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I Run Because I Really Like Cake

Fair warning, this post is completely off topic. It's not related to greeting cards, small business, art or anything else I usually talk about. But I'm sharing it today, because I'd be willing to bet a lot of you can relate. So I'm going to tell you a story. 

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I recently started running again. It's been quite a few years since I've done it on a regular basis. I first got into it back in 2002 when I got my sweet little 2 pound, fluffy ball of energy, Linus. It was mostly a way to let him burn off some of this energy. We would run five miles and he would still be racing circles around me when we got back. Literally, racing in circles around my feet. I cannot adequately explain the sheer amount of energy radiating out of his little body. It was utterly overwhelming, so we ran. And then ran some more. Now that he is older (he just turned 15 on April 1st - no joke) we stick mostly to walks to keep it easy on his joints. He is doing really well and still has a lot of energy, but just doesn't need the hard run to tire him out anymore. So I stopped running, too. 

Lately though, I've been itching to get back into it. The first run in a while is usually tough enough to make me not want to do it ever again, but for some reason, this last time was different. It felt good. I, miraculously, didn't feel like I was going to die and I had a huge sense of accomplishment wash over me. Hooked.

So, earlier this week while I was out soaking up the Carolina sunshine, fresh air and feeling the miles pass under my feet, I noticed I kept saying to myself, "This is a piece of cake." I was using it as a motivational tool to help push me farther. It went something like this, "Ok.. I'm going to run all the way up the hill to the end of the street. This is a piece of cake." Then I just kept repeating "This is a piece of cake." over and over again until I got to the end. It was working really well. Then at some point "this is a piece of cake" turned into "piece of cake" and I just kept saying to myself "piece of cake, piece of cake, piece of cake..." Can you tell where I'm going with this?

Yeaaa... so now instead of a motivational tool, I was literally thinking about an actual piece of cake. Ah, priorities. I'm not going to lie, I do love cake, especially the double chocolate with extra chocolate on top kind. I would eat it for breakfast if I could. I know I'm not alone on this one.

I run because I really like cake. This first step is admitting it, right? It's a problem, but all I can say about it is - good thing I'm running.

Hey runners, tell me.. what's your favorite running gear? Headphones, shoes, playlists, clothes, whatever makes your run better. I want to hear about it.

I've been on the hunt for a good armband for a while now. After much deliberation, I ended up purchasing this armband to hold my phone while I run. I wanted something that not only held my phone with its case on, but also had a zipper pocket for my house key, credit card, I.D., cash and whatever other small items I want to bring with me. I LOVE not having to hold my keys in my hand while I'm out and the extra space for I.D., cash, etc. is great when Steve and I are out biking or at the park walking Linus. Plus, a big bonus is that it's actually really comfortable, not like the fake leather kinds I've tried in the past. Not having to lug a purse around in this Carolina heat is priceless. So please share your favorites in the comments below! I'd love to hear them. 

 

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Detroit to Charlotte in under two months

So we're all moved into our new place. It's beautiful here and we are so glad to be settled and adjusting to our new life. The last couple months have been hectic. At the end of April my husband received an offer with his company for their Southeast Territory Rep. Meaning that we would have to be in the Southeast. Moving to North Carolina is something we have both been talking about for a few years now, but never imagined it would actually happen, at least anytime soon. So when he got the offer we jumped at the chance. Our move date was set for June 18th and we had a whole lot to do in not a whole lot of time. 

We own our house in the Metro Detroit and decided that putting it up for rent for a while was the best option, just in case the job doesn't work out and we need to move back. I'm sure that won't happen, but I like to play things safe. So we put the house up for rent. It showed 25 times in two days and rented to a great couple. Everything was going smoothly until about three weeks before the move. Instead of packing and preparing to move across the country, we instead were making all sorts of repairs to the house that we never dreamed of making just so we could pass the city inspections that we were told we didn't need. Ahhhh! Let me just say, if you ever find yourself in this situation, do your research beforehand. We asked all the right questions, but everyone we talked to told us something different. We were in a huge rush and had a million things to do, so we took a recommendation and went with it. We learned the hard way. Thanks to our friends and family, we got everything done by the 18th and only failed the city inspection once :)

June 18th arrived before we knew it. We loaded up our cars and hit the road. 640 miles with the dog and the cat in my car. I was nervous about this for weeks. The first three hours of the drive were rough. Linus and Lilly we're both fantastic the whole time, this was no fault of theirs. I made the mistake of keeping the Lilly's chirping bird in the toy basket in the backseat, just out of reach. An oversight that drove me to the brink of insanity. Did I mention that it's motion activated? Every time we hit even the slightest bump the bird would start chirping. In return the cat would meow at it. Chirp chirp chirp, meow, chirp chirp, meow, chirp, meow.. three hours. I called Steve and told him we had to stop at the next rest area. I chucked it in the trash and we went on our merry way. The rest of the drive was smooth sailing.

