1. 10 Things I Want to Do Before I Die

    February 9, 2019 ♥ Posted in: Bucket List, Journal, Seattle, Writing by Kristina Horner

    Something about me that’s always been true is that I am, without a doubt, a dreamer. I’m always thinking ahead to the future, making plans, setting goals, and feeling more inspired than I have time to be. I’ve got an extensive bucket list I’m always adding to, I’m always juggling about three too many project ideas, and there never seems to be enough time in the day to do everything. That’s why, now that I am in my thirties, I decided to take a step back and make myself a nice little top-ten list of the most important things I want to accomplish in this life time. That way, next time I am feeling overwhelmed, I can use this as the razor by which I evaluate how I am spending my time. Does what I am doing bubble up into one of these buckets?

    seattle snowmageddon blogger

    I’m always looking for good ways to really focus in on what’s important to me, because time is our biggest non-renewable resource. So here’s where I’m at, in terms of what I want to do with this one glorious life I have:

    1. Publish a book (the traditional way!)

    This is always the top of every list for me. It’s something I totally have within my power to make a priority, but it’s one that gets pushed down by other things that might feel more immediate, more flashy, or just plain easier. I need to buckle down and just get something ready enough to go for it. You only get one debut novel, yes — but after that, I feel like the biggest obstacle is taken care of. There’s something scary about “your first book”. I want to conquer this fear to pave the way for my second, third, and twenty-fourth book.

    2. Celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary 

    Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here, since we haven’t even celebrated our first wedding anniversary — but this is something that matters a lot to me. I want to make my marriage a priority and work on it every single day, and never take it for granted. I want to be in love for a very, very long time. I want to be adorable little wrinkly old people who know each other better than anyone else in the world. I want to have one big massive joint 80th birthday and 50th wedding anniversary party because all three will happen within 6 months of each other. I just know we’ll get there.

    3. Give birth to a child

    I’m not making any strong goals about number of children or anything like that — I just want to make sure I experience natural birth at least once in my life. I’ll be honest, the whole idea is a little terrifying to me, but I am fascinated by the idea that my body was built with the ability to make the choice to do this. That my body already knows how to do this. The fact that I could make a little human is incredible, and I’m starting to feel it in my bones that I’m meant to do so. I’m not quite ready… but someday. 

    4. Visit all seven continents

    I just feel like this planet is too beautiful not to try to see as much of it as I possibly can. So far I’ve been to Europe and Asia on top of the obvious North America. Hoping to go to Australia later this year, but that leaves Africa and South America. And I’m not ruling out Antarctica. There’s a cruise that leaves from Ushuaia, Argentina (the southernmost city in the world) and takes you up close and personal with some penguins. Someday, I’m going to be on it. I’ve also never gotten over that time I got second place in a contest to win a trip to Antarctica, so amends must be made.

    5. Live somewhere else for at least a year

    Sometimes I lament the fact that I grew up in what I fiercely believe is the best city, because I never saw myself as a person who would live in the same place all her life. I guess I moved from the suburbs to the city when I turned 20, but ultimately that wasn’t really a paradigm-shifting move. I love Seattle. I love how liberal it is. I love how tech-driven and nerdy it is. I love how much there is to do, how many of my friends live here, and how green it is. I love that we care about recycling, and not using plastic shopping bags, and how temperate the weather is most days. I want to raise my family here. Because of all of this, I would love the chance to live somewhere else — just for a little while — to have a completely different experience.

    6. Start my own business

    For four years I was a freelancer, and I made plenty of money — but that felt like “getting by”. What I’m talking about is dreaming up a concept, putting together my business plan, and launching something. I have a lot of different ideas swimming around in my head, and someday I just have to take the leap. I haven’t had a lot of extra time or funds lately for an extensive side-hustle (particularly while planning a wedding and then searching for a new job), but once I get a bit more settled at my new job, some of these back burner ideas might get more love. I just want to keep making things. 

    7. Own a home

    This is something that I’ve been thinking a lot more about, especially as Seattle has taken its spot as the third most expensive city (in the US) to own a home in. It beat out New York City and Los Angeles, which… I’m going to be honest, sometimes keeps me awake at night. Anyway — despite all that — I still wanna do it! I want to feel like a little plot of land in this big wide world is mine. I want to paint walls without asking for permission. I want to live through a messy remodel. I want to have a tiny little garden, and have to learn how to unclog a drain, and have a place to put a couple boxes of Christmas decorations. I want a place my future kids will be excited to come home to when they’re grown up because they have so many fond memories of the place. I want a place that really feels like “home”, because we made it that way.

    8. Voice a character in an animated show or radio drama

    Okay this is the only thing on the list that’s a little silly, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I have dreams of being cast in a cartoon web show, or some sort of radio drama, or just writing and performing my own narrative podcast. I’ve done a good amount of acting, and plenty of singing — but I’ve never just straight up done voice acting. I’d love to help bring a character to life. It just sounds fun. It’s my one frivolous selfish goal on this list and I just think about it all the time. 

    9. Create something wild just because I want to

    This is a bit vague, and possibly could be tied in with many of the goals above (#6 and #8 in particular) but someday I just want to invest in something outrageous just because I can. I’m talking like rent a summer camp and make it a writing retreat space for adults. Buy a house and turn it into an Airbnb that looks like Hogwarts. Turn a whole wall of my house into a 1:12 scale dollhouse and fill it with miniatures. Put on some kind of crazy performance in an abandoned space and sell tickets. Fill my yard with rubber ducks. I don’t know, man. I want to be like that guy in Seattle who turned his house into Diagon Alley for a few months and then let people come look at it. I can’t afford to do any of this stuff now, but someday. Someday I want to make something really outrageous just because it sounds fun.

    10. Live a life without regrets

    This one is obviously a bit more conceptual, but I’m really hoping the end result of #1-9 in this list is that I ultimately achieve #10. I am a person prone to stress and anxiety. I want to do a lot of things. I cannot do all the things. So my biggest goal is to be intentional about how I spend my time, to create things that matter, to love deeply, and to share my life with people who make it richer and vice versa. I want to look back on my life and know I spent my time in ways that bettered the world, or fulfilled me personally, or at least made other people smile. I want to learn to be happy about the things I choose, instead of always wishing there was more time for “something else”. 

