Things That Happened When I Was 24 in Photos

My 25th birthday was last Friday (November 28th), so I wanted to make a list to commemorate some of the things that happened while I was 24.

1. My birthday was on Thanksgiving. I made the entire meal for the first time by myself, and I decided once and for all that Birthday Pie is the best kind of pie.

1. My birthday was on Thanksgiving. I made the entire meal for the first time by myself, and I decided once and for all that Birthday Pie is the best kind of pie.

2. Radiant Orchard was picked as the color of the year by Pantone. I was a fan. I feel like purple doesn't get enough credit in the color world. 

2. Radiant Orchard was picked as the color of the year by Pantone. I was a fan. I feel like purple doesn’t get enough credit in the world of color.

3. We learned (okay, confirmed) that Leia Batman does NOT like to wear costumes.

3. We learned (okay, confirmed) that Leia Batman does NOT like to wear costumes.

4. I might have went a little overboard on holiday and winter decorating. Just kidding... that's not possible. ;)

4. I might have went a little overboard on holiday and winter decorating. Just kidding… that’s not possible. ;)

5. I worked seasonally at Sephora and absolutely loved it. I also worked at an art store and absolutely hated it.

5. I worked seasonally at Sephora and absolutely loved it. I also worked at an art store and absolutely hated it.

6. The inaugural Friends Christmas happened, and it was both adult and awesomely kid-like all at the same time.

6. The inaugural Friends Christmas happened, and it was both adult and awesomely kid-like all at the same time.

7. I went home for Christmas for almost exactly 24 hours and drove 5 hours both ways to get there. Retail - ugh.

7. I went home for Christmas for almost exactly 24 hours and drove 5 hours both ways to get there. Retail – ugh.

8. I had my very first trip ever to the Emergency Room. It was a complication of IBS and my stomach hurt excruciatingly bad, but the amazing part was that three of my friends showed up to take me and stay with me in the ER while Jake was out of town. I can never thank them enough for being there for me. <3

8. I had my very first trip ever to the Emergency Room. It was a complication of IBS and my stomach hurt excruciatingly bad, but the amazing part was that three of my friends showed up to take me and stay with me in the ER while Jake was out of town. I can never thank them enough for being there for me. <3

9. I chose EXPLORE as my word for 2014, and that was the driving notion for a lot of things I did throughout the year.

9. I chose EXPLORE as my word for 2014, and that was the driving notion for a lot of things I did throughout this year.

10. I had long, brunette hair.

10. I had long, brunette hair.

11. I jump-started a car for the first time. And a second. And a third... Also, I learned that battery corrosion is very not-good thing.

11. I jump-started a car for the first time. And a second. And a third… Also, I learned that battery corrosion is very not-good thing.

12-03-14 About Being 24 by Britta Swiderski-9

12. I went to DisneyLand for the first time, and it was just as amazing as I’d dreamed. Also, I think Thor digs me.

13. I went to CHA Winter and got to see so many of my very best friends in the entire world.

13. I went to CHA Winter and got to see so many of my very best friends in the entire world.

14. I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time.

14. I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time.

15. Melissa (Jake's sister) and I became really, really close friends. I don't hesitate to call her my sister now. We're both so weird in all the right ways.

15. Melissa (Jake’s sister) and I became really, really close friends. I don’t hesitate to call her my sister now. We’re both so weird in all the right ways.

16. I had good days and I had bad days. I learned more coping mechanisms to have in my tool box so that I can deal with my anxiety and depression more effectively. Art journaling helps me when I feel frustrated and down.

16. I had good days and I had bad days. I learned more coping mechanisms to have in my tool box so that I can deal with my anxiety and depression more effectively. Art journaling helps me when I feel frustrated and down.

17. I tried Wood Burning for the first time to make an invitation to the second annual Feast of Thrones. Everyone brought a dish and beer to share, and we had a huge feast before the season preimere of Game of Thrones.

17. I tried Wood Burning for the first time to make an invitation to the second annual Feast of Thrones. Everyone brought a dish and beer to share, and we had a huge feast before the season preimere of Game of Thrones.

18. I lost two very important people in my life. My first deaths of close loved ones. My grandma passed away after a long battle with a rare form of Parkinson's Disease. But I knew everything would be okay because she's at peace now.

