What you need for your new baby

What you need for new baby

As a disclaimer, I’m a big believer in that you don’t need too much. I’m actually quite frugal when it comes to making purchases so I tend to either buy cheap or do without unless I find it totally beautiful and worth being in my life and if not the most beautiful, then just super helpful. That said, I’ve noticed that that there are some specific times when you should invest as it will totally make life easier and for the better and if not, more beautiful at least, because that is also important. As a note, I’m not including clothing or furniture for now (though you can find his nursery reveal here!), just product. I’ll be following up with some clothing recommendations.
Rattan bassinet

Ok! Don’t let all these disclaimers deter you, let’s get going! I’ll be updating this list as Baby continues to grow into different stages that require new products so do check back for more recommendations. Also, I’d love to hear your own recommendations. I’m always open to hearing about beautifully designed items.

Lars Baby essentials round up

Lars’ Favorite Baby Essentials

This time around, I’m grouping the products into time frames so you don’t have to buy everything at once. This way you can spread out the purchases and expenses.

Italics are my updated experience with my second child, Felix.

Before Baby gets here (you’ll need it right away)

  1. I legit didn’t know there was such thing as a “coming out outfit” when I had Jasper. And while it’s obviously not crucial to have a photogenic outfit, it feels like a beautiful rite of passage when there’s some sort of stunning outfit to come home in. This time around I bought a few outfits that felt special and just rotated them a bunch. I picked out this baby bundle set from Storq, which came with a sweet white outfit and hat. For some reason I love when babies don’t have as much color and patterns like I normally prefer. That said, I also got a little set with my favorite pattern from Lewis Home. And something similar to this set.
  2. Uppababy car seat and Uppababy Vista Stroller. I LOVE the look of this car seat and the fabric actually wicks away sweat. Plus, I love that it’s interchangeable with the stroller and base in the car. I got the MESA and love it.
  3. Pampers Pure diapers. We did a sponsored post with them a few months ago but now I’m no longer required to say anything and I’m still using them. I love that they are better for baby and earth. I just wish it was easier to find them at all stores. You have to order them online. We also use Kirkland brand (Costco) because Paul’s favorite place on earth is Costco and everything they do is high quality.
  4. Diaper bag. I don’t know why, but this is the one I obsessed with most prior to baby’s arrival. I spent A LOT of time searching for a great diaper bag. There are a lot of good ones out there now that are both great for mom and functional and though I haven’t tried them all out, I decided to start cheap and see how it goes. I bought this one in red as I just so happened to stumble on it on Amazon and turns out! I spot dozens of moms wherever I go using it. It’s a smart design, spacious, and helpful. And they come in tons of other colors. I’m going to be doing a post all on diaper bags because I found some pretty great options. Ok, I never found a diaper bag that I loved that I actually bought because I’ve come to the point where I realized “why do I need a special bag for diapers?” Well, you don’t! But Jasper has put his through the ringer and so now I’m glad that it was cheap.
  5. Changing basket. Design Dua has the most beautiful collection of baskets including this plain changing basket. I love it so much. It keeps him contained so he doesn’t roll around, which he is doing otherwise. The only downside is that I found that it scratched my brand new changing table. I had to take a rug pad and cut it to the shape of the basket and put underneath it.
  6. Onesies. Because you can never have enough! I like dressing baby in a plain white onesie and that’s it!
  7. Clothes. Check out this post for some of my favorite clothes for baby boys 
  8. Travel Changing Pad. This was sent to me by Joy of Oh Joy for her product collaboration with Target long before Baby was even an embryo but I held onto it because 1) it’s adorable and turns out 2) it’s so handy. It looks like a clutch so it doesn’t scream baby and it works well with a slot for wipes. It’s thin enough to squeeze snuggly in my bag. Now that I’m with my second baby, I use this every single day to change diapers around the house. 
  9. Brest friend. I was using another pillow for nursing but it was killing my back. This one happened to pop up on my Facebook ads and I bought it on the spot. I LOVE MY BREST FRIEND. It’s a game changer for my bad back, especially after baby when it was at an all time hurt.
  10. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. By the way, this book was SUPER helpful for learning to breastfeed.
  11. Swaddles. I didn’t include swaddles in my first round of essentials because I figured most people get a ton as gifts, BUT I got a couple of extras the second time around–ones that I LOVE the prints on so they cheer me right on up. These ones from Lewis are too cute. I also have one from Clementine that I love as well as Little Unicorn.

