Posts tagged Us
Interview: Emily, Spring 2013 Intern
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Today is an interview with someone who I consider a "kindred spirit." She was so much fun to have in the studio!

By the way, I swear i'm not bribing these people to say nice things. It's been unexpected and wonderful to hear how much our interns have enjoyed their experiences! This is by far our longest and most thorough interview yet, and I love it because it perfectly encapsulates Emily's personality. I know you'll love her! Here she is, Spring 2013 intern Emily Scott!

Q: What was interning for Constellation like? How did working with letterpress change how you work now?
I absolutely loved interning for Constellation. I not only got to be a part of all sorts of cool projects, but I also learned a ton about the letterpress process: how to mix color, how to set and put away type, how to foil stamp, how to clean the press, the list goes on and on. In addition to getting a chance to work both Josephine and Wendy (don't worry those aren't people) I got to be a part of the design process. I loved getting to work on wedding projects, especially creating mood boards, because then I got to look at cute wedding things on Pinterest to find inspiration. Plus designing things for someone's wedding is just the best thing ever.

My favorite project that I got to be a part of was definitely We Make Seattle. I'm really proud of how everything came out. Sara, Dorothy (the other spring intern), and I got to work together to create some "swag" including a really awesome poster and set of coasters. This fall I went back into the studio a couple of times to help Sara print the posters on the iron handpress, and that was a lot of fun. FUN. That's what interning at Constellation was like...Absolute fun. Design/letterpress things aside, I got to sit in on a client meeting for We Make Seattle to talk about visual direction, and that was a really good experience.

I also got a first-hand look at how a small business like Constellation works - everything from bookkeeping, to working with clients, to understanding the importance of organization. There are so many things that go into running a small business that had never crossed my mind. It was nice to experience them rather than reading about it online or in a book. Designing specifically for letterpress has taught me the importance of simplicity. Successful typography and creative but simple illustrations can definitely take you a long way. Working with letterpress also taught me the importance of patience. There is quite a bit of adjusting that goes into the actual act of printing; you can't just click a button and expect it to come out perfectly. There will be flaws, the ink won't necessarily be even across the page, and there might be a smudge or line here and there, but all of those things add character to each printed piece. The further I move along in my career as a designer, the more I settle into my own style, and working at Constellation definitely helped push me forward in that direction.

Q: Tell us about your favorite part of the studio - the recycling bin.
Words cannot express how much I love that recycling bin. Let me lay it down for you. Ok. So. Sara creates really awesome things, right? (Everybody knows that so we'll just move on.) Well what do you think happens to all of the "oopsies!" the "just a little to the left's," or the "too much impression's" ? Since they are no longer sellable or client-worthy, they get put in the recycling bin, which is basically a danger zone for people like me. I walk into a paper store and can easily drop $30 on a couple pieces of paper (it sounds ridiculous, but if you saw the array of beautiful sheets at some of these places you would understand what I'm talking about). Anyways, I come in to the studio and casually glance at the bin a few times. I feel like Sara always knows I'm eyeing her trash, so sometimes I don't even have to ask to sift through it. Then the real fun begins. I have quite the collection of cards, partially-printed wedding invites, posters, the whole shabang - most of which are now decorating the walls of my room. Some of the scraps were just blank pieces of paper (small, but such great quality) that I use for things like writing encouraging notes to people or making little mini paintings. I'm such a romantic so anything with "The journey is sweeter with you by my side" or "I'm over the moon for you" or basically just any of the You/Me stuff automatically catches my eye. Also, anything with trees. Sara has done a few projects with tree illustrations, so finding one of those in the bin is always a treat. Probably one of my most favorite things from the bin is a map with "You are home to me" printed on it. I also picked up a couple sweet constellation journals. Neither of them were my star sign, but they were just too cool to pass up. I love to write and I've already filled one of them and am currently halfway through the other. In a nutshell. The recycling bin is the best.

Q: You're graduating soon from SPU, what is your next step?
A college Senior's least favorite question. Apart from hopefully finding a design job upon graduating I am currently hoping to go to grad school to get my Masters in Art Therapy. I'm currently working on applying to a handful of schools and hopefully at least one of them will work out. I studied Art Therapy for my Senior project in High School and spent ample time volunteering with kids during that time, so its kind of funny that after almost four years God has brought me back to Art Therapy and filled my heart with new vision and interest. I am passionate about both design and helping people to use art to communicate what words cannot, and to me it makes the most sense to pursue both. While I am both excited and expectant about what lies ahead, for now I'm just trying to live one day at a time.

