Tag Archives: calendar

The Perfect Command Center

With summer winding down and the school year ramping up, this perfect time to reorganize anything that didn’t work for you last year. One of the easiest ways to keep your house organized is to have a functional command center that meets the needs of your family.

The first step is to figure out where your problem areas are. For my house, it happened to be the kitchen island. My husband and I would walk in through the garage and just drop everything there until it became useless as actual counter space in the kitchen. Find where you family currently dumps everything because that will make it easier to retrain and replace the bad habit. Luckily, we had some nice wall space just past the island that was begging to be used!

Once you know where you want your command center, the next step is to identify the needs of your family. Since we don’t have any children yet, our needs were pretty basic. We needed a place to put the mail, Groupons, coupons, a whiteboard for notes and honey-do lists, a place for pens and markers, and of course, a calendar. We also needed a place to keep our keys and sunglasses, but I put that closer to the door instead of with the command center itself. Some other things you might consider for your command center would be a place for kids to hang their backpacks, an in/out wall file for homework and paperwork from the school, chore charts, a shopping list (we have an awesome magnetic shopping list hanging on our fridge), or a cork board.

Now that you have your needs addressed and your space assigned, it is time to find products to create your perfect command center. You can go with an all-in-one system that allows you to simply snap what you need onto a preformed back, or you can do a hodge-podge approach. Martha Stewart has a great system if you want everything to be identical, but I wanted something that matched the look of my kitchen and dining area a little more.

I measured off my space, and because I am a bit OCD, created a template in Photoshop to show the available space. Another way to do this would be to map it out on graph paper, This will allow you to play with what elements will fit where before you start hanging anything. My first priority was finding a calendar that I loved. We don’t necessarily want our calendar to feature any particular artwork, so I opted for a monthly desk pad style instead. Before I created the command center, we had a monthly magnetic calendar on our fridge, so I knew we already liked the format. I found the Kathy Davis Desk Pad that matched my color scheme and planned the other elements around the size of my calendar. A close second was the Bold Blossoms Monthly/Weekly Wall Calendar, but we didn’t need that much space for just the two of us. Knowing how much space I had left to work with. I found some galvanized steel containers that I then spray-painted a metallic bronze to match my fixtures. I also found a cheap 12×12 whiteboard and bought a simple unfinished wooden frame. I used the same metallic bronze spray-paint and it worked wonderfully.

The last step is something to claim it as your own. I opted for a wooden sign that had our name and the year we were married, but I have also seen some cute command centers with a simple initial that matched. Whatever your style is, this identifier will round out the command center and make you smile every time you look at it.

Command Center 1

Command Center 2

Do you have some great command center ideas that I missed? Please share below!

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An Interview with Shelly Reeves Smith

 

Shelly Reeves Smith began her career in 1988 when she and a friend co-founded a greeting card company, Among Friends. Twenty years later, her illustrations of home and garden can be found on cards, stationery, books, gifts and home decor.

Smith lives in the Ozarks of Southern Missouri with her husband and son where her surroundings provide plenty of inspiration for her work. When she is not painting or spending time with her family, Smith dedicates her time to her bluegrass band, Lonesome Road.

Take a look at the Shelly Reeves Smith calendar line at Calendars.com.

Tell us about your musical talents and your band Lonesome Road.
I grew up in a musical family. My father, mother and brother all sing and play. During my high school and college years, I was fortunate to get a job performing at a country music show in my hometown in Missouri. I also met my husband through those music connections.
The Lonesome Road bluegrass band started in 1997 as a group of friends who enjoy playing together. We all have full-time jobs, but we get together about once a month to perform at local and regional bluegrass events in the Midwest.  After 15 years we’re still going strong and having fun.

How does it inspire you?
As artists know, paintings need to have a place in them where the eye can “rest”. As a visual person, I guess I need that in my surroundings, too. Our little community in the country is the perfect place for that. We live in a farmhouse built in 1915. It’s surrounded by springs and creeks, fields and woods. My parents were both raised on farms, so I guess I’m naturally drawn to farmhouses and everything about them. Everyday things like tables and chairs, porches and windows, kitchen and garden tools can be so expressive. They, and the signs of our use on them, tell stories all by themselves.

