semisweetpress_holidaycardsThe holiday season is quickly approaching, which means you’ve gotta make sure your card game is strong. Semi Sweet Press has you covered, with hand-illustrated cards featuring items like half-eaten cookies (one of my faves) and inappropriate holiday desserts. California-based designer Kristin deNeeve is all sweet, with a predilection for drawing desserts and baked items. Her greeting cards are mostly sweet, with a dash of irreverence and a pinch of humor – sure to please everyone on your list!

I love that many of your cards feature baked goods (baked items are near and dear to my heart). Tell me why you decided on the name Semi Sweet Press.

Deciding on a name for my company took months. I wanted a name that gave me license to include designs with sweet illustrations and sentiments, as well as snarkier ones that had a little more bite. Bittersweet Press was my first idea, but I think Semi Sweet Press sums it up better. And it just happens to be the name of a kind of chocolate, which is a bonus!


While we’re on the topic, what is your favorite baked good?

Hmm. It’s a toss up between scones and donuts. Wait, do donuts count as baked goods since they’re fried? Then I’ll have to go with scones (especially if there’s chocolate in them).

Tell me about your design process (do you start out sketching and move to digital?).

I usually jot down my ideas in words, then develop them into ugly little doodles. Once I have an idea of what exactly I’m drawing, I’ll do a more detailed sketch. I draw best at smaller sizes, so once the sketch is finished, I’ll scan it into the computer, enlarge it, then print it out and trace it. Then I’ll scan the tracing in and color it in Photoshop. It sounds like an arduous process but it works for me. I’ve switched over to coloring the illustrations digitally, rather than painting in watercolor because it allows me the flexibility to change the color easily. It also allows me to be indecisive which isn’t always a good thing, lol. You can tell which designs are my earlier designs because they are done with watercolor.

Anatomy of Christmas was the first card you designed. Where did the inspiration for this awesome card come from? (I really hope you have an Uncle Bob!)

In the fall of 2012, I started freelancing, and I decided to do a promotional piece to send to prospective clients. I wanted to highlight my random sense of humor as well as illustration skills, so I made the Anatomy of Christmas card. I decided to print a bunch extra to send to friends and family, and it was a hit. Unfortunately Uncle Bob wasn’t really based on an actual uncle of mine, but he represents that odd family member that everyone has. The person that you only see a couple times a year and wouldn’t otherwise know if you weren’t related to him.

Your holiday cards are super fun. I love the series of wrapped items – a friend once gave me a tennis racket wrapped exactly this way. What is it like dreaming up a holiday collection during the summer months? How do you get yourself into the festive spirit?

I wish I had thought to include a tennis racket in that design, lol! It can be difficult and bizarre to put yourself in that space, especially when it’s sunny and warm outside. I usually put on a Christmas movie (The Nightmare Before Christmas is a good one) to get myself in the spirit. I don’t actively watch it, it’s more in the background while I brainstorm ideas. But having Christmas on the brain in the spring/summer makes actual Christmas feel late. Like, didn’t we already do this? breakfast_pouch_styled_IMG_3653_square

You’ve recently added zipped pouches to your line – any other new products or projects we should look out for?

Ah, yes the zipper pouches! The idea to make them has been rattling around in my head for so long, that I’m glad they’re finally here. They were so much work though, it made me realize how much time, money and effort goes into developing a brand new product. So for my next release I’m not designing any new categories, but new designs for existing categories: cards, tote bags, notepads, etc. I’ve had many people ask me for Mother’s and Father’s Day cards, so there will be some of those, as well as new birthday, thank you, and congratulations cards.


Happy Thanksgiving y’all! We’re thankful for you, dear readers. The lovely Kristin has a fab Black Friday sale  running from today through Sunday, with 25% off everything in the shop (except zippered pouches)! Time to stock up on your holiday (and other) stationery.

Photos courtesy Semi Sweet Press and Madeloni Photography.

I kind of want Allison Black to be my new BFF because she’s a super talented designer, an animal lover, and uses her artwork to support good causes. Also, she once built a 5′ unicorn named Herman. Allison is awesomeness all-around, and so is her new line of greeting cards, Hip-Hip! You may recognize Allison’s illustrations from her previous stationery line Hooray Today, a collaboration with designer Alyssa Nassner. Allison’s designs are vibrant, fun and cheerful, oft featuring animals in party hats. Hip-Hip features rich, bright color palettes, hand lettering and sweet, celebratory illustrations.Your designs are happiness on paper. Please tell me a bit about your creative process.

