December Favorites

Ahhh, I am a day late here. Oops! I guess this girl had to get ready for the new year and in doing so let the ball drop. Alas, the end of the world did not strike thanks to my tardiness and so yeah, here you go…my favorite articles in December 2011! This list is naturally incomplete, but these are the juicy bits. Enjoy! Oh and HAPPY NEW YEAR!


I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to I love most of the articles, but I hate that they’re in partnerships with companies and send emails that are really offers to try the company’s program. I mean, they may be great, but I want the content. The REAL truth of debt and financing. This post dated November 30th, does just that. It was a great thing for me to read given my decision to shape up (FINALLY!) in my 31st year. Here’s to feeling inspired.

Tara Gentile is awesome! That’s really all I can say about her posting on profitability. As I’m gearing up to plan my stationery business future, or rather, I already did it (as you’re reading this the last day of December), this article played a huge role. As a matter of fact, I printed it out and added it to my budget/profit planning folder.


So the day after my birthday, I received the following post from Chris Guillebeau’s blog, The Art of Non-Conformity about what to do with your life. I find the message important not just for us as individuals, but as entrepreneurs and business owners. You should always follow your heart over convention. Enjoy!×5/what-should-i-do-with-my-life/


I love Paulo Coelho. If you’ve never read “The Alchemist” I highly recommend that you do. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. Which is why this posting, while from earlier in 2011, came to me today, December 5th and rings so true I’m glad I found it, or it found me. It’s about killing our dream. I refuse to kill my dream. Absolutely refuse. How about you?

This article is exactly why I’m going to focus on pleasure reading in 2012. Well said, Deena Varshavskaya!

I was reading NY Magazine over the Holiday and came across an article about a bread maker in NYC named Jim Lahey of Sullivan St. Bakery, called The Mad Baker of Sullivan St”. As I read it, I couldn’t help but understand exactly where he’s coming from as a passionate bread craftsman. I love bread probably more than any other food, so I really really loved reading and learning about him, but also his history. I highly recommend it to all those trying to make it on a passion. It’s possible. Jim Lahey is proof.


This article is from November, but I found it a month after it was first published. I’m so up-to-date! I realized while reading it that I have used “think-outside-the-box” a few times and while I have used it int he way to think differently, I understand exactly what the guy means when he says you can’t think outside of the box if you don’t know what the box contains. Food for thought indeed.

That whole idea about balance? Well, I still think it is possible, but I also think it takes work, just like running a business. The one thing I know for sure about work-life-balance is that if you don’t stop to take care of yourself every once in a while everything will stop working. Nobody wants that.

The following article should probably be under the heading of Entrepreneurship, but I’m too lazy to create it for one article, so it will be housed here, under business. I found Clay Mathile’s comments about entrepreneurs and small business success to be incredibly enlightening and truthful. You can decide what you think, but I think you should read it.


I need to find the time and a way to go see this exhibit on the USPS! I really enjoyed this piece because of it’s reflective take on the USPS. It’s so important to know and understand your history in order to make steps for the future. I think this is a great piece for entrepreneurs looking for ways to not find themselves in the same pattern as the USPS. Lovely.


August Favorites

I wish I could say that August sneaked up on me, but it didn’t. It pretty much flew at my face with such a high speed, I never had a chance blink or prepare myself.  Even so, I still managed to get some reading in, along with personal reading and a much needed break away. Here are my favorite articles for the month!


It seems counterintuitive at first, but here’s why you charge for product —accountability — it keeps the people responsible for creating and manufacturing the product accountable for the product’s quality and meeting customer needs. Once a product or service that has a potential market is given away for free, people who develop or deliver it can head down a slippery, subconscious slope of getting more and more lax in their efforts.” – Krista Donaldson, CEO of D-Rev

That quote, that glorious, glorious quote comes from an article I read from Women 2.0. The website is chock full of great content and insight not just for women in the tech industry, but for women as entrepreneurs.  The article this gem of a statement came from is titled, “Charging for Product: Why Price Matters, Even For Non-Profits” and you should read it, maybe even first!  Don’t get all bent out of shape about the title because the message is for everyone absolutely everyone and it’s for that sentence above. It is for the one word, accountability.  Embrace it. I know I’m held accountable every day that I sit down and design for someone, which is why I refuse to lower my prices.  I want to always be held accountable. Always. You should, too.