Within the first couple of weeks

  1. Scissor clippers. Moms might know the terror that comes with clipping your baby’s nails. These ones are great because you can go slowly so that you have more peace of mind. I Love them! These are actually the reason why I wanted to create this post for you. I want everyone to know about them! Yup! Still love them! 
  2. Willow pump. GAME CHANGER. I was dreading having to pump so for a number of months I just didn’t unless I really had to. I was using the pump that my insurance company had given me until I tried this and all of a sudden I was free! It sits in your bra and you can walk around and do whatever you want WHILE IT PUMPS! Ladies! Admittedly, I don’t love pumping, but I do use this still my second time every so often when I need to fill up.
  3. Nose Freda. I received two of these as baby gifts so I thought there must be something to it. This one is genius. Do yourself a favor and get one in your cart pronto. Seems odd, but really not odd at all to suck up your baby’s snot. 😉 Really though, it’s efficient and clever and I highly recommend it. Yup, do it! 
  4. Aquaphor. I don’t even need to say much else than you need it. If there’s ever any redness or rash, use it and poof! Gone! We also tried using my sister’s Butt Paste and it works super well, though it stays on the baby as a white substance.
  5. Collapsible bath tubI tried out a few bath tubs that didn’t work so well for me either because of the size of our sink or sturdiness. I like this one because it worked for a newborn and then it can be transformed for a larger baby when they can sit up by themselves by popping down the side and turning it into a more typical bath tub. We recently got a new one compartment sink and it wasted a lot more water by filling it up than our previous one so this was a better option.
  6. Dock a Tot (not pictured). Jasper slept in this for the first few months and it was great because you can transport it around and set him anywhere you are. LOVED IT! Not in love with the huge logo on it. WHY IS IT SO BIG???? For Felix I got the William Morris cover–it’s so pretty! 
  7. Baby Bum diaper rash brush. This was given to me as a baby gift and I’ll be honest, I thought, “this looks like one of those products that you don’t actually need but someone thought they’d try and make a buck by appealing to vulnerable mothers” BUT I WAS WRONG! Thankfully, I don’t have to use it too often, but when Baby boy gets some redness, I use a dollop of Aquafor and apply it with this and it’s so helpful! You don’t have to get your fingers in baby’s crevices. Everyone wins! Still love it! 
  8. 4 Moms Mamaroo. Baby is loving more and more the more we set him in it. He especially loves it now that he play with the items and actually reach them. Jasper didn’t love being in it and Felix loved it a bit more! I wish that the top play part moved–I think babies might stay more interested.
  9. Tubby Todd body wash. Tubby Todd sent me a baby gift to try some of their wash and I’ve been hooked from day one. It smells lovely and it’s gentle for baby, hypoallergenic, and extra-gentle for sensitive skin.
  10. Grass Bottle drying rack. Just makes life easier in a clever design! I rarely used bottles with Jasper and once again with Felix so I didn’t have a HUGE need for it, but if you bottle feed a lot it’s great.
  11. Boppy carrier. This one was sent to me by the company and I’m not required to talk about it, but I have to let you know that it changed the way baby slept. Prior to this, baby could only fall asleep if we coaxed him while he was in our arms. As you might imagine, we couldn’t get much else done. As soon as I slipped him in there for the first time, he passed out. For the first 3 months of his life, he slept in there for every nap. Then all of a sudden we could set him in his bassinet and he could nap on his own. I’m really grateful for this one. I still use it. In fact, I’m using it right now as I travel to NYC and Atlanta. It’s so snug. I wouldn’t say it’s the most beautiful one on the market, but for us, it was a game changer so I don’t care how it looks. Once again with Felix, this was a LIFESAVER! He slept in it exclusively until about a month ago. 

1-2 months out

  1. White noise maker. I was hoping I wouldn’t need a white noise maker and perhaps I don’t because I haven’t noticed a difference in J’s sleep quality, but I find it more useful in thinking that we can carry on at a normal decibel level than if it’s not on. Love this one because you can turn it on and off remotely. Ok, since last time, we’ve been using a white noise machine with Jasper ever since and with Felix too. As soon as the white noise machine is off, Felix is up. I find that it allows us to feel like we don’t have to tip toe around to not make noise. Love it. We didn’t buy the same brand for Felix, which was a mistake. The one we bought is poorly designed. I’ll be buying this brand again!
  2. Uppababy stroller. The stroller can hold the car seat, a bassinet, and a normal sitting seat for an older child. I’m using the VISTA while I travel right now because baby can only sleep laying down completely so I stick him in the bassinet. It’s so beautiful, quick to assemble and disassemble. I’ve become a big advocate of it! Plus, I love the touch of the leather handle–classy! I didn’t need a stroller for the first couple of months because Jasper would just cry. Felix did the same thing, but starting at 4 months he LOVED sitting upright.
  3. Rattan bassinet from Bundle and Bloom As you know from this post, I was on a big search for rattan bassinets for baby’s nursery. I searched high and low to find a vintage one, but I couldn’t find one in the US and shipping from France was going to cost 2x the cost of the crib itself, SO, I was thrilled to find this version from Bundle and Bloom. It’s beautiful and the cost is NUTS! They’re handmade in Guatemala and we’ve been using it since we got it. I love it!
  4. Moses Basket. Early on in the prepping process, I spent a good deal of time looking for a Moses basket because I’ve always loved the look of them. Turns out? They’re also handy. This one I got from Briar and it’s so beautiful it makes me want to cry.
  5. Sleep Sack.

When their old enough to hold their heads up (4 or 5 months)

A lot of these are basically contraptions to place baby so you can have a sec to do something. I like to spread them around the house so that there’s always something.

