Why Hallmark Editorial Director Emily Akins loves her local CSA | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Eat creatively with a CSA

Hallmark Editorial Director Emily Akins is known around our building not only for her mad word skills but also for her eco-passion and culinary chops. She’s on the blog today to tell us how much she loves this little thing called a CSA. 

Why Hallmark Editor Emily Akins loves her local CSA | thinkmakeshareblog.com

‪I think I need to find some sort of “Ask Me About My CSA!” bumper sticker or something. I am always going on and on about Community Supported Agriculture. Whether I’m talking about the CSA farm where I’ve been a member for 10 years (can’t believe it’s been that long!), the CSA here at Hallmark (yes, we can pick up locally grown organic veggies and free-range meats right here at work), or any of the other numerous CSA programs around Kansas City, it seems I can never quite say enough about my favorite fruits, veggies and farmers.

One of the big perks of living in the Midwest, besides the scorching heat (kidding!), is that we have a pretty long growing season. There’s ample fertile farmland inside the city limits and beyond. KC has farmers’ markets six days a week, and we can access a broad array of delicious foods that were grown sustainably. And with a CSA, we get those delicious foods all bundled into a subscription service and delivered straight to us at the office. Hallmark has done a great job of working with local farmers to make it easy for employees to enjoy the bounty of the region and to support local family farms. But that’s really the beauty of a CSA anywhere you find one: You get delicious local food that comes to you very fresh, and small family farms get the financial support they need to keep farming. It’s a win-win.

‪My favorite thing about joining a CSA—besides interesting vegetables like kohlrabi, which looks like a spaceship and is fun to cook—or fresh fruits like strawberries, which are cliché but are such delicious clichés—is the fact that my CSA enables me to get to know the people who grow my food. I know my farmers’s names, and they know my name. My kids know our farmers’ names, and the farmers know my kids’ names, and yadda yadda. You get the picture.

‪That sense of community can be a rare treat in our fast-paced, digitally enabled, connected-yet-disconnected world. It gives me confidence knowing that I’m buying direct from “my” farmers. My food is fresher because it comes straight to me soon after it’s picked, safer because it was grown without pesticides, and healthier because it’s unprocessed, whole foods. Not to mention, my CSA fruits and vegetables are so much more delicious. Before I joined a CSA, lo those many years ago, I thought I didn’t like tomatoes. Actually I just don’t like bland, plasticky tomatoes that are shipped from who-knows-where to the big-box grocery stores. It turns out, I love a good local, organic, heirloom tomato.

‪CSAs are a great way to get local, organic and free-range food into your life each week. Around Kansas City, you can find a list of CSAs on the KC Food Circle site. Elsewhere, you can use LocalHarvest.org to find a CSA near you. I still haven’t found any “Ask Me About My CSA!” bumper stickers yet…but I’ll bet I don’t have to wander the Hallmark halls very long before I find someone to DIY some!

Artwork by Livy Long.

Free Downloadable Wallpapers | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Free digital wallpapers from cut paper artist Lynn Giunta

Lynn Giunta is a master artist and a mentor to many here at Hallmark. Today she’s on Think.Make.Share to share her cut-paper secrets…and some free downloads for y’all.  

When I’m asked why I like to create with cut paper, the easy answer is because I’m not very good at painting! But the truth is that it’s just plain fun. When I sit down with my scissors and an array of colored papers, I remember what it was like to be a kid creating crafts around the kitchen table.  My crafty upbringing is still the basis for what I do. I almost feel like all these amazing shapes are already in the paper, waiting to be cut out. And there’s a kind of magic that happens when the negative shapes that fall away end up looking way more interesting than what I was cutting out. I constantly paw through my scrap pile to look for pieces to use. For these three free digital wallpapers, I gave myself a challenge:

1) Do only one with words (I’m a lettering artist, so I try to put words on everything).

2) Do one that was strictly a surface design using a lot of negative and positive spaces.

3) And then do one with recognizable icons; flowers and leafy things seemed right for the season.

I hope that these three wallpapers bring you some happiness and inspire you to play, have fun, and dream big.

