Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Work- In the Mountains

One of my favorite things to do on a plane is take pictures through the window.  There's something really peaceful and abstract about images taken of the earth down below.

Here are some of my favorites:

Inspired by some of these images, I created In the Mountains, a new print available in the shop!  
In the Mountains - 8.5 x 11 Print - $18 USD

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cozy Curry Soup

I made a wonderful soup last night and I wanted to share it online. I'm not very good at writing recipes down-  Mostly I just chop things up and put them together without a notion of how many cups of this or how many tablespoons of that I used.  

Make on a cool or rainy day for best results!

Napa Cabbage
Bok Choy
Shitake Mushrooms
Green Onions
Extra Firm Tofu (cubed)
Vegetable Boullion
Curry Powder
Ginger Powder
Salt & Pepper (to taste)

  1. Chop all the veggies and tofu up and add them to a big pot, throw enough water in there to cover all the ingredients.
  2. Add 1 big tablespoon of vegetable bouillion (or chicken, if you aren't vegetarian)
  3. Add 2 big tablespoons of curry powder (add more if you really love it)
  4. Add a dash of ginger powder
  5. Cook over medium heat until the potato is soft but not mushy.
The end result should look something like this:

Serve in a big bowl, put in a good movie, cuddle up on the couch and enjoy!

Monday, September 27, 2010

And We're Back

Wow! I just had the most dreamy weekend and I can't believe it's over.  With my parents visiting, I decided to take them out and about to places they've never been to and we had a blast.  Between vegan, organic meals at The Inn Season Cafe, a trip to Detroit's Historical Eastern Market, lunch at Slows BarBQ, sight-seeing in the city, and lots of warm apple cider, I will have to call this weekend a success!

There are pumpkins everywhere!
Heirloom Tomatoes + Fresh Mozzarella + Fresh Basil = Yum!
Does anybody know what these beautiful plants are? 

We even ran into the set of Transformers 3! You can't really tell that the picture below is of the set... but it is!  

Can't wait to do it all over again! Come back soon, mom & dad!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Out of the Blog-ffice

Hey there! I just wanted to write a quick note to let ya'll know that I will be out of the "blog-ffice" until Monday since The Parentals are coming.  

OMG... The Parentals are coming!

They should be here any minute now!  I haven't seen them since August (which is a long time for my little family of 3), so I'm hoping to take advantage of every minute of them being here. Hurray!

And they couldn't come at a better time because I'm about to throw out yet another one of my dining room chairs!

Enjoy yourselves and stay tuned next week when I'll have some new prints up for sale in the shop!

Oh! To keep in the theme of family, I wanted to share with you this wonderful Etsy shop by cozyblue.  She does amazing, custom family tree prints which are delicate and lovely!  One day, I will have my own cozyblue family tree print!
Family Tree Print by cozyblue $30 usd

Click here to check out cozyblue and order your own!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Perfectionado is Perfection

Just got some exciting news from my friend Adrian about Tall Dark Roast's sister site, Perfectionado. This is where the latest in high fashion, couture, design, and all things beautiful reside. 
I just visited the site today and it is filled with yummy eye-candy!  Perfectionado's impeccable taste makes my heart skip and I just had to share the good news!
Click here to indulge.

Thoughtful Mail

I just know that it's going to be a great day, despite the gloomy Michigan weather we're having today.  It started off with a quick early morning workout, my Starbucks coffee, and the delivery of my Jen Collins "No Place Like Home" print from hellojenuine.  

Receiving this print was an amazing experience. Keep in mind that I only paid for the one print, yet I got 3!  From the printed envelope with the cute little fox on it, and the handwritten thank you note and the extra bake a cake postcard from Jen's Nice Advice postcard set, and the carefully wrapped print... opening this envelope kept me engaged and turned opening my mail into a happy experience and not just some ol' boring task.  

Jen's thoughtfulness just made my day and it made me wish all my mail was like receiving one of her prints.  Can you imagine getting credit card offers with thoughtful handwritten notes from the credit card company's CEO? I think those notes would read something like : 

Hi Mariana!  

