National Arbor Moving Day

At least for The Smithocracy. That’s right people, recently we were in the business of moving a tree or two. For many a month (since we have not quite reached our year mark) there has been a blight on my front lawn.

Two awkwardly placed trees. I have nothing against trees, however I feel like they should do more than produce air. They should enhance the property they are on and add eye pleasure to all who see them. Unfortunately these two guys were not contributing in the eye pleasing way that The Smithocracy requires. Instead they were blocking the view to my new pretty house. Time would only show these two rascals growing bigger and bigger and hiding my house more and more. So it was time to call in the big guns.

Or in other words, my favorite yard lovin’ folk at Eco Irrigation. I have sung their praises before in this post, when they helped with our backyard sprinkler system.

Eco Irrigation is owned by our friend Adam Benefield, as seen standing in a hole below.

Now Adam does a lot more than stand in holes. Oh yes, his talents are vast and many.

So I called him up and whined my dilemma to him.

“What, oh what, do I do with awkwardly placed trees?”

The Answer: you move them of course!

So one of our trees went on a very fun Journey across the yard.

The other tree found a nice new home in the Benefield backyard. So as you can see, no trees were harmed in the making of this more Aesthetically Pleasing View.

Remember the before.

Yuck.

Now after.

Another angle please.

See how much more open the front yard is? Lots of room to throw a ball and see my house. We did not build the thing so it could hide behind a couple of trees, now did we. I also like how the new placement balances out the trees on the other side of the house.

Ahhhh young Padawan, you bring balance to the force…or…er…house.

Here is your close-up Mr. Tree-ville.

He is very happy in his new home. And I am very happy that I can see my new home! So everyone is happy!

How about you? Are you happy too?

What!? We just had Thanksgiving and you forgot to show your gratitude for The Smithocracy? Well head on over to our Facebook page and fix that right now. Give us some like so we can feel your thanks! :-)

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Wedding Part 3 – Austin at the Okey-Doke

Welcome to the third and final installment of The Best Wedding Ever. You are true fans and friends if you have stuck with me thus far. Also, exciting news! I found some pictures for the California Reception. So I will update that post soon and let you know.

We partied in Cali and now it was time to shimmy in Texas. The Open House was held at my parents house. Otherwise known as The Okey-Doke. There is a story behind the name, so if you are curious, then feel free to ask. But I won’t make this post any longer then it already is by explaining. So back to The Okey-Doke.

We have had many a Wedding Reception, Party, Shower, and even a Youth Conference at the Okey Doke. So you could say we knew what we were doing. We just had to tackle down a theme and go to it. For this Open House, that was easy. Cowboy Ranch Style in Texas? Easy Peasy. The natural look of the Okey-Doke and surrounding area was decoration enough. So it only needed a little sprucing up. As always, my mom is the brains and designer behind all the scenes.

No professionals were harmed or used in the making of this party.

Like most parties, the first thing to arrive are the flowers.

This was a Western Theme in the Fall. So Mums the word of course!

Then it was time for the general prep. There were lots of things that began months ago, but the final steps took place over the course of two days. So the following pictures are over two days times. But I am trying to tell a story here, so I’m going to address it as one day. I am sure the discerning reader can tell when we move to a new day by the outfit changes.

The first step for any Okey Doke party is The Dance Floor. The Dance Floor has been in the family for years, and was constructed by my amazing Handy Dandy Dad. For this party, it was decided a ceiling of white twinkle lights was in order.

Never one to begrudge some help, Austin and Logan quickly became Grandpa’s assistants. Here is where I take a minute to brag about my Dad. Hanging the lights is the worst job for these parties. And each time he is the one to do it. As I watched him tediously unwind, check what works, hang back and forth and back and forth, go back and correct mistakes, readjust in some areas, up and down the ladder, etc.,etc. I did not hear one complaint from him. He didn’t even seem grumpy, and never does. In fact he was pleasant about the whole thing. I love that about my Dad. Not only does he know how to work hard, he does it with a good attitude!

Soon Alex was recruited, no Groom gets off easy in this family!
The light ceiling was a little heavy and needed some extra reinforcement.

Then the boys made sure The Dance Floor was nice and sturdy.

