trying to stay out of people’s way and take up as little “space” (time, resources) as possible. I’d carried that into my marriage and into my mothering. I let everyone else fill the spaces first and filled in all of the (often very few and very small) leftover spaces.

I began by going to spiritual direction once a month, which felt unconscionable. One hour. Once a month. Unconscionable. Then I started taking one morning a week at Starbucks to do whatever I wanted- usually read blogs and catch up on the news. In early winter, some friends posted a few pictures of their practice calligraphy they were doing and I thought that looked SO FUN. I bought a calligraphy book and went to the art store and bought a pile of art supplies and thought I would just play around. I immediately fell in love with calligraphy.

I’ve always loved to do art, deep down, even when I didn’t think I did, I did. Even when I never would have called myself an artist, I cared deeply about how my dorm or apartment or house was decorated and arranged. I would spend inordinate amounts of time and energy creating classroom materials for my lead teacher, making them as perfect and beautiful as possible. Pre-calligraphy, friends and family would ask me to write things for them- signs, placecards, chalkboards- and I used to think wistfully, “I wish I could do THIS for a living.” It felt impossible, silly, unrealistic. And then all of a sudden, it felt slightly possible. It turns out hand lettering is a craft, something people are looking to buy. And it felt less silly. I got a lot of positive feedback from friends and family who encouraged me to put my stuff out there. And it became realistic. There’s a fabulous platform, called Etsy, which allows independent artists to sell their wares online.

The last year has been the most fulfilling and rewarding year of my professional life. There have been ups and downs, disappointments and triumphs, for sure. But I know now, that I want to do something creative for a living for the rest of my life. I have come to life. I fall asleep at night with pretty words swirling in my head. I wake up in the morning thinking about what beautiful photos I’ll share on Instagram that day. I spend my work time carefully packing up people’s orders, sketching out pieces, dreaming about new ideas, full of JOY. I am so, incredibly grateful to every single person who has told me I was good enough, given me a new idea, ordered a print, liked or shared a post on social media, and in any way helped me along over the past year. And I am so, so thankful for other artists and creative people who have inspired me with their tenacity, their bravery, their vulnerability, and their honesty. I am honored and endlessly grateful to now count myself as one of you.

I head into ThreeLetterBirds’ second year, daring to dream big dreams and full of hope, and full of tears as I write these words. “I am not afraid. I was BORN to do this.” -Joan of Arc

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Simplicity and threeletterbirds Giveaway!

YOU GUYS. I’ve made it to the big time! A blog giveaway! Meet my friend, Samara Postuma, of Simplicity in the Suburbs. We were friends way back in college. That’s my frappuccino on the table over there. We were all nineteen once, okay?!

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On one occasion I came home from class finding Samara attempting to move my futon from my room as a practical joke. The next day she found her bed in the laundry room 🙂 She initiated my DEEP, DEEP LOVE for Starbucks (thank you a million times over, dear friend!). And now she’s a super cool mom of FIVE and an accomplished writer and blogger! I have depended on her infinite wisdom for things like handling small children on road trips (she is BRILLIANT). We’re going to meet up at the end of the month for the Chicago Storyline conference and I can’t wait to talk kids and doing things you love and I’m sure there’ll be some Starbucks in there 🙂

Samara has been so supportive of my business and wants to share the love and give away a non-custom print of your choice from my shop! Hop on over to her blog to check out the details!

Steampunk

Several months ago I got a call from a family I had known when we lived in the upper peninsula of Michigan a few years ago. Their eldest daughter, Greta, was getting married and they were interested in having me design their wedding invitations.

“Yes! I would love to!”

“Great. Let me tell you a little bit about the event. The theme is sort-of Victorian, outdoorsy, vintage with a dash of steampunk.”

“Okay. Great! Let me work up some sketches!”

Right.

Okay.

I’ve never made a wedding invitation before. I don’t have a computer. Or a scanner. Or Photoshop. And I have never in my life even heard the word “steampunk” before.

Thank you, Google.

I crafted some sketches with the palette and some icons/images that were meaningful to the bride and groom.

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Greta and her fiancé, Erty, settled on the portrait style one. Once we did some tweaks and I created the invitation suite, my friend, Kristen, over at RockPaperScissors Creative Consulting helped me digitize everything and get it all sent off to the bride and groom. Here’s how they turned out!

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Greta and Erty’s adorable wedding was just featured on the wedding blog, Offbeat Bride. Greta was kind enough to link to me as one of her vendors! None of my actual work is featured in the post, but hop over there to check out a beautiful wedding with a steampunk feel and to see my little name at the bottom with the other vendors 🙂

Jellyman kelly

I have a serious love affair with James Taylor. I was pretty obviously born in the wrong decade. This summer, my husband and I went to see him in concert and for reasons I don’t even really understand I wept uncontrollably as he sang “In My Mind I’m Going to Carolina.” I’ve never been to the Carolinas.

Embarassingly (kind of), one of my favorite things he ever did was his performance of “Jellyman Kelly” on Sesame Street. You can view it here and it is PRECIOUS:

It has been a favorite of our little family and we sing it to our kids at bedtime all of the time. I love me some whimsical lyrics and doodled a little Jellyman Kelly that I dream of making for my girls’ room someday, hopefully before they turn 14- you know, in all of my “free” time.

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In reality, I am in the beginning stages of working on my holiday “collection.” I have a hard time taking that word seriously. But, if all goes according to plan, I think it will be darling. Stay tuned!

Chelsea morning trio

 

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I love me some Joni Mitchell. Her lyrics are like butta. I’ve gone in phases with my favorite songs, but I am on a serious Chelsea Morning kick right now.  Like, maaaaaybe I listen to it nine times in a row in my car when I’m driving home from preschool drop-off. MAYBE. While I listen to it I imagine myself alone in a nice, cozy, sunny, quirky apartment in New York painting something awesome and eating milk, toast, honey, and oranges (obvs) (but not really because I don’t like milk).

Well, wouldn’t you know it- those words swirled and twirled in my head for weeks, until one glorious morning I strategically mentioned on Facebook that I was alone with my children listening to Joni Mitchell, drinking coffee, and eating biscuits and my friends just happened to invite themselves over to join me. Totally not my intention (ahem). And while we sat, drank, and listened, I doodled this little trio. Which I am in LOVE with. It is not an official, official print yet- these are just the doodles in my sketchbook. But one day I will make beautiful, colorful prints of them and hang them in my kitchen and find lots of reasons to wander in and out of my kitchen all day to just stare at them for a few seconds (hopefully in a totally non-judgemental way, because ARTISTS).

(here they are individually)

(and can one of my photographer friends please have mercy on me? Seriously. I need HELP.):

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the life of a print.

This is the journey of a little threeletterbirds print. It started as a doodle, when I certainly should have been paying attention to something else.

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I play with the letters and try to mix in some quirky print or all-caps with calligraphy or script. And mess around with how some illustration might fit in.

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I try try to make certain key words pop, or make the lyrics of a song “look the way they sound.”

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I realized this called for a more minimal illustration and a few more tweaks.

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The words nagged at me until well after dinner. Sometimes things just don’t look “right.” And then it hits you exactly when you plop your children in the bath tub, or something incredibly convenient like that.

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Eventually it’s time to get some ink and watercolors involved and make some magic.

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And here she is.