If you feel bad, buy stuff and eat pastry.

I've been a little down and melancholy lately. After being sick and taking care of sick Oliver for 2+ weeks, I've been in a totally different routine than usual and have felt isolated at the house. I feel very weird when I'm away from people, and even small interactions at the store or a 2 minute conversation with a stranger helps me feel much much better.

I try to focus on the many positives and blessings in my life (Like people say, if you focus on all the things your thankful for, it's harder to complain about things you don't like. Do people say that? I guess I do now), but I've still been down in the dumps.

I'm finally starting to feel a bit back to normal, and it believe it's thanks to the following:

- Retail therapy. I guess it can help to a degree. I found this 5x7 rug that makes me smile every time I walk into my room. The colors feel warm and cozy, and since it's all wool on a cotton backing, it meant hardly any oder and it was safe to bring into the house. I've been looking for a rug for months, but they are usually $250-$400 if made with natural materials (meaning not polypropylene). At only $99, I'd say this was a steal.

- A mini trip to Orlando. We were there only 24 hours, but we crammed a lot of fun into it, including:

- Vietnamese food. I repeat, GOOD Vietnamese food!

- Special gluten-free cupcakes for Oliver from Rhaphsodic

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I fell in love yesterday.

I've fallen in love with an inanimate object.

It may not whisper sweet nothings in my ear, but it sends out a gentle hum, gives me exactly what I want, and leaves me more time to do other things.

I'm talking about the DYMO 4XL. No idea what that is? Well before I get the side eye from someone wondering what kind of joy I'm talking about that comes from something with DYMO! and XL! in the name - it's a thermal printer.

Gone are the days of hand-typed (or, god forbid, HANDWRITTEN) address labels, secured with three strips of packing tape, plus a wait for who-knows-how-long at the post office to weigh and buy postage for each and every package.

Now with just a few clicks on shipstation.com, this printer copies all the info from an Etsy purchase, makes a little *bzzz*, and spits out a sticky label with ALL of the info and postage I need (even customs forms!). And it's thermal, so it doesn't use ink or toner and the only materials I will ever have to purchase from here on out are the labels (which, by the way, are super cheap over at royalmailers.com).

This will be a much much cheaper and faster way to package all of my shipments. And it come with double bonus points because I won't be waiting in any more post office lines! Just walk in, drop in the bin, and go back home to caress my 4XL.

I swear this isn't an advertisement, I'm just really really happy about my new friend.

My 4XL with his new buddy, the 35lb scale.

Today Is The Day

A few hours sleep and a good cup of coffee. That is what I'm running on this morning. But today is the day I want to start with blogging again. I will try to set aside some time in the morning while I drink my coffee to post at least a little something here.

Oliver has been sick the past few days and, miraculously, until last night had been sleeping 10-12 hours straight. Last night however, he woke up at 3am with some horrible coughing and cries for mamma, so we walked outside and looked at the stars. It's one of his favorite things to do and it calms him instantly. We both love the stars and the moon.

After a snack, some cuddling, and yet more episodes Curious George, he went back to sleep. I was wide awake until about 6am and contemplated just staying awake,  but my better judgement (and heavy eyelids) won the battle and I got a little more rest before he woke up again at 8.

And now the day is here with all of it tasks waiting to be done. I am busy preparing for my exhibitors booth at The Museum Of Science And Industry in Tampa next month. I also have t-shirt and print shipments arriving today that will need to be packaged and dropped of at the post office.

I finally started printing my own postage so I don't have to waste time in lines at the post office. And, to save even more time, I've just purchased a thermal printer and sticky labels that will save on ink, paper, and tape as well. Other good news: I now have a dedicated business PO Box and I'm in the process of becoming an LLC. Busy busy bee, I am.

Add laundry, cleaning the bathroom, and wiping an endless faucet of snot from Olivers nose to the list, and that's my day.

And while I was typing that last sentence, Oliver had a massive dirty diaper that leaked onto my freshly laundered bedding that I just put on yesterday. Oh, and at the same time, the lawn maintenance crew showed up at our yard which causes us to get sick from fumes if we're not careful, so of course TWO of Oliver's styrofoam nerf bullets were stuck in the sliding glass door so that it wouldn't shut tightly, causing the house to flood with gasoline fumes. I just spent 5 minutes trying to dig them out with a steak knife.

And my coffee got cold.

