NYT, RVA, Chi-town & the T-Dot

Quick note: Tomorrow (Saturday) we’ll be in Dallas at 11am at the West Elm on 5307 East Mockingbird Lane for cookies, cocoa and a book signing (more info here). We’d love to see ya there!

We’re back with a little book/life/tour update (#warning it’s long). Admittedly, it’s sooner than we had originally planned (our last one was a week ago), but lots has happened and we’re just brimming with news and pictures so we’ve basically overflowed. Somebody get a mop. Or maybe a tissue. Because we’ve gotta start with some crazy awesome / amazingly humbling news. We just learned that our book has become an instant New York Times bestseller. I can’t believe I just typed those words. It’ll actually be printed in the paper on 11/25, but this is a sneak peek image that we got. And yes, we totally called our parents and Sherry had a good cry (and I got something in my eye, but no sir I wasn’t crying). Then we laughed for at least three minutes about book #10’s title. #catpoetryforthewin

Sherry and I are still new enough to this publishing world that we don’t fully comprehend how these lists are crafted and what exactly it means. Though we’re certain it means one thing: we have the best readers ever. Because this was all thanks to you guys. Whether you’ve purchased a copy, shown up for a signing, or even just left an encouraging comment back when we were starting this whole adventure – we owe you a giant fist bump for showing so much love and support. We couldn’t have done it without you. Seriously. And if we’re being honest, we still think this might be a long and elaborate dream sequence…

Speaking of signings, we figured we should catch up up on some of our latest stops (or are we just dreaming about them?) since happenings from yesterday are already starting to get blurry in our cookie-and-cocoa-riddled minds. So let’s pick up where we left off here. We flew back from Boston to Richmond last Thursday, caught our breath, and before we knew it found ourselves at our first hometown event in Richmond called “R for the Holidays.” R.Home is a local shelter mag and we were completely surprised when they asked us to be on the cover of their Nov/Dec issue (and even more taken aback to see it blown up so big at the event)… let’s just say we both made faces like this:

Back in the day we wrote a DIY column for them and we’ve actually attended every R.Home for the Holidays event since its inception just as guests, so it was completely surreal to be speakers for the night. Oh, and how cute is beansie on that cover picture? We couldn’t wrangle both Burger and Clara simultaneously, so Burger ended up being represented by the sparkly chihuahua ornament in the green bowl that Clara’s actually reaching for in the photo. You can read a snippet of the article and watch a quick behind-the-scenes video here (and see a bigger picture of the cover, to get a glance of Faux Burger here).

Oh and Sherry wants me to tell you that when we shot the “Clara reaching photo” back in late October (here’s another Clara reaching pic, just because it seems to be her theme) she had waaay too much fun decorating those built-ins behind us for Christmas (they called to request that we do that since it was for the Nov/Dec cover). So they still mostly look like that and when we get back from this tour she’ll probably just “add even more Christmas.” #imarriedachristmaself

Anyways, back to the event. You may have heard that this is where we auctioned off some of the projects in the book. It was a great way for us to put some of those DIYed furniture and accessories to good use while also supporting a local cause (The School of Richmond’s Ballet which gives dance lessons to children who otherwise couldn’t afford them). We put a bunch of items up for auction (among them were two desks, two chairs, a bookshelf, a mirror, and a rug) and as we mentioned here, we later found out that our little auction raised $500 for local kids. Woot! Here’s Sherry making sure there aren’t any bugs hiding in the drawers before the auction. #keepingitreal

The evening started with a talk by Adam Roberts who turned his blog, The Amateur Gourmet, into a seriously beautiful cookbook called Secrets of the Best Chefs. In short: he was brilliant, inspiring, and hilarious. Then we went on and chatted with everyone about seven DIY lessons we’ve learned (many of them, the hard way). We definitely hope to link to a video of our chat when it’s up on R Home’s website, so we’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, here’s the synopsis: we were nerdlings, we over-shared, and the crowd was awesomely smiley. #bestmustacheever

With both talks wrapped up, we turned to the signing portion of the night – which is quickly becoming our favorite part of these things. We get to talk to people, take funny photos, and have conversations like: “Did Katie Bower have her baby yet!” “Nope, not yet – we just talked to her an hour ago!”

