Posts Categorized: Life

DIY + illustration + Kids + Life + Projects / Monday, 25 Mar 2013

Cheer Up Mouse & book giveaway

photography by Ashley Thalman

Awhile back, even before landing back in America, I was approached by illustrator Jed Henry, to collaborate on a project for his brand new children’s book, Cheer Up Mouse. He showed me the trailer…

…and I was sold! How adorable is it? I mean a walnut playing squirrel? Too much for me. I have it on good authority that kids watch this over and over. What am I saying? I can (and did) watch it over and over. Even just for the sweet soundtrack.
illustration from Cheer Up Mouse by Jed Henry. ©Houghton Mifflin
So we got to thinking of a DIY that would best suit the book and we came up with a little play for kids complete with masks (click here for the masks), which we thought would be the perfect Spring Break activity. The book has 10 characters who each attempt to cheer little Mouse up with a sweet, well-meaning line, like so…
So, how does it work? 
Materials: 10 kids (or have a few kids take on multiple characters), Cheer Up Mouse book (available ON SALE on Amazon) for the script or win a copy–see instructions below, cardboard sets are optional, masks (click here), 3×5″ index cards
Step 1: With Cheer Up Mouse book in hand, use ten cards, 1 for each child to write down the lines. A few kids will get multiple lines. There are 18 lines total.
Step 2: Create the masks (there will be a follow-up blog post to this one showing you the step-by-step).
Step 3: Let the kids learn their lines.
Step 4: Watch the magic! 
I promise PROMISE you’ll fall in love with the characters. In fact, our Mouse for the shoot had a little “moment” when she needed some cheering up and all the kids were quick to chime in “Cheer up, Mouse!”. Presh.
illustration from Cheer Up Mouse by Jed Henry. © Houghton Mifflin.
Jed is giving away a copy of Cheer Up Mouse to one lucky reader. Wahoo!
TO ENTER: “Like” The House That Lars Built on Facebook OR “follow” on Instagram. Then leave a comment on this blog post telling me what you’ve done (please let me know!). Bonus votes if you follow on any other blogging platform. If you’ve already done so on all platforms before, share the post for entry. Contest ends one week from today, Monday April 1st.

Thank you to the wonderful wardrobe providers: 
Wunway Kids (THE cutest and hippest clothes!)
Caramel (UK, but they have a US presence too–wish they made big girl sizes)
Orfeo (also UK–beautiful stuff)
The Children’s Hour shop in Salt Lake City–the ONLY children’s store in all of Utah with cool stuff. Promise, we tried them all. The owner has impeccable taste. And they have great stuff for mamas too.
photographer: Ashley Thalman
sets: Tanei and Jed Henry
masks and styling: Brittany Watson Jepsen
photoshoot coordinator: Tanei Henry
assistants: Lindsay Barlow, Audrey Ellsworth
illustrator: Jed Henry
models: Titan, Modock. Karli, Nohea, Stella, Crew, Cole and thank you to all the terrific moms and families!

In the Know + Life + utah / Wednesday, 13 Mar 2013

Our new home & a more somber post

Warning: Not my usually sunny self post.

Guys, I’m rarely sick, but here I am feeling like pooh. Bleh. I’m sure you really want to hear complaints to brighten up your day so I’ll keep it to a minimum. It started out as what I thought was food poisoning and now it’s a cold. Thankfully, I work from home so I don’t even have to pretend to smile at people. This, combined with the passing of a friend last week and funeral services on Monday, has reminded me of the frailties of mortality. It’s one of those passings that I don’t quite understand and I’m not sure I ever will.  I won’t get too much into it right here right now. I just hope that he’s found peace.

Anywhoo, I had a craft project planned for today but considering I couldn’t really get off my can much, I’m going to show you a bit of our new hood according to my Instagram photos instead. One of our favorite things to do is go house looking (spying really) and we’ve found some really darling charmers and wonderful 60s gems. Not to say they are all like that because, let’s be honest, most are boring, beige, and brick, but some stand out (like the four above).

We went on a little adventure to Utah Lake on Sunday and the views are spectacular! The lake is in the process of thawing so one half is frozen while the other half is on vanguard. Top that off with some snowy mountains surrounding the valley and it’s pretty picturesque.

Utah locals, where else would you suggest exploring in the area? I’d love your ideas! 

