Hurricane Survival, What this Designer Learned

Hurricane Matthew, what a nightmare! I lived in Florida forty-three years before relocating to Georgia, never have I ever evacuated. Please know that I am not a rebel who refuses to leave, we just never got to that point where it was a mandatory evacuation. This time, it was no joke and with kids in tow, we weren’t taking any chances.


Wednesday, October 5th – Storm is approaching. People ask the Floridian (me) if she is evacuating. I jokingly say, “Nah, I am a Floridian, we don’t leave for hurricanes.” Seriously though, I was kidding when I said this but truly in my heart I never thought it would get to the point where I actually considered leaving. Some of our neighbors already started to leave in the neighborhood. Electricity is still on.


Morning of Thursday, October 6th – Storm is flipping huge and it’s coming to us, directly in our path and it’s a category 4 storm. Now, I am considering leaving. By noon nerves are completely shot with worry. Thoughts like did we get enough insurance, did we wait too long, why did I say I was working on this day when I can barely think, should we just hunker down or go now? And by the way, the “hunker down” word currently makes me cringe because until you actually have to do it, it has a completely different meaning. Facebook posts are running wild at this point with people posting that they are leaving. A Mandatory evacuation of Zone A in Glynn County comes over the news, we are Zone B. Real worry sets in. No work done. Electricity is still on.


Afternoon of Thursday, October 6th – Our neighborhood is windy and overcast, many have already left. We are preparing to leave. We hadn’t fully committed but we were packing and getting things ready so in our hearts I think we were ready to go. Two kids, two dogs, the cat and two very nervous parents. Around 1:30 p.m. the mandatory evacuation came over the tv, we decided to listen and leave. We took my husband’s car, it’s smaller than mine but I need new tires and didn’t want to make a long trip longer. We only had room for the living things in our home, important papers, hard drives and a couple nights of clothes. The good things, the things you really wanted to take like my grandfather’s 100-year-old toolbox, had to stay. Although I know what matters in life and that this is just a thing, it is still a memory and it was difficult to leave it and many other items as well like photographs, just in case. We evacuated to Florida of all places, my hometown of Inverness. No work done. Electricity is still on.


Morning of Friday, October 7th – Mentally exhausted from the whole ordeal and the trip that took almost six hours instead of the normal three. The hurricane is still moving at a snail’s pace in our minds. Spent the day trying to entertain the kids and checking in with the neighbors who stayed. Went to the movies with the kids, did a little shopping, never acknowledging the fact that there was a tropical storm warning in the town where we were staying, that explained all the wind. Checking Facebook, storm is still moving, would make landfall that evening at our home in Georgia. Those who stayed kept in touch. No work done. Electricity still on.


Afternoon of Friday, October 7th – Lots of news channel watching, we were like deer in headlights as we watched these colors move across the screen. It was moving with the shape of the coast, slowly. Reports coming in of damage it left in it’s path. St. Augustine, one of my favorite places, took a monstrous beating. Our neighbors at home sent video of the wind and our house before it actually came. I worried, I wanted to know if the pines in the backyard would still be standing when we returned. Nightfall came and at 10:35 they lost power, the storm was at full force. No work done. I barely slept.


Morning of Saturday, October 8th – It was gone. We waited patiently for those at home to report and no damage. We were so relieved, we had a home to come back to. There was no flooding, at most we would loose the food in the fridge. A sense of relief came until we started watching the news. Those around us were not as lucky. Shrimp boats sank, trees on roofs, they wouldn’t even let people back into their homes, we were one of the lucky ones. We packed up, anxious to return but State troopers blocked the exits into the county. Again, social media is our friend and with these reports, we sat tight because we didn’t want to pack up the circus only to be turned away. No work done. Electricity still off.


Afternoon of Saturday, October 8th – Still determined to leave to come home. Unpacked and decided to go early morning instead. Better safe than sorry, poor husband is officially sick. No work done. Electricity still off.


Morning of Sunday, October 9th – We are going home. Packed up everyone headed out. Many trees down along the way. Closer to home we see power lines down, homes with trees, very large trees toppled over, some were not so lucky with trees on roofs. After seeing this I am glad we left. We set an example for the kids and they understood why we did go. Our house is fine, our neighbors are fine, their houses are fine, everyone else has started coming home. We shared things like stories and food, we took care of each other, any differences of any kind were put aside. The kids played together outside, the sky was clear and the temperature was in the 70’s. We couldn’t have ordered a more perfect day after all that chaos. I felt connected to living here, I felt like this was my home for the first time since we moved here. I wanted to paint a wall. I know this will sound ridiculous, but I have never moved into a house that didn’t need something. This house was complete when we moved in, we bought it so we wouldn’t have to do anything since we worked so hard on our last house. However, I never felt like I owned it or that it needed me until we returned home. Tragedy, of any kind, whether you actually experience it or were grazed by it affects us all in the oddest ways. For me, this was something that I did not expect. Living here now instead of just being here. I found my place, right here where I had been all along. No work done. Electricity still off.