Free Downloadable Wallpapers | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Free Downloadable Wallpapers | thinkmakeshareblog.com
Free Downloadable Wallpapers | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Download Dream Big HERE.

Download Negative/Positive HERE

Download Leafy Things HERE

Show us how you display your wallpapers on Instagram @Think.Make.Share!

Hallmark designer Tuesday Spray shares her daughter's big girl room | thinkmakeshareblog.com

DIY girls’ bedroom ideas with Hallmark artist Tuesday

Tuesday (Schmidt) Spray is a crazy-good illustrator, designer and maker, and we’re so glad she works with the Think.Make.Share team in Hallmark’s Trends Studio. Today, she’s letting us into her home to share how she brings her love of handmade art into her daughters’ rooms.

Hallmark designer Tuesday Spray shares her daughter's big girl room | thinkmakeshareblog.com

During my career, I’ve been fortunate enough to get plenty of opportunities designing and illustrating for baby and kids products. It’s one of my favorite things in the world to do. So, naturally, the first time I found out I was expecting, I was chomping at the bit to get started on designing the perfect place for my new little person. I didn’t realize just how much I would enjoy this process. Up until this point, I had been making things for all the little people, but it became a much more intimate experience when I was considering my person, and what I would want especially for her.

Vivi is now two-and-a-half and has a little sister coming any day now. My task (i.e. total joy) was turning Vivi’s room into a playful kid’s space while also creating a new room for the baby. I get pictures in my head of things I want; when I can’t find them in a store, my entire house quickly turns into a DIY bedroom ideas workshop.

For instance, I knew I wanted a tee-pee for Vivi’s room, but I wanted it to be very sweet with a tiny touch of boho. So to the fabric store I went. I stitched the canvas and added all the little fringe, lace and tassel details. Then I made big poofy pillows with fun tassels and giant pom-pom embellishments. For her first nursery I had made a faux-bearskin rug, and this paired perfectly with the newly created pieces. At night we have a tiny star-light that projects stars all over the inside of the tee-pee. Needless to say, we spend a lot of time snuggled up in there reading. I needed Vivi’s crib for the baby, so it was the perfect opportunity to buy a tiny, tiny little bed for her. I couldn’t find any bedding that was whimsical enough…or mermaid-y enough. So I used my own illustrations and had fabric created, then made her bedspread and fun accent pillows. Because I was printing the fabric anyway, I also made a tiny set of matching bedding for her little doll’s bed.

I am crazy about ordering beautifully illustrated books, because I adore the amazing artwork and storytelling. These are little works of art, so I have to display them. We made book ledges for Vivi’s books. Because I wanted the ones that wouldn’t fit on the ledges to face forward, I had my husband whip up a cute little book trough, too. Vivi loves to flip through the books and pick out her bedtime stories. Other things we created for the room included little cloud shelves to accent the tee-pee and lots of artwork made by us and our favorite artist friends (Allyson Lassiter, Flora Chang, Esther Boyd, Lisa Hadley). I’ve also been known to purchase a greeting card or two and frame those. (P.S. We have some amazing artists around here that create tiny works of art and sell them for super cheap in your local Hallmark store.)

Hallmark designer Tuesday Spray shares her daughter's big girl room | thinkmakeshareblog.comHallmark designer Tuesday Spray shares her daughter's big girl room | thinkmakeshareblog.comHallmark designer Tuesday Spray shares her daughter's big girl room | thinkmakeshareblog.comHallmark designer Tuesday Spray shares her daughter's big girl room | thinkmakeshareblog.comHallmark designer Tuesday Spray shares her daughter's big girl room | thinkmakeshareblog.comHallmark designer Tuesday Spray shares her daughter's big girl room | thinkmakeshareblog.com

For the new baby I wanted to go super girly, but with a slight Hollywood Glam…which means GOLD!! We started with one piece of artwork and pulled its dusty rose, black, soft cream and golden yellow colors into the room. I love making mobiles, and I wanted something fun for this new baby girl to daydream to. I made a plush-kitty ballerina and then created a magical little stage for her to twirl around on. I spray-painted most of the parts for the structure (beads, laser-cut wood, dowels) gold and then made fun fringes and tassels out of coordinating fabrics.

