Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Love Letters

I have decided to kick off a new series here on Short Story Long. I will be featuring love letters written to significant others, family, friends, heroes, role models, mentors, etc. Some may be emotional, some may be witty, but hopefully all will be fun to read.

To start, I am sharing a love letter I have written to my travel hero, Rick Steves. Rick started as a tour guide years ago and has since expanded his offering to various travel services ranging from classes to guide books to television shows. You can find out all about him here.

Here it goes...

Dear Rick,

I hope you are enjoying your travels, I have loved reading about them and watching your videos on Facebook. I am writing you because you are an inspiration to me. I became a fan in early 2010 after I received your DVD box-set for pledging to be a member of my local public radio station (KQED, San Francisco), and since then, I have not looked back. I love the shows and heavily relied on your Ireland guidebook when I went this past March.

To give you a bit of my background, I am a 24 year old who graduated from college just over a year ago. I graduated with excitement and anticipation for the world and adventures ahead, and anxious to find a way to merge my personal passions and career. I have found creative outlets, and continue to hope that I will be able to fully pursue my passions. I've begun to notice that each daydream and thought always seem to land on traveling. I find myself craving delicious pasta from a small restaurant in one of Rome's side streets, or wanting to dive into the warm Aegean Sea off the coast of Greece. Whenever I have these thoughts I run home, research airline prices, and watch one of your videos!

I appreciate the effort and energy you put into your productions; they are insightful and beautiful. The clips you have been posting on Facebook have been exciting as well. It's fun to feel as though we are with you along the way.

I don't want to complete this letter without saying a few things:
  • I hope you make a lecture stop in the Bay Area on your way to Florida (I know it's not on your way from Washington, but a girl can dream!)
  • If you ever need a production assistant, research assistant, or travel buddy through Back Door Productions, I am your person
  • It would be a dream come true to hear back from you with any feedback or advice you can provide
Thank you for letting me say those things, however, I do realize that you are extremely busy and understand that you may not be able to respond. I appreciate your time and hope you enjoy safe travels.

Keep on traveling, goodbye!

Stacy Ernst

Do you have any love letters you would like to share? Have you gotten a surprising result from love letters you've sent? If you would like to share your letters, let me know!
Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut

A couple of weeks ago, a co-worker of mine was having a rough day. In hopes of cheering her up, I reached out to friends asking for their funniest photos. Boy, did they come through. I was introduced to Boo, I watched babies eating lemons, and I discovered multiple opportunities for kitty photo ops.

However, there was one that stood above the rest. Maybe it was because I was feeling a bit nutty that day at work, but this photo cracked me up! I just couldn't help myself.


Do you have any go to photos when you're having a rough day?
(Photo courtesy of
Monday, August 29, 2011

Beautiful Love

Late last week I was catching up on some of my favorite blogs, and I found this heartbreakingly beautiful video on A Cup of Jo. It's the story of the 27 year romance of Danny & Annie, a couple based in Brooklyn. The animation threw some of my friends off a bit, but I have to say, it is one of the most beautiful representations of love I have ever seen.

So, be sure to look past the quirky animation and enjoy!

(Animation by StoryCorps, via Very Short List; Thanks Joanna!)
Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday is Here!

Since I have a regular Monday - Friday type of job, Fridays are always the funnest day of the week for me. I start out knowing that I am only hours from the weekend, most of the office has a light-hearted feel, and I start to get really excited for our weekend plans. The agenda for this weekend: relax. We haven't made very many plans and we like it that way.

What are your plans for the weekend? Will you be traveling anywhere fun?


Happy Friday everyone!

Photo by Traveling Point
Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back to School

Today is my first day of graduate school and I have mixed emotions for going back into the classroom. I'm excited for the conversations I'll have with my classmates, but I'm nervous as to how it is going to effect my personal life. Balancing work, school, and life is going to be difficult and I worry that I won't have enough energy for creative outlets.

In preparation for my first day, I have been assigned to read Discourse on Method by Descartes. It is a dry, dry read that has cramped my end of summer fun. I can appreciate the foundation it lays, but I can't say that I've enjoyed it.


Have you balanced work, school, and life? Do you have any recommendations? Help!
Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Life can be stressful. As I have mentioned earlier, I often look for releases and ways to cope with that stress. Sometimes I play fun money saving games, other times I bake.

To me, the precision of baking is therapeutic. Reading and re-reading the recipe and then performing the steps acts as a clear beginning, middle and end. It is so satisfying to see the outcome of my diligence within an hour or so. Plus, there is the added bonus of eating the yummy result!

As I begin to mentally and physically prepare for the start of grad school, I am making a mental list of my favorite, go-to baking recipes. Chocolate chip cookies will definitely be on there, with banana bread closely following, and I can't forget that I make a mean brownie batch, so they will not be forgotten this semester! During my amazing weekend at Blogshop I was able to play around with a few templates and designs, and below is my tribute to the comfort baking brings me.

Happy baking!


Do you enjoy baking? What are your favorite things to bake?
Tuesday, August 23, 2011


A couple of years ago, Robbie and I spent 6 weeks in Europe. It was an amazing adventure that I am so lucky to have experienced. While we were trekking along, one of the unusual characteristics that caught my eye was the graffiti in so many cities. Rome was the biggest surprise, but Paris, Barcelona, and London weren't expected either.