    So that’s my list! My thirties have already held some of the biggest adventures of my life yet, and I’m so excited to try to tackle more things on this list. Which of my goals are yours as well? What other life goals do you have for yourself? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! 

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  2. 2019: A Year of Intentional Change

    January 6, 2019 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Wedding by Kristina Horner

    The closer we got to the end of 2018, the more I felt that nagging desire to write some kind of “end of year blog post”. And yet every time I sat down to do it, I just… couldn’t. This past year was big. It was hugely transition in many ways, from gliding into my thirties, hitting many large positive and negative life milestones, and altogether having a sense that I’ve been doing the same things far too long and needing to take on new things.

    Kristina Horner in front of iconic instagram wall in Seattle

    While on the surface I’ve very much adjusted to living a life without YouTube in it, there’s still a huge part of me that is recovering from that lifestyle, and still grasping to find ways to fully fill the holes it left. It’s easy to keep doing things because you’ve done them for a long time. It’s brave to stop doing things when you realize they aren’t adding value to your life anymore. It’s scary and hard to figure out what to replace them with.

    But every day is a new opportunity to reinvent yourself, and there’s no deadline. 2018 threw me some serious curveballs, but I like the direction my life has taken, and I want to keep exploring what else there is out there for me. So I’m going to spend some time looking back on this past year, and then think a little bit about my plans for 2019. As always, I thank you for joining me for any of it,

    2018. We didn’t always get along, but boy were you an important year: 

    • Got married to my best friend on May 4th. 
    • Completed a lifelong goal of visiting Japan, on our honeymoon. 
    • Learned to snorkel in Hawaii!
    • Came home from my honeymoon to find out things were not going well at work. 
    • Became the casualty of a company-wide reorg and lost the job I loved. 
    • Got laid off for the first time ever. 
    • Spent many months job searching and interviewing for so many jobs that I genuinely lost count (probably at least twenty).
    • Went on many amazing trips like Disneyland, NYC, and San Francisco with friends, and a solo Chicago trip for work. 
    • Took my spontaneous road trip to North Dakota while being unemployed and got to spend some quality time with relatives. 
    • Finally started my book inspired by North Dakota, which became my 13th NaNoWriMo win.
    • Also spent most of the year working on another book project that’s pretty close to what I’d call a “first draft”. This will be my first non-NaNoWriMo draft of a book.
    • Taught myself all sorts of random new skills while being unemployed since I can’t sit still, like: sewing a quilt, embroidery, building miniature things and some minimal baking. 
    • Finally got a new job at Microsoft, and started my exciting new role with the Mixer team as a Partner Account Manager in November. 
    • Read 30 books, which is actually quite low for me, but a number I felt good about for wedding year. 
    • Realized that with my new job and new marriage and fun hobbies and great friends I am genuinely just so happy, and cannot wait to see what this next year will bring. 

    The start of the year was a whirlwind. I loved our wedding, but I hated what planning it did to me. I’m already prone to anxiety and stress, but the months leading up to the wedding were on another level. Frankly, I’m not sure I would do it all over again if I had to. But the wedding day itself… was truly magical. Seeing the joy on the faces of our friends and family really did help to make up for it, and people are still telling me it was the coolest wedding they’ve ever been to… so I suppose all the work was worth it. I’ve already blogged extensively about this, but it’s obviously the biggest pinnacle of 2018 and I am loving married life so, so much. 

    Georgetown Ballroom wedding Seattle

    I’m not so interested in new year’s resolutions, because I’m already big on habit tracking and basically set myself resolutions all the time… but here are the high level things I want to focus on next year. My values, if you will. 

    1. Self-care, and setting myself up for success. By this mean I learning more about myself in terms of what food my body likes, how much water it wants, and getting in better shape, as well as being more mindful and intentional about how I spend my time. 

    2. Investing time into the projects that mean a lot to me. Writing. Crafting. Cooking. Mostly writing. I’ve got a project I’m currently working on that I’d like to have in your hands by the end of the year, but we’ll see. I guess my intention for this year is to work harder on writing than ever before, and start to share it, in some form.

    3. Travel! This one is a little tough because losing my job and starting over made me zero out on vacation days, but as I slowly start to accrue them again, Joe and I want to do so much traveling. We’re starting to think about larger life steps, so before we dive head-first into that stuff, we want to make sure we’re doing all the things that are so much easier with kids, a house payment, etc.

    That’s it! I am in a really good head space going into 2019, I’m happy, I have a wonderful support group in terms of friends and family, my job is new and exciting and challenging, and I am deeply passionate about so many projects I’m working on. The biggest challenge, honestly, is focusing in on a couple things so I can actually do them justice. That’s always been the toughest thing for me because I always want to do EVERYTHING.

    So 2019 will hopefully be the year that I do SOME things, and do them well.

    Thanks for all your kind words, tweets, emails, instagram comments, etc. You have no idea how much it means to me to hear from you, especially when I’m not “creating content” regularly. I promise I am making things… it’s just on projects that take much longer, and stay much closer to the chest in the mean time.

    Happy New Year! This will be a year of positive, intentional change, and I’m already loving it.

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  3. Progress on 2018 Reading Goals

    October 21, 2018 ♥ Posted in: Books by Kristina Horner

    I’m going to be honest… I actually forgot that I set specific reading goals this year. It’s one of those things that was BW…. Before Wedding. Some of those things are a bit hazy these days, lol.

    Anyhow, I was reminded of my goals, and so I have dug them up so that I can check in on my progress. There’s just a little over two months left in the year, so I think hitting most of them is still pretty reasonable at this point.

    Below is my progress, with the bold ones being the ones that are incomplete.

