Thursday, January 10, 2013

Meeting Young House Love, or the time I managed not to totally humiliate myself multiple times

Signing the 'new' yearbook

I'm going to admit something: just like pretty much any other female (I'm stereotyping) blogger and/or DIY enthusiast out there, I am head over heels obsessed with John and Sherry Petersik of Young House Love.

Call me a crazy fan girl, but for the past few years I have read their blog on a daily basis. More recently, as I was on bed rest due to a very painful wisdom teeth extraction, I endeavored to read their entire blog from start to finish. Safe to say, I admire them greatly, and the task was accomplished in record time thanks to their affable and eclectic writing style

So when they wrote a book, and announced a book tour, I may or may not have squealed out loud upon discovering they had a stop scheduled for Miami. Finally living in this city pays off!

Ok so Miami is also pretty, but that's all I'm giving the city

I was never one for huge celebrity crushes. Sure growing up I had the occasional boy band crush  (*Nsync over Backstreet Boys ANY day of the week!); plus being a female Gator I've been planning my wedding to Tim Tebow for the past few years. However, all in all I've never been one for getting giddy over meeting celebrities. Even when I met Lebron James last month during the official Heat visit to work, it was exciting... but not life altering.

Ok this is not completely truth that I am sharing. During my senior year of college a few of the stars of the tv show Greek came to UF to do a 'Rock the Vote' appearance. Given my obsessive love for Cappie I may or may not have shown up two hours early in order to snag a front of the line spot. But aside from that one... small.... lapse, I'm not a gawker.

Insert the YHL visit to Miami.

Another confession: I have a genuine phobia of driving/parking in Miami. So for me to tell you that I was planning on going by myself to this book signing should say something about my fan loyalty (or obsession, I'm just keeping it real here folks). I made sure that I had the day off from work, and began making plans for the evening. Luckily last night I conveniently discovered two of my other friends were closet YHL fans, and also planning on attending. Score! Now I wouldn't have to be the awkward girl sitting in line by herself grinning wildly, even a bit manically, as she waited for her turn at the table.

Books and Books
Enter today, as I quickly packed up my gifts for Clara (a stuffed giraffe and a stuffed dog that I had decorated whilst working with a patient), made sure my hair/clothing looked somewhat presentable (not an easy task when you have curly hair in Miami humidity) and drove over to my friend's house so we could carpool to the event. ( p.s. can we just stop and recognize that I appropriately used the word 'whilst' in a sentence? I always wanted to do that! My english professors would be proud.  ) Upon arriving we were admittedly relieved to NOT see a large line of people (having read the horror stories of 7 hours waits in freezing rain at other stops), and were able to get decent seats in the second row.

20 minutes or so before the event, filling up but not insanely crazy, yay!

We started casual conversation with people around us, the atmosphere very chill in the room, until out of the corner of my eye I saw a head pop around the corner. Sure enough it was Sherry taking a picture of the group (John popped his head in too), and suddenly the air changed in the room. Everyone became giddy and I felt less geeky and awkward upon recognizing that I was NOT the only person hurriedly grabbing my phone to see if Sherry had instagramed the photo yet.

Waiting to see the Petersiks!
Killing time by checking out the book.

At this point we were about 10 minutes out from the beginning of their chat, and I decided it would be a good idea to run to the bathroom. After navigating my way around a maze of books, children's toys and a very odd puppet... or manequin... or creepy passed out person, I found the bathroom.

Insert first: "Omg is this really happening" moment of the evening. As I was leaving my stall I saw someone walk past me very quickly wearing a black blazer. Immediately my heart stopped. No way! I bet it's Sherry. Sure enough as I went over to the sink, there she was. My first thought was: Wow, she really is short in person, quickly followed by, OMG IT'S SHERRY! I'm washing hands with Sherry Petersik. I took a few breaths trying to keep myself from totally geeking out. On the outside I was all chill, washing my hands, acting like it was no big deal. I took the soap from her smiled, and said "Hi!". She paused for a second and said "Hi!" back. And although internally my dialogue was a bit closer to "OMG ITS YOU! I love you so much, and your blog, and your baby, and seriously Im so excited to meet you even if it's in a bathroom.." on the outside I kept it chill and said nothing else because well... it was a bathroom, and the last thing I wanted was to be the creepy fan who freaked out my favorite blogger in a bathroom. Although that would certainly be ONE way to get remembered (and possibly mentioned on the blog).

