November 30, 2009

Project Idea #7: Christmas Gift Tags (and Giftaway)

Posted by Ellen Heck

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Here’s a little download-able cheer from our studio to yours: quick and easy Christmas gift tags.  (I think I’m going to go with reverse brown paper bag wrapping this year – both due to our abundance of Trader Joe’s sacks and my fondness for brown paper packages tied up with strings.)

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However, bland wrapping paper need not result in a bland gift!  Tie it up with re-usable ribbon and some hip Cathy Heck gift tags, which you can download FREE, right here, and you’ve got yourself a lovely little bundle of anticipation.

Can you believe December starts tomorrow! Is everybody ready?

Categories: projects Tags: , ,

Our Five Star Favorites: Cathy Loves Popcorn, Indiana

Posted by Cathy Heck

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Almost every day at 4 o’clock, my internal snack clock says that it is time for an afternoon break.  I rise from the computer or drawing table and, almost like a zombie in a trance, I march out of the studio for my popcorn break.  Not just any ol’ popcorn, only this one: Movie Theatre Popcorn by Popcorn, Indiana.  This is my favorite popcorn in the whole wide world.  Even though it‘s not “freshly popped” in the microwave, it is crunchy, light and most importantly, buttery–but NOT the fake-buttery-taste. It tastes like it has been lightly tossed with real butter!  I usually compliment my crunchy snack with a cold fizzy Diet Dr. Pepper making the blend an excellent waker-upper.
You may be wondering why a picture of Neville, our pup, made it into this story.  Here’s why:  The minute I take the chip-clip off of the popcorn package, Neville, also like a zombie in a trance, arrives at my feet waiting for his two pieces of 4 o’clock popcorn.  (See photo below, of his 4 o’clock popcorn stare.)  Because I have agreed that we are not going to feed him people-food (to prevent early onset of begging) I pretend to accidentally drop one piece of my excellent popcorn on the floor.  He pretends that it surprisingly appears and gobbles it down.  Then,we repeat the accidental surprise once more.  We are both content and go back to work … I, to my studio, and he to his napping corner.

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November 27, 2009

Fresh, Local, and Out of Season

Posted by Ellen Heck

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Berkeley is known – starting with the efforts of Alice Waters and Chez Panisse – for encouraging the consumption of food that is “fresh, local, and in-season” – and there’s nothing limiting about that when you live in a place where it sometimes appears that everything is in season all the time. Above, you see the progress of the little heirloom seedling that I adopted from a generous friend who had collected seeds from her favorite tomatoes and nurtured them. This little guy started way too late to fit into the normal summer tomato season, but here he is – spindly and green and ever so optimistic in the late-November sun.

Below on the right, the upside-down tomato plant of my upstairs neighbor, which hangs with its endless clusters of enormous beautiful green and turning tomatoes that I always daydream will drop from the vine perfectly into my hand as I am coming in from getting the mail, and which never do. And on the left, the jewel-like baby heirlooms that my sweet husband brought back from the Trader Joe’s when that first daydream didn’t come come to pass.

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In the spirit of yesterday’s great holiday, I would like to mention that I am thankful both for this late-season abundance and for the sweet husband who brought them home.  Happy Day-After Thanksgiving!

Categories: about us Tags: ,

November 24, 2009

Inspiration in the Middle of the Day: Trevor Romain

Posted by Cathy Heck

Recently, I had a similar experience to my chapel visit days (see previous post).  I was invited to a luncheon in the middle of a busy work day, in which the Helping Hand Home was honoring several people in our community who had made a difference in the lives of children.  After the second honoree stood up and humbly accepted her award, I was already secretly dabbing tears away.  By the time the last one was honored, I was a blubbering mess.
Then, as if that wasn’t enough emotion right in the middle of the day, our guest speaker was Trevor Romain.  From South Africa, now calling Austin home, Trevor began by telling his own story of growing up with dyslexia and the path he took to becoming an illustrator.  He, then, told the story of meeting a severely injured child while he was serving in the military, which influenced his desire to help children.  He now combines his gifts and travels the world to perform and draw for children and help them deal with difficult life situations.  He told story after story of the children with whom he had worked who had cancer or who were surviving war-torn areas of the world without food, clothing and often without parents.  It was clear that these children have touched his heart and are his inspiration today.
Like my days zipping down to the girls’ school for a chapel service, I left the luncheon renewed and content.  It was inspiring to know that people, like Trevor and the caring recipients of the awards, are making an important difference every day.  And it’s nice to take a little time off in the middle of the day to remember what really matters.

CathyHeck_TrevorRomain The Trevor Romain Foundation has created the Comfort Crew™, which is a group of compassionate folks who support and comfort kids going through difficult times.  Trevor and his friend Coco, ambassador for the Comfort Crew™, and a most talented mouse-journalist, travel around the world listening to and working with children. Our little studio mouse, Millicent,  was eager to meet such a famous fellow mouse.  (Coco even has his own blog!)  Here is a photo of Milicent surprising Coco, in hopes of getting an autograph.
You can go to Trevor Romain’s website here.  There are some videos on the left of this page which tell his story much better than I can.