    1. Read at least 3 books in the category of “you should have read this by now” whether it’s a classic or been on your shelf too long
      • Vicious by V.E. Schwab
      • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
    2. Read at least 3 books about people who are very different from yourself
      • The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee
      • Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
      • If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodsen
    3. Read at least 8 actual physical books
      • My Boyfriend is a Bear
      • If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson
      • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
      • Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
      • Midnight at the Electric
      • City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
      • An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
      • The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
    4. Finish reading The Book Thief
    5. Read The Name of the Wind
    6. Read a book that’s over 500 pages
      • Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman (504 pages)
    7. Quit a book before you’ve finished (or at least skim the rest)
      • Black Beauty by Anna Sewell — this is the second time I have tried to read this book, and I just can’t do it. I can’t get past the fact that it’s from the POV of a horse. I know it’s a classic and was written in the 1800’s. I’m sorry.
    8. Get rid of a book immediately after reading it
      • Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters (did not like this book at all)
    9. Read a book immediately after acquiring it or hearing about it (before it even makes it to the shelf or TBR)
      • Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson (Bought this book at the Strand when I was in NYC and read it immediately, loved it)
    10. Read a book you think might make you a better person
      • How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t by Andrea Owen
    11. Read a book of short stories
    12. Read a book with a cover that bothers you
      • Save the Date by Morgan Matson
    13. Get rid of a book without reading it
      • (I have definitely done this already this year, but I want it to be intentional, so I still need to pick one.)
    14. Get at least 2 books behind or ahead of schedule at some point in the year
      • Definitely have been 2 books behind at multiple points. Only 1 book behind now, though!
    15. Decide not to do one of the challenges on this list
      • The Name of the Wind might be waiting until 2019…

    I’ve read 23/30 books I set out to read on Goodreads, putting me 77% of the way through that goal as well. November is a bit of a tough month for reading, sine so much of my time will be spent writing my NaNoWriMo novel and finding creative ways to procrastinate writing my NaNoWriMo novel… hey! Maybe I will do some reading that month!

    Being unemployed for awhile has been an interesting journey and it’s definitely given me a bit more time for reading, as well as for other things I tend to have much less time for with a 9-5 job. I think I’ll be writing an entire blog post about this experience soon, so keep an eye out for that.

    Wish me luck! If all else fails, I will consider the year a win if I at least finish reading The dang Book Thief.

    Leave a comment!
  4. On being unemployed

    October 3, 2018 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Seattle by Kristina Horner

    On May 29th, I came back to work after taking nearly a month off for my wedding and honeymoon. I was feeling refreshed and excited, ready to get back to my routines, ready to take on my next project. That day, however, I found out things had not been going exactly as planned at work. I found out that most of my coworkers had been living in an unnerving sort of unknown for weeks, due to hallway talk and things said in hushed voices.

    On May 30th, an email came out letting us know our org was being dissolved effective immediately, and while no one was losing their job that day, there were a lot of questions that needed to be answered.

    On July 9th, after a month of not knowing what was going to happen, my team was laid off – along with a whole bunch of other people we worked with.

    A lot of layoffs at Microsoft are interesting because they don’t happen immediately. Though I got the news of the layoff on July 9th, my last day wasn’t set until September 7th. This is because they give you time and resources to look for a new job within the company, hoping you’ll stay. I’m thankful for that time, but what this did was create a very stressful summer, in which I felt a ticking clock constantly echoing in my ears, reminding me how many days I had left to find a new job, how many days until I would be let go for good, how I wasn’t working hard enough or applying for enough jobs or scheduling enough informational meetings.

    All I wanted was to leave the stress of wedding planning behind and start the next chapter of my life on a healthy and happy foot, and yet, instead, I stepped into a new pit of stress and anxiety, worrying that if I couldn’t find another role in the allocated 60 day time period, then I must not be good enough.

    Well guess what. I didn’t find a new job in the allotted 60 day period.

    September 7th was my last day at Microsoft, which honestly felt pretty bad. I loved my job. I loved my team. I loved the work we were doing, and the culture our org cultivated, and I honestly loved being a Microsoftie. I loved the campus. The farmer’s market. The ham and swiss and granny smith apple sandwich I ordered way too often. I didn’t want to leave. I worked hard there for four years, I stopped making YouTube videos, and I leaned into being a ‘career person’.

    And then as quickly as it began, it was over. And I’ve learned an important lesson in not counting on anything as a sure thing, not believing anything might be ‘forever’ – and it’s not a fun lesson to learn, nor is it a very optimistic way to approach life. As quickly as I have learned this lesson, I’m trying to figure out how to unlearn it.

    Now it’s almost been a month, and I’m in a slightly better place with this whole situation. I finally feel like I have time again, now that the “60 day pressure” is off. I’m still working on finding a new job every day, but I’ve also given myself some room to breathe. Your job isn’t your only defining feature. It does not dictate your value or your worth. I’ve been taking a cycling class. I’ve been teaching myself new crafting skills. I’ve been writing and catching up on shows I never have time to watch and playing Pokémon Go again and cooking, and I’ve gone on a couple of little trips.

    great seattle instagram walls

    I’m going to find a job. I know I have an impressive resume and useful skills, and soon enough I’ll be back at a desk, back to my commute, back to the routine. For now, I’m trying to appreciate this time, and see it as a gift. How often do you get a few months off? How often can you decide to teach yourself embroidery just because you have some time? How often can you schedule appointments during business hours and go for a walk at noon and actually make it to bars in time for happy hour?

    Don’t get me wrong – I definitely look in the mirror some days and ask myself, “why haven’t you gotten a job yet? Why did the other people in your predicament find something right away while you’re still floundering?”

    But that kind of thinking isn’t helping me. All I can do is keep being brave, keep putting myself out there, and use the time as best I can. No one will be able to look back on my unemployment period and say I wasn’t living it to its fullest.

    Now excuse me, I’m going to go learn how to make glow-in-the-dark slime.

     

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  5. My book, role-playing and puzzle themed wedding!

    August 24, 2018 ♥ Posted in: Family, Nerd Topics, Wedding by Kristina Horner

    Joe and I have officially been married for almost four months now, which is amazing on two counts: 1. because that feels like a super long time and I still feel so happy and lucky and 2. because there were days I told Joe we were only doing some of our ridiculous wedding ideas so that I could write a blog post about it all later. The fact that I haven’t done it yet astonishes me, but on the other hand, I was so thrilled to be done with the wedding that it’s been hard to do literally anything else related to it.

