chalkboard hand lettering

It's not too often that my work gets shot professionally, so I had to share these lovely photos from B schwartz Photography with you. I was thrilled when Heather of Carter and Cook Event Co. contacted me about providing chalk lettering for Makenzie + Teddy's gorgeous Greek wedding. I hand lettered all the table numbers and the seating chart, which was one of the largest pieces I've done at 5' tall by 3' wide!

Heather sourced the vintage plates and giant frame for the seating chart.  I used real chalk for the lettering--as opposed to white marker--to keep the look authentic. For the names I used a white charcoal pencil, which emulated the look of real chalk beautifully while allowing me to draw fine lines.

Such a fun project to work on! Thank you to Heather, for getting in touch and designing such an inspiring event, and to Becky for the beautiful photos. See more on her blog here.

Psst -- this wedding also got featured on Style Me Pretty! Check out the post here.


hello little love | baby shower invitations

One of my dearest friends is having a baby this spring! I created custom invitations for her Valentine's shower with a watercolor heart motif throughout. Such a fun, sweet project to work on.

AllisonShower-07.jpg

 

To make these I hand-painted a variety of watercolor hearts and scanned them into Photoshop along with custom calligraphy.  I also painted a solid area of watercolor to use as a custom liner. I had a tough time deciding between the heart pattern/solid watercolor for the backer/liner...do you think I made the right choice? I think it could go either way, but something about the sprinkling of hearts on the back of the invitation is just too sweet.

These are giclée printed on 118# Reich Savoy (100% cotton) paper.

And just for fun, here's a screenshot from the moment after Allison announced (via Skype) that she's pregnant. :) I love you, Al, and baby girl Mathias too!

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 4.36.57 PM.jpg

 

 

hand-drawn herb notecards with watercolor

 

I wanted to create something special for mothers' day to send to my sweet mom and my wonderful mother-in-law. I knew they would both appreciate the herb motif since they are likely to be growing one or more of the above as we speak. I drew the herbs, scanned and printed them on 100% cotton scored cards and hand-painted them with watercolor. I sent our moms a set of six (two of each card) with matching envelopes.

If you're also a reader of Kaylan's lifestyle blog, you may have seen that I recently began offering short-run printing services (Kaylan was my first official client with her gorgeous original watercolor notecards). My new printer is capable of the highest quality printing and especially suited for fine art papers and heavy cardstock--making it perfect for printing stationery, wedding invitations, announcements, etc. Nightingale Handmade is now an official business registered in the state of California in San Diego county. I pay taxes and everything, woo hoo!

It's a fun new endeavor that's still at the very beginning stages, but I'm excited to see where it takes me. If you are a designer or artist looking for a custom digital printing job, I would love for you to contact me to discuss the project. I know as a designer how difficult it can be to find top quality flat printing on the paper you want with the care you yourself would give it! You can contact me at nightingalehandmade@gmail.com.

 Oh, and if you'd like to purchase a set of the cards above, I'm hoping to make that possible soon with an online shop. Changes changes coming to the NH blog! 

 

Monique's Baby Shower

My dear friend Monique is having a baby in several weeks!! I had the pleasure of creating the invitations for her shower. She picked out the colors and the chevron pattern based on decisions they made for Baby Penny's nursery and I loved the pale orange + mint together. I overlaid the chevron pattern with a subtle watercolor design to get some slight variation in the color. We used gray top-open envelopes which worked out great with the oversized hang tag shape!

 

 

Monique's mom and sisters threw her the most adorable party! There were so many thoughtful details and the food was amazing. It was a huge blessing to be able to be there (the day we were packing up our trailer!) although it kills me that I won't be around for the birth of her sweet baby--the gender of whom is yet to be determined :) Luke and I are so blessed to have Monique and her husband Gavin in our lives. We miss them so much and can't wait for precious Baby Penny to arrive.

 

 

 

 

Mo, I love you and miss you so much! You're going to be an AMAZING mommy.

Stitched Fabric Basket

It's the last day of January! I wish I had a really epic project to end out the month with...like a handmade bedframe. Or an armoir or something. Sorry, January's ending with a basket. Or me as a basket case. One or the other.

Today's project was slated to be a set of three. But I only squeaked out this one lowly, crooked, charming-in-its-handmadeness fabric basket. Oh, plans, how you are so well intended but scarcely carried out.

 

I like the pink base.

I like clothespins.

And I like how the floor looks after two days of projects and no cleanup.

