Running With Gratitude

Or, How to Organize Your Own Turkey Trot

Our Turkey Trot, the Mahalo 5k

Over the years, the boys and I have run a few Turkey Trots together... up at the crack of dawn, well over $100 later and sporting ill-fitting, ugly t-shirts we launch ourselves into a crowded sea of strangers for a 3.1 mile run for the homeless/hungry/you-name-the-cause. And we love it. But this year, it just seemed a bit excessive. We can't justify the expense regardless how worthy the cause, and the logistics also seemed less desirable when I factored in Thanksgiving prep and party time.

So we went rogue.

To replace the traditional "Thank You" run, we came up with the Mahalo 5k, a 3.1 mile run loosely organized for our friends and family. It was aptly named by one of my twins, as mahalo means "thank you" in Hawaiian. More than that, it's a sacred word that conveys the essence of gratitude, respect, and esteem. The island spirit has definitely influenced our family-- Kauai is like kin to us and long ago we adopted "mahalo" as our simple mealtime blessing.


1. The Concept: Invite friends and family of all ages to join us for a 5k run/walk. The course would begin and end at our house, and avoid major intersections. Everyone brings their own water to drink, as well as canned goods for the San Diego Food Bank.

2.The Identity: Because I treat every event I host as an opportunity to play with my graphic design hackery, I had to create an identity for the race. Even if we didn't get t-shirts, I wanted to convey the cheerful spirit of our race, our community and our geography. On request though, I gave the local shirt shop our design and invited participants to print shirts on their own.

3. The Course(s): Since a number of my friends rock the road with their kids in tow I created an alternate Stroller Course that sticks to the sidewalks. For the rest of us, I mapped a mixed terrain course with a tough climb near the end. I printed a copy of each course and slipped them into plastic sleeves for day-of viewing.

3. The Invites: I really dislike Evite and think that emails with PDFs don't get opened as quickly, so I caved in and used Facebook events and invited only a smallish number of close friends. I wanted to keep it manageable, and it worked like a charm.


4. The Logistics: The race was free, and we just asked that everyone bring donations for the food bank. An RSVP was requested, but I didn't turn down any last minute joiners. We identified key points along the route that may need signage to keep everyone on track and the night before the race I took the boys on a stealth mission with headlamps, flashlights, tape, signage, a bucket of a chalk and a deadblow hammer. We graffitied the sidewalks with arrows and messages like ""Let's Do This" or "I'm thankful for__________" and "Don't Give Up!". That morning we did a quick tour of the course to make sure the signs were still up and visible. My man had the role of race official and gave us the offical countdown to start, followed by some race recon via mountain bike.

BONUS?  Local runners got to see our handiwork and maybe, just maybe, felt an extra spring in their step that morning.

5. The Refreshments: At the last minute I decided to offer some post race fare, so that morning I cut up a bag of oranges into wedges and bananas into halves, and brewed a couple pots of coffee into thermos carafes. We had one big water jug on hand, and our friends ended up bringing bagels, lox, cream cheese and donuts. There was much debate on Facebook as to whether this would defeat the purpose of the run, but I didn't hear anyone complaining...


6. The Impact: We took a baby step into social activism. I was able to rope my kids into the organizing and planning of the event, and in the process they learned about community, connection, event logistics, and hunger relief. 10 familes with 20 kids and two canines gathered to run/walk 3.1 miles for a healthy, fun start to Thanksgiving weekend. On the run we actually took our own cue and shared a few things we were grateful for--humor, chocolate, stargazing, a sense of smell, ocean views, friends and each other. We gathered bags of groceries for the local food bank and cheered each other on during what turned out to be a scorching, hot day in San Diego. After the race, the boys and I dropped off the donations and discussed all the good things that came from our little 5k.


Wish List

One of my favorite keepsakes each year is the completed Wish List from each of my boys. First, they needed to be old enough to write. Now they are of the age where they like to "research" products online.  I especially like such request as "pillow," "shirts" and "pears and apples," as it lends credibility that at times my children appear as Dickensian orphans: shirtless, bedheaded, hungry. Let us take special note of the detail in "Candy Canes (10)" or the vagueness, in a wish for a "surprise."  Either way, such lists represent a time capsule of our lives, their dreams, this moment.

This year, I created a printable PDF for you to download. Click here for your own WishListTemplate.

