Open Book Thursday (ok, well, Friday)


Hello and happy Friday! I meant to do this yesterday, but I am back in studio trying to get ready for 2013 and the day just got away from me. So, this week it will be Open Book Friday.

I want to thank you all for your questions! I love getting them, hearing what is on your mind and honestly, answering them is a good reason to sit down and think and write. I really appreciate this opportunity. So, thanks! And keep 'em coming!

On to questions! (I am answering these in random order, or in order of what I have the brain power for today...)

Katie asked:

I’m sixteen years old and I fell in love with your work a little over a year ago. I’d love to know if you knew this was the direction you wanted to go as a teenager? When did you figure out this was your dream?
Thanks so much

Thanks Katie! The answer to that is complicated. (Not unlike being sixteen.)

It was never actually my dream. There. I said it.

When I was a teen, I was doing a little bit of everything and trying really hard to get focused on my schoolwork so that I could get into a good college. I was not a natural academically, so had to make the decision to apply myself every single day.

I was very into art and theater, and knew that I wanted to pursue those things at a higher level, but I didn't really know how or where. I also played sports and wanted to be involved with athletics at the college level, so going to a conservatory was not high on the list. Honestly, at the time, I wanted to be on Broadway and dreamed of moving to New York and giving it a shot, but truth be told, my very practical side kicked in (as well as my very practical Mom) and after someone came to speak to one of my art classes about graphic design, I thought "OOOH! I would like to do that!" I ended up at the University of Kansas School of Design and entered a very rigorous and challenging program and loved it. Curly Girl Design very slowly developed as my style developed and my work and opportunities developed. It happened because I put in the time.

So the truth is, this was never my dream. It became my dream as I developed and learned and stumbled through the very organic (and mostly messy) process of becoming myself. A process that I am still very much in the middle of.

The good news is, you have your whole life to become who you are going to be.

All this is not to say that you should not have dreams or that you should talk yourself out of dreams... or anything like that. It just means that you will be (hopefully) about a million different versions of yourself over the course of your life and hopefully you will allow yourself to explore them as they come up. There will be many dreams and many paths. You may not get to follow them all, but will figure it out. You don't always have to know what you are doing, or going to do. Even if everyone else thinks you should.

Take your time. Commit to learning. Commit to yourself, and commit to exploring. Then follow the thing that makes your heart sing. Over and over again.


That's all I've got for today. Have something you want to ask me?  Leave your question in the comments section of this post.


By Leigh 09.28.2012 – 9:07 am


Photos by me from Instagram

All A-Critter - A style board, and a cry for help

Photos and journal and Style File

We had a lot of pets in my house growing up. Just about anything you can think of, we had...except cats. We never had a cat. There was one kitten that I found the year of the floods but my mom washed him in the sink, got the fleas off of him and took him to a shelter. That was the last of the cats.

We had usual pets; dogs (Scout,Tag,Brody), hamsters (Muffin, Oatmeal, Peanut..see a theme?), birds...and we had unusual pets like a tarantula and a hedge hog (Harriet). We also had a box turtle or twelve.

It was like the Swiss Family Robinson. Minus the cool tree house.

As an adult I have had no real urge to have multiple aquariums full of various reptiles. I have decided against dependants that require me to keep mealworms in my refrigerator or a box full of live crickets. We just have a dog. She's pretty low-key.

But recently as Coach and I settle in to our new-ish home together and start to decorate together, I have noticed something. As we find things in our travels that speak to us, and as we add tiny layers to our living space to give it character or make us feel at home there, I am starting to feel....well, watched. We have inadvertently developed a collection of sorts. Nothing obvious at first glance. Nothing that we display proudly or call attention to. But as you wander around our home you will slowly discover that we have...critters.

I was worried at first that this was an 'age' having a collection of Hummels or porcelain cats and slowly but surely I would start to spend my days talking to my critters as I dusted them off. But as I have been finding them in my house and taking snapshots of them for Instagram (Curlygirl510) I realized that these quirky touches remind me of home. They add life and a little whimsy to our rooms and make the sometimes serious, unserious. Plus, I like them. They make me happy and remind me to smile (especially Walter, our bathroom walrus), and that, after all is worth remembering to do.

