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doorsixteen_campmighty

Do you remember a post I wrote recently about being a goat-petter rather than a goal-setter? About how I don’t have a “life list,” and why I don’t feel like making one would make me a happier person? It’s right here. When I wrote that post, I truly expected to get a lot of responses from people telling me why I should have a life list, why setting specific goals is important and asking why am I being such a defeatist downer? Well, that didn’t happen. Instead, lots of you spoke up to say you felt the same way. I was in equal parts shocked, enlightened and comforted.

If you know about life lists and you read blogs, then you probably know who Maggie Mason (a.k.a Mighty Girl) is. Maggie is the queen of the life list — she even started Go Mighty to help people create their own life lists. My post was absolutely not directed at her specifically, but I was a little concerned that it would come across as an attack of some sort. I was relieved and happy when Maggie herself chimed in to say that despite her belief in life lists, she agrees with me — and that she tends to attract friends who are like me. Goat-petters and goal-setters, co-existing in harmony!

So anyway, you know what wound up happening? Maggie asked me if I’d be interested in speaking at Camp Mighty, an annual retreat now in its 3rd year. It’s all about connecting people through panel discussions, workshops and socializing to encourage the motivation and support needed to realize goals. They also raise a bunch of money for Charity: Water in the process. The whole thing goes down at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, and by all accounts, it’s a good time.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Anna, aside from the water part, this kind of sounds like your worst nightmare. Isn’t this exactly the sort of thing you think is a bunch of nonsense?” And yeah, that’s a fair enough assessment. I’m a cynic. I’m a jerk-faced cynic with all kinds of issues about everything. Large groups of people (especially when they’re predominantly female), make me uncomfortable. Bathing suits make me uncomfortable. Hugging strangers makes me uncomfortable. Having my picture taken makes me uncomfortable. The idea of public speaking makes me uncomfortable. “Networking” makes me uncomfortable. Why in the world would anyone fly across the country to do something like this when they could be at home on the sofa watching Three’s Company reruns with their dogs? And to paraphrase Woody Allen paraphrasing Groucho Marx, I just don’t want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.

Here’s the thing, though: Underneath the cynicism, I get it. I really do. And I’m really not a jerk-faced cynic all the time. I also understand that Maggie didn’t ask me to speak at Camp Mighty because she thinks I’m going to be converted to life list-ism. She asked me because I have a different perspective to offer, and because there are probably going to be at least a few people there with whom that perspective will resonate. I think I can do that — even if I’m not going to make a life list or go swimming.

So I said yes. And it’ll be good. Do you want to come? I hope you do.

Camp Mighty 2013
When: October 17–19, 2013
Where: Ace Hotel; Palm Springs, CA
Discount: Register with the code “DoorSixteen” to save $50 off registration

If you’re planning to go, please let me know! As uncertain as I know I sound, I really am excited about this — albeit super nervous and full of self-doubt and all that kind of stuff. I mean, have you looked at the list of speakers?! A bunch of my friends (including a few folks I’ve never met in person before!) will be there, though, and hopefully I’ll get to meet some of you, too, which makes it a whole lot less scary. See you there?

(Photo from the Ace Hotel Palm Springs website)

doorsixteen_thischarmingcharlie

As of this morning, I think I need to add a new question to my FAQ: “Have you seen this Smiths/Peanuts tumblr?” I’ve received close to 40 emails (!!!) and about a dozen tweets since yesterday about it, leading me to believe that I have indeed accomplished my primary mission in life, which of course is to be someone who comes to mind when subjects involving Morrissey and/or Charlie Brown arise. They’re two of my most favorite guys, forever and always.

The answer, obviously, is YES, I have seen it — I first saw it on the NPR Music blog, courtesy of Jen’s husband. Thanks, Jim! Never before has so much self-awareness and sensitivity been presented in such a heartwarming way. I think the Peppermint Patty & Marcie ones are my favorites. Sheila take a bow, indeed!

