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As a fun little "get to know you" post, I've decided to share 30 totally random fun facts about me!

  1. My snack food of choice is Tostitos Hint of Lime Tortilla Chips. I could definitely eat an entire bag in one sitting.

  2. I can solve a Rubik's Cube. At one point I could do a 2x2, 3x3, 4x4, 5x5, and triangle.

  3. I prefer to drink hot coffee all year long, no matter the temperature outside.

  4. I'm left handed, which still surprises people who I've known for a long time.

  5. I can play the piano and flute. I played flute in either a band or orchestra for 11 years straight.

  6. I attended public school for K-8th grade, then transferred to a private Christian high school.

  7. I have always been a Chicago Cubs fan. Baseball is one of the few sports I actually enjoy watching, and it was SUPER exciting to finally watch them win a World Series in 2016!

  8. October is my favorite month of the year (and it also happens to be the month I was born in).

  9. For our first date, my husband and I took the train to Downtown Chicago and went to the Art Institute. It's still one of our favorite date locations!

  10. I really love the thrill of roller coasters - the bigger the better! I would love to go to Cedar Point someday!

  11. My favorite ice cream flavor is mint chocolate chip.

  12. I had my first son when I was 22 years old. Now I have 2 beautiful little boys that keep me busy!

  13. I've been gluten free for 6 years now.

  14. I prefer watching TV shows to movies, and I will never get tired of rewatching Friends and The Office.

  15. One summer my cousin and I decided to roller blade the length of a marathon. I still love roller blading, but the crazy hills in Colorado make it a little more challenging!

  16. I have to sleep with a comforter and socks, no matter the temperature.

  17. My favorite place I've ever traveled is Italy.

  18. I always buy a postcard from the places I travel. They're such a cheap, small souvenir!

  19. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are my weakness. Pair it with a hot cup of coffee and it's a match made in Heaven.

  20. I'm the oldest of two kids, and I'm definitely a stereotypical type-A firstborn child.

  21. My sister and I were born 23 months apart, and so were my sons! It's funny to me that the age gap is almost exactly the same (only a 4-day difference).

  22. In 2017, I presented a paper I wrote during my undergrad at the National Communication Association's annual convention.

  23. I hate running, but I was on the track team for three years in junior high and high school.

  24. I've worn glasses or contacts since I was 8 years old.

  25. I love colored pens and markers, and I'm sure I have too many (or maybe never enough?)

  26. I've had braces twice - it was miserable at the time, but now I'm grateful to have straight teeth!

  27. I don't really like to drive.

  28. The first time I visited Colorado I was only 6, but even then I knew I wanted to live there someday! We have now lived in Colorado for (almost) 3 years!

  29. I love to hike, and I hope to visit as many National Parks as I can!

  30. I'm a list maker. I have notes everywhere for everything. I find that writing everything down helps "declutter" my mind.

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it, and that it gives you a little more insight into the person behind the artwork and products you see! Do we have anything in common? Let me know!

A recent picture of me with my youngest son, Carter.
A recent picture of me with my youngest son, Carter.



Today is New Year's Eve. 2020 is almost over, and I can't help but reflect on this year that has been so different than I expected. Since I'm sure many of you have similar thoughts and emotions at the end of the year, I wanted to take a moment to share what's been on my mind.


In an effort to organize what I'm thinking, I've broken down this post into 4 main sections: the challenges, the highlights, what I've learned, and moving forward.

 

The Challenges


I'll start with the most obvious challenge that we've all been facing: the Covid-19 pandemic. I want to acknowledge that compared to many others, my difficulties have been minimal. So many people have lost loved ones, lost jobs, struggled financially, and more. However, I still want to share my experiences, because I know there are others who can relate to my story.


