Archive for ‘self-employed’

June 1, 2016

Suddenly, the clouds part and the sun shone down.

That’s what it feels like when something huge happens and your life finally seems to be going your way. Like the universe is tipping it’s hat at you. “Congrats!” It silently says.

I’d like to present the largest and by far, the most challenging graphic design project I have ever worked on. I was tremendously fortunate to be offered the opportunity to work freelance on the design layout of the 125 Anniversary Edition, 68-page journal for University School, a well-established, all-boys private school in Cleveland, Ohio.

The theme of this journal is ‘Makers’, which highlights the innovative teaching style of the school. Being that it is quite hands-on, as well as academic, the articles also showcase the impressive achievements of former students whom have graduated and have gone on to accomplish tremendous things. Among them, James Parks CEO of Fit Bit, who is featured on the cover.

US has a tried and true format that is used for sections such as Class Notes, Valley to Heights, Athletic News and Obits, that the school has been using for years. With featured articles such as Teaching Makers, The Power of Makers, Maker Mentors, as well as the 10-page spread welcoming the new Headmaster, I had a little more creative freedom to add my own design elements, which I loved.

Many heartfelt thanks to those close to me who offered boatloads of support and encouragement, because it totally helped me feel confident enough to pull this off.I am extremely grateful for the experience. It pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of and has forever changed my perception of myself as a design professional.

Check out the link below to see the digital version.

University School Journal Spring 2016

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March 2, 2016

A Labor of Love aka ‘We can’t let shit go.’

Dealing with all the flooding caused by the City demolishing the house behind Hallie (the duplex we bought from the Landbank in Sept of 2013) had worn us out. I stopped posting about it because it seemed rather hopeless honestly. The more days that past, the more the hard work we had completed was getting ruined. The Land Bank stated we had to prove that they caused the damage and so with that and the fiery motivation that drives me, I set off to jump through some hoops.

After estimates, inspections, our insurance refusing to cover the damage (it was part of the process that was required) and SO MUCH PAPERWORK, we finally met with the City Attorney’s office in May of 2015. It was awkward coming face to face with the Head of the Land Bank, the villain of our story. He kind of reminded me of John Ritter from Three’s Company minus the humor , obviously due to the seriousness of the situation. Both Joel and I agreed though, it was hard to dislike the guy.

I had never felt so much like an adult as I did that day, spouting facts with a cool calmness while assuring the City Attorney that the building could still be saved once the water drained. It was exhilarating and completely freaky all rolled into one. In the end, an agreement was reached.

It was about a month before we received the deed to the adjoining parcel of land where the demolished house had backed up to the yard of the duplex. It was another month before a crew could come out dig up the yard and replace the pipes which did ultimately join the two properties. Another month, for all the water to drain out of the basement and for the house to dry out. Another month after that, dealing with all the electrical getting approved. You get the idea, a lot of time had to go by before it could be worked on again.

I cannot emphasize enough how much Joel completely busted his ass on the upstairs unit. I worked on it here and there, but mostly kept Cam from getting into everything. We did have some help for several weeks, when Joel’s friend, Geoff was in town and was looking to make a little extra money during his stay. (Shout out to you, Geoff!! I was glad I wasn’t helping carry out an original, extremely heavy clawfoot tub!) Our neighbor, Tim was also cool and helped Joel carry in the appliances. (Unfortunately, the new fridge didn’t work and I was helping carry the new one out and a replacement back in.) #agony

Without further ado, here’s the completed 2 bedroom, 1 bath upstairs unit of Hallie.

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December 31, 2015

~*happy new year’s eve 2015*~

Joel in headlock with Cam on his shoulders.jpgJoel and Arden looking cozy on couch.jpgI don’t know about you, but for me, this was the fastest moving December in all of time. Like blink of an eye, it was gone! Thanksgiving ended, there was caroling with Arden’s Girl Scout troop (the cold rolled in just in time for that!), making holiday cookies & dough ornaments with Arden, festive Christmas cards, and the whirlwind of shopping. Suddenly, it was already Christmas Eve. Normally, I am super awful at getting the tree up. Most years, it has debuted ON Christmas Eve at like 3:00 a.m. (after we get back from Cleveland and wrapping presents) Seriously. This year, adamant that it show up a bit earlier (and to make amends for getting in trouble at school that day) with much muttering under her breath, Arden herself pulled out the boxes and drug up from the basement. All 3 pieces of our Christmas tree. It was heartwarming, sweet and I was super thankful since my tailbone still killed from falling on it (HARD) roller skating. Erin in front of old door in dining room.jpg

At the start of each new year, I swear I’m going to enjoy every.single.moment. Take it in as I experience it, instead of rushing from one thing to the next.  I’ve gotten better at making time for the important things, like fun and not just working. I suppose having a demanding toddler makes you do that. Sort of. (it also makes you feel crazy!) Winter rolls on for seemingly ever. Spring takes it sweet time arriving, but once it does, it’s glorious!  The school break in Summer goes way too fast, then boom, Fall is here and petal to the metal, one holiday after another and POOF! it’s over. That’s how my life feels.

