The Classics Get a Facelift

I know. You're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I can't help it! In my last post, I even fell in love with a lovely leather cover that doesn't have a real book inside...that's a first! 

As an English major and lover of well-written words, I've read plenty of good books with bad covers. Just think of The Classics: timeless stories and masterfully written, but the covers...barely smiling Victorian women with half-open eyes in the form of poorly reproduced oil paintings? No thank you. 

Which one would you be more inclined to take home and read?

Same novel, same great author, same publisher even. But this time...book cover bliss! Penguin Classics nailed it with these graphically appealing covers, and cloth covers at that! Ahhh...the feel of a cloth cover! Beats those high-tech readers any day!

I knew Jane Austen's novels had serious potential with all of their romance and feminine appeal, but who knew Great Expectations could be so attractive? Love the chandelier design! And leave it to Anthropolgie to add that extra something special...a simple piece of string and felt for easy gift-giving (I snapped this photo in December, so that's a snowflake, but you could do the same with a cupcake or heart-shape).

Even as an English major, I managed to avoid Jane Eyre until five or six years ago. It just never "looked" good. Bad name, bad cover art. It wasn't until I found a sweet little cloth-covered version (before these new Penguin ones were released) that I decided to read it. Talk about an incredible portrait of Gospel love (a love far greater than anything we ever dared to imagine)! I think I'll add the new Penguin Classic to my collection and read it again!

If you'd like to learn more about the inspiration behind these new cover designs, hop on over to design*sponge for an interview with the designer.

My Granny read Pride and Prejudice annually (with a boring ol' cover). I love re-reading it and thinking of her, and if she were still alive, I'd give her this one:

How about you...which is your favorite Classic? Or which one would you most like to read now that they look so good?


Book Book Love

"You knocked it out of the ballpark!"

When a guy says that after opening his birthday present, you've got to spread the word! To all the wives of hard-to-shop-for-husbands, here's a winner:

My husband flipped. I smiled. Thank you, Twelve South!

The BookBook.

My husband loves the way it feels (soft and leathery); I adore the way it looks (like a real antique). I wouldn't even mind if he left this on the coffee table...or on the bedside...or gave it to me! Tee hee!

As with most clever techie things, this is a "Mac only" product, but don't despair, PC friends. There's another way to make your husband's day the next time you give him a gift:

Wrap your gift in simple brown kraft paper. Grab some colorful markers and write YOU ARE in large letters at the top. Follow it with a running list that tells him all the things he is to you. A few serious thoughts, a few playful ones, but don't forget to throw a little "Respect and Admire" somewhere in there!

P.S. The Lovelies contest was narrowed down to the Top Five in each category today, and thanks to YOU, I am #2 in the paper goods category! Little ol' me! Great big YOU! The contest coordinator made a point to say that she's especially enjoying the comments people are leaving for the lesser known shops. I may be small potatoes, but your comments make me feel huge! Thank you! Voting continues through Feb 28. Be sure to check out the other creative shops while you're there!


My First Color Chart

Things are happening over here in the LLH Designs studio! It's been an intensely creative week in the world of stationery design, and I'm almost ready to release my new collection. But perhaps the biggest feat this week is this:

My first ever color chart! It looks like an easy thing to do...and now that I'm finished, I'm wondering why it was so hard to pick a handful of good colors and stick with them.

Oh...I know why! Because I have this crazy obsession with tweaking colors until they can't be tweaked. Crazy as it sounds, this is one obsession that has healthy roots. When I started LLH Designs in 2004, my singular focus was creating custom Christmas cards. I didn't need a color chart (and still don't use one). I just let the client's photo be my guide. Hand selecting colors that bring out the best in the client's photo is one of the little things I do that sets me apart from large card companies, and it's a service I delight in providing to my card clients.

But stationery is a different ball game. More matter-of-fact-ish.

So why create a color chart after all this time? To make it easier for you to know what you you're choosing.