But I'm looking at it all as amusing as opposed to frustrating....as long as nothing else happen before nap time :)

And for your viewing please, here are some pictures of Oliver, pre-sickness.

I bought Oliver a package of little boy (SUPERHERO!) underwear to get ready for potty training. He refused to try them on the normal way and instead wanted to wear them all as a hat.

He likes hats.

A few weeks ago I was busy working while Oliver played around my feet. I realized all of a sudden he had disappeared and then I heard giggling coming from my very crowded walk in closet. I found this smiling face peeping through my clothes.

The following two photos are from our last visit to Orlando at Mark and Dar's house. 
To keep him entertained I made a pile of every single throw pillow I could find in the house.
He spent a good 30 minutes sliding off the chair into our "nest" in a very dramatic and faux death-defying way. 

Picking up a camera again

I have neglected my camera for over a year because I’ve allowed myself to be discouraged with the equipment (or lack thereof) that I own. I have a Canon Rebel XT and three lenses -  75-300mm 4-5.6, 50mm 1.8, and 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 (oh, and all of the lenses no longer auto focus 95% of the time).

But after reading this post by photographer Zack Arias I took 10 minutes to step outside, walk around the house, and take photos simply to take photos. It’s a small start.

The days and nights

Yikes. Already two weeks since my last update.

Well, no huge news, just life.

I have been completely consumed with going through 170+ individual listing in my Etsy shop and rewriting titles and descriptions, along with totally retagging with new keywords, plus making new pictures and shipping profiles. I feel like I'm moving at a snails pace and getting only 5-10 done in one afternoon. Thankfully, I'm already seeing a jump in views/favorites, so it's nice to see all this tedious work paying off.

Recently I've also been overwhelmed with the amount of things I want to learn. I always check out too many books at once from the library, renew them at least three times, finish only one or two of them, and them simply skim the others the day before they're due. (I've been making the habit of reading every night before bed, but I bought a used copy of The Passage by Justin Cronin last week and have been reading that instead so my library books are really being neglected now.)

When it starts getting late and my eyes can't take reading anymore, I go to Netflix to watch an episode of 30 Rock or something light-hearted (because I actually made myself watch two episodes of the Walking Dead and freaked out. I probably won't be able to watch anything non-funny for at least three weeks. Great acting, zombie makeup, etc, but I am a scaredy cat with an active imagination as it is, so I don't need further nightmare-causing stimuli). However, before I get to Netflix,  I usually run across various scientific articles online then end up studying something like old earth creation vs theistic evolution for two hours and find MORE books to check out at the library (though 80% of the time, the little library here doesn't have it, while my old Orange County library is overflowing with copies). By the time I get to Netflix I'm so tired I fall asleep in the first five minutes of the show.

And now that it's after 11pm I should get to reading so this vicious cycle can continue.

The Big Huge Birthday Blog

My grand birthday week officially ended yesterday afternoon when my last houseguest went back home. I tried to thoroughly document my celebrations (in whatever form they took) so I have quite a few photos from the week, but here are the highlights :)

Festivities began Tuesday evening when my friend Shirlee arrived from Meritt Island. I had been wanting to visit the Cinebistro nearby (dinner and a movie) but it's ridiculously pricey (well, for me) so I had to wait for the proper occasion...meaning my birthday. There were very few options as to movies playing, so we settled on Snow White and the Huntsmen (enjoyable, cliche, nothing fantastic).

We had 15 minutes to kill before the doors opened to our movie so we waited at the bar and shared a drink (Yes, shared. We are ladies on a budget). The drink? A Little Fockertini: bailey’s, kahlua, goldschlager and cream. I somehow overlooked the 'goldschlager' part when we ordered. After several sips it was kind of unbearable to drink so I gave the rest to Shirlee. Then, being the ever-so-graceful creature that I am, knocked over the glass and spilled it all over the floor. Ta-da!

We had the ENTIRE upper theater to ourselves and our friendly server joked that Shirlee had planned it all and rented out the theater just for us. Sadly, our private party was busted by the giant crowd of two that showed up to sit in the lower level. 

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Am I an adult yet?

Tomorrow I turn 27 )on the 27th!). Every year I keep waiting to feel like I've finally turned into an adult. Some days I feel more adult than others, but I haven't quite hit the mark yet. It's odd, because up until a year ago, I had started feeling so old. Not necessarily in an "I'm an adult" way, but in a depressing "this is the beginning of the end" way. The past year has been full of great changes, and the most hopeful outlook I've had in a long time. While living with my parents adds to the sense of....childishness? that I still  feel in my life, it has been wonderful to have their help and for Oliver to experience such a loving environment.

