Friday, November 16, 2012

Life, Lately

Hey, sooo I've been absent from the blog world for the past two weeks. I've missed blogging, but even more than that, I've missed reading all of my favorite blogs. I have tons of catching up to do! Oh, and I'm breaking the cardinal rule - the one I mentioned in a post a few weeks back. Writing a post without images.

I thought it was about time for a little update and explanation for my absence. Thamires, one of my best friends, came to visit two weekends ago, and then that Sunday, I unfortunately got super sick. I actually lost my voice briefly... and I still happen to be somewhat sick, nearly two weeks later. Well, then Jacob and I broke up last Wednesday. We were together for two and a half years and we've lived together for the past year and a few months. He moved out Sunday (and took the modem with him, so I've just set up my internet again today). So while I care about my blog and all of the goals I set for myself, I found it necessary to give myself a break for a while... and I'm really glad I did.

Aside from work, I've just been spending the past two weeks either curled up (or pushing through work) feeling horribly sick and trying not to throw up (it is now primarily reduced to periodic coughing fits), spending time with my amazing and supportive friends, laying in bed listening to music and/or thinking about life, reading lots, and of course doing whatever has been necessary to set my house up for living alone. Zoe, another best friend of mine, drove up from Portland to visit last weekend and was so incredibly helpful. We went shopping for a bed frame, mattress, vacuum cleaner, and all sorts of other household items that I got rid of when I first moved in with Jacob in June of last year. After a full Sunday of shopping (while Jacob and his friends moved his stuff out), she and I built my new IKEA bed frame (it has drawers for my stuffed animals! Hah) for around six hours with just a brief dinner break. By that time it was pretty late, so she ended up sleeping here for a few hours, then woke up and drove home at 4:30am (it's about a three hour drive from Seattle to Portland) to make it in time for work at 8:30am. See? I wasn't kidding about those amazing friends.

I'm not going to dive into the details, but I will say that Jacob and I have been talking about this for a little while now. Ironically, pretty soon after we moved to my new house together. Or maybe not so ironic... it just seems funny in terms of timing. We had it all planned out. We were going to live here for a long time. Get married. Have kids. Work on the house together. As it turns out, though, relationships are fragile. Maybe it's just me, but I've always found that even seemingly solid relationships can unravel far more quickly than you'd think possible. We're too different. And I won't speculate as to what exactly went through his mind, but for me, moving here made everything so real. That vision I mentioned was coming true... and I found that I wasn't ready. That we're too different, which has been true for a long time, but which we've blissfully ignored because there was so much good.

It's really, really hard to let go of someone who is such a good person. Someone who treats you far better than you could have dreamed to be possible. Someone you were so sure you were going to be with for the rest of your life. But when you know it's ultimately not right, you just have to push through it, to let go. Neither of us wanted it to get to the point where we felt totally trapped and hated each other. We're still really good friends and I think if we had waited too long and dragged it out, that might not be possible.

It's also time for me to just... learn what it's like to be me, to be on my own. To rely on myself. To work on goals I set for myself, new and old. To be the person I want to be. And while I feel like I know a lot more about myself and am more confident in some ways than I was a few years ago (before I met Jacob), I have a lot more to learn. Of course, with the right person, at the right time, in the right kind of relationship, you can definitely do that while in a relationship. But there is something to be said for knowing what you are capable of on your own. At least I hope so. I'm 25 and I feel both sure of myself and totally lost simultaneously. Everything is exciting and terrifying.

I've always known that I am different. Everyone has their own unique traits and things that differentiate them. But, to approach it simplistically, most people also fit a little better into (for lack of a better explanation) what I guess I deem the Corporate vs. Artist. I work as an accountant. I've met lots of friends at my previous job and current job, and most of them are "Corporate" types. I love that they are generally reliable and practical, good about spending and planning for the future, etc. Jacob definitely fits there, and those are some of the reasons I was attracted to him in the first place. Then there are the "Artists," whom I love for their creativity, incredible sense of design and appreciation for the world's beauty. They often tend to be more carefree and open to risks and adventures.

