Thursday, December 29, 2011

Howdy, Pardner!

It's time again for another Spoonflower Fabric of the Week contest! This week's theme is "Recipe", and the instructions were to create a repeating pattern featuring a recipe.

Many of the things I cook or bake are from recipes that were handed down to me by my grandma. Most of them are simple, comfort foods that always bring back many fond memories of child's play at my grandparents' house with my sister and my cousins. This recipe, for Cowboy Cookies, is one of my favorite, and so easy to make. So I decided to play with the cowboy theme and use some vintage imagery.



If you like the design, I would LOVE your vote! Voting is really easy! Here's how: click here to go to the Spoonflower contest page. Click on the Vote in This Week's Contest link on the right, then find my design and click on it (a green border will appear around the image). After making your way through the remaining pages, click the Review My Votes button on the bottom of the last page. When you have reviewed your votes, you can click Submit...and that's it! You can vote for multiple designs, too! Designs that make the Top Ten are automatically offered for sale on the Spoonflower site!

Sunday, December 25, 2011



A very, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all! Thank you so much for following and supporting Penny Candy this year! We're just getting started...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Treats!

I know this isn't a food blog, but nothing affects my mood and how and what I design more than food! (Well, maybe music, too, but that's a whole different post...or blog....) So from time to time I might post something I recently whipped up. Plus, it gives me a chance to try new photo techniques. In this case, I was practicing my macro skills. And I perked-up the photo using some adjustments I learned from Katrina's Pugly Pixel blog. (Thanks, Katrina!)

Here's a super-easy, yummy recipe that I made recently for a Christmas ornament exchange party. Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, it would be great for New Year's Eve, too--the sanding sugar looks like little snow crystals. And, yes, I added a little bit more rum than the recipe calls for. ;-)



Rum Balls
Makes 4 dozen

Vegetable oil cooking spray
1/4 cups (1-1/2 sticks) butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark rum
Coarse sanding sugar, for rolling

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 12 x 17-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. In a heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate chips for 30 seconds in the microwave. Stir. Repeat if necessary until mixture is smooth.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the chocolate mixture, then fold in the flour. Pour batter into prepared baking sheet and spread evenly with rubber spatula. Bake until top is shiny and toothpick inserted into the center comes out with some crumbs attached, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

4. In another bowl, break up brownie into small pieces. With electric mixture on low, pour in the rum and mix until crumbs start to come together to form a ball.

5. Shape into 1-inch balls and roll in sanding sugar to coat. Transfer to a baking sheet; refrigerate, uncovered, until cold, about 2 hours. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Rum balls can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Enjoy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Forest for the Trees: This Week's Spoonflower Contest Entry

Today kicks off voting in the Spoonflower Fabric of the Week contest. This week's theme is "Evergreens", and we were only allowed to use four colors (with white being a color). Here is my entry in the contest, along with a closeup of the tree detail and background texture.





If you like the design, I would LOVE your vote! Voting is really easy! Here's how: click here to go to the Spoonflower contest page. Click on the Vote in This Week's Contest link on the right, then find my design and click on it (a green border will appear around the image). After making your way through the remaining pages, click the Review My Votes button on the bottom of the last page. When you have reviewed your votes, you can click Submit...and that's it! You can vote for multiple designs, too! Designs that make the Top Ten are automatically offered for sale on the Spoonflower site!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Freebie!

I'm starting a tradition here on the Penny Candy blog: Designing and sharing some holiday gift tags, which you can download and use on your gifts this season!

Please feel free to copy them. Here's how:

~ Click on the image. A larger version (300 dpi) will appear in a new window.
~ Copy the image to your desktop.
~ Print, cut, embellish, share...and enjoy!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Giveaway Winners!

The results are in! Below are the winners in the three Christmas giveaways posted last week. Thank you so much to everyone who participated--I love reading your comments and blog posts!

To pick the winners, I used the random number generators at random.org. For the first giveaway, because there were six posts, I used the Dice Roller (rolling one die). For the second and third giveaways, I used the True Number Generator. Each post was given the number corresponding to the order in which it was received.

Winners: to claim your prize, please comment on this blog post. In the meantime, I'll get the goodies packed and ready to go!



Thursday, December 8, 2011

This Week's Contest Will Be a Circus!

