Monday, January 28, 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Just Living: Step 3

Hopefully you've got your priorities and values all figured out (or at least have given it some thought, let's be real), because it's time for the next step and its a doozy.

Taking inventory.

Yep, you have to make a list of EVERYTHING YOU OWN. Down to that last bar of soap. The easiest way to do this is to create a spreadsheet where you can list the item, the location and how often you use it.

The key here is to make the list and then set it aside. We'll get back to this later.

My old, incredibly tiny studio apartment in Portland. Who needs dresser pulls that actually attach or art in their frames?

Good luck!

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Plague of Bad Customer Service

Warning: this is a rant. I don't believe ranting to always be an acceptable form of writing, but sometimes I feel so strongly about something... I can't help it.

Within the past few weeks, I've had some interesting, nay, unacceptable experiences at local bars and restaurants and it has led me to the conclusion that we have a plague of terrible managers among us.

I believe this plague infects managers of eateries to completely ignore the fact that they work in a customer service based business. They begin to see the customer as the enemy... Someone who seems to come in asking for a glass of water, but obviously is really there to take the staffs' happiness away. Once a manager is infected, it will inevitably seep into the rest of the employees and will leave customers feeling uneasy and... quite honestly... ripped off. Terrible Yelp reviews may be a side affect.

Just a few things I have observed in my small town within the last two weeks:

Sudden changes to prices and offerings without notice
Continually increasing prices and decreasing food portions
Cooks walking out in the middle of dinner/happy hour
After cook returns, offering happy hour prices but then actually just charging the regular price anyway
Unresponsiveness to customer complaints
Charging the price of an entire bottle of wine for just a glass
Ignoring customers for lengthy periods of time
Never ever smiling or saying thank you
Inconsistent food and drinks
Saying the words "I have no idea what that is" when asking about a menu item

Often customers will put up with the occasional bout of this sickness, but after recurring troubles they are likely not to return. No matter how good you think your fries are.

I don't want to speak poorly of businesses online (though I have no trouble of telling you my experiences in person) but I will tell you that there are some places locally which have not been infected and I would hope that you might give them preference when deciding where to go in the near future, because they are welcoming and believe that the customer is always right.

Ann Marie's
Ocean Palace
Luna Rana
Thai Smiles
Taqueria el Jalepeno
The Oriole
Viet Hoa
The Seagate
Casa Mia (late addition, by request: I actually rarely eat there because I'm not a big fan of Italian food, but they are good people)

I believe these businesses are worth my time and money. Eating out is not cheap and I don't feel like giving my money away to people who don't seem to even want it. If there was a restaurant that had the most amazing food in the world, I might put up with terrible customer service... MIGHT. Probably not. Sometimes I think I'd rather go to McDonald's and get a smile with my cheeseburger than put up with some of these things I have seen recently. We live in a small town and a fragile economy. I do not want any business to fail, so ultimately it just makes me sad to see the poor judgement of business owners and their employees.

Please note: I have yet to find a bar that I actually want to hang out in very often. A place without live music (I don't hate it, but I often go out to talk with friends), decent prices on drinks, dark and loud enough to give you a little anonymity, the potential to become a "regular," no tvs, and comfortable seating. If anyone wants to open a place like this, I will do your marketing in exchange for a bar stool with my name on it. I'm not kidding.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mountain Climbing

A few days ago, I launched this project of introspection in the pursuit of justice. I'm hoping you've decided to at least consider your answers to the challenges I'm putting forth. As a reminder, here's what I posted up a few days back.

Step 2: Become aware of your Core Priorities

What do you spend your time doing weekly? Daily? Hourly?

Thinking back over the past 2 or 3 years, what are your top 3 priorities?

Who are the most important people in your life?

What would you stop doing, if you could?

What is one thing you would never stop doing?

What are the top 3 or 4 values you hold about life and living?

I've had a couple of really interesting conversations in the last few days that have actually left me a bit more confused about my priorities and values, so I decided I better actually answer these questions for myself. Here's what I've decided.

I like mountain climbing.

Not actual mountain climbing (in fact, please don't take me anywhere that requires real hiking boots), but figurative. I like challenges and it's my main motivator in life. I think it might sound weird, but that is my priority... keeping myself challenged. This probably makes my life difficult and I often choose the hardest way just because... not always the smartest decision, I suppose, but it's how I roll.

