A Call for Holiday Recipes!

That’s right. I’m on the hunt for holiday recipes for inspiration.

CookieIllustration

Three years ago, I found a fabulous paper created by the Mr.Boddington’s crew and was immediately inspired. I used that paper to design my Hanukkah Latke’s recipe/greeting card that came with an envelope lined with that paper. And it launched a million and one ideas of what could be done with fabulous holiday specific recipes.

But then I sat. I did absolutely nothing with the ideas, aside from thinking about it and telling some friends.

And now, I’m trying to quickly collect them before the holidays are upon us. I tend to cut myself short, as you see. I’ve gone through my collection of cook books and cookie recipes looking for the best and most holiday specific cookie recipes, but I’m falling short. I’ve asked some friends. I even managed to find while organizing a recipe binder a cookie recipe collection printed in the Washington Post back when I lived in the DC/Northern Virginia area in maybe 2005. It’s so old, it’s turning yellow. Not to mention, the recipes didn’t really conjure the inspiration I am seeking.

So I’m asking you guys! If you have a recipe you don’t mind parting with, that reminds you of the holidays, please leave a comment below and I’ll respond, or you can email me at info [at] s2stationery [dot] com.

When I say holidays, I’m all inclusive. Ideally, I’d love to have Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkha, and Kwanzaa focused holiday recipes as we’re approaching that season. Honestly, though, we don’t have to stop there. If you have a favorite Ground Hogs Day recipe, send it my way. The same goes for Easter, Valentine’s Day, Passover, any holiday!

The deadline to submit holiday recipes is Monday, October 17th. That gives me some time to sketch things out and get some ideas on paper. Literally.

All recipes will be shared by name, even if not selected for a design, on this blog. Recipes used will be properly credited and the person who shares will get some free product with their recipe(s).

Again, to get in touch with me, please leave a comment below and I’ll respond, or you can email me at info [at] s2stationery [dot] com. 

So please, help inspire me, if you can! And ask your friends to share, too. The more recipes I can get, the better!

 

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S2 Makes – Need A Last Minute (and Fast!) Valentine’s Day Card?

Sunday is Valentine’s Day – one of my favorite holidays. For many, a holiday that some would label “stupid” or “it sucks!” or “another Hallmark holiday!” – and one that they’ll blow off or watch, as I did one year with a good friend, “The Valentine’s Day Massacre” on the History Channel, about an infamous mafia murder in Chicago, while eating Sloppy Joe’s and drinking wine.

I tend to find Valentine’s Day a holiday of beauty. Well, once you get rid of the notion that it is about gifts and ridiculous expectations. It’s a day for expressing love and that expression can be anything. School children give out cute cards and treats. In my world, I give out CD’s called Love Mixes to my girlfriends. (I’ve written about them in the past on this blog.) For individuals in relationships, they may give big gifts such a jewelry, or expensive flowers, or lingerie, or cars. I don’t know. My extent of relationship Valentine’s Day gifts have always involved cooked meals and hugs, which is why I err on the cute and sincere end of the giving spectrum.  Although, as a teenager, I did receive a single rose each year from my Dad – he would have it delivered while he was out on the road driving a truck. It always made me feel special, but it was really the feeling of being loved and remembered from the greatest male role model of my life, who was away.

You can say that my expectations for Valentine’s Day are not that great. And they aren’t, but they do include time and sincerity. Only give me what you truly want to give, and hopefully it involves food cooked at home, time, laughter, hugs and dancing. Everything else does not matter. Mind you these are all things that I do for myself, so they’re not really expectations or gifts, they are simply things that make me smile and feel happy.

I can still remember my first Valentine’s Day in NYC – walking through Times Square Station and seeing the endless sea of red – coats, hats, gloves, bags – worn by New Yorkers commuting. That filled my heart, and still does, in a way that gifts cannot. If thousands of people in NYC (often labeled the rudest and most unfriendly) can get together as individuals to show love in a grand way, then we can show love in small ways to people we love and strangers this one designated day a year and it can be as simple as wearing the color red to spread cheer.  Mind you, this is something we should incorporate every day, but that is a conversation for a different day.