18. I lost two very important people in my life. My first deaths of close loved ones. My grandma passed away after a long battle with a rare form of Parkinson’s Disease, but I knew everything would be okay because she’s at peace now.

19. The second loss was gut-wrenching. One of my best friends, Tim, lost his fight to depression. He took is own life in June, and I will never be the same. (You can read more about losing Tim here.)

19. The second loss was gut-wrenching. One of my best friends, Tim, lost his fight to depression. He took is own life in June, and I will never be the same. (You can read more about losing Tim here.)

20. I became an all-in, absolute advocate for Mental Health awareness and suicide prevention. My friends banded together to mourn, help and transforming our pain and loss into effort to help others.

20. I became an all-in, absolute advocate for Mental Health awareness and suicide prevention. My friends banded together to mourn, help and transforming our pain and loss into effort to help others.

21. In the summer, I ate more Greek and caprese salad than I knew was physically possible for one human to consume.

21. In the summer, I ate more Greek and caprese salad than I knew was physically possible for one human to consume.

22. I officially became A Person Who Buys Chairs At Garage Sales.

22. I officially became A Person Who Buys Chairs At Garage Sales.

23. I went to 4 MLB games, 1 Saint Paul Saints game, 2 Gopher Basketball games, 1 Gopher Hockey game (outdoors!) and 1 Gopher football game.

23. I went to 4 MLB games, 1 Saint Paul Saints game, 2 Gopher Basketball games, 1 Gopher Hockey game (outdoors!) and 1 Gopher football game.

24. I lost 40 pounds by moving more (walking to hit my fitbit step goal and exercise bike) and focusing on eating more healthy than I already did. I also gave up soda (except on vacation, because vacation doesn't count). I don't have a fitbit anymore since the recall, but I highly recommend getting a pedometer to keep track of those numbers. Steps are so much more forgiving than pounds.

24. I lost 40 pounds by moving more (walking to hit my fitbit step goal and using an exercise bike) and focusing on eating more healthy than I already did. I also gave up soda (except on vacation, because vacation doesn’t count). I don’t have a fitbit anymore since the recall, but I highly recommend getting a pedometer to keep track of those numbers. Steps are so much more forgiving than pounds.

25. I went with five friends on a crazy adventure to Seattle, Vancouver and Portland. We called it #FriendFestNW and it was worth absolutely every cent I spent to get there.

25. I went with five friends on a crazy adventure to Seattle, Vancouver and Portland. We called it #FriendFestNW and it was worth absolutely every cent I spent to get there.

26. I started playing bass. I love my bass. We're working on a band name, but someday we'll write a song, and it will be magical.

26. I started playing bass. My friend Steven and I formed a band. Still working on a band name, but someday we’ll write a song and it will be magical. We’ll be doing our first open mic soon!

27. Jake and I celebrated our 3-year anniversary and tried to go on as many day dates as possible when he had off work. I love him more every day.

27. Jake and I celebrated our three year anniversary and tried to go on as many day dates as possible when he had off work. I love him more every day.

28. We dressed up as heroes and went to a beer fest at Midway Stadium before it was torn down. We ended up getting featured in CityPages twice - once in photos from the event and once from the September Highlights.

28. We dressed up as heroes and went to a beer fest at Midway Stadium before it was torn down. We ended up getting featured in CityPages twice – once in photos from the event and once from the September Highlights.

29. Leia continued to be my ever-loving furry companion, and our apartment is still undoubtably Leia's Castle.

29. Leia continued to be my ever-loving furry companion, and our apartment is still undoubtably Leia’s Castle.

30. I went back to short, blonde hair (my natural color).

30. I went back to short, blonde hair (my natural color). (And I like it. I also like silly faces.)

31. Jake's cousin, Chris, married Taylor, and it was the most beautiful wedding I've ever attended. I cried. A lot. I'm so grateful to be considered part of their family.

31. Jake’s cousin, Chris, married Taylor, and it was the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever attended. I cried. A lot. I’m so grateful to be considered part of their extended family.

32. We, as a friend group, drank ALL the craft beer. This included too many brewery taproom visits to count, a tandem bike brewery tour in Portland, attending four beer festivals, attending the grand opening of a taproom practically in our neighborhood and, of course, excessive use of my favorite-ever

32. We, as a friend group, drank ALL the craft beer. This included many brewery taproom visits, a tandem bike brewery tour in Portland, attending four beer festivals, attending the grand opening of a taproom practically in our neighborhood and, of course, extensive use of my favorite app, Untappd.

