Sunday, August 24, 2014

Weekly Mail

Another (fairly) slow mail week! I received 3 letters and sent out 5 letters & 1 postcard!

I brought a bunch of markers and letter writing supplies to work so I've been doing a lot more doodling on envelopes! It is a great way to pass the time.

I also updated my shop with some new stationery designs! Go check them out!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Keeping Schedule

I've never been much of a spontaneous person. The older I get the more I realize how important it is for me to keep a schedule and have a routine. Ever since I started selling on Etsy I've realized how crucial it is for me to keep to my schedule. I never expected the be as busy as I have been with my shop. I'm incredibly grateful to be busy but it is hard to stay on top of things while juggling a full time job.

I implemented a Google schedule through Google calendar to help me keep everything on track. It's so nice to be able to see what I'm doing each week and what needs to be done. To help me remember everything that needs to be done, I also brought in a fabulous website call To Do List. That website was brought to my attention by an awesome blogger, Zie. I tend to be very forgetful and do the majority of my work online so the to do list is super handy for me. I also love checking things off of it!

Last week, I ended up working a lot of overtime at my job and that completely messed up my routine. I was so tired! I didn't want to do anything when I got home (especially coming home after gym days, agh!). I had blog posts to write, designs to collage, and cleaning to do; nothing was accomplished that week. Finding the time and energy to shower was difficult!

I'm hoping to get back on track this week, and make sure I stay on track! I do like to enjoy my life so I'm not incredibly strict about sticking to my Google calendar but it is nice for reminders to blog and do creative things. I recently picked up some rad vintage books and I can't wait to start on new stationery designs. I'm planning on retiring all of the designs you see in my Etsy shop in the next few months. Get them while you can! All of those designs will be unavailable come 2015.

How do you keep track of your life?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Bicycle Rides

I've been riding my bike everywhere lately. I feel like I'm doing the opposite of what most people do regarding transportation. In Las Vegas, you really have to drive everywhere as the city is so spread out, public transportation sucks and it's just too hot to do anything else. I got a car and license at 15 years old and I've had a car ever since. I've always hated driving and dreamed of living somewhere with ace public transit or somewhere small enough for walking around.

Then I moved to Portland and the first order of business was selling my car. Not only was it awesome to cut down my debt by a significant amount, I was ecstatic to be free of car insurance, gas prices and parallel parking. I started walking or using public transportation and I finally graduated to riding a bike! I have always been pretty nervous about bike riding. As you may have guessed, I didn't spend much time riding a bike in Vegas. People driving in Vegas do not care about pedestrians or bicyclists (they barely care about other drivers!).

I try to ride my bike to work every day, which is a short 1 mile ride each way. Riding to work is the best because it is mostly downhill. I still struggle a bit with my lungs riding uphill but it's getting better each day. Nathan and I also do a funsie ride over the weekend. I don't really like riding in traffic but thankfully most drivers are pretty nice. Gotta love Portland! Especially the bicycle path by the river.

My favorite thing about riding is really just getting out of the house. I do love walking but it is so time consuming! Portland is a really small city and basically ideal for bike riding. I get to explore places that I normally wouldn't go because walking would take too long and riding the bus would be a hassle. I don't really like riding the bus if I have to take more than 2 buses! Buses require a little bit more planning so I really appreciate the spontaneity of riding a bike. Nathan & I were riding over a bridge last weekend when I looked to my right and saw a bunch of graffiti. I immediately knew we had to stop and take a look!

So, I went from driving to walking to riding a bike. I feel like most people go from walking to riding a bike to driving. What transportation path did you take? I wonder if I'll eventually get fed up and buy another car. I don't see that happening unless it is a purple, 1966 Mustang convertible (my dream car).

Monday, August 4, 2014

How Happiness Won Me A Trip To Hawaii

Do you guys remember when I posted about the Happiness Journal that I received when I started my new job? Well that same journal won me a trip to Hawaii! Shortly after finishing the journal, there was an company raffle for everyone who completed a journal. Ten raffles tickets were given out for every journal that was completed. The prizes were a trip to Hawaii or tickets to an upcoming Justin Timberlake concert.

