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Happy Penguin Now Available at Juliska

Happy Penguin Now Available at Juliska

We’re so excited to announce that you can now find our work at Juliska in Stamford, CT!

465 Canal Street
Stamford, CT 06902

We’re so excited to begin this new partnership, and are happy to have a representative in Connecticut. Please stop by if you’re in the area and visit them!

Letterpress Wedding Invitations and Art Prints

Letterpress Wedding Invitations and Art Prints

Long time no see, friends! It’s about time we updated you on our comings and goings, don’t you think? We’ve been busy planning our holiday cards, as well as with some fun custom work.

Birmingham AL wedding invitations letterpress

These two-color art prints were printed for a family who love dandelions using the colors of their home. We love how delicate the dandelion artwork turned out!

Birmingham AL wedding invitations letterpress

We were also thankful to be approached by the ever-talented Kristen of Pen Meet Paper. Kristen needed someone to print her wedding invitations, and we were more than happy to help! Not only did we get the chance to work with Kristen’s lovely hand-lettering, but we got to print in a color that reminded us of UNC blue (as Tar Heels, we didn’t need any more reason to like that!).

Birmingham AL wedding invitations letterpress

Kristen paired them with a beautiful monogram.

Birmingham AL wedding invitations letterpress

(image from Kristen’s Instagram)

Birmingham AL wedding invitations letterpress

We don’t do much custom work, so any time we get to work with people on something special, it’s always so much fun. We’re diving into holiday work now, so stay tuned for more news!

xo,

the Happy Penguin team

Feature on Buttermilk Lipstick

Feature on Buttermilk Lipstick

In case you missed it yesterday, Happy Penguin was featured on the fabulous blog Buttermilk Lipstick yesterday.

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Buttermilk Lipstick (isn’t it a cute name for a blog?) is Rebecca’s home base on the Internet. She’s an amazing cook and total football fan (especially the SEC). Her blog often makes me itch to get in the kitchen and whip out my baking pans. Head over and check it out!

 

Happy Birthday, Happy Penguin!

Happy Birthday, Happy Penguin!

Today, this dear Penguin of ours turns two. It’s hard to believe that two years have passed since we opened our doors, but here we are. We’re ever so thankful, too.

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We’ve grown from a little place that sold a few cards on Etsy to being carried in one of our favorite local stores (Three Sheets, Homewood, AL), our local West Elm, Front & Co. in Vancouver, and just this week, The Paper Project in Australia. We never saw this coming!

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So to celebrate, we’re releasing a new card and art print in three colors featuring a quote by the Avett Brothers. Appropriate, don’t you think? Celebrate with us: All orders today get 25% off and a special gift! Use code HAPPYTURNSTWO.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for making these first two years so wonderful for us. We couldn’t do it without your support, and it means the world to us.

Much love,

Ashley and Bryan

How To Stencil an Accent Wall – Studio Reno Part 2

When we left off in our last post, we had just painted our teal studio with Benjamin Moore’s Edgecomb Gray, and our soon-to-be accent wall with Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White (tinted at 50%). Now we were ready for the first of our two fun projects: painting a stencil on our accent wall!

How to Stencil an Accent Wall

First off, full credit for our inspiration goes to Sarah of Cozy, Cottage, Cute. I have been a fan of the sweet nursery she did for her son for ages now, and ever since she did a stencil accent wall, I’ve wanted to do one just like it. I loved how bright and airy the room turned out, and I knew as soon as I saw our studio space that the big window we had would lend itself to something special. I just didn’t know what. And then I remembered that stenciled wall, and I thought, why not give it a try?

I’ve always read that stencil walls can be cumbersome to do. It can be tricky to get just the right amount of paint on the wall without it bleeding behind the stencil, you have to arrange the design just so before you start or the whole wall will look crooked, the corners are a royal pain in the rear…But everyone also said that the results are worth it. So I found a coupon online and decided to go for it. After all, it was a project that required relatively low financial investment, and if it turned out horribly or we didn’t like it, what had we lost? Our time and a little bit of money. But we could always paint over it. (“It’s just paint” became my motto over the course of this project.)

So we referenced Sarah’s post a million times and then browsed Royal Design Studio’s stencil collection to decide which design we wanted to use. In the end, we ended up deciding to use the same stencil that Sarah used, the Endless Circles Moroccan stencil. True love is forever, guys. And I loved how her wall came out.