  1. Chair swing. Ok, this is an exception to the “beautiful” rule. I don’t love the look of it, but I love the price and I wanted to see if he would even use before buying something more expensive. I started him in it at about 4 months and he would last for about 5 minutes. Ha! We’re working on it! I think he’ll love it…one day! This is the chair swing I’d try if I thought we’d have gotten more use out of it. Well, Jasper never learned to love it and we’ll find out about Felix. I have a feeling he will though because he loves his…
  2. Exersaucer. I borrowed this contraption from my friend, Michele, and Jasper didn’t love it. I borrowed it again for Felix and he LOVES it! He’s at 5 months now and having a ball. Sometimes he lasts for 2 seconds and other times he can stay in for 15 minutes. 
  3. Briar bonnets. I feel such a need to protect Baby’s skin from the harsh sun especially since he’s so pale. These bonnets are both adorable and great for protection. We did a collection with them and they turned out so cute! 
  4. Bumbo. I love the Bumbo for setting him in when I need to get some stuff done, like putting on make up. Bonus is that is comes in this gorgeous color. I searched high and low for a pretty color and found it in this one.
  5. Joovy baby walker (not pictured in graphic). I loved this walker because it was the best looking one that didn’t have the built in toys and it comes with a removeable and washable tray!
  6. Charlie Crane. This is another one that was given to me and I felt like I had won the jackpot because it’s truly so beautiful. I love that it can sit seamlessly in your home, though I have it at work for baby to sit and play in. Helpful and beautiful!

Rattan bassinetRattan bassinet

Again, I’ll be updating this list the more I become familiar with other products and stages of baby’s life. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your tried and true products! Dish!

photos by Jane Merrit and Rebecca Hansen

Becoming: Louise Pretzel from the Lars Print Shop

I’m so excited for you to meet Louise Pretzel, an illustrator extraordinaire and our newest addition to the Lars Print Shop!

Louise Pretzel is an illustrator inspired by vintage kitschery and the styles of yesteryear. Formally trained in the art of graphic design and traditional illustration, Louise brings a fresh take on a range of subject matter with favorite themes including decadent desserts, foraged wildflower bouquets, and nostalgic mid century oddities. She currently lives in the midwest with her husband and two fluffy dogs, where she works out of her home studio.

Meet Louise Pretzel!

What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, business person, educator, etc.? 

When I was first starting out my career, I considered myself solely a designer. As of today I definitely consider myself an illustrator as well!

What did you dream of becoming when you were younger?

Hmm, definitely not an illustrator! I think at one point when I was trying to figure out what I should be, I thought being an anesthesiologist or radiologist sounded like viable career paths without actually considering the fact that I was terrible at math and science, lol. It wasn’t until about my junior year of high school where I realized that I could pursue what I actually enjoyed doing as a hobby (art and design) as a full time career. 

Louise Pretzel sits at her desk painting. The desk has paper flowers and a framed illustration of a rabbit on it.

Where did you grow up? Are there aspects of your childhood that have influenced what you do now?

I was born and raised in Southern California. Probably the biggest thing that influenced me to follow a path into art and design was actually practically living out my childhood on Neopets and Myspace, spending countless hours blinging out my pages with graphics made on a pirated bootleg version of Photoshop. Those were the days! Another big aspect that influenced my illustration style and aesthetic was going thrifting and antiquing with my mom and sister. Looking back now, since moving to the Midwest, I can say I was a bit spoiled with such easy access to so many great vintage and flea markets like the Rose Bowl.

What sparked your interest in illustration? What attracted you to this field?

Growing up I was always on the artsy side and took traditional illustration classes in high school and college. I ended up pursuing graphic design in college, since that seemed to be the “financially viable” path to take as an artist. I actually didn’t even consider being an illustrator, or even realize it was something I could be! But I would say that spark and interest in illustration was something I always had ingrained in me, but I just needed the right opportunity to allow myself to fully embrace and explore that path professionally.

What inspired you to become an illustrator?

My first job out of college was a graphic designer role, doing layouts for stationery and home decor items. We actually had two in-house illustrators, but at some point they both quit which ended up sort of forcing the graphic design team to take over the illustration duties. From there I had a lot of opportunities to create new original art, which really sparked my passion for illustration, and also provided me a space to experiment with different styles and methods of creating which was so great! That ultimately gave me the confidence to start creating illustrations on my own outside of my 9-5. 

A print of Louise Pretzel's elephant leans against a pink wall with wooden tree toys in front of it.

What are three words to describe your style?

Kitschy, whimsical, random? Haha. I am the worst at describing myself! I’d be more interested in finding out how other people describe my style!

What is a piece of advice that you have carried with you and who is it from? Do you have a personal motto?

Probably the most helpful advice that was instilled into me throughout my life came from my dad. He is a financial banker-type of guy, and he always encouraged me to negotiate, know your worth, and to walk away if the offer isn’t right. That has been essential advice to me as an artist, and has helped me walk away from a few opportunities with no regrets. And without fail, when I have walked away from those opportunities, a better one came my way! 

What is your educational background and how has it shaped or changed your current career?