    Time and space have finally given me the energy I needed to put this together. Because if I’m being honest – we put on a damn cool wedding, and I literally can’t wait to see people’s reactions.

    I’m not even sure where to start. So here’s a picture of Joe and I looking happier than we’ve ever looked on the actual day of the wedding:

    I guess I’ll try to go in order.

    The very, very first thing that inspired this wedding was my insane desire to have a book arch. You know that standard floral arch people often get married under? Yeah. I wanted mine to be made out of actual, literal books. I’m not high maintenance at all, guys. Joe’s dad was a saint and took it upon himself to make this dream a reality for me, and that jumpstarted us into hyperdrive for the rest of our wedding’s theme.

    The second thing that was purchased was my dress. I struggled with my initial wedding dress search because I really didn’t know what I wanted. “Something that doesn’t actually look too much like a wedding dress,” I would say to baffled shop owners as I perused their endless racks of vaguely different white gowns. “Maybe something that makes me look like a wood nymph,” I said a few times, not even really knowing myself what that meant. “Sparkly?” I’d compromise, when my fitting attendant would start to look exasperated.

    And then I found this:

    Everyone always says that like, time will stop, and everyone will forget to breathe as a collective gasp encircles the planet, and I’ll be honest — I thought everyone was being a bit silly about ~the magic of dress shopping~. I tried on some nice dresses. I had a few options that I “could get married in, I guess”.

    But when I walked out of the fitting room wearing this dress, a hush literally descended across Alfred Angelo. I think my mom immediately burst into tears. The group at the next mirror-station over even stopped what they were doing to stare at me, and said, “….wow. That’s the one.”

    So we bought it. I didn’t try on a single other dress. And then we lost it, because Alfred Angelo is the worst and went out of business without warning anyone, bailing on thousands of orders. But – then we found another one just like it online from a second-hand dress shop. But that’s a story for another time.

    Joe and I started our wedding day out with a ‘first look’ on the balcony of our suite in the Washington Athletic Club. It was a beautiful, elegant spot for us to capture this special moment, and oh yeah — I wore shark hands.

    There’s a bit of backstory here, but I’ll shorten it just enough to say: the night before the wedding, Joe mentioned that with less than 24 hours to go before saying “I do”, the only thing that could possibly still be a dealbreaker would be if he found out I had sharks for hands.

    So my bridesmaids and I used Amazon Prime Now to get these little devils delivered to our hotel the very next morning. And this is how Joe and I started the road to our marriage:

    When it came to planning this wedding, I wanted to do something that really and truly represented Joe and I as a couple, highlighting the things we each love — but moreso the things we love together. It took a fair amount of ideating, and many Pinterest boards, but we landed on books (me) and role-playing games (him). The cross section of that was our shared love of escape rooms, which I’ll come back to later. The whole thing combined nicely into a larger “storytelling” theme, which was subtle and yet represented in every nook and cranny of the event, if that makes any sense at all.

    First I’ll talk about the books. We incorporated them everywhere.

    It started with our invitations, which looked like little novels. These were designed by the same lovely person who designed my website theme – she designed many elements of our wedding!

    We had to hand cut those edges, people. The dedication started from day one.

    wedding invitations shaped like a book

    Then, in keeping with the theme, the very first thing guests saw upon entering the venue was this large book sign, welcoming them inside.

    They were not invited to sign a guestbook, because guest books are boring and who goes back and reads them, honestly? Instead, we instructed guests to choose a figure on this giant framed picture, and color it in to look like them. They were now characters in our story.

    We kept our guests busy before the ceremony with trivia we had included on the back of our programs. In hindsight, programs were one of those things I probably didn’t need to spend the money on, but how cute were they?

    fun and nerdy wedding programs

    And of course, when they went to choose a seat… there was no bride or groom side. We had our guests make a much more important choice.

    I bought a heart-shaped paper-puncher and cut literally thousands of hearts from book pages, which we scattered all over the place.

    book arch wedding

    I had zero interest in paying for live flowers, so my bridesmaids carried “book-quets” instead, made out of beautiful classic books I purchased from Barnes and Noble. Any flowers you do see are fake ones I bought on sale at Jo-Ann and hot glued just about everywhere.

    bridesmaids bouquets made of books

    Even our wedding cake looked like a stack of books. And before anyone says anything – yes. We’re aware the cake shop got the name of the D&D Player’s Guide wrong. *facepalm*

    book themed wedding cake

    We had a number of desserts available, including the above cake, which included cake toppers that were little medieval versions of us painted by one of our bridesmaids.

    Medieval cake toppers

    We also had cannoli baked by Joe’s mother, which, unbeknownst to me, were unicorn-themed.

    Unicorn themed cannoli

    Next up was Joe’s inspiration. I’m almost more proud of the role-playing game elements of the wedding to be honest, because it’s all just so, so fun. My favorite bit was the boutonnières, which we made out of gaming dice. Honestly, out of everything at the entire wedding, these are the piece I still think about and just smile. Our wedding was so cool.

    boutonniere made of dice

    We supplemented the book decor with dice, using large paper ones we’d nicked from a nerdy charity gala months earlier, and actual D20s in our wedding colors that were scattered pretty much everywhere there wasn’t already a paper heart or a book.

    wedding dice D&D

    Not to mention the dragons and unicorns we slipped in wherever we could. Because it’s us.

    unicorn wedding

    We gave our wedding party different role names, because everything about weddings is so formal and weird and we wanted to fix that. Our officiant was the “Wedding Master”, our parents were the “Elders”. Our flower girl and ring bearer were the “flower fairy and ring guardian” and we treated our wedding party like an actual adventuring party, giving everyone party roles.

    Wedding party is adventuring party

    dungeons and dragons wedding

    I gave our flower fairy two options for her headwear. We made her a flower crown, and at the last second, we also made her a unicorn headband.