Evening of Sunday, October 9th –  The sun went down and we had lost light for less than an hour, candles were going and the kids were putting on a show to pass the time when the electricity came back on. For a moment we were pioneers, it was nice. To my surprise they were disappointed, I was too. We lost power for a less than 48 hours, thanks to the awesome folks at Georgia Power.

I lost two days of work, just two. Many businesses couldn’t even open once they finally got back to work until a week later, some had damage and lost two weeks or more. For any small business, one day lost is huge, more than that can be crucial.  This act of mother nature, while it put things into perspective for me, affected so many people up and down ourFlorida and Georgia coast financially. It was a lesson on many levels and I asked myself what I had learned in all of this. The people, the places you worry about while you are gone, take note of those. Support those businesses after they are back up and running. We can’t do everything alone, but we can support each other by going to dinner at a local restaurant, by buying gifts in a local store, hiring professional services locally, it’s the little things that really add up. Have your friends and family come and visit where you live this year for their vacation to help put money back into this area, support the trusted people you know. At the end of the day we are all in this together. We are a community that supports each other. Electricity is back on and I am picking out paint colors.


The Gallery Wall


I have always wanted to do gallery wall, but I never had a great place to display things in our old house. We had a hallway filled with photographs in black frames, but it was hard to see them since the area was dark. When we moved into the new house, I thought “YES”, a second chance! Although excited about it I put it off for a couple of months and then I finally braved it and committed.

It was a time-consuming process, to say the least, but I took the advice of other pinners on Pinterest and made a map of everything. Pinterest can sometimes be your friend and sometimes your worst enemy because when you are up late at night and you start thinking to yourself “I can do that!” Hours later you ask yourself, “Why on earth did I do that?” Either way, it was the right way to go. I used old wrapping paper, the plain white side, to display just because the pattern makes it harder to decide in my opinion. I also used washi tape because it sticks enough to hold but does not peel the paint off the walls. It will also allow you to easily move things over and over again until you get it right. I did make notes on the paper too just to be sure. After a lot of rearranging and walking away, I finally committed and started hanging. Not having the actual wall paint color on hand if I had made mistakes probably was my number one reason for going this route. I wanted to be a little more meticulous about it than normal. I cannot lie, on more than one occasion I may have just not measured where the nail should go by eyeing it. My husband may have noted it once or twice. If you are smart, you can actually use the paper on the wall to be your nail guide as well.  Live and learn friends, live and learn!

At the end of the day, I love it! I think I made the right choice to incorporate antiques, artwork, and photographs to make it more interesting. However, I think it would look great with just family photos as well.If you decide to tackle your own wall, take some time to gather the items you wish to hang. If you don’t have enough, hit up your local thrift store. You can find some great pieces that you can revamp there for a fraction of the cost. Also, find a bit of a color story to stick with. Too many colors competing will make a total mess. I stuck with the wood, the black frames and that pop of green in the “F” to keep a good balance. Take a look at the final gallery wall below, what do you think?

My last and most important piece of advice to you is that when your husband returns home to see your great creation and asks you if you think it’s too much, walk on friends, just keep walking on.



Inspiration, Where Do You Find It?

drawArtists of any kind tend to get antsy. We get to a point where it is time to do something new, something for ourselves, something to refresh the page. I have had this itch for a while, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what is was specifically. I thought at first I was unhappy and maybe I was questioning the job I once loved so much. Could this be? This small business I tried so hard to put together for years has come to fruition and now I am bored? Honestly, could I feel this way? As it turns out, that wasn’t what it is at all. I just needed something for myself. I wanted something to create that I was the boss of completely from start to finish. When I work with clients to create print pieces or logos they are paying for my design capabilities but at the end of the day they still want what they want. That is not a problem for me, I get that. However, I would be lying if I said sometimes I wish they would pick logo number three instead of logo number two.

