Categories
Blog

When is the Last Time You Did Something for the First Time?

I try to do new things on a regular basis. I like to try new food, attempt new crafts and travel to different places. My main mission for this blog is to convince you that you can do it, whatever “it” is.

Last week, I wrote a blog post about comfort zones that got a lot of response. It must have struck a nerve, maybe because it is so easy to get stuck in the zone. I get it. But if you have a dream that lives just outside of your zone, you can’t let it limit you. What is the worst that can happen?

For a brief moment in time, my sister and I had an arts & crafts studio called “Party Arty!” We put on craft parties, and also had walk-in make and take crafts suitable for kids and adults of all skill levels. For example, one of our most popular crafts was a wooden box that could be decorated in a bunch of different ways. We had paint, glitter, ribbon, cool stuff to glue on like tiny seashells, sequins, google eyes. Parents would bring the kids in to craft and the kids would be in Heaven.

Party Arty!
Party Arty!

 

 

Being a crafty person myself, I always assumed that the parents would join in the fun & choose their own craft project. I didn’t keep accurate statistics on this, but I would guess only about 5% of parents made their own craft project. When I would encourage them to try, the response was almost always, “I’m not artistic” of “I’m not crafty”. Sometimes, it was obvious they just weren’t into crafting, but there were plenty of times I could tell that they wanted to craft, but they weren’t comfortable doing it. That would make me sad. I was able to talk a few parents into making a craft of their own, but not many. (Actually, by FAR the worst was when the parents “helped” their kids because they weren’t doing it perfectly enough.)

100_3489

Imagine my delight when last week I saw on Facebook that a childhood friend had taken a step outside her comfort zone and began painting a lovely picture! Lynn had only done paint by numbers before this, and wasn’t even expecting to be painting that day, but with the encouragement of her crafty friend, decided to go for it. Yay!

Lynn's Painting
Lynn’s Painting in Progress

What would have happened if Lynn had taken the chance and it didn’t work out this well? First of all, even if her painting did not turn out this beautifully, if she enjoyed herself while doing it, that is a big win. But if she had not enjoyed it and decided never to paint again, all she really lost was a bit of time and a few bucks worth of supplies. I think she could probably live with that. Especially since she was able to spend some quality time with a friend.

Instead, Lynn created an amazing work of art that should make her quite proud. I hope she continues to pursue painting if it makes her happy.

 

seddick doubt rs.jpg

[Tweet “”Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will” ~ Seddick”]

Here are a few things I have done outside of my comfort zone. No regrets!

  • Started an arts & crafts studio. Yes it “failed”, but it was an excellent learning experience.
  • Flying to London. I don’t even like to fly to San Francisco, so it was way out of my zone to take a 11 hour flight. I really wanted to go to London though.
  • Flying to London with 2 kids and then taking a whirlwind day trip to Paris on the Eurostar. An amazing adventure!
  • Tent camping for 5 days in Yosemite. Literally outside my comfort zone. It was cold, the bed was uncomfortable as heck, and I could have easily camped twice as long, it was such an incredible experience.

What are some of the ways you have stepped out of your zone? Please share in the comments!

Categories
Blog

Sew magical!

Sewing is magical and here’s a quickie project that proves it. I work from home, therefore I do not wear pants with pockets. Or zippers or buttons. Confession: I wear denim leggings all the time. Like, all. the. time.

But I am forever wishing I had a pocket, especially to carry around my phone. Recently, I picked up a couple of tool aprons from Home Depot for a buck or two, and then I magically transformed them into a cute little work apron to tote my phone and other necessities while I wear my stretchy pants.

don’t judge me because I’m messy

Here is the original apron. Kind of ugly, right? (Yes, that is my pressing table and yes, I know it is messy and cluttered. I tried to crop that part out. ) Another thing I didn’t like about the original is it has two large pockets, and I would prefer more and smaller pockets. We can kill 3 birds with one stone here and cover that gross Home Depot ad, make the pockets smaller and increase the amount of pockets.

there are always scraps of red plaid fabric lying around my studio

I am a plus sized gal, so I dolled-up two aprons and then tied two of the strings together sort of permanently in the back and then wear the apron by tying it on in the front, which cured another of my pet peeves, tying aprons behind my back. I am not good at it. Here, I have attached a pocket by taking a scrap of fabric, folding the edges under and stitching it into place. I wasn’t super concerned about straightness or anything like that. This was a pretty down & dirty project because that is how I roll.

no need to turn under the T-shirt.

