Monthly Archives: February 2014

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February 28, 2014

craftinglifeyoulove copy
//credit: original photo by Cheetah Is The New Black //

We’re excited to announce that we now have a NEWSLETTER. Don’t worry, we’re not into those spammy daily newsletters either. If I could only click delete faster… why do marketers think that works? (grr.)

Instead, we’re just aiming to put together some fun and educational content on what we’re interested in — crafting a life you love inspired by travel and design. And we’ll only be sending out updates once a month or so.

So what d’ya think? Care to join in on the fun? I’m already dreamin’ up the possibilities, so I really hope you say ‘heck yeah, Kristin’. Signing up is easy. Just enter your first name and your email on the sidebar to the right, and voila, you’re in the Call Home Dear world.

**And just as a resource for all you other bloggers out there, we’re using MailChimp. It’s free for your first 2,000 subscribers. If you have WordPress, check out the free plugin  MailChimp for WordPress to create a signup box in your sidebar.

How I landed my first job in Ireland

February 26, 2014

My grandmother still remembers that when many people told me that I would fail if I moved abroad without a job, I was resolute in my decision. “Don’t worry, Nana, I’ll find a job,” she recalls me saying.

Perhaps it was part stubborness, part ambition, but I knew that even if everyone was right, I had to try. Otherwise, I would always regret not trying to turn my dream of living in Europe into a reality.

I didn’t just fling myself across the sea, though, without a strategy, and that’s what I’m going to share with you lovely, dreamy readers today.


It being my first job, I didn’t set my eye on working anywhere in particular. I had just graduated with two degrees in English and Journalism with a focus in Visual Communication, and I knew that I wanted to work somewhere in either graphic design/publication. I found a list of graphic design businesses online and dropped everyone (no joke) who was on that list a “cold-call” email. 95% percent didn’t bother to respond, but the 5% that did offered me some recommendations on other resources to check out. One recommendation to peruse (an amazing job board for creatives of all types) proved pivotal, and that’s what led me to landing an interview and eventually a job at one of the largest newspapers in Ireland, The Irish Independent, as a graphic artist and copy editor.


Before I even started applying to jobs, I made sure that I projected a professional aura from across the Atlantic. I created a portfolio website, made a pdf of my top design work and I made sure my resume was in top form (with no spelling mistakes).

I’d also recommend to have a professional blog around the work that you’re passionate about. If you don’t have any work to showcase as of yet, try volunteering or nabbing some paid freelance work to be give yourself some amazing pieces to highlight on your portfolio website.

Make sure your website looks great, though, especially if you’re in a creative field. Luckily, today it’s not that hard or expensive to have a lovely site, maybe with a nice minimalist design to keep it professional.

I recommend checking out SquareSpace and Tumblr for some premium themes that won’t break your bank account. And if you can’t afford spending even $25, try to go for a very simple free template that you can customize along the way.

One more tip is to set up a Skype number that would be a local call for potential employers in the country you’re trying to find work in. If you make hiring you easy, you’ll have a better chance of actually getting hired.


It’s best to start the job-seeking process at least two months before you want to move. The fact is that it just takes a looong time to scan for jobs, actually apply, hear back (cross your fingers) and set up some interviews. You also need to have a back-up plan in case things just don’t work out in the preferred timely manner. When I started seriously applying, I also looked for jobs that I already had experience in. In my case, I set up a nannying position for two months down the line so that I could still live in Ireland, make money and continue the job hunt.


Visas are tough, and the information available online is often confusing and written in a very lawyer-y way. Eck. I did my research, though, and found out that American citizens can work in Ireland with a 1-year working visa so long as you’re within 12 months of having graduated college. I got my working visa through USIT. (Another option, if you’re beyond that period of your life, is to enroll in a graduate program. Students are also eligible to work in Ireland.)

Through applying for a visa myself and doing all the paper legwork, I made the decision to hire me even easier for my employer.


I do believe that if you really want something, you can make it happen. Sure, it may require you developing OCD on the job front (apply! apply! apply!) and scouring job boards everyday, but the Internet makes it easier than ever to find a work opportunity abroad. The key is just to go the extra mile in distinguishing yourself from other applicants. Always write a thank you note, no matter what the response. Develop cover letters that you can customize with just one or two lines to apply to jobs efficiently and quickly. Do research on what organizations and societies exist in the country to see how you can get involved to start developing a network. Also, be open to working in different cities. When I was applying to jobs in Ireland, I was looking at every city in the country as an option. The one thing you don’t want to do is eliminate any possibilities because at the end of the day, you want to be the one with multiple options to peruse.

I hope this helps anyone searching for jobs out there. Looking back, moving to Ireland jump-started my career, and I also happened to meet my somebody special. When I finally ended up moving back to the United States, I was able to land a job at The Chicago Tribune because they thought I had “moxy” (as they say) for being able to get my foot in the door overseas.

If you have any more questions on how to take action, please ask below. Do you have any advice for creatives looking to go abroad or a story of how you got your first job? I’d love to hear any thoughts you might have.

The lost art of star-gazing

February 25, 2014

Got this song by Chris Martin in your head yet? Ha, my apologies… I clearly did when I was creating this illustration. So last month in Hong Kong, we found ourselves in a village on Lantau Island called Tai O. It’s referred to as the Venice of Hong Kong (in a very shantytown way) and is worth a visit if you’re ever in the neighborhood.
The sun had set, and all of the tourists were vanishing, but my friends and I decided to stick around and walk the docks to get a sense of what it’s like to live there when everyone else goes home. Like Venice, there’s a feel of decay to the place, like it could crumble into the sea at any moment. It’s a poor man’s Venice, for sure, but you can’t help but admire the beauty of living on stilts over the water. Even if they are just shacks, many of which don’t even have electricity.
It was this lack of electricity that made us look up and realize the stars were gleaming back at us. My friend suddenly whipped out her smartphone and was waving it above her head. As I was confused, she explained to me that she was pinpointing what stars and planets were in the sky with a star-gazing app using GPS. Is that not brilliant or what?! Maybe I’m the only person in the world who hadn’t heard that such a thing existed, but I loved it too much not to share.
It’s hard to remember how much importance was once placed on the stars and that our ancestors used to stare up at them and wonder every night. About who they were.  Where they were. What was the meaning of life. I mean, it would have taken me awhile, too, to figure out we were all just floating on a ball in a black void of unimaginable distance. It’s kindof a crazy story.

Here’s some starry inspiration:

  • The app to download that we used is called “The Night Sky” and is available for Androids and iPhones.
  • Here’s a fun card to let somebody special know you are thinking of them. (printable!)
  • Desktop background of you know, camping out under the Northern Lights. (sounds cold … and amazing.)
  • Antique star maps to hang on your wall.
  • A lovely print of a quote I love — “I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”