For the three remaining people on the planet have not yet seen this brilliant combination of Peanuts comic strips and Smiths lyrics, I hope you enjoy This Charming Charlie as much as I do. Lauren LoPrete is obviously a genius, and I’m truly sorry that I’m not the one who thought to do this. Thank you for making it happen, Lauren! You really made my day/week/life.

And also: Thank you, Charles Schulz. Thank you, Morrissey.

doorsixteen_thischarmingcharlie2

doorsixteen_beautifulmess

The ladies at A Beautiful Mess recently invited me to participate in their “At Home With…” series, and rather than submit a bunch of my own I-only-shoot-in-automatic-mode-with-a-point-and-shoot-camera-style snapshots, I asked my friend Ilenia Martini to shoot some photos of my house. Ilenia is such a great photographer (she also took my bio photo, and you may have seen her work recently on sfgirlbybay), and I knew she’d be able to show my house in way that I’m not capable of. The result is really beyond what I could have dreamed! A bunch of the photos she took are now up over at A Beautiful Mess, as well as an interview with me that gets into my feelings about owning a home in the City of Newburgh — and my feelings about home renovation in general.

My only regret is that Ilenia didn’t shoot the entire house! We were mid-heatwave, and I asked her to sneakily avoid getting any air conditioners (and piles of tools and construction debris…) in the pictures. I’ll have to lure her back with iced coffee and bagel sandwiches and get her to shoot the rest in the fall!

doorsixteen_dwell

My house also made an appearance on the Dwell website last week in their feature on where design bloggers work. It always makes me happy to see my father’s old drawing table make the rounds; it’s very special to me. If you look closely at the screen of my laptop, you can make out what I was working on that day — the logo for Evan’s new band, Thermite.

If you have the September print issue of Dwell, you can find a few blurbs from me about products I love and my own trend forecasts (which is something I don’t actually like to do, but when my favorite magazine asks a question, I’ll answer it). I didn’t get a cool illustration of my face like the other bloggers who participated, but I’m too excited to see Daniel in there to care!! It’s a great issue all around, though, and I’m always happy to be asked.

doorsixteen_googlereader

As you’ve probably heard by now, Google Reader’s official date of death will be Monday, July 1st (that’s TOMORROW). What does that mean? Well, if you use Google Reader to keep up with blogs and other sites that provide RSS feeds of their content, it means you had better important all of the feeds you follow into another reader, pronto! Otherwise, you’re going to forget what blogs you read and then you’ll wind up with a ton of free time on your hands that you might use to be more productive, and nobody wants THAT.

When the news that Google Reader was going down first broke, everyone started talking about Feedly and a bunch of other alternatives. I set up a Feedly account and imported my feeds, but ultimately I wound up settling on Bloglovin’ as my feed reader of choice. It’s really easy to use, the interface is nice to look at, and, best of all, it allows you to view blog posts in their “natural environment” — i.e., on the actual site itself, making it easier to comment and generally providing a prettier viewing experience.

Both Feedly and Bloglovin’ are providing one-click transfers to migrate feeds from Google Reader. It’s totally painless.

If you’re not already following Door Sixteen with a feed reader, you can find me here:
Door Sixteen on Bloglovin’
Door Sixteen on Feedly

Of course, if you’d prefer to use a different feed reader, you can grab my RSS feed here:
Door Sixteen RSS feed

Got it? If you have any questions, ask away!

(The photo is of my landlord’s shop cat trying — and failing — to catch pigeons on the sidewalk. The pigeons aren’t even the tiniest bit afraid of the cat! They barely move when he pounces.)

D16 in Lonny

The new issue of Lonny magazine is out today, and guess what? I’m in it! I was invited to share some of my favorite things with Lonny readers in their ‘Blogger Style’ column. It was so much fun to put together this little collection.

You can read the entire April 2013 issue of Lonny online, including my feature — I’m on pages 34–35.

