The power of “Just 30 minutes”

Yesterday was an unseasonably balmy Saturday – any fellow North Texan will agree that it should be starting to get sweltering by now. I feel a bit guilty enjoying the rain and cool-ish weather, knowing it’s caused by teh Global Warmingz (we should just all agree to call it Climate Change, but whatev) – but what the hell! At least it’s not too hot to garden yet, so I  grabbed the day by the balls and did what any self-respecting gardener would do – I installed a new garden bed. 

But I kinda didn’t wanna.

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Behold my mulchy Eden!

Writing the about my ER visit was really therapeutic for me – I was finally able to set down some of my frustrations, and let myself off the hook for my “shortcomings” while I recouperated – so April was starting out on a really good foot.

And then I got a raunchy toothache.

Since I am of the belief that coincidences are really just Life Lessons in disguise, I decided the Universe was either calling my bluff, or trying to reinforce this newfound Self-love and Self-care business. I took the hint, and have been Caring the fuck outta some Self. I increased my water intake, decreased my sugar (sugar not only exacerbates cavity pain, it creates an environment in your body that pretty much just feeds infections of any kind), and ate my Echinacea supplement like it was freakin’ candy. After a week of this regimen, I was finally toothache-free … but still kinda felt like ass.

So, yesterday. I realized that it was that pivotal point in recouperation, where you really don’t have to rest but you still kinda lack the gumption to do anything else. I had a bad case of the Don’t Wanna’s. 

Only problem was, instead of telling my Sulky Self, “Hey. Snap out of it”, most of the day I was thinking, “Merciful goddess, it’s been a rough 2 months. I deserve a break. Anyway, being sedentary always exacerbates my chronic pain, so I’m too hurt-y to work. I should just rest a bit more.” Yeah. After a while it started sounding like bullshit to me, too.

So I made a deal with myself. This was a legitimately large project I was going to tackle, and though I knew I needed to get off my butt and get moving, I also knew I needed to be mindful of my healing body’s limits. I vowed to give it just 30 minutes. If after 30 minutes I felt up to continuing, I would. If I needed to go in, I’d find a good stopping place and try again in a few days. 

As you can see, I had more Get Up And Go than I thought I did! I had overestimated how long it would all take, so about an hour later, I was the proud owner of an extremely well-mulched new home for my army of seedlings.

I’m crazy-proud of my results (I did that all by my lonesome, thankyouverymuch!) … but I’m also proud of my efforts. I didn’t give in to the fear of my limitations, but I also didn’t ignore my body’s needs just because I was excited to plant ALL THE THINGS.

Sometimes when our Inner Voice is rattling off its list of fears (and usually, at least for me, most resistance has a kernel of fear in it), your Inner Self really just needs to feel Listened To. In resisting this project, I was afraid of pushing myself to the point of relapse – either of my chronic pain, or my very newfound Infection-less state. 

Knock on wood, but maybe I’m finally starting that journey of healing I was talking about needing. That’s kind of an encouraging thought.

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In which I make some Changes

Hello lovelies! I’ve missed you. March has been a crazy month, and truth be told, I’m excited to put it behind me. Towards the beginning of the month, I had to take a midnight trip to the E.R. to treat what ended up being extreme dehydration due to the Urinary Tract Infection that I didn’t know I had. It was a terrifying experience, because my symptoms made me act like my brain was full of swiss cheese – vertigo, cycles of fever and chills followed by puking my guts up, and (most fun of all) losing the use of my vocabulary. Yup. For a while there we were worried that maybe I was having a stroke or some shit, and I felt like death warmed over.

Thankfully, it wasn’t terribly serious (though seriously frightening), and 3 weeks later I’m happy to report I’ve made a full recovery. All it took was rest, antibiotics, and drinking so much water my eyeballs floated – and here I am, finally starting to do some of the things I enjoy again. But as much as I joke around and say that the invincibility I enjoyed in my 20s has finally gone since I just turned 30 … the fact is, this really did shake me up. 

I think this was the first time I’ve really felt mortal, and that’s saying something. I mean my 20s can be chronicled by What Was I Diagnosed With This Time, not to mention my father’s death. It’s not like I was a stranger to life-altering events. But maybe that’s just it – it always seemed life altering, like I assumed that there would always be more life to have. 