Amidst many familiar Richmond faces, we got to meet tons of new friends – like Hallie, who won our “trip to Richmond” giveaway last month. If any part of you wants to spew bile in her direction for winning, know this: she was sweet and bubbly and genuine and a thousand other nice words. She invited her mom along for a whirlwind weekend in RVA (Hallie was flown in from St. Louis and her mom was flown from Jacksonville). Sadly our hang out time clocked all of five minutes, but we later heard that they had a blast doing all sorts of RVA activities around town.

This woman gracefully accepted Sherry’s blurting compliment of “You look just like Meryl Streep!” She said she gets it a lot and even has a Meryl reference on her license plate. So Sherry insisted that we get a photo so we can pretend that we really met the star of classics like 1994’s The River Wild (arguably her best rafting-themed movie to date).

Along with a smattering of ceramic animal signing requests, we got funny invitations like this one, which was: “please sign a onesie for my baby.” Sherry opted to put a baby-sized hammer near the hand hole. Naturally.

And once again we enjoyed the kindness / craftiness / general awesomeness of our readers, who brought fun things like this Justin Timberlake bobblehead (there’s something in the box, if you know what I’m saying). It’s an inside joke at their office, apparently – and they wanted to pass him along to us because, well, he’s small and ceramic. And check out the awesome sugar cookies that arrived sporting Burger’s likeness.

When Richmond wrapped up, we hit the hay and about 12 hours later on Friday afternoon we found ourselves flying over the fair city of Chicago!

In Chicago we crammed in a little blog activity before our West Elm event the following day. We actually crashed a familiar home that you may know from a certain blog named Making It Lovely. There’s a full House Crashing post to come, but let’s just say that it was incredibly cool to finally meet Nicole and her family, but incredibly nerve-wracking to photograph the same spaces that Nicole captures so beautifully herself. But we hope you guys enjoy seeing some different angles of a house that so many of you already know and love.

Before our event the next afternoon at West Elm, we darted out to take a tourist-tastic photo in front of Chicago’s famous shiny bean. Sherry loves shiny things and we both have a fondness for a good bean, so it felt like a no-brainer.

Little did we know, while we were out squeezing in a sight or two, the line was already forming over in Lincoln Park. Christina takes the cake for most prepared. She drove overnight from St. Louis and camped out starting at 5:30am (for a 1pm start time). She retells her travels much more hilariously than we ever could on her blog. We were just happy to know that after all that waiting she wasn’t disappointed when she learned that we weren’t an iPhone or Harry Potter movie. Thanks again Christina!

The Chicago folks rocked our socks – both the West Elmers (or “Elmers” as we’re learning they’re called) and the readers. Even with a freak thunderstorm (a theme of our tour = weather events) thankfully most folks stayed dry and enjoyed toasty warm cocoa and cookies. There are too many good stories from the stop to cram in here, but we’ll share a few highlights. There was this bride who sent a virtual greeting from her hairdresser as she got ready for her wedding that day…

… and these sweet DIYed items, like a sparkly Burger portrait and a homemade horse puzzle (it was made by the fella in orange who’s a high school shop teacher). Clara and I have already had some good times putting that horse together, btw.

And sadly this picture doesn’t do this gift justice. It’s a beautiful handbound book featuring all of Clara’s photo project – from Week 1 all the way up to Month 29! So thoughtful. #yessherrycried

And how’s this for a cute story? Before coming to the event this gentleman surprised his girlfriend with our book at the shiny bean and inside the front he wrote – wait for it – a proposal! Yep, these lovebirds got engaged that day and our little book got to be part of it! Then they came to our signing and told us their story. Amazing.

Amongst many fun photos, there were ceramic animal milestones like reuniting with dearly departed Ramsey‘s twin.

And this group that requested a crazy picture. I think we achieved it, right?

And it’s starting to become a tradition of sorts to get an “End of the Line” group picture, to celebrate the people who were über patient. We love you guys!

The event wrapped up just in time for us to race to O’Hare and catch a flight that would get us back to Richmond late on Saturday night. While we waited at the gate, I took care of a little business  – writing Granny a postcard from each of our stops. To date we’ve sent her eight from each of our out of state events (she receives one every other day or so).

Sunday was a “rest day” that we begged our publisher to put into our schedule (didn’t want to be away from Clara & Burger for too long) but it turned into more of a catch up on laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping day. But since Richmond was nice enough to be 70 degrees, we were sure to sneak in some quality Clara and Burger time since they’ve been holding down the fort (with the help of my parents) while we were away. So there was some fun at the park and we went on a nice walk and even unpacked our suitcases just in time to pack them again for the next day. Yup, Monday morning brought another early morning departure through Richmond International Airport. And this time we were putting the “International” part to use and heading to our stop in Toronto, Canada. Hello CN Tower! My, what a tall antenna you have.

