State of Bean

Coffee is sacred. The shop, stand, cart... all deities in their own right. Each place has its own personality, appealing to every type of person. Whether you are up late reading a book, going on vacation, or just have five minutes between meetings at work, a cup of joe is a cultural experience. Ask a Seattleite their choice of beverage, roast of beans and favorite coffee shop and you will see intimately into their soul. Rarely does a local not worship at the altar of the coffee bean. 

Until now. 

Here I am, about to enter the unique coffee culture of Seattle and yet I do not like coffee. Ice it, steam it, add cream, chocolate and sugar, try anything you want, and I still won't like it. After living in London for six months, another land of coffee (and tea), I know what kind of backlash one can receive for abstaining from the hourly coffee runs in the office: questions, weird looks, confusion, sadness and everything in-between. I wonder if I will ever be able to fully integrate into society without a daily java. Over the next few weeks I plan on trying different coffee combinations in hopes I will just eventually fall in love or find something mildly passable. Let me know if you have any recommendations. 

 

 

Gotta Catch [All 'Em Jobs]

Well, it happened, I got a job. It is not the job I expected or ever imagined, but I am extremely excited nonetheless. I will be working as a graphic designer at The Pokémon Company International which is headquartered in Bellevue, WA, right across Lake Washington from Seattle. 

I will be designing primarily print items ranging from children's books to Pokémon trainer manuals and will be developing brand guidelines and materials for all the Pokémon and new games that are released.

I found some photos online of headquarters and I have to say I think it is going to be a really fun work environment. During my interview, I was totally sold on Pokémon and their work culture by a few of their employees. Apparently company-wide tournaments when a new game is released is the norm. 

 

 
 
 

Oh, for shore!

My parents moved to Wilmington, NC a year ago and I have loved every second of it. Weekends spent on the beach are about all you can ask for in your parent's next home. Since this weekend is a holiday I decided to head home and soak up some sun. My dad and I have been talking about going to the Fort Fisher Aquarium for months and on Saturday we made the short trek. It was so much fun watching my dad stare with childlike enthusiasm at the jellyfish and the seahorses and pointing out hidden eels eagerly. Using this as inspiration I drew up some of these aquatic friends and hit the beach. 

I am currently in a Motion Graphics class and our final project has no subject. I knew I wanted to do something related to nature as that is an area I am super passionate about. The trip to the aquarium did the trick and gave me a ton of inspiration for what friendly ocean life to animate. Here are some pictures of the fun animals we saw.

 
 

 

 

Inspired by Petals

 

To celebrate spring and the beautiful flowers blooming all over campus and North Carolina, I am doing a #Inspiredbypetals series over the next couple of months. I will be creating art using blossoms, petals and various mediums. If you guys have any ideas for future pieces, comment with suggestions. 

 

Carolina Basketball: A Love Story

Carolina Basketball.

Like every great love it makes you laugh, cry, scream and smile. It leaves you feeling happy (oh so happy), sad, anxious, angry, elated and sometimes disappointed. It leaves you hanging by a thread just to pull you back in even tighter.

When you are near it you become so overcome by emotion you find it hard to explain to other people your feelings unless they too have been that in love. It still gives you the same butterflies everytime you watch it. You find yourself becoming protective over it and if anyone is to speak badly of it you are immediately on the defensive.

You find yourself dressing different than before. To show it your commitment and love, Blue becomes the only color you wear. You start putting on more makeup but it consists mostly of paint and glitter. You find yourself hanging out with mutual friends more because you see eye-to-eye, but your friends from other schools start thinking you are spending to much time with them. They don't see your loyalties have changed.

It makes you want to settle down for the rest of your days. You don't need another love like this. It makes you want that ring. 

Happy Camper

Ten days, three states, four parks and countless breathtaking views later, my body is tired but pleased, a feeling I have become happily familiar with after finishing a week of camping, or even an hour spent hiking. There is a reason why people seek the trails. Hiking is happy. 

Growing up in an outdoor-enthusiast's paradise, my early life was filled with nature. Unlike my sister, who by fifth grade openly stated she would not be going on any more of our family camping trips, I have continued to seek out other nature-lovers throughout my life. This love is how I ended up on a spring break trip with fourteen totally-awesome nature nerds. 

In just ten days we volunteered at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, drove through Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Valley of Fire State Park, and hiked around Zion National Park. In ten days I only showered a handful of times, ate large amounts of scrambled eggs, got a successful farmers tan that will take months to undo; lost "Odds Are," stripped, and ran into a freezing cold lake; and hiked Angel's Landing and will never forget the adrenaline rush of sitting at the top. In ten days I made memories with my best friend and made memories with some new friends. Happy trails to them.

