love is life

ampersand.epsWe’re on the verge of starting a new month (March already?!). I’m only a little bit frazzled. It’s amazing the amount of pressure I put on myself to get things done. Meanwhile I miss people’s birthdays and don’t call my Mom nearly enough. I often wonder how people with children (i.e. more responsibilities than me) ever get anything done. February wasn’t a total wash. At least I filed my taxes,  paid bills and gave the dog a bath.

Here in North Florida we’ve had 5 days in a row of cold and gray weather…and you can tell it’s starting to affect people’s moods. Only five days without the sun and Floridians begin to lose their will to live. The sun and agreeable weather is why most of us live here, after all. It’s nice living in the land of eternal summer. Most of us don’t even have a cold weather wardrobe to speak of. I’ve got a leather jacket that looks like I bought it yesterday…it’s 12 years old.

The sun will come out…not tomorrow though…it’s going to rain tomorrow…

loveislife

And well it should. We lost Leonard Nimoy yesterday. I’m okay with a couple more gray days.

You and I have Learned

You and I
have learned
The song of love,

and we sing it well

The song is ageless
Passed on

Heart to heart
By those
Who have seen
What we see
And known
What we know
And lovers who have
Sung before
Our love is ours
To have
And
To share

The miracle is this
The more we share…
The more
We have

-LeonardNimoyPoetry.com

love is life

ugly babies

I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.  –LLOYD DOBLER, Say Anything

I recently watched the movie  Say Anything, in which John Cusak is impossibly young and whatever happened to Ione Skye? It’s okay, I googled and she seems to be doing just fine. Hoo.Ray.

Over the weekend I rebooted my Whole30, which was derailed by that flu/bronchitis thing I had for a month. It’s day 2 and I am nauseous, tired and headachey. Which means I’m right on schedule!

mackenzieisfourThere’s not been much (web development) learnin’ going on the last week or so, I’ve been working on some freelance jobs and spending quality time with my dog who turned four years old on Friday.  He seemed a bit disgruntled this morning when I got up for work, refusing to leave his crate, then refusing to eat breakfast. I felt guilty leaving him. Yes, I’m very attached to my animals.  We talk constantly. I tell them jokes, ask them questions, use them for pillows to hide my eyes during scary movies. Mac hates dancing so don’t even try dancing with him. Misha loves it though (gawd, I’m lonely). My elderly cat has taken over the office (parked it on the storage ottoman under the heat vent) and even made a play for the sunny corner of the bed on Sunday (little rebel). He’s been acting strangely for a while now and I’m guessing he is in the early stages of feline dementia. Poor old thing.

kitty

In other news…Pinterest killed my Etsy shop. Not really. But, kinda. If you want printables…FREE printables, Pinterest is probably the best tool to search for decent quality free printables. I SELL printables and some of the stuff I see for FREE (by way of Pinterest) is comparable, if not BETTER than what I offer. So, for now, the shop is just on vacation. I love Pinterest, so I can’t feel too bitter about this. And, I can’t blame the slow business entirely on Pinterest. Etsy has changed. I’m not sure how any shop gets noticed anymore – unless it’s just through relentless self-promotion, which I don’t take part in.  I also admit I have not dedicated enough time to creating new work for the shop since my day job took a left turn in August. My current workload leaves me feeling drained and uncreative.

Oh, and there’s something I’ve been wanting to post about for a while now and I figure I should just come out and say it: There is a lot of TERRIBLE design mucking up the internet. And, not JUST the internet. It’s something I see in my day-to-day as well, in printed materials. I believe DIY design can be fantastic, but poor design contributes to the propagation of poor design: People see crap print collateral and poorly executed web design on a consistent basis, it’s everywhere. Then they get a computer and they need a sign, or a business card, brochure or a website and they try to make it look “right”. Of course they have no idea what “right” is. **Familiar** is not the same as **right**. I’m tired just typing about it.

Is poor design running rampant throughout print and web too large a problem for me to solve? Yes, probably. I have a friend who acts like every critique I offer (example: a decal on the back of a truck with no less than 6 different typefaces used) is the equivalent of calling someone’s baby ugly.

