Monday, January 28, 2013

{young house love book signing}

I imagine most of you internet-savvy folk have heard of the DIY blog Young House Love. If you haven't, I suggest you come out from whatever rock you're hiding under and
a.) Add them immediately to your Google reader and
b.) Start from the beginning and catch up on their hundreds of awesome blog posts about how this young couple completely renovated two old houses into masterful things of beauty. Seriously. The before/after photos are the stuff Bob Vila weeps about.

I have been stalking following them for some time, wistfully dreaming of the day when I don't live in a second story apartment with off-white textured walls, when I have a house of my own to fix up all pretty-like. But until that happens, I just live vicariously through John and Sherry Petersik, two budget-conscious DIYers crafting their way through each room of their house.

If you stalk follow Young House Love like I do, you'd know they just came out with a book in November filled with 243 crafty wonderful ways to spruce up your home. And even better - the Petersiks are currently on a tour to promote said book, and lo and behold, one of their stops was lovely little Portland.

So what was I to do but join my friend Elizabeth downtown on Saturday, book in hand, to meet the two bloggers I have been idolizing for some time. Us and 500 other Portlanders, apparently. It was quite the crowd to welcome John and Sherry, and a little surreal to see them in person. Like, they live in pictures behind my computer screen, but they're actually people? Weeeird. And believe it or not, they're very cool people. Very upbeat and bubbly and funny. And thoroughly sweet and gracious to each person in line, though they must sign books for hours in each state they visit, so I don't quite know how they manage to juggle all that and keep blogging. Super hero powers?

At any rate, if you haven't picked up a copy of their book yet, you should totally do that. It's only $25 and it's full of fun, colorful, easy ideas to make your house a home. Or in my case, to make my apartment slightly-more-colorful-and-upbeat.

Monday, January 21, 2013

{valentine's day madness}

Last year at this time, my little Etsy shop was just a pipe dream. I was quietly scheming and planning to open it, my grand opening finally falling on February 18, mere days after the Valentine's Day holiday.

2013 marks my first foray into the biggest Hallmark holiday of the year, and after December's busy sales, I assumed I was prepared for it.
Well... I was wrong. In fact, the sales I made in December (which, by the way, was my best month in 2012, just eking out June's Father's Day sales) were completely surpassed in the first week of January. The first week!

Now that I'm knee-deep in January, I've realized that Valentine's Day is a much bigger deal than I gave it credit for. It has certainly been a learning experience for me, and in between moments of chaos I've been trying to write down what I'm learning so that I can be better prepared for next year.

For the moment, though, I couldn't be happier, despite the stress! My days are long: I still have a full-time job, so I spend eight hours there, followed immediately by spending six to eight hours at home printing, cutting, labeling, packaging, and shipping orders. I'm often working non-stop from eight in the morning until midnight, followed promptly by passing out in bed, just to do it all over again the next day. I've been getting anywhere from thirty to eighty orders a day, so if I don't stay on top of it, they quickly pile up on me. I've been incredibly fortunate to have a supportive boyfriend and wonderful friends who are willing to help me out with the packaging and shipping of cards, especially those evenings when I think I'm going to go crazy otherwise. *cough thanks Elizabeth! cough* :)

Despite the craziness (and feeling like I'm working two very full-time jobs) I love doing it. I've been missing the free time to do some new design work, but I know once the season's over I will get a chance to come out with a new line of cards. For the time being, I love the orders and the sweet comments I get from the people who browse my shop. They make me smile daily, and it feels so nice that my cards will be a small part of someone else's special day.

February is coming up fast, now, and with it, a vacation for Tanner and me. My shop is closing a little early - February 5, in fact - so my Valentines sales will be a bit truncated. But 2013 has started out with such a bang that I can't wait to see what the rest of the year brings!

A special thank you to everyone who has stopped by my shop and bought something... I hope you know you're making my dreams come true, one card at a time! :)

Friday, January 18, 2013

{christmas in the mountains: part two}

After a beautiful Christmas Eve spent on the slopes, my three friends and I settled down into our mountain cabin to enjoy the evening: drinking shots of Fireball + apple cider, playing rounds of Killer Bunnies and Settlers of Catan, and nursing sore muscles by a warm fireplace. With space heaters strategically set around the bedrooms, we fell asleep and dreamt of Christmas.

Early the next morning we awoke to stockings full of oranges and chocolate coins (for health and prosperity) and ate a warm breakfast while we opened the presents under the tree. Outside our cabin, snow was falling thickly, the blue sky of yesterday sheeted in white.

With the snow softly piling up, we bundled in our ski clothes and headed up to the mountain. The day was vastly different from the previous one: our softly undulating groomers were buried in snow, and it was quickly turning into a fresh powder day. Power is usually a blessing to fresh track seekers, but for our exhausted legs, it was a thrilling challenge. Runs that usually took us five minutes to fly down suddenly took thirty, our legs pushed to exhaustion as they worked overtime to keep up with the large bluffs of snow that shredded our muscles.