With the revival of wallpaper, and my love of drawing, I decided to design custom wallpaper (with my husband’s help). I’ve always been a fan of doodling on the walls—in my mature age, I just wanted to sophisticate the process a bit. I was also super into swans this time around. The swan pillow in the rocking chair is an image I created that also inspired my Hallmark baby collection, coming soon to Hallmark stores).  (The other swan-shaped pillow was created specially for baby by my friend Cece Merkle.) I also painted the swan above the crib and made a soft swan blankie and pillow to match the wallpaper.

We laser-cut little scallop shelves to hold a toy and little vases I had made for her along with a very special plush creation made by my friend Lisa Hadley. The rest of the room includes art created by us and friends and a super-great Ebay table-lamp score. I hope tiny girl loves this space we created for her.

Hallmark designer Tuesday Spray shares her daughter's nursery | thinkmakeshareblog.comHallmark designer Tuesday Spray shares her daughter's nursery | thinkmakeshareblog.comHallmark designer Tuesday Spray shares her daughter's nursery | thinkmakeshareblog.comHallmark designer Tuesday Spray shares her daughter's nursery | thinkmakeshareblog.comHallmark designer Tuesday Spray shares her daughter's nursery | thinkmakeshareblog.comHallmark designer Tuesday Spray shares her daughter's nursery | thinkmakeshareblog.comHallmark designer Tuesday Spray shares her daughter's nursery | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Photography by Jane Kortright.

Shoebox 29th Birthday Party in LA with Rob Riggle | Hallmark Cards | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Shoebox writer survives brushes with celebrity

Dan Taylor is a Hallmark humor writer who survived Shoebox’s infamous 29th birthday party, held so far away from our KC headquarters that we were sure he would never return. We’re glad he did, especially because it means he’s on the blog today to tell us all about it. 

Shoebox 29th Birthday Party in LA with Rob Riggle | Hallmark Cards | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Yes, “brushes with celebrity” kind of sounds like an insensitively made-up Native American name, but it also describes my last month. First, there was the Shoebox Birthday Party Event Thing (possibly not the actual name) in Los Angeles, which I now call it by its nickname, “L.A.”.

Then there was the Big Slick Celebrity Bowling Thing For Children’s Mercy (also possibly not the actual name), or, as I think of it: That Time I Met TV’s Aisha Tyler. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, the birthday event thing.

Actor-you’d-recognize Rob Riggle hosted five comics at the Improv in L.A. (See? I really do call it that.) And they did sets (industry term!) that featured them wishing Shoebox a happy 29th birthday, which it actually is. It’s not one of those self-conscious, younger-lying deals.

Fun with Rob Riggle and friends at the Shoebox 29th birthday party in LA | Hallmark Cards | thinkmakeshareblog.comFun with Rob Riggle and friends at the Shoebox 29th birthday party in LA | Hallmark Cards | thinkmakeshareblog.com

I had the easy and enviable job of hanging out in the VIP room with, as the name suggests, the VIPs, who were also VCPs (Very Cool People). I would ask them if they needed anything, and then they’d be like, “no thanks” and that was it. I was afraid it would be a socially awkward kind of staring contest since I’m kind of socially awkward right here in the Midwest, much less on the coast (sometimes I also call Los Angeles “the coast” just to mix it up a bit). But as it turned out, the comedians and their plus ones (another industry term!) were friendly and asked about my job and stuff, and it didn’t seem all that awkward after a while.

So after successfully not getting anything for anyone, I got to go sit in the front row of the Improv and kind of make eye contact with professional comics who appeared to sort of know me from somewhere! And, and! Before the show even started, I said to the people at my table, “Hey! There’s that guy from Walking Dead!” It was Michael Cudlitz, the red-haired guy with the mustache. He heard me and looked right at me, so I walked over and talked to him, and, again, pretty much a regular person. We talked about the price of fame. Not really, I just thought that sounded cool. We talked about being on a big hit show, which he knew about, and I didn’t. It’s always pretty fun to work on Shoebox, but on this night, being associated with it was absolutely great.