Sorry. I didn’t mean to get melodramatic all over your computer screen. *wipe, wipe* For all of that fear and depression, there has been a lot of affirmation going on as well. For one thing, if this had happened to me 3 years ago, I’d probably still be wallowing – so it’s nice to be reminded of how much I’ve healed and grown as a person. Feeling so vulnerable has made me appreciate how many blessings I really have. And in a way, it’s made me re-evaluate what I’m doing with my life. 

Having to slow my pace to a full-stop was an extremely humbling experience. In the past year, I’ve felt very proud of how much I’ve been able to juggle without breaking a sweat. Pursuing this business has been a dream come true, and I’ve loved feeling like I have a purpose and a passion to follow again. I’ve loved having the chance to be a home maker, to pour love and time into my family and the home we’ve built. But if I’m honest with myself (and I feel I have to be, having just had my very own cosmic Intervention) – I haven’t found a sustainable stride yet. I’ve always known I have a tendency to throw myself into whatever I pursue, but I didn’t really let myself slow down enough to see what kind of physical and emotional toll that’s been taking on me lately. So I’m going to make some changes.

I don’t know what they’ll look like yet. Am I going to scratch something of my list of Shit To Do? Am I going to keep everything, but slow it down? I do know one thing – I need to prioritize my health. It seems like such a cliche, but I guess there’s something to it after all: I really need to put me first. 

So be prepared for some changes in how I run this blog, because I think this can be a great tool for me while I heal. I’ve always tried to model it after some of my favourite professional bloggers, keeping things somewhat impersonal, kitschy, and brief. But if I’m honest, that’s not really my style. Nothing may come of all my effort here – but I’ve started to realize that that’s true no matter what I do. I might as well make a mess of it my way.

The theme of my blog and my shop has always been “celebrating enchanted living”. It’s something I’m passionate about, creating beauty even when everything around you feels kinda crappy. Somewhere along the way I’ve stopped applying it to me though, and it’s about time I fixed that. Wish me luck.

In which I unveil my Personal Planner

Three years ago I was broke, and in desperate need of a day planner. For a crafty girl like me, that’s not an obstacle – it’s a Gauntlet of Challenge thrown down on the table. I rose to the occasion, hand drawing a monthly calendar and a week-at-a-glance … and thus a tradition was born. I’ve handmade my planners ever since.

As time went by, I started realizing my needs were changing. I was taking on more and more of the housekeeping, and the tasks to keep my business running kept snowballing. A simple weekly calendar was no longer going to cut it, but I wasn’t sure what else I could do. So for a time, everything in my life suffered – I constantly felt behind, and because I had very few concrete goals for my business, I made very few stock items and even fewer sales.

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So I began to research. Pinterest made it easy – there are bloggers so Fanatic about personal organization that their blogs practically read like porn. It. Was. Delicious. I started really trying to figure out what aspects of my life needed to be whipped into shape, and researched tools and methods to do so. I loved the myriad “binder systems” I read about, so I brainstormed and planned.  It didn’t take much time at all to notice a pattern – the three main areas of my life that needed some Discipline were …

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50 Shades of Organization:
+ My house binder contains: family budget & bill worksheets; monthly/weekly/yearly Home maintenance projects; family chore delegation; and is being expanded to include our favourite local to-go menus, and our list of home repair companies at a glance.
+ My business binder contains: blog post outlines, brainstorms, and rough drafts; stock ideas and product sketches; inventory tracking worksheets; local craft fairs and dates; and my various To Do lists in preparation for those.
+ My personal planner binder contains: monthly calendars; week-at-a-glance pages; an editorial calendar for my blog; and a monthly list of my social media goals.

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In my many hours of research, I came across tons of printable worksheets – if you can imagine it, there’s a worksheet of it. (Kind of like Rule 34 of the internet, actually…). Since I have a deathwish always like to learn new things, I downloaded a freeware Publishing software called Scribus, and taught myself to make my own. I really like how I was able to strike a balance between structure and flexibility – for instance, my editorial calendar can include both scheduled posts, as well as blog-topic brainstorms. As long as I write in pencil, I can rearrange things once they’re actually written or posted.

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Personal Organization is a process, not a destination. I’ve accepted that I’ll never be as anal-retentive as Monica Gheller from Friends, but my various tools help me get a handle on the creative chaos that sometimes seems to rule my life. And that’s a nice feeling.

