Marry me:

I love hearing about proposals. I'm a total sap when it comes to stuff like that--whether it's a viral internet lip-dub sensation that the whole world is privy to, to something as intimate as rolling over and proposing in bed, I think there's no wrong way to do it (well, there might be, but I haven't seen one that bad).

So when one of my favorite typographers put together a website that went through how she and her fiancé met--including proposal--well, let's just say that I wasn't exactly PRODUCTIVE for that half hour. Seriously, you guys; Jess and Russ' wedding website is cute and clever when it comes to design (including their friend's illustrations--LOVE THAT), but add the story of their coming together, and their engagement... well just mop me up off the floor, will ya?

In a secluded corner of the park, she spun around and half-jokingly exclaimed ‘This is where you ask me to marry you!’
He had been waiting for the right moment and decided this was it. He got down on one knee and took out the ring.
Confused by his reaction to her joke, it took her a second to realize that he wasn’t actually joking. She shouted “Yes!”, jumped into his arms and nearly knocked him off his feet.

Truth be told, Mattio proposed to me in a very similar fashion, which may be why I am so drawn to this particular proposal.

Actually, he asked me while we were in bed (oh, get yer minds out of the gutter). He had been trying to get me to go out to dinner with him for weeks, and I just couldn't make it happen with my waitressing schedule (because I was SUCH A BUSY waitress, you know). So one night, we were lying in bed talking about our futures--as lovestruck twenty somethings are wont to do--and I turned to him and said, 'One day, you're going to pull a ring out of that [nightstand] drawer.'

And to my surprise, he did. 

See you guys? Proposals = awesome. 


More Brave, less princess:

Today--first day of summer vacation--it rained. Like, poured; with thunder and lightening. So: no beach, no playground, no pool. So we did what everyone else does on a rainy summer's day, and went to the movies. And naturally we passed up Madagascar part 32: Ben Stiller Still Needs a Paycheck (Oh, I kid, I kid--it's going to rain again this summer, so no worries, we'll see it) to see the latest Pixar installment: Brave.

First, the good (alright, the obvious): it's Pixar, so the animation is UNREAL. I mean, it's so realistic, it's UNREAL. OK, maybe UNREAL isn't the best choice of words. It's top notch, as usual.

Seriously, the background, the bears, the hair on Merida's head--spectacularly realistic. The scene where Merida and her mom--as a bear--are catching fish? Look at the water and tell me that's not awesome. Oh, Pixar, you guys never disappoint in that department.

The story: it was cute. OK, adorable. I was pleased that the story was about a princess (GROAN--see below) who didn't want to meet a prince and fall in love and live happily ever after (YAY!). Actually, as far as princesses go, Merida was pretty badass, in a Katniss Everdeen sort of way (I'm thinking archery is going to be a thing now). 

But seriously, you guys: a princess? Why? Is that some sort of... void that needs to be filled in the entertainment industry? Especially family entertainment? Come on!

Don't get me wrong, I liked the movie... I'm just tired of princesses. I feel like they're being shoved down my girls' throats (and as a parent, mine too). You know what made movies like Up, and Monsters Inc, and Wall-E, and Finding Nemo awesome (aside from the fact that they were completely original)? THEY WEREN'T ABOUT PRINCESSES.

Look, Pixar: I don't mean to complain (OK, I do), but enough with the Princesses! Let Disney take care of that end--you guys just stick to awesome, non-princessy movies. 



I have a celebrity column in TweetDeck that I don't pay much mind to--every once in a while I'll scan it quickly but I certainly don't check it day in and day out. But in scanning it the other day, I came across a tweet from Neil Patrick Harris (who is awesome, btw. If you're going to follow a celebrity on twitter, follow him):

Ooooh, NPH talking about art? I'm game. Let's go check it out, shall we?

Um, WHOA. Those little dots on the screen? Those are nail heads. And the make up of the image is one single strand of black thread: 

Constellation is an ongoing series of portraits by New York artist Kumi Yamashita known most prominently for her innovative light and shadow sculptures. Each image is constructed from a single unbroken black thread wound through a dense array of galvanized nails mounted on a painted white board, meaning that the darker areas within the portrait are formed solely from the density of the string. Colossal is no stranger to artworks created withthread and nails, but these are certainly some of the most impressive and intricate works I’ve ever seen made using this method.

You guys, go to Kumi Yamashita's website and prepare to be amazed. I am in love with with her "rubbings", portraits created by rubbing their image over the subject's expired credit cards. 

Unbelievable, indeed. Thanks NPH. 


