Who do you think you are?

30-something mother, wife, lawyer, writer, design junkie, craftaholic, cook

likes: clever tools, snazzy colors, working for justice, kid wrangling, Meyer lemons

dislikes: inefficiency, civil discovery, most shades of purple, Tori Amos

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Entries in printable (18)


January Radishes

A radish.

That I have been neglecting this site is undeniable. I have been conflicted about how and why to continue. In the Pinterest era, it is easy to believe that there is someone else out there who is better, neater, tidier, and thensome than anything I have to offer.

But that's the thing, isn't it?

Tightly framed shots. Perfectly placed bokeh backlighting. Marvelous antique silver cachepot somethingorothers.

Does anyone really live like that? I travel in some pretty well-heeled circles, and I don't know anyone who does.

For the last year or so, I've struggled with Cottage Industrialist. It has brought me incredible pleasure, helped me to forge real-life friends, and helped me soldier through some tough times. But I have become increasingly concerned that I have been a part of selling a fantasy. A fantasy in which I do not—and do not want to—live.


In late December of 2008, I posted a calendar on my blog, which was then only a few months old. I sent a PDF of the calendar to a blogger I admired. She never wrote back. I printed off a few copies for family members and moved on. And then on December 31, the hits started rolling in. First by the hundreds and then by the thousands. Some other well-known blogger I'd never heard of had found the calendars and posted a link in her year-end round up. And, overnight I went from having a handful of friends and random Norweigans reading my site to being (okay, feeling like) an internet sensation. And, well, that felt pretty fricking good.

To my great delight, a lot of the people who came for free calendars stuck around and became a part of a community of big-hearted people who appreciated the same things I did and encouraged me personally as I tried to figure out how to pursue them amidst the pressures of being a mom, wife, lawyer, daughter, sister, and friend.

That and, I would soon learn, they (along with every other person on the internet) REALLY liked calendars.

For the next few years, I would spend much of November and December trying my best to outdo myself, trying to please the clamoring hordes. I tried humor one year. The next I taught myself to paint. Seriously. 


This year, as October and November and December ebbed farther and farther along, the annual pressure to come up with a calendar felt lopsided and weird. I've never let up with my industrialist ways at home. But over the last year or so, I've decided to back off of documenting my every crafty or culinary move for the world to see. So why keep up the calendar business? Hadn't it run it's course?

But. Two things:

1. Radishes.

Two years ago, when I set out to do the drawings that became the basis of the Seasonal Produce Calendar 1.0, I had a file that I worked on for HOURS. It was a bunch of radishes. And I loved those damned radishes. But I ran out of room for them. And never finished them. I can't tell you how many radishes I've drawn since. It's like they're trying to tell me something.

2. Emails.

The Internet gets a pretty bad rap. Creepy ads for Viagra and Cialis and mail-order brides. Spam chain letters and flame wars and anonymous comment trolls. But, in my experience, the Internet is full of kind, lovely people. WHO FREAKING LOVE CALENDARS. And who write forceful, if very polite, emails requesting same. Posthaste, please.


It's late. Your January is one-quarter finished. You are likely penciling in your February obligations.

And all I have for you is this radish. This single, winter radish.

But that's the thing. It's not perfect—radishes rarely are. But they are bright, red spots in winter's dreary harvest. They are a promise of spring's plump peaches, of summer's bright red tomatoes. And so, in a way, this single radish is my promise to you few who remain, who pester me (eversogently) for the next installment in this Julian madness. There will be more to come. In the fullness and ripeness of time. 

You never know when the next bumper crop is on the way...

Download January here. Be not a jerk. Do not sell, alter, or redistribute, please.


Aaargh! It's the thought that counts, me hardies.

So, this year I almost didn't do a Valentine set. Preoccupied with other things, like watching my kiddo learn to read, training for a marathon, and watching all the mindless television I missed over the last year, I just didn't feel inspired. Not to mention the fact that when asked what he'd like to have his Valentines be about, my son gave the same answer he gives to nearly all questions at the moment: Star Wars. In explaining why I couldn't—and wouldn't—be honoring that request, I launched into a complex discourse on copyright and creativity. And then I remembered he's five.

So I pulled out my tried-and-true, Jedi-tested mind trick: change the subject.

Finally, a few nights ago, having already started to mock something up, I asked him what he thought about a pirate valentine. See, for nearly two years I wondered if my son would ever go more than five minutes without a pirate related thought. I once even set a timer for five minutes and told him he could not talk about pirates until the timer went off. Really. But now? Now, I look at my tall, skinny, Lucasfilms-addled kindergartner and pine for my pudgy, preschool buccaneer. So. Pirates.

"Oh, yeah, it could have swords and two bad guys fighting, but with heart swords, and..." 

I never pictured myself as the kind of parent who would allow her child to be entertained by swords and jolly rogers and villains and light sabers. Because I am a hard-core pacifist. But kids love what they love, and while he has a finely tuned appreciation for Donald O'Connor and Gene Kelly, he is also a true connoisseur of swashbuckling frenetic fighting action. That said, I didn't feel comfortable sending cards to school that might offend other parents' delicate sensibilities, thus the swordlessness of this little guy. I also didn't want to go overly gender-differentiated, but my son insisted that there had to be a girl version, thus the batty eyelashes on the red version.

