Football Rules (Wednesday, 1.30.13)

January 30, 2013

Football Rules…

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There’s no arguing that football rules this weekend — the championship game will take place on Sunday determining which conference team, American or National, will take home the Vince Lombardi Trophy. First played in 1967, this game has become so popular that many consider it a national holiday. Here is some fun trivia:

  • It is the second-largest food consumption day after Thanksgiving.
  • Of the ten most-watched television shows of all time, nine of them are the “Big Game”.
  • The average cost to run a 30-second commercial during the game is just under $3 million.
  • An estimated 1 billion chicken wings are consumed on Sunday and no, there isn’t a shortage!
  • Antacid sales typically spike by 20% on Monday following the game–go figure.

So, whether you’re a diehard 49ers or Ravens fan, intrigued by the first-time test of brotherly love as the Harbaugh coaches battle for number 1 status, or you just like to watch the commercials–enjoy the show! And, remember, you can always resume your “Get Fit’ resolution post-game.

In the mood board: Fowl Play Talking Card from American Greetings

Time Quote (Friday, 1.25.13)

January 25, 2013

The Gift of Time…

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Meet the Artist (1.23.13)

January 23, 2013

Meet the Artist…

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Did you know that today is National Handwriting Day? It’s a day to celebrate the purity and power of putting pen to paper which is why we decided to feature one of our very talented handlettering artists.  Martha Ericson is truly inspired by the pure craft of lettering and what can be creatively achieved by hand. Here’s what she has to say:

When did you first realize you are an artist?

I was nearly thirty years old.  Everything I had done up to then boiled down to the realization that I was an artist who wanted to combine words and images. I remember the wonder I felt at being hired at a studio in Washington, D.C., and thinking,  “Wow, I really CAN do this.”

What is your position at American Greetings and what is your background as an artist?

My position is Senior Lettering Designer in the Graphics Studio. I’ve been here for 12 years, but I have been a lettering artist for close to 30 years!

Could you tell us some more about your work?

I have always loved beautiful letterforms as well as words, poetry and music. For me, these things provide a clear framework to life. I have a degree in Comparative Literature, and I did a lot of training to learn classical forms of lettering, as well as graphic art and typography.  I’ve also been a letterpress printer.  So I guess you could say my work  is a creative blending of all these disciplines. I also feel I’m just starting to get back to my own work after taking time to raise my two kids.

What is it that inspires you when creating a particular design or graphic piece?

For me, it usually starts with the words.   But I do love a good line, and I could keep myself working the rest of my life exploring the relationship between black and white.

What’s your favorite design ever created and why?

I have two pieces that I really like. One is a chalk lettering design done for a thank you card and the other is a continuous line drawing of a dog, I named Bella. Both pieces utilized more traditional tools, but also presented a fun challenge in “hand work”.

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Are there any famous artists or graphic designers who have influenced you?

First, I would have to say Japanese artist, Kiyoshi Saito–I have one of his woodblock prints that depicts a mountain village in the snow.  It is all in shades of black, white and grey and is a beautiful balance of shapes and contrasts.  Also, Ben Shahn, early Saul Steinberg, many childrens’ book illustrators of the 20th century, medieval and renaissance calligraphers, printers, illuminators and woodblock artists, plus calligraphers from the 2oth century like Sheila and Julian Waters, Carl Rohrs, Herman Zapf…I could go on and on.

What inspires you to create your designs and how do you stay motivated?

Craft is what inspires me. I’m definitely more interested in the amazing things people do by hand than in what is possible by computer, though there are some pretty amazing artists working exclusively in the digital world. At work, I’m motivated by new challenges. There’s always something: a new style, the chance to design a new typeface, learning new techniques on the computer, etc. As for my personal work, the issue is trying to get my mind to settle and not be overwhelmed by everything flying by my mind’s eye.

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Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I haven’t stopped to really think about that yet. I probably would like to do more relief prints, which are carvings from wood or linoleum that are inked and transferred to paper, as well as a children’s book and more new fonts…

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

Take care of your eyesight and your health.  Keep the wonder and enjoy the privilege of being able to get lost in the act of creating things. Don’t be afraid and be open to everything.

What do you do for fun?

I read, dance, garden, cook, ride my bike, run.  Sleep.  🙂

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday, 1.21.13)

January 21, 2013

Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Support Quote (Friday, 1.18.13)

January 18, 2013

It’s the Little Things…

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Support (Wednesday, 1.16.13)

January 16, 2013

Lean On Me…

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Life can definitely throw us some curveballs and there is a lot of comfort in knowing that friends and family care. Perhaps someone you know is going through an illness, financial hardship, a divorce or struggling with a child, you’ll want to let them know you’re there for them. It can be as simple as sending a card, picking up the phone to talk or making time to visit. It’s certainly easy to be a good friend in the good times, but when things get tough, the key is being supportive and that means listening, offering encouragement, not necessarily advice and above all, being available.