Huge thank yous to my friend Ilenia Martini for taking a photo of me that doesn’t involve a bathroom mirror or an iPhone.

Brooklyn work space

I realized last night (upon receiving lease renewal forms) that it’s already been 10 months since we rented “the new apartment” in Brooklyn. Whaaaat?! I don’t really understand how it’s been almost a year already, but geez—I guess I should take some more pictures of it. A little while back I showed you one side of the main room, now here’s another side. This room contains the kitchen, dining room, living room and office, all compressed into a surprisingly spacious-feeling 220 square feet.

When I was planning out this room, one thing I knew I wanted was a nice work surface. I don’t like compact desks. I considered a few possibilities, and eventually arrived at a combination of two VIKA LERBERG trestles ($10 each) and a VIKA FURUSKOG table top (regularly $60, but I found it for 50% off), both from IKEA. That’s a 60×30″ work surface for $50—not bad! The table is actually deep enough that Evan and I can both sit and work opposite each other at the same time if we need to.* Plus, if we slide the iMac to the end of the desk (or put it on the floor), the table is big enough to seat 4 people—really nice if we have friends over for dinner.**

*This has never happened. But it could!
**This has also never happened. I blame the lure of the roof deck.

Brooklyn work space

The IKEA PS cabinet holds everything…and then some. I was sad to have to give up the awesome fauxdenza from our old apartment (it’s since been relocated to a closet at the house—more about that in another post!) because of space, but this guy really does an amazing job of storing way more stuff than it seems like it would be able to. All of our office supplies, tools, dog stuff, papers, and other things are in there, with room to spare. Our PS cabinet has been with us since 2003—almost a decade now. It’s an IKEA classic at this point, and I really think it’s one of their all-time best products.

Funny how much the (not) “new” apartment is starting to look like the old one, isn’t it? I even hung all of the artwork in the exact same arrangement. I still don’t think this place has the same kind of friendliness the old apartment did, but I am warming up to it! We definitely have a lot more visitors in DUMBO than we did in Washington Heights, that’s for sure, and I do love being able to open my home to people from out of town. It’s not big enough for overnight guests, but for hanging out for hours on end petting dogs and drinking coffee, it’s perfect! Every time friends or family come over, it really does start to feel a little more like it’s ours.

Herman Miller Lifework blog

If you’d like to see a few more photos of this side of the apartment (as well as some new pictures of the office at the house!) and read a little interview with me about work spaces, head over to the Herman Miller blog. I’m so honored to have been asked to contribute to their Lifework blog! I think it’s obvious to anyone who’s seen any part of my house or apartment that I have a considerable number of Herman Miller products in my life, so this was a lot of fun to do. (Thanks for inviting me, Amy!)

You may have noticed a few little changes on the blog during the past 24 hours or so! Yes, Door Sixteen got a little makeover—not a full redesign, but what I like to call a “mini-lift.” A new logo, a slightly wider format, a few little tweaks here and there. My dorky bio page has been updated, and the FAQ expanded. I also fixed a few things that were buggy, like the display dates on comment replies. As always, please let me know if anything is broken or weird.

The other big new thing is that I am now officially accepting sponsorship ads. A while back I wrote a little bit (OK, a lot) about the possibility of that happening and why, and after weighing the pros and cons for the better part of the past year, I’ve decided to go ahead and make the jump. After 14 years of ad-free blogging, I’m excited about this new venture.

I considered a few different ways of going about the whole thing, including the possibility of signing with an advertising network. One of the nice things about using a network is that there’s no “cross-contamination,” meaning that the ad content is handled completely separately from the blog content. The downside, though, is that the network approach would most likely mean that smaller businesses with tight budgets probably wouldn’t be able to afford the high rates plus commissions. That would rule out the most of artists and designers and photographers and craftspeople I care about and believe in the most, and then what’s the point? So I’ve decided to handle all ad sales directly.

