Stamped


THE GREEN, THE BAG, THE ICON
April 26, 2010, 3:21 pm
Filed under: frocks + finery, inspiration, london lovin'

I went to see the Grace Kelly exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum on Friday, and came away inspired never to leave the house without makeup again.

Well, ok, not really, but what an extraordinarily beautiful woman, with, appropriately for her position, such an acute sense of image, and of how to wear clothes so that she is noticed well before and beyond what she is wearing.

And, she could wear white like no other.  By far my favourite image from the exhibit wasn’t from a display but rather a bit of silent film footage from a montage of Princess Grace and Prince Albert attending various balls, fancy dress events, etc.  The image was from Princess Grace at Le Bal de Petits Lits Blancs in the Ballroom of Powerscourt House, Co, Wicklow, July 1965.  She shimmered and sparkled in the subtlest, prettiest of ways, even on the grainy black and white footage.  You’ll have to imagine from the yellowed newspaper coverage…

A reasonable consolation for their only having her civil wedding dress and not the cathedral gown was that the exhibit did feature her real live Hermes handbag — the Kelly bag before it was a Kelly bag.  Sigh.

Speaking of namesakes, the friend that attended with me wondered if this suit — worn to the White House for lunch with Jack and Jackie and my favourite piece of daywear on display — inspired “Kelly Green”?

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COLOUR(ING)FUL COOKIES
December 18, 2009, 12:18 pm
Filed under: london lovin', yummy in the tummy

So remember when I banished food colouring from my decorative baking adventures?  I must confess, I’ve had a bit of a relapse…

Last night, with a friend I took a holiday cookie decorating (well, it was called biscuit decorating, but they mean cookies!) class at the lovely Make Lounge in London’s Islington.  It was great fun to play with the shapes and colours, enjoy with a little edible bling (my goodness is Christmas sparkly in the UK) and learn a few tips and tricks…

But I can’t help feeling, as I did with my summer birthday cupcakes — what’s in that coloured fondant and Royal Icing anyway?  OK, I know there’s not really much to offend (sugar, water, egg whites), but why put something that really doesn’t taste very nice on top of that gorgeous gingerbread cookie??

The colours are certainly pretty, and while I like a little glitter as much as the next girl (well, maybe not quite as much), I think I’d rather my food look like food…

I had a peek at my *favourite* cupcake shop for inspiration and, happily, they didn’t disappoint.  I think I’ll be doing a batch of gingerbread cookies and a batch of sugar cookies to take with me to our festive gatherings on Christmas Day, and inspired by the Enjoy Cupcakes holiday menu, they might be adorned with spices and sugar, stem ginger, candied nuts, dried cranberries and crushed candy canes (OK, OK, that one’s not so natural, but what a fun idea, no?).  And maybe a bit of icing, but maybe buttercream instead of Royal (bringing it along so people can ice for themselves?), and maybe flavoured with vanilla, maple, or orange…

Check back post-Christmas for photos of the results of my experiment!

And in the meantime, my mom’s recipe (originally from Better Homes & Gardens, the recipe card says) for my favourite cookies, at Christmastime or any time of the year…

SNICKERDOODLES

1 cup butter, softened (I use unsalted organic)
2 cups sugar (I use unrefined)
2 eggs (free range and/or organic if possible)
1/4 cup milk (using whole instead of skim is slightly yummier)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 3/4 cups all-purpose/plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
(optional:  1 cup chopped nuts — I never use these though!)

Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy (several minutes in my Kitchen Aid, I find).  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Blend in milk and vanilla.  Thoroughly stir together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended.

Form dough into 1-inch balls. (Roll each ball in a mixture of 3/4 cup Demerara sugar, 2+ teaspoons cinnamon and 1/2+ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg.)  Place balls 2 inches apart on cookie sheet (greased, or lined with silicone liner).  Flatten with the sugared bottom of a tumbler.

Bake 10-12 minutes in preheated 375 degree oven.

(Cookies will keep for several days in an airtight container, but after about the second day they benefit hugely from 10 seconds in the microwave before eating.)