Once, we made a wrong turn halfway down the mountain and found ourselves on a run that had no ski tracks to define it. We tried to plow through and were stopped short when the snow abruptly buried us to our waists. I had a hard time not laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of it: over sixteen inches of snow had fallen that morning, and trying to move through so much snow was like wading through waist-deep water while covered in weights. I wanted to kick off my skis and roll around in it like a kid does in a pile of leaves, making snow-angels in the fluff.
Jason and Elizabeth, on their snowboards, were struggling to keep moving through the heavy powder, often burying themselves deeper in it in their attempt to get out. After a series of rolls, dragging boards, and flip maneuvers, we eventually gave up, took off our equipment and post-holed through the bluffs to the packed powder further down the mountain. The run was desertedly empty and the falling snow muffled all sound, making us feel very small and alone on a big mountain.

We only made it until lunch. By then, each run was becoming a struggle. I found myself stopping half-way down each to catch my breath and stretch my legs. After yesterday's seven-hour ski-venture, every muscle in my body wanted to rest.

Despite the lure of a full powdery Christmas ski day, we decided to go back to the cabin early. By that time, our jeep in the parking lot was buried in snow, and we joined the many other patrons in an effort to dig out our cars. We managed to drive out safely, but we worried for the smaller 2-wheel drive sedans we saw still parked in the lot. On our way down the mountain we encountered a number of cars having difficulty in the deepening snow. We stopped to aid one couple who were fruitlessly trying to dig out their car, which had gotten trapped on an embankment. A few sharp tugs with a winch and Jason's jeep managed to save the day.

We picked up wood for the fire on our way back to the cabin, and spent our last evening playing Carcassone and wishing our lovely Christmas vacation could last a little longer.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

{christmas eve mountains: part one}

Over the Christmas holiday, Tanner and I and our friends Jason and Elizabeth rented a cabin on Mt Hood. This is our second annual tradition, as we live 3,000 miles away from our families, and taking time off over the holidays is very difficult for us. Last year we had a spectacular holiday complete with a snowshoe-journey backcountry-cabin, and a snowy, white Christmas ski day.

This year we rented a different cabin (one that didn't take us an hour to hike to) and spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day on the slopes of Mt. Hood. Christmas Eve was absolutely the best day of skiing I've had since I moved here: bluebird skies, perfectly powdery snow and hardly any crowds. The groom was so soft and smooth that there were times I couldn't even feel it under my skis - it felt like I was floating through air currents with nothing to limit my speed. It was glorious.

There's something about the stark whiteness of snow on a brilliantly sunny day that makes it just deadly beautiful, wouldn't you say?

Monday, January 14, 2013


My very favorite weather is cold and sunny. There's something magical about a crisp breeze, a sapphire sky, and the sun glittering off freshly fallen snow. I love a good snow day, and I am obsessed with mountains (in case you hadn't noticed) so playing on Mt Hood in the winter is a wonderful treat for me, especially when the weather is fair.

Tanner, tragically, is not a big fan of skiing (or snow sports in general) but I finally discovered one pastime that got him motivated to go to the mountain with me: tubing!

I don't honestly think I've been tubing/sledding since I was quite young. My sister and I used to sled all the time as kids, but on the east coast, snow is rare and I didn't get much of a chance to enjoy it in my college years.

So, last weekend Tanner and I hauled ourselves up to the mountain, jumped into inflatable tubes down a slick, icy hill, and you know what we discovered? Tubing is freaking scary. I mean it. As a kid, the thrill of the ride completely overshadows the fact that you might hit something and die at any moment. As an adult, suddenly you have 100 more pounds pulling you down the hill, and a tame joy ride turns into the Cool Runnings Olympic luge of DEATH.
I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it. Because, damn, it was fun. But I'd be lying if I said there weren't moments where I feared for my life.

After tubing the kiddie hill for a while, Tanner discovered that there was a hidden "epic upper hill" where few ventured... it was a 45 degree slope with moguls and chunks of iceburgs in the chute (just for fun.) The tubing attendant told us, "two rules: you have to lie down on your stomach, and don't put your feet down before you get to the end." Screw that. If I'm going face-first down a vertical drop, my feet are most certainly going to be acting as brakes the whole way down the ice.
I made it through two runs of that before retiring back to the kiddie hill. (Sorry, you thrill-seekers. I'm not a roller-coaster fan, either.)

At the end of the day Tanner and I finally discovered the joy of two-person tubes. By this time I was enjoying the speed of my one-person tube, and was even trying to race unsuspecting six year olds down the mountain. (I was totally winning.) A two-person tube adds extra weight to the ride, which equals more speed down the hill, and many small children left in the proverbial dust.

At any rate, for $25 at Ski Bowl, it was an afternoon well spent.

Forget lugging your tube up the hill every time. This is 2013, bitches. I'm taking the snow conveyor belt!

Epic tubing hill. (I'm watching from a safe distance.)

Tanner's the one behind the small child. You know... the one dressed like a ninja.

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