33. I participated in VEDA (vlog everyday in april) and #Inktober (draw everyday in october).

33. I participated in VEDA (vlog everyday in april) and #Inktober (draw everyday in october).

34. I had this not-so-crazy idea for a business, so I made it. ThingsCrafted launched November 13th, and it was terrifying. I have so many more plans and dreams and can't wait to see where that road takes me.

34. I had this not-so-crazy idea for a business, so I made it. ThingsCrafted launched November 13th, and it was terrifying. I have so many more plans and dreams and can’t wait to see where that road takes me.

35. I got a real, adult job working with kids at a local elementary school with before- and after-school care. I work early in the morning, come home for 6 hours to work on design business stuff and then go back to work in the afternoon. It's difficult and exhilarating and exhausting and wonderful all at the same time, every day. I get paid to talk to kids, teach them things and do craft projects. It's a perfect fit.

35. I got a real, adult job working with kids at a local elementary school with before- and after-school care. I work early in the morning, come home for 6 hours to work on design business stuff and then go back to work in the afternoon. It’s difficult and exhilarating and exhausting and wonderful all at the same time, every day. I get paid to talk to kids, teach them things and do craft projects. It’s a perfect fit.

36. I saw one of my favorite musicians ever, Watsky, preform live for the second time. It was just as amazing as the first time I saw him and also 100x better and I can't explain why. His music inspires me every day.

36. I saw one of my favorite musicians ever, Watsky, preform live for the second time. It was just as amazing as the first time I saw him and also 100x better and I can’t explain why. His music inspires me every day.

37. I celebrated my birthday in two places - at The Farm (Jake's cabin) with Jake's family and in Neenah with mine. It was Black Friday. We had steak and green bean casserole for dinner, and I wrapped ribbon around my head. It was wonderful.

37. I celebrated my birthday in two places – at The Farm (Jake’s cabin) with Jake’s family and in Neenah with mine. It was Black Friday. We had steak and green bean casserole for dinner, and I wrapped ribbon around my head. It was wonderful.

This last year was so many things. In a lot of ways, it was the hardest year I’ve ever faced… but with the lows come the gratefulness and joy for everything I have and love. I’m so thankful for everything, and every day is a new learning experience. I’m also thankful for you for sticking around and reading my blog. I know I haven’t been a consistent blogger this year, but this blog isn’t about just crafts – it’s also about my life. Thanks for being part of it. :)

Love,
Britta

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ThingsCrafted Grand Opening Blog Hop!

Hey there! You should be arriving here from Mary Dawn’s blog. If you’re just joining us on the blog hop, you can head over here to the ThingsCrafted blog to start from the beginning!

ThingsCrafted-Grand-Opening-Blog-Hop

If you’ve been wondering where I’ve disappeared to over the past six weeks or so, I hope this helps to clarify things. ;) Not only have I started a new mostly full-time job (and I love it – but more on that later), but I’ve also launched ThingsCrafted, a new business that allows me to do what I love – designing for this awesome community that I’m already so lucky to be a part of. Here’s a little bit more information about ThingsCrafted: 

ThingsCrafted is a place where handmade design and customization come together to create a wonderful company who creates and encourages color, personality and community. ThingsCrafted was founded by Britta Swiderski, a designer with a background in the world of papercrafting and a history of working with awesome graphic design clients. ThingsCrafted provides custom products – starting with stamps – to suit your lifestyle all starting with handwritten designs. They all go from pencil to computer to your doorstep! We love to create stamps and designs for addresses, “made by”s for the projects you send to others, favorite phrases or shapes for project life and planner organization and so much more. 

Today we’re celebrating this new beginning with a blog hop. I’m so excited to introduce this concept to you, and I hope you’ve enjoyed what everyone else put together for this hop. I have some truly amazing friends, and I can’t wait to get even more of them involved as ThingsCrafted grows!

On my blog today, I wanted to show off one of my very favorite hand-designed stamps that is available for purchase in the ThingsCrafted store, Happy Birthday To You. I really wanted the bubble letters of Mille text to shine, so I stuck close to one of my favorite techniques – watercolor pencils and white embossing.