I’ve tried so many processes over the years, but no matter how I approach a project my best work happens when I’m not over-thinking it!  I always start with loose sketches, usually on scrap paper, so I don’t feel anxious about just going for it.  Once I have a concept that I’m excited about, I look up images of the animal and take note about their shapes, details and colors so I can keep that in mind while I work.  After that, I go straight into final art!  If I do tight sketches, it loses something when I transfer it into the computer.  The art evolves a lot as I work in Photoshop – I have a million layers in my files!I like that animals and celebration (and often a combo of the two) are oft featured in your designs – your cards are smile-inducing. Tell me a little a bit about your love of animals and any pets you have or hope to have. 

My dad and sister are veterinarians and I grew up in a house with 18 pets.  Needless to say, we’re an animal-loving family!  We make up voices and personalities for our animals, so transferring that into art comes naturally.  Right now my husband and I have two dogs, two guinea pigs and a cat.  I hope to one day live on a big piece of property where we can have chickens, goats and a pig or two!What would be a dream creative project or collaboration for you?

My dream collaboration would be with the Land Of Nod.  I’d love it if they asked me to create a cast of characters and products for them to produce.  I’ve been in product design for over seven years, but I’m always asked to develop items for someone elses brand.  I’d love the chance to explore Hip-Hip characters in different product categories outside of stationery.  Right now the Land of Nod is selling some of our art prints from Hooray Today, so who knows – maybe it’ll happen!What appeals to you about stationery? 

Stationery is a great medium in which to share art.  When I was younger, I made hand-drawn thank you and birthday cards for my friends and family.  I always enjoyed the process of making art and giving it to somebody, so it’s amazing to be able to do that on a much larger scale now!  I also love that the items people buy from my shop not only travel to that person, but then they send it someone else.  My cards have traveled farther than I have!

What stationery item or related item couldn’t you live without?

Probably my Dahle sliding cutter! It may seem like an odd choice but I’ve had it for 5 years now and I use it to trim cards, journal packaging…you name it!  The second thing would be this insanely huge list pad I got as a development sample.  There was an error with the size, but it’s amazing because I have SO many lists and it’s actually big enough for me!  I might develop something similar for Hip-Hip next year!


You’re donating $5 from every order placed through December 25th to the farm Sanctuary. Please tell me a bit more about this. 

My parents taught me that it’s important to give back to those that are less fortunate and also to give a voice for those that don’t have one.  I’ve done a lot of charitable work, but I’ve always wanted to make a bigger impact – including educating others about the efforts of amazing groups like Farm Sanctuary.  When I started making initial plans to build Hip-Hip, utilizing the brand to give back was a top priority and Farm Sanctuary is an incredible organization, recognized for utilizing their resources and making a big impact with every dollar they receive.  We’re hoping by the end of our campaign, we’ll be able to sponsor a Hip-Hip chicken for a year!  Plus, have you seen photos on their site of their rescued pigs?  Adorable!Please complete this sentence: Snail mail is….

Snail mail is…a way to send a smile to friends and family!

Anything that you want to share that I’ve not asked about?

Here are a few fun facts about me:
1. I’ve drawn more cats than any other animal throughout my career – and I still love drawing them!
2. I built a 5′ tall cardboard unicorn (named Herman) for a show in Minneapolis a few years ago and he barely fit in my car.
3. I’ve owned guinea pigs since I was five and I’ve had 18 of them over the years!  My two current piggies are named Bean and Earl.

Want to win a sweet holiday giveaway? Check Instagram for more details about the Hip-Hip giveaway!


Ashkahn Shahparnia is the artist, illustrator and designer behind the eponymous design studio and stationery line. Often irreverent and pretty much always sweet, Ashkahn’s designs feature his hand lettering and script and are letterpressed onto cotton paper. I’d pretty much marry any fella wise enough to send me a card that reads ‘your kisses taste like creme brulee’. Follow along on IG and you’ll see that Ashkahn has a penchant for belting out lyrics to songs and playing name that tune, sipping cocktails, and posting stuff shaped like cocks all while being awesome.AC087-ThingsILikeAboutYou-1000What made you decide to start a stationery line?

