Friday, June 6, 2014

{a day at the zoo}

Tanner and I were bored one sunny weekend and decided to spend the day at the zoo. Having not been in almost three years (wow! Have we been here that long already?) it was fun revisiting. We also tend to get stuck in ruts on weekends sometimes, filling our days with chores and errands (booooring) so it was good to get out of the house and enjoy a nice activity together.

The zoo is undergoing renovation at the moment to expand the elephant habitat, so there were a few sites we didn't get to see. But it will be fun coming back in the future to see all the changes that are occurring. 

While we walked, we snacked on ice cream and had fun talking wedding plans and giggling over our upcoming honeymoon (we're going to Disney World and Harry Potter World!!) And despite the millions of kids and families who also happened to be visiting the zoo that weekend, all in all, it was a nice day out.

Mountain goat! He reminds me of my hike in Goat Rocks on the PCT. :)

Black bear!

There are two bald eagles in this photo. Can you spot them both?

Cool artwork near the vulture exhibit.

Sleepy polar bear. I would be sleepy too if it were 85 degrees out when it is supposed to be arctic. :(

Lions reportedly nap for 18-22 hours a day. Sounds like a good life to me.

Cheetah. Also napping.

Impala? Gazelles? Something like that.

My favorite!! Love me some giraffes. Tanner got to watch me giggle like a little kid when we got to this exhibit.

Aren't they awesome??

Flamingos. Being all pink and stuff.

AHHH! What is this creature?!

Just kidding. Isn't he a cutie? :)

In other news, I'm going to be starting my new job next week, so I'll be out for a week of training. The blog is taking a break, and my shop will unfortunately be closed starting tomorrow. (Booooo. So if you still need a Father's Day card, buy it now!)
See you soon!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

{catching up! father's day + illustration class}

Sorry about my unintentional hiatus. It has been a crazy two weeks for me! Here's the down and dirty version:

1. I quit my job. I have an outdoor education job lined up starting next week and I'm pumped! I traded in my headset, tiny cubicle and steady paycheck for the great outdoors and minimum wage.... and I'm not even a little sorry about it. (This decision was also part of the Happiness 30 in 31 list of mine)

So this week I'm on a break between jobs and I'm loving that I have time to get stuff checked off my to-do list and get my own work done (read: Etsy). Which brings me to my next point...

2. My shop is in full swing with Father's Day quickly approaching! And a little publicity via Buzzfeed didn't hurt, either! The only trouble? Trying to package a million orders all by my lonesome. Tanner was out of town last week and thus his assistant duties were magically unavailable. (This same thing happened during Valentine's Day...) Coincidence? I think not. 

3. I had my last illustration class on Thursday. I'm bummed it's over, but I had a really good time! Our teacher even brought in an agent last week to talk to us about the "biz" and what a book agent really does for a writer/ illustrator. I feel like I came away with some in-depth information and some really great stuff to take forward in the future. Yay for unknown destinies! Wherever my path takes me, I'm excited about really pumping up my portfolio so that I can make a decent website and start writing some books. It's like a kindergarten dream come true. Seriously.

Here are the latest sketches of mine from a short story I wrote about a dinosaur:

And this one is a prompt from a website called Illustration Friday. Every week they come out with a new topic and you have to draw something to fit the bill and link your drawings to the site. (It's a good way to keep the juices flowing!) This week the topic is "Temptation."

And because this particular Father's Day card below is doing so well, I had some fun this week redrawing it in a new style to do a potential 5x7 print of it. What do you think? Do you like the old one or the new one better? Either way, it feels so great to be drawing consistently again. :)

Friday, May 23, 2014

{the craft room}

Tanner and I moved into a new place in January, and since then I've been slowly decorating the apartment to make it feel more "homey."

One of my favorite rooms to decorate is my craft room/ guest bedroom, since that's where I spend a lot of my time: doing Etsy orders, drawing new designs, working on my homework for my children's book illustration class, etc. So I wanted to have a space that was both functional and inspirational.

