Road Trips & Travel

On The Road Again

Man, it feels like it’s been a month since we had a book tour update for ya. Oh, that’s because it has. We were on hiatus while bookstores and retailers focused on the holiday rush (instead of hosting authors) so last week’s adventures in Texas and Florida were our first stops since finishing up in DC and Richmond in early December. And as much fun as stops in northern cities like Boston, Chicago, Toronto and Minneapolis were – we were excited to enjoy some warm weather in the southern half of the country. #longpostwarning

But then Austin had to go and look like this…

Texas was apparently in a month-long drought until we (and our great weather luck) showed up and brought buckets of heavy rain. But that didn’t stop us from taking in some of this awesome city that people have been raving to us about (it was both of our first times in Austin). We walked a mile-ish in the misty weather to South Congress to do some eating (Guero’s) and shopping. For instance, Sherry hit up the Kendra Scott store and purchased these guys on sale (which she wore later that night to the signing, where she met dozens of other girls also wearing similar ones). In her words: “I did it, I came to Austin and I blended.”

After the always exciting earring shopping (just kidding, I’m a dude – so my eyes glazed over during that trip), we wandered into Uncommon Objects, which housed the coolest and quirkest assortment of antiques and weird wares. We were obedient shoppers and followed their “no photography” rule so the only picture we have to share is what we bought there after Sherry and I spent over an hour rooting through all their bins and baskets of old objects (this is our idea of a good time, and there were tons of wildly odd and amazingly old things to find).

We came home with an old tin 7, an assortment of old dominoes (which say 1-4-3, another favorite number of ours) and letter tiles (that spell L-O-V-E… as you can see). There’s talk of a shadowbox in their future for Clara’s big girl room, so we’ll have to see where they end up.

Once our shopping adventure had us sufficiently damp and sufficiently cold, we trudged back to our hotel to warm up and ready ourselves for that evening’s book signing. They put us up at the W Hotel downtown, which was pretty awesome (lots of modern tile and wallpaper) but we plan to do a recap post of all of our hotel inspiration (along with hotel-staying tips that we’ve picked up along the way) once the tour is over. So for now he’s a preview of the cool textures and patterns found in Austin:

Our signing that night was at BookPeople, which is just about the biggest independent bookstore we’ve ever seen. So big they even had our names on a marque outside and a curtain for us to pop out of at the start of our welcome talk. The only thing missing was a giant spotlight or something. (Thanks Sidhya for the picture below).

Unlike our previous stops where we either gave a long talk or no talk at all, this particular week we were tasked with a 15 minute chat followed by some Q&A at each stop. Something we learned just the day before we left. Oh well. We work best under pressure.

Actually, thanks to the aforementioned rainy walk to South Congress and back, we were able to brainstorm and practice a little chat consisting of five ways that we found writing a book to be surprisingly different than writing a blog. And rather than transcribe it here, we asked Alison of the blog House of Hepworths t0 capture it on video for us. Thanks so much Alison! And for anyone wondering where Sherry’s bangs are, well you’ll get that answer and more. It’s a no holds barred conversation about everything from a future Petersik baby to getting a new house and everything in between:

If you watched the video, you may have noticed at one point I stopped to take a photo of Sherry while she talked. You never know when a photo might come in handy right? Sherry was not pleased with my impromptu photo session.

Jamie took the shot above. And here’s the shot I captured below. Can’t you just feel the eye-roll? I’ll probably get another one for actually including this gem in the post.

Following the chat and our brief Q&A session, we raced up the stairs to begin the signing portion of the evening. And like our other stops, amongst tons of smiling faces and energetic people there were some good stories to pass along. For example, look how smiley Sidhya, Alison, and Katie are. People ask if signings are overwhelming or tiring but meeting so many fun and happy people gives us almost an embarrassing amount of energy. We feed off of you guys and before we know it we’re all grin-y and hyper too.

We love hearing all of the interesting stories that come up, like this poor woman who got in a fender bender on the way to the signing. Since she didn’t have any paper handy, she and her friend ended up using the back of our book to exchange insurance info with the other driver. Ha!

Audrey had a minor dental procedure the day before so she wasn’t able to talk or smile (her boyfriend emailed us ahead of time to explain why a seemingly unhappy not-chatting-at-all girl might step up to our table) so we commiserated with her and took this no-smiles-allowed picture.