This year, I tried to be more accepting, less critical. Embracing flaws and easing up on expectations of perfection, for myself and my family. I dare say, they like me a bit better because of it. I’m not quite as stressed and it teaches Arden that some things don’t need to be just so because migraines aren’t worth it. For now, I will strive to do better. To work hard, accomplish dreams and bring more happiness into our home. Wishing everyone the same for your 2016! Our house with Christmas lights.jpg

 

 

 

April 30, 2015

Today, I made a complete spectacle of myself for one hundred dollars.

chuck norris approved

Let me explain.
We’ve been in contract with people to buy Walmar for 2 months.

Today was the day it finally, officially sold.
The entire process has been such an extremely trying debacle.
We pick up back in January, when we started working with our new realtor. She swore she could get it sold. However, after having it on the market a few weeks her optimisim completely faded and she wanted to drop the price. This was hard for us, because now it was under what it was originally purchased for. An offer did eventually come, of course even lower. The realtor insisted we accept. I declined and countered. I also sent over the receipt of a brand-new high-effeiciency furnace/ac installation after the buyer’s realtor stated that it was old and needed replaced.

Well fella, I rememeber that day very well, the day the furnace went out. Arden was only a few months old. I put her in a furry, little, cream snowsuit to keep her warm, quarantined off in a bedroom with a space heater. I froze my butt off, being upstairs working on an order, while the new install was taking place. It was before Joel. Ironically, he could have installed it for a fraction of the price and time. It cost over $5000. I rememeber it well and no, I wasn’t about to get short-changed over it. For those that don’t know, furnaces last a lot longer than 6 years, more like 25.

The realtor did nothing. She offered no support. She acted like it was her first sale, asking us if we had previous comps for sales in the area. (Wouldn’t this have been done first thing?!) It was at this point we realized once again we were on our own. I declined the buyers requests for new windows (for the few we didn’t replace) and for a new hot water heater. There wasn’t anything wrong with the existing one, they just wanted new. We pointed out that this was why the Home Warranty was being provided. Finally an agreement was reached with the buyers. Unfortunately, they were in a lease and either we could pay for them breaking it or continue paying the mortgage and utilities for the next couple months. So we did the latter.

Fast-forward to today. Our realtor was too busy vacationing to bother to show for close. The guy from the Title Agency was going over the price break-down for what was owed. He obviously wasn’t excited to be dealing with us. I’m sure my reputation of difficulty had preceded me. He explained how we had to have taxes pro-rated, escrow refunded and then he reached the Home Warranty. The price was inflated from what the realtor originally quoted. He argued that I had signed the contract and it was binding. When I disputed it, he then managed to find the counter offer, where I had previously requested a lower Home Warranty (because the realtor had tried inflating it before.) In a split second decision, I explained that I would not be signing the rest of the documents until it was corrected. Let me just say: AWKWARD. They told me the sale would fall through and that I could get sued. I said to get the realtor on the phone and get it fixed. After 10 minutes they came back fast-talking how they indeed managed to talk to the realtor and find a lower warrenty and how I would be refunded $100.

It’s not a huge victory, I know, but it’s my money. It didn’t effect their paychecks. (They probably all met for drinks after work to talk about that crazy *itch they had to deal with.) It’s not okay though. I’m taking a stand on being taken advantage of. (How often do they try to pull that with other sellers that don’t notice?) Afterward, as I called each utility to have them shut off, I could see the invisible ropes of my burden getting untied. One by one, they separated from me until an enourmous, unseen weight was lifted from my shoulders.

I may win my group’s weight loss challenge after-all. 🙂

99

February 9, 2015

The Story of My Success.

quote-winston-churchill-success-consists-of-going-from-failure-to-759

I started out in life thinking if I could just turn 18, I would be an ADULT and things would be amazing! I wouldn’t have to follow rules, do chores and listen to parents. I knew better. If I could only get my own place. If I only had a car, I wouldn’t have to ride my bike everywhere, even in the winter. If college applications didn’t go off the parent’s income even though I lived on my own, I wouldn’t have to wait to start when most people were finishing. If I didn’t have to work AND go to school, it would be so much easier to graduate.

