12.30.2008

R.I.P. Cobra Mustang, and Art By Jay is back up!

Yesterday our car was totaled. We haven't heard the official "totaled" verdict, but the entire front end of the car was pretty much gone. Well, it was there it was just a lot shorter and missing a body. We were driving home from the post office after resuming our mail since we'd been on vacation. We slowed down for a red light, but then it turned green so we went through it because that's the logical thing to do. I'm assuming the truck coming from the other direction had sped up to beat his yellow light and just not made it. Either way we entered the intersection and then the other guy entered the intersection about a second after us, Jeremy slammed on the brakes, and then the airbags came out (OUCH!) and our car was pretty much gone. The truck was fine because trucks are crazy amounts of durable and I'm thinking that'd be a good choice for our next vehicle because of that fact and I'm very glad the truck and its passengers were fine. They just have a big dent.

Luckily we're picking up our new Mini on Saturday! And we're both alive with only minor cuts and bruises and airbag burns (Once again, OUCH! The entire underside of my chin is one big burn!)! There's always a bright side. Right now we have a Cobalt rental car. Lame car. Can't wait for the Mini and we're very, very glad we decided on the S (sport!) version because being without a car with a little get-up-and-go is not something we enjoy. This Cobalt, while comfortable and quiet and great for a second car, is not good as an only car because it's boring.

Funny thing is, we cannot remember why we felt the need to buy a Mini back in October. We didn't need a second car. We just went to look at it and the deals they were having were really good and Jeremy has wanted a safer car for me to drive in the snow (Cobras and snow just don't mix) and those are the only reasons we can think of for why we decided to order it back in October. Not really "buy a second car" motives. Usually you have a need. But we're very glad right now that we did that. That was a blessing.

Art By Jay is back up! Arts Afire will be back up on Friday. I'm working on some new pieces and I just don't have it in me to put up the store yet. I'm kind of beat down right now. Our Disneyland Christmas vacation was fantastic and we had a wonderful time, but then we came home (which we were looking forward to because we'd been away for so long) and everything seemed to go wrong yesterday. I'm kind of still waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I really don't think there are any shoes left. I have the rest of the week off, I'm just going to relax and paint and not worry about promoting and all that time intensive stuff.

Here's to a new year! Hopefully it's better. :)

Later today: Our Disneyland Vacation and Item of the Day!

12.21.2008

On Vacation - Merry Christmas Everyone!!

My store and my grandfather's store are officially closed for the holidays. Thursday was the last day for shipments from me before we leave for Disneyland! Right now our stores are empty because everything is unlisted. We'll be back on January 2nd!

We'll be going to Disneyland on Monday, both with fantastic new haircuts. :) We cannot wait. We're Disney addicts.

And, just because I'm really proud of the re-production drawing I did for my step-dad for Christmas, here it is again:

Reproduction of Charles Scheeler drawing


And, my favorite item from my shop as of today:
Space, 2008


And....
(Disney) Item of the Day:

Nightmare Before Christmas Ornament set


Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday! We'll be back after the Holiday season. I'll be sending out my first newsletter with the chance to win a free painting the first weekend of January, so if you haven't signed up and want to, just sign up with the newsletter sign up form in the top right of this blog, or at my Arts Afire blog, but they're both the same. :)

I have beaucoup de plans (yes, I speak French so I am allowed to use Frenglish) for the New Year promotion-wise, so stay tuned for that!

12.18.2008

More snow?!

With our car, one snowstorm a year is enough for me. This is the second time this week that Jeremy has had to bring me to work because for some reason, plows in Utah county don't come out until around 10 a.m.! After everyone has already gone to work. Way to go, guys! Luckily, we'll have our new Mini at the first of the year and that's more snow friendly, being front wheel drive and all.

So today is my last full day of work for the year. After today I work a half day on the 30th and that's it until January 2nd. This is gonna be nice. And because I got a Christmas bonus we decided that we are going to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Day in Disneyland instead of after when we get back and have the money again. So I was going to go shopping tomorrow for Jeremy's Christmas presents (just the big one and a couple of other small ones--a lot is being done in Downtown Disney where they have a Sephora and a Fossil). Then on the radio I hear that today's storm is a "teaser storm" for tomorrow's big one.

I hate you, nature.

Hopefully the afternoon will be clear and I can go shopping. Now, I need to get to work making a Sephora and Disney wish list because I told Jeremy that I wouldn't mind if my entire Christmas came from our vacation there since I don't really have a wish list this year. Besides Sephora and Disney merchandise. But he did say that he is getting me a Coach purse at the store in Park City, so I should be on the lookout for one I like. So, because they don't have the outlet online, let's look at the overpriced (though really well made) Coach purses on coach.com. I would be more than happy to carry any of the following on my shoulder:




I'm not picky.

(Disney) Item of the Day:

Gotta love Wall-E. :)

12.17.2008

Woohoo!

Christmas bonus!! Totally wasn't expecting that since I was told I couldn't have one because bonuses come from profit sharing and I have to be there for a year before I can take part in profit sharing. But I still got a bonus! We can pay off a bill! What fun! :) But now Christmas is going to be easy. And we can afford a few more souvenirs at Disneyland!

And here is my step-dad's finished Christmas present!


Hope he likes it!

(Disney) Item of the Day




Limited Edition Giclee Print - "Winter Walk" - Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, and Tigger in the background

12.14.2008

Featured, Family Party, and Frustrating Christmas Presents

The semi-alliteration in the title of the entry was not planned--what a happy coincidence.

The grand opening of my Etsy shop is going very well. I'm getting a much faster jump off of the starting blocks than I ever thought possible. I just paid my first Etsy bill with plenty to spare (and to buy a few extra presents at Disneyland next week) from my Etsy sales this month!

And I've been getting a lot of internet exposure and word-of-mouth exposure, as well. For instance, yesterday I was featured by Timothy Adam Designs as the Saturday Super Shop! I'm very flattered because he gets a lot of traffic to his blog and there's quite a large amount of competition for the Saturday Super Shop feature! Check it out!

Click Here for the Saturday Super Shop Feature


Tonight we had our monthly family party and it was really fun! But it always is because we're a fun bunch. This Friday is my grandpa's birthday, so we all getting together at Ryan and Ann's house for a birthday party and to watch The Polar Express. It's going to be fun, again!

After the party tonight Jeremy and I went and spent some time at my grandparent's house to have some quality time with the laundry (we don't have our own machines--we must move) and I asked my grandpa for his help figuring out a drawing reproduction of a Charles Scheeler lithograph that I would like to do for Mike (my step-dad) for Christmas. I have been trying to figure out the proportions and the vanishing point and all that for days but had come to the conclusion that there was no vanishing point and it was completely free-handed and proportionately wrong. My grandfather confirmed this fact. I have to get this in the mail by Wednesday at the latest to make it there in time for Christmas and now, thanks to my grandfather's help, I can get it done! Thank goodness.

Now, it's time to get comfy and watch an episode of the Office with my husband before having to wake up to take him to a 7 a.m. final. Ugh.

Because we're going to Disneyland next week, each Item of the Day this week will be Disney related.

(Disney) Item of the Day



Customizable Disney hoodies! Definitely one of the first purchases when we're there. Gotta be warm in Disney style.


UPDATE: The Metropolitan Museum read my blog. My Arts Afire blog. They read the Met Museum Andy Warhol story and then they twittered about it to me. Best. Day. Ever!!

12.12.2008

Met Museum Twitter

I got a direct message from the Met Museum today on Twitter. With my name in it, so I choose to believe it wasn't a canned generic response.