It all came naturally and effortlessly. I made a card for a friend’s birthday and everyone started wanting it. Then I had more and more ideas for love cards and the whole thing just took off. I love the greeting card medium and how it brings people together and how there is an exchange with someone you love / hate / adore.

Your cards are awesomely irreverent, and also really sweet.  They feel really genuine, like uncensored thoughts put to paper. How do you come up with your brilliant one-liners?

Thank you. They really just come to me out of thin air. I don’t sit around and force a thought. The best ones come effortlessly at any moment and it’s my job to catch it and turn it into something tangible. It’s all inspired by every single moment in life. Every random conversation I hear from a passerby, a really good meal, a hug, it goes on and on and on.094SMILEWhat are your biggest creative influences?


How does your stationery fit in with your other commercial design and editorial work?

Both work together and inform each other in a beautiful way. Sometimes I will be writing a new love themed card and that inspires a project I am working on for a client.AC043-SavingMyAssWhat do you do when you hit a creative roadblock?

I read or scribble across a giant blank page. Sometimes I will have a shot of tequila.

I’m a little (lot) in love with letterpress. I just adore the feel of it. What appeals to you about letterpress? 

Letterpress is so sexy. There is nothing like it. I love the way the designs look embossed into the soft cotton paper I use. It’s truly a work of art that you are giving to someone that matters.AC110_MUSICBONERName five songs that would be on the soundtrack of your life. 

Merle Haggard – Falling for You

Father John Misty – Chateau Lobby #4

Richard Marx – Now and Forever

Dashboard Confessional – Vindicated

Elvis Presley – Always on my Mind

Tell me about a memorable piece of mail you have sent or received.

I received a girl’s underwear by mail once.

AC079-ToTheMoon-1000How would you define sexy? 

Mesmerizing energy.

Wu Tang, Tupac, or Biggie?


Hartland BrooklynIt’s crazy to me how time is flying so fast the last few months! We are weeks away now from Thanksgiving and I still feel we are in July. I love this time of year for the obvious reasons, but for a paper enthusiast as myself, I love the creativity that all my favorite designers start creating like these Thanksgiving themed cards.

{first image Hartland Brooklyn}

SparkvitesSparkvitesRoseHillDesignStudioRose Hill Design StudioSailing Orca StudioSailing Orca StudioFun Girls CardsFun Girls CardsEggmanEggmanandtheWalrusEggmanandtheWalrus GobbleThe eggman and the walrusRow House 14Rowhouse 14 ThanksgivingRow House 14


image1Mail from Alexandra Grumbois is unmistakable – it is an explosion of fun and happiness in a clear envelope, featuring items like sequins, ephemera, stickers, paper umbrellas, plastic flamingos, quotes, paper cut outs, feathers – and a letter (of course). She describes herself as the OG of clear envelopes, confetti and mixed media mail. I started corresponding with Alex (@penpalspdx) several months ago and do a little happy dance (picture Drake in a neon box) every time I receive mail from her.

questions for alex

I thought I ought snail mail my questions (above) for this post, and asked Alex to send her reply via mail as well. What could be more appropriate? What follows  is the transcript of our correspondence.

from alex (quote)

What do you love about snail mail?

Checking my mailbox has become my favorite part of the day. It’s something that is so personal and intimate between strangers, supported by a huge Instagram community that is constantly inspiring, supporting and praising one another. At the heart of it is real human connection. I have learned more about geography, culture and politics through snail mail than in school. It has also become my artistic outlet. I don’t visit a store or new place without trying to pick up a few things to send or use for mail art.

from alex (answers)

What is the most memorable piece of mail that you’ve received?

My thing is asking new penpals to tell me a secret. it was supposed to be silly, but I started getting the most personal confessions…people who have gone through situations they could never admit face-to-face. It’s weird to think of telling a stranger something you can’t talk to anyone about, but it’s really the safest place and you can always expect an unbiased opinion.


How do you select what you’ll include in each envelope? What is in your craft arsenal?

I try to ask all of my penfriends abut their interests and if I’m desperate I’ll stalk their social media. It’s fun to be out and see something you have to grab because you know they’ll love it.

Why clear envelopes?

Last year I was really lazy!I have always sent confetti in my mail and one day I put all of my supplies in a cellophane bag and loved the way it looked. My first ones were a bit primitive, but now I think they are the most versatile way to send a letter.


