I’m back again…and goin large! Tucson Festival of Books 2014


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My favorite festival is this weekend! The Tucson Festival of Books at the University of Arizona! This is my second year having a booth and I’ve gone big! New giveaways, behind-the-scenes info, and new Julie Originals products!

Please stop by and say Hi! Here’s my schedule:

Tucson Festival of Books Julie Originals

Julie Rustad and Kai Williams at the Julie Originals booth – Tucson Festival of Books 2013

Saturday March 15th
10:30 am – 11 am:
Desert Dwellers Trivia in Julie Originals Booth #464

12 pm – 1pm: Signing Desert Dwellers Flash Cards in the Local First Arizona Booth #313

3 pm – 3:30 pm: Inside look at creating the Desert Dwellers Flash Cards in Julie Originals Booth #464

Sunday March 16th
9:30 am -11:30 am: Signing Flash Cards in the Author Pavilion, Children’s Area

3 pm – 3:45 pm: Coloring with artist Julie Rustad in Julie originals Booth #464

This year the Julie Originals is booth #464 on the UA Mall across from the Children’s Area!

Julie Originals Tucson Festival of Books 2014

Julie Originals booth #464 near the Children’s Area!

Julie Originals at  Tucson FEstival of Books

Some of the Julie Originals art gifts that will be available at the Tucson Festival of Books!!!

There’s so many reasons to love this festival!!!!

  1. Family-friendly – awesome children’s area
  2. Free
  3. Educational
  4. Meet your favorite authors and illustrators
  5. Buy new books, educational flash cards and more!
  6. Learn how to succeed from expert panelists
  7. Spend a relaxing weekend outside with friends
  8. Watch amazing chefs!
  9. Make connections to those that can help you
  10. Enjoy wonderful entertainment

For those that have attended the festival in the past — what did I forget to mention?!

For those that have never been — what are you waiting for!!!! 🙂

See you at the Tucson Festival of Books!!!


Love of Reading Week


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love of reading

Love of Reading Week is Feb 10th-14th, 2014. “Love” painting by Julie Rustad.

From February 10th -14th celebrate reading! Here are ways to participate in “Love of Reading Week”:

Read a NEW FREE BOOK! Pima County Library is giving away free books and has lots of events going on during Love of Reading Week.

Go to storytimes. I enjoy going to the Pima County Library, Bookmans and Mildred & Dildred storytimes. Kid-friendly and fun for both the kids and the parents. (If you live outside of Tucson, check with your local library.)

Reading "Syver's First Rock Star Year" - a book I wrote and illustrated for my son!

Reading “Syver’s First Rock Star Year” – a book I wrote and illustrated for my son!

Many schools have guest presenters this week!  I am presenting about illustration and design at Sunrise Elementary School and the Tucson Jewish Community Center during “Love of Reading Week”. Find out who is presenting at your kid’s school to learn about the author or illustrator’s work beforehand. Your kiddos might be even more excited and also have some great questions prepared!

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

Put the fun events in your calendar now! As a busy Mom, I find it helpful to have events already in my Ical. Macaroni Kid and Arizona Families do a great job of gathering all of the family friendly events and hosting them in one spot. Take a look now and put whatever you find interesting in your calendar.

Michelle and Odin reading Desert Dwellers Flash Cards together.

Michelle and Odin reading Desert Dwellers Flash Cards together.

Reading is everywhere! Don’t forget that reading doesn’t only have to be from books or magazines – reading is everywhere – in the kitchen on the packages, in a cookbook — or even in the car – signs along the road (street signs, billboards) —writing a little story together and reading it — reading posters when you go to different places – swim lessons, the hockey arena, restaurants, at the mall…

Read something that makes your heart sing! As parents we tend to focus on our kid’s reading and ours comes from a few minutes on Facebook. I find having a good book already on my night stand allows me to read a bit before bed. It also helps me fall asleep!

Pick out a new poetry or romantic book during “Fall in Love with an Author Fair” Feb 8th at Bookmans Speedway.

Books are a uniquely portable magic.
― Stephen King, On Writing

I love how my son is excited to read. We read a few books before nap time and then before bed. I actually have to say, “Only 3 books” when it’s getting too late. And he exclaims, “Four!” I hope he always feels like this!