After waiting impatiently for the stencil arrive, it finally did, and it was time to get to work! So here it is, the Happy Penguin Guide to Stenciling an Accent Wall. In a weekend. With very messy painting hands when you’re done. And a sore back. But a really cool wall. Really!

How to Stencil an Accent Wall

Pre-Step

Paint your accent wall in the desired shade. Let it dry overnight.

Step 1

First, gather the supplies you’ll need.

  1. Foam roller
  2. Foam brush
  3. Paint tray
  4. Paint
  5. Paper towels
  6. A large piece of cardboard
  7. Painter’s tape

How to Stencil an Accent Wall

Arrange your cardboard in an area you can get to it easily. It will be helpful when you need to set the stencil down and don’t want to get paint everywhere. Take a couple paper towels and fold them in half together. You’ll use this to remove excess paint from the roller before applying it to the wall.

Tape the perimeter of your wall and edges of any windows/doorways/etc.

How to Stencil an Accent Wall

Prep the stencil by finding the top (mine had a little bar code at the bottom, so it was clear what was the top) and putting a few pieces of painter’s tape all around the circumference of the stencil so that you can attach it to the wall. I eventually figured out that my stencil felt most secure when I ran the tape along the entire outside edge of my stencil. Play with this and see what you feel comfortable with.

Note: Some people use spray adhesive for stenciling. I didn’t. Mainly because I was too lazy to make another trip to the store to get it. Would this process have been easier with it? I really can’t say. But it seemed to work fine for me without it, so if you can’t find it or don’t want to purchase it, I think you can still do this project, just as I did. It’s up to you.

Step 2

Find the center of your wall. This was easy for me: Our window was centered on the wall, so I just followed that line up to the ceiling. Find the center of your stencil, and tape the stencil to the wall.

How to Stencil an Accent Wall

This was where I hit my first Hmm Moment. Do I arrange the stencil so that the middle of the stencil sits flush against the ceiling, or just put the top of the stencil against the ceiling line? I chose to put the top of the stencil against the ceiling line. It was easy for me to make sure my stencil was level for this first line—an important step because every other mark you make is based on this first line—because I could tape the edge of the stencil against the ceiling and know that it was straight.*

*Of course, your ceiling could very well not be level. Ceilings and walls are notoriously unlevel, so it wouldn’t be uncommon. But what I figured was that even if that was the case, visually my stencil would be level with the line of the ceiling, and therefore it would look straight to the eye. I’m no geometry nerd, but this was my train of thought. Thankfully our ceiling was pretty close to level, so I didn’t have to worry too much about it, but it’s something to keep in mind for your own walls.

Step 3

Time to paint! Wet your foam roller with the paint, and then run the roller over your stack of paper towels a few times. I did it about three times. This is important, as it removed the excess paint that the roller picks up and will help to keep the paint from bleeding under the stencil. At first I thought this step was a waste of time and paint. But the more I worked with the stencil, the more I realized that it is important. As hard as it is to paint a paper towel your pretty paint color, don’t skip this step. Do it every time you reload the roller with fresh paint.

How to Stencil an Accent Wall

Gently roll the roller across the stencil, distributing the paint onto the wall. Avoid the temptation to press down on the roller and squeeze out any paint left in the foam. Instead, take the slow and steady approach. Slowly make your way across the stencil with a thin layer. Reload the roller with paint if you need to in order to cover the whole stencil with an even layer, being sure to roll the paper towels before the wall. Eventually, you’ll get an even layer of paint on the wall.

Tip: Every now and again, you can use your finger to gently lift up the edge of the stencil and peak behind it, spotting any areas where paint may have seeped behind the stencil. I rarely did this because I got to the point that I could see the paint pool around the edge of the stencil, and I knew that this particular area would have a bit of paint seeping behind. I could lift the stencil up and quickly run my finger behind it, wiping away the (hopefully) little drop of paint and dabbing it off the wall.

Tip: Inevitably, you’re going to get paint behind the stencil. Resign yourself to it now, so that at no point in this project will you feel defeated by not obtaining perfection. Repeat the motto: It’s just paint. If you do get a smudge on the wall/on the back of your stencil, just wipe it off once you’ve removed the stencil from the wall. You can go back and paint over the smudge once the wall is dry. All fixed!