    She chose the unicorn headband.

    She also dropped more of those paper hearts from her little basket instead of flower petals, because obviously.

    Our ring guardian was way too young to perform the actual duties expected of him, so we gave him a sword and sent him on his way. It was a disaster. We (and the entire audience) loved every second of it. Here he is, going the wrong way:

    ring bearer going rogue

    We also veered pretty far from tradition and threw in a few of our own… like rolling for initiative to see who got to say their vows first during the ceremony. We used a giant D20 in our wedding colors that we had commissioned from on Etsy.

    I rolled an 18, beating Joe and setting the tone for our entire marriage.

    rolling for initiative at wedding

    Most people would say this was probably enough. Fun thematic elements all over the place, plenty of crafts, many ways for our guests to be continuously delighted and engaged over the course of the evening.

    Good job, bride and groom, on an excellent wedding!

    …Have you met Joe and I?

    This wedding was just getting started.

    When our guests made their way to cocktail hour, they were greeted with this set of puzzle pieces. They were instructed to find their name, then take the puzzle piece with them to the table number they had been assigned to.

    wedding puzzle seating chart

    Once they arrived at their table and met their other table mates, they would soon realize that their puzzle pieces went together, creating a larger puzzle with strange letters on it. If they had assembled the puzzle correctly, these letters would give them instructions.

    Following the instructions, which actually included deconstructing parts of the puzzle and putting it back together another way, gave guests additional instructions on how to use their seemingly innocuous table number to light up the random wooden box that had been on their table. Surprise! It was a lantern. I don’t have a photo of one lit up, but imagine it lights up.

    escape room wedding

    Then — if guests tried to lift the table number back off of the lanterns, they would find that they were magnetized, so this action would reveal a trick opening on top. Hidden inside the lantern (they were there all along!!) was a set of “quest logs”, which instructed guests to find a series of additional puzzles around the venue.

    Every table succeeded in lighting up their lanterns, and some people dropped off after that in favor of chatting and drinking. We expected this. A very large handful, however, took the next stage very seriously. Joe had created four ingenious stations with various kinds of puzzles to solve, each one sending each “adventurer” further along a storyline we’d created. They had to play a game against an invisible foe, assist a wizard with making a potion of courage, and help a giant up a tricky set of stairs.

    puzzle wedding, escape room wedding

    puzzle room wedding

    escape room wedding

    escape room wedding

    escape room wedding

    escape room wedding

    Each puzzle station gave them a code, which they’d then use to open a lockbox, which contained stickers for them to put on their quest logs. A completed quest log would have one final meta-puzzle to solve within in, which gave our guests the final code for the final lock box. Once guests were able to open this final box (thus completing their adventure and arriving at the wedding of Queen Kristina and King Joe), they were able to take a wedding favor as their prize.

    D20 dice wedding favors

    The night happened in a blur. I am so, so thankful for our incredible photographer and videographer for capturing the event in such detail, because I hardly remember even being there. I do remember feeling incredibly happy — because I knew the whole experience was almost over, but also because the joy we could see on the faces of our family and friends made all the stress and work of the last year feel so completely worth it.

    This wedding would not have been possible without the incredible support of our friends and families. I cannot tell you how many hours of their time people gave us to make this as incredible as it turned out. I honestly don’t know why we have friends anymore at all. But apparently, they like us a lot, because they helped us pull off this ridiculous, gargantuan thing and they still want to hang out with us today.

    There were even a few surprises from some of those amazing people, including warm milk and cookies that showed up late into the night from our friend Katrina, and the t-shirt slingshot that was brought out during our best man Alexander’s toast. Yes. I’m serious. He flung out t-shirts that said “I went to Joe and Kristina’s wedding and all I got was hit in the face with this shirt.”

    A lot of people say your wedding won’t be the best day of your life. That it won’t be the day you’re the most in love. That many things will go wrong, and that you’ll laugh, and you’ll have great stories, and you’ll move on and do many bigger and more important things with your life.

    …I dunno, man.

    slow motion book pages wedding picture

    We had a pretty excellent wedding.

    Pink haired bride, dyed hair bride

    And I think for both of us, seeing the culmination of all the hard work we were both respectively putting in, for months, and how happy we’d made pretty much everyone we know… I think we fell in love all over again that night.

    dyed hair bride

    I know there are amazing things on our horizon, and doing things like having children and creating a home together and growing old will definitely all be amazing things, and I know we’ll love each other a little more every day.

    mopop wedding, dyed hair bride

    But our wedding was really, really goddamn cool.

    All I wanted – my mission statement throughout this entire process – was for people to say they’d never been to a wedding quite like ours before.

    I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that was repeated to me, verbatim, at least fifty times over the course of that night. I’ve never smiled so hard in my whole life.

    nerdy wedding

    Even though this wedding made me crazy for many months… I wouldn’t change a thing.

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  6. Booktubeathon 2018!

    July 27, 2018 ♥ Posted in: Books, Geek Events by Kristina Horner

    Listen, if there was gonna be even one good thing about my role being eliminated at work and needing to find a new job — it was going to be that I would actually have time to do Booktubeathon for serious this year. Because as I’m sure you’re all aware — it’s my second favorite book-related challenge on the Internet. The first of which, of course, being NaNoWriMo.

    But get this. While I don’t technically have a day job I need to go to, Booktubeathon falls on the perfect storm of days I still will be quite crunched to actually read books at all, let alone seven.

    Monday: Job interview that will take at least half the day
    Tuesday: Doctor appointment in the morning, going into the office for something midday, then a hair appointment afternoon/evening
    Wednesday: Nothing, thank goodness. I’ll be reading pretty much all day, when I’m not packing
    Thursday: Why was I packing? Oh right, because I am spending the rest of the week in NYC. Which will be amazing, just – you know – ill timed. At least I have a long flight to read on.
    Friday-Sunday: Doing NYC things, and trying to fit some reading in amongst it all

    Basically, I’m doomed. Here’s my TBR:

    I opted for a bunch of short books, thankfully, with a ratio of 3 actual novels to 4 graphic novels. The bottom two graphic novels I’ll be doing a coin flip over, as per the challenges. To find out about the rest of the challenges, watch the official challenge video. I also need to consider doing one of these as an audiobook, since I now have two days of commutes I didn’t account for. Plus I need to find time to watch the movie version of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas… yikes. This is going to be something.

