Tag Archives: giveaway

Week in Review: Fall is in Full Swing

Fall is in full swing, and that means miniature pumpkins and decorative Indian corn will magically make their way into your shopping cart. You’ll suddenly have an irresistible urge to visit an apple orchard and a pumpkin farm. Perhaps a vineyard, too – while you’re at it! A strange sensation pulls you in the direction of all things plaid and flannel and it becomes abundantly clear that you do not have enough cozy socks and blankets (and never will).

That said, cider season is officially upon us! If you’re like me, you skip the PSL and go straight for the good stuff.

If we were ‘real’ lifestyle bloggers, we’d whip up our own clever cider concoction and share just how rewarding it is to make your own from scratch. I must say, this Trader Joe’s version isn’t half bad! Apple-Cider-Season Disclaimer: These apples aren’t freshly picked from the orchard. They’re Trader Joe’s, too.

Fall-Foliage-OnlyInMN And with the crisp autumnal breezes comes a myriad of gorgeous natural colors. A unique mix of reds, greens, yellows, oranges and maroons. A striking blend of colors that are just too Instagrammable to resist. It’s peak fall foliage season in Minnesota right now (meaning, we have ALL of the colors), and I have plenty of ‘grams to prove it!

Including this one, featuring my recent encounter with a real-life emoji! Real-Life-Leaf-Emoji

Wayzata-Yacht-Club And this snap, that’s really just a tease because that body of water is about to FREEZE soon.

Fall-Foliage-MN-2 And this tunnel of trees at a scenic outdoor wedding venue. Ok, I lied. This is actually outside of the public library. Looks like a lavishly decorated aisle though, doesn’t it?

Taylors-Falls-MN-Fall This recent hike was an eyeopener, featuring trees with only a few fall leaves left : (

Wood-Watch-1When it comes to fall clothing and accessories, I gotta admit, I don’t overdose on plaid and flannel and oversized capes. They’re not for everyone. I do love a cozy cable knit sweater, a fleece-lined quarter-zip (like this Heathered Green Patagonia “Better Sweater” that’s become a weekend staple), and leather riding boots (like these Frye faves I’ve been wearing on the daily).

JORD-Watch Accessory-wise, stylish wood watches are seasonally appropriate and make quite the fashion statement. This Zebrawood and Dark Sandalwood combination caught my attention, and the best news is, the husband likes it, too! Check out woodwatches.com to explore the full collection of men’s and women’s watches. (Shown: Dover Series Zebrawood & Dark Sandalwood. c/o).

Wood-Watch-2 Doesn’t it make you wanna go all analog and take a hike? Reaching for your iPhone is not required to tell time. It was, however, required for this photo, HA! 

Like what you see? Enter to win a wood watch.

Until next time!

Current Obsession (and a Giveaway!): Danielle Murray

Okay, get ready because today we are featuring an amazing artist Danielle Murray. I am in constant awe of her talent and I think you all are really going to love her work. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for us and shed some light on her journey to turning her dream into her career…oh and is also giving away one of the most perfect prints ever (hello stripes and a sailboat!).

I met Danielle when I lived in Milwaukee and worked with her husband (shout out to John Murray!). They are basically the coolest, cutest, most creative couple (the letter of the day is C) out there. Keep reading for our interview with Danielle and to enter for a chance to win this awesome print:


Danielle grew up in New Jersey and attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia where she received her BFA in illustration with honors.  In addition to freelancing and gallery shows (and painting A LOT of ships), she has also worked in-house as a product designer, for a division of Bed Bath & Beyond. Her paintings have been exhibited in cities across the U.S. including New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Additionally, her artwork has been licensed to a wide range of products including textiles, paper goods and home decor products. She currently resides in Milwaukee, WI with her better half.

Danielle Murray

How long have you been in business? What are some of the key milestones that have taken place?

I started freelancing (mostly editorial illustration) in 2008. Since then, many things have happened that brought me to the point where I am now: creating artwork that gets licensed for product and home decor. I have been working in this field, as a decorative/art licensing artist for almost 2 years.