And how cool is this? Megan and Brian both work at Home Depot so they brought us our very own apron, which was intricately designed by the lettering person at their store (shout out to the Evan Road Home Depot #6550!). It was so awesome it deserved a murtsy (that’s a man curtsy for anyone not familiar). Murtsying is the new planking. You heard it here first.

Being in Austin, we got lots of request to do “Hook ‘Em Horns” in our photos. It took Sherry a few tries to realize it wasn’t an aggressive, ready-to-charge style finger horn and it’s supposed to point up at the sky. At lease Celeste didn’t seem to mind.

And of course there’s always the occasional goofy photo in the mix. The girls decided to do “over excited,” but I apparently went in a shocked / dental-exam direction.

And we can’t forget to mention Jess who has achieved a book signing hat trick by attending all three Texans signings. In honor of her achievement in book travel attendance, I whipped up this graphic. It’s no Golden Globe, but I tried. She explains more about her showcase of endurance on her blog.

And lastly, thanks to the clever “I Like You A Whole Lotto” treat from Jamie (she got us each a scratch off card) I’ve officially won ten more dollars from the Texas State Lottery in my lifetime than from my own state’s games. As for Sherry, she came out with a big goose egg. Er, moon or anchor or something.

If you want to read some other accounts of our Austin stop, here’s one from Amanda & Corey and another from another Amanda (which includes a video shout out to her sick friend Ruthie). All in all, we had a blast in Austin. It was enough of a taste (albeit a dreary one) that we’d like to come back and explore for much more than a day.

Luckily our next stop – Miami, FL – was the exact opposite weather-wise. Hallelujah. The clouds parted and LMFAO started playing in our heads. Our publisher likes putting us up in unique, not-your-average-beige-walled hotels whenever they can (their goal is to try to get us into “not-chains with some flair” – and this spot in South Beach took the cake. It was called Dream and when we walked into the room, this is what greeted us. Well, minus the Sherry. Me-ow Miami. Am I right?

I’d never been to Miami before, so my impression of the city has been guided by music videos and the like. So the blue mood-lighting pretty much fit right into my picture of Miami. Couldn’t you see them shooting a Will Smith video here? And the uniqueness of this hotel didn’t stop there. Just check out the glass-doored bathroom. Our honest evaluation after a 24 hours stay is: we get the allure of a glass door on your shower, but the purpose of a “hey, look everyone!” toilet escapes us. It lead to several “I’m peeing- don’t look!” warnings over the course of our 24 hour stay. But all in all, it was a totally fun and over-the-top place to stay. Heck, it’s probably the most memorable hotel of the entire tour so far.

Sidenote: the glass door also acts as an unintentional mirror for the user of the bathroom. As in, you can see your entire body sitting on the pot. You have been warned.

Moving on… we landed in Miami around 3pm, so after we got settled into our hotel room, we headed out for a late lunch/early dinner at the closest eatery we could find. And we wasted no time making the first of many seemingly non-stop Dexter references of the trip. Here’s Sherry’s I’m-in-Miami-so-I’ll-give-you-a-Dexter-pose pose.

We were running short on time before our signing that night, but we made sure to walk over to the beach for some obligatory sand-between-our-toes time. We only had about ten minutes to spare (and Sherry was wearing a sweater and jeans) but it was awesome.

We didn’t want to leave. But alas, we had  a signing to attend to (plus we had forgotten our bathing suits – and if ever there were a beach not to be overdressed at… well, you’ve seen the music videos). So we headed to our signing at Books & Books in nearby Coral Gables. Maybe the Miami heat was just getting to us (not the basketball team), but it was just about the prettiest bookstore we had ever seen. There was this glowing courtyard surrounded on three sides by a Spanish-style building with a bar under an arched breezeway.

And the inside was equally awe-inspiring. I want a room like this in my house. Stat.

Like Austin, we kicked things off with a version of the same talk followed by Q&A. We again covered important topics like Sherry’s bangs (which were pinned back due to the frizz-inducing humidity). The signing portion of the day was a blast as usual. Sherry was happy to learn from Nicholl that her gold “Jersey” purse also doubled as a gold “Miami” purse. That’s my girl, fitting in with the locals wherever she goes.

