The Big Apple to The Big Peach

This may sound hard to believe – but this is our very last book tour recap post. Yup, all of our scheduled tour stops have officially wrapped up so we’ve just got these last three cities to share our adventures from: New York, Charlotte, and Atlanta. If you want to see our previous recaps, they’re all linked up on this page. And like all the other recaps, this guy is just as long. But I personally think our insane conversation with Mark McGrath (!!!) makes this whole post worth reading.

New York City was actually supposed to be sort of our big kick off event back in November. But then Sandy happened and the date had to be rescheduled for the very end of January. So it was awesome to finally get back to our old stomping grounds, including a stroll past the midtown office building where we met.

Even though the trip was quick – and we had some flight delays on both ends – we managed to squeeze in a few extracurriculars. Like getting lunch with our book agent at one of Sherry’s favorite Manhattan restaurants (Dos Caminos) which marked the first time we’d met her face-to-face, even though we’ve been working with her for over three years to birth this book baby of ours. And like the true professionals that we are, we failed to get a single photo. Nice work Petersiks. But a huge shout out goes to Rachel, who made this entire thing possible. We love her like family at this point.

We also failed to get a photo of the quick pre-signing meal that we grabbed with Roo of SemiProper. We first met Roo at our Connecticut signing last fall and Sherry has become fast text-friends with Roo (I was pretty much the third wheel during dinner). They bond over things like loving burritos and hip hop. Luckily Roo instagrammed this totally-not-Photoshopped pic of our encounter.

But before we knew it, it was book signing time. It was held at a FLOR store (like our DC event) but this time it was in Soho. Oh and there was a photobooth, which they basically had to pry us away from because it was time to let the line in.

If you want to browse more of the pics from that night – you know, to count how many times we stuck our faces in the fame, hunt for your doppelganger, whatever – they’ve got ‘em all posted here. You might even see the pregnancy announcement from John & Lisa (cameo by their friend Kristen).

The night, like many others before, was filled with fun people, interesting stories and not-so-serious photo ops. Like these lovely ladies (sorry I didn’t write down your names!) who were sporting their best Sherry-wear. Black blazer? Check. Bird shirt that looks like turkey legs? Check.

Helping with the not-so-serious nature of several of the photos was Michelle, who brought these paper mustaches for our snapshot. She was going to leave them with us but we suggested that she drop them down at the photobooth (can you tell we were still thinking about it?) for others to use as a prop and she kindly obliged. So if you wore a mustache that night – thank Michelle. Oh, and here’s her blog post about the night.

I’ll admit I don’t remember the full story behind this photo, but Goldie and her friend brought us personalized latex gloves. I think it was a reference to keeping paint or stain off your hands but after snapping them on my fingers for the picture all I could think of was a certain, um, medical exam. My peace sign below certainly isn’t helping that image escape my mind.

Being in our former city meant bumping into some familiar faces, like my high school/college friend Vidya (urgh, blurry picture!) and our old coworker Megan. (Chelsea, this is who you remind us of). Megan and I were interns together at the ad agency where we later both got hired (started same day, in neighboring cubicles) and would’ve have survived entry level advertising jobs without one another. We hadn’t seen her since leaving the city nearly 7 years prior, so it was waaaay too short of a reunion.

And speaking of reunions, we also saw my college friend Marisa who shared a somewhat lacking apartment with me in Astoria, Queens after we both graduated and couldn’t afford to live in any of the nicer places that we looked at. She’s the person I suffered through a bed bug infestation with, hence the present she brought for Clara.

Even though our signing was done Wednesday night, we still had a fairly full Thursday ahead of us. And since we were in the city our publisher scheduled a few meetings, so the day started with a taping of The Better Show, a syndicated morning show that has spun-off from Better Homes & Gardens magazine. Here’s our clip below where you can see me demonstrate the crazy-over-simplified TV version of the first project in the book.

But the real story of that morning was not caught on film, because it happened in the green room. I’ll set the stage. Sherry’s got iPhone blinders on as she furiously tries to get that morning’s post up before we go on the show. I’m just trying to play it cool when two guys walk in and are so loudly ragging on one another that they clearly want everyone in the room involved. One of them keeps looking my way, but I refuse to be baited into the discussion of who is more annoying to whom. As I do my best to figure out what band they’re in, Sherry finally looks up and says “Hey, I know you guys! You’re from Vanderpump Rules!”

I watch a fair amount of reality TV with Sherry, but this Bravo show is one I’ve drawn the line at. However Sherry was suddenly very excited by the appearance of Jax and Tom because she got to ask gossipy questions like “Are you and Stassi still together??” (Tom said they had just hung out the night before – Jax said nothing). In other words, Tom was chatting away happily with Sherry. Jax played it cool – so cool that Sherry practically disinvited him from taking a photo together (“You don’t have to, if you’re not into it Jax”). But in the end he got in there. Not quite as close as Tom though. Dude, mitts off my girl.

