So. Sad.

I might have mentioned that one of the projects I'm working on right now is packaging for cookies. As a result, I am a sweets magnet (OK, like I really needed this type of project to admit that). I am fascinated by all kinds of packaging--obviously the well-designed only need apply--but because this is a "dessert" type item, I am drawn to sweets.

One of the brands that I've come across in my travels is Blisscotti. First of all? Brilliant. Biscotti ice cream sandwiches?! Sign me up! But on top of the fact that this product might just be the most delish thing ever, their logo has been featured in quite a few design periodicals, winning awards left and right.

Pretty, right? Well, their packing--which, come to find out, is also racking up the awards--is just as nice.

So here we have this yummy product, coupled with premium-looking packaging that has won awards and been featured in respected design publications such as How and Comm Arts. This sounds like a no brainer, right?

Well, then I went to their website. And I saw this:

and this:

Huh? What happened to the pretty packaging? Why is this wonderful product (which somewhere along the line has acquired a chocolate coating. Excuse me while I wipe the drool from the keyboard) committing packaging suicide? I mean, clearly, this fits in Stop and Shop's freezer section now, blending right in with all the other frozen desserts screaming, Buy me! Buy me!, but part of the appeal--to me, anyway--was that before the vomit inducing redesign (Ugh, I never thought I would use the word vomit and biscotti ice cream sandwich in the same sentence) the packaging stood out, because of the tasteful (award-winning, hello?) design!

Why would you do this, Blisscotti? Why?

Oh, and PS: Not like I'd buy this now, what with it's ugly packaging and all (OK, I totally would, but only because of the product itself); but even if I would, I couldn't, because they don't even sell it in CT. It's a west coast thing, New York being the only east coast state to get it. Sigh.


In my spare time...

I have been trying to take a half hour to myself before I go to bed these days, just to unwind and relax. I've been catching up on reading, but every once in a while, Mattio and I will have a date in front of the Wii (I know you can hardly contain yourself with excitement for us! Don't worry, I tell myself, once the baby gets a little older, we'll be going out on dates that don't involve one of us--usually me--saying, "What is wrong with this controller? I don't understand why I can't throw a strike! And now look, you're winning.")

Last night was one of those nights, as we played a couple of games of bowling. But as I finished up work, Mattio played a game of baseball against the machine. As I was closing up shop, he'd give me updates on the game. My night was peppered with phrases like, "C'mon... Mima is killing me!" "Ohhh, Santa just hit a home run!" "Nice! Teacher just hit a double!"

To the casual observer, it sounds like my husband is slowly going insane. But to anyone who has played our Wii, you'll meet some pretty interesting people Ashlee has created. Sure, we all have Miis (that's Wii terminology for the virtual people you can create. This is something Ashlee and her friends do in abundance when they're bored--read on); Eleanor--at 6 months old--even has one (it's really short). However, once Ashlee went beyond her grandparents (that's where Mima comes in) and her friends, she got bored and created Santa (yes, he has a white beard and wears red), Mrs. Clause, Thing One and Thing Two, and Teacher (a school-marm type).

I lined up all the Miis to check them out, then proceeded to laugh so hard at her creativity that I cried.


Happy Earth Day!

Tomorrow, as many of you know, is Earth Day. Rather than get all preachy-preachy about what you can do to offset your carbon footprint (now that saving the environment is in vogue, I'm pretty positive you'll come across the words "compact flourescent," "organic cotton," and" biodiesel" oh, about a hundred times each on Tuesday), I'll just send along my well wishes for an earth-friendly day (and hope that--as I explained to Ashlee earlier--you don't limit yourself to the day).

Oh yeah, there's another plug I want to get in here. A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to interview my RTM rep, Larry Kaley, for an article I was writing in Fairfield Magazine. The article was about an Earth Day festival he was chairing, and, during our conversation, he mentioned (not knowing I was a graphic designer) that they also handed out a program at this fair. "Hold the phone," I said, "Sign me up."

Thus began my work with Fairfield's Earth Day Celebration, 2008. I offered my services and ideas to layout the guidebook, and really make it something that people would hold onto and use as a resource for all things green. It not only includes all of the exhibiting vendors at the Earth Day festivities, but many other green tips and tricks, as well as articles and recipes. I don't get a chance to do much pro bono work, so to work on something that I am passionate about really makes me feel great.

