Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Eleventh Day of September

It's the ten year anniversary of 9/11. I haven't watched any of the news coverage. I don't exactly want to relive those moments of fear and confusion and sympathy. I'm a very lucky person. I wasn't there. I didn't get hurt. I didn't know anyone that was or did. But I can't help but feel awful when reading or hearing stories about those that lost either their lives or their loved ones that day.

I do recall how things changed. There really was a sense of unity in this country. We had put aside our differences and realized that life is too short to argue over pettiness. How could we be upset over something trite knowing that there were bodies in the rubble at ground zero.

But that perspective eventually changed. People went back to being jerks to each other. We lost our humility and regained our arrogance, and this country is more divided than ever. It honestly feels like our nation is acting like two rival sports squads, battling only because they wear jerseys of differing colors. When did they forget that we're on the same team?

I try not to get too upset over all that. Barring another national tragedy, nothing will change. The only thing I can do is vow to live my own life with compassion, kindness, and tolerance for others. And maybe on the anniversary of this devastating event, a few others will come to that realization and do the same.

Friday, July 01, 2011

HOW Design Live: A Life Changing Experience

I had given up on this blog for the most part, but I really wanted to document my HOW Design Live experience, and this seemed like the best place to do it. I will be upfront and say that this will most likely be the longest blog post I have ever written because I have so much to say and to be honest, I don't want to limit myself for the purpose of entertaining reading.

I had been awaiting this conference for a while now. Things had been starting to feel a bit stagnant for me. I haven't been posting much on Operation NICE. My job has been stressing me out to no end. And I feel as if I have creatively and professionally plateaued. Know what I mean? So I was not only excited to see my friends, meet new people, and party like a wild woman, but I was ready for a creative recharge.

Friday, June 24, 2011
I should have known it was going to be an amazing trip right from the start. I like to bring a little box of chocolates for the flight crew when I travel. They have tough jobs and get more grief than appreciation. So I handed it to a flight attendant on my way in and said, "This is for the crew, just to say thanks." They were really grateful and ended up giving us a free bottle of wine!

Every aspect of the travel was perfect. We got to baggage claim and our bags were on the carousel. We walked up to the train station right as the train arrived. We got to the Hyatt Regency Chicago, and because they love people who tweet about them, we got upgraded to a junior suite. Everything was perfect.

And to make things even better, my BFF Maria was already there, waiting for me in the lobby. I hadn't seen her in almost two years, so it was a wonderful reunion!

(Reunited and it feels so good!)

I headed to the conference area with Maria to pick up my badge and she went off to a session. As I waited in line, I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around to see Nate, a friend I made at the Denver conference last year, who promised me a hug in Chicago. Well, he delivered. As soon as I turned, I got a quick "hi" and then I was launched into the air and spun around at least four times. Seriously, this was a hug so good I had to blog about it. Oh yes, this was going to be a good conference.

Now THAT'S hawt.
(I like to ruin perfectly good photos.)

Later on in the day I met up with Maria, Nate, and some others at a balloon-filled happy hour. I was finally starting to get into the conference groove. HOW speaker superstar, Von Glitschka, had mentioned me and Operation NICE in his session earlier in the day (how lucky, right?!), so I got this a lot: "Hey, are you that nice girl?" Yes, yes I am. "That nice girl" is a pretty great way to be recognized. I handed out some buttons and met some new, super-cool people.

At this point, the Impenetrable Force was united when Amy arrived! Maria, Amy, and I met at the HOW conference in 2005, which also took place in Chicago, so it was a real treat that we could have this reunion. And by the way, they aren't just "conference" friends. Amy and Maria are my family, my true blue bestie best friends. And yes, it sucks that they live out in Arizona, but it really makes moments like this so much more special.

Reunited and it feeeeeeels so goooooood!
(We're much better looking now than we were in 2005.)

Keynote time! The topic was about being available in the moment. Well, we took advantage of the moment and snuck out the back. It was not something that I found useful. What I DID find useful was our trip to Walgreen so I could get some Advil for my splitting headache and some 5 Hour Energy drinks. We got back to the conference as the resource center opened and piled into a chunky stew of designers fighting for free tees and posters.

As the crowds wound down, we parked on a couch and got to know our new friends, like Mike and Ali, sitting next to me and Nate here. Also, I am holding a Blues Brothers rubber duckie, courtesy of my girl Jamie at Neenah Paper. :)

Check out my prize

I love HOW. Can you tell? My heart hurts actually thinking about it because I love my friends so much, and I know I won't see a lot of them for a long time. Depressing, right? I know. Thank god for the interwebs or I would be a lonely, lonely girl.

