Category Archives: San Francisco

Crafts and DIY in Small Spaces.

Crafts and DIY in Small SpacesCreating things has always relaxed me. Unfortunately, gone are the days when I can hop in the car and head to Hob Lob (as I refer to it) or Michael’s. It has just not been feasible in the last two cities I have inhabited–San Francisco and now Chicago. Adding to my consternation, both of my apartments in each of theses cities were and are studio apartments. Space is at a premium. In SF, I did a lot of spray painting on the fire escape (completely safe! haha) but in Chicago, with its winters, outdoor space (especially now) is hard to find. If I were to spray paint indoors, not only would I suffocate myself but the entire floor. So I needed to learn the art of crafts and DIY in small spaces.

There’s also the issue I have where I think that even the most mundane or small thing might maybe, someday, be used to make something. I found myself with way too many of these things that may be used someday to make something. Is anyone else like this? Please say yes.craftsmall5

Furthermore, I am also the “saver” type. As in: oh, I don’t want to use the good glitter on this project because what if I need it for another project that I haven’t even thought up yet? These two issues, if not combatted, could get me on the show Hoarders if I am not careful. So what’s my solution? Here are a couple of things I am just recently learning.

1. I bought a cart at Ikea and I told myself that everything had to fit in the cart or I had to purge. So (gulp) I purged.smallcraft4
2. I am also now enforcing a new rule that when a new craft item comes in (like a new set of paints) another one needs to be used up (or thrown out but I always go with the used up choice) and without the remorse and what if I need this specific leopard ribbon for a project two years from now that I can’t even think of but oh my goodness what if.
3. I actually use my supplies instead of worrying over if I will need them for another hypothetical project down the road.smallcrafts1
4. Because I can’t have unlimited supplies of things, I have to prioritize as well. For instance, I’d love to have a wrapping station with ribbons and paper for all occasions but it isn’t feasible. So instead this Christmas I bought brown paper (packages tied up in string…) and kept it simple. I just used that same wrapping paper and some other supplies to create my own wrapping paper for a friend (I’ll show you the tutorial once she receives the gift).

I don’t have room for a sewing machine (sad), let alone a craft room. If you are unfamiliar with studio apartments, I technically don’t even have a bedroom (although my Chicago place is not your momma’s typical studio). My place in Chicago is smaller than SF (but a WHOLE lot nicer) and the space is more useable. Still, the old adage holds true for any smaller dwelling: everything has to have its place. I love the Ikea cart because the shelves are deep (honestly the photos don’t do it justice; you have no idea how much stuff I have crammed into those shelves) and I can fit so much in it. I can also move it if the need arises and even though it’s open and people can see all my crafting supplies, keeping it neat isn’t that hard. And besides, the people who come into my place already know (usually) that I am a creative nut who sees something at a store and says: I could make that. smallcrafts2

Do you have a hobby that comes with a lot of stuff? How do you stay organized? How do you keep your hobby from getting out of control? And for all the crafters out there, how do you do it? Also, if you have a craft room, consider me jealous. I would probably take that before a bedroom (ha!).

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5 Things Sales Taught Me.

5 things sales taught meI lived in SF for two wonderful years and during that time, I started and excelled in a career I never expected–tech sales. I never pictured myself working with sales, talking with business owners and trying to convince them to buy several thousand dollars worth of software. But I found I was naturally kind of good at it. And I naturally kind of liked it. Meanwhile, in those two years, I received so much training and nurturing in the field. You know how people always talk about how sales can be forayed into any career? They are right. More than that, sales changed some of the relationships in my life too. I like to think it still informs parts of my life. Here’s what I learned, a little behind the scenes for you: 5 things sales taught me.

1. People hate to be sold to. People want to connect. People want to be heard.

Who can tell when they someone is trying to sell them something? And everyone or nearly everyone raises their hand. It’s not fun and it feels icky. It felt icky for me on the other side of things as well. I was fortunate in that I believed in my product and because of my family had a passion for helping small businesses. I truly believed this product could do that. And so I listened to the woes of the small business owner in New York or Philly or wherever. I listened and asked questions. I was successful because of that but I didn’t do those things to be successful, if that makes sense.

2. Someone ALWAYS controls the conversation. No matter what.

I know. You may think I am crazy. But pay attention to some of the conversations you have been involved with lately. Or consider a relationship that is difficult and remember a conversation from there. There is always someone who controls the conversation. And you know who that person is? The one asking the questions.