Hmm Moment 2: How do I move the stencil to the next area when the paint in the first area is still wet? Do I wait for it to dry so that I can lay the edge of the stencil over it without getting wet paint onto the back of the stencil? Answer: I could tell just by looking whether the paint was wet or not. If it was, I waited a few minutes (go refill your drink or let the dog out) to let it dry, and then continued on. Sometimes, when I had applied a heavier coat of paint, I had to do it this way, but other times the paint dried really quickly and I could just move right along. Once I got to the large portion of the wall, I could move from one side to the other, painting one spot while the spot on the opposite side of the wall dried, and then bounce back and forth. This way I could be sure that the paint under the edges of the stencil was dry.

How to Stencil an Accent Wall

The stencil has guide marks (visible in the above photo) on it to help you position it over your design on the wall, but sometimes the pattern would play tricks on me, and I ended up making a mistake midway down the left side of my wall.

How to Stencil an Accent Wall

After that, I decided that I would position one part of the stencil over something I’d already painted so that I could ensure that I was lining the design up accurately (see below photo). I had to take a break here, whip out my Cloud White base paint, and paint over my mistake. That was the nice thing about this project. I could fix my mistake so easily!

How to Stencil an Accent Wall

Step 4

Keep on moving across the wall. Take a break if you need to. Stand back and admire your progress.

How to Stencil an Accent Wall

Tip: Every now and again, I could tell that I had a lot of paint on the stencil because it wouldn’t lay flat against the wall as well as it had been and the edges would begin to look crusty from dried paint. This also correlated to more seeping spots behind the stencil. At this point, pause and clean your stencil. There is cleaning solution you can buy, but I somehow missed this and didn’t realize it until I was midway through the process and needed to clean my stencil. By some stroke of luck, my paint had reached the perfect level of dryness, and I was able to peel it right off the stencil without any trouble!

How to Stencil an Accent Wall

I laid the stencil down on my sheet of cardboard, and peeled away until the stencil was clean again. It was like peeling the backing off of a sticker. I can’t say why this worked for me or if it would work for you, so to be safe, you may want to invest in the cleaning solution. This may have been my lucky break!

Tip: I also used my cardboard to help me check if there were any paint spots on the back of the stencil. Every time I removed the stencil from the wall, I would balance the bottom edge of it on the cardboard, hold up the top with my fingers, and peer behind it. If I spotted some paint, I’d dab it away with my finger or a paper towel.

Tip: I also used the cardboard whenever I had to take a break. Sometimes you’re going to need to set that stencil down (like when the phone rings, the dog runs into the room and takes an interest in your open paint bucket, or you need a sweets break), and it was very handy to have a designated spot for that.

Tip: The painter’s tape along the edge of the stencil will eventually lose some of its stickiness. Replace it as needed.

Step 5

Edges! Eventually, I promise you will reach the corners of the wall and ceiling and floor, and you will probably do what I did. Pause and think, “Now what? I’ve heard corners are hard, and I’m kinda nervous about this.” In theory, the corners work the same was as everything else on the wall. What makes them trickier is that you have to manipulate the stencil by bending it to fit.

How to Stencil an Accent Wall

Some corners were kind of easy, and I did them on my own, along with the seam along the bottom baseboard. But the top ceiling and slanted angles that we had made the other corners particularly challenging. Partially due to the whole bending-of-the-stencil thing and partially due to the fact that I am short, I called in reinforcements for the corners and asked Bryan to help.

I’m not going to lie, you guys. We got really frustrated with the corners. I think it was our slanted walls, but we had a really difficult time. By the time we’d moved around the whole wall once, we had gotten it the best we could and still had about 1/2-inch border where the stencil wasn’t able to bend into the corner. We were also making more mistakes, smudging our paint more, because we were struggling so much.

How to Stencil an Accent Wall

So we stepped back, stared at the wall for a solid five minutes, and then decided we had a solution. We used a piece of paper scrap that we had in the studio, and used it to mark off an equal space around the entire perimeter of the wall.

How to Stencil an Accent Wall How to Stencil an Accent Wall

Then, we painted a border around the entire wall in Edgecomb Gray, so that the border would blend right in with the corners of the adjoining walls.

It worked like a charm! I was worried I wouldn’t like the border, but it blends right into the wall when you look at it. Whew!

Step 6 – The Final Step! Then You’re Done!

Even with us working together with the stencil, I still had some areas that I went back to by hand to fill in. I also went back and touched up any smudges that I’d made. I was glad that I had enough paint at the end to do this. (Photo below is prior to doing this.)