I can’t promise that there won’t be any of that cross-contamination—if a business I love decides to advertise here, I won’t stop mentioning them; if I discover a business I love through a new ad, I won’t hesitate to support them directly. The content of my blog posts will always and forever be representative of my own views and opinions. My approach to writing has not changed, and you shouldn’t expect it to. (You should expect to see more posts, though. Maybe I can actually afford the time to finish some of the dozens of unfinished drafts in my queue!) I truly believe that all parties will benefit in the end: Me, my sponsors—and YOU, the readers.

My advertising policy, which you can read in full on my FAQ page, is one of 100% transparency. To that end, my current stats and my current ad prices and the “fine print” are all publicly displayed on my sponsorship page. There are no secrets here.

If you would like to become a D16 sponsor…
Please head over to the sponsorship page for all of the numbers and options and guidelines. If you have any questions at all, drop me a line at anna@doorsixteen.com. Thanks!

It’s been a while since I’ve shared any of my web design work. I don’t do very much of it since my day job designing book covers keeps me busier than than I can handle, but I really do enjoy fitting in a few non-print projects when I have the time. Here’s a little roundup of some of the work I’ve been doing on the side these past few months…

Honey Kennedy
This is my second redesign of Honey Kennedy—the first was in April 2011. Jen asked me several months ago if I could help her with some minor updates, but my schedule was insane so everything was put on the back burner. By the time we got our acts together and talked about Jen’s wishlist, it turned into a complete overhaul! I kept the same basic logo design and the dreamy, saltwater atmosphere, but introduced a richer color palette and bolder textures. Nearly every element of the blog got a makeover.

Jen is probably my most demanding client, but I say that with love. She has such a clear vision of what she wants, and has a really good eye for the tiniest details—that’s the reason her blog is so great. She’s also become a very good friend in the time since we worked on the first redesign, and working together is a pleasure.

Manhattan Nest
Another repeat client! I worked on a previous incarnation for Daniel two years ago, but it was never much more than a header design and some simple modifications to a prefab WordPress theme. Back then I don’t think Daniel imagined that his blog would eventually become super popular, so even just convincing him to move to a self-hosted platform was an effort. It was SO MUCH FUN to finally have a chance to design Manhattan Nest from top to bottom! It’s also so nice to think about how different Daniel’s life is now than it was two years ago—in 2010 he was a pet-free single guy on the Upper East side, and now he lives in Brooklyn with his boyfriend and their two dogs and he’s winning contests and stuff. (Hey, have I mentioned before what a truly good person Daniel is, and how happy I am that we’re friends and that he likes eating and drinking coffee as much as I do? Yes?)

CHEZERBEY + STUDIO ZERBEY
I’ve been reading Chezerbey for ages with more than a smidgen of jealousy in my eyes. Lauren and Kyle really set the bar high when it comes to home renovation, and it’s not just because they’re both architects—they also have amazing taste and an ability to stay within a budget and they’re not afraid to do pretty much all of the work themselves. I mean…this is my fauxdenza, and THIS is the Zerbey’s fauxdenza. WAY TO TAKE THE WIND OUT OF MY SAILS, GUYS. Just kidding!! Anyway, I was a little intimidated when Lauren first approached me about doing a complete makeover of their blog, but in the end it was a really smooth process. Both Kyle and Lauren are really good at expressing what they want and need both aesthetically and functionally, which is so helpful. Lauren even gave birth to their daughter in the middle of the redesign, but didn’t miss a beat. She’s superhuman.

In addition to having a kid, Lauren and Kyle also just became their own bosses and opened Studio Zerbey, an architecture and design firm. They asked me to design a website for Studio Zerbey that would complement Chezerbey while still looking distinct from the blog, and I think I achieved that. It was exciting to be involved with creating the indentity for a new business right at its inception!

Thank you so much to Jen, Daniel, Lauren and Kyle for trusting me with your projects…and for being patient and understanding when it comes to time constraints and sleep deprivation! I am privileged to have worked with you. Let’s all of us get together someday and have a “Dogs ‘n’ Blogs” party, OK? xoxo

I’m still making my way through all of the comments on my post from last Friday about my history (and future) as a blogger, but apart from the responses I’ve been leaving there, I wanted to take a minute to say THANK YOU.