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What tools do you use to keep yourself on track? I’d love to see pictures, or hear about your favourite techniques!

Valentine-y Nail Art

OK! So I used my new DIY nail polish! I thought the Ballet-Slipper-Pink would be great to use in celebration of the most overcommercialized excuse to buy chocolate and flowers Valentine’s Day. Check it out!

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I’m not great at freehand nail art, so I tend to keep my designs relatively simple. That helps keep my right hand from looking like it was painted by a 2-year-old (my left-handed painting skills are more than a bit lacking). I decided to go for pink nails (with one white accent nail) and a tiny red heart. Making the heart was rather fun! I just dabbed a bit of polish on a scrap piece of paper, and applied it to my nail using one of my tiny Crap Paintbrushes. You could use a tooth pick, the tip of a pencil, or even a paperclip just as easily.

So what are your plans this V-day? Treating yourself to a day of pampering? Sharing it with a special someone? The wife and I celebrate an anniversary at the beginning of February, so we usually skip the 14th. Regardless, I tend not to buy into the whole SHOW ALL YOUR FEELS ON THIS ONE ARBITRARY DAY. Perhaps that makes me a bit cynical, but I enjoy doing all those Valentiney-things for my sweetheart throughout the year. 

Whatever you’re up to, I hope your 14th is loveley, dears. 🙂

Make DIY Nail Polish out of Eyeshadow

Any time I’m at my local dollar store, I cruise the cheap-o cosmetics section looking for new nail polish shades, cuz it’s a nice way to expand my selection on the cheap. I used to stick religiously to my tried-and-true Blood Red – it always looked good against my complexion, so it was my go-to any time I glammed up. But I did my nails so infrequently that I never really bothered to diversify my colour selections. (My crafter friends will understand the frustrating exercise in futility that is Painting Your Nails. When you use your hands so frequently, it rarely lasts more than a few hours…)

All that changed last year, when I started to dabble in Nail Art more frequently. It was a crazy cumlination of a few influences – seeing easy DIY nail art tutorials on Pinterest, coupled with a desperate need for a new hobby now that I had started making my favourite hobbies (crafting and writing) into an Awesome Bidness. But mostly I blame Pinterest.

Anyway, though I now have over 20 different shades of polish, I can never seem to find a great pink. I have several options, but they all seem to look better in the bottle than actually painted on my fingers nails. Some are too dark. Some too sheer. One is so metallic, you can’t really tell what colour it’s supposed to be. Mostly I eschew pink as being far to frou-frou, but every once in a while you just can’t get around its absence.

Finally fed up with trying out shade after shade … I did what any self-respecting crafter would do: I used my google-fu to see about DIY’ing my own! And whaddaya know? It’s a Thing! 5 youtube videos and 2 craft blogs later, I felt ready to tackle my own – it turned out so nice, I thought I’d be nice and share my knowledge with ya’ll! So without further adieu:

How to DIY Nail Polish Using Eyeshadow

Materials
+ paper cup
+ stir-stick (plastic knife, plastic spoon, coffee stir stick, tongue depresser…)
+ clear nail polish
+ eyeshadow shade(s) of choice
+ drop cloth (newspaper, magazine, paper plate, paper towel…)

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Lets Get Shakin’!
+ Put down your drop cloth. Believe me, if something spills, you’ll be happy you didn’t skip this step. Nail polish is a bitch to remove from most surfaces. Except nails apparently.
+ Using your stir-stick of choice, scrape up a bit of the eyeshadow shade(s) that you want to polish-ify. The amount of powder to use isn’t an exact science – you can always add more later. Aim for about 1/4 of a teaspoon for starters.
+ Open your clear nail polish, and dump it into your paper cup. Set aside the bottle and brush.
+ Add your eyeshadow powder(s) into the cup too.
+ Using your stir stick, make with the Stirring already! Be sure to press any visible clumps between the stick and the side of the cup, making the mixture as smooth as possible.
+ Pinch one side of your paper cup, so it creates a pointy spout. Pick up your nail polish bottle in one hand, and the paper cup in the other. Slooooowly pour your awesome new nail polish into the empty bottle.
+ You go girl! Wear that shit like the DIY Diva that you are!

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So I learned some stuff. Y’know, because I screwed up the first time. Learn from my fails, dear reader, so your project will go Super Smooth.