Today kicks off voting in the Spoonflower Fabric of the Week contest. This week's "assignment": design a pattern for a cloth book that fits on a fat quarter of quilting weight cotton fabric (21" x 18").

I've heard from several customers who have purchased fabric from my At the Circus! collection that they were going to use the fabric to decorate the nursery for their new baby. So I decided to do a cloth book that would coordinate with the collection and that babies and toddlers might enjoy. The book is called Things to Count at the Circus. It is 10 pages plus front and back cover. The fat quarter includes a short list of materials you will need (basic notions) and complete instructions. Because the fabric is currently being printed, I did a quick paper mockup, which you can view on the fabric's design page, or in my Flickr fabric album.



If you like the design, I would LOVE your vote! Voting is really easy! Here's how: click here to go to the Spoonflower contest page. Click on the Vote in This Week's Contest link on the right, then find my design and click on it (a green border will appear around the image). After making your way through the remaining pages, click the Review My Votes button on the bottom of the last page. When you have reviewed your votes, you can click Submit...and that's it! You can vote for multiple designs, too! Designs that make the Top Ten are automatically offered for sale on the Spoonflower site!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Paper Stash: Vintage '80s Stationery

Last night I went upstairs in the attic to find some old childhood artwork. I thought for sure I knew where it was, but I didn't have any luck. Instead I found a stash of some of the old stationery I had back in the 1980s. I have always rationed things I have multiples of, like Halloween candy, because I know once the last one is gone, it's all gone. So when it came to this stationery, I used all of it back then for writing notes to friends in class or keeping in touch with my Star Wars pen pal, but I always saved one piece so I wouldn't forget ever having it. I never imagined back then how much my childhood would influence the work I do now, so these are great for inspiration!

Almost like little museum pieces, they represent so many types of 1980s design: pastels and airbrush-like effects; retro imagery (mostly 1950s); rainbows; minis; bold, hand-drawn everyday objects (usually in pencil or marker); ice cream and other sweets; hard geometric shapes, stripes and polka dots in pink and green; pixelized, 8-bit video games... The pieces below were made by Hallmark, Current, Drawing Board Greetings, and Sangamon, among others.

Usually I'm frustrated when I can't find what I'm looking for in my old boxes and files, but this time I left the attic with a smile on my face. I'll just have to go back up and look again...

Enjoy!









Thursday, December 1, 2011


Looking for a unique, handmade hostess gift, or something fun and different to give to your mom or sister for the holidays? These three tea towels have been printed on linen-cotton canvas and were sewn by me on my old, probably-100-pound, avocado green Singer sewing machine, which I used to watch Mom sew on when I was a kid. Each towel is 16 x 25 inches and is available in my Etsy shop. I'm calling these limited editions, as I intend on printing and sewing no more than 20 of each, so grab one while you can!




Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day Three: FREE!

"Three's a Charm"..."Three's Company"... Yes, this is Day Three of the giveaways! Today I am offering a funky little item you can give as a stocking stuffer, or make yourself!

There's no way to avoid being creative (or smelling nice) this holiday season, with your very own Do-It-Yourself Christmas Stinks! combination stocking stuffer, air freshener, and Christmas tree ornament kit! Decorate your little tree using the enclosed trimmings and/or whatever else suits your fancy--customize the tree to your personality and d├ęcor! Display it in the office as a conversation piece while it covers up lunchtime aromas. Hang it from the rearview mirror of the car for a more festive, sweet-smelling commute. Stand it up on the TV in your studio apartment when a huge, live fir won't cut it.

The kit includes one air freshener tree (this one is Vanillaroma scent) and a handful of miscellaneous "ornaments" (some vintage!), which vary per kit, but may include: pipe cleaners, sequins and/or sequin strands, ribbon, beads, plastic jewels, stickers, mylar confetti in a variety of shapes, pom poms, rick rack, and more! All you need is glue (school glue works just fine) and some holiday spirit! (Other scents and colors available in my Etsy shop.)

The first photo shows the actual kit you will receive; the second photo shows how a tree might look when decorated.




Here's how to enter: Leave a comment on this post about your favorite holiday scent(s), and if it brings back memories of holidays past.

Here are the rules:

~ All comments must be posted by 11:59pm PDT on Wednesday, December 7th, 2011.
~ One winner will be chosen at random and announced Friday, December 9th, 2011.
~ No purchase necessary.
~ Contest is open to U.S. residents only. Void where prohibited.