 
 

Photo Credit: Emily Rose and Emily Bulla

 

Take Me To The Desert

Although I spent a couple days in Vegas for my spring break, the majority of my trip was allocated to adventuring in nature. And I have to say, two days in Vegas left me yearning for the beautiful desert and canyon lands just out of sight. 

My next week was spent in the heart of the desert at Lake Mead National Recreation Area volunteering for the Parks Service. As expected it was hot and it was dry. The high for the day averaged between 88°F to 95°F while I was there and the entire area only averages about 6 inches of precipitation a year. With conditions like this, it became clear how important water is in the desert in terms of wildlife, plant and personal survival; and, with growing populations and drought conditions, water efficiency is now even more critical.

So you have to drink a lot of water? Got it. We did that by remaining vigilant. But most of the people we saw in the parks were geared with only a small plastic water bottle. Not only was this not smart as far as personal hydration goes but it also supports the unhealthy behavior of buying bottled water. 

While at Zion National Park I ran across this fact: "You can refill an average reusable bottle with tap water once a day for 10 years, 5 months, and 21 days before it would cost as much as one quart of bottle water."

~Mind Blown~

I thought I'd compile some other *fun* facts to hopefully convince you to be smart with your water consumption and also to not buy plastic!

  • 3 liters of water is used to package 1 bottle of water.
  • The energy used to manufacture bottled water can power 190,000 homes.
  • A sprinkler or hose can use almost as much water in an hour as an average family of four uses in one day.
  • Plastic is listed as the number one threat to our marine ecosystem.
  • Roughly 1,500 plastic bottles end up as waste in landfills or thrown in the ocean every second.
  • Much of the plastic thrown in the ocean ends up in the Pacific Garbage Patch which is roughly twice the size of Texas.

 

Bright Lights, Solar City

After spending a few days in Las Vegas for my spring break, it became clear to me that the glittering city is clearly not a model of energy conservation. With the lack of clouds and intense sun essentially year-round (solar panel central you would think right?), I wanted to see how much energy the city was consuming and whether it was renewable or not.

Albeit amazing and jaw-dropping, Las Vegas consumes massive amounts of power, with more than 70% of it coming from natural gas. A casino can use five times as much energy per square foot as that of a large hospital. What accounts for most of this energy use? Lights. At 30%, this is the largest single item. However, with a business so tied to electricity, many casino's have taken green steps in the last ten tears. 

Look beyond the Eiffel Tower, Black Pyramid and glowing neon signs and you will find the United State's largest rooftop solar array. More than 20 acres sit above the Mandalay Bay convention center which provides the building with 20% of its energy. Furthermore, the Monte Carlo has replaced their boilers for the pool in exchange for plate-and-frame heat exchange units, the MGM, Wynn and Las Vegas Sands will be producing and buying more renewable energy in the coming years, and the Bellagio reduced its energy consumption enough to power 500 US homes. Even the state of Nevada has over 500 megawatts coming from geothermal power.

While I will always appreciate and encourage the use of renewable energy, my time in Vegas and my time volunteering at Lake Mead National Recreation area (home of the Hoover Dam), has enhanced this. I feel like I have seen waste and efficiency at its best (or worst). My brain still hasn't even come to process the amount of lightbulbs that exist within one casino. However, it gives me a little hope to see that Las Vegas casinos are heading in the renewable direction.

My Reading List

One of my favorite books is Goodnight Moon. My love of books began with it. Read to me by my mom almost every night, I am pretty sure I can recite it all from memory. Racing to be the first to point to the hidden mouse on each page, my earliest memories associated fun and happiness with reading. 

As I got older my appetite for stories was never satiated. Roald Dahl showed me that imagination has no limits, Dickens and I fought through fifth grade, Tolstoy taught me it is okay to not finish every book you try (War and Peace anyone?) and J.K. Rowling showed me some series will never lose their magic.

My book consumption slowed like any metabolism leaving their teenage years and entering college. But instead of gaining beer weight I just lost a piece of happiness. Now that I am about to graduate I am in desperate need of some good reads and some good rereads. I made this illustration to keep me inspired and hold myself accountable. As I get more suggestions (comment below!) I will write them into each book outline and as I finish each book I will color that part in. At the end I will have a fully colored page. 

Here are some that I have on my list currently:

Dino-mite DIY (Part II of II)

On Monday I wrote about my new favorite planter. He is a brontosaurus. He is about 12 inches long and 15 inches tall and he has two succulents in his back. It was a really easy DIY project that had amazing results and I am always getting compliments on it. On Etsy these will run you about $17-30 but I only spent $3. Happy crafting friends. 