New work (launch):

New artist site: devinemodernart.com.

Between our art talks, and our college conversations (we both have high school juniors), artist Catherine Devine was a dream to work with.

Oh, and her art's pretty fab, too. Go to her new site, if you don't believe me (you should go there even if you do believe me)!


Oh, baby:

Before I begin today's post, I just want to put this out on the table, lest the post title fool you: there are no new babies at traciedesigns HQ. There are no new babies on the horizon--nor will there ever be. Don't get me wrong, I love babies--I'm just at the point in my life where I love other people's babies.

Anywho. One of my BFF's had a baby last week, and I am beyond thrilled. Of course I am beyond happy for my friend and her husband, but selfishly I'm thrilled because there's a newborn in my life again (one that's not mine! +1!), AND it's a boy!

To welcome Dimitri into the world, I made this:

And remember how this weekend, I was all, creative rut, boring work, WAAAAAHHHHH! This project was fun. This was a great first step into getting my groove back (I know, way to make this birth all about me, right?). But for serious, you guys, this project was a great combination of the things I love: design, typography, CUTE LITTLE BABIES. Perhaps this is a first step into a little side business? Something to think about...



It's embarrassing that I've gone a whole month and a half neglecting this blog.



I wouldn't be lying if I told you that the reason for the lapse in posts is because I'm super busy--but I wouldn't be completely honest, either.

Truth is, I'm in a rut. A really bad rut, where I just feel like everything I do is so uncreative, so uninspired. The past few projects I've been working on have kept me busy, but at the same time, they've been so unsatisfying, creatively. I've taken on these mediocre projects basically to pay my bills, not to keep things fresh, fun and interesting. And this morning, I had a great pep talk from Mattio about the future and what I need to do to, well--as Stella did--get my groove back. Until he pointed it out, I had no idea how glaringly obvious it's been that I've been in a creative stupor. Now that it's out on the table, I can address it and figure out ways to fix it.

So am I back 100%? Not quite yet, but I'm working my way up to it. I've got some fun ideas to get things going again, and pretty close to the top of my list is blogging regularly again. So, until next time (which won't be another month and a half from now)...


Shoe love:

OK, so I need these shoes. Like, NEED these shoes. Maybe I'm not being clear: I need these shoes like I need Diet Coke. Or water. Or oxygen.

I loved them at first glance, and I love them even more now that I know the bow is detachable (because sometimes I'm not really in a bows-on-my-shoes place). I think I need to save up some of my temp job pennies and buy myself these shoes.

After all, my life kind of depends on it.


Dress up:

Oh lookie who decided to blog today!

Part of the reason--OK, a lot of the reason--why I haven't been posting very regularly is that I'm busy. Like, super-way busy (I know, I know, not like you haven't heard THAT one before). But for reals; recently I took on a temporary job that has me going into an office twice a week (Zoe's mom's office!--which would be awesome if we weren't working all the time). The work is meh, the pay is fine, but you know what? I love going into that office. Well, scratch that. I love GETTING DRESSED to go into that office.

Seriously. My work at home wardrobe of jeans and yoga pants are frowned upon at the office--so I have to get dressed, and look nice. And that usually means doing my hair (because baseball caps are also big no-nos), and putting on makeup, in addition to nice clothes. At first, I thought it was going to be a problem--I mean, hello? Jeans and yoga pants, and not much else. But now, I'm kind of enjoying the challenge of "shopping" my closet and putting together office-appropriate outfits. I'm wearing stuff I haven't worn in years (because this is a temporary job, I refuse to buy anything new. Although, I did buy a new pair of "work" pants the other day, but mostly because they were super on sale for $15). The most fun is finding a pair of shoes--and oh, how I love my shoes! Since I have no reason to wear all my pretty, pretty shoes at home, it's been a real treat to wear them to the office.

Don't get me wrong--if I had to do this more than twice a week, I'd be complaining a lot more (I'd also be asking for a raise, because I'd almost have to buy something new). But it's not often, and so far it's fun.

I think the funniest part of this whole experience, is people's reactions. At drop off at school, people are used to seeing me in my work at home uniform--mostly workout clothes and baseball caps, because I'm usually dropping the kids off and working out right away. The reaction I get to "dressed up for the office Tracie" is pretty funny, because it's so unexpected. Maybe once this job ends, I'll continue dressing up once a week, just because.

Oh, who am I kidding? Yoga pants are SO COMFY.


Saved by the meme:

It's been a while, busy, busy, blah, blah, blah. Keeping up with a blog is hard, y'all. Lucky for all of us, I've been tagged to participate in a meme. Lazy, I know. But, also! Fresh, new content!