With my new sense of purpose, it was time to start searching, what do I want to do for me? So many ideas have rolled around my brain, it’s a pretty constant thing. Do I want to look into learning more about designing websites, become a social media “guru”, should I go back in the direction of photography, should I paint? I call this time in my brain “squirrel” because I can not focus. I just keep thumbing through Pinterest in search of ideas and an hour later in my head I am now a pastry chef opening up my own local bakery. It’s exhausting. Not to mention if you would have seen that Thomas the Train cake I made for my son a few years ago, you would probably steer me in another direction. After much thinking, I decided to let it go and focus on specific things I want to do better. The number one thing that came up was drawing on paper. I am so used to using the computer I really wanted to get back to doodling and drawing and not being embarrassed to show my work. So number two was getting over that it was going to take practice, I could only get better if I did it every day. The third thing has probably been the hardest for me and that is sharing my work, will people actually like what I want to do. Instagram is a great place to put your work out there, it was my first baby step. Like dipping your toe in the water to see if it’s the right temperature.

I am not where I want to be with my personal project at this point, it is going to take time. I am however taking classes on the things I am interested in and weeding my way through this journey. One of the things I have found in this process is I need inspiration. Traveling is a great source of inspiration for me but with two children grabbing a backpack and a plane ticket isn’t as effective as it once was. Now I have to try to keep it a little more local and pull inspiration from other places. The internet can be your friend and I have a fantastic collection of artistic folks I would like to share with you! They truly make my day better whether it be through a social media post or seeing their work in a magazine. Enjoy the suggestions and please feel free to share some of your own!

Braid Creative – I love this sister team, not only are they a design firm they specialize in helping creatives. I have taken classes with them and they have really helped me decide the direction I want to go with my work.

Jessica Hische – Have you seen the movie Moonrise Kingdom? Jessica Hische created the font for this film. She is the queen of the drop cap and an extraordinary illustrator.

Clement Photography, Pioneer Goods – I found Clement Photography through a store I follow called Pioneer Goods. Clement works with tintype photography and he is good, really good.

Marie Forleo – Marie Forleo is known for B School which I have never attended, but I drool over it and wonder if I should. Each week she has a new little video for the entrepreneur and they are always chock full of advice for the small business owner.

Deluxe Modern Design –  This lady has a true sense of style and well, it’s just pretty.

Design Love Fest – Beautiful imagery and flowers, always so many flowers. She likes to travel and takes you with her on her journeys.

Yuko Shimizu – An amazing artist I admire. The way she puts ink to paper is awesome. I really enjoy seeing her work in progress on Facebook.

George Takei – I have a secret crush on George Takei! His humor is spot on with mine and his posts put a little laughter in my day, something we all need.

Steve Simpson –  This illustrator, graphic designer has incomparable style and color in his work, just go and check it out.

Geninne’s Art – You know I love birds and so does this artist. I watch her create different types of art with colors you won’t believe.

Seamless Creative – Husband and Wife duo that make graphic and web design look easy.

Genevieve Gorder – This girl has loads of style in all aspects of life. Once graphic designer turned interior design sensation, she’s awesome.

The Novogratz – I love this family. They give something new and exciting to the design world.

Spring Break, I Survived.

This past week my kids were on spring break so I was working from home. It’s been quite some time since I have done this so it takes a little retraining for myself and for them as well. I don’t really have a set structure for my days while they are here because I think the spontaneity of what we do everyday works. The key things for me are time limits on electronic devices and also limits on snacks. I seriously think they would eat me out of house and home in one week if I didn’t keep it in check. Fruit for all, all the time, but when you find a bag of Goldfish laying on the couch empty, we have problems!

