December 31, 2012

The Year in Review

2012 , You were amazing.

I quit my job after 4 years of ups and downs.

I went to paradise

Returned home early.

I learned to live with less.

Realized that experiences are more important than things.

Learned to love yoga.

Still did not loose all the weight I regained.

Still promising to do so.

I got married to my best friend.

Remained under-employed for longer than I cared to- testing my beliefs about career wants.

Learned that I will survive the aforementioned under-employment.

Learned many lessons about friendship.

Stopped punishing myself for being unconventional.

With all of its ups and downs, 2012 was an amazing year. For every tear shed there was twice as much joy. I can say confidently that this year, I LIVED. I carry some challenges with me into 2013, and they will be difficult ones. I feel well prepared by all that happened in 2012, and I believe that all the lessons learned will some how be instrumental in putting me in my correct place. As an obsessive planner, I realized that I don’t have exact plans for what I would like to accomplish this upcoming year of my life, but what I do know is that I will be much more present in my day to day, and the only true vow I will make is to play an active role in my own destiny, whatever that may be.

Happy New Year, Everyone! Lots of Blessings All Around.




November 26, 2012

It’s Not You…It’s Me.

Honestly. This isn’t your fault.

Things have changed. Heck, I am still changing.

I recently immersed myself in the planning of one of the most awesome times of my life. My wedding.


really excited to be on this ship


While planning, I remained quite private. Minus the little squee-worthy moments, I didn’t want to blog about my wedding planning. After all, its only one day- it’s the relationship that is to last forever. So in my silence, I began evaluating other types of relationships, including the one I have with blogging.

When I started blogging, it was to share this blossoming love of design and how it was inspiring a lot of things in my life. It was to celebrate my youth, and my experiences living. I find now that there are still things to celebrate, even if it isn’t my youth (ever fleeting) and my life as a design student (coming to a close). One of the things that has been hard about blogging is trying to stick to writing about something incredibly focused, when there is so much y0u want to say.

October 12, 2012

The (e)merge art fair

Last weekend was great. I can’t complain. I got to spend a lot of time with friends, which is good, because I really missed them a lot. When school starts, I always get so lost in my work that I can’t keep up with my friends. There are still a good group of people who I need to catch up with before I fall off the face of the earth (ahem, clackers).
I had the opportunity to attend the e(merge) Art Fair at the Capital Skyline Hotel in DC  in support of my dear friend Thomas Canavan. Thomas is my best friend Juli’s husband, and when I have the opportunity to see something awesome that he has created, I’m inspired. Not only is his work beautiful, but I get the opportunity to see so many other art forms.

Below is Thomas’ painting called “The Chair.”

This picture of Thomas Canavan’s painting does not do it justice. The process that Thomas uses to create his work is pretty cool.

William and I often found ourselves looking at things and saying, “I can’t believe this is art.” We weren’t saying it  like “what the heck is this?” but we were surprised at how art is so much more than what we grew up thinking it was. I think for a long time, people only classify things like paintings, drawings, sculpture, etc. as art, and it was nice to see examples of thinks that are different.  One piece I am sad to have missed is a woman doing a piece of performance art, where she invites people to wash and take care of her hair in order to have candid conversations about black hair care and caring for loved ones, etc.

Another piece was a video of a woman who went through the grueling task of removing layers upon layers of body slimming clothing. She grunted and struggled as she shimmied out of girdles, spanx, and corsets, and  completely related to the discomfort she was displaying.

My favorite piece was one outside by the pool area. Michigan based  Artist Mandy Cano Villalobos created a mixed media installation that moved me emotionally. The project is best described as it reads on her website.

“Voces (“Voices”) addresses the mass femicide in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico.  An ongoing act of mourning and protest, I silently sit to the side of the gallery, embroidering the names of individual murder victims into white blouses. Beginning with the first documented victims in 1993, every woman is commemorated with pink thread, referencing the pink crosses that have been erected and painted throughout the city by those who mourn the dead.  As the shirts fill the center of the room, memorial shrines and missing person posters line the walls.”

The covered “altar”…it looked like a small rustic chapel.

On her website, the installation was spread out, creating an even more moving effect because there are so many white blouses- when they are in piles, when they are hanging- the reality that each of those represents a woman who has likely lost her life to violence is striking. She has several projects that feature the sadness of loss for Latinos due to civil wars an unrest. I will definitely continue to follow her work. At the art fair last weekend, her space was much more limited, but it was just as thought-provoking, and certainly just as sad. I recommend checking out this work here, on her site for more details.