How do you mark the end of the week and the beginning of the weekend?
Popcorn and a movie. Mattio got a popcorn maker for Christmas this year, and I swear I have never eaten more popcorn in my life. With real butter melted on it. Mmmmmm. And beer. Almost always beer.

What is your idea of luxury?
My idea of luxury is an agenda-free afternoon of quiet. I could shop, get a mani/pedi, sleep... the idea of multiple hours uninterrupted is complete and utter luxury to me. By the way, I would just like to say, on the internet, for the world to read, that I give Mattio my version of luxury once a weekend in the winter (we all ski, he doesn't. Guess who stays behind all. By. Himself.). I think I am owed some luxury.

Tell me a book, a drink and a food that all complement each other.

Uh oh. So this meme is courtesy of Ms. Musings--she who likes to read. Like, smart books and stuff. I can recall 4 books I've read this year, and only because they are on my iPad right now. Probably 3 of them were for book club, and the 4th is Mindy Kaling's book (which is excellent, by the way). So I can give you a food and drink that compliment each other... but throw in a book? Eh. But since I mentioned Mindy Kaling, I'll go with her book, and a super girlie drink, like a cosmo, or bellini or something (she is a total girlie girl). To eat? Cupcakes. Why cupcakes? I don't know, why not?

What is one thing you love about the house (flat, apartment, yurt, whatever) you live in, and one thing you would change?
Ooooh, we just went through a major house renovation 2 years ago, so there's LOTS I love in my house: my upstairs bathroom, my closet, my super cool charcoal grey sectional that is comfortable as HELL... If I could only name 1, it would probably be the upstairs bathroom. It's average sized, but it's ginormous compared to the 1 we had BR (before renovating). The entire room was designed around these blue glass tiles I found--the warehouse the store ordered from was temporarily out of stock when I went to order them, and I searched Fairfield County high and low, and not one other store carried them. The original store finally got them in stock, and I love them so, so much. The bathroom itself is nothing crazy, no spa shower, or fancy tub... no double sink, or special toilet. I just love the color, and those tiles. And having an actual linen closet in the bathroom. That's nice, too. 
Since we changed so much with the renovation, it's hard to think of something I would change at this point. The original footprint of the house is teeny-tiny, as is our lot. I would love to change that... but having a bigger yard means more to take care of, which is so not happening (not a dig at Mattio, who does a lot of taking care of the outside, but more of a complaint about how much care the outside needs). Realistically, the one thing I'd change is I would finish our attic. After 2 years, I'm still looking for more room. 

What is something about yourself that you have made peace with?

At 5' even, I would have to say my height. Not much going to change there, so I may as well accept it.  

If you’re browsing in a real world bookshop, what will make you pick up a book that you’ve never heard of by an author you aren’t familiar with?
Anyone who knows me knows that my answer to this type of question will always be cover design. I've found some really great (and not so great) books that way. I am far too guilty of judging books by their covers.

If you could (or do) have it your own way, what’s your decorating style? (Plain, floral, girly, austere, classic…?) 
I'm a sucker for most anything mid-century modern (see above: super cool charcoal grey sectional). Before we renovated, we had saved and saved and saved for new furniture--so after the house was done, we were able to toss a lot of our old hand-me-down furniture (which did us well for 10 years, make no mistake), and decorate the way we really wanted to. West Elm was (and still is) a great resource for clean, modern lines.

What never fails to cheer you up? 
My kids' laughing--like, deep, hearty, laughing. Shoes. Shoes on sale. A bike ride to the beach. The beach, in general. Dinner with friends (wasn't that a movie? Because I think it was, and that's not what I mean. I mean actual dinner, with actual friends). Dessert. Cupcakes. Vodka and soda with a splash of cranberry. 

What are you going to do when you retire that you don’t have time for now? 
Take more pictures. I'm always envious of those people that do a photo a day--who has time for that? I try and keep up with Instagram, but I always fall short. 

Given the chance, which house in literature would you move into, and why?

Uh oh, another literary question. Again, my mind is blank. I'd say--after much thought--that it might be cool to live in the Hogwarts castle, from Harry Potter. But--after even more though--I'd really miss electricity. And I'd probably be spooked out of my mind. So maybe I'd just like to visit Hogwarts. I just read the first chapter of the Great Gatsby (the teenager is reading it for her literature class), so the Buchanan's house might be cool... but there's so much sadness there, so maybe not. See? I'm not so great at these questions. Ask me a questions about shoes, or clothes...

