By | February 4, 2012

IMAGE SOURCE: Whole Blossoms

Random fact about me: the tulip has always been my favorite flower, without question. And I do question it all the time: there are prettier flowers, there are flowers that smell better, heck, there are even flowers that last longer. But still, I stand by the tulip.

I just couldn’t figure it out until today when I was trying to get all my Swedish holidays figured out to make sure my kiddies celebrate it the proper way. Turns out I missed Tulip Day (Tulpanens dag) in January. What a bummer. At least I understand my love of tulips.

A relatively new holiday in Sweden, Tulips have been celebrated for the past 20 or so years in Sweden as a welcome to Spring (with the lovely winter we are having here in Illinois, it seems like we should be celebrating Spring as well), buying almost 1 million tulips per day between January and Easter. There are 400 varieties of tulips grown in Sweden between in January and April (tulip season). So, you can still celebrate tulip season and if you see some over here in the States, go on ahead and brighten someone’s day!


By | January 2, 2012

This lovely image came from Angela Hardison’s blog. I couldn’t resist trying to pull a color palette out of it. I know it’s winter (we just got our first snow fall today!), but isn’t this a breath of fresh air?

{Gott Nytt ÅAr}

By | December 31, 2011

image credit: judaistike

I realized recently that my family knows so much about my husband’s culture and very little about mine. So much so, that when presented with an opportunity to explore other parts of their heritage, they still choose to stay with what is familiar. I have decided this is the year we will change that. I call myself a sort of European mutt and am going to put my family through a social experiment where we explore my side of the family tree. Lucky them – I am always good for some shenanigans. I have always been interested in my Swedish side, so this is the year we make some rockin’ meatballs and other good stuff I will learn along the way.

I have learned that Swedish New Year is very similar to ours here in the U.S. We celebrate with family and then have a great time with friends, making resolutions, loud music, liquor (of course) and fireworks.

Every year at the Skansen Open-air museum in Stockholm, Ring Out, Wild Bells is performed. It sounds like a lovely message. So here is to a Gott Nytt Ar to all of you (Happy New Year) and Ring Out, Wild Bells:

Ring Out, Wild Bells by Alfred, Lord Tennyson


Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,

The flying cloud, the frosty light;

The year is dying in the night;

Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.


Ring out the old, ring in the new,

Ring, happy bells, across the snow:

The year is going, let him go;

Ring out the false, ring in the true.


Ring out the grief that saps the mind,

For those that here we see no more,

Ring out the feud of rich and poor,

Ring in redress to all mankind.


Ring out a slowly dying cause,

And ancient forms of party strife;

Ring in the nobler modes of life,

With sweeter manners, purer laws.


Ring out the want, the care the sin,

The faithless coldness of the times;

Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,

But ring the fuller minstrel in.


Ring out false pride in place and blood,

The civic slander and the spite;

Ring in the love of truth and right,

Ring in the common love of good.


Ring out old shapes of foul disease,

Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;

Ring out the thousand wars of old,

Ring in the thousand years of peace.


Ring in the valiant man and free,

The larger heart, the kindlier hand;

Ring out the darkness of the land,

Ring in the Christ that is to be.



By | October 6, 2011


I let out an audible gasp last night that had my entire family run into my new office (I’ll post pictures soon) in a panic. “What happened? What’s wrong?!” I was inexplicably crushed. Steve Jobs has died and I don’t think that I realized fully how much time we have spent together over the last 20 years until I read the news.

Steve Jobs creations are in my hands at least 16 hours a day, every day. As designers we work on Macs. I love my iPhone and Armando just got me an iPad as a graduation present (although I’m still trying to fully understand it’s capabilities beyond a larger screen to play games). I feel close to Steve, I admire Steve, and generally… I think he is a swell guy.

I thought I’d share some of my favorite quotes from Jobs. They are running rampant through facebook, so I am sure you may have seen most of them, but important to remember nonetheless.

“My job is to not be easy on people. My job is to make them better.”

“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”

“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works. The design of the Mac wasn’t what it looked like, although that was part of it. Primarily, it was how it worked. To design something really well, you have to get it. You have to really grok what it’s all about.”

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”


Lastly, I have always loved this picture of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates hanging out together. I wonder what they were talking about, where they got those Eames chairs they are sitting on, what’s behind that tiny door (deep, deep stuff runs through my mind)? But mostly, I think what great minds sitting there. Gates is doing his share of good things in the world too. “For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely” said Gates upon hearing the news.

Insanely great. That seems to sum it up well, doesn’t it?


By | September 15, 2011

In light of the fact that I am turning forty today, I thought I would share some of the wisdom I have gained so far. It’s not much mind you, I’m not the Dalai Lama for pete’s sake.

  1. Be nice. There is no reason to be cruel to another human being ever. Under any circumstances. Life is long, carry kindness with you where ever you go.
  2. When the beatles sang “all you need is love” – they were right. You want to know the secret to a happy life? Choose the person you spend it with wisely. I always say that I don’t want anything and I don’t need anything. Thank you, Armando for making that true.
  3. Educate yourself. If you did not understand something, your time was wasted. Ask questions until you do understand. Learning is so much more than what you are tested on.
  4. Enjoy your career. If you find you do not love what you do, success will be an uphill struggle with a 50 lb. barrel on your back. We are spending too many hours working and not enough enjoying.
  5. Read. A lot. I don’t think I need to expand on that.
  6. Travel while you are young. Excessively. When you have children you will wish you had.
  7. Laugh. People who take themselves too seriously are no fun to be around. Plus (and my degree is in graphic design, not medicine – so take it for what you will) they die early of heart attacks brought on by stress and general grumpiness.
  8. Give it your all. I grew up with this lesson. Why waste your time doing something half-assed. Spend a little extra time and do it right.
  9. Respect others. Life seems to run smoother when you are respectful of others whether it is their thoughts, their space or their time. And just darn good manners.
  10. Love your family. I realize not everyone has grown up with such wonderful parents as I have, but it surely helps when you all just love each other. You tend to build good adults.