Happy Birthday watercolor by Britta Swiderski - ThingsCrafted Grand Opening Blog Hop

I focused most of the color on the inside of the letters, but I wanted to have a painterly effect with the watercolor, so I scribbled a little outside the lines as well. I then went over everything with a waterbrush, adding more color directly from pencil to brush as needed within the letters. To hold up to this amount of water, I was happy to have my favorite watercolor cardstock as a base. It stands up to a lot of watercolor.

To keep it simple, I embellished it only with some white sequins from Lawn Fawn’s Peace Love Joy sequins assortment and added some small gemstones on top to finish them off.

Happy Birthday watercolor by Britta Swiderski - ThingsCrafted Grand Opening Blog Hop

Here’s a closer look at the embossing and watercolor. Man, I love those bright, vibrant colors!

Supplies used on this project: Click below to see where you can buy the products used on this project. Click on “SS” for the product at Simon Says Stamp and “EH” for the product at Ellen Hutson. I also will link to products from my own store, ThingsCrafted. I only link to products and shops that I know and love. Thank you for your support!

ThingsCrafted-Grand-Opening-Giveaway

Thank you for stopping by today. Before you go – make sure to leave a comment on this post and each one along the hop to enter to win a custom stamp! One will be given away at each stop along the hop. We’ll be getting in touch with you via email, so make sure you add your email to your comment! We’ll be drawing winners at the end of Tuesday, the 25th of November, so be sure to leave a comment by then.

There’s also a special treat for everyone in the blog hop – 15% off your order until the end of the day Tuesday, November 25th using the code GRAND15OFF as part of the Grand Opening event! This is the last stop on the blog hop, so please hop back to the beginning at the ThingsCrafted blog if you’d like to see more projects or start the hop over again. Thanks for hopping with us!

See you soon with more love and more craftiness,
Britta

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Cat Tree Wall Ikea Hack – A Tutorial

I love making grand plans for big, fun projects for when my parents come to visit. This is a perfect example of one I planned where almost every single thing went a little differently than planned. Ha! I did get the help from my mom putting this project all together, though – she has the know-how with things like saws and wall anchors to teach me something new every time I would with her. We weren’t using this corner space for anything other than putting backpacks, coats and purses on a pile in the floor, so I decided it was time to make this space useful and give our cat more vertical space to run around.

This project hardly went according to plan, but I still love the results… almost as much as Leia does.

Cat Tree Wall Ikea Hack Tutorial by Britta Swiderski - 10-09-14

Supplies:

  • shelves – used Ekby Östen 31″ length (4 shelves total) but Ekby Tryggve or Ekby Hemnes  have the same dimentions – it depends on your budget and color preferences + what’s available in-store
  • brackets  - Ekby Bjärnum 7.5″ brackets (5 sets) + connecting bracket for double-long shelf
  • wall anchorsTriple Grip 171K ( for holding up to 51 lb)
  • extra screws – for the bottoms of the brackets (four 51 lb anchors for a little shelf might be a little overkill)
  • carpet – we used carpet samples from Home Depot (which are free – I picked up a few every time I was in the area and needed to buy something), but you could use any spare carpet you have from an old project
  • glue for adhering the carpet – Hot Glue or E6000 – I couldn’t find my hot glue gun, so I went with E6000 and some books to hold the squares down. I did go back in with a glue gun to attach any corners or edges that sprang up in the drying process.
  • hefty scissors for cutting carpet – 9.5″ Tim Holtz Scissors were AMAZING for this
  • drill & bits – I have a Ryobi D42K + these drill bits + these screwdriving bits
  • circular saw – my parents swear by Black & Decker for power tools
  • sharpie and pencil for marking shelves and wall
  • T-Square for marking shelves to be cut – this is my all-purpose one
  • Level – we used an iPhone because I can never remember to just buy a real level

Cat Tree Wall Ikea Hack Tutorial by Britta Swiderski - 10-09-14

Five Steps to Cat Paradise:

1. Measure and Mark – measure and mark your shelves to the desired length. Use a sharpie and t-square to draw a line that will act as your guide with the circular saw. Measure and mark the walls where you want the shelves to go – this will help you decide where exactly to attach the shelves and adjust the heigh between shelves to make sure your kitty can jump between them (ours are about 24″ apart vertically and Leia doesn’t have any trouble, but I would recommend 18″ or less of a jump for larger or older cats).

2. Cut Boards to Size – use a circular saw to cut down the shelves to size. Be sure to read the saw’s instructions and safety warnings! You could also use a hand saw, but you’ll get the most precise results with power tools.