The world is full of clever critters for your home if you are feeling the need for an extra pair of tiny eyes to watch over you. I have collected a few here for you! Enjoy!

1.) Allen Designs Snow Owl Clock ~ Close2myart

2.) Happy The Future Owl Ornament by Cori Dantini ~ Marmalade (617-484-0093)

3.) Patch NYC Fox Lamp ~ Target

4.) Pewter Squirrel ~ MossMountain on Etsy

5.) Hedgehog Mittens ~ Morehouse Farm

6.)Handmade Plush Fox ~ KayshaK on Etsy

7.)Raccoon in a Suit 8 x 10 print ~ LuciusArt on Etsy

8.)Giraffe Hook ~ coming soon to Marmalade (617-484-0093)

9.)Hedgehog brushes ~ O'Suzannah, Charlottesville, VA

10.)Critter Mugs ~ Marmalade (617-484-0093)


Anything you love? Am I alone in my critter-collecting? Am I in denial? Weigh in!


By Leigh 09.26.2012 – 4:33 pm


Open Book Thursday


Last week I asked you to ask me your questions and said I would answer them here, on Thursdays. Welcome to the very first Open Book Thursdays! Let's see how this goes! I loved seeing your questions, and thinking about the is such a great opportunity to get to the root of things when people ask you fun or thoughtful questions. I would love it if you all would answer them for yourselves as we go along here...feel free to share your answers! I will get to a few answers a week, and will try to answer all over time, so please be patient with me.

As a sidebar, I was going through a bunch of things getting ready for a yard sale this weekend and found a little collection of the treasures that I brought home from my travels this summer. Coach and I did a 'stay-cation' this year, and planned a couple of weeks around Boston and New England. (I should clarify, that in this instance I have defined 'stay-cation' as 'not France' where I really wanted to go...for those of you are picky about the definition.) But this was not a default choice, it was intentional, it was a great chance to explore the place we live and see some things we have always wanted to see or do together. And frankly, it was WAY less stressful than being gone for two weeks! We didn't even scratch the surface of our list! We went to Fenway for a day game, the aquarium, to an IMAX movie, and on a whale watch. We spent a few nights in Western Massachusetts at a retreat center, where we hiked, and kayaked and read actual books and reconnected. We also spent a couple nights in the beautiful city of Portland, ME where we mostly ate and shopped and goofed around. The whole thing was a blast and we returned to our regularly scheduled lives refreshed and connected.

Clockwise from the left, my treasures are:

Jelly Ballet Flats from the J.Crew outlets in Kittery, ME

Matches from Eastern Standard in Boston

Turquoise Buddha Head from Blanche & Mimi in Portland

Infinity Scarf from American Eagle Outfitters

Vintage Book from Flea Market

Spotty Notebook from Rock Paper Scissors in Wisscasset, ME

"Maine" Christmas Ornament (we get one from all the places we visit) from a tourist shop

Turquoise Soap from Kripalu Gift Shop

Striped Tea Towel from Blanch & Mimi in Portland

"Knot-i-cal" Key chain from tourist shop


Ok! On to questions! (I am answering these in random order, or in order of what I have the brain power for today...)

Kolleen Asked: I would love to know how you received your licensing gig and how long you were “creating and putting yourself out there” before it happened??

*This is a great question, many of you wanted to know more about licensing. My entree into licensing was a little non-traditional. They found me. I had been up and running as a small greeting card company and was exhibiting at the National Stationery Show and the gift shows and licensors came to me and asked me if I would license my art to them for other types of product. I of course said "No."