What don’t you wear, not because it doesn’t suit you, but because you don’t think you’re the type of person who wears that style/colour/a poncho? 
Ah, see? This I can answer. Well, I wouldn't be caught dead in a poncho for sure. Unfortunately I was blessed with rather large, uh, girls. So nothing billow-y on top, unless I'm feeling like looking like a tent. Also, I always steer clear of ankle strapped shoes. That whole 5' tall thing... anything that cuts me off at the ankle makes me look like I have stubby legs. Which I do, because I'm 5' tall. So let's not call attention to that, K?

I think I'm supposed to come up with new questions, and tag people... but, it's been a while! Busy, busy! Blah, blah, blah. Keeping up with a blog is hard, y'all, so I'm going to leave it right there and and offer these questions to anyone who wants to answer them. Shoot me a link to your blog in the comments if you do.



Here's the Valentine's that the kiddies handed out this year. I wish I could take credit for the sheer adorable-ness of this project, but I can't. As usual, the internet--specifically, Design Mom--waved it's magic wand, and voilá! Valentines!


Super meh:

So last night: big huge football game (the outcome of which resulted in much happiness for Mattio), snacky-totally-bad-for-you-and-by-the-way-I-would-never-eat-this-if-it-wasn't-the-Super-Bowl-foods, and commercials. Lots of 'em.

Any clear favorites out there? Eh, not for me. You guys, I watched an entire FOOTBALL game, expecting to see some awesomeness during the breaks, and, quite frankly, it was all really meh.

I will admit, some made me chuckle, but no real stand outs. Last year's VW Darth Vader spot was awesome; it was adorable, original and clever. This year was all about women in scantily clad clothes, dogs and babies--none of which were adorable, original or clever (especially those scantily clad women. Ugh).

I will admit that I did enjoy the Ferris Bueller commercial--in it's entirety when I watched it last week online. The Seinfeld commercial was amusing, but not at the end, when Jay Leno (JAY LENO??) swooped in. The Hulu commercial with Will Arnett (doing his best Gob voice) was amusing (and as a fan of Arrested Development--which is streaming right now on Hulu--I was left disappointed that the list didn't include his infamous chicken dance). The kid peeing in the pool was cute, but I don't even remember who that was for (and it wasn't a pool cleaning company).

The only commercial that piqued my interest, was the Chevy Sonic spot--if only because I was curious about the OK Go video, which was filmed entirely in (and making music with) the Sonic. That was definitely my fave (the OK Go video, not the commercial):

You can see Brand Bowl rankings of the commercials here, or, if you're feeling nostalgic (or missed a few), you can watch the commercials themselves here. Or you can skip it all and just watch OK Go with me again.



Ferris Bueller? Check. Beautiful day? Check. Calling out sick? Check.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the best commercial of this year's Super Bowl (alright, we still have another 6 days. But this is awesome--it's going to be tough to top).



I've been in a little shoe drought lately, and these cuties are just the thing I need to get out of it. I mean, look at the navy, with the red treads! How adorable! 


All in a day's work:

My office is located about 20 steps from my bed. So, once the kids are where they should be, my commute is not hard (Oh, don't be jealous; you'll see where this is going in a second).

However. Every once in a while, I'm asked to work in someone else's office. Which is awesome--I get to be around other real, live human beings! When I speak aloud, someone answers back! Sometimes there's food! We might order lunch! Or hear a funny story about someone's weekend! (OK, there's work involved, too--it's not all fun and games). 

But. Getting to that office? Every time I have to commute to work, I have a new appreciation for those that do it every day. Even more so for those that do it WITH KIDS.

Yesterday, for example: we had to be out of the house at 7:30 because there was a breakfast thing at the 8 year old's school. Great! We don't have to do breakfast at home! That'll shave SO MUCH TIME off of our morning. This day is already shaping up to be SO EASY!

8:15: Get back home with the intern. We have a half hour before we have to leave to drop her off at school. 

Did I mention that last night, I made lunches--even mine?? I'm SO ORGANIZED.

8:20: Jump in the shower. No time to wash my hair, so it looks like today's a baseball hat day (fortunately I can get away with that at this particular office). Shower, brush teeth, throw on minimal makeup so I look well rested... and make my first mistake of the day: check email.

8:35: Read email on phone and boot up computer to make client-requested changes to a document. Changes can't wait until the afternoon.

8:40: Still waiting for the Photoshop document to open.

8:45: Still waiting.

8:50: Finally! Make changes and send them off. Whew! Looks like we're not going to be late to school after all!

