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Monthly Archives: August 2011

We’re here! Bagdad Theater for the Wildwood release (put on by Powell’s)

Last night was such at treat.  I posted yesterday about the release of Wildwood, the new book written and illustrated by the collaborative efforts of Colin Meloy of the Decemberist and his wife, illustrator Carson Ellis.  The event was hosted by Powell’s books and I think turned out to be a HUGE success (must have been–the tickets were sold out!).  I was interested to see what kind of crowd the event drew. Like I said yesterday, the book is technically a “children’s novel”, however it definitely has an adult sophistication to it.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of children-teenagers who were at the debut.  I definitely didn’t have the chance to do anything like that growing up.  I will take a momentary pause to say that it was not my parents’ fault.  How wants to debut a highly anticipated novel in Texarkana, TX. I’ll tell you.  No one.

Got my copy! Got my seat! Ready to hear Carson & Colin speak! (100% did not realize that rhymed until I was proofing this post)

The one thing I was disappointed about was they did not do personalized signings.  All of our books were signed already when we arrived and were handed out as we walked into the theater.  I was a tad bummed, but I completely understand why they did it.  The Bagdad Theater holds 590 people (yup, had to google that) and we would have been there all night if each guest had 1-2 books signed and personalized.  I was thrilled, however, to see that they both signed each book.  Not sure why I assumed that only Colin would sign them but both of their signatures are there on the front page!  Personalized or un-personalized, this marks my FIRST signed first edition book.  That the book is a children’s novel, set in Portland, and I attended the premiere makes it all the better.

Colin Meloy of the Decemberists reading from Wildwood.  Map of Portland, as interpreted from the book, in the background.
Carson Ellis talking about her process of illustrating the novel. AMAZING to hear her speak about it!

In case you’ve never been, the best part of a book premiere, hands down, is hearing about the book from the author(s) themselves.  This experience was unique in that we heard from both the author and illustrator.  They talked about their inspiration, process, struggles, future plans, etc. etc.  For some reason, hearing a reading from the author makes me enjoy a novel SO much better.  I think it derives from hearing the enunciation and tone the author’s voice gives the passages.  You hear how the characters’ voices sound in the author’s head, the ups and downs of their voice while reading–it makes the experience for me.

There would be no way for me to go through everything they talked about last night, but I have jotted down a few of the things I found most interesting to share.

  • The illustrations in the book were created with pen, well ink, and gauche.
  • Wildwood is the first edition of a three-part (potentially more) series.  Colin is already about 40 pages in to the next installment and they hope to have it on shelves in about a year.
  • There is a brief mention of a badger carrying a rick-shaw in the novel.  Colin said it really didn’t fit but he put it in the book just because he knew that Carson would love to draw it.  Turns out, the publisher pushed to remove the illustration but they fought to keep it.
  • The process of developing the coyote soldiers was very interesting.  They started, in her first sketch, looking more dog-like, on all fours, wearing armor.  They went through a few different sketches before they decided to take a Wind in the Willows approach to animalanthropomorphism and make the coyotes a little less realistic and a little more imaginative. Thus, the coyote soldiers depicted standing on two legs wearing Napoleonic regalia.
SALLYN after the event! SO READY TO GO HOME AND READ! Ha!
Signed first edition of Wildwood!

I fell asleep while reading last night but I am already hooked on this book and encourage everyone to go out and grab a copy!!  The last thing I’ll mention, because I’ve had a few comments posted regarding this, is yes, the language in this book is challenging.  That said, Colin addressed it so well last night when asked about it.  There is no reason a middle school aged child couldn’t read and digest this novel and understand its content.  There is also no reason why we shouldn’t be challenging young readers to have a better understanding of vocabulary.  SO, in answer to the questions, I don’t see any reason why a young teenager couldn’t read this.  I admit I even had to look up one word last night on the ‘ole Webster’s app on my phone.  It’s simultaneous learning and reading enjoyment! (and isn’t that the best kind of learning anyway?!  The kind disguised as something fun!?)