If, like me, you waited until the last possible minute to get this stuff done, I offer these up for your use. For most people, these will be too late to use this year, but you can file them away for next year. Or something. (If you have had your kid's valentines addressed since New Year's, well, I think you're missing out on the pirate ethos.)

The envelopes don't have a space for writing names. Instead, I gave my son a page of labels to write his friends' names on. That way, if he messed up, I wouldn't have to cut out a new envelope. Jedi, I tell you, Jedi.

As always, while I embrace pirates as a design motif, I don't embrace piracy. Print these for ye personal use only, or else, landlubber.


Come here often? OR Bloglessness of the Long Distance Runner

Well, hello, there. Long time no see, eh?

When last we met in April, I was crowing about having run 6 miles. That was pretty cool. Then I finished a sprint triathlon in May. Very cool.

If you've been following along here for a while you know that when I do things I tend to, well, DO them. So, I got a little caught up in running and swimming and whatnot. Last month I finished my first half marathon, and now I'm training for a full marathon in the Spring. For reals. And though I've been crafting and cooking and writing (you can read about my swim-bike-run exploits here; other stuff isn't quite ready for prime time), just like always, there were inevitable trade-offs. Work greedily gobbles up most of my free time, leaving little time to sit back and appreciate time to draw, daydream, write, think, and laugh. Over the last few months I realized that under these conditions I could either live my life or I could photograph it. I chose living it. That didn't leave much in the way of pretty pictures for the blog.*

But now that another semester is behind me and my evenings are my own again, my sweet blog has been calling out to me, begging to be revived. In particular, some of you have been asking if/when another calendar would be available.

I have good news and bad news. So the good news is that there is a new calendar. The bad news is that it is based on the same drawings as last year—if, like me, you loved those drawings, there is no downside; if, on the other hand, you are sick of them, I guess you're out of luck (that's the bad part).

© 2011 Cameron Blazer // Cottage Industrialist

The printable calendars are available here 

Alrighty, then. You've got 21 days to plan your collard feasting for 2012. Get cracking!


*Does that sound defensive? I don't mean for it to. I've written three different long, drawn out posts explaining why I took an unplanned break from blogging; how I want Cottage Industrialist to change and grow; and the responsibility I feel to portray my crazy, happy, frustrating life honestly. But every time I have written those posts, they sound like defenses against an argument no one is making. If I want this space to grow and change and be a little different, I only need to make it so. Right?


Happy Beeping Valentine's Day


In spite of a decades-long disinterest in the hoopla surrounding February 14, I started making Valentine's Day cards as soon as my little boy was old enough to hand them out to his friends at school. I can still picture my mother, hunched over our kitchen table, hand calligraphing the cards I had helped her make (butterflies fashioned from pairs of red foil heart stickers) for my class in the first grade. And so, I guess, it just feels right for me to continue the tradition with my son.

This year I planned to do as I have before and make a single, unisex design, but when I got to fiddling with the colors for these robots, I just couldn't resist the traditional pink on red color scheme. But my son was insistent that we had to have a version with the turquoise robot. I think two robots are better than one, don't you? And because I love envelopes, and I love patterns, I thought these would look swell coming out of tiny circuit board envelopes.

There are three pages in all: the first page has both envelopes and one of each card—the envelopes will be easiest to fold if you print them on plain paper. There are also separate sheets with 9 of each card design, so that if you want sturdier cards, you can print these on stock and cut them to size. These are old-fashioned teeny tiny cards, so don't try to put them in the mail, as they are too small for USPS, but just right for school chums.

And if robots aren't your thing, don't forget to check out the dinosaur, cowboy, rocket ship, skunk, and alligator valentines I've shared here in the past. 

As always, you are welcome to download and print as many of these as you like for personal use. Please do not alter or redistribute them.


Aargh Humbug!

Little did I know when I planned my little boy's 4th pirate birthday party that I was ushering in what has become a full-blown pirate obsession. In the last six months, he has devoured every single pirate book our library has to offer. He has become distressingly well-versed in the weaponry of 17th century swashbucklers. After he broke his leg this fall, his only consolation was that he would be more convincing as Long John Silver.

Truly, at this point I feel like I live in a pirate ship. So it's no surprise that as I was doodling last week, I started drawing a holiday pirate snowman. You know, Christmas and pirates, a match made in heaven. And to set my little doodle off, I put it on a stocking shape. Big mistake. Because at exactly that moment, my son looked over my shoulder and said, "Mommy! You're making me a new pirate snowman stocking! I love it!" Uhhhh. Hm.

How could I say no? So, after enlisting the help of my personal Craft Fairy Godfriend (buy her awesome, recycled holiday ornaments here!), I think I am going to tackle this guy in wool felt. My husband is afraid. Very (justifiably) afraid.

In the meantime, while exhibiting my peerless fabric-cutting-avoidance-skills, I thought I'd spread the wealth— er, booty—in a little holiday printable: giftcards!

You can download the file here. There are two versions of the cards, which print 8-up to a page and have cut lines clearly marked. Print on heavy card stock, or use Avery pre-cut card sheets (look for products 5881, 8373, 8869) to avoid cutting altogether (my fave!).

As always, you can use this template as much as you like for personal, non-commercial use.

Oh, and if you like these printables, how about keep my poor husband in your thoughts as I undertake this and other absurd last-minute sewing projects in the coming weeks. It could get ugly in here.