And then there's me. Somehow, I've managed to sit right in the middle. Very, very Corporate in some ways, very very Artist in others. And even beyond these extremely general classifications, it's always been that way for me. When I was applying for colleges, people would always ask me if I was going for something more "math/science" or "English/history." Well, I liked and excelled at math and English. I always did the planning and organization for our group events but I also liked to make things and loved graffiti. I know these are all small, random examples... I could go on and on. But the bottom line is that I have always felt like a paradox. I never felt like I belonged anywhere and that's always been fine with me. I prided myself on being different and I still do. But as it turns out, different gets lonely sometimes. Very, very few people have ever truly understood me and that makes me feel lonely.

Another thing I should mention is that while in some ways I'm very focused, in other ways I have an incredibly short attention span. I never stay interested in anything for very long. I like vastly different styles, sometimes changing my taste by the day. It's been so hard to decide how to decorate my house because I have all of these contrasting design ideas. I can't even pick a favorite color. Every time I go to the salon my hair turns out completely different - I often can't even decide what to do with the color scheme until I'm sitting in the chair looking in the mirror and I decide because I have to.

Jacob knows who he is, what he wants, what he's doing, and how to get there. He is in the Corporate box and that's totally awesome, because he's happy where he is, he's determined, and he's going to make it some day. It's simple, recognizable, and has a clear destination. I, on the other hand, am off building my own box. And painting it pastel rainbow with cupcakes and sweets and adding glitter and decorations. But halfway through, I'm already bored and want to make it red and black and white with a gothic trim. And my box isn't even rectangular, it's star-shaped. Oh, but maybe heart-shaped would be better. Or maybe I should shape it like a cupcake and just do a light pink/aqua color scheme. And some days I feel like this will continue into eternity, until I'm old and I'm sitting in a room all alone, and all I have is hundreds of half-finished boxes of different shapes and colors.

If that made any sense... =)

I have so much to do in the next month. Two craft fairs to prepare for. Gotta fix the leak and hole in my house (plumbing issues). Get the rest of the stuff I need for my house, like sheets and a comforter. Get through every work day and focus on accomplishing everything, regardless of all the fuzziness and thoughts rattling around in my head. Work is getting busier too. At least I feel mostly healthy again. But even so, there are days, or even parts of days where all I want to do is sleep and shut out the world for a few weeks.

But while I've gotten burnt out plenty of times over the years and taken short breaks to recover, one thing I absolutely refuse to do is to completely fold and give up. I made this choice to be on my own and now I have to stay strong and deal with the consequences. I don't know anything about houses and I'm terrified something will go wrong with my house and I'll have no idea what to do. But I'll have to figure it out. It's definitely not all bad. I have genuinely enjoyed getting out of the house more often and seeing my friends more, lately. I'm excited about the design possibilities for my house. I'm going to start running and get in shape. I have lots of plans... and I'll figure this out, figure out my new life. I finally decided what tattoo I'm getting. I could never settle on a design before... but I'm doing it. Being decisive. Zoe's helping me design it (she's a graphic designer). It's going to represent the next few months or however long it takes me to figure out my new life. Because if I can get through this, I can get through anything.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Heart Walk and a Huge Thank You!

Two weeks ago, I participated in the Seattle Heart Walk, benefiting the American Heart Association. And thanks to donations and purchases made through the Help a Heart event in addition to my personal donation, we managed to raise a whopping $1,103! Can you believe it? To everyone who participated in any way, whether it was spreading the word, making a purchase/donation, or leaving your lovely notes of encouragement, I want to say thank you so, so much. I definitely would not have surpassed my goal of raising at least $1K this year without you. =)

Before I write more about the Heart Walk, I want to give some specific thanks! Everyone here put time and/or money into Help a Heart and many of the generous ladies listed have blogs (all of which I follow) or super cute shops, so be sure to check them out! THANK YOU to...

The lovely hostesses of the promotional giveaways!
 *Aizzing of Icing and Write
 *Cara of Marvelous Flight of Cara
 *Sammy of The Cookie Button
 *Jessa of Caked Vintage
 *Kate of Scathingly Brilliant
 *Mandy of Miss Indie
Congrats to the lucky winners!