I hope that you don't mind that I'm writing you, but as I was sipping my morning coffee, I thought of you, and how much you could benefit from having one of my company's credit cards.  Not because I want to make money off of you, but because I noticed you don't have one, and it could really help you build your credit, which is something I think you may want to do.  

Whether you decide to go with my credit card company or not, I would still like to send you this $10 gift card to Starbucks, a little watercolor painting I did for you last night, and free access to our exclusive concierge service for life.  I've also made a generous donation to benefit the children of third-world countries in your name. 

Please let me know if you would like to receive more information about our credit cards.  I am looking forward to hopefully working with you in person to answer all your questions, and come up with a few personalized solutions.  If you do not wish to hear about these options, let me know and I will cancel all the mail you've been getting from my company.  While it will be sad to see you go, I would still love to keep in touch!  

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and I very much look forward to your response.

Joe, the CEO

OK... maybe that level of familiarity from a credit card company would be a little creepy, but wouldn't it be nice to live in a world where everybody (even big companies) was thoughtful and personal?

Anyway, hopefully you can swing by Jen's shop and blog found by clicking here.

Monday, September 20, 2010



That's not a scream, but a relaxing "aaahhh".  Which is the perfect way to summarize last weekend.  The Boyfriend and I took his boys "up north" to a cabin one of his coworkers graciously offered us.  It was wonderful to get some relaxation in a wonderfully fall-y setting, and with 2 delicious little boys (ages 4 and 7) who have made me remember how to make believe again.  

While the boys and The Boyfriend were off riding the 4-wheeler, I took a little walk in the woods which became a mini-mushroom hunt of sorts.  When I was a little girl, I used to imagine magical creatures living in mushrooms.  I was delighted to find myself in the middle of a mushroom metropolis- complete with penthouse lofts, 3-bedroom colonials, and low-income housing (for those magical creatures struggling with the economy).

I became completely worry-free for 2.5 days.  UpNorth-Me's only worry in the world was trying not to get captured by Zuko, and helping Aang and Momo defend against the evil Fire Nation (The Last Airbender is very popular with the boys these days). 

Granted, I did get identity whiplash from being switched around from Katara (good) to Azula (evil) every couple of seconds, but I always had the boys to remind me of who I was, and what I was doing.

Good times.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

By the Way...

Today's the last day for-- 
Come visit the shop.

Self Mani/Pedi DOs & DON'Ts

For ages now, manicures and pedicures have been the epitome of a woman's (and some men) ideal way of getting pampered.  For me, a mani/pedi is the best thing to do when I want to look pretty(er), after a stressful day, to compensate for a bad hair day, or when I want to add a little color to my day.  While I enjoy going to a professional to have my nails done, I also very much enjoy doing it at home.  Having that little "me" time is really relaxing.  I have an entire kit of "nail stuff" in a plastic container, including about 15 different shades of nail polish and other nail essentials such as cuticle sticks, nail trimmers, emory boards and buffers.  

If you are a mani/pedi DIY-er like myself, I think by now you have an idea of some basic do's and don'ts about how to do a home manicure or pedicure.  Here are mine:


  • Go outside the box when choosing a color. It can be a perfect opportunity to express your mood!
  • Have all your tools at hand before you start.
  • Soak your nails. Soak your nails. Soak your nails in warm water for at least 5 minutes.  It is very important to SOAK YOUR NAILS.
  • Use cuticle remover cream.  Follow the instructions.
  • Push back the cuticle and cut any hangnails carefully with a cuticle trimmer.
  • File your nails to your desired shape and wash your hands afterwards.
  • Apply a base coat to help the nail polish last longer
  • Apply 2 thin coats of nail color letting each coat dry thoroughly
  • Apply a fast drying top coat
  • Wait at least 20 minutes before doing doing anything that may ruin your manicure
  • Use a thin wooden stick wrapped with a little cotton and soaked in nail polish remover to clean the polish that may have gotten on your finger.  Cleaning the edges makes it look super professional.
  • Clean and disinfect all your tools after and before use