We didn’t actually make it up the tower (Sherry had been before and we’re both somewhat heights-averse enough to agree on admiring it from below) but we did have fun with some moose friends (or enemies) in the gift shop. The mountie moose was much less aggressive, fyi. #lookatthatsmile

We also enjoyed some simple pleasures like this. Yup, I’m still ten at heart, posing under a sign with my name.

Our Toronto hotel was pretty awesome (maybe they’re all amazing and non-chain-y up there?). In fact it was so awesome that between it and a cool restaurant that we stumbled upon, we’re actually going to crash them in a future post for you guys (Hotel Crashing? Restaurant Crashing?). But since we know you love a preview, here’s the double-sided glass shower in the middle of the room. It actually had blinds that you could close for more modest showering if you wanted to… #didweordidntwe

By evening it was raining (which didn’t surprise us at this point) and we hit up the Toronto West Elm for that night’s signing. The Canadians that we met (along with some Americans that drove up from NY) proved that friendliness and generosity don’t just live on this side of the border. Folks brought wonderful stuff like maple donuts (my FAVORITE) and this beautiful worm watercolor for Clara. Can’t wait to see the look on her face when we give it to her this Sunday.

We even had our very first FaceTime “guest” in Toronto (it’s a fun surprise when a face on a phone starts smiling and talking to you out of nowhere). We took a picture holding the phone and had fun posting “together.” Good times.

Oh and Sherry met her Canadian twin. Maybe not so much in the hair / height department, but in the blazer / striped shirt / skinny jeans area they’re practically born from the same egg.

Speaking of born… this was perhaps our favorite photo of the night. This mom-to-be supplied the signs so that Sherry could help squash any pregnancy rumors for good (and so she could announce her own exciting news).

And speaking of sherry’s blazer, she has been meaning to tell you guys that yes, it’s the same one for every signing (and yes, it’s from Target). Her philosophy is that it’s like when someone wears the same jersey for every game. Her blazer gets to travel the country and she changes her earrings, shoes, and the shirt underneath. So there you have it. #mywifeisweirdbutiloveheranyway

A funny thing happened in Toronto where folks in line somehow received the instruction to outline their own message in the book in addition to the post-it that spells their name for us (the usual drill is that folks spell their name for us, but we write the dedication ourselves). This accidental self-imposed “tell us what you want us to say to you” method created a few awkward moments, but more often than not people had fun with it. Like Kaylee and Mike who suggested a Mad Lib style entry for Sherry to fill in. I believe someone also tricked us into inviting them for Christmas dinner and another couple had us proclaim them to be our BFFs for life.

When the event finally wound down (and the rain stopped!) we were sufficiently pooped for the day and couldn’t muster the energy to go sit in a restaurant for dinner. Fortunately we had saved up our daily food allowance and our hotel had room service that included the $9 Canadian staple poutine (french fries + gravy + cheese). It was awesome. And I ate entirely too much of it. It was actually only our second time ever getting room service, so it was a pretty memorable night – even if it was just nine bucks worth of fries covered in cheesy gravy.

The West Elem signing wasn’t our last stop in Toronto though. We’d been invited to do a short segment on Global TV’s The Morning Show with about 20 hours notice. I’ll admit I hadn’t heard of it being from the states, but it felt roughly the equivalent of Good Morning America or The Today Show. Let’s just say, equivalent enough that I required make-up and we both got skittish and clammy (kinda like how Burger gets around cats).

We’ve never done a big show like that LIVE so we were admittedly quite nervous that we’d screw it up and immediately be asked to leave their country. Add to that equation that the props we had shipped didn’t arrive as planned so we had to improvise with about 10 hours notice. The hurricanes that you see below were borrowed from West Elm the night before at the very end of our signing and we scrambled to cobble together some filler with things from the grocery store (lemons, limes, pistachios, apples, etc). It was all assembled backstage moments before we went on…

So now that we’ve concluded our whirlwind week, we’ll leave you to enjoy your weekend. But wait. We still want to pucker up and say “thanks! we love you!” one more time. Without you guys there would be no book. There would be no signings. And our names certainly wouldn’t be on that crazy list at the start of this post. So yeah. Rock on you lovely people. Words can’t express our gratitude (or how surreal this entire ride really has been).