Q: What's your favorite place to eat in Seattle (and why)?
This one is easy. Marrakesh. Its a Moroccan restaurant in Belltown and they have THE best food. There also happens to be one in Portland, which is close to where I grew up. Before college, I celebrated most of my birthdays and other special occasions there. Its been my favorite restaurant for years, so naturally I was pretty stoked when I found out there was one in Seattle too. Eating at Marrakesh is about more than just the food too. Walk inside and you enter into a completely different world. You get to sit on pillows on the ground, listen to Moroccan music, eat with your hands, use a towel as a napkin, and help yourself to as much bread as you like. There's even a belly dancer! (sometimes scary; if you don't make eye contact she'll leave you alone). I'm not exactly sure who all is reading this, but if you ever feel like having the best food that you'll ever have in your entire life, here's what you should order: lentil soup, Salads Marrakesh (not your traditional salad... eat it with the bread they give you and your life will never be the same), B'Stilla Royale (its like a giant pastry filled with meat and other goodies), and then any of the Tangines. The Chicken with Apricots one is really good. And then get dessert. Because you get Moroccan mint tea poured from an incredible height and they also sprinkle rose water on your hands. On a side note, Toulouse Petit in Queen Anne has really good eggs benedict. I also just love food so if you ever want suggestions I'd be more than happy to provide guidance.

Q: What's your favorite place to shop in Seattle (and why)?
This is a difficult question. Shop for what? If its groceries: Trader Joes. Paper: De Medici Ming Fine Paper (so dangerous) or Paper Source. Bath/body stuff: Lush. Clothes: if I'm feeling thrifty, Value Village or Buffalo Exchange. Most everything else, Urban OutfittersREI. That's a really good one. I die every time I go in there. (Not really I just love everything in there). And basically anywhere that sells combat boots and pattern pants. I also really like Target because they have everything and its relatively inexpensive.

Thanks Emily!

Interview: Samantha, Summer 2013 Intern
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It's interview time once again! Today's Q&A is with Samantha Grim, Summer 2013 intern and student at Cornish College of the Arts.

Sam has a great aptitude for sketching & drawing things out on paper. It was my absolute pleasure to show her a few tricks of the trade and see the personality of her drawings come through when brought into a digital format. She knocked it out of the park with the above illustration for a client wedding invite. To see all of the projects Samantha collaborated on while working with us, check out her internship blog.

Q: What is your favorite thing about being a graphic designer?
I love incorporating art into everyday life, which is how I view a lot of design. I think that design is an opportunity to encourage creativity in the public, and I really enjoy seeing non designers respond to good design.

Q: What was interning for Constellation like?
My experience at Constellation was really inspiring. I had the opportunity to work with Sara, who owns her own business and gets to do what she loves all day. She really encouraged my illustration work and has helped inspire me to continue to work with more traditional media. I am now confident in exploring handwork in my designs, and had some great inspiration for my upcoming BFA show.

Q: How did working with letterpress change how you work now?
Letterpress taught me to get off my computer, and that working with my hands can really offer some great inspiration. It also taught me creative problem solving skills, sometimes you get some really unique problems in the printing process! I also have really come to love letterpress work, and am eager to use presses whenever possible!

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Q: What are your plans after school?
Ideally I would like to work in an environment where I can utilize my illustration and traditional media interests. If that opportunity doesn't present itself in time, I have really considered starting my own small freelance business or studio.

Q: What is your favorite place to eat in Seattle?
Downtown I love Delicatus. It's a sandwich place that I actually discovered through Sara! It's in pioneer square and has a great interior as well as delicious lunch/dinner items. I also frequent Hi-Life in Ballard. It's a refurbished fire house that has really good seasonal food, and a super fun atmosphere!

Q: What is your favorite place to shop in Seattle?
I love the Fremont area! It has a great Sunday market, if you've got time I recommend that. Within walking distance are some really extensive thrift shops, as well as some really unique bike shops. It's an easy area to just wander around and discover some great shops.

Thanks Sam!

Etsy/West Elm Pop-Up Shop Recap
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Last weekend was the Etsy and West Elm pop-up shop! We (and 12 other Seattle area Etsy sellers) packed up our products and set up shop at the Seattle West Elm store for the day.

Local decorating blog The Inspired Room curated the event, and were honored to be chosen. Thanks to everyone involved! It was a great day.

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I'd been sick in bed with a cold all week before the event, but I rallied my energy just enough to park myself in a comfy West Elm dining chair with an unending supply of London Fog from Wheelhouse Coffee. So if you met me at the event, that's why I was half dead. (I hate being sick!!)

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It was really fun to see our cards and prints in the beautiful store. We set up at a dining table, under this amazing chandelier. I "window" shopped from my chair all day, and Brad added about a dozen new things to his Christmas list. West Elm is definitely one of our favorites.

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We're not doing a ton of events this year (focusing our energy on preparing for NSS), but we have one more pre-Christmas event coming up! We'll have the studio open on December 5th & 7th for our annual 57 Biscayne holiday open house. Put it on your calendar and come see us!

More info about the West Elm event: West Elm’s Blog The Inspired Room’s Post

Interview: Dorothy, Spring 2013 Intern
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Now that I've finished interviewing our current staff, I'm excited to move outward into our wonderful Constellation community! Today's interview is with Dorothy Hunyh, Spring 2013 intern and our amazing product photographer!