These beautiful bloggers who posted about Help a Heart!
 *Dorien of Bodacious Thought
 *Julie Ann of Julie Ann Art
 *Kaelah of Little Chief Honeybee
 *Susie of Even Sweeter Dreams

All of the generous people who donated and/or purchased pieces from my shops!
 *Pearl and Kelvin my always-supportive parents
 *Peggy, Patty, ValerieRosa, and Mona, my generous aunts/relatives
 *Teresa, one of my best friends, who is always incredibly generous with charities!
 *Lisa L, Sharilyn C, and Cathy G, my coworkers
 *Ashley, owner of Raen Clowds, an adorable crochet accessories shop!
 *Gemma F
 *Laura M, blogger at Tutus and Tiny Hats, an inspiring and sequin-filled blog that I am now following!
 *Karen T
 *Junko, my awesome friend who just passed the NY bar exam (go Junko!!!!)
 *Fiona M
 *Courtney M
 *Lauren W, blogger at Old Red Boots, a fun and colorful blog that I am now following!
 *Davina C
 *Lindsie, Jacob's fun and generous friend
 *Ivy F
 *Melissa O

... and to everyone who shared the event via e-mail, social media, etc!

Please let me know if I missed you (maybe you blogged about it and I was unaware) or if you're on the list but have a link to share (shop, blog, etc.) - I'd love to go check it out!

Now on to the actual Heart Walk. =)

This was my third year participating and it was as busy as ever. My pictures of the crowds didn't really turn out, but you can see a small piece of it here. It starts at the Seattle Center, which is the area surrounding the Space Needle. We arrived at 8:10am on Saturday morning and I actually stopped by the Space Needle first to pick up my medal and goodie bag. I had no idea when I set my goal, but apparently if you raise over $1,000 you're considered a "top walker" and get a bag of treats from the sponsors. You also get invited to breakfast at the Space Needle, which would have been cool... but I had breakfast with my friends after the walk instead!
Booths line the perimeter of the lawn area. The booths belong to the Heart Walk sponsors (including my previous and current employers) and many of them offer healthy freebies and/or helpful information.

Caught up with some friends / former coworkers! Some people brought their dogs along for the walk!

Me, Erin, Olivia, Jas (canine)

 Jared, me

 I used to be a part of this picture each year! But since I joined my current employer's team this year, I took a picture of the team photo instead of being in it. I was in mine, of course... but couldn't really take a picture of myself. =D

Then we went to check out the booths before the walk started. I don't like bananas, free or otherwise, but other people snatched them up!

A few booths had silly heart-themed games.

Stopped by to take a picture at my employer's booth.

They had a band play... yup, that's Seahawks gear they're wearing. I'm sure they're related somehow... maybe the team's band? (I know nothing about football.)

And then the walk began a little after 9am! It was a three mile walk - pretty chilly and windy out, but it wasn't raining. That's always a good thing in my mind. Firefighters created an archway for us to walk through.

I stopped to take pictures of cool things along the walk route.

And that was it! Shortly after the walk ended, one of the current team co-captains for my department at work informed us that she was stepping down next year and asked if anyone wanted to take her place. We do events at work to raise money that gets donated to the general fund for our department's team. For example, we had a soup and salad (and dessert) luncheon - various people made and donated dishes (I made a vegetarian vegetable & orzo soup) and then everyone paid $7 to participate. I love that my work encourages charitable events - I also donate to United Way of King County (a local charity) through a payroll deduction each paycheck set up through the company, which makes it really easy and hassle-free!

Anyway, I digress. So... I signed up to be co-captain for next year. It will take some effort but I think it's worthwhile. I actually thought of Help a Heart fairly last minute this year and it ended up being incredibly stressful - I wouldn't change a thing except that I would start earlier! I loved the result, but it did contribute to my recent burnout. So next year I'll start way earlier and hopefully make this event even more epic and appealing to everyone!

Thanks again to my lovely readers and participants!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

More than you ever wanted to know about me

This picture has nothing to do with the post, but I hadn't shared it yet, so why not? Hehe. Everyone knows you can't write a post without any pictures! Moving on.