Hope you all enjoy “Love of Reading Week”!

Continue your Love of Reading at the Tucson Festival of Books in March! I’ll be in the Authors Pavilion March 16th at 9:30am.

Hope to see you then!

– Julie

Which of these do you think you’ll try during Love of Reading Week?

Stay creative and have fun!


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painting of ALbert Einstein quote by artist Julie Rustad

“Creativity is Intelligence Having Fun” – Albert Einstein. Painted by Julie Rustad.

I love having a creative career as a designer and illustrator. I’ve been asked before about how I stay feeling creative 24/7 – and here’s some things that work for me.

Know your most creative time (and try not to interrupt it)
I feel the most creative in the morning so I begin my projects right away – then check email after (before lunch). When I do it the other way around – I seem to lose a lot of my creative time handling the emails. Later in the day, I work on the “less creative tasks”.

IMG_0353When you’re slowing down – take a break
Recently I was working on a project and found myself not getting very far. My brain was tired – so I took a little run. Of course while I was running the best idea came to me — and as soon as I got back to the office – I felt refreshed and had a much better idea!


Levi rests quite often!

Change your scenery
If I want to make things more fun – I’ll work from a coffee shop or bookstore. I tend to sketch more at these kind of places because cause my computer isn’t staring at me – while it’s in my back pack. My best concepts usually originate as a simple sketch.


Syver likes to frequent coffee shops and get in some exercise at the same time!

Brainstorm buddies
As designers we are used to critiques, but working as a solopreneur can be lonely. When I need some feedback, I’ll check in with my husband who is an animator. Although we have different businesses – we have complimentary skills and can speak the same language objectively. I’ll also send an email to a few friends when I need those extra set of eyes. They sometimes see things in a whole new way and I find it very helpful!

What do you do to stay creative?


painting of ALbert Einstein quote by artist Julie Rustad

“Creativity is Intelligence Having Fun” – Albert Einstein. Painted by Julie Rustad.

“Creativity is intelligence having fun” a quote from Albert Einstein makes me smile. If you’d like your own copy, it’s available for sale on the Julie Originals website.

I’m not messy, I am CREATIVE


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Piles of paper…GUILTY. Piles of random doo-dads…GUILTY. Although I have always been creative – I have always been messy too. (Just ask anyone I’ve ever lived with!)

I think there’s probably a lot of other creatives that have piles of papers too…Albert Einstein had a super messy desk!

If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” – Albert Einstein

At age 35 I know I will never be super neat. My brain doesn’t work that way. There are plenty of resources though.

When I searched “home organization”,  6765 books offering decluttering tips appeared! WHOA!

Lots of resources for organizing!

Lots of resources for organizing!

Besides books there are awesome articles about organization. I can relate to the artist who wrote, “5 Ways to Creatively Organize Your Time, Mind, and Workspace”. Melissa Baswell Williams says that “at times her studio looks like it was hit by a tornado”.

I find her tips helpful and I recently worked on organizing my home office for the New Year!

My acrylics, journals and tools are right above my desk - but in a neater way than before!

My acrylic paints, journals and tools are right above my desk – but in a neater way than before!

Besides keeping physical items organized, I keep my thoughts, goals and tasks organized too.

I believe in the power of a good ‘to do’ list!

Do you notice how you remember things better when you actually write them down? This past year – I’ve heavily relied on my I-calendar – but I missed the tactile experience of using a day planner. I think It’s nice to be away from the computer and plan ahead milestones for important goals.

I’ve looked online and in office supply stores and book stores, but I still didn’t find a planner I liked. I like to have a really large month view, but then an ample amount of space for each day too.

I am not sure how I found it, but I am soooo excited about Erin Condren’s Life Planner! I love the 2-page monthly spread and how each day is broken down by “morning”, “day” and “night”.

I love the monthly spread!

I also like how colorful and joyful it is. I added this super cute photo of Syver and Jon hiking in Sedona to the cover. My favorite people in my favorite place!!! So inspiring!

My New Erin Condren Life Planner!

If you like this planner, sign up to receive a $10 Gift Certificate towards Erin Condren’s products!

I know that in 2014 I am not going to change into a clean freak, but maybe, just maybe, I can be a little bit neater. And when I am not, I’ll just look at my new painting and feel better 😉

How do you stay organized?  Please share with me!