Dorothy has interned with more companies than anyone I've ever met (including We Are The Rhoads, among others!) and has an inspiring amount of motivation. To see all of the projects Dorothy collaborated on while working with us, check out her internship blog.

Q: What was interning for Constellation like? How did working with letterpress change how you work now?
While in college, I had the opportunity to intern at a lot of great businesses, but I have to say that interning at Constellation was the best experience. I really felt valued and working for Sara was a complete blast. It is one thing to be working for a great company and it is definitely another to be working alongside people who truly care for your well- being and growth. I learned so much about valuing your clients as well as nurturing your relationships with them.

Working with letterpress really made me appreciate all the minuscule details that go into the process. It also really makes me think thoroughly through the design choices I make as far as how the production will be affected.

Q: Tell us about the photo shoots you've done for the new wholesale catalog. What was your favorite thing about them, and what was a challenge?
When Sara first approached me to be the photographer for Constellation’s new wholesale catalog, I was ecstatic! One of my favorite things about being a creative is seeing the outcome and I knew that this project would be something that we’d all be proud of. I loved how personal the catalog shoots were, especially to Sara and Brad and was honored that they’d include me in it. I think a challenge was planning and producing images that were of high caliber, but also were true to our vision. We really wanted the photos to be relatable to your typical Seattle-ite.

Q: You're a photographer with a graphic design degree who interned for a letterpress company. What are your plans for the future?
This is funny, because at this point in my life I really don’t know. I’ve had my own photography business for the past four years and it has been incredible, but I am really looking to expand my horizons and maybe try some new things. I would love to get design to be a part of my daily life, whether it is personal or client work. Ultimately though, I want to be helping people and I’m excited to see how my passions will play into that. Also I can't wait to be a mom.

Q: What's your favorite place to eat in Seattle (and why)?
Gosh, this is a hard question to answer because Seattle has so many great places- sorry this answer might be long. We’re lucky to live in a city that offers so much. I’m always trying new places when time and budget allows. It really depends on what type of food, but some of my go-tos would probably be Bustle on QA (for coffee and getting work done), Café Presse (croque madames are to die for), Bar Sajor (the bread), King’s Hardware (the fries) and Black Bottle (everything).

Q: What's your favorite place to shop in Seattle (and why)?
Another extremely hard question to answer, thanks Sara. Well, this isn’t really an amazing answer, but in general Nordstrom’s is always on point. However, I do love checking out all the little boutiques Seattle has. If I’m looking for gifts, I always head to Annie’s Art and Frame or Sip and Ship in Ballard, or Queen Anne Dispatch. They have the best little knick-knacks. My favorite bookstore is The Elliot Bay Book Company- I somehow always leave with a new book (even if I have a pile of unread ones at home.)

Thanks Dorothy!

People Who Make Things on the Internet
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[Hi friends, I'm passing the blog baton to Brad for this one.] At the beginning of October, Sara & I went to New York City. This was my first time in NYC and my first time at Brooklyn Beta.

We went with our good friends Hannah & Perry along with their son Jude. We split our time in New York between the conference and exploring. Sara asked me to share a bit about the conference.

If you're wondering what Brooklyn Beta is, I've conveniently grabbed the description from their site:

Brooklyn Beta is a friendly web conference aimed at the “work hard and be nice to people” crowd — some of the friendliest web designers, developers, and practitioners around.

Our goal is to inspire you to make something you love, something that makes a difference. We invite speakers to highlight meaningful problems that need our help, get all the people who can turn an idea into reality in one place, and try our best to make it happen.

I found that Brooklyn Beta is about people and stories more than it is about design. Don't get me wrong, we listened to CEOs and founders from companies like Etsy, Airbnb, and Squarespace, but it was more than that. It was a gathering of people who make things on the internet, some of whom I knew, some I recognized, and others I got to know.

Prior to the main event, I went to talks by Squarespace, Meetup.com, and Facebook. I learned about arduino, user testing, and how products fail. There were many happy hours. We helped make 600 paper airplanes at the Invisible Dog. We toured the Studiomates/Creative Morning HQ/Tattly Offices. Good times.

Friday's event was excellent. All of the speakers shared their experiences and told wonderful stories. I left more inspired than when I had arrived.

Brooklyn Beta Take Aways: (Mostly from Tim O'Reilly)

  • Work on stuff that matters. Work on what is hard.
  • Create more value than you capture.
  • Writing creates context in which other people can think.
  • You can leave anything out, as long as you know what it is. —Ernest Hemmingway
  • Change happens slowly, then all at once.

NYC Take Aways:

  • NYC is huge. Subways are a perfect way to get around if you are exploring.
  • The Natural History Museum is amazing!
  • Birch Coffee is so good. I wish it were in Seattle!
  • Dumbo and Williamsburg are where it's at.
  • The architecture in NYC is mind blowing. There is a scale to the buildings and an insane amount of detail that you just don't see anywhere else.
  • LaGuardia airport sucks.

If you want to meet people who care about what they do and why they do it, I recommend going to Brooklyn Beta. I know I'll be there next year.