{Makes about 5 dozen cookies.}



STAMP’S MARKET DEBUT
November 18, 2009, 9:06 am
Filed under: london lovin', pretty paper by me

A few pictures from STAMP‘s public debut last week at Boutique de Noel:

{As much as I love my iPhone, I must apologize for the quality of the photos…}

It was rewarding and inspiring to see people’s great reactions to the new letterpress holiday cards, correspondence cards and hand-stamped gift tags, as well as my portfolio of custom work.  The cards and tags are still available in STAMP’s shiny new online shop, and it’s not too late to order photo cards if that’s what you prefer.  Sample photo card designs are in the Bespoke & Custom section, along with the selection of announcements and invitations you’ll find there all year round.

The market experience reinforced for me just how important it is to show people my work in person, particularly the letterpress — I see many more markets in STAMP’s future so look for news on this soon!  Next up is the Hampstead Women’s Club Holiday Marketplace on Saturday 28 November at Rosslyn Hill Church, 3 Pilgrim’s Place, near Haverstock Hill, London NW3 1NG.



MEET STAMP!
November 10, 2009, 12:05 am
Filed under: london lovin', pretty paper by me

BDN_Digital_Invite

Meet STAMP: studio + paperie in person this week at Boutique de Noel, a fantastic holiday shopping event for charity in London, 12-13 November: www.jll.org.uk/bdn.  I’ll debuting some new letterpress holiday card designs and some gorgeous hand-stamped gift tags.  I’ll also showcase my portfolio of custom work, so if yours is more of a photo card kind of household, you’ll find something as well!  Enter the raffle for a chance to win a free bespoke design… There is a small fee to enter the market, but the proceeds benefit the very worthy charitable cause of helping to alleviate poverty in London.

If you cannot make it to Boutique de Noel, you can now see and purchase holiday cards in STAMP’s shiny new online shop:  just visit www.stamppaper.co.uk and click on Ready-to-Write.  The sample photo card designs are in the Bespoke & Custom section, along with the selection of announcements and invitations you’ll find there all year round.

Hope you are enjoying the start of the holiday season!



BY WAY OF EXPLANATION, II
October 23, 2009, 10:39 am
Filed under: inspiration, london lovin'

YAO Event Invitation_JG_Hiatus

I’ve been busy lately, and only a small part of it has been about making beautiful stationery…sigh.  But it’s all for a good cause.

Thursday next week will be the official launch of a new volunteer group that I’ve been helping to develop, at an event I’ve been at the helm of planning.  The group is called Young Ambassadors for Opportunity, a really diverse (culturally, personally, professionally) group of young Londoners committed to transforming the lives of the poor through microfinance.  As you may know, microfinance enables poor people to work their way out of poverty by providing small loans and other basic financial services that make a lasting difference — it helps people help themselves. In particular YAO supports the work of Opportunity International, the largest charity in the UK specialising solely in microfinance in the developing world.

This cause resonated me as a new entrepreneur, and it feels good to both use my design skills as well as the marketing and event planning skills I have from my previous life as a PR, for such a “higher” purpose.  I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to pursue a dream and do work that I love.  I find microfinance such a compelling and satisfying cause to support because it takes so little, in Western world terms, to offer a similar kind of entrepreneurial opportunity to someone in need in a developing region.  The results are tangible, and often profound.

Next week’s event will be at a very cool space in Shoreditch, Blackall Studios, for a microfinance fundraiser.  There will be a photography exhibit by Giles Duley — he is sponsored by various patrons and travels around developing regions like Africa and Bangladesh capturing their struggles and triumphs and the results are gorgeous, poignant and moving.  The music will be courtesy of Hiatus, a DJ whose work I highly recommend checking out (warning, clicking on the link plays music straight away!).  Plus yummy snacks, and drinks donated by Spier Wines and Diageo.  And a raffle that offers a chance to win some bespoke stationery by yours truly, or a host of other prizes (wine, gift certificates, photography).

The entrance fee is about what you might spend on this kind of night out anyway, but it goes to a wonderful, worthwhile cause.  And the people I’ve been working on this with are interesting, engaging and fun.  It’s going to be a great night.  Click here for tickets and more details.

Stay tuned next week for my take on comfort food, a new online magazine I’m thrilled about (shades of Domino, hallelujah!), a London launch I’m also thrilled about, and news of where to find me in person in London next month, with holiday cards and gifts galore on offer.