Below are some other interesting eye candy. If you want more info on the fair, visit the (e)merge Art Fair Website.

A “tent” and more making a statement about the Occupy movement.

September 30, 2012

My first completed project is also my creepiest.

The first project of the semester was quite different than most. While I normally sit behind a computer, fumble through a design, and after three rounds of critique, settle upon a final, this project took me out of my comfort zone.

When Amy assigned us this project, I did what any student would do, and I bitched. “What the hell does this even have to do with Graphic Design?” In some roundabout way I know it does, but I didn’t get that right away. I begrudgingly completed my project, and by the end, I hate to admit it-I actually enjoyed it.

Well Played, Amy Pointer. Well Played.

We were each assigned an every day object. Someone got a paper clip, another, a light bulb, one fellow even got scissors. Our assignment was to take this ordinary object, and evolve its meaning into something else using photographs. I was given nails. Not finger nails, but nails, the fascinating tool.

My inner Catholic immediately went THERE- Nails. Jesus. Crucifixion. Death. Nails helped kill Jesus. Nails are a murder weapon.

I know this is strange to jump to immediately, but seriously. What else was I gonna go to?

After I determined that a nail/crucifix/blood combo was not working. I settled for taking the cross out of the equation, and just evolving nails into an object that injures and can induce bleeding. Nails and Blood minus the Catholic guilt. Plus, have you ever tried to go looking for a crucifix with Jesus actually on it? Churches don’t have that anymore, it seems.

Yup. that was me, driving around to local churches, trying to find a crucifix with Jesus on it, so I could drive my point home in class. I am a creeper.

In the long run, I was happy with how the project turned out. I demonstrated my theme, that nails are a weapon, or an object that can injure, by showing a pile of nails with spots of “blood.” In each frame, the blood progressively takes over the nails, and they get lost. I think that my use of carpentry nails, and my special mix of blood (corn syrup, one drop of blue food dye, 3 of red food dye, well mixed), created lovely photos, as far as creepy projects go.




August 29, 2012


I have been going back and forth about what exactly I want to accomplish this fall for quite a few weeks. I really didn’t give it much thought up until august, so when I did start to question my upcoming goals, I got a little anxious. Should I keep on the same path that I have been following? Or should I carve out a new niche for myself.

With my stressful job out of the way, I do have much more time to focus on the things I find to be truly important, but there is no denying that if the right position came a long, I wouldn’t be able to say no. If full time work presents itsself, I have to take it. We are not The Jones’, and I have to work!

With that being said, I am reevaluating my decision to take three classes. If I end up working full time, which at this point is very likely, the quality of my school work will be greatly compromised. That is not something I’m willing to do.

Ultimately, I’ve decided to go to school today, talk to my favorite professor, and then decide. Sometimes I just need another perspective on things. While I would love to graduate in may and be DONE, It won’t be the worst thing to graduate in the fall instead.

Normally, I would just sit and suffer through my anxiety and go back and forth like a crazy person, but I really don’t have time for that. I decided I would try something different instead.

I came across an app called Unstuck. The app guides you through a series of questions and helps you get to the root of your problem by breaking it down into smaller pieces. If you feel stuck in the moment and you aren’t sure how to move on, figuring out the emotions behind that can help you deal and propel you forward. 


It identifies what kind of problem solving style you have this moment. For example, I am an idle achiever who gets overwhelmed by the details and can lose confidence.



I really loved this tool. Lots of people are using this app, and if you want you can interact with them or not (like me). In the end, its a great tool to evaluate what is holding you back. I think its great for people like me who might need professional guidance, or even something simple like, “I don’t know where I want to go on vacation”, or “I can’t get my ass up to go to the gym,” etc. Big issues like, “I hate my wife and want to run off to Bora Bora”? An App ain’t gonna help you with that!

August 28, 2012

Good Bye Summer!

What an amazing summer! I don’t think I have ever had more happen in to me in such a short amount of time.

I quit my job. I went to Costa Rica. Left early. Got engaged (squeeeee!). I fell in love with design again. It has been a long time coming, but I am finally the person I am used to being- joyous, creative, motivated, happy.  It feels really good to be back.

This time last year, I was getting ready to start another semester of graduate school, and I couldn’t have been further away from myself. I was so exhausted that I couldn’t get excited about anything. Whereas I loved design and everything going on at school before, it was the last thing I wanted to do. I didn’t have the foresight to plan ahead for projects or put my ideas into action- my head was incredibly crowded!

