Thursday, April 18, 2013

Go and Knock on Their Door.

Though know that if you do knock on the door, you may or may not get an answer depending on if Mum's still in her pajamas. We have a rule that you can start the day and be productive and still be in your jams. And then, you'll be bombarded with cats and a great dane. This is all, still, if you can find the house first. It's really not an interesting challenge, but the house is a beacon.

I've seen house portraits around for a while, through Etsy, Pinterest, and even featured on a few blogs. Sidenote: my sister and I are working on launching an Etsy shop soon! We're very open to recommendations on stuff you'd like to see in there. I'm full of asides today. So I've seen house portraits. They've been in my back pocket for gift ideas. While watching TV in England one day, there was an advertisement for personalized gifts by Not on the High Street that showcased some house portraits. Mum was busy cross-stitching, but perked up and commented that she liked them. Green light. Have I told you how difficult she is to shop for? I may have mentioned it, and she is getting better, but there have been Christmas and birthday holidays when we've toiled over a present and her reaction would be, "Oh." It was devastating. Since then, we've stepped up our game and our goal is to make her cry. It sounds heartless, but it's just the opposite. Unfortunately, I don't know how we're going to outdo her 50th birthday.

A couple weekends ago was Mum and Dad's 29th wedding anniversary. !!!! Veronica, Stephanie, and I are so lucky to have them as parents, supporters, and friends, and we try to get something personal for them to reflect our gratitude each year. It was extra special because they were together this year. So we started where it all began: our house.

My parents moved in just before I was born. It was rough for both of them. I was a difficult little fetus, requiring bedrest out of Mum in a town where she knew no one. Subsequently, and not surprisingly, Mum hated it. Dad's never been crazy about not living in Michigan and with all of his brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We really have our next door neighbors to thank. If they weren't there, I don't think we would have grown up in Pittsburgh. And I loved growing up in Pittsburgh. It's fitting that you can see their house next to ours. Their family and home are as much a part of our family and home.

The process was simple, though a bit pricey. We searched through Etsy for a bit to see what our options were, but I really liked the concept over at Not on the High Street, so we went with that. On Etsy, I was finding a lot of people that would sketch our house from a picture. Their prints were awesome, but not many offered color. I was also finding a lot of places that would take your picture, drop it into a program, and make it look sketchy or amp up the color or add some other effect. That seemed like something I could do with the Picasa effects. Not on the High Street took your picture, drew a sketch from that, then layered in colors. Their sketches are incredibly detailed, so your house is still your house, and not an abstract rendition. I liked it.

When we actually got the print, it was neat to see that the color layered in had a bit of texture to it. Do you see that subtle pattern in the sky? That same pattern covers the bushes and tree, and there's a different layer for the grass. Don't mind my amateur blur job on the note we had printed in the corner.

The company really worked with me, too. Per usual, my sisters and I were late to the game in thinking up a present. That meant that we didn't have a house portrait with the garden in full bloom, ready to send. My sister took a picture while everything was in its winter best (read: brown), which was less than house-sketch worthy. We talked with the artist and described what it usually looks like in the other nine months of the year, and they layered that in. They took this picture -

and imagined the garden. Isn't that impressive? We really didn't give them much. Color me impressed. Har har har. The only flaw was a small chip in the frame. We didn't notice it until later though, and it wasn't worth our efforts to refund. That, and we could have totally avoided it because the framing was optional.

I hate to leave it on that note. The picture is what's worth the price, the personalization, and the almost-tears we had out of Mum. Our house, in the middle of the street. But really, why would your hours be in the middle of the street?

Note: I wasn't paid for this post - just happy with the product!  

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