Wednesday, October 31, 2012

{etsy finds: happy halloween!}

Happy Halloween!
I'm spending this festive holiday at the after-dark science museum exhibit, 'cause I'm a total nerd like that. It's going to be awesome. I also love checking out the clever costumes people come up with... if I were better with a sewing machine that would be right up my alley. Especially since Tanner and I could do couple costumes (did anyone say Harry Potter and Ginny?) but he's not a big dressing-up fan, even when Harry Potter is involved (next year, folks. I'm slowly wearing down his resolve.)

Are you doing anything fun for Halloween? Any good costumes in the mix?

Monday, October 29, 2012

{hey i just met you, and this is crazy...}

I had one day off this weekend, and since it was raining, raining, raining here... I went out for pumpkin milkshakes and spent the afternoon drawing Christmas cards. I've decided that I love drawing Christmas cards. The possibilities for fun cartoons are just endless.

Here are the latest:

Of course, I gotta throw in a new geeky card, too....

And speaking of a rainy weekend, my thoughts go out to all of you on the east coast this week. Stay safe as Hurricane Sandy approaches!

Friday, October 26, 2012

{flashback friday: northwoods}

Flashback Fridays are collections of short stories I've written -- some fiction, some non-fiction -- that I share each week. You can read more of them {here}.


We did not sing this morning, but simply let the silence engulf us as we paddled. Side by side our three canoes glided across the smooth surface of the lake. I listened to my breath going in and out, the rhythmic sound of the paddles as they sliced the water. I cast my gaze around me, watching the world pass me by with a slow, easy sigh, the way it had done for thousands of years.
Everything here was composed of simplicity. Straight lines formed a rhythmic flow: the line of the canoe cutting across the still water, toward the horizon line. The trees pointing skywards, the clouds in rows, the line of the paddle as it broke the surface of the water. There was nothing elaborate, nothing to draw our attention away from the simplicity. Lines dominated in this vast wilderness, creating a feeling of stability, eternity, serenity.
Such was the essence of the North Woods.

            “How many portages does this make?”
            I waded through waist-deep water, lugging my canoe behind me to drag it ashore.
            “This is the fourth one today,” Jessica replied to the anonymous question.
            “Good lord, it’s not even eight in the morning!” Emily said. “I curse whoever invented portages.”
            “God?” Paula suggested.
            “Actually, icebergs are mostly responsible for carving the lakes in this area,” Jessica said. “That was nearly 12,000 years ago, and since then, the North Woods have been inhabited by various Native American tribes such as the Chippewah, Cree and Dakota people.”
            “This place still ices over in the winter, though, doesn’t it?” Paula asked.
            Jessica agreed. “The lakes freeze over so thick that you can take dog sleds over them, or walk to the center to chip through feet of ice in order to go fishing.”
            I couldn’t believe that lakes this deep and alive could be frozen solid half the year, every living thing encased in winter, sleeping until spring. What a place this must be shrouded in ice and snow, and such a different world than the one I was seeing, here on our hot August afternoon.
“After the Native Americans were here,” Jessica continued, “the land was taken over by French Voyageurs. They used their thirty foot canoes and the portages between lakes as transportation on their trapping expeditions, looking for mink and beaver.”
            “Ah-ha!” Emily cried. “So they’re French portages. I should have known.”