I hope that you all get a chance to come over to Fairfield Warde High School on Saturday, May 10, from 9:30 – 3:00 (it's not held on the traditional Earth Day, as a lot of the vendors and speakers are booked for that day) and check out this year's fair. I know there will be not only a ton of information, but there's also going to be plenty of giveaways (I'm going to enter quite a few times to win that Vespa!); as well as family entertainment, and stuff for the kiddies. I am truly thrilled to be a part of this, it's very exciting to see how it all comes together.

Also, this week is the "green" issue of the NY Times magazine. I'm only 1/3 of the way through it, but so far, it's a very interesting read. Rather that a couple of longer articles on the state of the environment (bad), and what we can do about it (lots), there's page after page of 1-2 paragraph snippets of information. I likey.

Oh yeah, and don't forget to change your lightbulbs! (just kidding... but not really :)



So this morning, as I do every Saturday, I was flipping through the Sunday fliers (odd that we get them on a Saturday, no?) over breakfast. I got to the coupons, and came across an ad for a drug called Provigil.

"Struggling to fight off the fog?" the ad asked me (right below a dopey picture of a guy who looks vaguely like Kevin from the Office, obviously half awake). I don't know why I continued to give it a second glance, but I'm glad I did as the ad has been an endless source of amusement for me all morning long.

Provigil is used--are you ready?--to fight EXCESSIVE SLEEPINESS. They even go so far as to make being tired sound like a medical condition, giving it the acronym ES. The fine print starts with this clever phrase: "Provigil is a prescription medicine used to improve wakefulness in adults who experience excessive sleepiness (ES)..."

Wait, what?? "Improve wakefulness?" "Excessive sleepiness??" This has to be a joke. This drug seems to me like a legal form of speed (some of the possible side effects--which get more and more ludicrous as each new drug comes out--include depression, anxiety, hallucinations and mania; all side effects of speed).

I'm not quite sure when being tired became such an issue that we need a prescription drug to wake us up. Having just had a baby, I completely get how much worse off you are the less sleep you get (thank goodness she's a good sleeper and has been sleeping through the night for quite some time now); however, the day I need a prescription drug to keep me awake... well, that's a pretty bad day. Besides, I thought that's what Red Bull was for.



OK, don't tell anyone, but today, I got my membership card and handbook to the Very Secret Order of Creatives Understanding. What is this secret order, you ask? Well, if I told you, it wouldn't be much of a secret, now would it. However, I will point you in the direction of their website (but don't tell them it was me who sent you!).

Actually, it's just a clever promotion from Veer. But it's hysterical: How can you identify other members? By these secret code phrases:

Phrase: "Hi."
Response: "Resolution?"

Phrase: "There's a brainstorm coming, Pa!"
Response: "Get the horses in the barn!"

There's Rules of conduct, as well:

Rule 3: Treat swatch books like pets. You'd never walk off with someone else's hedgehog."

Rule 10: "Avoid saying "no" during brainstorming, unless you are brainstorming a bank heist."

I wish I had the time to come up with something so great. At the end of the day, it's junk mail (I have purchased fonts and stock imagery through Veer in the past, which is probably how I got on their mailing list in the first place); but if everybody made junk mail this intriguing, we'd probably be calling it something other than "junk."


Extremely Random Meme

Well, I was going to save this for a rainy day... but seeing as it's been a while since my last post, and I've got far too much on my plate to get creative here--well, let's just call it a rainy day. Thanks again, Marce!

The Extremely Random Meme

What is your occupation?

President/Principal/CEO of traciedesigns. I am also the creative director, art director, senior + junior designer, as well as copywriter, administrative assistant (to myself) and all around great gal. Oh, and shopaholic (that was actually the title on the business card of my last full time job--no joke)

What color are your socks right now?
No socks--like Marcy, I loathe socks and only wear them if I absolutely have to. And even then, I have to really think about it.

What are you listening to right now?
Yankees v. Red Sox.

What is the last thing you ate?
Ice cream popsicle, yum yum.

