Thursday, July 31, 2014

Summer's End, Travel, and a Notebook DIY


July is coming to an end and I can hardly believe how quickly it came. I'm trying to hold on to summer for as long as I can. There's changes on the horizon...New opportunities, the end of one journey, the beginning of a next. I guess I'm excited but I have to admit, the summer has left me feeling a little frazzled and sometimes I just want to take one looong and cozy nap through the next few months.Wake me up when November ends, just in time to start putting up Christmas decorations.

I'm wrapping this summer up with a much-needed vacation. I'm going to see the family, dig my toes into the sand, and make some four-legged friends - two mischievous Doxie sisters my parents just adopted. I can't wait to meet them - and introduce them to you! How are you planning on wrapping up the summer? Any special plans? Or are you just ready to see it go?


I wanted to flex my crafting muscles a bit and make something different than I usually make. Every design student ends up binding a book or two throughout the course of their academic career, but I have to admit, it's never been my forte. I'm just not a book binding natural, but I greatly admire those who are. I never have the patience to measure and trim and score and fold...And some people make it look so easy! This tutorial is simple enough for a book-binding novice and produces lovely results.

Blanche Devereaux's "Martinique"-inspired room
For the cover, I used a printout of Don Loper's fabulous banana leaf pattern, "Martinique", famously designed in 1942 for the Beverly Hills Hotel. I just love that it's an inspiration for Blanche Devereaux's room decor in the Golden Girls as well (did I mention I'm obsessed with The Golden Girls? And cheesecake. I'm also obsessed with cheesecake). I think this show is probably the first place I ever spotted this timeless design.

You can use the notebook for anything you like - sketches, notes, or maybe little memories from past vacations or happy moments. Fill it with ticket stubs or printed photos, scribble in ideas - whatever you like. There's very little trimming involved, too, so you don't really have to worry about precise measurements or aligning things correctly. I wouldn't recommend pasting too many actual photos into it because it will make the notebook really thick, unless you decide to use a larger cover to accomodate this. Printing photos out on plain printer paper would probably be a better alternative, or maybe print the images directly onto the pages you'll be binding, and then scribble notes on the side. It's up to you! Get creative and make it your own.

11-12 sheets of 8.5"x11" cardstock
1 cover, printed on the same cardstock paper
Rubber cement or a book binding glue
X-Acto Knife
Cutting mat or thick surface to do your trimming on
Embroidery thread (not pictured)
Clamps of some kind to keep the paper together after gluing/folding (not pictured)

1. Print your cover design on a single sheet of cardstock paper. Make sure your printer is set to borderless printing. My cover has a 1/5" white bar down the middle where I will score the sides to create the spine. The bar isn't necessary, but it helped me to visibly identify where I need to score and it created a neat sort of line when lined up with other notebooks I made later (shown at the end).


2. Score along the edges of the white bar (5 1/4" in from each edge). BE CAREFUL not to use the sharp edge of your knife for this. Use the back edge (or a butter knife, a scoring tool, anything with a blunt edge) to score along the edge. Scoring just creates a little line of memory for the paper to fold along cleanly. (See below).

Score using "wrong" side of X-Acto knife

Presto Score-o..?

3. Set your cover aside for now. Grab the sheets of cardstock. I used 11 sheets for my notebook..You can add more if you plan on just writing in it. I left out one just to give it a teensy bit of room in case I wanted to paste something inside that might bulk it out later. You will need to trim 1/2" off the end of each sheet or else they will stick out past your cover.

Trim 1/2" off edge of each sheet of cardstock
 4. Now, make a mark or use the measurements on a cutting mat to measure the exact middle of your newly trimmed page - 5 1/4" from the edges. Score along this center line. Do this for all your TRIMMED pages.

5. Fold all your trimmed and scored pages, then line them up. Clamp them together to hold them in place.
Trimmed and scored pages all lined up. Clamp to hold in place.
6. At this point, I wanted to make sure that my pages had a little added security to keep them in place. I took a sturdy needle and poked two holes, one at each end, fairly close to the edges. Exact measurement is not important, just don't make them too far in or you'll have trouble opening your notebook later. I then threaded some embroidery floss through, tied it, and trimmed it down.

7. Cover the edges of your lined up pages and the inside of your cover's spine with a layer of rubber cement. Don't apply it too thinly, but don't make it too globby. I applied more to the spine than the pages. I also didn't include any photos of that because it was a pain in the ass to do that and try to photograph it simultaneously :| Glue + cameras on crappy tripods don't mix!

