how to remodel a boring building.

August marked the one year anniversary of buying our studio downtown! It’s hard to believe that it has only been a year (really only nine months since we actually moved in), it feels like it’s been home to Wild Ink Press for a long time. We’re already running out of room (a bit!), and the space feels loved and lived in.

In honor of the anniversary (and similar to how I shared my kitchen remodel a year after the fact), I will be posting a whole series of before-and-after pics of the space!! If you know me at all, you know before-and-afters are my favorite, so I hope you like them as well. I feel like they sort of demystify the process of a design and remodel, and make it more accessible to your average DIY hack (read: me). So hold on to your seats – we’re starting with the exterior, but we’ll be covering, in no particular order: the pressroom, retail shop, shipping room, packaging area, my office, and a couple how-tos – how to tile a word, how to plan and layout a space on a computer (or on paper) and how to ombre paint a wall.

I hope you enjoy the ride! First off, to start at the beginning. We were desperately running out of space in our little two-story converted garage studio behind our house. You can see it in its original heyday here:


Lovely seating area, old presses, cabinet storage. Good for the occasional greeting card, and to meet brides and design custom invitations and print them on old presses.

But with our company, the greeting card section took off, and we had to hire employees for shipping, packaging as well as bring another pressman on. Also, we had to store our growing line of cards and gift wrap. So, around last summer, it looked more like this:

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I’ll spare you the mess that was the attic stock room. With all that stuff, plus four employees coming each day, it was clear we needed to find a new space and find it fast.

I won’t bore you with huge long tale, but basically after poking around all over Chico, we found this empty office building downtown:

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5200 square feet of blank dingy beige structure. It had been the assessor’s office for about 20 years, but for the last two it had been empty. Prior to that it had been a local title company (their space is now next door), but its original use was as a soda bottling plant – owned by Bowman’s Beverage Company and built in 1941. I searched around as well I could and these are the two best items I could come up with for the building’s history – the first, an ad for Bowman’s Beverage (bottom left) listing our address and what they bottled here:

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And this bottle of squirt which lists Bowman’s Chico as its place of origin:

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Apparently they also bottled Nehi soda here, We found a big vat of Nehi grape concentrate shoved in the rafters of the building when we remodeled (perhaps stopping a leak? Holding it up?). It was pretty wedged in there, so we left it right where it belonged.

Back to the story, we saw potential (rather I saw design/remodel potential, Matt saw space/equipment potential and we trusted each other to know what we do best), so we made an offer to buy the building and it was accepted.

So the fun begins!! How do you take a beige box and make it interesting? Turn it into a jewel box! First, a moodboard…


The plan was to use a really dark palette – rich green/blue (almost black), with glossy black subway tile, bent metal signage, revamped lighting, and a tile entry.

Next came a digital mock-up so we could get the city’s approval:





And then, the dirty work of tear-down. In taking off the seventies-added fieldstone and stacked rock, we found a couple discoveries:


The original title company signage, and… windows!! Windows in the concrete that had been boarded up and stuccoed over previously.builidingduring_2

Even another large window in the front, which balanced out the building greatly.

Also, beneath each front window we uncovered a little niche which had been sloppily filled in with brick before being  covered in stacked rock…


Perhaps it was for advertising, or a special tile design, but we wanted to keep them open of course, despite it adding cost to the project. They added a great deal of dimension to the front of the building.builidingduring_4

Meantime, our sign was being bent out of raw steel by the talented Dave Richer at Earthen Iron:


Bent and welded. Aren’t those overlaps amazing? Such a cool process, I just had to show you a tiny bit of it.

Well, not belabor things, are you ready for the after pictures? Here goes…




Old school gilded lettering on the doors…


And here’s a “glamour” shot at twilight:


My favorite bit of the front:


And our hanging sign (different from my original concept, but I love this one):


We love our little shop, and I was so happy to transform this little empty spot and become a vibrant part of downtown Chico. What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Up early next week… stay tuned for the interior (it’s a doozy!)


a summer soirée

I hope you had a wonderful summer! In spite of the fact that we have several weeks left of it, I always sort of feel like summer ends with back-to-school, and my kids have, well, done that already, so – hello to FALL! Bring on the sweaters, crisp air and autumn leaves.

I wanted to share with you our summer soirée (aka Official Grand Opening of our new studio, our six year anniversary as a letterpress studio and also the visiting Itinerant Printer). Many people were out of town as it was high summer (and June Saturday which means lots and lots of weddings), but so many others came out, and it was fantastic to meet new faces and show Chico around our studio space.

We made a little video of the event – so if you missed it, you can still enjoy the fun! Seriously, it is the. cutest. Even if you were there you should watch it. Just push play!! ▶️

Also, some photo highlights from the night…


We were just delighted with the evening, sharing it with MONCA (the Museum of Northern California Art, our register proceeds and bar cash for the evening went to them), the Itinerant Printer, Schubert’s Ice Cream, live jazz and live printing, and the lively community of Chico. We couldn’t be more proud or happy to be downtown!



huevos rancheros (sort of)

I’m back with a fitness update! If you remember the post from December – My Journey to Me… which some of you found encouraging/inspiring (and that was my goal), I just wanted to keep you all posted on how it’s going. Real talk!

I finally hit my goal weight in January, after 18 plus months of hard work (can I get a woohoo?)! Oh, wait, there’s a card for that (one of our new happy cards).


Now, I’m sure any of you who’ve seen me in person (or just in pictures) knows that my goal weight is not supermodel-thin, or actress-thin, or even average street-thin. Rather, it’s healthy and strong, and it’s the spot where I look in the mirror and think – “you look pretty good.” I recognize that unattainable goals can be a slippery slope, so I’m happy where I’ve parked myself, and here I stay.