I have seen the blog awards and surveys go around but haven't gotten to answering any of them previously (thanks to everyone who has tagged me!). But when Susie of Even Sweeter Dreams nominated me (thank you!) and wrote up some fun questions, I just couldn't resist. =) By the way, if you don't follow her blog already, visit and you'll quickly find that the Liebster description fits her perfectly! Subsequently, I was also tagged in another questionnaire by the awesome and talented Michelle of Creature Type, so I decided to combine the two... and write a super epic long post for any of you who have way too much free time. =D Thanks, ladies!

Liebster Award and Questions From Susie
The Liebster Blog Award is given from blogger to blogger – meant for bloggers who have less than 200 followers. The Meaning; Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.

1. Your first pet was?
Hrm, now first pet was a bit of a story. It would definitely be one of the Indy's, a pet name my family used twice that clearly wasn't meant to be. On my eighth birthday, I was lucky enough to visit relatives in the Philippines with my grandparents. The day I left, my family went out and chose a dog. We named him Indie. He ended up not being a good fit for my family... so they sadly brought him back the morning right before I flew home. So I really never met my first family pet.

2. What's your favourite outfit?
My tastes change frequently and it completely depends on my mood, so it's hard to say. But it just might be my red Jessica Louise dress!

3. What does your perfect day look like?
My perfect day would start with waking up around 10am and having a leisurely brunch (preferably something sweet and something savory). Then I'd head to a warm beach and somehow get a chance to hug a shark without being bitten. After that, it would definitely be time for ice cream, dinner with friends, and then heading home to make art all evening while watching TV shows and filling up on pasta and cupcakes.

4. What is your favourite season?
Summer! That's an easy one. I'm starting to gain an appreciation for autumn, but I'm always happiest in the summer. Cute clothes, beaches, ice cream, and most importantly... (mostly) no rain! Sold!

5. What were you like as a kid?
I was actually a pretty good kid (Mom, you can comment if you disagree). I'm the oldest child of three - as a baby, my parents brought me to restaurants and all sorts of places and I never screamed. They quickly learned that not all babies were like that when my brother, Corbin, was born.

6. What is your favourite song to sing along to?
There are so many! Really almost anything that's playing in the car. Lately, that's been "One More Night" by Maroon 5.

7. Where in the world would you like to go on holiday?
Everywhere!! If I had to pick somewhere... it would most likely be in Europe. I haven't seen England, France, or Spain yet... there are so many places, I really can't choose.

8. What's your worst habit?
Oh gosh, I'm sure I have a ton. Possibly the fact that I really, really hate doing laundry. In college I'd get compliments near laundry day because I wore all my comfy clothes already and had to move on to fancier stuff. I have also been known to purchase new clothes instead of doing laundry. True story.

9. What's your favourite TV show?
Another tough call! I have lots of favorites. I suppose the ones I love most are the ones I rewatch most often... so Friends, Scrubs, and Arrested Development. For ongoing shows, I'm digging White Collar and How I Met Your Mother right now.

10. Do you prefer rain in summer or sun in winter?
SUN IN THE WINTER. No contest. That may be because I live in Seattle where it rains 9-10 months out of the year, so we're in no short supply of it. Including in the summer.

11. When are you happiest?
I'm happiest when I feel like I've accomplished something real and substantial. Or when I've just finished reorganizing my craft room - it's seriously an addiction. I reorganize it all of the time. Otherwise all sorts of little things make me happy - seeing friends and family, travelling, making art...

Questions from Michelle
1. Do you believe in guilty pleasures? Why/why not?
Well, we all have things we like that make us feel a little guilty or embarassed. Most of the time, it's silly, because you should do whatever you want regardless of what others think. But sometimes that's easier said than done.

2. What is your favorite/most-loved souvenir?
Oh, that's not easy. I have a whole room I'm decorating with a travel theme, full of postcards and pretty artwork from far away. The one that instantly brings a story to mind whenever I see it is my graffiti Colosseum piece. I watched this super cool graffiti street artist make the piece right on the spot in the streets of Rome... it was so incredible. I had to wait a while to get mine because people kept snatching up her pieces immediately!

