A Saturday to Catch Up

IMG_4864Life has been crazy this spring and summer.

I’m well into my second year as Event Coordinator at the Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce. We have the same major events each year, but there’s always a new challenge or problem to solve. Plus, I’m consulting on two other community events happening on the same weekend in August.

I’m also currently serving as the chair of the Warrenton Community Library Advisory Board as we search for a new space.  Sadly, our current building, which is the adorable old town hall, is quickly reaching the end of its useful (and safe) life.

And for nearly all of May and June, Henry and I had at least one event/commitment every single weekend day. Some weekends, it was two each day.

Oh, and did I mention I’m still freelancing on the side?  Uffda.

So that’s why I’m especially glad that I have unexpected time today, on this partly cloudy Saturday morning, to sit down in one of my favorite coffee shops in Astoria and catch up on my website. I’m only in downtown to interview a shop owner for another Coast Explorer article, but she had to push our meeting back an hour. Cue: a latte and a breather.

Since I started writing for Coast Explorer last year, my work has been published in four issues of the magazine. It’s been a blast. One of my favorite parts of journalism is getting to explore places I wouldn’t normally visit and talk with people from all walks of life. And being that I work for the local Chamber of Commerce, I’m pretty pro-business. So being able to write about shops, restaurants and businesses has been the perfect marriage.

But you might have noticed that only two issues worth of Coast Explorer articles have been on my website, so here’s what you missed in the Spring 2016 and Summer 2016 issues of the magazine. (Many of the accompanying photos are mine, too.)

Spring 2016

Astoria Shop Doe+Arrow Targets Americana Niche

Cannon Beach Shop Mixes Import and Vintage Style

Street 14 Café Offers New Dinner Service

Baked Alaska Opens Annex

Albatross Soars in Newly Expanded Space

Farmhouse Treasures Abound at Lotus Petaler Designs

New Owner Rejuvenates Astoria Consignment Boutique

Summer 2016

Relax at Tensei Float Center in Astoria

Cannon Beach Shop Features Craft Goods

Event Planning Tip: Hamster Toys Make Great Table Centerpieces

Let’s be honest — I never imagined that I would use a hamster toy as a centerpiece at plated dinner. But at the Chamber’s annual banquet & meeting in January, that’s exactly what I did.

Our theme was the 50th anniversary of the Astoria-Megler Bridge. This bridge crosses the Columbia River and connects Washington to Oregon. It’s a pretty important feature in our community, and our staff thought it deserved a little extra recognition at our banquet.

Our marketing manager, Regina Willkie, used photos of the bridge and road sign motifs on all our promotional materials. She and I also dreamed up creative ways to incorporate the theme into the event itself, such as making all necessary signage look like road signs and putting strips of yellow duct tape on the floor in the hallway like the dotted line between lanes on the highway. But my weirdest idea was part of the table decor.

Some of the banquet tables were decorated by generous Chamber member businesses, but the remaining 10+ tables were decorated by Becky Kraft, owner and operator of Party Jesters in Astoria. Becky pulled together some great decor featuring photos of the bridge and the most adorable little favor boxes — with highway sign tags! — but then I approached her with an insane centerpiece idea: What if we used plastic hamster bridges I found online?

Thank goodness that Becky is a professional and totally capable of taking the crazy ideas of her clients and making them work! She ordered the plastic hamster bridges (thoroughly confusing her husband when they arrived at their house) and spray painted them green to match the Astoria-Megler Bridge. She seamlessly worked them into her existing ideas to create an overall design scheme that was more beautiful than I could have imagined. The hamster bridge idea was mine, but the perfect implementation was all her!

Click on the photos in the slideshow below to see Becky’s decor for yourself.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how a ridiculous idea, extensive Google searching and fantastic collaboration can produce a stunning end result: hamster toy centerpieces that rock.