DREAM it then DO IT, Achieve your goals in 2014


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Dream it then Do it

“Dream it then DO IT!” by Julie Rustad.

Have you ever thought, “This year I am going to…” but then don’t follow through? You’re not alone. Only 8% of Americans actually achieve their New Years Resolutions according to a study by the University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Why do you think you didn’t follow through?

“There’s not enough time.”

“I don’t know where to start.”

“I forgot about it.”

I think we all can relate to resolutions that don’t come into fruition.

How can we make our 2014 New Year Resolutions a reality?

The Inc article, “5 Magical Tips for Achieving Your Goals” by Marla Tabaka suggests you should have an emotionally positive feeling from your goals. This sounds basic, but how you frame something can determine if you stick with it.

So instead of, “I need to lost weight”. It could be something you are more excited about like, “I want to play tennis with my friends and feel better!”

“Always look at the emotional driver behind your goals. How does it make you feel when you think about achieving the outcome? Recognizing your good feelings will transition you from a shameful should to a passionate want, thereby creating a much higher likelihood of achieving your meaningful goals. After all, positive emotion drives action far, far more effectively than does negative emotion.” – Marla Tabaka

Jon and Syver in Sedona

My husband and son inspire me!

One of their tips is to state your goal in writing. I am a huge believer in writing my goals down in my journal. In 2008 I wrote that I wanted to create a product to sell in addition to owning my graphic design business.

Years later I achieved this goal with the launch of my Desert Dwellers Flash Cards. Throughout the process of creating them – I would write down the things I needed to accomplish. This helped me to sort out what items needed to be worked on next and to not feel so overwhelmed. It also helped me feel like it was really happening – not just a thought floating around in my fantabulous brain. 😉

desert animal flash cards for kids

Desert Dwellers Flash Cards by Julie Originals

Whether it’s a workout buddy, networking group, or partner – sharing your goals for the New Year with others is a positive step to reaching them in 2014!

My husband and I are always bouncing ideas off one another. My Mom’s group helped me build the best possible product through feedback and support. My friend Whitney sweats it out with me during our TRX workouts!

mom meetup group

Some of my best friends are from my Mom Meetup Group!

My friends and family are amazing, inspiring and crucial to reaching my goals!

Like my new painting says, “DREAM it…then DO it!”
Happy New Years!

What or who has helped you reach a goal? Would you like to share a goal you have for 2014?

Gratitude is spreading this holiday season


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Two woman came into my life recently who are spreading the power of gratitude. This has been a blessing as my anxiety is building between balancing work, events and stress during the holiday season.


I met the “Grateful Goddess” at a lunch workshop at Gangplank. Shelia Sornsin is an upbeat, inspired woman you can’t help but listen to. Her examples of being grateful, even in tough circumstances illustrate how each of us can truly affect our own outcomes.

We did an exercise of closing your eyes and thinking of someone you love very much. Immediately I thought of my son, Syver, and tears came to my eyes. Happy tears that made me feel full of love.

We also closed our eyes and thought of someone who had wronged us. This time I became very angry and everything felt tight. She explained how just by thinking of  different things, our body is affected. How we are only hurting ourselves when we can’t let things go.

This is a hard one. I had to take someone to court for not paying for graphic design work that they ripped off and used. In court, he pretended he didn’t even know who I was. I still get pissed when I think of the crap I’ve had to do just to get paid – which never happened.

I’m trying to do my best to forgive and realize that it is better for my own health to let it go. The Grateful Goddess referenced the work of Masaru Emoto, a Japanese researcher. He found water reacted differently to positive and negative messages. This can be seen in photographs of the water crystals.

Because our body is made of approx 60% of water, it’s interesting to think of how our thoughts, messages and actions can affect our own bodies composition.

Thanks to the Grateful Goddess,  I left the workshop feeling inspired to pay closer attention to how my thoughts affected my body. I am making a more conscious effort to be grateful for what I do have.


Another special woman that practices gratitude is Heather Von St. James. At the age of 36, and only three months after giving birth to her daughter – she was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma and was told she had 15 months to live. This is an aggressive and rare cancer which is caused by asbestos exposure.