Throughout my childhood, I tended to view graffiti negatively, as though it should be immediately painted over or removed. It was something that only "hoodlums" took part in. In the defense of those who called taggers, "hoodlums", most of the graffiti in my hometown was gang-related and lacked an artistic point-of-view. Luckily, most of the graffiti we found in Europe portrayed the character of the artist and their city.

Here are a few of my favorites...




How do you feel about graffiti? Do you think it is a street art that should be legalized? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Monday, August 22, 2011

No Spending Challenge

I am the kind of person who can become completely fixated on a topic. For example, I actually watched 13 episodes of Friday Night Lights in one day (it was a sick day and don't judge me until you've seen it), and I have stayed up into the wee hours of the night cleaning my bathroom. Sometimes this personality quirk can be fun, such as when I became friends with the waitress at a nearby sushi bar because I eat there so often, but it can also lead to unnecessary worry if I become fixated on a negative topic. This can be especially true when it comes to money.

Worrying about money is stressful. As an adult, it is something we all face and have different ways of approaching. In order to relieve some of the stress, I participate in fun, money saving games. My friend Sarah introduced me to one game a couple of years ago, and I try to take part in it a couple of times a year. It is known as the No Spending Challenge and you have to go an entire week without spending a single penny!

It is definitely a challenge, so here are the rules:
1. Do your best to prepare beforehand (i.e. pay bills ahead of time that may be due during the week, buy the groceries you will need before the challenge begins, fill your gas tank, etc.)
2. You can redeem previously purchased gift certificates, but you cannot purchase gift certificates in preparation (use what you already have available)
3. You cannot fill your car with gas; if you start to run low, get creative with public transportation
4. You can pay co-pays for already scheduled doctors appointments or emergencies
5. You may not have someone else buy things for you (i.e. sending a hubby or roommate to the store for milk)
6. The point of the week is to be resourceful with what you already have, so get creative!

My initial thought when Sarah described this was, "You're out of your mind"! There is no way I would be able to go an entire week without spending any money. Unfortunately, this was the case the first time I attempted the challenge. I can't remember what I bought, I just remember I failed. Since then, I have tried again and succeeded, so I know you can do the same.

Here is a bit of what I've learned along the way:

I spend small amounts of money throughout the week.
Whether I’m buying a hot chocolate from Starbucks or a quick bite to eat at lunch, little bits of money have a tendency to fly out of my wallet everyday.

When I’m not spending money I can’t help but think of money.
Once the week started, I couldn’t help but think of all the items I wanted to buy, ranging from home goods to clothing to mouthwash. It was as though the purchases I had been putting off were being pushed to the forefront of my thoughts.

I have too much food in my pantry.
Not once have I gone hungry during the No Spending Week. This is because I have a stockpile of basics in my pantry that I normally push aside while I'm "looking for something to eat."

I can get by with much less than expected.
When I only allowed myself the bare minimum, I continued to live the same quality life I had before. It definitely put necessity into perspective.

Along with getting by with less than expected, I learned some valuable lessons in moderation. I found myself being much more intentional with my limited resources. I thought really hard about when I wanted to use the left over gift certificates I had, if I wanted to use them at all.

Don't give up.
If you slip up and make a purchase mid-week, don't get discouraged! We all make mistakes, so just pick up right where you left off. Your week doesn't need to start over, but you don't need to beat yourself up over it either.

Although the week is challenging (it is in the name after all), it can be really fun; especially if you rope a friend into doing it with you! Get creative and don't forget to have fun!

Have you participated in a No Spending Challenge? If so, do you have any tips and tricks? Are there any money saving games you like to play?
Thursday, August 18, 2011

Happy Weekend!


I realize that it is only Thursday, but I am in the mood to celebrate the weekend! I hope you have something fun up your sleeve, even if it's just lying around reading a magazine (which I love to do on weekends). As for me, I'll be celebrating a bride-to-be and enjoying some much needed one-on-one time with my best friend.


(Photo taken along the Ring of Kerry in Ireland)
Wednesday, August 17, 2011


When I think of croissants, I can't help but imagine delicious, buttery pastries. Their flakey texture and fattening taste are almost making my mouth water just thinking about it! Although I have a major sweet tooth, I don't know if I'm patient enough to actually put effort into making them.

Luckily, there are people in the world who are motivated to make yummy treats. For example, my friend Sobrina over at Quiet Like Horses posted her take on almond croissants. Check out her post right here.


Doesn't her post make the effort seem so worth it? Do you have any recipes that seemed daunting at first, but ended well?
Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Good morning friends! I have recently returned from an unexpected blogging vacation, but I have been inspired by my time away and excited to share my experiences. I was fortunate enough to squeeze into one last spot in the amazing Blogshop workshop put on by Bri Emery of DESIGNLOVEFEST and photographer, Angela Kohler. The amount of information I learned was incredible and I feel excited to incorporate some new techniques here. Plus, Bri sat down for a little Q&A! Being able to pick her brain was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

One of our projects over the weekend was to create a header for a blog. I decided to create a header (or potential advertisement) for my friend Alison's cake business. Check it out below!


P.S. Aren't the details on her cake amazing?!
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