Meanwhile my Mom and I set up chairs, tables and other assortments.

Mason Jars were set up, with votive candles, all along the driveway. And it is a looooong driveway. We didn’t dress them up because the party was happening at night, so any decor would not have been seen or noticed. Once lit, they looked amazing as you will see below.

Time for a little rest.

This is my favorite picture. That is my Mom, no makeup and tired from sweating all day in the yard. Isn’t she beautiful! I hope I can be like here when I am 55+! Look at my Dad looking at my mom. You can just see how much he loves her. Yay love!

Here is the result of our hard work so far.

No party is complete without a sweet sound system. Introducing Russell the Official Okey-Doke Sound Crew.

Is it ready?

Sweet, Time for DJ T-girl Smith to checkity-check the mic and lay some vinyl down…or hook up the mac…whichever.

I have the unofficial role as Family DJ. This comes in super handy for our New Years Eve parties and also, apparently, weddings.

Now there is only one way to properly test a sound system and a dance floor at the same time. Breakin it down Gangnam Style!

All seemed to be in order.

  • Lights – check
  • Floor – check
  • Sound – check
  • Sweet playlist – check
  • A dose of Romriell Goofiness – Triple check!

Apparently at the last-minute, my Dad and Alex decided that we were missing a Texas Style homemade fountain. This was not on the “Approved” list, so they sneaky set it up when my mom was inside.

This is what you get when boys design a fountain. Oh well. It works and was ultimately left up, even when The Mother saw it. ;-)

The sun was starting to go down so it was time for the last-minute preps.

Make sure the kids are spiffy.

Set up the Food, provided by CraigOs, my brothers restaurant.

FYI, it was delicious!

Austin was on Candle Patrol and got our mason jars all lit up…and kept them that way all night.

Time for the Bride and Groom to spiffy up.

Dan and I practiced our “Blue Steel” and I got Photo-bombed.

The kids test the floor a bit more and Camille spins her dress to the delight of my niece.

Even Dan is ready to Boogie, and how could I resist that “Come Hither” face.

The night was perfect, the food was out and the party was ready.

We had a blast eating good food, dancing our feet off and just celebrating.

I will leave you with my favorite moment. Our earlier antics inspired Alex to perform his own Unofficial Grooms Dance. Alex speaks Korean, so yes, he does know ALL the words.

Thanks so much for joining me on this fun adventure we had. I promise to get back to Regular Smithocracy happenings now. I just needed to celebrate a little longer.

Have a fantastic Thanksgiving Smithocrats!

Wedding Part 2 – San Francisco

This post came a little later than I planned. The hold up was due to the fact that I don’t seem to have any pictures of the actual reception! Boo. I tried to find people who did, but no luck. So now this post is going to feel incomplete. *sniff*

However, in The Smithocracy, we don’t let small things get us down. NO! We Press On and Make Due. We persevere till the end. So onward and upward people!

Onward and Upward.

San Fran was a blast! Mostly for three reasons. First I got to see my brother get married. Second I got to hang with my family. And third, I got to do it…alone. Those who have been married, with kids, for more than ten minutes will understand why I enjoyed that part. Would I have rather had my family with me? YES! Of course! However, I am not one to begrudge a little Tannie Time. So enjoy it, I did! :-)

Before I go on, here is a list of the players. I don’t want to explain who each and every person is in the post, so you get it all up front.

  • Alan – My Dad
  • Tricia – My Mom
  • Trent – Brother
  • Liliana – Trent’s Daughter
  • Russell – Brother
  • Alex – Brother and Groom
  • Laurisa – Sister
  • David – Brother in Law, married to Laurisa
  • Camillie – The Bride
  • Tannie – Myself. ;-)

I got the awesome benefit of being the first one to arrive. In a way, I represented a “kick-off” to the whole thing. So we nicknamed me Phase 1.

I also got to spend some one-on-one time with this guy.