Good Morning Granola

When trying to come up with this year's (okay, now last year's)  handmade holiday gift the boys expressed a VERY strong preference for cooking, versus crafting. Cool. In order to guarantee the "handmade"part of the deal, I came up with granola. Easy enough for kids to measure, stir, and add their own creative ingredients (and mine). Two factors came in to play on this recipe...ONE, I wanted a granola that I could eat without feeling guilty. TWO, it absolutely had to be inspired by the granola at my favorite bakery--Bread & Cie.

Martha Stewart FOOD helped with requirement number ONE. As for inspiration from Bread & Cie.? That's where the Corn Pops came in. It's not even that I had this cereal as a kid (I didn't) or that I crave it as an adult (I don't). It's just that Corn Pops bring a bit of whimsy and surprise to an otherwise quiet concoction.

GOOD MORNING GRANOLA makes 8 delicious cups

ingredients 4 cups old fashioned rolled oats 1 cup toasted wheat gern 1/2 cup flax seed 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger 1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds 1/2 cup pepita seeds 1 cup chopped walnuts 1 1/2 cups Corn Pops 1/2 cup dried berries 5 tablespoons robust molasses 3 tablespoons maple syrup 1/3 cup olive oil 1/3 cup water

directions 1. Heat oven to 300 degrees with rack in center. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, wheat germ, flax seed, cinnamon, ginger, seeds, and walnuts. In a small bowl, combine molasses, oil, and 1/3 cup water and pour over the oat mixture. Stir well until well coated. Spread evenly in two baking pans

2. Bake, stirring every 20 minutes or so for even cooking until dry and lightly browned--about 45 minutes. Let granola cool to room temperature, add Corn Pops and berries then store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

The boys were liberal with the cinnamon, and added dried cranberries. I threw in the pepita seeds for extra nutrients and crunch. We used olive oil instead of the recommended canola oil, and we added maple syrup because we had just watched Elf, and Elf puts maple syrup on everything....

In the end, we thought it was a huge hit. I even used it as a topping with Greek yogurt and our Orange Challah French Toast!

Rx: Jonathan Adler + Starbucks

(True Love)

This gorgeous new ceramic coffee grail dazzled me so much so that I almost, ALMOST missed Starbucks new price increases. Jonathan Adler, master of modern whimsy has designed a perky paisley tumbler just in time for the holly days. As if it weren't enough to be jump started by a grande quad latte each morning, this 16oz. vessel is the perfect antidote for a working girl's maladies.

Oh and about those price jumps...I may need to rethink my daily dosage.

Mother Magpie's

I am super happy for my mom, she is starting her own business called Mother Magpie's--it's a funky mix of her vintage treasures and DIY handiwork. I got the fabulous job of designing her logo, business cards and signage. We did a large rubber stamp that she can use on manila shipping tags, and the next item up for design is a banner.When searching for the perfect shipping tag image I came across this gorgeous site! It's called Olive Manna - Textiles & Paper Goods. I think I'm in love...go check it out yourself.

Potato Print Moustache Swag Bags

Outtakes from The Moustache Bash
As promised I'm sharing some crafty bits for the TFD blog, based on the Moustache Bash bday party we had for Master B and Master M. Fun, easy, kid based projects...POTATO PRINTS! I drew the 'stache with a Sharpie and carved out the design with a paring knife and some linocut tools.
We did an assembly line print job, with each of us in charge of one potato. I had to step in periodically to clean off the globs and trim the corners that got soft with ink. The kids liked to roll new ink on the tray and dip and stamp. We stamped onto white paper sacks from Target, and filled them with goodies for kiddie style swag bags.

Fueling Creativity

A few months ago I discovered Behance --a website/company devoted to enhancing the world of creative peeps--and now get regular email updates. I first fell in love with the Action Books, perfect for my way of tracking notes in a meeting. Today I took the time to check out the latest news, which led me to The I've already watched the 19 min. special on designer Michael Bierut: 5 Secrets from 86 Notebooks, and there are more on my list.

Today's article is Don't Be Afraid of the S-Word and it was a sharp little nugget about sales and self-promotion. Perfect for us entrepreneurs. Then I discovered this one, RSS Creativity: Routines, Systems, Spontaneity, by Mark McGuinness.

