25 November 2011

food values

Bought this lovely trio of cookbooks from the ever-gracious Bonnie a few weeks back. And now, as the days grow darker and the holiday season starts off with a gobble, it seems the perfect time to bring them back out. Because the winter winds, as bitter as they can be, also have a way of bringing us together. And so, for that matter, does food... 

With the end of a successful Thanksgiving feast, and the start of a busy yuletide season, I am ever more reminded at the healing capacities of cooking real food. It nourishes us, it teaches us, it comforts us. It provides context, and history, and calm. My only hope is that we can instill this appreciation in our future generations, because while pizza is delicious, it is most certainly not a vegetable

[On a side note, excuse the recent lack of posts. Notions & Potions had been busy, and also perhaps bit existentially uncertain about her relevancy and relationship to the internet and the greater blogging community.] 

29 September 2011

reading, writing, and

Exploring Arithmetic, copyright 1958 by Webster Publishing Company

There's a crispness to the air today that reminds me of plaid uniform skirts and pumpkin muffins for breakfast, of pencil cases and new backpacks, of spelling tests, library books, and arithmetic. I never was attracted to math, yet I can't help but want to pull out a hand-crank pencil sharpener and spend an early evening filling in these whimsical pages. 

The desire to keep learning is strong, and the mind questions whether my current path is the right one. In this Autumn air, I long for academia. 

08 September 2011

telling stories

I am pleased to present some sneak peeks of the first two picture books I had the pleasure of designing for Chronicle Books this past year: Stephen Shaskan's ever-so-cheeky A Dog is a Dog, and Bob Barner's Animal Baths

Despite some recent naysaying, the picture book still remains as the pivotal format of classic children's literature. Deceptively simple in design and format, picture book design relies heavily on the outstanding talents of the illustrator, whose personal vision and rendering style carry the spirit and drive the narrative of the book. In this case, the role of the designer becomes that of a composer–the invisible presence who shapes the composition through quiet direction while letting the voice of the illustrator shine. I had the privilege or working with some amazing (and patient!) illustrators, and through many rounds of sketches and typographic exploration, these books are complete. They are ready to sit on a nightstand somewhere, waiting for those quiet moments before bedtime, when their pages will be turned, and their stories told. 

The Target Children's Book Festival is this Saturday, and Minneapolis' own Stephen Shaskan will be there! Will you?

16 August 2011

good things to eat

Been spending a lot of long-overdue time in the kitchen lately,whipping up some good things to eat–my gluten-free versions of some of the classics. Thank you, Babycakes and Elana for the inspiration. When life gives you lemons, you bake!

Anyone want a bite? I'd love to whip you up a batch of something sweet.

22 July 2011

creative playthings

I've been positively gaga over this über retro catalog of children's toys from the 70s, plucked from a thrift store and sent to me all the way from the mean streets of Philadelphia (thank you, Jenny)!

Lately it's been reminding me of all that I believe in–a ray of sunshine through the clouds. Because we'd all like to believe that the world is still joyful and good. 

10 July 2011

red, white, blue

In the madness of last week, I had no chance to celebrate one of my all-time favorite color schemes. So here's three cheers for the red, white, and blue! Polka, bingo, and round playing cards?! These patriotic bits look like the start of a fantastic evening...

05 July 2011

invaluable curiosity

Letterpress illustration by Sara Gillingham.

And now I am back in the land of lakes, one of a few places I consider home. It was hard to end one chapter and start another, but with every turn of the page comes more depth and growth and discovery. I am grateful to all the characters who have graced the pages of my book, and am looking forward to the work that lies ahead!

"And now, my friend, you must give me your complete attention. It is simply this: do not tire, never lose interest, never grow indifferent–lose your invaluable curiosity and you let yourself die. It's as simple as that."
Tove Jansson, Fair Play

21 June 2011


I've been totally smitten with Japanese children's book design these days. They are a culture that seems to truly embrace visual play, conjuring an endearing sweetness without being overly saccharine. I want to learn to set type in Japanese!

On that note, I am honored to be starting to work on some new products for Chronicle Books featuring the must-beloved illustrations of Taro Gomi. The summer promises to be playful and new; please stay-tuned.

03 June 2011

pictures and words

The Little Fireman, text by Margaret Wise Brown, pictures by Esphyr Slobodkina, 1938

Been diving into this rather archaic compendium as of late; an expansive look at the picturebook throughout American history. I love the restraint and simplicity of the spreads above, and am reminded of the power of a well-designed book. Designers, after all, are also storytellers; creators of wonderment and curiosity; soothsayers of the unseen and the intangible...

"A picturebook is text, illustrations, total design; an item of manufacture and a commercial product; a social, cultural, historical document; and, foremost, an experience for a child.

As an art form it hinges on the interdependence of pictures and words, on the simultaneous display of two facing pages, and on the drama of the turning of the page.

On it's own terms its possibilities are limitless."
American Picturebooks from Noah's Ark to The Beast Within, by Barbara Bader

23 May 2011


I've had the great pleasure to work on a few projects with the oh-so-gracious and spirited author/illustrator Bob Barner over this past year, and here is a sneak peek at our forthcoming release! An ANIMALS! Matching Game, to be released by Chronicle Books in Fall 2011.

20 May 2011

happy hues

For those days at work when my brain feels like a Sloppy Joe, when I feel jaded and overwhelmed by the influx of information on a screen, when few things seem inspirational or motivational, I often partake in a computer break, go sit in a quiet place, and pull out the Pantone swatch books. Call me crazy, but there are few things more soothing than the simple act of playing and pairing together those dainty little chips.

Last Fall, with that in mind, I came up with a concept for Pantone Swatch blocks, a set of square blocks featuring an array of happy hues that could be stacked and sorted in an endless amount of ways by both children and adults alike; a simultaneous exercise in the theories behind and healing powers of color. 

After pitching it to Chronicle Books during my design fellowship here, my idea was sadly not immediately picked up, though the general idea was well-received. At the very least I have planted a seed, and perhaps it is simply waiting to sprout...And with that, I will leave you with this: A colorful classic by Mr. Glass.

19 May 2011


Aimee With Corn, by Corbert Gauthier. May 2010.

A new season approaches, as well as a journey back to a place at once familiar and brand new. And with this impending journey comes a harvest, as I gather together the collected components of my reality, and consider all that lies ahead.

I only desire to find true purpose; to plant my feet in a place of meaning for awhile; to come to terms with the never-ending balance of work vs. life, of connection vs. disconnection, of the stagnant smell of an office air-conditioner vs. the freedom of green grass beneath my feet. Where does the sidewalk end?

09 May 2011

grow together

I had the great privilege this past Saturday to spend a sunny Berkeley afternoon in Alice Waters' infamous Edible Schoolyard, surrounded by a community of warm, passionate, and energetic people who believe in the nurturing and educational power of teaching our children to grow, cook, and eat together. It made me long for a dirt patch to call my own, and a community of hands to get dirty with, working together in some small way to lift up and cradle our world...

"Most of all, we used this place to express a core belief: Beauty is not a luxury; it is a means of lifting the human spirit and of giving richness to everyday life."

For more information about Alice Waters, The Edible Schoolyard, and the Chez Panisse Foundation, look here.