All I want is to be able to catch my breath…

It may look like I’m living the life…but the reality involves more crying

All month I have struggled with if I should blog about the behind the scenes of the last few weeks, if I should write about how overwhelmed I am feeling with work and life or if it would just be obnoxious whining. Everyday I look at the blog and decided not to write about it and then decided that I have nothing other then this to say though so I walk away. Then I reread this post about where I want the blog to go and realized that the bloggers I admire the most would be talking about it. Also that if I never wrote all this down, there was a chance I would never blog again. So here I am. Part of the reason of why I have not written anything is that some of what has been going on is not my story. I feel ok with talking about anything that is my own tale to tell, but parts may be vague as they creep into someone else’s story, please understand that.

July which is usually filled with slow days and ample downtime to prepare for the busy season has been the opposite this year. I am crossing my fingers that August gives me a week of idle time so I can catch my breath because right now I am in need of it. We just returned from an unplanned, last minute 3 day trip which involved 2 days of driving with one very squished span of time in the middle where I was trying to simultaneously spend time with a sick family member and work. I never even washed my face that middle day and was still texting apologies to the printers at 11pm that I needed everything that sent to them that evening pretty much rushed because in the chaos of what has been going on, I got the deadline wrong by a week so everything had to done asap. This was our second last minute 3 day trip this month and even though there were little pockets of watching the sun set over the water or even getting to walk on the beach for 20 minutes once, I have come home exhausted, behind in work and stressed out to the point of random bursts of crying at random times. There are good and bad parts about being opposites of your spouse in many ways. In my marriage, the good parts always outweigh the bad, but the bad sometimes can be horrible such as when one spouse has emotional spontaneity impulses that win out over the must plan in advance because I own a business spouse when the health of a loved one is in play. Its been a tough summer.

In the two weeks in between these excursions, work took an unexpected twist and I found myself in major crunch time for a monster wholesale order. A bit of back story there, I am one of the top five sellers out of over a hundred designers with one of my wholesalers. When we began working together, they would send me a weekly purchase order of what they sold the prior week and I would ship everything off to them. This however meant that all of the people ordering from us designers (as opposed to what the wholesaler manufactures themselves) had to wait for four weeks to get their orders. A few months ago, the company decided that in order to sell a higher volume of the top sellers, they needed to reduce the ship time. So we switched to traditional drop shipping…which I hated as it meant a great deal more day to day work in the studio and filling all of the orders each day was taking up a huge chunk of time. Luckily the company decided after few months of this that they wanted the ship time to become even faster (this will be key in maximizing sales, especially around the holiday shopping time, which I am all for) so about month ago, another change was decided on and new contracts were drawn up. They would now send a purchase order every ten weeks for ten weeks worth of jewelry and if anything ran out, send mini purchase orders during that time. Sounded awesome, I was thrilled. I assured them that no problem, of course I could fill these orders within two weeks. Then I received the first purchase order for 1300 pieces of jewelry. 957 of these being rings which are made to order and which also happen to be the only jewelry I design that I have to make myself for the wire wrapping to be consistent. So yeah, crutch time.

Fortunately, after the Real Simple gift guide chaos of 2008, I basically began to rebuild Manic Trout with this level of volume in mind so I was ready. I spent two days planning it all out, assessing what I had in my inventory, what materials I already had, what I needed, ordering materials (which required phone calls to suppliers figuring out how to get everything here fast, but not so fast that it would cost a fortune), printing the specific labels all of the jewelry would need to have on it and so forth. I calculated what had to be made each day and then got started on making what had to be made. Renee thankfully spent a few evenings and one very long night offering up her skills and accomplishing the very lengthy preparation of all of the paperwork that had to accompany this order. That alone was such a huge life saver (and why she os one of my favorite people)! It was an intense amount of work as I was still running the normal day to day business as well but thankfully it was July so not as bad as it could have been…well or as it will be when the next ten week order comes in. I think the smartest thing I did in those two weeks though was still fit in a run three days a week. Every time I went for a run, I came back feeling so much better and instantly thought OMG, I’m learning! You’ll be happy to know that I not only survived the order but I actually shipped it off ahead of schedule.

There were however a great deal of big projects that were sidelined while I was doing the order. One being that my Canadian showroom had sent me the prep list for the Toronto Gift Show in August and I needed to prep all of the line sheets, post cards etc. I had created the US version of the line sheets already, but all of the prices needed to be changed to CAD and it all had to go off to the printer and be back in time to ship. So immediatly following the shipping of the big order, I caught up on day to day orders and got started on this. Then I realized that I was at the deadline for a great deal of big magazine pitches, so I had to drop everything and get to those and well, I basically jumped right into 50 things like this without taking a breath. Which brings us back to this weekend when I was finally getting caught up and I was given 12 hours notice that we were going. I feel so lucky to have a great deal of opportunity and wonderful things going on with work, but I am really crossing my fingers that next week I can finally catch my breath. I have started to dream about a vacation planned months in advance where I go some where alone, there is no cell service and I don’t have to talk to anybody. I think I may have just described a monastery, that’s where I am…dreaming of monasteries.