Covering the elements of the creative process, McGuinness breaks it down into the three categories shown here: Routines, Systems, Spontaneity. The author offers us "takeaways" for each category, beginning with

ROUTINES. Starting with the idea that "routine is a key that unlocks creativity," he suggests you  "Notice what time(s) of day you are most alert and creative. Dedicate that time to focused creative work. Use the same tools, in the same surroundings, even the same background music, so that they become triggers for your 'creative zone'."

For SYSTEMS, he writes, "A rock-solid productivity system performs a dual function for your creativity:

(1) It ensures that all ideas and action steps are captured, so that nothing slips through the cracks, in your own work and within your team, and

(2) When you are confident that everything important has been captured, you are free to focus fully on the task in hand."

For SPONTANEITY we begin to understand that our really, hard, nose-to-the-grindstone work should be rewarded with breaks from said routines and  hard work--as it is often during these breaks that we are  free to experience and generate the much desired "a-ha" moment.

How do you stay organized and motivated?

Getting Ready for Screenprinting at StudioWorks

I can't believe it's been a year since I was last at my first screenprinting workshop at Visual Asylum. I'm back at it again this Friday night for an open studio. Amy said I could use the 4-color press (AWESOME!) and so I busted out my newest design--inspired by the one and only Tim Gunn. I'm obsessed with school craft supplies and I've sketched the Elmer's glue bottle more than once. Practical, chic, fresh, timeless.

Art Between the Hours

I'm in my first group show at Project X Art Gallery in Solana Beach. I accepted the invitation with excitement and trepidation...I've shared my designs with many, but kept my painting close to home. Well, it's a New Year and I'm up for the challenge. Art Between the Hours features some extremely talented artists that are way out of my league. Really, I'm quite fortunate to be included with them. Cheers Ladies! And thanks again Jen, for the invitation... Celebrate with us this Saturday night from 6 - 10 PM at Project X Art Gallery:

Death to the Pen!

Oh D'Nealian, my first cursive love.

I recently read an article in Time Magazine, Mourning the Death of Handwriting, by Claire Suddath. It was a bit disheartening, because I did not get the impression that she was truly mourning the death of handwriting...more like, pondering the death of handwriting. The Gen Y author admits to being a sloppy scriber. Passively accepting that we've traded "artistry for efficiency," Suddath shrugs her, whatever. Gen Why?

Yes, Cursif IS pretty. And so are the other fonts here on Noble Rabbit.

She chronicles the changes our society has made in the past 100+ years, delivering us to a moment in time where script is deemed "pretty & cosmetic." But isn't it okay to be pretty? Isn't that what we value intrinsically? Here, it seems a more fitting a description of a Bonne Belle lip gloss. I'd like to see the letters transcend "pretty", become beautiful in their original glory with the curves and swoops that inspire words themselves to hold weight and carry meaning. With proper penmanship even a simple grocery list becomes a heartfelt momento. XOXO scratched in red is tiny love note. Even the words that come out a bit wonky (is that an e or an l?) exude a bit of mystery and spontaneity.

Quirky Handwriting Sample via Azaz

A handwritten note--with a scratch or scribble where you made your mistake--means so much more than a cryptic text or a casual email. Besides, isn't it good exercise for your digits? I challenge you this week to hand write a note, make a list, craft a memo. To anyone...your bestie, your mum, your hon or your sib. To you! Use the whole page. Use ink.

Renegade Craft Fair

I'm not sure how I stumbled upon Good Bones Great Pieces, but I'm continually drawn to the work of former Martha Stewart staff. In this case it's a mother-daughter design team blogging and etsying their way through decor and fashion. One of their most recent posts features Irena Sophia, a New York based illustrator they discovered at the Renegade Craft Fair in Salem, New York.

Luckily Renegade Craft Fairs are happening all over the place. The nearest location for me is Los Angeles, and is coming up soon...July 11-12. Don't you love the illustration? Renegade Handmade, based in the uber-cool Wicker Park area of Chicago, is an extension of the fair phenomenon.


I love this kind of reading the May 2009 issue of Oprah (not How or Readymade or Print), OPRAH, I learned of an ink-saving font, ecofont. When printed in a point size 12 or less, this brilliant design saves 20% in ink. Of course a Dutch company called SPRANQ came up with the tiny circles which are naked to the eye and easy on your pricey cartridges. I'm down with this, and will even use it at work on the multitude of internal docs I print daily. On spranq's website you can find the link to download the font for FREE, and also play a game called "moneymaker." This game intrigued me, but without a key to the Dutch language I was lost.