Now this does not mean that you need to control every conversation. I mean, in sales, yes, you want to control the conversation. But in your daily life and how that translates it just helps to be aware of this. It has specifically helped me in relationships that are harder to navigate. Instead of feeling frustrated and like I am not being heard, I recognize that this person needs the control (long story) and most of the time, I let this person have it because it is not worth it. Other times, I can navigate to make sure that I am the one asking the questions.

3. Anyone can talk to anyone. The human condition is exactly that.

That’s the thing with sales. Imagine having to pick up the phone and talk to 100 strangers a day. Imagine having to ask them to set aside an hour of their very busy time to listen to, what is, in effect, your presentation. Awkward? Yes. It is. The first several days. And then it isn’t anymore. Then it’s just what you do. And suddenly, fear of talking to anyone falls away because you are talking to mean people and nice people and everyone in between. In fact, perhaps you are sworn at and hung up on and suddenly you have the gall to call them back and somehow still get their business. That feels good. It feels so good.

4. Value over Function. Always.

Well, my I post on this blog 5x a week. I have xyz followers. Here you will read about abc. But what does that MEAN FOR THE READER? Why would someone come back here every day and read? That’s value. Those first things are functions. This is such a great metaphor except I am not going to try to sell you on my blog and go into the value. Ha.

Let’s talk about a mini van. There are seven seats. That’s a function. What’s the value? Your whole family can ride together in one vehicle, saving money on gas, and spending time together. No one’s space is compromised and there is plenty of room left for everything else your family needs for your activities. Etc. Etc. Does that make sense? Can you see why one tactic is so much more powerful than the other? It’s very similar and yet different to the mantra of every writing teacher: show, don’t tell.

5. You can always get a better deal.

No salesperson wants me to tell you this but it’s true. After working behind the scenes, I can definitely tell you that there is always a deal available to tell you. It’s just a matter of you doing the work and having to talk through and spending the time to get that deal.

Also, depending on the company and which quarter system they are on, you are more likely to get a deal towards the end of the month. The sales person wants to hit their monthly and quarterly goal.

Is anyone here in sales? Any other lessons? There are so many so I chose five but I’d love to hear from you. And are there any questions?
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Choose Your Own Adventure.

I no longer live in San Francisco and this baby is from the archives but you never read it, it’s so old. I’m so glad I read it because that is what I needed. Now in Chicago, in the middle of winter, I still feel that thrill and wonder and the click-clack of all the gears working together, when I just know I’m where I am supposed to be. But there are other days too. Those days are hard and long. But I go to bed and sleep. When I wake up, it is a new day.

It’s worth it to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, to choose adventure every single day, even when it’s hard.

***

Do you know that feeling, when everything seems to be going right, all the chips are falling into place, and you use every cliché in a sentence? No, but really. Today at work, everything went smoothly. It’s a super busy time for us so the energy is electric. I don’t have time to really think and so I go on auto pilot, only it’s auto pilot on speed. I have to crank it out. I have to. I cannot fail. In the middle of it all, I ran to a doctor’s appointment that normally would never be scheduled during this time of the year but I’d been on the waiting list forever. I walked through the gorgeous city and enjoyed the San Francisco September Summer, cutting through Union Square. I felt home. This place is mine now. It is a part of me.

But not every day is like that.

Some days are so hard it’s like trudging through mud. San Francisco does not feel like home all the time. It feels like a place very far from my friends and family. I haven’t explored the way I want to explore. Cab to real grocery store. Cab back home. Then cook? Right. Most nights, I go to bed before my friends and family (including my three year old sister) who live in the central time zone. On my birthday this year, a homeless man spat on me. He wasn’t aiming for me but nonetheless. SONY DSC

And I know I am twenty five, but sometimes I want my mom. She came to visit me for a week and did life with me. She finally admitted, “Your life is exhausting.” I can’t just take a drive to Walmart when I am out of things. Everything is an adventure–and that word does not have a good connotation in this sentence. When she saw how I have to do laundry, I think she had a conniption. One such laundry example (there were many: from how hard it is to get quarters, to creepy basement, to the expense):

Mom: Well, we’re at Target. You need laundry detergent.

Me: But we’re walking home.

Mom: But you need laundry detergent. And it’s more expensive at that corner store.