Having pursued graphic design in college, I think has really helped me as an illustrator. It gave me a lot of the technical know-how in terms of actually applying my art to products, knowing the essentials of typography and layouts, and being able to fully understand the printing process for setting up my files for clients. 

A print of Louise Pretzel's Rocking Horse leaning against a gold wall with pastel wooden blocks in front of it.

What are some stereotypes of your job that you wish to break?

I personally have trouble sticking to one style, it’s probably the biggest stereotype for an artist to be successful that you need to have a signature style. Maybe that’s true! But in that case maybe I don’t want to be successful. Lately I have been trying to just stick true to what brings me true joy as an artist, and a lot of that comes with trying new styles and experimenting with ways of creating. I think about having to stick to the same style for all of eternity… that sounds a bit boring! 

What is a typical day like for you? 

I usually wake up when the sun rises, fix myself a cup of coffee, and let my two little white fluffy dogs outside. My mornings are usually spent cuddling with my dogs on the couch, and catching up on email and social media. From there I pretty much just go into work mode with some breaks throughout the day! I love to take an afternoon break with some tea and cookies. Later on in the day I might do some gardening, take the dogs on a walk, fix dinner, and end with watching a movie or episode of whatever I’m currently binging with my husband. 

What is your workspace like? Has it changed at all since the beginning of the pandemic last year? 

I actually bought and moved into my home during the pandemic, so I was able to set up my home office knowing that I would be spending a lot more time in it than I probably would have otherwise! I’ve surrounded myself with most of my vintage poodle collection, as well as plenty of art prints and paintings I’ve created over the years. Probably my favorite thing in my office is a vintage 1960’s student drafting table that I picked up from FB Marketplace which I promptly painted pink, and now use as my painting and crafting table! 

A collection of vintage poodles and other fun kitchery.

What is one piece of work that you are especially proud of and why?

Actually, probably the spring garden print I created for the Lars shop! I love all the fun garden critters hiding within the flowers and foliage. I was actually inspired by my own garden for this print, which I made during the height of my tulip garden blooming, so it also feels a bit personal. This was actually my first year of being a homeowner, and subsequently, my first foray into gardening in a yard of my own. It was so exciting to see all the tulips pop up from the bulbs we planted in the Fall. I think the garden print captures that feeling of magic and excitement of seeing things begin to blossom in early Spring. 

Where do you find inspiration for new creations? 

I absolutely feel most inspired after a day of thrifting and antiquing. I always have my phone out taking pictures of the weirdest & kitschiest items I can find, as well as any amazing vintage color palettes, patterns, and typography. 

What artists and creatives do you look up to, both historical and present?

Historically, I look up to painters and textile print artists, often from the 50’s and 60’s. Artists like Tammis Keefe, Paule Marrot, and Vera Neumann to name just a few! Present day, I absolutely love the work of Emily Isabella, one of the artists in the Lars Shop! Her work is just absolutely splendid. I actually feel a bit honored to be sharing the same digital air-space as her in the shop! 

Louise sits at a desk painting a pink pretzel.

What books, movies, shows, or music are making you excited these days?

I just finished bingeing the last season of Shrill and I am pretty devastated it’s over. While I work on illustrations and client work, my go-to background noise is Married At First Sight. I’m also gearing up for the next season of the Bachelorette. Me and my friends always get together and do a fantasy league (of which I am currently the reigning champion). It’s the perfect excuse to get together, drink wine and eat more cheeses than anyone ever should in one sitting! Much needed after a year of quarantine. 

What is the most challenging part of your work? How have you, or how do you, overcome those challenges?

For me, the biggest challenges I face are finding the motivation to create new work and also imposter syndrome. I feel like those two feed into each other and create a cycle of self doubt. But when I find a moment of inspiration and I sit down and just make something that I love, I look back on those negative thoughts and I’m like “what were you thinking?! You’re amazing!”. It’s definitely a cycle of major highs and lows! 

A print of Louise Pretzel's Grasshopper leaning against a light blue wall with wooden rainbow and tree toys in front of it.

Do you have a secret talent? What is one skill that you are working on?

My secret talent is that I can yodel (poorly). But I always thought it would be cool if I could harness that skill (anyone know any professional yodel instructors out there? lol). As for skills I am working on, I only recently started illustrating more on my iPad, so I love learning new tips and tricks and experimenting with new brushes.

Is there anything more you would like to “become?” 

In terms of my illustration career, I don’t know what will come next! It’s actually only been about a year since I started doing my own illustration work as a daily practice and “putting myself out there” which essentially all began at the beginning of quarantine, so in that regard I feel like my journey as an artist is only just beginning, which is exciting! Outside of illustration, I have grand ideas of being able to someday move to a more rural area where I can have some chickens. 

Shot of Louise sitting at her desk from behind. The image is symmetrically composed and a corkboard with colorful notes and drawings hangs against the wall.

What is your long-term goal?

Aside from the chickens, I’d love to just keep illustrating and see where it takes me. Quite honestly, I have little to no expectations that this will bring me any great success. What is most important to me is that I keep the passion and joy of creating, always. If I can continue that, then I will consider myself wonderfully successful! 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-teach a new hobby or skill?