This article ROCKS MY WORLD! I’m not kidding you. It is some of the BEST material I’ve read about conducting research on your clients and something that I definitely need to practice. Yes, data is great and all, but I know that where I have been successful with my clients is usually in the realm that I’ve paid attention to how they respond to me in meetings and on the phone. From that, I’ve been able to put together designs reflective of them and produced work they’ve been pleased with and has had them continue to work with me for future events.  This is something that everyone should read and pay attention to. As a matter of fact, I’m going to remember this every time I meet with a client!

This piece is a bit old. What can I say aside from, I’m still catching up on copies of Forbes Magazines from March, April and May.  Either way, this opinion piece really struck a cord with me. Maybe it’s because my business idea stems from a self-help approach (trying to remove the pain of my father’s passing), or maybe because I’ve always been someone who has felt that in order to do something with your life, you have to make the opportunities happen no matter what you’re doing through. Yes, you can mope a bit, but you should always, always, get up and fix the problem and while you’re at it help some others along the way.  I guess we can say, I do agree with Forbes Mag every once in a while.


Now, I don’t love Lady Gaga. As a matter of fact, I don’t really like her period. However, I will give her credit where credit is due and that is the area of her communication principles. I won’t call them social media practices because something I’ve realized in my own social media endeavors is that, I don’t like that phrase. I prefer to communicate with my clients and potential clients. While I do use social media tools to engage and interact with people in both a professional and personal way, I always act according to how I feel, which more-than-likely means personally. I write all of this because the  FastCompany Blog posted the following article about how Lady Gaga excels at creating a community and how everyone can learn from this. I think it’s well done. I also like the bit about acknowledging your fans. I have always told my friends and family that I’m a better person because of their support and love. It’s something I continue to believe as I develop S2 Stationery and Design.

This article from a site I stumbled upon (without the help of stumbleupon) is a great reminder for creating content and tone for a website. I should probably review it a few more times.

I think this next article can easily fit under Business, but I’m putting it under this heading because branding, marketing and PR are all tools of in the communications shed.  I think this article makes a great case for small businesses and entrepreneurs looking to make an impact with their businesses, products and/or services.  As we are all aware, everyone judges a book by it’s cover, even when it is suggested that they don’t. The reality is that how you present yourself and your business matters. In my case, I present myself as never changing. What I mean is, I don’t really care what people think of me. Yes, I want to make a good impression, but I always go out as Sara and that means that as I communicate for S2 Stationery and Design, I always communicate as Sara – natural, personal and fun. My logo, packing (although still in the works) and communication style all reflect that. I hope you find what works for you and your brand/company.

In keeping with the whole idea of communication for and branding your business, I present the following article which appeared on Mogula Mom’s site August 3rd. Some great ideas!

This article is great! I’m placing it under this title because interaction with clients involves communication. Most importantly it involves how you communicate with your clients, good, bad, and all.


This one comes courtesy of Oprah Magazine and Martha Beck! The article is about intuition and how to listen to your intuition. Now, I should set the record straight and just come out and say that I am a hippy. I am also a tree-hugging environmentalist. Needless to say when you combine these two, I’m a star-gazing, universe-believing, eco-friendly artist and entrepreneur.  Another, more simple way to say this is, I look to nature and the stars for signs and guidance to direct me both in professional and personal endeavors. The road trip I had at the end of July is a great example of this-nature inspired me, but signs that I saw along the trip will guide me in the days and weeks after. I’m looking forward to them all. What I think allows me to move in this way is that I believe 100% in my intuition. I haven’t always listened to it and those have been the moments that haven’t been so great, but when I have and I have had the best rewards, even if to some heartbreak doesn’t count as a reward. I can go on this topic for weeks and months and maybe at a later date, I will discuss my thoughts on intuition and where it has led me, but anyone who knows the story of S2 Stationery and Design origin knows that it all came to be from intuition, a dream and the universe guiding me. If you’re looking to find and nurture your intuition, read this article! 

Just this morning I had to stand up for myself. No, I wasn’t in a confrontation, instead I found myself and my desire being pushed by the idiocy of someone else. What I did was I presented my true self (which I always do) to the person who was on the other end of the conversation. I’m being deliberately vague here and I realize you may be lost about what I’m saying, but as I found myself getting ready to respond to the situation, I received this posting-×5/how-to-do-the-right-thing/?awt_l=8ByzZ&awt_m=ItO0sU6qVsnt7W-from my favorite “follow-your-dreams” writer and promoter, Chris Guillebeau. It was EXACTLY what I needed to read and gave me the final push to say what I had to say, speak my mind and stand up for my desire, passion and belief. Thanks Chris!