The older I get, the more I realize that fear of being labeled a hypocrite (or a “flip-flopper,” if you want to get political about it) is probably the biggest thing that gets in my way when it comes to making decisions that are open to being judged by others. The fact of the matter is, though, things change. Situations change. People change. Times change. We learn from the people we meet along the way in life, and that’s a positive thing.

Like I said in my post, I’m not exactly sure where I’m headed in terms of advertisements and this blog, but I feel confident that if I do go ahead with it, I will treat that decision seriously and let my personal ethics guide me. There’s not only one existing model to follow when it comes to advertising, and there’s also nothing that says new models and standards can’t be developed. I’m not worried about what other people have or haven’t done—I’m concerned with doing what I believe is honest and worthwhile. I’m also not opposed to learning as I go. (I am a progressive and a modernist, after all!)

Anyway, I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: I have the BEST group of readers and commenters in all of blog-land. I am so incredibly appreciative of those of you who take the time not to just offer support, but to share your own perspective and ideas and concerns with me. As much as I like writing for writing’s sake, I love blogging for community’s sake.

Thank you again. ♡

I started my first blog—an offshoot of my Cure website, Hello Image (RIP)—in 1998. I didn’t call it a blog, though, it was just a journal. This was before the advent of blogging software, and the journal was a static page 50 miles long. Any comments were left as a guestbook entry. It’s funny to think about this stuff now!

About a year later, LiveJournal was launched, and those personal journals started to turn into communities. I maintained a LiveJournal for years, but it was private and restricted to a small group of close friends. I never got involved with the Blogger platform, but in 2001 Movable Type came along…and Absolutely Vile was born. Mena and Ben, the couple behind Movable Type, were Cure fans and had been involved with the online Cure-fan community, which is probably the only reason I was a aware that blogs (ahem, “weblogs”) were even a thing that people were doing at that point. It’s weird how everything is connected!

(If you were an Absolutely Vile reader, you might get a kick out of these old graphics: AV 2001 + AV 2002. Hello, grungetype.)

I updated Absolutely Vile every day—often multiple times a day—for almost four years. That took me right up to 2005, the year that Jason Kottke decided to quit his day job and become a full-time blogger in exchange for donations from readers. Blogging was turning into…something. I wasn’t really sure what that something was at the time, but I knew that I wasn’t really comfortable with it. My blog had always been a place where I could post about anything that was interesting to me or whatever was going on in my life that I felt like sharing. I didn’t have a plan or an agenda, it was all just for fun. Suddenly, though, I started to feel like there were a lot of eyes on me, and a lot of questions about what exactly my blog was about (the answer was always “nothing and everything”). Nasty comments started to become more common, and the demand from readers to see more of my life than I was willing to share became increasingly loud.

So I stopped. I deleted all of the archives and just walked away. I still kept in touch with my friends through my LiveJournal, but I essentially had no public online presence anymore. It was a massive relief.

During the two years that I stopped blogging publicly, Evan and I decided to leave Brooklyn (where we’d been living rather unhappily in a noisy loft in Red Hook) and move upstate to Beacon, rent a house for a year, go through a lot of real estate drama, move into my mother’s basement temporarily, and, finally, buy a Victorian fixer-upper in the City of Newburgh. If you’ve never been a blogger that distinction of public vs. private might not mean much, but in retrospect I am very glad that we did all of those things without having any input from strangers. For better or worse, I don’t know if we’d have made the same decisions we did if we’d stopped to listen to other people’s opinions. Yes, I did keep writing in my LiveJournal, but it’s different when it’s just close friends reading your words. I didn’t feel like “a blogger” during that time period.