So here are a few things I have as “go to” ideas for spring break and in the summer. My goal is to have fun with them and work my normal schedule at the same time! Remember, goals are not always attained so go with the flow.
Art table. We have a huge art table (it’s our old dinner table, painted with black chalkboard paint) on our back porch full of crayons, markers, paint, stencils, Playdough, Kinetic sand, and they even an easel. For my kids, this is their go to spot. Be prepared to watch the paper fly. We call my daughter the paper ninja. The kid can whip up some fantastic little drawings and lose herself in it for hours. Crayons and paper are relatively inexpensive but if you play it smart and watch the sale end caps at Target through the year you can buy new items to stock in the art area for half the price! It’s like Christmas when they go out on their first day of spring break to see the new goodies.
Slip and Slide. You know you remember! The slip and slide experience was my summer as a kid in the 70’s. Yes, we had access to pools but the slip and slide certainly was the most fun and I am proud to say it still is today! I bought my kids one for around $12 and they wanted to play on it every day. You can also just get a very large, long piece of plastic and it works just as well and probably cost a few bucks. Now we just have to battle their Dad about the dead grass we created, sorry Dad!
Games. Mustache Mash was this summer’s favorite at my house because it was easy enough for a five-year-old and a seven-year-old to maneuver themselves. They are also fans of Memory, Mousetrap, Connect Four and Battleship when I can take a break to play. Hide and seek is another one, they could play it for hours! I was also surprised to find that even after the Easter egg hunt was over they still enjoyed playing that game inside with empty eggs..who knew!
Science experiments.  One of my favorite blogs is Tinkerlab. It is the perfect place to find a science experiment or a craft project of any kind for kids. If you haven’t signed up to receive their newsletter and you have kids I highly encourage you to go! We made fake snow for Maggie’s last birthday party (Frozen themed of course) and handed them out as favors. It was a great sensory experience for my kids and the kids who received them loved it too. They have oodles of ideas and many of them just require things from the kitchen.
Baking.  Kids love to bake. They want to learn how to crack an egg and mix the dough so let them. Is it messy? Yes, of course, it is but it’s an easy thing to clean and they learn so much by being involved! Chocolate chips are their favorite because they get a little taste of the chips before the cookies even bake. I also encourage you to try to use applesauce as a substitute for sugar when you can. I am no angel myself but when I can sneak it in, I try.
Books. Read to them, have them read to each other and then talk about the story. Have them draw something they really like in the story. Take them to the library at the end of the day to reward them and get new books for them to borrow. Simple stuff I know, but it works. My daughter cannot read at the moment, but she gets the story and is pretty good at making up her own story but looking at the images. Encourage them to imagine by asking how they would rewrite the story themselves. Kids love to talk and share their ideas. I even talk about songs we listen to in the car and things we see on the road.
Gardening. We are big fans of a garden at my house, we do about two a year. However, if you are not into gardening and do not have a green thumb you can go the easy route and do something simple like a herb garden or tomatoes. Many of them work really well in pots and when the tomatoes grow the kids fight over who gets to pick first. Another fun activity is you-pick farms if you can find one in your area. Supporting your local farmer is great plus your kids can see what goes into growing food.
My favorite things. As stated in the previous listing, kids love to talk, especially about themselves and how they feel. My husband and I created a little thing we do with the kids called “My Favorite Things” and they want to play it all the time. It’s so simple, but you can learn so much about your kids and your spouse with this one. We do it while we are at dinner or even in the car and we
I bet you are thinking right now “Wow Superwoman, how do I do this all in one day?” The answer is I don’t! These are just ideas you can use to take mini-breaks with the kids and to reward them at the end of the day.  They are not all to be done in one sitting but they are all great ideas you can break up into small increments of time where you can thank the kids for letting you work and also to let them know you wish you were playing with them all day instead. Let’s face it, you only get so much time before they don’t want to hang out with us at all and then they go off to college. Take the moments you can and turn them into things both you and the kids can remember. It doesn’t have to be a trip to Disney for them to remember it!

Bless their hearts.

Where I lived for three days, the Garden Manor Inn, lovely.

Where I lived for three days, the Garden Manor Inn, lovely.

As many of you know I have been out of town most of this week for the Circles Conference in Grapevine, Texas. Now the million dollar question…was it worth it? My answer is yes. It was amazing to meet other people in my field and to hear speakers describe scenarios I go through on a daily basis. It was a great “you are so not alone” type of moment for me. The two speakers I was most interested in listening to were Kathleen Shannon and Jessica Hische, frankly these two ladies are the reason I came. I have followed Jessica Hische for a long time. If you have not heard of her you have probably seen her work

It was informative and interesting!

It was informative and interesting!

in a Starbuck’s ad, her drop cap series with Penquin books or her lettering in the movie Moonrise Kingdom. Kathleen and her sister Tara own Braid Creative and they have a kick-ass way of getting creatives in gear. I admire their honestly and their style! Another speaker, Becky Murphy, was a breath of fresh air. She was honest, funny and charming, just like her work. One of my favorite new people I was introduced to is Danielle Evans, her company is Marmalade Bleue. She is a freaking genius, she creates typography out of food, I am not kidding. Last

Fantastic swag!

Fantastic swag!

but not least I was really impressed by Josh Higgins, not only does this man drop f-bombs like nobody’s business but he gets it done. His work on the Obama campaign was inspiring and I see many of his posters designs on my future walls.

All in all this trip was good for me on many levels for my home and work life, we all know they often meet. My take away is this, be yourself, miss people because they need to miss you and don’t be afraid or intimidating that you aren’t good enough, we are all feeling this at some level so put yourself out there. I promise you will be amazed at what you get in return. I got out of Texas without one person saying “Well bless your heart” to me but I sure heard it in passing a lot!

