tales of a creepy doll carriage

91k0heExW0LI have a photo on another French book cover! This time a reprint of Un soupçon légitime by Stefan Zweig.

I took this photo in 2003 with a Pentax K1000 camera and slide film, then had the film cross-processed–probably at my local Target, since they never knew what to charge for processing film without prints, so they’d just do it for free!

This old-school doll carriage was my mother’s as a little girl, and it featured in a number of other photo shoots over the years. Now it sits in my office and occasionally amuses my kids when I let them play with it. gets a makeover

You know what they say about the cobbler’s children and their shoes? Well, I am the cobbler, and my websites are my children, and it’s been a while since they’ve had new shoes. I can’t remember the last time I designed a theme for my site that wasn’t a work project.

Speaking of work, my team is talking about small businesses, interviewing owners and figuring out what makes them tick. This also involves keeping an eye on our competition, and as a long-time Etsy seller, I already have a foot in that space.

It turns out that Etsy offers a free trial of their website builder, Pattern, so I decided to try it out in the name of research, and in hopes I’d come out of it with a decent website, too.

The result:

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 2.22.56 PM

What I liked

I’m impressed with how fast I was able to set up a site; with a few clicks, the whole thing was ready to go (not including the time I spent fussing over themes, colors, and fonts). I had the option to wait to publish it until it felt finished, but being me, I charged ahead and hooked up my domain name right away.

Now my existing audiences on both platforms can access the same products, and I don’t have to go through the process of re-creating 150+ listings with WooCommerce or Shopify. That’s a huge time-saver.

I’ve noticed a significant increase in traffic to my Etsy shop by way of the original domain name, which tells me combining the site and the shop was a good move. It’s too soon to tell if that uptick will result in sales, but anecdotally, I’ve had a solid sales week, too.

What I didn’t like

The primary drawback for me is the look of the site; it’s very vanilla. There are few themes to choose from, they don’t support transparent PNGs (welcome back to the 90’s?), and I’m itching for custom CSS to tweak a few things.

The blog feature is also basic; no scheduling, few choices, I can’t import or export content, so I’m effectively starting from scratch.

Pattern is obviously not designed with power users in mind, but I recognize I’m spoiled by WordPress’ ability to customize everything down to the last pixel, and I’m probably picky about my site’s appearance. 😉 But for $15 per month, I’d expect to be able to do more with the site.

Worth it?

So far, I’ve sold enough to make up my first couple months’ fees. That said, I could see myself moving to a more robust solution in the future; something that gives me more control over my site’s appearance. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for leveraging my existing connection with Etsy.

I’m also in the process of updating the shop with new goodies from Printful, a print-on-demand drop-shipping company that interfaces with Etsy to produce t-shirts, posters, mugs, and more. Now folks can buy the kind of stuff I sell through Redbubble or Teepublic directly from Etsy.

I hope it helps widen my shop’s reach a bit!

Dotcom Design in San Diego, May 2018

Remember how I said I was poised at the tip-top of the proverbial roller coaster a few weeks ago?

Well, I’m finally at the bottom of the ride. I came home from our meetup on Sunday afternoon and promptly crashed for several hours of much-needed sleep. Thankfully I had the foresight to take a couple days off to recover. Monday was spent in a time-zone-befuddled daze, and yesterday was spent in Bangor for appointments.

…okay, maybe I’m not entirely at the bottom of the ride, but I’m getting there.

Most of the meetup itself was spent planning and thinking and brainstorming, which explains the relative lack of pictures this trip. Sticky notes lose their visual appeal after one or two photos.

The kids struggled with my absence more than usual, and I’m feeling the sharp divide between work and motherhood. Pulled in multiple directions, it’s hard to know if I’m doing enough on either front. But it was good to spend time getting to know my team, and I enjoyed working against the backdrop of ocean air and spring sun.

