Calligraphy + Coffee 101

There is nothing quite like receiving a beautifully handwritten note in the mail, wouldn’t you agree? The rarity of a greeting sent the old fashioned way is especially endearing. Old-fashioned cards also make the sender feel as good as the recipient- there’s something so satisfying about actually dropping a note in a mailbox! So why don’t we send out more thank you’s, thinking of you notes or love letters anymore?? In a world of electronic everything, from emojis to emails, it’s almost as if we’ve forgotten how to express ourselves on pen and paper.

Now, we’re the first to admit we rarely send out cards in the mail ourselves. So, in an attempt to keep the handwritten note from becoming a dying art form, we decided it was time to brush up on expressing ourselves on paper- no laptop or keyboard required!


To help us out, we enlisted on local calligrapher, Kim from Bright Room Studio, to school us on fun writing treatments to jazz up our snail mail. We all gathered round the table on a Saturday morning (with much needed coffee in hand!) to learn some tricks of the trade – and of course we had to share it all with you!

calligraphy-and-coffee-apartment-34-2calligraphy-and-coffee-3-apartment-34 our favorite card stock, envelopes & paper goods from Tiny Prints

When it comes to a handwritten note, where to start is easy: cute stationary is a must {we love this set and this set!}! Then you just have to decide to whom you care to send a special note. We have a little {pretty!notebook in the office to keep track of ideas. It doesn’t have to be a cousin who is celebrating an upcoming birthday or a friend who is expecting. In fact, we argue that it shouldn’t be. We love the idea of sending “just because” notes; they’re such an unexpected gesture that will no doubt turn any friend’s mid-week frown upside down!


But if you’re still feeling stumped on how to write something that’s actually longer than 140 characters, we’ve got your back!

Get Past Notecard-Writer’s Block With These “Just Because” Ideas:

> Send a loved one your favorite memory of them
> Tell a person why they inspire you
> Start a card with “thanks for” & express what you truly appreciate about the recipient
> Share something that will make them laugh- something you’d normally text to them
> Write out a favorite quote from the book you’re reading and send it off for someone else to enjoy


Once you’ve got your note ready to go, here’s where you can take some additional creative license: addressing the envelopes! There are a couple of different writing styles Kim showed us.

> Calligraphy is a classic way to put a sophisticated spin on your mail. It takes practice to perfect, but it’s so much fun. We urge you to pick up a nib and try it!

> Watercolor is so on trend right now. You can either write with a thin, rounded tip paintbrush or paint a watercolor background and print with a pen over it. We’re obsessed with this playful and free flowing style. Let the paint do its own thing- embrace its imperfections and runs.

> Combine fonts and sizes, spacing between characters and colors to instantly take your handwriting from drab to fab.

The key here is to simply let your creativity flow!


And for us creativity definitely starts after coffee! Since it was early and we needed to stay focused on our craft, we set up an ultimate coffee bar with three different roasts from our favorite Bay Area-based coffee roaster, Wrecking Ball {you may remember them from here!}. We felt a little like coffee aficionados while we sipped the different blends. Since you usually get whatever is being served at your local cafe that day, we certainly indulged by taste-testing a cup or two {or three}!


Don’t you just love that print Kim made for our coffee and calligraphy date? You can get your own {in black or white, or both!} here!


So one of these weekends, why not motivate a handful of your gal pals for a different kind of “girls day.” Set up a fun coffee bar; indulge in your local coffee shop’s beans and grind them yourself to really bring things back to basics. Dust off your cutest mugs that quickly get forgotten amidst the convenient thrill of to-go cups. Set out all your pretty paper and cards {don’t forget the address labels either!} with a couple of different writing tools, and you’re set to go for a really simple and super fun weekend activity. We’re here to attest that calligraphy and coffee is the most inspiring way to start off a Saturday!


original photography for apartment 34 by Aubrie Pick // art direction + styling by Bianca Sotelo 

This post is sponsored by Tiny Prints, where every choice is a stylish choice. Thoughts and opinions are 100% our own. Thanks for supporting our partnerships!

Behind the Scenes: First Impressions + Collaborating

Everyone knows that the first impression is the best impression, and often times it’s the only chance you have to be memorable! Just as important as wearing your most in-charge outfit for your first job interview, the same best-foot-forward goes when throwing a party. We’re not talking the impression your guests have as they walk up to the door {although, we’d argue that’s part of the fun too!}. We’re talking about even before all that. Before they’ve picked out their outfit and even have a clue that anything is coming, you can set the tone for your entire event. It all starts with the invitations!


In a world where everything is electronic and a text message is considered a perfectly normal way to invite your grandma to your bat mitsvah, we argue the only way to throw a party is with a proper paper invite. It’s certainly no secret we’re paper-obsessed. And for our #AndiamoSF Dinner we took our invitation suite very seriously. We could have done evites, we could have ordered cookie cutter options, but we wanted something unique, something gorgeous, something extra special and we most certainly got it.