So apologies on not checking in this July although usually I am complaining that its so slow and how much I detest the slow time of summer on the blog everyday. So perhaps it was nice to be spared of all of that? Anyway, here’s to August and a chance for us all to catch our breath!

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I’ve got all my sisters with me

Mom, Holly, Gillian, Sierra, Thea in February, 2014.
Mom, Holly, Gillian, Sierra, Thea in February, 2014.

I was in NY this past weekend for my sister Gillian’s Bridal Shower and Bachelorette Party. It was a fast trip filled to the brim with activity and so much time spent traveling. There were about 200 photos taken of the four of us together on Saturday and not one had all of us looking at the same camera at the same time. This one’s not even in focus, but it’s my favorite as my mom is in it and grinning at us all. When I was just looking at the collection of photos from Saturday on Facebook, I ended up on the photo below…from I think 2008?

Holly, Gillian, Thea, Sierra in 2008
Holly, Gillian, Thea and Sierra in 2008

We all lived within about 45 minutes of each other back then, and I think my mom made us have Sunday brunch together at her house almost every week. I doubt we’ll ever live that close to each other again…it would however be nice to not be spread out sooooo far apart as we all are right now. Northern California, Texas, Virginia and New York City means there is ALOT of travel and planning to hang out. It’s ok though, when we do, we make every second count!

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Traveling and staying healthy

baked by melissa

When Adam and I were walking through a deserted 11:30pm airport Sunday night after our 40 hour trip to NYC this past weekend, I looked at him and said “you know, I was never one of those people who wanted to travel for work or spend all of my free time traveling”. I wanted to be a designer, dammit. All of this traveling is becoming a pain in the ass and messing up my schedule in doing what I did dream of doing. 5 trips in as many months has left me never wanting to leave the house again. It also has made me ponder how hard it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle when traveling. Forget that once I return, I have missed that weeks farmers market and skipped the day I grocery shop, and have so much to catch up on with Manic Trout, that I have no time to exercise all week. The real problem is what to do while actually gone?

If you fly Jet Blue, the terminals and flights offer at least a bit of health options (there has been much time in airports as Austin airport is not big enough to justify direct flights) but on most of the other airlines, you’re SOL. Once you arrive at your destination, the real fun begins…living in hotels, eating only at restaurants and being a guest. I prefer to not make a big deal out of my food allergies, I find it annoying when people are picky as guests. I normally just work around it, and its pretty easy to avoid aged cheese, red wine and good chocolate but being lactose intolerant, always avoiding dairy is not so easy. However, with the last one, its an intolerance, I’ll live…so I just suck it up and go with the flow. Except people keep making creamed soups as the main course…what is that all about anyway?

Once we bump allergies and intolerances out of the way…then there is dealing with the preferred way to eat. As I discussed last week, I tend to gravitate to super heathy eating habits, avoid GMO’s, buy organic and avoid refined flour and dairy. Traveling makes me understand that there are small pockets of the country where lots of people eat like this, I have been lucky enough to have lived the last decade in these places  because wow, its hard to eat this way in a lot of the US! Again though, as not one to ruffle feathers when I’m a guest, I just go with the flow and work around it…which means I usually feel sick to my stomach or hungry most of the time which results in my fall back crisis mode…eat as much sugar as I can get my hands on. This last trip resulted in my eating a large amount of the most delicious and tiniest cupcakes I have ever laid eyes on.

There are times when I can get to a store and stock up on apples, almonds and other snacks so at least I’m not starving to death, but other than that do you have any suggestions of how to maintain a healthy lifestyle when traveling?

oh and ps, I have not taken one photo of food on any of the 5 trips…except those cupcakes 😉

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Deep thoughts from…well, the many, many weeks since the last one


1. If it’s chilly out and windy, people on vacation will still lounge on the beach and act as though its 90 degrees out.

2. Punching…even if it’s just the air, provides amazing stress relief.

3. All ovens are not created equal and in fact cook food differently. Which makes me wonder…why bother cooking at all???

4. Speaking of cooking…induction stove tops require specialized pots and pans. Again…why bother???

5. If your entire back yard is covered in fuzzy pollen…well, you’re screwed.

6. Travel is exhausting. Even if you lounge around reading the entire weekend away, you’ll be exhausted from the exertion of going when you get home.

