Archive for July, 2010

More Ribbon? More Ideas!

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 | Permalink

Keep a variety of ribbon on hand for last minute touches!

In an earlier blog, we discussed a few interesting occasions when ribbons could be used.  However we all know there are many more fun and creative uses for ribbons.  While that earlier post dealt with event ideas, today we would like to suggest more everyday uses.

Personalized two tone ribbon, gingham ribbon and satin ribbon.

Stationery: Personalize your letter or card with a small bit of personalized ribbon.  Taking the time to tie the ribbon in a bow or around a gift card, adds a special touch that says to that person you are sending it to how much you care and appreciate them.

Gingham ribbon, satin ribbon, polka dot ribbon - all unique ways to embellish your card or gift.

Scrap-booking: Ribbon can be used a hundred ways when scrap-booking. Create a frame by stitching several lengths of ribbon around the border of each page or gluing it down down around the outside of a photograph.  Try enhancing the spiral binding with several little bows!

image courtesy of Thirty Seven West

Decorating: Use ribbon on simple crafts like floral arrangements  or gift baskets.  A little more creative?  Try tying a piece of ribbon around your favorite hat or bag to add a little bit of flair.

There are hundreds of ways in which ribbon can be used to add that little something extra to your everyday life.  For more ideas or to add your own, feel free to email us at

Best Always,

Thirty Seven West

Friday Eats: Pickled Squash

Friday, July 16th, 2010 | Permalink

Squash Pickle Ingredients by Thirty Seven West CEO Linda Bryan

A little history: I grew up with a lifetime friend, Meridith, who is 5 days younger than me and we’ve known each other since we were 5 years old!  This is one of her family’s favorites and clearly one of my favorites.  Her mother, Mary Beth, has been like a second mom to me for many years!  I learned much about fresh food cooking, a love for gardening and composting from the Hatchers.  I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!  If you try them, please let us know what you think.:-)

4 quarts thinly sliced squash (home grown or farm fresh is the best, of course!)

Sliced squash, onion and pepper...slice thin to your preference.

4 yellow onions thinly sliced to your preference

1 red bell pepper sliced thin

1 green bell pepper sliced thin We suggest using organic vegetables.

Put the above in a bowl.  I used plastic and glass…what I had on hand.

Cover with ½ cup sea salt and crushed ice.

Thinly sliced veges covered with salt and ice...before "cooking" and canning.

Place in refrigerator.  Let stand overnight.

Mix 5 cups sugar with 3 cups vinegar in large pot for boiling.

Original recipe uses white vinegar. I usually use 2 cups Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar…and 2 cup purified water.

Add 1 ½ t Turmeric

1 ½ t Celery seed

2T Mustard seed

1 Garlic Clove cut up or pressed.

Bring to a boil.

Add squash after draining it very well.  Get all the water off of it.

image courtesy of Thirty Seven West CEO Linda Bryan

Bring back to a boil for 1-2 minutes. Pack in jars & make sure they seal well.  Listen for the lids to ping! Make sure they seal completely before storing non-refrigerated. I test the lids to make sure they are sealed. Enjoy!

image courtesy of Thirty Seven West CEO Linda Bryan

Weddings: Gift Ideas for the Bridal Party

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010 | Permalink

image courtesy of Heather D. Photography

Weddings can be hectic.  Everything has to be planned and coordinated and rehearsed in order for your perfect day to be…well, perfect.  With this in mind, we at Thirty Seven West have put on our research caps and come up with some ideas that will make the gift giving portion of your wedding just a little bit easier.

image courtesy of Heather D. Photography

Groomsmen: I think we can all agree that guys are pretty simple. As long as the gift you give them for participating in your special day shows just a little bit of thought and effort, we can assure you that it will be appreciated. Is the guy a drinker? Give him a flask.  Looking for something a little more elegant?  How ’bout a pocket watch?  Interested in giving him something he can use for the wedding?  Try cuff links.  These gifts can be easily engraved to ensure that your groomsmen understand the importance of the role that they have played in your wedding day.

image courtesy of Heather D. Photography

Bridesmaids: These ladies are usually some of the most important people in the bride’s life.  Over the years, they have provided everything from guidance and support to a much needed shoulder to cry on.  Because of this, it is vitally important that you get these women something that symbolizes the nature of your relationship and expresses the love that you have for them.  One great idea is to have their name and the date of the wedding engraved on something like one of these compacts.  Is she a bit of a partier? Maybe she would like a personalized pink flask or bottle stopper.

We hope that these ideas on what to buy your bridesmaids and groomsmen can help to alleviate at least a small part of the stress you may be feeling as you plan your big day.  We wish you the best and hope that it turns out, for lack of a better word…perfect.

Best Always,

Thirty Seven West

Featured: Tracy Joy

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 | Permalink

image of Tracy Joy courtesy of Photography by Tracy Joy

The best way to describe Chicago-area entrepreneur Tracy Joy would be as a modern day Renaissance woman. Juggling a family life with four demanding businesses can be tough, but Tracy pulls it off with a flair that is to be both commended and admired.  Her four companies (Tracy Joy, Pink Heels Boudoir, Prop Insanity, and The Joy Bag Collection) all stemmed from an initial love of sewing and photography.  Proving once again that if you do what you love, you’ll love what you do.

37w: So as we were emailing back and forth, I noticed that on your email it states “Yes…I’m a busy girl.” You obviously wear a lot of different hats, was that always the plan or was it just how things turned out?