Photo bomb!

After the resource center, we made our way to the lobby bar. I swear, the lobby bar was the most inspiring area of the entire conference. That's where the good conversations took place. Amy and I spotted a dude with a giant fruity-looking martini, so I walked over to ask him about it. This is where I must make a note. I am NOT a typically social person. In fact, I tend to avoid social situations unless Rob (my crutch) is with me. Would I ever do this back home? Probably not. I sometimes joke that at home I'm Melissa, but at HOW, I'm Mel. Two different personas. And I need to infuse a little Mel confidence into my Melissa life. Okay, back to the drink.

Savannah Peach

This is the photo

One two three GO!

That was the first of three, thanks to Jason and Justin who kept us well-hydrated. Eventually, knowing we had to wake up for 9am sessions, we headed off to bed. One day down, two and a half more to go.

Saturday, June 25, 2011
At past conferences, it was not unusual for me to treat it a bit like college and skip a class here and there to catch up on my sleep. However, this year, I went to every single session because I didn't want to miss out on anything. And I'm so glad. Saturday started with a session by Sam Harrison, who happens to be the author of the HOW article "Putting Lines Around Ideas" that I contributed to a few months ago. He spoke of the importance of being playful and silly. Well, I got that in the bag! He also told us to make mistakes. We must "fail earlier to succeed sooner." Also, question whether parts of my life are inspiring or tiring. This is something I definitely need to do more often. Also, did you know that I am the best Melissa Morris Ivone-style designer in the world? Because I totally am.

Galumphing at Sam Harrison's session
(The session ended with some galumphing.)

The girls convinced me to hit up the session by Method's Matthew Loyd next. I love me some Method products, and it was worth going just to check out how they work. One thing he said resonated with me. He talked about how soap is NOT exciting. But they do amazing work with a product like soap. So of course, that made me think of my own career. Although hospice might be a little trickier than soap.

After a delicious lunch skillet, we went to Brian Miller's Above the Fold: From Print to Web session. I've been doing the Lynda courses in Dreamweaver because I really need to up my web game. This session has some useful nuggets but was pretty basic, even for me. And then it was off to Mig's session. I met Mig in Denver. This guy is so amazing that you totally want to hate him, but you can't help but love him. So smart, talented, and incredibly nice. Which is why we had to heckle him.

Heckling Mig's presentation

Mig's talk was entertaining and inspirational. I keep repeating his one quote, "Inspiration is temporary." Gotta take advantage of it when it arises. He really encourages trying everything and making lots of stuff because you never know where it might lead. If you have an idea, run with it. Why not? And it's okay to create work that sucks. We all do it. Even Mig.

At this point in the day, the girls and I snuck in a quick nap and got ready for the Shutterstock/Big Stock party.

Prom pics! :)
(Well coordinated, as usual.)

Free drinks! What what! And they had a "photobooth" set up. Not quite a booth though. But we stopped by the get a few photos.

One two three SCREAM!

And one with Mig.

Hamming it up with Mig and the girls.

And later on in the evening, a few with Nate.

So fierce.
(Seriously though, how bad ass is this photo??)

A few more drinks, a few more photos, and we were ready to move along to a new spot. I'm going to give you the super fast synopsis of this part of the evening. Beers. Watching people eat chili dogs. A really swervy cab ride. Me not feeling so awesome. Humiliation. Aaaaaaaand back at the lobby bar. As Steve would say, I earned my sleep that night.


Sunday, June 26, 2011
The morning started out sad with Maria leaving. She was there for an earlier conference so she had to get back to her family. Sad face. At least I get to see her in August!

So even after my rough night, I got up and headed to my 9am session with James Victore. Thank god he had the good graces to blow up the place with some fantastically timed F bombs! Woke me right up from my stupor! "F*&K Adobe!" was one phrase I will hold with me forever! Okay, okay, I'll stop relying so much on my tools and start innovating. James Victore thinks, "I've always wanted to see chickens walking on my work," and he makes it happen. Seriously.

Next was a session I was really looking forward to. I was lucky enough to meet Justin Ahrens last year at HOW, although we didn't have much time to connect. Thankfully, through the power of the interwebs, I've been able to keep up with him. He is really passionate about making a difference through design, and unlike a lot of folks, he follows through immensely. Through trips to Africa and working with Life in Abundance, Justin has made a huge impact on the lives of many. He even worked to create a documentary film called This Is My Normal which illustrates what poverty is like for those living in Nairobi, Kenya. Amazing. So Justin was speaking about "seeing and doing different." He posed two thoughts that have stuck with me. First, "Are you living the life you were created to live?" Well crap, I probably am not living to my full potential by taking a gazillion naps. And two, "What in this world drives you crazy? Change it!" That's what I started to do with Operation NICE, but I haven't done enough. Clearly. People believe in me. I just have to believe in myself.