And Danielle sewed this adorable superhero cape for Clara – although Sherry’s sporting it more like a bib in this pic. I keep trying to get a picture of Clara wearing it now that we’re home but she won’t stand still once it’s velcroed on. She has one speed when the cape is on: fast.

Since our two events in Florida were fairly close geographically and neither bookstore was very large, the line wasn’t as long as we’ve seen in other places. Which meant by the time we got to the end we apparently hadn’t depleted our small-talk tank and proceeded to talk the ears of the last few folks in line. Bethany (far right in the photo below) wrote about the whole thing, including a run down of some of the questions we answered earlier in the evening. She also had a funny run-in with Sherry in the restroom. Thank goodness those doors weren’t glass.

Since our next stop in Fort Lauderdale was only about a 45 minute car ride away, Thursday was probably the most chill tour day we’ve had so far. Usually it’s all “get up crazy early to taxi to the airport so we can fly out and then taxi to our next hotel before taxiing to the event and somehow eating something better than airport food when possible.” But this one day we got to sleep in, catch up on some work, eat a sit down breakfast, and take in some of the awesome architecture along Ocean Drive. In a whirlwind trip (six flights in four days!) this was that one leisurely moment. So we were dedicated to soaking it up.

When we arrived in Fort Lauderdale early in the afternoon we took a moment to take in our hotel – which included this view from our balcony – and then headed out to grab a bite to eat. We didn’t realize just how far our hotel was from all of the action so we ended up walking over 3 miles before finally landing at Casablanca Cafe. It was actually an awesome walk though. And it felt good to stretch our legs from all of that time spent in taxis and on planes. Our pictures from this portion of the trip started to become fewer and farther between, as I think Florida was starting to trick us into thinking we were on vacation or something.

So forgive me for jumping ahead, but after having an awesome lunch (we highly recommend Casablanca Cafe), we caught a taxi back to our hotel (we didn’t have time to walk the 3 miles back and make it to our event in time), quickly changed into our signing “uniforms,” and then headed to The Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale which has a Books & Books in its gift shop. From there, it was pretty much the same chat and Q&A that we had done the last two nights – except this time we had sharks! (The museum was in the process of packing up their shark exhibit, so it was right next to our podium).

The people of Fort Lauderdale were a great way to cap off this week of signings. Friendly, warm, and even somewhat familiar – we had one guy stop by who we’d seen the night before in Miami (hi Steve!) and Sherry also met the sister of one of her high school friends (hi Erin!). There was also Jenna, who had us sign her well-loved paintbrush.

While that wasn’t the first paintbrush we’ve signed, I will say Caitlin handed us the first Lowe’s receipt we were asked to put our mark on. Well, I take that back, I’ve signed lots of Lowe’s receipts in my day… but usually at the checkout counter.

But perhaps the cutest thing we were asked to autograph that day was this little guy’s homemade shirt. In case you can’t read it, Otto is sporting a “$herdog is my homegirl” shirt. Oh, and a bowtie. Which kinda makes the outfit.

When the signing was over we unexpectedly had the time and energy left to grab a real dinner, so we strolled down Las Olas Blvd and found ourselves walking into The Royal Pig – and were immediately met by a gasp. Jen (at the right) and her sister had been at the signing earlier and was surprised to see us again. So after we scarfed an amazing dinner (the food in Ft Lauderdale was the best of the trip so far, just because we had time to enjoy two meals and we happened to love both of them) we chatted it with her and took another photo to cap off the night. You can read her hilarious version of the events on her blog.

Then the next morning it was back to the ol’ airport routine and we boarded flights #5 and #6 of the journey. At least each of these plane rides got us closer to home.

And when we finally landed in Richmond Friday afternoon we got the best greeting. As we exited security we heard a familiar voice yelling “Daddy! Mommy!” and running our way. We had expected to just meet my dad in the arrivals lane outside the airport, but he and mom (who played baby/house/Burger-sitters while we were away) surprised us by bringing Clara to the airport to greet us. Oh what I would give to have that moment on video. Let’s just say it got Sherry all misty-eyed. We missed our girl.