There he is, the soon to be groom, Alex. He was a great host and wanted to give me a taste of San Francisco. So the first item on the list was Frisbee Golf at Golden Gate Park. It was so pretty and a great way to get us out and walking around in the park. It was also very confusing on the senses. Before this day, I had always associated Forest Sounds and Smells with “away from civilization” and City Sounds and Smells as “in civilization.” Yet here I was, in a forest, smack dab in a city. I had the smell of pine, the birds, forest all around, and through the trees you see skyscrapers and hear cars and traffic. It was a little disorienting for someone who previously had those labeled as separate. And to add to the confusion Alex drove me 5 minutes further to this.

The Ocean. What!?!?! So one minute I am in a forest/city, and the next I was on the beach, with actual waves. (Sorry Gulf, you have waves too, but they are childproof waves.) Now add ocean smells and sounds to the experience. It was surreal and awesome.  Also, my feet are about to fall off from frostbite. That water was never meant for a Texan.

After that we took a quick trip on Lombard Street on our way to some other famous San Fran sights and smells.

Clam Chowder and Bread at Boudin’s. Yum, yum.

A walk along Pier 39

Mingling with the “colorful” locals.

Superman.

Some robot dudes that Austin will have to meet someday.

And of course, the Bush Man.

I did not take that photo. I got it from here. It was at this time, that my phone (read camera) began its last gasp for life. So my picture-taking abilities were greatly hampered. So most of these pictures I borrowed from siblings. But I am not going to give them credit on each picture, as they, by default, love me and won’t sue me. But if I got it elsewhere, I will designate it as so.

Moving on.

It was the perfect Snap Shot of San Francisco and Alex was the perfect tour guide.

The next day found Phases 2-7 showing up, i.e. the rest of my family. We had a lot of fun catching up and goofing off.

We had an epic battle of Dance Central.

Alex showed us what true protection looks like.

And we created the worlds largest Bed Room. Alex only had space in his living room, so we all placed our air mattresses side by side. Little did we know that by doing this, we would all instantly be transformed into 12 year olds.

Look how calm and peaceful I am. All ready to sleep. Now look at the chaos heading my way. Yep, I am about two seconds from being Steamrolled. Steamrolled by my Lawyer and Chemical Engineer brothers. You can see Laurisa trying to get out-of-the-way. No, she did not feel it necessary to warn me about what was headed my way. Thanks sis.

Actually it was a blast and just set off more goofiness that took us well into the night. My Mom and Dad soon joined in. Although my Dad’s participation mostly included Snoring On The Couch. We are super mature in my family.

Finally the Groom announced he needed some sleep before he got married. So we TRIED to settle down and before we knew it, the big day arrived!

Alex was gussied up and ready to wed.

So was his lovely bride.

Oh Camille, in just a few minutes you get to be married to this guy for Time and All Eternity. ;-)

Partly our fault for keeping him up all night.

The Ceremony was beautiful and tears were shed by all, including myself. We just couldn’t be happier for Alex and Camille.

Trent’s face sums up our happiness pretty well.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite pictures after the Ceremony. The wedding photos above and below were taken by Shurman Chu.

Alex, you are such a goofball.

You can see how happy they were to finally be married.

After the Ceremony, we got to kill some time taking care of David. He got sick right before the ceremony and spent the rest of the day dying on the couch. He even blessed us with some in-car puking. I am sure his car-people were grateful for that bonding moment. Poor David.

Once he was settled it was time to rush over and set up for the reception. Here is where I don’t have pictures!!!!!!  Which is sad because it was awesome.

I will try to paint a picture in words.

To go with the Western Theme, the reception was held in a big white barn. It was all decked out with white lights, bandanas and delicious BBQ. There was even an official Hoedown caller. Most people wore cowboy boots and hats and we Dosey Doed till the cows came home. I do have to say, we got a kick out of all the Californians trying to Texas Two-step and Line Dance. But they did their best. ;-) They answered back with a mean Thriller. Those people can really do a tough Michael Jackson. At the end of the night, the Bride and Groom peddled off in a real official Surrey. As seen in this picture that I shamelessly stole from Camille just now.

***UPDATE*** I now have pictures. They are at the end of the post.***

All in all it was a huge success and a ton of fun.

Fortunately for me the trip was not over.

Alex and Camille went on to wedded bliss and we got to do some more traditional San Fran sights.

That’s right, Muir woods, where you spend a lot of time doing this…

So you can see this.