 3. What's the worst job you've ever had to work?
Well, I really haven't had too many different jobs, but I did do temp work at an amusement park kitchen one summer. Having been in the kitchen, all I can say is I would not eat the food there...

4. Even if you don't generally like pop music, what's your favorite pop song?
It changes by the day (see a consistent theme to my responses?)... right now I'm digging "Wide Awake" by Katy Perry.

5. What hobby/subject has made you the most fan-girly or obsessive? Was it a phase?
Hrm, my hobbies and obsessions also change constantly. I don't really do the whole fangirl thing and could care less what conventional celebrities do with their lives. But I do have role models - people who have started their own businesses from the ground and gotten to the point where they are actually self-employed, living comfortably, and doing what they love. It may look like easy living for some of them now (though I doubt it really is), but I know they worked so hard to get there, and I admire them for that. I know I didn't really answer the question, sorry! Sooo... my latest obsession is cacti. Better?

6. What's your favorite kind of cuisine?
Depends on the day... haha. I do consistently love Italian and Chinese, though. Really, anything with noodles. I will never, ever be sick of noodles. Maybe for a day or two, but I always return to them!

Oh hey... I found an actually relevant picture! Noodles from one of my favorite restaurants!

7. Which is your favorite Harry Potter book? Movie?
The last one for sure (book - I didn't watch the movies). I'm always very cautious and skeptical when reading the last book of any good series. It takes an incredible amount of talent and skill to wrap up a good, complex series effectively. J.K. Rowling definitely did a skilled job of it, and the last book upped her talent level in my mind immensely.

8. If you could have any hair color - naturally and maintenance free - what would it be?
Well... I pretty much do get whatever hair color I want all of the time. I wish it was natural and maintenance free... but most importantly, damage free! I did love the rainbow hair I got last time I was in the salon. I guess I'd have mood hair color, if that's possible. Ya know, like mood rings? Color that changed with my whims!

9. What is your favorite drink? Not necessarily boozy!
Good thing, because I rarely drink alcohol. My most consistent favorite is orange juice. Iced vanilla chai when I need caffeine... or hot chocolate with whipped cream when it's cold out.

10. What musical(s) do you know all the lyrics to?
I do know quite a bit of Phantom of the Opera and some of Les Miserables and Aida. Such good musicals.

11. What's the last movie you saw in a theater?
Wow, I don't even remember. Iron Man 2, maybe? Yeah, I don't go to movies very often.


Thanks to Susie and Michelle for the nomination and tag! I had way too much fun with this! Oh, and a little update. I have lots of posts planned that I haven't gotten to... including the final update on the Help a Heart + pictures from the Heart Walk, a little feature of my favorite cupcake shop, awesome mail I've gotten recently, and much more! I kinda epic failed on delivering a lot of the October stuff I had planned (making of last year's Halloween costume, the pumpkin I carved two Halloweens ago, etc.) and now I feel stupid posting Halloween stuff after Halloween. Eh well. Life goes on! Maybe next year I'll be better. =)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

To all the east coasters / anyone affected by Hurricane Sandy... I hope you're okay! Stay safe, please!

Here on the west coast, we have a much more normal Halloween this year. Got a few trick or treaters so far tonight, which just reminds me that I am one of the most awkward people on the planet. I actually opened the door to the first group of trick or treaters, but I was too nervous to speak... except to mumble "take a few." They were all very polite and thanked me... hah. I'm such a spaz sometimes.

Anyway, I wanted to share some of the beautiful Halloween decorations I've seen businesses put up this month!

I loved the cute pumpkins and lights put up by the little coffee stand near my work!

Remember Impress? They added these cute Halloween cutouts to their window display!

And... my favorite cupcake shop went all out! I'll be doing a more extensive post about it soon.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Artist of the Month: Alvin and Cheri Ong, October 2012

I love when businesses make it a part of their mission to share a positive message or cause... which is part of why I was so excited to have come across Furry Feline Creatives! (The other part being their incredible artwork and style, of course.) I'll let Cheri and Alvin tell you a little bit more about their cute and colorful business!