Wildwood Chronicles by Colin Meloy & Carson Ellis

Stemming from my post yesterday, I have begun doing a lot of research on children’s literature. Not going to lie, this is the perfect excuse for me.  Though I am an avid reader, I enjoy children’s literature almost as much as adult literature, so I’m happy to have an excuse to browse the children’s sections of Powell’s (aka book mecca) for longer than most adults should!

Tonight I’m attending an event I am particularly excited about!  Colin Meloy, the lead singer of The Decemberists, and his wife, illustrator Carson Ellis, have combined forces to produce one of the most anticipated children’s stories the PacNW has ever seen.  Wildwood is half fairy tale, half coming of age novel set in Portland, OR.  They have taken Portland’s landscape and created a fairy tale world where the real Forest Park is called I.W. (Impassible Wilderness) where no one goes in, and no one comes out. Here’s a little clip from Powell’s website on the upcoming novel:

Created by Colin Meloy, lead singer of the Decemberists, and illustrator Carson EllisWildwood (Balzer & Bray) is the first book in an epic middle-grade fantasy series. Set in Portland, this spellbinding tale features a secret world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with dark intentions. What begins as a rescue mission becomes something much bigger as two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of the wilderness the locals call Wildwood.

Here is one other review I liked by Michael Chabon, author of well a ton of things…my favorite being The Yiddish Policemen’s Union:

Dark and whimsical, with a true and uncanny sense of otherworldliness, Wildwood is the heir to a great tradition of stories of wild childhood adventure. It snatched me up and carried me off into a world I didn’t want to leave.

I think it takes a special talent to create a story so intriguing you encapsulate both ends of the spectrum as far as your audience is concerned. HarperCollins, the publisher, said, “Wildwood is a spellbinding tale full of wonder, danger, and magic that juxtaposes the thrill of a secret world and modern city life. Original and fresh yet steeped in classic fantasy.”  I loved that description.

On top of what is already an incredible work of art, are Carson Ellis’ astoundingly beautiful illustrations.  I have always been a fan of her work as I’m drawn to ornate illustration.  The color scheme, based on the samples I’ve seen, that she chose for the novel ties very well to the suspenseful tone of the story.  Nothing too bold or bright, yet colorful enough to catch a young readers eye with bold pops of color and immense detail.

Carson Ellis illustration from Wildwood
Carson Ellis illustration from Wildwood

I was lucky enough to hear Colin and Carson speak at the recent Plazm 20th Anniversary event.  Colin read the first chapter of the novel and I was hooked.  Even more so than I already was.  I am attending their release event tonight at the Bagdad Theater with my new favorite Portland friend (who happens to be an avid reader as well).  You’ll see us in line at 6 right when the doors open to get our books signed by Carson and Colin and hopefully hear a little more read and discussed by this powerful duo.

What an inspiration for William and I to see husband and wife collaborations like Wildwood.  I. CANNOT. WAIT.  By the way, I would be happy to try and pick up a copy of the book for those who are interested.  Shoot me an email if you are!  Happy reading everyone!

It has been decided.  We’ve thrown it around for a long time.  Dreamed about it.  I’ve decided it is time. Mr. and Mrs. Fancy Pants will be writing a children’s book.  We will be collaborating on the concept.  I would imagine the writing will be an 80/20 split (myself being the 80%) and the illustration will be 100/0 (myself being the 100%).  NOT.  I consider myself a novice art director, but I’m working my way up the ranks.

i’m nervous to give us a deadline on the concept since I have thought rather un-seriously about this for so long, however, if I toil over it for too long without getting anywhere, I’m going to have to slap a deadline on myself.  I know nothing about writing books.  But I do know good literature and I know a man with an eye for design.  Certainly we can figure out the rest.