 

stitch verrry close to the edge

 

of course I carry two pair of scissors, doesn’t everyone?

For the next apron, I cut a piece out of an old T-shirt and pinned that down and stitched it on, then fancied it up with another scrap of plaid fabric. There are now 13 pockets of various sizes between the two aprons! Here they are with some stuff stuck in them.

And here is my model, Pooh, showing of the finished product. Please ignore the pile of crap behind him.

Categories
Blog

Three Reasons to Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Comfort zones are, you know, comfortable. And comfort is good. I wouldn’t want anyone doing something that made them feel icky or truly scared. You should obey those uncomfortable signals. But stepping outside your comfort zone and trying something new, something that gives you butterflies in your tummy, that can be exhilarating.

 

Participating in CreativeLive classes online is very comfortable for me, obviously there’s zero risk except that I probably won’t get much work done if I watch them. Joining the chat is just at the edge of my comfort zone, because it’s basically talking to strangers, in fact it’s even scarier because there is no delete. If you say something dumb, it is there for everyone to see. I try not to say dumb stuff, but a lot can get lost in the translation from spoken words to written words. Hard to convey sarcasm in print, and I don’t want my hilarious jokes to come across as jerky so I try to keep my comments concise and on topic. Or if I can’t help joking around, I will at least add a winkey face.

creativelive with Tara swiger
Jane and me, looking cute and ready to rock

Going on the equivalent of live TV to be in the front row at CreativeLive is way outside my comfort zone. Way. I had my first experience in May 2014. I was in April Bowles-Olin‘s class and it was terrifying. But not the kind of terror that could kill me so I took a giant step outside of the zone and did it. And I feel that I am a better person for going through with it. I met so many wonderful, supportive people. If you read this blog regularly, you know that I met my accountability buddy Jane at CreativeLive. That wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t willing to be a little uncomfortable. If you don’t read this blog regularly you really should. It’s pretty good. 😉

creativelive with Tara swiger marketing for crafters class july 2014
my fellow students and handsome host JKO chatting at lunch

Last week I was delighted to be back at CreativeLive for a second time, sitting in the front row for Tara Swiger‘s class “Marketing for Crafters“. I was a little bit nervous, but not nearly as much as I was the first time. Everyone at CreativeLive is so nice and so supportive, and they did a great job of making us feel welcome. I had built cyber-relationships with some of the ladies watching the class, and a few of them were in the chat room giving me their support. Of course, having Jane in the front row with me was extremely comforting. I was a lot more talkative this time and contributed much more. I had expanded my comfort zone to include CreativeLive and it felt great.

How did Tara Swiger know red and black are my fave colors?
How did Tara Swiger know red and black are my fave colors?

Saturday, the last day of taping, I felt very comfortable. I wasn’t nervous at all. The class was just fantastic, Tara was amazing and the other students were wonderful. I had arrived at the studio a little early and was going over my workbook, waiting for my fellow classmates to arrive when I was approached by the host, Chris. He asked if I was game to take part in the pre-show interview. He would ask me some questions about the class and the workbook, and I would talk about my experience at CreativeLive. Sure. No problem. Inside, I was completely freaking out, but there was no way I was going to pass up this opportunity.

creativelive with Tara swiger marketing for crafters class july 2014
A shot of the replay of day one. Yikes!