VENDORS: Decor: Becky Kraft with Party Jesters; Venue & Food: the Astoria Golf & Country Club

Shopping Around in Astoria

DSC_0843I’m resting and playing catch-up today. With the Chamber’s 2016 banquet & meeting in the books as of Saturday, I finally have time to do the laundry, bill-paying, vacuuming and the like that I’ve been putting off for the last two weeks. And with a gloomy backyard view of rain hitting the creek, it’s also the perfect day to update my website.

After my news brief in the summer 2015 issue of Coast Explorer, I was given a bigger assignment for the fall/winter 2015 issue: 10 shops in downtown* Astoria.

I’ve shopped at numerous boutiques in Astoria, but a few of the ones assigned for this article were new to me. It was fun and rewarding to spend a couple of days “browsing with a purpose” to figure out the most interesting or noteworthy treasures at these 10 stores. I hope this article helps visitors to the North Oregon Coast spend their time (and money) wisely — and maybe gives the locals a few new places to check out!

Read my article about shopping in Astoria in the fall/winter 2015 issue of Coast Explorer magazine.

*one shop was actually in more rural Astoria

Flora and Fauna Art

Products I Love – August 2015

Before I begin this post, let me first say that I am an avid letter-writer. Chalk it up to my inherent fascination with the written word or blame Grandma, my most faithful penpal during my younger years, but either way, I’m hooked. In my desk, I keep a wooden recipe box filled with cute, colorful and unique cards I’ve found over the years. Some of the cards came in packs, and others are solo; some are gifts from friends and family who know of my obsession and many are the result of my own splurges. They’re all waiting for the perfect moment and the right recipient.

In that vein, here are some of my favorite art finds of late, with an emphasis on those you can send in the mail.

1) “Trees” letterpress cards (set of 8) – $18 – Taiga Press

Taiga PressI found these beauties in a tiny shop in downtown Astoria, Oregon. I didn’t mean to spend any money that day, but I absolutely couldn’t resist the whimsical, wispy trees on these cards. And, frankly, I’m lucky I didn’t walk out the door with more of Taiga Press’ designs. They’re all lovely!

To me, a recent Oregon transplant, these cards captured the breathless, wild quality of my new home — which makes sense, since Taiga Press is based in Tillamook County, just south of here. Even the paper has a rough, raw quality about it.

You can purchase this design here, or check out the Taiga Press website for more amazing products.

2) “Fox in Socks” art print – $20 – Milk and Glue

Milk and GlueI’m cheating a little with this one. First, it’s not a card. Second, I don’t actually own this print from Milk and Glue — yet. Why? Because I haven’t figured out where I’d put it in my house.

This art was another discovery in the same downtown Astoria shop where I found Taiga Press.  I love foxes, and seeing them in cute illustrations just about made my day. If you’re currently redecorating a kid’s room or nursery, I highly recommend adding some fox artwork to the theme. These watercolors are incredibly detailed and absolutely adorable.

Buy the print here, and learn more about Milk and Glue here (including how the shop got its original name).

3) “Hello” card – $3.50 – Golden Pines Paper Shop

Golden Pines PaperI went to college with Erin and Alex, the creative minds behind Golden Pines Paper Shop. I didn’t know Alex, but bumped elbows with Erin a few times due to the fact that I had an art major roommate. After college, Alex and Erin decided to launch a collaborative card shop — and the results are amazing!

I’ve bought cards from Golden Pines a few times, and I’m always wowed by the quality of the work, not to mention the packaging. Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to win a GP giveaway that allowed me to select five free cards. This “Hello” card was one of my choices, and it’s easily the most fabulous “just because” card in my stash.

Purchase the card here, and be sure to browse through the rest of the designs! (This mini thank you card is one of my other favorites.)

The New Shop on the Block

Even though I currently work as a full-time event planner, I’m trying to keep my writing skills sharp. So when I was offered the chance to freelance for Coast Explorer magazine, I jumped at the opportunity (after clearing it with my boss, of course).

Coast Explorer magazine endeavors to stay on top of the latest shopping, lodging, sightseeing and dining news on the Oregon Coast. The publication often includes news briefs on brand new businesses in the area.