While I’m not the biggest gift fan, I am a fan of love notes and letters and cards and therefore will tell you now that if you do show up to your loved one in all red with doughnuts do bring along a card. It doesn’t have to be great. It need not cost $10, nor  sparkle. It doesn’t have to have anything in it aside from your lovely words of love. All your card need do is express your feelings, validate you spending your day and time together and be sincere and this applies to romantic partners, children, parents, etc.

In preparation for this holiday, and what I call Love Month, I put together a video for the Etsy Team in NY that I’m a member of and think it’s worth sharing with you guys. It’s a five minute video tutorial showing you how to make a pop-up heart card for Valentine’s Day. Materials are simple and the cards take not even three minutes to make. It is the fastest Valentine’s Day card you’ll make for your loved one and as I share in the video, it is also the most heartfelt.

If you do make one of these cards, I hope your loved one, or the person on the receiving end loves it. I hope they reward you with a hug and smile and kiss. I hope you feel good for doing something so small and sincere. I hope your heart is full this Valentine’s Day.

Oh, and for those curious about this year’s Love Mix. Here’s a freebie for you via a Spotify playlist – “Love is Water – Love Mix 2016” – Enjoy!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Through Letters

Letter writing has pretty much become obsolete. There are very few who have the attention span to sit and write a real letter.  I am one of them, although it has required me to train my brain to focus and have the patience to write for long periods. It’s amazing to think that this obsoletion has taken place in the last twenty years or so. I mean, I’m only 35 and as a 12 year old I was writing letters to pen pals in countries like Italy and France.

Since modern technology has taken over, we have lost a sense of self that can always be found in writing. Whether it is a simple journal entry a day, or a letter to a loved one away, or a card to a parent on their birthday, we not only leave a piece of ourselves with those words we use/used, but we open ourselves up to learning about who we are over time.

When I look back at some of the greatest leaders of our time, they utilized two tools outside of their physical voices and bodies – pens and paper. They drafted speeches and wrote endlessly as a way of being heard and communicating with not just their followers, but their dissenters, their governments and their loved ones.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a great example of a leader who used writing as a strength and to his advantage.

I originally wanted to share a letter of his on this blog, as part of a new series where I will feature a notable letter on major holidays and/or days of celebration in our Country and in American history, but kept coming up with only the infamous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” – which is a must read for anyone and I mean everyone who is interested in social justice and race relations. I do not have the space to share that letter on this blog, so instead, I’d like to direct you to “The Archive” on “The King Centerwebsite.

There are hundreds upon hundreds of letters in the archive. They are all worth looking at and reflecting on. Not every letter is a bold statement. Many letters were acts of kindness and compassion and gratitude. Many were letters from normal every day individuals seeking his help. Many were letters of threat and violence. Yet, through all these different letters, you get to see the intelligence and integrity of this man. He is no longer alive, but his letters carry his voice and his dreams and his goals to all of us.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. day. It is a holiday. It is a day that some reserve for acts of volunteerism. It is a day where some people have to work. It is a day where for some, it is completely lost on them the significance of the man and his work. It is a day where for many, it is a day of hope and reflection.

As we step further in 2016 and look to change and to how we can stop the violence in our communities, among each other, among our “enemies,” and in our government, we owe it to Dr. King, to read his words and write our own letters of change. Write them to your Mom, your local Police Station, your Governor, your Mayor, your local Environmental Commission, your Congressman, your Senator, your President, your best friend, your cousin. Who ever. Just write your letter of change. It doesn’t have to be long. It could be a letter of thanks. You never know, until you stop the racing brain and calmly write your hopes, fears, and intentions down. Maybe you’ll inspire someone and maybe action will transpire. Maybe it will be part of an archive one day, too.

A Customer Leaves Me Breathless + An Update

Happy New Year friends! It has been quite a while since I last wrote on this blog. I got lost. I’m not apologizing, per se, but I am letting you know why the hiatus.