Me: Do you want to carry that with us? (along with a poster sized frame and other assorted goods) (You win some, you lose some, Mom.)

(Oh, P.S. in an effort to be more green, San Francisco has a LAW where one must pay 10 cents per bag at any store. When I go to other cities and they ask, “Would you like a bag with that?” I get so excited because it is free! free! free! “Why yes, I would LOVE a bag with that.”)

Do not get me wrong.

I have some great friends–here, there, and everywhere. These are girls who know me, deep down to the heart of me. If we fight, there is no question if we will make up. We make up. We’ve become family. I’ve made a few friends like that here, don’t get me wrong. Friends like that don’t come cheap and they don’t come easy. Friends like that are born through the fire of hardship and difficulty. You see one another at your worst and at your best. I do have friends like that here and they are one of the reasons San Francisco still feels like a place I need to be.

Sometimes I feel as if I am scattered, made of pixels, not even really whole. Who am I? Who do I want to be? I hear (supposedly) your twenties is the time to ponder such things but sometimes it is good to have people to remind you of the answers.

Sometimes the story of the San Francisco Adventure is much better than the reality of it. But then there are those days, when everything flows together, and I am walking across Union Square and I am not a tourist; I am not here on a visit. This is where I live. This is where I work. This where I do life. And really the adventure has been incredible, not just the made for tv movie version of it.SONY DSCA grown man said to me, when I first moved here, “Sometimes I wake up and walk out my front door and I thank God that I live in San Francisco.” He was completely serious and he isn’t one to invoke God in a sentence unless the words damn and it follow. But that’s how people are here; once you live here, you cannot imagine living anywhere else because it really is that great. I loved it when I came, but at first, I didn’t get that concept of the superlative. It’s great but so is Chicago, so is Rome. But then. But then. It really is that great.SONY DSCOne day, I was walking down Filmore and I realized. I love it here. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in that moment. (Let’s just not talk about my rent, okay?)

The San Francisco Forty Niners and their fans are known for this phrase:Who’s got it better than us?” To someone who has never lived in San Francisco, it can come off as extremely pompous. Actually, it does come off that way. But people mean it genuinely. They throw their arms around you with drinks in their hand and look at the skyline. “Man,” they might say dreamily, “Who’s got it better than us?” In a weird way, it’s an actual acknowledgement that living here is a blessing.

I would be a liar if I said that I don’t think that on some days–who does have it better? This city does something to you, I am not kidding. I am not the same; yet I am not wholly different. And so, maybe it is like falling in love. Once you fall, there is no going back to the person you were before, whether it works out or not. And you can’t stop those questions either: will this be a forever love? will we just be friends, seeing each other once a year? how will this story end? So yes, I do think on a day like today: who’s got it better than us?

But there is one problem. When this picture was taken:IMG_1798I thought the exact same thing. Who’s got it better than us, Ava, right now snuggled up together in this bed? Nobody.

Adventures are complicated. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

***

But not so complicated. If I had to choose, even if it means feeling the constant push and pull, I will continue to choose to leap. Because adventures are complicated. But they are beautiful too. My San Francisco Adventure taught me that.

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To the tune of: Where have all the cowboys gone?

You guys. I remember the days when I would call my friend up and I would say, “Hey, wanna go to Borders/Barnes Noble/Any other bookstore?” And we would seriously spend hours there. And if you think that sounds lame, well then. I just don’t know what to tell you except that when I am in the underground parts of the El, all I can think of is Frank Underwood and Zoe Barnes and if you don’t know who that non sequitur is referring to then I really don’t know what to tell you. IMG_6224City Lights Booksellers is an SF landmark. It’s even in an SF coloring book I own. While we are on the topic of SF and I am typing SF, I want to teach you something important. You know when people go to Europe and they refuse to learn even the most basic of the home country language because they think everyone in the world should speak English? Well, there is an SF equivalent.

Do not call San Francisco: San Fran.

Do not call San Francisco: Frisco.

Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

I am just trying to help you out because anyone from/near the area, anyone who has ever lived there, literally cringes (including me) when people say: I love San Fran. Or worse caption their photos like this: Rode a trolley. #sanfran #frisco.

This is a public service announcement. Just like NO ONE who lives in California actually calls it Cali.