One of the best. moments. of. my. life.

True story:

When my parents took me to NYC for my college graduation (because there are art museums there and I was an art history major) the Met was like heaven for me. Blissful. It didn't even matter that my feet were killing me. I was going to see that entire museum no matter how long it took.

Later that night, around 7:30 p.m., my mother asks me how I liked the pop art exhibit with all the Andy Warhol's because she knows I am an Andy Warhol lover. "What?" I ask. I'd MISSED IT! So I look at my husband all distraught and despite how badly our feet were hurting at the point he said, "Do you want to go back while we still have our passes (note: still have them to this day!)?" Me, sheepishly: "Yes."

So we go and hop on the Subway, but because we're stupid tourists we hop on the wrong one! We get off on the right street, but on the OTHER SIDE of Central Park. I asked a cop where we were and how to get to the Met. He couldn't help me. (Seriously?! You're a cop! You should know the city!) So we ask another passerby and she told us that it was on the other side of the park. It's 8:15 p.m. now. We're at least 5 blocks from Central Park and the museum is on the other side. So we start running and speed walking thinking, "It's just a park, no big deal."

We ran into a lake.

So we run around the lake and finally reach the museum at 8:35 p.m., dash in with our cool little Met button passes and get directions to Andy Warhol. I saw the Andy Warhols that I had missed (now, I had seen others earlier in the day, but I missed this one very important room).

Had to stop at a drug store on the way back to the subway for band-aids because I was in flip flops and now had massive blisters.

Completely worth it.

I would give anything to live in New York City.

Bright Yellow Air Guitars and Jeans

Last night we went to my husband's department Christmas party. It was a White Elephant part and Jeremy and I are the royalty of White Elephant parties. We're simply the best at picking out gifts that will make people laugh and cause a lot of talk.

The first White Elephant party we went to, we re-gifted some hideous candlesticks reminiscent of male genitalia that we received for our wedding. (Let's just say that some really rich people just do not have any taste.) This year, we went to Pier 1 Imports. They have some hilarious clearance items. They've had these same little bright red porcelain dolls (?) for over two years now that are marked down to $3.48 (so you'd think they'd be able to get rid of them after two years). They're shaped like a football with flat ends and they have little tiny looks-like-their-sucking-on-a-lemon faces carved into the front. I'm so wishing I'd taken a picture. Anyway. Once again--party hit. They ended up being stolen at the end because they were "the best white elephant gift" and our friend Sharon has another white elephant party to go to.

I got a pie server and some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Not too shabby. Jeremy got a life-size bright yellow blow up electric guitar. (Get it? Air guitar? Heh.)

I bought new jeans last night and I'm wearing them today to work--my first time wearing jeans to work on casual Friday because I haven't had any nice jeans to wear before last night. I am really in love with these jeans and very glad that I decided yesterday at 3:00 p.m. that I deserved some new jeans for the Christmas party last night and the Christmas gift exchange that we are throwing tomorrow night (note to self: Must bake and decorate cookies tomorrow).

I finished four paintings last night. All Christmas presents, so I cannot post them on here. Tonight, I tackle a drawing for my dad. Everyone gets handmade this year! Jeremy and I will be celebrating our Christmas in January because we're going to be at Disneyland for Christmas and we really don't want to take a tree and presents with us. Plus, shopping after Christmas, you'll get to take advantage of Christmas sales.

Item of the Day:


Harry Potter Mouse

Mice from The House of Mouse on Etsy
I LOVE these little guys. They just make me happy to look at.

Holiday Sale on Art By Jay!

15% off of everything through Monday (December 15th) on Art By Jay!



Professional large-scale, very detailed, gorgeous watercolors for unbeatable prices!!

Plus, a free upgrade to priority shipping to ensure Christmas delivery! Makes a great Christmas present for the art lover in your life!

Little bit about Jay (my grandfather):

Jay has been painting for over 60 years. He is retired and currently living in Sandy, UT. He has been painting since Fourth Grade when he had a teacher who inspired him. He began with watercolors and then progressed to oils and acrylics.

At the present time his paintings are done in mixed media consisting of watercolors and other water soluble paint. He paints a variety of subjects including landscapes, such as lighthouses, coastal scenes, lakes and streams, fishing boats, mountain and rural farm scenes, castles, etc.

At retirement he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and his painting has been a form of therapy. Because he is limited in the ability to physically participate in activities formerly enjoyed, his painting has filled a void and brought may hours of fulfillment and an increase in artistic ability.

So go and take advantage of this sale since sales are rare!

http://artbyjay.etsy.com


Later today: My great new pants. :) And DISNEYLAND!!

12.10.2008

I was put into a treasury!

On Etsy there are things called "treasuries" and they are all curated by the members of Etsy. I've made a few treasuries (and one made it to the front page!). It basically consists of your favorite items, and sometimes goes by a theme. My front page treasury was all cranberry and gray. It was pretty gorgeous if I do say so myself. Anyway. I was put into an Art Gallery treasury today! Go click so it can make it to the front page!

Click Here for the Treasury

I realized today why I don't go to the gym directly after work. I have no energy right after work. I have to come home and relax and unwind, paint a couple of paintings, take a nap maybe. I went for as long as I usually go, but burned 300 calories less according to my Nike+iPod. So I'm going back to my "Gym at 9:30" plan.

Item of the Night


Mixed media (watercolor and acrylic) painting by my grandfather. You can buy it here, at Art By Jay. He'll be having a Holiday Sale this weekend, starting tomorrow. 15% off of everything through Sunday!

8:20 a.m.: Why I need to be an Artist

I start work promptly at 9:00 a.m. Perhaps I should re-phrase that. My works starts with or without me promptly at 9:00 a.m. I am always here at 9:10 a.m. Never fails. I suppose it could be worse. And no one cares but me. I work through lunch on almost a daily basis, just eating my peanut butter and jelly (grape--yum) at my desk. But. This 9:10 a.m. phenomenon (that word is overkill...) proves a point: I need to not have a day job. I mean, I'm pretty good at rolling out of bed at 8:20, taking my shower, doing my hair and makeup, getting dressed and making lunch all within 20-25 minutes so I'm out the door by 8:45 or 8:50 a.m. But then I have to drop my husband off at school on my way to work--which takes 10 minutes. So, if I'm being honest, that usually puts me already at 9:00 before actually heading towards work after going AWAY from it 10 minutes earlier.

So this is why I need Etsy (and soon to be Art Fire because http://artsafire.artfire.com is the coolest URL ever--I had never heard of Art Fire before deciding on Arts Afire, which makes it even cooler) to work out for me. So that I can be my night owl self. I can stay up until 2 a.m. painting and working and not have to get up until 10 or 10:30 a.m. It would be a much better situation for myself. And I know that most Etsy artists get up really early when they get to finally make a go of it as a full-time operation. But staying up later (giving into my natural Sara) buys me the same amount of time, so it's a completely fair trade off.

My office is freezing today and I did not wear a sweater. Joy.

I'm so taking an early lunch and heading to Barnes and Noble for a hot drink to go with my peanut butter and jelly sandwich because today, today I am not working through my lunch. I'm kind of tired of that.

Countdown to Disneyland: 11 days.
Countdown to pre-Disneyland Vacation: 8 days, or 6 work days.

Item of the Day


Starbucks Peppermint Hot Chocolate. Yum. Time for lunch!

12.05.2008

Countdown to Disneyland!