    But this is par for the course, with me. Nobody is surprised. If you want to watch me flail along during this challenge, be sure to follow my Instagram account!

    As a fun little bonus, this week I have also created a series of lists with recommendations for things I like and use, like board games and cute stuff and even products I use to maintain pink hair. I’m an Amazon affiliate, so I do get a small commission if you end up buying anything, but I get asked so often for recommendations that this seemed like a good solution. I recently made one for writing, and while it’s not exactly made for readathons, there’s still a lot of stuff in there that applies. Like fuzzy socks. Man, I love fuzzy socks.

    Okay, that’s all I’ve got. This was initially going to be a video, since I had this small inkling of a desire to make a video, but that was a fleeting idea. Then it took me another week to actually write this, because apparently, all content on the Internet is difficult for me these days.

    Who else is doing Booktubeathon? Do we think Kristina will actually win this year?

    I haven’t successfully won since the very first time I tried it, back in 2014. Coincidentally, that was the last time I didn’t have a full-time job taking up all my time.

     

    If you want – leave a comment telling me what you’re most excited to read, or give me NYC recommendations!

    Leave a comment!
  7. I’m still here, I promise

    July 14, 2018 ♥ Posted in: Journal by Kristina Horner

    I figured it was well past time for me to write some kind of blog post, since my content has been very, very sparse this year. 

    Hello! This is me back at work, wearing clothes I bought in Japan.

    It’s sort of amazing actually — for the longest time I felt like I had been making videos for such a huge portion of my life that I really didn’t know how not to make videos. I had all these extreme notions that video-making and being a YouTuber defined a huge portion of my existence, and it turns out — that was just bs guilt I was putting on myself.

    Once you strip away the false obligations, the needless stress, the sense that you owe people something, it’s surprisingly easy to not do something. As soon as I stopped making videos, it didn’t take me long to get very used to having one less thing on my list of stuff to do. I hate to say this, but I hardly miss it at all.

    Here’s something I’ve learned in the past year:

    I started seeing a therapist, who early on, asked me to divide up my time into 4 buckets. Work, Family, Friends, and Things for Me. She told me to guess what percentages of time each of these buckets was taking up in my life, and I’m pretty sure I said something that sounded very reasonable and balanced.

    Then we actually divided it up, I was shockingly wrong. Doing this was such a strange experience — I kept trying to put things like YouTube, blogging, social media, and costume-making in the “Things for Me” box, because that’s the way I’ve always viewed them. But my therapist wouldn’t let me. 

    “Those things are work,” she said. “They belong in the work category.”

    “But they not my job anymore,” I argued. “They’re hobbies.”

    “But do they take up energy? Do you feel tired after you do these things? Do they drain you creatively? Do they take up time you could be spending on other things?”

    I felt called out, I felt seen — and not in the good way. “I like doing this stuff. I do this stuff for me,” I tried again, a bit less certain.

    “Do you?” she asked me. “Do you make YouTube videos for you? Do you post on Twitter for you?”

    I paused. Did I? Were all of these hobbies, this incredible amount of time I spent making things, was it because it energized me? Or because I felt some sort of obligation to do it, like most work?

    When did making internet content become akin to eating my proverbial vegetables?

    “Let’s start here,” she told me. “How much time do you spend… taking a bubble bath. Exercising. Watching TV. Coloring. Going for a walk.”

    Let’s just say it was an embarrassingly small percentage of my time. But the knowledge that those things do have their place and should take up a percentage of my time made them vastly easier to do. And knowing that some things I had convinced myself were enriching and necessary were just more work I had convinced myself was ~so important~ was… a wakeup call.

    So that’s why I’m over 2 months past my wedding, but haven’t posted many pictures, haven’t made a big blog post about it, or even sent thank you cards yet. Because those things are all work, and there’s a time and a place for them, but maybe it’s next month. Or not at all. Or maybe tomorrow. 

    Since I got married, here’s what I have done:

    • Went on an amazing honeymoon with Joe to Japan and and Hawaii, and we still dream about it just about every day
    • Went camping twice, once with my family and once with a large group of friends. On the friend camping trip, we played a lot of board games, and by ‘a lot of board games’ I mean I was part of a group of 4 people who played 7 games of SeaFall over 2 days which probably amounted to over 20 waking hours of our trip
    • Found out my org at Microsoft was being dissolved, which catapulted me into a rigorous job search almost immediately upon getting home
    • Took on a massive house clean-out project, which has resulted in most of my weekends being spent moving things and rearranging things and throwing things out
    • Spent a lot of time with my friends. So many of them did so much incredible stuff for Joe and I to make our insane wedding dreams a reality, and now we’re trying our hardest to repay them by being the chillest, most agreeable people we can be

    I’m looking forward to figuring out what my next career step will be, spending even more time on my book, trying to be a yes-girl when it comes to fun things going on with my friends, actually having time to do BookTubeAThon this year, enjoying a few upcoming trips to NY and SF, and of course, there’s this year’s NaNoWriMo. It’s lucky number 13.

    Joe and I on a hike in Hawaii.

    I’m trying my hardest to get ‘back to normal’, even though I really have no idea what that means anymore. It’s been pretty incredible discovering it every single day, with Joe right by my side.

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  8. I’m Not Writing a Blog Post Today

    March 5, 2018 ♥ Posted in: Journal by Kristina Horner

    I’ve had “write a blog post” on my to-do list for a couple weeks now, and I keep pushing it off because I’m just so exhausted.

    “But you should do a life update!” I tell myself earnestly, amidst the messy bedroom I haven’t had time to tidy, the work project I’m completely heads down on, the wedding tasks that are piling up, the seemingly endless stream of appointments and engagements and wedding crafting sessions and, like, that one night I got to see Hamilton. I scream it into the void, “the world would love a life update!” but it echoes off the stacks of dishes I haven’t done, the laundry that sat waiting to be folded for two entire weeks, the twenty new emails I got just since I left work an hour ago.