8:59: Get intern buckled into her car seat. Realize that it takes 10 minutes for the intern to get her coat and shoes on, so yeah; we're going to be late.

9:03: Run back into house to grab both the intern's snack and lunch (already packed!).

9:17: Get the intern to school, 17 minutes late.

9:30: No traffic? SCORE!! Get to Westport in record time! Think of something funny to tweet on the way there, fish around in my purse for my phone, only to realize... IT'S AT HOME.

9:31: Turn around to go back home.

9:40: Get back into Fairfield. Drive past Starbucks when I realize that this day isn't SO EASY, it sucks. And the only thing--THE ONLY THING--that is going to get me through it is a Venti skim Chai. Hit the brakes and run into Starbucks.

9:50: Get home and retrieve phone. Tweet my funny thing. FINALLY.

10:05: Arrive at work. I am completely proud of the fact that the only thing I have managed to do right today, was to pack food for myself (LAST NIGHT). 

1:00: Leave work (that's right, I worked for a whole 3 hours) to pick up the intern at school.

1:30: Pick the intern up, and immediately drop her off at the sitter's--last night I volunteered (WITHOUT A GUN TO MY HEAD, I might add) to switch "Mystery Reader" spots with a friend. They don't allow siblings to come with the Mystery Reader, so it's off to the sitter's for the intern.

2:00: Get to school. The smile that spreads across the 8 year old's face when she sees me as the Mystery Reader (hence the mystery part) makes my day worth it. Almost.

Read for half an hour, go home for 5 minutes, just to pick her back up from school. Get home, do snack and homework supervision, and work in the peace and quiet for a few more hours.

5:00: pick up the intern. Wow, those few hours went by fast.

5:15, get home, get the 8 year old changed for basketball (SCORE! I don't have to drive to or pick up from! Carpooling might be my favorite), and fed.


5:45: Get the 8 year old off, get the intern dressed to go back out (remember from this morning, it takes her 10 minutes to do this), and pick up the teenager from work.

6:15: Drop the teenager off at the library for study group. Head home to make dinner. Collapse.

People who leave the house every day, I salute you. Seriously, you guys are my heroes. Now, if you need me, I'll be in bed, under the covers; hoping to never have to leave the house again.


Airbrush this:

Fotoshop by Adobé from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

(OK, OK, I know I haven't gotten to my goals for 2012 yet--or much of anything, for that matter. But this was too great not to share).

I think my favorite part of this video is that they use actual Photoshopped examples that are recognizable: Faith Hill's infamous Redbook cover, Gabourey Sidibe's skin tone on the cover of Elle, and an actual model from Ann Taylor's website.

Pretty awesome.

(via Adverve)


Hello, goodbye (part 1):

Hello internet friends! It's good to be back into a normal routine now that the holidays are over (although, I do love me some Christmas; and this year the entire Christmas/New Year's week seemed especially laid back and relaxed). Some reflections on this past year...

This past year, I think the biggest lesson I learned was to separate work and life. I realized that my business was not going to crumble apart and fail if I let the intern play with her friends for a half hour after school. People weren't going to stop calling if I took a week off in August (which is typically slow anyway). The world wasn't going to end if I took some time for myself and my family; and even though in the back of my head I knew that, it was still reassuring to find out first hand.

I also blogged more. Probably wasn't as much as I would have liked, but this year had more posts than any other year. Looking back on that, it makes me feel good. Still striving to blog more often... so this is a step in the right direction.

I rode in my first big group bike ride. I bought a bike this past spring, and really made a commitment to riding it. So much so that I signed up for the CT Challenge, and completed the 50 mile route. The Challenge was a great way to force myself to train, and the feeling I got at the finish line was sooooo worth it all. I rode my bike 50 miles! All in one ride! Yep, that's one to shout from the rooftops.

I participated in my first gallery show. Last summer, I was asked to be part of the Hang in There Poster Show, which was a group of posters with a positivity theme. Even though I was terribly nervous leading up to the show (holy cow, it was like a who's who of graphic design in CT!), I was really proud of my work (and incredibly honored to be included).

I saw Derek Jeter's 3000th hit. OK, not really a personal accomplishment so much as stupid luck on my end (we had bought the tickets really early in the season, and had he not been injured, or had the previous night's game not been rained out... it would have been just another Yankee game), but still: cool.

My work won some pretty cool graphic design awards. That's always a good feeling. As Sally Field said it best: "You like me! You really like me!"

Stay tuned, tomorrow's post is my goals for 2012.