So here we are. I'm adjusting to working for myself fulltime, living in a new state and trying to keep all of the local roads straight. It's definitely a lot going on, but we're both really loving Charlotte. We've been going out and exploring everything the city has to offer including the gorgeous pool at our complex. Last weekend we took Linus to the nearby greenway and he got to walk to his heart's content. We're in walking distance to a Super Target and have been to West Elm about eight times already. Life is good.

xo

Hennel Paper Co. is moving!

We're packing up and preparing to make the move from Detroit, MI to Charlotte, NC. The shop is going to be closed from noon Friday, June 13 (EST) until Saturday, June 21. All orders placed by noon on Friday will be shipped out the same day. We've got a long list of things to do, like packing for instance, while we're waiting for the moving truck to get here this Friday. We can't wait to get down there and give you an update on what I'm sure is set to be an interesting journey. We're so very excited for this new adventure. Here we come, Charlotte.

Carolina Bound

So we've got some big news. Hennel Paper Co. is moving to gorgeous Charlotte, North Carolina. We are in the process of packing up our cute 4 bedroom house (who wants to rent it?) and trying to figure out how to fit it all into a 2 bedroom apartment. If you have any suggestions on that topic, I'd love to hear them - honestly :) We are very, very excited and feeling a little overwhelmed since this is all happening so quickly. The husband was offered a really great job opportunity with his company that we just couldn't say no to. Plus, who doesn't want to move to North Carolina, right? They get on average 4 inches of snow a year in Charlotte. Last winter, Detroit saw over 96 INCHES. It was the winter of all winters up here. 

Our move date is set for June 19th. The shop is still open and fully functional - (we just released a new batch of cards this week - blog post coming), but we anticipate some down time while we are on the road. It's a long drive from Detroit with a nervous dog and a sassy little cat. More details will be posted here on shop availability when we have them. Until then, wish us luck packing and finding a tenant. Our house went on the market yesterday afternoon and we have 8 house showings scheduled for today already. Woo!

Love Blooms

A couple years ago for our anniversary, Steve gave me a little baby rose bush. It was in a miniature pot and had the sweetest teeny, tiny, little bloom on it. I am not so great at keeping plants around, but amazingly enough I have been able to keep this little plant alive for over two years. It's gigantic now compared to when we got it and what's even more exciting is that after two and a half years, our sweet little rose is blooming again. It had been so long since it first bloomed, we had sort of accepted the fact that it probably wouldn't happen again. But lo and behold, there it is. I'm so happy we were wrong. Hopefully it won't be another few years before it flowers again. It's too pretty to wait so long in between.

The three pots on the right are the cat's. We're currently attempting to grow a pot of cat grass and two pots of cat nip. As you can see, the cat nip never last long. They are basically demolished immediately upon sprouting.

Happy Birthday, My Sweet Friend

Twelve years ago today, my sweetest friend was born. By my side, rain or shine, he is steady, true and full of love. I cannot believe he is twelve already. It feels like only yesterday that I went to the airport to pick-up the cutest 2.5 pound ball of fur that I've ever seen. He flew in from Oklahoma, alone in his cat carrier and scared to death from the plane ride. I kneeled down to peek inside and saw two quivering ears popping up out of the shredded newspaper. I reached in to help him out and fell in love. I never would have imagined that a tiny little puppy would be able to completely change my world like he has. We haven't looked back since that day. Where I am, he is. And where he is, so am I.

Happy birthday, my sweet, sweet pup.

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” 
― Elbert Hubbard

Hello, 31.

Today is my birthday and I'm ready for another wonderful year. To help me make the most of it, I like to create a goal list that helps stay me on track throughout the year. I really believe the key to making these lists is to be specific. The more specific your goal is at the beginning the less room there is for interpretation and ultimately procrastination. Some of these are small goals and others are long term, but all of them will help make another great year. Here it goes:

  1. Curl my hair more, at least twice a week
  2. Rebuild our backyard deck
  3. Go back to North Carolina <3 (and perhaps stay there forever) - DONE 4/14
  4. Blog more, 3 times a week is my goal
  5. Post at least one thing a day on Instagram
  6. Complete an entire greeting card line for all occasions
  7. Expand our product line to include ready-made custom invites, art prints, notebooks and tote bags
  8. Actively pursue more custom work that fits in with my goals
  9. Start selling my products wholesale and get into 10 stores
  10. Continue to workout on a regular basis, three - four times a week
  11. Clean out and organize our house - DONE 5/14
  12. Take time to experiment with new art projects and leave room for failure.
  13. Reach 500 Etsy sales - DONE 4/14
  14. Do at least one craft show - Rustbelt Market or the Detroit Urban Craft Fair
  15. Start participating on social media more, especially Twitter, on a regular basis
  16. Go to a conference
  17. Solidify my brand style and marketing plan
  18. Get a business mentor - DONE 4/14
  19. Start Screen Printing
  20. Read a book a month, bonus if at least half of the books are from my 2014 Reading list
  21. Spend quality time every day with Linus <3
  22. Build my creative confidence and continue to improve my skills
  23. Try a new local restaurant every month
  24. Create a line of products whose proceeds go to an animal welfare group
  25. Improve my product photos
  26. Go to a concert with Steve
  27. Learn to sew
  28. Build a new portfolio site
  29. Go on a date a week with Steve. All fun, no business.
  30. Get an actual (not-for-profit) hobby, maybe photography.
  31. Get a cute swimsuit and swim in the ocean

A few ongoing goals of mine are to strive to focus on quality over quantity, to slow down and relax, and to accept that fact that some things just take time. I'm a hyper productive person and I want what I want, when I want it, so I'm really trying to have more patience just in general.

Steve and I both took that day off work and were heading out to have some fun. Two years ago today it was 80 degrees outside and we went to the Detroit zoo. Today is 40 out, and we've decided to go to the zoo again. It's going to be chilly, but with the winter we've had 40 feels like a heat wave. Seize the day. Happy weekend, everyone!

See my last couple lists:
29 in 29
30 in 30

 

Goodbye Thirty

Today is my last day of being 30 and I'm actually sad to see it go. I wasn't thrilled about turning 30 (who is, right?), but it turned out to be an amazing year. I don't really like the idea of turning 31. I realized though that the 20's might be gone and now so is 30, today - RIGHT NOW, is the youngest I'm ever going to be again (and that was the exact thought behind this card I made a few weeks ago). So I'm going to enjoy it rather than feeling like an old lady.

30 was a truly great year. I was busy. I changed gears in my life and my business and it made a huge difference. I feel like a new person and am really excited about the direction I'm moving in. Let me tell you a little about what happened this past year.

1. I got a new full time job. The job I was at was draining me. I was bored and feeling like I wasn't going anywhere with it or doing anything to make myself a better designer. It wasn't a bad job, but it wasn't right for me. I accepted a promotion and moved up to a Senior Designer within the same organization, but in a new department. I work at a public university, so a new department basically means a new company. All new management, different project focus, pretty much different everything except the name on the pay checks. So far it's been really great and I'll celebrate my one year anniversary on May 1st.

2. Got a better sense of my creative style. This started with getting a better idea of my personal style. My work is more cohesive and recognizable.

3. Changed gears with my business. When I started out I knew nothing about what I was going to do other than the fact that I wanted to do it. So it really took some work to figure out what I was going to do and how I was going to do that. I think I've done a really good job over the last year in determining what it is I actually want to be doing. This is a process though and it's something that is going to evolve with me as I go. 

4. Wrote a serious, professional business plan and set my one, five and ten year goals. I feel so much more confident about the direction of my business and exactly where I'm going.

5. Started sharing my work publicly online on things like Instagram and Behance. This has really made a huge difference in starting to build a name for my company.

6. Put together a better household financial plan. I've always been very financially responsible, but this year we really adjusted how we do things to make sure we are saving as much as we can and also paying off as much debt as we can. We set in a motion a three year plan to have all of our debt paid off except our house, while still be able to do fun things together like go on vacations.

7. I got more courageous this year. I don't want to say that I'm an anti-social person, because that's really not true. I love meeting new people and making friends. I am very socially timid though. I don't like big crowds and I'm uncomfortable around people I don't know. I took some big leaps this year and searched out new groups and communities. I also started engaging with new people more through social media. I also attended a Minted "Mintie Meet-up" and met some great new friends.

8. Got more involved in Etsy Teams and the Etsy community.

9. Updated my brand and created a new logo that fits more with my personal and creative style.

10. Started a greeting card line. This was a major turning point with HPC this past year. It helped me get more products out there and helped to let me define my illustration style. It's a process, but with every new release I feel like I am getting better, more cohesive, beautiful products.

11. Figured out a different more efficient way to produce our products. It's been more cost effective and also lets me test new designs without investing a ton of money that could potentially be lost.