Life is supposed to go a certain way, right? The idyllic childhood, the partying, yet scholarly trip through college. Which of course enables you to land a perfect job, IMMEDIATELY, because that is what college is for. To ensure that you, me, people in general, succeed in life. All that money paid out, all that higher learning is supposed to give you an edge. A step up.

From there it gets even better. It’s TRUE! You just have to meet the ONE. The right person you will spend your entire life with. (But do it in your 20’s or it will be too late!)
Once you find THAT person, it will be magical! There will be singing and dancing (at least in my version) and everyone is happy and life is easy. If you really want to achieve ‘The American Dream’ , then you get married AND buy a house! To add a completely blissful cherry on top, have children. Then your life is truly complete. And apparently there are no more goals to reach until you die.

That was how the version in my head went. I’m not sure exactly where I came to have those exact standards or ideals, but it turned out it was all kinda bullshit. I lived my life in sort of earnest, trying to become something. Someone important. Once I made it to California, I would be an actress. Once I had my invitation business, I gave myself 5 years, then I was going to be featured on Oprah. I wanted public acknowledgement that I was good at what I did. If only I had more money for advertising. If only I could get more exposure. If I just had unlimited resources and time…

success-really-looks-like

I’ll say one thing for getting older, it’s like a fantastical discovery. There are no set rules, there is no “I’ve been through so much crap that I should be good and have it easy for the rest of my life’. Believe me, I wish that were true. If you are one of the few whose life has gone exactly according to plan, then kudos to you! For the rest of us, it’s about learning. Joel and I were just half-joking the other day, about how we felt like we were all filled up on Life’s massive learning experiences for awhile. Because you know, they are rather all-consuming and overall just plain exhausting.

For now though, success to me equals getting Arden to school on time, fed breakfast. Her lunch and backpack in hand along with finished homework. It’s helping her navigate all the drama of getting along and interacting with other kids. It’s getting Cam fed solids as he flops around in his Bumbo seat, then to sleep when he’s extremely irritable. It’s working on the orders I do have, while dreaming up new ideas. It’s getting the insurance to finally pay the claim that collectors have been calling on for almost a year. It’s jumping through all the hoops to file with the City for our flooded duplex. It’s getting another room in the new house repaired/organized/painted/cleaned/livable.

The secret of my success is never giving up. Forever and always, persistent, stubborn and determined. It’s appreciating what I do have and respecting how far I’ve come. It’s knowing that I’ll accomplish so much more, as long as I keep trying. It’s being thankful for the support I have from Joel, who’s always amazing. (and that there IS the singing and dancing that I’d always hoped for!) It’s excepting that while my life isn’t a made-up ideal, it is one heck of an adventure that I’m fortunate to be a part of.

July 31, 2014

MISSION: Dresser make-over for nursery

Just because we weren’t working on Hallie, didn’t mean we had idle hands. As a matter of fact, it might be a condition. I’m not sure we really know how to relax. However, this sort of motivation does help us get a lot accomplished. Originally, we planned on buying a different house. A larger house. One that had more room for activities. Because we were having trouble figuring out where we were going to put this baby. The problem was, we weren’t really finding what we were looking for AND we needed to at least get Dresden sold. The upstairs here at Walmar is by far the largest room in our 1100 sq.ft. house. It has served as my work studio for the past almost 11 years. Joel has a desk that doesn’t get utilized very often and the space also provides a play area (much to my detriment) for Arden’s toys. Mostly though, upstairs is my domain with rows of printers, massive shelves of cardstock and envelope boxes stacked to the ceiling.

I like to be organized, but when it comes to my studio somehow that eludes me. Over the years, I have acquired a lot of crap. Cardstock isn’t a recyclable material, so I hold on to the bigger scraps in hopes that one day I will find a use. That also goes for misprints, ribbon remnants and handmade paper left over from orders. It adds up and it takes up space. Space that unfortunately, I had to come to terms with clearing out a bit, otherwise this kid was going to end up living out of a basket in our room.

One of the more enjoyable tasks for getting ready for this baby was redoing a crazy-looking dresser. I have had this thing for over 5 years, sitting in the garage after a neighbor put it out by the curb. It was an eyesore, but rather unique. Even though it was missing drawers, it was well-built and I saw potential.