To be honest, being pregnant and giving birth during a pandemic was really hard. Looking back, I am so grateful that Carter and I remained healthy throughout my pregnancy and his birth. But in the months leading to his arrival, there were so many unknowns. We didn't know how the virus could affect pregnant women and unborn children. I didn't know what would happen if I tested positive for Covid-19 when Carter was born. Hospital visitor policies were constantly changing, and I wondered if my husband would be allowed to be there for Carter's birth.


I grieved the fact that Pierce wouldn't be allowed to come meet his brother at the hospital. I was so sad that I wouldn't get to "show off" my new baby to all of my friends and family after he was born. I went to every single doctor's appointment alone.


After Carter was born, I found myself alone with two children all day every day. All of my usual social outlets weren't there, and I was learning to care for a toddler and a newborn without any breaks. I'm grateful for my amazing husband, who definitely stepped up and helped out with the boys so much.


As far as challenges that faced my business, this year I faced disappointment that all of my annual in-person craft fairs were cancelled. I was worried that my sales wouldn't be as high as the year before. I genuinely missed getting to connect with customers and other vendors face-to-face.


The Highlights


This year has been challenging in so many ways. But there have also been a lot of good memories too. I want to encourage you to look back over this year and write down the positives.


January

  • Pierce got his new play kitchen, which helped keep him busy every day this year

  • We announced that we were expecting Baby #2

When we announced that we were expecting Baby #2

February

  • I took a trip to Texas to visit my college roommate

  • My husband and I attended a marriage conference over Valentine's Day weekend (our first kid-free weekend since Pierce was born, thanks to a visit from my in-laws!)

  • We found out that Baby #2 was another boy

  • My mom came to Colorado to visit us

March

  • David started working from home, and Pierce and I enjoyed having him around

  • Pierce and I enjoyed going on lots of walks together around our neighborhood

April

  • I went on a baking spree and made some yummy goodies (as well as some epically disastrous macarons)

  • We celebrated David's 25th birthday at home by grilling steaks and making cheesecake

  • Our family got dressed up and celebrated Easter from home. We also put together a little Easter egg hunt for Pierce around our house. The eggs were filled with his favorite snacks (goldfish, yogurt melts, chocolate chips, etc).

May

  • The weather was warm more consistently, and Pierce and I enjoyed many mornings playing with water outside

  • We set up an airplane-themed nursery for our new baby

  • We planted some pretty flowers outside, and I actually managed to keep them alive most of the summer

June

  • David and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary

  • My in-laws drove out to visit for a few days

July

  • Carter was born! He has truly been the biggest blessing to come from 2020

  • I really enjoyed watching Pierce become a big brother. I'm so proud of how well he adjusted to having a little sibling

August

  • We celebrated Pierce's second birthday. My parents and sister were able to come and celebrate with us

September

  • My mother-in-law drove out to visit us and meet Carter

  • We had a couple of fun visits to our local zoo

October

  • We drove back to the midwest to visit both sides of the family and introduce Carter (from a distance!)

  • I turned 25! Woohoo!

  • The boys had a blast dressing up for Halloween

November

  • I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner and my husband and I made our first turkey

  • Living Vertical had record-breaking sales during Black Friday weekend

December

  • We celebrated our first Christmas in Colorado. My parents and sister came to stay with us, and we had a wonderful holiday.


What I've Learned


One of the biggest things I've learned this year is to be content in all circumstances. This year has brought difficulties, yet I've learned to adapt and reframe my expectations. This year is not what I hoped and dreamed it would be. But God has been good and faithful through it all.


I learned that while you don't have to physically be with people to have community, you have to be more intentional. I've now spent more hours on FaceTime than I can even count. My husband and I have "gathered" with our church family via Zoom. Playdates have all been outside so we can be socially distanced. It's not impossible to stay connected to people, but it takes a lot more work.


My family and friends know that I'm very outgoing and love to be out and about. I get stir crazy really quickly. But this year has taught me to appreciate the chance to take things slow. I've learned new ways to pass the time with little kids at home all day. We have a routine that I've come to love, and I've learned how to make home more fun and exciting for all of us.