Each color now has a recognizable name inspired by the way I see those colors reflected in God's creation, which means less confusion from one computer screen to another. The color may look slightly different on your screen than mine, but at least you have a name to go with it so that you have a better idea of what to expect on paper.

After all, I wouldn't want you to think my favorite pale blue with gray undertones and a hint of green is a boring ol' gray, so it now has a name: PROVENCE...inspired by things I love in Provence, like this door: 

And these shutters below inspired a lighter, more weathered version of PROVENCE, which I call SEASALT...a nod to the way salty, coastal air subdues a color over time.

Unusual but true: I don't use black or gray in any of my designs unless someone asks for it. What people sometimes mistake for black in my designs is really a deep, rich chocolate brown...which I LOVE in combination with PROVENCE and SEASALT!

I must confess (that's what blogs are for, right?): there are times when a particular design (or a person's age or style) begs for a slight variation, so while my new chart will be my guide (and yours, too), I'll still tweak along the way. I can't help myself when it comes to obsessing over details 99.9% of you would never notice! I'm funny like that. Wink!

P.S. I'm not the color namer for finger nail polish or lipstick! Can you imagine?!?!


Love Just for You!

Just in case your love tank wasn't filled up on Valentine's Day, I've got a few drops to add...in the form of some handmade goods I found on Etsy.

The first little love note for you today is from a shop called Persimmon & Pink.

Isn't that a simple yet cheerful way to remind us of who we really are? I'm ordering a pair of these for my girls to hang in their bathrooms...the place where girls spend an increasing amount of time working on their "identity" (aka: outward appearance).

The second love note is from Brookish and comes to us in a most unexpected form...a dish towel!
And not just any ol' dish towel, but a "Mr. Darcy Proposal" dish towel! Swoon! I'd wash a thousand dishes if these words were uttered to me while I did it! Tee hee!

Fortunately, the words in the first love note - I AM A CHILD OF GOD - are uttered to us each and every day. Those are real words, true words, just for you words.

Isaiah 43:1

Have a BRIGHT and LOVELY day, Dear Children!

P.S. Speaking of love...thank you for loving LLH Designs (and me!) with your vote in "The Lovelies." LLH Designs is tied for second place! Such lavish comments...such love! You are the BEST!


To The One I Respect & Admire

If you don't have a card for your Valentine just yet (don't forget your daddy, girls!), don't despair. I've got something for you!

But first, there's a big secret you must know (from a fabulous book called Love and Respect): I love you aren't the words men are longing to hear. I dare you to leave those three little words right out of your card this year and see what happens!

WHAT?!?! That's nuts! EVERYONE likes to be loved. Yes, they do, but this is where it gets weird: the words "I love you" don't mean the same thing to a man that they do to a woman. Those three little words don't light their fire. We might as well be speaking Greek (Dr. Eggerichs calls it "speaking pink" in his book)! So what is it we are supposed to say or write when what we feel is love? Are you ready for this??? I respect you...I admire you. Simple as that.

I laughed out loud when I heard this. That's IT? No XOXO and hand-drawn hearts? No "I love you" written ANYWHERE in the note? Every man in our Love and Respect group nodded a huge YES. Who knew?!?!

This revelation inspired a card design unlike any other...a card made for a man.
"To the one I respect and admire."
Just ask my husband how much he loves getting one of these...any day of the year! And of course you add the handwritten note with a few specifics telling him what you admire or respect about him and boom...he's full of LOVE (for you)!
I want as many ladies as possible to have an appealing way of offering these words to the men in their lives, and since I can't put wings on these cards and fly them over, here's a free "make-it-yourself" download:
{Sorry, but the link is no longer active.}

I like to print directly onto small (3 1/2 x 5) watercolor cards, but here's what I'd do if I didn't have those on hand:

1. Print (on nice white or ecru paper)
2. Cut (leave as much white space as desired; use deckled edge scissors to jazz it up)
3. Glue (to cardstock or construction paper; use scrapbooking dots for a "raised" look).
4. Write (a few lines specifying what you respect or admire about him)
5. Repeat (often!)