Cam's dresser before copy

The front is a little unusual, as it curves in. The remaining drawers fit well, but had the odd blocks of wood screwed on the front of them. I was left to assume these were used as the drawer pulls. Joel made the executive decision to keep them on and as you’ll see, it paid off.
So I started with the priming. Then I painted the interiors without drawers pale blue.

Cam's dresser primed copy

In a shocking twist, I refrained from (mostly) pushing my aqua/teal fetish onto this child. His whale bedding we chose does have a hint of it, but I decided to go with a dark grey with pale blue accents for this piece. The weird looking fronts soon appeared to be waves, though were still lacking something to really set them off. Enter these super cool anchor knobs from Anthropologie! anthro anchor knobs copy

At $8 a piece, it caused me to pause. However the more I searched, the more I liked them and really feel like they tie it all together! After much searching, we found great felted storage bins at Lowe’s that fit perfect.

Cam's room dresser after copy

Here it is, all put together. Granted the walls don’t coordinate very well, because it’s a cozy corner of my workspace, but it’s what we are working with for now. 🙂

May 2, 2014

Dresden : Week 9 It’s starting to come together!

As promised, I’m back to posting the final weeks of rehabbing the Dresden House. At the time, it didn’t seem like it was ever going to end. Things weren’t going smoothly. The upstairs bathroom was attempting to be worked on, but the toilet kept leaking. INTO THE GREEN ROOM. WHICH WAS ALREADY FINISHED. It was sort-of disastrous. We had JUST REPAIRED the ceiling, now we had to cut a hole to allow the water to escape. It was less-than-fantastic. It’s at this time Joel began to call his skill set into question. It’s easy to feel like you are going to lose your shit when things keep going wrong. I honestly didn’t doubt him for a minute. It’s much easier for me to doubt myself then him. Joel is awesome, end of story, so I figured there had to be something else wrong. FINALLY, it was discovered that the toilet had a hairline fracture. So no matter how good everything else was put together, it was going to be an issue. Fortunately, we discovered it BEFORE the renters moved in, so that’s sort of an upside, right?

Anyway, crisis solved and onto the next project. Here we have the living room. Here’s some photos of this tragedy to jog your memory.

BEFORE:

Karman trashed Dresden, erehabbed livingroom 3 copy

Karman trashed Dresden, rehabbed livingroom2 copy

Karman trashed Dresden rehabbed  livingroom1 copy

Karman trashed Dresden slate entryway copy

Ever heard the term ‘elbow grease’? Yeah, a whole lot of that went into scrubbing this slate entry. I don’t have a good after pic, but you’ll be able to see it on the final walk-through video I took (that I’ll post in a couple weeks.)

AFTER:
For us, this room was one of the more stand-out transformations. The refinished hardwood really sets it off.

livingroom completed. dresden

livingroom front window dresden copy

Thanks for checking it out! I’ll have another room to view next week. 🙂

March 11, 2014

MIRROR, MIRROR

Mini me Arden pretend driving copy

About a year and a half ago I began to notice a really annoying habit Arden had.
Every time she was frustrated, say putting on shoes when the tongue stuck inside or a jacket with the arm inside out, she would make this really exasperated, loud grunt. If no one responded, it would continue into foot stomping and her shouting that whatever she was having difficulty with was ‘stupid’.

‘Dude, it’s not that hard!’ I would say, as she would flail all about. “Come on, we have to go!” No, of course it didn’t seem difficult for me. I knew how to do all these things easily. As a smaller person though, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by problem solving, especially when you are slow and always being rushed.

I’m not proud to say that it took me several months of this behavior before I finally caught on. Working on a wedding invitation order under a deadline, I stood over my printer fuming. The cardstock would jam, the toner would leak, smearing across the page. Something inevitably always went wrong when I just desperately needed it to work smoothly. I let out a loud overly-exaggerated groan, slammed the printer tray back into position, shouting “Stupid thing!”

THEN IT HIT ME.

The super annoying tendencies that my pint-sized child displayed were because of me. A completely learned reaction from one of the people in her life she looks up to most. I’m giving life lessons on how to handle challenges and stress and I was totally letting her down. This made me reflect on how I could rectify the situation.

In my job, I try to bend over backwards to make others happy. Pleased clients refer others. It’s good for business and my livelihood sort of depends on it. But in my quest to do whatever it took, I sold myself and my work short. The pressure I felt, spilled into my family life. I would be up till all hours tweaking a sample, only for a client to completely change their mind the next day. It was exhausting. I realized adjustments had to be made within how I ran the business in order for me to not get so overwhelmed. I needed to get rid of tension in my neck and the weight of perfection that always loomed over me.