What else provides inspiration for your art?
I’m inspired by my family, especially my son, Ison, who is now 2 ½. I also find endless inspiration when I study the Bible and when I read the work of talented people like Kerry Boone.

How long does it take you to complete a typical painting that appears in your calendars?
It takes me a couple weeks from start to finish…from concept, to pairing the idea with the verse, the rough sketch marked up for color, the final sketch, the finished watercolor painting, plus the verse and border art that accompanies it. Of course, that is if all goes as planned!

What makes watercolor your preferred medium?
I started out with colored pencil, but I like watercolor because it can be either soft or bold and it allows the painter to build up to brighter colors gradually. It also provides opportunity for “happy accidents” – like the unintentional splash of color that ends up looking purposeful. Unlike most other mediums, watercolor allows one to see through to the sketch beneath. That glimpse of the graphite sketch behind the color is charming to me.

Are they real places, or do they spring from your imagination?
I sure hope they are inviting. That is my goal. They are sort of an amalgam of real and imagined places, from either my current surrounding or from memories.

Do you begin a painting with a Bible verse in mind?
Yes, it is a big part of the equation. I have a little book that I keep with my Bible where I record verses that are meaningful. When making decisions about the calendars images, I usually look first to that book for inspiration.

Tell us how you work with Kerry Boone, who writes the sweet, secular verses that complement your art so perfectly.
Kerry is one of the kindest and most talented people I know. Because we are friends, we appreciate the same kinds of things – the simple life and the value of close relationships –so working with her is like working with a sister. She is a prolific writer with a large body of work from which to choose. We often select verses for the calendars from her existing work. At other times I’ll send her a sketch of calendar ideas for a certain year and ask her to either pull a line from work she has (that I haven’t seen yet) or write something specifically for those images. She always comes through with some little thought or phrase that takes my breath away.

Is your home as comfortable as the interiors we see in your artwork?
I want my home to be comfortable and enjoyable. It’s often easier to create that in a painting than in real life, but it’s always the goal.  For variety, I try to paint interiors in various decorating styles, but I always end up coming back to the traditional American style. I guess we’re drawn to what speaks to our hearts.

Are you a good cook?
I’m clumsy in the kitchen, so I’m not a natural cook. But I love to cook and I really enjoy painting images that involved good food and gatherings like in the cookbooks I designed with Roxie Kelley. While working in her restaurant and bakery while in college, I personally served and prepared most of the dishes in those first two books, so they were like old friends. I also learned a lot about baking and gracious entertaining from her. The most important part of meal preparation, however, I learned from my mother…simply love the people you’re serving. That’s something we all can do well!

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Interview with Jim Davis

American cartoonist Jim Davis created the popular comic strip Garfield in 1978. Prior to creating Garfield, Davis worked for a local advertising agency and later was an assistant on Tom Ryan’s comic strip, Tumbleweeds. On June 19, 1978, Garfield started syndication in 41 newspapers. Today, it is the most syndicated Sunday cartoon in the world.

You can enter to win the Garfield Brings Home the Bacon Book autographed by Jim Davis in our 30 Days of Giveaways contest! We have several other great prizes to give away in November as well.

When did you know that you wanted to be a cartoonist?
I don’t remember making a conscious decision. I was always just a cartoonist. I remember growing up and drawing funny pictures, mainly to entertain my mom. But the drawings were so bad I had to label them. I’d draw a cow and then an arrow pointing to it with the label “cow.” For me putting the pictures with words came naturally. When I got old enough that I knew I had to make a living, I was already a cartoonist and I decided to go with it.