Advice to a new snail mailer?

It has become such a large Instagram community with so many great people to meet, but it can feel intimidating. I think a lot of people see a snail mail account they like and like the idea of getting mail like that. However, if you are looking for penpals, you really have to understand the cost s of supplies and postage (!!) as well as the time it takes. I’ve had many people disappear after a few letters because it was a fad for them. If you are just starting out, be prepared to write the first letter and have people you admire from Instagram turn you down or not even respond. Try and find people who are willing to put in the same amount of effort as you do.

Tell me a bit about yourself.

I’m a 26-year-old college student and nanny. I’m living in Portland, OR and trying to eat, drink and explore as many things as possible. I love to read, knit/crochet, watch Start Wars, go to trivia nights and make my ex-boyfriends’ lives miserable.


Tell me where you draw your snail mail inspiration from. 

My inspiration for snail mail comes from random and silly ideas I get. Usually an inside joke with a penfriend. I try really hard to be original because I know how sensitive I get when people use my ideas. It’s weird because there is a thin line between being inspired by and copying someone, but at the same time, everyone has good intentions. There are some great craft boutiques that are very well curated. I try to use new, fun things instead of watermelon, pineapple, flamingo-style, but sometimes I really love all of the watermelon-flamingo-pineapple stuff!

Snail mail is…

Last year I would have said cheap therapy, but I’m now positive it’s the most expensive therapy. For now, it is my zen!

Thank you to Helen @happymail_, Kylie @paper_sweetpea and Josie @josie_in_japan for sharing photos for this post.




Albert Einstein QuoteLately, I find myself saying this to myself daily. With so many projects at hand (and no end in sight), people I feel accountable to, it is difficult to see the the end result or opportunity in all of it. I remind myself quickly that when things are messy, chaotic, and busy, it typically means they are working. Some people would say stick to one project, put all your focus there. I would agree. For me to stay inspired, I need to see results, and sometimes that means putting energy into other areas for a shorter period of time, to stay inspired on the other projects. And sometimes, well, opportunities arise because of one project, and you can’t say no, you have to just go with it. I continue to stay inspired by the support I have received lately and knowing that what I am working towards doesn’t come overnight, and sometimes not for a few years.

Maybe with the more difficulties at hand lie even more doors of opportunity, and who likes just one anyways? Here’s to an inspiration filled week ahead!

{first image Mister Motivate}paper bloomingPaper blooming
Signs with SoulSigns with SoulPhobos ArtPhobos Art

PSL cheesecake cupsHello wonderful new friends from 8Balloons! My name is Britney and I am the writer behind my blog, Seams & Sprinkles. I write about food, fashion and lifestyle fun here and love to try new things. I have recently been working more on collaborating with other bloggers and one place I have come to love and find much inspiration from is by being a member of The Blog Bar.

This is where I met Julie and began to correspond back and forth with her. I am so impressed at the website she has built and the amount of interaction she accomplishes on a daily basis. She is my blogging bossy babe motivation at this moment. When I grow up I want to be just like her! While she has all the creativity flowing on TBB, as I call it, I join in the fun by sharing my favorite recipes I have recently created or other’s creations that I have tried and loved.

Since it is fall and the wonderful month of October with all its exciting festivities, I thought it would be a great time to do a Pumpkin Spice Latte inspired treat. I know many of us anxiously wait for the exact moment the PSL is available at Starbucks so we can throw on a snuggly scarf and slip on our coolest boots and run over there and enjoy one. These seasonal things always have a way of keeping us on the edge of our seats all year long. Well played Starbucks, well played.

If you are like me, you picture yourself running into Starbucks to order the PSL and then suddenly you are having one of those coffee commercial moments inhaling the coffee aromas, somehow looking like the customary thing to do, and no one else is in the world but you and your coffee. You can now do this exact thing in the comfort of your home with my new Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake Cups! And even better, you can have your coffee and eat it, too!

So how do you get on the spicy pumpkin nostalgia express you ask? It is simple, follow the recipe below to enjoy all of the tastes of this season. Be sure to make it for all your friends and family who share our love for this time of the year; you know they will appreciate it!