Really? But what do I know, I’m not a landscaper.

Maybe I should start offering critique/constructive criticism as a service? Writers need editors, so  why wouldn’t designers need honest and objective feedback? Would that even be feasible given the overgrown egos insecure designers tend to develop? What I’m describing sounds like art direction, huh?  How about DESIGN COACH? I’ll have to think on this one a bit. Apparently,  I’ve got to reposition myself and “leverage the internet”…you’ll be hearing that phrase a lot this year…I’ve heard it three times in the last week and while I agree with the concept…it’s got a hint of boilerplate term-ism to it, yeah?

I’ve been observing trends in blogs and websites for a while and it seems the “best” way to be “successful” is to offer services to people (the masses) who want the secret to being successful. Let that twirl around in your head for a while. Content, knowledge, checklists, step-by-steps, worksheets, inspirational lingo, do what you love…it all appeals so much to the DIY-er turned entrepreneur. Nobody wants to work for a company and remain faceless anymore. They want their own show, damn it.

I love hearing success stories from indie business; *regular people* that make their own way and create a thriving business. I love it as much as the next person, but as an observer I can’t help but notice that, that lovely Stylist/Blogger/DIY-er/Jewelry designer that made a ton of money last year by teaching “how to be a successful Stylist/Creative Professional/Crafter/Inventor…” she’s not making her living being a Stylist, she’s selling you back your own dreams…and smiling all the way to the bank.

Learning how to be savvy, market yourself (your business), connect to your audience, your people, and create a business platform that’s scalable (i.e. that Pinterest cannot MURDER). ALL GOOD THINGS TO LEARN. I just think there’s a wee bit of an issue of transparency with all the “coaches” flooding the internet and our inboxes.

And, yet, I remain optimistic…and so should we all.

image credits: © Aimee McEwen, if shared please link back to this post.
ugly babies

please and thank you

I’ve spent weeks feeling under the weather. Feeling MUCH better now even though I’ve missed so much…stuff. I haven’t really missed much though, have I? It just feels that way. This tiny corner of the internet is visited by a terribly small number of people and I can’t say that bothers me very much. I’m not great with “attention”,  having a readership would increase feelings of obligation, and obligation makes me itchy. Still, I am happy to be posting here and catching all ten of you up on my happenings. Let’s see.

I read a book!
YES PLEASE by Amy Poehler
. It was funny and honest. And since I liked it so much I decided I would read one book each month for the rest of the year. A real-life book…no ebooks or kindle downloads. I covet books, which is HILARIOUS…since I’m not much of a reader.  Of course, I am open to suggestions if anyone has a book they loved…let me know. For me, shopping aimlessly in a bookstore is completely overwhelming. THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE. It’s a bit nerve wracking so I usually choose a book…go to store…buy book…run back to my car.

newMAKEUPI switched my makeup!
It feels silly to add an exclamation point there and even sillier that I’m talking about makeup but it’s NEWS so, yeah, I decided to try airbrush (luminess) and I cannot lie to you. IT’S FREAKING AMAZING. I have scars, blotchiness and acne. The airbrush covers very well, lasts all day and the application is much more natural looking than traditional liquid foundation application. I’ve always had “bad skin” and my self esteem has suffered because of it. If this is something you also struggle with, I think you should give airbrush makeup a try.

I paid off a credit card!
This is a funny one, because I went a very long time without credit cards after my divorce and once I felt okay enough to get a credit card…I kinda went a leetle credit happy.  Just happy, not crazy…so I dialed down the happy and started to rein in my spendiness last year. After my beagle needed surgery, I realized that I have to be more frugal…in case of emergencies like dog surgery or car repair or gelato.  One card down…just a “few” more to go.

I’m learning web development!
I’m not a web designer…I dabble with WordPress (if 5 years can be considered dabbling) but it’s always been a lazy learning curve for me. I design for print and create files for websites and email marketing but I’ve never gotten into the nuts and bolts of website building.  It occurred to me a few weeks ago that I’m just not happy in my work if I’m not learning something and it’s about time to stretch my thinking apparatus and grow my knowledge.