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November 21, 2009

Inspiration in the Middle of the Day

Posted by Cathy Heck

CathyHeck_InspirationMiddleDay When the girls were little, they attended St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, a school that held a chapel service every day.  Every few months, each child would take a turn acolyting (carrying the candles or the cross).  The school would let the moms and dads know when their children would be acolyting, so that they could attend.  Invariably, I would have a tight deadline on the day that one of the girls would be acolyting, but I would stop my work and zip down to school, grumpy and in a hurry.  I would quickly slip into the quiet little chapel.  Then, the children would begin to process to one of the familiar hymns, and they would sing it so loudly and semi-off-key that I couldn’t help but smile and get a little teary.  Then my own little gal would reverently carry out her acolyting duty looking straight ahead–solemnly, seriously and a tiny bit nervously. Then, just for a moment, she would turn my way with a tiny smile that said, “I’m glad you’re here.”  And, I would think, “It just doesn’t get any better than this.”  I always left chapel renewed and content.  And each of those tight deadlines was turned in right on time.

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November 18, 2009

Something Lovely: The Starbucks Christmas Cup Is Out

Posted by Cathy Heck

CathyHeck_StarbuxChristmasCup1 Yesterday, when I stumbled into Starbucks and ordered my fancy coffee, out it came in the annual Christmas cup.  Yea!  That means Christmas is around the corner.  We LOVE Christmas around here!
However, we won’t talk about anything Christmas here in blogville until after Thanksgiving … no clever ornament ideas, no favorite Christmas recipes, no holiday decoratiing ideas, no Christmas give-aways,  no Christmas tradition sharing, fa la-la la-la la … oops, sorry ‘bout that–I slipped into a Christmas carol just thinking about it.
We will wait to go Christmas-crazy until the“official first day of the Christmas season,” which, we believe begins the minute Santa says his last “Ho Ho Ho, Meeerry Christmas,” at the end of the  Macy’s Day Parade.  I think we may have decided on that particular moment of officialness from watching Miracle on 34th Street too many times.
CathyHeck_StarbuxChristmasCup2 And, I just want you to know, that although I succumbed to enjoying my morning latte in a Christmas cup, I showed great restraint by not allowing myself to order the early-bird Egg Nog Latte they were offering at the same time.  You just have to draw the line somewhere!

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November 16, 2009

The Hummingbird Whisperer

Posted by Cathy Heck

CathyHeck_Hummingbird1 We have a window in our living room which must become a magic mirror at a certain time of day, because, when we hear a certain kind of bump, we know that a bird, who thought he was flying into a clear blue sky has had a head-on collision.  Some of the birds will stay very still for a minute.  We think they are thinking, “Wow, that is NOT the sky.” Then, they will fly away to a nearby branch to recuperate or, sadly, for a few, it is the final flight, as they enter bird heaven.

Recently, when we heard a small bump on the glass, we ran to check and saw a tiny little hummingbird that I was certain had passed into the bird heaven realm.  I ran to get a ziploc to protect his remains from our new puppy’s curiosity.  However, when I returned, Margaret had perched the little fella on the window sill with its own little floral life support system and she was softly massaging his little neck.  I assured her that he had passed away and really she should come in and finish her homework.  She reluctantly came in, but made me promise that I would not ziploc him–she was still adamant that he would live with just a little time to gather his wits.  And, guess what?!  She was right.  About an hour later, he flapped his tiny wings and flew into the wild blue yonder.  I guess, sometimes, you just have to believe.

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November 14, 2009

Something Lovely: A Good Mail Day

Posted by Ellen Heck

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Yesterday was a good mail day.  I could tell ten yards from the box that it was going to be good; there was one of those craft paper covered bubble wrap envelopes, bent to indicate that it was being squished by the presence of something else yet undiscovered below the mailbox rim.  Yes, I have received both the used copy of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, which I ordered after reading this, and my Art on Paper magazine.  And no bills.  And no credit card solicitations.

Before-bed book browsing promises to be good this week.

November 12, 2009

Potato Vine Gone Wild

Posted by Cathy Heck

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This is why I am amazed that this potato vine eruption is still here:  Year before last, I added potato vines to this “flying saucer” pot (a 5-foot wide pot made from an old microwave dish, which is too shallow to grow much, but that’s another story).  Anyway, I thought the limey color would be such a nice accent to all the white flowers I was planting for Ellen’s wedding.  Lo and behold, with nurturing and deer netting, they began to grow.  Then one night, just as the vines were beginning to have some mass, the deer netting blew off and the potato vines must have transmitted some kind of alert which spread with the speed of a teenager texting, “Calling all deer, calling all deer, dessert at the Hecks’ house … tonight!”  Each gorgeous leaf was nipped at the bud leaving a 5-foot-wide pot full of stems. I was dismayed, to say the least.  But, in retrospect, I get it … if I were a deer, I think I would gorge myself on these enticing tender greens, too!  However, I hope we get to enjoy this mountain of color a little longer before the next invitation goes out.

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November 11, 2009

Tot Trendy: Best of Personalized

Posted by Ellen Heck

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Some fun news this week: Cathy Heck Nursery Art has been selected by Tot Trends magazine as one of 8 great personalized baby gifts on the web.

They say, “Using their interactive website you can choose the sizes, colors, characters, and letters of your liking. Making room decorating personal has never been so much fun.”

To celebrate, we are offering a 25% off coupon code from their site.

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