Thank you for joining us on Pink Wonderland today, Cheri and Alvin! Can you please tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Hi! My name is Cheri Ong - I’m the mastermind, creative artist and designer for Furry Feline Creatives.  I’m also a drummer and a avid fan of analogue photography. And I’m Alvin Ong - I write the stories for the characters, run the business side of Furry Feline Creatives, play guitar, and love everything geek.

Tell us about Furry Feline Creatives, how you started it, and the concept behind your business.
Furry Feline Creatives is a character design studio founded by Cheri Ong and Alvin Ong. Cheri had been drawing all her life. She made a career and profession out of it, doodling all the way since elementary school, drawing characters based on her friends and people she knew. We started off by doing a couple of t-shirt designs and selling some artwork at various venues until one day, we were chatting among ourselves as we were looking at our kids playing. We said to ourselves, “What can we do to teach them at this very young age that they would remember and keep until they grow up?”.  Being fans of popular culture and geekdom, we wanted to do something that we ourselves could enjoy, share, and bond with the kids. The idea of creating handmade plush toys came to mind along with a message or a story that reaches a wide spectrum of children to adults.  Like the dolls, there is a uniqueness in all of us that has to be seen and heard. We are made special and distinct from each other.

Cheri, I believe you started making plushies for the shop without any prior experience with it. How did you learn how to make them?
Sewing was the last thing I wanted to do, but I gave it a try. I watched YouTube a couple of times for the basic sewing patterns and Alvin was like, "Why don't you make the plushies like you draw them?" Since then, it has become an expression of my hands and to reveal what is on my mind.

How do you incorporate those concepts into your children’s lives?
We emphasize individuality. Just like the dolls, each doll features slight variations that enhance the dolls’ uniqueness. As young as they are, we teach our kids to be confident and embrace their differences. We also let them play with our toy collection... with supervision, of course!

Where or how do you usually find inspiration for your cute and colorful characters?
Everyday life brings is a lot of inspiration to our work. We meet all sorts of people from different walks of life. These usually brings us ideas in the way we create our characters.

Does your location inspire you in any way?
Yes - we are huge fans of pop culture and living in the City of Angels, Hollywood, with all its glitz and glamour. It's not too far away from San Diego, which hosts Comic Con International, the largest pop culture mecca in the world. We love it here.

Who are your favorite artists?
Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, and Simone Legno.

What do you like to do when you are not working?
We are both musicians. Alvin plays the guitar and Cheri plays the drums. You would usually see us playing some tunes.  We also take special time every week to go to department stores and browse around the toy section and see what the big companies are doing now.

Favorite animal?

What is it like working with your significant other?
Working together with your spouse is very rewarding because you get to work on something that involves love, patience, and understanding. You give and take ideas, and offer honest opinions and suggestions. It is the best team possible.

Are there any major events or experiences in your life that affected your work or business?
The birth of our two kids really prompted us to think about our work. It gave us direction for what we wanted to do and why we are doing it.

Tell us about your creative process and workspace.
We look for ideas in everyday life, drawing doodles on sketchbooks. Our workspace is by the window, literally, which gives us inspiration.

What advice would you offer an aspiring artist or someone who wants to start a small business?
We always tell people three things that we go by - not just in art or business, but in life in general.  
1.     Love what you do, no matter what other people say about it. If you believe you were put in this earth to do what you need to do, go do it.
2.     Real failure happens when you don’t start.
3.     Have the attitude that you will never arrive, but are always arriving.

Furry Feline Creatives was a vendor this year at the San Diego ComicCon and earlier this month at the New York ComicCon – how exciting! The winter craft fair season is coming up… any advice for small business owners who are preparing for craft fairs?
Be sure to keep yourself warm! haha.  But seriously, be prepared to work not just on your products, but also the look of your booth as well.  If someone passes by the aisle, you want to get their attention for them to come in.  Another is: be approachable. Greet and smile. The last thing you want people to perceive is that you just don’t care.

Are you working on any projects or pieces that you are excited about?
We are always working on exclusives that we are doing for comic conventions all throughout the year and are constantly working on various projects, some of which are top secret for now.