+ For the love of god, use a paper cup!! Why? First of all, to skip the whole make/use a funnel thing, I pinched the edge of the cup to a point. This is wicked hard with a plastic cup. Also (and more importantly), plastic cups melt if you leave nail polish in them for too long. That was fun. Which brings us to my next point…
+ Use a freakin’ drop cloth, ok? I skipped that, thinking, “What could possibly go wrong…?” The answer is: So. Much. (R.I.P. favourite jeans. …who am I kidding? Still totally gonna wear ’em.)
+ You’ll notice I encouraged the use of disposable supplies. If you feel confident cleaning nail polish off your cutlery, by all means, use normal stuff. I did not feel so confident.
+ You’ll also notice I suggested using a stir stick with a broad surface. I couldn’t find one myself, so I used the stick-end of one of my Crap Paint Brushes. This was not conducive to smooshing powder-lumps.

Now, I mentioned adding extra powder. You might feel like your shade is too transparent, or you might want to lighten/darken/change it by adding another colour. Easy Peasy! Just dump your new nail polish into another paper cup and start the process over.

I loved how customizable this project was – you can play “Artist” by mixing a few shades together (I used pink, a tiny bit of purple, and white). You could even add dollops of some of your existing polishes. Next time I’m going to add sparkly polish, because… sparkles!

If you try this project, I’d love to see pictures! Share your experiences in the comments, or come drop by my facebook page and tell me how it went!

Go forth, dear reader, and DIY THE POLISH!

In which I make the world a better place, one finch at a time

You want to know the best $7 I ever spent? Bird seed. Oh yeah.

My house is technically in the land of Suburbia, but at least it’s cool suburbia. I live like less than 7 miles away from a nature preserve. You know why my sister-in-law (who also lives here) doesn’t leave her chihuahuas outside unattended? BECAUSE OF THE HAWKS, FALCONS, AND VULTURES THAT CRUISE OUR NEIGHBORHOODS LOOKING TO PICK UP CHICKS. No shit.

Once, my wife was minding her own business, having a smoke break at work at night, and you know what happened? A FOX HAPPENED. Just walked through the parking lot, like y’do.

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(that’s what he said as he tipped his hat when he passed by her).

My neighbors have always gotten the cool birds though. Cardinals, Blue Jays, Chickadees… we don’t have many appealing Hidey Spots, since our landscape is devoid of shrubbery. Our stupid neighbors have bushes. And some trees and stuff. Stupid landscaping.

Well, this winter I decided to stop moping already, and put up a bird feeder! Every morning, I get doves, cardinals, and leetle finchies vying for the best spots at my feeders. It’s better than TV guys! My cat chitters at them angrily from her perch near the window, and I smush my nose up to the glass of the back door. They don’t do much besides, y’know, eat seeds and stuff, but it makes me really happy to know that their needs are taken care of. We might not get as harsh a winter as, say, THE ENTIRE REST OF THE POPULATION, because: Texas. But that doesn’t mean food still isn’t scarce for these little buggers.

I feel like I’m Giving Back in some small way. Like my efforts matter. Like maybe I’m making a tiny corner of the world a happier, less hungry place. I’ve always felt a connection to Nature, and I’m excited: this year I’m going to work on making my landscape a bit more wilderness-friendly. These housing developments displace so much of the local flora and fauna – by creating an oasis for the birds and butterflies that remain, maybe I’m helping to heal at least a little slice of our Mother Earth.

So much Ruffle Scarves!

Oh My God, guys – how fabulous are these??! Remember how I told you I worked on several projects this winter? Well, these were one of the Great Holiday Projects of 2014 for my etsy shoppe. If you know me at all, you know that I love flouncy and fabulous accents – the bigger the statement, the better. I just adore how feminine and sassy these turned out to be.

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And how ’bout them photos, ehhh?? I’m having a lot of fun practicing my product photos. My house is practically littered with antiques and kitschy heirlooms – hence the “victorian” in Victorian Boheme. Tossing a few together to create little vignettes has been just about as fun as a snuggling a happy penguin! And in an effort to simplify my Process, I’ve challenged myself to see what I can do with just my smart phone camera. Nifty, huh?

Anyway, I’d love it if you’d take a moment to head over to my shoppe. Find something you think a friend would love? Share that bugger on Social Media! Eventually I’ll be technologically savvy enough to offer you a coupon in exchange for your “likes” and “shares” … until that time, here! Have a cookie!