 

When it was time for places (that’s show-biz talk you guys) I took my seat and hoped that I wouldn’t faint while I sat there and waited for Chris to call me up in front of the camera. Chris gave a run down of what to expect in that day’s class, and then called me up to the “stage” (really just a lovely rug in the center of the studio). Somehow, my legs got me there, and you know what? When I turned and faced the front row students and the camera, I discovered I was in my comfort zone. The interview went quite well and I got a chance to show off my beautiful necklace and bracelet. I even cracked a few jokes. I didn’t faint. I made it through and when it was done, I sat back in my chair, feeling proud of myself for pushing past my fear.

stepping outside my comfort zone red scorpio
Onstage with Chris!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Right, I promised three things. Hmmm… ok.

  1. It won’t kill you (Disclaimer: if there is even a remote possibility that it will kill you, please do not step outside of your comfort zone)
  2. Every time you step out of it, your zone expands.
  3. Every time you expand your comfort zone, you make it easier to step outside of it.

I’d really like to thank Tara for sharing her knowledge and experience with us and for helping us to find our “North Star”. Thanks also to my friend Jane and my fellow students, and everyone who watched the class online. It was such a great class and I learned a lot from Tara, plus she was just so dang adorable. If you are a maker who is trying to market your handmade goods, you must watch this class. SO many “aha” moments.

 

 

Categories
Blog

CreativeLive Day 2

Having a great time and learning a lot! I will blog all about it on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Categories
Blog

Homemeade Yogurt: Check!

I think I may have mentioned that I am heading up to San Francisco this week to sit in the front row at CreativeLive‘s “Marketing for Crafters” class presented by Tara Swiger. I am really looking forward to it. Bonus, I get to see my pal Jane Dolan live and in person, sitting in the front row with me. So, since I still have a ton of stuff to do I am pulling out a “Memba This Monday” post from last summer, when I took the plunge and made yogurt. Follow my CreativeLive adventure here and also on Twitter and Instagram.

I finally did it you guys. I actually followed through and made yogurt. And it went pretty well, I must say. Although for some reason I doubled the recipe and made a gallon of yogurt and now have enough to feed a small army. Why do I do these things?? I think I must have starved to death in a former life because I habitually make way too much food.

So making the yogurt was fairly easy. I used the recipe from Jennifer Reese‘s  Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, an amazing book and one I highly recommend. I make “cheese” so I have some basic equipment such as a thermometer and cheesecloth ( real cheesecloth, AKA butter muslin, that cheese makers use and not the gauzy stuff you find at the grocery store). Yogurt itself is just two ingredients, milk and yogurt with active cultures (also referred to as “the starter”), 1/8 cup of yogurt to 1/2 gallon of milk. (DO NOT do what I did and double this recipe unless you have 20 people living in your home). I used some ripe plums, pluots and nectarines I had on hand to make the fruit “jam”, basically cut up fruit and a little water boiled into a chunky syrup. Mmmmmm!

Ok, so step one is make sure everything is clean since you are basically leaving milk out all night to spoil. Don’t want any bonus cooties in it, right? Heat the milk to 185º over medium high heat, or just before the boiling point if you don’t have a thermometer. You really should get a thermometer though. It takes out the guess work and they cost like $5, maybe less. You can stir constantly or just let it do it’s thing (guess what I did).  If you use a non-stick pot, cleanup is super easy. The milk skin peels right off and dogs and chickens go nuts over this special treat. While you heat the milk, let your yogurt starter sit at room temp. Once the milk reaches temperature, pour it into a clean non-metallic bowl. I used my crockpot (turned off) because it has a lid and it’s kind of insulated. Wait for the milk to cool to 110º and then mix in the starter. It takes forever for the hot milk to cool. Ms. Reese suggests using an ice bath if you are impatient. I just puttered around the kitchen, occasionally checking the thermometer and stirring. When it finally cools, mix in the yogurt very well and then cover it up and bundle it with a big towel to keep it as close to 110º as possible while the friendly little bacteria work their magic. I was paranoid about keeping the yogurt at the correct temperature. This is probably the one thing that kept me from trying to make this for so long. But Jennifer Reese made it seem like no big deal and I trusted her. She was right, because this morning I had a crockpot full of yogurt.