We're leaving for Disneyland in TWO WEEKS! For a whole week of fun. We're going over Christmas. Cannot wait. We are Disneyland addicts. We talk about Disneyland on pretty much a daily basis. I would really love some extra spending money while I'm there, so, if you have time and still need to get some Christmas presents for people, why don't you visit my Etsy shop! http://artsafire.etsy.com. Or my grandfather's shop! http://artbyjay.etsy.com. He's brand new as of this week and wouldn't you feel wonderful about yourself if you were his first sale?

I'm currently organizing a big huge promotional plan for our shops. It will take planning and scheduling and diligence. That is the big project this week. And more paintings to replace those that have sold! I bought 75 canvases on Wednesday 1) to replenish used/purchased supplies and paintings, and 2) to paint more so I have more offerings on my shop. I bought mostly small canvases to make big sets out of because those really seem to be the favorites. Which I'm happy about because those are my favorite to make.

Made a new treasury today under my Grandpa's shop, ArtByJay. Check it out! Click Here!

Other than that, nothing else is really new here. Working full time and painting full time and being married and finding time to work out equals about 3 full time jobs right now, so I'm feeling a bit stretched. Hence the need for a very focused plan and a very focused organizational system.

For more on my completely frazzled organizational needs and my dilemma regarding my apartment, check out my art blog: ArtAfire Blog

Item of the Day:




"Room for Me" print by Waterbears on Etsy - I love this!

12.03.2008

I need a plan...

So, this Etsy thing is going better than I thought. I need a better plan and a better organizational system for receipts and orders and supplies and all that stuff. Our apartment is just too small...But that can't really be changed right now so I need to go all Martha Stewart and/or Real Simple on my apartment.

By the way, I have a Twitter account. It's pretty darn cool over there. Twitter me up! http://www.twitter.com/artsafire I promote myself and my grandfather there, and I have friends. Good times.

I told Jeremy that I would write his English paper if he would clean the house. That has not been fun. But the house will be even LESS fun because 1) I have been busy painting and stuff so I haven't been cleaning anything and 2) I've been neglecting it because of our deal. So it's a mess again. But I can just sit back and watch because hey, the paper is 1 page away from being done.

We put up our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving night. That also left the house in disarray because we really haven't finished all the decorating yet so it's all still out. But our tree is AMAZING! We got a $50 Pier 1 Imports gift card from our bank just in time for the after Christmas sale. We got $350 worth of ornaments for $60. Which means our tree is gorgeous. I will post pictures of it soon.

I have new listings up in the store! Go check them out:

http://artsafire.etsy.com


And check out my grandfather's incredibly gorgeous watercolors while you're there!

http://artbyjay.etsy.com


Item of the Day:




The painting my grandfather gave me for my wedding. He liked it so much that he painted another and now it's for sale! Click Here!

12.01.2008

First sales!!

I made a small sale yesterday and then I woke up to two big sales! We are so going out to dinner tonight.

And I was put into two treasuries overnight! Two! I'm so jazzed about this Etsy thing right now!

New blog layout is coming soon because I've decided I hate this one and it makes my eyes bleed.

I opened my grandfather's store today: http://artbyjay.etsy.com Go check it out, give it some love, and buy one of the best quality watercolors you will ever buy!

You can see a sampling of my grandfather's work up above under my Etsy Shop Mini, where you can see my work! Just click on one and it'll take you right to it!

Item of the Day:




Currently my favorite painting that my grandpa has done--that house has some serious stories to tell. I'm very tempted to buy it up for myself. But, if you want to beat me to that, you can buy it HERE - Art By Jay.

11.27.2008

I made front page!!

My treasury on Etsy made the front page!

http://www.etsy.com/treasury_list_west.php?room_id=33944

Check it out!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

11.26.2008

Feverishly Working

I'm working on a lot of smaller pieces right now that will be posted in the next couple of days. These pieces will all be under $15, most will be below $10. Small canvases, children's art, ACEOs (Art Card Edition Originals). Keep checking back! I'm trying to get a lot of stuff up today for my Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal--free shipping on all small canvases and drawings PLUS a free gift with purchase.

ArtsAfire Etsy Shop


On another note, it's Thanksgiving tomorrow! Jeremy and I are going to my grandparents' house. It's going to be a small dinner, with only Jeremy and I, my grandparents, and the Fish guys. It's going to be hard without Lisa this year, but I think it will still be enjoyable. This will be the first time that I have really helped make a Thanksgiving dinner. In the past, I've mainly been in charge of the cranberry sauce (because I LOVE cranberry sauce and I like to think I make it better than most people because of this love).

So this means that I have a four day weekend with my husband! I'm very much looking forward to kicking back and relaxing (after Thanksgiving cooking, anyway). The house is very clean thanks to a deal I made with Jeremy (I wrote his Anthropology paper, so he deep cleaned the entire house--I definitely got the better end of the deal). And I've been very diligent at keeping it clean all week, which means no dishes in the sink! If there are dishes in the sink, I can't bring myself to care about the rest of the house.

Here's a sneak peak of something from my Children's Art collection:



Item of the Day:



Part of takeoutphoto's "The ABC's of Paris" series. This is obviously "X." I would like to get the entire collection and make a wall out of these photos sometime soon.

11.25.2008

It's Open!

My store is officially opened! So far today I have 12 items listed with more to come.

I'm planning to do an ACEO per day for a month or so coming up soon. I'll list one every day for $12. I also have some characters for some children's art and am working on a series of ink and marker drawings which will be up soon.

Check it out!

http://artsafire.etsy.com

Item of the Day:




A listing from my shop, Arts Afire

11.19.2008

Launching in 3...2...1...

My store will be up by the weekend! As soon as it is, I'll post the link to the store, to my art blog, and anything else that I can think of.

This was yesterday's painting:



It will be for sale shortly! I just need to get all of my photography done and price and list everything.

We had a family party last weekend and Jeremy and I were in charge of the activity. I remembered making paper monsters at P&G one day at staff meeting, so I figured we'd do that.



Item of the Day:

My painting above! And this, because it's pretty:


Sage Green Pearl Wire Wrapped Ring by Beaded Bauble Jewelry. Can be custom ordered to your ring size.

11.14.2008

I swear we're still here

It's just that I've been painting and when I'm not painting (which is more often than it really should be) I feel guilty for not painting and so I don't blog and I just sit and think that I should be painting. Same goes with working out. When I'm not painting I think I should be working out and then I sit around feeling guilty about doing neither. I need a game plan.

First things first, though. I must clean the house tonight. It's a disaster area. When I have a clean house I am much more motivated to do pretty much everything. And we need to grocery shop. We're on a tight budget because we're saving for Disneyland (and no, we didn't think to save early so that it wouldn't be a complete crunch time to save $1600 in two months), so I'm hoping to keep the grocery bill to around $50. I'm banishing myself to a life of salad for lunch and cup noodles for Jeremy because at Costco those things are majorly cheap and will last a long time. Plus, I'll get skinnier which will be nice because I'd like to not hate all of the Disneyland pictures.

We're having a family party on Sunday at my aunt and uncle's house (Yay! My family rocks!) and Jeremy and I are in charge of coming up with an activity. We're totally making Paper Monsters. It'll be a good time.

I'm currently working on a white paper at work (hello, previous college days filled with research papers) on our investment philosophy. So I read investment books all day at work currently. And create notes and powerpoints about them. And plan seminars and parties and free movies when I get tired of that. I like my job quite a bit.

But I still enjoy painting more. The store WILL be up next week! I'm almost there! And I wasn't going to add the whole hand-painted jewelry aspect because Etsy is OVERLOADED with jewelry, but my mother received two compliments today (TWO in ONE day) on the necklace I made her, so I'm going to first concentrate on the paintings and stuff, then I'll add in the jewelry.