How to Stencil an Accent Wall

Verdict

Stenciling this wall has not been a fast project. I worked on this over the course of a weekend, and it was tedious at times. That being said, we love the result. It gives the room a focal point and interest without being overpowering. As far as projects goes, you get a lot out of your time and effort without having to invest a lot financially.

How to Stencil an Accent Wall How to Stencil an Accent Wall How to Stencil an Accent Wall

Next up on our makeover of the studio: a project with reclaimed barn wood! Anyone else ever do a stenciled wall? I’d love to hear what your tips and tricks are!

Our Studio Reno – Part 1

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to break out the paint!

If you follow us on Instagram, then you already know that we bought a home in October. One of the things we loved about the house was the studio space for Happy: a big room over the garage with interesting architecture and lots of potential. Great sunlight, plenty of room for growth, and room enough to arrange a chill-out bonus space too! The only trouble was…the color.

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Teal is a great color. We use it or similar shades on a lot of our cards, so we are by no means teal haters. But it wasn’t ideal for a studio color. The shade gave our crisp white paper a blue cast, and it clashed with the pale, cottage-inspired tone that I wanted. So we took a few weeks, poured over some paint samples, and then got to work. Rather than keep the projects we have planned to ourselves, I thought it would be fun to bring you along on this makeover journey with us. Today marks Part 1: Painting!

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Not all studios have a couch, but consider this our Thinking Couch. It’s the first piece of furniture Bryan and I bought when we moved in together, and we got it for a steal. It’s pretty old at this point, but we (and Scout and Zoey) all love it and really enjoy having it in the studio. So now you’ve officially met the studio couch. 🙂 (The only drawback to her is that she’s mighty heavy, so moving her around is a pain.) Arranging the couch this way allowed us to make two spaces for the room: one for printing and computer work and one for a “rec area.” We were happy that the room was large enough to accommodate this, and it’s worked well so far.

After putting up multiple paint samples, we chose a shade by Benjamin Moore called Edgecomb Gray. With the bright light that our room gets, this was the perfect neutral: taupey with a touch of gray. Because we have a feature wall planned to highlight the large window, we also chose a lighter shade to coordinate: Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White, which we had tinted at 50%.

               

First we primed the wall twice using Behr’s low-VOC interior primer. The blue really needed it, and priming twice helped to ensure that the pale colors we were painting wouldn’t have a blue undertone to them.

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Forgive the furniture everywhere. We just moved it out of our way as we worked around the room.

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After that dried for 24 hours, it was time to paint. Of course, Zoey helped.

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It’s wonderful to see what a dramatic difference painting can do for a space. It feels so much wider now. We also rearranged the furniture a little bit to help with flow and not block the light from that large window.

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Thought it’s hard to tell in the above shot, Cloud White is on the wall on the right and Edgecomb Gray is on the wall on the left. They look the same here, but Edgecomb Gray is actually a few shades darker.

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We moved this little table into the dormer window, which gets great light. The table is a heirloom from Bryan’s family, so it will be really special to use it for Happy’s photography. We’re planning to paint those two gray doors, which lead to storage areas under the dormers, white.

The next thing on our to-do list is the accent wall, which promises to be a lot of work but really cool. More on that tomorrow. In the meantime, are you guys doing any fun projects lately? We’d love to hear!

Pumpkin Spice Cake

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As many of you know, we love to bake. And baking is especially enjoyable during the fall, when the weather is cool and spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice take on fresh scents that beckon to the holidays. We’ve been baking with pumpkin lately, experimenting with various cake recipes for a bake-off we participated in.

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We took home second place to a delicious Italian cream cake, but had a blast. If you like pumpkin, cream cheese, and pecans, give this simple recipe a try. You don’t even have to cream butter and sugar together, so have no fear! This recipe is easy and delicious.