The good news is that the hiatus is over!

The blog is going to undergo a bit of a revamp. Actually, S2 is going to undergo a bit of a revamp. We’ll see how it all plays out, but not only will this blog still tell the personal bits (I’m willing to share), it will also tell the business story as it spreads it’s message on writing, love, and inspiration.

There’s a lot of talk about actions being louder than words in this World. Yes. There is truth to that. But words, words can mean the World.

A simple hello could start a friendship/relationship between two people. A bad word can start a fight. Words in a book can start wars and create tensions that might not exist. They can also cause so much emotion that they’re banned. Go figure. They’re just words, right? Wrong.

S2 is going to focus on words moving forward and how we use them to express ourselves passionately, with vulnerability, and even in fear, along with everything else that comes in between that.  So yeah, stay tuned. There’s a lot headed your way if you’re patient and willing to explore with me.

Until then, you can read today’s post, which I’ve been dying to share with you since Thanksgiving…

it’s about a new friend and member of the S2 family, someone who shares a love for words, or vulnerable expression. Erin won a set of S2 “My Thankful Space” paper placemats on the Etsy NY Team blog* back in October of 2014 and here is her story through pictures of her family’s Thanksgiving table and the art created by the small and not-so-small family members on their place mats.

In her words, “Thank you so much for such a wonderful Thanksgiving experience! We moved the mats before we ate and plan to add onto them next year! The kids absolutely loved it! The adult couples all shared mats and thanks. Wonderful idea, and possibly our newest (and only) family tradition! Thank you.”

When I saw Erin’s photos, I gasped with a full heart. Her photos show exactly what I had hoped for when I created these paper mats. It reminded me of the moment when I saw the paper that inspired this product; the excitement I felt when I knew the font was the right font and when I printed the top layer and cut the bottom layers and then glued them together. It was a return to that magic creative space; a space of love.

When I created these place mats a few years ago, I was excited. I thought people were going to love these place mats as much as me. I thought I’d burn through them and not be able to keep them stocked. I was wrong. They were a hard sale. It was a little depressing. But I get it, people barely use place mats any more. When they do, they use the disposable kind that you can find on cheap paper for prices that seem reasonable, but I find expensive. Sure they are cute, but they aren’t very memorable. When you add in the price for these (they are pricey, but I work with high end materials and my time is valuable!) and that they are paper – I get why they didn’t sell. Yet, they are one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve created and the idea that they aren’t desirable to customers really hurt. See, I never see my designs and products as stuff. To me, these place mats are not just place mats. They’re the item you safe in your closet and find years after that Thanksgiving. They’re the product that you might frame. They are a keepsake item. They allow you to remember a moment of love, engagement, and fondness. Erin captured that at her Thanksgiving celebration in 2014. I may never sell these place mats. I may never give another set of these place mats out again, but I at least know that one family found them, used them, and saw my vision and used it as part of their lives. I’d call this a success for S2 Stationery and Design and for little ole me.

Thank you Erin for sharing your photos with us and for allowing S2 Stationery & Design to be part of your Holiday season and life. I am so pleased to have you as part of the S2 fam.

*An FYI, I don’t participate in giveaways often.  I am incredibly selective about which events I participate in and who I am willing to collaborate with. That being said, the Etsy NY Team is a solid group and I do almost every giveaway with/through them.

 

 

 

S2 Gives Away!

In time for the Holidays, and to help you decorate your Thanksgiving table this coming November, S2 Stationery & Design is participating in a giveaway as part of the EtsyNY Team.  S2 Stationery and Design is being featured as an Artisan on the blog and to complete the article, I’m giving away three (3) sets of my “Thankful” Paper Placemats.

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You can read more about me and the giveaway on the blog, but to enter the giveaway, all you need do it leave a comment on the blog, or like the S2 Stationery & Design Facebook Page. That’s right, simple, easy, and you get a chance to win some beautiful paper placemats that not only decorate your table, but are a keepsake for your family and friends.