3. Attach Brackets – use a pencil to mark the boards where you’ll put the screw to attach the brackets, drill using a 1/8″ drill bit into the wood about 1/4″ deep and then attach the shelves with the provided screws.

4. Affix Carpet – adhere your carpet to the shelves with hot glue or E6000, cutting down the carpet with strong scissors to fit across the back and side edges. Be sure to slip the carpet under the extra space between the shelf and the bracket – this will hide raw edges.

5. Level and Drill – with the aid of a level (ehem… or an iphone) and your handy pencil, mark out where the holes for the brackets need to go. Be sure to use relatively heavy-duty wall anchors on the top of the brackets to give the shelf additional support if you’re drilling into drywall. Drill a hole to the size designated by the anchor (check the package), insert the anchor (use a hammer to help with the last little bit if necessary) and attach the shelf with the matching screw. I went with 50 lb anchors so they would not only support the shelf + my cat and also her jumps up and down. Drill 1/8″ holes and use a screw to secure the bottoms of the brackets.

 The Story

First of all, why a cat tree on the wall? I wanted to build this not only to give Leia a place to play and explore, but also a safe haven away from guests where she feels in charge. She runs away to hide as soon as she hears a person other than me or Jake come to the door. Even close friends that are here about once a week only see flashes of her – it took Leia 6 months of Dan coming over every week to watch TV and Star Wars for her to let him pet her.

After watching many episodes of My Cat from Hell (a.k.a. the cat version of Dog Whisperer), I knew that giving her a place up high where no one is allowed to touch her might really help her shyness around guests and reduce her feelings of anxiety about having other people around. This all came together into this awesome cat tree corner that, in total, cost me about $75 dollars to make a reality.

Here’s where the changes come in. The shelves were originally supposed to be Ekby Tryggve ($3.99 each) in a black-brown color to match the rest of our furniture, but Ikea didn’t have a single one when we went to pick up supplies. The Tryggve actually only comes in natural wood color now, so I bet that had something to do with it. I pulled a last-minute decision to go with the white Ekby Östen shelves ($6.99 each) in the interest of time. The extra $12 and color change was well worth it when we were able to get  the entire project done the next day while my parents were still in town. I was dead-set on the Ekby Bjärnum brackets ($5 per set of two and $5 for connector) because they covered up the ends of the shelf and had a coordinating connector bracket, allowing me to stick with the same shelf for the whole project. I should also note that I went with the 7.5″ deep shelves because Leia is little and so is the area I was working in. If you want to step up to the 11″ deep shelves, that would definitely provide more lounging room for your feline friends.

The second little bobble came from trusting Ikea’s measurements. Thankfully, the shelves didn’t need to be precisely the same length, just well-mounted and pretty close to level. When we measured out to cut the boards in half, we just used the Ikea dimensions and divided them in half… It was a rookie mistake that left us with two shelves of the desired length and two over an inch longer that the first set. Whoops! We just made sure to put both of the “long” shelves on the same side so nothing seemed off.

The third thing were the dang brackets. Since the shelves are thinner than the brackets, this allows for space to cover up the unfinished edges of carpet (awesome!) but makes them really tricky for installation. They hate being straight vertically. We just went with it, and it honestly doesn’t bother me. If you are using these brackets for your project, though, keep that in mind.

When all was said and done, though, the wall turned out amazingly well (if not a completely different color than I pictured it in my plans), and Leia is having a blast up in her new castle. We even moved over our 2 x 4 Expedit to the right side of the closet so she can jump down to the top of it and nap comfortably. I guess now we truly do live in Leia’s Castle.

Cat Tree Wall Ikea Hack by Britta Swiderski

One of Leia’s favorite new hobbies – sitting on the third shelf and leaning past the corner to surprise anyone coming down the hallway. This cat is a special one, for sure. <3

Thanks so much for stopping by today! And if you’re wondering, yes, I am a crazy cat lady and yes, I love it. A huge thanks goes out to my wonderful mom for helping me with this project. It’s a fairly easy but definitely two-person project. And thanks to my dad for sitting on the couch (he was sick the whole weekend – boo) and putting up with me yelling at the Gopher football game on TV.

If you liked this post, you might like my Refinishing 101: Modern Table Makeover that my mom helped me with last year. :) See you again soon with another card video!

Love,
Britta

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