Interview: Suzi
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I have the distinct pleasure of working with my mom here at Constellation & Co. She’s been with us every step of the way, making sure our “books” are well tended.

When my family moved to Washington state from Florida, it was an easy choice to bring her into the office. I’m really lucky to get to spend this much time with my mom. She’s organized, professional, and fun to be around. And if someone says, “your mother doesn’t work here,” I can say: “mine does!” (This really happened once.) Today's interview is with our mom-ccountant and bookkeeper, Suzi Mantle!

Q: What is your role at Constellation?
I started out as bookkeeper 3,000 miles away in Florida.  We moved to Washington 2 years ago and I continued working as bookkeeper on a monthly basis.  This past year I have taken on an additional roles setting up and maintaining raw, in-process and finished good inventories.  I also help maintain the Etsy store as well as package and ship product for both retail and wholesale customers.

Q: What is the craziest question or conundrum you’ve run into while working for Constellation?
My biggest challenge while working for Constellation was morphing from mom to employee.  It was difficult at first leaving “mom” at home and showing up as “employee.”  It has been a good transition to help let Sara go as child and accept her as an independent grown-up!  I am thrilled to be working with her.  It is allowing me to watch her business grow and I am proud to take an active part in helping her along the way to success.

Q:  You’ve been a small business bookkeeper for almost 30 years - how do you feel those skills help with your job now, and what new skills are you learning?
Having grown our own business from the ground up when we were in our 20s, I knew how important having a solid bookkeeping system was.  I also brought with me solid payroll and payroll tax, sales tax, business tax, and income tax experience.  The new skills I am acquiring all have to do with tech and computer stuff - you can teach an old dog new tricks, it just might take a while!

Q:  Tell us your #1 piece of advice for starting a small business (from a bookkeeper’s point of view).
The number one investment should be a good accounting software program.  Most today are very easy to use even if you have no bookkeeping experience. I cannot stress enough - keep all your receipts and organize them from the beginning.  Enter them in your accounting program on a weekly if not daily basis.  Throwing them in a box to handle once a month or year will be a giant headache.  You can’t run a successful business if you don’t know where your money is coming from and where it is going to.

Q:  Tell me about moving from Florida to Washington State.  How’s that transition been for you?
We came out to Washington in 2010 to visit Sara and Brad and fell in love with the area.  During that visit, we reconnected as family.  After we went back to Florida, we knew that we wanted to be closer to them and luckily they felt the same way!  We put our business up for sale In January and to our surprise it sold and closed in September.  We sold our house and packed up our belongings and before we knew it, we were starting a new year, 2012, in a very different climate!   We settled an hour from Sara & Brad not wanting to intrude on their day to day lives not knowing that a year later I would be driving that hour into Seattle several times a week to help out in the day to day at Constellation & Co.   I love the fall leaves, the glorious awakening of the flowers in spring, and summer weather cool enough to enjoy the out of doors.   I am adapting to the winter chill and looking forward to our new pellet stove this year!

Q:  What’s your favorite place to eat in Seattle?
I love Delicatus - they have such yummy sandwiches (The Californian is my favorite), the staff is so nice, and love reading all the cool and funny quotes around the walls.   The second favorite is Cow Chip Cookies - who doesn’t love a warm cookie fresh out of the oven.

Q: What’s your favorite place to shop in Seattle?
I don’t usually have a chance to shop while I’m here in the city unless you count the post office which I frequent to ship out our wonderful products!  I enjoy walking in the city to the post office.

(A quick, practical addendum: We use Quickbooks for bookkeeping and Square for credit card processing. We ship using Etsy's in site tools and print labels on our new Dymo 4x6 label printer.)

Interview: Brad
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Next up in our ongoing interview series is my favorite person on the face of the Earth! He's quiet, bearded, and married to me. It's Brad McNally, our co-founder!

Q: What is your role at Constellation?
I am co founder of Constellation & Co. I am not as involved with the day to day, but I am diligently working on the new website and constantly thinking of new products. I am also the secret Art Director.

Q: Tell us about your day job. How are the two companies & roles similar or different?
I am the Lead Designer at BELIEF, a creative agency in Seattle Washington. I work on branding, packaging, web, and mobile projects. At BELIEF, I work with my art director & creative director to create story-centered work for clients and am responsible for design solutions from concept to completion. At Constellation, Sara handles all client work and almost all of the product design (I jump in for some secret art direction.) Currently, this allows me to focus on the site redesign and brainstorming new products with her. I'll occasionally design some of those products!

Q: You're a digital & web guy - how has Constellation & letterpress changed how you work?
I think any modern designer's mind explodes once they start physically setting type and leading and kerning go from concept to practice. In some ways it has reinforced my obsession with clean and simple type. I think the web is always trying to achieve the level of design and control that the print medium provides, so it's great to have an outlet to explore that kind of stuff. I'm excited about the new Constellation & Co. about page, it's going to be rad.