  • Hack yourself with the cuticle trimmers.  I've done this on many occasions... it hurts!  If you are not familiar with cuticle trimmers, don't use them.  Instead, gently push back the cuticles as described above.
  • Rush.  Enjoy the process. Take your time so that you can take pride in your DIY mani/pedi.
  • Think that your nail polish is dry and smudge-proof before 30 minutes have passed.  The fewer coats, the faster it will dry.  But for a base coat + 2 coats of color + top coat, it usually takes up to 2 hours for it to be smudge proof.
  • Let your manicure get too old and peel.  When things start looking a little bit bad, it's probably time to get the nail polish remover and get a fresh mani/pedi
  • Get discouraged if your nail polish ends up all over your fingers.  Try again. Practice makes perfect!

Hopefully you found this list useful.  Now I'm off to do my own nails!  Today's color: Haute Red from OPI- deliciously playful!  Yum!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Only a Game? Not!!

In the past some people have tried to get me to play Eucre- a popular card game here around Michigan in which the objective is ________ and the players try to accomplish it by _________ and __________.

I'm leaving those blanks because the 3 times that I've "played" it, I have had NO IDEA what the other people are doing.  And I shouldn't really be saying that I "played" Eucre. It was more like being swept away by these crazy people who clearly knew what they were doing and getting excited when they got excited.  

At other times, other people have tried to play Continental (I think it may be called Continental Rummy in some places) with me, and I always end up a confused little mess while trying to add my points after a round.  I get one of my smarter friends to count my points for me.  I'm not lazy. It's just that my brain doesn't want to do it.

My favorite card-related anecdote though, is a couple of years ago when I went to Vegas with my cousins, some of which are very experienced in table games.  We began playing Blackjack and after 3 hours of playing, I still didn't get the game.  I kept saying "I went to art school- I can't count" over and over, as if it excused me from the fact that I couldn't remember the value of a King or how much a Jack was worth.  Thankfully, I had my cousins there to guide me through and advising me on whether to split, or double down, etc.  I think I did end up making some money that night, but my biggest accomplishment was getting chuckles out of the dealer.  He was one of those serious types, no smiles, no helpful advice, no nothing.  Oh! But he couldn't resist my charm and by the end of the night he was making jokes and offering us advice.  Good times.

Anyway, what I'm trying to get to is that I'm not really good at card games.  Actually, I'm really really bad at card games.  

Board games though... that's another story.  I don't play board games.  Why? Because if you get me playing a board game, I will become so emotionally invested in it that I will make you sorry you brought the Scrabble over for game night at my place.  

In true Jekyll & Hyde fashion, I go from totally sweet, good natured me to "You landed on my property- pay me the mortgage AND an extra fee for choosing the shoe as your token" me.  In Monopoly, specifically, I become like a mobster making deals with other players, even going as far as bribing them.  Shameless.

It's true.

So, The Boyfriend has been wanting to play board games with me.  And I'm not exactly sure I want him to see that side of me.  But whatever, sooner or later he's going to know so, I'm looking to you- The Internet- to suggest some cool games for 2 people.

The criteria is as follows:
- Does not involve adding, subtracting, division, or multiplication (I went to art school)
- Does not lend itself to crazy power struggles like Monopoly... or at least how I play Monopoly
- It is fun even for the loser (it's very important that The Boyfriend has fun when I win the game)

So, if you have any good suggestions, send them my way!  

Thank you!

Special Offer!

Psst- To become Swell Papel's friend on Facebook.  Click the "Like" button under the Swell Papel banner or click the Facebook badge on the right hand side of the page. ;)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Save the Whales - They're Nice

One of my favorite things to do before I go to bed is watch nature documentaries.  I've watched so many that I think I deserve a masters degree in Nature Documentary Watching. 

Doing this, has not only opened my eyes to the amazing places found around the world, but also, the irrevocable damage that human beings have done to some of those places.  I get genuinely sad about the polar bears not being able to find food like they used to, or about the threat that the coral reefs are facing.