I value living an authentic life. I don't want materialism or my pride to ever be my source of happiness because it can so easily fade away. I value creativity and new ideas. I also value the people in my life and surrounding community. I stay up nights thinking about how we can make our community a better place to live, work and play. And nothing frustrates me more than people who are careless with the people and environment around them. This is important because I think ultimately, it will determine where I finally settle down (hopefully where I am now, but this depends on how much progress can be made in the next few years).

Of course, I have very tangible priorities (my business, becoming financially stable, simplifying my life) and I am constantly trying to find new ways to improve these things, but ultimately I can only continue these things as long as I feel challenged and the freedom to create.

(art print via Leah Flores)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Web Design and SEO

Is there any more daunting task than trying to build an entirely new website? It needs to be visually appealing while also inserting all of the necessary info in order to maximize SEO while ALSO making the point of converting website visitors into sales.

So, I'm drinking some wine tonight and working on all of this.

Some helpful links for those working on their own web projects:

15 Point Conversion Checklist


Just Keep Livin

Sometimes I'm amazed at how much clutter I allow into my life. I KNOW that it makes me miserable and anxious, yet I still leave the clean clothes in a pile on my treadmill (hmmm excuse to not workout much?) instead of hanging them up in the closet.

A few years ago, I met up with a few friends of mine weekly to run through some exercises in living a more socially, environmentally and personally just life. We used a guide called Just Living, which is based in spirituality, but I believe can be valuable to people of any belief system. We ended up calling our group Just Keep Livin', a sort of joke based on Matthew McConaughey's clothing line.

It helped me immensely to get my priorities in order and let go of materialism and the idea that being "busy" is a positive thing. Judging by the pile of clothes on my floor at this moment, I think it's time to revisit this program. Plus, I'm hoping it will give me some wisdom and a new perspective on global issues of social and economic justice.

I'm hoping others will join me as I post up weekly questions based off of the Just Living program. I'm sure everyone has a variety of motivators to do this, but I personally hope to figure out what I can cut out of my life to make it more enjoyable and what I can do to be proactive in my pursuit of social justice. There are technically 14 steps, though I might play with this a bit. Today, I'll do the first two.

Step 1: Commit

Step 2: Become aware of your Core Priorities

What do you spend your time doing weekly? Daily? Hourly?

Thinking back over the past 2 or 3 years, what are your top 3 priorities?

Who are the most important people in your life?

What would you stop doing, if you could?

What is one thing you would never stop doing?

What are the top 3 or 4 values you hold about life and living?

PS - If you are a blogger and would like to write about this along with me, please comment below with your webpage address!

Friday, January 11, 2013


Spending my Saturday at Gray's General Store. Drinking coffee, listening to music, making stuff.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Spring Memories

Anybody else around here ready for spring to be here? The sun was, sort of, shining here today and, well, sun can be deceiving because it was also very cold. Something about that combo reminded me of a trip I took the the UK a few years back with my friend Rachel.

We took a fairly spontaneous flight over to London (how could we not? I think it cost us $450 round trip from Seattle) and spent 10 days travelling from London to York to Edinburgh to Auchterarter (??) and back to London. My goals for this visit were few, mainly: look at some really old stuff, hang out with my friend Kaija who was living/volunteering in Scotland, see a highland cow, and eat a lot of pasties. Successful on all fronts. Bonus: We stayed at a b&b in York that is also frequented by fellow Pacific Northwesterner, Rick Steves.

Tower of London

Big Old Fireplace

It's not an adventure until you try the street food.

Greetings, from the Steves Family.

If I ever owned a bar, it would probably look like this.

I listened to the album Re-Arrange Us by Mates of State on repeat this whole trip. Still takes me back to hear any of their songs. Also, why are the convenience/train station groceries in the UK so awesome? Can we get that here please?

Possibly the best moment of the trip... climbing to the top of a tower in Northern Scotland in the middle of the night.

The farthest point of our excursion: St. Andrews, Scotland. Walked on the beach. Gawked at rich college kids eating breakfast in their pajamas. Walked on ruins.

I'd like to go back. very. soon.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Happy New Year!

via gabba gabba go

What's Up?

Queen B Quilts is getting some much needed updates.

I was interviewed by the local newspaper.

Did the DIY Blueprint Cleanse and I'm trying out the gluten free lifestyle.

Making a more serious effort to pay off all my debts and save up to buy a house.

Distributing more Li'l Hip Pocket Guides around Grays Harbor.

Trying to clean and organize my life, basically. Hello 2013!