Overall, I think people tend to make too big of a deal out of most things. Unless you have lost a loved one or a limb, these rules seem to be apt. There is probably a lot more, so if it comes to me, I’ll update it. But 10 seems like a good number for a 40th birthday.


By | September 6, 2011

I’m excited to be working with my friend the Fabulous Fay again. We have been designing some pieces for Rock the Green. It is a near-zero waste music festival in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The line-up includes the Fray, Ben Folds, Fitz and the Tantrums, Michelle Branch, Parachute and local favorite Evan Christian. Buy tickets here.


By | August 29, 2011

My thesis has been submitted. You cannot imagine the weight off my shoulders. Granted, I loved every single solitary second of graduate school at SCAD, but still – there is relief. My thesis advisors (Trudy, Sarah and Sharon) were absolutely amazing for continuing to push me into this uncharted territory.

For my thesis, I imagined a school where the Montessori principles are applied as a means to reduce cognitive overload. I imagined a school where (among other things) students work together with projects with students across all majors (you know, like the real world) and cognitive overload is reduced by limiting the amount of STUFF we try to give to students in order to teach them. I named my new school Rocerca (which is a combination of the Italian words for “spokes [of a wheel]” and “quest”) Atelier (which is french for “artists workshop”). It was a long paper with loads of details, but for now – here is the abstract.


Online education programs are one of the fastest-growing trends in higher education. According to a 2010 survey of 2,600 institutions online higher-education enrollment increased more than 21%, exceeding the 2% growth of overall higher education (Allen, Seaman 2). The very reasons for its popularity (choice, flexibility, pacing, open scheduling, etc.) also serve as the downfall of the students that participate in the program. Graphic Design students are particularly susceptible to these pitfalls as they are usually coming from a traditional “factory” style of education model for grades K-12 (with its emphasis on math, science and language arts) and can now explore their creativity in ways not emphasized before. Students find themselves lost in a kaleidoscope of information and freedom while trying to apply their former traditional linear education process to the cacophony of stimuli that define online distractions. With their minds now combating cognitive overload, they find it hard to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant. By applying the eight key Association Montessori International (AMI) principles to online graphic design higher education courses, cognitive overload will be reduced and distracted thinking minimized, which may increase creativity, the ability to retain more information in long-term memory schemas and allow utilization of top-down attention control.


By | July 28, 2011

It’s everywhere and it’s spectacular.


By | July 28, 2011

It just occurred to me that I forgot to post the rest of my pictures from Buenos Aires. I have been tied up with (hopefully) wrapping up my thesis. Only (again, hopefully) web design left. The iron work in BA was out of this world. I wasn’t sure if I was looking at old world craftsmanship or this is just how they do it in South America. Either way, it was a site for the eyes absolutely everywhere. The top two images are just of stores that are closed. I love how they gate up their stores in such a beautiful way. Unlike Chicago (and the rest of the US I’m sure) where if a store is gated it reminds you that if you break in you’ll be going to jail. I said to Armando, there is a way to close up your shop and then there is a way to close up your shop. The stores were all closed…because of a soccer game. I love them.




























These wood doors—they are just what doors look like —everywhere. I mean…gah! I wonder if you live there if you really appreciate how beautiful everything is around you or if you are just: “The damn door is sticking again. I hate this place.”


By | July 18, 2011

Tibor Kalman

It’s been a while, no? I’ve been a little busy on the ol’ thesis. There are good days and bad. Like all design, it is a journey. One frustrating, teary day, I whined to my husband that I have no business discussing the topic of education when its not even what I am getting my degree in. I am simply not qualified. He has a lovely way of changing my perspective on things. He said to me, sometimes that’s just what the world needs, an outsider with none of the hang-ups or preconceived notions. New perspective, new motivation. Anyway, my thesis has gone in an interesting direction, not at all one I thought I would study when I first started school, but there you go – it’s always about the journey.

Which leads me to Tibor Kalman. Born in Budapest in 1949, his family moved to New York around 1956. Feeling like an outsider, young Tibor channeled his childhood isolation into a fascination with the American language. It’s interesting to me that so many design “all-stars” are foreign born. I think it allows them to view the world from a perspective we don’t have living here. Kalman attended NYU majoring in journalism, which he dropped and worked at a small bookstore that later became Barnes & Noble. It was here he began designing. Sometimes as an outsider, you just get an outlook like no other.

In 1979, he founded M&Co with Carol Bokuniewicz and Liz Trovato doing corporate work. Tibor found his true calling though, as a social activist and used his designs to promote his message. He felt that graphic design should have two purposes: good design and social responsibility. The majority of his work was done in the selfish corporate culture of the 1980s and 90s and Kalman rallied against it. According to the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), “In the mid-1980s two names changed graphic design: Macintosh and Tibor… Tibor may not be as influential on the daily practice of graphic design as the Mac, but his sway over how designers think — indeed, how they define their roles in culture and society — is indisputable. For a decade he was the design profession’s moral compass and its most fervent provocateur. Of the two names that changed design in the ’80s and ’90s—Mac and Tibor—one changed the way we work, the other the way we think. The former is a tool, the latter was our conscience.”