Flea Market Finds

One of my favorite activities in the world is thrifting. Mainly resale shops like AmVets or Salvation Army, because I am not organized or flexible with my time enough to do garage sales. But I love the thrill of hunting for and finding special treasures. I've found still life paintings, funky ceramics, mercury glass, kid's clothes, linens, notions, dishes, clocks, you name it. I love finding quality ribbon and bias tape for a steal. I've also taken to finding dorky old coffee mugs like Camp Tookalusa 1971 or a subverted FedEx logo reading "FedUp".

I always keep my eyes open for old office supplies. That's why I was so jazzed to find some airmail envelopes on last weekend's hunt. I also found this fabulous vintage map chalkboard. LOVE it! Just finding the right spot for it now...There are a few friends I have had that love this, just like me. Right now, none of my pals would tolerate the dirt and grunge and weirdness of the process. My mom and my sister get it, but they are miles away. What do YOU hunt for?

A Beautiful Eye

I discovered Bell'occhio (Italian for "beautiful eye") this week, a charming store in San Francisco which carries some of the most beautiful gifts and goods. Of course, I discovered the online version, which I'm sure is not nearly as magical as the actual shop. Sigh. It doesn't matter because I was wooed by numerous items in their Maison and Papeterie sections.

Finally I found the uber chic black chalkboard oilcloth that I first saw in Domino {RIP}. I can't wait to order this and put in on my dining room table.

What homespun cake wouldn't look wonderful on this "woodsie" faux bois cake stand?

Such a perfect little heart. True love my dear, true love.

I think eggs are one of nature's most perfect foods.
This porcelain carton gives these fragile orbs a proper home.

I Heart You: The Art of the Screenprint

This is a little chronicle of my first attempt at silk screening. Last month I attended a workshop at Visual Asylum to create a two-color fine art print. I submitted my design in advance ("I Heart You" won over "Be Kind" on my Facebook Challenge) and the kind peeps at VA burned my screens in advance. I chose a bright, true red and a soft, dreamy blue. There was only one other student in the workshop--he chose brown and the same dreamy blue. His design went swimmingly with mine-"We all have a song" with a bird and a branch.

My very first print was PERFECT, then the blue ink got a little sticky...and, oh well, I created about 20 prints and they are full of charming little (and big flaws). It was SO great. I really loved it and can't wait to try it again. Near the end, we started to merge some of our designs and created some real gems.

Three Potato Four

Again, I find myself wondering...Where Have I Been? and How Have I Missed This? Three Potato Four is an online shop and blog that features fabulous flea market finds and original art. Noted by Cookie, Oprah, Domino and Daily Candy, Three Potato Four is a mecca of vintage goodness. I'm smitten with the letterpress goodies, the graphic tins and tea towels, and even the old light bulb collection.

Looks for the Nook

I'm working on my kitchen breakfast nook (okay, my dad is), and am now ready to get quotes on custom bench cushions and hopefully a re-do on two Louis XVI chairs to go with it. I am channeling a little bit of Miami with green, orange and pink guiding my way. My other kitchen post features a lot of bright white. This palette will give it a fresh pop that will carry through, and connect with other accents in my house.While I dream of owning an Eero Saarinen table, my budget only allows for an IKEA Docksta table. Sigh. For now, this is a fabulous alternative.

I can't wait to get the cushions and table ordered and move the project along. I'm envisioning a sunny Sunday morning with a hot cup of strong coffee, my favorite design mags, and Greek yogurt with farm fresh strawberries, honey and walnuts. Mmmmmm...

Threadless Prints

It's official, I'm obsessed with printmaking. I'm psyched to have learned the process at StudioWorks via Visual Asylum, and now I've discovered that the super rad T-Shirt gig Threadless ventured into printland as well. So cool. Examples, above. I'll post soon on the first design shown here "Magical Powers", by Ray Fenwick. Finally, the kid's shirts are completely unique, Beck and Max have been gifted a lovely collection, and have since grown out of all of them. People, order one up for kids so that you can keep them longer. This one is next on the list...