Monday, March 30, 2015

DIY Pastel Paint Dipped Napkin Rings

This DIY project first appeared on Martha Stewart Living where I am a West Coast Expert and Contributor. I wanted to create a fun and easy project that would celebrate my favorite colors of the spring season and give Easter dinner guests a little something sweet to take home besides the classic chocolate bunny.

These are super easy to make and your guests will have a little keepsake at the end of the meal. Clothespins have never looked so chic.


- Martha Stewart Craft Paints

- paint palette

- 10 old-fashioned wooden clothespins

- baker's twine

- 1 spice jar per paint color (for filling with paint and dipping)

- 2 mason jars (for using as support to hang dipped pins)

- 1 drinking straw

- Washi tape or masking tape

- 10 cloth napkins

- scissors

- 9 yards of cotton ribbon

- 10 place-setting cards

Step 1:

Prepare your paint. Decide on at least 5 different colors for your paint-dipped clothespins. I used a mixing palette to add a little white to each of my chosen colors to make the paint thicker and more opaque.

Step 2:

Tie a piece of baker's twine around the top of your clothespin -- make sure you tie a bow (and not a knot) so that it's easy to untie later. Pour your first paint color into a clean spice jar. Pour enough paint so that when you dip your clothespin in the paint covers about half of it.

Step 3:

Prep your drying area. I made a makeshift drying rack from a set of mason jars, a drinking straw and some washi tape. Set two mason jars on a flat surface. Tape a drinking straw across the top of the jars so you have a place to hang the wet clothespins.

Step 4:

Dip! Once your drying area and paint jar are ready, it's time to dip. With a steady hand, lower a clothespin into the paint until it touches the bottom of the jar. Let the clothespin sit in the paint for a few seconds, then lift up. Wrap the baker's twine around the straw on your drying rack and tape down with some washi tape. 

Step 5:

Let dry. Allow your dipped clothespins to dry for at least 2 hours before taking them off the drying rack. Allow them to dry overnight before creating the napkin rings and place settings.

Step 6:

Fold your napkins. For this project, I folded my dinner napkins in thirds and then in half. You can get creative with the folding if you'd like.

Step 7:

Cut and tie your ribbon. For my napkins I needed about 20 inches of ribbon per napkin to create a side bow. Place the ribbon underneath the napkin and tie a bow in the front. I placed mine to the side, but you can mix it up by tying the bow in the middle. A middle bow is perfect if you are not using place cards. 

Step 8:

Write the names on your place cards. I used a chalk pencil, but pen or maker, even paint would be a nice touch.

Step 9:

Once you have created your place cards, gently slide a clothespin over the tied ribbon. On the underside of the ribbon, slide your place card, so it is centered underneath the clothespin. Repeat for each place setting.

Now your table is ready to welcome spring in style! Don't forget to invite your Easter dinner guests to take their pretty pastel clothespins home with them! 

Enjoy!  Share your results in the comments or tag me on Instagram @zelmarose!



Original photography, art direction + styling for Zelma Rose by Lisa Anderson Shaffer.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Local Love: Lisa Congdon | How I Became a Self-Employed Artist

This post first appeared on Martha Stewart Living, where I am a West Coast Expert and Contributor. This past January I attended Alt Summit, a bi-annual conference for bloggers and creative entrepreneurs. I caught up with keynote speaker Artist and illustrator Lisa Congdon to learn more about her process and how she got started. You can read my full recap of the conference here

Lisa Congdon | Photography by Sarah Deragon

With a captive audience of 600-plus at this past January's Alt Summit, keynote speaker Lisa Congdon reminded the group of eager bloggers and entrepreneurs that when it comes to being busy, she "chose this." As a renowned fine artist and illustrator, Lisa Congdon has an impressive collection of work including books, paintings, prints, wallpaper, and tea towels. Let's just say she is well-versed in the life of a self-employed artist. One of her most recent books, "Art Inc., The Essential Guide to Building Your Career as an Artist," is an illuminating instructional on how to get started and thrive as a business-minded fine artist. I interviewed Lisa after her keynote speech to learn a little bit more about how she got started and what has inspired her journey.

Lisa Congdon Stillness 2014


Build and steer your own boat. In the beginning of my own career I was so convinced that in order to be successful, I needed to be a new version of the artists I admired or regurgitate a trend report. I thought that's how it worked for everyone, especially in the world of illustration. But that only made me miserable. It took me a few years to realize I just needed to make my own work and to be myself. It was developing my own voice that made me successful and to feel gratified in my career.

Lisa Congdon Hand Lettered Book of Quotes, Chronicle Books 2014


For many years, I didn't feel legitimate as an artist -- because I both was self-taught and didn't start drawing or painting until I was 31. I felt like I walked into a party I wasn't invited to and that I'd get kicked out eventually. So in the beginning I was really apologetic about my success. I felt I didn't deserve it. Eventually I just got tired of feeling anxious about my legitimacy -- it was exhausting me! I began to own my journey and feel good about who I was and the work I was making.