Here we are just enjoying being together.

From left to right, Liliana, Trent, Tannie, Russell (longhorn fan, extraordinaire), Laurisa, and David. David was feeling better at this time.

After that we saw that famous bridge. Or tried to see it.

And froze our tails off.

Hey, there’s my mom! My Dad will just have to remain a mystery as he doesn’t seem to make it into any pictures.

It was an awesome trip and I am so glad I got to share it with such a great family. I love that I have a family that “gets along.” It makes my life so wonderful!

If you read this whole post, you are amazing. In fact you should post a comment if you read the whole thing, that way I can thank you for your effort and give you a gold star. ;-)

Stay tuned for the third installment. Texas!

Ta-ta for now, I must Zumba with my sister on Skype. Yep, that is how we roll.

Happy Monday!

***UPDATE***

One of Camille’s friends, Jessica Hardy, let me steal her photos from facebook. So now I have Reception pictures. Yay! I won’t go into detail describing it all, but it was so fun and beautiful. Camille’s Mom really made it happen! Way to go Pam!

Best Wedding Ever – Part 1 – Invitations

It was the best wedding ever. And that is saying something, because mine was pretty awesome too. ;-)

If you have been following, then you are aware that my brother Alex got married a couple of weekends ago; to one super awesome chicka! You can see the happy couple below.

Yay for love!

I have been dying to share all about it and was going to cram it all into one post. But then I realized it would have to be titled “The Longest Post About a Wedding…Ever.” And while that IS a good title, I thought I would take into account the poor people who have to actually read the thing.

You are welcome dear Reader.

Here is the breakdown as to what will happen over the next three days posts.

1. Invitations

2. San Francisco

3. Austin

If you didn’t use your Deductive Reasoning Powers on my list, then I will explain that we had two receptions. One in California and one in Texas. That way all sides of the family could get down and par-tay. The official Ceremony was in California. But no more on that! This particular post is not dedicated to items two or three. It dedicated to item one!

So what exactly made this particular wedding “The Best Wedding Ever?” Even better than my own (barely)? Well one of the reasons is they were able to hire one of the best Retired Graphic Designers around! I am humbly referring to myself of course! ;-) Being family, I really upped my rates. They had to pay full price on Love and Adoration. Meanwhile compliments had to be thrown in frequently, otherwise a high interest rate for High Fives would be thrown in.

Ok, let’s be serious now.

I loved working on the invites. They wanted to have a true western ho-down for their reception. So Camille and Alex wanted invitations with a western slant to them. How fun for me! It is really tricky to do wedding invitations with a theme, without getting too cheesy. So it was fun for me to try to find just the right balance between Western and Classy. Also this let me dust off the ‘ol typography skills and really have some Font Fun.

Without further ado…oh wait, there is some more ado. Most of the addresses on the invite were public places, so I left them visible. However, I did block out my parents address. So please ignore the random black bar you see. It is not part of the design.

NOW without further ado…Voila!

The picture is showing up darker than I care for, but you get the gist. What you have there is the front and back of the main invitation and then the smaller card is the front and back of the ceremony invite. Only a select few were invited to the actual ceremony.

Here is a run down of how you would have seen it in the mail.

At the top, you can see how I designed the card to create a sort of frame when the picture is in place. Behind the picture is the ceremony invite, if you got one. All of it was held together by a brown paper band that lined up with the brown horizontal line on the card. You can see the whole thing disassembled on the bottom two pictures. We used brown envelopes and silver mailing labels.

I am Pleased as Punch at how these turned out. If you are thinking, “Hmmm, maybe I could get Tannie to do something for me?” The answer is “Sorry Charlie.” No such luck. This was a special favor for my brother. You can read why I don’t design anymore here.

These invitations really helped set the tone for the receptions that followed. People really got into the theme and we had a great positive reaction to the invitations. I don’t know if you can’t tell, but I have a hard time being humble about these cards. Sometimes when you get it right, you don’t feel like toning it down. Anyone out there get that?

Stay tuned to see how we Gussied it up in Cali and showed them all how to Texas Two-Step!