We had this week off from touring, but we’re back on the road next week (Tacoma on Friday, Portland on Saturday, and Palo Alto on Sunday). You can see all the details here on our book tour page. We can’t wait to West Coast it up and hope to see some of you then. Oh yeah, and if there are any strings you can pull to get Miami weather up there in the Pacific Northwest we’d like to officially submit that request now. Thanks for your consideration.

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Beauty Queens, Bouncers, Crafting, & Stick Dogs

Hooray, our publisher has finally locked down a few upcoming dates that you guys have been asking for and even added a few more tour stops, so we’ll spill those beans at the end of this post! But before we get to what lies ahead, it’s time for our once-every-two-weeks tour recap of our most recent stops (the last ones of 2012 before things kick back up again in January).

After our whirlwind week away in mid-November, we had Thanksgiving week off and then were back on for two separate stops in Washington, DC and one in our hometown of RVA. The first was at the FLOR store in DC. The tight footprint of a Georgetown shop meant lots of people braved the wait out in the chilly weather, for which we are very grateful. Luckily the FLOR folks generously provided popcorn, wine, hot chocolate and just about the best cookies I’ve ever eaten in my life. Seriously. And if you saw two girls sneak in before the event opened, they were our cousin Cat and my little sister Carrie… hence their line cutting privileges. Update: Sherry wanted me to add that she has no idea why she puts her head down and smiles like a bull about to charge someone, so there ya go.

Oh and also, to anyone who came out – if it ever looked like I was taking random breaks to wander through the line and make phone calls, it actually wasn’t me. It was my alleged doppelganger Patrick, who helped organize the event and apparently was mistaken for me several times that evening. As in people kept saying “wait why isn’t John upstairs signing?” You can see from Heather’s experience how it was mildly mind-boggling to those patiently waiting. I don’t really see the resemblance, but it was enough that apparently Patrick’s own daughter saw a picture of Sherry and me after the event and asked why daddy was standing with “that lady.”

Oh and if you see Burger photobombing any of other pictures from this event, it’s just this paper-Burger on a stick that Nickie and her friend brought with them. And yes, we still have it around the house to this day.

Okay, on to the fun stories and fun people we met (not that the aforementioned people weren’t fun or anything). But check it out, we met Miss District of Columbia! And she even let me wear her crown . Cross that one off the bucket list, Petersik!

And since Georgetown Cupcakes (the shop featured on the TLC show DC Cupcakes) was across the street, we got lots of sugary deliciousness brought our way. This dozen from Emily, Melanie, and Danielle included some that were personalized with our initials. Emily had the advantage of actually working at the cupcakery.

And she wasn’t the only person we met with the behind the scenes scoop on some TV. Jeannette once worked as a production assistant for True Blood, which is why Sherry broke out her “vampire face” for this picture. In her defense, she thought all of us were doing it. Instead we just left her hanging, fangs out and all.

Being near my hometown meant seeing some familiar faces too, like Jenny, who went to my high school. To commemorate that fact, she brought this Cat’s Meow wooden keepsake of our school. I can’t believe they actually make one (it’s not the prettiest building in the world by a long stretch) so bravo to Jenny for finding it.

We didn’t know Caroline or Katie before that night, but we had been expecting Katie. Her husband Bob emailed us ahead of time to say it would be great if we could surprise her by congratulating her on her recent wedding. We told Bob we meet lots of Katie’s so we’d need a clue to know which one to surprise, so he devised a plan of writing “Bob” on the bottom of the ceramic owl she planned to bring. The plan went off without a hitch. Katie was shocked (and no longer confused why her husband had graffitied her owl with his name) and Bob earned some major husband points. The weirder part is that we had bumped into Caroline and Katie as we walked to the FLOR store earlier that night. When they introduced themselves I almost asked “is your husband named Bob?” but bit my tongue when I considered how unlikely it would be that we’d run into the exact Katie we were on the lookout for that night. Psst- Nice photobomb Burger.

Speaking of guys, we always like to point out that men do come to these events! Heck, Jimmy even rode solo for the evening and had us sign this toy wrench for his son. That’s not his son pictured next to him, just another young fan who came sporting his homemade “I Heart YHL” onesie. I believe that look is “who put this shirt on me and why is that man pointing a camera in my face?”