Today, I'm making this print available in my Swell Papel Etsy shop.  Some of the proceeds from the sale of this print will go to Oceana, a large international organization dedicated to ocean conservation.

Ocean conservation is key.  Not only do oceans control the climate, but they make up 71% of our planet!  By donating to causes that help save the ocean... we are helping 71% of the planet. Sounds like a good deal to me! 

 Please visit Oceana's website at

Dally in the Alley

Happy Monday!

Can't believe the weekend came and went so quickly! In a flash it's over and it's back-to-work day again... Sadly.

This Saturday, The Boyfriend and I went on a little trip to downtown Detroit to go to the Dally in the Alley, a street fair in Detroit held in... well, the alley!  There was music, fun, artists, freaks, and tons of fun to be had. 

There were 4 music stages set up in the Dally, hosting a variety of amazing bands.  Detroit, by the way, has amazing music. 

We ended up at Slows Bar BQ for lunch.  Slows is an institution of Detroit (I say so), they have THE BEST bbq that I have ever had, in a really cool setting.  They have every type of beer from all over the world.  The Boyfriend and I had a seat at the bar and enjoyed a wonderful meal and conversation.  

If you ever find yourself anywhere near Detroit... VISIT SLOWS! You will not regret it!

Detroit is amazing. I love it, and it suits me.  I can imagine how gritty and maybe even dangerous it looks to outsiders, but the fact of the matter is that Detroit has CHARACTER.  It is real, it is raw, and it is not made up like some other cities are, yet it is beautiful, if you get to know it.

Detroit hosts a huge collection of buildings by Mies van der Rohe, called Lafayette Park, which was the first urban renewal project in the entire USA.  Not only was Detroit a main location for the industrial revolution, but also, it was an important stage for the Arts and Crafts Movement which countered it.  

I will have to write another post about the things I have learned about Detroit soon.  In the mean time, I would really like to refer you to Sweet Juniper! - a blog by James Griffioen, to learn more about the city from a person who actually lives and raises a family there.  His voice is amazing and I'm amazed how many great things I've learned about Detroit (history, places, things to do, etc) from reading his blog.  Even if you do not want to learn more about Detroit, Sweet Juniper! should still be on your to-read list.

With that, I leave you to go forth and earn my bread and butter.  I hope to have some new work on the shop this week.

PS: OMG! I totally forgot!  Please visit Tall Dark Roast for my interview with Etsy artist Ben Kafton and other yummy posts!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Update from the Headquarters

It's been a super productive day today!  I had a great workout on the treadmill (THANKS, 5-Hour Energy!), went on a coffee run to Starbucks, rearranged the furniture in my living/dining room, sent out a couple of reports and work emails, and took pictures of my prints to update some of my Etsy listings, etc.

All this before 10 AM!

I'm happy to say that I now have a somewhat normal dining room (hurray!) since I moved my big yellow desk to the living room.  It's kind of still in the way, but I feel much better about having the desk here and not in the dining room.

The dining room. Sigh.  That's a whole other story. And by story, I mean issue.  And by issue, I mean eyesore.  Here, take a look:
As you can see here, that is where the famous monster printer lives (I wasn't lying when I told you it took up about a quarter of my table!).  It is also my "office" for my "real" job.  I sit in those rickety little chairs to work.  Poor me!

I used to have 4, but I had to throw 2 of them out because they broke.

If another chair breaks I'm going to feel really fat!  (Note to self: Lose 7 lbs.)

Anyway, maybe when my super lovely, loving, caring, amazing parents come in a couple of weeks I can take some time to find some new dining room chairs (Mama, Papa: hint hint).

In the mean time, that's the status quo directly from Swell Papel Headquarters.  Please don't party too much this weekend.  But if you do, invite me!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Random Thoughts

I am a prisoner of the internet.

I'm going to get out and do some stuff out in the "real world".


But if I go out of my apartment tonight I know that I'll end up at Starbucks... or Target.  OR that other Target with a Starbucks in it... I already went to the gym in the morning (yay, me!), so that's out of the question. And I already ran all my errands...