A Brief History of Tannie

I guess you could also call this post TMI about Tannie. We have a lot of new readers and I thought it was time for a little back story on why this blog is even here? So sit back, relax, maybe grab some popcorn and have a bathroom break, cuz this is a long one.

Many of you new readers probably don’t know that I recently traded in my Career Pants for Stay at Home Pants. Why did I do this? Well we need to go even further back. Growing up I never really had a strong desire to be “a mom.” I wanted kids, I wanted a family, but I also wanted to have a career. However, I had before me the amazing example of my own mother, who placed her children above her own wants. She is a successful Pianist with amazing talent. Rather then growing it into a concert career she chose to teach Piano from the home. Thereby allowing her to be at home with us. This was a huge blessing in our family and very much contributed to our turning out.

As I went through college and began developing my talent in the Communication Design field (Graphic Design if you’d rather) I always kept the example of my mother in mind. I wanted to have my career and my family. But wanted to keep it all in the home. I wanted to be home at those important cross roads for my future children. So I turned down internships, I skipped apprenticeships and made a lot of my professors angry by choosing to work form home when I graduated. They felt I was wasting my talent by choosing to be a mom. In fact one of my professors to this day still will not answer any emails or other contact from me. He was very upset with my choice to just work from home. In a way I can understand him. He just didn’t see the path I wanted for myself and my family.

So I graduated and I did it! I had Austin and started my own business from home. I called it tann|design and at first it was just little ‘ol me working away. I got my first little client, and that client referred me to someone else, and they referred me to someone else and so on and so forth. I had Logan and still kept plugging along. After about 5 years of doing this on my own, I could not longer do it alone. So I started partnering up with others. I used some contractors, I hired a second designer, I kept a copy writer on staff. Things were going really well. I had some really amazing clients and some awful clients, some really fun projects and some terrible projects. And (for the most part) things were going well. But not everything was comin’ up roses.

Things were getting to a point where Dan and I started discussing moving the business out of the home. It was just growing too much. I wasn’t making a million dollars or anything, but in an economy where business after business was failing, I was growing. It was exciting and I felt super important. People liked me. I got my first large international client.

I had done it!

Actually, I had not. It was at this time that the rose colored glasses were removed. Suddenly I stopped looking at my business and started looking at my family. Things were not good. Dan was not only working at his job, but then having to come home and do my household stuff. We believe all chores are equal, but I wasn’t even doing my fair share. The kids were getting more and more needy and whiny. They missed their Mom! Why did they miss their Mom? Well, the more and more my business grew, the less and less I paid attention to them. I thought I was doing it.

I was wrong.

In my mind, I was taking the kids to school, working, and picking them up. They would never notice that I had a business. In my mind, I thought that I was not taking any time away from my kids; that it was balanced.

The truth was, I was waking up early and working, then taking the kids to school, then working, then picking the kids up, then telling them to be quiet so I could work, or make a call, or do some research. We were not going on Play Dates, we were going on Press Checks. The most frequent words they heard from me were “shhhhhhh, I’m on the phone.” I can’t even count the times I took my kids out to have some one-on-one time, only to spend it on the phone with clients. I had also hired someone to come watch them on the days they weren’t in school. That way they wouldn’t bother me while I worked.

So much for being there at the cross roads!

Another thing I needed to learn about myself is that I totally lack the ability to “turn it off.” I just could not let whatever stress happened that day stay in my office. I would snap at the kids, snap at Dan and stomp around the house until I could resolve whatever it was that was bothering me. I was frequently working all night and through the next day. My happiness level was tanking. And we all know that it’s the Mother who sets the tone.

The Smith’s tone was not good.

Even after realizing this, I just told myself, “that’s ok. I can balance better, I can do better, this can still work.” So I kept pushing through. But the more I pushed, the more unhappy I became. I started resenting my work. I began to hate being a graphic designer. I was losing the “passion.” See, once I realized that my family wasn’t happy, then I wasn’t happy. Nothing is worth the sacrifice of my family. NOTHING. I learned something about myself. Even though I did not grow up wanting to be a Mom, now that I was one, I loved it! And I wanted to be the best Mom my kids could have.