You don’t need cheesecloth to make yogurt, but you do if you want to take the extra step of straining out some of the whey for a thicker final product. Supermarket cheesecloth will work, but the weave is super loose and so you’ll need to double it up, and still stuff will leak through. Also, you can really only use it one time, as opposed to REAL cheesecloth or muslin which can be washed and used repeatedly. You can also use and old sheet or thin cotton towel (washed of course) or plain old muslin from the fabric store. Line a colander with your cloth and spoon in the yogurt, then wait half an hour or so. Put your colander over a bowl to catch the whey and use it for baking. Chickens and dogs love it too. I pour it on their food and they lick their bowls clean. The dogs do, the chickens don’t, because their tongues are weird and tiny.

I will definitely be making this on a regular basis, but only a quart at a time. And I will let it ferment for 8 hours as opposed to 12, since the longer it sits, the tangier it gets and this was pretty tangy. If you make your own yogurt, please let me know how yours turns out in the comments.

crockpot full of yogurt
fruit at the bottom
Hubby’s yogurt ready to go
this is what’s left after filling 6 small containers. Yikes!
Categories
Blog

A Front Row Seat for “Marketing for Crafters”…

This has been another busy week at the Red Scorpio. I will be heading out on a road trip next week to San Francisco to be in the studio once again at CreativeLive. So exciting! The  workshop I’m participating in this time is called “Marketing for Crafters – Successfully Sell Your Handmade Goods” and I am very much looking forward to it. My goal is to have a fabulous Holiday season this year by somehow getting people to find out about my amazing necklaces.

Last time I went to CreativeLive, I decorated some shirts with a scorpion. They turned out pretty cute, but this time I wanted to make some fresh shirts with a gigantic scorpion. First I blew the design up really big. I am a big girl and I wear big shirts, and they need some really big scorpions representing.

big scorpion!
big scorpion!

After putting the pieces together, taped it to an appropriately sized piece of freezer paper and, using my window as a light box, traced the design. I tore off five more sheets of freezer paper and stapled them into a neat stack with the outlined one on top. Then I attempted to cut the stencil.

"light box"
“light box”

It was a little ambitious of me to try to cut six stencils at once, especially since my x-acto knife has an ancient and dull blade and I could not find any replacement blades. I even went to a store, though I know for a fact there are some here somewhere. No place I looked, unfortunately. So I muscled through as best as I could but ended up having to break out a box cutter for the last few cuts.

cut stencil
cut stencil

 

If you’ve never used freezer paper, it is magic, and when you press it with a warm iron onto, say a t-shirt, it miraculously bonds to it. But, then when you want it to come of, you simply peel it away. Magic! It makes great stencils because it is coated. Super easy to use, no bleeding or seeping colors.

press it on
press it on

Today, while decorating the shirts, I had a brilliant idea to use a reverse stencil technique with one of the red shirts. It worked perfectly. I can’t wait to wear these shirts in the front row at CreativeLive! Watch for free starting Thursday, July 17th at 9am. RSVP for the course and get access to the course workbook. Mandatory!

Reverse Freezer Paper Stencil Sneak Peek
reverse stencil sneak peek

Tomorrow I am going to attempt a new way of stringing bracelets. You will just have to wait til Monday to learn how that experiment turns out. See you then!

Categories
Blog

How To Get It All Done (+ Free Planner Page Download)

Just so you know, it’s impossible to get it all done. But it is possible to get a majority of the most important things done. Some people can get stuff done seemingly without effort. For most of us it takes work. Here are my top tips for getting it done:

Prioritize your goals

Just because it seems like a good idea does not necessarily mean you should add it to your list of goals. Even though it seemed like a neat idea to try to learn Spanish, I had to come to grips with the fact that there was no room for it on my list. Goals need to be productive, or at least bring you enjoyment. If it’s not going to move you forward, AND you don’t enjoy it, cross it off and move on. Do not set yourself up for failure.