I finished my journal barely in time to participate in the raffle. Even then, I wasn't sure if I could participate as I was just a new employee. After being encouraged by my lovely coworkers to participate, I tossed all of my raffle tickets into the Hawaii prize bucket and anxiously awaited the results. I remember talking to my boyfriend about how cool it would be to win but I never thought I would! I'm probably the unluckiest person when it comes to contests. But I won.

I remember coming back from lunch to find the email announcement with the winners. My coworker and I were reading it at the same time and I hear her say "It's the ticket right after mine!" I open my drawer, pull out my tickets and there it was, the winning ticket! I triple-checked the numbers to make sure I wasn't dreaming. After making sure I was awake, and the winner, I sent off the email to claim my prize.

As I was a new employee, I was told I had to wait until I had been working with the company 90 days before I could take the vacation. So, I waited. And waited. And waited a little bit more, thinking and dreaming of my Hawaii vacation. I didn't want to even start planning just in case something horrible happened and I was let go before my 90 days were up. Somehow I was patient enough (and didn't get fired); just last week was my "anniversary" and now I can officially begin planning!

To be honest, I have no idea where to begin. What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? It should be noted that I am absolutely terrified of the ocean/things in the ocean (mostly sharks). Nathan is pushing for us to go snorkeling and in a shark cage. I'm trying my best to be brave and I'm sure I will just do it but every time I think about it I'm basically frozen with fear. It's silly. That's what I get for being raised in the desert!

The most exciting thing about this trip is that it will be the first vacation that Nathan & I take together! Although we have moved across the country (twice), we have never officially taken a vacation.

If you have Hawaii suggestions, leave a comment!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Weekly Mail

This has been a pretty slow mail week for me. I just received 2 things in my mailbox. Both were pretty unexpected though! Ciara Kay sent me a fun postcard to let me know of a silly dream she had with me in it. My aunt sent me a little note with an old photo and a charm she found that says "Tara".

I didn't send out any mail this week! I was going to send out 2 letters yesterday but I totally forgot. That happens a lot. Well, I did send out an Etsy order yesterday. Does that count? I almost didn't get to send this out because apparently Post Offices in Oregon do not like to be open on Saturday.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Rhode Island

The other day I got a random roll of film developed. I had no idea what was on the roll of film. Although I love the surprise, it does make me sad that I don't take analog photos anymore. I pretty much stopped getting film developed when I lived in Vegas because the only affordable, quick place I could do so was Walgreens. They only started printing on glossy paper (matte all the way!) and that really turned me off. But now I live in Portland! Where I could rent a darkroom if I so pleased. There is a pretty amazing photo store a short bike ride away from my apartment and I should start taking advantage of it! I vow to carry my film camera around with me everywhere this month.

This roll of film was from when I lived in Rhode Island! These pictures are just over a year old. I can't believe we've already been in Portland for a year. I don't miss Rhode Island at all. To be honest, in hindsight, it was a pretty awful time. I didn't have time or money to enjoy anything until about 3 months before we left. The last few months before we left, we lived in a beautiful apartment, in a even more beautiful building and that was great. Looking back at these pictures, I wish I would've spent more time outside. The path in the photos was right across the river next to our building. I mostly stayed inside because it was winter. Actual winter. Not Las Vegas winter. And I'm a baby who wears a hoodie in 80 degree weather.

 The only thing I miss about Rhode Island is this building. Literally the best and most beautiful place I have ever lived.

 We lived on the Cumberland side. Pinkies up!

I will never get tired of taking pictures of trees. Never ever.

If you want to read more about my time in Rhode Island... I made a zine about it!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Monthly Mail

I've been trying my hardest to stay on top of my mail these days! It's so easy to get behind and become discouraged. I write most of my letters these days on my breaks at work as I have no opportunity to be distracted by other things I could (potentially) be doing. Since starting my business, I don't have much free time when I'm at home or on my weekends! I have about a week-ish turn around time right now for letters, and that might be a first for me! 

My biggest struggle recently has been affording postage! I wasn't able to send out a few international letters last month because I didn't have enough postage to do so. I was able to order some stamps this month. We'll see how long they last!

