Monthly Archives: October 2012

One down

So one year ago Wendy and I launched brown ink. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve grown the family, and we’re happy to say we’ve truly enjoyed the experience. It’s kind of a funny social contract these blogs; people write them partly out of selfishness, (I mean it’s on some level immodest to think that people are interested in what the author has to say), but I have to say that while that may be a little bit at work here, we really set out to highlight all things handwritten, and that is what drove the idea for this blog in the first place. Hopefully we’ve had some success.

For the next week or so we’re going to have a couple of star guest-bloggers and we’ll be back in action in two weeks or so. Enjoy some new voices.

When you host a party there’s always that nervous anxiety 10 minutes before the party starts where you wonder if anyone’s going to show up. You’ve shown up and we’re grateful for that.

fresh without the chalk

Maybe due to the fact that writing on chalkboards makes my skin crawl, I’ve always had a thing for whiteboards. I think it’s the way the marker glides, easily able to wipe off a mistake or add on a brilliant idea. A whiteboard screams fresh, smart and one-of-kind. And who could forget the UPS commercials with this knowledgeable sales guy?

Hugely popular in the late ’80’s and early 90’s, whiteboards were seen everywhere from classrooms to boardrooms.  I thought they must have jumped the shark when the late Tim Russert used one as a memorable tool during the political madness in the 2000 Presidential election.  But they’ve never left my heart.

When we moved into our current home a few years ago I knew a whiteboard was a must for our family. Between displaying art and an ever-changing seasonal “to do” list, the whiteboard acts as keeper of all that is current. And although our sitters have cell phones with our numbers these days, it’s a great spot to keep Emergency info. Knowing it would be displayed in a prominent spot in our pantry, we decided to frame our whiteboard to keep it feeling a little less boardroom-like.

However, I cannot take all the credit. My love of the whiteboard continued when first seeing one used in Nick’s childhood home. My mother-in-law is the queen of whiteboards. She writes everything from poems to recipes, reminders of an art crawl to a book title. I love that it’s Sally’s handwriting and it’s constantly changing. Thanks for the inspiration, Sal.

One of the most unique uses I’ve noticed these days is this white board with potential baby names. You can’t get any more fresh that that!


Now-a-days, whiteboards can be used throughout the entire house, from the kitchen countertops to kids walls.  Idea Paint is a fantastic resource. They’ve even gotten back into the classroom which I love.




So don’t stop the written communication and ideas floating. What a simple way to include your writing as a part of everyday living.

gift giving lends a hand

Between the birth of Baby Bea and my birthday in August, we Brown gals have been showered with thoughtful gifts from family & friends lately. Wonderfully, many have had a handwriting theme (thanks everyone for supporting the brown ink motto). And with the holiday season soon approaching, I thought I might as well share a bit of people’s generosity to get those creative minds brewing. Grab a coffee. It’s on the long side.

1. Our neighbors, who are raising three kids as well, recognize how difficult it is to remember all those hysterical things kids say on a daily basis.

My Quotable Kid

So they sent over the perfect gift, My Quotable Kid journal. I had seen this journal in an entry on my good friend Jane’s blog and thought this could come in handy. A simple way to keep a record of your childrens’ most humorous and insightful thoughts and another way to simplify (there’s that word again). Thanks Forslines.

russell + hazel 'Oh How Did You Know' Boxed Note Cards

2. My friend Carrie (she writes an hysterical blog) loves to shower me with writing material. I was psyched to receive the “oh How Did You Know” stationery from russell+hazel.




3. She also picked up these Yummy Yummy scented markers from The Walker Art Center Shop but you can find them here. These came in handy yesterday when Oliver needed a little extra excitement while writing his birthday Thank You notes.

Buy Rocket Pen Spaceship Blue at

4. Of course, you need you a Rocket Pen with four different ink selections. Sally & Jim picked this up for me at The Walker. Perfect stocking stuffer.