            On this particular portage I volunteered to carry the heaviest canoe, and soon I remembered how much I disliked the beast. I pressed heavily forward with the canoe balanced on my shoulders, watching as the others trooped ahead of me with their own packs. I clung tightly to the edge of the gunnels, trying to balance the canoe’s weight into a comfortable position, but comfortable was a word that didn’t enter my vocabulary today. The canoe swung abruptly forward and I had to slow down to adjust my center of balance once again. The portage was slow going. My shoulders ached. My mouth was dry. The cushions on the thwarts of the canoe did little to ease the pain of sixty-five pounds. I could feel the sharp edges of the canoe pressing into my shoulders. I lifted my head a little to peek out from under the halo of the canoe and I saw a valley of rocks stretching out before me. Slowly I picked my way through them, trying to find my footing on unsteady ground. The boots of Emily and Paula disappeared from my view, and I suddenly felt very alone.
            No more! No more! I thought. I wanted to yell for help. I wanted to heave the canoe off my shoulders. I wanted someone to take my burden. But this was selfish: they all had their own burdens to carry.
The portage grew steeper and my feet grew heavier. I felt tears prick my eyes. No more! No more! No more!
“A little more.”
I blinked and my teary vision cleared. I could see Emily’s boots again, now standing in front of me.
“A little more,” she repeated, in case I hadn’t heard her. “That’s it. Keep going. Not too much further now.”
She had come back for me. She had faded out of my view, but here she was back again, to help me along. She had forgotten her own burden and was helping me carry mine.
I moved my feet forward, guided by her encouragement.
“Oy, look out for that branch now,” she noted, pushing a large one out of my way. “Need any help? There you go… that’s right. You’re doing great. That’s ace, man.”
“Ace?” I found myself giggling. “King, queen, jack?”
“No,” she scoffed. “Just ace.”
I was both distracted and reassured by her voice. It was amazing how so simple a gesture was so effective. Suddenly before me I saw the glint of sun on water, and eight girls surrounded me, taking my canoe, rubbing my shoulders, nodding their approval. The weight was lifted, the sun pierced my eyes again.
“Thank you,” I said.
Emily shrugged. “S’okay. You would have done the same for me.”
And I knew I would have.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

{mcneil point... deja vous all over again}

Soooo... you know that trip I took to Crater Lake at the end of September? The one where I took 600+ photos in four days? I'm still trying to go through and edit/ discard duplicates/ keep my favorites, so I'm totally NOT going to share them today (sorry). I realize I should have been finished with this task weeks ago, but what can I say? I'm a slacker. ;)

On the upside, while I work on that, I have photos from a hike my mom and I took on her last day here. She wanted to see Mt. Hood all week, so I took her up to McNeil Point, my personal favorite Mt. Hood view in Oregon. I realize that you've already seen photos from this hike in {this post}, but... I can't help it. The photos of this mountain are too damn gorgeous. I have to share again.

Plus, it was a blue-sky no-clouds perfect kind of day AND I totally remembered my polarizing filter this time. I KNOW. Crazy. (I'm always forgetting that thing in "my other camera bag." Typical.) Hence why the sky finally came out nice and saturated like it's supposed to be.

Enjoy.... Again. ;)

Monday, October 22, 2012

{merry chris-moose!}

Tanner and I had the weekend off, so we went with some friends to a pumpkin patch on Saturday and had fun shooting apples, picking pumpkins, solving corn mazes, and eating copious amounts of cider apple donuts and pumpkin pancakes.

The colors of the changing leaves are just beautiful these days, and it was a wonderful way to enjoy my favorite season. The weather since has quickly dropped to a chilly 47 degrees in Portland, and Mt Hood got its first foot of snow on Saturday night! I'm keeping an eye out for early skiing conditions (we were skiing by Thanksgiving last year) while still enjoying the brief last bits of autumn.

All the wonderful sights/ smells/ tastes of fall this weekend put me in the mood to make a new line of holiday cards! My favorite is the Christmas moose, even through Tanner thinks his neck is too skinny. I think it's a good thing he has a turtleneck on, or else his little neck would get chilly. :)

And of course, don't forget the Thanksgiving/ thank you cards!

I also posted some listings for sets, so now you can buy Holiday cards (or any card!) in bulk at cheaper prices! You may choose to get four or six at a time:

Friday, October 19, 2012

{flashback friday: storm}

Does anyone else enjoy Rachel Ball's blog Elephantine? I adore reading it. Her posts are sweet and simple: a lovely photograph or two capturing her favorite details of Seattle, a post about her favorite brunch spot, or a look at the delicate jewelry she makes in her Etsy shop.

Lately she has also been posting something she calls Fiction Fridays, which is her way of sharing the short stories she writes with her readers. I have been quite enamored with this project, since I have been meaning to share my own short stories for a while but haven't quite gotten the chance. In fact, one of my creations icons on the right-hand column says "Drama", but there aren't many posts to go along with it.

I thought I'd begin sharing some stories with you today. I could call it Fiction Friday, or Memoir Monday, but my stories tend to be a mixture of memoirs, snippets of fantasy, and random bits I've come up with, never quite in one category. Therefore, I'm going to call it Flashback Friday, since these stories are often from my past. I hope you enjoy.


