2015: A Year In Review


I declared my word of the year: Momentum. And promptly stalled out! Okay, not really. I spent January attempting to reconnect with friends after a busy holiday season, trying to wrap my head around small business accounting and taxes, and helping my younger sister get her art school applications in order while keeping up with her schoolwork. It was a full month. There was a long weekend away in Vermont with much sitting and playing cards by the woodstove. There were blizzards, and feet upon feet of snow. I started doing some yoga. I worked on wedding invitations, websites, and email campaigns.


Boston got literally buried in snow. We had a blizzard almost every weekend in February, including the evening after what I’m calling “The Blizzard Craft Show” which was a bust, because the only people who came out were the battle-weary parents taking advantage of the kids play space for a few hours before they had to hunker down for another 24+ hours. February was also wedding invitation work and prep for two spring wedding shows. We did our taxes. I got a fun custom order from an event planning firm in NYC for an event at the end of the month. Elizabeth, my sister, sent in all of her art school applications, and the waiting game began. Oh, and I won a new sewing machine in a raffle!



March brought several plumbing disasters to the house, but we managed to survive them. There was more yoga, a few fundraisers, lots of getting out of the house, since it had finally stopped snowing, even if there was still 6+ feet of snow on every outdoor surface. I participated in a fun paper-focused craft show in a neat renovated Mill space in Lowell, and made some new vendor friends (friendors??). I baked 12 pies, from scratch, for our over-the-top Pi day celebration, since I figured March 14th doesn’t often fall on a Saturday, and it’ll be 100 years until the next ’15, and one should take advantage of such a thing. We took our first bites of pie at 3.14.15 9:26:53 am. I finished a quilt, and made progress on another. I worked on custom orders and wedding invitations.


The world finally started to thaw in April. I participated in my first wedding craft fair event, showcasing my custom wedding invitations and offering my boxes as favor boxes + place cards. The college decision process heated up as my sister learned she got accepted to all three of the schools she applied to (!!!), so there was a variety of accepted students events and several guided soul-searching moments. There was more yoga, too! I kicked off 100 days of paper folding with enthusiasm, and (foreshadowing) was really surprised by my ability to carry through with it! 100 days is a long time, and also not long at all. I got to spend a few days exploring Washington DC with my sister. We finally got to eat at Founding Farmers (amazing), caught up with an old friend, visited some museums, wandered around Alexandria, ate a lot of ice cream, and walked the National Mall. I lost my favorite hat on the subway. It was chilly, but sunny, and things were starting to bloom and grow, unlike our still-thawing Boston.


Spring! Boston finally thawed. I had my second wedding fair, and started working on an invitation job that came out of that. I also kicked off a website project, and, looking at my calendar, made dinner for a whole lot of people! We kicked off a monthly dinner + conversation project that we host at the house, so on top of various social engagements, one night I made spaghetti and meatballs (with gluten free and vegetarian options) for 30 people. My sister made her college decision and we began the process of completing paperwork, sending in deposits, and other fun things, while helping her wrap up her correspondence work for her high school diploma. I delivered a custom order for first birthday party favor boxes.


Everyone around me did a lot of travel in June, but I stayed put. I kicked off another website project, kept working on my two wedding invitation projects, and geared up for a big show in July. I did some networking, too – met up with someone who ended up inviting me to vend at an event in December, and got lunch with a new vendor friend (friendor!) who is now a friend friend. I took a knitting class and learned how to read lace patterns. I purchased a flat of strawberries from a local farm and made a whole lot of strawberry jam. My sister finished her high school coursework, and we threw her a surprise all-you-can-eat ice cream party. A few weeks later we celebrated her 18th birthday.