Slowly, progress is being made.
I know this because I don’t get the crippling migraines I used to. I do better at taking things in stride and not so personally. And Arden? Well now, she calmly asks for help with a task she gets stuck on, instead of throwing a fit. While it’s humbling to realize my faults and work toward bettering them, it’s more important for me to make my example a good one.

I saw this video a couple weeks ago that prompted me to want to write this post. WARNING: It is emotionally jarring, but it certainly gets it’s point across. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d4gmdl3zNQ

March 6, 2014

Dresden : Weeks 6 & 7

I think it’s safe to say that everyone who reads this knows that we had to stop working on Hallie a bit to take care of business at Dresden. (So I may as well take it out of the title!) We have been very fortunate to be able to be granted an extension of an additional 3 months to work on Hallie after Dresden is completed. (So collective HUGE sigh of relief there!) We’ve been busy at work at Dresden as we have a potential renter lined up for April 1st move in. (Let’s hope it doesn’t turn in to an April Fool’s joke!)

Without further ado, here’s what new with Dresden over the last couple weeks.

When the weather was nice (you know that one day!)
Joel worked on framing in the outside portion of the newly installed windows. You can see on this side of the house 4 out of the 5 are completed. It is a such an enormous improvement!

Outside side photo show mostly finished windows copy

Another large undertaking for Joel was running 150 ft. of new water pipes in the basement.

Joel working on pipes in basement copy

water tank line pipes copyWasher hot and cold hook up copy

While they look a bit messy with drips, it actually is helpful during inspection, so the inspector is able to verify that the correct adhesives were used in the process.

Here’s a project I worked on. This hallway was pretty disgusting!
BEFORE

Hallway before lightswitch

hallway before floor to kitchen copy

Hallway closet door copy

Hallway before by bathroom copy

AFTER
Lots of scrubbing, painting (even down the basement hall), a new light fixture and new door.
Prepare to be dazzled! (At least we are!)

Hallway lightswitch copy

Hallway bathroom view copy

Hallway closed basement door copy

Stairwell to basement copy

We have a bunch more projects that we have been working diligently on (and are super proud of!) Hopefully we can get them wrapped up to show you all next week!
Thanks for viewing. 🙂 erin

February 7, 2014

Hallie-the-Duplex : Week 17 & 18 : Interrupted – Dresden Week 3 & 4.

Hello again, friends!
All 3 of us have been butt-dragging sick this week. I’m excited to start being able to breath again and Joel is excited I’ve stopped snoring. It hasn’t been so terrible that Arden has been having snow days from school, because she definitely needs the rest.
Last week alone, Joel put in 37 hours of overtime. Needless to say, we are hoping to see an end to this extreme weather we’ve been having. We certainly could use some help getting our mountain of work completed and fingers crossed we get some relief soon.

There’s what we’ve worked on the past couple weeks.

THE GRAY ROOM
We started with a bedroom downstairs. The photos aren’t the greatest because I end up forgetting my good camera and just use my phone. Still the transformation is noticeable. Here’s before photos. Filth, excessive scribbles and chunks missing, all over the walls.

DSC_0045 (1) copy

Grey room dirty 2 before copy

After cleaning up a bit, patching, painted and new blinds:

Grey room repainted copy

Between that and the floor getting ripped out, it’s was nice to finally have a room that doesn’t stink anymore.

NEXT: The UPSTAIRS BEDROOM
It’s quite spacious, which is nice to live in, but means a lot of work too. We worked on texturing the entire upstairs ceiling, not because I don’t like a smooth ceiling, but it hides imperfections. Then lots of patch work. Next Joel’s been working on replacing windows. Shown here painting outside trim. Do not try this maneuver at home, it causes incredible back pain.

Joel hanging out window to paint copy

One of the projects I’ve been working on is repairing the excessively damaged corner beading. Seen here, it’s ripped to shreds hanging out of the wall.

Corner bead demolished before copy

If you aren’t familiar with the process, after drywall goes up to give nice, crisp corners, special strips of paper with metal are put in place with drywall mud. Cover that with several more layers of mud, so it looks something like this when dried. Even though it’s super sloppy, it requires a certain level of precision. Put on too much and it takes forever to dry and causes cracks. Put on too little and you risk the drywall/metal corners being exposed after it all gets sanded down.

Corner bead with layers of mud copy

Here’s the wall after sanding. It’s important to get every blemish as smooth as possible, because what gets missed shows up when painted.

Corner bead after mud is sanded copy

We’ve also been working on painting, but I will save that for next week. Hopefully we’ll have the upstairs completed by then.