Topic: Life

December recommended read: “Station Eleven”

Jeevan found himself thinking about how human the city is, how human everything is. We bemoaned the impersonality of the modern world, but that was a lie, it seemed to him; it had never been impersonal at all. There had always been a massive delicate infrastructure of people, all of them working unnoticed around us, and when people stop going to work, the entire operation grinds to a halt. -Station Eleven

Have you ever read a book that just perfectly captured your life in a given moment? That’s this book for me, right now. Station Eleven is a few years old, so I’m definitely late to this party, but Emily St. John Mandel’s writing is just stunning and was exactly what I needed after the trash fire that has been this year. Mandel weaves together the stories of a few people affected by a global flu disaster. Like, civilization-ending disaster. Seeing as how I’ve been sick with a cold for the past two weeks and, you know, the election and the rest of 2016 happened, reading about the end of the world due to a virus has been both upsetting and oddly comforting. Besides all the expected end-of-the-world doom and death, there’s a prevailing sense of hope throughout Station Eleven: hope that humanity will rebuild, hope that there’s safety out there somewhere, and hope that regrets can be put behind us before the end comes.

Besides that grim hope, Station Eleven also discusses technology and our relationship with it in a refreshing way. Because the story jumps between before the flu and after the flu, you get to see how the same characters relate to each other with technology and without. Lo and behold, humanity discovers that people were making modern life happen all along!

This concept of people-driven-technology is somewhat of a recurring theme for me right now. The ever-growing importance of technology in everyday life combined with changing political climates is sparking a reinvigorated conversation around ethics and compassion in digital work. Take for instance this lovely piece on amending Dieter Rams’ seminal Ten principles of good design with an ethics-focused principal. While the definition of ethical design is perhaps up for debate, the necessity of having that discussion is not. Ethically designed technology is, I think, inherently compassionate – it’s made not only for people, but for the good of people. Perhaps if more technology was made for the good of people we’d find it easier to remember how many people we encounter through technology every day?

There’s much, much more to discuss about compassion in this industry I find myself in, but we’re here to book review, right? Station Eleven left me feeling hopeful and reflective, which is honestly my favorite mix of post-book feels. The story moves fast and it does get hard to put down; I could probably have finished it in a few sittings if I hadn’t felt the need to savor it more. The various story lines are masterfully woven together, even as they jump from before-flu to after-flu. Mandel does leave the book on an open note, but I felt the uncertainty suited the overall message of the story: something always comes next, even after catastrophe.


PS. Come find me on Goodreads if you’re into that sort of thing!


Bright Simple Deco

Bright Simple Deco nail art on Miss Venn

Okay okay you have to get some nail vinyls if you haven’t seen them before. Really! Nail art necessity! I get my vinyls from for a few reasons. First of all, the owner Linda is a lovely person who seems to really enjoy what she does. Love it! Also her nail vinyls have always been super high quality. And they come in tons of shapes! If I haven’t convinced you yet I don’t know what will.

This manicure was made with the right angle vinyls which I hadn’t used before. It took a bit of work (and my non-dominant hand looks, uh, iffy) but I think it’s worth it in the end!

Bright Simple Deco nail art on Miss Venn with Butter London Cuppa and Slapper, plus nail vinyls from

Deep Triangles

Deep Triangles

I’m not sure how many manicures I’ve done recently in this style—a deep triangle over white—but it’s a lot. I love that it’s an easy shape to make with tape but always looks stunning, especially with a high contrast polishes.

This was the first time that I’ve cracked open Zoya’s Julieanne and have to admit I found it disappointing. The formula is much thinner than my other Zoya polishes and was tricky to apply evenly. Zoya describes the polish as “purple sparkles with gold, peach and yellow-green duochrome” which is technically true, but the duochrome effect is hard to spot unless you’re in direct sunlight. It’s still a lovely deep purple though! Just not as stunning as some of the other Zoya glitters.

Deep Triangles Polish

New season, new job, new goals.

New season, new job, new goals

photo via rodneykeeling

New job day! Hard to believe it’s here already. Starting a new job in September feels just like going back to school again. Even more so this time because of the unplanned sabbatical that the summer months have been. Summer vacation is over kids! Back to the desks we go.

New-school-year-jitters aside, I’m so excited to be joining R/GA! I’ve never worked for a company so large or so well-known within the design community. What I’ve gathered about their culture so far is that my new teammates value hard work, growth, and finding solid solutions to design problems. All things I value, so I think we’ll fit together well.

Any time I start a new job I like to take a moment to reflect on where I can grow during and after the transition into a new role. Here are a few of the things I’m going to strive for this time ’round:

1. Build that network. I’ve talked before about how my introverted nature can keep me from networking well before. While at R/GA, and surrounded by all the amazing talent gathered there, I want to push myself to make connections with as many people as I can.

2. Make new habits. One of the benefits of getting caught in the upheaval that happens when starting are new job is that normal habits get rocked and are more easily broken. I need to eat a real breakfast in the morning, cut back on my screen time before going to sleep, and make more time for taking care of my health this fall.