Here’s me at L.A.’s famous Improv, acting like I’m famous. Turns out when the Improv is empty, it’s pretty much just a building.

Hallmark Shoebox writer Dan Taylor on the improv stage with Rob Riggle and friends | Hallmark Cards | thinkmakeshareblog.com

So you’d think, “That’s enough celebrities for you, Dan.” Well, keep reading!

One week later, I got to go to Pinstripes bowling alley right here in Overland Park, or possibly Leawood, to watch Hallmark’s own Kevin Dilmore bowl! Also, a bunch of celebrities.

While in L.A., Rob Riggle told us about a charity event he and Paul Rudd, Eric Stonestreet, David Koechner, and Jason Sudeikis, all local guys, were hosting right here in Kansas. It’s called Big Slick, and those guys recruit lots of other celebrities to participate in a bunch of fund-raising things for Children’s Mercy Hospital.

Hallmark Shoeboxers attend Big Slick Event in Kansas CIty | thinkmakeshareblog.com

I was one of five people who got to watch/support/coach/critique Hallmark-sponsored, accomplished-league-bowler Kevin. Kevin bowled pretty well, but the most important thing about his efforts were that they happened right next to Aisha Tyler! That’s right, the voice of Lana Kane on Archer, one of Ross’s girlfriends on Friends, and one of the talkers on The Talk! She was right there! Bowling! I’m not usually very brave about going up to celebrities, though one time I got the autograph of Doug Llewelyn, the court reporter from People’s Court. Anyway, figuring this would probably be my one chance in this lifetime to talk to Aisha Tyler, I did, and also got a picture with her! Other co-workers got other pictures with other celebrities, about which I do not care, because I met Aisha Tyler. If you did not get to meet Aisha Tyler, don’t feel bad, because there’s a pretty good chance you could meet me, and I did. Meet Aisha Tyler.

Follow the hilarious Shoebox shenanigans on Shoebox.com and on Instagram @officialshoebox!

 

Dress up your lunch bags with playful designs | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Back to school with creative lunch bags and totes

This summer, Hallmark designer Ashley Harms has already helped us create a Father’s Day table with a high wow-to-work ratio. Now she’s back with a simple back-to-school idea to make any kid’s day (including an adorable selection of free downloadable lunch-box notes for a sweet surprise inside).

Dress up your lunch bags with playful designs | thinkmakeshareblog.com

I have to admit, I do not pack my kid’s lunch bags everyday for school. But when I do, I try and make it somewhat special. And by special, I do not mean cutting the sandwiches into unicorns or turning a piece of string cheese into an octopus. I tried that in the beginning, and my daughter didn’t really notice. But what she did notice was when I just took the time to doodle something fun on her brown paper sack or drop a sweet note inside. Sometimes the simplest gestures end up being the ones that are the most appreciated.

We gathered some of the finest folks at Hallmark to join together and doodle on brown paper sacks with limited supplies for one hour. The results were fun and fresh.

Ideas for decorating your lunch bag from Hallmark artists | thinkmakeshareblog.comCreative Lunch Bag Decorating Ideas with Hallmark artists | thinkmakeshareblog.comCreative Lunch Bag Decorating Ideas with Hallmark artists | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Creative Lunch Bag Decorating Ideas with Hallmark artists | thinkmakeshareblog.comCreative Lunch Bag Decorating Ideas with Hallmark artists | thinkmakeshareblog.com

I know what some of you may be thinking: “These lunch bags are awesome, but I can’t draw like that.” Well, I am here to tell you, your loved one doesn’t care how you draw. A simple smiley face or a heart is all you need. Make a stamp out of a potato and repeat it on the bag. Get inspired by things your kids love. Remember, it’s that simple gesture that matters.

And as an extra treat, be sure to download our lunch-box notes. Drop them in your sweet little one’s lunch box and make their day. And if you’re looking for actual lunch inspiration, check out these seriously cute, one-of-a-kind bento box ideas on Hallmark.com!

Photography by Kevin Hosley.