Thursday, April 30, 2009

Local Event: Michigan Shores Spring Bazaar

Thursday, April 30

If you find yourself on the North Shore of Chicago today, please join us at the beautiful Michigan Shores Club in Wilmette for their first-ever Spring Bazaar. We'll be there with a carefully edited selection of Hen and Barley goodies, just in time for Mother's Day, not to mention teacher and graduation gifts. The doors open at 4:00 p.m. and close at 9:00 p.m., and admission is free. There'll also be complimentary hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar. We hope to see you there! (The Michigan Shores Club is at 911 Michigan Ave., Wilmette, Ill.)

Can't be there yourself? Visit your favorite Hen and Barley retailer, or shop our catalog for gifts for Mother's Day, graduation and your kids' favorite teachers.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Giving back: the philosophy behind Hen and Barley Press

Wednesday, April 29

Jenny writes: "As owners of a stationery company, Carolyn and I believe that written communication is an important, necessary part of life. As mothers, we believe that all children are alike in spirit, and that literacy is crucial to fostering that natural spirit.

"These beliefs, and our guiding principles of Give, Invite, Gather, inspire us to donate products and a percentage of sales to not-for-profit organizations dedicated to improving the literacy and welfare of underprivileged children."

To date, Hen and Barley Press has donated more than $4,000 in products to a wide range of organizations, one of which is Mary Lou's Place, the domestic violence shelter for women and children at the YWCA Evanston-North Shore in Evanston, Ill.

"Mary Lou's Place was created in 1980 as a five-bed volunteer-run shelter," says Julie McBratney, communications manager for the YWCA Evanston-North Shore. "It has since grown to a 32-bed residential facility with six transitional housing apartments. Here, women and children, including boys up to the age of 12, can access emergency shelter for up to 90 days."

When a woman arrives at the shelter, her immediate needs, as well as those of her children, are addressed. Residents are assigned a private room, as well as clothing, bed linens and personal supplies. Women's advocates and children's counselors provide daily individual and group counseling sessions, parent/child workshops, and specialized workshops such as health education, job readiness and financial literacy. All services are free of charge to residents.

"This important combination of emotional and practical support enables residents to find within themselves the ability to achieve self-sufficiency," Julie says. "We plan to use the materials from Hen and Barley Press in our daily counseling sessions, as well as in our art therapy program, as part of our residents' healing process. "

To learn more about Mary Lou's Place, and to support their programs, visit

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Grow your own

Tuesday, April 28

We've heard lots of our friends talking about growing their own vegetables this summer. Here's a fun promotion from Campbell's Soup that will get your garden started with 50 free tomato seeds (the same ones they use for their classic tomato soup). While you're there, be sure to click on the link to donate seeds to the Future Farmer's of America--Campbell's goal is to give away 1 billion (that's billion, with a 'b') tomato seeds this year to promote gardening across America.

We love programs like this that give back to our communities. Do you know about one? Let us know and we'll try to feature it on our blog.

Watering Can icon from hen and barley press Completely Custom line - can be used on stationery, gifts and invitations!

Monday, April 27, 2009

On our desk this week...

Monday, April 27

Spring is (finally!) in the air here in Chicago, and the warm weather started us thinking about Mother's Day. (It's on Sunday, May 10.) If you're looking for a fun gift for your mom, your friends who are moms, or even yourself if you are a mom, keep these fun spring trends in mind:

Personalized notepads, initial magnets and wine bags are perennial winners, because they're unique and they won't break the bank;

For a taste of the exotic, look to Moroccan-inspired motifs and patterns;

Quatrefoil is another classic design motif that can be updated with color for the right dose of trendy and classic--check out our great Quatrefoil patterned folded notes.

Hen and Barley Press features lots of trendy--and classic--gifts for the moms in your life. Visit one of our retailers or our custom shop and take a look. There's still time to order for Mother's Day--how about a gift for yourself, too?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fun & Festive Fridays

Good morning and Happy Friday!

Here in Chicago we are enjoying some real Spring weather, if only for a day. What a great way to start the weekend!

Fun and Festive Fridays will be a regular feature and will be all about what people do on the weekends to give, invite and gather. We're going to start with me, Carolyn and Jenny, but we'd like to hear from you, too! Drop us a line with what you're doing to give, invite and gather on the weekends, and we may feature you on one of the next Fun and Festive Fridays.

Carolyn: Gathering with neighborhood friends for a barbeque to celebrate the arrival of spring; Little League baseball games; inviting a friend to go to the Art Institute for a special exhibit; buying a graduation gift for a niece.
Jenny: First soccer game of the season at Community Playfields, which is a great gathering spot for the entire community on weekends; soccer tournament; inviting college friends and their kids over for dinner on Saturday--homemade chicken nuggets for the kids, and spring rolls and Thai curry for the adults; visiting friends to see their new twin boys and drop off baby gifts.

Ellen: Softball games; Little League Baseball games; gathering with friends at a gourmet cooking class.

Enjoy your weekends and we look forward to hearing what you're doing to give, invite and gather.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Stop the gift wrapping madness!

To make sure you'll always have what you need to wrap your hostess and birthday gifts, think in terms of the supply closet at work: Designate one place to put all your gift-wrapping supplies (it could be a closet, but it could also be a drawer, a plastic bin or even a box under your bed) and you'll have everything ready to go.

For gift-giving with ease, stock up on these gift-wrap essentials during your next trip to your local craft store:
• tissue paper in bright colors;
• paper handle sacks, either white or kraft paper (your kids can use crayons and markers to custom-design them for their friends), or in colors and fun designs;
• the Sunday comic pages (in color, or let your kids color in the black-and-white strips);
• a ball or two of brightly colored yarn;
gift labels, either blank or customized with your name, your kids' names, a fun greeting--you get the idea.
• stationery such as notecards and envelopes for the times when you want to include a quick note with a gift.

You might also want to put some scissors and tape, and a couple of Sharpie markers, in there as well. With these supplies in one place, where everyone can find them, you've got wrapping paper, goody bags, gift bags, tags or labels and fun, colorful, creative gift-wrap solutions always on hand, at the ready.

As a follow up to this post, Jenny is going to provide some comic relief with some shots of her current gift wrapping supply...closet? bin? drawer? (More like, none of the above) and then she's going to show you what happens after applying these fabulous tips. Stay tuned!