3. Practice what I preach. I’ve been spending a lot of time being concerned and upset about the state of design and tech culture, but not a lot of time doing anything beyond griping about it online. (Which, for the record, is fine! Sometimes you need to gripe.) I’d like to spend time this fall doing more doing here in my local communityOne way of achieving this goal is helping other women explore technology with confidence, which is why I’m so excited about the Girl Develop It class I’m teaching at the end of the month. I’m actively looking for other ways to give back and help others grow in the coming months.

Making lists and setting goals always helps me feel more grounded and prepared for whatever lies ahead, which is a great way to start a new adventure.

What are your fall goals?

Happy Monday

This coming week is all about returning to office life for me. I can’t wait to meet all my new R/GA teammates! Normally I would have some links to share today but to be honest this past week has been a blur of getting all our unpacking done and enjoying the free time before getting back to work. Not much time left for finding interesting things to learn online! So, instead of things to read, here are some pretty things to look at:

Alyssa Steiner / Clare Freeman / Dominique Byron / Kathy Zheng / Valerie Jar

Thank you, August

Thank you, August

Are you ready for fall? I’m ready for fall. Sorry summer lovers, but I love my layers and boots and sweaters and cozy warm drinks! Portland’s summer has been stubborn this year which I keep reminding myself I’ll miss in a few months. Ah well.

And what a summer it’s been! During the past few months I’ve moved, got a new job, and attended a few conferences. Also this month marked Miss Venn’s official launch, hooray!

I’m always curious about how my favorite blogs are doing so I’ve decided to share a few of Miss Venn’s stats at the end of the month. Since this little corner of the ‘net launched on the 19th, 300 wonderful people have stopped by to see what’s going on. Most of those visitors arrived via Twitter—a whopping 84% of them in fact! The most popular posts in these past few weeks have been the launch announcement, the Monday when I mentioned that I’m joining R/GA and teaching for Girl Develop It, when I wrote about Gibbon, and this post about running post up workshops.

Thanks so much for following along this month! I’m so grateful for all the visits and shares. You’re the best!

Is there anything you’d like to see more of on Miss Venn? Let me know in the comments.

(beautiful flower photograph via Folkert Gorter)

Moody ruffian

Moody Ruffian

Ruffians are a great way to add a bit of interest to an otherwise basic manicure. This one was inspired by the fall weather that I am so ready to be having. Bring on the deep purples, rich reds, and soft grays please!


  • OPI Nail Envy
  • Formula X Prime base coat
  • Essie Chinchilly
  • Essie Smokin’ Hot
  • Seche Vite top coat
Moddy Ruffian polishes: Essie's Chinchilly & Smokin' Hot


Happy Monday

Leap and the net will appear

One week to go in August! September is looking especially exciting for me…next week I’m starting a new job! I’m joining R/GA here in Portland as an experience designer and I am so. excited!

More exciting news: near the end of next month I’m teaching a two-day Intro to HTML & CSS class for the brand new Portland chapter of Girl Develop It. I can’t wait to help some awesome women make their first websites!

Also I wanted to direct you to Learn to Code with Me, a fantastic blog by Laurence Bradford who happens to be one of the nicest people on the ‘net. She interviewed me recently for her Women in Tech feature. Check out the rest of the blog if you’re a new programmer (or are code-curious) and want help and motivation to keep pushing through the bugs.

Okay okay I think that’s all my news. (Whatta month!) Here are a few articles I’ve enjoyed over the past week—use ’em to kick your brain on this morning.

Have a great Monday!

(illustration via Motivational Monday)

Fun, bright, & beautiful: new apartment wish list

I don’t know why I haven’t learned this yet, but it really doesn’t take long to settle in to a new home once the big furniture is in the right place and the number of empty boxes grows. That said, this has been home for less than a week and I’m already antsy to make it just right. Here are some things I’ve had my eye on to make this new space feel extra lovely!

Fun, bright, & beautiful apartment wish list | Miss Venn

1. vintage brass elephant 2. the mini flat dog bed 3. mid-century media console 4. slope leg bar + counter stool 5. coffee print 6. portola desk organizer

Meet an amazing indie polish brand, but first, a confession…

Okay so this is only a little embarrassing but my favorite TV show this summer is hands down Teen Wolf. It’s full of campy teen drama with tons of soul and I guess after three seasons I’m officially invested. What’s up with Lydia’s powers? Will Derek and Braeden continue to be adorable? Who is the Benefactor?! You get the picture, I’m a fan. So, imagine how excited I was to discover indie brand Fandom Cosmetics and their collection of Teen Wolf inspired polishes! Check out these lovely glitter-filled polishes that I wish were on their way to my door right this instant.


Teen Wolf not your thing? That’s okay, I understand! Fandom has polishes inspired by many of the nerd classic like Dr. Horrible, Supernatural, Doctor Who, and Harry Potter. What fandom do you have all the feels for?