 

So that's that! I can't believe how fast the end of the month snuck up on me. Tomorrow I'll be back to share my personal response to the January Project and share the final-ish outcome with you. I have to say how much I appreciate that you've been reading and bearing with me this month! I have so many nice things to say to you. But for now I'm just a bit exhausted. They'll have to wait.

Goodnight January.

Branch Hooks

Guys? I'm not sure I'm ready to give these up.

 

 

I got this idea from here. I'd been planning on painting them white like they do in the link, but against my eggshell walls I'm glad I left them natural. Wait. Um, I mean...against YOUR walls I'm glad I left them natural. Because I'm totally going to be able to let them go when someone buys them from the shop.

Totally...

Succulent Garden

Anyone can make a succulent garden, but if you want a really really good one, you have to go to Sassafras in Rochester, where I learned everything I know. :) I used to love making them when I worked there. We always had them for sale in the store. Aww, now my mind is wandering back to the shop in all its amazingly designed and lovely smelling glory. How I miss you Sassafras!

The one I made tonight is from Home Depot succulents, a vase from AC Moore and a few materials I collected from the wooded area outside our apartment. I selected three succulents (3.99 each) of varying sizes and heights. You want your succulent garden to be interesting, so make sure the plants you pick aren't all uniform.

Fill the container not quite halfway with dirt. It looks more interesting to have the plants nestled down inside the vessel you're using. Think terrarium-style! Set your first succulent down inside. The one you see above is called Echeveria, and you shouldn't touch the leaves with your fingers because it will leave a mark. Grasp the succulent from the stem only and be gentle--but don't worry if you lose a few leaves in the process!

If your succulent has two stems, divide them up to find the best arrangement! Pull them apart at the roots gently and get rid of some of the soil before you place in your desired spot in the garden.

Varying heights add interest and a sense of depth.

I even broke up these smaller guys so one could rest deeper inside the garden. The next step was to add moss...

But I noticed there was a little spot for the other half of the tall guy. Carefully, I placed it in and packed soil all around so he'd be secure. Then it was time to accent with moss and a few little stones I found! Succulent success!

 

One thing Maura taught me is that an arrangement ALWAYS has a "front". I decided this angle was the front of mine. I liked the differing depths and the peeks of moss and stone. Everything looked right in little succulent world.

Here's the back of my garden. Do you see a little secret planted with the succulents?

I've had my eye on these mini letters at Michael's for a little while now. And who couldn't use a reminder to "GROW" every now and then?

And there it is.

Unfortunately, I don't think I can sell this product in my etsy shop due to having no idea how to ship it. There's no way I would put this baby in the mail! Feel free to contact me directly about buying it if we know each other and could arrange delivery at some point. :) For now, it lives happily in our apartment and I don't mind one bit!

Oh Happy Day! A Stamped Greeting Card Set

Do you guys like to use stamps? I used to love stamping when I was little, but as I got older it sort of got lumped into the grandma-crafts folder. Only recently (actually, when I created Becca's save the dates) did I rediscover the awesomeness of stamping. Good thing, too, because stamps are one of Paperfinger's main products! Now I love them and I want to stamp all the time.

 

Using some stamps I had on hand, I made a few greeting cards you can use for different occasions. There are two of each, and they come with cotton envelopes, lined in some fun paper you may have seen before...

 

 

Do you know what makes stamping even better? EMBOSSING! yay embossing! I embossed these cards because I love the look of white on kraft paper. If you try to stamp in white ink, it is always at least a little bit transparent. The solution is in the embossing.

 Embossing is the process of stamping clear, sticky ink onto your desired surface and sprinkling the image with special embossing powder. Then, with your handy heat gun, you direct hot air onto the powder--now sticking obediently to the ink--and watch in amazement as it melts, solidifies and gets all shiny before your very eyes! So fuunn!

 

 

So cool right? No, really, it is. Try it!

Buy 'em up here!

 

 

Fuzzy Crocheted Bow Headband

Okay, I promise I'll lay off the crochet projects after this.

I really like this headband. I thought about keeping it. I got the pattern for this hat here. The main difference in mine is that the yarn I used is very very thick, so I opted to sew on the bow since this yarn won't really gather.

I would write more, but today I had a real workout for the first time since Christmas. My body and brain are struggling.