Supplies:

  • Toy Dinosaur of at least 8 inches (I had one from my childhood but you can find them everywhere) - $1–$3
  • Drill and drill bit*
  • Boxcutter
  • Coarse sandpaper
  • Succulent or Air Fern - $2–4
  • Potting soil or moss
  • Multi-surface spray paint/primer* - $2–6

*Drill bits will differ based on dino size and whether it is hollow or not.

*I did not spray paint mine as it has sentimental value to me but I definitely suggest painting them for a cute pop of color.

Instructions

1. My dinosaur for this planter was not hollow, however almost any you find will be. Plan out where you want the hole(s) and then cut it out with the box cutter. Or, if it isn't hollow, then drill out the center, making sure to stop before going through the dinosaur. We used a 1.5" spade drill bit however I am sure a forstner bit would also work well, if not better.

2. Now drill 1 to 2 holes in the bottom of the dinosaur to allow for water to flow out. This is essential if you are using succulents because it will stop water from accumulating. Those roots need air. 

3. Use coarse sandpaper around the edges. I felt this was needed for my drilled out dino as the edges were more torn up. It just makes it look neat.

4. Time to paint! Primer is always a good idea before painting, but if you don't have it then make sure to buy enough spray paint to get even coats. If you didn't paint yours, like me, then you are done!

5. If you are using succulents then fill the inside with potting soil, there is special fast-draining soil for succulents which I recommend, and plant the little guy in. The succulent I used is ideal as you can get 3-4 of them in each pot for only $3 and they have a small root system. If you are using an air fern, which is good for the smaller dinos, you only have to fill the inside with moss to fill it out. Air Ferns don't need soil, they just need to be misted daily or, what I do, submerged in water weekly. 

6. This planter will make you smile every time you see it so make sure to plant it somewhere that you and everyone else can enjoy it. 

Life Succs Without You (Part I of II)

I love plants even more than I love puns. A glance around my small bedroom will reveal three cacti, four succulents and a large snake plant. My happy, thriving, oxygen-purifying friends bring daily joy and a pop of color to my life. 

My love for plants comes from my mom. During the winter, she brings her pots in and our house has close to fifty in every nook and cranny. Most importantly, there is her impressive garden. This year, I have channeled my mom, my passion for design and my inner plant-goddess to end up with some really cute pots and plant arrangements. 

My favorite "pot" was from my my dad at Christmas. He took one of my old dinosaur toys and helped me craft it into a planter. I will be posting the DIY for it later this week so keep your eye out. Meanwhile, I found some dino/animal planters on Etsy to inspire your future project both visually and also monetarily (with my DIY you will save money as mine only cost a few dollars). 

Gold T-Rex - $27+

Customize your Dino - $24+

White and Gold Giraffe - $24

Green Rhino - $22.50

City of Oaks

Last Saturday I made the long journey to Raleigh, otherwise known as the City of Oaks, otherwise known as the City of Couples with Babies and Slightly Older Dogs. I was initially tempted by a Facebook event that promised beer, food trucks and art, the makings of a perfect Saturday. What I found was beer, food trucks, and art (right on) but also large quantities of dogs (a plus) being walked by couples with babies (no thanks).

This brought up a lot of questions and theories about Raleigh and what the ten years after college hold. When you get a dog is this an unknown signal to your ovaries to start gearing up for a baby? Is Bull City Cider the best cider in the Triangle (yes, the answer is yes)? Is the entire population of Raleigh in a relationship? Is a brined jerk chicken sandwich with pineapple slices the best food truck item of 2017? Does that mean I peaked on sandwiches this year? Why do I spend so much money at any place with the word "market" in the title?

After pondering these extremely important and reasonable questions, I decided to make a list of some of the awesome people/places/things from my weekend. Check them out and comment with any suggestions for my next day trip to Raleigh.

Pop-Up Raleigh - They offer a monthly vintage and art market at Trophy Brewery. 

Trophy Brewing - We went to their Maywood Ave. location, which has a taproom and a large patio. They have daily food trucks, a dog friendly environment and great beer.

The Wandering Moose - We ate at The Wandering Moose food truck and had their Brined Jerk Chicken and their Smokey Bacon Mac N' Cheese (two of my favorite things). The sandwich had caramelized pineapple and cilantro-jalapeno coleslaw. It was amazing. 

Bull City Cider - To go with my amazing food, I had my favorite cider from the Triangle. Their Durham location should be opening this month!

Par-Mar - Makes really cute map art. I bought a birthday present there for my brother.

Patina Novum - Had adorable, one-of-a-kind pieces for your home. Also the owner rocked and I want to see this business thrive.

Retro Reclamations - Growing up in a house where my mom was always looking for Pyrex has made me hyperaware when I see any pottery. This place has a great vintage collection. 