Two big things happened in the world of blogging during my absence: Everyone left Movable Type and switched to WordPress…and bloggers started to make money. Sometimes a lot of money. It became commonplace for blogs to have ads on them, and sponsored posts also eventually became de rigueur. Full-time blogging was becoming a reality for a number of people, and everyone and their brother and their mother had a blog.

Despite swearing that I’d never do it again, I started to really miss blogging. Once we’d closed on the house (a long, arduous process), it seemed like the kind of renovations ahead of us were probably worth publicly documenting. And so, in the spring of 2006, I started Door Sixteen. For a couple of months, I quietly blogged about electrical work and re-plastering and such, and then I panicked. What was I doing? Did I really want to share this? Did I actually want people to read it? What was I even writing about? I wasn’t sure. So I stopped.

Fast forward to July 2007, and I was, of course, missing blogging again. So I made a commitment to restart Door Sixteen, but to only blog about the house. Period. No personal stuff, no makeup, no pictures of myself…just the house. I also made a firm decision to not monetize my writing, since it seemed at odds with my desire to remain slightly anonymous and to let my house be a home to turn the experience into a money-making enterprise. That was about as much thought went into it, really. I never plan posts, I don’t schedule anything, I have no sense of obligation to document everything I do, and if something doesn’t feel right to me, I stay away from it.

And now here we are another five years later, and I still love blogging. I love the sense of community it fosters, not only with my fellow bloggers, but with readers who engage in commentary. I love being able to share things I come across that I like with a bunch of other people who might like those things, too. I love doing what I can to demystify what’s involved with (slowly, slowly, slowly) renovating an old house. And yeah, as much as I tried to avoid it this time around, I love talking about makeup and music and movies and dogs and food and coffee. More than anything, though, I love to write. Before I figured out that I’m supposed to be a designer, I was pretty sure I’d be a writer. That didn’t happen, but I do still get a lot of satisfaction out of expressing myself textually as well as visually. The act of writing helps me to understand myself more, and sometimes just writing a post about the simplest thing brings me some insight that I might not have arrived at just by sitting in a chair and thinking.

I love blogging. I hate the word “blog”/”blogging,” but I guess we’re stuck with it. It just sounds so…phlegm-y.

(Is anyone still reading this? I know I’m rambling here, but I’m going with it.)

So where do I go from here? I’ve been blogging for fourteen years. That’s a long time! I don’t worry that I’ll run out of things to talk about (I never shut up!), but it is becoming increasingly hard for me to carve out the time it takes to put together worthwhile blog posts. I work in an office doing this all day long, and then I come home and do this until the wee hours—and then I sleep a little bit and wake up to do it all over again. I love designing stuff, don’t get me wrong, but man alive is it easy to get stretched thin. Everything takes at least five times longer than I think it’s going to, and I hate saying no…and, well, I’m not sure how well I’ve actually learned these lessons I wrote about last year.

This is what I do know: I want to blog more. I don’t want to slip into patterns where I’m letting weeks pass between posts. If I really do love doing this (and I do!), I want to do it as best as I can and in a meaningful way. I need to figure out to make that happen. At a minimum, I need to be able to stop doing so much freelance work in the evenings/nights/mornings/weekends.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about whether I should start accepting some advertisements from independent businesses. I know that’s probably shocking to a lot of you reading this, but I’m not going to shy away from talking about it. My approach to this kind of thing has to be totally transparent or else I feel creepy! I’ve had a lot of conversations about this subject with blogging friends of mine over the past few months, and all of them (whether they accept ads on their blogs or not) have been really supportive and encouraging of me going in that direction. I need to figure it out for myself, though—not just whether it’s OK or not OK for me to do, but where I fall within the realm of OK-ness and how this all fits into the scheme of things where my personal ethics are concerned.

So I’m working on it. I care a lot about the integrity of my voice and my opinions, and I don’t want to violate any trust I’ve built up with my readers—with you—over the years. It’s a tough area, I know. I promise not to be shady about it, regardless of what I decide to do.

Thanks for listening. ♡