I created a new website!
[This post has a cringe worthy amount of sentences that start with “I” and for that, I apologize. This post is one of those spontaneous get these words out of my brain so that I can focus on my work and get shit done posts and if I can just get through these few things I feel like I can begin the real work on the real stuff I WANT to be doing.] okay…where was I?

AAACK! I created a website  (step one of my learn cool stuff initiative)
When I have organized my thoughts into a more reader friendly format I will share more about the new place/space. While I was sick and fighting off bronchitis I struggled with a lot of negative self talk and discouraging thoughts like: WHY ARE YOU CREATING ANOTHER SITE? WHO IS EVEN GOING TO READ IT OR EVEN CARE ABOUT IT? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, ANYWAY? EVERYBODY HAS A BLOG AND YOU ARE NOT SPECIAL…etcetera, etcetera.

Point is, that crap is not going to stop me from creating something I love and sharing it with people.  My 2015 is about saying yes, being open, starting something! I’ll leave this list where it’s at for now. It was a busy day and my brain feels a bit wobbly. Just know that I am feeling better, I am doing better, feeling positive about future projects, and looking forward to sharing those projects with eleven, maybe twelve, of you. Thanks for reading about it.

image credits: Aimee McEwen
please and thank you

well, well, well

FullSizeRender_3bSince the start of December I’ve gone to great lengths to avoid the flu or catching a cold or any other insidious virus. Anti-bacterial gel, over-washing hands, behaving ever more hermity than usual, doubling up on vitamin C and fresh veggies… even ate a steak of two. And for what?  Last week I came down with something terrible anyway. It’s hopefully reaching it’s peak level of annoyance right about NOW. I can’t sleep because the cough I’ve developed over the last 5 days is unrelenting. I’m delirious and have had to trade precious paid vacation days for two consecutive sick days (which is majorly out of the norm for me). My animals are also exhausted, since they get no rest while I’m hacking and gasping for air every 45 minutes or so. My brain has been in a hazy cough medicine stupor for about 4 days.

Join the club, right? Seems like everyone has this virus, or is getting over it still. I hope there’s enough chicken soup to go around.

The longer I don’t post on the blog the more stifled I feel. The more stifled I feel the less I want to post on the blog. The frustration of being sick and needing to **just rest** –while the house is taken over by my cats’ reenactment of Lord of the Flies, and piles of laundry loom in the background– is almost too much for me. And, dare I say it… I’m  running dangerously low on pajamas.

I am very thankful for family and friends that bring me popsicles and send “get well”, “hang in there” and “vitals checks” texts. So it’s not all bad and, like I said, I’m probably halfway through the worst of it.

If you are also sick right now hang in there and I hope you are feeling better very soon!

well, well, well

Dear December

dearDecember
Am I the only one that feels an almost overwhelming sense that good things will come to us in 2015? Yes, positive vibes tend to crescendo around this time of year, I know, but something feels different to me and I cannot quite put my finger on it. It’s strange to say that I’m feeling optimistic when many of the things we’ve been through (as a society) in 2014 have been so emotionally charged; inflammatory.

That is exactly what I’ve been noticing though. People are making plans, feeling excited for their future… there’s a sense that positive momentum is building… abstractly speaking.

Maybe it’s just my **manic squirrel sense** kicking in. Either way, it’s a good thing!

New Year’s resolutions aren’t really my forté. Instead of setting strict goals for myself (LOSE 20 POUNDS!!!…no thank you), I prefer to choose a theme for my year.  Choosing a word or phrase that I can use daily keeps me in the proper frame of mind. This year my “theme” is Start Something. So, if you come by the blog periodically you might see that phrase pop up frequently in 2015. Fair warning!