 

XXX's and O's

I just spent the past ten days in Amsterdam and it only took eight for me to notice the XXX symbol plastered everywhere, so not that bad on the observation front. First on Tinder and then on a massive advertisement over a canal, I could not figure out the connection. Initially, I'm sure most people would assume that the XXX symbol has something to do with the city's infamous adult entertainment industry. However, it is merely coincidence that the city's historic symbol has also become a symbol for the sex industry. 

The XXX emblem, which appears on the city's flag and coat of arms, is made up of three St. Andrew's Crosses in white on a black stripe surrounded by a red background. St. Andrew was a fisherman who was crucified on an X-shaped cross in the 1st century AD. In 1505, the fisherman's town made it their official symbol and it flew on the flags of all ships registered in Amsterdam.

Along with wooden clogs, tulips and marijuana leaves, the city flag is one of the more common things you will find represented at souvenir shops. This, in addition to its funny accidental connection to Amsterdam's sex tourism, certainly helps sell more souvenirs. Even so, the city is proud of the symbol and all of its meanings. 

Amsterbrand

When I say the word "Nike" what comes to mind? I have an instant image of the swoosh, Michael Jordan, clean lines, the feeling of athleticism, power and competition. Most people would agree. Easy, right? But what if I say New York City or Barcelona? These might not be companies but they still have brands, lest not forget Milton Glaser's famous "I <3 NY". 

In the early 21st century, Amsterdam started to fall behind in European tourism. So, as a result, in fall of 2004, the I amsterdam brand was born. Past slogans such has "Amsterdam Has It" and "Capital of Sports" were either too vague or too specific and were certainly not recognizable. Taking colors from the city's flag, which I'll write about later this week, the logo is product-friendly and timeless. Perhaps the most successful aspect of the brand are the three sets of 7 foot tall "I amsterdam" letters. One set is permanently outside the Rijksmuseum and is photographed thousands of times a day. The second set, which I caught sight of out of an Uber's window, is in front of the Amsterdam Airport. The third set travels around the city and makes appearances at important events. 

So was the rebrand successful? To put it simply, Amsterdam is back in Europe's top five cities, but more importantly is that when I said "I amsterdam", most of you probably had images of the sign and gorgeous canals but also youth, innovation, creativity and history.

The Little Black Cat

Black cats are bad luck. Definitely don't let them cross your path. Or so you have heard. 

With their origins rooted in witchery and their symbolization of evil omens, black cats have had a negative image in Western history. Combine those superstitions with how hard they are to photograph - tending to show up as dark blobs with demonic glowing eyes - and you have more black cats in need of a home than any other color. By not photographing as well, potential cat owners are less likely to connect with shelters and rescues through their websites and on social media. As a result, black cats have the highest euthanasia rate of any animal.

As a black cat owner and a proponent of #adoptdontshop, this statistic saddens me. To say hair color doesn't matter sounds ridiculous, but with 1.4 million cats being euthanized every year and over 400,000 of them being black, I hope people will not only visit more shelters, adopt more animals, but also will keep their mind open about our darker feline friends. 

I made a list of both local and national pet searches below. So please go find your next best friend. 

A New Hope

The life lessons woven seamlessly into films are what keep countless classics relevant and in our hearts. It is not by accident that children continue to not only watch but love Cinderella and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, movies that are over 60 years old. However, while other girls had Snow White and Cinderella growing up, I had the Star Wars Trilogy in a box set. While I absorbed the typical lessons of friendship, love and heartbreak as demonstrated by many children's movies, I was also shown a very different kind of heroine. My Princess was defiant rebel royalty.

With last weekends Women's March, bringing together over 3 million worldwide, some reports saying close to 5 million, Princess Leia has come to represent the rebellion in a much larger sense. Her intelligent, fierce and powerful personality resonate with many on a deeper level. While I feel it is impossible to describe the affect she has had on me, I feel like I can simply say, "If Princess Leia taught me anything it is that a woman's place is in the resistance."

The Cactus Collection

Today I officially entered the Instagram illustration world with my first post. This took a surprising amount of forethought. When do I post? What is my Instagram brand? How do I be consistent while creating new material? How do I constantly create new material that inspires me and will hopefully inspire others?

After searching through all my favorite illustration Instagram accounts I created a plan. I have a set of hashtags that I am going to try to use to increase followers. I am going to post on the same days at the same times to take advantage of popular Instagram times and remain consistent. All my illustrations will be shot in a similar layout but with backgrounds that correlate with their themes.

My first post - The Cactus Collection - was inspired by my love for illustrated coloring books and plants. I have eight plants in my small bedroom alone. I expect this will become a common theme over the next few months. Moving forward I will continue to post my illustrations on this blog, my Instagram and my Pinterest.