What was the inspiration for the Garfield strip back in 1978?
I had worked as an assistant for Tom Ryan on Tumbleweeds – a western strip – and during that time I began to study the comics pages. I noticed a lot of strips about dogs – there was Belvedere, Snoopy, Marmaduke, Fred Bassett – but no cats. I figured if dogs were doing so well, why not a cat. I grew up on a farm with 25 cats so I knew enough about cats that I just thought I’m going to do a cat strip.

 Is the strip autobiographical? Are you Jon or Garfield – or perhaps both?
When I was putting the strip together and creating personalities for the characters, I recognized that what the great cartoonists and comics were doing was a study in contrasts. Put smart with stupid, tall with short, fat with skinny. Garfield had a strong personality and was patterned after my grandfather, James A. Davis who was a strong, opinionated and stubborn man – hence the name Garfield. Jon is patterned after me – I’m rather easygoing, wishy-washy, have chubby cheeks, and am positive about life. Garfield is the pessimist.

Do you ever suffer writer’s block?
I only write when I feel funny. If I don’t feel like any funny ideas are coming to me, I don’t write, so it’s impossible to have writers block. That’s the advantage of doing a comic strip. I get to work far enough ahead that I can wait for the funny days to do my writing.

Who or what has inspired or influenced you the most in your work?
When I was working to create the comic strip I was influenced by the established strips – Beetle Bailey, Hi and Lois … Mort Walker was a big hands-big feet cartoonist and he knew how to create personalities. Sparky Schulz with Peanuts taught me the power of gentle sentiments in everyday situational humor. Milton Caniff with Steve Canyon took me places I didn’t even know existed. And Johny Hart (B.C.) was just off the wall – he cracked me up with his humor. All these great comic strip artists influenced me and still do.

Andy Warhol’s favorite comic strip was Nancy. What are some of your favorites, past and present?
As far as all time favorites, Blondie, Beetle Bailey, B.C., for its general goofiness – Mother Goose and Grimm is just silly – it’s great art and Mike Peters is a nut and it’s great fun to read. There are an awful lot of great cartoonists out there – I hesitate to name them all. There’s a ton of great stuff online these days. These new young cartoonists keep me looking over my shoulder.  

What and who makes you laugh these days?
I grew up laughing at The Three Stooges – today it’s America’s Funniest Videos. I swear you can’t improve on real life. These are real people doing really funny things. I try to bring that kind of situational humor to the Garfield strip. And I have to tell you my guilty pleasure is YouTube. There’s so much funny and stupid stuff out there. It’s hilarious. Like the guy who talks to his dog. The guy says, “I went out and got some bacon today” and the dog says “Ruuh.” It’s funny stuff. Sometimes the dumber the humor is, the harder I laugh.

Are you a fan of technology? How has it impacted your work?
I have to admit I’m a technology freak. One reason is that I’m lazy. Technology makes everything so much easier. At Paws, Inc. we have a small staff working with a lot of companies worldwide. We do art and approvals electronically and it makes life so much easier. Last year we even started doing the Garfield strip digitally – this helps with quality, consistency, and it’s easier to deliver and translate. I always look forward to the next new technology coming out. It’s kind of like power steering – everything runs smoother. It also opens up a whole new world. In this case it’s information and influences that feed the writing process. It gives me a better perspective of the world at large and I feel better equipped to entertain people in other countries. Also, technology makes life a little easier and gives me a little more time on the golf course.


Does Garfield use Facebook? Do you? 
Tell us about some of your recent and/or upcoming projects.
We have a lot of exciting things on our plate. We just finished Season 3 of “The Garfield Show” and we’ve been given the green-light to begin production on Season 4. We’re already doing treatments and will begin recording this month. Also, our first comic book with Boom Studios came out recently. Garfield #1 is selling well online and getting great reviews. We’ve focused on the digital world with new apps – two are rated tops at Amazon and iTunes. And we’re taking our publishing program digital as well with releases on Barnes and Nobles Nook and the digitization of the Garfield comic strip compilation books. The licensing program in China is growing too – so it’s an exciting time for Garfield.