During 2020, I learned to be more intentional about Living Vertical's online presence. I began posting more consistently on social media and I officially launched my website! Customers continued to shop handmade, and even without attending my usual craft fairs I had a record-breaking year in sales.


Moving Forward


Dear 2021, I sincerely hope that you are a better year than 2020. But whatever this next year holds, I remain confident that God is in control.


Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post! I hope that my words can bring you some encouragement today, and I genuinely want to wish you all a Happy New Year!


- Rachel


I'm super excited to be launching my very own website for Living Vertical! Countless hours of work went into creating this site, and I sincerely thank you for taking the time to check it out! My hope is that this website can be a place to both showcase my artwork/products and share a little more of who I am and why this work is so important to me!


Today, I want to share a little background of how Living Vertical came to be.


I have always loved art and color and creativity. My mom likes to tell the story of finding tiny toddler Rachel in the kitchen arranging all of my hair ties on the arms of the kitchen chairs, sorted by pastels and primary colors. As a kid I was always creating: drawing, coloring, painting, crafting—you name it! All of my school notebooks have pages filled with doodles (and some class notes too, of course!). In middle school, I started experimenting with how many different fonts I could write my name in.


My love of lettering gained serious traction when I took a two-week calligraphy course during my freshman year of high school. I immediately fell in love with the "fancy" writing style. However, as a lefty, I quickly became frustrated with how often I accidentally smudged my ink! As I learned and practiced, I was ultimately drawn more towards hand lettering.


College was the time when I really began to hone my lettering skills. In the midst of the rigorous academics of Wheaton College, I craved a creative outlet. I started to letter Bible verses, quotes, and song lyrics in my free time. I initially used Pinterest for inspiration and ideas for new styles of lettering. Eventually, I began to develop my own unique style. I posted pictures of my designs on social media, and my friends encouraged me to open an Etsy shop to sell my artwork. I had never considered opening an Etsy shop before, but the idea stayed in the back of my mind.


It wasn't until after I graduated from college and got married that I began to pursue this dream more seriously. During an internship that turned into my first job out of school, I was trained in Adobe Illustrator and learned a lot about graphic design. I decided that if I was going to open an Etsy Shop, I would need to be able to easily digitize my artwork. So I took a leap of faith and invested in an iPad Pro and started learning to letter on the app Procreate.


But then I hit a road block. I could not decide on a name for my new shop! I spent what felt like an eternity coming up with (and subsequently rejecting) name ideas. Finally, I was sitting in church on Sunday and my pastor began talking about how we needed to live vertically towards God and Heaven instead of horizontally for the things of this world. I immediately whispered to my husband that I knew what I was going to call my Etsy shop!


In November 2017, I sent some designs to a local print shop and created some greeting cards. It was honestly so thrilling to hold the beautifully printed cards and see my own designs on the front, with my logo on the back. I took a few product photos and quickly listed them on my brand new Etsy Shop.


It's been an interesting journey since I listed those original greeting cards. Only a couple weeks after launching my shop, I found out that I was pregnant with our first son. Two months after that, we moved across the country from Illinois to Colorado. Life changed very quickly, but this business was a comforting constant. I've since invested in my own printer, a Cricut machine, and an upgraded iPad. The products I've offered have shifted a lot since I began as well.


There have seasons where business is great, and I've been super motivated and excited. There have been dry spells when it felt like I would never get another sale again, which was really discouraging. But the Lord has been so good and gracious to this little business! As a busy mother of two boys, I could easily lose my own identity in caring for them all day every day. Living Vertical gives me the creative outlet I need, similar to when I first started my lettering journey during college.


I'm so grateful to God for the ways this business has grown, in ways that I could have never imagined. I legitimately do a happy dance (and then tell my husband) whenever I get a new sale! I have big dreams for where this could go in the future, and I hope you'll stick around and join me on this journey.


 

Here are some of my earliest hand lettered designs. It's fun to see how far I've come since I first started!