Sunday, July 27, 2008

On Vacation

Getting ready to head back to my homeland {Cleveland, Ohio} for a nice week long vacation to visit friends and family- will be back on August 3rd. No computer! I had to have it surgically removed for this trip. Since opening Inkspot Workshop in April, my laptop has become an extension of my body. I plan to keep busy so I don't miss it.

Preparing for trips to the airport these days present all types of challenges, in particular regulation sizes of personal care products for carry on bags. I have had many a $20 hair or skincare product be tossed into the garbage by the TSA staff. Of course I believe this is a just a way for these workers to get their own stash of nice products:) Surely they really don't just THROW them into the garbage???? Then I discovered mysmartpac! essential personal care products for people on-the-go packaged in a convenient, carry-on approved travel size pack.

At the recent International Gift Show, see my previous post, I got a chance to see and try this terrific new idea. The packaging alone should be award winning, it is so fresh, streamlined and smart. Packaging is nice, but how are the products? In my opinion, they are in a class all by themselves, using top notch ingredients. Prior to Smartpac, the founder worked in merchandising for Bath and Body Works. Here is some basic information:

- myspartpac TSA compliant and adheres to the 3-1-1 rule enforced by the TSA

- packs available for both men and women in scents ranging from violet kisses, berry blossom vanilla, morning fresh and citrus woody.

- ingredients include green tea, vitamin e, aloe vera and more
- once packages are opened, they have self sealing technology which prevents spills and keeps them fresh!

- up to 6 uses from each product

- handy zip top travel pouch keeps it all together

If you have any trips coming up or are a very busy person on the go, you will love myspartpac. Even if you are just a product junkie like me, you will love this body lotion! See you in a week!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Flan.........GLORIOUS FLAN! For those of you unfamiliar with this ultra decadent dessert, flan is a Latin American custard like dish, sort of like a thicker, upside down, creme brulee without the caramelized sugar topping. Instead the caramel is syrupy and found on the bottom. This perfect flan specimen pictured above is compliments of my mother-in-law {aka} The Flan Master - Puerto Rican Super Hero of the flan baking world, just ask anyone who has ever had her famous specialty, "Cheese Flan", almost like eating cheesecake. She has been making this recipe for years and it's funny but each time she makes it, we swear it was even better than her last. It's the dessert that keeps getting even more delicious.

The trick to making a great flan is the "bain marie" or water bath it is baked in. If you place your flan in the oven by itself, it will turn out like scrambled eggs due to the dry heat. When the flan is placed inside a pan filled with water, enough to come up 3/4 of the side of the flan dish, this creates steam in the oven and the consistency of the flan will be silky smooth.
I wanted to post my mother-in-law's recipe, but soon found out it was a "family secret" and if I did any such thing my knee caps would be removed by Jose Wallnuts-riguez. Seeing as I need my knee caps these days, I decided to leave you with this FLANTASTIC recipe that I used for many years, prior to meeting my husband. ENJOY

Serves 6
recipe from Miami Spice {quite possibly the best cookbook I have ever owned!!!!!}

1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large whole eggs
1 egg yolk
2 cups milk
1 1/2 tablespoons brandy, preferably Spanish
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Have ready six 8 oz ramekins or one large, deep dish pie plate.

2. Make the caramel: Place 1 cup of the sugar in a heavy saucepan with 3 tablespoons water. Cover and cook the sugar over high heat for 1 minute. Uncover the pan and continue cooking until the mixture turns dark golden brown, about 4 minutes.

3. Pour a little of this mixture into each ramekin. Tilt and rotate the ramekins to coat the bottom and sides. Set aside.

4. Meanwhile, bring 1 qt water to a boil.

5. Whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, the whole eggs, and egg yolk in a mixing bowl. Whisk in the milk, brandy, vanilla, and cinnamon. Correct the flavors, adding sugar or cinnamon to taste. Pour this mixture into the ramekins.