Every once in a while I receive an e-newsletter from a catering company, Great Performances,  I had been in conversation with over a year ago for a 9-to-5 event I was helping plan.  To the point, I recently got an email from them with this blog posting for D0-it-yourself care packages. I LOVE the idea they come up with not just for camp care packages, for even something as simple as a wedding gift. If it were me, I’d fill them with roasted coffee beans and tea leafs to give out…just an idea. Enjoy crafting!

Speaking of crafting, I cam across this blog with eco-crafts for the home that I just loved! I especially love (and will make) the wine cork bathmat for my future residence. I mean how cool is that idea?! There are some other nifty ideas in this list as well, but the wine cork bathmat really got me thinking and wanting to share. Enjoy!


Remember I’m a bit of an environmentalist when you click on this link.  I read this great article in New York Magazine on the state of fisheries in NY specifically, but I think the ramifications are global.  As someone who tries to think eco-friendly foremost as I design and create, I think it is worth sharing this article with everyone.  We all use water and rely on the ocean for something, even if it is just inspiration as we create art.  As an entrepreneur and business owner, I know that I require water to continue to have a supply of paper; it is as important as the trees cut down to make the paper.  I hope reader, that you find this article as eye-opening as I did and that it leads you to sustainable considerations and practices.

Yes, I am vying (years down the road) for a spot in the Master’s program that Cheryl Heller chairs at the School for Visual Arts, but her blog on design and social innovation is fascinating to me. Her writing is clear and concise and as I read this article, I know exactly why it is that I want to be part of her program and this movement. It’s not that I want to change the world, I want to change the way people view and engage with the world. With that said, I agree with everything she states in here, especially her part on changing human behavior and not the world. I also really agree with her analysis of the mining from the ocean floor. This blog posting is quite timely as I recommend the fishing article from a late July issue of New York Magazine above. Sustainability is not just a catch phrase, it is a meaningful powerful action that if taken by everyone on this planet could do a lot of good. Think about it, not just as an individual, but as an innovator, artist, creator, entrepreneur.

I am not going to lie. I love The website is on target with everything I believe in. They made me even more happy when I read the following article about profit and whether it is what makes a company succeed. As I slowly put together my comments on capitalism for a blog I’ve been working on for a while now, this helps me make sense of what I think companies should be, do and strive to do in order to make a profit, sure, but ensure global well being.  Thank you, GOOD!

This article is about building a sustainable business, but also how to do so accidentally. As the article recounts there are plenty of instances when a company does something for the sake of saving money and ends up helping the planet. Of course, I believe it should be the reverse, but if you accidentally become an eco-friendly company, you are in the right direction.


You know how I feel about finding your passion! Because I’ve been lucky to find mine, I want you to find yours. The following article posted by Louise Gale on The {NewNew} blog has five very important questions to help you find your passion and get closer to finding fulfillment in your every day life. Hope it helps!

This posting comes from one of my favorite {NewNew} connections, Virginia Kraljevic! She is an amazing illustrator and I am lucky to be orbiting her creative world! She is a writer for the {NewNew} blog and wrote an amazing post this month about finding inspiration and creativity, What I like the most about this posting is her statement about being an artist, “Leave out the “aspiring” part and just be an artist.  If you can’t accept the fact that you’re an artist, then why should anyone else?”. This is something that I have discussed before (I think) and something that I have dealt with in the road to designing and creating cards and stationery. Having lived with two designers, it felt odd and weird for me to go around saying that I was a designer and an artist when I didn’t have the degree and training that they have. Boy, was I not only wrong, but silly for these thoughts! I am an artist and by saying that I’m an artist and carrying myself like an artist, I am more believable and AM an artist. Thank you Virginia!


How does one go about killing creativity? It’s really easy. At least it has been in my experience. As someone who has been in office environments, I know first hand how creativity can be killed and how it weakens teams, lessens morale and heightens lack of respect. It’s not something anyone should ever have to experience, although it is part of life.  This article gives tips that even an artist who has assistants can stand to read and gain knowledge.


Normally, I read these articles in TONY and think, okay that was a fun read, but these four business owners are inspiring and I had to share them with you!

You may be wondering why I have included an article about job-hunting and being flexible under inspiration, but the truth is, this column inspired me. I hope it inspires you. Something I’ve been battling for a while is my impatience to just do things. Don’t get me wrong, I have been doing things, but I also get caught up in the security of having a job and health insurance. The reality though is that I know that I could be making more and would be happy if I dumped what I think I know and went completely for what I definitely know will make me happy. In other words, stay tuned for a longer blog on this topic. For now, just read Dailyworth!