I haven’t eaten in two days. I haven’t slept in three.

Time takes its toll, and living on a working vessel sometimes has its disadvantages. I have grown accustomed to my pattern of life, here in the wide expanse of the Atlantic.
Four hours on watch: navigating through black nights, hauling rough sails aloft with blistered hands, sea salt caking gritty in your hair. Then eight hours off. To catch a nap. To sew a canvas bag for your metal marlin spike. To sneak a snack from the galley. To wait with bated breath for the moment that the call came (and it would come): all hands on deck! Pulling you from a deep sleep and into the void. You drag yourself from your bunk and onto the sea-beaten deck. Batten down hatches when the weather and waves turn foul. Set sails. Strike sails. Keep your course steady and true, until you at last are relieved and can curl back onto the thin mattress of your tiny bunk.

My journal says we have had three days of poor weather, but without my carefully penned log, I wouldn't know. The days have blurred together. Three days that I haven't slept. Haven't eaten. My time off duty has been peppered with on deck! calls, and the rising swells have quelled any desire for food.

I sit on the wooden slats of the foredeck, gazing out at the ocean, my toes digging into the rail to keep myself balanced on a heavily heeling ship. We are rounding Cape Hatteras today, six miles off the coast of the diamond shoals. The Graveyard of the Atlantic. I can count hundreds of times I have visited these beaches with my family, sitting in the heated sand and staring out at the open sea while children played in the surf. Now I stare back from the other side, the beach houses tiny pinpoints of color on the horizon.

The wind is shifty, wild and unpredictable. We are only moving at two knots, though the wind is blowing twenty. It is 8:00 pm and though my watch ended two hours earlier, I have been doing dishes with the crew before nightfall. I am looking forward to my four hours of sleep - the most I will have had in days - before my next shift starts at four in the morning.

I watch the last of the sunlight slip into darkness and slowly descend the ladder to my bunk. The ship is heeling so strongly to one side that I have to brace my feet against the wooden edges of my bed to keep myself from rolling to the floor. I remember only a moment of sleep before a voice sounds beside my head.
"All hands on deck."
Of course. Of course.
"What time is it?" I hear myself mumbling.
"2100," the reply comes.
Nine o'clock. Barely an hour.

I pull on my waterproof foulie jacket and stumble blindly up to deck, where I have been hearing frantic footsteps for the last hour pattering around. It doesn’t take long to discern the reason why: the wind, which had been so strong all day, has kicked up to a wild forty knots, the waves screaming against the hull. Lightning lights up the sky all around us. Dark clouds make the dark night even darker, and with the sails beating fiercely in the wind, the extreme chaos on deck is a terrifying thing to behold. It becomes quite clear why everyone has been called on deck: we have to get the sails down. Now. The storm is raging all around us, and it is too strong for our ship. Cape Hatteras, which we have been trying to sail around for the last fifteen hours, now threatens to drag our ship down on her shoals.

We move around with urgency, strapping on harnesses, plundering through the darkness, and trying not to slip on the slick deck into the raging ocean. We have to scream to each other to be heard over the sound of the waves and the wind. We drag down sodden halyards, try to calm the angry sails with our hands, but everything suddenly seems so much bigger and stronger than us. I grasp the lifelines on the windward deck, trying not to fall to the leeward side where the ship is leaning so far over that the sea is rushing in through the scuppers and over the rail.

My first mate Sarah grabs my jacket and yells near my ear over the roar of the sea, “I need you to check the foresail throat ballentine!”
My heart is skidding wildly in my chest; it's chaos on deck but I am trying to keep a steady mind amidst the rolling of the sea and thunder. The throat halyard she wants me to attend to is on the leeward side of the ship, the side that had the wild ocean rushing over the side.
With careful movements, I battle the sway of the ship and make my way to the port side rail, where a very messy ballentine coil has shifted into a tangled heap. In order for us to get the sail down, we needed the rope to pay out cleanly.

