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The Pink Samurai: March 2014

The Pink Samurai

Monday, March 31, 2014

DIY • Embroidered Cat Tote Bag

I was walking through Hobby Lobby the other day looking for a necklace chain, a new P hook, some twine, you know, the usual.  But, I ended up just meandering around, as I do, and I came across this incredible tote bag.  It was huge and sturdy and had two giant flat pockets on the outside.  It's like it was telling me to stitch a kitten to it.  There was nothing I could do.

So here's how to make one of your own...you know it's calling to you haha!  
  • Free-hand draw your pattern onto the tote with your pencil.  Don't worry if it looks wonky, you can always erase.  Or just go with and let it have an organic look.  There are no mistakes here!
  • Start your backstitchin'.  I started with the cat face and tail, making the beginning and ending stitches go under the pocket to give the illusion that the cat popping out.  
  • The paws are a little trickier.  To make the floss go over the edge of the pocket, carefully place the needle on the backside of the pocket's seam.  Be careful not to stitch all the way through.  Pull the thread through that stitch on the backside of the seam and then wrap it around the edge of the same and stitch like normal.
  • When you get to the end, just wrap your last backstitch around the edge of the seam and that's it!  That one is a little easier.
  • Optional: If you want to protect the threads on the inside of bag, grab some fusible interfacing, cut to the size you need and iron it one.  That will keep the threads from getting caught on anything. 
I hope you like this one!  It works up really quickly.  I think it only took me around 15 - 20 mins.  Mine is going to be my new grocery bag ^_^

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March 31 • Happy Crayola Crayon Day

• This is part of my Happy Day, daily drawing project!  Check out the first post for more info. •
Happy Crayola Crayon Day!  Can't you just smell them now?  That waxy aroma that meant you were about to create something fun.  Wild Strawberry was always my favorite color ^_^

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

March 30 • Happy Doctors Day

• This is part of my Happy Day, daily drawing project!  Check out the first post for more info. •
Happy Doctors Day!  You know I couldn't resist a lil Doctor Who today.  Who's your favorite Doctor?  I can never decide between 9 and 10 ^_^

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Fun Stuff • Pink Gator + Science Print + Scallops

This week, the bluebonnets showed up in Texas and the sun shone a bit more than it had in a long while.  Here at Helms Deep, we kept busy with projects and lots of drawing.  I got Turks a new cat toy that he's been totally obsessed with.  Like, jumping in the hair, catching it in his mouth obsessed.  You can see in the above photo that he's mad I took a break for a photo haha!  But other than that, it's been really chill.  I'm finally over that nasty cold and ready to get out again!

Here's some fun stuff I found online this week...

  • I absolutely adore this bold, mid-century, comic book side table.  I used to make lots of things out of old comic books, and would love to make a couple of these with different themes.  Catwoman, Batman and a manga one!
  • This is a really detailed piece about making a succulent garden in a pink alligator.  You had me at pink alligator.
  • Speaking of pink!  Kat shared this project in her Thursday Treats this week and I loooove the neon dipped candles.  
  • The technique used to make this glass is so unique!  I really want to make some in pink.  The black is cool, but it reminds me of the black ooze in X-Files and I'd rather not be possessed by an alien.

  • I want to live in the fairy tale that is Ahoy Miss ^_^ Everything is pastel and pink and beautiful!
  • The detail on these clogs is so beautiful.  I've never owned a pair of Hasbeens, but in an effort to embrace my Amazonian height and start wearing more heels, I think these would be a great first pair.
  • How fun is the simple design of this fold-over clutch?  The makers used Spoonflower to print their own fabric!
  • Speaking of Spoonflower...I need a dress made of this fabric immediately!  SCIENCE!

  • Shauna shared an article by Grown Up Shoes, a fellow Austinite, in her Link Love this week.  The article talks about perceiving your time differently to avoid feeling guilty about never having enough.  I think it's a great way to change your mindset.
  • Retro Renovations shared 12 reasons to own a mid-century home.  We've been keeping out eyes out for all the mid-century goodness in Austin since we moved!
  • I love these tips for selling on Craigslist.  It can be difficult to find things, but so rewarding when you do!
  • And speaking of Shauna, I love the piece she wrote about changing up routines.  Working from home can be difficult and forcing yourself out that comfort zone and embracing some spontaneity can be good for the soul.