Also, I've been sick for two weeks straight. And it's been my birthday. (Good combination.) Which is why we haven't been around.

Item of the Day:




The Truffle Clutch by Morelle

10.28.2008

I have committment issues.

With my paintbrush. I am afraid of paint. It's my favorite medium but I'm afraid of it. Once I put it down on that canvas, it's not easy to bring it back up. And yes, you can paint over it. But after I've put hours and hours into a painting I don't really want to paint over it. So I get scared. I started painting a set of canvas boards last night and after four of them, I vocalized that I hated it and I marched straight into a state of depression and self-loathing.

So tonight, I start over with a brand new idea because wow, I hate last night's idea. I have a better idea. I just need to find a way to execute it. I need something round...and hollow. Like my McDonald's cup here on my desk! Hallelujah. I am a problem solver.

Anyway, I was telling Jeremy that I feel like anyone can do what I do and that I'm just pretending to be an artist. That everything good that I've ever done has been more of a fortunate accident than anything because I don't make plans. I just paint and hope that something good comes out of it. But despite having a house full of fortunate accidents, I still feel like I'm pretending.

So today I re-read a blog post from a year ago about the book Art and Fear thinking that it helped me last time, hopefully it would help me this time.

This needs to be my mantra:

"The fear that you’re only pretending to do art is the (readily predictable) consequence of doubting your own artistic credentials. After all, you know better than anyone else the accidental nature of much that appears in your art, not to mention all those elements you know originated with others (and even some you never even intended by which the audience has read into your work). From there it’s only a short hop to feeling like you’re just going through the motions of being an artist. It’s easy to imagine that real artists know what they’re doing, and that they--unlike you--are entitled to feel good about themselves and their art. Fear that you are not a real artist causes you to undervalue your work.

"The chasm widens even further when your work isn’t going well, when happy accidents aren’t happening or hunches aren’t paying off. If you buy into the premise that art can be made only by people who are extra-ordinary, such down periods only serve to confirm that you aren’t."

But it's much too long to be a mantra. So I suppose I'll just have to remember to look at it occasionally.

Work is incredibly slow this week. I'm going crazy. Next Thursday is my birthday, so Jeremy and I are taking off Thursday and Friday. It will be a much needed break. And the slowness of work this week just further proves to me that I need to be able to work from home selling art and other art-related things. I can keep myself busy that way and I won't go stir crazy.

We're throwing a Halloween party this weekend for the 202/1911 (Freshman dorm numbers) crowd. I'm thinking I'll go as a rubix cube. And Jeremy can be God's Gift to Women (we'll wrap him with a tag that says, "From: God, To: Women"). We'll see.

Item of the Day:



What is this, you ask? A Winsor & Newton Aluminum Bristol Easel. It can be upright or flat, for watercolors, and it holds a canvas up to 34" high. The non-watercolor easel holds one up to 56", but I like having the option of painting on a flat surface when I need to, without getting down on the floor.


Note: Forgot that I needed my McDonald's cup. Crushed it and threw it away...just realized it.

10.22.2008

Spinning is Bad for your Butt

So, I tried a spinning class at my gym tonight. (The second time in as many years.) 12 minutes into it I remembered why I didn't come back after the first time. Because those bikes are torture devices. The pedals bite into your feet, the seat is an alien probe device and the handlebars bruise your palms (because you're putting all of your weight on your hands to keep from having any weight on your butt). I was looking around at everyone thinking, "How does this not hurt you people?"

Then I noticed.

Everyone else was squirming as much as I was, trying to get away from the seat, only to be bruised by the tiny pedals pushing into the arches of your feet and the tiny handlebars bruising your palms.

This begs a question.

Why is spinning so popular? When there are tons of other forms of exercise that don't inflict pain upon you (except maybe muscle soreness afterward, but that's completely different), why do people choose spinning? Yes, it burns tons of calories. After 12 minutes of it I was already feeling it. But so do other exercises.

Now, back to watching The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Item of the Day:


Nike + iPod
The real way to exercise. On your feet.

10.20.2008

We'll Miss You, Lisa

I haven't been around because my aunt died last Sunday morning. She was only 48.


Lisa Marie Fish 1960 ~ 2008

Lisa Marie Houmand Fish, 48, a loving wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister and friend, passed away on October 12, 2008 in West Jordan, Utah.Lisa was born in Murray, Utah on March 24, 1960 to Holger Jay and Carmen Lucille Lloyd Houmand. She married Glen Leon Fish on November 25, 1977 in Sandy, Utah. Marriage later solemnized in the Salt Lake Temple on June 30, 1979. Together they raised five boys who all have received their Eagle Scout Awards. Lisa was an active member of the LDS Church. She served in various callings, but spent most of her time in the Primary. She was the senior teller at the University of Utah Credit Union at the time of her passing. Lisa loved spending time with her family, camping, gardening and designing floral arrangements. Survived by her parents, husband, children, Cody (Lisa); Paul (Tawni); Niel (currently serving in the Argentina Buenos Aires West Mission); Jacob; Kevin; grandchildren, Carson and Charlotte; siblings, Catherine (Dean) Gardner; Alyson (Mike) Pace; Ryan (Ann) Houmand; mother and father in law, Leon (Sharon) Fish; many aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. Funeral services will be held at 12 Noon on Thursday, October 16, 2008 at the Fontaine Claire Ward Chapel, 1465 West Bristol Ridge (8440 S). Friends may call from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday evening at Goff Mortuary, 8090 S. State St. and one hour prior to the funeral services, at the church. Interment, Midvale City Cemetery. We will love and miss you forever!


I got a call from my mom last Sunday at 4:30 a.m. saying Lisa had died 20 minutes before that. My uncle woke up at 3 a.m. and noticed she wasn't in bed. He found her in the kitchen and she wasn't breathing. They took her to the hospital but they couldn't bring her back.

I'm mostly sad for her husband and five sons. She and Glen had been together since they were 17. Her youngest is 18, so she was able to raise them all to adulthood, but they were all really close. They'll get through it, but we're all really rallying around them to keep them engaged with the family.

On a lighter note, Jeremy didn't believe me when I said that the human head supposedly weighs 8 pounds, but I thought his was heavier. He didn't believe me on either accounts, oddly. So we laid down on the ground and used a scale as a "pillow." My head weighs exactly 8 pounds. Jeremy's weighs 8.8 pounds.

Score two for Sara.

Item of the Day:


Grand Canal Dress from Anthropologie

10.08.2008

First Event Done

Today was the first client appreciation event that I was mostly in charge of (it was in the works before I got there, but I took it over). It went really well! And despite the market conditions, our clients were very nice and glad to be there.

The blog that I created to promote my store has been marked as spam. And I keep requesting a review and nothing is happening. I'm starting to get annoyed.

I'm officially re-obsessed with The Nightmare Before Christmas. I've always been a huge fan, but then I found remakes of the song "What's This" by Fall out Boy and "This is Halloween" by Panic at the Disco and "Sally's Song" by Fiona Apple and I fell in love with them and therefore I fell in love with the movie all over again. Jeremy and I love Disneyland at Christmas time so much because of Haunted Mansion Holiday which is ten times more fun than the regular Haunted Mansion.

Next bit of news . . . My birthday is coming up. Disneyland for Christmas is pretty much my birthday present, but Jeremy still wants to get me something. I have no idea what I want, though. Besides Disneyland paraphernalia.

Everyone needs to check out "More Time" by Needtobreathe. Fantastic song. New favorite song.