This says it all really.

This says it all really.

I started the kitchen remodel last year…

Let’s face it, my DIY projects tend to take a VERY long time but with two kids, bills to pay, a house to run and not to mention running my own graphic design business, Typebird Creative what do you expect? Decorating and renovating my home is therapy to me, I love it from start to finish but some projects just need a ton of time. I don’t often have that window of two straight days to get it all done. Luckily after 8 years of marriage my husband gets me. I need to paint, I need to decorate, I need to create and maybe change the furniture around once every couple of months. Some call it crazy, I call it enrichment!

So the kitchen remodel started last year when I could no longer tolerate the mauve (pink) laminate countertops, it was like living at Del Boca Vista and if you get this reference we are already friends. This whole process started with using Chalk Paint® to paint the concrete floor (after I removed the white and pink linoleum) and it looked like a million bucks but I used a fuzzy roller with the Annie Sloan Lacquer instead of a foam roller and there were mistakes. I learn everything in life by mistakes. So I promised myself I would redo it within 6 months, no one knew about the mistakes but me anyway. As luck would have it I started the whole kitchen renovation about 8 months later and redoing floor was on my list. The new list also included a countertop solution, a backsplash, painting the walls white, new flooring or painting new floor and of course the laminate cabinets. I went with affordable white walls, white penny tile on countertops, white subway tile backsplash, GraphiteChalk Paint® on the floors with a stencil and Pure White on top of that, and a punch of color on those bottom cabinets to make it fun!

When I painted the bottom cabinets last year I was excited, I had worked so hard on all the other elements when I got to the cabinets I wanted it done. I didn’t even bother taking the doors off and to be frank, I half-assed it. I am not proud but I am being honest. So this weekend was about me redoing it and doing it the right way, which I did. Luckily I made enough of my custom color of blue (mixture of Provence, Florence and Pure White Chalk Paint®) to last a lifetime. After removing the laminate doors I used mineral spirits to remove any wax and sanded each door. I then used Zinsser® Bulls Eye® Shellac so that the paint would have something better to adhere to. Chalk Paint® is an amazing product but it does need something to hold onto. I did two coats on each door and then painted two coats of my Chalk Paint® custom color and then a final coat of Annie Sloan’s Lacquer. It was a process but for me it was the right process because I have small children with sticky fingers. The Lacquer product is perfect and it looks lovely. As I walked around looking at my completed project feeling accomplished and proud my husband returned home from an all day dive and said “Wow, that is blue!” my response was, “Well at least it’s not pink!”

I like to doodle…often.

I like to doodle, I am not Picasso. I get that. You will find it hard to believe that a graphic designer finds it hard to share her artwork, her doodles, herself on an artistic level but sometimes I do. Logos, not problem, ads, no problem…but personal drawings, my little people, it’s scary to me. With this in mind, this year, I am putting myself out there. Forcing myself to get better with a pen and paper in hand. Practice makes perfect and I am going in slowly but enjoying it every step of the way.


What I do when everyone is sleeping…

So pretty much every night around 10:00 p.m. I can count on my whole house being fast asleep, the kids, my husband, the dogs and the cat. So I usually use this time to unwind by watching HGTV House Hunters because I am addicted. However, sometimes (usually when there is too much caffeine involved) I get the energy to create.

I bought this couch quite some time ago and it was love at first sight. This puppy was a diamond in the rough and for $50 I couldn’t refuse. I knew what it could be and I know what you are thinking, a second hand couch? I know, I know. I steam cleaned it but it’s an old couch and it smelled old so I feared she would  be  back on the donation truck (I think my husband was ready to hoist it into the truck himself) until I read this blog from one of the costume designers of Mad Men. The vintage clothes they use have the same problem, that musty smell that really is the smell of time. She said she bought the cheapest bottle of Vodka she could find and put it in a spray bottle (the misting kind) and went to town spraying. So I did the same and it worked, she was right!

923176_577329972306711_1716906140_n-150x150With the “clean” factor over about a year ago I finally got around to painting the dark, scratched wood this weekend with Chalk Paint® and now it looks better than ever. My next step, in time, is to have it reupholstered in a linen type fabric with new foam too. It will cost an arm and a leg and deep down I really want to rip it apart and do it myself because I  love to DIY anything and I feel like this one is a keeper and I want it done right. With much consideration waiting until the kids are in college may be the best idea, ha!