Q: What's it like, working with your wife & mother in law?
It's a trap! Just kidding. It is really great working with family. Sara's parents ran a successful business in Florida, so it's great to be able to pick their brains and learn from them. While Sara manages the day to day of Constellation, I'm still able to come and submit my 2¢. Initial critiques are always scary when two people come at the problem with different ideas or solutions, but we battle it out, and in the end the ideas are always stronger.

Q: What's your favorite place to eat in Seattle (and why)?
I love everything from Bitterroot in Ballard. They have amazing BBQ and drink.

Q: What's your favorite place to shop in Seattle (and why)?
I'd spend all of my money at E. Smith Mercantile in Pioneer Square if given the chance. I dig anything vintage/craft, and their selection is on point.

Q: What are a few of your favorite apps right now?
I have a few apps that I use daily. 

VSCO Cam: The best photo editing/film emulation app, you can check out my grid → brad.vsco.co. I post alot of things to instagram as well → instagram.com/bradmcnally

Rdio: A music subscription service similar to Spotify. In my opinion, Rdio's mobile app is the best designed app out there. They nailed the details where iOS7 falls short.

Fog of World: This app shows you how much of the world you have explored by using your GPS. As you travel around, the map slowly reveals where you've explored. I've currently explored 0.000000430500924% of the world!

I could write a whole blogpost about iOS games. 

(And maybe we'll talk him into doing that!)

Etsy Pop Up Shop at West Elm!
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Etsy and West Elm are teaming up to showcase Etsy sellers in Seattle, and we'll be there!

Working with decorating blog, The Inspired Room, the folks at both companies chose 12 Seattle-based Etsy artists for a one day pop-up shop. We are absolutely thrilled to have been chosen, and can't wait for the event!

The pop-up shop will take place on Saturday, November 9th at the Seattle West Elm store. Each of the featured Etsy sellers will set up within the store to share and sell their homegoods, accessories, stationery and more. There will also be a Smilebooth, DJs and snacks, a.k.a. FUN!

Join us! Date: Saturday, November 9th Time: 1:00 - 6:00 p.m. Location: West Elm, 2201 Westlake Avenue, Seattle, Washington

More info: Facebook EventWest Elm's Blog The Inspired Room's Post

These are the featured Seattle area Etsy Shops you'll get to shop!

Constellation Co.
Love, Daniella
Wallingford Co.
Herbivore Botanicals
Lily Emme Jewelry
Dahlia Press Shop
Fremont Candle Co
Garden BonBons
On Your Case Store
Tutta Lou Press
Three Bad Seeds
Rouge and Whimsy

Interview: Holly
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Our awesome photographer Dorothy stopped by the studio a few weeks ago to take our first official staff photos!

We've been through some transition this year (and lots of learning), so I thought this would be a great time to ask our lovely staff some questions for the blog - and let you get to know them! Our first interview is with Holly Power, my administrative assistant. Enjoy!

Q: What is your role at Constellation?
I get to field all incoming estimate requests, put together quotes, and set up client meetings. Essentially I'm the first "face" that new clients see. I also get to do some fun odd jobs that need doing! Sometimes I write snippets of copy, help upkeep the Etsy store, look for new shops that might be interested in carrying our products, etc...!

Q: What's the most common question you receive? Most people are looking for a quote for wedding invitations. Recently, I've had a lot of folks asking about the awesome book invitations from David and Micaline's wedding. Storybook weddings are a fun trend right now and a lot of people are really responding to that particular piece.

Q: You were a Literature major in college - how do you feel those skills help with your job now?
I wrote and read a TON in college, so I'm pretty good at coming up with words! For the most part, I enjoy the process of client communication, because I love using the right words to connect with people. A lot of my classroom time in college just looked like an open ended discussion about whatever material we were covering at the time. I learned a lot about choosing my words carefully to convey my point of view and I feel like I get to use that skill when answering client questions.

Q: Tell me about working remotely, being at home with your son. How's that transition been for you? What things do you love and what things are hard?
The transition was hard at first, but I am learning to really enjoy and cherish it. I love being able to work while Levi naps and then play with him while he's awake. A big challenge for me is in planning my day. If I don't use the time that he is napping wisely, my day quickly gets away from me without having met a lot of my goals. Or there are days where I am counting on getting certain things done and Levi decides not to sleep much at all that day. I'm learning a lot about planning my life in pencil! It's important to me that there is a plan in place, but just as important (for my sanity and my son's joy) that I can be flexible when my plans don't work out.

Q: What's your favorite place to eat in Seattle (and why)?
That's a hard one because there are so many tasty places to eat here and it changes depending on my mood! Josh (my husband) and I have really been enjoying Billy Beach recently, which is a super delish sushi place in Ballard. They have an awesome happy hour so we can stuff ourselves on a budget. We don't get a ton of date nights with a new little one, so we're trying to make each one count by finding and trying new places more often!