Art + Artist Feature + flowers + In My Next Life + Life / Monday, 11 Mar 2013

In my next life: painter

This is the second post in a new monthly series called, “In my next life” where I basically gawk at people whose jobs I’d love. See last month’s with professional ballerina at the Royal Danish Ballet, Christina Michanek
photography by Luisa Brimble courtesy of Arent & Pyke’s blog In/Out

A few weeks ago, Luisa Brimble, a fantastic photographer based in Australia, showed a picture on Instagram of artist Laura Jones’ studio. I was instantly (no pun intended) hooked. Laura paints florals in beautiful, bright colors and thus, her studio is a floral haven. I think I would be pleased as punch if this was my house. 
I grew up in a pretty artistic household and at one point I had decided to be a painter when I grew up. I don’t know when that decision was disrupted–perhaps school, sports, music? But never could I have imagined something like this. Laura’s work takes the cake, right? I’m rarely tempted to actually buy a piece of art–I’m usually quite content to just post it on my Pinterest board–but I’m so absolutely drawn to her work. Check out the interview below.

Did you always want to be an artist? Why or why not?
I did, I have always made art and knew I would always want to make it. I didn’t know if I’d actually become an artist but as I got older I realised that I could make it happen. Being an artist is really important to me now. I work hard at it because I believe that it is what I should be doing and because the world needs artists! 

How did you get into painting? 
I have painted ever since I was little. It has always come naturally to me although that’s not to say it is easy. Painting is a very difficult thing to do because you are always trying to push yourself to make better work, and it is always hard to make space for it in your life around part time work.

As of late, you’ve been painting a lot of flowers. Why? What’s the attraction?  
I grew up in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia. There are a lot of beautiful gardens there and my mother always had flowers around the house. I have always loved them. When I was studying for a Masters in Art at the College of Fine Arts, I would bring big bunches of interesting leaves and flowers to the printmaking studio and make coloured etchings with them. I also started working in a flower shop part time to get me through uni. That was about 2005 and I have worked in flower shops ever since.

My most recent body of work is all about flowers because painting them just made a lot of sense all of a sudden. I had always done a little bit of flower painting here and there but I realised I should make a whole show about them. Flowers are very symbolic, reminding people about the transience of life, whilst also being very positive, happy things. They were good for the soul to paint and I hope that’s what people feel when they look at my flower paintings.

Were there people along the way in your field who you admired or helped you shaped the decision to be an artist?
I have so many. The most influential time was when I was at art school. Because I majored in printmaking, we often had a lot of artists come to the studios to do print projects. The students would assist the Master Printer (and our teacher), Michael Kempson, who would work alongside artists to help them make etchings and works on paper. I met so many painters during this time, and I would ask them about what they did and how they did it. It worked out that the first thing I needed to do was to get a studio. As soon as I graduated I found a studio and I have been a practising artist ever since.

Do you have a mantra or something you live by?
I can’t remember where I read this one but it helped me a lot when I was starting out and feeling slightly overwhelmed by all the potential in painting and where to begin! It was in my first studio, which was above an old pub in Western Sydney, and I remember reading it somewhere and then writing it on the wall, “There is only what you do and what you don’t do.”

My interpretation was to do the work, one painting at a time. Each painting will be better than the last and you will learn something from everything you do.

What’s your favorite part about your job?

The actual process of making things. I am so interested and engaged in what I do, from preparing a surface to paint on, to applying the paint, to painting over something that doesn’t work, to making decisions about what to do next, or even just rearranging my studio. I love looking at something and then trying to describe it with my hands. I really enjoy everything about making work in my studio.

How do you juggle the balance of life/work?
I work all the time, and just get things done. I could probably cook and exercise more but I just love working whether it be at the studio or the flower shop. I socialise a lot and go to lots of art openings. I think I manage to squeeze everything in by working long hours and not watching tv. Life is a constant struggle for balance I suppose.

Is there anything you could do without? I could live without living in the city I think. One day, maybe soon, I’d like to go where there’s more green.


What’s one of the most memorable moments of your career so far?

My recent show is probably top of the list. I really felt so happy with my paintings, and the opening was a huge success.


Being selected as a Finalist for the Doug Moran Prizefor Portraiture– it’s Australia’s richest portrait prize and to be showing with so many other great artists including some of my good friends was wonderful.

Working with Grantpirrie Gallery as their Master Printmaker was amazing too. Also going to the New York Studio School to do a drawing course. There’s too many, and I can’t wait to keep working on more.

If you weren’t painting, what would you be doing?
I would probably be travelling right now. Like a gypsy! 