I'm in a rut. And so is Jeremy. And we're not liking it. We're hoping that the new car will help, the vacation to Minnesota will help, the trip to Disneyland will help, and Jeremy's new job in January will help. If not . . . any ideas? We're both just generally down lately. Not actively down. Just generally bored and in the dumps. Not too fun. We need a change.

Item of the Day:


2006 Nightmare Before Christmas engagement rings
Men's says: I'd like to join you by your side
Women's says: ...where we can gaze into the stars

I kind of prefer the 2005 set. The men's ring says: "My dearest friend, if you don't mind I'd like to join you by your side." The women's ring says: "For it is plain as anyone can see, we are simply meant to be." But this is the set with the best picture that I found.

10.06.2008

Mondays are OK Because of Staff Meetings

Sounds weird, right? But it's two hours out of the day during which the four of us get together and eat free catered lunch (courtesy of Scott, who is a great boss, and not just because of the free catered lunches on Monday), talk about our weekends and the football games that were on, and plan the day/week. It's actually fun, so I don't mind Mondays.

Tomorrow is going to be a really busy day. On Wednesday we have two client appreciation events. One for lunch and one for dinner. So I have to prepare for those. I need to pick up 10 gas cards to give away at the raffle, make a raffle box, print out all the raffle forms, get back with our presenter, send in his presentation for final approval and include last minute RSVPs in the head count, etc . . . I like being busy, and since I enjoy my work I don't mind being busy with it.

In the meantime I'm working on my art and getting it all photographed for my store. I'm going to be managing my grandfather's store, too. He paints really great watercolors and would like to sell them, but he has Multiple Sclerosis and doing the Etsy thing on his own would be hard for him, so I offered to take care of it all for him. So, once I get everything up (crossing my fingers for two weeks from now) I'll post links to my stores and my grandpa's store, as well as the blog to promote it all.

The marketing campaign begins.

10.04.2008

Forget February!

So, we went and test drove our intended Mini Cooper S today. W. O. W. LOVED it! It was so fantastic! We test drove the regular one (non-S) and the S (for sport! woohoo!). The regular one was really nice, but the S version has great pick up! The turbo charger is really fun and quiet and it doesn't sound like the car has to work so hard to speed up. It's only about 1 second slower than our Cobra. (Note: I had "2 seconds" but Jeremy let me know that it was actually faster than that, which makes the car even cooler.)

Jeremy has turned me into a sports car girl so we had to go with the S. No questions.

So, remember how my last entry mentioned ordering it in February so we'd have it in April? Not gonna happen. Because we ordered it today. We ordered one that will go into production on November 10th so it'll be built and shipped to our Mini dealer by the first of January! We're leasing it so it'll be $125 cheaper a month than buying it, and we can trade it in for a new one at the end of three years. We're all for leasing.

When we got there we had every intention of waiting to order it, but they were running a deal where you can put $0 down (but we're putting $2500) and pay no security deposit (which runs at about $750). So, we saved $750 by ordering it today (which is 3 months of payments, the three months that we wouldn't have had it between January and March, so why give up those months?) and we loved the car, so all in all, a good deal.

Item of the Day:



Our new Mini!!

10.03.2008

New car smell...mmmmm....

So, we're getting a new car. We plan on ordering it in February so it'll be here in March. We're getting a Mini Cooper S!! I'm so excited! It's gonna be Pepper White and it's pretty darn quick for a little car!

We were thinking we'd get an "economy" car like the Ford Focus (which isn't so bad since they re-designed it--the car was an ugly, ugly car before and should never have been made and the most popular color was that awful electric blue so that made it even worse). Then we realized that the base Focus was over $17,000 and the base Cooper was $18,000. Hmmm...Ford economy car? Or BMW anything? BMW anything wins that argument!

We're going to see the dealership that we made a deal with tomorrow. We get a "member" price through our bank, but they're contracted with the MINI in Las Vegas, not the MINI here in Utah. But Jeremy did his magic and called the MINI in Murray and asked them if they'd match it. They'll beat it. Fantastic! So we're gonna go and drive one tomorrow and talk to them about ordering it in February. We were going to get it in a week because the MINI of Murray has the exact one that we want in the same color coming in a week. But we really, really want to go to Disneyland for Christmas. So, we're putting it off in favor of Disneyland, which is completely worth it to us because we're Disneyland fanatics. We've both said that we'll gladly work at Disneyland. Or live in California as long as it was near Disneyland and Downtown Disney--that would make the outrageous prices and the general scariness of California worth it.

Item of the Day:


Wave Earrings from betsy3

10.02.2008

So, I have my own office

Which is really fabulous for my first real job. An office with a window and an area for clients to sit. Though really we only use the conference room for clients and we only use the chairs to sit in when we're talking to each other or having an impromptu meeting. I have one of those big wooden U-shaped desks which I would never want in my house but any financial office is incomplete without. And I have a coat rack. Where do you even find coat racks anymore? I feel very official. There is one problem, though. I dropped my best pen behind my desk and it's way too heavy to move...Jeremy is going to have to help me with that this weekend.

We're planning a big luncheon/dinner next week at Magleby's with a Market Commentary presentation, which is scary because the markets are down 30% and it really hasn't been this bad since the Great Depression, but we want to touch base with our clients and take exceptional care of them during this whole financial almost-crisis. I'm excited because it will be my first big event that I've been in charge of. It's going very well so far.

My store is very nearly ready to go up. I'm trying to decide whether to sell handmade books or not. I should, but they're difficult to make when you don't really have a desk to make them on. Since we converted the office to a guest room/office, we put away the big desks that would be perfect for art.I'm thinking there's got to be a way to rearrange the front closet so that I can put one of the desks in there, set up, so I can just pull it out when I want to work on it. The closet is crazy oversize so it would easily fit an extra-deep desk all set up. I'm going to work on that. I'm getting an easel for my painting because painting on the floor is the bane of my existence and my back hates me for it. I'm making do. We plan on moving when our contract is up into a three bedroom apartment for a year (before booking it out of Utah) so that I can have an art studio. I can deal for a year.

Changed the name of the store. Wanted something catchier than JSHDesigns. Arts Afire is the new name. I'm still keeping JSHDesigns because my grandpa and I might open a joint shop. He'll sell his watercolors and I'll sell my more traditional art like my drawings and my watercolors. Arts Afire is going to specialize in my abstract acrylic paintings. And if I don't open a joint store with my grandfather, I'll have a store called Handcrafted by Sara where I'll sell my hand painted pendants, my handmade books, and other things like that. I'm very excited about this whole thing. Jeremy is, too. He's pretty positive my store will do well. I've been offered money for my paintings before, so it's not too far fetched to think that they'll sell well. Plus, I have a very intensive marketing plan. I will get my name out there.

Jeremy's starting a job/career with Primerica. His friend works there and it's insurance and securities sales. Kind of like Richard Gilmore on Gilmore Girls. He's starting that up in January and if he does as well as his friend does working on 10 hours a week, I can easily quit my job and focus on my art. But I like my job so I'd like to stay longer, unless my store picks up like wildfire (I'm really hoping it does) then I'll really need 8 hours a day to work on it like a lot of the other artists on Etsy. But, like I said, I really like my job so I'm not worried about it. It's not like I can't wait to move on. Though when I got up this morning earlier than I would have liked I thought about my friend Amanda and how she quit her job and her last day was Tuesday (she's pregnant) and I thought, "She doesn't have to be up this early. Unless she wants to be. Unfair." But if I worked at home on art I wouldn't be able to let myself sleep in. I'd feel too lazy. Maybe once a week, though. A girl can dream.