Q: What's your favorite place to shop in Seattle (and why)?
I really like going to University Village in the U District. Parking is free and it's perfect for aimless wandering and window shopping and I love the open air. It's also really lovely at Christmas when all the trees are full of lights. Wrestling my baby boy in and out of my two-door rabbit wherever I go makes a no-hassle free parking garage a win in my book!

Visit Seattle Constellation Style
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We LOVE Seattle, and have spent the last 4 years getting to know our amazing city.

I stumbled upon our friend Luz's See/Eat/Do Seattle blog post recently, and I loved it. Luz and her husband Cole also sent us an amazing list for San Francisco last summer, which we followed closely. While planning our upcoming New York trip, I've been pretty obsessively looking for guides to NYC as well. Since everyone has such different tastes and desires for sight seeing, I think there's room for a Shop/Eat/Drink list from our point of view! I'll focus in on neighborhoods I have "expertise" on, only include my MOST favorite places, and include the stores that carry our products. Cool? Cool.

PIONEER SQUARE
Seattle's oldest neighborhood, and where our studio is located. I spend most of my time here. It's quirky and has a bit of a reputation, but it's very lovable and growing cooler by the minute.

Shop:

E. Smith Mercantile
On the lovely treelined street 1st Ave South. Super cool western themed mercantile. Vintage boots, curated clothing, craft cooking & cocktail ingredients, and stationery from yours truly.

Cuttysark Nautical Antiques & Flags
Also on 1st Ave. South. Nautical gifts, supplies, etc. Pleasantly un-hipster. Think old guys in boats.

Magic Mouse Toys
Closest thing to Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium that i've found. Fun to just look around.

Rivet & Sway
Super gorgeous eye glasses for women. Open by appointment only.

Linda Hodges Gallery
My favorite art gallery in Pioneer Square. I walk by it several times a week to go to the post office, and I always linger in the window.

Eat/Drink:

Delicatus
THE best sandwiches. I dream about the Mudd Honey. You guys. Sliced roast beef, turkey, Zoë’s slab bacon, white cheddar, horseradish aioli, house BBQ on a toasted Italian roll.

Cocoa Banana
Good gosh darn smoothies. Right next door to our building. The William is my favorite.

INTERNATIONAL DISTRICT
Walkable from Pioneer Square, lots and lots of cultures coming together.

Shop:

Kinokuniya Bookstore (Located in Uwajimaya)
I love this place. Washi tape, sketchbooks, rubber stamps, unique pens, and everything Japanese and cute that exists.

Eat/Drink:

Thai Curry Simple
Inexpensive, large portions, and deeeeelicious. I didn't know I liked curry until we started eating here.

WEST SEATTLE

Shop: I'm not going to lie, the only place I go frequently to shop in West Seattle is Target.

Eat/Drink:

Beer Junction
Best selection of local & imported hard ciders in the city. (I love hard cider.)

Bakery Nouveau
Twice baked almond croissants. They're huge and perfect.

Husky Deli
They carry Canadian candy bars. For me, that's enough of a draw.

DOWNTOWN
When you're alone and life is making you lonely, You can always go downtown When you've got worries, all the noise and the hurry, Seems to help, I know, downtown

Shop:

Paper Hammer
Great stationery store, founded by the owner of publisher Marquand Books. I find something I can't live without everytime I walk in there. They also carry our cards.

Watson Kennedy
Beautifully curated, full of fun gifts. Their window displays are always impressive and engaging.

BELLTOWN

Shop:

Peter Miller Books
Every design book you could ever want to flip through. Almost too many for my brain to handle.

Endless Knot
Great independent clothing boutique. Love browsing this place.

Eat/Drink:

Top Pot Doughnuts
Best doughnuts anywhere. I eat the chocolate glazed old fashioned almost exclusively. There are lots of other locations as well, but this one is the coolest building.

Lucky Diner
Greasy spoon kind of place - good food, but the main draw for me is that you can order a bowl of Lucky Charms as a side. So cool.

Yellow Leaf Cupcakes
My favorite cupcakes ever. They're all good, I can't pick a favorite.

LaVita E'Bella
Had one of the best meals of my life here. (It was Osso Buco.)

Spur
Western themed decor but fancy-shmancy craft cocktails and desserts.

QUEEN ANNE

Shop:

Stuhlberg’s
Great high end gift & stationery store. Carries our cards from time to time.

Blue Highway Games
Nerdy board game store. Has an area to try out games, which is fun.

Eat/Drink:

Macrina
My favorite Seattle bakery to spend time in. I love their buttermilk biscuit with preserves.

Homegrown
Awesome sandwich place with several locations. But this is one I went to last.

FREMONT

Shop: There are a ton of cute boutiques in Fremont, but I haven't spent a ton of time shopping there.

Eat/Drink:

Paseos
Messy Caribbean sandwiches. Long line, but worth it. Grab your food and take it to Gasworks Park.

Brouwer’s Cafe
More beer on tap than anyone could ever try. But also a lot of unique cider choices!