You can find all the information on the EtsyNY Team Blog.  Good luck to everyone who enters! Please, feel free to share the giveaway with your friends. These placemats should spread joy and cheer and love this coming Holiday Season!

A Social Experiment + The 2013 Etsy NY Holiday Handmade Cavalcade Goodie Bag

Over two months ago now, as I got ready for the 2013 Etsy NY Holiday Handmade Cavalcade, a request came from our team asking for donations for the goodie bags being given out to the first 100 shoppers between the two days of the event. Being my first Cavalcade, I was reluctant. The cost of doing two-days was adding up and it was only going to get more costly day of.  Donating to the goodie bag, seemed like just another expense. After a third request, however, I decided to join in and I’m glad I did.

I had no idea the amount of fans (and shoppers) who line up in advance and wait, no matter what the weather (snow last year!), to get their hands on these bags.  As was explained to me, those who get a goodie bag, get home and eagerly and slowly go through each piece inside looking at all the freebies and discounts offered.

My donation ended up being a bit of work (I don’t have a single picture of my donation!), which probably stopped 48 gift bag lovers from participating in my giveaway, but I’m glad I donated what I did.  My freebie piece included a small notebook paper size bag that included my business card, a discount card, and a postcard that read “Holiday Sugar” and had the word “sugar” glittered in red, one $.33 stamp (which at the time was the cost to mail a postcard), and a note that said the following:

“Hello there Handmade Shopper!

Thank you so much for attending this year’s Etsy NY Holiday Handmade Cavalcade! This is my first Cavalcade and I feel really fortunate to find myself amongst these incredibly talented artists and makers, but more to find my little bag of goodness in your hands.

Enclosed is a holiday card that I glittered by hand one cold night in November.  It is a postcard, which is why somewhere floating in this bag along with my business card and a discount coupon (expires February 1, 2014!!) is a $.33 cent stamp.  All you need to do is write a message either on front, or on the back of the card, address it and mail it off.  I figured if I give you the stamp, you might actually mail the card, even if you don’t mail out Holiday cards normally.

So here’s the challenge I’m presenting to you. Yes there’s a challenge!

I want to see how many of the 50 cards floating out there are actually mailed.  I’m asking that you go one step further and email me and let me know when you mailed it and where you mailed it to…was it domestic, in NYC, outside NYC, abroad-where?  You do not need to provide names or anything else.  Again, I just would love to track how far these cards go and find out how many actually used the stamp and found a mailbox or post office.

As for me…well, I’m just Sara, a woman who loves paper (I studied Japanese paper making this time last year), writing, and communicating with the people I love.  I don’t think we do enough real connecting any more. I also don’t think we know how to properly express ourselves.  It makes me sad. I’m trying to fix it. I figured I could use this little goodie as a social experiment and a way to get you writing this Holiday season.  Please let me know how it goes!

Yours in love & cheer!

Sara/S2″

I know that’s a lot, but that’s me. A rambling lover at heart and it’s better to be honestly me than try to be anything else.

My rambling way made some kind of a connection because I had two shoppers email me and let me know they received the postcard and mailed them off:

Hi Sara,
Just mailed your cute postcard yesterday to my sister in Iowa via my local post office in Jackson Heights, NY.  I can’t remember the last time I actually sent my sister anything by mail (I haven’t mailed Christmas cards in years).  I am sure she will be surprised!
Thanks for the lovely idea.
All the best,
R

AND

Hi Sara,  

I am one of the recipients of your goodies in the NY holiday cavalcade market in Brooklyn. I was travelling from overseas last week when I came across the market and the goodie bag. Your card and stamp prompted me to write to a new friend I had made in DC.   I

am with you in thinking that we don’t express ourselves as well or as often these days as people used to, and as a great fan of snail mail I think this is a pity. I am not sure how long mail normally takes in the States but I’m hoping that the stamp was enough to get the card from New York to DC – I haven’t yet heard from him saying he received it (sent 4 days ago). Fingers crossed! 

Thank you for your card and for reigniting my love of snail mail. I hope you hear from many others confirming that your cards were circulated around the country.   

