End of the Term…Again


AmpersandIt’s hard to believe it but the end of the term has come again. At this point I have finished four of six quarters. And I’m still loving it. This fall I took a branding class. Loved.it. My teacher has a studio of her own and I am so impressed with her work. The course assignments were really valuable and pretty creative: at the beginning of the term she assigned each of us a client from her own customers and we took it from there…renaming, researching, three rounds of branding and a final brand book. She and her co-workers acted as “the client” and gave us feedback on our projects, sometimes particularly insightful, design-based feedback. Ha.


To finish up we took our projects and created two books: a brand book and a process book. In real life the brand book would be for the client. Essentially it says, here’s your brand and here’s how you should use it. This is particularly important for a large corporation, university, or franchise where lots of people will be using the logo since it provides a uniformity to the brand implementation. The process book, on the other hand, would be for future employers to show them the work you did and the process you followed. It allows folks to see what you did with input from the client or direction from a design mentor or whatever. It should tell the story from beginning to end, walking you from start to finish.


I ended up designing for a wedding photographer in Montreal. The beauty of the assignment is that each of us came Ligatureup with totally different solutions depending on the particular project we were assigned. (My classmates created some STUNNING projects!) So, without further ado, here are my books. You’ll see the process as well as the final brand and its directives, along with everything in between. Click below to check them out…

Branding Book

Process Book

December Desktop Calendar & Peace on Earth

December Desktop Calendar & Peace on Earth

Evidently it’s just too much to ask that I get a new calendar on here once a month. Pathetic, I know. But tonight when I just couldn’t stand having the October calendar on my screen any longer I took a few minutes to make a new one for December.

Every December I read (or re-read, now) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I adore it. It’s a super quick read and often, if we are traveling for the holiday, I save it for our Christmas flight. I get a little teary every time. There’s just something hopeful and redemptive about the story.

Maybe because the actual story of Christmas is so redemptive and full of hope.

Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be for all people.
For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

This year I am trying to combine two goals at once: my annual reading of the book and creating more moments for “my family.” Right now, that means Dad and Glenn and me. So starting tomorrow night we’ll be readingĀ A Christmas Carol aloud at dinner. It only takes a few hours or so to read so we won’t read for long. Please ask me how it’s going…I’d love the accountability.

Here’s the desktop calendar, complete with a little inspiration from Ebenezer himself.

P.S. If you’re more of a movie person (gasp!) you may be surprised to discover that The Muppet Christmas Carol is surprisingly close to the actual book! I mean, Rizo the Rat never makes an appearance in the actual Dickens version but otherwise…

december calendar

Is it September yet? (October Desktop Wallpaper)

Is it September yet? (October Desktop Wallpaper)

It’s possible that I missed September. I’m not quite sure where it went. We’ve been doing fun things, traveling to favorite places, visiting with friends and soaking up the last of the sun. Yesterday it was August, tomorrow it’s October. Not sure how that happened.

But in an effort to not blink and miss another month, here is the downloadable desktop calendar for October. They are simple but I am convinced that good photography doesn’t need a lot of gingerbread to make it stunning.


october calendar-01

october calendar-02

october calendar-03

october calendar-04

(Just click on the image you want, then right click and select “set as desktop background .”)

Book Review: What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days

Book Review: What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days

I tend to be a bit skeptical about devotionals, particularly devotionals aimed at women. They are so often shallow and trite and wholly uninspiring. So I was a bit dubious about What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days by Holley Gerth when I started. I expected fluff and niceness and everything bright and shiny. Instead I found a deep breath. For instance:

“We’re funny as humans. We tend to think in terms of all or nothing. Se we insist that life is great when we’re breaking apart inside. Because to do otherwise would be to discount all of God’s goodness in our lives, right? Not so, friend. We always live with both blessings and brokenness. Challenges and victories. sorrow and joy. They’re all mixed up together. Acknowledging the hard parts of our lives doesn’t mean that we’re not grateful for the gifts God has given. … We can wonder at how many blessings fill our lives while at the same time sensing an aching emptiness that comes from desires unfulfilled.”

I mean seriously. That is so completely where I live: incredibly blessed and yet longing for more and filled with the guilt that comes from thinking it means I am not properly grateful. The whole book is like that. While I read I turned down the pages (avert your eyes, pristine book owners) that I wanted to remember and share, by the end I had something like half the book marked.

In my life, lately, things are hard. Not nearly as hard as others are facing and still filled with ridiculous abundance so I feel guilt about sadness or frustration (see above) but I also wonder, in my western thinking, if this change in circumstances reflects a change in my status with God. I know that’s completely un-scriptural but it’s hard not to feel like a dissatisfying circumstance is a reflection of God’s dissatisfaction with me. Here’s what Holley says about that.

“We will go through difficulties in this life. We will face challenges. We will have questions that don’t get answered until heaven. But we can know that even in all that, God wants us to thrive. He delights in seeing us enjoy our lives. He wants what’s best for us.”

Seriously, I could just type quote after quote but instead, I really think you should read this book! There are 52 entries so you can read them daily, weekly or whenever you choose. Each chapter begins with a verse from the Psalms, includes observations and insights from Holley, and ends with space for the reader (that’s you!) to journal and record their thoughts and prayers.