A few years after graduating college, I left Philly and moved back to NJ. I started working a part-time job at a frame shop (which at the time made me feel like I was failing since my artwork alone could not sustain me), but it was so important, because it is where I learned about the art publishing industry (and also met some of my best friends). With the knowledge from the frame shop I landed an in-house designer position for The Christmas Tree Shops. I got paid to paint cupcakes and pumpkins, and while my 18 year old self may have laughed at this, it was exactly where I needed to be.

I like pretty things and painting pretty things, and well, I enjoy painting, anything! Not to mention I love researching and home decor and keeping up with trends in the marketplace, which all goes hand in hand with creating artwork for licensing and publishing. My work never seemed quite right for editorial illustration, and not always appropriate for the fine art world, so I always felt like I was just sort of lingering. Learning about this other world just made everything click for me. I eventually left my position at the Christmas Tree Shops and relocated to Milwaukee, WI where I began licensing on my own, I currently work with two representatives who sell and license my artwork.

Holy ship! We love all things nautical, too. Why is painting ships your “happy place?” Where else do you draw inspiration (…detail some of your rummaging adventures??)

I grew up by the ocean, so I’d imagine this has a lot to do with it, and in general, the act of painting the ocean is one of my favorite things to do. It’s one of those subject matters that I never think I paint well enough, so I keep on trying.

A lot of my inspiration is drawn from past places and things. My father has been a “picker” long before pickers were a thing, so I’ve been flea marketing, rummaging and well, garbage picking my whole life. I love old objects because of the history. All of the things I collect have a story, whether I know it or not, and that’s the fascinating part about every item I find.

What are some of the struggles you’ve encountered starting your own business and how have you overcome them? 

I think the toughest thing for me, which can still be a struggle at times, is comparing myself and my career to other people. It is a difficult thing in a world where you are constantly inundated with other people’s work and success to not compare where you are at with where they are at. I think it is best to remember that no two stories are the same.

I would also say having a plan is so important! For years I just didn’t have clear direction. What I liked and what type of artwork I wanted to make never wavered for me, but I couldn’t seem to find the right place for it. I was trying to find success in multiple places, editorial illustration, galleries, the decorative world etc. Trying to do too many different things resulted in me not finding real fulfillment or success in any of them. Having a clear focus and making a business plan has helped me tremendously.

There can be a lot of comfort 9-5 job. What advice would you give to someone who wants to set out to turn what they love into a career?

I think the bottom line is to always generate good work. Stay educated on the industry and set both long and short term goals. A long term business plan is so important, but it is the baby steps that make things happen.

Also, knowing what you are capable of and identifying your strengths is so important. From the beginning, one of the first steps of my plan was getting representation from an agent. I knew just starting out, that I did not want to be writing contracts and negotiating deals, It was not an area I felt confident in. This may not always be the case, but for now my time is best spent creating the work.

Will you be adding more items to your Etsy shop soon? Because we’re gonna need to start a collection…

Yes! I try to add new prints of my personal paintings as I finish them. I’ve also been slowly adding smaller/affordable originals.

Be sure to follow Danielle to see more of her amazing work on her Facebook, Instagram, and website. And enter below to win the Welcome Ship print pictured above! The giveaway ends next Friday so get your name in now 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Current Obsession (and a Giveaway!): Francesca Joy

A few weeks ago I ventured to Manhattan with my roommate KL (yes, going from Brooklyn to Manhattan is considered venturing). I had the pleasure of meeting her good friend from college, Elise. After being seated at our table at the cutest little restaurant in the West Village we started talking about her company Francesca Joy. I was so impressed and inspired with how she started her own business, the collaborations she’s done, and her amazing designs (she hand paints all of her totes and they look perfectI can barely sign my own name some days).

Well, Elise was kind enough to answer some questions about her company and the journey of building her own brand. Oh, and we also may or may not have a giveaway that will have you dreaming of spring, traveling the world, and maybe a little bit of sailing, too!

Paris & Flowers Tote


Francesca Joy for York Design Co


Q: What motivated you to start your own business? Were you always interested in art, fashion, and design? 