Dr. David Sugarbaker, a renowned mesothelioma surgeon at the Boston based Brigham and Women’s hospital operated on Heather in 2005. Today she is an 8-year survivor of mesothelioma. She believes that “With hope, the odds don’t matter” and is sharing her story with the blogosphere. This is a beautiful video about her journey.
Heather values living in the moment and being grateful every day. In fact, she has set out to acknowledge something in her life that she is thankful for every day throughout the month of December. She has asked bloggers to do the same.

My list is long, so I am going to focus on my support system. I am thankful for my friends and family who are always supportive – no matter what. This has always given me confidence and the strength to try new things and see what happens. I feel that they’re positivity is transferred just like how water is affected by this.

As the holiday season continues to gets more hectic, please take a minute to think positively about what you do have and how that gratitude can be easily shared with others 🙂

What’s one thing are you grateful for?

Whoooo’s Bubba? Meet him at the Desert Dwellers Party


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"Bubba" as a baby, Photo by Tucson Wildlife Center

“Bubba” as a baby, Photo by Tucson Wildlife Center

When Bubba the great horned owl was a baby, he fell out of his nest. Tucson Wildlife Center rescued him and helped his broken wing to heal. After he was able to fly he was released back into the wild. Surprisingly, he came back to the center after 2 weeks. They realized he hadn’t been eating on his own.

“When he was healthy again and put in the flight cage, the director of the Center discovered that although Bubba was able to fly and maneuver through the air flawlessly, his wings were no longer silent. Because of scarring, a critical serrated feather would never regrow on his wing. Silent flying is necessary for Great Horned Owls to hunt successfully – but Bubba sounds like a freight train!” (Tucson Wildlife Center website)

Today Bubba travels around Tucson to promote understanding of wildlife and of Tucson Wildlife Center’s rehabilitation process.

Desert Dwellers Party

Sat November 2nd at Mildred & Dildred  – KiKi & Bubba from Tucson Wildlife Center

We are so excited to meet Bubba up close this Saturday at our Desert Dwellers Party! Join us in a celebration of southwest animals with family fun activities including music, education, and animals from Tucson Wildlife Center.

Businesses, artists and shops have all pitched in to donate awesome items for a raffle. All the money from the raffles will go to Tucson Wildlife Center – which operates as a non-profit and counts on donations in order to continue critical services for our desert dwellers.

Saturday November 2nd, 2013, 10:30am – 12:30pm

Syver of The Nap Skippers!

Syver of The Nap Skippers!

Mildred & Dildred, La Encantada shopping center (lower level), 2905 E. Skyline Drive, #186, Tucson, AZ 85718

Including: Stories and fun facts about our Southwest animals; real desert dwellers from Tucson Wildlife Center; puppets; live music by family band The Nap Skippers; raffle to benefit Tucson Wildlife Center.

Hope to see you at The Desert Dwellers Party!- Julie, Jon & Syver

See the official press release here.

About Tucson Wildlife Center:
The Tucson Wildlife Center is is a non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of injured and orphaned wild animals throughout southern Arizona. All services are provided free to the public!

If you ever see an injured animal call their 24/7 helpline at 520.290.9453 (WILD).

Click here to donate to Tucson Wildlife Center.


Team Sisters Craft and Vendor Fundraiser


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Join Julie Originals and 40 other amazing vendors this Saturday from 3-7pm at Old Pueblo Square Dance Center, 613 E. Delano to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Here’s the flyer they designed:

Team Sisters Craft & Vendor Fundraiser
Team Sisters is the family and friends of Isabelle (7) and Aria (1-1/2), who were diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis last year. Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and pancreas of 30,000 children and adults in the United States. Thick and sticky mucus clogs the lungs causing life-threatening lung infections and obstructs the pancreas. Years ago, children lived to attend elementary school, many people now with CF expect to live into their 40’s.

~~40 Vendors~~
~~Silent Auction~~
~~Prize Giveaways~~
~~Fashion Show by Tutu Garden~~
~~Dance Performances by Tucson Dance Academy~~
~~Musical Performance by Flamenco Guitarist, Troy Gray~~
~~Speaker:: Cystic Fibrosis Director, Michele Murphy~~
~~Speaker:: Ms. Tucson~~
~~Food Trucks:: Dragoon Cafe and Hawaiian Snow Shack & Snack~~
~~Kid’s Korner:: My Gym Obstacle Course, Facepainting By Maggie, Crafts~~

Learn more on Facebook.