Side note: Later, when I admitted to feeling awkward and not wanting to freak her out, Sherry told me that she was also a bit conflicted about what to say, not knowing if I had any idea who she was. "I had no idea if I knew you, or if you knew who I was, but you were so friendly! And I didn't want to be that person who randomly went up to someone in a bathroom and said 'HI! I'm Sherry!' just to have you go 'Um... ok, I have no idea who you are, get away from me crazy person,' " If that doesn't prove we are awkward soul mates, then there is no hope for me in this quest.

As I walked back in I quickly relayed what had happened to everyone around me (and they were all appropriately jealous of my communal hand washing story, which once again assured me I was not the only crazy person in the joint), and we settled in to watch the talk. After a brief introduction from the staff, Sherry and John came out and chatted about the five things that made writing the book different from writing a blog.
Q and A session

I won't share all the details to save the surprise for anyone who might still get to see them speak, but in general here are a few things I garnered from the Q and A session, presented in true Petersik bulleted list formatting:

1. Sherry has a magical power that causes Mics to make really odd popping noises at inopportune times
2. The Petersiks have been conducting research on taking showers in every city they've visited (they were quick to clarify this meant looking at tile configurations, types of shower heads, etc. But given this photo they posted upon arriving to Miami, I'll let you be the judge!).
3. Sherry wants the world to know that she now owns TWO bras.
4. They go stir crazy being in their house sometimes, and make sure to plan excursions to keep their sanity
5. Sherry hates grammar. Just kidding, she said sometimes she would purposefully turn down edits from their publisher because she doesn't actually use words like whom and whilst while talking (Yeah... only crazy people do that, oh wait).
6. They don't get much opportunity to explore the cities they visit for this tour, so they don't really get a chance to be 'inspired' by the design aesthetic. That being said, they did say that Miami has been one of the first places that really stuck out to them and made them feel like they had come to a totally different place (to which the entire room responded simultaneously "That's because you did!")
7. Along with that, Sherry's hair (and bangs) do not like the Miami humidity (welcome to my world)
8. They work very hard to keep reader interest and be genuine, while still maintaining their privacy, stating "We say it's like our blog is our house, but we're only letting you look in one window, so you get a good picture, but there's a lot of things in other rooms that you don't see, that belong just to us."
9. They foresee themselves writing the blog for a good long while. Sherry admitted that the formatting, content, and frequency may change in the coming years as life takes them along different roads, but she thinks they will easily be celebrating their 10 year blogiversary.  John said he actually thinks blogging will  go 'out of style' before they are ready to quit, and part of the reason they are undertaking these other ventures (the book and their new lighting line) is just in case blogging does stop being a viable option. (To this end all of the audience members present assured the Petersiks that should blogging go out of style, we will still be avid readers).
10. Sherry is addicted to Pinterest and John is a tech geek. But we already knew that. I just wanted an even 10 :)

All in all it was a GREAT talk, and they were quickly ushered to the other side of the store to start the signing. My group decided this would be a great time to go grab a glass of wine instead of rushing ahead because, as one person stated "If we are at the back of the line we'll probably get more time to chat with them anyway". Consensus quickly reached, we went to the courtyard and ordered our wine, before casually meandering to the assembled group.

The line... in case you couldn't tell, or don't know what a line is- no judging!

I will say I feel blessed that our experience was so much more 'chill' than many other of the cities they've visited. Not to say I WOULDN'T have waited for hours if need be, but all in all the lack of stress made the experience so much more enjoyable. Our wait wasn't very long despite our delay in joining the line, maybe 30-45 minutes? We also quickly made friends with one other lone woman who came in late. Turns out we had many mutual friends in common, what are the odds?