This giveaway is now closed. Thank you to all who entered!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cyber TUESDAY?

Someday I'll bet there will be a Cyber Tuesday, when just Monday won't be enough. Let's start the trend with another giveaway! This one is for a pack of five of my 2012 holiday cards with five matching red envelopes.



Here's how to enter: Post a link on your Website, blog, or on Facebook, that links back to my blog or my Etsy shop. Be sure to post a comment to this giveaway post with a link to your posting.

Here are the rules:

~ All links and comments must be posted by 11:59pm PDT on Wednesday, December 7th, 2011.
~ One winner will be chosen at random and announced Friday, December 9th, 2011.
~ No purchase necessary.
~ Contest is open to U.S. residents only. Void where prohibited.


This giveaway is now closed. Thank you to all who entered!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday Deal: Free!

Having listed some new items in my Etsy shop, I'm in the mood to do some giveaways! Here's the first one: a pair of fabric-covered pinback buttons! These are 1.25-inches in diameter and have been hand-pressed by me using fabric from my Woodtype Alphabet collection. Before pressing, I laminated the fabric with vinyl. This gives it the look and feel of oilcloth, which means they're more durable and can be wiped clean with a damp cloth, if necessary.



To enter the drawing, leave a comment on this post like so: write one word that begins with the first letter of your first name to describe the holiday season. Here are the rules:

~ All comments must be posted by 11:59pm PDT on Wednesday, December 7th, 2011.
~ One winner will be chosen at random and announced Friday, December 9th, 2011.
~ No purchase necessary.
~ Contest is open to U.S. residents only. Void where prohibited.


This giveaway is now closed. Thank you to all who entered!

Good luck, and happy shopping today!

Friday, November 18, 2011

What a Day!

I received some wonderful news Thursday morning that, out of 146 entries, my design won 1st Place in the annual Spoonflower Tea Towel Calendar contest! Thank you all for your votes! There was some amazing designs this year, so if you're looking for some inexpensive, crafty, DIY gifts to give this holiday season, check out the Top Ten designs!

Spoonflower will be having a BOGO sale on all fat quarters from November 28th through December 2nd, so you'll be able to get two for the price of one. I will be ordering a few for myself!

Keep in mind: Spoonflower just sells the fabric; you get to use your crafty wizardry to make it into the towel! I will be selling some limited edition towels in my Etsy shop for the holidays, so if you'd rather leave the sewing to me, stay tuned!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

2012...already?!

Today voting kicks off for the annual Spoonflower Tea Towel Calendar design contest. This is my favorite of the weekly contests, not just to design for and enter, but to see all the calendars other designers come up with. Below is the design I am entering this year. If you like it, I would love your vote!

All you need to do to vote is to click here, then click on the Vote in This Week's Contest link on the right, then find my design and click on it (a green border will appear around the image). After making your way through the remaining pages, click the Review My Votes button on the bottom of the last page. When you have reviewed your votes, you can click Submit...and that's it! You can vote for multiple designs, too! Designs that make the Top Ten are automatically offered for sale on the Spoonflower site!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I have been obsessed lately with Japanese washi tape, but much like vintage fabric and other crafty items I collect, I can't seem to actually use them. I just like to look at them, organize them, categorize them. Dream of things I would make, because if I use them, they'll be gone. This goes back a long way with me, like when I used to organize all the Halloween candy I received while trick-or-treating. Then I would save it and ration it. Months later, when my sister's was long eaten, I would still have a stash. I suppose this is related a bit to hoarding.

So since I've come to recognize this, I thought maybe I could curb those hoarding tendencies with washi tape by creating some faux strips and making them into patterns. These will soon be available on fabric in my Spoonflower shop. The designs run the full width of quilting weight cotton (42 inches), so they only repeat at the bottom.

I think I'll make some pillows with these and perhaps embellish them with theme-related baubles...if I can stand to part with any of those!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Work in Progress...Part Two

You may recall in a recent post, when I reminisced about "Liar's Club", that I was doing some glue testing for a new item for my shop. I received some fabric for the project over the weekend, so I'll be spending the week with scissors, fabric, and glue. Here's a preview...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thrift Score!