In addition to interesting people, there were also plenty of interesting pictures to be snapped. And by interesting, I mean weird. This one was by request. Our direction was “there’s something scary in the corner.” To me it was so scary I couldn’t even bear to look. But I kind of like that it looks like I’m avoiding the ridiculousness that’s going on around me.

Sherry also wanted to get a pic with anyone she dubbed her “twin.” Aka they were wearing a blazer and/or similar shirt. These ladies got it pretty spot on though. Although technically the one of the right is from our second DC event through LivingSocial. But before we move on to that, here are some links to other people’s post about the night in case you wanna read from a non-Sherry and John perspective: here’s Becky, Rhiannon and Ms. Adams.

The FLOR event ran until after 11pm, which meant our drive home to Richmond afterwards didn’t get us home until about 1:15am. To say we were tired would be an understatement. So initially the fact that two days later we’d be doing the drive out to DC again was a bit tough to get excited about. But as soon as we rolled up to the LivingSocial event space at 918 F Street, how could we not be excited? They’d surprised us by decorating their windows based on the ornaments that we made last year.

LivingSocial is headquartered in DC so it’s here that they created a space for all sorts of events, classes and fun group experiences. The building itself was awesome and we were kinda jealous of all the DC folks who have art workshops, cooking classes, and even live sumo wrestling (whilst eating sushi, mind you) at their fingertips. We were there because in addition to signing books, we were going to lead two crafting classes based on projects we’d done.

We did lots of planning with Living Social ahead of time, so everything was ready to go when we arrived. In addition to making the paint swirl ornaments that we did last year, we were also doing a holiday twist on two projects from the book. Instead of gilding a lamp base with gold paint (#187 in the book) we’d be painting hurricanes for holiday centerpieces. And instead of painting wood for art (#140) we’d be painting wooden candlesticks for a holiday table-setting. Each 90-minute session had 50 smiling faces – and there were even a handful of guys in the afternoon class! Not that I don’t like being in a room full of ladies, but it was nice to have some guys backing my up in the second class.

Sherry and I were a bit nervous going into this because (1) we had never taught a crafting class before and (2) we hadn’t practiced what we were going to say at all. Eep. We just wanted to be natural and have fun and not be all robot-y and rehearsed.

In the end I think it actually went pretty smoothly. And by some miracle the timing of everything worked out pretty well – so, although people had to work somewhat swiftly, we were able to not only get through all three crafts in 90 minutes, things were able to dry pretty decently before people had to take them home after the book signing portion of the session. Other than some of the gold paint needing another coat on the glass vases, nearly everyone whipped everything out. #craftninjas

We probably could still stand to work on our talk-and-craft-at-the-same-time skills. Sherry tried to execute the projects along with everyone else and did a pretty decent job. Here are her Christmas-tastic striped candlesticks below (they got one more coat before being called done – at which point Sherry sent them home as a cute surprise for a guy whose girlfriend couldn’t make it to the event). And our painted ornaments are currently on our mini tree at home.

The crafting session was really about hanging out, meeting people, having fun, signing books, and messing around with some paint – so it was a bonus when things came out really nicely. Here’s a photo sent to us from Amanda of her three projects. We were loving the folks that went rogue and used their metallic paint from the glass project on the candlesticks too. Doesn’t it look good with the raw wood? And here are a couple posts from the view of a couple of “students” – one with hilarious drawings and one with amazing cookie skills.

After each crafting session we spent 30 minutes doing the usual book signing part, and then after the two crafting & signing sessions we had another couple hundred people come just to get books signed. It was a busy day for sure (we left Richmond at 7am and got home at 9pm) but everyone was so nice and the LivingSocial people were super awesome. We had a great time. Plus, Sherry finally got to sign someone’s spray paint can! Two, actually (the other pic sadly didn’t come out). Talk about a momentous occasion.

She also got to sign her first mirror… in lipstick form. Apparently Jenny said all the right things to get Sherry in that hot pink lipstick.

I didn’t get the chance to kiss any mirrors, but I did get to sign a copy of my middle school yearbook. This embarrassing moment was thanks to Jackie, who went to elementary and middle school with me (our older sisters were BFFs). Thank goodness my 8th grade picture was taken before I got braces, which inspired a closed-mouth grimace in my 9th grade picture. Good thinking, John.