TJ: I’ve always been “busy”… coming from a background of entrepreneurs (men) in my family, I thought it should be the girls’ turn…so my mom and I started up TJ Inc in 2006, for our camera bag line. From there, I picked up a DSLR camera (a life dreamer and photographer by hobby), and realized the great gift of photography that I had!  From there…  my photography lead me to my love of all things “photography prop”, anything I could use on a baby or toddler, even an adult, to fancy up and bring a little fun into my photography… which is where Prop Insanity came from.   And my latest company, Pink Heels Boudoir, is my “baby”…shared with an amazing photography partner Jamie B.

In my life, things kind of come to me in a “stream”… my crafty sewing led to the bag line, which led to my photography, which led to my props… you get the point.   I’m a full-on, go-getter, never holding back to say “I wish I had done that”, I want to be the old lady one day who says “I did it ALL!”.

37w: In January 2010, you launched a new bag line The Joy bag collection (which we love, btw).  That had to take time away from your amazing photography, how are you able to split your focus?

TJ: My focus…that’s funny 🙂   I don’t focus on one thing, I don’t think I’m “engineered” to do that, lol…. which runs in my family.  A little bit of OCD, mixed in with the skill of multitasking-add a touch of caffeine to that and there is my day! Lol! I’m also lucky to have my mom as a business partner. Without her sewing skills, customer service qualities, and my father’s helping hand with my kids…my business life wouldn’t be possible.   Also, having all of my business’ surrounding the basic thought of “photography,” helps to keep it all in sync.  It all blends nicely together, in one happy insanely busy world of “Me.”

The Bliss bag from The Joy Bag Collection

37w: Family is a recurring theme in your blog posts, can you tell me a bit about the support you have received and how it has inspired your work?

TJ: My mother is “that” woman… you know her, the one who can do anything she puts her mind to?  She can see something in the store, on TV, whereEVER and replicate it.  T A L E N T (lol).  Lucky for me,  she bore that “talent” into me.  I’ve always tinkered and been more creative than “book smart.”   And then there is my father… we like to think of him “Grandpa Daycare.”  My kids are very attached to him, as they see him on a pretty regular basic (at least 3 times per week!).   My sister is a HARD WORKER, to the core. She’s always been busy busy busy, and about the #1 best’ola employee anyone could ask for. Every so often, she lends her time to us…in the form of her darling baby (my niece Georgia) to my camera lens! LOL!

However, my favorite people in the world who offer the most support… my husband and my kids.  As you image, I spend a lot of time w/my companies… so the one battle I have is work vs. family time.  Thankfully, they are all wonderfully patient with me, and supportive of me and my companies (‘cause they know what’s best for them if they want dinner on the table! lol). Little did my husband know, he married a creative junkie!

image of Tracy Joy and her family courtesy of Photography by Tracy Joy

37w: Let’s talk Pink Heels Boudoir Portraiture.  I know you feel that it is important to help women of all shapes and sizes express their beauty, but has this new venture also given you a newfound sense of empowerment?

TJ: It is AMAZING! Jamie and I created Pink Heels Boudoir in February this year, and it has exploded!   We do this not for the job of it, but for the women that we photograph.  Every, and I honestly mean EVERY, woman should experience this sort of photography. It’s liberating, empowering, and really leaves you feeling “awed” by yourself.  It’s amazing how so many women, us regular every day women, forget how stunningly beautifully we are, and how easy it is to get back in tune with our bodies and our image.  We like to stomp right on the conventional thought of beauty, and bring a new light to women and their thoughts on what beauty is.

image courtesy of Pink Heels Boudoir Portraiture

37w: Prop Insanity seems like a great way to bring together different suppliers in order to make props easier for photographers to find.  Did this site develop out of personal necessity, did you sense a need in the field, or a little of both?

TJ: It developed out of a simple LOVE for photography props.  When the idea came to my mind, I contacted a fellow photographer friend of mine, Gina of Peahead Prints, who I also knew was obsessed with Photography props… and we let Prop Insanity blossom!   It’s funny, when I go into a “home” store now.. I don’ think “Aww, that basket would be cute in my house”, instead I think “hmmm, can I fit a baby in that”, hahaha.

image courtesy of Photography by Tracy Joy

37w: As a highly motivated individual, balancing 4 businesses and a very dedicated family life, what advice would you have for people (especially mothers) who are stepping out of the box and trying their hand at more than one industry?

TJ: Don’t hold back… and enjoy the ride!  If you can, dive in feet first (never head first! lol).   When I get an idea, I run with it…. build up great customer relations… and join places like Facebook & Etsy to promote and sell your products and/or ideas.   Marketing and promoting are VERY important… if you don’t sell your own product, no one else will.

When it comes to photography….take advantage of your surroundings…offer up your services to friends, family, and even strangers! One of my best clients, who has referred 10+ other clients to me, was someone I met at the park on a sunny day with my kids.   So don’t be embarrassed, or hold back, people will enjoy you!

37w: So, what’s next for Tracy Joy?

TJ: Beats me!  I never say never… but for now, I think I have enough going on, lol.  I’d like to say I’ll win the lotto and buy a giant natural light studio in my town…  or just jet off my tiny clientele to exotic places for photography sessions.  A girl can dream…so who has a buck for the daily lotto for me?

image courtesy of Photography by Tracy Joy

Happy 4th!

Sunday, July 4th, 2010 | Permalink

image courtesy of

Happy fourth of July!

Because of the holiday, it is safe to assume that many of you will not be reading this until the 5th or the 6th, but a belated holiday well-wish is better than no well-wishing at all.

How did you celebrate our nation’s independence?

Our staff did everything from vacationing at the beach in Hilton Head, SC to boating around Lake Allatoona. Some of us even fit in a baseball game and a cookout with the family.

So, leave a comment and let us know what you did to enjoy this important day in American history.


Thirty Seven West

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