 

 

{for sale}

 

Wallpapered Cardboard Deer Head

These blog post titles keep getting weirder. I really meant to finish this project earlier...but work was busy and life was busy and we made friends with David from Germany who stayed with us and I told myself that good friends, good food, good conversation and being educated on other countries was more important than wallpapering a deer. Amiright?

This wallpaper I found at Goodwill is so cool. I kinda want to wallpaper everything, but I began with the deer head since it was in need of color and pattern. If you want to make your very own deer head, go here for instructions and printout templates. You can also buy mine. Either or.

Next time you hear from me, I'll have most likely wallpapered an entire accent wall in our apartment or something crazy like that! Luke, if you're reading this, please don't worry. It's all in the name of art.

Happy happy weekend!

 

Anger & Fury at a Cardboard Deer Head

Just now I hurled my glue gun to the ground, gulped down the last of my red wine, and stormed out of the living room all because of an inanimate disembodied animal.

Luke started laughing at me. I said defensively, "What?!" He said "You know what. You're mad at a cardboard deer head!"

I have a confession. I'm really impatient when it comes to crafts. I take shortcuts, skip integral steps, and rush carelessly through actions that should be meticulously executed. I have no time for taping edges when painting a wall, I'd rather just freehand it. And when it comes to cardboard deer heads, well, I'd just rather be putting the darn thing together than cutting out all those pieces from a moving box with my crafting scissors.

All that to say, I was more than a little over this project by the time I finally finished it (11:15pm), and really, I'm not even finished yet. I have a final step that will take this deer head from good to OMG. Can't wait to show you tomorrow. For now, I leave you with a very smug and not-quite-complete looking deer head.

 

 

Chalkboard Spice Jars

I'm all about the chalkboard paint craze.

I would make anything into a chalkboard! I've thought from the beginning that this is one of the most fun & clever trends. For awhile I've been wanting to execute this project, but I never "got around to it." Isn't it funny how we never get around to doing the things we really want to do? Instead, I find myself lounging around at night in front of the TV or browsing the facebooks. If there's one thing that has made me happiest regarding this project, it's the fact that it finally gets me doing the stuff I really wanted to be doing all along.

So I grabbed a quart of chalkboard paint from Lowe's (brand: valspar, price: $13.49) and got started on this very easy project. The pice jars are from IKEA ($2.99 for 4). I like having my spice collection displayed in matching containers, but I'm no connoisseur, so unless it was my most frequently used  spices I often had trouble telling which was which! The flat sides on these jars provided the perfect canvas for the paint. I may have painted on 5 or 6 coats of the chalkboard, but considering it's about 1.5 square inches, it wasn't too painful.

I revamped my jars by painting chalkboards for all my current spices, and then I painted 4 for you! You don't have to store spices in these--they would also be useful for beads, buttons, pins and the like.

 

(The oven was on for Luke's homemade enchiladas tonight!)

 

Purchase here.

Also, someone needs to buy these caramels! Soon they won't be fresh and I'll have to eat them all myself. Did I scare you off with the whole burnt fiasco? I think I was being dramatic, because I ate about a pound of this caramel over the weekend.

I hope you all had a happy Monday! Did you have off from work this MLK Jr. day? If you missed my story about Luke's uncle spending the night in jail with MLKJ himself, go check it out on facebook. Crazy!

A Salvaged Project & A Winner!

So, remember the caramel I made the other day? Remember how I said it was ruined? Well...let's just say that term is relative. My mom and I have been sampling the "ruined" caramel all morning and have deemed it salvageable, so I made it into a delicacy today. I'm thinking a delicacy of the smoked variety. I'm now calling them "Smoky Sea Salt Caramels". Ha! I actually really like them and I'm going to sell them in my etsy shop, but if you buy them and think they're inedible, I'll give you all your money back. Pinky swear.

 

 

I spent a lazy chatty Saturday afternoon at the kitchen table in my parents' home, talking to my mom and dad, hand-sewing little wax paper packages for the chocolates. A nice way to busy my hands during conversation and certainly an adorable packaging option. For sale here!

 

We have a giveaway winner, too!

 

Mary Dougherty, thanks for reading and commenting. Enjoy your cocoa! :)

 

His & Hers Mugs

After hearing about what I was up to this month, one of my dearest friends sent me a few words of encouragement along with links to ideas for projects. It really made my day.

One of the links took me here to this great idea for DIY monogram mugs. My project took a different route which I'm not quite sold on, but the idea is the same. Grab some of this...

 

Draw a little doodle...

 

 

 

Let dry for 24 hours, bake for 40 minutes and voila!

