Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lemon cupcake Sunday

I haven't been in much of a writing mode this past week, in fact, apart from work related stuff I've been taking a little hiatus from my computer. However, today I've spent the majority of the day in the studio and am playing a little catch up on internet-related things that were put on the back-burner such as blogging, both reading and posting.

Last Sunday I awoke to a blizzard outside, not surprising for Grand Rapids this time of year. My to-do list was (and still is!) currently stressing me out but I've started to realize that sometimes the best way to be productive is to actually take a break once in a while. So luckily my good friend Rachel stopped on over for a morning of good conversation and some baking. We decided on blueberry and raspberry vanilla-lemon cupcakes with a tasty lemon-y cream cheese frosting...perfect choice *original recipe. They were delicious and the day was just what I needed; made complete with a late lunch of Chinese takeout and the SAG Awards.

Pretty polka-dotted liners

Red cupcake tree.

Roommates sneaking a taste.

Have I mentioned before Sundays are my favorite day of the week?

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Last night I couldn't sleep.

Too many thoughts raced through my head, and yet I was too tired to write them all down. It was as if I just wanted a tape recorder inside my brain. I wanted to go back and replay the conversations I was having with myself, I wanted to re-watch my thoughts, analyze them when I was feeling well-rested and more sane.

What got to me honestly was, of all things, an episode of Glee. Now, I had never watched the show until last week when I was sick and wound up watching a mini marathon on tv in the middle of the day. It sparked my interest and I figured why not give it a shot. Both the first and second season are on Netflix so I started watching, mainly an episode here and there before I go to sleep or while I'm working on various projects. Now, like every good family sitcom out there, most episodes end with some sort of moral or life lesson learned (in this case all wrapped up in some sort of catchy musical number). The kids in the show experience it all, teen pregnancy, bullying, sexual orientation, family drama, love, and loss. This episode in particular was all about the concept behind spirituality, a touchy subject for most people.

The reason this story line intrigued me in the way that it did was a lot due to the fact that Kurt's dad had a sudden heart attack. *Spoiler alert: Throughout the entire episode the other kid's reached out to him through prayer and religious song based on their various beliefs. The dilemma was, he didn't want them to. He spoke out in saying that he didn't believe in a God. How could there be a God who would intentionally make him gay and then make others hate him so much for it. How could there be a God that would do this to his father? It makes you wonder, how could there be a God when so many people are suffering in this world? It's interesting because I know that feeling. When my Dad died I got angry. I didn't understand. It wasn't far. Any sort of faith I had inside me was gone. When it came to a higher power, I felt empty and alone.

I see things a little differently now. I'm not sure when my hatred and anger started to fade but I know it's partly due to the people in my life who cared enough to let me know they were thinking of me. They cared about me. They were praying for me. And it didn't matter who or what they were praying to, the fact was they had enough love in their hearts to take time out of their day to send something out there into the universe for me.

As someone who has never been affiliated with any sort of organized religion I can't tell you what's really out there, who made us, why we are here. I have absolutely no idea, it's something I can't even fathom. In truth I'm not sure I would want all the answers to all the questions. But, I do know that over time I learned to believe in something again. I believe that things happen for a reason. I believe that something happens to us after we are gone. Call it what you will but I believe in the power of positive thinking and the fact that sometimes you can sense something before it actually happens.

Last night I lied awake pondering all of this. At 1 o'clock on a Thursday morning I wanted to call up all my friends and family and ask if they believed in God. I wanted to know what they thought. I wanted to hear everyone's different opinions. I sit right now in my favorite coffee shop, in the corner on the opposite side of the door, away from all the other tables. And I watch everyone else. Do they ever ponder what they're doing, why they're here? Is anyone else thinking about this stuff too? I wonder who else has had their faith shaken and if any have gotten it back. We are all human, we all have different views on life, and I for one try to never judge another's views on this or any subject. But they certainly are interesting to hear about, especially so if they are just as interested in hearing (and accepting) yours.

This is a fairly open and honest entry, not one I care if many others read, rather one I use to sort out my thoughts. I hope if I do have any readers that no one is offended by what I have to say. This blog is a way for me to document life's little in-betweens and sleepless thought-filled nights are definitely a part of life. I chalk it up to one day closer to figuring out just who I am, a young person who is forever growing. Alright enough of the hard-hitting stuff. My next post is going to have to consist of rainbows and unicorns to make up for the seriousness of this one!

Why I need my kitten just as much as she needs me.

I'll be honest, I've got a care-taker personality. I like being someone my friends can come to if they need a ride to the hospital or someone to make them soup when they're sick. But other than myself, I've never had to be 100% responsible for the well-being of another living thing.

Until this little one came into my life.

Now I don't want to be one of those people who talks about their pets as if they're human, because they most certainly are not. The funny thing though, is how often I find myself being so incredibly glad she's around. I promise I'm not a crazy cat lady, yet, and I do have a lot of people to share my life with. But coming home and knowing some tiny thing is there waiting for you is one of the best feelings. It wasn't until the other day when I was feeling slightly blue and picked her up for a good squeeze that I realized ho much she needs me. She depends on me to feed her, and pet her, and make sure she hasn't gone and gotten herself stuck on the top case of my bookshelf with no way down. When I adopted Bean my Mom told me she thought it wasn't the most responsible thing I could have done at the moment, considering I didn't have a stable place to live at the time, and was quite broke. Then she followed up by saying she thought maybe it was something I needed. She was right.