A

Those are real, unaltered, emails from people, whose full names I removed, who went along with my challenge. Both of these messages made my day when I received them.  Sure only 1% of the people who received the postcard contacted me to let me know they mailed it, but that’s still 1% or two people who made the effort and were grateful for the opportunity to write a message to a loved one and express their sentiment.

Naturally, I wish that more people had written in and contacted me, but I consider this a success. Knowing that two people, took advantage of an S2 design and sent out love is enough to remind me why I am doing what I’m doing and why I’m going all for broke doing it. If I can help more people feel this way, and reach out to loved ones with intentional communication, well then, that’s my legacy and its worth all costs, rambles and all.

On days like today, where I’m sitting thinking about how I quit my job and am really trying to make a go doing the things I love while my bank account dwindles, I read these messages and remember, this may be my fifth year, and I may be taking a risk, but the world needs some “holiday sugar.”

Speaking of holiday sugar…Friday, tomorrow, is Valentine’s Day. I wish you all a day full of intentional communication, or missives of love.  Happy Valentine’s Day. Happy Holiday Sugar!  Pick up a pen and get to writing! Please?

Celebrating a Birthday + Saying Goodbye to Products I Love

Sunday, December 1st, was my 33rd birthday.

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It was eventful and yet uneventful. I felt love from around the world – Countries as far as Japan, South Africa, and Brazil to cities in the US such as Los Angeles, NYC, and Cleveland and that’s not all. The love was endless and more filling than the burger, fries, ice cream, left over turkey, and birthday cake I consumed that day. Seriously!

In addition to hanging out with my best friend in the early and late evening, I hung out with family, and did a 1 hour (with a little extra minutes) session with Marketing Strategist, Halley Gray of Evolve Marketing.  She came highly recommended by a good friend of mine who works with her. I signed up for her newsletters and when she offered the “perfect match” session where she helps small business owners whittle down to figure out who their target customer is, I jumped.

For years now, I’ve been on that edge of trying to figure out who my ideal customer is and how to reach her/him/them. In all of that, I’ve struggled with creating a portfolio because I’ve thought that I don’t have enough product to showcase my talent and areas of expertise.  I’ve also allowed myself to create stationery sets and note card sets as a way to bring in more income.  I love the stationery sets and there are some that do better than others, but I need to really focus here. Enter Halley.

Halley was absolutely great at pulling my long-winded responses back onto the tracks. She listened to me, offered me though provoking questions, and gave me an action plan for the next few weeks. We also discussed follow-up conversations.  Just before ending, I told her, “It’s rare that I believe in coaching like this. You’re the first person I’ve decided to actually pay for a coaching session and it was absolutely worth it. Thank you!”  I meant that. I have a love/hate relationship with anyone who says they are going to change your life with coaching. Yes, we do need direction at times, but over all, a person needs to make a decision and move. Halley, in this case, helped me get to the core of where I want to go business wise and tapped into ideas I’ve been playing with already, I just hadn’t put into action. It was super helpful and I can’t wait to see what comes from all of it.

Having said that, Halley went through my Etsy shop and told me it was time to start putting a cohesive shop together. She pointed out items in my shop that show texture really well as well as elegance and would help attract the customer I am looking to target.  Keeping in line with this conversation and what she opened my eyes to,  I’ve decided to discount all my Thanksgiving products in my Etsy shop 50% off and possibly not offer them again. Ever.  Okay, maybe ever is too strong a word. Maybe I will have new items for next Thanksgiving, but for now, it’s time to move the old out to make room for the new.

I’m sure you’re scratching your head about this. Why would you buy Thanksgiving products after the holiday?! I don’t know…I personally don’t want to hoard things, BUT these are pretty good prices and they’ll stay until I sell out of my entire inventory.  So please, tell your friends, and grab some if these are anything that you’re interested in.

Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for more information on upcoming changes. I’ll be talking about them here, on the blog, in the newsletter, and on the S2 Stationery & Design Facebook Page.