We will most likely self-publish from Kickstarter to hang on to the integrity of the creation that comes out of this project.  We may be lucky enough to find a publisher that wants to publish the story as close to its original form as possible but I am hearing from others that that is highly unlikely.  Right now I have so many ideas, I’m fairly certain if you were to crack open my head (which would be quite messy) it would look something like this–

Convoluted Mind Map

–minus any semblance of organization or sense.  I’m looking forward to it though.  I’ve been looking forward to starting this project for so long.  If we’re able to pull it off, it will be such a fusion of the two of our talents (emphasis on the word IF).  I have nothing groundbreaking to share about the project other than it is.  No working titles, no nailed down characters, protagonist, or theme.  Just a drive to make a dream a reality.  Keeping my fingers crossed from here until it’s completed!

Spirit of 77 in Portland, OR

Monday night was probably my favorite night we’ve spend in Portland thus far. Considering we spent it in an empty sports bar might lead you to believe that I’ve had a REALLY bad time in Portland thus far, BUT before you start feeling sorry for me, take a look at where we were. If you have ever visited Spirit of 77 on NE MLK, you know exactly what I mean–and yes, this encompasses everyone on the planet Earth because I refuse to believe there is anyone who doesn’t like this place (though, I’m sure there is…but I’m making a point here people. So just go with it.)

Spirit of 77 is in a nutshell a sports bar. But it is unlike any other sports bar you’ve ever been to. I know when most of us think “sports bar” we think of a dingy, hole in the wall, beer on the floor, beer on everything really, people yelling too loud, memorabilia that looks like it walked out of Applebee’s…you know what I mean. But, if I could incapsulate Spirit of 77 in one sentence it would be:

The most timeless representation of the evolution of sports and the experience that goes along with being a fan wrapped into one building, under one roof making it impossible to not be a fan of the game–whatever game that happens to be.

View inside Spirit of 77
Incredible wood signage instillation you see immediately entering Spirit of 77.

OMFG Co. happens to be the genius behind this whole project. They are a design/illustration/branding/we do everything under the sun group of guys located next door to Mr. Fancy Pant’s studio in Portland, OR. Check out their site. Their client list is amazing.

AIGA did a case study on the development and execution of making Spirit of 77 what it is today, interviewing the guys at OMFG Co. I love what they had to say about the goal of the whole project:

The goal was implicit in the brief: reinvent the sports bar. Make it a place where people actually want to go to, sports fanatic and “civilian” alike. The survey of friends and family, when asked, “Where do you go when you want to watch the game?” never had a clear answer – it was a weighing of lesser evils, proximity, and limited by the size of your group.

The cliché is unfortunately true: sports bar food is usually sub-par, the drinks are unexciting and the testosterone levels are uncomfortably high. The design of the room, the marketing materials (if they exist) are usually uninspired or off-the-shelf from a beer company. The main feature—the endless sea of big screen TVs—creates an unpleasant atmosphere, with pockets of gatherings competing for attention, as opposed to the sense of community you have in a stadium or arena.

We wanted a place with a point of view, thoughtful design at every corner, a locally sourced and inspired menu, and a top-shelf bar program. Most importantly, we wanted a sense of community akin to being at the game itself, drawing from the best aspects of sports and leaving the hostility aside. The collective cheering, rooting for your team, and the shared groan of losing—you feel a part of something bigger. It’s invigorating, to say the least.

WE LOVE SPIRIT OF 77!
Dart board area
Basketball goals! (photo above and below curtesy of OMFG Co.)

I will say, I cannot wait to go watch an Alabama game there. They are showing the September 10th UA vs. Penn State game and you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be there. It was a completely amazing experience to be there basically by ourselves though. There was one other group of people there when we arrived and one other couple there when we left. It is my understanding that this is FAR from the norm. Spirit of 77 is normally packed to the brim with people so I was glad to catch it on a quieter evening. We will definitely be returning, though to experience the whole thing again with the excitement of fellow sports fans.

Above and below are pictures of the custom, hand-built basketball arcade (dubbed The Buzzer Beater). We played I don’t know how many games on this thing. They also have shuffleboard, foosball, and darts (all free I might add–you just have to wait your turn to play).

Mr. Fancy Pants showing off his mad skills. His scores were WAY higher than mine.
Look at that follow thru!
Having a good ole time for a Monday night! (for any night for that matter!)