Amy and I had a lunchtime "session" where we discussed how difficult change can be. All of these sessions tell us to follow our dreams and reach for the stars, but that's incredibly scary for a gal lacking high self-esteem and possessing a high mortgage. We ate our chicken nuggets and commiserated.

After lunch came another one of my favorite sessions. Is it possible to have like five favorites? Anyway, Amy and I were going to have a post-lunch nap, but I wanted to check out Chris Chapman, Creativity & Innovation Director at Disney. For some reason I didn't take notes, and there was so much that he covered, so I hope he posts his presentation. Or I may need to get the mp3. I'm blending together his session and his panel which took place on Monday morning. I think this came from the panel. "You're office is not where you work, it's where you execute. Get out of the office." I don't know how well that will go over for me personally, but it's so true. He also had a great comment about what happens when an outsider makes a comment like, "Can you make that bigger and green and maybe have it glow?" I get that kind of stuff a lot. Ask the question, "What is this piece NOT achieving?" and then go from there. The response might allow for a better solution. "Have them tell you what needs to be achieved, not how to do your job. You are the designer." Also, don't let the haters hate. Even Walt Disney had naysayers, but he believed in his ideas. Good thing because I really want to go to Disney World in November!

And my last regular session was from the folks at Design Army. Meh. They are awesome, for sure. But this session wasn't exactly something I could apply to my situation. So I just looked at the pretty pictures.

Aaaaaaaaand, it's night time. Time for the big ole closing reception. Theme this year? Night of Chicago Blues, heavily influenced by the Blues Brothers. So Amy and I put our thinking caps on a month or two ago and started plotting our outfits. Somehow we came up with a Gaga-infused Blues Brothers get up. This was the result.

She's got legs...

I think it's safe to say we were a hit! I felt like a prop because everyone wanted a photo with us! Papa-paparazzi! We strut our stuff like we owned that ballroom. Or PWNED that ballroom. A total HOW highlight came just a few minutes after arriving. My girl Cami walked over with none other than Chris Chapman, Mr. Disney! And he started talking to me about Operation NICE! WTF. Seriously? Fangirl alert! He even told me a nice story that he experienced at the airport. Ohmagah, I was frozen. He is a huge supporter of kindness and positivity and authenticity. Kick ass. KICK ASS! Okay, I'm still being a bit fangirl about it.

The rest of the party involved more photos, more drinks, more dancing. And a big group shot.


After the party it was back to the lobby bar. This is where the real meat 'n potatoes of the conference happened for me. I got some quality one on one time with Nate where I got to pick his brain, ask a bajillion questions, hear his opinions...real conversation. Not that I don't love drinking giant martinis and making jokes about 80's sitcoms! But the entire conference was loud and fast and overwhelming, and I really wanted to sit down and learn something from a friend. Hearing about his experiences and sharing my own was comforting yet also motivating. And I'm so grateful that I got that. I don't think I can thank him enough, but I'll try!

Nate and I were lookin' mighty fly at that #howlive party.

At one point, some other friends joined my and Nate's conversation. Nick, Mig, Amy, Julie, etc. And it turns out, they all have way more faith in me than I have in myself. Hearing them talk about Operation NICE or about how they think I'd make a good speaker or liking my sketches, well, it made me want to bawl my eyes out. It felt so good. I felt supported. I really needed this since I had been having some serious doubts lately. It was a great night. A long night. I don't think I went to sleep until after 4am.

Monday, June 27, 2011
It was back to the ballroom at 9:45 for a creativity panel. Great, fine, dandy. And then the closing keynote with Sally Hogshead. Great, fine, dandy. I actually really enjoyed it, but my brain had been so full at this point that nothing else was getting in. And after the keynote it was time to say goodbye to Amy. Sad face take two!


And as one last event before everyone left me, we had a big group lunch. This was also really awesome for me because Rob and I were able to ask Nick and Nate their opinion about what to do with Operation NICE, and they had fantastic advice. They were positive and encouraging, and now I'm sure I can do anything. :)

My guys

And one more group shot!

Group shot after our final lunch together

Followed by a giant group hug! I'm in the middle there. :)

Group hug!