12. Changed our studio to set-up a more production efficient space to meet demands of increased sales.

13. Really focused on quality over quantity. I did this both at home and with the business and products I create. It's helping me create a clutter-free home that we truly love and also helping focus my brand to a very specific style.

14. Set-up a print studio in our basement for block and screen printing that I can get as messy as I want. So much fun!

15. Took on custom wedding invitations clients and started focusing these to hand lettered designs only. That's what I love to do and anything outside of that is distracting me from my goal and not adding to my portfolio.

16. Our cards were featured on amazing blogs like Oh So Beautiful Paper, Paper Crave and also on the Lonny blog. This was and is so exciting every time it happens.

17. Did an online exhibition with Paper & Stitch.

18. I created an absolute ton of new greeting cards this year. It was really surprising to me to see which ones were popular verses what wasn't.

19. Spent a lot of time refining my hand lettering skills. It's starting to become second nature to me now when at one point a few years ago it seemed almost impossible.

20. Started getting my products ready for wholesale and making connections with local shops and designers. We are very excited to announce we have officially started selling our products wholesale!

21. Built our own privacy fence.

22. Took Linus on a lot of adventures like the cider mill, Downtown Royal Oak, lots of car rides and some vacations.

23. Went to Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC.

24. Drove to the UP for Steve's 30th birthday

25. Spent a weekend in Traverse City, MI with Steve and Linus

26. Installed a new super efficient furnace and central air. We didn't have AC before so we are both so excited about this one.

27. We realized that Steve has a gluten allergy and we switched over to a gluten free diet. It has made a huge impact on how he has been feeling.

28. Started an art collection of different prints from different designers and illustrators to hang up around our home.

29. Handmade a wooden headboard for our bedroom and made this a cozier space for us to relax.

30. Won an online photo contest with my favorite yarn store for a free gift card. This was a joint effort between me and the cat. I took the picture, she looked cute for it.

That's a lot of stuff going on. I'm so excited about getting started on the next year. Stay tuned tomorrow for my 31 in 31 list.

 

Check out my lists from the last couple years:

29 accomplished in 29
29 in 29
30 in 30

Three Years of Marital Wonderfulness + a Little Adventure

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Last week Steve and I celebrated our three year anniversary. It's pretty much been a whirlwind ever since we met. The time is just flying by, each day gets better and our relationship grows stronger and stronger. Getting married was a welcomed, but somewhat scary transition for me. I've always been extremely independent and completely ok on my own. I liked taking care of myself and having the sense of pride that comes along with that. So moving in and joining my life with another person was an adjustment, but I am proud of both of us. We've learned how to go from "me" to "we", if you will excuse the cheesiness of that phrase, and we're doing a really great job at it. We've moved to a place in our relationship where we feel strong and act as a single unit, while still maintaining our own unique individuality. That's not always the easiest thing to do. Marriage is a wonderful adventure, friends.

This year to celebrate, we went on our own little adventure. We both really love to travel, so we planned a quick trip up north to see the beautiful wine country of Traverse City, Michigan. Since it was just an overnight trip we thought it would be really fun to bring our Westie, Linus, with us. He loves the car, going places, and anything that involves his leash, but most of all he loves being included. Anytime we leave the house without him his little face goes from super excited to super sad. It breaks my heart every single time. So this time, he got to go. I've rarely seen him so excited. He was racing through the house at full speed with that huge Westie smile on his face, I couldn't get him in the car fast enough. He is just like having a little kid, except furrier. It turned out to be a pretty drizzly weekend, but the scenery was still absolutely beautiful. We caught the end of the autumn colors, drove up the Old Mission Peninsula through wine country and walked around downtown sipping pumpkin lattes, mmm. Short little trips like this are such a nice break from reality that give you the chance to slow down and relax. These are a few photos I was able to snap through the rain.

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Vacationing in the U.P.

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For Steve's 30th birthday we took a little road trip north to the upper peninsula of Michigan. It is so gorgeous up there, I just can't get enough of the fresh air, wide open spaces and lack of traffic. We both spend a lot of time commuting around the city, so this was such a nice break for both of us.

Straight up I-75 north over the Mackinac bridge to Paradise. No really, the city's name is Paradise, MI. How awesome would it be to live in Paradise?! We visited the Tahquamenon Falls and the Oswald Bear Ranch where we got to see oodles of black bears in huge natural habitats. The only thing between us and the giant bears were a double row of chain link fences. It did take me a while to feel comfortable walking around that close, but the experience was pretty incredible. There were a few sassy little cubs running around who, to my surprise, love to eat fruit loops. That's right, fruit loops.

From Paradise and the bears we went to Munising. It was our first trip there and my oh my, the scenery is beautiful. We went around to a ton of different waterfalls. Some of the best were the Munising and Miners Falls.