Uneeda Burger
There is some argument about burgers in our family (Brad's favorite is Red Mill), but this is my favorite burger in the city. Must have the over easy fried egg on top. Perfection.

CAPITOL HILL

Shop:

Elliott Bay Book Co.
The first time I visited Seattle, Elliott Bay Books was in Pioneer Square. While i'm sad not to be able to browse their crazy selection in our own neighborhood, i'm happy that they carry our cards! They have an amazing kids section as well.

Marigold & Mint
Super cute boutique in Melrose Market (close to a Homegrown location as well!) with a unique selection of plants, gifts, and books. I like it lots. They have a selection of our Constellation Sketchbooks right now.

Nube Green
Very hip gift store, featuring U.S. made and sustainably sourced items. They have a broad selection of our cards, and several of our limited edition prints.

Eat/Drink: We lived on Capitol Hill for 6 months, but we were super broke at the time. We kind of only ate burgers and black beans and rice.

Lil Woody's
Yummy burger joint. Plus, you can order french fries with a side of milk shake to dip them in.

BALLARD
We spend a lot of time here.

Shop:

Card Kingdom
Nerdy to the core, with designer board games that would take you a month of Sundays to figure out how to play. (Just how we like 'em.)

Eat/Drink:

The Sexton
Three words: fried brussels sprouts.

Bitterroot
My favorite barbecue in the city.  They also have an amazing happy hour.

Moshi Moshi Sushi
Fun place to go and sit at the sushi bar. Everything is delicious. Love the giant sparkly cherry tree inside.

Hot Cakes
Dessert at its finest. Molten chocolate cakes in mason jars. My favorite? The sundae: homemade nutella, brown butter caramel, candied hazelnuts and vanilla caramel. (You can also add bacon.)

MAGNOLIA
Highly underrated by our fellow Seattleites. Small town feel in a "big" city.

Shop:

Magnolia's Bookstore
I really like this place. Great selection of cookbooks and magazines. The perfect small town bookstore experience.

Magnolia Ace Hardware
The only hardware store in the world that doesn't stress me out. Plus, they have a ton of random non-hardware items that are fun to browse. And free popcorn!

Eat/Drink:

Nook
Cute little bar with a great atmosphere. I had 2 consecutive birthday gatherings here.

Finn's Bakery
Great spot for a pastry and an Americano.

Our Very Own Iron Handpress
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A few weeks ago, we took a road trip to the great white north (Vancouver) and brought home a new member of the Constellation family! Meet Wendy, our Washington-style Reliance iron handpress.

She's from the early 1900's and in beautiful condition. (And possibly the coolest thing that's ever been listed on Craigslist!) Her bed size is 16" x 21" and we are so excited about printing posters in house! We're working on Wendy's inaugural broadside, and will be sure to share it with you soon. Here are some photos of the big move:

The lovely Canadian gentleman who sold us the press

The lovely Canadian gentleman who sold us the press

On the road in Carl's van

On the road in Carl's van

Wendy emerges from the van in our alley

Wendy emerges from the van in our alley

Wendy on the move

Wendy on the move

The strongest guys I know!

The strongest guys I know!

Wendy all back together / Illustrated Diagram from Printing with the Handpress by Lewis M. Allen

Wendy all back together / Illustrated Diagram from Printing with the Handpress by Lewis M. Allen

Life Just Snowballs Along
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Sara here, catching up after a long long loooong end of 2012. I love the hustle and bustle of the holidays and finishing up the year, but being that busy always takes its toll.

Brad and I had a wonderful Christmas, but spent most of our vacation time being quite sick. But we're finally getting back to normal and are back in the office working, planning and getting 2013 in gear! But before we do that, here's a bit of a December wrap up!

We participated in the local AIGA & AAF Seattle's Jingle & Mingle Holiday Party as a vendor in their Design Gift Market. It was fun to meet folks and greet shoppers at a new event! (Photo courtesy of the event's Flickr page.)

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We participated in our first winter Crafty Wonderland show in Portland. It was a great turnout, and an amazing show to shop! We did a good chunk of our holiday purchases at the show, as well as at Portland Bazaar (we left Cherish in the booth and ran off to visit!), and Wanderlust (my new favorite store in Portland).

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We launched the Cosmic Sans project website, and it went viral! We've found it all over the place. Here are some of the most exciting places we've seen it shared: Quipsologies, The Smithsonian Blog, The Maddow Blog, Design Taxi, and i09.

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Remember our desk project? She had a starring role in our Christmas decorations this year, keeping our stockings hung with care.

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Brad & I were able to get away for a few days after Christmas to get some rest before the new year. We stayed at Lakedale Resort on San Juan Island for the first time, and fell in love. We will definitely be back!

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While taking a break from work, Brad had some fun putting together a photo blog for our little family! We got a new camera awhile back, and are documenting our adventures again. I'll share some highlights here, but definitely check out the photo blog for updates about what we're up to personally.

So now you're caught up on the goings-on. We've got a very exciting year planned, but it's all on the "down low" for now. Check back in often, you don't want to miss it!