Garfield has taken to social networking like a duck to water. Facebook seems to be right on for Garfield because he can toss out a bit of humor every day.  Personally, I don’t use Facebook that much. I did open an account – after about 20 seconds I had already heard from my first date to the junior prom – she lives in Arizona now. I’m afraid I wouldn’t get anything else done if I was on Facebook. But Garfield has almost 5 million fans so it’s working for him.  

What’s your favorite book?  
My favorite book is Jack London’s The Call of The Wild which I read in junior high school. That book was magical and the first time I was taken away by a story. I was up north with this dog. It really got me hooked on reading and after that I tried reading a new book every week.

What advice would you give young cartoonists?
The most important piece of advice I can give to young cartoonists is to read. Believe it or not. Read. The more you read, the more depth you have. Remember, as a cartoonist you’re not just an artist; you’re a writer. As far as drawing goes though, the more you draw, the better you will get. Chuck Jones (Looney Tunes) used to say that every artist had about 100,000 bad drawings in him and the sooner you get those out the better. After the first 100,000 bad drawings, every drawing is going to be good. Also, draw realistically. Your characters will have more natural movement that way. Also, you can’t fool the readers. If you’re having fun doing your strip, the reader will have fun reading it. Try using a bunch of different materials, too. Pencils, crayons, sidewalk chalk – this will give you a wealth of experience.

Most importantly, relax and have fun.

You now have grandchildren. Do any of them show interest in art?
I have four grandchildren and they’re all interested in art. But I think most kids are and then they reach this thing called maturity. Some of us make it through still wanting to do art.

I get together with the kids every Friday afternoon. We have a lot of fun and it’s a great excuse for me to stretch my drawing skills. It’s fun for them, too. Having an art studio to hang out in with drawing paper and markers and crayons is neat for a kid. There’s some potential there, too. Who knows, maybe one of them will take the strip over someday.

What would you be doing now if you weren’t a cartoonist?
If I weren’t a cartoonist, I’d probably be a farmer. I grew up on a farm and loved it, but I had asthma as a kid and for that reason I was forced to do something else. I think if I weren’t a cartoonist or a farmer I’d have to find something to do in the art world – advertising or illustration maybe. I love drawing and to visualize things. I love entertaining and to make people laugh.

Tell us about working on the Garfield Calendars.
Every year here at Paws, Inc. we work on a calendar and it’s always considered a “treat.” We all want to work on it. We do it differently each year – different art styles, different writing styles and themes. We get to stretch Garfield a bit and see a different side of him. We laugh a lot when we’re putting the calendar together and probably spend too much time on it – it takes about 6 months of writing and drawing. But it’s something you put on your wall and have to look at everyday so I want you to look at it and laugh. The calendar is really an extension of the comic strip and it’s one of my favorite things to do all year long. 

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Interview with Randy Lotowycz

Randall Lotowycz is an obsessive author who read his first DC comic—Superman #75—at age 11, has seen every DC movie on opening day, and had to build a custom bed frame to fit his dozens of crates of comic books. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

You can enter to win the Darts 2013 Wall Calendar autographed by Randy Lotowycz in our 30 Days of Giveaways contest! We have several other great prizes to give away in November as well.

How did you come up with the concept for a dartboard calendar?
Funny story, actually. At the time, I worked in the editorial department and it was part of my job to come up with new calendar ideas, which we’d have to present during weekly editorial meetings on Wednesdays. I prepared as I usually did, coming up with ideas at the last minute while riding the subway to work. I wanted to do something interactive, because I really hadn’t seen much of that with wall calendars, and the idea of darts jumped out. So when I was in the meeting, I started with a clever/obnoxious play on words, saying “I’ve got a wall calendar idea. I’m just going to throw it out there. If it sticks, it sticks…” and presented the calendar. The pitch was well-received, but the group then asked, “How do the magnetic darts stick?” I replied by saying we’d include a metal sheet in calendar. No one thought we’d be able to do it with manufacturing costs, but somehow our fantastic production department made it work.