Taking the summer to step back and look at the most important things in life was the best thing I could have done. Not working full time is hard, but having regrets are surely harder. I certainly do not regret my summer experience- it has brought me so many new things!

This semester I will be taking three classes. If I am not working full time, then there is no reason for me not to be taking a full load. Three classes this semester, plus my portfolio and seminar classes in the spring, will hopefully allow me to graduate in May. Life will be busy, but I can’t wait to take it all on! Thank God for this summer and the new perspective I’ve gained.

After all this time, here goes nothing. I’m ready to rock the shit out of this upcoming school year, and keep my head on straight. Good luck to my fellow design school homies!







July 21, 2012

Burrito Bowl

I cannot go to Chipotle every damn day. I simply cannot. Does that mean I want to deny myself the right to enjoy the wondrous flavors Chipotle has to offer? Absolutely not.
So, I must compromise, and make my own Chipotle inspired burrito bowl using fresh and yummy ingredients in my own home.

With 2 chicken breasts, some cilantro, smoky spices, fresh corn sliced off the cobb, and cheesy abrorio rice topped with green peppers,  I made a delicious dinner for William and I that I plant to remake in the near future.
Happy Dinner Making!


Seasoning the chicken


Sautee onions in olive oil before adding rice

Prepping some green onions to sautee with the chicken

cooking down the rice

add the peppers when chicken is nearly done

Delicious final product after adding a little bit of reduced fat cheddar to the rice

i suppose i’ll leave leftovers for William….

July 20, 2012

“Crystal, you …

“Crystal, you are the shittiest wanna be blogger ever because you haven’t even written a word on here in, like, a month.”

I have been uttering these words to myself for the past few days. I want to blog.  I need to be blogging! And there is so much I could be blogging about, but honestly, I have just been busy living my day to day. I’ve been lending my momma a helping hand, putting in some hours at paper source, and catching up with people I miss dearly. I’ve also been putting in some work on the job hunt.

In short, I’ve just been enjoying being home. That may or may not mean I’ve been a bit lazy with some things, but after a month back, I have no excuses and Its time for me to develop a routine. Lord knows I have a lot more free time, so I might as well plan to use SOME of it wisely.

I’m planning out a more consistent blogging schedule for myself. Its like homework, but fun homework! Lord knows it will be good to have some structure and to stop putzing around my mothers house or my apartment in Spongebob pants. Its incredibly unattractive and it makes me feel like a slacker. 


Pants in Question. Not questionable? How unattractive they are.


Now that I am over the newness of being home (really it took a whole month?), I’m looking forward to blogging with you all again. I hope you are still willing to listen!





June 29, 2012

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Reflections on Nicaragua

This is a journal entry I wrote the day Leah, Monica, and I arrived in Nicaragua.

After a day’s worth of travel, Leah, Monica and I have arrived in Nicaragua. We decided to leave Montezuma for the weekend and escape to some peace and quiet.

A lot of people tried to psych us out before we left, and many others told us that San Juan del Sur was a lot like Montezuma. A small little surf town that was far less expensive than Costa Rica. Nicaragua may have been similar in some ways (there is a beach, people surf) but to me, it was not like Costa Rica.

The poverty is far more obvious and definitely in plain view. It actually made me feel like a bit of an asshole because here I am taking a “weekend jaunt” so easily across the border from CR to Nicaragua, and I am sure that many people wish to do the same, but for better reasons than just “fun.” The physical beauty of the country- the ocean, the mountains (like fluffy green pillows)- is amazing, and is a very interesting backdrop for the tons of corrugated metal roof homes that dot the hills and spaces a long the road.

The brief moments we spent downtown by the beach gave me a glimpse into a beach town that may not be wild like Cancun, but is still not as sleepy as Montezuma. People are more aggressive. They are nice, but in your face offering taxis, souvenirs, and inviting you into restaurants to eat.

We spent our weekend at El Jardin, an inexpensive, but beautiful hotel in the hilll’s overlooking the best view of San Juan del Sur . The half moon of ocean beneath us, the bright colors of the adobe hotel, and the calm swimming pool made for peas and quiet like I have not heard in forever.