6. Place the ramekins in a small roasting pan and pour in boiling water to a depth of 1/2 inch. Loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake until the flans puff slightly and an inserted skewer comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

7. Remove the flans from the roasting pan, and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 6 hours. The flans set up even better if you allow them to chill overnight. Just before serving, run a sharp knife around the inside of each ramekin. Place a plate on top and invert. Gently shake the dish; the flan should slip out easily. Spoon the caramel sauce around the flan and serve.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

i CANDY - 3rd Edition

INSTRUCTIONS: Click on collage to see larger image

Ready for your weekly installment of iCANDY, enthusiastically brought to you by Inkspot Workshop! In keeping with my past themes of featuring fellow Etsy sellers, I'd like to introduce you to three more talented folks. Their love for color and detail is a hit with me, how about you? Meet Funky Chicken Design, Charity Elise and KTHURM. See you next week.

PS. If you have some iCANDY, just leave me a post or send me an email. The designer/artist does not have to have an Etsy shop.

Monday, July 21, 2008


If you happen to be the lucky 100th customer, you will receive a very special BONUS!
Sure To Please:))

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Breakfast With My Tiffany

Here it is again, another lovely quiet morning with my favorite coffee mug, xm radio on the computer tuned to "What's Playing At Starbucks" how cool is that new channel? I'm the only one awake and tuning into my blogging voice.
This morning I thought I'd bring you a bit of Tiffany history, inspired by this lovely twine box, which sits unceremoniously on my desk. We all have something in our house that we look at every day, in a "take for granted" sort of way, even though we highly treasure it and I don't mean your significant other:)
I never knew Tiffany made anything other than leaded glass lamps and jewelry, until this little gem found it's way to me. Tiffany Studios {1902-1032} Louis Comfort Tiffany's spin-off, glass making company from his father's company Tiffany, also made ornate desk sets. These sets not only included twine boxes, but were also comprised of candlesticks, inkstands, boxes, picture frames and even small, bronze paperweights shaped like animals. They produced more than 15 different patterns of desk sets and my pattern is called "Pine Needle". A set typically had at least nine pieces and sometimes as many as 20: blotter ends, inkstand, pen tray, paper rack, paper knife, rocker blotter, memo-pad holder, stamp box and calendar. Also available were other matching pieces like bookends, paperweights, lamps, thermometers, scales and even reading glasses.
Story has it that Louis Comfort Tiffany spent much time overseas and was in awe of the leaded glass windows found in the churches and it inspired him to start Tiffany Studios.
(Picture from Wikipedia) The Holy City (1905) – St. John's vision on the isle of Patmos. Having 58 panels, this window is said to be one of the largest made by the Tiffany Studios. It is located at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church (Baltimore, Maryland), which has eleven Tiffany windows.

I guess it was a natural progression for him to make desk sets? How I wish I could ask Mr. Tiffany himself this question. It makes sense because these sets were made in the early 1900's which coincided with the art nouveau movement. What better way to display your wealth back then - have a desk chock-full of Tiffany! I'm lucky to have just one piece of an entire collection and although I would like to collect the rest of the pieces one day, I'm afraid their rare existence has them priced out of my budget for now.

I was lucky enough to have received this piece from my late grandfather. I actually had many beautiful pieces passed down to me from my grandmother's antique collection, whom I never got to meet as she died 2 weeks before I was born. Growing up my grandfather would take me into his attic and we would rummage around the sea of antiques. My grandmother's dream was to open her own antique store until her untimely death. Over the years before his death at the young age of 92, my grandfather would ask me what I wanted to take home with me and one day we happened upon this fantastic stained glass box. My grandfather said "oh, I remember your grandmother used to keep this on her desk for her twine." This explains the little hole on the front. Doesn't this conjure up images in your mind from the early 1900's when people used to wrap their own parcels before they were sent? Long before the invention of tape!!! what if we still had to use string today?

Unfortunately my office does not get direct sunlight, where I could truly appreciate the stained glass window effect, Mr. Tiffany was recreating. Don't' you just love how the light brings this box to life?

Writing this post has given me new appreciation for my grandmother's Tiffany twine box and I think I will keep it here on my desk, just as she once did, where I will continue to enjoy it - than pass it onto the next generation. Thank you Lillian, I look forward to meeting you, but not for a long, long time.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I'm Up To Something!!