Just do it! The hardest part (at least for myself) is getting that initial spark or motivation to simply begin, so I understand how it feels to be nervous about starting something new. I think the greatest advice would be to just begin and then keep moving forward, even if you think it’s terrible during the beginning, I think you often are surprised at the final result. 

A print of Louise Pretzel's Pull Duck Toy against a gold background. Pastel wooden block toys are arranged in front.

More to Love

If you loved reading about Louise Pretzel’s trajectory as an illustrator and creative, you’ll love looking at her work! You can find her prints for the Lars Print Shop here, her website here, and don’t forget to follow her on Instagram @LouisePretzel.

In addition to Louise Pretzel’s interview, you can read about more of our lovely Lars Print Shop artists and illustrators we’ve interviewed! Here’s an interview with Julie Marabelle, Becca Stadtlander, Cat Seto, Libby VanderPloeg, Amelia Giller, Justina Blakeney, Rachel Kiser Smith, and more!

Stay tuned for more Becoming interviews, coming soon. 

The new Lars Book Club

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Lars Book Club

Remember when I tried starting a Book Club two years ago? Almost to the day? One of my requirements was that it was a low-stress commitment. However! Clearly, I couldn’t even keep up my own promises and I let it slip. It took me ages to finish the first book! Gah! That was NOT a good start. Well, I decided I wanted something that would still keep me accountable and also include you, my dear readers, with books that we both potentially love so I asked my dear, long-time friend, Julie Richardson, to take over the Lars Book Club.

Why? Read below! And find out how to join!

October Book Club: Dracula

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October Book Club 2018 Dracula

October Book Club: Dracula

Happy October, readers! Fall is in full swing, and these are the cozy months to curl up with a good book, right? October is usually the month to choose a good, creepy classic (Frankenstein in 2016, and Rebecca last year!), so this year we’ve got another lined up: Dracula by Bram Stoker. Dracula, like Frankenstein, is a well-known character in Hollywood, but the original story might not be what you expect. Told from multiple points of view through letters, telegrams, and diary entries, the reader pieces together the story of Count Dracula, a mysterious man from eastern Europe who makes his way to London. As you can imagine, he wreaks his own nocturnal havoc quietly, amongst a people unaware of what is happening!

Follow along with us as we read a classic that explores ideas of masculinity and femininity, life and death (or the “undead”), and modernity or contemporary knowledge versus tradition and old superstitions. Stay tuned for some artwork and questions later this month! Enjoy!

Photography by Jane Merritt

Why I feel called to craft: Part 2

Why I feel called to craft

The stories my mom would tell me about my grandparents and great grandparents, etc, shaped my narrative and formed my identity. My great-grandmother, Marilla Zatelle, painted porcelain, sewed her own clothes, and was truly a force of nature–it probably helped that she was 6′ tall. I remember visiting her in the hospital before she passed away at age 97 and knowing that I was Danish stock like she was.

From left to right: Dorothy, me, Carl, Zatelle, my mom Kim

Her daughter, Dorothy, my grandmother, even though she has passed on continues to be my artistic muse and great human being icon. She was pretty much an angel on earth with a wicked sewing room in Los Angeles, California. I dedicated my book, Craft the Rainbow, to her and even wrote an entire article about her and Carl, my grandfather, in volume 3 of Kinfolk Magazine about their wellness routine. They are legendary for their subdued natures, gentle kindness, endless generosity, and health regimen (no sugar! though I remember Grape Nuts in all natural apple juice as a real treat).

Dorothy at her piano. This was definitely in the 90s.

This is Dorothy and my sister, Caitlin. 

Going back to the beginning

But let’s get back to that sewing room. Dorothy and Carl built their house in 1951 in Bel-Air. That’s Bel-Air before Fresh Prince, so the houses weren’t Kardashian proportioned or bedazzled. Dorothy was infamous for protecting her newly done hair with a grocery bag when it rained and other such resourceful tricks that come when you’re a product of the Depression. She taught me to sew and whenever we’d come up to visit from Orange County, sometimes for days at a time, I’d churn out all sorts of doll clothes for her Shirley Temple dolls. For one Christmas I sewed her a green drawstring bag with lace tied at the ends and filled it with all sorts of nuts…because that’s what I could get my hands on. She said she loved it, but I still cringe at the thought of nuts from who knows where.

Her sewing room consisted of fabrics that she had collected from all around the world piled in a beautiful yet simple armoire. I remember feeling in awe of her collection. And her ribbons! Gah! And buttons?! They were extraordinary. Thinking about her sewing room now, I can see how it’s MUCH easier to make thing when you have a designated place to create. I’m working on that concept for my own house.

Dorothy sitting on the first platform.

My mother

Now, let’s talk about Dorothy’s daughter, my mom, Kim. She and her two sisters and brother grew up in LA, but the way she describes it seems much more of a quaint village than a major city that happened to make movie magic. For example, Dorothy played the violin for Hollywood music scores, my aunt and uncle were in TV shows and films, and their friends were in this show and that. My mom attended the Academy Awards with a friend. You know, stories like that that I only find out as an adult.