“I need a flashlight!” I yell, and one of the crew, face green with seasickness, throws me a small one. I quickly stick it between my teeth, letting it shine onto the pile of coil. I brace my boot against the rail of the ship to keep from falling over, and with quick movements, begin re-coiling the line. The rope is heavy, sodden with salt water, and the storm has wrapped it into a rat’s nest of tangles. I fight through the kinks as a wave pounds over the side of the ship and drenches me in a crash of salt. I choke on the spray, desperately trying to work faster. Voices behind me are still shouting at one another, running back and forth while trying to stay safe and, above all things, stay aboard.

“Ready on the peak halyard! Ready on the throat halyard!” voices from the darkness shout.
“Ready!” I cry, the last of the loops lying flat on the deck, released from my shaking fingers. Another wave soaks me and I grab the pinrail to keep from slamming into it.
Oh, God. Oh, God.

“Ease your halyards!”
I take the line off the pin and ease it out, listening as the foresail makes its slow decent.
Hurry, hurry… it seems so imperative that we get all the sails down and regain control of the ship.
“Grab gasket lines! Lash the sail!”

There are ten of us immediately standing on the hatches, throwing lines to one another and fighting the great sail into a messy bundle. The darkness makes it hard to see, and only when lightning lights up the sails can we discern our fumbling fingers over the lines. A rolling wave slams into the hull and we all lose our balance a little. The boom heaves to the leeward side and wracks into Scott, who roars and falls to the deck. I fall beside him, my fingers clamping onto his foulie jacket to keep him from sliding down the deck. Sarah calls for our medic, and Julie quickly brings Scott to safety in the aft cabin to tend to his head. The rest of us catch our breath, push salty hair out of our eyes, and fight keep moving.

It takes us two long hours. The heavy sails are down, and all we have left to do is ride out the rest of the storm as safely as possible. It is almost eleven thirty, and my next watch starts at midnight. I am exhausted, and shaking, and growing steadily more seasick as time wears on. It is my 67th hour awake. My body is quaking with adrenaline and anxiety, I am cold and drenched, my salty foulies feel like glass against my skin, and I have four more hours that I have to stand watch in this awful weather.

My entire watch is exhausted. We are all delirious and cranky. We start hallucinating, seeing things in the darkness that aren’t there, jumping every time lightning lights up the sky. We lie like miserable, wretched animals when we aren’t at the helm or watching the horizon, trying not to be ill. We clip our harnesses into the lifelines to steady ourselves. It may be the only thing that keeps us safe as we threaten to fall asleep on our feet.

It is the longest, most painful four hours any of us has spent on deck. The storm rages, and then slowly, calms. By 4:00 am (and we thought the hour would never come) we give the deck to the next watch of tired sailors and we drag our weary bodies below decks.

I pen the words I have been awake for 70 hours through the worst of storms before exhaustion pulls me under and the darkness consumes me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

{i know a place where dreams are born...}

I really like doing custom orders. They tend to be time consuming, which is why I don't advertise them in my shop, but it's always fun to do one or two here and there as people ask for them. I get in creative ruts sometimes and can't think of any new ideas, so when someone gives me a brilliant suggestion, it's all I can do not to hunker down with my sketch book and spend the rest of the day drawing.

I've had a few custom orders lately that I thought I'd share with you.

The first came from a girl who ordered a couple of my cards a few weeks back. She asked if I had any Peter Pan drawings. I didn't, which surprised even me because Peter Pan is one of my very favorite books, fairy tales, movie, you name it.
She asked if I wouldn't mind making some prints of some of her favorite Peter Pan quotes, so of course I jumped on the opportunity.

I felt like a little kid drawing these, and Kenny Loggin's Neverland Medley kept playing over and over in my head all the while.

These prints were final drafts. The first drawings I made were more "cartoony": a little more like the cards I draw in my shop. After discussing options and figuring out what her vision for the prints was, we scrapped the first set and ended up with the ones you see above.
However, I had so much fun giggling over the first set that I couldn't help but add them to my shop:

The next custom order was for an iteration of my Han and Leia "I love you" card, with R2D2, instead. I liked the idea so much I couldn't resist making it a permanent spot in my shop.

Yeah, I'm a total Star Wars dork.
It's nice to know that I'm not the only one. :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

{vista ridge hike}

It has been raining in Portland all weekend. Our first rainfall in three months.

