made in North Carolina blue round grunge isolated stamp


Emily Brooks is a local Renaissance girl among artists. She’s smart, savvy, talented, and ever so gracious. Emily just might be Raleigh’s It Girl. She hails from Raleigh and calls it home again after a stint in New York City. Emily studied at Wake Forest University and went on to FIT to learn textile design. I knew Emily’s work before I knew Emily. I suspect you might recognize it too. Have you seen her iconic maps around town? You can find them at Deco, one of my favorite stores in Raleigh. 

chapelhillmapetsyclose photo-97 copy

You can see that Emily’s calligraphy is both whimsical and elegant. I love how the lines are all flowy yet not frou frou. The movement in her calligraphy style is her way to tell a story. Emily’s personalized pieces mean that you can give the gift of a story. Amazing, right? You can commission Emily to create all sorts of things in her calligraphy hand — think birth announcements, wedding invitations, keepsake quotes, note cards. I’d like her calligraphy as a font so my Christmas cards get a sprinkle of artistic flair. (By the way, Emily, there’s still time to get this done for this year since I haven’t sent my cards yet!) 


You might bump into Emily at her studio space at Litmus Gallery. You see, she paints, too! I positively love her use of color and movement. There’s a sense of the struggle between peace and heartache in those paintings. I have just the spot to hang one of those Summer Plunge paintings….

And…Emily sews too! She has a load of fabric from her grandmother that she uses to make throw pillows that are achingly cute. There’s gingham, seersucker, and plaid shirting backing each pillow. It’s the perfect gift for someone who just moved here or for someone who has moved away. Emily is also a fan of Spoonflower, where you can design and print your own fabric, wallpaper, and giftwrap. Spoonflower will leave you audibly oohing and aahing (as will Emily’s work).  And just as you expected, I have that pillow on my list, too.

Do you have a story to tell but can’t find the words, rather, write the words in a pretty way? Your story. Emily’s art. Imagine the possibilities. 



More Me in 2015

by Ilinap on December 12, 2014


There’s a frenzy about the holidays. Some of that frolicking is fun, though in all honesty, most of it saps the joy from the spirit of the season. The mall is positively the worst place to be this time of year. Ditto for weekends at the grocery store. People are snaggled toothed messes this time of year. Teacher gifts. Mailman tips. Shipping and shopping. Beautifying. Cooking. Baking. Eating. Weight gaining. Card writing. Gift wrapping. Elf hiding. Decorating. Tree trimming. Egads! Just writing this list is exhausting…and I’m reminded of all I have yet to tackle!

The one thing I don’t indulge in this time of year is self care. Let’s be honest, as a mom, I hardly ever indulge in self care. But this time of year I need it more than ever. This is when I must remind myself to slow down and not sweat store bought versus homemade. I can’t do it all under the best of circumstances so why pressure myself now? What does “doing it all” mean anyway? I need to start feeling comfortable with doing enough. And being enough.

While I’m knee deep in holiday shenanigans right now, I’ve vowed to myself that self care will top my 2015 resolutions. I don’t need a week away at a blue sea Caribbean resort to accomplish this, though it wouldn’t hurt! I can take itty bitty steps that will cumulatively make a whopping difference.

Swipe on mascara. Even though I work from home, I’d like to see a bright eyed woman looking back at me when I glimpse into a mirror.

Hydrate. The water dispenser is just steps from my office, yet I sit glued to my desk and stare at my empty Tervis tumbler. 

Moisturize. I’m 46. My skin needs some TLC these days. Night time moisturizer is not optional.

Read. I bought myself a chenille blanket that’s tucked away just for me. I’m not relinquishing this one to the dog and kids. I’m going to carve out time to wrap myself up and read every weekend.

Book babysitters. We so rarely have a sitter. That’s gotta change. 

I’m trying to stay present and mindful this holiday season. We are not overdoing it on gifts. Stockings will be stuffed with useful stuff. We’re giving more than we’re getting. Our 16th annual holiday party will be a festive fete, and store bought munchies and screw top wine will be just fine. Cards won’t likely make it out before the new year. I’m OK with that. Christmas will be just the four of us this year. We’ll indulge in cookies. We’ll eat too much meat and not enough vegetables. I’ll don more fleece than sparkles. And you know what…all that feels pretty good. 

 So call me selfish, but my word for 2015 is ME.

 You too can join me in the year of ME…well, by ME I mean YOU. You get what I mean, right? Get started now and check out the savings on the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® website! You can save up to $35 on some of your favorite products by visiting to download coupons in December. I’m partial to the Neutrogena mascara and Aveeno face wash and moisturizer.

photo (35)

Required disclosure notice for blog post: This post is part of the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® 2014 program by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. and The Motherhood, who sent me a box of products and compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are all my own.




Krupnikas – 5:00 Fridays TM

December 12, 2014

Tweet Tis the season…for Krupnikas. It’s not really holiday season until the Krupnikas lands on my bar. I generally like my Krupnikas served over ice in this ever so cute whiskey glass from Crate & Barrel. It’s meant to be a neat sipper, but I like a little something to clink around. This honey liqueur [...]

Read the full article →

Handmade in North Carolina – VAE Holiday Market

December 11, 2014

Tweet           The ultimate Handmade in North Carolina extravaganza is coming soon to a gallery near you. That is, near you if you live near me…in Raleigh. VAE is hosting its fantastic annual holiday market this Sunday, December 14 12 – 4. Art, pottery, textiles, jewelry, T-shirts, handbags, and more will [...]

Read the full article →

Size Matters

December 10, 2014

Tweet People disregard anything I have to say about body image because I’m small. I am small in stature, small boned, you name it. I weighed 90 pounds before I got pregnant with my first child, and literally gained half my body weight during pregnancy. I joked that I looked like a hippity hop ball. [...]

Read the full article →

My Christmas List of Extravagance

December 8, 2014

Tweet Sometimes I daydream about being a superficial tart who wants more than a world of healthy and happily fed children for Christmas. It’s true that I want for nothing, and I try not to lose sight of that. Yet I am admittedly vexed with the consumerist gene and do enjoy a shopping spree. Let [...]

Read the full article →

Turning the Tide for Turnips

December 3, 2014

Tweet This is my favorite T-shirt. Mac Daddy and the boys gave it to me for my birthday. I’ve been known to wear it with jeans, baggy khakis, and even a leather skirt with a jaunty crop jacket. Anyone who’s talked to me for one second knows that I love word play. I also love [...]

Read the full article →

Giving Tuesday is Full of Grace

December 2, 2014

Tweet I was born on a Tuesday. The old rhyme says that “Tuesday’s child is full of grace.” Hmmm…the jury is out on how that relates to yours truly. Today is Giving Tuesday, a worldwide movement to underscore the grace in giving. Surely the jury unanimously agrees on this.  Here are the organizations I support [...]

Read the full article →

Handmade in NC – Crafty Ginger Mama

December 1, 2014

Tweet Today on Handmade in NC, I bring you Raleigh’s local sewing sensation, Jennifer Marks. Jen’s Etsy shop is aptly named Crafty Ginger Mama. She is crafty in a clever way, not in a cyclone hit AC Moore kind of way. I had been admiring Jen from afar on the school playground. Ou paths crossed on [...]

Read the full article →

Giving. Thanks.

November 27, 2014

Tweet Today I am thankful for resting my head in cozy bed with a supportive husband to nestle into. I’m thankful for Bird and Deal, two extraordinary boys who add glitter to my sometimes tarnished soul. I’m thankful for Lark, our furry rescue reminder of unconditional love. I’m thankful to be sharing this holiday with [...]

Read the full article →