One day, I was sitting in front of the computer. I had just gotten off the phone with one of my least favorite clients. It was a horrible conversation and I was so tired of dealing with this person. I just sat there staring at my screen. I thought to myself, “Why am I doing this? What is the point?”

I didn’t have an answer. *crickets*

There was no point. It was nice having the extra money, but we didn’t need it. It was nice having the prestige of my business, but I didn’t need it. It was nice using graphic design as a creative outlet, but it wasn’t the only way. None of it outweighed the importance to me of my family. Nothing is worth failing my kids. And nothing is worth damaging my marriage.

Then, a stray thought entered my head, “Just shut it down.”

Once that thought came into my head, I knew, with absolute certainty, that this was exactly what I was supposed to do. I truly believe it was the Spirit speaking to me and telling me to be done with it. Not everyone is religious. But I think everyone can relate to that feeling when you suddenly know exactly what you need to do. And that is what I felt.

I did not hesitate for a second. I quickly typed up the following letter.

Hello,

I am taking the time to contact just a few of my larger clients to let them know that tann|design will be closing the doors for an indefinite amount of time.  It has come to my attention that things in my personal life have gone unnoticed because of my busy work schedule.  Those of you who know me, know that family comes first and I can no longer allow my children to come second.  All too soon they will be old enough to not need me anymore, but this is not that time.  With that said, tann|design will be finishing up all current contracts and will not renew any future ones until further notice.  My website and facebook pages will continue to run, as I do hope to open again at a later date, but any new work will not be accepted.  As of now the plan is to take 1 year off to refocus and bring the attention back to where it should have been in the first place.

I understand that this is coming as a shock and is very inconvenient to some of you and also understand that you will not wait for me to re-open my doors.  I will be sending a disc with all your files on it so that you may be able to continue work with another firm or designer.  I apologize for this inconvenience and hope for your understanding.  I value each of you and appreciate the business you have brought me.  This has been a successful time in my design career, but for now success will have to wait. 

Once again if there is an outstanding contract, it will continue to be honored until it’s fulfillment.  Thank you.

Sincerely,

Tannie M. Smith

Once the letter was typed I hesitated for a second. My finger hovered over the send key. Suddenly, as if someone were in the room, I heard, “do it!” So I did, I sent the letter out and then the shakes began. I felt so nervous! I was shaking and sweating. What did I just do?! What were they going to say? I was terrified of talking to anyone. I was debating whether or not I should just shut off my phone. Before I could, it rang. I answered. It was one of the “scary” clients. I was not sure what to expect. However what I got was total support! All day I received phone calls from my clients. Each one wished me luck and totally understood and admired my decision. Were they sad to see me go? Yes. Were they upset to have to find a new designer? Yes. Were they mad at me personally? Absolutely not. Not one person said anything to me that was negative or angry. I was so relieved. The most shocked person to call me was Dan. I had BCC’d him on the email. He had no idea that I was even thinking of doing it. I had no idea either, of course! But the first words out of his mouth were, “I am so glad.”

Please understand that Dan has always been supportive of me and still is. He was my best cheerleader (in a manly way, of course) and my accountant. :-) That was literally the first I had heard from him that he was unhappy with my work. I had no idea the stress I was putting on him. He asked me if that was what I really wanted. When I told him yes and the preceding story, he was very relieved. Later when I told the kids, they both started jumping up and down and shouting, “YAY!!! We get Mommy back!” (and all this from me working IN the home!) To this day they still talk about it. In fact a couple weeks ago Logan shared in class for Show and Tell, that his Mom stopped working so she could be with him more. More then a year later and he is still appreciating it.

It is a very surreal feeling to stop something so suddenly. Who shuts down there business right when it’s about to totally take off?! It’s funny, when I tell people I shut down my design firm, they usually say something about how tough the economy is, and everyone was struggling etc., etc.. They are always shocked when I correct them and say, “Actually the problem was that it was doing too well.” However, I know it was the right thing to do.

Even more so today.

Do I regret my business? No! I loved my business. It was a manifestation of myself. I did, in fact have to go through a bit of a mourning period. It felt like a death at times. Some amazing friendships have come from that experience. One of my most wonderful, amazing friends is a former client. (That’s a shout out to you DaRhonda!) I never would have met her otherwise. So no, I do not regret my business. I regret letting it get out of hand. I regret not understanding myself better. I regret missing out on my kids youngest years. But I would not take the experience away, as I gained so much from it.