And well, that's my experience in a nutshell. A really long, drawn out nutshell with a lot of detail. I don't really expect anyone to read through this. I just wanted to document it for my own purposes, so in two months when I start to fall back into my routine, I can read this post and remember that people believe in me...I am awesome...and I need to get off my ass and make them (and myself) proud! It's time to change the world.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dream a Freaky Dream

I don't know what I've been eating before bedtime, but over the last week or so, I have been dreaming the most bizarre dreams. In case I ever want to use these freaky ideas for a future blockbuster screenplay (don't steal my dreams!), I'm documenting them here.

Freaky Dream #1 - This one was as if I was watching my dream like a movie. I actually wasn't involved. A young hispanic boy, maybe ten years old, was spending time with his new step dad. In an effort to bond, the step dad brought the child to a rooftop soccer league where they were signed up to participate together. While the boy is preparing, the step dad spots a pet store across the street. He heads over there and decided to buy two teeny tiny white kittens for the boy.

At this point, I realize that the step dad has a weird metal robotic arm. Long and metal with lights and buttons and doohickies. As he's paying for the kittens, two cops enter the store and accuse the man of using his robotic arm to smash car windows and steal the vehicle contents. He pleads with the cops, explaining that he'd never do such a thing. While the arguments ensue and the cops whip out the handcuffs, the two tiny white kittens wander out of the store and into the busy highway! OH NOES!

The robotic-armed step dad sees the kittens and rushes out into the street to save their lives! The cars don't even realize what's going on, and as a car skids toward the kittens, the step dad uses his robotic arm to block the car and save them from certain death! WOOHOO!

Freaky Dream #2 - I'm hanging out at a convention with Rob. He calls me over to a Starbucks where we see Tom Selleck ordering coffee. Woah! I gawk at him while standing near the creams and sugars. He stumbles my way, and that's when I realize he's drunk. Reaching for sugar right near me, he aggressively shoulders me out of the way. What a jerk. With a new distaste for Tom Selleck, we wander off when I run into Bill Cosby. Not having anything eloquent to say, I point at his face and shout, "BILL COSBY!" He smiles and nods. And that's pretty much it.

Freaky Dream #3 - Okay, so maybe I shouldn't have played Plants vs. Zombies before bed. But I didn't think the slow, goofy, cartoon zombies would have any sort of effect on me. Except for the fact that I had zombie hunting dreams all night. And they weren't cute little zombies like in the video game. These were scary-ass Zombieland zombies, and I was assisting Woody Harrelson with the fight. (Let me mention that I have not seen that movie.)

So I had to spent time that I should have been peacefully sleeping shooting zombies and protecting my brain. And the worst part was that every time they started getting close, I ran out of bullets and couldn't figure out how to reload my gun. Shooting off-screen a la House of the Dead was not an option. I think I survived, but I was exhausted when I woke up.

Freaky Dream #4 - This was last night. I was back in college. I'm not quite sure what course it was, but it was final exam day, and my professor was Eddie Vedder. After the exam, we took a trolley through town. I sat in the front, and Eddie Vedder walked along side of the trolley, giving his final lecture. As he spoke, like a rock star guitar-player would toss his pick into the crowd, Eddie tossed a small, plastic protractor onto the trolley. I caught it. He let us know that to signify the end of the course, we'd be screen printing celebratory t-shirts. V-neck track shirts from American fave.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Veggies on my doorstep

I have so much I've been meaning to blog about. I didn't even write about my experience at New York Fashion Week, mainly because I haven't bothered to upload the photos from my camera!

And I have a bajillion other things going on. Like my yoga class finished. And I survived! I've even gone so far as to do yoga at home. Yep. Seriously. And my book arts class is still going. Check these bad boys out.

Triangle accordion book

Small accordion book

Kraft envelope book

3 signature binding books

I wish I could find more time to make books, but I've been feeling really overwhelmed at home. I don't know why. I haven't actually been overly busy. I think the winter has gotten to me. All I want to do is sleep. I really need to change my habits. I'm starting to get frustrated with how messy I am too. It's like every day there's a new pile to clean up, but I get lazy and leave it. Did my motivation fade with the warm weather last year? I can only hope it'll return with spring!

In my quest to change my life for the better, I decided to order some organic food. And because I love shopping online, that's exactly what I did. I ordered a trial bitty box from Door to Door Organics. This means two things. I have to start eating fruits and veggies. And I have to learn how to prepare them. Ugggggghhhhhh. But hey, it's worth a shot. And maybe I'll even like some of them!