We did so by bringing in some amazing talents. We reached out to a local graphic designer, Selina Lee of SKYCreatives, who we met via Instagram {follow her here!}! We were looking for a customized invite suite that reflected our {subtle!} travel theme.

Going into our first meeting we had the idea to use a linear map to help illustrate our travel story, without TELLING the travel story. Keeping the theme understated was our prime challenge. Another key aspect was coming up with something guests could keep forever because after all of this work, there was NO WAY we wanted these invites to be tossed out on garbage day. With that direction in hand, Selina drafted a couple of graphic options:


You know how people put a pin on map to mark the places they’ve visited? Drawing inspiration from that idea, Selina came up with a killer abstract art piece. At first we were going to put it on the back of the invitations, but then decided to save it as an individual art piece that were the highlight in the place settings. They were all hand-drawn and accented with gold leaf after all!

For the invitations themselves, we looked at a lot of different options: letter press, embossing and debossing, various colors, envelope options, fonts and sizing. Many emails and coffee meet-ups later we came up with the final concept. A doubled sided invite printed at home {other printing options were honestly just out of the budget!} a {hand-painted!!} watercolor lined envelope and the hand-cut gold abstract map graphic, which Selina literally cut one by one – a true labor of love!


Once we had the invitations finalized, we couldn’t just slip them in the mail. To take things one step further, we teamed up again – this time with a local {and awesome!} flower delivery company, Farm Girl Flowers, who pedals farm fresh florals right to recipients doors. We worked with their founder to come up with a not-your-everyday bouquet by dip-dyeing a single white peony in gold paint! The individual bloom was simple, timeless and the perfect finishing touch.

We couldn’t be more thrilled with how our invites turned out. We’re only a tad jealous we didn’t get one delivered to our homes. We are proud to say that everyone who received an invite RSVP’d. I mean, wouldn’t you? ;)

And just because we wanted to cross our t’s and dot our i’s, we went one step further. Inspired by an art installation at one of the coffee shops we met in, we decided to blow up the abstract art that Selina designed to make our own 3-D wall installation in the event venue’s stairwell. With a more obvious nod to the ol’ pushpin map idea, we bought wooden pushpins and nice black cord to create a focal point as guests entered into the room!


It truly was an amazing experience to work with so many talented people to turn a vision into a reality. Thanks again to all of our collaborators for the Andiamo SF dinner, and especially to Selina who put new meaning into “handmade” and to Farmgirl Flowers who make the Bay Area prettier, one delivery at a time {you can visit them in the SF Flower Mart!}. —Bianca

image 1 + original photography for apartment 34 by Katie Newburn // other images c/o Selina Lee 

Idea to Steal {25}: Instagram Place Cards

One of our favorite details from our Andiamo SF dinner party was a very special part of the place settings! You see, the entire dinner was very secretive- guests really had no idea what to expect walking up the dimly lit, unfinished stairwell into a newly opened event space. They hadn’t even fully grasped what the event was all about, let alone know who’d be sitting next to them at the table.

In order to continue the elusive {and fun!} experience going {which we were enjoying WAY too much btw!}, we wanted to stay away from the expected. We searched and searched for interesting ideas for every event detail. After rounds of brainstorming, we had a particularly fab ah-ha moment {an Idea to Steal, if you will!}. What if we could print out Instagrams and use them as incognito place cards?? Thankfully, with companies like Origrami, now you can!! So keeping with the travel theme, we raided our guests Instagram feeds to find images from their recent travels and Origrami printed them beautifully.


To turn them into place cards, we simply tied each stack together with leather cord {from the fabric store – hello DIY!} and instructed each guest to look for something “familiar” around the table! It was such a simple and elegant way to assign seats. It looked great, the leather made it sexy and it was so much fun watching guests “find” their spot! The best part was that the guests got to take their “place card” home as a memento. We even hung our own on our wall in the office!

Having these Instagrams was not only highly personal, but they were also a great way to conjure up funny travel stories. We had our guests write their most embarrassing travel memory, throw it in a basket and we shared them with the group anonymously – then we had to guess whose story it was!  We made sure to do this after the drink had been flowing and it was hi-larious!!

So for your next party, skip obvious name cards and have fun choosing multiple sizes and themes {our favorite? the retro print!} to print your Instagrams on from Origrami.  They’re great quality, affordable and Origrami offers free shipping worldwide. Rest assured that the prints will spark up your festivities – plus it’s just so cool to see your Instagrams in “real life” rather than on your phone. Now, there’s an Idea to Steal!

original photography for apartment 34 by Katie Newburn // Instagram prints c/o Origram. All thoughts and opinions are our own. We only talk about products we truly support!