Truth is, I didn't know anything about licensing, or these companies, and frankly, it scared me. So for a long time I said "no." Then, I did a little research on licensing (at the time, in actual books) and looked into the companies that were pursuing me, and met with them. I chose a couple to work with and started from there. I made sure to vet the people and the businesses I was planning to work with to make sure that they had the kind of integrity, style and vision that I wanted associated with my now-established brand and frankly, my life's work. For the most part, I have been very pleased with the companies I chose to work with (Santa Barbara Design Studio, Demdaco, Ronnie Sellers, Boston International & Wichelt ) I made a decision on who to work with and what types of products to make based on my long -term vision for my company (we are also manufacturers) and my brand as an artist. This is never simple and continues to be a challenge to me, but for me, so far, it has been the right decision. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to make those decisions and having not had to seek them out but having them find me. That is not always the case, but is becoming more and more frequent.

Curly Girl Design has been a presence in the industry since our first Stationery Show in 2004. We got more and more notice after winning a LOUIE award for "Cape & Tiara" in 2005. I have been doing between 3 and 6 trade shows a year for the past 10 years. That is the 'work' of it. It's exhausting, expensive, and sometimes fun or frustrating, but it's experience. So to answer your question Kolleen, I was around for about 4 years, plugging away before licensors found me, but was very happy doing what I was doing until then, and continue to do it today.

All that said, the world of art and product licensing is changing every single day and I am no expert on it. I can speak to my experience, and my perspective as an artist, business owner, and as a buyer on the retail side, but there are many many ways to get your work licensed. My advise is to learn as much about the process and the logistics of it as possible, think about what you want to put out into the world, and think about the WHY. Think about what you want to build and what its purpose is. Work backwards from there.

An avenue for artists who are not business owners, and don't really want to be, is to work with a licensing agent or rep. Some of my favorites are Shelia Meehan and Lila Rogers but there are many. Keep in mind, that even if you work with an agent and don't want to be a business owner, you are still in business with your art and should treat it accordingly. Have a lawyer. Get organized and follow your gut.

If you are interested in art licensing and think you might be ready to get it together and get some exposure, you might consider the Surtex show. I recommend walking the show first (you can register as a visiting artist) and seeing what it's all about. If you are an existing, established artist or brand looking to make the next step, you can also consider a consultant like Nancy Soriano

That is just the tip of the iceberg, but I think I have given you the gist. You should know that licensing companies are always always on the look out for the next thing, and they are looking everywhere to find it! Set up on Etsy, DO your local craft never know who will find you!

That's all I have time for today, I will try to get to more next Thursday!
Thank you so much for your questions! If you have a question for Open Book Thursdays, feel free to leave it here!


By Leigh 09.20.2012 – 7:27 am


Dark Chocolate Brown Butter Oatmeal Cookies

The Dish

Good Morning! Happy new week! (And Happy New Year for some!)

I don't mean to overload you with recipes for sweets (well, yes I do...) but it is just starting to feel like fall here in New England, and it got me to baking. I am pretty excited about this recipe as it is the culmination of many years of trying to perfect the oatmeal cookie, and because it is a combination of my favorite ingredients.

I don't really like raisins. (Soapbox alert!) I am not sure why they are such a popular pairing with oatmeal, I mean, my general philosophy is that I don't really want fruit messing around in my dessert unless it is pie (yes, there are many holes in that philosophy and I reserve the right to abandon it completely for the right fruit-filled delicacy. But don't expect me to not go down kicking.) Anyhow, raisins. I don't know how they get such top billing with an oatmeal cookie! It is pretty darn difficult to find an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie out there and in my mind, it is a marriage only topped by peanut butter and well, anything.

These cookies involve browning butter (which takes more attention than skill) and a few specific ingredients that you are welcome to substitute for more-probably-in-your-pantry versions, but I wouldn't. The difference is divine and a welcome change from the ordinary. They are also a salty-oat cookie. The combination of a little extra salt and the oats and dark chocolate is magic.

I almost named these the "How Leigh Got Her Groove Back Cookies", mostly because they involve dark chocolate and I have a healthy crush on Taye Diggs, but also because that's just where I am at these days. I feel like I am focused and in my dharma and well, I'm in my groove. It's a good feeling, and hopefully, this recipe is filled with enough of it to pass on to you!