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Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Glazed Pecans
inspired by recipes from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody and Southern Living’s magazine and cookbooks

Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (we use canola)
4 large eggs
1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin (we use Libby brand pumpkin)

Frosting:
1 (8-oz.) package full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 cups powdered sugar

Pecans:
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 cups pecan halves
Vegetable cooking spray
Parchment paper

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) round cake pans. TIP: As a general rule, use shortening to grease cake pans. Don’t forget to flour them too!
  2. Prepare the cake: Whisk together the first 6 ingredients in a bowl until well blended.
  3. Beat together the sugar and next 2 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until well blended. Add all 4 eggs, and beat until blended. Add flour mixture, and beat until blended. Stir in the pumpkin. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
  4. Bake at 350° for 25 to 27 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from the pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).
  5. Once the cakes are completely cool to the touch, prepare the frosting: Beat together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended and smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until blended. Spread frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. TIP: Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the top of the  cake layer before putting the rest of the frosting on the layer. This is called a crumb coat, and will help keep the tender cake from tearing as you frost it.
  6. Prepare the pecans: Stir together the corn syrup and sugar. (Mixture is very thick.) Stir in pecans. (This wasn’t super easy for me because the syrup mixture was so thick, but don’t worry. The syrup-sugar mixture will melt in the oven and coat everything completely then.) Coat a piece of parchment paper in a jelly-roll pan with cooking spray, and spread pecans on parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Remove the pecans from the oven, and spread into a single layer using a fork. Let cool completely. Use the pecans to decorate the cake as desired.

Happy Penguin + West Elm

This story begins two years ago.

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When Happy Penguin was in its infancy, Bryan asked me what my goals would be for our little company. I didn’t have to think about it. I knew. I’d want our cards to be in my favorite stores: West Elm and Anthropologie. One day far down the road, if that could happen, I’d be as happy as could be.

We didn’t spend our time purposefully moving toward this. We spent it on Happy. We developed cards that we loved, and tried our hardest to keep that as the main goal. Whatever happened, happened.

Cake Happy Penguin Press

That’s why when I received an e-mail one day out of the blue, it took my breath away. I would have been excited about the news whether we were involved or not: West Elm was opening a Birmingham, AL, location. Hallelujah! For me, this meant no more driving to Atlanta or paying for shipping whenever I shopped at West Elm. But there was something even more exciting in that e-mail…

West Elm wanted to know if they could carry our work in their Birmingham store.

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We can finally announce that our work is now (eeeeekkkk!) available at the brand-new location of West Elm, located at The Summit mall in Birmingham, AL. We’ve been keeping this a secret for ages now, and it was soo hard not to spill the beans to you all. We feel incredibly blessed to have this opportunity, to fulfill a dream that really was just that—some morning ramblings over tea and toast, when Bryan asked me a random question about far-away goals. Who would have thought it would ever come true?

If you live in the Birmingham area, please come out and support the local artists that West Elm partners with. We hope to see you there. We’ll be the embarrassingly giddy ones standing next to the letterpress cards, drying our happy tears on our sleeves and pinching ourselves silly.

West Elm at The Summit
320 Summit Blvd.
Vestavia, AL 35243
(205) 968-7651

In Which We Explain Where We’ve Been This Summer

Guys. It has been so long since we consistently posted here. We had such big dreams! And then…life came along, as it has a habit of doing. But now that things have calmed down (relatively), we wanted to take a moment and recap our summer for you. Because friends do that kind of thing, and we like to think that you guys love us as much as we love you.

letterpress order Happy Penguin Press

Out of everything that happened this summer, those of you who follow us on Instagram may have noticed a few noticeably sad posts. We didn’t explain. We were getting through the moment. Suffice it to say that my dad has been very ill and spent 20 days between August and September in the ICU, 14 hours away from where we live. We’ve been making as many trips to see him as we possibly can, and all that time away has meant later nights operating the press, completing new designs (three new Christmas cards are in the works!), and packaging orders. Thankfully, things have calmed down now, and my dad is doing much better. Life is better when your loved ones are healthy and happy, don’t you think?

In the midst of this, we’ve been exploring our options to expand our Happy Penguin working space. (We need more surface space. We have paper out the wazoo!) We’ll hopefully have more news about this in the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

letterpress Happy Penguin Press

When we were in the studio, we were busy printing and delivering cards to our local Birmingham, AL, suppliers Three Sheets and atHome, designing holiday cards (including a soon-to-come Halloween card designed by Bryan) and two new baby cards, and printing baby announcements for some wonderful friends.

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And on top of all of that, we have some seriously big news that we aren’t quite ready to share yet. But it’s pretty big. Like, dreams-coming-true-makes-us-cry-happy-tears kind of big.

So thank you for supporting us, for following us, and for being as awesome as you are. We’ll be back soon (promise) with our super-big news and some new card designs too!