 

 

They're for sale, duh! Tomorrow is the last day to enter the cocoa giveaway, so leave a comment here...I'll draw a winner Friday at 11:59am EST!

DIY Natural Sea Salt & Raw Sugar Scrubs

Do any of you ladies use scrubs? I'll be honest--I don't splurge on bath products that often. I love yummy handmade bars of soap, but if you peeked at the items in my shower, that's pretty much all you'd see besides shampoo and conditioner! At night, if I get around to washing off my makeup, I use plain warm water. So when I had the chance to make some of these luxurious scrubs, I didn't hesitate to try them out myself!

There's a good chance you already have the essential ingredients for DIY bath scrubs--all it takes is salt or sugar and some sort of oil, even honey does the trick! From there it's all about the embellishments. I made a tingly rosemary mint salt scrub (coarse sea salt, organic coconut oil, fresh rosemary and peppermint essential oil) and an energizing orange sugar scrub (fresh orange juice/zest, raw sugar, honey, organic coconut oil, and sweet almond skincare oil).

After I packed your jars, I tested the leftovers on my face and hands. Because, you know, if I were to break out in crazy hives or whatever, I totally wouldn't try to sell them to you. But good news! I LOVED both of them! Here are my conclusions: the orange sugar scrub was wonderful on my face. It left me smelling sweetly orangey and not too oily once I patted my skin dry. The peppermint scrub left my face with some traces of oil, but that may be because it was the second scrub sesh. I've heard very good things about using coconut oil on your skin!

 

The ingredients.

 For sale here, as always. If you don't buy these, you should totally try this at home and give them as gifts!

 PS - Don't forget to comment below for a chance to win some deeelicious hot cocoa mix!

Blue iPad Sleeve & A Giveaway

I'm so so excited to share this project! I'm so happy with how it turned out--anything that involves sewing is always a complete gamble for me, but this really came together somehow!

I began this project thinking it could be for Luke, but he ended up choosing a nice leather case for his iPad. I had crocheted the two outer pieces long ago and never completed the project it--until today!

I can't even adequately explain how I made this because I honestly don't know. I can tell you that I used a simple single crochet stitch to make two outer pieces which I crocheted together on three sides to make the shell. Then, using my sewing machine, I folded some fabric in half and stitched up the sides to make the liner. I then inserted the liner, hemmed the top edges and hand-stitched them to the crocheted shell. Lastly, I sewed a belt buckle and an old sash to the outside so you can enclose the iPad safely inside. In other words, I had a vague plan in mind, and from there I proceeded to wing it.

Do you have an iPad? We love ours. This sleeve will be really great to toss the iPad into when you want to carry it in your bag without risk of damage. The inside fabric is super soft and pretty, and will protect the screen from scratches and ugliness. Please go buy it here! It took hours to make and I'm selling it for a super affordable price. Because I love you.

 

Also, the elephant in the room is that I didn't make anything on Friday. Sigh. Stuff happens and there were some work-related things that came up--thus I bailed. But to make up for it, I have a little giveaway for you! YAY! While in Chicago for Christmas, I visited the most amazing spice shop. Luke's mom loves to frequent it when she visits, so his Aunt Becky took us there. Love at first sight.

This hot cocoa mix is incredible. The shop owner let me have a little taste and I really wanna keep it for myself, but to thank you for reading this month (& especially for buying!) I'm giving away this 8 oz. bag to one of you readers. Leave a comment letting me know what your go-to spice is and I'll pick a winner this Friday! For an extra entry, tweet a link to this blog post or post on Facebook (or both!) and leave an additional comment letting me know you did!

 

Thanks for your continued support. Keep reading & sharing! :)

Rosette Clothespins

I have a thing for clothespins. I use them everywhere! I stick magnets to the back of them and use them on my fridge (I've even been known to cut fabric to size for the front), I hot glue tacks to the back and use them on my corkboard, and I'm forever adding embellishments to cuten them up (that's right, I just said "cuten").

I have a clothespin stash that I dipped into for today's craft (which, yes, is beginning at 9:45pm. This whole make-a-craft-a-day thing is not as easy as it sounds). I got the rosette idea from Pinterest and then this craft pretty much made itself. Pretty much.