But hey, the more you know, right?IMG_6234This book store is a microcosm of what SF used to be–the weirdos (in a good way), anti the man and so on and so fourth. Writers flocked here and so of course in this city landmark there are signs like this and also entire sections of books like this:IMG_6232And this too:IMG_6231This is what SF used to be like before the tech boom (which I mean, can I regret? It is what brought me to that amazing city in the first place). And now there is this tug of war happening in SF. Because of what the tech boom has brought and continues to bring and the whole Keep Portland (SF) Weird vibe San Francisco has always rocked. I mean the city did not have a target until two years ago, okay? Whole neighborhoods go up in arms over yuppie chain stores and sometimes the neighborhoods win. I root for the neighborhoods even if I like the brand because…I love SF.IMG_6239And yes, I did buy a second copy of East of Eden (my favorite book) while at this store, the day before I moved away from California for good. But really let’s get back to the title of this post because if this post has been anything, it has been completely focused. Right? Wrong. Where have all the cowboys gone…is a good song. And I don’t even know why. And I don’t know where all the cowboys have gone.

Where have all the bookstores gone? I too enjoy my kindle app on my iPhone and yes they are a little less expensive, oh that instant gratification, ya gotta love that, right? But nothing will ever replace the weight of a book in my hand, the smell on the pages. Or just going to a book store and browsing, reading the backs and inside flaps of books until I had chosen some.

Also, books don’t give you that blue screen poor sleeping habits issues. Just sayin’.

If you read this, I hope you laughed because I did writing it. Also I hope these words are banned from your mouth and keyboards: San Fran, Frisco, and Cali. Trust me.

🙂
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Goodnight, San Francisco.

In  my last days living in San Francisco, as I walked and rode through it, I could hear a voice in my head saying goodbye to a million special places (I’m not nuts, promise.) It sounded an awful lot like the book Goodnight, Moon which makes so much sense. You read it to a child before she sleeps; she is able to say goodnight to the moon and the rest of her tiny world; she says goodnight but not goodbye. That’s how my farewell to SF felt: goodnight, but not goodbye. Also that may or may not be a song.

So..to the tune of Goodnight, Moon:IMG_6254Goodnight, Union Square.SONY DSCGoodnight, painted hearts & the Christmas tree amidst palm trees in the wintertime. Goodnight, ice skating rink and random art shows.IMG_6252Goodnight, vibrating trolley lines beneath my feet.SONY DSCGoodnight, trolleys; they aren’t just novelties…they’re charm never wore off.SONY DSCGoodnight, lovely architecture–SONY DSCGoodnight, fun colored buildings.SONY DSCGoodnight, farmers market. Goodnight ferry building. Goodnight, Blue Bottle Coffee. Goodnight, law that says I must pay 10 cents for every disposable bag.SONY DSCGoodnight, Bay Bridge–my secret favorite, especially alit at night. Goodnight drizzly days perfect for sleeping or shopping for freshly baked bread.IMG_6213Goodnight, 846 Bush Street. Goodnight, rent control. Goodnight, ridiculous rent prices. Goodnight, to the scariest elevator and the mailbox that never shut. Goodnight, useless buzzer which never worked.SONY DSCGoodnight, Golden Gate Bridge. I will never forget going over you for the first time or any time after that.IMG_0944Goodnight, walks that could lead to the craziest of views. Goodnight little voice asking: is this my real life?IMG_0733Goodnight, Lombard Street. Goodnight hills. Goodnight to the thrill in my belly as the car flew down them.
SONY DSCGoodnight, outrageous, breathtaking views.SONY DSCGoodnight, skyline. Your broke my heart a million times.SONY DSCGoodnight, new & amazing photographs every time I turned around. I cannot count the ways.IMG_6202Goodnight, corner grocery store. Goodnight, the wisdom and counsel given to me here. (Nina? Are you happy?)IMG_6258Goodnight, apartment–both empty and full. Goodnight crumbling grout. Goodnight favorite ceiling. IMG_6264Goodnight, french doors to the fire escape. You made me feel much fancier than I was.IMG_6209Goodnight, home of two years. Goodnight to the place I laughed and cried and did it all over again. 
SONY DSCGoodnight, San Francisco. You are my greatest adventure, because you taught me how to wear flowers in my hair. I wouldn’t know an adventure if it hit me in the face without you. Goodnight to the place that taught me to say: to the next adventure! Goodnight, City by the Bay. 

Goodnight but not Goodbye,
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