Tell us if there are any events you have lined up where we can find you and your artwork in person.
- Designer Con || November 3rd, from 9am to 6pm, at Pasadena Convention Center.
- Renegade Craft Fair Los Angeles || December 8 & 9, from 10am to 5pm, at the Los Angeles Historic Park.
And many more! For our full schedule, please check our events calendar.

Thank you so much for sharing your stories and advice with us on Pink Wonderland, Cheri and Alvin!

You can find Furry Feline Creatives at these places:

Artist of the Month is a monthly interview feature with an artist. I am very selective about whom I interview - I pick artists I believe in, whose style I truly love. See all previously featured artists here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Power of Books

I know your lives don't revolve around when I do or do not post, so I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I took a brief (week-long) blogging break. I spent a lot of the time finishing up and shipping out orders in my shop (update on how the Heart Walk went soon!), editing seven college application essays for friends and family, as well as learning to put less pressure on myself overall. I have a tendency to set myself tons of goals that are doable, but not reasonably within the time frame I give myself. Then I burn out for a little while. So while I know I will never stop setting myself goals, I am learning the importance of and working on that whole "pacing yourself" thing. =)

I mentioned in my birthday post that I wanted to read the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. My brother, Corbin, recommended it to me. In his birthday post, I also talked about how we used to read all of the time (he still does) and sometimes fight over who got to read a book first. I think the last time I read a book was in February of this year, and before that I'm not even sure. I always say "I don't have time for that," and it's certainly true... but let's be honest. It's not about having time for something, it's about making time for something. So I vowed to myself that I would shuffle around my priorities and make time to start reading again.

This past week has been a little crazy and stressful due to things I've mentioned above and other life events I'd prefer not to dive into at the moment. But no matter what is going on, as soon as I open that book and start reading, everything else disappears. Especially in a fantasy series such as the Mistborn Trilogy. For that brief time, I don't even exist - just the characters and the incredible world someone else has created. I've been feeling very strongly that I need a brief break from this life - a month-long vacation, to live somewhere else for a while... something. But in the end, I am still practical and realistic at heart, so I will stay here, physically. Books are a way to let your mind travel, at least. They have always been a favorite mental escape of mine and I can't believe I ever let myself forget that.

Last Friday, I had all these goals on my never-ending to-do list. When they involve someone else depending on me, I make those a priority. But most of them were just personal goals that really could wait a day, or a few. So instead, I started reading Mistborn. I set it aside for a few days to finish shop orders, editing the essays, and other tasks, but yesterday I picked it up and finished the first book. Mind blown. If you like fantasy series, you should absolutely read this trilogy. I haven't read the second or third books yet, but if they're anything like the first... they will be incredible. It's the kind of book that doesn't end with the last sentence, because it lingers in your mind. You think about it when you're laying in bed that evening and even the next day. The characters feel incredibly real, like you know them. It's more vivid than a movie, because a movie can't play directly in your mind. Someone else describes them, but in the end, you imagine everything with your own spin.

I'm learning that sometimes it's okay to give yourself a break. Sometimes it's okay to spend four hours reading a novel instead of writing a blog post, or go to bed at 11pm (instead of 4am) and finish editing those pictures the next day. So I have new goals for myself. I still want to do everything I'm doing now, but I'm going to learn some moderation. I'm going to be calmer. I'm going to make sure I'm healthy and less stressed. I already eat pretty well, but I'm going to start exercising. I'm going to read more. I'm going to put more effort/time/money/whatever-it-takes into charitable work. I'm going to make time to see my local friends or talk to my long-distance friends and family on the phone. I'm going to let myself be happy instead of just always being stressed. This means sometimes I'll only post once or twice in a week... while other times I'll post five or six times. And I'll be okay with it.

I do have lots of projects and other things I've been meaning to post for a while now, and I do plan to share them. So bear with me as I figure out how to be this person I want to be and lead the life I want. I also want to remind you that if you're like me - someone who used to read constantly but just doesn't have the time for it anymore - just do it. Set aside a few hours and start that book. If you're like me, you like to read books cover to cover in one sitting. Sometimes that isn't possible with the busyness of life these days, but even reading books in chunks is better than nothing at all.