 

My Future, Planned
My Future, Planned

Plan to get it done

Do not just leave it to chance. Humans can only make so many decisions in a given day before they experience overload. You blame yourself for not having willpower, but it is human nature to seek the easiest solution to problems, sparing your mind for critical decision-making. Making a short To-Do list for myself every night means that the next day, I have a plan in place. Making the list the night before takes the emotion out of the equation. Here is my planner:

To Do Planner Page
To Do Planner Page

Download This Planner

Be accountable

I started this year wanting to really get my life in order. I am lucky in that I am mindful of wanting to change and accepting the small progresses I make. I just want to be a little better each year and I can pretty much do that. This year was different because I have the looming fear that my business is not progressing quickly enough. I spent about half the year studying strategies to develop habits, set goals and build systems until I basically came to the realization that (A) they all said a lot of the same stuff, and (B) I was stalling by continually researching and never acting. Working from home, particularly as an artist, is difficult because I get very little positive reinforcement. My husband and family give me praise of course, but sometimes it’s good to hear it from strangers who don’t have to say nice things about you.When you work in an office, as I always have before, people notice when you are accomplishing stuff.  Now I am pretty much the only person who notices, unless I tell the world. And I’m not one of those people who is comfortable with self promotion. In May, I met a group of wonderful people through a class I took at CreativeLive. Most importantly, my accountability partner Jane, but also a whole community of people who are in the same boat as I am. When I set a personal goal to paint a picture, I asked Jane to hold me accountable. I also announced it on Instagram, along with updates of my work in progress. I am almost finished! What a wonderful feeling!

 

Seek guidance

When all else fails, consult an expert. What the heck, you don’t have to wait for anything to fail. If you need guidance, get it. Like I said, I spent a ton of time researching tips and strategies before I found the right fit for me. I am currently going through the Connecting the Gaps program, “Busy to Happy”. Some stuff I knew, but a lot I didn’t. And besides, it’s always good to get confirmation that what you think you know is legit. I am not just learning from April, the Blacksburg Belle and Mayi of Heartmade Blog, but all of the members of the group who share their ideas, tips and personal stories. It has been extremely helpful hearing how others make it work, or what they struggle with. I love being part of this eclectic ensemble and I really appreciate how we all have each others’ back. Most importantly, I am discovering a lot about myself.

Planning my week, month, year with a little help from my friends...
Planning my week, month, year with a little help from my friends…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So it has taken me until July to get to this point, but it’s a journey, not a destination. As long as I keep moving forward, I feel successful. This year is not over yet!

 

Do you need a system for getting stuff done? Check out my planner system. It’s changed my game in a big way.

Categories
Blog

Flashback Friday: Art is good medicine…

Happy 4th, everybody! Today will be a kick back day of swimming and BBQs, and it’s also my uncle’s birthday so Happy Birthday, Uncle Bob! Here’s a Flashback Friday post from January 2013. I am still slacking on my To-Do list, but I’m taking April & Mayi’s “Busy to Happy” course and making some progress. Enjoy your day!

 

So far this year I’ve been slacking on my to-do list. The usual post-holiday funk, then a wicked chest cold that totally kicked my ass. I got a tetanus shot AND a flu shot last week and have felt like crap ever since. Can you get the flu from your flu shot? I still have a knot the size of a gumball on my left arm from the tetanus shot, but at least it doesn’t hurt anymore.

My latest project was a chicken coop remodel for my Showgirl Silkie chicks. That made me feel a little better. It was nice to be outside, and it got my creative juices flowing. Yesterday I finished stringing three bracelets, and today I plan on photographing them & listing them in my Etsy shop. Now I’m debating whether I should go to the store or string the rest of my bracelets. I really don’t want to go to the store, and I really do want to string the bracelets. As a moody Scorpio, it’s very hard for me to get motivated to do stuff if I am not in the mood to do it. But Sprouts has shrimp on sale today and I am in the mood to eat shrimp…

UPDATE: I did go to the store & I actually feel much better now.