I need to stop multitasking the way I do.  Work, writing, laundry, drawing, Etsy, conference call, email, cleaning, cooking...  I multitasked so much today that at one point, I had a bottle of water, a venti Starbucks americano, and a small glass of orange juice sitting on my desk at the same time. I was taking turns sipping each one.

I think I'll just curl up on my couch and finish reading The Art of Happiness.  The Dalai Lama is on to something...

Swell Papel Update - Article on Tall Dark Roast

I cannot believe how incredibly lucky I've been since venturing out on this Swell Papel endeavor.  That idea that was born from me just wanting to make prints has gotten me not only to having my own shop and blog, but also, as of today, the amazing opportunity to be a contributor to Tall Dark Roast!

TDR not only "discovered" me, but has also been very supportive throughout this whole process.  I heart TDR. 

Please swing by Tall Dark Roast to read my article called Purple = LOVE.

Hopefully this will be the first of many articles to come.

Feeling so blessed!

Swell Papel Update - Indie Fixx Fall Galleria

Today I'm super excited to announce that my prints are now available through the newly opened Indie Fixx Fall Galleria!

"Indie Fixx Galleria is an online showcase of handmade, indie-made & vintage goods. Think of it as an 'indie mall' featuring a juried mix of designers & boutiques to provide a curated shopping experience."

Please click here to visit the Swell Papel - Indie Fixx Galleria or go to to browse all the cute shops.

I have another update coming soon... stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Work! Constant Pebble

I'm so happy to show you my new work available at the shop!  

I made this print by spending about 2 hours hand drawing each little stone on paper.  I can still feel the dent on my finger that the pencil left!  It was a good exercise in patience and after a while, I found it very peaceful to be drawing... almost like a rhythmic meditation of sorts.

Granted, I kinda went blind, got carpel tunnel, and came thisclose to going crazy... but at least I felt calm and rested when I finished!

I took a picture of the prints side by side (on my yellow desk). They look nice together. 

I Love September

Last Saturday was the first real autumn day that we've had here in Michigan.  It's like autumn can't wait to bust out in all its glory.  Here, autumn comes with hot apple cider, warm cinnamon donuts, beautiful foliage, cozy sweaters and cool breezes on sunny days.  I LOVE!

The Boyfriend and I went grape picking at a nearby farm.  It was amazing!  They had so many different varieties of sweet grapes and we ended up picking more than we initially thought we could eat.  Little did I know that there is no such thing as a limit to the amount of grapes we can eat.  We need to go grape picking again next weekend.
Labor Day was relaxing.  We ended up going to the Apple Store to marvel at the technology (no purchases, though) and imagine having his and her iMacs with huge screens, we got groceries, then we watched some TV and then we went to the gym for a mini-workout.  It was the perfect day- but how could it not be? Everyone knows that a great day is to be had when one buys fresh basil and shaved parmesan cheese.

I'm putting the final touches on a new print and will hopefully have it in the shop soon.  I'm also excited to be an upcoming contributor to Tall Dark Roast and hopefully I will have my first article ready soon!

Life is good and I am grateful.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Lovely Roots

This week I've been thinking about my friends, and my family a lot.  I think I'm a little nostalgic and wishing I could visit them all since most of them are so far away.  They have been so supportive and amazing to me and Swell Papel and I wish I could visit each and every one of them and give them a huge hug.

By the way, did you know that I have the most loving family EVER? The best aunts, cousins, grandparents, uncles, and parents? And I also have beautiful friends, all of which I'm extremely grateful for.  I'm a lucky gal.

Since I can't visit them all this very moment, instead I would like to dedicate this print to them (you) who know me and stick by my side through thick and thin. For being my "lovely roots"- Thank you!

On a somewhat related note, my parents are going to come visit me in a few weeks!

[Excuse me while I jump with excitement!]

I can't wait to have them here! What they don't know, though, is that I'm going to keep them here forever!  Muah ha ha ha!!!