Bermuda in photos

What’s that? More pretty pics of my new home, please? Ok, if you insist!

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Where in the world is… Bess?

Once we get through the standard rounds of Bermuda questions, there’s a quick pause while my conversation partner processes it all, and then their eyebrows raise as they ask, “Oh! What are you going to do with your press?”

The answer is… bring her along for the ride! I realize shipping a 400-pound antique printing press to another country maybe isn’t the most practical course of action, but I look at it as an investment in my personal happiness. I considered leaving her at my parents’ house and just printing when I go home to visit, but had I left her for a few months previously and it’s just not something I want to do for the next 3-5 years, or however long we’re here.

press 3A few weeks before the big move, my dad and I took her apart into two main pieces, the fly wheel and lots of smaller bits, above. I spent a Saturday rubbing wax over every inch of her to protect from any water and humidity—which also had the added benefit of cleaning more of the 100-year-old gunk from her frame than I thought possible. Then we packed her up along with all my studio supplies, securing everything to a pallet and built a wooden crate around it all. We then shipped it to a facility in New Jersey.

New wood type that I haven't even had a chance to use! I can't wait to print with it.

New wood type that I haven’t even had a chance to use! I can’t wait to print with it.

She’s currently on a container ship on her way to the island. I’m not exactly sure what happens now—some people have said that since I just moved here, my crate will breeze through customs. Others have said it will probably sit on the dock for 2-3 weeks and cost me several hundred dollars in duty to release. Who knows! Either way, I can’t wait for her to arrive—and don’t worry, I’ll share more pics as soon as my studio/office here is set up!

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Adventures in Agriculture

I have what some might call a black thumb… That is I’ve killed nearly every plant I’ve ever owned. The only house plant I’ve ever had long-lasting success with is fondly named Spike, a succulent I picked up at the Dane County Farmers Market three summers back. Since I wasn’t sure if I could bring plants to Bermuda (and he was outgrowing his container again anyway), before I moved, I divided him up, repotted and gave him to friends and family.

However, I’ve decided that Bermuda’s high humidity could be the key to horticultural success. Forgot to water for… ahem… a while? No problem—90% humidity means the soil is still moist anyway! (And my hair has the texture of a Brillo pad.) So I hit up a local nursery and picked up some serious green.

First up: house plants! I honestly have no idea what the ones on the left are… their names have already escaped my brain. The ones on the right are tillandsia, or air plants… which I love and have managed to kill over and over again. Seriously! It doesn’t even need dirt and I can’t keep it alive! Again, I blame Wisconsin winters.

picstitchProduce here is expensive, not always the greatest quality and sometimes not even available. We are so spoiled in the U.S.! So I wanted to get a few things that we could eat. It’s an odd time of the year to start a garden, but I did manage to pick up a few strawberry plants and a really great selection of herbs. At first I had them mixed together in one long container, but the basil and mint are well on their way to shading everything else, and one of my strawberry plants sent out a runner, so I thought everyone could use a little more space to thrive. See, success already!

garden 2The last “plant” I’m working on is really more of an experiment. My friend Kaia (who blogs here) had a bit of a project going when I stopped by her house the other day. She had grown an avocado tree from a pit and was finally potting it. Apparently you can grow trees in your house! Anyway, I picked her brain for a how-to and now I’ve got two pits sitting in water… who knows what will happen. I’d share instructions, but I’m not even sure I did it right, so if I were you, I’d google! If—big if—I have anything sprout, I’ll share by expertise then!

avocadosOh, and finally: limes. I certainly did not grow these, but Andrew picked them last weekend when he was golfing and hit a bad shot into a wooded area. Because we live in a place where lime trees just grow naturally. I wonder how long it will take me to get used to that!

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Coaster Roller

My favorite new items from the last year are my coasters! The first were save the dates for this wedding, and since the minimum order of coaster blanks was 1,000 I started playing around with existing designs and wood type. Some of my faves were the drink coasters below, currently out of stock because I pared down for the move, but I’ll print some more soon!

drink coastersThe coasters have been so popular, I’ve since ordered a couple thousand more blanks. The first design I drew specifically for a coaster was this citrus design. I love to have a variety pack on hand for summer entertaining and I think a large quantity of single-color coasters would truly be great as part of a baby or wedding shower theme! They’re available here.

citrus_coastersGame day coasters are also awesome—the ones below are exclusively available at Driftless Studio in Madison, WI.

W coastersAnd finally, most recently things came full circle for another save the date for a couple in Australia. Get in touch if you need custom coasters of your own!

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Light and love, sand and sea

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Call it a reflection of the American school system, or just the fact that Bermuda is seriously teeny tiny, but very few people I’ve told about my move know almost anything about it. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions:

Where is that? Not down by the Bahamas! Bermuda is much farther north than many people think. If you were to draw a horizontal line straight out from Charleston, SC you’d run right into the island. I usually leave from Atlanta, which is just under a 3 hour flight.