Add glue to pages and spine; Stick together, apply clamps.
8. Hold it all in place using clamps/clips and then let it dry!


I made a couple more because I quite liked the idea of lining the colorful spines up! I'm going to try to make some mini travelogues out of past trips with these.


Hope you enjoyed! 'Til next time~

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cherry Compote Cocktail


To get this blog rolling, I thought I'd start off with something simple (you'll learn very quickly that I'm a huge fan of anything with 4 ingredients or less, bahaha). Today I have a recipe for a Cherry Compote Cocktail. Have you ever had canned fruit cocktail? Well, my friend - this is 10 times better! Compote is a homemade fruit cocktail using only 3 ingredients - sugar, water, and fruit. It happens to be a staple in many Polish households during hot summers. One of my aunts in Poland has a beautiful orchard plot where she picks cherries every summer for all kinds of delicious desserts. I went there a few years ago and it was amazing..Cherries raining down on you everywhere! I'll have to dig up some photos from that trip and post them sometime.

When I was little, my mom used to make compote all the time with whatever fruits were available - plums, cherries, strawberries, peaches, you name it. Traditionally, it's served cold (and non-alcoholic) but I remember I could never wait for it to cool and I loved sipping on it while it was still warm. It's a wonderful way to warm up on a chilly autumn day if you prefer to serve it hot. It can also be mixed with herbs or spices for a unique flavor combination - try thyme, mint, or cinnamon and use fresh spices/herbs if possible. If you don't want to use sugar, you can sweeten it with honey.

This grown-up version puts the "cocktail" in your fruit cocktail and features another Polish favorite - Vodka! If you're not sure which brand to try, Sobieski ("so-byeh-ski") makes a great tasting and affordably priced vodka.

Hot, cold, alcoholic or virgin - however you choose to serve this is up to you. The end result will be delicious no matter what! Enjoy. :)


1/2 cup granulated sugar (increase to 3/4 if desired; depends on the sweetness of your cherries)
1 pound of cherries
8 cups water
1 large pot
Mixing utensil
1 cup vodka (again, exact measurement is up to you)


1. Rinse your cherries. You can either cut the cherries and pit them or leave them whole.

2. Put cherries, water, and sugar into pot. Set temperature to high and stir as the water heats up to dissolve the sugar. Once the water has started to bubble gently, decrease the heat to medium and let it cook for 30 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally. Toss in the herbs or spices now if desired. If I'm using whole herbs or spices (like cinnamon sticks), I take them out once the compote is done cooking, but it's up to you how strong you want the herbal/spicy flavor to be.

3. Remove from heat. Pour in vodka. Stir.

**Let the mixture cool at room temperature in the pot before transferring to your glasses or pitcher. Do not store it in the fridge to cool while it's still very hot!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Hello and welcome

Hello! Welcome to The Forest Door, a place to collect and share all of my ideas and projects. I'm a Polish graphic designer with too many ideas, hobbies, and a dangerous love of coffee. I have an obsession with The Golden Girls, design, illustration, and Studio Ghibli - in no particular order. I also occasionally make bad (or good, depending on your sense of humor) puns.

This blog was born out of a mission to make every moment in life fulfilling, productive, and inspiring to myself and others. It's also meant to be a sort of "written companion" to my Etsy shop ( where I make and sell handmade creations. Check some of them out below!

 Making things by hand is a passion of mine, one passed down to me by generations of family members all passionate about creating art in one form or another. I love to combine the things that inspire me with different mediums and share them with people all over the world. Etsy has given me a great outlet for that. I started my shop mainly as a side hobby but it's started to gain some unexpected momentum. The biggest shock was the reach I've experienced in the short amount of time my shop has been open - I've sold to people in Australia, South Africa, Canada, and beyond. What an amazing feeling, knowing that something I worked so hard on will be cherished and enjoyed by people all over the world. Now, I'm trying my hand at blogging because I just have too many ideas for things that don't necessarily belong in the shop! So, I'm here to share them with others and pass that inspiration onward. I hope to continue to grow my business and inspire others to actively pursue their hobbies or dreams. Life is just too short to neglect the things that make you happy.

Mainly I plan on sharing DIY ideas, recipes, and any design/art/craft inspiration I come across. No concrete schedule or anything just yet, just going with the flow and seeing where my creativity takes me. I have some fun things planned for future posts and I'm excited to get the ball rolling.  Pull up a chair, get comfy, and settle in for what I hope will be a pleasant stay :)