One last newsy tidbit for today: Holley has a facebook group for this devotional. You can join for free. Just click here for all the details.

And because I love you, I have a copy to give away! Just enter your comment below before Wednesday. We’ll pick a winner and put this beauty in the mail!

{Next Month: Breathing Room by Leeana Tankersley}

Birthdays, Traditions and a Sense of Wistfulness

Birthdays, Traditions and a Sense of Wistfulness

Glenn’s birthday was Friday and I’m a bad wife: I did nothing.

Here’s the interesting thing though: I’m pretty sure I am the one that thinks this makes me a bad wife; Glenn evidently does not. I thought we should do something …not usual. Nothing giant but something. A weekend in Ashland. A day in the gorge. A trip to the coast. A visit to the Japanese Garden. Dinner and a movie. Something. I also thought that since it was Glenn‘s birthday, Glenn should get to pick. But he didn’t. So it came down to Friday after work and we still had no plan. I’d planned nothing at home since I thought we were doing something. But what Glenn wanted was just quiet at home. So I scrambled and made a completely average week-night meal that honestly wasn’t even as good as Thursday night’s dinner. I made no cake. I gave no gift. What I did, I am ashamed to admit, was get irritated. Irrationally. And as I was trying to figure it out I realized it was because I felt guilty that I hadn’t created an occasion.

So I’ve been thinking about it and wondering why I reacted that not-what-I-hope-for way. And here it is: I have expectations–for my husband, for myself, for us together. We get a little lax about traditions around our house being two adults (now three) and no kids. But I miss traditions. I envy them in others. I wish for them in our life. And occasions point out their absence. They create in me a sense of wistfulness, a lack of contentedness.

What to do with that? I want this to drive me to more purposeful living, more thoughtful celebration, more intentional action. This will require me to plan ahead a little better but honestly this is simple. It requires no money or no power or no fame to accomplish. It’s completely within my grasp. If I have it in my power to celebrate those I love, to mark occasions, and avoid that icky behavior of mine, why wouldn’t I do it?

Here it is then: I resolve to mark the passing of time well, to implement traditions, mark occasions, and celebrate those I love.

And I’ll tell you about it here. Wanna join me? I’d love to hear! Tell me about it in the comments.


Downloadable August Desktop Calendar

Downloadable August Desktop Calendar

Sometime last year I started changing my desktop wallpaper pretty regularly. Then this year I started searching for calendars so that I would always have the month on my desktop. But I want them to be cute. And I want them to fit on my desktop. And I want my desktop paraphernalia to not block the cuteness. So last month, since I couldn’t find one that I actually liked, I made my own. Just like that. I sent it to Cathy and then we had matching desktop calendars for the month of July.

She asked me if I was making one for August and so I asked her what she wanted. She was a little vague. I blame her for my indecision. I made three because I couldn’t decide. And just for fun…here they are for you. You can download and use them yourself. I’m not promising this as a monthly thing but if I make one I’ll post it here.

Our regular harvest seasons seem to be about two weeks ahead this summer so here’s my homage to some of the beautiful harvests folks are bringing in. (These are not my photos, sadly. Maybe that will be my next step.)

august calendar-01

august calendar-02


august calendar-03

If you’d like to download, just fill out the form below, then click on the image you choose. A new screen will open and with the high resolution image. Right click on it and you can choose to save or simply make it your desktop image from there. Enjoy!

Spring Term Continued

Spring Term Continued

After we made our pattern, our teacher had us do a couple more assignments using them. The first was to experiment with the color palette. It will be a really useful tool but I didn’t end up liking my variations as well as the original. (Which you can see in the top left.)


The next assignment which ended up to be really cool was a little disturbing. Let me ‘splain.

There are files called “mock-ups” which allow designers to showcase their work without having to create the actual item, a t-shirt or poster for instance. Either one has costs associated with printing, costs that will be exponentially higher per unit if you’re just printing up one sample for a client. Enter: Mockups. These are files that kind and generous people have created that allow you to put your own artwork into them to see what your design would look like as say, a t-shirt or poster. This saves big cashola for the designer and helps the client with the envisioning stage of design.

The assignment was to use our pattern in two different mock-ups: one for a soda can and one for a wine bottle. Now this is all well and good if you made a fun geometric outer-spacey kind of design, but if your design looks like little boy pajamas, the wine bottle is a little unsettling. The bottom line though is that the exercise was super helpful and I’m pretty happy with my “finished” products. Check ’em out:


austinn_cv_bottle_2I’ve heard tell there’s really nothing like a glass of Cape Canaveral Cabernet at the end of the day. (ha!) Cheers!

P.S. On a completely unrelated note, Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist, one of my favorite books in all the galaxy (did you see what I did there? totally tied it in.) is just 99 cents for Kindle on Amazon today. I can neither confirm nor deny if I just purchased my 14th copy of this book. Get it while you can!