Anyway, I have more things to post, so hopefully I'll get around to it sooner or later. Happy March!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wii Will Rock You!

I finished my second yoga class yesterday. I was proud of myself when I saw how many people dropped the class. And you know what? I didn't hurt half as bad this time. In fact, I feel like I might even stretch a little throughout the week. Rob asked me to accompany him to Dick's today, so I picked up some yoga blocks and a yoga strap while I was there. I'm doin' this!

I've been meaning to share something else with you guys. A few weeks ago, Katie from the ridiculously awesome Broken Umbrellas blog (of which I had submitted my own broken umbrella photo to in the past) sent me an email. She was hosting a "Wii Party" for area bloggers and asked if I'd like to join in on the fun. After getting some details, I realized it's a "marketing" party, put on by the fine people representing Nintendo. We get some goodies in exchange for spreading the word about the products.

Well, they picked the right person because I am a Wii proponent! You might remember my post from when we bought our Wii back in January 2008. This is the only system I've owned since the original NES, and I love it.

So I went to the party last weekend, and it was a great time! Great people, great food, great games. And even though I've had my Wii for two years (exactly yesterday), I learned a few things I never knew. First, for some reason, I never downloaded the internet channel. So all these times Rob and I huddled around my 12" iBook to watch a Youtube video, I could have just put it on our tv. Doh!

The second awesome thing are the game demos that they have in the WiiWare store. At the party, they were playing this game called World of Goo. It was way fun! I'm all about puzzle games. Those and music/dance games are all I really play. I'm just not into RPGs. But World of Goo is just building little bridges of goo balls, based on the laws of physics. Kind of reminds me of The Incredible Machine from my days of yore.

Anyway, World of Goo is available as a demo, so you can try it out before buying it, which is always nice. Because really, I'm not going to want to buy a game that I suck at. It can be a little frustrating, but watching those silly little balls of goo get sucked up a pipe makes it all worth it.

The only bummer of the Wii party was that nearly everyone left with a shiny new Wii. I had thought that everyone attending would receive a shiny new Wii (therefore I had planned to "donate" mine to my mother), but unfortunately there was a little miscommunication, and only the people who didn't previously own Wii's got one. Drat! Sorry Mom! But I can't be greedy. I did get a nice little gift pack with an extra controller and 2000 Wii points which I already used to buy the full version of World of Goo. :)

So it's obvious that if I had to officially "review" the Wii, it'd get two thumbs (and both big toes) way up. And this is coming from a girl who is definitely not a typical gamer-type. But I feel like it's not a typical gaming system. I can tell you that my mother wouldn't know what to do with an XBox or Playstation or whatever fancy stuff they have out there. But set up a Wii bowling match in the living room and she's all about it!

I was thinking about getting a yoga game. I have Wii Fit, which I have barely used lately. Then I go and try to use it tonight and I can't find the disc! Dang it! It's gotta be in my house somewhere. Anyway, maybe I'll try Just Dance, the game that makes me break a sweat and look like a total fool. Gotta love it!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hip Hop Hooray!

First, for those that asked, yoga was awesome and awful at the same time. :) I already knew how inflexible I am, so all the bending was tough. But it was a great, informative 90 minutes. I really loved it! And I left feeling like a bowl of Jell-O. I was loose and warm and stress-free (which was the best part). It was better than my last massage.

Eight hours later and I wasn't exactly feeling the same way. I was HURTING. Bad. My arms and shoulders were very painful. I know that's probably because I stretched those muscles for the first time in my life and they were very angry at me. But I'm starting to feel pain-free again. Right in time for my 2nd class tomorrow! Ha!

In other news, last Saturday we finally had our Hip Hop Holiday party. (We try to have a Christmas party every year, but this year it was cancelled due to a winter storm.) Hip Hop was our theme, which Rob loved. We made a 9 hour-long soundtrack for the event which he's been playing nearly every day since I first made the playlist. My favorite part was dressing up. I love a good theme party, and I take my attire very seriously.

Here are some pictures from the event. The Oriental Trading Company backdrop really made the photos. :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Class Act

It's a new year and a new Melissa. 2010 is going to be about improving myself, and I'm starting right away. A few weeks ago I signed up for a Book Arts class at the Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia. It starts next Thursday. I've been eyeing up this class for years now. YEARS! So I finally bit the bullet and registered. It's been so long since I crafted out of pure joy, and I think this will help me feel more creative.