I have been thrifting since I was a senior in high school (that's over 20 years...eek!) and it is definitely true that thrift stores have become so mainstream that it's difficult to find anything good anymore. Back in the day I would find Catherineholm bowls and cookware, Pyrex and Fire King in mint condition, old toys, fabulous costume jewelry...you name it. Now everything is either picked over, put into a "silent auction", or never even reaches the shelves.

Recently, on an outing to Goodwill to find a piece of clothing for my son's Halloween costume, I actually found some old '70s and '80s magazines. I was so excited I didn't even flip through them--I just filled up the cart. Most were Women's Day and Family Circle (I love to look at all the decorating, crafts, strange recipes, and old food and cleaning product photos), but also in the pile were a few German Brigitte magazines from 1984 and 1985. A cross between Women's Day and Elle, it featured lots of fashion spreads, ads for makeup, and lifestyle articles. I can't speak much more than 10 words in German, but the pictures were great.

I loved the two photos below--I thought they just screamed, "We're living in the '80s!"



But I was quite surprised when I saw this ad for men's underwear. I guess I just never imagined Disney would approve of Mickey Mouse's image being used in an underwear ad, especially with the ad copy I was able to translate using Google. There's also a cartoon cel of Donald Duck on the table. The '80s really were "anything goes" (and I loved them!).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Work in Progress...


When I was growing up in the 1970s and '80s, game shows dominated morning and early evening TV. I loved almost all of them, but one of my favorites was "Liar's Club". It was actually first shown in 1969 with Rod Serling as the host, but in the late '70s Allen Ludden hosted the show, and those are the ones I remember. The show featured a panel of celebrity guests (Ludden's wife, Betty White, was a regular), who would be presented with an unusual object; each would give a ridiculous explanation of what the object was used for. Contestants would try to guess which star was telling the true story and place wagers to try to win money. When the show wasn't on, my sister and I would find strange objects around the house and make up alternative uses for them, as though we were on the panel.

So when I finished working on the "tester" card above, I looked at it and thought of "Liar's Club". Do you know what it is? I have been testing some fabric glues with different fabrics and think I have found one that suits my needs for some items to add to my Etsy shop this fall. Just waiting on the fabric to arrive and then I'll start gluing!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


One of the great things about selling on eBay for 10 years was meeting some awesome people who shared the same collecting obsession(s) I do. My main focus during those years was re-collecting all the stickers I had when I was a kid. Many of these fellow diehard collectors have remained as contacts, a handful are online friends, a few I've actually been lucky enough to meet, and one actually happens to live in my neighborhood in Seattle...just a few blocks away. You never know what goes on behind closed doors! Not only does she love the same 1980s stickers, but she also happens to be an artist-entrepreneur, and a very successful one at that!

Angela Driscoll, along with her husband, Charlie, own Driscoll Design, an award-winning card and paper goods studio based in Seattle. Angela has an incredible knack for combining vintage images (most from the 1920s to 1960s) and typography into a nostalgic yet fresh, modern, and playful style. And she hand-embellishes each card so perfectly with just the tiniest accents of glitter. She also creates calendars, journals, and even matchboxes...with color-coordinated matches!

Driscoll Design cards can be found in paper and gift stores around the country...and globe!...and even at Anthropologie, no less! (My dream stockist!) Angela's cards and paper goods have also been featured in books and magazines, including Martha Stewart Living, Instyle, and Harper's Bazaar.

Lately Angela has been experimenting with watercolors and has come up with a new line of cards using the watercolor illustrations to add a new dimension to her collages. Here's a peak at some cards from the new line!




I follow Angela's work daily, as her success continues to be an inspiration for me on my adventure into the indie craft world. Check out all of Driscoll Design's product line, visit their shop, and read the latest on their blog here.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Christmas Is Coming!

Check out these beeee-U-ti-ful Christmas wreaths made from vintage ornaments and decorations, created by Suzy, aka GeorgiaPeachez! I'd love to make one of these myself, but I would have a hard time using the ornaments for anything other than hanging on a vintage tree. All but two of the wreaths Suzy made in September have sold, but keep an eye on her blog for any news that she has crafted more for this season. There are still 70 days left to decorate!