We also took a trip to Miners Castle and went on a sunset ferry tour of the Pictured Rocks. On the ferry ride we saw a bald eagle, probably the only time I had my camera off the entire trip. I think my favorite part of vacations are taking the photos. I love bringing back the memories for later. 


 

When Whitney English Calls You..

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You answer! Don't send her to voicemail because you don't recognize the number. I will never make that mistake again. No seriously. I got a phone call from, the one and only, Whitney English a couple days ago. Mind blown. I'm still in shock a little bit. So not only does Whitney call me up on a Wednesday afternoon like it's no big thing, but she offers me a scholarship to the Stationery Academy! And I thought it wouldn't have been possible to blow my mind even more.

Completely stunned.

For those of you who don't know, the Stationery Academy is a two day intensive workshop being held in Dallas, TX this year for new stationery entrepreneurs wanting to learn how to get their business going strong.

So, I'm basically living in the world where when Whitney calls and personally invites you to something, you accept. End of story. She is up there with Martha Stewart. If you know me even in the slightest, you know exactly what that means. How can I possibly explain having to decline her ever so generous invitation? It wasn't easy. It broke my heart more than a little bit. Just writing this makes me upset. I want to be there. I want to make the wonderful connections I could gain with the other attendees and speakers. I want to hear the wisdom from these industry leading experts. I want to graciously accept this generous offer. But I didn't. I called her back and told her the opposite of what I wanted to. My heart was screaming, "No! What are you doing?!" But ultimately it wasn't in my plan or budget to attend SA this year and with it being only a few short weeks away, I just couldn't make it work.

Even though I'm half heart broken, this has sparked a new fire in me. I am already an extremely ambitious and motivated person, so this is overdrive now. I have work to do.  So my plan is this - advance my business as much as I would have if I attended this workshop. It probably won't happen the exact same way, and I'm sure I'm going to make some mistakes along the way, but I'm darn well going to make my very best effort. I don't want to look back on the hard decision I had to make this week and regret it.

And Whitney, if you ever happen to read this.. THANK YOU SO MUCH! I am eternally honored that you reached out and offered me such a great opportunity. You absolutely made my entire year. xo

Spring Knitting

Spring is here and that means warmer temperatures and chilly offices. Perfect lacy wrap weather if you ask me. So I've rounded up my top ten patterns for some cozy spring knitting.  All of the patterns come from Ravelry and most are for purchase, but 9 and 10 are free patterns. I picked up some Stroll Tonal sock weight yarn from Knit Picks in the Thunderhead grey color and the Nefertem pattern. I can't wait to get started.

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A year from now you'll wish you had started today.

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So true. It's been exactly one year since I attended Making Things Happen. And what a year it has been too. I've posted several other times on this topic since I made the decision to go last year, those posts can be seen here, here, here, here, here AND here :) I can't say for sure where I'd be today if I hadn't gone, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that I would not be as far as I am right now. MTH has really helped me put my vision into action. I've had scary-gigantic ambitions for as long as I can remember, so figuring out what my goals are was never an issue, but really working through what was holding me back from achieving them was. I am a shy person by nature. I am not outspoken or an extrovert by any means and that has really been a key factor from not putting myself out there. An introvert in an extroverts world can really be a scary little place. So deciding to participate in MTH was a huge decision that I did not make lightly. Sitting in a circle of 30+ people, not only standing up to talk in front of all of them, but telling them my deepest, darkest fears and desires.. yeah. It wasn't easy, but I made the decision to give it 100% no matter what and it was completely worth it. One year later and I feel like a different person. I am still not, nor will I ever be the super extrovert type, but my outlook has changed. My perception of the world and myself has changed for the better. I don't need to be an extrovert to be accepted or to do what I want to do. I just need to be myself and I am good with that. Hooray for quiet people!

Here we are a year later and I am feeling very grateful and lucky to have been a part of this wonderful group. It continues to be a resource and inspiration for me (and so many others) as I move forward.

 Image by Nancy Ray, courtesy of MTH.

Image by Nancy Ray, courtesy of MTH.

Happy Birthday, Linus!

Today is Linus' 11th birthday. I like to make him little hats to celebrate. This year we made a gold crown that he particularly hated. Besides a general death stare in my direction and a lot of wiggling around he was such a good sport about it. I cannot believe he is 11 already. Happy birthday to the sweetest dog ever!

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The story of Lilly and the last time I slept

I didn't get much sleep last night. As I was reflecting back on why exactly that is I thought it might be a good story to tell you. It all starts in October 2009, a week before Halloween. The last time I really knew what a full night's sleep felt like.