Spring Term & Summer

Spring Term & Summer

It’s summer. Glorious summer. [Insert show-tune music about summer here.] Seriously. I don’t remember being this excited about summer break when I was a full time student. But wow, did I need it this year. It’s taken me a little longer than I anticipated to come up for air. I’ve gone back and forth on my health…nothing serious or scary…but it turns out that if you have, you know, practically NO vitamin D in your body for an extended amount of time (did I mention I live in Portland?) you feel really, really, really tired. Like you could take a nap at 8.30 am tired. But I’m taking some supplements and plus it’s summer (did I mention that?) and I’m figuring out my &#*$ food allergies and it’s also summer. So I’m feeling better. More energy. Less tired. And the sun is shining. Hallelujah.

But what I really wanted to tell you about was my last term at Mt Hood and one of my favorite projects. So enough about vitamins and eating plans and summer. Here’s the project…

First of all, do you know Spoonflower? If you don’t, if you are at all creative or crafty or just like to imagine being creative or crafty like I sometimes do, you want to check it out. It’s a site where you can upload your own design and have it made into fabric. Think of the possibilities! And the good news is that lots of other super-creative people are already using the site and you can choose from their designs too. They print fabric and wallpaper and gift wrap.

The reason you have to know about Spoonflower is that they have weekly contests and my super clever instructor gave us an assignment to create a repeating pattern according to the specs for one of their contests. It was called Cosmic Voyage. Other than that you just had to come up with an image that said Cosmic Voyage to you and create it in a repeating pattern. Pretty fun.

To accomplish this I started by searching for other patterns or images that I liked. You can see my gathering of ideas on my board on my Pinterest. (Cleverly named, Pattern Ideas.) Once I had a plan, I sketched the individual pieces that would make up my pattern. Here’s a scan of some of my sketches.spaceman sketch rocket sketch

After that I drew them in Illustrator and the fun began! I love how working digitally allows you to play with colors without having to start over. Or how it allows me to say this tail fin works better on this rocket or I want to stretch the whole thing out or… So that those sketches became these images.

spaceman green rocket gold rocket

The final steps were to create a background and then to create a repeating pattern. Here’s what that ended up looking like:

patternI didn’t win the contest. (Bummer.) But I loved the project. It was one of the first that successfully translated from my brain to the page. We did a couple more activities with our patterns that I’ll show you tomorrow. It was a super interesting process and really useful. I’m thinking I’ll be making some new contest entries in the future.

And if you want to make something with this fun pattern…I don’t know, giftwrap? pj’s? a bedspread for a boy’s room? You can purchase it here.


Menu HELP!

Menu HELP!

I like to eat. I like to cook. I have never been, will never be, a “eat to live” person. I am in my truest self a “live to eat” person. But I am fresh out of ideas. With my on-going allergy stuff in combination with being kind of a finicky eater (I’m not alone around here with that) I am coming up empty. Here’s what we’re looking at:

no diary (eggs and butter are okay)

no tomatoes (cooked, sauced, pasted, or fresh, none)

no tropical fruits (pineapple, mango, papaya, banana)

no coconut (oil, flaked, milk, or otherwise)

no garlic

no mayo

Officially grains are not on the allergy list but I’m supposed to be avoiding them.

So, dear readers, I am hoping for some help. I’d love to hear your favorite, no-dairy-no-tomatoes-no-tropical-fruit-no-coconut-no-garlic-no-mayo dishes. Send me a description, a link, a telegram, a whatever you want.

Ready, go!

End of Second Term

End of Second Term

I’ve been meaning to write some more about school for quite a while but didn’t have anything bright and shiny to show you all. Here at last, something post worthy!

The good news is that the pace of class has changed quite a bit. Class sessions are twice as long which allows for a lab-style session. It’s lovely to work amongst my classmates. They’re gifted and talented and inspiring and challenging. And it’s been super fun to watch them improve and grow through our class sessions.

At the end of the term, just before spring break, our final project was to create bookcovers for fictional books, based on the podcast of our choice. I picked This American Life, one of my favorite podcasts, and started with a blank page. It turns out, if I work the process, the way my instructors have told me to, it actually works!

So first up was sketching and then a mood board. Here’s mine…(the pencil sketches aren’t mine…I found them online but loved the feel they brought.)


My first idea was to pick specific episodes that went with my theme–you know, episodes that all had some kind of connection: topics, locations, like that. My instructor pointed out (accurately) that choosing by theme would limit my project. If prospective clients saw it, they would think I could address those specifics, but what about episodes that have nothing to do with my topic or location? So I broadened the idea and added the globes because it turns out that This American Life is remarkably global.

I wanted to try hand-lettering since This American Life has a certain casual feel to it…something hand-made and conversational seemed right. So the title of the episode on the reverse and the main title for the whole series are hand-lettered within the confining shapes of the U.S. map or the globe. I ended up using a much simpler font to set the rest of the text.

To start this, our third term, we have done a photo shoot of our bookcovers. Super fun! We set up studio lighting, used a sweep, and took our photos. I could get seriously sucked in–there’s always one more idea to try and a way to refine the photo you’ve already shot. Next we retouched them so that required new Photoshop skills. (And I’ll be retouching my Facebook photos from now on. Ha!) And here are the finished photos.