Start Something might sound a little antagonistic to some… but really, in my mind, it is about saying YES to new things, finding new solutions to old problems and being more open. Simple as that. I also decided to begin another Whole30 in January that may turn into a Whole90. I want to ensure my own wellness right off the bat in 2015 and feeling well is the best way to keep up this positive momentum “thing” I’ve been sensing in this last month of 2014, of that I’m sure.

Merry Christmas, love, and THE BEST NEW YEAR!

XO-

sig

image credit:  DTSF
Dear December

breaking bread

ApricotSwirlBreadI conducted an experiment last weekend where I followed this recipe for Cranberry Swirl Bread, traded out the cranberries for apricot preserves, and used gluten-free flour instead of regular ol’ all-purpose flour.

IT. WAS. A. COMPLETE. DISASTER.

I started over with regular flour (because failure is not an option and I was making BREAD, damnit!). My co-workers taste-tested my creation Monday morning and gave it a thumbs up. It’s a sweet bread, almost like a coffee cake/bread hybrid. I went easy on the apricot preserves since I was not sure how much would be too much.

I also used a 8″ round pan instead of a loaf pan. The braided dough and fruit is a bit messy to maneuver and I my thought was it would be easier to transfer to a round pan than to try cramming it into a loaf pan. I sprinkled powdered sugar over the bread after I took it out of the oven and cut it in wedges. It was very pretty straight out of the oven which is probably the only reason I felt compelled to have a piece. Completely hated myself later, though. My system was not tolerating it well an hour or so afterward.

I’ve concluded there is no such thing as gluten-free bread. Honestly, even when I’ve bought it at Whole Foods it was pretty terrible. You can’t really even call it bread. I also made some almond shortbread cookies (regular flour) the other night (if you call 1am “night”). I tried 3 cookies (hey, they were small!) Not sure if they were a success, but they were definitely edible. HOORAY! If you want the recipe, I found it here.

PowderedSugarAdded

images: © Aimee McEwen
breaking bread

eat, drink, and be furry

beFURRYBIG SURPRISE. I put my beagle on this year’s Christmas card. It’s no real surprise. Mac is on the card EVERY year.  He’s my monster, after all.  The cats don’t know yet that they didn’t get spot on the card… 1. because they are cats and  2. because cats don’t give a sh*t.

So, I hope your holiday is awesome and you’ll Eat, Drink, Be Furry…

andVeryMerryimage credit: © Aimee McEwen
eat, drink, and be furry

paper trees

My latest paper project is this Stacked Triangle Tree. It was easy, took less than an hour to come together and it’s a pretty versatile project. There are many options for embellishments. You can draw on them with metallic markers (like I did), paint (puffy paint!), spray them with glitter (of course!), or make them sparkle with glue and crystal glitter (Putz style), get out your glue gun and add tiny ornaments or mini pom poms, endless possibilities! Patterned scrapbook paper would also look nice, just use a different, but coordinating pattern for each tier. If you are feeling fancy you can place an LED votive underneath the largest tier (the bottom tier). You’re so fancy.

papertrees

How I did it:
First, I found an Advent Calendar Tree Box template on the Etsy blog via Pinterest, printed it on cover weight paper then cut it out (viola, instant template ready for tracing). I traced it in three sizes (free template has three sizes) on cover weight white paper.  The thing to note about this “box” template is that I did not add bottoms to my trees (the box closure), they are open on the bottom which allows them to be stacked. I just left that part of the original template off my tracing templates. Before trimming out the trees I decorated them with my metallic Sharpies (silver, bronze & gold). It’s much easier to draw on the flat trees (even before you cut them out) than to try to do it when they are 3-D. To glitter them… or spray them with a texture… fold them into trees first (do a few very light coats when spraying paper). My triangle trees are secured with one strip of scotch tape, very simple. I did not tape them to each other though, the top two tiers can be removed for play (or curiosity sake, I guess).

This would be a nice project to work on with children. The adults can do the hard part of tracing, cutting, folding and taping. The kids can do the decorating and then they can play with the triangle tree forest they helped create!

credits:
Images and Project Design © Aimee McEwen.
Not for commercial use. Personal use only.
If shared, please link back to this post.
paper trees