I’m Christine Castro Hughes, a designer, writer, and mother of two darling children. I also run a graphic design studio out of my charming, crooked craftsman house. Brunch is my blog. More »
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printable color-me-in tags

Wrapping presents is one of my favorite things to do, but lately I have less and less time to devote to the craft. This weekend, I came up with a way to enjoy the creative process and involve the kids: Gift tags that I print and cut and Henry and Maira decorate. 

For my mom's birthday, I let Henry write "LOLA" (which means Grandma in Tagalog) and gave Maira free reign on the color. Then I cut the edges to make a simple tag shape. The present looked pretty, and Lola loved it. Win-win!

I decorated a few more tags just to have on hand for last-minute gift giving. I kind of love the oversized one the best. 



brunch with rama

Ten years ago, I met my future husband. I didn't know then that we'd someday get married, of course, but I did know that he was someone special and I had a feeling I'd probably be friends with him for the rest of my life.

There were a lot of things that struck me about Rama, but maybe the thing that really got me was the way he told stories. Whether recounted through pictures, words, or both, his tales captivated me. Sometimes they made me think, sometimes they made me laugh, sometimes they even made me cry, but always, they always made me believe in the beauty of being alive. 

I have gotten to know many of Rama's stories by heart. That's what happens when you spend your days and nights with somebody for a decade. In honor of our 10th meet-a-versary, I thought it would be fun to interview him, to ask some questions I never thought to ask before and introduce you to my favorite person in the world.

We met over a shared love of words. Do you remember the first word (or piece of writing) that moved you? What was it?

The first books I remember are Arrow to the Sun and Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sai Rembo Chari Bari Ruchi Pip Pari Pembo, but the first words that really moved me were from a song, Moonshadow, by Cat Stevens. The first writing that really moved me was The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. And that book gets better as I get older.

Did you ever think of becoming a writer?

Technically, you know, I am a writer, but I know what you mean. Yes, when I grow up, I would love to be a full time professional writer. 

What led you to choose art instead?

I don't know. Art got to me sooner, I guess. I didn't even enjoy writing until I got to art school, started writing letters to my family, started loving that, started taking writing classes. I came late to the game.

How has your work (art, writing, or both) evolved since you first began?

That's an epic poem. My writing isn't work at all. I think it's just a hobby. But my art evolved from drawing toys to drawing my loved ones to drawing for school to drawing for work to drawing my loved ones to drawing toys again. Imagine that in iambic pentameter.

Where do you find inspiration?

It's everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

If I opened your current sketchbook to a random page, what would I most likely see

My current sketchbook is brand new. So, I see potential. If you opened my last sketchbook though, you would probably find line art for an illustration assignment. (Our kids' sketchbooks is where my best work is found.)

Today, your art career comes second to teaching. Although I've never officially taken one of your classes, you have taught me so much and you always inspire me to make art. How do you do that? What's your philosophy about art education?

Bare to bones, my philosophies of art education are:

(1) anyone can make art,
(2) if you can write, then you can draw, and
(3) anything you want to make or do - no matter how complicated it seems - is made up of simple shapes or actions.



If you could teach any art class to any audience, what would you teach?

I would teach diverse and intensive family art workshops.

And while we're on the subject of dreaming big, if you could own any piece of art, what would you own?

Riding with Death by Jean Michel Basquiat.

Who are your creative heroes and why?

Dave McKean. I love his line drawings and his constant, surprising experimentation.
Paul Pope. I admire the courage with which he attacks his comics.
Maira Kalman. She uses her art to see every day more completely.

One of the best lessons you've taught me is the importance of recreation. Can you please explain the concept for me again?

Recreation literally means "To create again." My mom broke it down for me when I was younger because, even then, I had a tendency to worry and to work too hard. By phrasing play this way for me though, she taught me how important recreation is. I still have to remind myself - and you - but, when I remember, I do feel re-created.

What are your favorite recreation activities these days?

My secret energy list? The top three this week are dance, draw, and play music with our kids.

What is your hope, and what are your plans, for the coming year?

I have no idea. I'm taking it day by day.

I asked Rama to share a recipe with us, and he gave this recipe for coca cola cake. It was the first thing he ever made me—on my birthday. Needless to say I knew then that he was the one for me.

All illustrations by Rama Hughes


7 things i did at alt summit

A week ago, I was in Salt Lake City for my third Alt Summit. And this time, there was snow! This would have been a lot more magical if I hadn't had to make the trek to and from the conference. Luckily, I had company. My friend and roommate Ez and I laughed a lot as we walked through freezing rain to the train stop each morning. It reminded me of my adventures during my semester in Paris, so as much as we complained through chattering teeth I kind of also loved it.

When I first got the email asking me if I'd speak on Work/Life Balance, I actually laughed out loud. I was feeling everything but balanced—in fact, things felt downright topsy turvy—so I hadn't the faintest idea how I was qualified to speak on topic.  

The truth is, I come from the "make it work" school of thought when it comes to life (especially since having kids). I know that some days I feel totally with it, and others I feel like I'm barely holding it together. It was such a relief and pleasure to speak with Michelle HuntKirsten Grove, and Morgan Shanahan, three smart ladies who could relate and were willing to share stories and tips.

My particular segment of the panel was the life part of the balance, and I covered topics like recreation and sleep. I plan on delving a lot deeper into that subject in the future, but for now, feel free to sneak a peek at the slideshow I created.

I shook many hands and exchanged tons of business cards. I made a concerted effort not to hide behind my iPhone snapping instagrams all day long, and it paid off. I met some fantastic new friends and hung out with some wonderful old ones. I even ran into a work colleague from my former life as a magazine company web producer. 

I'm sure you've seen the photos and tweets, and it's all true: There is pattern and color everywhere. You can't escape the beauty.

One of my favorite parts about Alt Summit is sitting in the Grand America lobby, digging into a plate of french fries. The french fries are pretty darned good, but the conversation that comes with it is usually even more delicious.

One of the highlights was hearing, and seeing, Stefan Sagmeister deliver the keynote. The Austrian born, New York based designer spoke about design, courage, and happiness. Among other things, he shared a 12-minute segment of his pet project, The Happy Film, which brought me to tears. I'm a sap.

While no proper naps were had, I was able to sleep in each morning and I did feel rejuvenated when I returned —if not physically, definitely creatively.


happy new year

Today, I bought some new markers for my on-the-go kid kit (aka stash of fun distractions for Maira & Henry while we're out and about). I relished tearing open the package and slipping each pen into my pouch. That one-or-two-minute task left me practically giddy.

It's not that a $4 pack of Crayolas is all that exciting. I think it's that they represented to me the promise of the small adventures we'll have and big messes we'll make together. 

A new year holds all kinds of promise, too. More art, more design, more friends, more neighbors, more good food, and good times. I'm excited to share it with you.



For the month of November, I participated in a challenge of gratitude. Nearly every day, I posted a photo on Instagram of something I was grateful for. Although I missed a day here and there, it was such a wonderful practice of slowing down and paying attention to all the goodness in my life. I hope to continue it as often as I can.