7. If your central air is going to break, its going to do so during a crazy heat wave.

8. When you live in the live music capitol of the world, you should really take advantage of it.

9. Lunch with the girls can make everything better.

10. Rarely if you force yourself to get out there and do something, will you regret it.

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Sum it up…

yoda do or do not there is no try

WORKING ON:  Lots and lots of busy work such as line sheets for the new line and ordering custom wall coverings for pool.  Especially excited for some custom ‘luggage’ to haul Manic Trout to trade shows thats in the works…so fancy!

THINKING ABOUT:  That I’ll actually be busier when I return from Vegas and then I have to stop thinking and take few deep breaths and breath.

ANTICIPATING: I am being interviewed by two blogs this week and am excited to not only do both of  them, but to a part of their roster of interviewed designers! Also, I found out yesterday that a great friend of mine will be in town for SXSW and we’ll get to visit…yay!!

LISTENING TO:  The David Bowie station on Pandora…pretty excellent.

EATING: The best cookies in the world came out with a Red Velvet version.  Oh to die!  Check your local grocer for Lofthouse Cookies.  You’ll thank me hate me for it later.

THANKFUL FOR: Getting to see both of my parent in one day last week! Also that my husband is so awesome that he added an extra long massage to my monthly facial/pedi day and treats me to the whole shebang.  Oh, and that is all happens in an hour.

PLANNING FOR:  The Spring Summer 2013 Line launch and Pool…and world domination.

READING: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. I have a weird superstition that I have to buy 2 books at the airport before I fly…last week I did this in both directions…usually I buy all business books, but I added this one to the pile and it is HILARIOUS!

WATCHING: Almost done with Private Practice on Netflix…I think I’ll watch the West Wing next…any suggestions?

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The fear of leaving the studio

More time needs to be spent doing things like visiting my grandmother
More time needs to be spent doing things like visiting my grandmother

There are many things I have learned in building and running a business for 10 years and many things I of course still need to.  There are also things which I am trying to figure out how to learn such allowing myself to have a life.  For eight years, I worked full time and ran Manic Trout, so working essentially dragged me out of the studio.  It also gave a bit of perspective for example if I wanted to travel, I felt I could take off from MT the same amount I took off from my day job and that was reasonable.

However, when I finally reached the point where I could leave my day job, I also reached a point where I was terrified to leave MT.  Usually if I am gone for 4 days, all is well as orders still get out in time and thanks to wifi, most things can be handled from my laptop and phone wherever I may be going.  Even in Mexico a few years ago, I was able to happily work away for a few hours on the balcony of the suite while gazing at the ocean.  Admittedly the down side is that the first few days home are a bit rough as I have to play catch up, but for the most part, nothing bad comes of my leaving the studio.  And yet, try telling that to my brain the thought of planning a trip comes up.

Last week Adam and I went to NH to visit my dad and his entire side of the family…I visited with my dad, stepmother, niece and nephew, grandparents and my dads 4 siblings, spouses and some cousins.  It was the first time Adam met my dad (I will be finally meeting his in March) and a loooong overdue trip.  We booked the trip about 2 weeks before leaving and I don’t think one day went by that I didn’t have a panic attack about going.  These panic attacks were not about anything in particular other than the fear that my not physically being in my studio for 4 days would result in an armageddon or something.  Which is kind of bizarre as I have done big shows here in Austin which have required me to be away from the house for just as long only I would come home to sleep each night. But my brain is really stubborn and refuses to acknowledge all of this logically.

I’m sure its all about letting go (something I struggle with) and relaxing (also a struggle) but I really need to get over this irrational fear…and thats what it basically is. Fear.  Such a nasty little 4 letter word, but there it is.  I am trying this year to work on this fear.  I will be participating in the largest fashion trade show in the world in 1 month overcoming my fear of not only taking a big financial risk with MT but I will at the same time be tackling my fear to be gone for 1 week (I want to throw up just thinking about it!).  Right now my course of action is to book shows and flights when I’m in a caffeine and sugar fueled rush and then freak out later.  So far it’s working pretty well…we’ll see how it’s going after the next 2 trips.

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Recently in Instagram…

I really need to remember to post my instagram posts on a more regular basis as its been over a month since the last post and there were just so many to choose from!  I had issues editing, so this post is a tad long, but its been such a busy month!!

Instagram_Jan2012_01A glimpse at the weekly market which I am a proud part of…all local artisans, all hand made.  On the corner of Gibson St and S Congress.  I’m there almost every Saturday (I occasionally have to switch to Sunday when I have scheduling conflicts).

Instagram_Jan2012_02They’re baaaaack! Adam and I were equally excited to find these at Big Top Candy Shop.