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Steve and I were just starting our relationship. We were falling madly in love with each other and like a lot of people do, we thought it would be a great idea to get a(nother) pet. On a trip to the pet store to pick-up food for Linus we happened to wander by the cats that were available for adoption. Most of them were sleeping with their backs turned to us and couldn't care less that we even existed, except one. This cat was different. She was friendly and excited to see us. Rubbing her entire body up against the glass like she was glued to it, reaching her paw out like she wanted to shake hands, her purring was so loud we could practically feel the vibrations through the glass. She worked us. Bad. We got our food and went home, sad to leave her there. We found ourselves not being able to stop thinking about her. We called the adoption agency and filled out an application. Within a week we were accepted and told we could bring her home. Oh, we were so excited.

On the day we went to get her from the pet store we met a cat that we had never seen before. She was pissed and mean. I tried to pet her and she swiped her little jagged claws at me like she wanted me dead. Steve and I looked at each other scared for our lives. The adoption manager assured us that she was upset about being cooped up in her cage so long and she had just had her nails cut and that she would calm down and return to her normal, lovely little self. So we put her in the pet carrier and took her home. On the way home we heard a little "mew" from the back seat. I reluctantly turned around and put my finger into her carrier hoping it would not have been bitten off. I felt a nose and a little lick, followed by a couple more friendly meows. Phew. Thank goodness we weren't bringing devil kitty home. Or so we thought.

The first night home was eventful. Within five minutes of letting her out of that carrier she ran away.  Out the door, down the stairs and into the dark. Steve chased after her in his socks and brought her back. We immediately got her a little red collar with a jingly bell on it so that we could track her whereabouts. Ninja kitty no more. Best $4 we ever spent.

Fast forward a couple years to the recent past. Lilly is a wonderful kitty. She is friendly, warm and loving. She loves people and is extremely personable. She visits with our house guests and even tries to snuggle up with our dog. He doesn't like her, but he does tolerate her. Sometimes she hides on him and when he walks by she bats him in the head. This of course turns into a high speed chase throughout our house. They never hurt each other and its actually pretty funny to watch them play.  

During the day she sleeps. She also sleeps in the evening and into the night. But around 11 p.m. things change. Our house turns into a war zone. Lilly is awake and has a full tank of energy. She comes up into our bedroom to lay on me making sure to headbutt the phone or book out of my hand so it is clear what my priorities are. Its time to pet her. And love her. And give her my undivided attention. Ok, cat. I'm on it. Eventually though I fall asleep and this is when things really get crazy. She is wired. Sleeping is not an option. She walks on my face, walks on Steve's face, walks on the dog's face. Now we are all pissed. She takes off running at full speed through the house. Naturally the dog goes after her to warn her not to come back. This buys us a few precious moments of sleep.

2 a.m. scratch scratch scratch scratch scratch rhythmically on the wall. Pillow thrown, target hit, but not down. There she goes racing down the hallway, dog not far behind. 2:15 a.m. repeat. 3 a.m she is standing on my back meowing. 3:30 a.m. I dream that someone is punching me in the stomach and wake to find the cat headbutting me in the ribs. 3:32 a.m. a tail is flicking me repeatedly in the face as she tries to get in the nearby attic door. Now I can't be sure, but it would seem logical that I am now threatening to lock her outside. Steve calls her over to leave me alone. I contemplate what it would be like to go back in time and talk myself out of adopting another pet. 4:40 a.m five minutes before Steve's alarm goes off, she is now on her normal routine of waking him up. She is hungry and craving love. She gets him up and follows him down stairs. I have 2 precious hours before he leaves for work, time to sleep. 6:45 a.m. I feel the gentle grasp of her teeth on my jugular. The dragon is letting me know its time to get up. By 8 a.m. I am walking out the door to go to work and she is sleeping peacefully on the chair. I make sure to wake her up before I go.

Sweet, sweet little devil cat. She is so very lucky that I love her.

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Dear 30.. Let's be friends.