It has now been more than a year, in fact, it is closer to two years. In my letter I had implied that I might open again in a year. However, that is just not going to happen. See, now that that part of my life is gone, I don’t really want it back. I didn’t realize what a constant stress and drain it was on me. Now I find that I am happier day to day. I have more patience with the kids, not always, but it is more. I have time to invest in my marriage more. Most of all, I get to actually enjoy being a Mom. Something I never expected to do and I do enjoy it! Each day my kids amaze me and every night I thank my Heavenly Father for them. I can’t believe how much I set aside when I was trying to “do it all.”

Is everything perfect? No, absolutely not. See, I am still me. I still want to matter to the world in some way. I still need to get my creativity out. I am a busy type of person. A doer. Almost daily I struggle with not filling my time with something just as time consuming as my business. I have to reset each day to focus on my family. It would be more natural for me to focus on myself and pursue some interest of mine to it’s greatest height. However, that time is not now. My kids are here for maybe 13 more years at most. After that, I have the rest of my life to focus on and pursue what I want. So for now, it is all about them.

Well, not ALL about them. Like I said, I still need to create in some way. So that is why I blog. This is my new outlet. It allows me to feel important in some small way, even if only Dan reads this. It still makes me feel like I matter to the world in a weird way. It makes me work on projects and get things done, that otherwise I might let slip by. It allows me to do and be, without taking away from my family. That is a large reason why I haven’t gotten into the “money making” side of blogging yet. I fear that I won’t be able to control it, if it turns into a business. Would it just be another tann|design? Thus, I’m sticking (for now) to the policy of “as long as it doesn’t cost money, we don’t mind not making any.” Just keep reading and making me feel special. ;-)

So to make a super long story short.

I blog because my family is important to me.

Establish A House…

I have been excited to share this project for a REALLY long time. We finally completed it last week! It all started about 9 months ago (no a baby is not involved.) I had been looking for something to put in our main entrance. It has a huge wall and needed some love.

See below.

That wall was crying out to me for something huge and dramatic. So one day I received my Restoration Hardware catalog, where I saw this photo.

The huge Subway Poster really caught my eye. I loved the black and white/vintage vibe. And if you are on Pinterest you know that subway posters are rather in right now.

Two things I didn’t love about it. 1. The price of $850 and 2. How generic it was. Everyone has these it seems. Also I have never been to New York, so the street names mean nothing to me.

One of The Smithocracy Rules about art is that is must Mean Something. All the art in our home has a purpose. It could be about somewhere we have been, or something to inspire us to be better. I also prefer my art to be spiritual in some way, but not in your face spiritual. Like the yellow painting you see in the top photo. That is titled The Mustard Seed, I painted it about 3 years ago. Anyway it is representative of faith and how it can start out small, like a mustard seed, but grows into a large tree. You can find that story in the bible. I like that story and wanted to represent faith growing in our home.

Here is a close up of that art. It has a watermark it, sorry but having someone steal my art once was enough for me.

Anyway back to my dilema.

So just ordering that poster would not meet any of those requirements. However I happen to know a retired Graphic Designer with some time on her hands (that’s me, if you don’t know). So I said to myself “Self! we can make this!”

I knew the look I wanted, now I just needed the right words.

I wanted the words to be something that represented our family. Something that when guests walked in the door, they knew right away what The Smiths were about. It was a bit of a struggle to find that perfect thing. Until…I was sitting in Sunday School and the Teacher used the following scripture (Mormon scripture) in class.

“Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;”      ~ D&C 109:8

It was perfect! I quickly wrote it down, and the next day I went to work. Once I got the design down I contacted Tommy, one of my favorite large format printers at Speed Pro Imaging, to print my Giant Masterpiece.

And I mean GIANT. You can see it laying there next to the daybed. It is 42″x96″ or 3.5 feet x 8 feet if you don’t want to do the math.