In Montezuma, you can certainly find relaxation, but sometimes it can be harder. For a small town, there can sometimes be a lot of noise. Loud voices in our hotel talking well into the night (including mine), dirt bikes and ATVs running all over the place, the dull thumping of music. Here in San Juan del Sur, I fell asleep to crickets at 8:30 at night after trying to stuff myself with as much Beef Bourguinon as I could handle (bad idea, considering I still have a stomach bug, but I was starving and tired of not eating what I wanted).

I think of all the stress of crossing into a new country. The immigration process can be long and hectic, and after 6 hours on buses and ferrys, and then even more time in Taxis. I couldn’t imagine having to do this every three months in order to stay in Costa Rica. Still, I am so happy we came. Nicaragua is beautiful, and very raw. Tomorrow we go back to Montezuma, fully recharged.

June 29, 2012

I’m Coming Home

Written yesterday, while waiting for my flight home.


My plan was to spend 2 months living and loving life in Costa Rica. Touching down that first day, I looked around at the hills and mountains, the way the clouds skimmed the top, and the way the sun exposed everything, and I couldn’t have envisioned leaving a moment sooner than July 21st.

Yet here I am, a month later, sitting in SJO waiting for my flight home.

Some people who know me well may say, “I knew she wouldn’t want to be away for so long,”  while others are no doubting saying, “is she crazy?! I’d never come back.” I think that until I was here in Costa Rica, living what was once my dream, I wasn’t sure how I would feel. I knew for sure that I wanted to experience living elsewhere for a short time. I wanted to improve my Spanish and develop a yoga practice. I wanted the time to think clearly about what I would want to accomplish when I got home. Did I want to work full time again? Did I still want to be a graphic designer when the field is so narrow? I want to get married and have kids, but when? I couldn’t sort through many of those things prior to my trip, due to a lot of cloudiness. I felt like after a few years in a very unhappy place professionally, I needed to turn that attention towards my personal life. I have a great partner in William, but how can I improve myself and ultimately both of our lives together?

I think alone time is highly underestimated. For someone who talks an awful lot, I spend a lot of time a lone in my head with my own thoughts. It it is easy for us to fall into day to day patterns, ignoring the small cries that are trying to tell us to slow down and take our time thinking things through. Have you ever spent some time not doing anything, just thinking about things, or spent a whole day with yourself saying, “I’m going to do whatever I feel like doing today?” I finally got to do that, a whole bunch of times, and I really liked spending time with myself. The lifestyle in Montezuma is one where you have plenty of time to do those sorts of things. I wrote a lot, spent a lot of time meeting and talking to new people, getting wicked cases of sunburn, and speaking terrible spanish. I spent some time working on my warrior poses, and even more time listening to crickets, howler monkeys, and reggae music. I love Costa Rica. I love Montezuma dearly. I will never forget what the sand, sun, and ocean feels like (warm, comforting), the amazing people who live there ( just as warm as the sun, too), and every experience I hope never to take for granted. Monica and I had the best time ever, and I know for sure, she and I will definitely travel together in the future to other warm, sunny locales.

Still, after one month, I think I accomplished what I came to do. I didn’t want my trip to turn into a 2 month long party, and I could see it heading in that direction. I’m not an undergrad, and I had no desire to feel that way again. I began to feel very homesick, especially after seeing my family gathered together on Father’s Day via Google Video. After the screen went dark, I cried and cried, for what is surely my real source of happiness was so far away. No adventure could ever bring the kind of joy (or stress for that matter lol) that my family brings me. Even Talia and Louis in front of the screen made me pine for my warm bed and cute little dogs laying at my feet. That feeling, combined with what would turn out to be a week dealing with a stomach bug made me long to be home. I remembered that at almost 29 years old, at this current place in my life, I can do whatever the hell I feel like doing. For some people, that means seeing the world with no return date in site. For me, it means I am completely content being the type of person who takes a few vacations a year. I once thought that such thinking would make me boring and out of touch. Now? I don’t really care. I am smart enough and resourceful enough to never get bored for the rest of my life. I am also strong enough and wise enough to know when its time to focus on something else.

I am happy I will always have this experience, and I feel blessed that I could afford the opportunity. I am even more lucky that I fully appreciate what it means to go home and truly love the life I have made for myself there. I am blessed to have figured out that there is no better place for me than with my family and friends, and that I could be anywhere and be home as long as they are there.


Loved My Life In Montezuma

PS- One of you will inevitably ask if I regret quitting my job to travel ONLY for one month, so let me just say, before you get it twisted, the following official statement.