Instagram_Jan2012_03Flowers “just because” are my favorite reason for flowers.

Instagram_Jan2012_04As you already may know, I said yes!

Instagram_Jan2012_05My “tree”…I love it!

Instagram_Jan2012_06I found the coolest wrapping paper, it was super thick, pretty and REVERSIBLE! That part was an awesome surprise, I picked it out for the white side with the fonts, but loved the red as well!

Instagram_Jan2012_07Merry Christmas wishes!

Instagram_Jan2012_08Thea snapped this of Gillian, Holly and I in the post Christmas clean up.  I love that we’re in teh crowns from our crackers still…its perfect and the only photo I have from 5 days at my moms with all of us.  That’s sad!

Instagram_Jan2012_09Wedding dress shopping before heading home to Texas.  ps…this is the dress I will be wearing in September!

Instagram_Jan2012_10A very quite New Years Eve with us both being sick.  We made it to Madam Mam’s for dinner though and it was as awesome as always!

Instagram_Jan2012_11What I looked like in the last hours of 2011.

Instagram_Jan2012_12One of my moms delicious Apple Pies in progress…Yum!

Are you on Instagram?  I am @manictrout, look me up if you so desire!



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Ch ch ch ch ch changes…

At the flates on South Padre this past Thanksgiving**

I keep talking about how much change happened in 2011 but this being only the 2nd day of  2012, I already have to declare that 2011 had NOTHING on 2012!  The wedding planning is starting to move full speed ahead and today we…ready for it…looked at the first two houses in our quest for a home!!  I’m kind of terrified, I’ll admit it…so much change…and soooo much commitment…but I’m dealing rather well with it all.

Speaking of commitment, Adam and I finally started our blog, She Says He Says.  It has opened to rave reviews and if you want to know what all the fuss is about, you’ll just have to go read it yourself!

**One of my goals for the year is to use my own photos (or photos taken for me) in the blog, except for of course the daily inspiration…so you get look forward to many random shots…ha!

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Recently in Instagram

What a week.  I think my hard drive crashing was number three on my list of most stressful moments in the life of Manic Trout, coming in behind two floods…both causing my studio to be evacuated and one forcing me to move and the being a move of 2000 miles and having to keep my studio n a pod for a month.  Thankfully I now have a new hard drive and as I back up weekly, I only lost a small amount of work.

While transferring photos from my phone this morning, I realized it been quite some time since I posted instagram photos.  Speaking of instagram, have you seen followgram yet?  You can access your instagram account from your mac, its awesome!

Anyway, here is what I have been up to the past week or so…

InstagramDec03_2011_01On the boat in South Padre on the Thanksgiving Moring

InstagramDec03_2011_02Faye who is exhausted after her first walk on a beach.  There was a plethora of washed up jellyfish and fish carcasses that day to cause utter joy and excitement.  All in all, a successful adventure.

InstagramDec03_2011_03A kite boarder setting up on the flats.

InstagramDec03_2011_04We had to stop at the tourist trap on the way off the island to photo the dinosaurs and other creatures…I personally liked the shark the best.

InstagramDec03_2011_05A pit stop for a big bag of pineapple oranges on the road home…so happy we did, yummy!!

InstagramDec03_2011_06When it gets down into the low 40’s in Austin, the outdoor bars are still open as usual, so everyone is out on 6th street in parkas and scarves…still hanging around outside…freezing cold but reluctant to go inside…me included!

InstagramDec03_2011_07Faye and I had a lot of cuddle time this week while my computer was gone.

InstagramDec03_2011_08Part of the Manic Trout tent at Austin’s First Thursday this month, I love doing outdoor night shows in December…we’re sure not in NY anymore!

InstagramDec03_2011_09Adam and I had date night last night…burgers at Docs on Congress, an unexpected stop at the Big Top Candy Shop and then we were off to see Jack and Jill (the new Adam Sandler flick)…it was the perfect date and so much fun!

ps…I am manictrout on instagram!

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The shortest week of the year…

I am hoping I’ll have a chance to pop back in here in the next few days, but there is a pretty big chance that I will be mia until next Monday.  Adam has been away for what seems like forever but had really only been a tad over three weeks.  Funny, when we lived 2000 miles apart that was the shortest we were ever apart, but now it feels like forever.  Well he finally will be coming home just in time to load up both of our cars with Faye and 5 of our friends for the 6 hour drive to Adam’s parents home in South Padre.  You can image the scene the Holiday is going to be when there are 7 of us rolling up to an already full house.  Needless to say, I may be in the midst of family time and unable to work that much…then again it may be the perfect excuse for some alone time.

So just in case, have a wonderfully Happy Thanksgiving!

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