Item of the Day:

Hedgehog and Piano print from boygirlparty.com

And we're back!

So I've been at my job for about a month now.

Loving it.

It's fun and my coworkers are fantastic! I'm basically in charge of "first impressions and lasting impressions." I make sure the company looks good and that the clients are happy. I plan the parties and events, buy gifts for clients, keep track of birthdays, compile all their "values" and statements for reviews, etc . . .

I'm beyond happy about finding a job that I enjoy. From what I gather it's rare for that to happen. I've only had one job that I hated. I walked out in the middle of my shift of my third day of work. Political Science department. 'Nuff said.

Jeremy is currently building a new computer. I'll be glad when he gets it all done. He's wanted a computer for so long but the finances never seemed to work out. Something else that we both wanted would come along, like a vacation or a new bed or something. But he's finally getting it. When he gets it done we're converting the office/guest bedroom into an office/guest bedroom/game room. We're moving all of our consoles in there so while Jeremy plays games on the computer, I can play the Xbox, Xbox 360, Wii or my DS in there on the bed. The bed sucks when two people are in it, but when there's only one, it's pretty darn heavenly so I think it will make a great game/crash room.

Speaking of the Nintendo DS Lite, there are many rumors saying a new one will be unveiled tomorrow. Cross your fingers with me. I would love an upgrade. Especially if, as rumored, it also functions as a camera and a music player. Still not discreet enough to play game during church on, but that's what iPod touches are for.

We're going home to Minnesota for Thanksgiving. And then we're going to Disneyland for Christmas. No Christmas shopping before Disneyland. We're giving each other $150 to spend there on gifts to open on Christmas morning (Downtown Disney is the best; they have a Sephora--Utah is lame and doesn't have one so I have to send away for all my favorite products). Then we're having the rest of our Christmas in January when we get back. We're getting season passes, too! We're so excited!! We love Disneyland almost as much as we love each other, air, and our new mattress. We might love Disneyland more than air . . .

Will write more tomorrow. I have a lot to say, but I'm going to break it up so as not to exhaust all of our news immediately.

Item of the Day:


Benefit's Bluff Dust. The perfect powder.

8.22.2008

On Vacation

Will be back in awhile. Probably mid-September. I start my new job on September 11th. Until then, I'm on vacation from everything but having fun and shopping.

Item of the Day:

Anything on Anthropologie.com
There's at least three weeks of Items of the Day on that site

8.20.2008

Touchdown

Got the job! Going in tomorrow at 4:30 to get the offer and hammer out the details.

8.19.2008

The Suspense is KILLING Me

So, I didn't get any news on the job yesterday because the CEO didn't make it back to the office from any of his appointments. So I was supposed to meet with him today, but he told one of the other manager there to "apologize 1000 times" and he will call me tomorrow since he also won't make it back to the office today. I'm going insane here! Jeremy just keeps laughing at me and reassuring me that I totally got the job, but still. I'm going crazy.

My last day at work is next Tuesday. I did not realize that until today. I have exactly one week left of work. Eek! I need to get Claire and Braden trained! I created a book for them to reference after I leave, but I still need to show them some of the stuff in it that is a rare occurrence but an occurrence nonetheless. Like, how on earth to find the TrueCore boxes from Light Impressions. The first time I ever had to find them it took hours. They were well-hidden. I now have a bookmark and the exact link referenced in the reference book. And I need to educate them on photo prices. Which, believe it or not, can be very confusing--sometimes you just have to come up with your own definition of what category a client fits into and charge them that price. So much to do.

My art supplies should be arriving day after tomorrow. I cannot wait to start painting and creating things because I have beaucoup d'idées. I'm very excited. I found a fantastic service called "The Sampler," which takes your samples and sends them out in a monthly "sampler" box to magazines and such. Great exposure. I'm planning on sending packs of 5 Moo cards with one of my paintings or drawings on each card and a hand-painted scrabble tile necklace, along with a business card and some great packaging I have designed.

Tomorrow I have an interview for an Outreach Coordinator position at BYU. It's only 30 hours a week, but that's good enough. I'm just taking it because it was offered. Pretty sure I'm going to be getting the other job, though. I'm also still in the middle of interviewing for that USANA position. Much is going on.

UPDATE: The job interview for today is associated with the political science department of BYU. I would rather be unemployed and living in a tree than work for the political science department again. Last time, I lasted three days before I just quit and walked out without finishing my shift. So, I'm gonna be canceling that interview because I don't despise myself enough to work anywhere near the political science department again.

Item of the Day:


Earrings from Etsy shop Realisation Creations

8.15.2008

New Interviews

I had an interview on Tuesday for a Client Relationship and Marketing Manager position at a local company here and I was invited back for a second interview today which (the CEO told me I could say) went very well. He said he was very impressed with me and thought I would be the best fit but that he had to interview the other candidate to "be fair." And then he said, "But when could you start?" He then said he'd let me know on Monday whether I got the job for sure.

Two hours later I get a call that he wants me to come in on Monday to talk to him. Thinking that's a good sign. They don't call you in to tell you that you didn't get the job.

This would be a great job. It's a really small company but really established and I like all the other employees there, including the CEO. And it's from 9-5, so I'd have time to go to the gym before work so that I could have time to work on art after work for my store, which is well on it's way to being up. I bought about 70 canvases yesterday and some glass locket pendants for my hand-painted jewelry. Score for bulk pricing.

There'd be a lot of graphic and web design, event planning, client relations and brochure and welcome kit designing. Both interviewers said the job seemed to be right up my alley. Thinking that's also a good sign.

Item of the Day:


Glass Lockets

8.11.2008

But I Don't Want to Type Anymore!

These weeks of job searching have shown me a few things:

1) Looking for jobs is not fun
2) The stress accompanying the job search is not fun
3) Most jobs are not fun
4) When I'm searching for a job, I am not fun
5) I need to find something that I want to do so that I don't hate my job--in other words, I need to come up with a job that is fun

So here's the conclusion Jeremy and I have come to. Etsy. I've been offered money for my artwork in the past, even before it was even done. So if someone likes my half-finished products and wants to buy them, why wouldn't they want to buy my finished products? I've been researching Etsy and small businesses and tax laws the past few days to the point that I finally understand what an SE tax is and how much I should pay in estimated taxes quarterly. For someone who hates numbers and money, that's saying something. I'm going to keep looking for a job, even just a part time job (and I'm still really into the idea of working at Bassett (4 days a week, so 3 days off to devote to making art) as a design consultant which reminds me that I need to call them back after I finish writing this), and I will open my store in the meantime. It has a name, it has a place, it just doesn't have anything up yet because I haven't gotten to that part yet. When I do, the URL and links to products will be up. And I will be shamelessly asking anyone and everyone to spread the word about me--I may even wear sandwich boards in the middle of the city. So, here's to hoping that I don't have to be a corporate career gal.

Item of the Day:



The Bomb--a bundle of all the Etsy marketing and selling and record keeping tools a person could ever want or need. This will be one of my first purchases.

8.07.2008

There will be books!

My interview went very well. In my opinion. I got along great with my two interviewers and I had an answer for each question as well as questions of my own. So, in the next couple of weeks I will hear if I got a second interview (which includes a writing test--insert ominous music here). I was only the second interview, so I have a bit of a wait.

Did I also mention that I applied for an Academic Resources Consultant at the Bookstore on campus? I did. Which I would love for several reasons:

1) There will be books.
2) We wouldn't need a second car right away because we'd still both be working on campus so there would be money to start a savings account with.
3) It involves PR and Marketing--fun!
4) There will be books.