Here is my favorite take away from the article (sorry for so much copy and paste but I couldn’t say it better myself):

Imbued into all components of the branding and marketing is a layer of “intelligent stupidity.” For example, using vintage sports trading cards as a base, we Photoshopped out what was once a football or basketball, and replaced it with a piece of fried chicken or a boiled egg. Once reprinted in the exact format and style of a trading card, that became the artwork for our take away menu.

The brand voice is that of a sports fanatic with a sharp sense of humor, one that celebrates the hilarious innocence of previous eras, and wants to relive those times today.

William and I playing foosball. We’re awful.
Spirit of 77 in Portland, OR

Here is an amazing explanation of the signage above the main bar (also from the AIGA article):

Above the long main bar is the namesake signage. Each letter is 4-ft. tall, and the entire length is roughly 33 feet. We constructed it from start to finish in the space, with the typeface projected onto sheets of plywood, which we cut out with a jigsaw. The result can be seen from blocks away, and is the glowing beacon for the bar.

To top off the evening, we paid the best $4 that we have in a while to have some photo booth pictures taken. Digressing a bit, but I have decided that we’re going to take photo booth pictures wherever we encounter one from now on. I mean, how great are these?! I read this magazine article in this month’s Martha Stewart Living about this couple who took one photo booth set of pictures every year. It was a cool timeline to follow as their family grew. I like it. And I’m stealing the idea.

Best $4 I’ve spent in a while. Oh by the way in case you didn’t know, Mr. Fancy Pants is, at the moment, missing some teeth.

If you ever come and visit us here in Portland, we’re probably going to take you to Spirit of 77. So get ready.

To read more about the whole project–which I strongly recommend because it is incredibly interesting and informative–click here to access the entire AIGA article.

To check out Spirit of 77’s website click here.

To learn more about the talented guys behind OMFG Co. click your little mouse here.

Save Time, Get a Mail Box!

Yeah, I have no clue what this picture was meant for. I guess many years ago you had the choice whether or not you had a mailbox? I’m not sure, but I LOVE my mailbox. It’s a little on the silly side (keep in mind we’re renting so I took no part in the choosing of the mailbox), but I love that it has bluebonnets painted on it. In case you didn’t know, bluebonnets are the Texas state flower and since that is where Mr. Fancy Pants and I grew up, it warms my heart a bit.

I snapped a little picture of our mailbox! Bluebonnets. Check! Dirt. Check! Rust. Check!

The other reason I love my mailbox is what comes in it. Nothing brightens my day more than a card from a friend or a package from my mom. AND of course there is the occasional (or not so occasional) online purchase that I am waiting anxiously for. Postman (mine is a woman), UPS man, FedEx man…they’re all my friends.

This past Friday I had what I would consider an exceptionally good mail day. I’m not sure which is better–receiving a little surprise everyday or receiving them all at once. Man, both are good. The best are the unexpected arrivals. On Friday, I had 2 unexpected arrivals. Both from friends back in Austin. Made. My. Day. Here’s what arrived:

  • Lightbulb from Jessica and John (I’ll explain in a bit)
  • Gift certificate from Mary Kathryn–the genius behind Loretta Flower
  • Return address stamps that Mr. Fancy Pants designed for me
  • MSU/UA koozies designed by a precious family friend who runs Polka Dot Parties
A little something to brighten our new home!

Now seriously, how creative is this?! Jessica and John are two of the most fun and creative people I know so this clever gift did not surprise me. I still had never seen this idea before and thought it was precious. On top of being a clever idea, it’s a great gift! These vintage and Edison inspired bulbs are some of my favorites and we have them in several spots in our house! She knows me well! Now all I need is a new side table lamp to put the bulb in (Mr. Fancy Pants is rolling his eyes right about now…women can justify just about anything. It’s a gift).