And then earlier this week, I did something crazy. Something atypical. Something that makes the people who actually know me gasp in shock. I signed up for yoga. It's true. A new yoga studio opened last week down the street from me, and it just looked so cute. And I figured I could use some peace in my life, so why not. Sure, I can't touch my toes. In fact, I can barely reach my ankles. And yeah, I get winded climbing a flight of stairs. But it's the year of the new Melissa! Plus it was a good opportunity to buy a cute yoga mat, bag, and outfit. :) I got this mat shown here in purple. I signed up for a five class beginner's series. It starts tomorrow at 11:30, and I'm super nervous. I'm optimistically hoping that I love it, and it becomes a new hobby of mine. I'll let you know if I feel the same way on Sunday.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

2010? WTF?

Where did 2010 come from?? I swore it was mid-2009 the last time I checked. But look, here we are, starting a brand new year. Dang it. I didn't even get on Oprah like I had resolved.

Well, this year started off kind of insane for me. It was like a good film, filled with lies, betrayal, drama. I'm hoping that since 2010 went in like a lion, it'll go out like a lamb.

I have a bajillion goals/resolutions this year. Typical stuff like eat healthier (it wouldn't take much), be a better wife, get my crap organized, end world hunger. But I need to really spend some time working on my creativity. Okay okay, so the 160 Pages project didn't turn out so great. I gave up after 43 pages. That's barely 25%. Well, this year, I need to get back into it. But I'll put less pressure on myself, hopefully drawing here and there when I have some extra time. I might even forego a nap occasionally. (Side note: Is it bad that I want to spend all my free time napping? Rob seems to think it isn't, but I worry.)

Anyway, even though I wanted to go to sleep, I knocked out a sketch the other night, and oh man am I rusty! I felt like I had to learn how to hold a pen again! Well, I'll keep chugging along. And maybe I'll even eventually fill a sketchbook one of these days.

Back to the drawing board

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I spy...

...myself in this video. You can see a photo of me as well as "real-life" me (and Rob) in this video. This is from the look book launch party where I "modeled" for my stylist.

Kind of bizarre to see yourself projected onto a big ole screen.

Monday, December 07, 2009

More Best of 2009

It's hard enough keeping up with one blog. So this one doesn't get my love. But since I'm determined to answer all of Gwen's Best of 2009 prompts, I have to keep chugging along.

December 4: Best Book
Secrets of Simplicity - I didn't actually finish the entire book/workbook, but the chapters I read were thought-provoking. It makes me realize how complicated I make my own life. I should probably pick it up again!

December 5: Best Night Out
I have two. The first was my quintessential girls' night out. I don't get too many of those, usually only when I visit Arizona, which is when this one took place. We got dolled up, had our makeup done, and went dancing. I wish these girls' nights could be monthly instead of annually, but I'll take what I can get.

And when I was in Austin, I went out on a gay pub crawl, where I joined a group on a tour of the city's best gay night spots. I was dressed like this, and had an absolute blast! I ended up giving parts of my outfit to random gay men all night! The last one, who took my suspenders, was especially appreciative!


December 6: Best Workshop or Conference
I only went to one this year, and that was the HOW Design Conference in Austin, where the above photo was taken. Thanks to a kind group of designers that took me in as one of their own, I had a fantastic time! It was a great mix of education, inspiration, and recreation!

December 7: Best Blog Find of the Year
I also have two answers for this one. When I started sketching again back in the summer, I came across the blogs of these two artists, and they amaze me. I'm always excited when I see a new post by either one of them in my Google Reader.
Three Letter Word for Art
Pete Scully

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Best Article of 2009

December 3: Best Article

I admit I'm not a big reader, so this was a tough category for me. Luckily I've documented a few of my favorite articles on Operation NICE. This particular article had me weeping instantly.

And my first runner up, out of complete vanity, is the The New York Times article that discusses Operation NICE. That was pretty dang awesome.

Operation NICE in the NY Times!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Best of 2009 Blog Challenge!!!

I haven't been blogging much lately, so when I found Gwen Bell's blog challenge via Twitter, I knew it would be a great opportunity!

Here are the deets.

I missed yesterday, so I'm going to answer both BESTS today.

December 1: Best Trip
I had a lot of great trips this year, actually. My weekend trip to NYC. My recent trip to Arizona. My trip to the HOW Conference in Austin. But I'd have to say my favorite of the year was my vacation in San Francisco. After years of "long weekends," I felt like this trip west was a REAL vacation. We did so much and saw so much. It was a wonderful (and exhausting) experience!

Created with flickr slideshow.