Last week when I checked the weather forecast, I noticed that our perfectly sunny days were set to end on Thursday. Fortunately, Thursday was also my day off, so I made it our official beautiful summer last hurrah hike, because who knows when such a lovely day might come again?

I packed up our bags Thursday morning, and by noon Tanner and I were on the road with some written directions and a guide book to Mt Hood. I like doing alpine hikes late in the summer because here in Oregon the snow doesn't melt in the high country until late July, or sometimes even August. Then it begins snowing again in late October, so the window of opportunity is brief and I feel wildly compelled to take full advantage of it.

We drove to the north side of Mt Hood, which we last visited on our trip to Lost Lake and McNeil Point. This time we decided to hike Vista Ridge, but discovered that the long, winding logging roads to the trailhead made it a much lengthier drive than expected. It took a full two hours to reach our destination, not including our inadvertent side-trip down the wrong forest road. (Sometimes they are poorly marked...)  Fortunately, the drive was simply beautiful. With the fall colors in full bloom on the hillsides, everything was exploding in reds, oranges and yellows against the deep purple of Mt Hood. I didn't take any photos because I was too busy gawking to tell Tanner to stop the car.

When we arrived, it was already 2:30 and the sun was hovering more in the west than the east. Worried we wouldn't have time for the entire eight mile hike, we hurried along the path and were soon entrenched in a section of the Mt Hood wilderness that had been stripped by a forest fire last year.

The charred, curling bark on the trees was a fascinating sight to see, and the stark emptiness of the area was chilling. It was almost eerie how silent the forest was. I could hear my own heart beat and see the curve of the mountain through the spaces where the leaves should have been. The ashy earth stuck to our boots and created whispering motes through the breeze. Everything smelled like old campfires and dusty attics. The trees curled painfully over the trail, pointing their spidery branches like fingers to the summit.

Once the fascination of the sight wore off, the eerie silence sunk in, and we scurried along, trying to find the lush trees again. But the trail tricked us, making the summit seem so close, while it wandered back and forth through the blackened forest, never quite reaching the top. I felt like Sisyphus, forever pushing his boulder up the hill, always just out of reach of the goal.

After two miles, we finally came upon life and picked up the Timberline Trail, which wends its way fully around Mt Hood in a forty-mile loop. We meandered along it for a while, watching the sun sink below the trees and enjoying the beautiful views of Mt Hood, Mt Adams, Mt St Helens and Mt Rainier lit by the golden glow of sunset. We got about four miles in before turning back so that we could make it back to the car before nightfall.

Though we hadn't seen a single soul all day (a fact that made the Halloween forest even creepier) we stumbled upon an elderly couple near the trailhead on our way out. They had gotten lost on the wrong trail and were now a few miles away from where they had parked their car, unsure how to get back. Tanner and I offered to help, and after carefully navigating some pitted forest roads via truck, we found the couple's car and dropped them off safely. They offered to give us money for gas, but we smiled and told them to pay it forward. I just love the camaraderie you find between people on the trails. Everyone so willing to help each other without cause. (I also hope I'm still putting in ten-mile day hikes when I'm their age!)

All in all, it was a lovely last hike of the season, and I expect winter to bring many more adventures!

Friday, October 12, 2012

{diy: fall decor}

I think yesterday was the last day of our Indian Summer. From here on out, the forecast shows rain and cold. Fall, it seems, has finally come to Portland.

In the spirit of losing the sunlight and bringing on the dark and cloudy days, I've wrangled up some fun Halloween DIY projects to spice up your home and make it look more festive for the coming winter! Enjoy!

Make this clever skeleton wreath to scare away your trick or treaters! {via gerber a designs}

Fun templates to decorate your windows! {via better homes and gardens}

 Make mini pumpkin candles to illuminate your porch. {via candle tech} 

Make this lovely autumn wreath to welcome visitors. {via made in a day

Make a flock of bats to decorate your front door! {via country living}

Happy autumn! :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

{name that movie! quiz}

Stuck in a Wednesday work rut? Try this fun quiz out for size.
It will challenge your movie knowledge with a series of three pictures that you have to interpret as a theme. Once you understand the theme, you should be able to guess the movie.

What I learned, however, is that I need to watch more movies.
Good luck!
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