Lisa Congdon Sami Woman 2011


I made art as a hobby when I first started out, and it was the kind words of other people that changed everything for me. I also became inspired by the idea of being my own boss. I'd worked in an office for many years and had come to a point where I felt like an automaton -- someone whose life included getting up, going to work and sitting in front of a computer all day. I wanted out of that. I wanted to get up and draw and paint all day, so eventually I figured out how to get paid for it.

A special thank-you to Lisa for sharing her insights and inspiration. Her next book, "Fortune Favors the Brave," is due out in the Fall of 2015. You can learn more about Lisa and her work at For more information about Altitude Summit, visit here.

Friday, February 6, 2015

4 the Record | Pearl Jam Ten

Brian + Stacey were my two high school friends who knew way more about music than I ever would. I remember sitting on the bleachers in gym class when they both showed me the cover of this new CD they were listening to. It was pink, with big bold letters on the front and a bunch of guys reaching toward the sky for some strange reason. "Forget the cover, and listen to this, " they said.

Scarf | Shirt | Necklace | Sweater | Pearl Jam Ten | Denim | Sunnies | Boots | Backpack

That album of course was Pearl Jam Ten. I loved it immediately, and then of course once this teenage girl saw a photo of Eddie Vedder, well, the whole Seattle sound was a pretty easy sell. The meaning of this album has changed a lot for me over the years. Starting out as an angst driven teenage anthem, now it remains in rotation as just a really solid rock album. All the songs are great, with Evenflow coming in as an all time favorite track. While I was running around in the oversized flannel and doc martens back in the day, I'd like to think now I'd choose a slightly more mature take on the look. Here's what I would wear now, when calling up my days as a 90's flannel wearing free spirit. 

What's your favorite track from Ten? 



Wednesday, February 4, 2015

From the Studio | 52 Silhouettes Week 5

Last week, as my silhouette I shared my grandmother's scissor collection with you. Her set sits on my desk and after spending so much time with them last week, I was inspired to create a silhouette from one of my grandfather's tools that also sits on my desk. Much like Zelma's scissors, I use Kingston's wooden ruler every day.

After playing around with folding and unfolding Fa's (that's Kingston's grandpa name) ruler, I decided to create this shape from paper for the silhouette. 

I really enjoyed the unexpected small detail of this silhouette. I just might continue this tool rend for a while.



Original photography, art direction + styling for Zelma Rose by Lisa Anderson Shaffer.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Good Measure: Must Haves for Her

Shortly after the New Year, I posted my personal 2015 Style Guide Checklist. If you missed that post, you can check it out here to download your very own. With the year well on it's way, I wanted to share some of my wardrobe staples with you. These are the ones I simply cannot live without. The items I purchase year after year, and the gems that are part of my own wardrobe checklist at the beginning of every season. These are the must haves I buy in bulk!

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Okay, let me break it down for you...

1. Let's talk denim. Once, a long time ago, before I was a mom and worked in a fancy office downtown, I used to own a single pair of jeans. Why bother with more when I spent 5 days a week wearing impossibly gorgeous dresses and wiggle skirts? Life is different now, thank goodness, and denim has become a uniform. I have tried a lot of different brands and hands down my favorite is Madewell. They don't sag, are easy to bend and move in and wash really well. Plus, the sizes run true across styles. My personal favorite cut is the Alley Straight, but I also own the Skinny Skinny in a few different rinses as well. 

2. The best tank ever. This will probably blow your mind, but the best tank top you've never tried is maternity. No joke. Liz Lange for Target makes the best tank top around. It's long, really long. Super soft, and has incredible stretch. Seriously this thing is like a rubber band. The key to the perfect fit? Buy it really small. I wear xs, or xxs. 

3. About face. Finding Egyptian Magic was kind of an accident. I has received a sample in a BirchBox subscritpion a friend had given me for Christmas last year. I had put it in my purse figuring if I ever forgot my lip gloss, or I needed some balm or lotion for my daughter, I would have a back up. Well one day I needed it, and surprisingly it ended up changing my skin for the better. The best skin cream I have ever used by far, Egyptian Magic is an all natural moisturizer that melts into your skin. We use it for everything in our house, face, body, cuts, dry skin, everything. It works like a charm and is available at Costco. It doesn't really get any better. 

4. Smashbox BB cream. I'm a huge fan of Smashbox. It's the only makeup I use. This BB cream is a quick and effective way to give your skin a little bit of coverage while fitting in a quality spectrum SPF. This cream goes on smooth, with a light dusting of power will last most of the day, and gives the skin that dewy glow.