My kitten cures my loneliness. She makes me laugh and smile. When she cries if I leave the room I get the overwhelming feeling to rush back to her and pick her up. It was the other day, when I was feeling down, that I realized how much I would miss her if she suddenly wasn't around. Sometimes it makes me wonder which one of us needs the other more.

You're 175 today!

A little Michigan love while making this year's Christmas cookies.

Happy 175th Birthday to my very favorite of the 50 states. When I was little the best thing about my state was the fact it was shaped like my hand. And even though that's still really awesome and all, as I've gotten older I can look back and really appreciate the place I grew up. We don't just have good freshwater lakes, we have great ones. We have four seasons and two peninsulas. We are home to Henry Ford, Madonna, and Betty and Gerald. Growing up I was able to experience summers spent camping, visits to Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, Traverse City for Cherry Festival, and bike rides on Mackinac Island. Having lived in a Detroit suburb until I was 18 I was lucky enough to attend Tiger's games and plays at the Fox Theatre. Now, having moved to Grand Rapids, I get to enjoy the best of the small city life with Lake Michigan just a stones throw away.

I'm not sure I will always stay here, the world is far too big a place for me not to go out and explore a little more. However, Michigan will sure always feel like home.

Wanna represent some Michigan love? Check out this great local company Michigan Awesome. (They're offering a 17.5% discount today too) Smitten with the Mitten is right!

Friday, January 20, 2012

anything but a human..

"if you were anything but human you would be a cupcake"

My studio-mate Kate snapped this Instagram photo of a print of mine hanging in my kitchen during my little New Years Eve soiree. I saw it on Twitter the next day and it made me very happy, she's a sweetheart.

I was looking back through "favorite tweets" last night and seeing this made me yearn to a.) make cupcakes (I've been severely slacking in this area of my life and it's starting to bum me out) and b.) letter something pretty. Now that I'm finally feeling like myself again I plan on doing just that.

Feeling sickly.

Being sick is never fun. And that's what I've been this week: sick.

I really don't like to complain or whine, or lie on the couch all day feeling sorry for myself but I'm not going to lie...that's basically all I've done since last Sunday. The sore throat, sneezing, phlegm everywhere, ugh..not to mention looking completely awful for days. I suppose I should chalk it up to the fact that getting sick is your body telling you to slow the heck down. Unfortunately, after just returning from a little 4 day vacation, now was really not the time to take a week off.

I think one thing that really bothers me is being sick makes me feel vulnerable. Lying in bed unable to sleep or breathe just makes you secretly wish someone will bring you soup, curl up next to you, and make it all go away. Obviously not something you can ask for and summon up out of nowhere. It's a reminder that sometimes you have to let people help you, something I'm not always good with. Sure, I have colleagues I can always seek out for opinions when it comes to my current design project or friends who will always listen to my relationship dilemmas (or lack thereof haha) But asking your roommate to make you tea, or telling your boss that yes you would rather her let you go home than stay and finish your shift can be difficult. It takes you admitting that you're in a weakened state, which I'll be the first to admit isn't always easy. However, I can recognize that admitting that sometimes you feel slightly knocked down is necessary to pick yourself back up again and just like everything else in life, sometimes you need to ask for help. I just feel lucky I have people who will answer the call.

Now just to get better...I don't know how much more couch time or bad television I can continue to watch!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Good to be back.

I love traveling, basically everything about it to be honest (apart from packing). I love the anticipation, getting coffee in the airport, and buying magazines for the plane. Hotel rooms are just somehow more fun than your own bedroom, and ridiculously overpriced room service somehow tastes way better than it should.

However, usually the best part of going out of town is finally getting back home. Obviously there is usually way too much to catch up on...emails, laundry, your cat whose downright pissed you left in the first place therefore has chewed through one of your favorite shirt sleeves. At the same time it's such a great feeling finally relaxing on your own couch.

I got home late Monday night from my trip to Florida and even though I was exhausted, I was able to spend the next few days sorting my life back into order. That next morning I kept finding little things that made me smile and remind me of how nice it was to be back.

My roommate's homemade granola.

My new Michigan Awesome sticker.

Coffee in bed (in my new giant mugs no doubt!)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pre-race jitters.

For a little background info...this weekend was the Walt Disney World Marathon where I participated in my first Half-marathon! I made the decision to run it back in late September after my friend Alaina signed up for the Marathon and I found out one of my best friends Megan was running the half as well. I've basically been working my way up and training since then. I know I haven't mentioned it much on this blog at all, I think honestly for fear that my training wouldn't go as well as planned. However, after all the anticipation race weekend was here before I knew it! I plan on talking about the actual race and trip in a separate post but for now I'd like to share a few thoughts I recorded on the plane ride down to Florida...