PSL Cheesecake Cups Finished

Yields 24 cheesecake cups


For the crust:

  • ½ C graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ C instant oats
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground clove
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ C sugar
  • 2 tbs premade iced coffee mixture ( I used vanilla flavor)
  • 2 tsp butter, melted

For the pumpkin spice latte cheesecake layer:

  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground clove
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ½ tsp instant coffee granules
  • 1 8 oz block of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • ¼ C premade iced coffee mixture ( I used vanilla flavor)

PSL cheesecake


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line two muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients for the crust (graham cracker crumbs, instant oats, cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg and sugar) until well combined. Mix in the melted butter and iced coffee mixture until thoroughly combined.
  3. Press about ½ tsp of the mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner to create the spiced crust. Bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Once crusts are done, take out and set aside to cool.
  5. In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients for the cheesecake layer leaving out the sugar (graham cracker crumbs, instant oats, cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg, coffee granules and salt) until well combined and set aside.
  6. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Then add in the pumpkin puree, vanilla, egg and iced coffee mix. Mix on medium speed until well combined.
  7. Add in the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides as needed and continue to mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  8. Using a large cookie scoop or ice cream scoop, place one scoop of the cheesecake mixture over each crust. Lightly tap the pan on the counter to settle the mixture and release any air bubbles.
  9. Bake in the oven for an additional 30 minutes.
  10. Remove cheesecake cups from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes.
  11. Serve warm or let completely cool and top with whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkles for an authentic latte feel!

Now you can enjoy your Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake Cup scrumdiddles all through the year!

Keep up with Britney here!



IG post_postcardsRifle Paper Co.notebook & pencils, Sideshow Press x Parker & Otis Durham postcard, vintage Chimney Rock postcard from Holder

Last week took me to Durham, NC for a mini getaway and a friend’s wedding. The weather was bliss (compared to cooler Canadian temperatures) and there was much to explore…including some sweet little shops with some well-curated stationery offerings.

awesome_shedshed_thismademethinkofyouShed Letterpress

A trip to visit the art collection at 21C Museum Hotel Durham was impressive, with an exhibition called Seeing Now, featuring photography, video, sculpture and paintings. Site specific installation pieces, including the signature fuchsia penguin sculptures can be found throughout the hotel. It was here that I discovered a local stationery line called Shed Letterpress. This design studio was founded by local Sarah Almond in 2010. Cards are stylish and vintage, mid-century inspired. Speaking of mid-century, The Durham Hotel is just a few streets over, and offers up a rooftop patio. It’s all style, and its cocktail menu pays homage to the post office next door with a concoction called Airmail – yum!


Hammerpress postcard, Videri chocolate

While on a mission to find postcards, I came across a lovely gallery/shop in Raleigh, Holder Goods & Crafts. In addition to carrying some seriously cool vintage North Carolina postcards, Holder features artworks on its walls, and vintage and handmade goods.

Parker and OtisBack in Durham, I came upon Parker & Otis, which was a real treat. Besides being home to a cafe and sandwich counter, this shop offers up loads of gift items, and a fantastic stationery selection. It was a seriously blissful experience with designs from loads of my favorites, including Rifle Paper Co., Red Cap Cards, Moglea, Paper Jam Press, Sideshow Press, Hammerpress, Snow & Graham and more.

rifleDolly’s Vintage also offers up a great selection of stationery, carrying lines like Banquet Atelier & Workshop, a. favorite design, Wiley Valentine, Handmade by Allison Cole and Night Owl Paper Goods. This shop is definitely worth the visit!

The Bull City is home to a burgeoning art scene, craft breweries and lots of good eats – it’s definitely worth a visit!




Turtle SoupOctober is one of my favorite months because it brings a sense of fall and excitement about holidays to come. And then there’s Halloween. I actually love Halloween more as an adult than when I was a child. It’s just two weeks away!

{first image: Turtle Soup}

Spicy CardsSpicy CardsStranger DaysStranger DaysPenelopes PressPenelope’s PressMarketHouse StudioMarketHouse StudioEuclid Street ShopEuclid Street Shop


Fuzzy Mug

It seems like just about everyday is national something day, and today is no exception. I couldn’t resist a post dedicated to National Nut Day! I’m nut kidding when I say there are lots of fun nut themed cards that will crack you up.  


queenie’s cards


Sweet Potato Shop

Imagination Spot

The Imagination Spot

kissandpunchKiss & Punch

Speaking of peanuts, I walnut ever pass up an opportunity to share a good PB&J card.