I was so happy! However the next, and most troubling step was framing this guy. So for months he just sat in storage until Dan and I could come up with a solution. So last week we finally figured it out.

Dan researched and learned all about building GIANT frames. And build one he did.

Then we mounted the art to some backer board. Which we then had to cut down to size.

Once that was done, we needed to attach it to the frame. This took some thinking. We had to have everything perfectly even as it was pretty much a one shot thing. Remember this is HUGE and Heavy. So no easy re-dos people. We decided to work backwards. So we placed the frame on top of the art and made sure it was nice and square. (FYI we protected the art with acetate that I ordered online. Later down the road, when the budget allows, we will order actual glass to put in a new frame.)

Then Dan got the pleasure of securing from the bottom up.

Actually everything you see, I did too, I just can’t take pictures of myself. In fact I am missing, in pictures, quite a few steps. Each one required both of us and all of our hands. So I took what I could.

Once we felt the back was secure enough, we transferred it to the floor and finished the job.

Once the art was secure it was time for me to finish the frame. We saved this step for last, because we knew the framing would scratch the finish we were going to use. And since I wasn’t painting it, we were confident in not getting any on the art work.

We wanted a silver frame, since that is usually the color I frame with. So to do the job I got out the ‘ol handy dandy Rub ‘n Buff.

I really like this stuff. You just use your finger to spread it on and it covers everything so nicely. It is great for changing a picture frame from a color you don’t like to any of the colors they carry. I used it for the picture in our bedroom from this post.

Just know that the process is very messy on your hands. So no photos of me doing it.

Once it was dry it was time to hang it up! Easy to say, but not do when you are talking about a large piece of art like this. But Dan came through and we achieved success without injury. A miracle!

Here is the view from the Living Room.

And another from down the hall by my office.

It is so nice finally having this project done. Well almost done. Like I said, when we can, we will order actual glass for the thing. Then we will have to re-frame it. I am super happy with the results for the most part. However I am wondering if the silver is too blah. Perhaps I should have done some other color, like I photo-shopped below.

Also I wonder if we should just let it rest on the floor and lean back, rather then hanging it on the wall. Let me know what you think. Since we are going to be doing a new frame in the future I will get a chance to change my mind. So I would love to hear everybody’s opinion.

Besides all that, I really like this and it added just the right amount of drama to my boring entry. Stay tuned till next time when I share all about The Wedding Party of the Century.

Seriously, my brothers wedding reception from this last weekend was so so fun and I can’t wait to share.

Happy Monday!

Trick or Treat 2012

Well Happy Day after Halloween Folks. I hope everyone had a great and safe time. I also hope that there are not any sever cases of Candy Coma. If so, then I hope it was worth it! :-)

The Smiths had a great Halloween! This is our first Trick or Treating in our new neighborhood so we were excited and anxious to see how the neighborhood does. I will let you know now that it passed! At least as far as the candy horde goes. More on that in a minute. However, we were a little light on receiving any ghosts or goblins at the door. I guess we are still too new to the street.

Resolution: Amp up decor next year in order to lure more trick or treators!

Well lets take you through the rounds shall we?

First we had some stealthy Ninjas sneaking around.

Then we set our Pumpkins out with care.

From left to right we have, Dan’s Flame Face, Logan’s Happy Guy, Mom’s Dizzy Sick-o and Austins Anime Ninja.

Time to prep and see if we are ready to go.

Ghosts in Trees – Check

Pumpkins in Yard – Check

Web on House – Check

Ninjas on Lawn – Double Check

Time to light the Pumpkins and Collect some Candy!

And collect Candy we did!

There it is folks, The Candy Horde. Yep, filled to the brim. I was hoping it wasn’t really as bad as it seemed, so I transferred the candy to some mixing bowls.

*Sigh* still full. These guys totally cleaned up. I foresee a trip to the dentist soon…

Actually The Smithocracy Rule dictates that candy is allowed for one week. Then once that week is up the rest goes away. We usually find someone to give it to.

All in all, a successful Halloween!  In full transparency, I cannot handle decorations up a day more than they need to be, so everything has already been taken down, boxed up and put away. Time to think about the next holiday and I will share pics once that is complete.

Oh and just in case you didn’t think I participated…