December 2: Best Restaurant Moment
This was hard. Of course I've had great meals with great friends over the last 11 months. So picking one that was especially memorable was tough. My mind went to a little spot in Brooklyn where Rob and I had his birthday lunch. Now, we ended up enjoying a fabulously fancy sushi dinner at Megu in Tribeca that night, but this casual little restaurant was by far one of my favorite places of the year.

Dumont Restaurant

It's the Dumont Restaurant, and I found it via Design*Sponge, I think. I researched a ton of places and settled on this one for its outdoor garden. We had never spent time wandering around Brooklyn, so I mapped out our course, hopped the subway over there, and brought Rob right to the Dumont. After a morning full of travel, it was the perfect spot to relax with a great meal.

Dumont Restaurant

The weather was perfect, the food was delicious. I would relive that lunch daily if I could.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Thanksgiving Karaoke!

I know that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is always a good night to go out. No work the next day, just pigging out. And I've been wanting to try out Yakitori Boy, a karaoke bar in Philadelphia. Since private rooms are half price Sunday through Thursday, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to give it a shot.

I had a blast! Karaoke is always at the top of my "most fun" list, and my cohorts just made it that much more hilarious! I made a little video montage of our experience.

And here's the full version of myself performing Superfreak, by Rick James. One of my better karaoke performances. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Potato wave! For real this time!

I gotta give them credit. Pearl Jam was actually really good. I had low expectations. I mean, I only knew their radio songs. And depending on my mood, sometimes I'd leave it on and sometimes I'd change the station. But I actually had a great time at the show last night!

Eddie Vedder seems like a cool dude. Like he actually cares about his fans. And speaking of the fans, they are certainly dedicated. Singing along to every song. Taking breaks only to inhale from their pipes. I only had an incident with one drunk girl who, I guess, wanted to give me a free lap dance. Luckily the seats behind me were empty so I was able to escape.

Because the first World Series game was also last night, they had a chick in a showgirl outfit carry around a sign with the score between some songs. The entire place erupted in cheers each time because, thankfully, the Phillies were up the whole night.

I can safely say I wasn't bored once. There's just something about an entire stadium singing along (even if I can't participate) that makes me happy. You don't get that kind of stuff at the tiny shows I usually attend. So that was a nice treat. They played the final song with the house lights on. I had to take a little bit of iPhone video. Potato wave, everybody. Potato wave.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Grown-up Furniture

After years of living without a dresser or night stands, and basically sleeping in a room with only a mattress on a box spring, Rob and I finally bought ourselves some grown-up furniture. It all matches! Incredible.

When we went furniture shopping yesterday, we didn't think there was any way we'd make the decision to buy, but thanks to a little haggling, we got a great price on this set from Raymour & Flanigan and couldn't pass it up. It comes on Saturday, which means I have four days to paint the bedroom! I put it off for a year, but now that the furniture is on its way, I have no choice. I have to get it done.

Monday, October 05, 2009

I'm black and blue!

So I went to get my hair done on Saturday! Between all of the processes and treatments necessary for my hair and the cut and trying on outfits for the photo shoot, I was there for over six hours. It was a LONG day. But I left with an amazing cut, and as promised, blue streaks! For free, no less!

When I'm not out in sunlight, the blue pretty much blends into the black. My boss came in to chat this morning and didn't even notice that my hair was blue until I mentioned it. So I suppose that's good. I do kind of feel like a comic book character, sporting my Wiggy McBob look. It's so shiny and feels really healthy compared to how my hair was.

Now I can cross "blue hair" off of my "things I've always wanted to try" list!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Clothes Galore!

So I mentioned briefly how my stylist asked me to pose for her salon's look book. The big "shoot" is on October 19th, but I go for my cut and color tomorrow. And she wanted to do a "dress rehearsal" of sorts. So this week I had to go through my closet and pull some outfits that might work for the shoot.

This was much harder than I thought it would be! But it was also kind of fun. I have to be fairly conservative at work. Can't wear jeans, except on Fridays. And even then, we have to wear "work appropriate" tops, meaning no tees or tanks. And I once got reprimanded for wearing the little green number below. Makes me yearn for the luxury of wearing whatever the heck I feel like wearing!

Just a note. These were taken after two very long, very anxiety-filled days at work, which might explain the bags under my eyes. :) Also, I have no idea how to pose, so I'm going to need to study up with some episodes of America's Next Top Model before the 19th!

More Outfits

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Socks Have Been Rocked

Saw Phoenix at the Electric Factory last night. Tickets were a birthday present from Rob. To be honest, my expectations were low. I mean, I like their latest album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. But I hadn't given it much of a listen, and I didn't know anything about them, other than the fact that they are French.