I met up with my aunt and cousins for lunch on my last day, and a late flight out afforded me the chance to have some alone time in the city. I wandered around the San Diego Zoo, taking pictures of the animals so I could share them with the kids.

All in all, a successful meetup, but I’m glad to be home!

coming out of my shell

When I go quiet, it’s usually because I don’t know what to write about. I start a post, but I don’t know how to finish it. I want to present the best of myself, but she appears to have taken a holiday, and what’s left is someone much more human — full of faults and cracks I’d just as soon cover up.

A few days ago I was watching Brené Brown’s talk on vulnerability and realized a) I need to reread Daring Greatly and b) I am feeling all sorts of vulnerable lately, and my default response is to play turtle and retreat into my shell.

I started a new role at work last month, joining a new team to build a better experience for small businesses on It’s my first team change in the six years I’ve been at Automattic, and in many ways, it feels a lot like my first days at the company all over again. I’m growing different skills, and working with different people. It’s been a pretty smooth adjustment, but I’ve been head-down trying to figure out how and where I fit into this new role, and my head is so full.

I am tired. I am either unable to sleep, or unwilling to get out of bed before ten. I have this perpetual sense of being late, being behind, of missing the mark, of underperforming. Not enough, my brain chants. Not enough.

Our house is a mess, but only by my standards, which are admittedly higher than is warranted for a family of four with two young kids. We’re living out of laundry baskets, and the pile of clothes in my closet that needs to be hung up outnumbers the clothes that are already hanging. Our office has a fly problem that’s basically driven me out until further notice, or until I can get up the energy to clean it properly. Our shower is falling to mold and water damage, and the cost to replace it is not in the cards. The kids’ rooms are…well, they’re kids’ rooms. I’ll leave that to your imaginations.

Tim’s health stuff is a factor I can’t go into detail about, but let’s just say, sometimes it feels like there isn’t enough room in this house for our combined mental health issues. Medication adjustments are perpetually kicking his ass. Health issues are compounding. He’s doing the best he can. We both are, really, doing what we have to do to get through the day.

Gwen is going through one of her boundary-testing phases, where every little “no” has the potential to turn her into a raging demon child. It is exhausting keeping up with her feeding schedule, because like an actual newborn baby, she gets hungry every two hours and screams when she doesn’t get fed. She’s living on mac n’ cheese and chicken nuggets and hot dogs and strawberries, because we have to choose our battles, and there are so many other battles lately. Getting her to eat a vegetable is like pulling teeth.

Speaking of pulling teeth, Ellie’s are falling out faster than the Tooth Fairy can keep up. The big P is racing toward her like a freight train, which means lots of Big Questions and Big Feelings and I am not ready for my nine-year-old to grow up, but I don’t have much choice in the matter.

And I’m at the tip-top of the roller coaster. Monday starts a three-week sprint of intense user interviews, kids’ dance rehearsals and recitals, and a trip to San Diego. Here we gooooooooo.

All of this spans the third anniversary of my dad’s death. The body remembers, even when the mind is trying not to. I’m re-grieving his illness, remembering his last days, watching him deteriorate and pass. I miss him deeply. All while trying to juggle and balance and dance around the rest of life’s little hurdles.

There are things I want to do outside of family time, outside of work time — things like exercising and enjoying the spring weather that finally decided to show, things like drawing or writing or making, but I also want to sleep. A lot.

So last night, as I was laying there, exhausted but wide awake, wondering why my mind was such a dumpster fire, it occurred to me that maybe I have good reason to be frazzled. Maybe some vulnerability is warranted, otherwise you might not hear from me until July.

It’s not all bad, though. I’m getting my money’s worth out of my Celexa. My therapist is a rockstar. I re-subscribed to Headspace to get a little bit of calm, because I can use all the calm I can get. And Tim cleaned the office while I was writing this, so hey, friendly reminder that I don’t have to feel personally responsible for everything.

Hi. I am tired. How are you?