As for funny photos, we did this one with Mia and her friends who also shared fond memories of Funland, the amusement park at the Delaware beach where many DC-area-natives grew up visiting. This pose was “pretend you’re on a Funland ride.” I could clearly work on this look (though in my defense, the hand I had up was just cut off in the shot). No idea why my instinct was to just put one hand up. Maybe the other hand was being sensible and holding on in case of an emergency?

Speaking of hands up, here’s another one where we were posing as bionworks. What’s a bionworks you ask? It’s a fictional animal that my 10-year-old self invented, at least according to a drawing that Sherry and I found a few years ago. It simply said “Bear + Lion + Fireworks = Bionworks” and showed a lion-ish creature with fireworks for a mane. So yeah, now you’re in the know the next time a bionworks comes up to you at a cocktail party or something.

After all the fun at the LivingSocial events on Saturday, we drove back home to Richmond for our last event of the year – and boy were grateful to only have to travel 15 minutes for it. It was hosted by one of our favorite stores in RVA called Mongrel. It’s filled with awesome cards, books, gifts, ceramic animals, and just about everything in between. In fact, the wrapping paper that we used for the first project in the book was from here. They don’t typically do book signings so we were flattered that they wanted to get their feet wet with us.  They were awesome and sweetly over-prepared for the event (for example, there was a bouncer in case any of you blog readers got rowdy).

Fortunately the bouncer’s services weren’t required and everyone was fun and excited and incredibly kind as usual. For example, Anna baked us red and blue cookies in the spirit of the ones we had at every West Elm event. They were delicious. The plate, not so much.

And how’s this for a thoughtful gift? Rachel is a professional hair stylist here in Richmond so she gave Sherry a box of hair-cutting supplies to upgrade her DIY haircuts for me. I’m excited mostly because next time I’ll get to wear a legit cape. Oh yeah, who fancy now?

This picture also cracked me up because Jon and Randa both happen to share a birthday with me, so in the vein of the “Pregnant / Not Pregnant” photo Sherry took with a mom-to-be in Toronto, we took this one. I also kinda wanted to do a “John / Not John” version but I guess Jon and I spell it differently so maybe it’s best that we left it at this.

I also had the unique opportunity to sign someone’s shirt. I felt bad doing it, but Mary said she’d gotten spray paint on it so it was out of commission anyway. I connected the spray paint dots into what resembled a Christmas tree with a crescent moon over it.

And Sherry one-upped me in the drawing game by taking on the challenge to sketch on a sheet for Robyn, who is doing a weekly photo project inspired by the one we did for Clara. Sherry’s masterpiece (which ended up being a sketch of our book cover) would act as the backdrop for her son Sawyer’s 41 week photo.

If you’re wondering how the photo turned out, here’s Sawyer in his 41-week-old glory. I did get to add the “Week 41″ detail to the sheet, so I guess Sherry didn’t get to have all of the fun. You know me and fonts. #typegeek

And as for blog posts by others for the Richmond stop, you can see our friend Brittany’s recap or check out Megan’s hilarious post about the day.

So that officially wraps up our tour stops for 2012. It’s been quite an adventure these last few weeks and while we’re excited for more action come January, we are enjoying having a month to spend mostly at home with the bean and the Burgs while sleeping in our bed. We calculated the other day that so far we’ve spent 41 hours signing books so far – and that doesn’t count crafting sessions, presentations, set-up time ,or travel. Crazy, huh? But totally worth every minute to be able to meet so many of you and bask in your awesomeness. Really, we dig you guys. A lot.

Oh, and speaking of that action in January, there’s so much that it extends into February. So here’s the official tour update for ya!

Yep, we’ll be hitting up the Bay Area of California on the tail of our Tacoma & Portland trip. And when we’re headed to Charlotte we’re gonna keep driving down 85 and stop in Atlanta as well. Woo hoo! Although sadly some scheduling issues got in the way of our planned Grand Cayman stop so that has been canceled. Boo.

You can get the full details on where, what time and how to RSVP for each of these dates on our Book Tour Page. Oh yeah, and if you already RSVP’ed for the NYC event in November, your name is already included for this new January date. So please don’t RSVP again. Thanks, guys! Hope to see some of you at our next nine stops that start up again in a few weeks! And happy weekend to one and all! Suddenly I feel like Santa or something. And to all a good night!

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