5. Oh baby! I am not a lipstick person. I don't really like it. I save lipstick for special occasions and date night. All I really want on my lips is a nice fresh pop of subtle color that feels soft and keeps my lips moisturized. I've tried a number of different glosses, but I keep coming back to Smashbox O - Gloss. This magical little tube intuitively flushes your lips with the perfect shade of pink to compliment your skin tone. It's the perfect amount of color for me day or night, and I keep one in about every bag I own. 

6. Best foot forward. I bought my first pair of Danskos when I worked on a locked psychiatric unit. I was on my feet a lot, and needed to be able to move quickly and easily. A lot of the nurses on the unit wore Danskos and I figure they had to know thing or two about comfort. Since then I'm only on my second pair. They last forever, can go the distance in terms of comfort, and now a days are pretty darn cute. I love these Maria boots and will be wearing them as long as Dansko keeps making them. 

7. Sun kissed. If you are wondering how to get amazing cheekbones, the key is a good bronzer. Bronzer is the secret to making you look like you got 8 hours sleep instead of 4. Yeah, it's that good. I love this Smashbox pressed bronzer to give my skin a little boost. A quick brush along the cheekbones, at the top of the hairline and bottom of the chin leaves you looking like you had all afternoon to get a facial. I also apply it to my lids for a light sparkle above my eye. 

8. Oh my god I love this underwear. Aerie has managed to make the perfect thong hipster hybrid. The lace Mini Cheeky offers more coverage than a thong but provides the same discreet coverage in tight fitting clothes. Best part? It actually stays put. I don't know how they did it. 

Any of these must haves make your can't live without list? 

What has you buying in bulk these days?



Wednesday, January 28, 2015

From the Studio | 52 Silhouettes Week 4

I was feeling rather nostalgic this week for my grandmother Zelma. A friend is currently working on a book project and asked to borrow some of Zelma's swimming medals, which had me digging through a box of old jewelry and knick knacks. Zelma among other things was an incredible athlete and has a host of Lifeguard pins and Public School Athletic League awards from Jamaica High School in Queens, New York. While I don't often look at my grandmother's medals, I do use her scissors every single day. I inherited a beautiful set that sits on my desk, and when not in use, sit along side her husband, Kingston's wooden ruler.

For my silhouette this week, I chose a single pair of scissors, the one's I use the most. 

What heirlooms do you use everyday? 

Until next week!



Original photography, art direction + styling for Zelma Rose by Lisa Anderson Shaffer.

Monday, January 26, 2015

An Open Letter to Alt Summit

Photography by Baxter Miller

Dear Alt Summit,

Thank you. This seems small in retrospect, as I am unsure how to put words to the incredible feeling of being in a room full of brilliant, successful, and endlessly brave women. Maybe it is simply to be in awe. Whatever the case, I always return home floating on air. 

We are mothers, daughters, and partners and creative powerhouses dancing through this hustle, that as keynote speaker Lisa Congdon so wisely pointed out, we have chosen. Yes, chosen. So what exactly have we chosen?

I think everyone at Alt would have a different answer. For some it is to provide for our family, to be at home with our kids, to follow our passion, to not be held back promotionally or monetarily in a still male dominated and unequal workforce, to run the show, or to simply, as Freshly Picked CEO Susan Petersen put, "to be able to go to Target and buy anything I want." 

We choose to be brave. 

After my 4th Alt, and my second as a speaker, I think it is this choice that binds us. The commonality that connects the freelance photographer to the mommy blogger, the DIY crafter to the fashion stylist. We all at some point decided that no matter the circumstances, WE had a choice and were going to make one. 

Sounds simple, but choice is a leap, a risk, a run full speed to the edge of a steep cliff and a deep trust that once you leap, you will start to fly. I don't think any of us knew for certain when we took that leap that we would spread our wings, but we did it anyway, and we have soared. 

For me, the initial choice came from a feeling that I had nothing left to lose. When Zelma Rose came to be, I was reeling from a number of grief stricken years. Family deaths, a sick pet, and a yearning so deep in my heart to become a mother, it practically paralyzed me. But grief is a great teacher. It hurts and it's awful, but it brings your life, your breath, front and center. I know now that grief is the tension of the arrow being pulled back taut across the bow, waiting for flight. It strains and is exhausting but if you can be with it and in it with all of yourself you can not only move forward, but soar with great strength and direction. 

At Alt last week I saw all parts of the arrow. For some it was being pulled back tight across the bow, others were taking aim, and many had just released the arrow, watching it speed through the air with great determination. Being around this energy and hope is what drives us to make the choice to pick up the bow and arrow over and over again until we hit our target. 

When I look now at my daughter, my husband, and my business, I know it was this moment of choice and the bravery to step to the edge and leap that has given me the life I always dreamed. 

To you, the women of Alt, I thank you for making it look easy, hard, exciting, exhausting, joyful, and sorrowful to make that choice. It is a gift that we can all continue to do it together. 

Until next year,