But their real talent was dancing. My mom and her sisters all left home when they were 16 to go dance at the School for American Ballet and the subsequently, in the New York City Ballet. The long story short is that my mom got injured after about a year and moved back to LA where she started a modeling. She says she walked into Seventeen Magazine and walked out on the cover of the January 1969 issue. Again, quaint neighborhood vibe? I don’t know. It’s hard for us to understand that mentality now that everyone and literally their dog aspires for fame.

Fast forward to her career in interior design, calligraphy, music and more to when she becomes a mother of four in five years. I’ve mentioned it before, but this magnet on our fridge growing up really does describe my mom the best: “A creative mess is better than tidy idleness”. And thus, we grew up in constant messes. My mom let us try all the things and would encourage us to think differently. How is everyone else doing something? Then do something else.

My childhood

Our school reports were pretty epic. There wasn’t a three ring binder in sight. We figured out clever ways of binding the books according to what the subject was. For example, for my report on Claude Monet (another artistic hero to this day), I made a cover out of cardboard and cut it out to make it look like a painter’s palette and secured it together with a paintbrush. I mean, it did get to the point where I was jealous of those three ring binders, but I see the magic of it all now.

When I was in kindergarten or first grade, Mom opened a beautiful shop called En Provence on Pacific Coast Highway in Corona del Mar and it was one of my first experiences off all encompassing magic. A true wonderland. Like old houses in Provence, she plastered straw into the walls and hand painted everything! It was a gift and furnishings shop and I think it must have been the most well-curated experience. The furniture was made and painted by my uncle, Dean Bradshaw. You can see a glimpse of it in the picture above of my grandmother. That bed was created by him as well as the paintings. But life became a bit much with four kids and so she closed up shop after 4 years.

My first Craft Club

When I was about 10 or 11 and I started a club called Crafts for Holidays. I’m not so much proud of the name, but what can you do. The club was modeled after my mom’s church group where they would get together monthly and make or do something. So, for Halloween we made can tin pumpkins. We sponged on paint in a variety of oranges and painted on faces. Then for Thanksgiving we appliquéd  turkeys onto corduroy pillows. For Christmas we turned a string of pinecones into reindeer complete with a red pom for Rudolph. I don’t know if my friends were into crafting, well I know they weren’t because the club didn’t last too much longer.

ANYWHO, I tell all this because it makes more sense how I arrived at what I do now knowing who I come from. I mean, I wasn’t aching to start a craft-based business at first. In fact, I never would have entered my brain. I was much more involved in music (I played the cello growing up) and tennis (I was on my high school tennis team) than I was in the arts. I wouldn’t even say that I did it as a hobby at that point because I was really into getting good grades. But because my childhood foundation was laid out in making, just like that industrious lot who came before me, I can see NOW how it happened.

This is my grandfather Harvey Sessions, who I didn’t mention at all here, but the photo is so good I had to include it. 

And because of that I’m very interested in continuing my grandmother’s legacy and carrying out the mission that I’ve identified along the way. I’m compelled to do it and I find a great need to do so, especially since we are more addicted to screens than ever. There is power in handmaking. It connects us to our bodies and souls and for me, my family.

Stay tuned for part 3 next week! 

February 2018 Book Club Art

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February 2018 Book Club Art

Any fans of the Olympics out there?? It truly is wonderful to watch the world come together in the form of athletic competition, isn’t it? In light of this special month, we chose Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid, even though its ending is not what you’d expect – at least, certainly not what you’re hoping for. Although Samia worked tirelessly to overcome so many hardships as a young woman and athlete, there were still circumstances in the world to thwart her efforts. For those of you who have not finished yet, I’d rather not spill the beans, but keep reading! Here are some questions to think about, and further reading suggestions. Is there an Olympic story YOU have read and loved? Please share! Make sure to print off the book art done by Amelia Giller! February 2018 Book Club Art

The Glass Castle Book Art

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The Glass Castle Book Art Readers! How have you enjoyed The Glass Castle? The book is getting a lot of attention with the opening of the movie, but you guys, neither the book NOR the movie disappoint! Jeannette Walls is a masterful writer, draws you in, and makes you experience just what she and her siblings did. Head to the blog to print off this month’s amazing print with a quote from the book by Kelsey Garrity Riley which we absolutely love! 

November Book Club Art

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Hi readers! Have you been reading along with us as we read this months book Making A Life? I have loved exploring the pages of this book and learning from artists and creators that I love. It’s so inspiring. It is so interesting to read about the process that others go through during the course of creation learn and grow from it. If you haven’t picked it up yet do yourself a favor and get reading. There’s so much to learn! This month’s illustration is by the very talented Brooke Smart and we couldn’t love the print more! Stay tuned for an interview with Brooke to get to know her a little better, She’s pretty fabulous!

Coloring Books For All Ages (and a Sale!)