Gift certificate to Canoe courtesy of our sweet friend MK

Our next surprise was a gift certificate to Canoe from our precious friend Mary Kathryn! They have some of the BEST housewares around and are a great fusion of mine and William’s styles. This was the most perfect gift for us! And such a personal touch that MK took the time to send us to someplace local. Mary Kathryn is the amazingly talented lady behind Loretta Flower (no kin to my cat). She makes some of the most beautiful floral designs you’ve ever seen. When we moved out here, I commissioned her to design some dried floral arrangements for 3 clay pots we were given as a wedding gift. They are stunning. I will be doing a whole post in the near future on Loretta Flower. So STAY TUNED!

New return address stamps from Mr. Fancy Pants himself!
I realize that blurring out our address severally hinders your seeing the stamp in its entirety but I don’t want strangers showing up at my house.

These gems also arrived on Friday. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll remember that I used Paperwink to create my return address stamp when I lived in Austin. (read about that here). When we moved, of course we could no longer use the stamp with our Austin address on it. Mr. Fancy Pants decided to give it a go with the design of our return stamps. I may be biased, but I think he hit the nail on the head. He designed two (upper left hand corner) and I couldn’t decide between them so he had both made. He threw in the Dixieland Delight stamp for grins to surprise me. I was so excited to see these when they came in. So excited in fact that Friday evening I sat on the couch for an hour and wrote about 10 cards to friends and family. One to say hello, but mostly to use my new stamps!

REVERSIBLE KOOZIES!
IT’S GENIUS!

Last but CERTAINLY not least, the long awaited, double sided, MSU AND ALABAMA koozies arrived! I have been so anxious to get these in the mail. We are such HUGE football (let me narrow that by saying SEC) fans! Mr. Fancy Pants’ family is from MS and he went to Mississippi State. Mine is from Alabama and Arkansas and I went to Alabama for school. We’re a house divided! Ha! We’ve gone back every year for a game and we’re trying to make the UA/MSU game a tradition. Some of our best friends, Landon and Julia, live in Mississippi and are nice enough to let us stay with them when we come down. Last year we weren’t able to make the MSU/UA game but we went to the MSU/Georgia game and had a BLAST! (Here was my post on that weekend). THIS year, we’re headed down November 11th to see my Crimson Tide play the Bulldogs!

A sweet family friend of ours from Texarkana owns a company called Polka Dot Parties. She designs and sells stationary, invitations, personalized gifts…anything under the sun! When we moved up here to OR we invested in Directv so that we could host football game watching parties at our house on the weekends AND catch all of the SEC games. As a little housewarming gift, my mom had Whitney @ Polka Dot Parties make these AWESOME cups that have MSU on one side and Alabama on the other!

Reversible styrofoam cups!

And to take it one obnoxious step further, I asked Whitney if she could do the same thing with koozies. And guess what, she could! So Friday marked the arrival of the dual-sided MSU/UA koozies. We are READY TO TAILGATE now! Both William and I have friends that will be in Starkville for the game in November so it will make for fun pictures to have everyone choosing sides by their drink koozie. I have a good feeling I will be out-numbered. OH well! Please check out Polka Dot Parties‘ website. Whitney is fun, talented, and everything I’ve ever purchased from her has been amazing!

I am sure you noticed that I did not mention my Portland Power & Light or Qwest bills that also came in the mail on Friday. The doom that came with their arrival was thankfully overshadowed by the goodness that came in all of the other packages! All this to say, the surprises in the mail on Friday made my day! If anyone is interested in having a pen pal, I think I’d sure make a good one! I’m accepting applications now… 🙂

This past Saturday, Mr. Fancy Pants and I made it to the Portland Farmers Market for the first time. We traveled to the market on PSU’s campus a.) because it’s the biggest and b.) because I wanted to see the campus where William will be at school.  Random side note, PSU was holding their Summer Commencement Ceremony while we were there.  I guess that’s what people do in Portland…have graduations in farmer’s markets.  Not too shabby!