Someday, I will write a book, or a few. I don't know what genre yet, and I don't have a plot. But it will happen. Books are one of the most powerful contributions anyone can make, and I think I deserve to at least let myself give it a try. In the meantime, I'll read the incredible contributions others have made to the world of reading. No excuses. Oh, and I'll let you know how the other two books turn out to be. =)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Help a Heart Update #2 & Fun Heart Links

Tomorrow is your last chance to place an order or donate via Help a Heart.
We have raised $802 together!!
While that is incredible and so humbling, I'd love to see if we can make it to $1,000! For anyone new, all revenue in my shop benefits the American Heart Association until tomorrow, October 19! First, I want to share a story from a coworker, Cathy, who explains why all of the funds we raise for the American Heart Association means so much to her. Then giveaways, new products, and other heart-related links. =)

Cathy's Story
Here’s my heart story.

June 6, 2004, changed my life forever.  That’s when I had a stroke.  Yes, a stroke at 48 years old.  It was caused by a birth defect…a hole in my heart…called a Patent Foramen Ovalle (PFO).  That was eight years ago and I still have left hand numbness and weakness and let’s just say the brain will never be the same.  But I am a very lucky stroke victim with minimal side effects.  Because we all know someone that has had a stroke event that did not fare as well.

So I gladly raise funds for the American Heart Association because it does hit close to my heart.

Congratulations to everyone who won a giveaway that has ended! There are still three giveaways currently running (including one new one since my first update). All of them offer extra entries for any purchases made to benefit Help a Heart. Please go visit these lovely ladies and enter the giveaways! And if you've already made a purchase, don't forget to get your extra entries! ;)
Jessa of Caked Vintage
Kate of Scathingly Brilliant
Mandy of Miss Indie

New Products in the SHOP!
I posted new headbands, purse charms, earrings, and lots more rings in the shop! Check them out! I also have hair pin sets and a few more garden rings that will post tonight in the final batch. =) Sorry for the crappy photos... I pulled an all-nighter trying to finish photographing and posting everything and still didn't make it. But I promise everything is really pretty in person! Click here to check out the new items above and so much more!

Heart Links (a mini T&TT post)
Just for fun, I thought I'd share a few pretty heart-related things I've found around the internet! Especially since I'm skipping out on Thoughts & Things Thursday again... so just a few links for you this time around. =)

Check out Katie's amazing and nostalgic finds! Love how she organized them in hearts by color. Man, what a find.
Aubree wrote about these pretty Milk brand bags, including the heart-shaped one below!

And... I'll admit, this isn't exactly heart-themed. But look at those giant hearts the dinos with mustaches are holding! Amazing, right? Definitely getting a set of custom matryoshka dolls from the Ponychops shop someday!! Chantal is one talented lady.

Thank you to everyone who has participated in Help a Heart in some way! If you have anything to spare and want to pick up some cute jewelry for yourself or as a gift (holidays quickly approaching!), please consider purchasing from my shop today or tomorrow! 100% of the purchase price will go toward a great cause!

Thoughts and Things Thursday is a weekly feature where I share links to articles and posts I enjoyed reading, artists I discovered, pictures I came across, and more. These may include things I found funny, heartwarming, sad, ridiculous, interesting, heartbreaking, or just important to share. Some are themed, others miscellaneous. They are things that got my attention and what I thought of them. You can read all of my T&TT posts here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Perfect Red Dress

I have been looking for the perfect red dress forever. Okay, I haven't been actively searching for one... but it was one of those things on my list of "someday I'll find it." Know what I mean? My dreams came to life when my favorite independent clothing designer, Jessica Louise, designed the burlesque coquet dress! Yeah, these were taken a little while ago, before I got my hair redone... roots galore!

Absolutely love the shape and all of the details. Bold red with vintage white strawberry trim. Sweetheart neckline and so many ruffles! I had fun pairing it with lots of skulls and sparkles.

Dress & Earrings - Jessica Louise; Necklace - Hookerfeathers
Ring - Blush Envy; Hair Accessories - Tarina Tarantino; Shoes - Guess

Even better, I just saw that Jessica Louise has a coupon code available right now - use "FALL12" for 15% off everything in her shop until the 22nd! I have a lot of her clothing - she really is the best!
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