My new goals (goals are important!) involve challenging myself – completing unnassisted pullups, holding a longer plank, stilling my mind more.

But the reason I popped in today is I wanted to share with you what is possibly my FAVORITE breakfast of the past almost two years. The breakfast that really got me through it all, made me happy and full and healthy each morning I had it.

I present to you… my version of Huevos Rancheros. It’s so simple and easy, one pan, done in 7 minutes. Total, start to finish.

Begin with 2-3 cups of fresh spinach – cook them in a pan over dry heat (no oil, no water necessary) until they wilt:


Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of black beans (I use Trader Joe’s Organic as the sodium is lower). Add 1/2 cup of salsa, as hot or mild as you like, or as pico or rojo as you like. Sometimes in the summer I just use straight tomatoes.

Heat it all up, and make a bed for two eggs – crack them right in there and put the lid on.


Cook five or so minutes, depending on the heat of your pan and how done you like your eggs (I like mine medium/not too runny for this application).

Remove from heat, salt and pepper, and add less than a tablespoon of shredded cheese (I used to leave this off entirely), and some fresh cilantro:


Oh, and you can add in four tortilla chips (not more!! and no snacking from the bag!) to stud the top. I don’t usually add this, but it’s a fun level of decadence occasionally. Only add it if it won’t slip you down the slope of eating the whole bag. 😉

Now, I like to save dishes, so to round out my ideal morning:


Just add water, coffee and the New York Times Crossword puzzle. Happy day.

This recipe has so many variations! Green onion, avocado, flax seed are all great additions. But just remember, the base is simple and easy and always there for you.

Nutritional Value:

Calories: 314 (287 without the 4 chips)

Fiber 6.7 grams

Sugars 4.8 grams

Protein 20.5 grams

Carbs 26 grams

Vitamin A  212%

Vitamin C 82%

Iron 28.3%

Calcium 28.9%

Not bad, right? For someone like me, who can’t handle drinking her breakfast in a smoothie, it’s a wonderful option. I can guarantee you, it also makes you feel very full.

So, for any of you on a similar journey here’s another card for you…


You’ve got this!!

hello, hello (mike check!)


This is a little note to any loyal, amazing, still-remaining readers I have here on the blog (hi mom!). It has been quite the year of silence, hasn’t it?

It’s been a huge amazing year of growth for Wild Ink Press, from buying and renovating a building in downtown Chico, opening a retail shop, revamping our website, hiring new employees, with tradeshows, travel and of course, our regular other jobs of raising three boys and running a rice farm. If you’ve been following us on instagram, you’ve probably seen highlights.

But I want to resurrect this little spot as a place to share special things with you! Why? Well, there isnt really any other spot to go in depth into little remodel bits, before and afters, designs I’m excited about, recipes I love, etc. Social media, while fun and charming, cannot cover the ground that a blog can to share a bit of the richness of life. Joie de vivre, as the French would say. So I’m looking to bring some of that back here!

Here’s what I’m NOT promising:

  1. regular, multiple posts per week.
  2. multiple process shots (you might have to settle for one before/after pic or one pic of a finished recipe).
  3. any rhyme or reason to the content involved (it’s going to run all over the map! Like I said, this is my happy place to be a renaissance woman)

Here’s what I AM promising:

  1. fun random things! books I’m reading, recipes I’ve made, fitness tips, small business anecdotes and snapshots of daily studio life.
  2. more short and snappy posts, less image heavy but occuring with greater frequency than, say, last year and this year combined. (this should not be hard)
  3. family will be involved, my boys are at the crazy stage in their life, so if that bugs you, you can skip those posts!
  4. interior design and letterpress. always, and always, those are my two true loves, so I’m just gonna run with that.

In light of the above (non regular posting, randomness, etc), I suggest you do one of two things: add us to your RSS reader (I like feedly), or Subscribe to Wild Ink Press by Email. An email will be sent to you on the day I post to the blog (around 10 am PST). In order to sucessfully sign up, you need to enter your email address and then confirm click on a link that will be sent to you. Lots of people sign up and don’t get to this last step (check your spam folder). That’s it, you should be all set!

News & Happenings (let’s play catch up)!

We have a new website! Most of one, anyway. A snappy new e-commerce shop and intuitive interface! Coming soon: revamped blog and custom/wholesale ordering directly online!

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We opened a brick and mortar shop in December!


It has been a joy to run and absolutely my favorite thing about the new space downtown (183 East Sixth Street, Chico, California). Our hours are Tuesday through Friday 10-5, and Saturday 10-2. If you come by, you can almost always see the presses in action, whirring from the back.

You may have seen my hulking-self on some billboards around town for Golden Valley Bank! Yes, that is my bank, and I do love it. They made a pretty neat video about our letterpress studio and the process of making a greeting card. Plus, the kids make it in the video at the end (read: candy)…

Save the Date!! Saturday evening, June 27 –  We are planning Wild Ink’s six year anniversary (can you believe it’s been six? Check out our original grand opening here) with a Summer Social! It’s going to be so much fun – we have the Itinerant Printer visiting us to pull art on our Vandercook and Chandler & Price, live printing demonstrations, music, ice cream (we hope) by Schuberts, fizzy drinks, kid’s activities, a live band, photo booth, take-away print, you name it! It’s our “official” Grand Opening of the Brick & Mortar (December was our “soft” open, I’ve been told) and we can’t wait to celebrate!


Okay I’m going to leave you on that note. Thanks folks and see you around here soon!