Coloring pages have proved themselves to be the perfect activity for all ages with all this new time at home. After launching Picture Hope: The Social Distancing Coloring Book, so many of you have been filling your time with color, hope, and creating with your family members! We were floored when 64 artists from all over the world came together to create hours worth of coloring, and for a cause that impacts us all! ALL profits from Picture Hope are currently being donated to Save the Children Coronavirus Relief Fund. Our goal is to raise $5,000 for that amazing charity. Through our “donate what you can” option, when you download your own Picture Hope coloring book you help directly with reaching that goal. Once that goal is reached, we will pick a new charity to donate to!

You are all racing through Picture Hope so quickly we are already prepping our next coloring page project. Keep an eye out!

Coloring books for all ages

Stree Relief coloring book for adults flowers and cactus

Sale Alert

Our exclusive coloring books – Flowers and Cactus – are currently discounted at their lowest price ever! Use code COLOR25 at checkout for 25% off our Flowers and Cactus Coloring Books! (Through Wednesday 4/29.) In addition, this discount code applies to all of our individual coloring page downloads found here!

Printable Coloring Pages

Coloring Page downloads for social distancing at home

Browse our coloring page options to print off at home! Our collection includes this Mother and Daughter coloring page. Print it off just in time for Mother’s Day! All individual coloring pages are 25% now with code COLOR25!

Our Favorite Supplies for Coloring Pages

Coloring Books for Adults

Below you will find other stress-relieving coloring books for adults! We love this collection of coloring books inspired by artists, nature, and joy!

 

Coloring Books for Kids

We count these coloring books as art time, geography, history, and more during homeschooling! Our team handpicked these coloring books for kids to inspire learning and a love of the world around us. Order your kid’s their own and cross homeschool time off your to-do list!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Book Lovers Day

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Happy National Book Lover’s Day to all of our bookworms out there! Paperback or hardback, fiction, non-fiction or crafting, books are a huge part of what we do here at The House that Lars Built. In fact, we love books so much that last year we decided to take our love one step further, and embark on a journey to create our own! If you haven’t already, take a look at it sometime and see all of the love we just had to put on paper!

In honor of this momentous occasion, we have put together a list of books to show some love to the novels, tomes, and treasures that have been influential in our learning and growing. We hope the books on this list are just as inspiring to each one of you as they have been for us! Whether you’re a logophile, a bibliomaniac, or just a simple librocubicularist (someone who likes to read in bed), we think you’ll find something to love. In the words of Frank Zappa, “so many books, so little time” so without further ado, we present to you a small fraction of some of our all-time favorites!

How to Celebrate Your 40th Birthday

My 40th Birthday Plans

Leading up to my 40th birthday, I had lots of plans. Specifically, I wanted a big Europe trip to celebrate! But we are in up to our necks in behind-the-scenes projects here at The House that Lars Built, which means a trip to Europe just wasn’t in the cards. At least for now. Maybe in the fall? I’ll keep you all posted. There’s noting wrong with a belated birthday trip, after all!

I’m not the only one turning 40 here, though! Despite my lack of exciting birthday plans for now, all my friends are also soon-to-be or already over the hill, which means I’ve attended some great 40th birthday celebrations in the past year. I couldn’t just not share those ideas with all of you! So today I’m giving you the lowdown on all the things my friends did for their 40th birthdays, plus a few extra ideas.

How to Celebrate Your 40th Birthday

Birthday Trip

Birthday trips are a classic way to celebrate a big milestone birthday like your 40th! (hence, my hopes to make it to Europe this year). But if you can’t make it internationally and still want a weekend getaway, try something closer! It’s amazing what a quick trip to somewhere new can do. And of course it’s always better with friends or family to come along for the fun.

For your enjoyment, here are some photos from our most recent trip to Denmark (and I promise to post more once I make it back to Europe for my birthday trip)!

Karaoke

So I don’t know if you were aware, but there’s something about 40-year-olds and karaoke that is just magical. I’ve been to a handful of karaoke parties to celebrate the big 40 and I have to say that a bunch of moms singing karaoke are a different breed of unparalleled fun. What are you waiting for?! Warm up those vocal chords and get ready to sing yourself into your 40’s!

Spa Day

A birthday classic for a girls day out especially, a spa day can be the perfect, relaxing way to usher in the 40’s with some self care. Pamper yourself; you deserve it! Go for a mani/pedi, massage, the whole nine yards. We promise you won’t regret it!

Here are some spa essentials to get you going:

In-person Parties

Post COVID lockdowns, it feels that much more triumphant to have a party IN PERSON with people you love! So even though parties aren’t unique to a 40th birthday, there’s a reason we have parties for every birthday. It’s a classic way to celebrate that never really gets old!

Speaking of parties, we have some great party decorations for your to peruse in our shop! Check out our birthday suites, and all of our birthday content here!

Lemon-themed bunting swoops across a pink backdrop. In the foreground, straw toppers, invitations, and lemon-slice party hats sit in front of a white-frosted cake with lemon and lemon blossom cake toppers.

Learn a New Skill

Your 40th birthday is such a milestone that it can be great motivation to learn a new skill or take on a new hobby you’ve been wanting to try! It’s never too late, and 40 seems like the perfect time to try. Turn it into a party and invite someone to teach you and your girlfriends how to knit, cook something fun and fancy, or even make a punch needle rug! The options are endless. What do you want to learn how to do?