That job closes on August 18th, so I can't call about it until then, but you can bet I'll be calling about it.

More and more people are finishing Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer and it appears that they either love it and think it had absolutely no flaws and have "who wouldn't want a completely free-from-stress ending to the series?" attitudes and then there are those who are like me--who wonder what made Stephenie Meyer wander off the path so completely with all the random and new character developments that didn't reconcile well with the previous books. But I'm glad that some people loved it because if the world were filled with people like me who take their books way too seriously (I mean, they are LIFE to me) there probably wouldn't be as many books because we'd all be too picky. Plus, I really want her to write again because I do think she's a good writer, so it's good that most (at least it appears there is a majority) like the book. And as disappointed as I was in the ending of the series, I am very much looking forward to Midnight Sun, Twilight from Edward's point of view.

I really think she should leave The Host as a single book, though. No sequels, please. It ended well. There was closure. Let's not take it too far.

Our apartment is a crazy mess right now. We're working on turning the office into a guest room and so we had to collapse two desks and put them away so everything it sitting around in boxes or on the floor or something. And we don't care. We'll care when we finally get our new bed in and we can actually finish turning the guest room into a guest room by moving our current mattresses in with the bed (that we already moved so we wouldn't have to do it all at the same time). Then we'll take a day and clean the apartment and finish the re-decorating.

I'm working on a lot of art right now to sell on a store I want to open on etsy.com. It's going to be paintings and drawings, including handpainted jewelry (pendants). I need a name for the store, though. Any ideas?? Something fun and creative. Not just "Sara's Shop" or anything like that.

I'm also working on decorations for the apartment. I bought three matching black and white Jackson Pollock prints to float between lucite panels (back one is frosted) and hang on the wall (again, floating away from the wall 1.5"). They look great. Our new bedroom is going to be black and white. Cannot wait to get the bedroom done.

Jackson Pollock, No. 14 (Gray)


Item of the Day:

Constantin Brancusi's Bird in Space
Our favorite modern sculpture

8.06.2008

Woah!

Bassett Furniture just posted an open Design Consultant position! Woah! I was there on the 24th of July and we bought a bed and a mattress and I talked to the hiring manager because I had put in one of their form applications but they didn't have any openings at the time. He said to just keep coming back and bugging him. And today, a job posting for the Orem Bassett Furniture. I applied with my resume and cover letter through Career Builder (since it was a much better application process than the BassettFurniture.com application process, which, if I remember correctly, doesn't let you post your resume) and I will go in this weekend and "bug him" like he told me to. That'd be great! Plus, it's only about a mile from me.

I will write more and have an Item of the Day later. Right now I'm studying up on the company and myself so I can be impressive at my job interview this afternoon.

8.05.2008

Job Interview Tomorrow

Tomorrow I have an interview with Usana Health Sciences for a "Writer II" position. Hopefully the fact that the person who scheduled me for an interview seemed very excited to talk to me is a good sign. I've researched the company and I would most definitely like to work there. The founder is the man who came up with all the viral diagnostic tests for diseases such as Epstein-Barr and Herpes. He sold his viral research laboratory to begin Usana Health Sciences. They sell health supplements, skin care, and are completely devoted to health. They also have (well, the founder does) a specialized hospital to concentrate on special cases. Dr. Wentz, the CEO, is dedicated to cancer research and other research to find cures for diseases. So, all in all, I'm very impressed with the company and their focus and I would love to work there.

Not to mention, they have an on-site gym, which would make it so much easier to get my workouts in--and I could miss rush hour traffic in the mean time.

Item of the Day:

Usana Sense Skin Care. I'm interested in it. Plus, it's cheaper than Clarins which would be nice.

8.04.2008

$4000 v. $1200 and J.K. Rowling Reigns Supreme

No news on the job front, but no bad news, either. So everything is still looking good for me. I applied for four more positions today, too. But. Today I was looking through job posts again and I noticed that you can make $4000 a month as a mechanic versus $1200 a month as an "executive assistant."

It's so much easier in my opinion to fix cars than it is to be nice to stupid people.

Spoiler alert for anyone who has not finished Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer and does not want to know anything about it. Let alone how profoundly disappointed I am.

Let me start by talking a little about Harry Potter, especially considering Stephenie Meyer has been speculated to be the next J.K. Rowling (which, I have to say, is very unfair--that is a LOT to live up to--J.K. Rowling is a genius when you stop to think about how important every aspect of every book is to every other book in the series. It is completely intertwined and it takes some massive amounts of skill to write like she does. But J.K. Rowling set the standard for this genre, so everyone is going to be compared to her.). So, Harry Potter was amazing. And it was amazing for several reasons:

1) It was well written--the only discrepancy I noticed between all seven books was that in the first book, the lighter that removed and replaced light was called a "Put-Outer" and in the seventh book it was called the "Deluminator" (which I prefer--it flows better). Other than that, the entire series was true to itself and edited beautifully.
2) Each book could stand alone if you could somehow keep yourself from getting hooked and reading them all
3) It wasn't all feel good and happy-go-lucky
4) There was a definite plot that connected all seven books, never wavering from Voldemort and the fight against him
5) There were never any moments that made you think, "Wow...she was really reaching when she came up with that idea."
6) The characters made sense--they were true to themselves and their origins throughout the entire series. Once the characters were developed, they stayed that way.
7) It was believable--yes, it was about wizards, but J.K. Rowling wrote so well and so real that it really wasn't difficult to imagine that there was a Hogwarts out there--and we all wanted to go to school there
8) The villains were really villains in the case of the Death Eaters and Voldemort had NO redeeming qualities and didn't try to fake having redeeming qualities
9) People died for the fight between good and evil

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer is still one of my favorite books. It's a great book to get lost in. It is by no means near the level of intelligence and sophistication of Harry Potter, but it was still relatively well written and I loved it. New Moon was good, too, but not as good. Eclipse just made me mad, but I still liked it well enough once I got past Bella's annoying vacillations between Edward and Jacob. But Breaking Dawn...wow. Every prediction that was made about it that seemed completely far-fetched (and absolutely out of line with everything that the characters were developed to be like) was actually in the book. I got to the end with only 20 pages left and absolutely nothing had happened. The tedious and long descriptions of Bella's pregnancy (which really, only lasted a month according to the story) should have been shortened to less than, oh, 300 pages. And the 200 pages spent leading up to the big battle ended up leading to a really big...oh, wait...nothing. No battle. So, here is a list of why J.K. Rowling reigns supreme after the release of the final book in the Twilight series (and really, that was never in question in the first place):