Personally, it was our other green room encounter that had me (and our book publicist Molly) talking the rest of the day. Here’s the set up. The three of us were talking about a certain tip in the book whose title carries a second meaning that we didn’t intend, which Molly hadn’t heard about yet:

SHERRY: You know how the book has those recurring tips of some item 3 ways? Like “one bed, three ways” or “one couch, three ways.”

JOHN: Well, a reader pointed out afterwards that one is especially – uh – suggestive, because “one nightstand, three ways” can be read as “one night stand threeways.”

MOLLY: (giggling) Oh my gosh, how did everyone miss that during editing?

SHERRY: (also giggling) It’s like an accidental double double-entendre.

MARK McGRATH: Sounds like my kind of book!

Yup, Mr. Sugar Ray himself was there and chose the mention of three ways to jump into our conversation. After I burst his bubble that it was a book about DIY and the entry was actually about nightstands, he still (expertly) feigned interest. This pic happened right before a producer pulled us into the studio, so picture the lyrics to “I just wanna fly” running through my head the entire time we filmed our clip on the show.

With our famous people encounters out of the way for the trip, we hit up a few more meetings and our publisher even took us out to lunch at a cool midtown spot called The Smith. The whole place was awesome to look at, but mostly I just stared at the cheese covered potato chips they delivered to our table instead of the usual bread basket. I can not explain in words how good these were and how many bowls I could’ve devoured.

Once the chips were gone and my life was over, I hit the restrooms to discover that it was just one big unisex restroom… with a photobooth in it. Only in New York, right?

But we’re never ones to turn down a photobooth, I went back to our table and told our publishers that I needed to steal my wife away to the bathroom for a moment. I promised them it was just for a photobooth, but I think I still got a raised eyebrow or two.

You know how weird it is to wait three minutes in a unisex bathroom for your photostrip to print? Fortunately we eventually retrieved our proof to our publishers that there was in fact a photobooth in the bathroom. Plus, they knew we were cuckoo for photobooths already, since we stole a few shots with them the night before at FLOR. That’s Judy in green and Molly next to her. Judy basically made the book happen and Molly (along with Allison, not pictured) basically made the tour happen. And yes, this was our first time meeting them face-to-face too.

Once our day of meetings was over, we spent entirely too long at LaGuardia airport and eventually hopped two flights home (the last of the tour!) to Clara and Burger, who we couldn’t wait to see.

After returning from New York, we had four days at home to breathe and then we were packing our bags (with Clara in tow) for our next two stops: Charlotte, NC and Atlanta, GA. We drove to these since they were so close (5 hours to Charlotte, another 3 to Atlanta) and despite all of the cool places we’ve stayed in throughout the tour (which were all around $100 to $150 a night, but many of which were unique and quirky one-of-a-kind places), Charlotte definitely wins for the most posh-looking. Hello Duke Mansion.

The reason we stayed in such an incredible inn was actually the reason that we were in Charlotte in the first place. We had been invited to speak at a private blogger event happening there, which is actually how the book signings got added in the first place (we told Molly we were going to be in NC and voila, book events in Charlotte and Atlanta got added to the tour for you guys). And since we saved them flight money by driving, they surprised us by putting us up in a nice, non-hotel location for our stay (it was also the location of the blogger chat so it was nice and convenient).

Just looking at that room again makes me want to break out a British accent and pretend we’re on an episode of Downton Abbey. Although considering the amazing sunporch that was attached to our room, maybe I should be working on my Southern accent instead.

Clara came with us on this trip (as you hopefully noticed) so we had to hire a babysitter to watch her while we were at the events. It was our first time hiring a non-family-member to watch Clara (nerve-wracking!) but thanks to recommendations from a local friend (and house crash alum), Clara was well cared for and had a great time. Which made enjoying our night with all of you guys at the UNC-Charlotte bookstore that much easier.

We somehow missed the memo that this event included a speech, so when we showed up to a podium and a seated crowded we scrambled to remember the talk we’d given previously in Austin and Florida. Thankfully it came right back to us and we had a fun time with Q&A as usual – including a question from Susan via Facetime.

As anticipated, the South extended lots of hospitality and we had an awesome time chatting with everyone. Like Ashley and her friend who were late for their friend’s surprise engagement party. Good news: they made it. Better news: the fiancee-to-be said yes.

And just check out these mind-blowing cookies from Brittanie and Wendy. I still can’t fathom how much time it must’ve taken to make them. No two were alike and they were delicious. And they were delivered in a paint can. Win-win-win.

And since it was our only signing at a college, it was fitting that someone asked us to sign some research for their thesis to help them get motivated. Neither of us had any clue what the title of that paper meant (latent variable whaaaa?), so we mustered up the best generic advice we could manage in the face of big scary math words.