I’ve had a bit of a brutal week (August 8th). It involved some tears, impatience and LOTS of frustration. I took it out on a best friend of mine and then sat in my therapists office overwhelmed in tears and anger about the situation that I’m in. Needless to say not good. I know that change is on the way. I definitely know it is, but I sat there just so angry that I’m stuck and a stuck Sara is NOT a good thing. Opening up, admitting my feelings and crying helped a lot. So much did it help that this morning when my alarm went off at 6:00, I didn’t lay in bed. I instead got up and started my day. Now I am definitely in somber spirits, but I got this little gem in my email this morning from Mayi Carles who runs Heartmade Blog. Her video was exactly what I needed to hear as I ride the tide.


This section is inspired by Forbes Magazine. I’m not quite sure WHY I read Forbes because it often times leaves me exhausted and upset. This month was no different. I managed to get through my August 8th issue quickly, but I was intrigued and upset equally. The issue was titled “Innovators” and they ranked the “50 Best Companies of Tomorrow” which made me excited. After all innovation is something that gets me excited constantly. I often feel that innovation is a term used without any true understanding of the definition, but hey, I’m always excited to learn when a company is being innovative. Needless to say I dove right in and I was extremely pleased with the article about Steve Case: An Entrepreneur’s Life by Rich Karlgaard. I think it’s a great piece about the man who brought us America Online (yes, I am old enough to remember it and use it as a way to access the internet and chat online) and what he thinks about entrepreneurs and their abilities to innovate.  Then I went on to their piece highlighting the 50 innovative companies: Picking The Winners and read about the criteria as well as the 50 on the list. I stayed with them until I got to number 10-Monsanto with their reasonings being the following:  “Big idea: Perfecting, on a massive scale, pesticides, herbicides and seeds that work in tandem. Fast Facts: Invented EverMild onion (less bite, fewer tears) and Beneforte broccoli (boosting antioxidant enzymes 2 times as much as other varieties).”

Now, here’s my brief soapbox-if anyone has followed the story of Monsanto, then it is widely known that they go after small farmers who attempt to save their seed and grow their own crops without any of their rules and requirements. Not only has Monsanto turned the American corn and soy industry into genetically modified crops, they have sued many small farmers to the point of leaving them bankrupt because they refuse to use their genetically modified seeds. Additionally, if you use their seeds you must buy their seeds every year- you can not save seeds and reuse them. Now, if you are like me, you care about sustainable food. Genetically modified food is not sustainable food. The fact that they are going after people who want good, healthy food is a problem. Additionally, agriculture should not be big business. I firmly believe this. Everyone should be able to access good, wholesome food. The where the when and the how of food should be at the disposal of everyone who is spending the money on the food. Additionally, farming should be in the hands of the farmers, not those just looking out for a dollar. If Forbes is willing to call a company that produces poison in mass quantities innovative, we have a problem. A BIG problem. I suggest that Forbes really look for the innovators out there-they are the farmers like my CSA farmer, Chris Cashen of the Farm at Millers Crossing, who wants to feed people in NYC locally and healthy within the means that he can. That ins innovation. It may not be taking us into the future of flying cars and brain reading robots, but it’s taking us in a future that doesn’t involve an obese population and a respect for the environment, which in my eyes fosters health, creativity and innovation.

Readers, I dare you to look within and around you and find what innovation means to you and then help the world reconsider what innovation really SHOULD mean. I’m pretty sure Monsanto does not find itself on your list of innovative companies.

Even in my frustration and anger, Forbes magazine did lure me back in with their well written article about Parma, Italy, “Savoring Parma” (which you have to read in the physical publication), and the two foods that have formed an industry in it- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and Prosciutto di Parma. What I loved the most about this article was the author’s, Rowan Jacobsen, ability to see, smell and taste exactly what he does. I also really enjoyed how he openly discusses the importance of history in the creation of both of these food items and even in their old world traditions are still innovative today. Without the old world traditions, the cheese and prosciutto would not be note worthy. I really want to visit these places in Parma, Italy now. I have a feeling they will inspire me to innovate!

I am beginning to LOVE Fast Company! This article about Google, innovation and not having a business plan, really hit home. I think the biggest part of being an innovator is taking the time to design, create and fail. I’m excited for the third part in this series by Tim Harford:

I put this under innovation because I think that design can and should be innovative, even if it’s just a design for a logo. I think Dylan from GOOD makes a good case in this article about collaboration and paying for design (hardly an innovative idea).