  • This article is really about different ways to display vintage items, but I was instantly distracted by the scalloped shelving.  Someday, I will have these shelves in my life.
  • I love Apartment Therapy's tips for composing a gallery wall around a television.  I've been putting off hanging anything behind ours for months because I just couldn't figure out how to make it look good without being too heavy.  Now I know!
  • Let's talk about how beautiful vaulted ceilings are.  They're really beautiful.  That's all, haha!
  • I pinned this hallway shot earlier this week and have not been able to get it out of my head.  The colors and lighting are so bright and fun!  


Check out more Fun Stuff articles here!  But only if you really like making stuff, geeky things and lots of cats.


March 29 • Happy Lemon Chiffon Cake Day

• This is part of my Happy Day, daily drawing project!  Check out the first post for more info. •
Happy Lemon Chiffon Cake Day!  Two cake days in a row makes me so hungry.  For cake.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

6 Things That Will Help Your Branding Stand Out

Good branding and design are amazingly important to help your business stand out.  This goes for personal branding if you're a freelancer or blogger and business branding for online and brick and mortar stores.  Branding helps to define you and makes you stand out from the crowd.  When I was a design student (many moons ago, haha!), I found branding one of the most challenging and fun kind of assignments.  It's definitely the most challenging when you're doing it for yourself.  I'm always my worst client!

So I've got some thoughts on branding and an example of good branding in practice to share with you.  I think Ledbelly Vintage has amazing branding and I'm using them as my example ^_^  

Let's approach this from two different angles:  Principles and Practice!  Go!


  • Keeping your design simple and easy to read (visually, and in terms of legibility) will help people recognize the brand and know what's going on quickly.
  • Be sure your logo is easy to read, especially when it's small.  That way, you can use it for business cards, buttons, and anything small without having to worry about size.  
  •  Limit your use of fonts and color palette.  This will help when you're working on print materials or posts on your blog, because you'll have a template to go back to and you can spend more time making instead of worrying what colors or type to use.  I suggest two fonts and five colors (one main color, two contrasting and two neutrals).
  • Ledbelly does a great job with this because Melinda uses one font in all her signage and has a theme of wood grain that adds texture without being distracting. 

  • Another reason to limit fonts and color palettes is consistency.  All your advertising, posts, shop banners, etc will have a common theme and will be instantly recognizable.  This means that you're work will shine across all medias, online or print.  No one will be confused if they click from your blog to your twitter or your shop because everything will be the same.
  • Ledbelly is consistent throughout their signage, packaging, business cards, you name it!  The brand is easily recognizable and undeniably memorable. 

  • Aw yesss...sweet segue!  Simplicity and Consistency in your branding work together in helping people remember you.
  • And the more people remember who you are and what you do, the more likely they are to think of you when they're in the market for what you're selling.
  • The first thing that stood out to me about Ledbelly, besides all the gorgeous vintage inventory, was the branding.  And that's what sticks with me the most.  That attention to detail elevates the brand and leaves a more professional and sophisticated impression.

So now that you know the basics, how does that translate into real world examples?  What aspects of your business should you be addressing?  Let's seeeeee....


  • When you've got a store, you probably have different sections around the floor that need to be clearly marked.  Online, you might have ads on your blog or different features to highlight.  This is a great place to keep colors or fonts (or both) consistent.  
  • In a retail setting it helps customers understand the physical layout while getting to know your brand's personality.  
  • Online, you might have ads on your blog to differentiate from features and sections.  These are great places to use elements of your branding that call out the differences in a consistent way, while keeping them separate.  
  • You can see a good example of the retail signage below.  Using the same type and texture for all signs through out the store, Ledbelly keeps everything easy to read and understand.  It cuts down on customer questions and looks pretty.

  • I love good packaging!  It's why Modcloth invests in custom printed boxes and why Apple uses beautiful, clean materials to hold their products.  It's an experience.  An extension of the brand that hopefully leaves the store and goes into your home.  Modcloth wants you to be excited when you get a package in the mail.  Apple wants to give a high-end experience to add value to the product.  Packaging helps them both achieve this.
  • If you have a retail or online shop, it's pretty straightforward.  What do you put your products in when a customer checks out?  This is a great time to showcase your brand and who you are.  Go back to the first examples: Modcloth is fun, accessible and quirky.  So they put a hand-drawn design inside and sweet pug on their invoice.  Super cute, right?  And Apple wants you to experience exclusivity.  The product you just bought has a high enough value that it's not worthy of just a plain cardboard box.
  • Take another peek at Ledbelly's packaging at the top of the post.  The natural kraft paper harkens back to the wood motif in the shop.  The angle of the custom stamp on the side is consistent with the angle on the product's label.  And the engraved key chain serves as a more substantial reminder of the shop and brand.