A: Francesca Joy as a business started accidentally. I was working as an artist, selling work, doing gallery shows and trying to network everywhere from Miami, to London, to Chelsea, NY. When I saw the response from my audience, it was a fashion response. Like, how can you put these paintings on something for us to buy? It’s amazing to see how a single idea grows into a brand, and an identity, which is now the business. I was always interested in fashion, but I knew if I was going to make my mark in the industry, I would have to develop my own concepts and ideas, linking my canvases to fashion. This would inevitably present something new. Coming up with a new way of seeing pattern, print, and design in specified, niche markets.

Q: What are some of the struggles you’ve encountered starting your own business and how have you overcome them? 

A: For me, there were no handouts: I’ve had to work for everything, and when you don’t have money starting something, you rely on your drive and your ambition. Jimmy Paige said, “I may not believe in myself, but I believe in what I am doing.” I think that sums up a lot of the ups and downs you encounter in being self-employed and starting something. When you have no other option but to succeed, you will be surprised at how far you can come and what you can accomplish.

Q: Where do you draw inspiration for your products and company? How do you stay inspired and what do you do to keep evolving as an artist and designer? 

A: We started in Palm Beach, where I was hand-painting tote bags – and that remains an ongoing theme in the color scheme and the overall vibe. The nature, the luxury, the style – that keeps a consistent timeless approach which is important today when you are styling. We’ve sort of “done it all” in our generation with fashion, so where we discover new territory is through our personal understanding of old trends and the faces of the past.

I find inspiration through America, the colors, and pop-culture history. Music is a HUGE theme for me. Sophistication is rock and roll to me. Colors should speak to you, and express something. Whimsy and youth is lively. I don’t like safe – risk is wonderful, and that’s how I keep evolving. What I sense, and what I feel is ultimately passion that is passed on to your customers and fans. Decades like the 60s and 70s are big for me. Peter Max is explosive in his themes, colors, and tales of a time… Interior design, architecture, sites like 1stdibs.com and stores like JUST ONE EYE are killing it. So amazing, so inspiring.

Q: What is the most exciting collaboration you’ve worked on?

A: I always wanted to design the ultimate resort shoe. Back in 2012, I was able to fulfill this with the help of sandal maker, Stephen Bonanno of West Palm Beach. He was the original creator of the famed Jack Roger. I’d worn those my whole life. I remember my Mum saving my first pair – I think they were purple. So this was exciting for me. At the time, I was printing my own textiles in San Francisco, and having them shipped over to my factory in Fall River, MA. I was keeping everything in the US. Very important. So, we took my hemp-silk blend textiles, and blended them into the sandal for a fresh look at the staple sandal. I was so proud of them because they came out EXACTLY as I had envisioned. It also announced to my fans and followers that this is Francesca Joy. It’s fun and whimsy, but it’s also extremely detailed and ancient in feel and vibe, with a strong sense of history.

Francesca Joy/Stephen Bonanno Collab

The other exciting, more recent collaboration, is the Sorority collection with FASHION GREEK. It’s amazing to see the prints on college campuses and to take our signature look into Greek life.

Q: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to start their own business? 

If you have a gut instinct in you to start something, follow that instinct. Do not ignore it. Don’t listen to everyone who follows the crowd. Good for them – that’s not you. When you start to part from the crowd, and develop your own visions, that is when you know you were supposed to lead and create. There’s no sense in starting your own business if it doesn’t give back in some way – if it doesn’t inspire others to create, think, and progress. So, giving back is my big advice. Spread knowledge and passion. You will help your world in a big way.

We love Elise’s passion and are so grateful to her for sharing more about her company and inspirations! We are also excited to announce our giveaway. We have the cutest tote that will make you want to hop on a plane for a spring getaway in ParisAND (because what do The JCR Girls love more than anything nautical?!) a cuff from Francesca Joy’s collection for York Design Company. Use the Rafflecopter widgets below to enter!

A Rafflecopter giveaway
A Rafflecopter giveaway