WA State Sites & Sights
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A few weeks ago, Brad's mom & dad came to visit us in Seattle. I was sick as a dog with bronchitis (which I had for over a month, yuck!), but it was still a fun time!

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I love having out of town friends & family visit us - it gives us the opportunity to explore our beautiful state anew! We took a day trip across Puget Sound to see the sights/sites on Whidbey Island, and drove back across Deception Pass on the way home. It was a drive Brad and I had never taken before, and it blew our minds. I don't think i'll ever get over how beautiful fall in Washington is. It's just...beyond. We recently got a new camera (yay!), so we've been documenting a lot more of life. Click "continue reading" for more photos!Useless Bay Coffee Co.

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Rad Arrow at Callahan’s Firehouse Studio and Gallery

We stopped in all the little towns to do some browsing and drink coffee.

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Fort Casey on Whidbey Island

My favorite part of the trip was our stop at Fort Casey. The fort is a bizarre hidden bunker in the hills along the Sound that was built in the 1890's. The day we visited was a gloomy and windy, which (along with my cough) had me in a weird mood. The surroundings made me want to carry out covert operations or uncover buried treasure or something. I climbed all over the fort, daydreaming about mysterious things. It was awesome.

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Deception Pass

So, the pass is crazy. Even on a gloomy day, the water was a brilliant blue/green. And this photo does nothing to express how high up you are on the bridge. I have a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with heights, so I stayed safely far away from the edge - but the others ventured to the edge and saw a harbor seal playing in the water, waaaaaay down there. Our state is magical! (By the way, I knit Brad's hat (above) last fall from this WWII knitting pattern.) Have you gone on any fun day trips lately? Comment please! :)

Desk Update that Gets a Little Personal
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Remember our "family estate sale day" from a few months ago? I've always wanted a little writing desk like this, and they're really expensive in good shape. It was love at first sight with this quirky desk, and (since my hubby loves me), we decided to take it home as a project.

As per usual, we paid for it before we realized it wouldn't fit in my mom & dad's Prius. I have a terrible eye for what will fit in a car! We ended up swapping out cars for the Toyota Camry I drove in college - you can get anything in that car! (I moved to and from college in that beast so many times.)

Before I go further - I am not a DIY expert, but an enthusiastic amateur. This is a "learn from my mistakes" kind of project.

The desk was uneven, painted terrible colors, missing hardware, and terribly scratched up - but I had a very clear idea of how it could look. So we took it home and embarked on the process of refinishing. We started out by removing all the hardware and using a palm sander on the door and drawers. I really liked the way they were turning out, but it was a full afternoon of work just to do the easy parts. (This was the first "oh crap" moment.)

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We don't have a garage or yard, so we commandeered the sidewalk for the bulk of the project, and did some of the work in the guest room with the windows open and the fan running.

The desk has so many different surfaces and small nooks, it would have been impossible to get all of it sanded evenly. (At least with my tools and skill level.) At this point, we sought the advice of Jenny Linquist, DIY queen. (We should have put that on her business cards!) Her suggestion was to use a chemical paint stripper. Thank goodness for Jenny - we'd have never thought of that! So, we picked up a can of Klean-Strip paint stripper to use on the desk itself. We did two rounds of "stripping" across two weekends, following up with a paint stripper after wash (not this one, but a similar product that our local Ace Hardware had.) While the paint stripper was 100% easier than palm sanding the whole thing, it was still a ton of work. The stripper is a weird, goopy gelatinous consistency, and has to be scraped off carefully to get all the paint off. (I bet our spam is going to go through the roof after using "stripper" and "stripping" in a post this many times!) Once all of the old paint/stain had finally been removed, we stained the desk (we were shooting for a teak color to coordinate with our coffee & side tables), and gave it a coat of polyurethane. The finishing touch was new hardware that we'd found at two different antique stores on the Olympic Peninsula.

This was not a quick Saturday afternoon project - which was kind of what I was expecting. I started the first round of stripping late in the day, and had my second "oh crap" moment when I realized how long it would take. (Hours.) I wanted to get the desk home, refinish it "real quick" and sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Working on this desk was pretty revealing for me. It showed a lot of things about my character that aren't particularly flattering. I am all about the "take the bull by the horns" moments, but the quiet, diligent, behind the scenes moments are hard for me. There were several moments during this project that I couldn't tell if I was making progress. I was cranky and filled with doubt that all the work would be worth it when we finished. My head ached, my arms hurt, and there wasn't a shortcut.

I am so happy with how the desk turned out. But the truth is, my expectations weren't in line with reality, and I didn't enjoy the process nearly as much as I could have. My heart was ugly along the way. I did the work kicking and screaming. It's funny how humbling projects like this can be. Every time I look at the desk, I am reminded that life is full of hard projects. I can either enjoy them, or be miserable. I was pretty miserable working on this one. But the beautiful thing is, I can choose to do things differently next time. Here's to many more uncharted journeys, and choosing joy along the way!