5. Dear Jenni David, she always comes up with thoughtful and unique gifts. She showered Ms. Beatrice with beautiful prints of her name written by Emily Synder from Queen Quills.

6. She also found this vintage book signed by the first recipient in 1933 and then went on to sign herself. Touching. (“I” before “e” except after “c” Monica).

7. After traveling overseas this spring, Jenni returned home with this journal from the 798 Art District in Beijing which has become one of the new landmarks of Beijing Urban Culture. Love a little culture in my journals!

8. I was surprised by a group of friends on my 39th birthday with one of the most lovely gifts I could image, a beautiful box filled with 39 (mostly written) observations about me. Seriously, I was blown over. The box is now kept right on our office desk for those days I need a pick-me-up and I’d rather avoid the chocolate or bourbon. Ha.

9. One of the most unique gifts we received this summer is something I don’t expect the majority of people to manuever. My brother, Blake and his friend, Melanie, visited us in OR and brought with them necklaces she created. I asked her what went into making these pieces:

  • Cut disks out of sheet silver.
  • Use dapping block to make the disks slightly concave.
  • Fuse the disks together with a jump ring at the top… using an acetylene and atmospheric air torch.
  • Polish in a tumbler over night.
  • Have Blake write monograms over and over and over and over again until he is happy with them.
  • Use very small pliers to twist fine gauge silver wire into the shape of the monograms Blake created.
  • Stick the small bits of wire, now in the shape of monograms, inside the appropriate circle on the appropriate pendant and place on masking tape
  • Pigment resin with artist pigments
  • Pour resin into each pendant
  • Let resin cure over night
  • On the drive to Manzanita, use sandpaper to remove any stray resin and to do some finish work
  • While the transmission on the truck is being repaired, do the final wet dry sanding in the transmission shop and then protect the pendants with a coat of Renaissance wax
  • Add a bail, put on a chain and put in a box…..

I share these gifts to inspire you to find uniqueness in your gift giving this season – And maybe make it personal. These gifts are thoughtful yet not expensive. Think about stepping out of the box. The writing makes it one of a kind.


El Milagro de Medinah

Depending on which side you were rooting for, Americans or Europeans, watching the Ryder Cup this past Sunday afternoon was either a very painful, and unfortunately unforgettable experience, or cause for unprecedented and monumental celebration. As a quick background, the Ryder Cup is a biannual event pitting the twelve best golfers from the States against the twelve best from Europe, and this year it was played at Medinah Golf Club outside Chicago. On Saturday night, after two days of play, the Americans were ahead 10-6, a margin that had only been overcome once by the trailing team, (the Americans won in 1999 coming from behind by the same score).

Anyhoo, the Europeans won this past Sunday’s matches by a score of 8.5 – 3.5, retained the Ryder Cup, and reminded everyone that believe it or not (some) golf tournaments are actually worth watching. But as I watched the matches with my boys, what struck me more than the Americans’ colossal collapse, was the fact that golf is maybe the only sport where players keep their own score and write it down on a scorecard, usually with a pencil. Very quaint that. The only other sport (activity?) which comes to mind is bowling and I can remember being tested on how to keep a bowling score in 9th grade gym class and it was weirdly difficult. But now bowling alleys have electronic scoring (phew) which leaves us with golf.

Sitting on the couch on Sunday, thinking of score keeping in golf and of Roberto De-Vicenzo who in 1968 lost the chance to win the Masters because he incorrectly signed his scorecard (being kept by his playing partner in pencil) because maybe he was going too fast, I thought of my 1st-grader who tends to rush through his homework so he can get back outside and run around and terrorize his little brother.

So from out of the nowhere I told the 1st-grader that he should remember to slow down when doing his homework, that rushing through things usually creates more problems than it solves. It didn’t seem to register with him in the least, but it helps me to repeat things over and over; take your time, check your work and make sure you have an eraser.