Without further ado...

Dark Chocolate Brown Butter Oatmeal Cookies

You will need:

Standard baking sheets lined with parchment

2 sticks of unsalted butter

1 1/4 Cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 (scant) organic sugar

2 eggs

2tbs milk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 Cups flour

1tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp flaked sea salt (slightly ground) + more for garnish. note: you can use another coarse sea salt for this but if it is a larger granule, grind it with a mortar and pestle slightly

8-10 oz of finely chopped high-quality dark chocolate note: chopping a bar finely gives the chocolate a flaky texture and allows for some larger bits and smaller bits. These are wonderful surprises. If all you have is chips on hand, stick them in the food processor and chop them up.

2.5 Cups quick oats

*If you are feeling fancy, chopped walnuts, or hazelnuts are a wonderful addition to this recipe. Dried cherries (if you're into fruit...) are also really nice.


Preheat Oven to 375˙ and line baking sheets with parchment.

In a bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Add the sugars to the bowl of your mixer and set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan with a light colored bottom, brown the butter. Here are some awesome instructions on how to brown butter. When butter is browned, pour into a metal or glass bowl and let cool for a few minutes.

When butter is cool-ish, add to sugar mixture in mixer bowl and mix on medium until combined. Continue mixing and add milk and vanilla. While mixer is running, add eggs one at a time (crack into a small bowl first to avoid shells in mixture). Mix well.

Gradually add flour mixture, mix until combined. Dough will look a little runnier than you expect.

With mixer on low, add the oats then the chocolate, hand turning in the last bits of the chocolate to avoid over mixing.

Using a mini ice cream scoop if you have one, drop generous scoops onto baking sheet (6-8 to a sheet) and sprinkle a pinch of finishing salt on top of each.

Bake for about 11 minutes. Cool on rack.

Makes about 24 large cookies


Enjoy! Let me know what you think!


By Leigh 09.17.2012 – 8:17 am


Open Book Thursday

The Biz and journal

I have been answering a lot of questions lately. Questions for interviews, through emails, in the shop, and in working on a "Frequently Asked Questions" page for our website. I like questions, and people who ask questions, because they are how one gets answers and because if you are asking questions, you are probably a curious person.

I like curious people. Curious people have the most impact on the world.

I also like answering questions, because I generally like talking about myself talking to people and because so many people have answered my questions or let me into parts of their process along the way (regarding business, art, life and other things) that I always feel good about paying that forward when I can. I also always envy people who answer questions thoughtfully and like to practice being one of those people whenever I can.

The only kinds of questions I don't like are leading questions, the kind that we already know the answer to, or are waiting for an answer that we don't like or are prepared to judge. Questions we ask other people because we know the answer will make us feel better about ourselves. I try not to ask those, and I try not to answer them when possible.

So, all of this is to say that I am opening the floor for questions! Ask me anything you want. I will do my best to answer (in due time) and if we end up using your question in our FAQs we will give you a shout out!!

However, if your question is about curly hair, I will save you some time: check out this post and this post. That's really all I need to say on the matter (she says as she high-fives her conditioner...)

Looking forward to the conversation!



OOOOH! Almost forgot! We have a couple of winners from the Coach's Birthday Giveaway! Sexy Random number generator picked:

Comment #3, Kate and Comment #84 Chaco_Kid! Congratulations you two, we will be in touch and get you your massive box of holiday cards...hope you have lots of stamps!

By Leigh 09.13.2012 – 11:37 am


Coach’s Birthday Giveaway!


Today is a day of remembrance for this nation. It's a day of story telling, moments of silence, dedication and of rebuilding. Like many of you, I remember 9/11/01 as clear as a bell and knew many whose lives were affected, and forever changed by the events that day. I wish peace and grace for those people and this nation today.