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Since I posted my 29 accomplished in 29 list it only makes sense to do a 30 in 30 list as a follow-up and reminder to myself for when I get distracted in the monotony of everyday life. Turning thirty is not the easiest of milestones and to counteract that I am focusing on the good. No. Nope. I'm focusing on the GREAT. I feel like I finally have a solid footing and I am just getting started. My overarching goal for this year: have fun in the everyday. Life is way too short to postpone that. So my plan is to do all of the things on my list and have a blast doing them. Let's go:

1. Start running and complete a 10k - started running, but never made it to the 10k.
2. Start offering custom illustration and branding work - Done!
3. Return to the custom weddings invitation game on my own terms - (no more hand trimming) - Done!
4. Take HPC wholesale - Done. Yay!
5. Get a cute swim suit and go swimming in lake Michigan - didn't quite happen this year
6. Take up calligraphy - Focused more on hand lettering instead, but I have started practicing my calligraphy
7. Get a bike (with a bell) & go biking with Steve - DONE!
8. Travel: Boston, MA, and Wilmington, NC (Savannah, GA, Charleston, SC, Michigan's UP, and Traverse City, MI.
9. Plant and not kill a garden - Done!
10. Wear more cute skirts - Done!
11. Redo our backyard deck - Built a privacy fence, got a new furnace and central air and installed new basement windows instead, the deck got moved to 2014.
12. Get on my web game - be more efficient in html & css
13. Learn (well, relearn) French
14. Take a class - Took a few skillshare classes
15. Go horseback riding
16. Wake up on time to make more of my day, in other words stop hitting snooze - I like to sleep guys. This happened maybe two thirds of the time, but I am getting better.
17. Code a new portfolio website (in progress)
18. Go to a concert with Steve
19. Create a cohesive, accomplishable (and amazing) five-year business plan - Done!!
20. Get fancy at cooking - Done!
21. Take Linus on adventures - Done! We took him all over the place including the cider mill and on vacation with us to Traverse City.
22. Start a daily creative project (just started this yesterday) Done, but proved to just be too much.
23. Participate in Blogging for Books - Done!
24. Get my letterpress on
25. Knit some really cute knee socks (like this) - Nope, but I did knit some other really cute other.
26. Start writing a book - started collecting my thoughts
27. Focus on quality not quantity - WIP
28. Create a giant painting for our living room - WIP
29. Cook my way through Clean Start
30. Do something for the greater good - WIP
Bonus: Attend a conference

And there it is. It's going to be a fun year.

29 Accomplished in Twenty-nine

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Today I am saying goodbye twenty-nine. It's been a lot of fun. This was a monumental year. Difficult at times, but worth every single second. And at the end of it I feel stillness. Calm. I started the year with this blog post about feeling restless and searching for more and this one about making the most of 29. Mission accomplished. I ended this year with a sense of complete accomplishment and peace.

As I listed out what my biggest triumphs from the past year I couldn't believe some of the things that are on there. I still can't really. Small actions really add up over the course of a year. A year from now you'll wish you had started today, right? I couldn't agree more with that. So here we go.. my 29 from 29 list in, no particular order.

1. Attended Making Things Happen (MTH)
2. Turned down the volume on my chronic anxiety
3.  Started my business
4. Read a heck of a lot of books
5. Got back into drawing
6. Discovered a passion for illustration & lettering
7. Stayed on Mackinac Island with Steve and Linus
8. Visited North Carolina <3
9. Exhibited in two craft shows
10. Accepted into the National Stationery Show (though I have decided to wait another year)
11. Saw my beautiful friend's brand new baby right after he was born - yay Ben!
12. Visited Bell Isle, the Riverwalk in Downtown Detroit and Eastern Market
13. Tried my hand at painting with watercolor and gouache
14. Got back into printmaking
15. Completed all kinds of DIY projects from Pinterest
16. Cleared out the clutter from our ENTIRE house
17. Turned an extra bedroom into the business' office
18. Defined my direction and vision for my company
19. Attended two Making Brands Happen webinars
20. Grew a stronger marriage with my husband
21. Cooked an entirely homemade Thanksgiving dinner (and it was delicious)
22. Purchased a letterpress
23. Spoke up when I had something to say
24. Started learning to do product photography and fell in love with photo styling
25. Made some wonderful friends at MTH in NC
26. Let go of perfection - maybe the most important accomplishment this year
27. Painted a portrait of Snoop Dogg  :)
28. Started thinking about babies
29. Slowed down

Twenty-nine is over and its time to move on. I've got more to do, bigger and better, even more awesome to fulfill. Its time to get going. Let's do this thirty.

Adventures in Savannah

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Last week Steve and I took a quick trip down South to Savannah, Georgia. It has been a place I've wanted to go see since I was in high school and dreaming about attending SCAD - the Savannah College of Art and Design. That didn't quite happen, but my desire never faded. So we said goodbye to the dog, boarded our plane and hit the road.. or sky really. An added bonus of a southern trip in February is the warm weather. Back in Detroit it was 20 degrees and snowing. While we were there we only needed a light jacket. It was so incredibly nice.