How’s this for a creative approach? When I asked if they drew straws for which lovely lady was stuck being me and Burger, they said it was easy because their family has a Sherry and a Clara (spelled Sherri and a Klaira) too. What are the odds?

I figured this family deserved to have their real faces shown too, so here’s the whole gaggle of ‘em sans masks.

To our surprise, they weren’t the only quartet who impersonated us for the night. Shortly behind them, this group strolled up with our names on their nametags – but of course it didn’t take long to figure out who was who. We were totally flattered – and relieved to finally understand who people were wearing ears and tutus). Chihuahua shirt for the win!

Charlotte was just as awesome as we had hoped and you can see a few more pics from the evening on Emily’s blog. Lucky for us, since we had our private speaking event the following night, it bought us a full day in the Queen City to have some family time – including a trip to their children’s museum, Discovery Place. Where Clara literally had a ball.

Clara even to meet (and touch!) a snake named Princess.

I, on the other hand, tried my hand at laying on a bed of nails. Eat your heart out David Blaine.

The next morning we packed up our things, waved goodbye to our beautiful accommodations (which Clara was apparently opposed to sleeping in – we didn’t have very peaceful nights there) and made the rainy three hour drive to the Atlanta area where headed for our most anticipated lodging arrangement of the tour: Katie Bower’s house! And on the way, we got a glimpse of our favorite roadside attraction, the giant peach in Gaffney, SC.

As for our time with the Bowers, we’ll post about that part of our visit separately – since there was some secondhand shopping, crafting, and videotaping involved. And after arriving at Chez Bower, unpacking, freshening up a bit, and oogling baby Weston – we gave Katie’s mom some quick babysitting instructions (she had generously offered to watch Clara and Will that night) and the rest of us headed downtown to that night’s FLOR event. And what better way to wrap up a tour where bad weather has been a constant companion than with a remarkably cold and rainy night in Atlanta? Par for the course guys. Heck we brought a nor’easter to Boston with us a few months ago…

So thanks again to everyone who braved the chill, yet still managed to put a smile on our face (or a crown on our head!) when they arrived at our signing table. Since I already got to wear Miss District of Columbia’s crown, I let Pearl – who competed for Miss Georgia – give this one to my lady-wife.

And how could I not include a photo of this group who made t-shirts with nose-picking references on them? If only I could dig up the picture we took with our fingers up our noses… (for those whose books we touched after this photo, I promise it wasn’t a real up-nose finger shot – we just did a good job faking it).

We didn’t expect to see a lot of family or familiar faces in Atlanta (though Sherry was secretly hoping Nene would show up since that Vanderpump Rules sighting distorted her sense of reality), we did meet Johanna (on the right) who’s apparently related to us. Her cousin Kevin married our cousin Casey (we met up with them during our Boston stop) and we even were at their wedding together back in 2009. Small world!

We also finally got to meet our blog friend Maria Fé from Layers of Meaning and Helen from Eleni Creative who made this felt Burger I ordered for Sherry as a pregnancy gift back in the day. Helen made us another felt creation which you can’t see very well here, but it’ll definitely show up in a project soon…

In addition to familiar-ish faces, there were some pretty good weird-faced-photos in Atlanta too. These ladies noticed we were watching the new creepy Fox show The Following, so their picture prompt was: “React to the scene where the girl stabs herself in the eye” (did I mention the show was creepy?).

I’m not sure there was a specific direction for this funny face photo with Sarah, Jillian, Brittany, Annie, Jennifer, Jamie and Suzanne (not necessarily in that order) but I think it’s a masterpiece.

Fortunately the people of Atlanta are very blog-happy, so you can read more about that night by checking out posts from Sarah (who cohosted a Pinterest Challenge with us last fall), Emily (who you may know from this awesome reader redesign), Nina, Katie and another Katie.

And speaking of Katies, those who came to our Atlanta signing got a bonus blogger meet-and-greet with Katie Bower. She, Jeremy, and baby Weston had just planned to stay for the very start of the event, but quickly found a line of folks waiting to talk to them too. They graciously stayed the whole time (props to 2.5-month old Weston for lasting four hours, and to Jeremy who held him that long) and I know they had a blast talking with everyone too. Such a fun way to cap off the tour.

The book tour has been a blast – an experience of a lifetime and something that we are so wildly grateful for. But it was also thrilling to think that we could unpack our suitcases and settle in at home again. All good things must come to an end.

Thanks to every last person who came out to see us on this crazy tour of ours. It means so much to us. Seriously, we’re extremely thankful for you guys for taking the time to come out and have fun with us at each of our stops. Plus now we’ve actually met so we’re “real friends” instead of “internet friends” right? Sounds good to me.

 

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