Today is also a day of celebration in my house. It is the day (MANY years before 2001) that my darling husband was born! I didn't know Coach on 9/11, but it is, indirectly, due to those events that we met and for that I am grateful. We both lost our jobs in layoffs resulting from our respective industries losing business after 9/11 and wound up working and volunteering at a local yoga studio. I remember the exact day in 2002 that we met and I actually still get the same feeling in my stomach sometimes when he walks in a room as I did that day.

In celebration and to add a lift to your day, I say we do a give-away!!

You can use this comment space in anyway you need today, in memory of someone, in celebration, to tell your story, or to just wish Coach Happy Birthday. I will pick 2 comments at random to receive a full collection of the Curly Girl Design Holiday Card Line (that's 21 boxes of cards)!!

Have a peaceful and beautiful day. Happy Birthday Coach!


By Leigh 09.11.2012 – 11:28 am


Photos © 2012 Curly Girl Design, Inc./Leigh Standley. all rights reserved.

End of Summer Blueberry Kuchen

The Dish

Hi All! Happy September! Can you believe it is already September!? Man, minutes are short.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about this time of year, and we realized something. We actually still (I say still, because we are well out of school- age, though have and do work around the school schedule often) think of September as the beginning of the year. She even said that she does the kind of reflection that most do around New Year's, around the beginning of September. So here she is, assessing her life, and I found myself cleaning out my spice cabinet, recovering pillows, moving furniture and purging my closet. I was assessing my state of things too.

There is a lot of energy moving around this time of year. From the change of seasons, to the change of routine, to just the way our thoughts are arranged around things. It can mean a ton of good stuff, but it can also mean a little, ahem, upheaval. (enter sobs for no apparent reason)

So, like any good friend, I suggest eating your feelings.

I made this deliciously simple late summer confection for the first time in 2008 when I found myself with an insane amount of blueberries from the farmer's market. I stumbled upon the recipe here , and have tinkered with it slightly over the years.

I don't have a go-to recipe per se, (much to my husband's lament) but this is one thing I seem to make over and over. It is great to bring places because it shows well and is pretty easy to travel with, save a rogue blueberry from time to time, and it's minimal ingredients make it as fresh and light as you want it to be after a warm day.

We are coming to the end of blueberry season, but you can still get bundles at the markets and if you are anywhere near Maine.... get Maine berries! They are incredible.

End of Summer Blueberry Kuchen

Kuchen is the German word for cake, though this ends up being more like a cross between a pie and a tart.

You will need:

A springform pan (8 - 10")

1/2 Cup whole wheat flour

1/2 Cup flour (plus 2 tbs)

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1/2 Cup of sugar (plus 2 tbs.)

1/2 Cup of butter, room temperature and cut into pieces

1Tbs white vinegar

Zest of one whole lemon, divided

5 Cups of fresh blueberries

1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 400˚

In a medium bowl, or the bowl of your food processor, mix together the 1/2 cup of each flour, salt, and 2 tbs of sugar and half of the lemon zest.

Cut in butter (or pulse in if using food processor) until the mix resembles a coarse crumb.

Sprinkle with vinegar and with lightly floured fingers, shape the dough. Press dough into the bottom of the springform pan. You want about 1/4 inch thickness on the bottom and then press up the sides. Dough will not go all the way up the sides (think of it as making a little dough bowl to hold your blueberries) about one inch and not as thick as the bottom. It should look rustic.

In another bowl, (or, I use a zip-lock bag) mix (or shake) 3 Cups of blueberries with 2tbs of flour, 1/2 Cup sugar, cinnamon and the remaining lemon zest. try and get them sort of evenly coated. Pour the blueberries into pan.

Bake in the middle rack for about 45 minutes, or until you see the fruit part bubbling slightly.

Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Add remaining blueberries (I give them a little press so they fit tidily into the pan...) arrange them nicely.

Let cool. When totally cool, run a knife along the edge of the pan, and release the springform. Serve with the best vanilla ice cream (or lemon sorbet) you can find.

Feelings are delicious.


Enjoy and let me know what you think! What are you moving around this September???


By Leigh 09.04.2012 – 7:52 am

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