"For me this race became more than just a physical obstacle. It was a commitment I made to myself- a goal that, once it was set, I knew had to be accomplished. It was one of those things I was choosing to do for myself, close to 100% personal. Ive always been a fairly clumsy person, certainly not agile by any means, but I've also always enjoyed working out. I like the way it makes me feel after I've finished. If my muscles are sore and burning it reminds me I'm somehow improving myself physically. That being said, I've never been a super healthy eater and I certainly put most (basically anything else really) things ahead of working out on my priority list. I can't say I made a complete lifestyle overhaul training for this race but it definitely changed me for the better. Firstly, I actually gained weight (number-wise) which I was not expecting and to be honest was not very happy about. However, I actually started to feel how much stronger I became and when once I realized that, it made me feel less self conscious about the actual shape of my body. I was never a long-distance runner but I can now run 11 miles without collapsing and for me, that's pretty awesome. But more than anything I learned discipline. I ran on Christmas Eve, I ran hungover, I ran outside as it rained and snowed all around me. Thinking about it now, the actual race feels like the reward for all this work and I'm actually just as excited as I am nervous. I'm just praying come Saturday I will feel like it was all worth it."

And indeed it was.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 in a nutshell.

2011 brought a lot of things. It brought good times and bad times. It brought a lot of endings. However, endings also mean new beginnings.

I geared up for my final semester of college. This meant Senior Show, Capstone, and just a few other classes to finish up. In addition, I helped curate and participate in 4 gallery shows that semester as well as my graphic design internship with the University Promotions Office and position as AIGA GVSU President. looking back I couldn't be more proud of how I handled my work load.

Between Senior Show and Capstone I learned to love installation art. I read more books than I had in years and I realized just how many things I was interested in. I dove headfirst into research and loved every minute of it. It didn't come without hard work though and countless nights were spent without sleep or eating properly. I managed to make it through and even though the final outcome wasn't originally what I intended it was a culmination of everything I had learned that semester and that, I believe, really showed.

Bling! Flash! Art! 2: Senior Thesis Exhibition

The end of the semester brought Graduation. Finally finished with college (on time and everything!) I walked across the stage with some of my best friends at my side. As celebratory as it was this was a rough time for me, Graduation brought uncertainty and fear as to exactly what comes next.

Look out world!

Winter turned into Spring, Spring into Summer. Certain relationships ended and new ones began. I fell in love and I had my heart broken. I met new friends and got closer to old ones. I learned how to fish. I got over the fear to dance in public (sort of haha) I did non-profit design work. I took photos, not nearly as many as I should have. There were concerts, trips to Chicago, and nights spent on friends porches. There were tv show marathons with the awesome boys I lived with all summer. There were trips to my lake house spent with family and long-time friends.

Rachel and I, The Crane Wives cd release show.

I adopted a kitten. As cheesy as this sounds she lights up my day almost always (unless she's chewed through another hair tie or broken her 15th Christmas bulb)

Hello Bean :)

I visited Mike in New York with Jen. It was an awesome trip, hands down. I could go into details but it would take up so much of this entry!

Times Square!

Reunited :)

I moved into what feels like my first adult apartment with my roommate Evan in downtown Grand Rapids. New furniture was purchased and art was hung on the walls. I absolutely adore it and it's crazy how much more at home I feel here every day.

Family portrait.

I went to Phoenix, AZ with a group of incredibly talented young designers, both alumni and current members of AIGA GVSU. We attended Pivot, the National AIGA design conference, as conference associates and had an incredible trip.

I officially introduced myself to Debbie Millman, drank cheap beers at an art show opening with DJ Stout, partner at Pentagram, and cheered on my friend Sarah at Command X Season 3. This trip reaffirmed what I so loved about design. I am a designer by profession and heart, it's always what I will long to do.

Jen and I with Debbie Millman

Speaking of design...I became a collaborator at NotDesign, a little letterpress studio here in GR. Founded by my mentor, and one of my most favorite people, Chris Fox. I am falling even more in love with printing (and learning a lot!) I met new friends and colleagues, all who are great people and designers that I can spend Sundays in the studio with, or cards at the bar, or coffee on the weekends.

T-Shirt Sundays at NotDesign

2011 brought my step-dad home, safe and sound, from Afghanistan (I cried...a lot) It also took three of my very best friends away to the east coast (I cried...a lot) Two amazing people in my life lost parents and I reminisced on the two year anniversary of losing mine. (I cried...alot) Hah, noticing a trend? Tears are good though, they remind us we are alive. That's what 2011 in a nutshell felt like for me. I crossed a few things off my personal bucketlist: I kissed a stranger, I dyed my hair pink, I started training for my first half-marathon. It was a year of endings and beginnings. It was a transition year full of experiences I'll never have again; ones I will cherish.

I rang in the new year drinking champagne at a bar in the city that I live in and love. I did the cupid shuffle in my living room. I hugged people I cared about a little longer than normal. New Years has never been my favorite holiday but the evenings festivities were all I could have asked for and for that I'm grateful.
Welcome 2012, I'm glad you're here :)