Part of this whole "becoming an adult" thing for me is coming to terms with my life. That includes starting to share little bits of what I've been through. Last night I finished a sketch I had started a few weeks ago and left to sit for awhile before picking it back up again. It's much more personal than my usual sketches, and before I posted it on my facebook last night, I nearly chickened out. There's always a sense of guilt that rises up when I start to talk about issues I went through (even just from posting this photo) but there's also a sense of "growing up" whenever I share a little bit more. 
It's in no way a ground breaking artistic piece, but it felt good to make.

As for my birthday plans, I've got things rolling with a little mini celebration with my sister on Saturday night. We went to Prime Bar and had dinner, drinks, serious talks, plus lots of laughing. The biggest plus to living in Tampa right now is getting to spend time with her. I think I've seen her more the past four months than I have in the past 10 years!

(my dinner - Amish Chicken)


Right now my friend Shirlee is driving from Meritt Island to celebrate with me for the next few days. We're kicking things off with a movie and dinner at the Cinebistro tonight, then tomorrow we plan on visiting the Henry B. Plant Museum, an Irish Pub, and later on we'll have dinner at Ella's with Keith and Lance!
These are things that just wouldn't have been possible last year because of my circumstance, so I'm celebrating them all the more. It could be my best birthday yet :)

The cute boy in glasses

This alone will make your day better.

Oliver loved these glasses and didn't want to take them off. I'd buy them if they were at all practical...but they're really not.
But onto other things...
Last week we made super speedy 24 hour trip to Orlando. It felt very hurried compared to our usual 3-day trips, but we maged to do a lot in just a little time. 
First I took Oliver on a cupcake date to Raphsodic (they have dairy-free gluten-free cupcakes safe for him to eat).

 The vanilla cloud is always a hit. Sadly, the rest of their cupcakes are unpredictable. The Espresso Pecan one that I tried was really really dry with hardly any flavor :/

I also met up with Oliver's other grandmother for a quick visit at Target AND dropped by my old work place (Chamberlin's) to say hello and pick up a few things, but out of all the employees, only ONE of them was from my days back in 2006-2008. There are others that still work there, but not on the day I visited.

The next morning we went out for breakfast with my dad. We hadn't seen him in two weeks (he's still working in NC and makes it back every other weekend), so it was great to spend some time together...though instead of First Watch, I accidentally took us to Toojay's which consistently has the worst service.

Oliver was so excited to be out with Poppy that he could barely sit still. 
In fact, he really didn't sit still at all, and at one point started climbing onto the table 
(that's when the lovely high chair with seat belt was brought over)

After breakfast I was able to meet up with Jose, an old friend I hadn't seen in five years! It was very nice to catch up as well as eat at Little Saigon again and get a Vietnamese food fix (we have none in our area).

And hey, look what I ordered for myself  - a shirt made from one of my prints. I figured i's about time I get one myself. It's a little big and will probably just be for sleeping in, but very comfy :)

Black and white projects

I have an ever-growing collection of old postcards and photos. Some of my favorite ones are of city skylines across the US. The other day I remembered I had the perfect frame sitting in my closet just begging to display these old photos of San Francisco, New York, and Miami.

While I haven't been working on any new print designs lately, I've started sketching a little again. My most recent sketch is of intervertebral joints. I nearly quite five minutes after starting because I realized it would take me awhile. but I stuck with it and worked a little bit at a time over three nights until it was done. It's sloppy and disproportionate, but it was still relaxing for me to make.

I'm not much in the mood to write (I feel incredibly boring this evening), but those are two things that made me happy recently. Oh and Oliver's first swim was a big event this week. 

(I love how Kate echo's everything I say in the beginning)

P.S. Kate and I had our special date at Waffle House this week :)

Last Week

A peek at some family fun last week.
My unce and his boys, Sam and Gator, came over to spend the night. 
They pretty much lived in the pool.

My sisters kids came over too, so after our swim we made a "nest" of blankets and watched a movie.
(L to R: Clay, Oliver, Greg, Gator, Addison, Kate, Sam)
They chose WALL-E

Thursday night my Dad came home for the weekend (he's currently working in North Carolina and makes it back here every few weeks). Oliver misses him terribly when he's gone, so he basically stuck with my Dad wherever he went. This is him "helping" Poppy fill up the fountain.

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