1) There were some parts in the book that I actually stumbled over several times before I realized that there were double sentences within the sentence--as if a sentence was started and then changed but part of the original was accidentally left in place. So, not the easiest read. It was probably a race to hit the deadline and wasn't edited very well.
2) The books cannot stand alone. Yes, they are part of a series so they should be read together, in succession. But Harry Potter was a series as well and you could still read one and it could be considered its own story. Twilight is the only book that could stand alone in that series. You can read Twilight and be pretty much fulfilled. The others, not so much. Breaking Dawn, definitely not.
3) It was too "feel good"--Breaking Dawn was supposed to be a big end to a dramatic story. It wasn't. Everyone was fine. Everything was sickeningly sweet and easy. The stresses that they were supposedly feeling in the book seemed completely far-fetched and so therefore, unbelievable and I didn't share the tension--which is really vital for me in a book--I have to feel it. Maybe it's because I figured Stephenie Meyer was incapable of killing one of her characters, but I knew that all the "horrors" that the characters were facing were going to turn out just fine and so therefore, were not horrific.
4) The only definite plot that connected all four books was "Bella and Edward are in love." The villains differed. The friends differed. The personalities of the actual characters differed. Sure, there were the "shape shifters" (no longer werewolves, apparently) and the Cullens throughout all the books, but really, that was it. There was no great struggle between good and evil like it felt like Meyer was trying to achieve. The only truly scary bad guy was James, in the first book. All the others were obviously going to be defeated the whole time so it wasn't suspenseful.
5) The entire fourth book was a very long moment that made you think, "Wow, she was really reaching when she came up with that idea." The whole book felt like she was just catering to what would make everyone happy and make everyone feel good. Did we all feel good when Dumbledore died? No, but J.K. Rowling didn't care what we thought because it was necessary for a good story.
6) The characters were completely different from the characters in the first book. The character development wasn't consistent through all four books. First example, Charlie. His reactions didn't make sense when compared to the Charlie in the first book. Second example, Bella. Just everything about her--the baby, being mad at Jacob for imprinting (which was completely predictable and I actually laughed out loud when that happened because of course that would happen--it only took away from the believability of the book), her entire personality. She was nothing like the original Bella.
7) It wasn't believable--I can't imagine a real Cullen family. It was just all too surreal by the end of it.
8) The villains weren't villains. The Volturi, especially. They were apparently just cowards who, throughout everything, called their so-called enemies "my friends" and "my dear ones" (what?!) and they tried to pretend like they had all these wonderful qualities. I repeat. Not. Real. Villains. Real villains don't run off with their tails between their legs because someone can block them.
9) No. One. Died. In a book that is, from the whole premise of the book, about good v. evil wrapped up in a love story, someone needs to be hurt. Harry Potter was a fantastic series because it made you FEEL something. This didn't make you feel anything. The entire fourth book was a big ball of nothingness. Nothing happened. And it was obvious that Stephenie Meyer did not have the guts to let a character go. Everyone, besides one random side character, made it through. No fight scene throughout the entire book. No real danger to anyone. No one was even scratched. There was a monologue instead of a fight.

I'm not saying I hated the book. I enjoy reading about Edward and Bella, so I didn't hate the book. But the characters weren't the same in this book so I didn't really enjoy the book, either. It's a problem I am having difficulty reconciling. I think Stephenie Meyer just took the story too far. Had she left it at Twilight and moved onto the Host from there, I wouldn't have been disappointed like I am now. By the end it seemed like she'd run out of ideas, so she just took all the craziest ones and put them together. I was telling Jeremy it reminded me of the Left Behind series. I read the first book and thought, "Hey, not so bad. Not so great, but not so bad." The second book was bad. The third was awful. The fourth was horrid. The fifth was a train wreck. But I couldn't stop reading because I had to see how much worse it could possibly get. Don't get me wrong, I'm not comparing Stephenie Meyer to the nutjob, completely awful writers of the Left Behind series, but I feel the same way after finishing (though I could never make it through the other series because it was just that bad). I feel let down. I liked the first three books (so it definitely differs from my infamous "Left Behind" torture of myself). The fourth just didn't make sense with the others. But It doesn't help authors that I take my books so seriously. My mother says I should suffer for my art, not suffer through others' art. I expect way too much of authors, really. But hey, that's how it works.

I'll still read Stephenie Meyer's next book. I think when she doesn't take an idea too far and stretch it too thin that she is a great author. She has some great story ideas. I'm just really disappointed today in a book that I waited so long for.

So, J.K. Rowling reigns supreme because she is the infinitely superior story teller. She knows what needs to happen to make a story truly great. Stephenie Meyer, apparently, doesn't know what needs to happen to make a story truly great. Completely feel good, lovey-dovey stories that have no conflict or intense emotions for the reader to feel leave the reader feeling empty, and I am empty right now. I'm sure there would have been conflict had I known that Meyer is capable of letting a character go, but that's just not how she's worked in the past and she still doesn't work that way. So, no suspense because everything always turns out well for everyone in her books. I still like Twilight, but I'm going to pretend in the future that it is a stand alone book.

Update: A review that I ran across that says pretty much everything I said.

Click Here For Review


It's good to know I'm not the only one who was disappointed. Though I don't agree with the "fast pace" she talks about for the first two "books" of Breaking Dawn--I thought they were slow. The 300 pages of Bella "wincing" because she's pregnant and everyone "turning white" from watching her were not fast in my opinion. Very slow.

Update 2: Everyone must read my friend Randi's response below--she makes a fantastic point about the fight scenes in the other books as well. If I'd put that together before now, I probably wouldn't have been so disappointed because I wouldn't have been expecting as much.

Item of the Day:


For obvious reasons.

7.31.2008

My Thoughts Exactly

Anyone else not particularly liking any of the 19,000 Presidential candidates this year, let alone the main two, McCain and Obama?

Read Glenn Beck's latest commentary: Still looking for a candidate I can support

I agree with pretty much everything, and especially the Ben Affleck comment.

Item of the Day:

Seriously? Cream of shrimp?

7.30.2008

Funny Conversation Yesterday

Recruiter: Hi! We have a great graphic design job that we think you'd be perfect for!

Me: I've never done graphic design, so I don't think I'd be qualified.

R: Well, you really only need to know Photoshop and InDesign and since you do, you're qualified.

M: Oh, okay. That sounds good.

R: The pay range would be in the mid-'teens, so it's pretty good!

M: ....Let me get this straight. You're looking for a college educated person to fill a job that after taxes would put them below the poverty level?

R: ...

M: ...That would be a huge pay cut for me, and I currently work at a student job, so that's saying something. I'm gonna have to say no to this one. I like being able to pay my bills.

R: That's fine! Do you know of anyone else that would be interested?

------

Hmm...let's see. Do I know anyone willing to work full time, who is college educated, who would also like to have a night and weekend job at the same time so they can continue to not be homeless?

No. Don't know anyone like that. Sorry!

We have got to get out of Utah.

Item of the Day:

Because every diet needs a little wiggle room.

7.28.2008

New Blog (for Sara)

It's a weight loss blog. If I'm held accountable in a public forum, I'll do much better. I hope. If I get a job soon, I will be rewarding myself with 1) a massage because we're still sleeping on our awful bed and we hurt and 2) a personal trainer, so there will definitely be progress (and pain) to report.

This was inspired by Jen Lancaster and her book Such a Pretty Fat. I highly recommend it.

I will, of course, continue to write here about Jeremy and I.

Item of the Day:

Dry shampoo--The best friend of second-day hair

7.26.2008

We Did It

We went to admire the bed on the 24th like I said we might. Turns out that they were having a huge sale. 25% off and $250 in free gas. And we were talking to our "design consultant" (I want to be a design consultant) about the Tempurpedic mattress we want to get with it. He asked us what we liked about it because he hears customers talking about them all the time and wanted to know how they compared to their mattresses (Carrington Chase--made by Sealy for Bassett).

So we went and laid down on their middle grade mattress. Wow. It's like the perfect cross between Tempurpedic (supportive) and Intelligel (fluffy). It's a completely latex foam mattress. It's like heaven. And cheaper than the Tempurpedic brand of heaven. And it has none of the sleeping-on-the-edge-of-a-cliff feeling that the Intelligel bed has.

So we bought both. We're excited. Here's a picture again:


And the perfect bedding that we found to go with it:


Yay for Crate and Barrel.

We've already started transforming the office into a guest room, leaving just one desk. It's gonna be great.

Item of the Day:


Jeremy bought these for me when I was out of town once. Love them.