We'll my creative juices have really gotten the best of me now and I've ventured into some uncharted waters. Well, I guess all waters are uncharted when you are new at something, right? I've been working on a really special project and in just a short while I will let you in on my secret. First, I must obsessively - iron out all the details and get all my ducks in a row and any other cliches I can come up with. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


For this second edition of iCANDY, I would like to introduce you to some fellow Etsy sellers, who {again} happen to have a fondness for color {like yours truly} and have wonderful, mesmerizing pictures. To get the full effect, click on the image above. I thought I'd keep with a jewelry theme this time, enjoy. Keepsake Katie, Spiral Stephanie on VACATION right now and Shop Red Leaf - newbie to the group and has a really fresh-new look!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market - July 8-16

I can hardly believe it, most of my working adult life has been spent as an exhibitor at boring trade shows of all types {copiers, food service, medical}. Since opening InkSpot Workshop, this past April, I've been tuned into a completely different segment of trade shows. By far...any trade show that is based on paper and/or gifts, is cause for celebration!! I never thought I would be excited to attend any trade show, so can you just imagine when my little business actually grows enough and I'm a real live exhibitor in one? Perhaps the Holy Grail of all stationery shows in NYC? ok, give me a few years:)

I decided to get my feet wet right here in my own backyard and attend the International Gift & Home Furnishings Market. I even took MARTA {ATL public train}, which {to say the least} is quite possibly one of Atlanta's biggest embarrassments. Did I mention a gentleman felt the need to expose himself to me, while on the train? oh, guess I'll save that for a later post:) That wasn't exactly the type of birthday present I was looking for, but at 40, guess I should be flattered.

This market is taking place in 3 different buildings, with at least 17 floors each building. There is a lot of escalator riding going on! It is almost overwhelming because not only are the permanent showrooms exhibiting, but a slew of temporary showrooms are there too. Everything from furniture, rugs, patio, home accessories, clothing, jewelry, kids toys, stationery, bath and body and the list does go on... I visited the permanent showrooms on Thursday and the temporary ones on Friday. The temps are fun because often times they are up and coming, independent folks just trying to get some exposure {of the non MARTA kind}.

I met some really nice people and saw some FUNTASTIC stuff!! In fact, one woman's line was so impressive I am saving a later post completely dedicated to her products {can you stand the suspense:} OK, now onto some colorful characters I found interesting, let's start in the permanent showrooms... but first I must warn.... this is an incredibly long post so grab our cup-o-joe. Once I started, I could not stop...

iota - just bought by C.R. Gibson - nice story - Designer Kelly Alford starts small business in Colorado, makes lively patterns and great products and is bought by a big fish. I love all the color here!! Great wine tags too.

Bungalow's Showroom was showing off these cool bags from Scout. Pattern shown is called Dots Bots - all Scout bags are virtually indestructible {even for my 2 year old?} and water resistant - made from a lightweight poly woven reinforced material. This will be my next purchase!

They have a whole line of lively, colorful products made out of this incredible fabric .

How about these thermoses from Pylones?...I'm picking out a thermos for you... remember that song from Steve Martin in The Jerk? ok, I've just really dated myself:( You need sunglasses in this showroom. If you are feeling blue? you'll perk right up with all the crazy, colorful, french designs they have to offer. Everything from hairbrushes, journals, ice cream scoops, you name it, they have put a pattern on it.

The Magenta Showroom was featuring some amazing talent as well.. How about these South Beachy melamine trays and plates in the Scandal pattern, from ceramist Jill Rosenwald.

OK, Now I'm pretty sure Jill is my long lost sister!! Look at the colors in these incredible Cocktail Sets!!!! The colors shown are Slip Cool and Slip Hot. The Disco Cool Tea set is shown below and has me thinking about Andes mints. Seriously, this woman's outrageous talent does not seem to end - She even does hip onesies and other accessories for babies and kids.

