It was my naughty Frenchie’s 7th birthday this weekend. Last year for her birthday portrait I bought her half a dozen pink balloons to pose with, which both fascinated and terrified her. This year I let her wear her pretty little crown that the very sweet (and gifted) Meg Fish gave us.  It was a special day, she deserved it, but back to original reason for this post–Melissa Esplin’s Modern Calligraphy course. I finished a few weeks ago and have to say it was the best investment in my hand lettering escapades ever! I have taken a class at Paper Source, some private lessons (awhile back) and bought a few kits in my time, but nothing ‘clicked’ like it did with Melissa’s class. It wasn’t just me though that had personal calligraphy success you can view some beautiful work from her students here, here, here and here.  Full disclosure–I didn’t buy her recommended supplies (although I want to), I used what I had already bought prior just in case I wasn’t going to move forward with my practice. I want to let you know that the right supplies make a huge difference.  I used the ink and pen from my Emilie Friday kit and after I knocked the ink over (yes, it was everywhere) I used some ink I had from the art store which was very thin and hard to work with.  If I had used that prior I may have been discouraged and thought it was me being horrible, so if you are having trouble with your lettering practice look at your supplies before giving up! One thing you must take into account is that you can’t take the class and not put time aside to practice what you learned, you won’t magically develop skills after going through the course (which I was hoping would happen but alas didn’t).  It’s also better to find a block of time that you won’t be interrupted or you run the risk of nasty accidents like my knocking over the ink. The ink is not like any other substance you have ever tried to clean up either, it just seems to grow, spread and get messier with each swipe of the towel. Just trust me, carve out the time, don’t let anyone bother you and get to it.  If you have considered trying your hand at calligraphy, I think that this class is a winner, but don’t take my word for it, check out the links to student work above and see what talent came out of her class!
P.S. I made some calligraphy sentiment Photoshop brushes (like the ones on the photo of my baby girl) and will have those available to download in a little bit!
P.P.S. I wanted to add that Melissa besides being a good teacher is super pretty + stylish which makes it even more fun to watch!


My husband and I watch a lot of documentaries, I think it’s the equivalent of being hooked on reality TV but without the guilt associated with that endeavor. We don’t have cable now that we live in the country, it was one of the creature comforts we decided to do without; it’s really not as bad as you might think.  I have always been a big reader and when I met my husband I didn’t even watch TV so this compromise on his part to go with Netflix instant download only is a big deal (for him).  One of the things we lament is that we never know what to watch, it’s a roll of the dice. I thought I would put together a brief list of docs that we have watched and thoroughly enjoyed.  Not all of these may be the best quality, but all of them held our attention and made us glad we watched. I linked to the docs so you can read their descriptions, watch trailers and read more reviews (just click on the titles). This is by no means everything we have watched but some of our faves. Do you have any other recommendations we should be adding to the list? We are always looking for new instant download docs.  Have a happy weekend!

Man on Wire-This completely made my stomach feel like it was on a roller coaster. I was on edge and what Philippe Petit did is pretty outstanding (and something I would never do in a million years).
Bag it-You will completely understand why people are maniacal about this subject after viewing this.
Born Into Brothels-I loved this story, beautifully told.
Cocaine Cowboy-It’s a real Miami Vice-esque story. 
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill-So heartwarming! When we lived in L.A. there were tons of wild parrots in the palm trees. It was nice to get a little back story to a Northern Cal parrot colony.
The Human Family Tree-This National Geographic doc was delightfully surprising.
Justin Beiber:Never Say Never-A truly hard-working and talented kid, you will become a ‘Beleiber.’ 
Candyman:The David Klein Story-A sad story of fame + fortune.
Ghost Bird-I still can’t get over what we have done in the name of science + industry. The Harvard visits are my favorite.
If a Tree Falls-When extremes are uhm, extreme.
Fresh-This should have you packing to join me in the country.
Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians-I think the title describes the doc well.
The Elephant in the Living Room Repercussions of taking in wild animals.
Being Elmo-A feel good story of following your dream.
Modern Marvels:The Telephone-More of a short than a doc, but still interesting.
This American Life-This is no longer on streaming but the story about Chance is unbelievable.


 I thought it would be fun to show off the modern monogram in another color way in a very posh + modern orange. I used the ink pad to run it along the envelope edge to create the pretty border, you could do this on our cardstock as well since it’s so nice and thick. I was going to do a tutorial on how-to do it, but I need a manicure in a bad way, so the tute will have to wait.  I love how you can change the color and what you stamp on to create an entirely different look!


Here’s a peek at one of the new modern + industrial monograms created for Mrs. Jamie S., the winner of this design!  One of the things I always try to do is show the actual imprint made from the stamp rather than a digital rendering.  It’s very important to me to be able show off the quality of the Besotted Brand hand stamps. I know from experience (I have been making professional stamps since 2005) that not all manufacturer are created equal and not all designs translate well as a stamp. This one though, it turned out so pretty + classic, it prints like a dream and this was even on textured paper.  I like to showcase the stamps in a neutral + simple way, but if you printed this with neon colors on bright white stock you could create a whole new look.  That is what I love most about the stamps, you can change your mind repeatedly to get the outcome you want depending on the color or what you are printing on you can go boho, minimalist, maximalist, preppy, sophisticated, etc. It allows you to be creative and put your unique spin on things.  It also looks pretty professional don’t you think?  If you would like to try to win one of the new monograms that are launching either sign-up for the newsletter or re-pin this (I am choosing people from both), leave a comment at Pinterest with your initials! I have lots of new monogram designs coming down the pike so your chances to win are HUGE, plus I will be doing giveaways here and some truly lovely blogs the whole month of September, we are talking lot’s of opportunity to win! 


I have been starting and stopping on an updated blog design for what seems like ions now. I know I am missing out on some sweet, sweet functionality but I can not make up my mind.  If I were one of my clients I would have figured it out day one, but having the entire stratosphere of design at my fingertips makes me quite indecisive for myself.  One of the biggest complaints I get via email (besides being chastised for my poor grammar) is that I don’t have easily accessible links–you can’t subscribe to my blog nor can you find me elsewhere unless I make a big to-do of it. I was playing around with creating some social icons and of course started my usual course of procrastination and ended up making a free download for you instead. The zipped file is all individual png’s with a transparent background so you could in essence one-click change the color and pattern if you knew how to do so, (I pinky promise I will record a video tutorial for that for my new top secret editorial position…).  Enough of that, you want to know how you can get your hands on these right?  Well, you can just go here.  Psst-the image is just to give you a peek, the icons are much smaller in the file and there is no drop shadow.