Can you drive stick shift?

If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
I always answer maize or periwinkle--I think more for the names than the colors. As a child I was partial to mint green and peach. Now, I like raspberry. Of course, my heart will always belong to Pantone 166. (I think this was answered like a true creative type, no? :)

Last person you spoke to on the phone?
My friend's aunt.

What’s your favorite yoga pose?
I don't know the name of it (it has been far too long since my last yoga class), but I love the one where you lie on your back and lift your legs and rear into the air (above your head) and hold onto your lower back, so basically your head, upper back, and elbow support you (rereading that makes me sound like some kind of contortionist. Alas, I am not--whatsoever).

How old are you today?
32 years, 6 months, 8 days

Favorite drinks?
Sparkling water, Beer, Kettle One vodka

What is your favorite sport to watch?
Baseball. I prefer the Yankees, but I will watch anybody (except the Red Sox--when they're not playing the Yanks, obviously)

Have you ever dyed your hair?
Yes. I had some lovely pink hair at one time or another. Now I am sporting some pretty cool highlights, that desperately need to be refreshed.

As I tell my children: No pets until the house gets bigger!

Favorite cake?
Yellow cake with strawberry filling and vanilla buttercream frosting. It was my wedding cake, and to this day is my favorite. But I don't discriminate, I'll eat just about any kind of cake.

Last movie you saw?
It's been so long, that I couldn't even tell you. It may have been Alvin and the Chipmunks. But just last night I was watching the Departed, on HBO--does that count?

Favorite day of the year?
I don't necessarily have one specific favorite day. I think any day that I get to spend having fun with my family is a pretty good day.

How do you vent anger?
I am trying desperately to count to 10 before I blow my lid. I know I get loud, but I'm a pretty loud person in general, so I don't know if that counts.

What was your favorite toy as a child?
Hmmm... I had a Barbie townhouse with a working elevator that at the time, I thought was the cat's meow.

Autumn or spring?
Autumn: my birthday, our anniversary... I like spring, but it usually comes with a healthy dose of allergies.

Hugs or kisses?
Ummm... both!

Cherry or blueberry?

Do you want your friends to respond?
Yes, but... (see below)

Who is most likely to respond?
I'm afraid everyone already did.

Living arrangements?
1 bathroom house in Fairfield with a husband and 3 girls (1 of which is a teenager. Impressive, no?)

Last time you cried?
I can honestly say, I don't remember.

What is on the floor of your closet?
A shoe's store worth of shoes, Madeline's sleeping bag.

Who is the friend you’ve had the longest?
While I still keep in touch with acquaintances from elementary school, I am going to say Tiffany. We've been best pals since senior year in high school.

Favorite smell?
Fresh lilacs, Antonia's Flowers perfume (smells a lot like freesia, but better)

Who or what inspires you?
I am an arteest. I am constantly inspired by everything. I was inspired by a box of cookies today (full disclosure: I am working on a cookie package design now, so I am especially aware and/or inspired by anything relating to a cookie).

What are you afraid of?
Small spaces. When I was pregnant, I was desperately afraid that my feet would grow, and I would have to get all new shoes. I would have nightmares about it.

Blech, no!

Favorite car?
It changes on a daily basis. Right now I'm longing for a Volvo wagon--which is such a mom car, I know. But when in Rome... (especially with 3 kids)

Number of keys on your key ring?
4. The sad thing is, I have way more Stop and Shop-type cards on my key ring than actual keys.

How many years at your current job?
almost 3 years.

Favorite day of the week?

How many countries have you lived in?
Just 1.

Dream job
See sidebar, about professional shoe shopper. Seriously, that is my dream job.


Just the fax, ma'am

Last week, my pal Becky started a new job (in the city, which gave her reason to buy a hot new Coach bag, but that's a different post altogether); and on one of the first days of the new job, she learned where the fax machines are. Which lead to this cute little musing on who actually uses fax machines anyway (seriously, I'd love to hear from those that do, if you're out there).

