When I first came across Natalie’s Instagram, I couldn’t stop swooning. Her work made me wish I was an artist. It’s amazing how a custom map, a coaster or a stamp can put a smile on your face and that it did. So, I was over the moon when she agreed to answer a few questions for us!
Favorite project to date? Since a lot of the work I do is custom, I have lots of great stories to choose from! A recent favorite is a girl who contacted me to make a custom map of Ireland, outlining all the places she and her husband were going to see on a big trip the coming year. Except, the husband didn’t know they were taking a big trip — his wife had planned it as a surprise. The artwork I created, outlining their trip of the island with various markers, illustrated landmarks and travel details would be the visual she’d use to surprise him. She hasn’t given it to him just yet, and I can’t wait to hear how it goes over
If you could create any custom map right now (that you’ve never done before), what city would you choose? I’ve always been interested in learning more about Japan — that’s once place I haven’t mapped out and drawn before.
Tell us about the process in choosing what historic landmarks to include in a skyline? I tend to ask friends and family who are familiar with certain areas what their top 5 landmarks of a particular city would be, and then I compare notes to see what would make the best “skyline.” If I don’t know anyone who’s familiar with a certain place, good old fashioned Google paired with a little research usually works well
Most popular item in your Etsy shop? My custom maps and New Orleans items seem to be the most popular right now — everyone who lives in New Orleans is very passionate about their city, and they love having items that show off what makes New Orleans special!
Where do you find inspiration for your work? Many of my products are inspired by travel, nostalgia and “home.” I love exploring and discovering new places and finding out what makes a place unique — landmarks, history, restaurants, bars and shops. Learning about a new place is one of my favorite things to do!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a full-time artist/designer? I always dreamed of owning my own business, but I didn’t consider it very seriously until I lost my advertising job before the holidays in 2009. Losing a steady paycheck was the push I needed to try and make a business of my own happen. I started out very slowly at first, not taking too many financial risks. I worked out of my home, opened an Etsy account, and started selling a few of my notecard sets online. My business really started to pick up when I added custom artwork to my Etsy site, like house portraits, pet portraits and custom maps. Thankfully, as orders started coming in more steadily, I didn’t need to continue looking for a 9-5 day job anymore. As time went on and I made more money, I slowly started investing into my business and bought new equipment, new printers and better art supplies. I grow every year, slowly but surely — greatly thanks to the support of my family and customers!
Favorite 3 places in Athens, GA? Ohhh, that’s a tough one. Athens has SO many gems, but if I had to choose, my 3 current favorites are
- Treehouse Kid & Craft: A whimsical toy store that also serves as a place for adults and kids to create.
- Broad 9A and the Broad Collective: An innovative co-working office solution for artists, makers, entrepreneurs, and mobile professionals in a beautifully restored warehouse. Archie’s having his 1st birthday there in December!
- The World Famous: A bar and restaurant with awesome cocktails, delicious menu (chicken waffle sandwich — yep) and a cool environment.
We are having some long (4th of July) weekend withdrawals over here, so I sat down with Lindsey, luxury travel consultant and owner of Epperly Travel (she’s one of the “top 30 agents under 30” worldwide and just the sweetest!) to chat and get some insight into where we should explore next…
✈ Most popular destination trend in the last year (honeymoon and non-honeymoon)? Most popular honeymoon destination is almost always somewhere in the Caribbean – especially St. Lucia. It’s far enough away to feel exotic (think rolling green mountains and tropical foliage!) but not so far that honeymooner’s have to dread a long flight, which is a concern of quite a few travelers after the exhaustion of their wedding. Since non-honeymooners don’t have that concern, that opens them up to traveling all over: but Europe has been huge with the value of the dollar to the Euro, I have never received more Italy, Greece and France requests in my life than in the past year!
✈ Dream destination wedding location? Bora Bora, which only began legally marrying Americans in the past few years. With that crystal clear blue water and the spectacular over-water bungalows, I can’t think of a better backdrop for couples to say “I do!”
✈ Best kept secret (location that flies under the radar)? Central America is such a cool spot that travelers often don’t think of when they want an exotic feel with beaches without traveling too far. Nicaragua in particular has become huge with the opening of Mukul, the country’s first luxury beach property.
✈ Favorite destination in GA for a weekend getaway? The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds Plantation – adult summer camp, as we like to call it! Can’t go wrong with campfire, s’mores and the serene setting on Lake Oconee (not to mention one of the best spas in the U.S.!).
✈ Best trip you have ever been on? Hands down South Africa. I am not even outdoorsy and I couldn’t help but fall in love with the unbelievable wildlife, out of this world accommodations, and genuine hospitality that I experienced while on trips to Cape Town, Kruger and the Kalahari Desert.
Photos by Lindsey Epperly
Ever since I came across these piñata cookies and cake, I’ve been dying to give it a try. So, when Father’s Day rolled around, I thought it was finally time. However, I have a confession…
I didn’t make the cake, eek.
Similar to an “Ikea hack“, I’m calling this a “piñata cake hack”. I bought the cake, cut a hole in the middle, filled it with m&m’s and then re-sealed it. No one could tell and it was quick, inexpensive and overall a huge hit!
What you’ll need? A cake, m&m’s, frosting (same flavor as the cake) and sprinkles (optional)
Wouldn’t this be perfect for a gender reveal party? You can fill it with either pink or blue m&m’s! This time I used peanut butter ones, but I think minis would also be fun next time.
*Reminder: present on a beautiful cake stand next time, the excitement got the best of me.
Photo: Gaby O Photo
Sometimes you just want to have a party, you aren’t really celebrating anything in particular, but you want to gather a couple friends and have fun.
You are out of ideas and every time you want to give it some real thought, maybe you get distracted by The Bachelorette...So, I wanted to share a few that I recently came across, so that you can watch your TV show in peace and later, enjoy being a host.
1. DE-CLUTTERING: Inspired by the book ‘The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up‘. Dinner party –> unwanted items (books, shoes, scrapbooking material, etc) –> swap –> donate leftovers. Alternate option: clothing swap (always a winner in my book).
2. LET’S FLAMINGLE: This theme really works for any kind of event, only requirement – must be into flamingos.
3. PLUS ONE: Invite a few friends, ask them to bring a “plus one” that the host has never met, nice dinner, prepare a 3 minute intro of your guest and voila, instant new friends!
4. BABY-Q: Pretty self-explanatory, BBQ + baby = BABY-Q and fun times for all. Good alternative to traditional baby shower and excellent way to include the menfolk.
5. PROGRESSIVE DINNER: Also known as, safari supper – “successive dinner courses prepared and eaten at the residences of different hosts”. Not a new concept, but definitely something to consider…if you like your neighbors.
Photos: Book shelf || Flamingo Cookies || Table | Invitation || Watermelon Cocktail
Swimming has been on our mind for weeks now and we wish we didn’t have to wait until Memorial Day to jump in…
In the mean time, I’ve been gearing up to throw a pool party “meet & greet” in our new neighborhood (the Nextdoor app has been really useful to plan and spread the word).
Here is my current little cheat sheet:
- Food (preferably nothing too heavy)
- Drinks (plenty of water)
- Music (some song ideas)
- Pool toys / games / loungers
- Decor (balloons, flowers, etc)
- Extras: Sunscreen, towels, sunglasses, bug spray, flip flops…
- If you have a baby, highly recommend these reusable diapers – iPlay
- Plastic bags for guests to put their wet swimsuits
Photos: Invitation / Relief Station / Food / Hats + Fans / Cornhole / Popsicle Drinks