Movie Night

Movies are a classic way to celebrate anything special, so why not your 40th birthday? Go out to the theater with the gals (maybe even rent it out if you’re feeling ambitious!), or take the party home and have a marathon of your favorite series! Personally, I’ll be watching Bridgerton. What are your favorites? Send the recommendations my way! I’m always game for a fun new show.

Game Night

The options are endless with this one! Just because it’s your 40th birthday doesn’t mean you can’t have a simple game night. So many categories of games. Are you more of a board game or card game person? Or do you prefer a combo of both? If you’re like Paul, you’ll be hanging around those old classic arcade games all night. Whatever gets you most excited is what you should do!

Here are some game night options to get you started:

More Inspiration

We have plenty of ideas to get you started on 40th birthday decor! It starts with our five birthday suites: animal menagerie, garden party, lemon, rainbow, and floral. Click here to see the rest of our birthday shop! Also, don’t forget to check out our past birthday blog content, like our Flower Lane birthday crowns, twisted birthday candles, or DIY birthday felt pennants.

A flat lay of twisted birthday candles and confetti on an orange background.

Hopefully we gave you some good ideas to get you started planning your 40th, if you haven’t had it already. And now we need to know: what did you/are you doing to celebrate your 40th? Let us know in the comments!

Op Art Mobile

I’m a firm believer that kid and baby toys should be beautiful, and this op art mobile that you can make at home perfectly fits the bill. Along with this printable project, there are plenty of delightful art prints, accessories, projects, and toys for your kiddo in our baby + children’s shop.

Colorful, geometric paper shapes hang from a mobile in a green room.

Op Art

Op art, which is short for optical art, is a style of art that uses optical illusions. Think bright colors creating the illusion of another color next to them, or patterns that seem to warp and vibrate. If you’re looking at an image and wondering “what in the world is going on inside my eyeballs?” you’re probably looking at op art!

Colorful, geometric paper shapes hang from a mobile in a green room.

When I learned that babies develop their vision by looking at bright colors and high contrast patterns I thought of how perfect a mobile channeling the wild world of op art would be. Thanks to Angie Stalker, who has lots of great work in our print shop, for helping my dream become a reality!

Babies with developing eyesight aren’t the only ones who can benefit from this project! The op art mobile would be a great project to work on with kids. It’s not too tricky and you can even sneak in an art history lesson.

Speaking of which, don’t miss out on our recent Josef Albers-inspired felt board or our Matisse-inspired felt board! Both are easy projects that combine art history with playtime.

If you’re looking for more art history content, check out our Great Artists Course. In this course your little one can learn about several incredible artists by making artwork inspired by the greats. You’ll probably find yourself looking over your kiddo’s shoulder and learning something new, too!

Colorful, geometric paper shapes hang from a mobile in a green room.

Make Your Own Op Art Mobile

Materials

Printable Op Art Mobile Template, card stock (if printing at home), scissors, rubber cement or glue, hole punch, string, wooden beads, craft paint, paint brush, wooden hoop, glue gun, hot glue sticks

Colorful, geometric paper shapes hang from a mobile in a green room.Painted wooden beads on black and white string against a green wall

Instructions

  1. Print out the Printable Op Art Mobile Template from our shop on some nice thick card stock.
  2. Glue the solid colors and the patterned shapes back to back (alternatively, you can print these back to back).
  3. Cut out your shapes, then cut into them along the dotted lines on the template.
  4. Put your coordinating shapes together so they fit together in the slits you just cut and become 3D.
  5. Punch a hole at the top of each 3D shape.
  6. Prepare your wooden materials by painting them. We painted our wooden hoop half blue and half white, then we painted beads green, light pink, and bright fuchsia. Let these dry completely.
  7. Cut 2 lengths of string to be 30 inches each. Tie the ends of one string to the hoop across from each other (we tied ours right where the blue and yellow paint met on each side). Then tie the ends of the other string between the first and second knots you made so all the points of contact are evenly dispersed. Be careful in this step to keep your strings an even length so that the hoop remains level.
  8. Secure all your knots with a little bit of hot glue.
  9. Cut 5 more lengths of string at varying lengths. Tie one end of each of these to your 3D paper shapes (using the hole you punched earlier). Tie the other end to your wooden hoop. Distribute the shapes evenly around your hoop and secure with a dot of glue.
  10. You will have one 3D shape left over.
  11. Cut one last length of string 4 feet long. About 15 inches from one end, tie this string in a secure knot around the two strings that you tied to the hoop in step 7.
  12. At the short end of your string (about 15 inches from the knot you just tied), attach your last 3D shape. This will be the shape at the center of the mobile.
  13. String your wooden beads onto the long end of this piece. You can secure these in place with a knot if you like, but gravity should keep them from getting away if you don’t.
  14. The long end of the string you just put beads onto is how you’ll hang up your mobile! Put it somewhere that you (or your baby) can admire it.

If you make this op art mobile, we would love to see it! Use #LarsMakes to show us your work.

Colorful, geometric paper shapes hang from a mobile in a green room.