Why Bermuda? About a year and a half ago, I reconnected with an old boyfriend from high school and college… who happened to now live in Bermuda. He grew up in Wisconsin with me and was offered a job at a reinsurance firm. Reinsurance (companies that insure insurance companies) is a huge industry here, and there are several thousand expats working on the island. Some of our best friends here are English, Irish and Scottish.

What’s up with Bermuda shorts? Oh yes, they’re real. Generally brightly colored and slightly shorter than American men’s shorts, they are the business uniform for men in the summer. They can be worn with a jacket, tie, or just a dress shirt depending on the office culture, but they are always worn with tall (usually dark colored) socks and dress shoes. SERIOUSLY. This is the look!

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Are you going to get a job? No. I looked before I moved, but Bermuda has very strict employment laws. I had to get a permit to reside here, and its contingent on my not seeking employment. I’m continuing to work for the magazine in Wisconsin and other freelance clients in the U.S. and continuing to print work for non-Bermudian shops. Please get in touch if you need design or letterpress work!

How big is it? Tiny! The entire country is about 20 square miles total and is actually made up of more than 100 islands. Some of Andrew’s coworkers commute by boat! Others drive small cars, but the most common means of transportation is a scooter. I’ve rented one for a few weeks now and I’m finally starting to feel steady on it. Another week or two of practice and I’ll be ready to take the test for my license!

What’s weather like there? Right now, it’s pretty hot—high 80’s (F) during the day, and humid. It doesn’t cool down at night like it does in Wisconsin, the temperature drops maybe 10 degrees. Winters here are rainy with temps in the 50’s and 60’s, which seems quite luxurious when compared to the winters I’m used to, but the air stays so humid that it feels colder—especially on a bike!

bike

More questions? Leave them in the comments and I’ll get back to you!

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Status update

Seven minutes. That’s how long I’ve been staring at my blinking curser because I simply don’t even know where to begin this post. A lot has changed my friends….

Moon gate—found everywhere on the island, engaged couples are supposed to walk through them for good luck.

Moon gate—found everywhere on the island, engaged couples are supposed to walk through them for good luck.

Let’s start with the big one: As of last Saturday, I live in Bermuda! Longer post on this coming shortly, but here’s the abbreviated version: For the last year and a half or so, I’ve been dating a man who lives here. After many trips back and forth, we’ve taken the plunge and decided to cohabitate! Personally I’m thrilled to take this step with him and can’t wait to see what our future brings. Professionally, excitement is just barely edging out apprehension.

I quit my job. And didn’t get a new one. For the first time in nearly 15 years, I won’t have a steady paycheck arriving safely in my bank account every two weeks. That’s not to say I’m drinking Swizzle on the beach every day—I’m growing my freelance design business (get in touch here) and giving 622 press the time and attention it deserves!

Horseshoe beach—so beautiful!

Horseshoe beach—so beautiful!

Speaking of time… For the first time since I got serious about letterpress, I’m going to have it! I’ve become so accustomed to working my 40+ hours at the magazine and then coming home to work nights and weekends at the press I almost don’t know what to do with all my free time. I’m going to draw. I’m going to do yoga. I’m going to brush up on my French. I’m going to have a garden. And I’m going to prototype all the product I eventually want in my shop.

Succulants thrive here—this one is three feet across.

Succulants thrive here—this one is three feet across.

Oh right, the shop. One of the things that has really been crystallizing for me over the last couple years is the ultimate goal is for 622 press. I’ve found that while I love collaborating with clients on custom projects like business cards and wedding invites, I don’t want to do that full time. My greatest joy comes from creating something for myself or just for creation’s sake—and then having someone else like it so much they must have one of their own! I also want to have an outlet for all the other things I make—ceramics and crochet, paintings and textiles. And finally, whenever I participate in an art fair or other event, I’m reminded how much I do like talking with people about what I do. What’s the perfect combination of all of these things? Retail.

These little guys are all over the outside of our house.

These little guys are all over the outside of our house.

The shop will not be here in Bermuda (more on that to come too), but hopefully by the time we move back to the U.S., I’ll have enough of the pieces in place to start things up. So that’s what I’ve been up to! Stay tuned friends, and expect a lot more behind the scenes and lifestyle posts, as well as a peek inside island life. Thanks for sticking with me!

Look how blue that sky is!

Look how blue that sky is! (No, this is not our boat, but we did get to cruise around on it!)

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The wedding project of my dreams!

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I’m so excited to finally unveil my biggest wedding stationery suite so far! We started with a lovely coaster save the date and continued with the invitation, enclosures, thank you notes, menus and seating chart! All the pieces were designed by yours truly with lots of awesome input by the bride and her mom and I’m just so proud of how they turned out! And here’s the part where I subject you to photo after photo as though they were my children…Amy_Lanser_3076

Amy_LanserINVITE_3091

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Amy_LanserRECEPTION_3090  Amy_LanserRSVP_3087

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