Another artist on display in the Magenta showroom is clay thrower, Rae Dunn. Her pieces are so simple and delicate, like little letter pressed cards. I love this set of Espresso Cups & Saucers - each one has the word "sip" impressed. Or the understated elegance of this plain French Cafe Plate, shown below. The other plates read voila, merci and ooh-la-la. Additionally shown are the coordinating Latte Bowls, WHO NEEDS A MUG ANYWAY ????

**** HALF TIME SHOW****** Now I'd like to introduce you to the folks down in the trenches of the hugely popular temporary showrooms...
Can you believe your eyes? 1/2 of a VW bug, right in the middle of a little display??? That's the type of creativity possessed by Marc Quilici, the main man behind Slip. His lamps were among the best eye-candy at the show. Don't you agree?

Sweet Juniper Guerrero of TIGO gifts is the brains and beauty behind the latest knit kraze! Her packaging is fun and cheeky - like Cap Puccino shown above, everything you need to knit a Cap comes inside the cup. She also has a Szechuan Scarf and of course it comes in a Chinese takeout box.

Move over Jo Malone, here comes ZENTS! Don't you just love the name? Literally breathtaking, this line is made up of eau de toilettes, candles, soaps and everything else you need in the bath, plus more. All of the ZENTS scents are able to be layered for that combo effect, which is easy when they are simple like earth, fig, ore, pear and petal to name a few.

Next a little shout out for my fellow Atlanta peeps at Whimsy Press, the retail outlet for Current. They have extremely creative design concepts and have them incorporated into everything from onesies, journals, note cards and double sided wrapping paper, my personal favorite. Anyone with a pink, green and grown logo is ok in my book! I'm only just getting to know them and when I grow up I want Current to design my website:) The designer must be my age because when I saw the Space Invader wrapping paper, I instantly thought... do they have that in Centipede too?

This next company called Cardboard Safari just cracks me up! For those ladies wanting to take down the dear heads from their manly men's dens - try these out as a substitute, they probably won't even notice:) Their specialty happens to be these cardboard puzzles and when you are finished, well as you can see they make stylish wall hangings:* I asked the owner Chris Jessee, how he came up with this and he told me a story about going to see his cousin who worked for a cardboard manufacturing facility and all the guy could talk about was hunting, not cardboard. Chris said on his drive home he came up with this idea! Wow, now I thought my mind worked in crazy ways but Chis, you have me beat!!

From cardboard deers to vinyl frogs - Plage out of France is making black vinyl wall appliques look so passe!!

I leave this post on a squeaky clean note...can't you just smell the simple cleanness? From Soapworx {family owned business} is a line of vegetable soaps blending Shea butter, natural extracts and essential oils. OK, I know their website needs some work, but trust me... to stand in this little booth was extremely calming. I don't know if it was because of all the pastel colors, 90 degree angle soap cuts or the aromas, but it worked a number on me. I especially love the heavy, beautifully patterned papers they use for hand wrapping, like little presents.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the show.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I Met My CRUSH !

What a week I'm having! First I posted about my new crush that I have on SEMIKOLON earlier this week, but since I did not have my camera with me, had to rely upon lack-luster pictures I found on the web. Well.... while attending Atlanta's Gift Market this week {you will definitely see a later post about this humongous show} you can imagine my surprise when I found SEMIKOLON actually has a permanent showroom, here in Atlanta! There I was perusing the showrooms and the bright hues of SEMIKOLON was calling me, like a moth to the light:)

The showroom is merchandised exactly the way Sam Flax has their new SEMILOLON department set up and it is STUNNING!!! The people were very nice as I started snapping pictures like a mad crazy paparazzi person. I met Richard Waters, the Coordinator for Sales and Merchandising for US and Canada, the man who helped Sam Flax get their department up and running. He said the US just got SEMIKOLON in January, but the company has been around for approx 25 years. They are owned by Pierre Belvedere, which as many already know, is also a premium line of journals, and paper goods.

The products are of German design and there really is no website where you can simply go and actually purchase SEMIKOLON products, at least right now - but he did say if anyone wanted to know where they could buy these little luxuries close to where they live, feel free to send him an email -

If you love lively color and pattern the way I do, you will love SEMIKOLON - and NO I do not work for them in any way, shape or form. Just have a huge crush:)

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