One of the things I love most about the South is the Spanish moss adorning the giant trees that overhang the roads and sidewalks. It has to be one of the prettiest things in just about ever. The picture below was taken at Emmet Park. Aren't those trees just gorgeous? We walked all over Savannah and tried to soak up as much as possible. From River Street, to the shops, local dining, SCAD and a tour on the Peacemaker. There was a Dick Blick art store on campus, so of course we (me) had to stop in and pick-up some supplies. We don't have any Blick art stores in Michigan, so I was down right giddy about this.

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Friday we traveled east about 20 minutes to Tybee Island. It was stunning and completely serene. We walked miles down the beach and the only sounds to be heard were from the ocean. We could have stayed there for days. Before we left we came across a hurricane category sign that really put the snow in Michigan in perspective for us. Steve is 6'4" and still shorter than a category 2. Crazy.   

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Saturday, we decided since we were close enough to take a day trip up to Charleston, South Carolina. It was about a 2.5 hour drive from Savannah. We walked around charming downtown Charleston, visited the City Market, and made our way over to Fort Sumter by ferry. If y'all don't know Fort Sumter was where the Civil War started. It was a neat thing to go see and soak up all of that history. On the ferry we could see dolphins swimming along side us. We had never seen anything like this before. It felt like we were little kids on Christmas morning. 

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The weather started warming up nicely back in Georgia and the next day we ventured out to Oatland Island to the National Wildlife Reserve. It was so much fun to walk around the trails and see all of the animals. We didn't see any wild gators (thankfully), but in the reserve we did see wolves, a cougar, a fox, bobcats and other wildlife that you just don't see very often if ever at all. I also had a little run in with a giant sheep that did not like me very much. I think I got just a little bit too close for his liking. It rammed the fence right in front of me and I pretty much screamed and ran. City girl at the farm.. what are you gonna do.

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Tuesday morning we packed it up and headed back to chilly Detroit. The city welcomed us back with 18 degrees and a snow storm. That's just about right. We had so much fun though and are planning our next trip already. Thanks for the warm weather Georgia! xoxo

2012 in Review

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2012. Where should I even begin? This was a huge, wild year for me. I made gigantic strides, huge decisions and even bigger leaps of faith. I began 2012 with this overwhelming desire to make a change. I felt like I was sleep walking through my days and I wanted to wake up. I wanted new. I wanted big. I wanted the chase. I felt void and was desperately seeking to feel that excitement of following my dreams and making a difference in my life. I needed something to change.

That's how I began 2012 and I am ending it exactly where I set out to be. I made the decision to attend Making Things Happen. That was huge and amazing. Shortly after MTH I reworked my business and started fresh with a new direction that more closely fit my heart. Zero to brand new business in 4 months wasn't easy and I devoted a lot of my time to making that happen and was happy to do it. I also completed the Making Brands Happen webinars on Branding and the Client Experience. Taking these strides has made my inner drive skyrocket. I have a solid direction that I am excited about and fiercely chasing after in every way possible. Huge ideas are brewing in the studio. One in particular is going to be released in early 2013 and I'm so incredibly pumped about it. It started as a personal project, but I think it will be useful for a lot of people out there like me so I've decided to share it with the world. (Blog post coming soon - get excited.)

Part of my success this year can be attributed to finding a few people that have really inspired me, and helped define what I want and how to get there. Marie Forleo, Jessica Hische, Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co.Gary Vaynerchuck, Danielle LaPorte, Gretchen Rubin. And of course, the lovely ladies of Making Things Happen and Making Brands Happen, Lara Casey and Emily Ley. This is not an all inclusive list by any means, but these are some of the major role models for me this past year that I am grateful for.

Speaking of grateful, I'd like to end my 2012 wrap up on this note. One of the biggest things I learned in 2012 was that things can always get worse. This sounds dark and gloomy, but stick with me for just another second and I'll get to the point. 2012 was a rough year. It was not easy by any means and the challenges presented were tall orders. My 9-5 job was turned upside down as we went from a full team of 7 to a team of 2 in under three months. At every point of this happening I remember thinking to myself, "It can't get any worse than this." And you know what, it kept getting worse. And here we are, struggling, but getting by with two people. And what I realize today is that it could still be worse. Thank goodness for the other person that makes up this team of two, without her I would be lost. I'm telling you this not for a pity party, no thank you, but because it has taught me to be grateful for what I have, right now, in this moment, because things can always get worse. There is always something else to lose even when you can't possibly imagine it. So look around and take note. This year I am thankful for what I have been able to accomplish, for my role models, for my supportive husband, for the support of our incredible customers, for my teammate and for my job - to name a few. This is how I'm ending 2012 and how I will live in 2013. Thankful and excited for what lies ahead.

Cheers to 2012 and to an even happier 2013.
Jayme