Which month is your favorite board from the 2013 calendar?
I’d say Pinball in January (that’s not to say the boards go downhill after that). I work with a wonderful designer, John Passineau, whose designs have made the calendar what it is. He’s indispensible to the calendar. Pinball is one of those times where I’ve come up with a crazy idea but he makes it work.

Other than playing darts, how do you like to spend your free time?
Reading comics, watching horror movies, running in Prospect Park, volunteering at a local creative writing and tutoring center. I try to keep busy.

You are also known for the DC Comics Super Heroes and Villains Fandex. Who is you favorite hero/villain?
Superman, of course! I’ve even got a pretty ridiculous and large tattoo of Superman and Lois Lane on my arm, which was done to celebrate finishing the Fandex.

What characters, preferably from different comics, would you like to see fight one another? Who would win?
I’ll resist the urge to be snotty and ask “why do they have to fight? Can’t they just once team-up and try to make the world a better place?”
I’d like to see Superman and Archie fight. Perhaps Archie was infected by some sort of alien virus that drove him crazy and gave him super strength, or maybe Archie was being too
much of a jerk to Betty and Veronica, and Superman had to step in. But I’d still like to see them settle their dispute over a game of chess and a few cups of hot chocolate. Either way, Superman would win, because he’s Superman.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I’m going with invisibility, and not just for its seedier perks. Observation is powerful tool for an author, but as soon as you’re present to observe, your presence is already affecting the moment. To be invisible, to take yourself out of a moment, you can experience things you never would otherwise.

If you had said superpower for one day, how would you spend that day?
I’d watch people. And, I swear, I’m not trying to be creepy. I’d simply like to observe people in their everyday lives, like 1000s of personal and mostly likely mundane documentaries.

What is your next big goal for your life?
Getting my novel published.

If you had to do anything else, what would it be?
Had to? Like an earnest desire to do something? Or being held at gunpoint? Either way, I guess I’d want to start or work for a non-profit organization involved with literacy and children’s education.

What one calendar, other than yours, could you not get through the year without?
Probably Pocket Pigs, because it features adorable and tiny pigs! The only way it could be better is if the pigs were wearing proper evening wear. Hmmm…  now I need to attend another editorial meeting.

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Interview with Jennifer Holland

Jennifer Holland is a senior writer for National Geographic magazine, specializing in science and natural history. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with her husband, two dogs, and dozens of snakes and geckos; none of whom, to her dismay, have crossed the species barrier to befriend the others.

You can enter to win the 2013 Unlikely Friendships Wall Calendar autographed by Jennifer Holland in our 30 Days of Giveaways contest! We have several other great prizes to give away in November as well.

What is your definition of friendship?
Friendship is a relationship in which you can be yourself—sing off key, cry openly, watch bad reality television, compare intimate notes. A friend is allowed to tell you that you’re being a jerk and expected to tell you that you have spinach in your teeth.

Where did you get your inspiration for this project?
My love for animals is in my DNA; my mother was a huge fan of every little critter (minus roaches) and I’m now carrying that torch. This particular project just made sense: sweet animal stories and adorable photos make people happy. People pass animal pictures and videos on the Web probably more than anything else. It’s a hard world out there…we all need a little reprieve.

What is you unlikeliest friendship?
Wow, hard question!!  I guess I’d have to say the one with my Mom. She passed away about 7 years ago but our friendship has continued in a certain way…I “talk” to her in my head all the time, asking her for advice or expressing my worries and frustrations. I’m not religious or anything, but it’s comforting to pretend she’s listening.

How do you select which images should be included and how do you come up with the stories?
I look for the stories everywhere—and ask friends and family to clue me in if they hear of something. I contact wildlife and rescue centers, zoos, any facility where unlikely friendships might occur.  I scour the Web, where so many stories make rounds. As for images, we simply look for the very best, sweetest, most intimate moments we can find.