Anyway, we’re wrapping up our biggest week of tour stops tomorrow in Dallas, TX which means we’ll have another update for you about our stops there as well as in Minneapolis and Houston in another week or two. We’re having such a blast meeting you guys and have definitely done our darndest to keep the blog up and running while we’re gone, so thanks again to everyone for bearing with us and saying such kind things and otherwise being a huge part of making this all happen. #seriouslyarewedreaming #ifwearedontwakeusup

Psst- Some people have asked how they can get signed copies of our book if they don’t live near a signing stop, and now an awesome local book store here in Richmond called Fountain Books is shipping them to anyone who’d like one, so here’s that link for ya.


  1. says

    WOW!!!! That must be so surreal. You guys deserve it for all your hard work (thank you!) There is a reason why everyone wants your book and I, like so many many other readers, love that you keep the blog up. You guys are the bees knees!

  2. Brenda says

    That’s so amazing!!! I’m not surprised, though. I’ve been telling everyone how gorgeous and fabulous the book is, because, well, it is! Love hearing about all your travels.

  3. says

    Best sellers, holla! Congrats to both of you. I’m glad Canada was kind to you and that you enjoyed your poutine. If I would have been able to get to Toronto I would have brought my family’s homemade meatpie and it would have blown your mind. Haha. French people make the best food!

  4. Lindsay says

    Ah, I totally didn’t realize John got myself and my husband in the shot with the clydesdale puzzle! Total dork alert! He had so much fun making it for Clara and I’m so glad she likes it! Since your book tour isn’t going to St. Louis, we thought STL needed to represent! Thanks again for the inspiration and I’m so glad I got to meet my favorite bloggers turned authors!

    Lindsay & Josh Luebbehusen

    • Lindsay says

      I should add it was my idea for the puzzle, but handy hubby was awesome and took the idea and ran with it! We hope to make and buy wooden toys for our future kiddos, so making it for clara was an experiement with 1) Can we make something cute, and 2) Can we make something durable but easy enough to put together for toddler fingers. Thanks again!

    • Kari says

      Lindsay and Josh — It was great hanging out with you guys in line all day last Saturday. My cousin Tina and I loved talking DIY and sharing our mutual excitement for YHL!

      Congrats on your blog appearance! That horse deserved a shout out ;)

  5. says

    though many with smaller hearts and less talent have been as successful as you, no one with bigger ones and more talent has worked harder than you two for this wonderful success. god bless you. xxx

  6. AmberGale says

    Please tell us more about that awesome multicolored table at your West Elm signing! Was it wrapped with something, or just painted in stripes?

  7. Linda says

    Thank you for sharing your “#6 on the New York Time’s Best Sellers List” news!

    Thank you for keeping us updated on your book signings.

    Thank you for staying humble and sweet and making me feel SO HAPPY for you guys!

    Note: You may be oversharers ~ I’m an overthanker! Thanks and Congratulations! Love you guys!

  8. Sloane says

    Congrats on the NYT Best Seller List! I’ve been looking forward to meeting ya’ll at the book signing in Dallas tomorrow for quite a while, but then found out that the baby shower I am hosting falls at the exact same time, boo. Last night I had a dream that I skipped the baby shower and went to West Elm instead…I guess I’m more disappointed than I thought! Anyway, have fun in Dallas and maybe I’ll catch ya’ll at another nearby book signing on your NEXT best selling book :)

    • Amanda says

      Same thing happened to me too Sloane! I have been Pumped, Excited, Counting down the days like a kid counts down to Christmas! Until I realized… my own cousin’s wedding is at noon. Smack dab in the middle of John and Sherry’s book signing tomorrow. I was pretty disappointed. (Which is hilarious because I want to see 2 bloggers sign a book more than 2 people profess their love for each other. lol) But I’m so determined, I’ll make it to the Austin signing even if it kills me. Ok, I really need to stop being so melodramatic. lol

  9. michele says

    okayyyy. the bride? amazing? the proposal and pregnancy announcement photo? i might have cried just a little bit here. (blame my own pregnancy hormones.)

    i love that your tour is treating you so fantastically!

  10. says

    There’s a reason your book is in the top 10: because you guys are awesome and as genuine in person as you seem on the blog! It was so great to meet you in Chicago!

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