Earlier this summer, I was able to sit down with two couples who have recently started businesses in Astoria: Frite & Scoop, a cute little ice cream shop on the bank of the Columbia River, and Windwater Bed & Breakfast, a private suite nestled high in the hills — with amazing views! Both couples were incredibly gracious with their time, especially since the published news briefs would only capture a tiny snippet of their passion and persistence. It was wonderful for me to hear their stories and learn about the beginnings of each establishment. If you’re ever in Astoria, I highly recommend spending time at both places.

Unfortunately, only one of my news briefs got published. According to the managing editor, there was just too much content for the summer issue. And exciting things are already in the works for the fall/winter 2015 issue! Stay tuned, and until then…

Check out my news brief about Frite & Scoop on page 42 of the summer 2015 issue of Coast Explorer magazine.

Porcelain, Purses and Poppin!

Products I Love – May 2015

1) Daisy Place Desktop Business Card Holder – $30 – Kate Spade

56996343880065pThis was my first Kate Spade purchase ever, as I’m not one of those people obsessed with certain brands. I do, however, appreciate bright, fun products, so I can see the appeal of their stores.

I bought this business card holder to match a black-and-white polkadot mug I decided to use as a pencil holder at my new office. My previous business card holder was a plastic monstrosity from a construction company I’d never heard of — and it didn’t even fit normal size business cards. I had to stand them vertically, which would have been fine if my cards were designed vertically. They aren’t. My previous pencil holder was, well… the top of my desk. Let’s just say I was “roughing it” when it comes to normal office supplies.

This little porcelain beauty is exactly what I wanted. Lightweight, but well-made. The gold stripe along the edge is eye-catching and the whimsical type conveys exactly the sort of message I want to get across: let’s talk shop. Let’s figure out a way to work together so everyone involved profits and the event is a huge success.

Shop this item here. And, if you feel like splurging, shop the matching “pencil” cup.

2) Women’s Mini Satchel Handbag – $29.99 – Merona/Target

2bccf659228ae463efdf658bebb8dfdeBeing a Minnesota girl at heart, one of the hardest parts of living on the Oregon Coast is being so dang far away from a Target! I miss their wide, welcoming aisles overflowing with perfect items you didn’t know you needed. (Seriously — has anyone ever escaped Target with their wallet intact?)

This is a great bag for spring and summer. Small, but still large enough to hold the essentials, with a magnetic outside pocket that’s great for those items you need to grab quickly (keys, phone, pens). I bought it in mint, but the lime and blue are beautiful as well. Adds a punch of color to any outfit!

Shop the purse in numerous hues here.

3) various products – $$ – Poppin


I stumbled across Poppin at Staples during a work supply shopping trip, and I was immediately smitten. Oh my goodness, the COLORS. Pool blue, yellow, lime green, cobalt, coral, purple, aqua… any color you could possibly imagine.

And as striking as a store display of Poppin products is, their website is even more amazing. You can shop by item type OR color, with products from desk chairs and filing cabinets to pens and notebooks. Everything is designed to mix and match and stack. The brand really lives up to its mantra, #workhappy. You can’t help but smile when your desk is decked out in bright colors!

Personally, I went with the sunny yellow for my purchases, as I hoped it would mesh with the few office supplies I already had. But the gorgeous aqua was a close second. You can’t go wrong with whatever color you choose!

Shop the bright collections here.

10 Tips for Young Journalists

I frequently worked with college journalists at my previous job in Washington, D.C. This involved everything from sorting through their internship applications to editing their work. Unfortunately, some of these budding writers were more promising than others, and I had to dish out correction and tough loving when needed. (Oh, the horror stories I can tell.)

So when a D.C. associate, the ever-vivacious Alyssa Canobbio, asked me to write a blog post with advice to young journalists, I jumped at the opportunity. After a hearty brainstorming session and considerable editing, I finally nailed down a list of 10 tips for young journalists. The list is certainly not exhaustive; there have been books written on this subject, after all. It’s just the most important things I wished our journalism interns had known before stepping into our office on their first days.

Head over to the America’s Future Foundation blog to check out the list!