  • Aw yeah!  Another smoooooth segue.  Have a takeaway.  Give something that will survive the unwrapping of the product and will be a more lasting reminder of your business.
  • Ledbelly's keychain is a good example of a takeway for your customers.  A lot of vintage shops around Austin have free stickers on their counter for folks to take (I've got a collection of them on the back of my planner).  For my scarf shop, I include pin-back buttons in each order.  All of these things will hopefully survive the trash and be something fun that your customers will keep.  
  • Each takeaway becomes free advertising!  If you've got good products, branding and design, then people will be proud to show off their association with you and you'll get some sweet word-of-mouth advertising.  

This is a super high-level look at a very complex subject.  You could have a semester-long class dedicated to branding and still not cover everything.  If any of this doesn't make sense or you you'd like me to take a look at your own branding and give some advice, feel free to drop me a line at becky@thepinksamurai.com.  I'd love to help!

If you found this post helpful and would like see more content like this on the blog, let me know!  I could talk about this stuff all day.  Literally.  ALL. DAY.

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March 28 • Happy Black Forest Cake Day

• This is part of my Happy Day, daily drawing project!  Check out the first post for more info. •
Happy Black Forest Cake Day!  It's too bad the cake is a lie.  :P

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

March 27 • Happy Spanish Paella Day

• This is part of my Happy Day, daily drawing project!  Check out the first post for more info. •
Happy Spanish Paella Day!  So many yummy food days this month!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March 26 • Happy Make Up Your Own Holiday Day

• This is part of my Happy Day, daily drawing project!  Check out the first post for more info. •
Happy Make Up Your Own Holiday Day!  If I had a holiday, it would definitely be centered around kittens and the color pink ^_^

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

March 25 • Happy Waffle Day

• This is part of my Happy Day, daily drawing project!  Check out the first post for more info. •
Happy Waffle Day!  Do Leslie Knope proud and go eat piles and piles of waffles today!

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Monday, March 24, 2014

DIY • Painted Wood Boxes

In an effort to be more organized and more purposeful with our home organization, I got these boxes a few months ago to hold our Copic markers and various crafty tools.  I knew these boxes were going to go out on our open shelving, so I wanted them to be cute AND functional.

This is a super easy way to update your storage and add a little more personality to your space.
  • Plain wood boxes
  • White acrylic paint
  • Paint brush
  • Masking tape
  • Contact paper
  • Scissors

For Geometric Shapes
  • Using masking tape, tape off whatever shape you want.  I used a triangle for one, and stripes for the other.
  • Paint inside your shape.
  • Take masking tape off while the paint is still wet.  If you peel off the tape when it's dry or still tacky, it could pull up the paint.
  • Let it dry and you're done!
For cat shape
  • Cut a cat head shape out of contact paper.
  • Stick the shape in the middle of the top of your box.
  • Tape the edges off so no paint drips down the sides.
  • Paint over the whole top of the box. 
  • Carefully pull the contact paper off while the paint is still wet.  I used my fingernail, you could also use anything with a thin edge to help.  Be careful to not smudge the paint around the contact paper during this step!
  • Let it dry and admire your new box.

I really love how these came out!  The flat boxes make great risers for shelf displays, too.  I might have had to move approximately 500 My Little Ponies to take photos of these haha.

Fun thing!  I've just discovered WhimsyBox.  And though I tend to stay away from anything involving the word "whimsy", this website is really fun and I've been browsing their projects and supplies for the last couple of weeks.  They've got almost all the supplies I used for this project, so check them out below if you'd like to try this out yourself.  Full disclosure: I do get a credit if anyone makes a purchase.

Check out WhimsyBox and if you sign up here, you'll get $5 off the subscription box.  Take a peek at their monthly box, projects from users and supplies to purchase.  I'd love to know what you think!  And if you sign up, let me know and we can follow each other!


March 24 • Happy Chocolate Covered Raisin

• This is part of my Happy Day, daily drawing project!  Check out the first post for more info. •
Happy Chocolate Covered Raisin Day!  Mmmm...chocolate covered raisins....