The 'Cool Kids' at the back of the line

Finally we approached the table and everyone (Petersiks included) was excited we had reached the completion of the line. I will tell you, aside from my semi-awkward internal freak out upon stumbling across Sherry earlier, the Petersiks made it so easy to be natural and friendly with them. As one friend put it later "I felt like I was just catching up with old friends!"

Meeting the Petersiks (taken for us by the nice staff at Books and Books)

We did the official "Hi my name is_____. Here's my book to sign, let's pose for a picture" thing. I gave them my gift for Clara (which they were appropriately excited about, kudos Sherry and John). Another friend gave them a Miami Spice cookbook (since they had lamented not being able to experience real Miami cuisine). The highlight was easily all the inside jokes that quickly sprung during the ensuing 15 minutes or so we spent with them. It started with Sherry quickly exclaiming to one of our group members as we approached the table  "I feel like I know you from somewhere... have we met before?" It was quickly established, no, this was a first meeting, but Sherry insisted "Ok well we've met your twin... or at least your hand twin! Maybe it's that we know someone who has the same hands as you".

The end of the line group!!! (Horrible lighting, although according to Sherry that's the great thing about blogging, you can just post a bad picture and say "sorry for the lighting" and be done with it)

It wasn't until we were posing for our picture that Sherry exclaimed "Sue H----, you look just like Sue H---, John's ex-boss".  John then proceeded to pull up a picture of said woman for us to see, and sure enough the resemblance was there!

John, Sherry, and 'Sue H"

Let me tell you, there are certain benefits to being the end of the line, because instead of getting rushed away so the next people could approach the table, we were able to stick around and bother chat with the Petersiks more as they finished their duties (aka signing copies for the store to have on hand, gathering their belongings, signing their page of the store's 'guest book' etc).

Signing the official guestbook (although they weren't allowed to sign the table because they aren't famous enough yet..)

More discussion about the humidity and weather (I can personally attest that YES Sherry's bangs are real, though they were pinned up for the night), shocked expressions when they realized how old everyone in the group was (we all look incredibly young for our respective ages, some definitely more than others), being told by staff that they weren't famous enough yet to sign the 'table' that they have reserved for presidents, and true VIP guests (we all had a good laugh about that one), and explanations about how to pronounce the Cuban breakfast we were recommending for the following morning.

Hanging with the Petersiks, cuz you know we're cool and all...
Signing copies for the store to keep, we didn't distract them TOO badly!

Alltogether I have to tell you, the night was amazing. So often we build these experiences up in our minds, only to be let down at the end, because nothing is ever as great as you expect. Particularly when you are dealing with 'celebrities', the hype is rarely indicative of reality. Not so tonight; if anything it was truly better than I could have ever imagined. I have seen many other bloggers say it before, and I will repeat: the thing that strikes you most about the Petersiks is how 'real' they are. As readers we all feel as if we know them personally, because well... we DO know a lot about their personal lives. However, what makes this couple different is that they treat their fans with the same admiration and respect. They were incredibly appreciative of all the people who had come out, all the gifts they had received. At no point did they exude an air of arrogance or entitlement. They are truly two normal human beings, just like you and me, the only difference is that millions of people know who they are and follow their lives.

Our first besties photo ;)

My respect for Sherry and John has only grown after tonight (along with my secret desire to be their BFF), and I can promise you I will continue to read their blog as long as they choose to write it. Thanks guys!


  1. What was the gift you got for Clara?

    1. I gave them a stuffed giraffe that looks like a minature version of Gee, and then a small stuffed dog, originally white, that I had used fabric markers to design a la Britto style. (Comparable to these: I can't believe I forgot to take a picture of the final product, but I was pleased with how it came out. I do a lot of bedside crafts with patients in my job and thus end up with a lot of 'projects' for which I have no purpose; I was glad to have a good home for this one :).


Thanks for taking this journey with me! I always love to hear your thoughts and promise to respond whenever possible.