Thank you, Laura, for participating in In My Next Life. Don’t you just love her? I love the part about hoping her paintings speak to your soul. The answer is yes. YES! Flowers do so much for the soul and I’d love to be surrounded by them like that. If you happen to be in Australia, she has a show right now until the 15th at the Maunsell Wickes Gallery in Paddington. More info here.

And are you looking at the floral print on the chair? It’s from Edit. Isn’t the matching chair/skirt lovely?

Did you ever want to be a painter? What would you do if you could do anything in the world? Speak up! 

denmark + Design + Life + we do weddings + Wedding / Friday, 8 Mar 2013

Thumbelina wedding shoot

A couple of weeks ago I introduced a wedding shoot that I styled as a part of We Do Weddings. We had divided ourselves into 4 groups and each took a section of “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” and went to town. I was a part of “something blue” and “something new” as seen here. Though there were many ways to take “new” we took “something new” to mean a “new” fairytale. Lots of brides want to be that princess in a fairytale and we wanted to bring a new, uncheesy romanticism to the meaning. To do this we used Hans Christian Andersen’s Thumbelina. You know I love scale, so I was all about it. Of course, there had to be oversized flowers everywhere. I even made a jumbo flower for this bride to really bring it home. This time I was partnered with Tine Hvolby, who shot all of these photos, Hazel of Think Foto, and Rikke of Gudnitz Couture, who made the lovely wedding dress as worn by Christina Michanek (remember Christina? She’s a soloist for the Royal Danish Ballet) and joined by her husband, a former dancer with the Royal Swedish and Danish Ballets. Rikke makes lots of dresses for the rich and famous in Denmark–fancy! We lucked out with a rare sunny day, which created some beautiful lighting to play with. Didn’t Tine kill it?!

Here’s the invitation I created for the wedding. Look familiar? After this, I decided to base my new 2013 calendar from it (get it on sale here).

So gorgeous.

If you’re in Denmark, check out the We Do Weddings website. It’s such a great resource for planning a wedding.

Photography by Tine Hvolby
Dress by Gudnitz Couture
Models: Christina and Sebastian Michanek
Stylist and prop maker: Brittany Watson Jepsen

Design + Life + we do weddings + Wedding / Friday, 22 Feb 2013

Something Blue wedding shoot

photography by Amanda Thomsen
I talked about the wedding group, We Do Weddings, last month. It’s the group of photographers, designers, stylists who came together to get magic done in Denmark and I was more than thrilled to be involved while I was there. We decided to stage a series of photoshoots and broke up into 4 groups. Each group took on one of the sayings from “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” and yes, we were something new. Sorry, bad joke. Of course, we were something blue. This was one of my favorite projects of all time! I got to work with Amanda Thomsen, Lina Ahnoff, and Anja of Elefteria, who just took my spot in the studio. These ladies are the best!

We took “something blue” to mean the black sheep of the bunch. The couple who does things a bit differently. So, we envisioned a couple who do things differently. This couple doesn’t plan a year in advance. They aren’t getting married in the church. They aren’t wearing white. Gasp! This couple told their friends and family to come to a party that week “dressed in blue” and bring a small dish to share.
Once their friends and family showed up for a leisurely afternoon at their blue kolonihave, the couple announced that they were actually getting married and they were the guests. The garden turned into the reception site with a simple bunting in blue strung along the bushes to frame the couple as they said their vows.  Instead of a wedding cake, a friend made a piñata in shades of blue.  Once they knocked it down, fortune cookies with personalized fortunes came spewing out as favors fo the guests. (I showed how to make the pinata on Etsy Weddings.)

Later that evening, the guests gathered in the kolonihave for a dinner made up of the smørrebrød that everyone brought. Friends had decorated the place in old wedding veils from their family’s generations. They enjoyed the occasion with simple hygge and cherished their new bond.

This simple wedding brought out the best in the couple and made it an easy affair for all. By sticking with just one color palette, they were able to focus on the people that they shared the event with.

The dresses:  The first dress from Elefteria.dk is called Anna with denim skirt, perfectly morning outfit for a wedding. The long length model Eleni, a bias cut dress in crepe de chine so soft to wear in the late afternoon and finally decorated and dressed up for the evening dinner with silk chiffon covers to give you the upportunity to change the look of the dress for any occasion.  All of them made specially for the Something Blue shoot,  by Anja from Elefteria.
I made the pinata, bunting, floral crown, and style the shoot (thanks to Amanda’s stellar blue collection!)
Amanda Thomsen took all of these photos (see her blog for the whole she-bang!) alongside Lina Ahnoff.