C in Tucson is for Collaboration — Small Business Owner’s Perspective


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The C is for Collaboration

Entrepreneur magazine listed Tucson as an emerging entrepreneurial hub. I am not surprised. With organizations like Startup Tucson facilitating collaboration, the future is bright.

Tucson, Arizona has been my home for 10 years now. Previously I had been living in Philly working as a designer for a medical communications company. Although it was quite a change – it was a blessing to move to Tucson.

Tucson is a great city for having a small business. I am not sure if I was still living in Philly, I would have started my own graphic design business. I think I would have felt like a little fish in a big pond. The benefit to Tucson is that although there are over 500,000 people living here – it has a small town vibe.

What I mean about small town, is that I believe that when you do good job on a project for a client here, the word spreads rather quickly. It’s a very supportive community. I am a part of some very collaborative organizations here like Local First Arizona and Startup Tucson that promote local businesses.


It’s a lot cheaper to live in Tucson, than Philly. We are able to not only own a home in Tucson but we can afford a very cool office space. For those that don’t have an office – or like to work in a co-working space – Gangplank Tucson offers a working space in the middle of downtown Tucson. It ‘s a great place to share ideas, attend an educational event or just get some work done.

There’s a lot happening here! We can’t work all of the time – we need some fun things to do. You’d think because it’s the middle of summer that nothing is going on. It’s almost the opposite. In Tucson there’s so much to do and a lot of it is free! During 2nd Saturdays Downtown, Tucson is full of people, music, art, movies and great food! The whole thing is free and family friendly. I went last month and enjoyed dinner at Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink and a colorful cocktail at Scott & Co.

Enjoying a night out downtown during 2nd Saturdays

At Reilly Pizza enjoying a night out downtown during 2nd Saturdays

The future of the city of Tucson is bright. Through collaboration and support by the community more businesses will begin and hopefully stay in Tucson.

What else makes a city great for small business owners?

Is it really THE SECRET?


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Our son was asleep and we were looking for a movie to watch. We came across, “The Secret” on Netflix. The intro was so extreme, we almost turned it off. Once the secret was revealed, I was more interested. I do believe in the law of attraction and wanted to listen to others opinions about it.

I do think that if you have clear, visual goals you are more likely to make something happen. I also agree that the energy and feelings you radiate can affect those around you and can help you succeed.

My inspiration and motivation!

My inspiration and motivation!

Like “The Secret”, I believe that when you have a goal, you don’t have to know the exact path you’ll take in the beginning. When I came up with the concept of the Desert Dwellers Flash Cards, I knew I wanted to create, paint and design the set of cards – but I didn’t have a clue on how to manufacture them and get them into stores. But that was OK!….It still happened!

To make my goal of selling Desert Dwellers Flash Cards, I asked a lot of questions to people that have already created their own products. From children’s book publishers to successful artists with products, I learned a lot from them. This gave me the confidence to contact various print vendors to get the conversation going.

I realize now that when I first started, I didn’t need all of the answers at once. The only thing I needed was a good idea and the belief that I could do it. I think many of us have amazing ideas and inventions, but then think — but I don’t know how to actually make it–so I am not going to try.

Can you relate to this?

My Desert Dwellers Flash Cards are sold in the Desert Museum gift shop! Once of my goals for the set.

My Desert Dwellers Flash Cards are now sold in the Desert Museum gift shop. One of my initial goals!

In “The Secret”, there are some things I did not agree with – for example, that if you worry about your bike getting stolen – it will probably get stolen. I know that this was a way for them to illustrate what they meant – but c’mon.

What do you think about the examples in the movie?

Overall I am glad I watched it and it got me thinking. I think I will continue to have goals, but even increase the amount of CLARITY I have about them. Instead of saying, “I want to sell my Desert Dwellers Flash Cards nationally.”, I might add details to this goal like..”By November, I want to sell my flash cards on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Land of the Nod. I also want to have them listed as a children’s holiday gift in Real Simple and featured on Today Moms blog.”

Maybe because I am publishing these goals it will happen. I HOPE SO!!!

Did reading or watching The Secret change the way you think?