I took some time off in July, something I’m typically not very good at. Brian and I escaped up to Portland, ME for a mix of adventuring and working-from-AirBnB. We ate a lot of gelato, had a super fancy dinner for our anniversary that I still dream about, took a sunset harbor boat cruise, and did a lot of walking, which I love. The first part of the month was, aside from vacation, focused on getting ready for Art Beat. A good friend volunteered to spend some time helping me get ready, and with her help I cranked out the first batch of my new greeting cards. Also in July, I was cooking dinner for the house and a few guests when the power went out, which led to me baking a pie in the neighbor’s gas grill, and attempting to cook rice on our grill. We refer to that night as the 18th century dinner party, because the power didn’t return until late that night.


Brian worked his last day at his job of 5+ years, cleaned off his work laptop, dropped it in a FedEx box, and then drove us to Albany, NY to kick off a 2-week-long roadtrip to see family. I didn’t get much work done in August. The trip was lovely, it was nice to see everyone, and a lovely cousin had a lovely wedding that we got to attend in Oklahoma. After we returned, Brian still had a few weeks before the new job started. It’s hard to focus on work when everyone around you is on vacation! We rearranged our space at home so that I would have a dedicated studio/office space, which has been amazing. We explored the newly-opened Boston Public Market, and got our teenager ready to move into the dorms. Oh, and I finished up one of the wedding invitation projects, which ended up including programs and place cards. I also created a new Instagram account specifically for Yeiou in August, which is why you’ll see images from two different accounts.


We dropped my sister off at the dorms and experienced MassArt’s “Parent Orientation” as the youngest “parents” in the room. Two days later Brian packed up for his first day at his new job, and I was suddenly left to my own devices in my brand new studio. I worked on websites and wedding invitations, place cards and programs, and started adding things to my Etsy store (a goal from my 30in3before30 project). Mostly, I think I learned a lot about myself, about what does and doesn’t work when I’m working from home alone, and how needy the cat is when I’m the only human around.


Looking back at the fall and winter, October began a three-month-long blur. We had some friends visit for a week, one of whom happened to be a photographer, who kindly spent an entire day shooting products, set-ups, and portraits for me – an amazing gift that has been invaluable. We spent a weekend on one of the harbor islands, and also escaped up to an ancient farmhouse in New Hampshire for a few days. In between all of that I continued to hustle to get my Etsy shop up to date for the holidays, took a long-arm quilting class, and helped our church work toward a new name and logo. I also took a deep breath and signed up for Tiffany Han’s 100 Rejection Letters program. This is a year long business coaching/growth/branding program that was not an insignificant financial investment. It still feels crazy.


100 Rejection Letters kicked off, and I got my first two “rejections” in the first week of the program, as well as a yes from one of the people I reached out to, resulting in my first wholesale account! This month felt pedal-to-the-metal in its entirety (all good stuff, just a whole lot of it), from hosting another friend for a week (houseguests are awesome, but make working from home more challenging), planning for all of the holiday festivities, preparing for the gauntlet of 6 holiday craft shows in 3 weeks, extensive husband birthday celebrations, and managing the logistics of hosting Thanksgiving dinner for 30 people. I developed a cough/cold thing mid-November that I have yet to fully kick, because I didn’t really rest for two months. I had two craft shows the weekend after Thanksgiving, while I was coughing uncontrollably, and I learned that people really like glitter on their greeting cards.


Craft shows! Mostly craft shows, with a side of purchasing, wrapping, and shipping all of our extended family Christmas gifts so that we could open them together via video call on Christmas day. We decided that we didn’t have the energy or the funds to travel for the holidays, after all of the transitions and fullness of the fall. The last four craft shows were a mixed bag, but all were fun. In all my holiday season was a little worse, financially, than last year, which seems to have been a bigger trend. I enjoyed the camaraderie with other vendors, though, and the general comfort of having made it through a holiday season already. It was also helpful having enough shows under my belt that I knew what to expect a little better.

By the numbers:

11 Shows

22 Etsy orders completed

2 Weddings designed

2 Websites built

Posted in Blog, Thoughts and tagged , .