Here is the rosette tutorial. Have I ever mentioned how much I love glue guns? It's the perfect quick-fix/craft tool. (PS: My favorite ever Glee quote is from Terri Schuester in season 1: "It's not a bad thing, Will, to want a real life...or to have a glue gun that works!!!") Oh, and though it will make me sound like a huge clothespin-nerd, I have to mention that these aren't your everyday clothespins. They're not like the wimpy clothespins you buy in the store nowadays. These are strong, sturdy, hold-your-wet-clothes-on-the-line clothespins they used back in a time when you actually used them for clothes! I got them at a thrift store.

I feel like Anthropologie might sell these for $32.

 

 

For sale here. Tell your friends!

Project 2 : Crocheted Heart Garland

I learned how to make these tiny hearts last year and I even kept some on our Christmas tree this season (they were the only ornaments my niece insisted she needed to take home with her). I learned how to make them here, although there are many tutorials for this type of thing online. When I had a good number, I just strung them together using a craft needle and yarn. They pretty much look cute anywhere.

 

 

For sale here.

Project 1 : Natural Beeswax Candle

Off to a fantastic start! 5pm, better late than never.

I began my project as the sun was setting today. This past weekend, I picked up a block of natural beeswax from the Rochester Public Market. Tonight I found out how easy it is to make candles.

 

 

I've been thinking about making my own candles for awhile now. I really enjoy burning them, but I've always been wary of certain ones. Are they ridden with chemicals? Are they dangerous to the earth? Are there natural alternatives? In researching the candle-making with my hunk of beeswax I found out some really amazing facts. I'm now convinced beeswax is the way to go.

 

Beeswax is a 100% natural fuel made by our friends the honeybees.
Beeswax candles are naturally scented by the honey and nectar of flowers.
Beeswax candles naturally emit negative ions, cleaning the air and invigorating the body.

Beeswax burns cleaner and longer than paraffin or soy.
Paraffin is a byproduct of petroleum, and burning paraffin candles emits toxins and carcinogens in your air.
Although soy is a healthy alternative to paraffin, the truth is that soy has a very dirty carbon footprint. Soy is one of the most heavily sprayed crops with chemical pesticides. It’s one of the main causes of deforestation in the amazon and is almost always genetically modified.
Beeswax is a natural and renewable resource.

Quoted from this amazing etsy shop 


 

To make my candle, I placed the hunk of beeswax a tin can in a pot of simmering water. I waited for it to melt, dunked a strand of hemp for a wick, and poured the wax into a jar.

 

 

And what better/more adorable than a doily to hold the wick in place while the wax dried? Nothing. That's what.

 

 

For sale here.

 

The January Project

I gave up Facebook and Twitter for the month of January, 2011.

It wasn't exactly a New Year's resolution; I simply wanted to try it, and I ended up sticking to it and even enjoying it. I found in the duration of that month just how much I could accomplish those hours my nose wasn't stuck to my laptop screen. Though not life-changing or significantly habit-breaking (February 1st I was back to updating my statuses religiously), I would call it a success, and this year I want to employ another month-long project.

I recently read Donald Miller's newest book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years in which he goes into great detail about the elements of a story. Relating his life to a story in its most basic form, he describes what is called an inciting incident--a principal based on the fact that characters don't change unless they are forced to change. That is, an inciting incident is that which forces a character into his or her destiny (they never choose their destiny, they are always forced into their destiny). Miller begins to use inciting incidents in his own life to get himself out of the house or into good health; for example, he is overweight and agrees to a four day hike to Machu Picchu with a girl he's interested in. He can't complete the hike in the shape he's in, nor had he mustered up the courage to ask the girl out, so now he must start working out consistently and spend days with her, having committed to the trip.

This January I am going to make something every day, Monday through Friday, and blog about the items each day. I've been disappointed in my lack of blogging and my lack of handmaking (what's the point of a blog with such a word in the title if the content reflects nothing of the sort?) and want to improve upon each. Plus, I expect the time I'll spend creating will cut into my internet time substantially. This is my inciting incident.

Furthermore, I'm going to sell all the items I make in my etsy shop and the proceeds will go to my younger brother, John, who is attending the Center for Creative Media in Texas. It's a program designed to train him for a career in media arts, an area in which he is exceptionally talented. His participation in the program is hinging on the support he is able to raise, and he is currently coming up short (in the next few weeks he needs to raise about $1000). Your purchases will directly fund his education.

I'll begin tomorrow. I'm really excited for all the creating that's going to happen this first month of the year! Please feel free to spread the word to anyone you think might be interested in this project, my blog, or supporting my brother. Thank you and a very happy new year to all!