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

March 23 • Happy Melba Toast Day

• This is part of my Happy Day, daily drawing project!  Check out the first post for more info. •
Happy Melba Toast Day!  One of my most favorite professors in school would call boring design, "very Melba Toast".  I will remember that forever ^_^

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Fun Stuff • DIYs + The Ultimate Cat Dress + A Trip Down Route 66

This week, I was stuck in bed every day with an ugly cold.  But that gave me plenty of time to scour the internet and spend all day on pinterest :P

Please...reap the benefits of my excessive internet searching this week!
  • So you know how I have an almost unhealthy obsession with Peter Pan collars?  NOW I CAN PUT THEM ON EVERYTHING!
  • Twinkie Chan is one of my crafty heroes and I'm loving the videos she's started doing.  This one features the new free pattern she just released with Michaels and Lily Sugar 'n Cream.  PS: I'm totally on Team Learn to Read Patterns with her.  It's hard, but amazing worth it!
  • Speaking of crafty heroes, Jennifer Perkins just launched a new blog and design and I'm in love with her Cake Stand Terrarium.  I have so many super cute toys that would look even cuter on a cake stand!
  • Lidy added liquid gold leaf to these egg cups and turned them into succulent planters.  I think it's brilliant and beautiful!

  • Elsie wrote an interesting piece on blogging being a young industry.  She's been a leader in the space for so long, that I think she has some really great insights on where things are going for the blogging world.
  • So, this is more of a "listen" but I really enjoyed Design*Sponge's After the Jump about The Value of Hard Work.  It was nice hearing perspectives of different generations on work ethic.
  • Janey went on a trip down the original Route 66 and took some amazing photos!
  • My friend Miranda has music blog called The Good Groupie and I love the bands she featured this week.  Especially The Crookes and The Strypes!
  • Kate shared her kitchen this week and I'm dyyying!
  • These bowls, made from semi-precious stones are absolutely gorgeous.  We really need to start incorporating geologic pieces in our home.
  • Ice cream planter?  Yes, please!  How cute would some floofy Hydrangeas look in it?
  • I've just found out about water cube glass and I want it everywhere.

Check out more Fun Stuff articles here!  But only if you really like making stuff, geeky things and lots of cats.


March 22 • Happy World Water Day

• This is part of my Happy Day, daily drawing project!  Check out the first post for more info. •
Happy World Water Day!  This kitten might hate it, but the UN has a lot of great information about World Water Day that you can check out here!

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Friday, March 21, 2014

March 21 • Happy Common Courtesy Day

• This is part of my Happy Day, daily drawing project!  Check out the first post for more info. •
Happy Common Courtesy Day!  Leave a note, give a smile, hold a door...just be nice today!  And every day, really.  For a little kindness inspiration: Sarah wrote a really great piece about ways to make the world a little bit better and Kate has a wonderful series focusing on ways to be kind and encouraging random acts of kindness on her blog.

PS: If you get the drawing, we need to be bffs.

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Renegade Austin SXSW

Renegade!!!  Last weekend, I hopped downtown and braved the SXSW crowd to check out the Renegade Craft Fair.  And by "braved the SXSW crowd" I mean just that.  There were people approximately everywhere!  But, despite the tourist slalom, I gota  parking at the venue and getting my guest pass was a breeze.  I went early on Thursday and had a great time wandering around, peeping all the really cool sellers.

Below are a ton of photos and shop links!  You should click them and buy things ^_^
Dowdy Studio
Once Again Sam
Poppy & Fern
I'm always excited to see Rachel's work!  Her embroidery is so distinct and her instagram is one of my most favorite profiles to follow.
AK Woodworking & Design
More from AK!  I've been friends with Amanda and Khien on instagram for a while and it was so nice to finally meet them in real life.  Their work is just ridiculously gorgeous.
See?  I absolutely adore their Sun Screen Mini Lantern.  The detail in each piece is so intricate.
Appendage Accessories
Doc Elliot
Their's was my favorite booth of the whole show.  It was like walking into an old-fashioned drug store.  I loved how the whole experience was an extension of their branding.
Fartsy Arts
Urban Anonymous
Nothing but a Pigeon
Taylor is another instagram friend that I finally met!  She's so fun and makes the cutest crocheted taxidermy.  I can crochet a scarf all day long, but my brain refuses to do 3D objects.  Her stuff is just gorgeous and mind-boggling ^_^  I think the jellyfish are my favorites.
Restrung Jewelry
Inedible Jewelry
And, of course, there was an Air-Stream trailer playing music through out the hall.  I mean, it was in Austin after all. 
This was one of the best craft shows I've been to in Austin so far.  The last Renegade was just sort of so-so, plenty of nice shops, but the event space was bland and there wasn't a lot of energy.  The SXSW edition was at the same venue, but had tons of energy and sellers pulled out all the stops with their booths.  It was a gorgeous show and I'm so glad I went.  I've got lots of new shops that are about to fill up my Pinterest haha!

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