More articles in September!

Saudade and Collecting Words

I am a collector…

A language collector.

Yep. I’m a proud language collector. I love listening to languages and attempting to learn them.

I am also a word collector.

I think collecting both of these makes sense. They are a solid union.

I do collect phrases, too.

Must not forget the phrases.

I wish I could say that I’m a sentence collector, but I’m not.

As a matter of fact, I can become befuddled by sentences to the point that I am forced to stop and reread (which may not be a bad thing) the sentence at a much slower pace.

However, I am a paragraph collector.

I can tell you favorite paragraphs of books. Which also leads me to being a bit of a chapter collector as well. Yep. I fall in love with chapters of books.

I suppose if you really got to the nitty gritty, you’d find that I’m also a bit of a article collector.

I love articles from magazines and newspapers. I love paragraphs in articles as well. But the reality is that my collection of chapters is greater than my collection of paragraphs and my collection of paragraphs is greater from books than from articles.

I tend to think that there are many people out there like me who also collect words, languages, paragraphs and chapters. English majors out there- I know you are!  Journalists, too! Really, anyone who has a love for words.  Which is why it makes sense that me, the English Literature major in undergrad and the current, stationery company own/designer is admitting to being a word and language lover and collector.

My history with languages (since that is the point of this posting) is not that great. My knowledge of Spanish, French and Italian are there. I am strongest with Spanish, but I still have a fear of speaking. French and Italian, I CAN speak, but again, I’m fearful of speaking, so I just sit and look pretty.  I can read all three languages well and I can write out words and thoughts, and can string sentences together in my head, but I’d never say I’m fluent.

It’s my own fault because I don’t practice; I choose to let fear get in the way. Bad, I know, yet, I’ve never stopped loving other languages and wanting to learn them. In fact, I love exploring and being surrounded by them.

While I traveled around Italy in 2009, I did practice some Italian, but I found myself sitting and listening most of the time. A few weeks ago while on the subway, three French guys got on and stood next to me  speaking in French and all I could do was smile and think about how much I love their language.  It’s often the same with Spanish. I love listening to my Mom and aunts speak their native language. It fills me up and makes me feel warm.

Now, there are some languages where I just have no desire to learn, but I love them just the same – German, Russian, Chinese, etc.   And yet, there are words in each of these languages that I love. That I love so much, I remember them and they become markers of my life.

A great example happened fairly recently- over the weekend, while watching hurricane Irene have her whirl, I sat about reading a handful of magazines. One of them was NY Magazine’s Fashion issue, which I normally flip through quickly, but this time I found myself returning to an interview/article about China Machado, the first non-­Caucasian model to be featured in fashion magazines. I didn’t know anything about her (silly me!), but I read her article with curiosity and appreciation.

At the end of the article, she is quoted with the following, “In Portuguese you call it ­saudade,” she says. “It means a kind of longing and a love that still remains, that every once in a while when you think about it, it is with nice memories. It’s a missing. The other word in Portuguese that is similar is lembranças. Memories. They’re both beautiful words.”

For 30 minutes, I flipped through the rest of the magazine and yet found myself staring back at those sentences over and over. I had found my new favorite foreign word-saudade! I understand why she mentions the word “lembranças”, but as I think about the two words, I know I love “saudade” more.

Maybe it’s because I know what it means to feel saudade deeply. Not discrediting anyone else’s saudade, but I feel this word deep in my bones in much the same way I do a strong gust of winter cold that I can’t shake in January.  I think all saudade never leaves the person, but they (the “missing”) have to be a true missing.

This morning, as I rode the bus back to NYC, I realized that I had tossed my issue in the recycling bin before leaving Virginia, but kept hearing the word saudade in my head. I made it a top priority to get online and read the article so that I could find Ms. Machado’s lovely explanation.  As you can see I did and just as great as my desire to find it and have it committed to memory is my desire to share the word with you.

So here I am ready to keep an open pair of ears to the language known as Portuguese. This words has sparked an interest in Portuguese, a language that I’ve always considered too foreign for me (although, remember I’m studying Japanese?!)  because the pronunciation, even with it’s root in romance languages, has always seemed a bit off to me, that I have never had.

Maybe one day I’ll find myself not just a Portuguese language word collector, but a collector of the actual full language.  I should probably get to facing my fear of speaking the three languages I “know” first.