In the mood board: I’m Here for You ecard from American Greetings

How to bring cheer (Monday 1.14.13)

January 14, 2013

How To Brighten Someone’s Day…

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The holidays are over, and winter is in full force, with cold weather and short days.

Many people experience “the blues” after all the festivities are over, and still others might be down because of stress, work, poor health and other factors. This is a wonderful time to reach out—and in the process, it will lift your spirits, too! Here are some ideas:

Plan a Get-Together: If you are nearby, it’s a nice idea to make plans to get together for coffee or dinner. Offer to do the driving, but if they don’t want to go out, you can at least visit. Arrive with flowers or a plant, and perhaps something yummy to eat, like fresh-baked cookies. If you’re far away, you can still send a lovely arrangement to boost their spirits. Bright colors and springtime fragrances are always mood enhancers. Or, simply pick up the phone and call. Nothing warms the heart like hearing the voice of someone who cares.

Make it Personal: A card is always welcome, and be sure to give thought to what the receiver would like, whether it’s a funny, sweet or heartfelt card. Pictures or even a photo card that shows people they love or favorite pets can also bring an extra measure of cheer. A handwritten note or personalized message is important, too. Be supportive, but also include a positive message: bring up happy memories shared, or fun times that are coming up.

Get Smart: In this world of iPads, iPhones and in general, smart technology, you can lift someone’s spirits with a simple touch of a key. Send them links to apps or websites they might like, such as a joke for the day to make them laugh, a daily message of inspiration, or even a game site to add some fun.

So make a difference in someone’s life and remember: “Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” ~ Sir James Barrie

Begin It Quote (Friday, 1.11.13)

January 11, 2013

Believe in Yourself…

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New Beginnings (Wednesday, 1.9.13)

January 9, 2013

You Can Do It…

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En-cour-age: to inspire with courage, spirit or confidence.

Interestingly, the word itself comes from a combination of the prefix “en” which means “to put into” and the Latin word “cor” which means heart.  The act of encouragement is a powerful motivator in helping others “to take heart” especially when life gets tough. Think about what encourages you – is it kind words, praise, a card with a personal note, an unexpected visit or gift? Whatever it is, don’t be shy about doing those same things for others to show that you care. It was Maya Angelou who said: “I have found out among its other benefits, giving encouragement liberates the soul”

In the mood board: You Can Do It ecard from American Greetings

How To Keep Resolutions (Monday, 1.7.13)

January 7, 2013

Tips For Keeping Your Resolutions…

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New Year’s resolutions are made with the best of intentions, but as most of us know, that can-do attitude can falter early. Here are some helpful hints on how to stay focused when trying to keep these popular resolutions:

Spend More Quality Time with Family and Friends

Some simple ways to help you get a bit more “you” back into your relationships can include:

  • Be thoughtful – Remember special days like birthdays and anniversaries or just get better at “sayin’ hi” with an ecard, paper card or handwritten note. Try setting up a desktop calendar to help you remember these days and even preschedule your ecards up to a year in advance.
  • Tone trumps text – Yes, texting is easier and does serve its purpose, but hearing the tone of someone’s voice is always more personal. You may even want to set up a specific time and call it a “phone date”, so that you can talk and not be interrupted.
  • Make a date – Use an online reminder service to schedule a date with your friends once a month—a regular “girls night out” or “meet-up anywhere” strategy keeps bonds strong.

Lose Weight

Resolving to lose weight is an important, but difficult goal for many. Stay on track and motivated by incorporating these tips into your routine:

  • Set realistic goals – the key here is to start slow and make a plan.  You didn’t gain the unwanted weight in a day or a week, so don’t expect to lose it that quickly. Make a specific plan vs. just saying “I want to lose weight.” For example, you may want to lose 5 pounds by the end of January.
  • Say cheese – Take a photo of yourself in the beginning and then repeat every 4 weeks. That way it’s not all about the scale, but about how you actually look!
  • Keep a food journal – Writing down your eating habits allows you to see where there’s room for improvement and where you’re succeeding. It is your proof of effort.
  • Pantry overhaul – Post holidays is the perfect time to clean out the “junk food” hiding in your cupboards and fridge. Replace it with fresh veggies and fruits and ditch the soda for low-sugar fruit juices and water.

Get Fit

So, whether this resolution is in conjunction with losing weight or just about exercising more, here are a few more helpful hints:

  • Move! – Increasing your activity level will burn more calories and boost your energy. Consult your doctor or a trainer to determine the best routine for you.  A mix of stretching, cardio and strength training will deliver good results. And, remember if you can’t get to a gym, simple things like taking short walks or using the stairs more will help move your body towards your goal.
  • Set a goal – This is just like losing weight.  Don’t just say “I need to exercise more”, but set a goal like signing up to run a 5K race in the spring!
  •  Lean on your friends – If you have a buddy or neighbor with the same goals, use them as a support system. Having someone to exercise with will help keep you on track and honest in actually getting the physical work done.

It has been said that every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. What are your resolutions for 2013 and how do you plan to accomplish them?

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