We got to the Factory and scoped out a spot. Since Rob hates people, we tend to end up away from the crowds, but I prefer to be right in the middle of it all. It's a better experience. Plus I can dance without looking foolish. So we started out near the bar, in a big ole space. But Rob scoped out a spot on the end of the front railing. So we held our position and enjoyed a great view of the show.

Phoenix @ the Electric Factory, 9/28/09(crummy iPhone photo)

Those boys rocked the eff out! I danced. I clapped. I stared with wide eyes. And I left with a greater appreciation for this band. Best recent show I've attended, by far.

(crummy iPhone video)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Keeping Busy

You know how I love a packed schedule. Who needs relaxation?? There's too much to see any do! And yeah, maybe I have ten pairs of shoes sitting in our foyer because I can't find time to clean up, but who cares? We had this past weekend open on our calendar, so we decided to spend it in NYC. I swear, every time I leave, I dream about how amazing it would be to live there. It just feels like home. Well, at least I can visit when I want.

The last few weeks at work have been a bit insane due to a big conference this week. But I made all my deadlines, which is what matters, I suppose. Tonight we have dinner at 10 Arts. Tomorrow night is a Sufjan Stevens show at Johnny Brenda's. Wednesday night we're going to see Marjane-Satrapi, the author of Persepolis, speak at the library. I think Thursday is going to be a perfect candidate for a sick day.

The following week I'm seeing Phoenix on Monday and Ra Ra Riot on Friday. Then we also have tickets to see Built to Spill, Pearl Jam, Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter, and the Monsters of Folk throughout the next few months, along with some authors and other random events.

Plus, I get to pretend to be a model, which will be super fun! My hair stylist asked if I would model for her salon's look book! I get a free cut and color, which is so neat. And at the launch party there will be blow ups of the model pictures! How hilarious is that?

I haven't gone through all my San Francisco photos yet, but here's a few, if you're interested.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Monday, August 31, 2009

San Francisco Recap - Take 1

This was the most exhausting trip I've ever taken. I filled out itineraries to the brim and we even had to weed out a few things because there just wasn't time. Or because I was too exhausted by the end of each day. I have a million photos that I'll share as the days go by. We're still weeding them out. But here's a quick recap of how our trip went down.

Day #1 - Flew to San Francisco; went to a food festival and didn’t eat anything; ate at a taqueria in the Mission; watched Rob get shoved by a crazy homeless guy in Starbucks; walked Union Square and Chinatown

Day #2 - Walked the Mission; ate crepes; had drinks with internet friends; bought a pair of TOMS; shopped; took photos; visited a street fair; had really good sushi

Day #3 - Walked around Chinatown; struggled to get up some steep hills; visited City Lights Bookstore; saw the street from the opening credits of Monk; took photos; went to Coit Tower; walked to Fisherman’s Wharf; ate lunch at Pier 39; saw the sea lions; visited Lombard Street; did the nighttime tour of freezing cold Alcatraz

Day #4 - Went to SFMOMA and the Cartoon Art Museum while Rob wandered the city; rode inside a crowded trolley; had ice cream at Ghirardelli Square; watched the Giants beat the Diamondbacks; tried to figure out public transportation

Day #5 - Went to Golden Gate Park; walked through the Conservatory of Flowers; saw the Japanese Tea Garden, but only from the outside; saw the De Young Museum and the Academy of Sciences, but only from the outside; had lunch in the Haight; shopped; took photos; visited Alamo Square; went to Japantown and had terrible sushi

Day #6 - Walked to the bike rental place because the trolley line was too long; biked with wobbly legs across the Golden Gate Bridge while being tormented by Rob about my lack of fitness; had lunch in Sausalito; took the ferry back while Rob biked back; Rob beat the ferry; ate more ice cream at Ghirardelli Square; waited 40 minutes in line just so we could ride on the outside of the trolley, and it was so worth it; passed the eff out from exhaustion

Day #7 - Had breakfast at a diner; watched a homeless guy get thrown out of the diner; flew home on a very shaky plane

Overall summary: San Francisco is a beautiful city with loads to do. There are tons of crazy homeless people, way more than I anticipated. And they are far more energetic and brazen than the homeless in Philadelphia. The hills are killer, especially for a weakling like myself. And it was COLD. Like three layers of long sleeves and a scarf kind of cold. We'll hopefully go back in a few years to do all of the things that didn't make the cut this time.