Happy card making! And if you'd like to give a little love back to LLH Designs, feel free to vote in a fun little contest called "The Lovelies" - a contest for blogs and handmade shops. I'm in the "Best Shop for Papergoods" category and would love your support! Just click here or on the icon below and post a comment (that's your vote). Be sure to check out the other creative businesses while you're there!


Do You Have A Pair?

I couldn't help but notice that the hot item at yesterday's Urban Market wasn't sconces, baskets, pots or pillows (some of my favorite objects for the home). In fact, the hot item wasn't even anything you could buy at an antique market (though I wish I had been there selling them!). The trend of the day: RAIN BOOTS! And not the "don't-look-at-me-I'm-wearing-ugly-rubber-boots" kind of rain boots, but cute, fun and fashionable ones!

I'm no fashion diva, but I did a little research for those of you who want to get in on the rain boot trend. They are WAY cuter than Uggs (a trend I still don't understand) and a fun pair will make you smile on a rainy day!

1. Kamik "Ellie" 2. Hunter "Tall Metallic"
3. Burberry "Check Lace" 4. Stuart Weitzman "Puddles"
5. Sperry "Pelican" 6. Zulima "Bias Plaid"
[1-5 are from nordstrom.com; 6 is from target.com]

I confess, I have a pair (but wasn't wearing them at Urban Market...missed the memo!). My husband gave them to me for my birthday...a fun gift I might not have bought for myself. They were two sizes too big (cute hubby must think I have big feet!), so I headed over to Nordstrom to exchange them when what to my wandering eyes should appear...FIVE lovely ladies buying rain boots in only ten minutes' time!

Don't you think we should start a rain boot business? I bet I could find a way to make some of my stationery designs work on rain boots...maybe?

How about you? Do you have a favorite pair? 


Urban Market Time!

I get a little bit giddy every time Urban Market rolls around. Just what a girl needs at the end of a cold and rainy week! I'm especially giddy this time around because an Urban Market legend and co-founder, Maura Cannon, is returning as a vendor with her booth, The Homestretch. When I asked Maura to tell us how to find her, she replied: "I'll have a big pile of cowhides and a handsome dude (Jeff) slinging them around!" If you know Maura, you know what a treat it is to have her back in the saddle again as a vendor. She represents the best in Houston antiques and the VERY BEST in people!

Cowhides may be the best way to find her, but I can assure you that's not all she'll have! Maura always has creative, tasteful and unique objects that will add interest to any room in your home.  I stopped by Heights Antiques on Yale this week (one of my favorite spots...read more here) to give her a hug and sneak a peek at some of the things she might be bringing to market. Here's my iPhone best:

A few shots of her booth at Antiques on Yale.
What used to be The Homestretch is now packed into a little corner, but Maura's good taste, generous spirit and huge talent still shine BIG time!

If you like lighting, Maura has some awesome options, and I know she'll be bringing a good selection to Urban Market.  Here are some snippets:
These fabulous wide-mouthed jars are staples for Maura (and she's supplied plenty of Houston decorators with these over the years), so I'm betting she'll have some for you on Sunday:

One of the many awesome things about Maura is that she doesn't just sell you objects, she gives you ideas and ways to make the object your own. If you buy some of these jars, ask her for ideas on how to use them. Trust me, you'll always be glad you asked Maura for ideas. She has some of the best in town!

And I know someone who needs this:

Ladies and gentlemen (yes, I have a few guy readers...and I love y'all!), if you live in Houston, come on out to Urban Market this Sunday, February 7, between 9 and 4! Of course the outdoor antiquing will be great, but Guys, there's BBQ and yummy fresh-baked cookies (visit the Food & Words tent). What's not to love?!?!

See you there!
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