    (Hamilton was great by the way).

    The truth is, I am barely keeping my head above water.

    I’m not saying this to gain any sort of pity, or prove how much hustle I have by wearing my stress on my sleeve, or anything like that. It’s just true. It’s just why I’m ‘absent’ online. It’s just that I don’t have time to blog. Why it takes me over a week to reply to most emails in my personal inbox. Because I don’t even have time to pick up the pile of various random things on my floor that I’ve stepped over every day for an entire month, let alone find ways to make my life sound interesting and cool in a trendy blog way.

    This is the place I’m at in life right now! I’m busy! That’s the thing I can yell from the rooftops — I’m 2 months away from my wedding! I said yes to owning a project that was maybe a little bit too big for me right now at work but I am super committed to blowing everyone away anyway! I have to work late some days because I want to! And except for how stressful wedding guest lists are, the guilt associated with asking everyone you know to help, I actually like the wedding planning process. I like finding unique ways to express my relationship in party form. I like finding little ways to delight our guests. I like fabric swatches and schedule planning and decorating. I like planning a fantasy honeymoon for the magical ~other side~ of this process.

    I’m doing a LOT right now and I am really over letting myself feel guilty for not ALSO doing things that are arbitrarily self-imposed, like blogging or making videos or any other things I just do because have made a habit of doing so. I’m the boss. And the boss says it’s okay to not do it. The boss says it’s okay to be a girl who’s spending most of her time on her wedding, because she wants to. It’s okay to be a girl who’s putting in extra hours at work. It’s okay to have a messy house because you have other priorities right now and it won’t always be like this.

    I am in charge of a massive project at work that’s a huge stretch from my regular responsibilities — and that’s an awesome opportunity to learn and grow. I’m under 60 days away from my wedding day and insisting on making it special and awesome in a dozen ways that all take a ton of time and planning — but will be so worth it. My friends all seemed to turn 30 in the same year and I believe everyone deserves to celebrate their special days in special ways, and I’m so glad I’ve been there for them. There are bridal showers, and bachelorette parties, and wine-tastings, and hours and hours and hours poured into the process of telling the world, “hey world, I love this person.” But I wouldn’t do those things if I wasn’t so excited to share that love with my friends and family.

    Plus it’s tax season. That part just sucks, but not everything can be sunshine and rainbows.

    My social media accounts are barren. I haven’t made any new cosplays. I’m still writing but only in the cracks of time between everything else, and usually when I find a rare, blissful, beautiful spare moment, it’s all I can do to just fall in bed and watch some TV so I can recharge a little bit. Sometimes I just cry, because it’s all so much.

    But I’m doing awesome stuff.

    And I can blog about it when it’s over.

    Until then, I’m just going to try my best to get 7.5 hours of sleep each night.

    So you know what, to-do list? Screw you. I’m not writing a blog post today. I’ve got enough going on right now without your bulleted-list of judgment.

    *Crosses “write a blog post” off to-do list*

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  9. 2018 Reading Goals

    January 19, 2018 ♥ Posted in: Books by Kristina Horner

    You’ll have to forgive me, because it’s taken me the better part of January to get a handle on my reading goals for the year.

    The reality of 2018 is that the first 4 months are going to be heavily dedicated to my wedding, but then… then I have the entire rest of my life to not be planning a wedding anymore, and thus, to read. Plus a Honeymoon. Which means many, many books on the plane.

    So here are my goals. I tried to give myself a handful of specific and semi-ambitious goals, but most of the rest of them are casual, and even encourage stopping reading books when you’re not enjoying them, or skipping out on a particular challenge altogether.

    Goals 1-5 I wrote myself, and goals 6-15 I borrowed from the 2018 reading goals set by my friend Katrina. Her goals are great, and I highly recommend checking out her full list.

    1. Read at least 3 books that fall into the category of “you should have read this by now” whether it’s a classic or been on your shelf too long
    2. Read at least 3 books about people who are very different from yourself
    3. Read at least 8 actual physical books
    4. Finish reading The Book Thief
    5. Read The Name of the Wind
    6. Read a book that’s over 500 pages
    7. Quit a book before you’ve finished (or at least skim the rest)
    8. Get rid of a book immediately after reading it
    9. Read a book immediately after acquiring it or hearing about it (before it even makes it to the shelf or TBR)
    10. Read a book you think might make you a better person
    11. Read a book of short stories
    12. Read a book with a cover that bothers you
    13. Get rid of a book without reading it
    14. Get at least 2 books behind or ahead of schedule at some point in the year
    15. Decide not to do one of the challenges on this list

    The best place to follow my progress is my Goodreads account, though I will try to remember to come back here and update when I’ve finished a particular challenge.

    I’d love to hear what your reading goals are for the year, or what other things you hope to accomplish in 2018!

    Leave a comment!
  10. Hello, 2018!

    January 1, 2018 ♥ Posted in: Journal by Kristina Horner

    The end of this year really snuck up on me. 2017 was a strange one. It was a terrible year for politics, for shootings, for climate change, for sexual harassment, for generally feeling happy, and for the USA in particular. And while I had some personal wins this past year, it wasn’t actually a particularly standout year for me in terms of accomplishments or life achievements. It was mediocre, in just about every way.

    But in a sense, that feels sort of fitting for the year that put a lid on my twenties. My twenties had some truly incredible moments. But they also had some pretty low lows, and I do feel a bit like that decade of my life had turned into the guest who’s overstayed its welcome. I am more than ready to embrace my thirties. I have learned so much about myself, what I want in life, and who I want to share that life with.

    So for 2018, I welcome more than just a new year filled with hope and possibilities. I welcome the next chapter of my entire life.