Our last apartment had quite a small guest room, which meant that my crafting space was crammed into a small corner. At the time, this was fine, since my shop was just beginning and I didn't need much room. But since then, my shop has blossomed and I have more supplies and materials than I had space for. So this new apartment was really a blessing, as the rooms here are huge!

So here is a look at my new crafting space/desk:

The artwork above the desk was created by me. I basically took a couple Doctor Who quotes that I liked and made a series of three prints. Yes, totally geeky. But I love them. And now you can buy them for yourself here!!

My newest addition is, of course, my lovely Epson printer below. It's huge, but I loooove it. It makes such pretty prints. Of course, I needed somewhere to put such a monstrosity, so I was on the hunt for a skinny table that I could use as both a table and a nightstand for the guest bed. After unsuccessfully being able to find a cheap one, Tanner suggested we go by Goodwill, just to check. I was skeptical about finding one, but lo and behold.... a skinny table with just the right dimensions for $15. Score!

I re-purposed one of our old bookshelves into a supply closet, holding all my paper, envelopes, shipping supplies, etc.

It's still a work in progress, of course, but the room seems to be coming together nicely! Now if only it weren't so damn hot up here on the top floor.... my next investment will be an air conditioning unit. ;)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

{new products in the shop!}

I have some fun news! I added a new category of product to my shop.... 5x7 art prints!

I know it sounds like a pretty linear jump to go from greeting cards to art prints, but believe it or not, this addition was a LONG time in the making. I thought that shipping out prints would be nearly the same as greeting cards, when in fact it took quite a bit of planning.

For one thing, I needed to get a new printer. My old HP is perfectly fine for greeting cards, and it does a lovely job printing onto cardstock, but greeting cards are - more or less - disposable, while art prints hang on your wall or in a frame for years. As such, I knew I needed to get a nicer quality printer with nicer quality inks.

I finally bit the bullet and upgraded to an Epson. Practically giddy with excitement, I got it configured in my craft room, printed out my very first artwork and.... it looked awful. Like, AWFUL. I was heartbroken and quite a bit upset that this top-of-the-line printer was giving me less than exceptional results.

So I did a little research and realized what my problem was. For quality prints, you need quality paper. The cardstock I was currently using wasn't "Epson approved," as it were. But the more I researched papers, the more I realized it was hard to come by a nice, thick cardstock that also wasn't ridiculously expensive.
After weeks of research, and at the end of my rope, I suddenly stumbled upon some better priced art papers from Red River Press. And lo and behold, they even had a 100% recycled cardstock! This is unheard of in art papers, since they tend to coat them with some kind of special chemical that makes the printer ink more saturated and true to color. Delighted with the find, I ordered some right away, and when it arrived on my doorstep I did a test print and....

Now back in the game, I had to go about ordering new shipping supplies. Everything I currently use is greeting card size, and I now needed 5x7 plastic sleeves and stay-flat mailers so the prints wouldn't get crushed in the mail.

At long last, I had everything I needed to get the prints up and running... I put together some product photos, made up some listings, and posted them into my Etsy shop yesterday! This is just the start of what I hope will be a large line of prints, but I'm excited about it! I hope you like them, too.

Here's the sneak peak! Check out my shop for more.

You might recognize that bread print from this post (so long ago!)

Monday, May 19, 2014

{silver falls state park}

When my mom and sister came into town, we made a day trip to Silver Falls State Park, a place I haven't visited since June 2012. Last time I visited, it was raining, so it was lovely to be there on a day where the sun was shining and the crowds were sparse.

The trail of ten waterfalls was magnificent, and it made for a beautiful day on the trail. The drive into Silverton was rolling with pastures and farms, and the sun shining over them made it feel like a magical fairy land.

We spent all afternoon wandering the ten miles. I hadn't done a ten mile hike in quite some time, and at one point I mentioned aloud that my feet hurt.
My sister Courtney was shocked by this. "What?!" she said, "but you hiked 2,000 miles last summer!!"
"Yeah," I replied, "and my feet hurt then, too!!"

Here are some shots of my favorite falls along the trail.