I think the biggest thing that has helped me with timely responses is having envelopes ready. I have a ton of envelopes that I digitally collaged that weren't great enough to list on Etsy and some that were of my old (bad) template. The fact that I don't have to take an hour or so collaging each individual envelope saves me a bunch of time!

I like to think that I will be caught up on all of my mail by the end of the week! Wish me luck.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday Funday

The end of the weekend! I'm loving working a normal, Monday-Friday, schedule. That consistency in my life makes all the difference! Did everyone have a good weekend?

Today I'm enjoying the new music video for The Faint. They are probably my favorite band to see live. I especially love the term "dance punks" because it is 100% accurate. Their music makes you want to dance and jump around! My all-time favorite song is Fulcrum and Lever. So good.

Portland weather is giving us a break today. Being from the desert, I kind of laugh in the face of everyone complaining about 90 degree weather but it does suck when you don't have an AC! Looks like we might get some rain today. At least the sun isn't out! Nathan & I tried to go to the Mississippi Street Fair yesterday but we quickly realized/remembered how much we hate walking around in the heat.

My only other plan for today is to hang out of OfficeMax printing new stationery designs! I've got some pretty cute writing paper, some stationery sets and envelopes to print out. My mom also became my best customer on Etsy so I have to print out a few things for her order!

And Netflix, I'm always watching Netflix! Here are the movies I watched over the weekend.
Out of the Furnace, I Do, Black Rock, My Cat from Hell (omg this show), The River Why, The Missing, Homefront.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Product Photos

One of my favorite things is taking product photos. I love staging the items! Stationery photos can be kind of dull and hard to spice up but I think I have a good process now. It's always improving though! It seriously can take me all day to take all the photos I want but it is so worth it to have a nice, uniform Etsy shop.

I went from having a shop page that looked like this:

To this:

What does it take?

Take pictures on a sunny day, in a well-lit area. The first photos I took were done at night, with a very terrible lamp as my only light source. I did my best to lighten them up in Photoshop but, as you can see, that didn't work very well! With these first photos, I was impatient and just want to get my shop up and running. I work during the day so the only opportunity I have to take great photos is on my days off. It's limiting but worth the wait.

Be consistent. It makes things easier! All of my product photos are staged with postage stamps that fit the product's color scheme. I know exactly what photos I'll be taking and in what order. It also makes editing much easier as you don't have to sort through a billion photos looking for the right one!

Decide on your background. It's popular opinion on Etsy that all product photos should be on a white background but there are certain things that just look great on other backgrounds, or in other situations. I wanted to keep my stationery on a white background as I wanted them to be able to stand out. I use a 12x12 piece of white piece of paper as my background. No fancy light boxes here!

Staging. I think it's pretty fun to add some extra elements to your photos but it certainly isn't necessary. Some things look natural and others don't so you just have to experiment. My first photos featured the same postage for every envelope. I realized that I like to pick out stamps that match the stationery. Plus it's fun to dig through my stamp collection! An important thing to remember with staging is that the focal point of your image should be your product! You should reconsider the photo if the first thing you look at in the photo is whatever you used to spice it up.

Editing. I'm not big on photo manipulation at all but there is a time and a place for it. With my photos, I always crop them (because, duh) and lighten up the shadows a bit. Below you can see my before and after product photos.

Do you have any tips or tricks for product photos?

Monday, July 7, 2014


Thursday night I hopped on a plane and arrived in Vegas after a couple of hours. It was nice to arrive at night, even though it was still about 100 degrees. (yuck)

Being in Las Vegas is always very uneventful for me because I am just there to visit family, maybe some friends if I have the time. I've never been interested in hanging out on The Strip as I absolutely hate being in crowded areas and maneuvering around tourists that don't understand the concept of walking is honestly the worst.

Being around my family is The Best though. And having a pup in my life for a few days makes me a happy lady. My mom's dog is such a snuggle monster. He is adorable and a little dumb. He is the type of dog that will plop his head on you and wait for pets.

Our flight was delayed coming back to Portland and we got home around midnight last night. Unfortunately I had to be up at 6:30 this morning so I am tired today!

PS: My business cards were waiting for me in my mailbox when we got back! I'm so excited to start handing them out!