    Living my best life on my recent 30th birthday cruise

    Things that happened this year:
    • Attended my first political march/protest and made an effort to follow the news and get involved more than I ever have before.
    • Started a writing prompt project/community called #Wordbound, which has since fizzled, but I’m working on bringing it back in a bigger and better way that should launch in 2018.
    • Have maintained pink hair for the entire year – and learned to go much longer between hair washes! I am comfortably up to 4-5 days, when I used to be a chronic every day washer.
    • Spent a lot of the year planning my wedding, though I have a lot left to do (in 2017 I secured our venue, photographer, videographer, attire, asked a bunch of our best friends to be involved, and much more!)
    • Made 2 large adult purchases with Joe (a new dining room table and a new couch) which felt really good and made me very excited to continue to make life decisions with him.
    • Spent our summer vacations getting to know each others extended families in North Dakota and New York.
    • Did a good amount of traveling on the weekends, including a Disneyland trip with my lady pals, two trips to Vegas (one for Joe’s mom’s birthday and one for our good friend Alexander’s birthday), Boston for NerdCon and San Francisco for the Night of Writing Dangerously.
    • Went to my writing group nearly every week and dedicated a lot more of my time to writing than I ever have before, which included completing my 12th NaNoWriMo and starting a book I am feeling really good about releasing publicly when it’s finished.
    • Read 44 books! I didn’t quite hit my 45 book goal on goodreads (drat) but I feel really good about how much I managed to read this year, especially taking breaks now and then on my commute for podcasts.
    • Played a lot of board games, including finishing Pandemic Legacy Season 1. Also did a lot of escape rooms, and I’m pretty sure we solved every room we attempted in 2017.
    • Continued working at Microsoft, building my career, and saving money. As many of my friends are quitting their day jobs to pursue their own passions and hobbies and online content creation, I’ve found myself clinging to the very kind of life I used to run from. Stability is so, so nice after a decade of hustling on YouTube. I really am enjoying my job.
    • Stopped making YouTube videos, maybe not forever, but at least for now. It’s been sort of a strange year, since I’m not making regular content on any platform really. I made 1 video in the past 6 months, Team Hypercube has been defunct for awhile now, and even my social media has slowed down. I feel personally engaged with my hobbies, but since the bulk of that is writing, most people don’t see it. So I’m quieter these days, but I’m not gone. I want to blog more. I want to take more pictures. But I can’t promise much else.
    • Turned 30 years old on a cruise to Mexico with my favorite friends.

     

    Kayak tour in La Bufadora, Mexico

    Moments after losing “Trivial Pursuit Twister” on the cruise, a game invented by Joe around 1 in the morning

    1920’s speakeasy-themed escape room in Long Beach after the cruise, where we got 10th place in terms of overall time

    Here are my resolutions from last year… and how I did at them:
    • Actually finish your book to an extent where you feel okay sending it to beta readers and then, potentially, agents.
    This… didn’t happen. Not yet, anyway. It’s okay. I’m still working really hard and it just hasn’t been the right time yet.
    • For the love of god, start writing a completely different book. (After you finish this one, Kristina. After.)
    Oh, 2016 Kristina. You knew me so well. I started a new book, beforeI finished that one. Whoops.
    • Plan an awesome wedding you’ll always look back on fondly, but also don’t let it make you crazy.
    This is still in progress, obviously. It’s weird to think about writing this 1 year ago and still not being married yet. 4 months to go, and still trying to combat the crazy as best I can.
    • Cosplay, or not, but only because you want to.
    I definitely dialed back the cosplay this year. The standout costume for the year was our Amazoness Quartet group for SakuraCon, which was a massive cosplay goal of mine. I also cosplayed as the Pink Knight from Castle Crashers, which was another long-term goal ever since acquiring helmets that would make the costume pretty easy to put together. As far as I can remember I only made two new costumes, and re-wore a couple of older ones. I’m a-ok with this.
    • Read at least 40 books. Be mindful of the books you choose to read.
    I’m not sure why my goodreads goal was 45 and my resolution was 40, but that just means I totally succeeded here on my blog. Woo! I also read a lot of books written by women and a fair amount that were #ownvoices, which I plan to continue doing.
    • Continue to de-clutter and minimize possessions/wardrobe. Invest in nicer things, but less of them.
    This was in the back of my mind all year, and I am slowly but surely updating and paring down my wardrobe. Still need to work a bit on decluttering and refraining from buying things just because they’re cute or nice to look at. It’s a work in progress.
    • Exercise. Please. Even just a little bit.

    I did! I promise, I did! This summer I discovered virtual marathons so I did a lot of running (I have 4 medals to prove it!) and I did another 5k at work, which brings me to a total of 5 races participated in. My fitbit helped me make sure I was moving around enough each day, and I went to the gym a little bit. Baby steps, but I definitely got more exercise this year than in previous years of my adult life. Next year will be even better.

    My resolutions for next year:

    1. FINISH A SOLID DRAFT OF ANY BOOK, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY. I’m not going to put an unrealistic or stressful goal in here about agents or shopping the book around, just finish it. Maybe get a beta reader or two. You can do it, Kristina.
    2. Enjoy the remaining 4 months of wedding planning, and remember to keep it about you and Joe to the very best of your ability. By the time you revisit these goals the you will be married and the wedding will be over and that’s pretty powerful to think about right now, so enjoy it enjoy it enjoy it.
    3. Read at least 30 books. This is a very low and unambitious goal, but I want to enable time for myself to listen to podcasts and watch TV and see movies, which are all things I never have enough time for. A big part of this goal, really, is to see more movies in theaters, keep up with more popular TV shows, and discover new podcasts. All of this will be in balance with your reading goals.
    4. Once the wedding is over, work on at least one of your big backlogged project ideas. Maybe that podcast idea? Maybe the other secret idea?
    5. Finish Pandemic Legacy Season 2 and Charterstone within the year. You are only one game in on each of these, but you deserve more leisure time. Have game nights!
    6. Do many more escape rooms! I won’t put a number here, but do them all!

    Thanks for sticking with me, blog readers. I appreciate it so much that there are many of you who will stick around even if I’m not making stuff constantly. I’ll still share things, of course, but your patience as I try out having an actual real normal human life is everything. Happy new year, internet fam.

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