That said, I just finished reading Through the Children's Gate, by Adam Gopnick (a great collection of stories about his family's first few years living in NYC after a stint in Paris). In one of the last chapters, he talks about new technology (specifically, IMing), and oddly enough, who still faxes as a way of communication:

"A curtain falls around the age of forty, and whatever the medium of electronic communication that was in place then remains the medium that you use. If you were forty when the fax machine was in flower, you still send faxes, for all their snaky, mid-eighties kind of flimsiness [ed. note: Ahhh, I get it--old people use fax machines!]... Though I lived on email and caffeine—just got on that subway as the doors were closing—I had never sent or received an instant message."

His sentiment makes sense: my mother just--just!--upgraded from dial up to DSL, while we've got our cable modem before we got furniture (no joke, we seriously had internet access before we had a place to sit. If you have met my husband this will make perfect sense). However, I am just catching on to text messaging--I still don't get all the abbreviations Ashlee uses (cue the drawn out, mooo-oooooooooommmmmmmmm). But my goodness, this does not bode well for my future. I am wary to think of what kind of technology will be in vogue when Madeline and--gasp!--Eleanor get older; I don't want to be the mom that confuses LOL for lots of love, instead of laugh out loud (like Gopnick did. Very funny story that I will not do justice to by trying to retell it here).

Whoo boy, I do not want to get old.


Celebrity photoshopping strikes again!

There are many things that peeve me, but one of the biggest is celebrity photoshopping. I won't get on my soap box too much (OK, I will), but I find that celebrity magazine photoshoots are giving women next-to-impossible standards to live up to (having a teenager in the house, we have had our fair share of body image conversations).

Case A: A few weeks ago, I picked up a copy of People Magazine at the nail salon; the one with JLo--oh, sorry, Jennifer Lopez--on the cover. Now, let's recap why she was on the cover: oh, right she just gave birth to twins. Which explains why every inch of her post-partum body was photoshopped and styled to the extreme. I gave birth to one baby 5 months ago, and my body--on a good day--doesn't look like hers did 5 weeks after giving birth to two babies. The whole photo spread reeked of celebrity narcism, with pictures of Jennifer in ridiculous designer gowns prancing around with her babies like they were props. But sorry, unless you have 10 babies (and even then, whoa!), 50 pounds of baby weight does not just melt away like that. Seriously, there was not one inch of that woman that was not photoshopped.

Case B: The following cover of Britney Spears:

Now, I feel for the poor girl, I really do. She's going through a rough time right now, in the public eye. However, the only miracle diet she's been on has been, according to this article on the Huffington Post, is time travel (quite a miracle, indeed). The styled, posed, photoshopped Britney was actually a photo from Glamour Magazine, circa 2003, seen here:

Now, I realize that on a good day, OK Magazine is just another trashy, gossip-y read (People Mag only a hair more respectable), but come on!



My pal Koleen forwarded me this email she got from Toad's Place:

I could be wrong, but this could--quite possibly--be the ugliest form of email marketing, ever. First of all, this poor guy's publicist was obviously not involved whatsoever; otherwise they probably would have had a much better photo to work with, rather than the current scanned-in-off-the-DVD-case one they have now.

Second, read the copy (if you can--the bright blue background is just a tad distracting):

Michael played the part of "Christopher", one of Tony's 'capos'. The name of his band is "La Dolce Vita", The Sweet life. He also played in many other movies including 'Good Fellas'.

I could be wrong, but it sounds as though one of my kids wrote it (the assignment being sum up Michael Imperioli's life in just 3 sentences). And what on earth does he do in this band? As my friend said, "do we just go to Toads and he sits on the stage and we all just stare at him for an hour? Makes no sense..."

It's definitely leaning towards the bizarre...


Opening day, take 2

Opening day, take 2 was AWESOME. Not only did the weather hold out (I was comfortable in my sweatshirt, sans jacket); but the game was great and the Yanks won. Oh, it also didn't hurt that this year, unlike last, I was not pregnant, and could enjoy a $10 beer along with the game (the enjoyment, of course, came from drinking it--certainly not paying for it!).

I only wish that I had a better camera other than my phone (the Nikon was far too large to bring). Derek Jeter was stretching with his cute little behind up in the air, and unfortunately--except for the white dot on the field--my phone could not capture it.

Sigh. Rough life, eh?