South Falls:

Lower South Falls:

Upper North Falls:

Double Falls:

If you live near Portland or Silverton, Silver Falls State Park isn't to be missed!

Friday, May 16, 2014

{finding a workout routine}

I am the worst about workouts. I hate them. I hate making time for them, I hate feeling slow and sluggish during them, and I hate feeling guilty when I don't do them. The only thing I really love about workouts is finishing them and feeling GREAT. But sometimes even that isn't enough motivation to make me want to stick with a routine.

The thing I loved about the PCT was the effortless ease in which I got to workout every day. Wait. Let me rephrase that. The PCT was not "effortless" nor "easy." It was, however, routine. And routines are the hardest part of workouts. On the PCT I never had to think about it. I never had that battle in my head - "am I too tired to workout today? Should I skip it?" Because I didn't have a choice - we walked 15-25 miles every day, without fail. There was no such thing as skipping it. But even that was a magical thing - the key to any successful workout is making it part of your daily routine, so you don't have to fight that inner battle with yourself. You just DO it.
In that respect, the PCT was the best workout ever. I just walked. Easy (or hard) as that. I could eat whatever I liked (in fact, as MUCH as I liked) and still felt amazing. I spent five months in the best shape of my life and never once had to think about working out or counting calories.

The problem was, it did a number on my body. Though I was incredibly fortunate not to suffer any true injuries on trail, I began to suffer intense knee pain once I was off trail. For the first few months back in the real world, I could barely walk without limping. Going up and down stairs was particularly difficult. I'm sure I looked like an old woman clutching Tanner's arm in pain every time I went down a flight. Even attempting a workout routine at that time seemed unfathomable.

One year later, my knees are better, but I can still feel the lingering ache every time I work them too hard. I have grown lapse in my workouts and have had to start the process all over again. I miss feeling strong and fit almost as much as I hate going for a run.

I have tried a few different routines, trying to find one that works for me. I'm terrible at making up my own system, so I tend to gravitate towards DVDs or phone apps to help me along. In the past, the only one I found to be effective was P90X, which I loved and hated all at once. Damn you, Tony Horton. Your workouts hurt. But they also made me feel like I was actually accomplishing something, even on day one.

I have also utilized the app 7 minute workout (which I tend to do three times in a row so it's more like a 21 minute workout) and the app Yoga Studio, which has some great options (beginner, intermediate, advanced) and lengths of classes (15 min, 30 min, 60 min) to let you enjoy yoga in your own home.

At the end of April I finally sucked it up and made myself stick to a routine. As soon as I get home I change into workout clothes so I don't have time to sit down or pour myself a bowl of cereal. I change up my routines, varying between: one of the P90X workouts, running on the trail behind my apartment, going for a swim, doing the 7 (21) minute workout, a bike ride, or a yoga workout.
I'm in week three now and happy to say that I've been managing five workouts a week (I get really lazy on the weekends.) I'm not sure if it's doing any good, but I certainly feel sore each day, so I guess that's a good sign.

At any rate, I'm always on the lookout for new routines to keep me from getting bored.
What kinds of workouts do you enjoy? Do you utilize DVD routines, gyms, or phone apps? Do you have any favorites you'd love to recommend?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

{etsy finds: rustic wedding}

Believe it or not, Tanner and my wedding is less than six months away! (Eep!) All the big things - venue, photographer, catering, etc - are taken care of, but all the smaller things still remain, and sometimes those things can drive you mad, too. What do we want the officiant to say in the ceremony? What music should be playing when the guests are being seated? Should we have a photo slide show? What should the guest book look like?

As these choices are made bit by bit, it's still fun to browse Pinterest and Etsy for inspiration. (Though both of these can be overwhelming with choices, so sometimes simpler is better!) I had fun this week putting together an Etsy treasury of outdoor-wedding-inspired items for you. I stuck with my own color scheme - olive and brown - though the choices here aren't necessarily ones that I'm using in my own wedding. But don't they make a lovely mood board??

I particularly love the shoes and the his and hers rings. It's kind of a throw-back to those heart-shaped friendship-necklaces of your childhood, isn't it? Tanner would never go for it. ;)

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