What is your favorite story you have written for an image so far? Why?
Hard to pick a true favorite but I loved the story of the cat and the iguana. Iguanas aren’t really that nice. So to see one that liked having its face licked by a cat, that was hard to beat. I also loved the dog-cheetah story because of the conservation aspect. (Dogs are trained in Namibia to protect cheetahs from farmers by scaring the cats away. But in captivity here in the States, the same kinds of dogs help keep cheetahs calm.)

What is your favorite photograph from the 2013 Wall Calendar?
That cover photo, of the young chimp with the white tiger cub, is amazing. If ever animals looked to be smiling and full of joy, that’s the moment!

What is your favorite wild animal? Domestic animal?
I wouldn’t dare choose favorites and disappoint all the others! But I can say that I love octopi for their amazing smarts and behaviors. They’re certainly not cute and furry, but I think they’re loveable anyway. I also have a special place in my heart for wolves, dolphins, and underappreciated slow lorises (tiny primates). As for domestic animals, I’m definitely a dog person. I have three of them and my life is chaos as a result. Wouldn’t have it any other way (unless I had room for 4).

What is your next big goal for your life?
I’m working on 2 books and an article at the moment. If I can get all three projects done on deadline without imploding, that would be a big step forward.

If you had to do anything else, what would it be?
Not surprisingly, I might want to run a wildlife rescue center. Or travel the world in search of emerging artists. Or just spend my days antiquing in small towns.

What one calendar, other than yours, could you not get through the year without?
The one on my phone. I never know what day or date it is but my phone always knows.

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Honey Badger Grand Prize Giveaway!

Congrats to last week’s winner, Mark Brace. His scientific name would be HomoBlowHardus RetNursus OldFartus because he is a 61 year-old retired RN know-it-all with a big mouth who is not afraid to speak his mind!

Now it’s time for the Grand Prize Giveaway. Answer this weeks question for a chance to win an autographed Honey Badger calendar AND book!

We asked Randall who the Honey Badger would be if it were a real person. Whoever guesses Randall’s answer wins. If no one answers correctly, then a winner will be chosen from all valid comments.
Last chance to win!

 
If the Honey Badger were a person, who would it be?

Contest runs from Saturday, September 29 to 5:00pm CDT Friday, October 5. Winner will be announced Saturday, October 6.

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Win an Autographed Honey Badger Calendar!

Congrats to our winner Beth Brevik! She wants to see Randall narrate a video about a giraffe, and we think that is a great idea!

You still have another chance to win a 2013 Honey Badger Calendar autographed by Randall!
Randall talked to us about his childhood and how his life has changed since the Honey Badger phenomenon.

Take a look at the video and answer the question below to be entered to win this week’s contest!

What TV show do you think Randall should have a guest role on?

How to enter:

Comment on this blog post and answer the question above to be entered to win the autographed calendar. Only those comments that answer the question will be considered entries.

Contest runs from Saturday, September 15 to 5:00pm CDT Friday, September 21. Winner will be announced Saturday, September 22.

Read full contest rules and regulations.

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Autographed Honey Badger Calendar Giveaway!

We caught up with Randall and asked him a few questions about the Honey Badger sensation. Take a look at the video and answer the question below to be entered to win a Honey Badger 2013 Wall Calendar autographed by Randall.

What animal would you like to see Randall narrate that he hasn’t yet?

How to enter:

Comment on this blog post and answer the question above to be entered to win the autographed calendar. Only those comments that answer the question will be considered entries.

Contest runs from Saturday, September 8 to 5:00pm CDT Friday, September 14. Winner will be announced Saturday, September 15.

Read full contest rules and regulations.

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Ellen Degeneres Shows the Funniest 2011 Calendars

Ellen talks about the 3 funniest calendars she found for 2011. Awesome segment!

Here are direct links on where you can find the calendars.

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Justin Bieber 2011 Mini Wall Calendar

Click to buy the Justin Bieber 2011 Mini Wall Calendar

Justin Bieber 2011 Mini Wall Calendar

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