Friday, October 14, 2011

"Kill Comic Sans"

While I don't condone gun violence, I really dislike the typeface--no, let's call it a font--Comic Sans, introduced in 1994 by Microsoft. This little "Kill Comic Sans" game, created by Utah-based web design firm Agency Fusion, is a great way to relieve stress, waste a little time, and feel like perhaps you can rid the world of bad, overused fonts. At least no one is using Tekton anymore!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hand-Painted Produce Signs...



More and more I am being drawn back to handwritten typography and calligraphy. After a few decades of slick, photostat- or computer-generated type, and just about slick-everything, the green/organic/crafty movements have brought handwriting back in style!

In the produce section at my local Whole Foods Market, mixed in with all the white chalk marker prices and descriptions, I spied some incredible signs painted by children. I asked the store's Team Leader, Mindy, how the kids came to paint them, and she told me the store had recently held an event to raise money for their Whole Kids Foundation, which puts gardens in local schools and increases nutrition education for young people. Mindy asked kids in the store that day to help make the signs, an idea she got from Alice Waters's book Edible Schoolyard. I would be willing to bet that when each child was given a piece of wood and a paint brush, they didn't ask Mindy, "What color should I use?" And instead painted whatever they thought was appropriate for the type of produce they were "assigned". These signs are so beautifully primitive and were created with such innocence, and most importantly, by hand (like the way you'd pick vegetables from a garden). They are, I think, examples of a perfect graphic design solution.

Here's a color palette inspired by the kids' signs! ;-)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Take Stock!

Over the next few days I will be adding some prints to my Etsy shop. Each coordinates with fabric I have available through Spoonflower, including the Woodtype Alphabet in different colorways, At the Circus, and Footnote Flower. They all come with archival mats and are ready to frame. Enjoy!

Friday, September 23, 2011


The votes are in for Spoonflower's autumn-themed Fabric of the Week contest, and thanks to your votes, my "Autumn (Brown)" fabric design placed 4th out of 260 entries! The fabric is now for sale on the Spoonflower site. I have a pillow and lampshade in mind for this pattern...can't wait to receive the fabric and see it in person! Thanks again for your votes!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Stamps of Approval

When I was young I collected stamps, probably because my dad had a stamp collection. My favorites were the triangular stamps from Hungary that always said "Magyar Posta" on them. They usually had the best graphics...or maybe I just liked them because they weren't rectangular.

Every time I go to the post office intending to buy stamps (usually intended for envelopes mailing payments for due bills), I envision myself making a quick purchase of a "book" of 20 simple rectangles picturing either the American flag or the Liberty Bell. But when I get there, inevitably I end up buying TWO sheets (or "panes", as the USPS calls them) of beautifully-designed pieces of art, one to use, and one to save. The first time I remember this happening was in 2002 when the irresistible Andy Warhol stamps were issued. Then again, in 2005, a pane of Greta Garbo stamps caught my eye. These stamps not only had an engraved look, but they were also textured...tactile. Again...irresistible.



So my most recent trip to buy stamps produced this lovely sheet: a pane of stamps picturing 12 beautifully-designed everyday objects, which the postal clerk referred to as the "kitchen stamps".



These stamps feature products designed by pioneers of American industrial design. My favorites: the Henry Dreyfuss Model 302 Bell desk telephone and the Norman Bel Geddes Patriot radio, designed for Emerson.

One other stamp that caught my eye was the jazz tribute stamp, designed by Howard Paine and illustrated by Paul Rogers. It features not just a perfect color palette and choice of typeface, but also makes you feel like you can hear the music playing.



In a day and age where most letters are now sent electronically, the USPS is still doing a good job of selling stamps...to people like me who buy them not to use, but to keep as pieces of art.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Penny Candy's First Giveaway Winner!


Congratulations to Robin M., who won the first Penny Candy giveaway! There were seven (7) people entered in the contest, but I "disqualified" my sister because, well, she's my sister... So after alphabetizing by first names, I assigned everyone a number (1 through 6):
  1. Angela S.
  2. Jane S.
  3. Kristin R.
  4. Laurie Y.
  5. Lucy C.
  6. Robin M.

Then I used an Internet random number generator to roll a pretend six-sided die, and the computer rolled a 6...Robin M.

Robin will receive a Penny Candy Welcome Kit. Once assembled, I'll take a photograph of her goodies, so you can see what other sort of giveaway items may come in the future!

Thanks to everyone who participated, and to those who now follow Penny Candy! Your support means the world to me!
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