Gathering Together Farm booth (Philomath, OR)

I was so impressed by all of the vendors, food, fresh produce, and ALL the people.  It was incredibly crowded but not bad enough that we were miserable.  We kept commenting that when a group of people or city set out to start a farmers market, THIS is what their goal is.  Whether or not they know it, the Portland Farmers Market is any new farmers market’s end goal.  After we got home I was reading their website and found these stats fairly impressive:

  • Portland Farmers Markets were founded 20 years ago
  • The first farmers market had 1 location and 13 vendors

20 years later:

  • There are over 250 vendors
  • 6 locations
  • Markets on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday
  • Total sales for all vendors are nearly $6 million annually, with the majority of that income going directly to vendors themselves.
Lucky Farms Flowers & Vegetables
Here’s a glimpse of the flowers that I purchased. They’re lovely.

We were having some new friends over for dinner so I had a list of things in mind that I was going to get otherwise I probably would have purchased a lot more than I did.  What I love about farmers markets (as opposed to shopping in Whole Foods or Trader Joes etc. etc.) are the farmers are at your disposal to ask questions, suggestions, etc.  I bought some summer squash from a wonderfully helpful woman who gave me a great recipe of how she cooks them!  In my opinion, cooking is such a personal act, why shouldn’t we get to interact with those who worked so hard to give us the ingredients!?  On the growers’ end, blood, sweat, and tears pour into each crop.  On my end, the same (mainly because the windows in our kitchen will not open and it gets unbelievably hot in our kitchen when I’m cooking!)

Picking my green beans
I was juggling a lot of bags! Picking out some mini heirloom tomatoes.
Two-toned summer squash

I think we’ll probably make this part of our weekly activities.  It’s much more pleasant to shop outside than in a grocery store!  I haven’t sat down to figure it out yet, but I’m fairly certain it is cheaper than most grocery stores.  Either way, I’m sold!

Groundwork Organics. Junction City, OR
Groundwork Organics. Junction City, OR

My loot!!  We ended up with some carrots, green beans, summer squash, corn, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and tomatoes.  All in all, I’d consider that a successful outing!  As a side note, we had planned to eat breakfast there.  Pine State Biscuits have a booth there and we were really looking forward to trying our first biscuit.  BUT the line was 18 miles long, so we had a breakfast burrito that was pretty tasty!   Next go around…Pine State is a MUST.

Here are the links to the local farms whose booths are pictured above:

Groundwork Organics

Gathering Together Farms

Lucky Farms Flowers & Vegetables

Our feature on Apartment Therapy

In the aftermath of being featured yesterday on Apartment Therapy, there are no words other than…wow.  I am not accustomed to seeing the amount of traffic I had on my blog yesterday.  I’m used to my mom, mother-in-law, and the occasional friend stopping by to read what we have going on over here. (Notice I did not mention my husband, Mr. Fancy Pants.  Because although he was the person that encouraged me to start this blog, he says my posts “have too many words” and rarely reads them all the way through).

To those of you who happened upon my blog for the first time yesterday, welcome.  I hope you enjoyed what you read.  I wish I was better at posting consistently, but I’m not.  I do this because I enjoy it.  When it becomes a chore, I take a break.  I am trying to post often now that we live in OR and most of my family and friends are far far away–mass updates on our life are one thing I will say “thank you” to the internet for.

For us, it was so mind-blowing to see our home on Apartment Therapy.  We’ve been married for three years (almost) and have lived in three different places together.  Two apartments in Austin, TX and now our house here in Portland, OR.  I think I’ll do a post someday on each of them.  It’s funny to look back at the other two and see how our style has changed…well not so much changed, it has just taken a while for our two styles to converge into something cohesive.  To our marriage, William brought neon colors and crazy shapes.  I brought a love for things that were old (and let me just clarify and say that while “vintage” is cool, “old” is not always classified as such).  Over the years, his taste has tamed a bit and mine has become more refined.  I’m not going to lie, I LOVE what happens when our minds collaborate.  Turns out we are pretty good when we mix our ideas together.  That’s the thing about marrying an artist…ideas are never in short supply.

All of that said, yesterday was a fun day for us.  So thank you to Adrienne and Apartment Therapy for that.  To see the post on their site, click here.